What It Would Really Take To Get Me Back Into Pokémon

The greatest trick I repeatedly pull is convincing myself I’ll play the latest Pokémon title, but then never actually doing it. Like many kids of the ‘90s, I fell in love with Game Freak’s lovable Pocket Monsters when they initially took the U.S. by storm. I lost countless hours playing Red, Blue, and Yellow multiple times, invested just as much time in the anime, and collected way too many cards. I was a certified Poké-maniac. 

When Generation 2 rolled around, I was eager catch some new monsters, but a series of unfortunate events pushed me away from the series for good. First, my Game Boy Advance was stolen with my copy of Pokémon Gold inside (which I’ve never completed to this day). Then the anime let me down for the final time when Ash lost the Johto League finals even after defeating Gary, cementing Ash as a choke artist I could no longer get behind. My enthusiasm for the franchise simply vanished after that. Outside of a brief, random return with Pokémon Platinum and partaking in the beautiful phenomenon of Pokémon Go’s early days, I haven’t touched the series since. Still, I kept an ear to the ground for every subsequent release, secretly hoping for an irresistible new feature that would lure me back. 

Over the years, I imagined what the series would need to do to draw me in again, but the goalposts moved every time they were met. I said I wanted an entry with full 3D graphics. Then X&Y happened, and I never touched it. I said I wanted a mainline console RPG. Then Let’s Go and Sword & Shield release – and I haven’t played them. I said an MMO would be cool. Then someone made TemTem and … well, I’ll get back to you on that when it hits consoles. The point is: What does this series really have to do to get me interested again? With the Pokémon’s 25th anniversary in full swing, I took time to really consider what it would take for me to dust off the old Pokédex one more time. 

A Story-Driven RPG Starring Team Rocket

Pokémon protagonists are about as interesting as catching a Pidgey. They’re all chipper-yet-bland avatars devoid of personality outside of a love of capturing helpless critters and forcing them to fight. Give me protagonists with pizzazz, charisma, and moxie. Give me Team Rocket!

By that, I mean Jessie, James, and Meowth, the bumbling goofs who are usually the highlight of most episodes of the anime. They’re hilarious personalities that I’d love to see get a full, dedicated game. Let me try to abduct Ash’s Pikachu or, better yet, have the trio embark on their own zany adventure away from the series’ typical heroes. Games that put bad guys front and center can be a novel experience, and few villains are as entertaining or endearing as these three knuckleheads. 

Wacky, Absurd Side Quests

The Pokémon anime is bursting with strange side characters, and the games have apparently failed to fully capture that charm so far. While there are some colorful personalities, they’re typically the main or supporting cast. Many of the people you meet regularly are “cheerful lass looking to battle #3.” I’d love it if the side activities took a page from the Yakuza series and dialed the silliness all the way up.  

The sub stories in Yakuza are ridiculous and endearing; they’re a delight I regularly go out of my way to seek out. If Pokémon took a similar approach (or ripped it off wholesale) by offering some truly far-out sidequests, I’d be inclined to not avoid the vision cone of every passerby I see. For example, one of my favorite quests in Yakuza: Like a Dragon involves preventing the last persimmon from falling out of a tree from a sumo wrestler, a wannabe sniper, and a high school occultist. And Yakuza is supposed to based on real-life! The humans in Pokémon share a planet with three-headed birds, sentient garbage piles, and a living mystical alphabet. The comedic gold is sitting there, waiting to be mined. 

Eliminate Random Encounters Forever

For years, Pokémon has maintained a stubborn reliance on random encounters. Sword & Shield got halfway there by having some Pokémon appear in the overworld and Wild Area, but I’ve been playing a lot of Bugsnax recently, and that game nails what I’d like to see from Pokémon going forward: a world teeming with bizarre wildlife as far as the eye can see. I want to look up and admire Ho-Oh soaring across the horizon the way Ash did in the anime’s pilot episode or feel a stronger sense of disappointment when a Rattata approaches me. Random encounters are old hat in standard RPGs, but seeing them remain a near constant in Pokémon feels more and more like a disservice to the franchise in terms of what it could do for wonder and immersion. 

Ditch The Turn-Based Combat

I grew up playing RPGs, so turn-based combat will always have a place in my heart, but I’m also ready to move on. One of the things I love most about Final Fantasy is its willingness to reinvent its battle system with each entry, and it ditched traditional turn-based combat long ago (frankly, for the better). I don’t know how you do that using the usual Pokémon template, but that’s what makes the possibilities exciting. 

Maybe take a page from the Final Fantasy VII Remake playbook and blend pure action with RPG elements on the edges. Perhaps let players control Pokémon directly instead of just issuing commands to them? Having a party of six creatures with an array of unique abilities allows for some exciting ideas that feel constrained within the current, well-worn battle template. Give me something fundamentally different and you’ll not only have my curiosity, but my interest as well.

