eFootball Preview: PES Is Dead, Long Live eFootball

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

Football gaming is perhaps the most stagnant of all sports genres. FIFA’s pay-to-win, arcade hegemony lords it over PES’ clunky menus, but realistic gameplay. Rinse, reskin, and repeat.

But this year that’s all changing. And when I went to Konami’s Windsor HQ for a hands-on event for eFootball – yes, the PES, aka Pro Evolution Soccer moniker is dead – I was intrigued as much by the gameplay as by their vision to make this bold experiment the future of sports games.

Happily, the pre-release build I got my mitts on was excellent fun. That build was a hybrid of pre- and post-release. So some advanced gameplay mechanics that won’t be coming to the game until later this autumn (essentially, variations of shots and passes) were included, but other key features, such as PS5 haptics, were missing.

Devs mentioned the words “simulation,” “intensity,” and “physicality” multiple times. And I think that, based on what I’ve played so far, Konami has largely delivered. Each one-on-one feels like a chess match in miniature. eFootball invites you to get your shoulders – even elbows – stuck into the opposition to battle for possession, with this year’s ball feeling pleasingly untethered to your player’s foot. Football games have historically had a tendency to ‘lock on’ to the ball when at your control, but here the ball feels like a volatile, independent object that needs to be taken care of or hunted down – much like the real thing.

This invites the defending player to press high and hard, referencing modern football nicely. Jurgen Klopp would be proud. I actually think pressing is slightly overpowered in the build I played – but I expect a lot of balancing tweaks will be applied in eFootball’s weekly updates after launch. Think of pressing as a slightly overpowered SMG on Warzone. Hopefully it doesn’t get nerfed entirely, just brought down a touch.

A new feature much vaunted by Konami is the ability to quickly recycle the ball after going out for a throw, including the addition of ballboys. This is hardly ground-breaking (FIFA has had quick throws for years now) but eFootball’s quick goal kicks specifically are an exciting new weapon to exploit an opponent’s limited attention span. I myself nearly got caught out from a quick CPU restart, meaning the ball was already bypassing my midfield before I had turned back to the screen. It’s a fun system that might truly allow us to live out our Trent Alexander-Arnold/Divock Origi quick-set-pieces of dreams.

eFootball also takes aim at some of the series’ historical failings. PES 2020 (and the reskinned 2021) had particularly painful commentary, menus, and refereeing. Pleasingly, all three are much improved. While not flawless, commentary is much more invisible and immersive. Referees can still frustrate, but are much fairer than last year’s officials, who were intensely relaxed about on-pitch assault and battery.

But the big win here is in the menus. Konami has finally binned PES’ teeth-gnashingly awful aesthetics for a modern and clean system. Changing players, kits, and the weather and time of day is far less taxing than before. At their best, some menus were actually downright pretty. Again, I played a very limited demo build, so this will be put to the test when it comes to more complex game modes and team management. But so far, so good.

Another area that the eFootball team have overhauled is the camera, creating a new ‘duel’ camera system, dynamically zooming in to isolate key on-the-ball battles, before zooming out to show the full tapestry for those raking, cross-field passes. I expected this to become frustrating quickly – and if it is, you can turn it off. But I was pleasantly surprised by how refined this camera system is already. It’s a promising new tool.

Intrigued to see how all this combined into one cohesive, competitive experience, I quickly jumped into matches against the devs and got a sense of how eFootball plays in a competitive context. My possession tactics and high line were punished by my counter-attacking opponents – but, conversely, I could inventively invite their pressure and punish them. It was fun and, crucially, fair.

Questions do linger though. While this was a gameplay event, the new F2P model was the large elephant-as-service in the room. The initial offering is sparse, launching with the game on the 30th of September with just a handful of teams and a pinch of modes. The major fall update, which sees the game launching on mobile and offering a more fleshed out suite of modes, has to create a moreish offering that keeps players coming back across all major platforms (which sadly doesn’t as-yet include Switch).

eFootball’s success ultimately lives or dies based upon its post-launch appeal and support.

