Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission Review – Only For The Fans

Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission seeks to bring the arcade sensation to Western home audiences but only works for the most hardcore fans.

Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is the first non-handheld localization of a Japanese arcade game that blends 3D Dragon Ball fighting game visuals with mixed reality trading card gameplay. The original game gained significant popularity in Japanese arcades by combining the massive franchise with a captivating gameplay gimmick, in which players place their physical Dragon Ball Heroes cards onto a specialized board to deploy their favorite characters from various series and timelines onto a virtual battlefield.

Now the franchise makes its Western console debut with this port ditching the physical cards for free digital ones. While this should be a relief to anyone who has ever fallen down the financial well of booster packs before, the move from the arcade to the PC and Switch was a bit messy. Much of the gimmicky arcade appeal clings onto the experience like the useless human appendix to its functional large intestine. Still, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission‘s numerous imperfections won’t keep otakus away, but it’s feasible that avid card game players may find it hard to embrace the game when presented with its convoluted mechanics and technical missteps.

Related: GWENT: The Witcher Card Game Is Finally Coming To Mobile

For starters, World Mission majorly deviates from traditional card games like Yu-Gi-Oh, with its gameplay closely resembling a cross between the mainline Pokémon games and Mega Man Battle Network. Including well over 1,000 cards that feature more than 300 characters, players take a deck of seven cards into battle with the goal of depleting their opponent’s HP in a series of quick-time events (QTEs) called Charge Impacts (CIs). Usually, the player whose cards are imbued with the largest numbers and most overpowered abilities and effects wins. There are three card types, Co-op Bonuses, Super Abilities, Ultimate Unit Chances, Card Action Abilities, Touch Action Abilities, meters like Power Level, Hero Energy, card Stamina to balance, and that’s not even everything – to say that World Mission is overwhelming is to put it lightly. However, as these QTEs determine who deals more and receives less damage, the course of battle ultimately comes down to players’ ability to fill the Charge Impact meter to its fullest while defending and attacking each round. There are a few hitches to this that come in the form of CI buffs and debuffs, but this facet of World Mission is an otherwise barebones skill game.

CIs and other QTEs are the focus of cinematic scenes in which players watch their iconic fighters face off, but World Mission fails to deliver much spectacle during these animated sections. In fact, they might be the game’s worst design choice. Even though they boast an impressive number of unique character models and a ridiculous number of re-skins, these feel underutilized when paraded around in a handful of recycled animations so stiff and amateur that they appear as if ripped from the Budokai era. Nevertheless, these animations comprise the majority of what players see during matches, and the utter lack of an option to skip them during single player battles hamstrings the game’s pace.

Also showcased during these interactive scenes are Card and Touch Action Abilities, which trigger bombastic attacks when executed successfully. Unfortunately, these sequences aren’t compelling to trigger, requiring players to complete bizarre QTEs by moving a card-shaped cursor around on a representation of the game board or drawing shapes over the attacking character. Unlike CIs, these timed QTEs are too easy to possibly mess up and add little to the experience aside from visual confusion.

World Mission suffers from an unwavering attachment to its roots in the arcades of Japan, and the above issues are only a portion of this larger problem’s symptoms. Like ports of other Japanese exclusives before it, some of World Mission‘s English translation is a little awkward in places, with card effects being somewhat inelegant (but consistent) in their wording. However, that doesn’t hold a candle to the fact that none of the Japanese audio in World Mission is translated into English, neither through subtitles or voice dubs. While it’s probable that die-hard Dragon Ball fans will be unfazed to know that the characters are exclusively voiced by the Japanese cast, their tune will change when quips are being screamed over one another while the game’s announcer narrates the action, none of which they will understand unless they speak Japanese. This is accompanied by World Mission‘s unpolished sound design, which is probably no big deal in a noisy arcade but is painfully clear when played through home speakers or headphones. Worst of all, it appears no one considered including options or settings of any kind, meaning that players wanting to tweak aspects of the game’s audio or controls in the name of preference or accessibility are fresh out of luck.

Not everything about World Mission is bad news and the game’s campaign serves as a long, colorful tutorial for players while they bolster their decks for online play, and it’s liable to be many players’ favorite part of the game. World Mission is set in a world in which Dragon Ball Heroes is a treasured past-time, plagued by a sudden series of anomalies that are warping Dragon Ball characters from different timelines and universes into both the virtual and real worlds. This provides the game with endless opportunities to reference any and all events from Dragon Ball Z all the way through Dragon Ball Super – even the retconned Dragon Ball GT gets some love – while creating hilarious breaks in continuity. The resulting clashes and paradoxes create entertaining moments that are often as self-aware as they are absurd, and the dialogue feels surprisingly authentic between the characters and all their iterations. As such, fans of the franchise will adore World Mission, but players less invested in the anime will probably skip through the dialogue and focus on the battles. Additionally, the campaign includes lots of extra scenarios that generously increase individual chapters’ length and replayability

Online play, meanwhile, is fairly straightforward and plays almost identically to single player battles, complete with all of the fight animations and QTEs. Of course, there’s the added unpredictability of a human opponent that all card game players crave, but all the usual caveats to interconnectivity are present in World Mission. Most battles end in a quick rout, with players either getting decimated or doing the decimating. In-game chat is relegated to Stickers, preset quips and responses to curb toxicity at the cost of meaningful communication. The game’s reliance upon QTEs, namely Charge Impacts, highlights lag otherwise guised by lengthy animations, cheapening the outcomes of particularly delayed Attack Phases. Overall, though, World Mission‘s online component is more than serviceable, offering spaces for both casual and competitive play in which players can take on strangers and friends while perfecting their decks and strategies.

Lastly, there’s the matter of World Mission‘s approach to monetization – that is, it’s refreshingly welcome lack thereof. Like in the golden days of console gaming, players can unlock every card and item by just playing the game. Despite Dragon Ball Heroes‘ arcade presence being designed to generate revenue from blind card packs, for whatever marvelous reason nothing can be bought with real money in World Mission. And its fairly giving at that, as campaign missions provide a steady flow of currency, which players can redeem for one-time consumable items, permanent passive and active abilities, and cards of varying rarity. Though the Gacha Shop does award duplicates, they’re immediately transformed into Ticket Pieces, which can be crafted into Gacha Tickets for 10 pieces and Rare Gacha Tickets fo 50. This is a bit steep, but the game avoids devolving into a grindfest early on with its massive library of cards, leaving a lot of room to grow for new players – trying to complete a collection is likely a different story, however.

Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission carries a fun card game at its core, but the final product is a mediocre port laden down with mechanical convolution and kitschy arcadiness, each present for their own sake. While there are saving graces like the lighthearted fan service offered by the campaign, a solid online offering, and a much-appreciated rejection of genre standard monetization practices that keep things enjoyable and fair, there are plenty of negatives that the average player will have to wade through in order to appreciate the good. World Mission‘s semi-polished state and strange presentation will be everything that ardent fans of everything Dragon Ball want in an unapologetic arcade experience, but genre veterans looking for the next Magic the Gathering don’t need to feel guilty for passing on this one.

More: 10 Dragon Ball Villains That Hurt The Series (And 10 That Saved It)

Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is currently available for PC and Switch. Screen Rant was provided a Switch code for review.

2019-04-15 03:04:45

Phillip Tinner

Falcon Age Review: A Beautiful Friendship

Falcon Age is about more than the bond between you and your (adorable) bird. It’s about reclaiming your culture, and it’s a story told beautifully.

Animal-lovers know what it’s like to have a special bond with a furry (or feathered) friend. Whether they own a Chihuahua or a Furby, they build a connection to this creature, one that transcends the boundaries of language. In far rarer cases, the friendship goes even further, seeing the animal and human work as one; two sides of the same spirit. Instances of this may be purely fictional, but they’re the kind of bond that is explored in Falcon Age, one that connects the player to their falcon, and through that fosters an understanding of culture and history.

There are countless games that feature animal companions. There’s Rush from Mega Man, Epona from Ocarina of Time, and of course the Pokemon from Pokemon. But while the idea of having a virtual “pet” is nothing new, Falcon Age goes much further to acknowledging the truth of the bond between player and creature. It’s not just about watching your Pokemon fight while you sit back and collect Gym Badges, or riding your horse and feeding them occasionally. Your falcon is a wild animal, and the creed of “Falcon Hunter” is an ancient tradition of your people.

Related: Breath of the Wild Gets Full VR Support Later This Month

Falcon Age is a first-person adventure game (in optional VR) where the player takes on the role of Ara. She’s a young girl with a lot to prove to her Aunt, her people, and herself. After bonding with a baby falcon in prison, they hatch (pun-intended) an escape plan and journey out into the barren land of their world. With the guidance of other members of the Resistance, Ara will reclaim her people’s land from the oppressive robot government and discover more about the traditions that have been destroyed.

One of these traditions, of course, is that of the Falcon Hunter. With the special bond Ara formed with the baby bird, she will hone her skills and train to become the very best (that no one ever was… etc.). As it is made for VR and the basic PS4 set up, thankfully the game controls excellently and the camera movement can be modified to achieve the perfect look for any specs. The gameplay in Falcon Age is very simple. With the click of a button, players can send their falcon to attack different key points like robot enemies or rabbits to hunt. Players can also whistle for their bird to land on their hand where a number of actions can take place. They can feed them with crafted food, equip different items, or pet them.

This cannot be stressed enough: petting them is the most adorable thing, and players are recommended to do it often. There’s a practical reason of course, as petting your falcon can heal them if they have been damaged from fighting robots. But even if they are at full health, it’s hard to resist wanting to give them a fist bump, do the thing where you make a heart with your hands and they put their head through, and more! This may seem like an odd mechanic to harp on, but for a game about the bond between friends across species’ boundaries, it’s vital (and cute).

Falcon Age involves more than just telling your falcon to do things; you have work to do as well. Ara must navigate the land, completing relatively basic objectives to help the growing resistance. The map isn’t gigantic, but it feels big enough for the short campaign and is filled with a ton of beautiful imagery in a unique artistic style. Most of the missions involve using Ara’s handy whip/baton to defeat batches of enemies, while guiding her falcon to assist in the skies. The way the game makes the combo of Ara’s attacks necessary with the falcons in order for neither to get hurt is wonderfully done. The combat is never challenging (the game even offers “Imprint Mode” where combat is optional) but it still remains satisfying.

The game also does a great job of breaking up the (occasionally) monotonous hack-n-slash with fun side quests and mini-games. There’s hunting of course, which isn’t super “involved,” though it is always fun to watch your falcon dive from the heavens on to her prey. Falcon Age also has a kid-friendly crafting system, where meat collected from hunting is processed in a blender to make edible pellets for your bird bud. There are a bunch of different recipes, and plenty of open areas to explore to find the next meal. There’s also a very goofy futuristic “golf” game involving the Ara’s whip, where the ball is knocked towards the hole using the momentum of the swing.

But Falcon Age wouldn’t be complete without the ability to change your falcon’s outfit. Players can give her plenty of different hats, including one that makes her look like a chick again even when she is all grown up. Upgrades can also be made like the addition of sonar and armor, to give players an edge up in their fights. As Auntie says early on in the game, “it’s not about you.” The story is about the bond you create with your falcon, so it’s understandable that they get all the accessories.

Though Falcon Age embraces the friendship of human and animal in a way few games have done (The Last Guardian comes to mind as this game’s equal), that’s not all that sets it apart. Through all the bonding the player does with their bird, they also grow closer to the culture their world abandoned. There’s a powerful moment in the game where Ara admits her name was shortened by the government because the robots couldn’t pronounce it correctly. Her Aunt replies “because they weren’t built by people who cared.” These indigenous peoples whose land and traditions were stolen from them lead a triumphant narrative of self-discovery and technological impact. In the end, players will have made an adorable bird friend, but the bond with a forgotten culture is even more memorable.

More: Dangerous Driving Review: Race, Crash, Repeat

Falcon Age is out now on PS4 and PSVR for $19.99. Screen Rant was provided with a digital PS4 copy for the purposes of this review.

2019-04-09 01:04:03

Ty Sheedlo

Dangerous Driving Review: Race, Crash, Repeat

The original creators of Burnout successfully bring the action racing genre back to basics with Dangerous Driving, a classic, pure, hardcore racing experience!

There are two types of games; those which allow the player to sit back and relax, and those which force them to lean forward in unbreakable attention. Dangerous Driving is the latter. Three Fields Entertainment have always worn their pedigree on their sleeve; comprised of veterans from Criterion, the team behind the legendary PS2-era arcade racing series, Burnout, TFE is dedicated to making a genuine successor to the venerated franchise using an indie budget and seven-person team.

From the jump, Dangerous Driving is immediately recognizable as a spiritual successor to the classic Burnout games; the menus and interface are startlingly similar to Burnout 3, and many of DD‘s modes are taken straight from that classic title. From standard races to Eliminator, Road Rage, and Face-Off, Dangerous Driving makes clear its ambitions of dethroning Burnout as the king of high-octane action racing. Does Dangerous Driving succeed in this lofty aspiration? Or does it stall out before the finish line?