Release It As One Version

I’ve never really understood the appeal behind Pokémon’s two-version approach. Sure, it’s great for lining Game Freak and Nintendo’s pockets, but I’ve always felt a lingering anxiety with the idea of buying a game knowing some of the monsters are locked away in its counterpart. For players, what’s the actual good reason for doing this other than “Well, that’s just how it’s always been done”? Dropping another $60 for the opportunity to catch the other Legendary Pokémon stinks, as does having to do the work of trading to fill missing Pokédex entries. 

It’s hard enough deciding whether or not to buy a new Pokémon game at all, so removing the added pressure of deciding which Legendary looks cooler/less silly would help me pull the trigger a lot faster.  

Add Settlement Building

Whether it’s the Assassin’s Creed series, Spiritfarer, or even the recently released Olija, I’m becoming more and more of a sucker for building up home bases. The mechanic can often provide a compelling incentive for collecting money and resources during exploration, plus it feels rewarding to turn a patch of dirt into a sprawling headquarters. This could apply to the Pokémon template too.

Instead of just sending extra Pokémon to Professor “Some Dumb Tree Name” what if you could build and upgrade your own Pokémon ranch of sorts? Maybe I can construct an aquarium for my water-types to hang in or maintain a ranch of Tauros like Ash had for some reason. It’d be fun in a similar manner to filling Blather’s museum in Animal Crossing. Given the various biomes Pokémon can inhabit, this HQ could get real wacky real quick in terms of its diversity, and it’d add another fun element to raising Pokémon, namely the ones you have no intention of engaging with on the battlefield.

Make The Pokémon Say Their Names!

Look, I know this is minor but darn it, the fact that Pokémon don’t say their names in-game has always irrationally bugged me. I know some of the reason has to do with translation, but that’s not my problem. Plus, Pikachu gets to do it, apparently. Give me that cute Squirtle voice instead of his upsetting digital battle cry of “bla7m#fpowr7@*!!!” Be honest, wouldn’t you rather hear Charizard proudly proclaim…okay, he doesn’t actually say his name in the show (which is a whole other can of worms), but you get the idea. If not that, go all the way and just put subtitles on the Pokémon’s speech, like that one really cool episode of the anime. You know the one. 

I like to think that these idea would rope me back in, but I’m not sure I can trust myself anymore so who knows. I guess Game Freak will just have to implement all of my ideas to bring me back! Because that’s what they’re focused on, of course: winning me back specifically. Anyways, if you’re a lapsed fan like me, what would it take for you to get back into the series? Let me know in the comments. 

What Is Olija And Why You Should You Try It?

January is almost over, and as usual, the big releases slowed down after the busy holiday season. Hitman 3 was excellent, but other anticipated games like The Medium and Cyber Shadow didn’t totally deliver. But sometimes a game can come out of nowhere and impress you, and that’s why I’m excited about Olija by Skeleton Crew Studios. It just launched this week, and I’ve had a great time with it so far; it blends fast-paced combat, an atmospheric and alluring world, and engaging settlement-building to create one of the year’s first big surprises. Here’s why you should check it out.

Story And Presentation

I haven’t finished Olija, so I can’t speak to the whole story’s overall quality. However, I am deeply intrigued. The game opens with protagonist Lord Faraday getting shipwrecked among the islands of Terraphage while on a mission to bring treasure and resources back to his struggling village. His crew gets scattered to various isles, so it becomes something of a rescue mission as he explores creepy dungeons in search of them. Before long he encounters creepy, shape-shifting monsters and other hostile foes, as well as the mysterious Lady Olija. I’m not sure what to make of Olija herself yet, but I’m curious to see what her agenda is as Faraday tries to recover his crew and get the heck out of Terraphage. 

If you watch Olija’s animated launch trailer, it’s easy to feel slighted by its in-game presentation. Sure, it’s not a stylish animated epic, but the pixel art is smoothly animated in a way that feels like a modern take on the original Prince of Persia. Cutscenes make the most of this with dramatic camera angles and copious abrupt cuts to black. In short, Olija has style. There’s also plenty of disturbing moments, usually involving the brutal manner Terraphage’s monstrosites murder or transform their victims. The ominous soundtrack creates a constant sense of eerie unease, which is appropriate given you’re facing bizarre supernatural forces. 

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At a glance you might not guess Olija’s combat would be as fun as it is, but it’s a stylish treat. The core of the experience is a magic harpoon used to impale enemies and objects, which you can then use as an anchor to teleport towards them. It feels great, and is supremely useful both as a platforming tool and for closing the gap against ranged based foes. Plus, recalling the harpoon hits anyone caught in its path, similar to recalling Kratos’ axe in 2018’s God of War, creating additional strategy in setting up enemies. 

