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  1. Hello there! My name is Javier Gerona and I’m one of the developers of Inverge Studios, a small indie game studio from Spain. Today I come to the PlayStation.Blog to talk about our latest video game Effie, a 3D action-adventure platformer game coming to PS4 June 4. We all have fond memories of those classic 3D platformer PlayStation games. So from the beginning we had a clear goal: we wanted to make a classic PlayStation video game, with modernized graphics, telling a new story. In this fantasy tale, you play as Galand, a young man who has been cursed by a wicked witch with premature old age. Galand sets out on a quest to recover his youth, but he won’t be travelling alone — he’ll have the help of a powerful magic shield, which will be his weapon, tool, and even his means of transport! The adventure takes place in the Red Plains of Oblena, a distant land recognized for its distinctive red vegetation. In this vast world you’ll be able to visit distinctive locations including a windmill city, ancient temples, or even a city dedicated to grape juice production with huge barrel buildings! These aren’t things you see every day… Although Effie is a 3D platformer, it’s not 100% linear. Once you arrive in the open world, you can visit any of the settlements freely, but the gameplay becomes linear when you enter one. This caused more than one headache to design, but it’s your adventure, and we wanted you to decide where your next stop would be. In this story, the world has been invaded by ghouls. Some of them are small and funny, but others… you won’t want to come near them! And yes, all of them can attack you. So in your quest to recover your youth, you will be accompanied by a magic shield. During the adventure, you’ll be able to strengthen your shield and give it new skills. Eventually, you’ll be able to use it to do light and heavy attack combos, charged attacks, dashes, double jumps… as you can see, it’s capable of many things! But just because you own a magic shield, don’t think that everything will be easier. If there’s one skill that’s especially fun, it’s surfing on the shield. One of the drawbacks of having such a big world is needing a way to traverse it quickly. And we thought, it would be cool to be able to surf on a hover shield, wouldn’t it? The control of the character and the sense of speed when passing through a turbo are so satisfying, you can play for a long time doing nothing more than surfing across the extensive red grassland. But I won’t tell you everything about the game; I’d prefer for you to discover and enjoy it yourself. If you have any questions about Effie, you can write us in the comments below and we will be happy to answer. Get ready adventurers! Effie, a new PlayStation-exclusive 3D platformer adventure, will arrive at PlayStation Store on June 4. View the full article
  2. Hi everyone! I’m Julien Bourgeois, co-founder and Game Director of Artisan Studios in Canada. We are a passionate group of developers who love JRPGs and have played them for many years now. We really wanted to be part of this incredible world of adventures, so we were thrilled when we got the opportunity to collaborate with Idea Factory and Compile Heart in Japan to co-develop Super Neptunia RPG which releases in North America on June 25 and across Europe on June 28! Super Neptunia RPG is a side-scrolling RPG starring Neptune, our self-aware and self-proclaimed heroine who can fully explore the 2D environments with her impressive platforming skills. There are no random encounters. Instead, enemies roam around the map, so when Neptune bumps into them, the game transitions into an Active Time battle system with rotating characters and gorgeous animations. The series has been around since the days of PS3 and is perhaps most well-known for its references to other video games and allegories for the industry as a whole. It was challenging for us was to translate this rich universe into a 2D game, so we’d like to share how we developed the background art and 2D animations in Super Neptunia RPG and what it was like to collaborate internationally. There are several steps we have to take to make sure that our work is manageable yet also faithful to the artist’s vision, so we had to explain our animation process, techniques and limitations to Compile Heart. First, we determine a base pose (usually the character’s idle state) and make all the other possible poses based on that. All new poses require rough animation research and validation to make sure the movement fit the characters’ personality. Once we’ve figured that out, we can start cutting and drawing additional needed parts. The rest is hard work and magic! We use a mix of cut-out animation, traditional frame-by-frame animation and tools that help blend these different animations together. It’s a process we’ve been working on for years and trying to improve on every new game we do. It’s a very long and detailed process where you have to cut the character’s parts, attach them to a skeleton and animate it all together in a coherent way. We even assigned characters based on the personality of our animators so life could be given to each of the characters in a more natural way. We made a fun test with Neptune and another character, Noire, and gave them some crazy movements, but then we figured that we needed more information in order to stay true to their personalities. Compile Heart provided us detailed guidelines on each part of the characters’ design: clothes, hair, face, and animation limitations. Animations are done by hand Instead of using physics, so we have to find clever ways to simulate movements. There were plenty of bones and controllers on the characters, sometimes used specifically for a single pose. Our challenge was to find a balance between each character’s design constraints and avoiding the feeling of a paper-cut style that might feel “flat.” We also listened to the characters’ voices so we could match the emotions given by the actors. For example, we had to show joy and spontaneity for Neptune, so her animations are more exaggerated than others (she has more than 30 unique face animations in the game). We had to create a new solution to handle that many different expressions on a character’s face and to implement them in our engine. Aside from character animations themselves, we also consider the background to be another type of ‘character’ in the game. When creating backgrounds, you want to tell a story for each town. We use parallax to simulate depth in our 2D environment. This involves elements of the foreground scrolling at a different speed from elements in the background. Design-wise, Idea Factory laid the groundwork for us to give personality to each city. As every city references a certain gaming console/brand, the artists could use specific elements known by the players to shape the cities. For example, Lastation (the city that represents Sony’s gaming platforms), incorporates shapes from PS2 and PS3, colors from the PlayStation logo and all kinds of small elements that reference the PlayStation brand. We could also use the characters (Noire in case of Lastation) to make it consistent with the city she’s representing. We applied the same process for the four cities. It was really interesting and fun to take inspirations from objects that have nothing to do with a city in the first place. In general, it takes between 10 to 15 days for one artist to create all the elements for one level, so a lot of time went into each area! Implementing the art into the game was a joint effort between the art team and the level designers to make sure it felt satisfying from both a gameplay and visual standpoint. It required a lot of back and forth between the two teams to adjust the placements of the visuals on one hand and to draw additional elements on the other. There’s a lot of heart, love and effort in Super Neptunia RPG. We loved working on it and we hope it shows. Existing fans will be pleased with the storyline and the new characters but you don’t need any knowledge of the previous games to understand or enjoy it, so it’s a great starting point for new players too! Take your time so you can discover all the nice things to do regarding quests, NPCs, ultra-powerful weapons and skills. But to find them you need to look carefully into the environments for potential hints on hidden secrets. I really hope everyone enjoys the game when it releases on June 25 in North America and June 28 in Europe! View the full article
