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E3 2018 PlayStation Showcase

Sony held their E3 2018 PlayStation Showcase on Monday June 11th at 6pm PST.  They had previously announced that they were going to focus on four larger releases: Spiderman, Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us Part II. It became readily apparent within a few minutes of the beginning of their presentation that they weren’t going to stick to that promise. Below is a list of the announcements that they made.


Ghost of Tsushima 
Last of Us Part 2
Black Ops 4
God of War New Game +
Black Ops 3 on PS+
Tetris Effect
Days Gone
Twin Mirror 
Ghost Giant
Beat Saber
Destiny 2: Forsaken
Control
RE2 remake
Trover saves the universe
Kingdom Hearts 3 (Pirate World) 
Death Stranding
Nioh 2
Spiderman
Deracine 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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PlayStation Now logo on blue Sony background

It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to PlayStation Now!

The Pitch

PlayStation Now (PSNow) is a Netflix-esque streaming service for PlayStation 4 and PC. Subscribers have unlimited access to stream a collection of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games over the internet on their PlayStation 4 console or PC.

How Does it Work?

Subscribers have access to the massive catalog of games for as long as their membership lasts. The games are streamed over the internet so there is no downloading involved. This makes the service.

How Much Does it Cost?

PlayStation Now (PSNow) can be purchased in 12-month, 3-month, or 1-month increments.

12 Month subscription – $99.99

3 Month subscription – $44.99

1 Month subscription – $19.99

Advice

PlayStation Now (PSNow) is entirely dependent upon the strength of your internet connection. The games are streamed over the internet so they will run poorly if you can’t get a good enough connection. Sony customer support recommends that your internet service has a download speed of at least 5mbps (megabytes per second) to use the service. Tests performed by other sites like ArsTechnica have shown that it takes closer to 9 mbps to really take advantage of it.

Troubleshooting

Sony technical support has provided a few tips for folks who have the recommended download speed and are still experiencing issues with the service:

Use a Wired Connection

Many homes have their consoles hooked up to the internet via a wireless connection (wifi). This does hamper the quality of the connection between your PS4 and the modem. One way to correct this is by using an ethernet cable to connect your PS4 to the modem directly. This may not be possible for everyone, but it is at least worth mentioning.

Reduce the Number of Applications Using the Network

Your home network only has so much data that it can download from the internet at once. Applications that are sharing that download speed and can hinder each other’s performance. Its like traffic coming into your house. We’d get everywhere faster if we were the only car on the road.

Some applications you might consider shutting down are:

  • Streaming video applications (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube)
  • Cloud backup or sync applications (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud)
  • Content downloads (BitTorrent, software, games, movies, or music)
  • Video/audio communication apps (FaceTime, Skype)

Try Off-Peak Hours

Your download speed can also be hurt if you try to use a shared (or public) connection during the busiest hours of the day. Try using the service during off-peak hours like evenings and weekends so there may be fewer people using the service.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origin’s Access


Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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God of War Screenshot 1

By: Drew Habersang

***Mild spoiler warnings for those who want to stay spoiler free – I’ll be discussing game elements and largely avoiding plot, but there will be a few very small reveals – consider yourself warned.***

God of War -is back and it is better and more different than ever! 

In the previous games, Kratos ascended to Godhood in an all out one man war of vengeance against the Greek pantheon who betrayed him. This time around, Kratos is battling the Norse Gods and their underlings, but for entirely different reasons.

For those of you not familiar with the franchise thus far, don’t sweat it. The latest entry in the series is a soft reboot that leaves enough room for newcomers to get somewhat familiar with the story. Rest assured, you’ll have a deeper more meaningful experience if you’ve played the previous three playstation releases, but it’s hardly a requirement.

Until this release, apart from a few minor variations, the series has stayed close to the form and style of the first game. And, while fans would no doubt have been entirely fine to leap into another round of God-slaying, this game takes a decidedly different tone. Like many popular franchises that have gone the soft reboot route, the new God of War includes a number of open-world RPG elements. Kratos has evolved from the previous games and now has levels, armor, loot and different equipment, and his equipment will affect Kratos’ ability to take on various threats in their unique environments. Enemies in the new God of War have levels as well and these scale as Kratos levels up.


Note that, while these shifts constitute massive changes, the core of the game remains unchanged. Kratos is still absolutely brutal death dealer, but the tone of the game has changed considerably. The modulation in tone is largely thanks to the addition of Kratos’s son, Atreus. Kratos’s unhinged fury has been tempered into patient calculating resourcefulness. These changes are largely observable through Kratos’s relationship with his son, Atreus. Kratos has in no way abandoned the violent tendencies that made him a horrifying revenge-monster. However, with his young son Atreus to protect and guide, we also get to see Kratos patiently (most times) mentoring his son as they both discover more about the world around them and each other.
.