A variety of sub weapons are fun in their own right. Right now I have a rapier that complements the heavier harpoon with rapid melee strikes. A crossbow deals rapid fire bolts and a shotgun-esque musket fires powerful spreading shots. Sub-weapons can be swapped on the fly, making it a cinch to change combat styles in the heat of battle. 

All of this leads to combat that is surprisingly fluid and fast-paced with an emphasis on combos. It almost feels like a heavily pixelated Devil May Cry at points, especially since you can launch enemies and juggle them in mid-air. You can also knock enemies into walls or pits. Special hats lend supplementary abilities such as allowing players to spin the harpoon like a propeller or firing feather daggers while performing dodge rolls. Combat feels great and is probably Olija’s strongest aspect. 


Olija isn’t quite a Metroidvania, but the dungeons do feature a handful of paths that often require puzzle-solving and light backtracking. There are no level maps (at least none that I’ve found yet), and that might annoy some players. However, while levels have multiple paths, they’re still small enough where I could pretty easily remember where I’d gone.  Teleporting around with the harpoon is fun, as is using it to find secret areas hiding collectible bottled ships. There’s also some neat variety, such as one area that requires full stealth to get through. So far, I haven’t seen any other area that called for that, so it’s cool to see one-off mechanics like this. Traps and various obstacles are fun to overcome, and there’s even a couple of cool setpiece moments I won’t spoil. 


Settlement-building feels all the rage suddenly, and Olija hops on the trend with its own take. Between missions players return to Oaktide, a port that’s initially in terrible disrepair. As players locate and rescue their displaced crewmates, Oaktide grows into a bustling port. Eventually players obtain a potion seeker who can increase maximum health and order a ship to search for treasure, which you’ll collect upon your next visit. Given the game’s overall dark tone, it feels good to see some hope by bringing crewmate after crewmate back to Oaktide. I’m a sucker for building up a home base in games, and while Olija’s isn’t the deepest example of it, it’s still engrossing.  

So far Olija’s my favorite game of 2021, and I can’t wait to dive back in and see how the mystery unfolds. If you want to give a shot, it’s available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC for $14.99. Watch us play some of the game’s early hours in this episode of New Gameplay Today

Upcoming Games Starring Protagonists Of Color

As a black man with a lifelong obsession with games, I’ve either heard or been asked this question many times in my life: What games let you play as black characters? My answer is usually pretty short. Anyone paid attention knows that games have predominantly featured white protagonists for decades. There are plenty of great-looking games on the horizon, but finding titles starring heroes that resemble the people in marginalized communities can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s unfortunate because no matter the shape or size of a game, it’s always a powerful feeling to see a character that looks like you. 

So, I’d like to prepare an answer for people who are regularly asked the same question and for those who ask it themselves. I’ve compiled this list of upcoming games featuring protagonists who are black, brown, or just non-white in general. To that end, this list excludes games with user-created protagonists. Character creators are great and all, but they also put the responsibility of diversity onto the players, rather than developers taking the initiative themselves. Now, let’s take a look at the coolest-looking games starring protagonists of color. 


Developer: Scavengers Studio
Release Date: TBA

Season is a gorgeous-looking adventure game about a woman who leaves her remote village to explore the world on her bike. Along the way, she documents her discoveries through the lens of her camera, capturing the final moments of various fictional cultures before an impending cataclysm befalls the world. The game showcases a diverse cast of characters who occupy a strange version of Earth; in it, modern human progress has remained stagnant despite thousands of years passing. Season comes from Scavengers Studios and is fascinating departure from its previous game, the survival battle royale The Darwin Project.



Developer: Arkane Studios
Release Date: May 21

With quality games like Dishonored and Prey in Arkane Studios’ history, excitement for Death Loop is sky-high. The games pits two legendary assassins, Colt and Julianna, against each other on the island of Blackreef. Players control Colt, who not only must survive being hunted by Julianna and the island’s inhabitants, but also find a way to break a mysterious time loop engulfing the island. The goal is to assassinate eight targets in the span of a single night, otherwise the cycle begins anew.  I pray Deathloop sticks to its May release date because I can’t wait to get my hands on one of 2021’s most inventive-looking titles. 


ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area

Developer: Veritable Joy Studios 
Release Date: Spring

This quirky visual novel stars 12 struggling singles living in Jercy City (yes, Jercy). They are looking for love while also trying to, according to the game’s website, “overcome the harsh realities of capitalism” while also dealing with the everyday grind. ValiDate boasts over 30 story routes for these flawed 20-somethings who range from a professional cosplayer, a wedding counselor, a food scientist, and a manager at “Bopeyes”. Dating is the name of the game, of course, as you make a series of choices to (hopefully) romance the single of your choice. Veritable Joy Studios says ValiDate’s writing is handled with “empathy and self-indulgence” and comes from an all-POC writing team. Look for ValiDate when it launches this spring, or you can try a free demo on itch.io now.