  3. Hello everybody, it’s a pleasure to be back at PlayStation.Blog for a new feature about PS VR platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission. Today I would like to show you how the team came up with the various gameplay ideas that made it into the game. It all starts with a sticky note… Since the forming of Asobi Team back in 2012, we’ve made a habit of brainstorming ideas regularly. Brainstorming is a relaxing time where anybody from the team gets to voice their ideas out in the open. The first thing we do is lock onto a specific area to dig into. We never discard any idea. Because an idea that sounds ridiculous today could be relevant tomorrow, or it could become the springboard of something better. Ideas we think of are jotted down on colorful sticky notes that decorate our office walls. We keep it very visual because it’s more fun and accessible, and it fits well with our international team. It does mean everybody needs to be able sketch their ideas to some extent, but however basic it may look, what’s important is to get a clear, fun concept across. After a brainstorm, ideas are categorized on the walls In the case of Astro Bot, on one occasion, we were looking for “Boss ideas” — something huge that towered above the player and would feel like an epic battle. I clearly remember one of our designers drawing a huge gaping mouth with teeth you had to punch loose. A few discussions later, we added the hook shot and we had something we could take to the next level. The original sticky note idea that led to the World 1 Boss of Astro Bot Rescue Mission The sticky note is then handed over to one of our game designers who will flesh out more details about the gameplay and create a simple storyboard. Once again, we keep things visual and avoid wordy descriptions. This ensures anybody on the team can get a grasp of the idea within seconds and without having to read too much. The original design document before prototyping the boss battle Once we’re happy with the plan, the storyboard is handed over to a gameplay programmer, who then creates a gameplay prototype. At this point, visuals do not matter — we’re looking for fun gameplay first and foremost. The gameplay prototype can take anywhere from a few days (for a small mechanic) to a few weeks (for a complex boss) until we are happy with it. The first prototype of what would later become World 1 gorilla boss The final stage is production. At this point, up to a half dozen people of various disciplines work together to bring the look and feel to what will be experienced by the player. This is when the dragon gave way to a gorilla to be more in phase with our city theme. The first version is always pretty rough — in this case our boss was missing its fluffy hair, headphones and dramatic lighting. Over time, we refined every aspect of the encounter, improving the graphics and adding special effects, sounds of all sorts and other bells and whistles. Throughout the rest of production, we often do additional gameplay rebalancing until it feels just right. This is also when we turned the top of the building into a first-generation PlayStation console. Had you ever noticed? The final World 1 gorilla boss This way of working may seem simple. And it is. It’s a very useful way to try out lots of innovative ideas quickly while involving everyone in the thinking process too! Thank you for reading today’s story! Let us know what you think in the comments below — and just like our colorful notes, be sure to stick to PS Blog for more Astro Bot Rescue Mission behind-the-scenes! View the full article
  4. A unique hybrid of gaming styles, Golem Gates blends elements of action-strategy and card-based battling, and it’s coming to PS4 on May 28. The game takes place on Earth, thousands of years in the future, where only remnants of ancient nations remain. The planet, ravaged by countless wars, is shrouded by a fog of nanites called ‘Ash.’ It’s up to you, the Harbinger, to manipulate the Ash and wield it against the forces that want to use its secret power to oppress the land and prevent you from fulfilling your destiny. By fusing the two genres, developer Laser Guided Games has been able to transfer complex aspects of traditional strategy games — such as build orders, research, and so on — into pre-game deck-building. This allows you to choose your cards, known as ‘glyphs’ in Golem Gates, and take your time formulating different strategies before the battle begins. In addition to providing all-important units and structures, all of which have their own function and unique abilities, glyphs offer a wide range of special effects that can help you dominate the enemy from the offset or turn the tide of a hard-fought battle in your favor. With the right glyphs in your deck, you can place traps, activate buffs, reveal hidden areas, create hologram units to fool the enemy, and much more — there are a myriad of tactical options and variations to discover and master so you can adapt to the flow of battle on the fly. But it’s not as simple as endlessly drawing new glyphs from your deck — playing glyphs during the real-time action requires the Harbinger to expel energy. Not only that, the more powerful the glyph, the more energy it uses. Players can replenish and increase their energy resource by taking control of specific points on the battlefield. The more control points you hold, the more energy you have, and the more (or stronger) glyphs you’re able to summon. You begin with a starter deck, but new glyphs are acquired as you play, either in single or multiplayer. As your collection of glyphs increases, you can either adapt your starting deck, or build something completely new and tailored, perhaps, to a specific strategy or style of play. In terms of modes, in addition to the single-player campaign, there are challenge scenarios, a survival mode that can be played either solo or co-op, and local and online multiplayer. We hope players will enjoy Golem Gates’ fusion of strategy-based action and card-based mechanics, and will have fun unlocking new cards and constructing the ultimate deck. In the meantime, be sure to watch the new trailer at the top of this post. View the full article
  5. Playstation

    Creating the Soundtrack for Days Gone

