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Two months after the first Night City Wire Pilot Episode and with four more months to go before the actual launch, the second episode paints a clearer picture of what to expect from the physical world of Night City. This episode takes a closer look at the actual in-game your main character, V, will experience through your distinct choices: both character-wise and through their arsenal.

Lifepaths

At the start of the game, V will have to make a choice between three options: Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. Kidding aside, there are three lifepaths to choose from: Nomad, Street Kid, and Corpo as shown on the Lifepaths trailer.

The Street Kid grew up in the mean streets of Night City and has done everything they need to survive the harsh and bitter realities of a hyper-capitalist society. They’ve dodged cops, made deals with gangs, and they know the ins and outs of metropolis. They know the fixer to butter up and they know which gang they don’t want to piss off. Their lifestyle is feast and famine and it’s determined by their next job.

The Nomad hails from the Badlands outside of Night City and grew up with other nomadic tribes. They’ve survived the harsh desert wastes ravaged by global warming through the reliance on their tribal family. However, they value freedom most of all and their life has taken them to seek their fortunes in the new urban jungle of Night City.

The Corpo wage their high stakes cutthroat business deals behind Arasaka boardrooms through corporate espionage and day trading where they must perform and capitalize or die by the deals they’ve failed to secure. They’ve been double-crossed and left to hang and they must now traverse Night City to reverse their bad fortune.

Each backstory is different from each other and will lead you to different paths, dialog choices, and missions.

Your Class Determines Your Choices

As a complete RPG experience, your choice in the Lifepath will determine the pathway to your success in the game. V eventually progresses from being a lowly merc to a legend just like Johnny Silverhand and your origins definitely determine the way you play the game. Besides the obvious three playthroughs to see every choice made and missed in previous playthroughs, the experience will definitely differ with each disparate game experience. Once you’ve made a choice on your Lifepath, the bonuses and drawbacks carry over throughout the game and even beyond the post-game experience.

With the example being the quest of dealing with a gun running Maelstrom Gang, each experience will differ according to which Lifepath you would take. One way your Lifepath choice will matter are the dialogue options that unlock depending on your class.

It gives different classes a variety of options to succeed in different missions. A Corpo would know that the exec dealing with the Maelstrom Gang is Meredith Stout and you will know her interests, motives, and insider knowledge about this deal. A Nomad would know the intricacies of the Maelstrom Gang and with the tribal knowledge from the Badlands, you know what makes the gang tick. A Street Kid may be at a disadvantage with this deal not having the insider knowledge that a Corpo or Nomad would have. However, given their connections with Fixers like Padre, they can have an edge when dealing with nuanced situations like if the gang wanted some substances only a Street Kid can provide. Fixers are also revealed to be territorial with Padre taking on Haywood and other fixer Dexter introduced in the previous episode having his own territory. A Street Kid would have this knowledge and how they use this knowledge would give them an edge depending on the situation.

Lifepaths will matter and Cyberpunk 2077 will make sure that your choices matter as well.

The Music of SAMURAI

Johnny Silverhand makes an appearance with his anti-establishment band SAMURAI in this episode. With a cool blend of synthpop and punk rock, they create the general mood of the game. The general theme of the game is making a mark on Night City either as any Lifepath that you choose and with the aid of Johnny Silverhand and what he represents, the music will be integral for the overall gaming experience.

Swedish hardcore punk band “Refused” brings SAMURAI to life. While they were not gamers in the very sense of the word, they were able to relate to Johnny Silverhand and what they represent in the world of Cyberpunk. The interviews with the band members touch on how they as a band agree with Johnny’s philosophy and with that, their music synchronizes with it.

Three tracks of SAMURAI are now available for streaming with the fourth track out today.

Tools of Destruction

The episode ends with the Tools of Destruction trailer that highlights the arsenal V encounters and utilizes through the game to rise up the ranks in Night City. The arsenal ranges from different gun types to melee weapons featuring thermal katanas, and cybernetic mods, which highlighted arm blades and rockets launched from V’s forearm.

The designers at CD Projekt Red spent a lot of time merging the FPS gameplay with the heavy RPG elements from the tabletop adaptation. While equipment and cybernetic modifications play an important role to the character progression, what separates it from its FPS counterparts is how V progresses in the game with heightened accuracy, reload speed, and power. The increased skill structure readies V in taking on all the challenges in their environment to the highest challenge of the game.

Weapon types are separated by rarity ranging from common, uncommon, rare, and legendary. They are acquired via purchase or through looting through loot caches or from enemies. The more powerful legendary weapons are hinted to be only possessed by certain individuals that must be killed to acquire. As an RPG, I presume they can also give you said legendary weapon if you do them a favor that comes once in a lifetime. Not everything has to be resolved through violence.

Guns, Lots of Guns

As Night City Wire only has thirty minutes in every episode, a lot of focus fell on the guns. There are three gun types that have been specified through the segment:

Power types are more akin to contemporary guns but have an advantage using their firepower to ricochet bullets to catch enemies behind cover. Tech types rely on electromagnetic attributes to shoot through walls, doors, and are great for infiltrator types. Smart guns are strengthened by their guided projectile technology able to take on multiple enemies in hard to reach areas. I’m intrigued by smart weapons as they’ve revealed an eight-barreled shotgun that can target eight separate enemies at once. However, whatever firepower you do possess, your enemies do as well. As much as you’ve rendered cover obsolete for them, they can do the same to you.