Kratos as a dad is spectacular and his relationship with his son is the emotional core of the game. This almost goes without saying, however, this is where to storytelling really excels. What could have easily been an overwrought predictable maudlin “escort journey the game” is instead handled with deftness and subtly. My favorite scenes are spare in dialogue and disarmingly sincere. Kratos still wrestles with his past. The game acknowledges this, yet gives him a way to redemption by way of his son, Atreus.  If nothing else, Kratos is determined to guide his son toward a different path than the one Kratos chose for himself.


The original game was intentionally bawdy and fantastically violent. In this latest iteration, the quick-time sex events (seriously) and over-the-top violence have been replaced with something far more sincere – Kratos holds his son’s tear streaked face in huge blood-stained hands as they both cope with unspeakable grief and it is, without a doubt, a most natural and necessary evolution.

I’ve loved every game in the God of War series but this one managed to incorporate emotional scaffolding upon which new stories can be built.

I’m already chomping at the bit for the follow up.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Playstation Plus logo

It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to PlayStation Plus!

The Pitch

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for PlayStation that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over the PlayStation Network. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the PlayStation Network. It also includes a suite of free PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, PlayStation  Vita, and PlayStation VR games that are available for free each month.

How Does it Work?

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that must be maintained in order to keep using it. The service grants its members access to the following:

  • Online Multiplayer gaming using the PlayStation Network platform
  • A suite of free games available for download each month for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. These games can be downloaded to the PlayStation 4 hard drive at any time, but you can only play them if you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription.
  • Periodic discounts on digital games sold on the PlayStation Marketplace. The games you purchase using a discount made available during a PlayStation Plus subscription will remain playable even after the subscription expires.

How Much Does it Cost?

PlayStation Plus can be purchased yearly, every three months, or monthly.

Advice

There isn’t much advice to give. If your family owns a PlayStation 4 console then this is required for online play. It is, however, a pretty good value because over the course of a year the free games available through the program will add up to a significant value.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origin’s Access


Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

There were a lot of awesome games that came to the PlayStation 4 this year. Take a look at the games we recommend for Holiday gifts this year!

Horizon: Zero Dawn



Arguably the best game of 2017 for young adult gamers. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a story of life and struggle over the remnants of a future civilization. Robotic animal creatures roam a landscape filled with the remnants of a fallen civilization.  Players experience the story of Aloy, a young woman trying to survive and understand the great tragedy of her land.

I linked the Complete Edition above. It will be coming out on December 5th and will include the DLC pack that is launching in November.

 

Star Wars Battlefront II



Star Wars is on everyone’s mind right now. How can it not be with Episode 8 looming this holiday season?

Star Wars fans will want to take a look at Star Wars Battlefront II this holiday. It isn’t available for purchase yet as of the time that I published our gift guide, but most early indications from a public beta have been positive. There have been some concerns raised by critics about the micro-transactions that are available in the game, but we don’t have all of the details from the final version of the game yet. We’ll need to wait and see if they end up being a true problem.

 

Everybody’s Golf



Everybody’s Golf is a casual golf game that the whole family can play. You create goofy characters and play on relatively wild courses. The action is simple enough that just about anyone can play with a little practice. The $40 price tag doesn’t hurt either.

 

Destiny 2


Destiny 2 is an amazing multiplayer shooter experience set in a cool sci-fi universe. It is also a great compromise for parents looking to find a shooter for their kids to play that isn’t as grim as Call of Duty: WW2 or Battlefield 1.

 

Crash Bandicoot Collection


Crash Bandicoot was Sony’s attempt to compete with Super Mario. He never quite succeeded in supplanting him, but there are a lot of people who look back on his games fondly. The N-Sane Trilogy is a collection of the first three Crash Bandicoot games that have each been lovingly remade from the ground up and made available in a $40 collection.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX



Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming soon. (They say its coming next year, but I’ll believe that when I see it.) Players need to get ready for it and this is a collection of every meaningful game in the series so far.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age


A sprawling tale about the never ending cycle of war and intrigue. FF12 is the last game in the series from the PS2 era and was recently re-released for PS4 with an HD upgrade. Zodiac Age is the smooth update and rebalancing of an already great game. It even includes some features that never made it to the States on its initial debut.

Minecraft



I know I sound like a broken record, but Minecraft should be on top of everyone’s shopping list. It may be one of the best selling games of all time, but there are plenty of kids who don’t have it.


Be sure to check out the rest of our holiday gift guides for 2017!

