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Guest Writer: James Pisano
Battle Chasers: Nightwar, a beautiful single player RPG that started out as a very successful Kickstarter project and developed by Airship Syndicate and Published by Nordic Games, is based on one of the most popular American Comic Series in the 90s, by Joe Madureira.  Joe Madureira is the Creative and Animation Director on the game, so the “flavor” of that world remains intact.  The beautiful artwork, the rich and immersive environments, and the strategic depth are all high points that I know will have me coming back for more and more this October when the world will be able to enter the arcane punk wonderland of Battle Chasers: Nightwar.
In the time I had my hands on this game at E32017, it was clear to me that the developers thought through things like deep party synergy without falling prey to trite conventions.  The party they had setup for the demo was made up of Calibretto – and Ancient War Golem, Gully – A young girl on a quest to find her father, and Knolan, a sage-like Wizard who packs much more power than one might think.  Calibretto looks like he -should- be the tank, but he’s really a healer who can also deal some AOE damage in a pinch.  Gully has the look of an elfish rogue, but is actual rather tanky and handy with crowd control abilities and taunts.  And Knowlen is mostly arcane DPS with a sprinkling of heals available for support.  Each party member can be cycled to be the party’s representative on the overworld, and is able to use their unique abilities to damage enemies before actually entering the encounter screen, which adds another layer of strategy and engagement that makes this game all the more appealing for me.
As far as the level design, we were told by the company’s PR rep that the dungeons are procedurally generated, which adds a TON of re-playability and depth.  The environments looked complex and cohesive enough that I was surprised to hear that they were constructed this way, especially given the beautiful art style.  And if you’re one for deep lore from a team that really cares, this is your kind of game.  So come October 3rd, gather the family around and fall in love with this sure-to-be-epic RPG on your platform of choice.  Yes, it’s being released on PC (Steam & GOG), Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.
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10 Minutes of Super Mario Odyssey Was Worth a Trip to E3 2017 All By Itself

Recently, I had an experience- one of those lifelong dream experiences. I got to go to California to attend E3! And the highlight of that experience? I waited an hour and a half to play Super Mario Odyssey for 10 minutes while I was there. I get funny looks whenever I tell that story to people since I have gotten home. But, I’m not ashamed to admit it. That whole process was the highlight of my trip and I would have done it again in a heartbeat.

The release of a New Super Mario game has always been significant for me. In a way, Mario games have served as gatekeepers to new and interesting experiences. I was never on the bleeding edge of gaming technology when I was younger. My family just didn’t have the money to indiscriminately blow cash on games and consoles unless it was for a birthday or Christmas. And, since Mario games were family favorites in our house, it meant that these games were ones to introduce me to new ways to play games.

A Long History

The original Super Mario Bros was the first game I ever played on the NES. It is fairly archaic when you look back on it now. But, it was perfection back then. I was enthralled by every bit of that game. Super Mario Bros was the first game I played where I actually felt myself making progress and improving my play style and techniques. I was pushed forward through a series of levels, each one slightly more challenging than the last. I learned something every time I had a game over. In a way, this helped to form the foundation of the way I play games.

Super Mario World launched with the SNES and was the first game that I ever remember wanting to explore. It was the first game in the Mario franchise to let players replay levels a second time to find secret exits or hidden coins. Color block temples spread throughout the game also reinforced that exploration mentality. Completing the temple would spread colored blocks throughout the world that would let you run and jump in placed that would have been almost certain death before.

Super Mario 64 was the first game I ever played that took advantage of 3D movement. I still remember the first time that I could just run in circles. I must have spent an hour in that first open area just practicing all of the different ways I could run and jump. I also remember being amazed at how open it was. It was awesome being able to take on the different challenges in any order I pleased. It was also nice to be able to skip levels that I found frustrating and save them until the end. This is a big deal because all of the Mario games before it were more or less linear affairs.

Super Mario Sunshine expanded on the openness of Mario 64 by presenting its challenges in a much more contiguous world. It wasn’t an open world game the way that we think of them now, but it was a very strong step in that direction. I also really appreciate that Nintendo was willing to try something VERY different by, essentially, giving Mario a gun for the first time. It wasn’t a true gun like the ones he will be utilizing in Mario + Rabids Kingdom Battle, but instead it was a super strong water hose attached to a backpack. It was the first time that I remember Nintendo proving to me that they were willing to take risks with their main character.

Super Mario Galaxy is one of my favorite games of all time. It took the 3D movement from Mario 64 and applied it to levels based on spheres. This resulted in one of the coolest collections of levels I have ever seen in a game.

All of this brings me to my time with Super Mario Odyssey. My demo was only 10 minutes long, but it was a very dense experience. It really felt the culmination of everything I had played in the series before. The biggest difference now is that the game feels truly open. I chose a desert based level that had a small quest hub at its entrance. I was then set free to wander the level looking for coins, objectives, and purple moon pickups (this game’s equivalent of the stars from Mario 64). I had complete freedom to move around the level and take on challenges in whatever way (or order) I chose.

