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Michael Duetzmann

Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: Achievement/Trophy

Achievements and Trophies were introduced in the era of Xbox and PS3 game consoles. They are a set of points, badges, or icons that show successful completion of a particular type of play. Some games allow Achievements or Trophies to be publicly facing online. Achievements can represent the completion of a section of story or narrative, the use of a particular game mechanic, exceptional skill in gameplay, or discovery of a hidden quirk or feature within the game. Achievements and Trophies are often hidden to avoid spoiling the narrative of the game. Visible ones encourage exploration of the game and mastery of play.

Examples of Achievements and Trophies:


  • Taking Inventory Achievement: The first time a player opens their inventory
  • Adventuring Time: For finding every biome

Star Wars Squadrons:

  • Galaxy’s Finest (story mode): For completing the campaign on story mode difficulty

Stardew Valley:

  • Bronze trophy for catching 100 fish

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: DLC

DLC is shorthand for Down Loadable Content. This refers to features available to a game after its initial launch. These features can be as simple as changes in a player’s appearance, or as complex as entire sections of new gameplay. These features are accessible either via the console’s online store or directly through the game itself. They can be purchased individually, in collections (bundles) or available for free (or free with purchase of the game).

DLC Examples

  • Animal Crossing regularly has updates, one update included masks you can get for your character to win. There are also seasonal updates too.
  • Super Smash Bros. version 9.0 updated to add Steve and Alex from the Minecraft Series as well as well as added Minecraft World as a stage.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn had DLC released that players could purchase which added a new section of map, new story, new equipment, and additional monsters.

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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!

The EFG Essentials

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This past weekend was not only PAX East, but it also featured the first Mythic Championship AND a panel featuring the full unveiling of the next expansion for Magic: The Gathering.

War of the Spark is the next set. It will be released on May 3rd, 2019 and will feature the dramatic conclusion to a story that has been building up for years. (Yes. You read that right. Magic has had a continuous story that has been building up to this moment.) Nicol Bolas (a crazy elder dragon who is seeking ultimate power) has been visiting various planes to gather armies (Ahmonket) and artifacts of great power (Ixalan) to help him attack the city of Ravnica. His goal has been to dominate the city and draw planeswalkers from across the multiverse to attack him and stop him. Why, you might ask? Because he is laying a trap for them. It’s all very intense and will play out through the themes represented in the cards and their art.

War of The Spark preview season is going to include card previews for every card in the set, instead of single card reveals. These previews happen ing in the next couple of weeks will now feature sets of five cards, and are going to be from every level of rarity, and for all types of players. These cards will be used to tell a complete scene in the ongoing story in War of The Spark

Planeswalkers Matter

War of The Spark will feature thirty six planeswalkers, with one planeswalker as the buy-a-box promo. With the previous promise of a planeswalker in ever pack, we now know they are going to fulfill that promise with planeswalkers at various rarities (The infinite cohost called it). There are going to be twenty uncommon, twelve Rare, and three mythic planeswalkers in the set. These characters are drawn from throughout the multiverse of Magic and throughout its history.

In addition to uncommon and rare planeswalkers, War of The Spark features new abilities and mana costs never seen before on cards before. Hybrid mana symbols are being printed on planeswalkers for the first time ever, allowing for flexible casting costs and fitting them in as many decks as possible. Wizards also confirmed in their War of The Spark Panel at Pax that all thirty seven planeswalkers will feature a static or triggered ability as part of their rules text.

Having abilities on planeswalkers where their vary presence influence the battlefield leads to many more opportunities for cool cards and cool play

Positive Proliferation

Proliferate shows up as a returning mechanic for War of The Spark. Last featured in the Scars of Mirrodin block, this mechanic lets you add any kind of counter to any number of permanents that you own. Which not only supports planeswalkers but creatures with +1 counters.

Amass an Army

Amass is a key word focusing around the Dreadhorde, Nicol Bolas’s personal army of zombie warriors. Each card with Amass lets you create a zombie army token with +1/+1 counters or add more counters to your existing creature. The intent behind the ability is to create a single giant creature to destroy your opponent in only a few crushing attacks. Where it lacks in its ability to create multiple army tokens, the ability to go big leads to a massive creature dominating the battle field. Hope you don’t find a way to give it trample!