    Spoiler Warning: This post discusses major story beats from Days Gone. If you’re still working your way through the game and don’t want to read about events from throughout its story, now’s your chance to turn back! In composing the music for Days Gone, I drew inspiration from the High Desert of the Pacific Northwest, the gorgeous setting chosen by Bend Studio. There is such a natural beauty with lush forests, mountains, and waterfalls. But also, the volcanic soil in the region creates areas of sparse vegetation and more rugged landscapes, littered with remnants of human structures left to decay in the rain, snow, and heat. The setting and art direction that Bend Studio was working towards had an earthy quality reminiscent of frontier times. Rather than create a score inspired by Deacon as a member of an MC (motorcycle club), with heavy guitar or classic rock, I wanted to connect the player to the setting so that they are engulfed in the world playing as Deacon. So I composed a score that has a folk Americana feel to it, which drove the more earthy quality to the soundtrack. A few selections from the soundtrack really showcase the direction we were going for in developing the sound of Days Gone: Track 01: Days Gone This was the first piece I wrote for the game, and my goal was to set the overall tone for Deacon’s journey. When I thought about it that way, it felt completely overwhelming! Instead, I tried to simply internalize what I knew about Deacon and the story and let that drive the music. I strove to blend a sense of hope with introspection and a touch of melancholy. The dark, grisly ending is our introduction to this dangerous new world and establishes the dual nature of Deacon’s path — staying alive and also finding a reason to keep going. Track 02: The Freakshow The Freakers needed darkness and aggression but their music still had to feel connected to the overall score. It was also important to maintain a thread of humanity as they are infected humans. I used mostly organic, acoustic instruments like piano, guitar and bowed metals but processed them heavily with pitch shifting and distortion. I thought the big, driving sections conveyed the terror of the Horde and the Freaker melody reprised on piano felt connected to the tragedy of most of earth’s population being infected. Track 03: We’ve All Done Things I wrote this piece primarily as Iron Mike’s theme and it needed to reflect the “salt of the earth” qualities we see in him. Iron Mike is strong and he’s been through a lot. He’s also a powerful voice of reason for Deacon and suggests that killing isn’t always the answer. I used harmonium and bass harmonica to provide a raw, hymn-like foundation and added acoustic guitars and solo violin that grow as a string orchestra starts building. My hope was for the music to have some of the rugged determination and measured optimism of Iron Mike. Track 04: Rest in Peace The collapse of society means different things to different people. The Rest in Peace cult, a.k.a. Rippers, are non-infected humans who essentially worship Freakers as deities. Rippers are extremely dangerous and I wanted this music to be menacing and jagged but still fit into the overall sound world. I used frame drums and bendy, chunky, acoustic guitar riffs as the core elements. I thought this combination evoked a feral, tribal vibe that felt right for the Ripper sound. Track 05: Finding NERO The music for NERO is unique relative to the rest of the score. While I did continue using guitars, strings, and other pieces of our organic palette, there also needed to be a high-tech, futuristic quality to NERO’s sound and it needed a touch of mystery. I took a more synth-based approach for the foundation of NERO and added building strings and a simple, enigmatic melody to lend a sense of scale and mystery. Track 07: The Rager Bear The idea of Freaker-infected bears was instantly cool and terrifying to me. The sound of the Rager Bears starts with the Freaker palette and then everything gets amplified. I distorted some low, angry cymbal scrapes to create this billowing roar and I used more pounding metal percussion to convey the lumbering mass of these creatures. The strings grow more frenetic and jagged. I wanted this music to feel heavy, raw, and relentless. Track 08: A Good Soldier This piece is about the Colonel and his militia. The Colonel is a strict leader and is intent on creating order in the chaotic world. His mission seems noble but we see hints of darkness in him as the story progresses. This music needed weight and a militaristic persistence. I used the steady, marching percussion and low strings melody to reflect the Colonel’s authority and drive. How far will he go to achieve his goals? Track 10: I Remember This piece is about Deacon’s life before the outbreak and subsequent breakdown of society. I strove for this music to be wistful and a little hopeful and to reflect Deacon’s resolve. His path is complicated and he grapples with regret. John Garvin, Creative Director at Sony Bend Studio, wove amazing nuance into the Days Gone story. It made tracks like this challenging but really rewarding to write. Track 13: Promises and Regrets I wrote this piece for a huge moment in the game where Deacon and Sarah are reunited. This reunion does not play out how we might expect and I love the complexity John wrote into this scene. I wanted the beginning to almost feel like slow motion. Does Deacon really see Sarah standing in front of him? We soon realize that the Sarah he encounters here feels different from the Sarah we first met. She is intensely focused on winning the “war” against the Freaker infection and does not want to leave with Deacon. This is shocking, confusing, and painful for Deacon. They have finally found each other but it’s impossible to pick up where they left off. I built the first half of this piece around Sarah’s theme, keeping the arrangement small with acoustic guitar and light strings. At first, it seems that this might be a joyful reunion, but then the music turns to a cold, distant presentation of our Days Gone theme as Deacon realizes this is not going how he had hoped. Track 17: Sarah’s Theme This is really the love theme for Deacon and Sarah. I wanted this music to remind us of the early days in their relationship, before the infection, and to also remind us of their connection years later as they struggle together. I used a simple piano motif and some sparkly acoustic guitar to evoke a dream-like quality. This builds up to the introduction of Sarah’s melody on an acoustic guitar. Her tune and the Days Gone theme are very closely related. I wanted these two pieces to feel very connected mirroring what we see in Deacon and Sarah. I also strove for this piece to brightly contrast with most of the rest of the score. Their relationship is a bright light that motivates Deacon to keep going. The theme grows to a big, triumphant statement of Sarah’s melody on strings along with driving percussion, guitars, and the simple piano motif. I think it’s probably the happiest piece of music in the game and my hope is that it helps players feel this powerful connection between Deacon and Sarah. Track 19: Never Give Up This is another pivotal scene where Deacon learns that Sarah’s work is not searching for a way to kill the Freakers, but to cure them. Deacon is moved by this and insists that Sarah keeps pushing forward with her work. I wanted this music to be a rallying cry but to also feel intimate. I used the opening chords of the Days Gone theme along with a delicate solo cello melody as Deacon is registering the importance of Sarah’s work and urging her to keep going. This is a special moment where we see Deacon fully appreciating