Clearly, the idea is to foster the kind of competitive, cross-platform infrastructure only seen thus far in the battle-royale format. But that ambition leads to questions of its own. This is a “console-first” experience, but it seems like the PS5 is particularly favoured – especially the DualSense controller. Haptic implementation was a feature that the devs seem particularly proud of, mentioned several times. Will Xbox and last-gen players be left behind?

This could be a new dawn for football games – I really respect the ambition of the team behind the gameplay, and they’ve hit upon a core loop that hooked me in the session, and has left me wanting more. So that’s half of the job well done. But with FIFA still ever dominant, and new upstarts like UFL waiting in the wings, eFootball’s success ultimately lives or dies based upon its post-launch appeal and support. Time will tell.

Daniel Curtis is a freelance writer, producer and filmmaker. He’s also a long-suffering Chesterfield FC fan. Say hi to him on Twitter @danielpdcurtis.

Death Stranding Director’s Cut downgrades from Monster energy drinks to store brand

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

Death Stranding is full of product placements. We’ve known that about it since before it even came out. When it did release, players discovered a host of other, less obvious ads for real-world products, such as Norman Reedus’ biker travelogue show.

But none was more blatant than Monster energy drinks, which not only show up everywhere in-game, they’re tied into a game mechanic: drinking them boosts Sam’s stamina. Given how the entirety of Death Stranding is about travelling vast distances to deliver packages, stamina is a crucial element.

The Death Stranding Director’s Cut, which launches tomorrow on PS5, adds a host of new missions, new items, and refines existing mechanics. But there’s more, because for some reason, Kojima and co. decided to axe Monster energy drinks from the game.

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Running out of room for your games? Add more storage with this 2TB SSD for $165 A WD Blue SATA SSD close up, top down view, on a grey background.

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

For anyone in need of extra storage and who doesn't mind getting a song stuck in their head all day, here's a chance to save a few bucks on what is already an aggressively priced solid state drive, the WD Blue 2TB. It's listed for $169.99 on eBay, with coupon code IMBLUEDABADEE knocking $5 off at checkout.

If you don't get the reference, then definitely don't click this link—it's one of those tunes that isn't easily scrubbed from the brain. You clicked, didn't you? Hey, you were warned, a courtesy that wasn't extended when Rickrolling was at its height of popularity.

Seondary Storage Deal

WD Blue 2TB SSD | $189.99 $164.99 at eBay (save $25)
This would make a great secondary drive for your games, videos, and anything else that is quickly filling up your main drive. It would also suffice as a primary drive, if you don’t need the added speed of NVMe. If it doesn’t get applied automatically, use coupon code IMBLUEDABADEE at checkout for the full discount.

Western Digital lists this drive at $189.99 at its webstore, down from $239.99. The discounted price is closer to what it actually goes for these days. So this deal doesn't represent a ginormous discount, but it is a great price for 2TB of SSD storage, from a name-brand manufacturer, no less.

The caveat is that it's a SATA-based SSD in the 2.5-inch form factor. You're not going to get the same speed as an NVMe drive, especially newer PCIe 4.0 models that push reads into 7,000MB/s territory, or the convenience of the M.2 form factor. But you do get a lot of storage for the money.

It's similar in specs to Crucial's MX500, which adorns our list of the best SSDs for gaming, as a secondary drive. Western Digital rates the sequential read and write speeds at 560MB/s and 530MB/s, respectively. Those are close to the upper limits of SATA-based SSDs.

While not on par with NVMe SSDs, SATA-based models will still make your system feel faster and respond much quicker than a hard drive, if you're still using one of those as your primary storage. Even for gaming, NVMe doesn't bring much of a tangible performance boost over SATA just yet, though that could change when developers begin taking advantage of Microsoft's DirectStorage API.

You'll have to decide for yourself if going the SATA route makes sense. If the answer is yes, this is one of the best values around for an SSD that straddles the line as bulk storage.

Discord is officially testing proper YouTube integration

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

Discord is starting to test offical YouTube integration, shortly after YouTube forced the company to remove two music bots from the serivce.