That Trailer Though

The War of the Spark trailer is the most viewed trailer in the history of Magic for a reason. Give it a look!

I didn’t know I wanted a CGI Magic Movie until right now.

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

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EA announced that they were releasing Elder Scrolls: Legends on PS4 and Switch at their EA Play Media Briefing during E3 week this year. They also confirmed that the game would have cross-play between all of the platforms it is available on.  This is a serious advantage over Hearthstone, which has not expanded much since its initial offerings to mobile devices and PC gaming.

Elder Scrolls Legends is a digital collectible card game that pulls its influences from one of Bethesda’s longest running and popular settings. What separates it from other free to play online card games is just how well integrated the Elder Scrolls lore and feel is integrated into both its single and multiplayer content. Legends offers both competitive and casual multiplayer modes, but also offers single player story modes along with a single player arena mode (Their version of a limited card deckbuilding format).

Elder Scrolls features cards and deck construction that encourages multiple styles of play. Most card games limit you deck construction to cards of a single playable class and a set of neutral cards. Legends treats your deck and your personal avatar as two separate things to be customized. 

First and most pleasantly, the cards allow for multicolor deck construction as well as full support for multicolor cards. Each color of cards in Elder Scrolls Legends represents one the themes with the world of Elder Scrolls: White is the color of order and armies, Red is the color of rage and fury, Blue is the color of sorcery and knowledge, Purple is the color of control and ancient (undead) power, and green is color of nature and hidden threats. The races of the Elder Scrolls series often appear in multiple colors: Imperial forces are white and purple, Argothian lizardfolk are green and purple, and Khajiit Catfolk appearing in both green and white. These races, of which I only named a few, are often featured in Legends multicolored cards. While Legends limits deck construction to a maximum of two colors, it allows for more diverse design with each color as themes not only work within their own color, but with other colors as well. It also allows for more cards to be relevant as the same color can be played in different ways, even more so when paired with another color.

Your personal avatar will also serve you well in the free to play progression system within the game. The game rewards both single player and multiplayer content with gold (to buy packs, arena passes, and stories), Soul Gems (the common resource among card gam11es to craft individual cards, as well as a random cards. The cards you will receive after multiple played games will be based on your in-game avatar, and since races are connected to multiple colors, this gives you control to the type of rewards you receive as you play.

I would recommend Elder Scrolls Legend as a digital card game to family gamers who are invested in the lore of Elder Scrolls, and are looking for solid single and multiplayer content. With its Teen rating to the ESRB, Elder Scrolls Legends is also a playable alternative to younger gamers who want to experience the Elder Scrolls series without the more mature content that is a mainstay of the Bethesda Series.

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

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It is always great to return to a familiar and comfortable place.

Level 5 Studios released Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch several years ago. They made it in cooperation with Studio Ghibli. It felt like they took Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Ponyo and turned them into a video game. It was wonderful.

Level 5 then began work on Ni No Kuni 2 exclusively for the PS4 with the goal of matching the art, the style, and the story. They succeeded. 

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is one of the most family friendly role playing video games of this year.  My claim is that it is also one of the most educational games as well. It doesn’t teach STEM skills or artistic skills. But, it helps teach a lesson in leadership. The games story focuses around the journey of Evan, an overthrown young king who wants to rebuild his lost kingdom unite the lands around it in peace. Every feature and detail in the game works in concert to reinforce this theme with a heavy dash of fantasy and whimsy to keep things light.

Ni No Kuni 2 takes a large departure from the original game and starts the action of the game almost immediately. I am trying hard to avoid spoiling the story, but a mysterious man named Roland is magically transported into the castle of Ding Dong Dell just as the kingdom is about to be overthrown. Fans of the first game will see constant call backs to the original game without muddling the main story or being required to appreciate the story unfolding before you.