This was all accentuated by the new capture mechanic. In Odyssey, Mario can throw his hat  Cappy at enemies in order to “capture” them. When he does so he assumes their form and can move like they do. At once point I mind controlled a Bullet Bill and was able to fly over a previously unpassable canyon. This is going to be one of the biggest mechanics in the game and I can’t wait to see how Nintendo lets us use it.

I spent the better part of this year so far in awe at the freedom I was given in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It looks like I might be doing the same with Super Mario Odyssey when it hits the Nintendo Switch on October 27th, 2017.

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Moss Banner

I stood in line for the better part of three days, and played a lot of games at E3. Every one of them was fun, some more than others. I played every game knowing what to expect and was not disappointed, though some failed to impress. Except once when I strapped on a PlayStation VR headset and was blown away.

Instantly evoking a feeling of mystery and adventure reminiscent of classic bedtime tales. Moss brings an almost perfect balance of elements to create an experience greater than the sum of its parts.

Moss gives you the classic fairy tale type settings but in 3D. Each area beautifully rendered to enhance the overall ambiance and feel of the game. It is very easy in a virtual reality game to detract from the experience if the environment distracting, poorly laid out, unresponsive or just plain ugly.  Moss avoids the typical problems by using a fixed point of view for each area.  You will not need to jump, spin or otherwise potentially destroy your living room to adventure alongside Quill. It may sound silly, but the number one complaint about VR is motion sickness and headaches. I felt like this design will be an easy entry point that will minimize the potential for both.

Moss has easy to use and intuitive controls to guide Quill through her adventures and combat her enemies. Some games require a user manual and a cheat sheet for their controls, this is not one of them. The combat system is simple and easy to grasp, and no button mashing required. Unless Polyarc has something greater or more in-depth planned for the release. Personally I would enjoy more depth in the combat system, but Moss is not a fighting game and a non-complex system keeps it more family friendly.

Did I mention Moss has puzzles as well? The puzzles make excellent use of the 3D virtual reality environment. Solving these puzzles will require both you and Quill. You might be thinking, of course it requires me; I am using the controller to move Quill. While that is true Moss takes it a step further which is the part that really made it stand out from the other games. Quill navigates through and interacts with her environment as expected, but she can’t accomplish all the required tasks on her own. You must reach out into the game environment and manipulate it to aid Quill in overcoming these challenges. It may sound simple, but that division makes you feel more a part of the game.

On top of all of that I had the opportunity to meet the guys from Polyarc Games who were at E3. Every single person I talked to had an abundance of enthusiasm for creating family friendly games that are engaging and fun. Moss hits that mail solidly on the head. We here at EFG will be keeping in contact with them and hopefully hearing more from them in the future.

The unfortunate truth of game demos at conventions like E3; they are limited in time and scope. In that short period of interaction though Moss made itself stand out so much so that it was my choice for game of the show. Moss is scheduled to be released this holiday season. Make sure you have your PS4 and VR gear ready. I just ordered mine.

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Engaged Family Gaming podcast image

In this episode our heroes on the west coast discuss the stampeed to the Nintendo section to play Mario as half of them gather to tell us all the amazing games they played on the show floor and Stephen even gets the inside joke title of a game when they explain it to him…

This is the trailer for that Riverbond game that they talk about in the end…I want it now…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozofVUzLAKc

#everybodyisbadatvideogames

#stephensbadatjoketitles

#stephensbadatvideogames

#stephensbadatpodcasting

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Engaged Family Gaming podcast image

In this episode our heroes on the west coast discuss Nintendo with more now in real life friends and also the story of how our fearless leader left the one thing he needed back at the west coast save point…

Due to a tech snafu no East Coast watchtower today but expect it tomorrow with a cohost from the way back machine.

 

#stephensbadatvideogames

#stephensbadatpodcasting

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Engaged Family Gaming podcast image

Today we have everyone who was close enough to a microphone talk about E3 so far,mostly to talk about Mario Rabbids. Exciting new contributers that will have content with us soon! Articles and even a mega family friendly article with all of the trailers in it is coming!!!

Oh and here’s the link to the Switch Mario Kart deluxe giveaway

https://gleam.io/lYPok/the-engaged-family-gaming-nintendo-switch-giveaway

Tomorrow is the Nintendo Keynote so get hype everyone!

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In the final day of E3 our heroes (or what’s left of them) gather around the mic one last time to discuss their game of the show and tell us what they did the last day as well as the best sandwiches ever.