Weapon mods such as attachments in the form of a scope and silencers give your guns an edge given a situation but also software mods increase the attribute of the gun as well giving it better accuracy, power, reload time, and firing rate. Ammo types can also be changed from non-lethal types to chemical rounds as well. 

Each gun also differs depending on the manufacturer of said weapon. Tsunami Defense Systems, manufacturer of the Tsunami Nekomata sniper rifle focuses on the tech aspect of the said rifle giving it an edge against enemies hiding in opposite rooms waiting for an ambush. Budget Arms’ Carnage, a powerful shotgun provides a more down and dirty feel when taking on enemies head on.

I’m curious what else the next (and probably final) episode of Night City Wire will offer. They’ve already shown the physical aspects of combat as well as other stylized modes of storytelling from the previous episode. For the next episode, I hope they show netrunning and how that factors into an already huge game with crazy amounts of content.

Are you ready to unload your life when Cyberpunk 2077 releases on November 19? We are.

The past few months saw what could have been the best stretch of quality games in recent memory. With games like the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake and Last of Us Part II, to brand new IPs like Ghost of Tsushima, one can only look forward to more as we head into the next generation.

August looks to slow down the pace a bit in terms of high profile releases but there are a number of gems spread throughout the month, like Horizon Zero Dawn for the PC, Battletoads for the Xbox One and PC, Fall Guys for the PlayStation 4 (which is free for PS Plus Subscribers), and No Straight Roads.

Here is your game release calendar for August 2020:

August 4

  • Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout (PS4)
  • Skully (PS4, Switch, Xone)

August 7

  • Fast & Furious Crossroads (PS4, Switch, Xone, PC)
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn (PC)

August 11

  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon: Infinite Combat (PS4, Switch)

August 13

  • A Total War Saga: Troy (PC)

August 14

  • UFC 4 (PS4, Xone)

August 18

  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker (PS4, Xone)
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC)
  • Rogue Legacy 2 (PC)

August 20

  • Battletoads (Xone)

August 21

  • PGA Tour 2K21 (PS4, Switch, Xone)
  • Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time (PS4, Switch, Xone)

August 25

  • No Straight Roads (PS4, Xone, PC)
  • Monstrum (Xone)

August 27

  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered (PS4, Switch)
  • Tell Me Why: Chapter 1 (Xone, PC)
  • Surgeon Simulator 2 (PC)

August 28

  • Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions (PS4, Switch)
  • Madden NFL 21 (PS4, Xone)
  • Project Cars 3 (PS4, Xone, PC)
  • Wasteland 3 (PS4, Xone, PC)
  • Windbound (PC)

August 31

  • Descenders (PS4, Switch)

Cyberpunk is a mere 3 months away and for many, the next CD Projekt Red masterpiece. The developers have created a living world that is seemingly lifted from a movie, with its denizens looking like futuristic punk rockers, a cosplayers dream.

International costume maker and cosplay guest Andy Valentine, also known as Valentine Costumes, may have created the best looking Cyberpunk 2077 cosplay prop yet, a Samurai Jacket so accurately designed to achieve the full Cyberpunk effect.

The costume maker expected to create this masterpiece in 4 weeks. In reality, it took him more than 5 times the time he thought it would take, making total work put into it at 5 months and 400 hours. Now completed, it looks absolutely breathtaking that even Keanu Reeves would probably want one.

Every part of the jacket is handcrafted to perfection, and what makes it even more impressive is that the light strips around the collar is fully customizable, allowing for color changes as needed. Talk about a walking tanning machine.

The costume, sadly, is not for sale, and even if it were, it would obviously take a lot of time and effort to do, which Valentine is not interested in. He even had to purchase an £800 flatbed industrial sewing machine due to the thickness of the leather!

You can check out the full creation process and more of his works over at his Youtube, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Cyberpunk 2077 is scheduled to release on November 19 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

In the almost 45-minute State of Play presentation, a slew of third-party and expected launch titles for PS5 games have been announced with in-depth looks into some of them. Surely some of us expected a few surprises here and there, and maybe some PSN and PS Now updates in between, but alas Sony did stay true to their word about games, games, and just games.

The showcase had a bit of everything for everyone, but a few titles got our hearts racing, starting with…

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Possibly the most exciting news of the lot, State of Play started off with an in-depth look at Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. While it’s a direct sequel from the previous N-Sane trilogy, the new entry is a reintroduction to the Crash Bandicoot world while expanding on its already rich lore. You can play the entire game as Crash or Coco while you explore new mechanics such as wall running, rope swinging, rail grind and zipline. Cosmetic skins can be earned by completing challenges and new elements such as masks change the physics of the game granting special bonuses. In short, there are no microtransactions.