This game was never a grind. Evan’s quest is interwoven with a variety of small stories that, however brief, breath more life into the world. Evan can meet and recruit people for the kingdom of his own while on his way to confront leaders of troubled kingdoms.  Evan’s kingdom also serves as a hub to create and upgrade his friend’s weapons and armor, learn new abilities, and unlock new places to explore. It’s even a city building mini-game in its own right. 

This game wants you to play at your own pace so you can soak in every beautiful detail. Even overland travel is a joy to take in, and frequent travel hubs allow you to instantly teleport back to locations you have already traveled to (Hint: Trip Doors are your friends. Use them often.)

My only complaint is that Level 5 relies too heavily on whimsical humor to get its themes across. The apprentice blacksmith you recruit? Nu Bi. The Dogkin person you recruit for the armorers? Fai Do. The grizzled veteran? Bai Gon. The merchant is named Price. Your lumberjack is named Chi Pi. Players should be advised of heavy levels of puns during game play and the heavy groans almost pull you out of the fun… almost. If you meet someone in town with a name, chances are there will be a quest to recruit them eventually.

This game take advantage of recent video game practices to keep failure or sudden spikes in difficulty from derailing play. The side quests between major questing areas provide just enough experience to your characters to keep them in line with the next area. If you suddenly arrive in an area where everything seems way to high level, or encounter an optional monster that seems way too difficult, come back to it later (Often by convenient Trip Door). Large scale battles through Kingdom Building will only return you to the beginning of the encounter.

The game provides you every opportunity to re-arm, upgrade, and retool your team. This makes the experience approachable to adults and younger gamers alike. Very young gamers can watch the proceedings, but they might struggle. 


Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a refreshing experience. It is a game that is cartoon-ish and fun, but touches on very important topics that  “serious” games struggle with. This is highly recommended for any family gamers that are fans of the role playing game genre.

It is always great to return to a familiar and comfortable place. Revenant Kingdom let me go there. 

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Ixalan is a set of cards that was released on September 29, 2017  for Magic: The Gathering. Ixalan tells a story about the immediate aftermath of Hour of Devastation. The defeated planeswalker Jace Beleren finds himself marooned on a plane of existence that he cannot leave. It is a plane filled with adventure and mystery as four factions race to a mysterious golden city in the heart of a dangerous jungle. Ixalan features cards that represent the dangers of the jungle and the glory of exploration.

Why is it Awesome?

Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, Treasure, Exploration: These things light up the imagination of gamers young and old. I have not seen a set of magic released with more appeal to younger gamers. To further reinforce the appeal to younger gamers, Ixalan features four separate creature-based strategies to build decks around. With cards of all power levels and rarities, there are a lot of strategies that can be played at any level of investment.

You can see the full visual spoiler here.

Dinosaurs are all the rage!

Drover of the Mighty

Sun Crowned Hunters

Kinjali’s Caller

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

In this set, Dinosaurs are big scary creatures that come charging in early in the game thanks to their human allies. Dinosaurs span the red, white, and green colors of Magic as they represent three different ways to shake the ground and crush your opponent. Dinosaurs all share the enrage mechanic, which triggers whenever they take damage from a creature or a spell. Do not hurt them, you will only make them mad!

Vampires of a different color!

Queen’s Commission

Skymarch Bloodletter

Vona, Butcher of Magan

Vampires from a far away land sail to the island of Ixalan for honor and glory. White vampires make an addition along with their classic black brethren to the game of Magic, as the entire set focuses on creating lots of vampires, and gaining and draining life from their opponents. This excess of life then gets used to fuel powerful effects, where the only payment is blood.

Pirates be after the booty!

Pirate’s Prize

Deadeye Tormentor

Rigging Runner

Admiral Becket Brass

Pirates patrol the waters of Ixalan and are on the hunt for buried treasure. Pirates care about two things: attacking and finding treasure. Raid is an ability shared amongst the red, blue and black colors of Magic that gives additional value if you attacked this turn. Raid rewards players for casting their creatures and spells after combat, when their pirate crews have swung in for damage. Pirates also love treasure! Many spells and creatures create artifact tokens called Treasures that can be traded in for mana at a later time. It is uncommon for these colors to have access to mana creation, be sure to take advantage of it.

Merfolk weave growth and trickery!