Developer: Awaceb
Release Date: TBA

Tchia recently premiered during the pre-show of The Game Awards, and draws inspiration for its world and cast from New Caledonia, a Pacific Island east of Australia. Players control the titular Tchia, a girl with special abilities who sets sail on her makeshift raft in a physics-driven sandbox. Tchia has the power to take control of any animal or object, which includes a bird and even a coconut, as seen in the debut trailer. Exploration combines climbing, gliding, and sailing, drawing on elements of Zelda games like Breath of the Wild and Wind Waker. With a vibrant color palette and heartwarming vibe, Tchia is a gem to keep an eye on. 


Far Cry 6

Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: 2021

The Far Cry series isn’t always stellar about handling its cultural themes beyond simple stereotypes, but here’s hoping that changes with Far Cry 6. Set in the Cuba-inspired island of Yara, players control Dani Rojos (who can be male or female), a local that gets swept up in a revolution against the country’s brutal dictator, Antón Castillo (played by Giancarlo Esposito of The Mandalorian and Breaking Bad fame). We don’t know much about the plot, but the debut trailer revealed a fascinating relationship between Castillo and his young son, Diego, who he wants to mold in his image. How Dani fits into this father/son story isn’t clear, but it’s safe to expect the high-octane gameplay Far Cry is known for.


Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield

Developer: Aerial_Knight
Release Date: Early 2021

Coming to you from a single developer, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a stylish auto-runner set in a Tokyo-flavored, futuristic Detroit. Wally is a cool kid with a robotic leg seeking to uncover the truth about his past. However, he discovers darker evidence that could affect the future of his entire city. Players must run, jump, and slide past enemies and obstacles in an experience that caters speedrunners and casual players alike. This game bleeds Detroit, including a soundtrack composed by local artist Danime-Sama, as well as contributions from black artists across the globe. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is slated to be released in early 2021, so, like Wally himself, it looks like the game is coming in hot. 


She Dreams Elsewhere

Developer: Studio Zevere
Release Date: 2021

She Dreams Elsewhere is a surreal RPG about a comatose woman struggling with anxiety who must discover the cause of her condition by literally confronting the demons within her. The game’s old-school aesthetic and turn-based combat evokes RPGs of old, but is layered with an ethereal, lo-fi vibe from the soundtrack to the trippy effects. A connection system lets players bond with their party members who have their own narrative threads, or customize their playstyles using the charm system. She Dreams Elsewhere is coming to PC sometime this year, and you can download a demo on Steam right now.


As Dusk Falls

Developer: Interior/Night
Release Date: 2021 

As Dusk Falls is an interactive drama with a fascinating hook. In 1999, two families were caught up in a hostage situation gone wrong. Over the course of the next 30 years, players see how it’s affected the lives of all who were involved. We don’t know much about the game other than it stars a mixed-race protagonist, but it wouldn’t surprise me if you controlled other characters, such as the boy turned young adult shown in the debut trailer. As Dusk Falls is the first game from newly formed studio Interior/Night, led by Quantic Dream alum Caroline Marcha. The game currently has no release window, but since it’s being published by Xbox Game Studios, you can expect it to hit Game Pass on console and PC on launch day. 


Unknown 9: Awakening

Developer: Reflector
Release Date: TBA

This mysterious sci-fi title centers on Haroona, a young girl from Kolkata, India who discovers she’s imbued with a mysterious power that allows her to access a secret dimension known as The Fold. Haroona eventually encounters a mentor who teaches her how to hone this power to uncover the secrets behind this dimension as well as her abilities. We still know little about the game other than it’s a third-person action/adventure title set in the Unknown 9 universe, which is a multimedia sci-fi franchise spanning multiple books, comics, and podcasts. Though I’m not familiar with the broader series, I am intrigued to see what lies ahead for Haroona in the game. 



Developer: Red Thread Games
Release Date: TBA

Dustborn is a story-focused action/adventure game about a band of misfits on a dangerous road trip. Steering the narrative is Pax, a con artist and ex-convict who recruits a motley crew of allies to help her transport a mysterious package across the America Republic, a fractured version of the former USA. Your crew (or “Fam”) sport their own unique abilities as well as colorful personalities and backstories, which you learn more about through a deep dialogue system. The comic-inspired art direction gives the game a loud personality, especially the use of onomatopoeias. With both the government and fanatical puritans in hot pursuit of our not-heroes, Dustborn looks to be a wild and exciting road trip. 


The Gunk

Developer: Thunderful/Image & Form Games
Release Date: 2021

The team behind the beloved SteamWorld franchise tackles something totally new in The Gunk. This Xbox exclusive stars two astronauts who happen upon a planet teeming with life and valuable resources. Only one problem: The world is being overtaken by a corruptive, parasitic goo. Exploration requires using the protagonist’s power glove to suck up the gunk to clear paths and uncover valuable artifacts. You also need it to combat slime-corrupted monsters. Ridding zones of the malevolent substance opens larger areas containing more clues of the planet’s past. What is the gunk? Where did it come from? We’ll have to wait until sometime later this year to find out. 