Just weeks ago, Google-owned YouTube forced two of the most well-known (and most used) Discord music bots to stop operating within Discord. Rythm and Groovy were both victims of a cease and desist issued by the megacorporation, much to the irritation of the 30 million-plus users who employed the bot’s services.

In efforts to bring some of that music/YouTube functionality back to Discord, Google seems to be making a partnership with the company official. YouTube Integration has started appearing in a small number of Discord servers over the past 24 hours via a new feature called ‘Watch Together’.

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Don’t expect Apple to let Fortnite back on the App Store any time soon

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has posted documents suggesting that Apple is keeping hit battle royale title Fortnite blacklisted from the App Store and iOS.

Following a long and drawn-out antitrust legal battle between Apple and Fortnite developers Epic – which ended in Apple being forced to allow third-party purchasing – Sweeney has posted to Twitter, accusing Apple of reversing on its promise to allow the hit game to return to the iOS App Store.

“Apple lied,” he said in a tweet. “Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else’. Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users.

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‘Who knows what the future holds’ for Titanfall, say people who know what the future holds for Titanfall A pilot holds his helmet while a massive robot looms behind

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

This story has been updated to included Respawn's latest comment.

On a recent stream, Respawn Entertainment community coordinator Jason Garza responded to a community member's request for an update on the Titanfall series. “There's nothing there,” he said.

“Yeah, it's a game with a lot of mechs,” he continued. “It's an old one, back when Xbox [One] first launched. Don't get your hopes up, man. I've said this before, we just don't have anything in the works. There's nothing there. We've got too many other games in the works right now.”

Garza's tone was one of somebody who's had to answer the same question for some time now, with Titanfall fans frequently asking what's next for the series since Apex Legends appears to have consumed much of Respawn's development resources. 

After this quote was widely reported in the press, Respawn decided to clarify via the official Twitter account with a message that served only to vague up what seemed like a pretty clear situation. “Contrary to what some folks are reporting,” the tweet says, “Titanfall is the very core of our DNA. Who knows what the future holds…”

Well, you know what the future holds, Respawn. They're your games.

Prior to this, the last thing we'd heard comes from a 2020 interview in which Respawn boss Vince Zampella told IGN that the studio wasn't working on a new Titanfall game, but that he would like to see the franchise return in some form someday.

Since at least 2020, Zampella has also been helping out with EA's DICE LA studio (now called Ripple Effect) on a brand new project, but still remains head of Respawn. Ripple Effect is also working on Battlefield 2042's Portal mode, which lets players create custom matches mixing up different parts of Battlefield history.

In more recent weeks, Respawn has addressed server issues with Apex Legends. The original Titanfall has also been suffering from longstanding server issues. Respawn also released a patch that addressed a Titanfall 2 exploit that caused the game to crash.

As for what's filling Respawn's time, the studio is working on a brand new IP and another Star Wars single-player game, most likely Jedi: Fallen Order 2, which EA confirmed was the start of new franchise.

Thanks, PCGamesN

Check out some of Diablo 2: Resurrected’s remastered enemies up close

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

The release of Diablo 2: Resurrected is almost upon us (here's when it unlocks in your time zone), and enterprising fans have already extracted models of some of its enemies. In the video above you can get up close and personal with a siege beast, frozen horror, the three barbarian ancients from the end of Lord of Destruction, the dark wanderer, Baal, Diablo, and *spoilers* the Cow King, who now wears a fancy hoof-ring and sure does have some detailed udders. It was somebody's job to model those udders.

Of course, you can switch over to the original graphics of Diablo 2 by pressing the G key if you'd rather not gaze on those majestic udders, or any of the other improvements of the Resurrected version like dynamic lighting and fancy new lightning and fire effects.

The latest on the Activision Blizzard lawsuit

Activision Blizzard walkout

(Image credit: Getty/Bloomberg)

Activision Blizzard is currently facing a lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and sexual harassment. Here's everything that's happened since the lawsuit went public.