Besides Crash and Coco, you can also take control of former Crash villains such as Neo Cortex and the new playable character in Dingodile with their own unique moves and narrative perspective. Aside from the typical story mode and time trials, a new mode of play is available called N.verted Mode. It’s a mirror mode that changes the dimensions of play but also the look and feel of the experience. When unlocked, every level can have a new perspective such as the paintball mode where you can add color in a black and white rendered level. Therefore, the gaming experience can be elevated for completionists hoping to score valuable skill trophies.

They Said VR, right?

Every advertising pertaining to the new State of Play suggested that they will announce exciting new third party releases and VR releases. While I’m not a VR user nor do I plan to own a set, announcing two games for the VR, Hitman having VR capability and Star Wars VR Series: Vader Immortal, sold itself a wee bit short. I almost expected the announcement for Control’s new expansion pack AWE would come with VR capabilities, but alas it did not. It’s a minor gripe, but they kept talking about VR releases and at the very least I expected some VR eye candy to drop. Maybe Minecraft VR eventually?

PS4’s Last Stand

A whole gamut of games including Crash Bandicoot 4 will be dropping into PS4 for the holiday season signifying a late console release for users who are maximizing their PS4s before picking up their next-gen console of choice. From the releases, they had an in-depth look at Braid: Anniversary Edition and Spelunky 2. While Braid focused on marketing to would-be game designers with their Director’s Commentary mode, Spelunky 2 appealed to the fans of the game to check out their online multiplayer with the intention of community building.

Among the rest of the games to be revealed: Genshin Impact, Aeon Must Die, Anno Mutationem, Autochess and The Pedestrianeach game has their own unique take on how to elevate their genre with their trailers also serving as gameplay videos. Some standouts would be Aeon Must Die’s interesting visual look showing it as a lovechild of Hyper Light Drifter and Rise of the Robots, but I was confused if it’s an action platformer or a RPG. The Pedestrian is a quirky unique platformer that seems to be created from a Media Molecule module where not only does the player control the movements of the eponymous stick figure, you also control how the stages will play out.

Lackluster’ Launch Syndrome

Throughout the State of Play announcements, there were mentions of PS5 games coming out this Holiday 2020, presumably at launch, spearheaded by The Pathless. It’s described as an open-world mythic adventure where you take control of The Hunter and his eagle companion. Movement in the game is heavily based on the timing of your archery skills, shooting crystals that build your dash meter and your bond with your eagle. The bond with your eagle allows you to utilize its flying mechanics such as gliding and flapping.

In this archaic world filled with a vast world to explore and archaic ruins marked with puzzles to solve, The Pathless attempts to differentiate itself with the countless open world genres with its unique features. Maps are done away with and are replaced by the “spirit vision” function, which shows your progress throughout the world. You are tasked with restoring light to the darkness and defeating the cursed spirits that hinder you on your quest. You rely on stealth to bypass these formidable foes until you’ve returned light to the obelisk and from there you can vanquish them as they’re made vulnerable. It’s an interesting title, but I would like to see more narrative or detailed gameplay mechanics to convince me to pick it up at launch.

Other games that were mentioned were Bugsnax, Hood: Outlaws and Legends, and Temtem. I wish I could say anything else about these games but they feel like launch titles that exist to provide us with variety, I wish more was dedicated to them to engage us with their playability.

Godfall

State of Play concluded with looter-slasher Godfall also announced at the PS5 reveal event. It is set in a high fantasy world where you play as a Valorian Knight able to equip Valor Plates to challenge the gods. There are promises of becoming an unstoppable melee god collecting such armor sets unlockable by skill challenges included in its complete Day One release without any microtransactions whatsoever. Isn’t it sad that devs now have to mark this as a feature or a highlight?

Innovating their genre by combining Action-RPG loot progression and 3D Slasher games, Godfall focuses on combining gear collect-a-thon with player skill. Looting is highly encouraged to compliment fluid gameplay to master the combat skill tree to give the player a sense of accomplishment. It’s action-based and more focused on offensive maneuvers as you face against endless waves of enemies.

A heavy focus is placed on the weapon classes in Godfall falling under the following: longswords, dual blades, polearm, two-handed warhammer, and the two-handed greatsword. Each weapon class changes playstyle with use. The dual blades and longswords will be focused on fast and balanced combos and the two-handed weapons being more strategic block and counterattack power blows. As one collects loot in the game, each weapon would have their primary and secondary traits based on rarity. The most interesting mechanic introduced is the Shield where you can switch up defense into offense through parries, shield strikes, and shield throws, thus making every aspect of the game rewarding for aggressive DPS players.

I wasn’t completely disappointed with the announcements, many of the featured games were interesting and fun eye candy to say the least. I hope to get more information on said games announced and hopefully get answers to even more important questions of pricing and pre-order dates to finalize our decisions for our ultimate purchase.

We’ve been teased and we already like what we see. Now Sony and Microsoft, kindly make us an offer soon.

At this point in time, I am still pretty damn confused as to what next generation console, and its games, will take my money. It’s still too early in the game to speculate business movements down the line, but in the short term, many of the exclusives I’m excited about will find a home on the Playstation 5.

It would be a safe assumption to say that the Digital Edition of the PlayStation 5 (or the Xbox Series X, if there is one) will be cheaper, which incentivizes digital users such as myself to pick one up at launch. As for space, I am a frugal user who usually just downloads a couple of games that I will play. Once I’ve had my fill, I usually delete it and not play it for years, so space isn’t an issue.