Jade Guardian

Watertrap Weaver

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

Merfolk mix the colors of green and blue in Magic to create a theme of growth and trickery. The new addition of green merfolk place +1/+1 counters on other merfolk to make them permanently bigger, while blue merfolk continue to lock down your opponent’s creatures and fly or swim past those with a chance to block.

Should you buy this stuff?

If you are a family gamer who already plays Magic: The Gathering, heading to your local game store or internet card provider is a no-brainer. If you have been interested in coming into this game on the ground floor, there has never been a better time, as this set features four creature based deck building strategies. Combined with cards from the recent Ahmonket and Kaladesh expansion, you can take your deck to the kitchen table or local Friday Night Magic event near you.

Here are some great options for Ixalan products you can buy!

Planeswalker Decks: Jace, Ingenious Mind Mage & Huatli, Dinosaur Knight

The ease of accessibility for this set starts with the two ready to play constructed decks that Wizards of the Coast releases with every new set. This time around the deck features Jace with a force of blue and green merfolk and Huatli, a new planeswalker, who leads and empowers an army of red and white dinosaurs. These decks have always been very solid introductory products, and this recent addition does not stray from that standard.

The Ixalan Bundle Pack

Bundle packs are a great way to buy into a set of Magic: The Gathering cards. They include 10 packs of cards, a spin-down life counter, a pack of land cards, and a nice box to store your cards in.

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D&D Beyond at first glance is a collection of online gaming tools for Dungeons and Dragons 5.0, but the ease of use and friendly interface makes it more than the sum of its parts. D&D Beyond is an evolution of previous tools released by Wizards of the Coast for D&D 4.0 and improves on its subscription model, and improved stability by running everything in the browser instead of separate programs. All D&D Beyond’s best services are free with the creation of an account connected to Twitch.tv. Paid services include expansion of storage in the character creator and Dungeon Master related tools.

Why is it Awesome?

This is hands down the friendliest and most flexible set of tools for Dungeons and Dragons I have ever used.

The biggest features of D&D Beyond is its searchable databases and character creator. The D&D Beyond Website features not only an all-purpose search bar but a set of icons that lets you narrow your search through specific content, including content made by yourself.

It is important to note how much D&D Beyond supports user made, or “homebrew”, content. Every listing to search for a spell, magic item, or race, also give you the option to create or change an existing one in the same menu. While storage of homebrew content can get cramped with only the free subscription, the ability to play around with the tools was a creative opportunity all on its own.

Before I talk about the character creator, I wanted to point out the “Compendium”: Online access to purchase digital copies of every rulebook and adventure module for D&D 5.0. The Compendium, besides to the news updates posted to D&D Beyond, further supports a one-stop location for all things Dungeons and Dragons.

The character creator on D&D Beyond is not only the best character creator for Dungeons and Dragons by far, it is accessible tool for all levels of family gamers, from child to young adult to parent. The character creator has a “Show Help Text” option that starts turned on, so younger or less experienced gamers get additional information, while those with experience building characters can turn it off for a less cluttered experience. With the help text guiding you through the character creator, you will get detailed descriptions of every part of a character in Dungeons and Dragons as you make your choices.

Selecting the option for race, for example, starts with a simple list, but each selection expands into a full section with scroll-able text and full detailed description of your possible choice. Everything in the creator has collapsible text, which can help deal with the flood of information that can often come with character creation.

When you complete the character creator, which includes detailed sections for race, class, ability scores, background, and equipment, you have the option to either view and store the character sheet on your internet browser or download the sheet onto your computer.

Should you use this?

As a free service, D&D Beyond is the best set of Dungeon and Dragons online tools I have ever used. The Hero and Master subscriptions expand D&D Beyond with family-friendly services.

Hero subscriptions, which averages about three dollars a month, allow for unlimited character storage. This is useful for easy access and updating of a family’s worth of character sheets, as well an ad-free experience. Easy access to published homebrew content from other players is part of the subscription.

Master Subscriptions, which average about six dollars a month, while more expensive, allow you to share any purchased digital product with other players in the same campaign. This option would be best for many families of gamers to share access to one collection of digital books.