Sarah’s passion to find this cure and we see Sarah feeling understood and supported by Deacon. I wanted the players to feel this closeness between them and I shifted the score to soft acoustic guitar strums and strings playing another passage of the Days Gone theme. This delicate moment settles and the strings swell to a driving staccato section as Deacon and Sarah, now energized, hatch their plan to ride north, risking their lives to be free and together. As Deacon leaves, Sarah, once again, thanks him and he responds with “Yes ma’am,” only this time it’s an inside joke between people in love. It’s a wonderful, small, sweet moment at the end and I brought back a soft guitar and piano just suggesting the main theme one more time. Track 21: Why We Fight This piece comes at an incredibly sad point in the game when Deacon believes that Boozer is dead, that he sacrificed himself to win the fight against the Colonel’s militia. I really wanted players to feel the gravity of this moment. Deacon and Boozer are brothers and Deacon is heartbroken by the thought that he has lost Boozer. I used a simple, somber arrangement of the Days Gone theme here that begins softly and grows with swelling strings and a variation of the tune on solo cello. My hope from the very beginning was for the Days Gone theme to have an element of melancholy and introspection and this is the theme in its saddest, most introspective form. View the full article
  6. Ever since The Persistence was released back in July 2018, we’ve been overwhelmed by reviews, video blogs and positive feedback from players all around the world. Since then, we have added lots of free new features, including Campaign+, entirely new game modes that provide new challenges, and simply oodles of fine tuning. The Complete Edition is going to be the next free update for everyone that already owns the game, and for the first time ever, this update will make The Persistence playable on what we now fondly call ‘flat screen TVs.’ Bringing The Persistence to non-VR displays will allow even more people to discover the terror of space in this unique blend of roguelike and sci-fi horror. If you want to test your mettle in front of your HD or 4K HDR display, the Complete Edition is what you need. We’re working on lots of features to adapt the game for the big screen and to ensure it remains atmospheric, intensely exciting, and every bit as playable as it is in VR. To give you more insight to the improvements, here are some insights from the team regarding the four main aspects that they are working on. Graphics As well as a whole host of gameplay tuning, the Complete Edition will include significant graphical improvements that will make it a member of a relatively elite selection of games that deliver 4K at 60 frames per second on the PS4 Pro, and 1080p at 60 frames per second on PS4. Enhanced lighting and particle effects are being implemented to make the world atmospheric on your TV, including entirely new technical visual effects such as Motion Blur and Chromatic Aberration. Camera Animations For the big screen, we have added brand new camera animations to ensure a natural sense of movement around the ship. The camera now features subtle head movement when moving, and transitions between different poses — such as crouching and standing — are now animated to add a greater sense of situational awareness. Gameplay & Controls With a lot of the core controls and mechanics linked to the headset, a huge focus has been put into ensuring that you can pull off the same quick and accurate maneuvers when playing on a flat screen. There is also a brand-new way to interact with objects and collect pick-ups. Some of the game’s more unique and creative weapons such as the Gravity Hook have proven to be difficult to use accurately in non-VR play, so they now have new ways to fire them when you are playing on your TV. Presentation & UI Last but not least, the on-screen displays and all other elements of the user interface are being updated to make them super intuitive for flat screen displays. This free update is getting close to being complete, so stay tuned for more news as we get closer to release! View the full article
  7. Hello, dear PlayStation.Blog readers! Undead Horde releases today on PlayStation 4! The game is a “necromancer simulator” combining elements from action-RPG, strategy, hack ’n slash and minion games. I’d like to share some background details from our development process, to try to answer the question: “What is Undead Horde?” In late 2017 we were furiously trying to come up with a new game project at 10tons. We had done several top-down shooters in a row including Neon Chrome, Jydge, Time Recoil and at that time we had nearly finished Tesla vs Lovecraft. Though we love top-down shooters, we really wanted to do something different for a change. At that point, games with larger armies fighting each other in some form were somewhat fresh, so we started to dig around there. We started to do some prototyping. First we created a kind of “massive fantasy battle simulator,” but in the end the prototype wasn’t that popular in our internal testing even though the team seemed to like it. A battle between amazons and undead barbarians We continued on and remembered a fun and somewhat popular little game called Right Click to Necromance (RCTN). It still felt fun so we took on a new task: Can we make a game where you raise the dead like in RCTN, but so that the game would have a story and a campaign lasting several hours? This was the basic question behind Undead Horde. We also felt that the whole theme of necromancy hasn’t been thoroughly explored yet with games. A game called Nekro was canceled and a lot of other minion games didn’t have actual necromancers. So this is what Undead Horde became: A game where you command undead minions which you can raise directly from the battlefield. You can also raise undead from summoning statues & graves also, but the main source is usually your slain enemies. You can find a very early development shot from this phase and compare it to the final shot above — a lot changed along the way visually too. Undead Horde early development screenshot Unlike in RCTN, the player controls a necromancer instead of the horde. This was done since we wanted to have a main character to focus on. The undead minions are mostly axe fodder, so the actual progression happens through your necromancer with items and leveling. There are some heroes and stronger units though, which the player can try to keep alive if he wants to try “quality over quantity” tactics. The player can do a lot of conventional ARPG stuff as well: fight, cast spells, loot, complete quests and explore the world. We think Undead Horde brings something new to the ARPG table — there’s no combination of necromancy, action RPG, and minion control like it. The new elements also provided us with some challenges, as many gameplay problems had no off-the-shelf solution, and we realize that the gameplay style isn’t necessarily for everyone. The story in Undead Horde is quite simple — you’re Orcen, the last necromancer. Your goal is to take back the Overworld where the undead once ruled. A paladin named Benevictor is your arch enemy and the leader of the living; the demise of the undead was of his making. The game takes Orcen through forests, deserts, catacombs, and wastelands of ice & fire with the ultimate goal of reaching the Citadel where Benevictor has retreated. After the first playthrough, the game can be replayed with the full selection of minions from the start and with mutated world parameters. I hope this post offered an interesting first impression about the game. Watch the trailer to learn a bit more about the game and its story. Pick it up today to do some undead re-animation yourself! View the full article