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Square Enix to Release Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Digitally for the PS4

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is being released as a digital exclusive for the PS4 on May 23rd. This game is part of a long running RPG series with a blend of Sci-Fi and Fantasy themes wrapped around an action based combat system. This game is rated T for Teen for animated blood and some mild violence but is otherwise family friendly to play around younger gamers. This is about as intense as most Avengers or Star Wars movies for sake of comparison.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was an RPG where you could get very deep into the weeds with crafting mechanics and mini games, but the combat system features three computer controlled characters while you controlled a character with two buttons that can be assigned various attacks for a simple and fun experience.

 

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a game a remember well even though it came out more well more than a decade ago. Laser aiming devices and shotgun blasts were used alongside magical dimension doors. Space ship captains fought side by side with court wizards and quirky animal sidekicks. This game takes an escalating story that spans galaxies and adds a final mid game twist that redefined the perspective of the entire series before and after it.

Square Enix is adding additional features to Star Ocean: Till the End of Time like adding trophy support, the ability to share screenshots and video, along with remote play. A word of caution to trophy seekers is that this game has some optional content that is incredibly difficult and will either having you pull out your hair or pull out a game guide. Expect some cameos and references from other Tri-Ace/Square Enix titles in the deeper parts of the game as reward for those willing to complete the grind.

What do you think? Is this a game you’ll


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Console Specs Translated for Non-Tech Savvy Parents

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are all going to be releasing new console hardware by the end of 2017. This means that we will be reading a LOT about technical specifications for game consoles for the next 18 months.

The next pieces of hardware from Microsoft and Sony (the Xbox Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro respectively) are, essentially, upgrades to their existing consoles. They will still work the same and play (for the most part) the same games. The difference is going to come in their ability to produce higher fidelity graphics than their predecessors.

We are going to see a lot of cheerful videos and carefully worded press releases that are going to be chock full of technical terms that might be confusing to a layman.

We want you to be able to make educated decisions about the games your children play. And, with that in mind, we felt that it would be a good idea to publish a glossary of technology terms that might sound like gibberish to parents who aren’t super tech savvy.

Take a look below and be sure to let us know in the comments if there is something we missed!

Display

This is, for all intents and purposes, just a fancy term used for the monitor and TV that the console will be hooked up to. This is where you will see the images that are being created by the console in order to play games, watch shows, etc.

GPU

A lot of the descriptions for new consoles and PCs will include information about a “GPU.” This is an acronym that stands for the “Graphics Processing Unit.” That is the name for a special kind of circuit that is responsible for creating images that will be output to the TV or Monitor.

Refresh Rate

TV shows, movies, and video games are all presented to us as rapidly changing streams of still pictures. As technology has improved we have been able to display more images, commonly referred to as “frames” per second. This has helped move away from the jerky and borderline unnatural movement found in silent movies to the fast and fluid movements we see in modern television.

The number of frames per second that a piece of tech displays is often reported in “hertz” or “htz.” For example, a 60 htz television is able to display 60 frames per second. In general, this means that the animation will be smoother and more natural.

4k Resolution

The “Resolution” of a display is a numerical representation of how many individual pixels that a display can show.

As Sony and Microsoft launch their next wave of updated consoles, the push is to support “4k resolution.” This is shorthand, but it represents a resolution of 3840 pixels x 2160 lines.

In general, the more pixels that can be displayed within a given area the more clear the image is and the better it can be animated. Most of us likely experienced that sort of change when we watched HD television for the first time. We were able to see fine details like the numbers on players’ jerseys more easily.

This is important for video games especially because the display AND the console both matter. Playing a Super Nintendo game on a modern HD television won’t make it look like modern video games. It is still limited by the hardware.

HDR

HDR stands for High-dynamic-range Imaging. This is a term used in photography that represents a greater dynamic ranging of color than is normally possible. In other words, the colors that are displayed by the media are more true to real life than previously displayed. This means brighter whites and darker blacks as well as more clear colors in between.

This is a feature that will be made available as part of the Xbox One S and will be available on all PS4 models. But, it is not something that everyone will be able to take advantage of. This is a feature that needs a cutting edge TV in order to work.

Teraflop

Project Scorpio by Microsoft is the upgraded version of the Xbox One that will release next year. Microsoft has described it as having “6 teraflops.”

A teraflop is a unit of measure for the power of a console or other computing device. This is an acronym that represents the number of calculations that a machine can process in one second. The breakdown of the acronym is as follows:

Tera” means Trillion

FLOP” stands for “Floating-Point Operations per Second”

For example, a processor that is measured as having “6 Teraflops” is capable of solving 6 trillion math problems in one second. To put it simply: The more calculations a processor can make the better the graphics it will be able to output.

Internal vs External Memory

Video game consoles are, essentially, specialized computers. Everyone knows what a hard drive is, because the computers we use at work, at home, and at school all have them. Video game consoles are no different.