The big question remains to be if the launch lineup will be good enough to make people go day one. Early adopters usually get the short end of the stick as we’re stuck most of the time with lackluster titles that we paid full price on to justify the day one purchase.

When the PS4 dropped six years ago, I kept putting off buying the console because games were still available on the PS3 as late as 2017, with Persona 5 dropping on the PS3 in April 2017. I put up with all the glitches of Dragon Age Inquisition on the PS3 and was rewarded with a platinum trophy for half of my efforts. My only regret in delaying gratification as late as 2016 was missing out on the P.T. demo but otherwise, I was happy getting my PS4 when I got it and it hasn’t failed me since, as it is relatively new and was able to pick up most of the console defining games at its peak (God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spiderman).

Meanwhile, the Xbox Game Pass really is a game changer when it’s saying that many of its exclusives will drop on their launches on the service. If I do choose to purchase an Xbox Series X, all the games that I’m interested in trying will be available upon release if Phil Spencer’s promises hold true. Remember all the games during the showcase? All free, day one, on Game Pass. With a $15 subscription fee, you even get to take a portable Xbox along with you because of Project xCloud. Sounds like a hell of a deal.

Luckily for this FOMO generation, we have quite a number of titles available at launch due to backwards compatibility. Yet in the effort to become more inclusive and accessible with acquiring your shiny new next-gen console, the real next-gen launch will be when YOU acquire the PS5 or the Xbox Series X. It could be in November, it could be at Christmas, and it could be when Horizon Forbidden West or Halo Infinite drops. For some people, it could be when FF7 Remake 2 finally makes it out of the gates. Whenever it may be, here are a few games that should make your day one list.

Horizon Forbidden West

As one of the generation defining IP’s for the PS4, Horizon Zero Dawn was an engaging game with a vibrant world and a rich lore both present in the main quest line and hidden deep in the holologs of ruins peppered through the game. Unlike the all-encompassing Skyrim-like games that offer content that oozes in every corner, Horizon Zero Dawn provided enough to keep you engaged but not too much to overwhelm like in other open world games. I’m expecting Horizon Forbidden West will deliver what’s expected plus a couple more surprises up their sleeve.

Why it will be worth it at (your) PS5 launch: Besides the launch of another awaited generation defining IP (God of War), its just hard to go wrong with Horizon Forbidden West. It will probably launch close enough to the PS5 release to give more people time to save up money for the console, and maybe even new enough to still call it a launch title. And unlike most launch titles (many of them historically haven’t been groundbreaking), this one would be good enough to give us everything that made it a classic in the last game while hoping to be surprised with new mechanics and possibly a showdown between the established villains and the heroine, Aloy.

Every First Generation Xbox Game with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

If there’s anything we can all agree on, it is the underwhelming offerings of the first party exclusives for Xbox Series X. While there will be some curious titles down the road, the best thing about it is that they will be available on the service at launch. Going by Phil Spencer’s promise, we will get Halo Infinite, Fable, State of Decay 3, The Medium, Everwild, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, As Dusk Falls, Hellblade 2: Eurovision Song Contest, Grounded, Forza Motorsport, Avowed, Warhammer Darktide, The Gunk, Tetris Effect Connected, Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis, CrossFire X Campaign, Tell Me Why Episode One: Ain’t Nothing But A Heartache, Tell Me Why Episode Two: Ain’t Nothing But A Mistake, and Tell Me Why Episode Three: I Never Wanna Hear You Say, I Want It That Way on the Game Pass when they launch.

That’s a LOT of games and a whole lot of value for 15$ a month.

Why it will be worth it at (your) Xbox Series X launch: Should I go over those games again? If you are considering a Xbox Series X and you’re not sure what game to buy, you have all those first party exclusives ready for you with Game Pass Ultimate. Now it really sounds too good to be true, and executives can always pull a fast one and deny it, but if you are getting a Xbox Series X anyway and you will be subscribing to the equivalent of Xbox Live anyway, you will be getting this service anyway.

Cyberpunk 2077

With it being delayed once again to November, I don’t mind waiting for it for a couple more months and then finally playing it on a next gen console. In fact, the new launch date of November 19 could actually be within days or weeks of the next generation console launch, so you can technically consider this a launch title. Sure it’s going to be released on current platforms as well, but wouldn’t you want to soak in all the greatness that CD Projekt Red has to offer on your newest next gen console?

Why it will be worth it at (your) next-gen console launch: If given a choice between Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, hands down, I’m batting for team CD Projekt Red. Cyberpunk 2077 is what I’ve been waiting for since I’ve scoured through Witcher 3 and all its expansions. I felt bad dropping Witcher 3 to play Final Fantasy XV three years ago and I would probably feel bad dropping Cyberpunk 2077 to play Horizon Forbidden West. Cyberpunk 2077, with Witcher 3 as a barometer will be over 100 hours and even if you don’t get any of the other games on this list, you will have enough content to last you until, well… The Playstation 6. Or the Xbox Series Y and Z.