Related: 11 Racing Video Games That Could Be Great Movies

The single-player “Dangerous Driving Tour” consists of 69 events, sorted via the six vehicle classes, which start fast and only get faster as the campaign progresses. Fans of classic Burnout will instantly feel at home as the game progresses, as the races intensify, and as the wrecks pile up. Even the slowest cars are still incredibly fast, and triggering boost sends them rocketing forward like a jet engine. The intense motion blur that comes with activating boost might be a bit much for some, but it really sells the staggering sense of speed, and it’s tough not to sport a jolly grin while flying down the wrong side of the road at 250 MPH.

This sense of speed is at its strongest during Heatwave events; unlike the majority of events, which encourage ramming opponents off the road to build boost and gain ground, Heatwave prohibits Takedowns and focuses on one thing: speed. In these events, emptying out a full boost meter without losing speed triggers a “Heatwave,” which refills the boost meter and – here’s the hook – adds two MPH to maximum speed. Winning a race with a boost chain of 20 or more is satisfying beyond belief, and is as innovative as it is entertaining.

The other big game-changer here is Eliminator. The mode functions much the same as in Burnout 3 and Revenge, but with one awesome change: persistent wrecks. Unlike classic Burnout, where a wrecked opponent would disappear, smashed cars in Dangerous Driving remain on the track, causing subsequent laps to be more and more prone to disaster, as it can be incredibly difficult to avoid crashing into some wrecks. Even regular races are affected by this, adding a lot of strategy to routine events; it can be tempting to take out all opponents at every opportunity, but at the expense of a particularly harrowing final lap. In Eliminator, a five lap gauntlet in which the racer in last place gets eliminated, the racetrack ends up looking like a scrapyard by the end, leading to even more outrageous levels of vehicular carnage.

There is no downtime between events beyond brief loading screens. There’s no XP, no level-ups, no social aspects (except for requisite leaderboards), and no DLC or microtransactions. There’s no fat on these bones, just non-stop action from start to finish. On the other hand, there are a number of blemishes which betray DD’s nature as an indie game, developed by a team of seven people. Physics can get a bit wonky at times, particularly in the faster classes, leading to some weird moments where car-on-car combat turns into a spectacle of broken physics. Additionally, car crashes, a hallmark of Burnout, are a bit subdued in Dangerous Driving; beyond tires falling off and doors swinging open, damage modeling is very limited on the cars. Takedowns can still be intense, but frequently lack the punch of the Burnout games of yore.

Visually, there are a couple of cut corners, like the generic font on street signs or repetitive backgrounds on the racetracks, but these minor issues don’t impact the pristine gameplay. The framerate is a bit more complicated in that respect; Dangerous Driving runs at 60 FPS on PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, but only 30 FPS on the base systems. For the most part, PS4 Pro holds that 60 FPS target, but there are moments, particularly while driving through tunnels, which cause the game to freeze for a fraction of a second.

Dangerous Driving isn’t perfect, but it has an indomitable spirit, relentless momentum, and a rewarding progression. Multiplayer isn’t available at launch, but this omission does little to diminish the kinetic exuberance of Dangerous Driving. In a gaming landscape dominated by open-world sandboxes and microtransaction-driven “live services,” Dangerous Driving represents a pure racing experience without peer.

Next: 20 Video Game Franchises That EA Has Ruined

Dangerous Driving releases on April 9 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The digital version retails for $29.99, while the physical version includes 2018’s Danger Zone 2 and retails for $39.99. Screen Rant was provided a PS4 review code by the Dangerous Driving team.

2019-04-08 06:04:14

Zak Wojnar

Overwhelm Review: A Brutally Difficult Retro Sidescrolling Shooter

Ruari O’Sullivan’s Overwhelm is a tough-as-nails retro shooter that’s strangely addictive but only for the most dedicated and sadistic gamers.

Overwhelm lives up to its title in every sense of the word. Developed by one man, Ruari O’Sullivan, Overwhelm is an attempt to create an 8-bit sidescrolling shooter for the current generation of gaming. The title first released in June 2018 on Steam and has been ported over to the Nintendo Switch. While Nintendo’s new console and handheld hybrid doesn’t lack for indie games Overwhelm is still molded quite nicely to the unique platform. This isn’t just because Overwhelm is clearly inspired by games of Nintendo’s past from the NES era but because of the merits of the game itself.

Overwhelm is brutally difficult and polarizing. The satisfaction that comes with victory can easily be overtaken by the frustration of seeing seemingly endless “Game Over” screens. For those who tough it out Overwhelm is gratifying and oddly addictive retro experience.

Related: New Switch Controller Finally Supports In-Game Chat

Overwhelm does have a story but it’s sparse and boils down to one point; kill everything in sight. Overwhelm puts players in control of a genderless explorer as they dive into alien depths that are inhabited by creatures known as the hive. There is a central area to the caverns where the game begins and several branching paths off of that hub. Each of those paths come to five “dead ends” where a boss battle awaits. Overwhelm is over once all five of those bosses are defeated, in one run, without dying more than three times.

If that didn’t sound difficult enough Overwhelm adds modifiers to its difficulty that make it even more extreme. Overwhlem is one-hit KO. You get damaged you lose a life. Furthermore, every time one of the bosses is killed it’ll give the baseline enemies of the hive a power-up. So while Overwhelm starts with dinky adversaries those foes will grow stronger and more deadly with each boss that is vanquished. Making matters worse each of the three deaths will add a fisheye effect to the screen that cuts off part of the map, the effect getting increasingly distracting with each subsequent death.

If this makes Overwhelm sound like an anxiety attack contained in a Nintendo joy-con that’s because it is one. Overwhelm is always nerve-racking and often frustrating. There are occasionally deaths that feel more attributed to bad game design than any fault of the player. The fisheye death penalty is a little too cruel and enemies can even jump from off screen at the player resulting in an instant death. Overwhelm teeters on the knife’s edge of tantalizing challenge and teeth-grinding exasperation.

Yet the longer Overwhelm plays out the more compelling it becomes. The controls are so tight on the whole and shooting has such a nice crunch to it that victory always feels just out of reach. Overwhelm seems initially impossible but practice does make perfect. Each death is a learning experience and presents a future mistake to avoid. Overwhelm is harsh but fair and it creates an addicting gameplay loop of trial and error. Overwhelm doesn’t just demand better skill, it encourages it.

The Nintendo Switch version of Overwhelm only arrives with one new feature over the original PC game. Co-op has been added to Overwhelm to allow gamers to suffer with a friend. Co-op works well enough and there are times when an ally can help lessen the extreme challenge of the game. Yet Overwhelm feels more effective as a solo adventure. Learning the ins and out of enemy patterns and stressing over the minuscule pool of lives simply isn’t as intense with a partner.