Developer: Leap Game Studios
Release Date: 2021

I’m a sucker for a good beat ‘em up, and Tunche taps into the innate fun of punching bad guys in the face while its roguelite structure keeps players on their toes. The map and enemies change with each playthrough, meaning you and up to four friends never know what to expect with each go-around. A tight, fast-paced combat system allows players to decimate monster hordes with juggling air combos while evading with an air-dash, among other abilities. Tunche is also easy on the eyes thanks to its hand-drawn cartoon art that breathes life into the game’s Amazon rainforest setting. Don’t take my word for it, though. Download the game’s free demo on Steam and see for yourself. 


We Are The Caretakers

Developer: Heart Shaped Games
Release Date: Q1 2021

Described as an “afrofuturist squad management RPG,” We Are the Caretakers is all about defending endangered alien animals from extinction. Using systems inspired by games such as Ogre Battle, Darkest Dungeon, and XCOM, players assemble an arcane team of anti-poaching protectors to engage in tactical battles in procedurally generated campaigns. The game sports a full job system as well as a reputation mechanic where your actions affect how the world views your team. That includes managing international relationships by meeting with world leaders and balancing their demands. We Are the Caretakers sounds like a fun and robust game with a good conversationalist message in the middle of it all. 

New Gameplay Today – Monster Hunter Rise Demo

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Monster Hunter is coming back to the Nintendo Switch in an all-new entry, Monster Hunter Rise. It contains some of the new features introduced in Monster Hunter: World, such as seamless transitions between zones, while also delivering its own slate of unique features. Make room, Palico friends, it’s time to meet the new Palamute companions.

As Alex Stadnik shows in this new footage from the Switch demo, players can use their new canine-ish companion as a mount. In battle, the animal can help out alongside your catlike Palico. They seem to get along fine, which is ultimately all that matters. We also get to see a new Wirebug that lets players grapple onto objects in a similar way to Iceborne’s Clutch Claw, as well as the top-notch speedrunning mindset that only Alex S. can provide. 

Alex and I are joined by fellow Monster Hunter fans Dan and Jay, so get ready for some Very Smart questions and observations. Monster Hunter Rise is coming to the Switch on March 26.

Top 10 Worst Best Games Of 2020

Games at the end of a console generation are supposed to demonstrate the outgoing systems’ true power – the culmination of developers’ years of practice and technical expertise. But I guess sometimes that doesn’t work out, and studios just need to push whatever they have out the door so they can start working on better things. That was clearly the case in 2020, which gave us a truly disappointing barrage of mediocre titles. Of course, that doesn’t stop some people from wrongly saying they are great – which is why I’m here to correctly call out the worst so-called “best” games of the year.


Astro’s Playroom

We don’t see a lot of traditional 3D platformers anymore, and Astro’s Playroom shows us why. It uses a design template from the late ‘90s based solely on collecting doo-dads, but then adds a bunch of cheap gimmicks to show off what the DualSense controller can do (it vibrates). Did no one tell Sony that this game would come preinstalled on every PlayStation 5? Because it feels like Astro’s Playroom is trying really hard to sell me something I already bought. 


Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Imagine that an evil wizard is holding you captive in a tower, and every day for many years, you are fed only bread and water. Then, one day, the evil wizard gives you bread and apple juice instead. After doing the same boring thing for so long, does this evil wizard deserve your praise and gratitude for finally changing things up a little bit? No, but gamers are too stupid to see that. Instead, they love Like a Dragon because it has a new hero, city, and battle system. In other words, it finally tries something slightly different after more than a decade of delivering the same old slop.


Final Fantasy VII Remake

Oh, look, I obtained the secret pitch for Final Fantasy VII Remake. It says, “We need a remake doomed to exist in the shadow of its original form from 20 years ago. But here’s the twist: We’ll only retell the first four hours of that game, stretched and padded beyond recognition to justify full retail price. Then we can ruin the story at the very end after people have already played the whole game.” Okay, I lied. That is not the real pitch document. But things don’t need to be real to be true, you know?


Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

After so many years of iteration, I can’t even tell the Assassin’s Creed games apart anymore. Each one is more like a greatest hits album from some old band, mixing and matching previous successes instead of creating something new. Let’s face it, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may as well be called “The Essential Assassin’s Creed Compilation.” It takes some base-building from one entry, sailing from another, and then borrows light RPG systems to hold it all together. Sure, it has a new Viking setting, but that’s basically the video game equivalent of “lovingly remastered tracks” anyway.


Ghost of Tsushima

Many people complain that all open-world games feel the same now, just giving players a bunch of different icons to chase on a big map. Ghost of Tsushima proves them wrong, because this time, the map is in JAPAN. That obviously makes a huge difference, because running after dumb foxes and liberating countless indistinguishable farmsteads suddenly becomes awesome and fun when you are doing it with a katana … apparently.