Deathloop

There’s just something so cool about Deathloop when it was revealed during the Playstation 5 showcase. While I was waiting for Horizon Forbidden West and some other surprise, Deathloop became that other game I became interested in. It had that feel of a grindhouse film and just oozes style. Games like Persona 5 and even Dishonored really caught my attention because there’s something about the game that draws you in just from its presentation alone.

Why it will be worth it at (your) PS5 launch: It is a next-gen title and I feel that if you’re getting a next gen console, don’t you owe it to yourself to buy a next gen title? Sure, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077 feel like they’re next gen titles, but it’s always a nice motivation to get a game that’s made for the console you’re getting versus a game that’s been marketed to fill different platforms.

Spiderman: Miles Morales

We started the Playstation 5 reveal with that Grand Theft Auto 5 pop-up advertisement. I call it that because it felt out of place, it’s like that uncle who just won’t go away. If I’m too broke to actually afford such games, I could always pick up Grand Theft Auto V. With my PS Plus membership, that entitles me to $1M a month to watch me get my ass killed on GTA Online. While they had to make that announcement, it felt like that’s the safest place to put it in because it’s too early in the reveal to just switch off your TV.

I digress, but you gotta agree they opened strong with Spiderman: Miles Morales. While I enjoyed Peter Parker’s journey in the PS4 Spiderman, Miles’ story was really awesome and watching Peter school Miles in being a hero was one of my favorite parts of the story. So when it’s revealed that he’s getting his own game, that totally goes on my Day 1 must-buys.

Why it will be worth it at (your) PS5 launch: This is probably an expensive buy for a shorter game compared to the Spider-Man game released a while back, but we’ve spent money on games like The Order: 1886 and even Heavenly Sword. They were short games and we’ve regretted those purchases, but if we’re gonna regret a purchase, at least have them on a game that has enough enjoyable content with a likeable character and possibly have some good superhero battles, all on 4K 60fps.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon

Dude, it’s like a Yakuza game in an RPG format, on PS5 or Xbox Series X.

Why It will be Worth It at (your) next-gen console Launch: Dude, it’s like a Yakuza game in an RPG format, on PS5 or Xbox Series X.

Pokemon is a franchise that is close to the heart of a lot of gamers out there. Some more than others, and in fact, there is a group of local talent called the “ELID team” that is trying to pour some Philippine flavor to it and the results are truly inspirational!

This fan-made game has been in development for about 2 years and while most members of the team are Filipino, they do have some members that are not of local descent but have a passion and understanding of the culture, which makes the whole endeavor much more valuable and fun.

The recreation, set in the ‘Bayan Region’, has the usual variants in Eternal Light and Infernal Dark and one of the artists, Jasmine Grace Abraham, shared some artwork on the game that looks very promising, taking inspiration from a lot of Filipino elements.

The starter Pokemons are already there, named Bintukit, Aguilit, and Calfin. Even the Professor, named Prof. Narra, has already been conceptualized. A map of the game is also in the works, showing the Philippines and its various regions as the backdrop for this effort.

You’ve got your starters but you’ll be glad to know that the team behind the game have already thought of their evolutions as well! Welcome Bintufern, Pyroguila, and Wallobao.

Unsurprisingly, even the male and female versions of certain Pokemon have been considered too, with subtle differences between the versions.

Speaking about thinking of everything, they’ve got the various NPC’s as well. The team has surely done their homework!

In fact, if you take a look at their social media pages like Instagram and Twitter, you’ll notice that there’s already a LOT of work put into the fan-made effort, even as far as in-game clips like the ones below:

There’s also music being composed for the game! Check out these short clips from Ethiliel Gautier and from JoblessMusic, which features what could be the World Map BGM as well as the Battle BGM:

You can also check out some more of the featured Pokemon below, can you name the inspirations behind them?

Other Pokemon made by the team include Inahen, Tandong, Kambili, Chiklog, and Banguz, all clearly inspired by our local wildlife.

Of course, as with anything, licensing and use of any official Nintendo or Pokemon logos and likeness may be subject to possible issues, which we’re hoping that the development team has already considered.

At the moment, the game is headed for a PC release with no release window yet, but there will be a demo build sometime next year. Best thing about it is that this effort is purely for the love of the franchise, and will be a non-profit release that everyone will be able to enjoy for free, should the development push through.

If you’re interested to know more about this game, make sure to follow their Instagram and Twitter accounts for more updates!

Ghost of Tsushima, the labor of love from Sucker Punch, has critics and players raving about how beautiful the game is, and we would definitely agree in our review. Not only did Sucker Punch do justice to the cultural representation of Japan, part of what made it so believable and amazing was the hard work and dedication of each individual who made the game a reality.

The English voice acting cast of the game is comprised of a diverse group of people – Daisuke Tsuji as Jin, Eric Steinberg as Lord Shimura, Patrick Gallagher as Khotun Khan… The list goes on and on and there is certainly no lack of talent from this cast. Even Feodor Chin, who is the voice behind Zenyatta from Overwatch, also plays a role in the game as Harunobu Adachi and Yamato.