  8. As part of the Konami 50th Anniversary series, Konami’s Castlevania Collection assembles for the first time many of the early ground-breaking titles into a single, cohesive themed collection. When the developers created Castlevania in 1986/1987, little did they know that the franchise would span three decades and inspire generations of game designers! The vampires versus hunter story was a fresh take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with the first game set in 1691 starring protagonist Simon Belmont — and a new family of Vampire Killers was born! One of the earliest platformers, Castlevania puts heavy emphasis on player control, attack timings and is known to have a fun-but-challenging learning curve. With limited ability to gain health via the famous wall chickens, pacing yourself is key to beating challenging levels and enemy patterns. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest hints at what the franchise would become. Breaking away from convention with a day/night cycle, quest lines and character leveling, it showcased that platformers could be more than just linear adventures and set the stage for future innovations. Beware — townspeople may be liars and give misdirection! Best tip: once you get a certain Crystal, go back to the graveyard with said Crystal selected and kneel at the unpassable wall. Trust us, it will make sense later. In Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, player choice is paramount. Branching options feature now-famous playable characters: Alucard, Sypha, and Grant join Trevor Belmont’s quest to defeat Dracula. With only one companion for Trevor available at a time, better choose wisely! Alucard’s bat form improves access and mobility. Grant’s ability to climb walls and change direction mid-jump creates a unique playstyle. Sypha boasts an arsenal of spells that can render powerful enemies nearly harmless. During development, entire levels and enemies had to be re-evaluated and designed around these unique abilities. The beautiful cover art was created by Tom duBois, who provided both Castlevania and Konami with many other pieces of astounding artwork! Super Castlevania IV finally allowed the Belmont clan to wield their whip in, shall we say, non-standard ways. Players should make sure to experiment with all the new movement and attack options along with the ability to control their jumps more tightly. In a light-hearted parody, Kid Dracula shows up to challenge the demon hordes for the right to rule them all! A first-time release in the West, Demon Castle Special: Kid Dracula originally launched in Japan only in 1993. As portable titles, Castlevania: The Adventure and Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge are known for their challenging designs and quality music tracks. Finally, in Castlevania Bloodlines — titled The New Generation in Europe — the game is set in the modern surroundings of the first World War. With added guns and a generally much more grim and bloody setting, the player controls John Morris and Eric Lecarde. Mastering both of their unique play styles is critical to battling through stages uniquely designed for their skill set. These new stage designs are incredible, with the engine pushed to accommodate evolving world geometry like the infamous Tower of Pisa level. It also introduced music by Michiru Yamane, whose haunting themes would continue into the franchise for years to come. Lastly, important news: we heard your calls and Konami will add Japanese title variants as a free update shortly after launch. Keep your eyes peeled for more details! For fans and new players alike, the Castlevania Collection is an exciting and special window into the history of gaming. Players will learn patience and when to time their jumps. There is a tempo to the gameplay, with enemy patterns to memorize and buttons to mash at just the right time. Be patient and remember; Dracula is immortal, and he is waiting for you. View the full article
  9. After 10 years, the series that pioneered 2D swordplay is back. Samurai Shodown is known for its heavy influence of Japanese culture and high-risk high-reward gameplay that puts players on the edge of their seats. New players may notice that there is a lack of ‘combos’ in this fighting game, but I assure you this is by design. Button mashing and being too impatient will only open you up for punishment, so it’s best to learn from your enemy and strike when the iron is hot. The core foundation that makes Samurai Shodown what it is comes down to its Rage Gauge, which fills up upon being hit. At max Rage, the player’s character receives a passive attack bonus, and they additionally have access to their Weapon Flipping Technique, which if landed, can disarm the opponent leaving them extremely vulnerable. Performing a Rage Explosion during any time of the match will put a character at max Rage, and adding upon the benefit of the attack buff and Weapon Flipping Technique, players now have the option to perform a Lightning Blade attack, which deals massive damage on hit. This however comes at a price, as performing a Rage Explosion removes the Rage Gauge for the rest of the battle, meaning the player will now have to rely on wit and speed to close the match. Finally, players have the one-time option to use their Super Special Move, which can greatly take down an opponent’s HP. But be warned, it has a slight charge-up time, which can leave you open for attack! Play Video Play Video Dojo Mode The newest addition to the Samurai Shodown series is our new Dojo Mode. Here, players can fight against their very own Ghost, which is the culmination of player’s very own input data collected during offline modes. This serves as an excellent way for players new and old to discover their faults before their opponent does. Additionally, other player Ghosts can be downloaded and fought against, which gives players the opportunity to fight against professional players right from home! Genjuro What Samurai Shodown wouldn’t be complete without the big G. I’m talking about Genjuro, of course, who made his first appearance in Samurai Shodown II. For many that may know already, Genjuro is a hired assassin who really knows how to get the job done. In fact, he loves killing so much that he’ll gladly cut down anyone that stands in his way. The only person able to put up a fight against him is his rival Haohmaru. Haohmaru and Genjuro go way back to when they were kids being trained by the same sensei. Genjuro, unable to control his lust for killing, abandoned the dojo he trained at in order to live out a life of drugs, sex, and violence. Upon leaving, he threatened Haohmaru that if they ever cross paths again, Genjuro wouldn’t think twice before cutting him down. Will he succeed in killing Haohmaru and living his life as a lawless murderer, or will his past deeds catch up and force him to die by the sword? Only you can decide that outcome. Final Word Samurai Shodown is a series beloved by many across the world. Much effort was put into this new title to give players the ultimate samurai experience, which is living on the edge of a blade. Only those willing to Embrace Death and learn from their mistakes will be able to succeed, and I hope I can be there crossing swords with you all on day one. Before we say goodbye, I have a special message from our partners at Athlon Games: Samurai Shodown’s Season Pass will provide players with extra value, encompassing the first six months of DLC including four new playable characters. What’s more, the Season Pass will be available absolutely free through PlayStation Store until June 30 as a thank you to early adopters. Some regional restrictions apply. View the full article