Among Us

I hate to be a stickler here (not really), but Among Us does not qualify to be one of the best games of 2020. I ask that you stop enjoying it immediately. I don’t care how fun it is to play. I don’t care how well the development team has supported it. The fact is this: Among Us came out in 2018, and therefore cannot be a good game that you played in 2020. Sorry, but that’s just pure mathematics.



Okay, full disclosure: I didn’t even play Hades. I just know I won’t like it, because the people who do like it are very annoying online. From what I can gather, Hades is a dating simulator about hooking up with hot gods, and maybe it has a combat system. Whatever it is, I’m comfortable saying that Hades is overrated garbage, because people use the word “roguelike” to describe it, so I automatically know everything I need to. I’ve basically already finished the game without playing a single second, and it left me disappointed.


13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Ugh, can everyone just please stop talking about 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim already!? I don’t know what sort of conspiracy or media bias is at work here, but it seems like everywhere I look, this game is getting another award or being streamed by some big-time influencer or member of Congress. Granted, 13 Sentinels has a clever narrative with some cool sci-fi inspirations – but how many people are going to see through the hype and see it for what it is? This is a textbook case of mainstream overexposure creating too much noise and unrealistic expectations.


The Last of Us Part II

A thing happened in this story that I did NOT want to happen, making this one of the absolute worst games ever made.


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Playing video games is supposed to be an escape – something people can do when they are tired of paying off loans, pulling weeds, and managing the escalating insecurities of their friends. Animal Crossing: New Horizons wants to steal that from you. This insidious ploy from Nintendo is designed to transmute your entertainment into work and replace your real-life anxieties with virtual analogs. Everyone blames the worldwide pandemic for how awful 2020 was, but I’m just saying: Things only got really bad about the same time Animal Crossing: New Horizons released.

Dragon Ball FighterZ Roster Adds Super Baby 2

The Dragon Ball FighterZ roster isn’t done growing quite yet and a recent V-Jump scan that leaked early confirms which arrival is coming next. The next FighterZ DLC fighter to arrive in the game soon is Super Baby 2, a character from Dragon Ball GT, and the recent scans give us a little clue as to what this means for the game. 

V-Jump is a Japanese publication and Twitter user @Dbshype just uploaded a few scans showing off the latest arrival: 

While not the full reveal (and no gameplay, due to this being a magazine), the scans do show off a little bit about what the latest addition brings to the table, including the following sets: 

  • Full Power Energy Wave
  • Great Ape 
  • Darkness Spring Shot
  • Z-Assist Revival 

The Darkness Spring Shot is perfect for super dedicated fans because this Ki blast is pretty epic in its own right. Not only is it powerful, it also returns back to the fighter if an enemy hit isn’t landed. The meteor strike with the Revenge Death Ball is also an exciting move and should proof to be an interesting tool when going up against enemy characters. 

What’s really interesting, however, is the Z-Assist Revival because there aren’t any other characters on the current roster with the ability to bring back someone who has fallen in a match. This addition could be totally epic, or completely OP, but without gameplay it’s a little too soon to judge.

What do you think about the arrival of Super Baby 2 to Dragon Ball FighterZ? What other characters do you think deserve some time in the spotlight? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below!

Cyberpunk 2077 Beginner Tips

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Which life path should you choose? Do you upgrade your weapons or buy new ones? How should you prioritize mainline missions versus the side quests? Cyberpunk 2077 is a massive open-world experience that can seem daunting when players are first booting up the game. As you traverse the prologue, not only are you tasked with creating an ideal cyberpunk from a massive menu of options, but you’ll also have to pick from three different backstories and figure out how you want to invest your skill points. But fear not, that’s where your friendly neighborhood Game Informer editors come in.

Join Andrew Reiner, Liana Ruppert, and Kim Wallace as they walk you through the tips and tricks that can ease your experience traversing Night City and help you excel where others who didn’t watch this video will struggle. As someone who has yet to play the game myself, I found their guidance on life paths and skill points extremely helpful, so we hope you do too.

If you have questions we didn’t answer in this video, be sure to leave them in the comment section below, and we’ll try to get to them in future content.

If you can’t get enough of Cyberpunk 2077, you’re in the right place. Be sure to check out Reiner’s thorough written review where he tells you if CD Projekt Red’s new game is worth your time. Also, check out Liana’s insightful look into how to play the game if you have epilepsy or are sensitive to flashing light, and Ben Reeves’ hilarious ranking of the best Cyberpunk release dates.

After many years of waiting, Cyberpunk 2077 releases today on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Stadia. While you can play the game on Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 through backward compatibility, you’ll have to wait until 2021 to play the enhanced version of the game.