Speaking of lowering the intensity it is possible to change the difficulty setting of Overwhelm by giving yourself infinite lives and ammo. This does allow a break for those who want it but it also robs Overwhelm of some of its charm. A successful run of Overwhelm is only about 3 hours which is a perfect length when death is possibly around every corner. It’s disappointingly shallow when you’re made invincible. Overwhelm works as a difficult game but as a breezy one, it’s hollow.

Overwhelm isn’t a title that every Nintendo Switch owner needs to try. The game does an excellent job of wanting to make the player better but it also requires a lot of patience for its steep learning curve to succeed. Overwhelm is tough as nails and while players can adjust the difficulty it’s more interesting to plug away at that obstacle. There are few gaming feelings as exhilarating as triumphing over a title as demanding as Overwhelm but that can still make the experience feel more like a chore than a game.

Next: Persona 5 Switch, Metroid Prime Trilogy Possibly Leaked By Best Buy

Overwhelm is available now for $9.99 on Nintendo Switch and Steam. Screen Rant was provided a Switch copy for review.

2019-04-06 10:04:21

Derek Stauffer

Space Junkies Review: Top-Quality Gunplay but Light on Content

Ubisoft’s Space Junkies sets the groundwork for a great competition-ready zero-G VR shooter, but a lack of content and character dulls its shine.

The announcer in Space Junkies, Ubisoft’s brand new VR shooter, is trying his best to do an impression of Fred Schneider from the B-52s. Through an overblown, slightly mocking Sprechgesang, he welcomes new players into the tutorial and beyond, a persistent unseen voice goading and guiding, attempting to establish some character to feed the resultant hi-jinks of this zero-gravity FPS, and while it’s a kind of admirable energy, there seem to be more than a few essential qualities missing from this new PlayStation VR game that somewhat under-delivers on its potential.

That tutorial is a good one, though. You’d think that moving around in all directions with a headset on would be frustrating at best and nauseous at worst, but Space Junkies makes that movement enjoyable. Through a combination of directional actions that utilize most of the buttons on the DualShock 4, players can hover vertically, move and strafe around, and even speed-boost straight ahead. The movement is strongly tied to a player’s head-tracking, a system which has seen similar use in other games and works well here, though it may take some time to get used to. Without boosting, character movement is a little on the slow side, but feels stable and sensible, and a few camera tricks help prevent players from losing their lunch, like darkening edges of the screen during lurching turns.

Related: Singularity 5 Review: Fierce Challenge With A Glossy Design

By the end of the tutorial/boot camp level, you’ll feel quite confident in dashing around, taking tight turns, and firing weapons, of which there is an interesting but limited assortment. The Ricoshaker rebounds bullets off of walls, making them excellent for taking out opponents in tunnels or tight quarters, and the Plasma Rifle is a hearty sniper-like weapon which requires charging for maximum effect. Even the simple pistol, dubbed the Sunblaster, has its own quirks, including a snazzy reload action unique from the others. What’s more, any weapon depleted of ammo can be quickly thrown, which transforms it into an incidental grenade, making for hilarious hail-Mary ends to heated fights.

Determining how best to use available weapons in live play will take considerable time, as well as memorization of their spawning locations while you loop around an arena in search of the best picks. In one of Space Junkies’ most original mechanics, players can not only dual-wield these firearms, but actually use both of their hands to manipulate them in certain ways. The Plasma Rifle is a great example of this, where the left trigger primes it and the right trigger fires, though careful use of a limited-energy shield can protect players from crafty campers from an insta-kill headshot.

So that’s the good news: the basic armory and movement abilities are pretty much five stars across the board, particularly for a VR shooter. Unfortunately, though, Space Junkies suffers from a severe lack of content at time of launch, with a small handful of arenas and essentially two simple game modes: 1v1 and 2v2. Furthermore, team play is specifically gated to friends, so there’s no random 2v2 matchmaking available, and if you don’t know anyone else with a PlayStation VR, you’re stuck with straightforward 1v1 deathmatch. The reason for this seems apparent — it’s to avoid potential griefing with strangers, where playing duos means a single teammate could ruin a match for their side — but with a smaller possible player-base due to the tech involved, you’d think Ubisoft might see fit to just let us roll the dice, rather than put up another barrier for entry.

That being said, this sensibility seems to have fed into the reason for the game’s robust pre-match active lobby. Here, players can goof around in a space station and also use the mic to speak to their upcoming opponent, and maybe even possibly make a PlayStation Plus friend in the process. If you want to team up with strangers and experience the fuller and more interesting 2v2 mode, this represents your only method to make it happen.

Matchmaking seems unreliable at the moment, and facing a much higher-level player in your first matches will likely occur. Again, this is probably due to an overall dearth of players who own modern VR tech. Additionally, Ubisoft saw fit to implement cross-play functionality, which is a surprising feature on consoles these days (or, at least, on the PlayStation 4), but it comes at a heavy price in this particular circumstance: Oculus/Vive players have the clear leg up over their PS VR brethren. Since they’ll be using actual dual controllers like the Oculus Touch, they can dual-wield and aim in different directions and even emote with each hand. Sure, the 1v1 and 2v2 match varieties mean this is more understated — an 8v8 match, for example, would give dual-wielders a much greater range of targets to shoot at — but it’s still a glaring imbalance for a game that intends to be played with a competitive mindset.

Still, the DualShock 4 does the job, and using it to aim is certainly functional, and there’s a fair amount of possible precision that, through practice, can feel rewarding in high-tension play. Gameplay will send you spinning around in circles as you hug sharp turns to get the drop on your opponent, and the sense of improvement with each completed match feels righteously satisfying. Space Junkies has a genuinely well put-together sense of mechanics, and there aren’t an enormous amount of games that have unified full-3D movement and gunplay to this high standard.

Graphically, Space Junkies looks about on par with many games downgraded for PS VR. Sacrificing texture detail for higher frame rate was the right move, just don’t confuse PC screenshots for the actual PlayStation results (note that this version was tested on a standard PlayStation 4, not a Pro). For the soundtrack, there’s a catchy bit of music that will inevitably start to grate, as well as that B-52s announcer that just seems like a lazy fill-in to add a somewhat “wacky” feel to the proceedings. Neither audio aspect fits quite right, and feel a little like try-hard additions to inject character where there really isn’t any to be found. Maybe if there were additional modes, like teams battling alien hordes or playing some kind of futuristic sport, these details could feel well-rounded but, as they are, they feel arbitrary and disposable.