Credits to IMDB

Yuna, in particular, is portrayed by Sumalee Montano, a veteran talent with appearances in Star Trek: Picard and This is Us, as well as voice credits for games such as Hawthorne from Destiny 2, Lahni Kaliso from Gears 5, Mari Kosan from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and much much more. Quite an impressive resume and definitely a perfect fit for one of the main characters in Ghost of Tsushima.

But did you know that Sumalee is a Filipina as well? Sumalee is of Filipino and Thai descent, born and raised in the United States. She is also a graduate from Harvard and a US Fulbright Scholar, adding to her already impressive list of achievements.

Sumalee shares a post on her Facebook page about the moment that she can finally tell people that she was indeed Yuna from the game. As a Filipino phrase would say, “You-na!” or “Ikaw na!”, definitely fit for her character’s name!

Sumalee goes on to praise all of the talented actors that she worked with for the project, stating the fact that the cast was filled with Asian and Asian-American actors who all did amazing work. Props also goes out to Sucker Punch, who worked hard to make an accurate cultural representation of Japan, which the Japanese themselves have praised.

Here are more behind the scenes from Sumalee’s Twitter Account, where she documents parts of her journey while working on Ghost of Tsushima.

Here’s Yuna and Jin sharing a moment together, both in-game and in real life!
Feodor Chin, sharing images of how wacky the cast looks during motion capture sequences.
The cast behind the game characters with their own version of the Photo mode.
Motion capture requires a LOT of those tiny dots on your face!

It great to see Filipinos break into the industry and produce amazing things. Secret 6 is an example that indeed we have talent that can stand at par with the rest of the world, and Sumalee Montano is also proof that with hard work and dedication, we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

Ghost of Tsushima is now available exclusively on the PlayStation 4.

The Xbox Games Showcase started out with literal guns ablaze with Halo: Infinite and finished solid with the new Fable announcement. Going against Sony’s library of exclusives, Xbox has their work cut out for them and we were expecting for them to bring all the stops to be a contender in this high stakes new generation duke fest. Unfortunately, they were passable at best but I wasn’t compelled to get excited even for the Xbox Lockhart.

While I wasn’t too blown away with Sony’s lineup either, I came out with a solid reactions: “I’m definitely getting Spiderman Miles Morales at launch”; “I’m really curious about Deathloop”; and “I hope they have some bundles available when Horizon Forbidden West drops”. At least there were three games for me to be excited about to actually purchase a PS5 and a few where I said, “That’s interesting, I hope to see more information at launch”. That was the majority of my reaction to Xbox’s release.

These are the games that caught my attention, but sadly, not enough to compel me to purchase an Xbox Series X at launch just yet:

State of Decay 3

After the underwhelming presentation of Halo: Infinite, an eerie trailer of a post apocalyptic world graced our screens. A lone survivor scours the wilderness and runs into a dead wolf being consumed by a zombie deer. Dun dun dun. While I’ve never played the previous games in the series but was meaning to, the teaser alone got me curious. Though I am cautious with games being presented with a teaser video with no in-game footage, so I’d take a gander when more about the game comes out.

At least we get Zombie bambi.

Everwild

Rare opened strong with a sprawling adventure that’s comparable to Rime with the ethereal music and a cast of interesting characters. Yet as mentioned like in State of Decay 3, I’m cautious with these types of teasers as the gameplay could be like Pyre where the lore and story are enthralling but the gameplay didn’t entice me to continue or Banner Saga where the strategy-RPG mechanic was palatable, it was also unforgiving but not the risk-reward kind of unforgiving found in Fire Emblem. I just hope the gameplay is worth the $70 USD price tag because at the moment, it feels like a $30 USD game.

Tell Me Why

Not to be confused with the lead up to I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys, but it is Dontnod’s latest interactive drama project coinciding with Life Is Strange 2. Unlike its predecessors, this game will be three episodes long, having two fewer episodes than its mainline Life Is Strange counterparts. And just like the story trailer and everything that we expect from this game, I would expect some crushing plot twists, a great soundtrack, and a collectible feature that grants easy achievements. I’d totally buy it on sale.

As Dusk Falls

Just like Tell Me Why, I would expect this game to fall into that episodic interactive drama category. While stylistically, the game appears to work because it has this storybook flip animation present, sort of like playing through visual novels on the PS Vita. And just like Telltale and Dontnod games, they would probably fall in the same “I bought it for the achievements” category. Yet I’m curious how the game would unfold and we may have another Oxenfree in our hands.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2

A long awaited sequel that showed a fantastic trailer but without any gameplay. I feel that many horror games get away with a lot by showing nothing by just upping how eerie it is or the general intrigue of the game, throw in a stylized video and a quasi-jump scare or two. Its predecessors had a cult following a decade ago and fans of the title are excited. Truth be told, I would like to have Lost Odyssey 2: Life’s A B****, But I Still Can’t Die as one of the launch titles for the Series X, but Mistwalker only makes mobile games these days.