  10. Today’s update to Red Dead Online brings a host of new gameplay including new cooperative story missions, Free Roam activities and the addition of Poker alongside a range of updates and improvements that strengthen and stabilize the foundational world of the Red Dead Online experience. This is just the beginning. The future of Red Dead Online not only includes continued improvements to the core elements of the world to make every aspect of the game fun for all kinds of players, but also brand-new experiences that establish a deeper, more immersive connection to the world and your character. For PS4 players without a PlayStation Plus subscription, you’ll be able to play Red Dead Online as part of a special bonus period from now until May 27. See below for details on today’s update and what’s coming in the weeks and months ahead. A Land of Opportunities Missions The revenge saga of Jessica LeClerk expands today with new missions in A Land of Opportunities for both honorable and dishonorable players. After the epic showdown in Fort Mercer that concluded the last series of missions, players will help Mrs. LeClerk get closer to the truth behind the murder of her husband. In the more honorable Gunslinger path, battle the Del Lobos gang and help Marshall Tom Davies save Valentine — and his own neck. In the Outlaw strand, outwit lawmen to assist Samson Finch in highway robbery, and pull off a daring high-stakes theft at the Saint Denis Bank. Both paths lead to a rendezvous in Blackwater with a dangerous adversary. Free Roam Missions Free Roam Missions also expand today with new characters from the story of Red Dead Redemption 2 and a variety of new and diverse mission types. Bring your Posse to meet with Thomas the Skiff Captain down in Bayou Nwa for some honest work or visit the disconcertingly hospitable Aberdeen Pig Farmers to get your hands extremely dirty, and look out for more characters to appear soon. Poker Visit poker tables at towns and outposts across the map to challenge your friends to a private, invite-only game of Hold ’Em. Or, raise the stakes and take a seat at a public table, where the buy-ins and rewards are even higher. All poker tables seat up to six players, available in five locations: Blackwater, Saint Denis, Tumbleweed, Valentine and Flatneck Station. LeMat Revolver, Clothing and More Boasting a 9-round revolving chamber and a secondary barrel for a single buckshot round, switch between rapid-fire bullets and a devastating shotgun shell on the fly with the LeMat Revolver — now available for purchase from the Wheeler, Rawson and Co. Catalogue. More clothing items and emotes are also available, featuring some highly-requested clothing options including Ponchos, patterned Bandanas and more — as well as new emotes such as Throat Slit and Flip Off. New inventory will be coming and going often so check the Catalogue frequently to see what’s in stock week-to-week. In addition, all players who jump into Red Dead Online this week will get a gift of 15 Gold Bars and see a 25% increase of XP on A Land of Opportunities, Free Roam Missions, Showdown Modes, Races and Free Roam Events. Treasure hunters will also find 25% extra Cash and Gold in chests containing them. All Ultimate Edition owners will also get a gift of RDO$100 and the Throat Slit emote for free. What’s Next In the weeks ahead, more additions to Red Dead Online include new Free Roam characters, as well as new Showdown modes and lots more. This includes new Free Roam Missions and Clothing, along with all new PS4 Early Access content, more details coming soon. Visit for details and limitations. View the full article
  11. Hey guys! It’s Shabs here, Game Director from First Contact Entertainment — developer behind Firewall Zero Hour*, the team-based tactical multiplayer shooter, exclusive to PS VR. Today, we are excited to announce our biggest update to the game yet — Operation: Nightfall — coming May 21! With Operation: Nightfall, we’re bringing a whole new face to Firewall Zero Hour as you know it. One of the most significant changes is introducing a whole new system of time-limited progression taking the form of Missions, Tasks, and cosmetic Rewards. New Seasonal Progression System of Missions, Tasks, and Rewards With the Operation: Nightfall drop, we’ve changed our previous challenges system to take on a more meaningful approach and reward players with new cosmetics. Each week your Contract Handler will assign a new Mission to complete, yielding new rewards. You will notice new optional daily Tasks presented to you as well, which reward you with XP and Crypto. Check back daily for new Tasks! Every week there will be one Mission is available for free for all players. With an Op-Pass ($9.99 USD), players can unlock additional Premium and Bonus missions and earn Seasonal cosmetic rewards, which unlock immediately upon completion of these Missions. Here’s what’s available this season: We’ve also introduced a Legendary Weapon Skin, Okoro’s Volkov, available to Op-Pass holders who complete all 24 missions, for 250,000 Crypto. New Maps and Contractors Operation: Nightfall kicks off with the brand new map, Hangar, and a new Contractor, Ruby, who brings the Skill of “Thief” (ability to steal Crypto from enemy corpse). The map of Hangar takes place around a large military transport aircraft in a hangar in the heart of Malaysia, and is available to all players. Ruby, the Contractor, is accessible via the Op-Pass. Her Skill of “Thief” is available as a timed-exclusive to Op-Pass holders (after season wraps, the Skill becomes available to all players at Level 12 and with 12,000 Crypto). Later on, players will see Operation: Nightfall’s mid-season update, which will introduce another new map (F.O.B.) and new Contractor (Lynx) for the season. New Weapons Also launching on day one of Operation: Nightfall are three new weapons (the Richardson SG12, Sarge, and Raptor), which become available upon completion of their corresponding weekly missions. New UI and QOL Updates Players will immediately notice a completely revamped UI in the game. This will make the new Missions, Tasks, and Rewards system very clear to players. Players will also notice various changes in the lobby that improve overall performance and stability. Other quality-of-life updates include: Squad optimizations, ability to customize Contractors in lobby, map and laptop location refresh in Bunker and Compound, as well as updates to enemy indicators and headshot SFX. New AI When playing Multiplayer PVE Training mode, players will witness new AI behavior that changes the traditional PVE gameplay experience. The new AI behaviors are meant to mimic human-like player tactics, with characteristics like breaching doors, hunting players down, and using equipment intuitively. New Ways to Access More Content Beginning May 21, we are excited to offer players several new ways to enjoy the game, depending on your play style. The Op-Pass and Hack Keys are explained below: Operation: Nightfall update: Free update for all owners of Firewall Zero Hour-featuring new in-game UI, new Maps, and more. This update is viewable as soon as players load up Firewall Zero Hour. Nightfall Op-Pass** ($9.99 USD): Obtain the Op-Pass, which allows access to all Operation: Nightfall Missions, Tasks, and Rewards. Hack Key x5 Pack*** ($4.99 USD): Each Hack Key will instantly complete one Operational Mission. You will not gain any XP for Missions completed this way, but you will be instantly awarded full Crypto, in addition to the Mission Reward (cosmetics only). Hack Keys are a great option for players who don’t have as much time to play as they would like. Nightfall Op-Pass + 25 Hack Keys Bundle***: Includes access to Operation: Nightfall, in addition to 25 hack keys to be used on any Operational Mission. You will not gain any XP for Missions Completed this way, but you will instantly be awarded full Crypto, in addition to the Mission Reward (cosmetics only). Another great option for players who don’t have as much time to play as they would like. Leading up to May 21, you’ll notice changes starting today in the PS Store in the Americas and Europe for Firewall Zero Hour. Previous cosmetic items released on the store since launch will now be reformatted into seven special content bundles. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab these bundles as they will only be available for one week! After May 21, cosmetic items will be available in-game as rewards for completed missions: Year One Skin Bundle: Customize your Contractors and Weapons with this collection of six original Skins. Year One Super Skin Bundle: Customize your Contractors and Weapons with this collection of 10 original Skins. Year One Mega Bundle: Go all out with customizations for your Contractors and Weapons! This Mega Bundle includes 10 original Skins plus all Trinkets and Patches released to date. Year One Trinket Bundle: Customize your Weapons with this collection of all Trinkets released to date. Year One Patch Bundle: Personalize your Contractors with this collection of all Patches released to date. Year One Contractor Bundle: Get the three newest Contractors in one Bundle. This three-Contractor Bundle contains Nash, Jag, and Node. Year One Face Paint Bundle: Show them your game face with this collection of eight original Face Paints. With Firewall Zero Hour – Operation: Nightfall, we’re thrilled to be rolling out a new format for the game, and establishing a cadence for seasonal content updates going forward. We’re looking forward to community feedback on this new update. See you online, Contractors! – Shabs *An internet connection is required for all modes of Firewall Zero Hour, including Single Player Training Mode. An active PS Plus membership is required for Multiplayer Training and Multiplayer Contract modes. **Op Pass requires Firewall Zero Hour in order play and unlock content. ***Available for purchase in the PS Store. Hack Keys alone can be used to hack free missions, and when used in conjunction with the Op-Pass, Hack Keys can hack any type of mission including Premium and Bonus missions. View the full article
  12. Starting tomorrow, PlayStation Store invites you to bask in the momentous return of Totally Digital with epic discounts up to 60 percent and 70 percent for Plus members. In the weeks ahead you will be transported to faraway lands courtesy of some of the most brilliant minds and imaginations from the industry. Kicking off the lineup with a daring co-op escape is A Way Out, along with a visit to the strange and delightful inhabitants of Undertale, followed by a foray into the slow-motion bullet hailstorm of Superhot. And that’s just scratching the surface of the plentiful bounty of titles. Begin your journey to PS Store once you’ve explored the full list below. The stellar deals of Totally Digital begin May 14 and end May 28 at 8 AM PT. PS4 Games Title $Sale $PSPlus $Original -KLAUS- $9.99 $4.99 $19.99 101 WAYS TO DIE $4.99 $3.99 $9.99 11-11 MEMORIES RETOLD $17.99 $14.99 $29.99 2064: READ ONLY MEMORIES $11.99 $7.99 $19.99 2DARK $8.99 $5.99 $29.99 3ON3 FREESTYLE – REBECCA CHARACTER PACK $9.74 $9.09 $12.99 A BASTARD’S TALE $1.99 $1.49 $4.99 A WAY OUT $20.99 $17.99 $29.99 ACE BANANA (VR) $5.99 $4.49 $14.99 ADR1FT $7.99 $5.99 $19.99 ADVENTURES OF PIP $9.74 $4.49 $14.99 ALIEN: ISOLATION SEASON PASS $14.99 $11.99 $29.99 ALONG TOGETHER (VR) $7.49 $5.99 $14.99 ANIMAL FORCE (VR) $6.39 $4.79 $15.99 APB RELOADED 1100 G1C $7.99 $5.99 $9.99 APB RELOADED 12000 G1C $79.99 $59.99 $99.99 APB RELOADED 2240 G1C $15.99 $11.99 $19.99 APB RELOADED 25000 G1C $119.99 $89.99 $149.99 APB RELOADED 3920 G1C $27.99 $20.99 $34.99 APB RELOADED 500 G1C $3.99 $2.99 $4.99 APB RELOADED 5700 G1C $39.99 $29.99 $49.99 AQUATV $7.49 $4.99 $9.99 ARCADE GAME SERIES 3-IN-1 PACK $4.79 $3.99 $7.99 ARCADE GAME SERIES: DIG DUG $2.39 $1.99 $3.99 ARCADE GAME SERIES: GALAGA $2.39 $1.99 $3.99 ARCADE GAME SERIES: MS. 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  13. Hi! I am Anthony Giovannetti, one of the two developers behind Slay the Spire, which is releasing on PS4 May 21 and is now available for pre-order. In Slay the Spire, you will climb a living spire filled with bizarre creatures, discover relics of immense power, and craft a unique deck from hundreds of different cards each journey up the Spire. Dynamic Deck Building Every run of Slay the Spire procedurally generates a new Spire for you to climb. After every battle you will make a critical decision, choosing a new card to add to your deck. Like the rest of the Spire, these card choices will be different every run. Instead of developing a stale best strategy and never changing, Slay the Spire forces you to adapt and experiment with new decks and cards. Slay the Spire has three playable characters with completely different card pools and play styles, but today, we’ll just be focusing on one of them: the Ironclad. The Ironclad The Ironclad is the sole remaining warrior of his tribe, capable of drawing fiendish power from his demonic benefactors. By increasing his own strength during combat or making short work of his foes with an arsenal of powerful attacks, the Ironclad boasts the ability to challenge any enemy. Wielding an impressive array of strong defensive options, the Ironclad also has the ability to shield himself from the mightiest attacks. While there are many ways to build the Ironclad, today we’re specifically highlighting a more defensive build that was created by one of our all-star community members, Quincunx. Infinite Combos Want to trap your opponent in a never-ending combo of destruction? Then keep an eye out for free cards like Flash of Steel or cards that generate card draw like Dropkick. Going Aggressive Like to hit things in the face really hard? Then try getting aggro. Look for cards that can combo to dish out high amounts of damage. Barricade You shall not pass. Sometimes inching out a victory is the best way to go. Become undefeatable by looking for these drops. Turtling Up This deck relies heavily on defensive options, ensuring that our Ironclad hero never takes lethal damage. By guaranteeing you don’t take damage each turn, we can squeak out damage and eventually grind our way to the top of the Spire. We also will bake in some simple win-condition opportunities to finish each fight consistently. Some Tips Keep That Decklist Small We want our decks to be consistent. Too many options can lead to poor card draws and we want to make sure that when we draw a card, we are drawing