Dauntless Goes Open World Today

Dauntless lets you roam around islands hunting down behemoths and using parts of them to craft new and exciting weaponry. The free-to-play game has been around for quite some time (we reviewed it all the way back in early access, much has changed since then) and today Dauntless adds an open world experience to the game with the launch of Dauntless Reforged. 18 different open world islands are added to the mix where players can hunt a plethora of different beasts, find treasures, and more.

Previously, island hunts would task players with hunting down a behemoth and completing a mission in a task structure of sorts. Today, players can engage with The Hunting Grounds in order to explore, hunt, and collect in a variety of environments that are designed to offer variance, replayability, and surprise. Along the way you can find treasure, take on multiple behemoths, and uncover other interesting discoveries. Want to wander around the Hunting Grounds in style? Gliders are now available for use, giving you a highly efficient and fun way to zip around the new areas.

In addition to the Hunting Grounds, the Dauntless Reforged update also adds new progression systems via the Slayer’s Path, a giant tree of unlocks that a player can branch out in many directions to gain new skills, bonuses, and abilities. There are also new ways to reforge and enhance weapons for permanent power boosts, letting you specialize in your favorites with big improvements.

Of course, it’s not a free-to-play game-as-a-service update without a battle pass, so a new one of those is available to kick things off as well, offering a stylish Frostwarden set for savvy players.

Dauntless is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC. Cross-play is available across all platforms. Check out the launch trailer below!

Click here to watch embedded media


How To Beat The Corrupted Heroes In Immortals Fenyx Rising

While Immortals Fenyx Rising has several series of difficult boss battles thanks to Mythical Creatures, Tartaros Lieutenants, and more, some of the most intense battles you can find in the game surround the wraiths of the corrupted heroes. These heroes were summoned by the gods to battle the powerful titan Typhon prior to the events of the game, but he was able to corrupt them and force them to fight by his side. Until you defeat them in their Wraith Lairs, weaker versions of these legendary heroes can appear at random on the map while you’re trying to do other activities, so it’s a good idea to take them out once you feel competent and powerful enough to do so.

My tips below give you advice on how to topple these powerful heroes with a pretty baseline set of abilities, but through upgrades, you can make these showdowns much easier. My preferred loadout for these battles was to equip Phospor with the Tarnished skin, which replenishes your health every time his attack lands, and just relentlessly bomb on them with his attack. However, since his attacks use up your stamina, you have to get in and attack with your sword to replenish your stamina quickly while he’s lighting them up. The more upgraded Phosphor and your sword are, the better this tactic works, but once I got this down, I combined these skills with the tips listed below to make short work of most of the heroes.

Check out my hero-specific tips below, and let us know what tactics you employ in the comments section!


Achilles is the first wraith you encounter during your adventure while on your quest to help Aphrodite, but that doesn’t mean he goes down without a fight. However, his pattern is fairly straightforward: He typically throws three parry-able attack sequences before loading up, glowing red, and unleashing an unblockable horizontal swing, followed by an overhead slash. Sometimes he’ll throw in an extra one-off unblockable attack, but it’s pretty obviously broadcasted, so just be cognizant of whether or not he’s glowing red.

The best path to victory for me was to not try to actively stun him, but rather to parry the attacks I could, which leaves a small opening for light-attack combos, then build his stun gauge up through well-timed parries. Of course, when he glows red, it’s time to put your thumb on the dodge button and try to time it well enough that you slow time for your go-to combo. When you get him down, just unload onto him, but don’t get greedy, because he’ll pick back up with his relentless attack shortly after standing back up. Keep up the rhythm of parries and dodges and before you know it, you’ll deal the final blow to this legendary warrior.

Immortals Fenyx Rising

The wraith of Atalanta as you encounter her in the world


The huntress of legend is perhaps the toughest of the corrupted hero battles, mainly thanks to her bear companion. If you’re anything like me, your first instinct is to take out the bear, but since the bear is such a tank, I realized that it might just be best to focus all of your attacks on Atalanta herself. She uses a series of different arrows, including a scattershot, a jumping shot, and an unblockable shot. If you get too close, she’s not above swinging her bow at you, dealing pretty solid damage.

While I mentioned focusing your attacks on Atalanta, you can’t completely ignore the bear, since he stays pretty close to her side. Keep swinging on Atalanta, but be mindful of the beefy predator who is never far away; when he comes lunging in, time your dodge or parry right and it’ll slow time, giving you extra hits on the primary target. As with other enemies, try to focus on which attacks can be parried to raise the stun meter, and which ones have to be dodged (as indicated by the enemy glowing red before throwing it). With such acrobatic moves and an extra enemy to worry about, Atalanta is difficult, but by learning her pattern and staying aware of her furry friend, she’s beatable.


The muscle-bound hero is the most tank-like of the four legendary heroes, but I found him to be the easiest thanks to how often he metaphorically shoots himself in the foot. Not only does he sometimes get his weapon stuck in the ground thanks to his massive swings at you, but he’ll even stop to pose or do push-ups, giving you time to attack, potion-up, or apply buffs.