Regardless, they also don’t get in the way of the central gameplay, which is genuinely strong and absorbing. There’s reason to believe that more features will be added to Space Junkies as time goes on (there is word that PlayStation Move controllers will see eventual integration in a future patch), and the basic combat is strong enough that it could potentially support a competitive and passionate community. What’s damning is that Ubisoft is asking for $40 for a limited amount of content, and presumably expecting PS VR owners trapped by limited options to simply plunk that money down. If they indeed continue to support and expand upon the game in future updates, they could certainly have something special here, but absent of any promises for a stable community (or AI bots, at the very least, please), consumers should be a little wary when committing to this one.

Next: Smash Hit Plunder Review: A Decent Destructive Diversion

Space Junkies is available on Oculus, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. A digital code for PlayStation VR was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review.

2019-04-06 10:04:05

Leo Faierman

Mechstermination Force Review: A Retro Game in Rare Form

Though the difficulty may be a deterrent to some, Mechstermination Force’s terrific core mechanics make trying (and dying) worth the effort.

Taking down a literal army of grunts or overcoming a particularly perilous platforming section is satisfying in any video game, but nothing quite compares with beating a boss. That’s why boss battles are often the most buzzed about part of any new game release that features these foes. They have massive health pools, instant-kill moves, and thermal-exhaust-port-sized weak spots. Mechstermination Force squashes all the filler; it’s a game of just boss battles. And it’s awesome.

A platformer shooter in the style of the retro-game Contra,  Mechstermination Force shares its inspiration’s level of difficulty. The game features 14 massive bosses, each (you guessed it) a giant mech bent on destroying you and everyone you love. But this game is more than just a tide-over until Cuphead releases on the Switch or you finally succumb and buy Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It’s nostalgic-stylings and the rewarding challenges it provides earn it a spot among these recent greats.

Related: Cuphead Devs Hope Fans Can Get Characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate

Right off the bat, Mechstermination Force throws the player (and their optional co-op buddy) into battle against a giant robot. The goal is always the same. Shoot down the hull of the animal-inspired mech to reveal flashing red weak points. Then rush in and hit the weak point with a wrench attack to deal massive damage. It sounds simple enough, but doing this while dodging the insane bullet-hell of the mech’s arsenal is no easy task. The player’s small health pool can drop quickly after getting hit by fire, missiles, or a foot the size of a car.

Mechstermination Boss Red

All of the bosses have several phases, transforming (Transformers style) into another form after their weak points are hit a few times. Learning the various steps it takes to defeat a phase, the moves to dodge, and how to most efficiently land that final blow are all necessary steps to beating a boss. These aren’t the type of bosses you’ll likely take down on your first try; and that’s a good thing! After all, there are only 14, so speedruns of this game will eventually take mere minutes compared to the average person’s playtime of a few hours.

Luckily for those players suffering through loss after loss, Mechstermination Force offers some respite. There’s a shop you can visit in between battles where health upgrades can be purchased, along with new types of ammo for your gun. These can easily be switched between during a fight with the press of a button, giving players a big advantage against certain types of enemies. Even players finding themselves low on credits to earn these rewards shouldn’t worry. Any previous level is re-playable, so you can beat a boss multiple times and stack up that cash.

After a few mechs are defeated, the game introduces new mechanics like the Magnet Gloves and Boost Boots. The former upgrade allows players to climb metal surfaces and hang from them to gain an optimal position while the latter offers a welcome double jump. These additions make later boss battles survivable and early bosses a lot easier. Mechstermination Force does a superb job of giving the player just enough to make their Shadow of the Colossus-sized creatures seem nearly insurmountable without feeling impossible to beat.

Mechstermination Boss Co Op

And that’s why the game works as well as it does. Either alone or with a friend, the first time a boss reveals itself, a player might scream in frustration. But each subsequent time it shoots a massive laser or reveals its third and (hopefully) final form, you’ll remember when to dodge and what areas to focus.

Mechstermination Force isn’t a game for those easily frustrated; it requires a lot of patience. But beating a boss on the first try would never be fun. Only after losing again and again and nearly giving up but then whispering to yourself “one more go,” should the boss’s patterns be fully revealed. Like entering the Matrix, the player sees what they’ve been missing. And once the mech is “sterminated,” you move onto an even harder robot with 20 more missiles. And you’ve never been prouder.

Next: Yoshi’s Crafted World Review – Hard as Cardboard

Mechstermination Force is available now on the Nintendo Switch. A digital code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.

2019-04-04 08:04:48

Ty Sheedlo

Pitfall Planet Review: A Pleasant Enough Excursion

Multiplayer couch co-op and versus games aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, back in the glory days of GoldenEye. Now that it’s possible to play with and against your friends across the world, there’s little need for sharing a singular TV screen. But there remains something special and unique about couch co-op that online play can’t capture: the rage, excitement, and energy are all dialed up to 11. In this regard Pitfall Planet shoots for the stars, and though it is a pleasant diversion, it doesn’t eclipse the genre’s expectations.

The isometric puzzle platformer was originally released as a PC exclusive way back in May of 2016. It’s always strange to think of a co-op game on the computer, imagining friends huddled around a 15-inch screen, sharing a keyboard. So the port to the Nintendo Switch definitely is a natural step; the console is a much better fit for the friendly, cooperative play-style. Pitfall Planet may even be one of the rare games that could be played with two people in the Switch’s portable mode with its simple controls and slower-paced gameplay.

Related: Left 4 Dead Devs Making New Co-Op Zombie Game Back 4 Blood 

On that note, Pitfall Planet feels a bit strange played on a flatscreen TV, but not because the co-op doesn’t fit the part. Graphically however, and as a puzzle platformer, it looks a lot more like a game you’d see on the iPhone App Store. Perhaps that’s the draw here; to capture the audience of these games and give them the opportunity to mess with friends as they solve simple, low-pressure puzzles.

Pitfall Planet plays out a bit like Captain Toad: Treasure Trackerthe two players each navigating a cute robot around the perilous world. Because the robots can’t jump, they have to use their grapple ability to grab and throw objects to progress through certain areas. Not only can the robots grab blocks and poles; they can also grab each other! This allows for players to grief their friends by picking them up and throwing them immediately off the level or making it all the way to the end and leaving them behind. Though it’s fun to do every once and awhile, keep in mind that majority of levels will need both players alive until the very end.

The game’s emphasis on cooperation is its greatest strength, fostering the friendship between the two onscreen companions as it builds (or destroys) your own. The charm imbued in the faceless stars of Pitfall Planet is almost enough to carry the game throughout its short playtime. But though the transition from PC to Switch is welcome, the controls don’t quite hit the mark. Moving around the quick levels is a slog, with some elements of the stages working in ways they shouldn’t. It’s seemingly random whether or not a character will be able to make certain “jumps” and the grapple is very cumbersome to aim. The precision is all over the place; with the slight move of the joystick you may accidentally throw your friend into lava (instead of purposefully!).