When he played the beta version of Diablo 2: Resurrected, Tyler was mostly happy with how it looked. “At a glance,” he wrote, “the new graphics look good. The chickens perhaps lost some personality in their transformation from pixel poultry to more realistic birds, and the same goes for some of the structures. The distinctive simplicity of the original art is replaced with a more literal and subtle vision. It's not bad to look at by any means, and it's cool that you can flip between the new and legacy graphics at will.”

Minecraft Dungeons is now available on Steam

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

Minecraft Dungeons, essentially a “baby's first Diablo-like” that shares its setting with Mojang's popular sandbox game, was exclusive to the Microsoft Store when it launched in 2020. It's now arrived on Steam, coinciding with the release of the Ultimate Edition, which combines the base game with its six DLC add-ons—Jungle Awakens, Creeping Winter, Howling Peaks, Flames of the Nether, Hidden Depths, and Echoing Void—as well as the soundtrack and digital artwork. Of course, you could just play it on Game Pass instead.

Though it doesn't have crafting, or indeed mining, Minecraft Dungeons does tie into the Minecraft lore, setting you up against the Arch-Illager to destroy the Orb of Dominance and become the hero of the Overworld. It also features four-player co-op and, as of November last year, cross-platform play for the PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 versions.

Rachael Watts gave it a solid 75 in her review. “Minecraft Dungeons is the perfect introduction to dungeon crawlers for beginners and a breezy adventure for veterans”, she wrote. “It doesn't have anything in particular that makes it stand out, but it's a fun, streamlined take on the dungeon crawl genre.”

Here’s Why Deathloop’s More Robust Melee Combat Was Scrapped

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

Deathloop originally had a more robust melee combat system, but it was scrapped during development and replaced with the kick move.

In a Noclip video interview around the 12:50 mark, Deathloop creative director Dinga Bakaba revealed that Deathloop originally had a combat parry system similar to Dishonored. This idea was scrapped in favor of Deathloop's simple and very powerful kick.

"In the beginning, you could defend with the machete and parry and block like you said okay let's just ask ourselves all the questions that just put [sic] the fencing of Dishonored, we will figure it out later," Bakaba said. "But as soon as we added the multiplayer, something went wrong."

Bakaba explained that the invader "has a delay over the host." This provided a difference in gameplay between the multiplayer invaders and the NPCs. So, the parry system was scrapped, but the developers weren't satisfied.

"So then we removed the timed parry and it was only [blocking] and that was boring as hell," Bakaba said. "So we said 'f*** defense, let's just replace defense with the kick like a big kick that makes you go oof.'"

The parrying was then removed and the fan-favorite kick was born.

Check out IGN's pick of the best PS5 SSD to play Deathloop at its top console potential.

IGN's Deathloop review was relatively positive towards the game and praised the combat system: "The precision engineering of this complex, looping world is held in balance by Deathloop’s combat system, which is a delightfully raucous affair that roars like a dragon with ballistic breath."

Visit our Deathloop walkthrough and Deathloop guide for beginners to master Arkane Studios' latest.

Petey Oneto is a freelance writer for IGN.

Here’s a fan-made Resident Evil 1 remake in first-person

Posted on September 23, 2021 by

There are plenty of modern horror games with PS1 graphics, from Chasing Static (which is like Silent Hill but Welsh) to Dread Delusion (which is Daggerfall meets Demon's Souls). Richard Aiken has gone back to the source with this first-person version of the original Resident Evil, complete with pixelated zombies. 

Though not complete, in the current beta you can explore the halls of Spencer Mansion with WASD controls and headshot zombies with your mouse like God intended. It's being made in Unity, and is currently so bare bones you'll need to press Alt-F4 to quit, but it's neat that it even exists. As Aiken's itch.io page carefully notes, “This game is made only for fans and was made without any intention to make profit.”

If you prefer the more polished HD look of the modern versions, there's also someone out there with a project in the works to remake Resident Evil in Unreal Engine 4, again in first-person, though that one doesn't have a playable build available. Of course, you could go completely in the other direction and play Resident Evil 8 in third-person. You've got a lot of options is what I'm saying.