The Medium

Out of all of the games in the showcase, this was the game that I was actually excited after seeing, however I wasn’t excited enough as a basis for buying a new console. Yet, it really has strong Silent Hill, The Evil Within and Alan Wake vibes missing from Control. Don’t get me wrong, Control in the few hours I’ve played was a unique take on the genre but it didn’t hook me enough to keep me going after the first few missions. I’m blaming the color schemes as it might’ve worked as an independent arthouse film, but not as a video game. The dual mode of being in two worlds simultaneously was a curious draw and I’d love to see where they will go with this. As a title, I’m sold, hopefully it drops on Steam in the future.

WTF Honorable Mention – Grounded

Right away the game came out with kiddie graphics and felt like a terrible port of some Disney or Dreamworks IP.  Yet its tongue-in-cheek trailer sent some laughs in this ultimately milquetoast showcase. Lines like, “if you’re looking for the best game to come out this year, check out Cyberpunk 2077” and “for a great RPG experience, look no further than Obsidian’s lineup” communicated its playful nature. However, if their strategy was to be top of mind, they succeeded, sadly all I’ll remember is their offbeat presentation and not their actual game.

WTF Grand Prize – Hellblade 2

When it was Ninja Theory’s turn to amaze us with the next chapter for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the biggest announcement was they were going to set the game in Iceland. With the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it was quite certain that we will be graced with that moody scenery and haunting speorg notes that fit Hellblade’s brand. Then the showcase continued without a trailer of any kind… Talk about massive Blue Balls. Even Jack Black had a song and dance number for Psychonauts 2 but Senua can’t even sing Ja Ja Ding Dong? Ninja Theory did us dirty.

Hellblade 2: Eurovision Song Contest, anyone?

It all started because I wanted that Tifa Dynamic Theme for my PS4 background. While it was given away for free in Japan and Asia, acquiring said dynamic theme in the North American hemisphere initially required (not anymore) a song and dance with capitalism’s bizarre marketing ploy. We had to buy a certain set of candy bars and enter a code to this void that sells our souls to the Illuminati or something to that effect. After creating a Japanese PS4 account to acquire said theme, I also got my hands on a Ryu ga Gotoku 7 demo or as we call the game in the anglophone world – Yakuza: Like A Dragon.

The State of the JRPG

What started as an April Fool’s joke gone awry, Yakuza: Like A Dragon takes a completely different approach in the new crime drama saga. It’s a fresh breath of air for this franchise. In the last few games leading up to Yakuza 6: Song of Life, the studio attempted to change it up for this genre. Yakuza 4 and 5 gave the players an ability to control other characters that’s not Kazuma Kiryu. This convention continued with Yakuza Zero with a playable Majima Goro, Judgment with a botoxed Takuya Kimura, and Fist of the North Star with the iconic Kenshiro. Even as an avid fan of these games, I found myself fatigued by Judgment where it’s merely Yakuza with a private detective skin, almost akin to Shun Akiyama’s gameplay in Yakuza 4 and 5. So having a JRPG approach felt like a curious change in direction.

I have a love and hate affair with JRPGs. It stagnated over the years and hit a wall as their gameplay and storytelling haven’t grown up from the typical fanfare of waifus and god-like teenagers. While there were times where they’ve found a way to subvert the genre; at best, it’s a wish fulfillment fantasy for weebs and the worst of them, an overpriced, unplayable mess. Though, I still hold onto hope that a renaissance of the genre will come into fruition sometime in this lifetime where they will find a way to revitalize this genre.

Subverting Conventions

At first, an avid Yakuza fan would wonder how the genre can change gears completely and adapt a full-fledged JRPG from its current beat-em-up skin. The answer is, almost seamlessly. The Yakuza genre really knows how to shift gears when to turn wacky and when to remain serious. From Yakuza Zero to Judgment, the genre is unapologetic in its almost instantaneous 360-degree genre flips when entering a side mission, a minigame, or going back to its main story that takes itself a bit too seriously. I guess that’s what sustains the fanbase, there’s never a dull moment.

Enter Yakuza: Like A Dragon, the demo opens with ex-Yakuza protagonist Kasuga Ichiban looking for a job and is joined by bruiser Adachi and magical hobo Namba. As the game progresses, Saeko joins your party as an office lady Tifa equipped with a Louis Vuitton handbag from hell. Your veritable hero-support-tank-DPS party has now been created and it is glorious.

In the demo, I’ve skipped the many minigames as I will have more time to fully immerse myself and enjoy them once I play the full English-translated release. The setting moved away from Tokyo’s Kamurocho and Osaka’s Sotenbori to Yokohama’s Isezaki Ijincho district. Looking forward, we might end up in Millennium Tower again but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an airship and we wind up in Dragon Quest’s Tree of Life for the final showdown with an androgynous antagonist. 

Interactive Backgrounds

Taking cue from isometric RPGs, they’ve taken the classic turn-based milieu to feature an interactive battle setting. While in Final Fantasy VII: Remake, positioning really made the interactivity more dynamic and spell targeting/timing added another aspect to the genre; Yakuza: Like A Dragon takes it another step further where your position to other characters are either rewarded or punished. 

For example, if one tries to mindlessly walk past an opponent to assist another character, the opponent wouldn’t just passively allow it, they beat the crap out of that passerby. If background debris such as a bicycle, brick, or barbed baseball bat is in their way, the character can take said item and use it with their attack. What works for the heroes, likewise could be used against them by their enemies, so it is a subtle addition to this system. In that, I am pleasantly surprised that we have a workable JRPG on our hands!