Pitfall Planet’s puzzles are where the game should truly shine, but they’re far too easy to recommend. The only challenge some players may get from them is if their friend continues to toss them over the edge before they can get their bearings. There’s a decent amount of puzzles for the game’s relatively low price point, but still only enough to fill an afternoon with even the most sabotage-loving friend. While some involve using bounce pads and others involve placing boxes on switches, they’ve all been done before, and better. It’s variety without the creative punch it needs to set itself apart.

From there on, Pitfall Planet continues to feel half-done. It offers the idea of customization: being able to buy cute hats for your robots that you wear throughout the game. However the limited selection and zoomed out view when in action makes these additions feel pretty unnecessary. Accruing gems to purchase these items is more about just watching your gem count increase than anything else.

Outside of the levels there’s a hub world which feels tacked on for no apparent reason. It serves to transition between different “worlds,” allowing players to hop in a buggy and drive around. The buggy’s controls are nearly impossible to handle, allowing both players to drive and throttle; you’ll end up doing donuts for the entirety of the ride. It’s a fun idea, just executed without much tact.

Pitfall Planet has all the markings of a fun co-op experience. It requires working together (single-player is entirely impossible too though) and only offers offline play. The world it sets up is adorable and the core mechanics are easy to pick up and lend themselves to a variety of puzzles. Unfortunately, with its wonky controls and uninspired execution, the game just can’t quite hold the attention of two people long enough before one inevitably decides its time to throw their friend into lava.

Next: Windscape Review – A Fun Throwback That Leans Too Heavily Into Nostalgia

Pitfall Planet is available on Nintendo Switch for $14.99 and on Steam for $9.99. Screen Rant was provided a Switch copy  for the purposes of this review.

2019-04-04 07:04:43

Ty Sheedlo

Eternity: The Last Unicorn Review: What’s Norse “Bad”?

Making a game is hard, and Eternity: The Last Unicorn stands a stark reminder of that fact. Simply put, Void Studios’ Norse-inspired game is a broken mess of an experience. When its bland design and combat isn’t putting players to sleep, a myriad of bugs will have them bouncing off for a more stable experience.

Players switch between two protagonists: Aurehen, an elf, and Bior, a viking. Aurehen must save the last unicorn in existence to restore her people’s immortality. Bior seeks to learn the fates of his missing shield brethren. Despite giving the impression that both tales relate, the writing fails to establish any real through-line between them. Aurehen is clearly the star while Bior’s plotline feels so inconsequential that it may as well not exist. What the stories do share, though, is dull writing and cringe-worthy dialogue.

Related: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Review – A Brutally Difficult Masterpiece

Eternity: The Last Unicorn’s uninspired design feels like Void aimed to hit the bare minimum of what a third-person action-RPG should be. Neither the world’s aesthetic nor level design feels remotely interesting or engaging. Players run around, fight enemies ad nauseam, and solve mostly generic puzzles. Tedious fetch quests force numerous return trips to the same uninteresting areas. In Metroid fashion, progressing often means upgrading weapons to bypass a barrier. However, certain spots can only be accessed as a certain character, adding to the already annoying amount of backtracking. Eternity’s world is disappointingly small as well. Case in point: only one of what I’d consider a true dungeon exists in the entire game.

Combat boils down to mindlessly spamming the attack button to victory. Enemy AI lacks the sophistication to require any thoughtful strategy. Both characters play similarly (which include laughably weak special attacks), but Bior’s sweeping, more powerful blows make him objectively better. At their worst, battles can also be a rage-inducing nightmare of cheapness. The lack of any post-hit immunity means enemies can easily gang up and stunlock players to a swift defeat. It’s infuriating, especially when knocked down and getting mauled.

The bloodthirsty AI also exposes the imperfect design. Bad guys will pursue players to the ends of the earth, sometimes into scenarios they shouldn’t be able to access–namely boss fights. I had enemies Kramer their way into encounters that were seemingly designed to exist separately from the main world. One showdown against a giant wolf became unexpectedly trickier when a stubborn mage glitched his way into the arena’s entry point and lobbed firewalls at me.

Speaking off boss battles, they’re probably the worst parts of Eternity. Some feel designed as unfinished wars of attrition. One tentacled creature attacked so relentlessly that dodging barely worked. I could only retaliate and consume heal items quicker than it could drop me. Other encounters can be exploited to victory. One poor giant met his end when I stayed between his legs and hacked away while his model helplessly spun around unable to respond. Eternity’s fixed-camera angles exacerbates combat’s flaws. Designed to garner old-school nostalgia, the perspective only creates annoying blind spots for enemies to hide in. Larger foes can obscure the view entirely, allowing grunts to wail on players as they desperately try to locate themselves.

Unfortunately, the only effective solution to these issues is to grind excessively. That way adversaries can be dropped before shenanigans can occur. Growing stronger never feels rewarding. Rather, it feels like you’re brute forcing your way up an unstable hill. The need to grind also means having to spend even more time putting up with combat. Crafting items offers little help thanks to an unnecessary chance system. Blueprints display a percentage indicating the player’s odds to successfully craft them. Bizarrely, you can still fail to make an item even if you have the required ingredients. Failure then results in the permanent loss of the materials used. I never figured out what factors dictated these odds, but I didn’t need to. A majority of the items aren’t worth making to begin with.

If it wasn’t obvious already, Eternity: The Last Unicorn’s biggest problems stem from its litany of technical bugs. Movement and animations have an unpolished quality to them. Periodically, the player randomly freezes in place after performing basic actions. Imagine the frustration this creates during the aforementioned bad combat. For some reason currency and health gems float towards players at a snail’s pace. On two separate occasions, I defeated a boss only for the game to crash and force me to replay the fight. In one instance, an post-fight cutscene froze up because the boss’ grunts still lingered in the background. How do I know this was the problem? Because during the second attempt, I made sure to kill off the minions before finishing off the boss (god forbid I target the real threat first). The scene played out fine after that. Even cinematics feel half-baked, presenting lengthy, unskippable slide shows that feel like they were meant to be voice-acted.

Trudging through Eternity feels like playing a game design student’s graduation project. The game functions, which is enough for a passing grade, but no one would want to actually play through it. Eternity doesn’t do anything that countless other games don’t do substantially better. It’s also broken to the point of being more insulting than amusing. Unicorns are better off going the way of the dodo if it means avoiding this disaster.