an answer to our problems. Maintaining a decklist smaller than 20 cards is ideal and can help guarantee we’re drawing solutions. Save Those Potions! Dexterity potions allow you to gain more block when you cast block-related spells. These are especially useful doing boss battles where lethal damage can accumulate quickly and they can be used in a pinch. Upgrade Your Cards These are the cards you’re going to want to upgrade first to ensure you are maximizing your defensive and offensive capabilities. Great Picks Here are a few cards you should keep an eye out for on your journey up the Spire! Other Playable Characters We also have a few other characters in addition to the Ironclad, each with their own unique quirks and build opportunities. Here are a few teases to get the mind wandering. The Silent A deadly huntress that eradicates her enemies with skill and precision. She makes use of poisons to deal continuous damage, or to weaken enemies’ attacks to be ineffective. The Silent is also capable of playing out a rapid-fire number of cards in a turn, effectively swamping the monsters she encounters in a deluge of blades. The Defect A combat automaton that has become self-aware, it now seeks to destroy what it used to protect. The defect makes use of powerful elemental orbs, evoking their powers to annihilate the denizens of the Spire. The Defect also makes the most use of a strong collection of powers — cards with an affect that lasts the whole combat – to combine into an unbeatable force. Each of these characters have a host of different strategies and unique play styles to explore. When playing Slay the Spire, remember to explore and try and discover all the various synergies that are possible. View the full article
  14. The fine folks at id Software have assembled Earth’s mightiest tips and tricks to get you started on your journey through the wasteland, now that Rage 2 is launching tomorrow on PS4. From general survival advice, to more pointed tips about specific upgrades, this list has you covered. There are also some really stupid tips we threw in just for funsies. Getting Started in the Wasteland Find all the Arks scattered through the wasteland. These are vital to obtaining all the weapons and abilities in the game. You can gather Ark locations by talking to people in the hub cities, finding clues in datapads, or just coming across them as you explore. Spend lots of time with your weapons. All weapons can be upgraded, which gives them additional features, and many of them also possess a secondary fire mode. Rage 2 is all about push-forward combat. This is not a cover shooter. Speed, aggression, and violence reign supreme in the wasteland. Get into the fight and get your hands dirty. Hoard Feltrite like your life depends on it, because it just might. Feltrite can be found in crates around the world, on enemies, and on meteorites that have crash-landed on Earth. Spend Feltrite to upgrade your weapons and abilities. Spend those project points! Everything you do in the wasteland gains you favor with one of three core characters. As you level up with them, you’ll accrue project points that can be spent to get additional upgrades. The ammo carry upgrades are super useful, as are the upgrades to help you find datapads and chests. Buy schematics from vendors around the wasteland to upgrade your throwable items like Wingsticks, Grenades and Turret Drones. Don’t forget to sell your junk. Retailers in Wellspring, Gunbarrel, Oasis, Lagooney and Dreadwood will buy all that junk you’ve been hauling around in exchange for cold hard cash. Poke your nose into all the wasteland’s nooks and crannies. You never know what you might find hidden in the dark corners of the world. Get creative! Not every mission needs to be solved with a bullet. Sometimes if you do a little recon before taking on a side objective, you might just find a button that solves all your problems for you. Somewhere out in the wasteland, there’s a very special chair. You’ll know it when you see it. Find the chair. The chair is life. The chair is love. Cheating is fun. Rage 2 is adding an old school layer of over-the-top fun with a Cheats system, meaning your already insane action is going to get… just plain weird. Enable Cheats to add some spice (and laughs) to your journey. (Note: Trophies are disabled when Cheats are in use.) Abilities Upgrade the cooldown for your Nanotrite abilities first. The faster you can use your abilities in combat, the more effective you’ll be and the quicker you’ll be able to unleash Overdrive, which brings us to our next tip… Don’t forget Overdrive! Not only does it power up all your weapons and abilities, Overdrive also regenerates your health. Being able to chain abilities and weapons to quickly fill your Overdrive meter is key to owning the battlefield. Combat really opens up when you master your combos. Come on and Slam, and welcome to the… pain. Crippling pain. The higher up you are, the more devastating your Slam will be. Slam can also help you mitigate fall damage if you time it right. Use Dash often. It’s a great way to avoid fire from very difficult enemies (like Authority Sentries, Cyber Crushers and the Immortal Shrouded). Plus, when combined with the Grav-Jump, Dash can help you get to hard-to-reach places. Vehicles See a vehicle out on the road that you like? Steal it and bring it back to the garage at one of the hub cities like Wellspring, Gunbarrel, Lagooney or Dreadwood in order to make it yours. Once a car is yours, you can call it in at any time from the Vehicles tab in the menu. Don’t worry if you can’t find your vehicle. In addition to being able to call in any of the rides in your garage from the Vehicles tab, you can also hold open your weapon wheel and call in the Phoenix from there. Use the hand brake. It’s your friend when navigating the hard streets of Rage 2. Learn how to use the Phoenix’s ram function. Not only is it fun for just bumping other drivers off the road, it’s especially handy when taking on a convoy. On that note, don’t try and fight a convoy before you upgrade your Phoenix’s weapons and armor. The Ejector Seat upgrade for the Phoenix is a must-have. When hitting top speed in the Phoenix, hold down the exit button and you’ll be launched out the car superhero style. Combo it with slam to make a stylish entrance. And last, but definitely not least, have fun! If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. See the other tips on this list to help rectify the situation. View the full article
  15. Email us at! Subscribe via iTunes, Spotify, Google or RSS, or download here This week, the gang looks back on the new episode of State of Play. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne! Predator: Hunting Grounds! Cute lil’ sugar glider survival game Away! And, of course, the long-awaited reappearance of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Enjoy! Stuff We Talked About State of Play Final Fantasy VII Remake Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Just Shapes and Beats Days Gone Everybody’s Golf VR The Cast Sid Shuman – Director of Social Media, SIEA Justin Massongill – Social Media Manager, SIEA Kristen Zitani – Social Media Specialist, SIEA Thanks to Cory Schmitz for our beautiful logo and Dormilón for our rad theme song and show music. [Editor’s note: PSN game release dates are subject to change without notice. Game details are gathered from press releases from their individual publishers and/or ESRB rating descriptions.] View the full article