For Herakles, I didn’t even take the time to learn his pattern; I instead used my speed advantage and his arrogance against him. Get in with some light attacks and parry in the off-chance he throws a blockable attack, but chances are, he’ll wind up for something devastating. Once he begins glowing red, dodge your way out of range and begin the process again. As you feel more comfortable with his timing, you can experiment with staying in range longer or mixing in some heavy attacks or abilities that boost his stun meter, but keep at it and he will fall.


Odysseus is the most intelligent of the legendary heroes, and he shows that with some unique tricks up his sleeve. Most notably, he teleports around the battlefield, appearing all around you to mix in attacks both blockable and unblockable. He can also create clones of himself, but don’t worry too much about them; they don’t have much health, so they typically go down without a ton of trouble.

I kept up a pretty relentless assault on Odysseus once learning his patterns. As with every other hero on this list, be sure to dodge instead of parry when the enemy glows red before he attacks. When he goes into his portals and begins teleporting around you with attacks, the first two are unblockable, while the third is one you can parry. As I mentioned before, the clones don’t have much health, but if you let them surround you, it can become problematic, so it’s best to dispatch them as they spawn. Odysseus didn’t give me much trouble, but if you have difficulty anticipating where he’s going to pop up next, he could be a bit of a pain. Just do your best to track him when he goes on the move and remember to dodge the first two – and if you lose count, just dodge all of them. Better safe than sorry!

If you’re interested in learning more about the latest Ubisoft open-world adventure, be sure to check out our full review here

Games That Motivate Me To Get Up And Be Better

Sometimes we all need a kick in the pants to get off our bums, get things done, and improve ourselves. That inspirational call to action is found in all kinds of places, including video games. If you’re looking for fun forms of encouragement as you begin to draft your New Year’s resolutions, here are some games that inspired me to be better in one way or another. 

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Ichiban Kasuga knows how to make lemonade out of Lemon Heads. The dude spends 18 years in prison, and upon his release, he has to deal with the realities of being abandoned and homeless (a subject the game tackles very well). Instead of wasting time moping, though, Ichiban eagerly begins rebuilding his life from scratch, collecting cans for cash and applying for jobs with inspiring persistence. What I love most is that he takes whatever work is available, and doesn’t let pride get in the way. For a guy who once proudly associated with an organized murder gang, Ichiban’s got a great head on his shoulders, and his can-do attitude is infectious. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Earlier this year, I began my days with Animal Crossing: New Horizons instead of checking my phone. Not only did it put me in a good mood from the get-go, but it also got my creative and productive juices flowing. By the time I finished pulling weeds and sprucing up my house, I was mentally prepared to tackle my real-life to-do list. For any farmers out there, I imagine doing this has a similar appeal to doing chores at the crack of dawn, except much less sweaty. Animal Crossing: New Horizons reminds me that checking off tasks is its own reward. 

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus feels like the video game equivalent of the motivational posters that once dominated office break rooms. Pretty picture, big declarative word; you know the ones. Nothing inspires the feeling of “I can conquer anything” like scaling living titans as a comparatively ant-sized person and taking them down. As long as I ignored the melancholy of killing majestic creatures unprovoked, that is. Shadow of the Colossus makes me feel powerful in ways only video games can. If I can topple a flying snake thing, I can handle a long afternoon run. 


Madeline’s climb up Celeste Mountain not only tests my physical fortitude (it’s a tough game) but my mental determination as well. The perilous journey forces the character to, quite literally, confront her inner demons in a way that many of us wish we could. Celeste teaches valuable lessons about coping and accepting the darkness within all of us; by the time I reached the summit, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d conquered a few of my own troubles as well. Celeste serves as a powerful motivator to face my anxieties head-on. 

Death Stranding

When you strip away the weird ink monsters, dopey dialogue, and absurd narrative, Death Stranding is really about a guy making deliveries – and that’s when the game is at its best. There’s something about the process of accepting jobs, stacking packages in just the right way, plotting routes, and trekking for miles that gets my productivity juices flowing. Much like actual mountain climbing, I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment in successfully reaching an out-of-the-way prepper thanks to my ingenuity and wit. Falling over sucks (especially with BB shrieking in my ear), but the game’s all about dusting yourself off and getting back up no matter the hardships. Keep on keepin’ on. 

Ring Fit Adventure

Fitness software should always inspire action, but Ring Fit Adventure does an exceptionally good job keeping me off my butt. Not only is it a genuinely fun game to play, but it also does an excellent job keeping me on track. Scheduled alarms ping players when it’s time for a new workout. Encouraging messages and helpful tips go a long way in maintaining my enthusiasm. Plus, the game saves me from stubborn self by regularly offering to raise/lower difficulty in case I plateau or can’t handle the workout. 

That’s all from me, but let me know in the comments what games motivate you to be better and why.