More: Apple Arcade Is A New Gaming Subscription Service For iOS

Eternity: The Last Unicorn is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Screen Rant was provided a PS4 download code for the purpose of the review.

2019-03-28 10:03:36

Marcus Stewart

MLB The Show 19 Review: Another Home Run for PlayStation 4

In the current console generation Sony’s MLB The Show has been the reigning champ of baseball video games. There’s been some efforts to make other baseball titles, RBI Baseball comes to mind, but none of them hold a candle The Show in terms of production value, style, and most importantly, gameplay. Unfortunately, MLB The Show‘s relative monopoly on the baseball video game arena meant that in recent years the series’ entries got rather stale. They were still of high quality but were basically the same game from year to year. MLB The Show 19 gets the franchise back on the right track and is a great title that proves there’s still innovation to be made even when on the top.

For the first time in a long while MLB The Show 19 adds two new modes to the core baseball game experience. These new modes ‘March to October’ and ‘Moments’  are very similar to modes that have been other sports games. Yet The Show adds the series’ customary quality and polish to them so that they+ enhance an already great baseline experience. MLB The Show 19 won’t set the sports video game world on fire but it’s still another terrific title in PlayStation 4’s ever-expanding list of exclusive games.

Related: God of War’s Kratos Was Almost Added as a Character in MLB The Show

Right off the bat, the presentation and graphical capabilities of The Show are second to none. It’s easy to get sucked into a game of The Show 19 and forget that these aren’t live-action players but computer generated models. From top to bottom MLB The Show 19 oozes charisma and polish. All the players move fluidly and realistically. This even includes their facial expressions as players will emote elation when hitting a home run and bitter disappointment when striking out on swings. MLB The Show 19 can’t quite get over the problem of commentators making player names sound canned and stilted but everything else in the commentary track is stellar. Matt Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa, and Dan Plesac all sound like they’re reacting to a real game playing out in front of them and not just spouting the same recorded lines with no gameplay basis.

Core gameplay is another obvious highlight of the MLB The Show 19 experience. Sony San Diego has done a tremendous job in making MLB The Show 19 enjoyable for both hardcore and casual baseball fans. If users want to get in the nitty gritty of roster charts, player trades and statistics that’s definitely available. However all the truly complicated baseball manager decisions can be automated and players can just focus on the games. Even the individual games are tailor-made with several control options for pitching, hitting and field running. MLB The Show 19 allows gamers to play the title the way they want to and doesn’t force them to learn one specific control scheme. MLB The Show‘s dynamic difficulty (which adapts to the player’s proficiency) is also back and it continues to prove it should be an industry standard for all sports video games.

In the various modes the quality is a bit more varied. The usual stalwarts are available and besides some fine tuning they’re just as solid in MLB The Show 19 as they were in The Show 18. Franchise mode delivers a fun, engaging and lengthy experience as you follow one team franchise for several seasons. Home Run Derby remains a light diversion. Exhibition play in local and online multiplayer is also a consistent experience. The single-player RPG experience Road to the Show doesn’t tell much of a story compared to other single player sports games but the gameplay switch it offers in putting users in control of a single baseball player is surprisingly immersive. MLB The Show 18‘s retro mode which turns the controls into SNES like experience with PS4 graphics also returns and it’s still as silly as ever.

As for the new new modes the more appealing of them ‘March to October’. March to October is essentially a shortened season mode. One MLB team is chosen at the start so that various moments and games throughout their season are selected. These key highlights are a part of their March to October or the World Series with goals changing depending on the player’s success of failure in a previous showdown. Considering how long baseball seasons and full games can be, even in video game form, ‘March to October’ is a welcome diversion. Its segmented gameplay lends itself to pick and play sessions making it much more approachable to get to the World Series.

The ‘Moments’ mode meanwhile is exactly what it sounds. Moments chooses specific scenarios from baseball history and puts the player in control of their outcome. It boils down to a challenge mode where specific goals must be met. As a brand new mode this makes ‘Moments’ a little less exciting as it’s more just a collection of snapshots than anything meaty. However it can be enjoyable to hop in and does serve as a nice showcase of baseball history, especially as an additive feature to MLB The Show mix.

An underlying concern with ‘Moments’ is that it’s closely tied to MLB The Show 19‘s worst feature ‘Diamond Dynasty.’ Completing ‘Moments’ earns credits which can be used in ‘Diamond Dynasty.’ ‘Diamond Dynasty’ is MLB The Show 19‘s version of the plague of modern sports game the online fantasy league. In ‘Diamond Dynasty’ players can craft their own MLB team with an all-star cast of players from past and present. Thankfully some of the online connection problems that plague MLB The Show 18 seem to be worked out in 19. In our copy of the game at least there were no serious hiccups with online play in ‘Dynasty’ or exhibition.

While it’s a fun concept ‘Diamond Dynasty’ is severely harmed by those in-game credits. Players are primarily earned though packs and cards in ‘Diamond Dynasty.’  In other words, ‘Diamond Dynasty’ employs microtransactions to make teams better and that’s very disappointing. Granted it’s possible to earn credits without spending real-life cash. MLB The Show 19 is pretty generous in giving out credits for completing games, logging in each day and completing challenges in ‘Moments.’ Yet even if it’s a free grind, it’s still a tedious free grind to earn them. ‘Diamond Dynasty’ can be ignored. Thankfully, The Show isn’t nearly obnoxious with the mode as some other sports game but it does ultimately feel like more of a burden than a feature.

The disappointing ‘Diamond Dynasty’ can’t sink the total package of MLB The Show 19. The two new modes of ‘Moments’ and ‘March to October’ are such obvious additions that it’s hard to believe that The Show is only just now including them. Yet that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are executed in an very entertaining way. MLB The Show 19 is hands down the best baseball experience in current generation of consoles. With its level of polish and availability to all players, it might be one of the best overall sports games on the market.

More: Will MLB The Show Ever Come to Other Consoles?

MLB The Show 19 is available now for $59.99 on PlayStation 4. Screen Rant was provided a copy for review.

2019-03-28 10:03:19

Derek Stauffer

The Division 2 Review: Technically Brilliant

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a great game. Ubisoft’s followup effort to a rocky but ambitious looter shooter has probably yielded the best in the genre when it comes to sheer technical prowess. That much is evident from the first few hours players spend in Washington, D.C., and continues throughout their journey. Where The Division 2 becomes its most entertaining, however, is much deeper than even the first twenty-odd hours players will spend with it. If that’s what you’re interested in – or the base of the mechanics Agents have at their disposal – then check out our Division 2 review-in-progress first.