Hobo Fantasy VII

Just as Kazuma Kiryu sees his life as a Streets of Rage game, Kasuga Ichiban sees his life as a Yusha from Dragon Quest. One can infer that from the set pieces, the most obvious one being pulling his signature weapon – the nailbat – stuck amidst construction debris. Down on his luck and pretty much reduced to a homeless ex-con after being betrayed by his patriarch, Kasuga recruits his own motley crew of a magical homeless party (and a really angry OL).

The charm in this game may wear off in the later hours in the game as playing it right now, I was completely amused and bedazzled by its off-the-rails execution. What really won me are the summon commands in the game, basically Kasuga sends out a text to characters in the franchise and they enter dealing damage, healing, or afflicting enemies with status effects. So far, I’m amused and I can’t wait until Kasuga starts summoning legends like Kiryu and Majima. 

My fear is that the game will have that 40-hour lag found in every JRPG where one is forced to grind to be able to surpass the current story checkpoint or I get caught up in a minigame spiral then ultimately quitting the game mid-journey. Hopefully, it takes enough from the existing lore to sustain its novelty and have us ask for more.

I think it’s too early to say if it’s worth buying, but with the demo I’m intrigued to see what else it has for us in the next dozen or so hours of gameplay. So far, it’s a damn crazy game, and I can’t wait for the localization.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon is scheduled to release in November for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The Xbox Series X version will be a launch title while the PlayStation 5 version will arrive at a later date.

The Philippines have proven once again that local talent can indeed step up to the plate and run with the big boys in the region. As the Overwatch SEA Map Design contest drew to a close, team PH scored a victory in the popularity category, taking home first and third place.

We got to talk to Carl Kho, who won 3rd place in the recently held competition and shared some thoughts about the experience and what it meant for him to place in the competition against some of the best talents in Southeast Asia.

OMG: Hi Carl! Thanks for the time. Could you quickly introduce yourself to the readers who may not have heard of your achievement recently?

CK: Salutations, I go by the name of Carl Kho, 16, and I am currently a high school student who also happens to be a freelance graphic designer. You can check out my portfolio here!

OMG: This probably sounds like a stupid question but… do you actually play the game? Still playing it?

CK: I am a proud player of the game! I was dying to get it the day it was released but it wasn’t until I won a local raffle draw (wherein an Overwatch copy was the prize) until I actually got to play it and you know what? I still play it up to today! I particularly love the support role and I’m fond of Zenyatta, the omnic monk who can dish out damage and instinctively save the team from ult combos at the last second.

OMG: You mention that you are a graphic designer but creating a map for this contest is probably a tough task because you don’t normally do that. How hard was it to come up with the map designs for the competition and can you talk us through how you chose your current entry and what was your inspiration behind this location?

CK: Funny story, I actually waited until the last minute before I started working on the map. It was on the day of the deadline where I realized, “Hey, I can actually pull this off” right after wasting the whole month not doing anything about it (hehe). So I pulled an all-nighter, experimenting with different places in Cebu like SM Seaside, Magellan’s Cross, I even tried to use the photos I took in Korea. In the end, I wanted something simple yet grandiose (translation: easy to pull off but will still look decent due to lack of time). Things connected and I found myself looking at Simala Shrine in Sibonga. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Heaven = church + clouds + the futuristic theme for Overwatch’s sake. Then voila, Simala Sanctuary de Cebu.

OMG: That’s probably not something we’ll be able to do on our own but I guess artists really pull off some great work with the proper inspiration… And speaking of inspiration, Overwatch has some pretty interesting and inspired character designs. Have you ever thought of creating a concept character and if so, what would it be?

CK: Interesting question. Hmm… I would definitely go for a Tikbalang-inspired character. His skills would stay loyal to his origins: force-revert a player to its original position x seconds ago (Kunkka-style), impair vision, dash… Ok, that sounds a lot like Tracer now. But hey, there’s no telling how far an idea can go! Maybe when we talk again, I’ll have something for you.

OMG: You are a gamer, a student, AND a freelance graphic designer. How do you juggle your real life commitments with playing? Or are you like us and just play all day and leave everything to stock knowledge?

CK: I follow the golden rule my dad has always taught me: everything in moderation. Besides, I’m a casual gamer who plays for fun and my attention isn’t devoured only by games with me being the always-explore kind of guy.

OMG: Well that is totally not us but we highly encourage you to stay in school! Lastly, do you have any words of advice for people who want to pursue something ambitious like joining a talent competition, something like you just did and turned out winning in the end?

CK: I am aware of how everybody’s different and yes, it took me a while to gain this kind of confidence in myself. Bottomline is: there is nothing to lose when you try, in fact, you get to gain more experience, wisdom, and friends! You’re the one who has to knock on opportunity’s door! I think this is applicable to everything except vices. Not only that, you’ll always have somebody on your side when help is needed: Google.

You can check out more of Carl’s works via his Facebook Page, his Youtube Channel, or his portfolio. Once again, congratulations to the winners of the concluded Overwatch SEA Map Design Contest!