Stephen
Name of Game: Super Mario Odyssey
Developer: Nintendo
System: Switch
Release Date: October 27,2017
Link to E3 trailer from direct source:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGQHQc_3ycE

Jesse
Name of Game: Moss
Developer: Polyarc
System: PSVR
Release Date:
Link to E3 trailer from direct source:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FguiwVNCs0

John
Name of Game: Riverbond
Developer: Cococumber
System: Xbone,PC
Release Date: TBA
Link to E3 trailer from direct source:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZIAkgcoynY

Regina
Name of Game: Need for Speed: Payback
Developer: EA
System: Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC via Origin.
Release Date: November 10, 2017
EA Access Play First Trial: November 2, 2017
Link to E3 trailer from direct source:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-5EdHZ0hBs

James
Battlechasers: Night War
Name of Game: Battlechasers: Night War
Developer: Airship Syndicate
System: Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: Late Summer 2017
Link to E3 trailer from direct source:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRwi1bqXzTc

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Further Game Play Details for Sea of Thieves Announced

Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer open world game where you gather players to create a crew and go on adventures.  This game has been on the gaming radar for two years and has a projected release of early 2018. Microsoft revealed new gameplay details during a lengthy video demo during their E3 2017 press event.

Developer:  Rare

System:  Xbox One, Windows 10

Release Date:  Early 2018

The beginning of the video explains the world and hints at some of the adventures to be has over the sea, on land, or even underground. The most interesting feature that Rare showed off during the demo was the map system. Players have to use thematically appropriate treasure maps to find their adventures.

The gameplay shown in the demo shows a wide range of what one might encounter in the game.  One of the first things that was shown were the skeleton enemies that can rise out of the ground to attack.  These creatures explode when they are shot by your pistol.  The demo showed a quest where players need to retrieve a chest and bring it back to their ship.  The person holding the chest can’t fight without putting the chest down. This makes teamwork mandatory. Players need to protect their friends’ backs.

Combat isn’t all skeletons though. You can also fight other players in naval battles! This looks like one of the primary sources of player vs player action. We don’t know exactly how it will work yet, but it sure looks exciting!

ESRB Rating Concerns

Its worth noting that we don’t know how the game will be rated by the ESRB yet.  There was a small spray of blood when pirates were injured. It was no worse that the battles with the characters in Horizon Zero Dawn though. Sea of Thieves is worth monitoring for more information as the release approaches.  The fact that the game is an open world multiplayer almost automatically disqualifies it for young gamers.  This may be one for older children (tweens and teens) with support from a parent to monitor the content other players may present.  It is even possible that an M rating will be assigned (although it looks like that is unlikely based on what we’ve seen).   We’ll obviously be providing more information as the game gets closer to release.

 

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E3 Banner

E3 2017 has come and gone and our intrepid heroes have ventured forth into those hallowed halls in search of greatness. They played a LOT of games and each of them was tasked with declaring their favorite game to be their Game of the Show. Take a look below and see what they picked.

StephenSuper Mario Odyssey

Developer: Nintendo

System: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: October 27,2017

Super Mario Odyssey may be the obvious pick for me, but that doesn’t make it the wrong one. It’s the perfect follow up to the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I only got to spend ten minutes with Odyssey and I already knew it was going to be one of my favorite games of the year. This game is going to make an very big splash for Nintendo this holiday.

JesseMoss

Developer – Polyarc Games

System:  PSVR

Release Date: Holiday 2017

 

 

My choice for E3 2017 game of show is Polyarc Games’ action adventure puzzle game Moss. What I saw of this game strikes a difficult balance between puzzle solving, light combat and utilizing the 3D virtual reality environment. Requiring you to be a part of solving the puzzles along with Quill makes you a part of the story as well.

JohnRiverbond

Developer:  Cococumber
System:  Xbone,PC
Release Date:  TBA

I chose this game as my “Game Of The Show” for E3 2017.  It hit all the marks for me.  Family friendly, easily accessible and endlessly playable in any environment.

 

ReginaNeed for Speed: Payback

Developer:  Ghost Games

System:  Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC via Origin.

Release Date: November 10, 2017

EA Access Play First Trial: November 2, 2017

 

Payback is my pick for best of show. Why? Because I hate racing games and yet I loved this game! It’s a driving game but you have a mission and a story to unlock. I won’t admit how much pleasure I took from running cars off the road. Loved it!

 

JamesBattlechasers: Night War

Developer:  Airship Syndicate

System:  Xbox One, PS4, PC, Switch

Release Date:  Oct. 3, 2017

Battle Chasers: Nightwar… a beautiful RPG developed by Airship Syndicate and Published by Nordic Games, and based on one of the most popular American Comic Series in the 90s, by Joe Madureira, who is the creative director on the game as well.  The beautiful artwork, the rich and immersive environments, and the strategic depth are all high points that I know will have me coming back for more and more this October when the world will be able to enter the arcane punk wonderland of Battle Chasers: Nightwar.

 

 

 

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