In short, that hands-on experience was colored by being impressed with the enemy design, gunplay, loot, and environment-building in The Division 2. That hasn’t changed as the game has progressed; unfortunately, neither has the game’s major flaw, which is its narrative, and it has picked up a few more along the way. More than anything, though? The Division 2 is a technical masterpiece of a game, and even with the hiccups in play that Agents will inevitably experience, it sticks out as one of the best in its class once players get enough time with it.

Related: 20 Things Only Experts Know You Can Do In The Division 2

The Division 2 is a third-person cooperative shooter that looks to capitalize on the good will its predecessor had earned after Ubisoft spent years modifying it post-release to make it more palatable. In the same vein as other looter shooters, The Division 2 offers a solo experience to those less inclined to team with friends, although it’s also one of the more punishing to those who don’t want to use a buddy system. Most of this review is from the perspective of someone who pushed through much of the content in randomly-made groups, and tackling the content solo can be a more frustrating exercise that requires a level of precision that many people just don’t want out of a 50-hour plus shooting game, so be warned.

After churning through The Division 2‘s lengthy story content, it becomes apparent that the bulk of what makes the game truly great actually awaits Agents at the end of the line. Once you hit the The Division 2‘s endgame, it really opens up. Players can select between specializations, and then assemble teams out of other players who have reached the end of the story to take on a super gang called the Black Tusk. The specializations, a bomber called the Demolitonist, a jack-of-all-trades called the Survivalist, and a sniper called the Sharpshooter, all play out in unique ways, although the Demolitionist was our primary focus. Using the grenade launcher as a disruptive tool rather than a powerful end-game powerhouse ended up being more frequent in practice, and it’s that subtle shift in expectation that really marks what makes the endgame so great.

It’s not that the endgame is wholly unique to the genre. It’s that it doesn’t hold your hand or simply stack you up against bullet sponges. Sure, The Division 2‘s idea of a powerful endgame enemy still typically amounts to a dude wearing a lot of padding and a helmet. But getting to that boss is a whole different story. Tactics are vital for any group, and The Division 2 is the first looter shooter that really captured the MMORPG vibe in that sense. Preparation. Getting familiar with The Division 2‘s crafting system and choosing the right weapons. Map awareness. Familiarity with enemies and the environment around them. Precision and teamwork. All of these factors can mean life or death in endgame Invaded missions, and it’s thrilling every time.

The big draw to The Division 2 in general, and especially the sensation of that life-or-death endgame, is the way that combat is deliberate and challenging. That begins well before a player ever enters the fray. The customization options in The Division 2 transcend what we’ve come to expect from looter shooters in the past. Instead of simply accumulating a large enough gear score to sufficiently end the lives of the most seasoned enemies, The Division 2 also tasks players with really thinking about what they want to accomplish with their characters. Agents can’t just cram their gun full of every mod in existence and call it a day – mods carry negative consequences with them too, and you’ll have to decide which things you’re willing to give up in order to get what you want. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s fascinating to see just how much that addition brings to the title’s endgame content.

That wouldn’t be possible without the slick, brilliant combat that defines The Division 2. The game is built around its cover system, and will punish players looking to get too rowdy with a swift death at the hands of some bemused enemies. Finding the right place to take cover is a dance in its own right, but the skirmishes involving multiple teammates and enemies becomes a complex waltz between different debris, each side looking for the right angle to take down their opponents. The enemy AI is refreshingly fun to play against, too. One of the most memorable early moments can be found in running up to a sniper, who will immediately panic and scramble to run away. It’s the details that matter, and Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment have done a wonderful job of prioritizing them.

The PvP areas, the Dark Zones, add additional ways to find the thrill of combat, and they’re also extremely useful in improving loot. The reduction of the grind – and just the sheer ubiquity of loot, which should be a staple of looter shooters but isn’t always – is a welcome addition to a game that can be pretty bulky. Likewise, playing against other people, who behave drastically different from the admittedly quite good AI, can be a nice change of pace for those who have gotten weary of progressing through the main campaign beating up on robots. The Dark Zones remain fairly simplistic after launch at the moment, though, and it’s clear that they’ll end up being one of the main focus points of The Division 2‘s future content additions. Right now, they’re fun. Later, they’ll be fun and important. It’s a good progression and thanks to the abundance of good gear to be had, Dark Zones remain relevant even now.

If there’s a major complaint to be had with the way The Division 2 is laid out, it’s that so much of this is buried at the end of the line. The entire story feels patchwork, and can be rough to sift through at the best of times. It’s a shame, because the NPCs are alive and wander the streets in a way that it’s easy to find them worth protecting. The same can’t really be said about the characters that you’ll be exposed to as major players in the narrative. It’s a small issue, but it’s one that’s so persistent within the genre that it would be nice to see someone finally crack the code and create a story people actually care about. It’s especially disappointing because the game’s open world, which allows players to chip away at side missions and events at their own pace while exploring a beautifully-rendered Washington, is so vibrant and full of life even as the world has decayed. The animals that are roaming throughout the world, coupled with a mixture of ally and enemy characters looking to accomplish their own ends, breathe life into a setting that’s main story feels wooden and rehearsed by comparison.

The other issue with the way progression is laid out is that it takes forty to fifty hours to get to the specialized Agent characteristics, which are what vastly alter the course of the game’s combat and make tactics even more important. Burying it at the end of a long campaign feels egregious, and although it gives players something to play towards, in a game this well-designed, that doesn’t feel necessary. Pushing through the early elements of the game might lead people to believe The Division 2 is far more simplistic than it is, and even twenty hours in, there are still new enemies, playstyles, and challenges awaiting Agents deeper in.

That’s the most frustrating part. The other is that The Division 2 is just slow – in every aspect of its design. The story takes a long time, sure, but so does combat. A few too many times, open world missions suddenly became slogs through waves of bullet-sponge enemies that were clearly designed to make the event simply take more time. That was a mistake The Division 1 made and, while it’s infrequent here, that it’s even present at all can be disheartening and eat into the precious hours players will need to simply reach the endgame.

Overall, though? The negatives are vastly outweighed by all the brilliance The Division 2 brings to the table. There’s a genuine argument to be made for the game’s main campaign as being worth it on its own, far before the endgame gets its hooks in you. That’s a genre first. There’s still room for improvement – in a game this vast, that only makes sense – but The Division 2 is definitely the best looter shooter we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing, and is a must-own for anyone interested in a blend between good FPS gameplay and the MMORPG genre’s more alluring, addictive qualities.

More: The Division 2 Faction Key Locations: Hyena, Outcasts, & True Sons Guide

The Division 2 is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A digital code for PS4 was provided to Screen Rant for purposes of review.

2019-03-28 08:03:14

Cody Gravelle