The Xbox One and PS4 both launched initially with 500 GB (Gigabyte) internal hard drives. While this might seem like enough it fills up quickly if anyone in the household purchases games digitally. The newer versions of these consoles will include hard drives of up to 2 TB (Terabytes) of internal storage space.

For sake of illustration 1 Terabyte is the data equivalent of an 8 foot stack of CDS. That SEEMS like a lot of room, but some games can be HUGE.

There are external hard drives that will work with the different consoles though. So if your console is full, then you should look into them!

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Spider Man insomniac

Sony held their E3 2016 press briefing and showed off a new trailer showing footage from a new Spider man game in development for the Playstation 4. Finally, Spider-Man is coming back to video games thanks to Insomniac Games!

This is exciting because the video game rights for everyone’s favorite wall crawler have been held by Activision. One might not think that is a problem, but they squandered that license by churning out games that were average at best.

Spider-Man is seeing a new resurgence in popularity thanks to his recent appearance in Captain America: Civil War and his upcoming solo film. This is the perfect time for Sony to move the license over to someone who will give the franchise the appropriate level of care.

Insomniac Games might just be the perfect developer for the job. Their last game was Sunset Overdrive and one of its primary features was the traversal. It was also one of the most fun parts of the game. I would get a quest that required me to go all the way across the city and I would actually get excited that I got to travel. This stands in stark contrast to most games where I would sigh and trudge my way over. They clearly know how to craft a traversal system that is fun to play with and Spider-Man would benefit greatly from that kind of attention.

One point of interest for Spier-Man fans is the new costume. It doesn’t appear to be very similar to any known costumes in the Spiderverse so far. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I have a feeling that it was done to help differentiate the game from the movie. They are not making a game based on the Spider-Man: Homecoming film so they need to work hard to make that distinction to avoid confusion where ever possible.

We don’t know any real details about release date yet, but I think it is safe to assume that they are pushing for a release around the time Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out next year.

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more information as we get closer to release.

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Crash Bandicoot is Coming Back!

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Pixelkin.org. Make sure to check them out when you get the chance!

Sony announced during their E3 2016 press briefing that they are working with Activision to help bring Crash Bandicoot back to the masses.

Crash Bandicoot burst onto the gaming scene back in 1996 with his own 3D platforming game developed by Naughty Dog. He then went on to appear in more than a dozen games over the next 14 years. Crash never reached the same level of popularity as Mario or Sonic, but he was, and continues to be well loved by his fans. That love has inspired a loyal and vocal fanbase to call for his return ever since he vanished from the gaming scene.

Those loyal voices have finally won the day. Crash is coming back! Sony and Activision are raking the first three Crash games (Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped) from the ground up and releasing them on the PS4. They did not give a firm release date yet, but the three remakes are tentatively scheduled for 2017.

That wasn’t all Sony had in store though. they also announced that Crash would be finding his way into Skylanders Imaginators as one of the Sensei characters. His sky-chi attack will involve using his iconic yo-yo to pull enemies into him with a whirlwind like spin move.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn Has a New Gameplay Demo

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published on Pixelkin.org. Make sure to check them out when you get a chance.

Horizon: Zero Dawn has already been delayed, but that didn’t stop Sony from presenting a new gameplay demo for the game during their E3 2016 Press Conference.

The game was shown off a year ago at E3 2015 and it wowed the crowd with its unique take on a post fall Earth. We were introduced to the young girl Aloy and we had a chance to watch her fight a giant mechanical dinosaur. We had no idea WHY everything was happening, but to see an archer fend off a robot T-rex looked worth the price of admission all on its own.

Fortunately, though, the developers have given us a greater understanding of the story in recent weeks. As we understand it now: Aloy is an outcast. She arrived at a young age with no explanation and was raised by a man in her adopted tribe. Eventually, for reasons we do not know, it is decided that she is no one and they force her to leave. After that she embarks on a quest to find out where she came from and in turn she appears to find out what happened to the world of the “old ones.” (Spoilers: Old ones refers to us.) While on this quest shenanigans ensue. I’ll admit that I am not ready to take the plot seriously yet, but I am very excited to play this game nonetheless.

Sony also gave us a look at a section of gameplay during their E3 2016 press event. The demo was less than ten minutes long, but we saw her navigating a vast open world teeming with life (both mechanical and flesh). She is as agile as ever, but this time around we saw her using a special earpiece to scan nearby enemies for weaknesses and use a special staff she has to help “override” the mechanical creatures she finds. At one point she is even able to turn one of the creatures into a mount. The demo culminates in a battle with a creature called a “corruptor.” The fight is difficult and requires a lot of careful dodging while switching out weapons and different kinds of arrows. The combat was tense and the music and sound design helped maintain the intensity as well.

Horizon: Zero Dawn will be released on February 28, 2017. We will have more news as we get closer to release so keep your eyes on Pixelkin.org as we get closer to release.

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