D&D Beyond is definitely worth every family gamer’s time to explore and use if they are fans of Dungeons and Dragons.

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Developer: Blizzard

Platform: PC/Mobile/Tablet

Release Date: 8/10/17

Teaser Trailer:


What is Hearthstone?

Hearthstone is one the first and most popular digital collectible card games. It was created as a spin-off of the popular Warcraft and World of Warcraft game series but has since taken on a life of its own. Hearthstone has set the tone for game design in online games the same way Magic the Gathering has influenced all other physical collectable card games.

Hearthstone is primarily a player against player game, where each player takes turns as they slowly collect mana crystals to play cards in their hand. These cards represent iconic Warcraft monsters, spells, items, and events that can be used to reduce the health of your opponent from 30 to 0. The art style and design is meant to bring out a very casual and relaxed feel. The vary name “Hearthstone” refers to the World of Warcraft item that let you return to the safety of an inn.

Where Magic: the Gathering distinguishes their cards using color to represent various themes and mechanics. Hearthstone cards are primarily divided into groups based on iconic Warcraft heroes and their classes. Players build a deck by selecting a hero and using cards based on that heroes’ class as well as a collection of neutral cards. Each hero also has a unique “hero power” that can be used once a turn to support their style of play. It is this combination of hero based deck building and the steady build up of resources to play cards that makes Hearthstone a lot easier of a game to play than Magic: the Gathering for some family gamers.

What also sets apart Hearthstone and other digital card games from their physical brethren is their free-to-play model of game expansion. Playing games as various heroes initially unlocks cards from that class and completing quests, tasks that require specific actions during a game, reward you with coins that can be used to purchase more packs of cards. While you can use money to purchase additional packs, daily quests and a weekly casual event known as a “Tavern Brawl” provide a steady stream of resources. There is also process for taking extra cards and turning them into a flexible resource for crafting specific cards. There is something satisfying to someone who has played for years with paper card games, to be able to turn a pile of extra cards into that elusive card.

What is Knights of the Frozen Throne?

Knights of the Frozen Throne is the 5th large expansion for Hearthstone. With this expansion comes cards that feature iconic characters and themes from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Arthas the Lich King and his lieutenants of the Icecrown Citadel are available as creatures to summon along with legions of monsters and spells inspired by the treacherous Northrend.


Why is the Awesome?

A single player story mode featuring The Lich King himself will be available for all players. The challenge is a series of matches versus computer opponents with special hero cards and decks based on iconic villains of the Icecrown Citadel. Players who conquer this gauntlet of challenges are rewarded with a free legendary card that is a card type unique to this set…

Death Knight Hero Cards

This set features a new set of legendary cards that represent the nine iconic heroes falling under the sway of the Lich King. These cards have an immediate effect when they are played and replace each character’s hero power with an evil, and significantly more powerful, effect. Personally I am excited for the corrupted

Priest hero: Shadow Reaper Anduin

Rarity adjustments geared towards newer players

While announced several weeks ago, this set marks the starting of new features that are geared towards newer players. A legendary card is guaranteed to be opened in the first ten packs of any set purchased, and duplicate legends will never be opened. If a player would open a legendary that a player already has, the game replaces it with a different legendary that the player does not own. These changes were made in response to player feedback on the frustration of opening duplicate legends or very few epic or legendary cards at all.

Lifesteal, a familiar mechanic comes to Hearthstone

Players of Magic: The Gathering and other card games will know this by names like Lifelink and Drain. Cards with Lifesteal heal your hero for as much damage as they deal. This ability is put on creatures and spells, and some death knight hero cards give lifestealing weapons or hero powers. While life gain by itself is not a strong ability, pairing it with a creature or a removal spell can never be a bad thing.


Divine Shield and Deathrattle

Two mechanics that are at the core of Hearthstone are getting a large infusion of cards from this set.

Divine Shield is an ability on a minion that prevents all damage from the first time it is attacked or hit by a spell. Not only are there a lot of divine shield minions that have been added, but several paladin cards benefit from divine shield minions going into the fray.



Deathrattle is an ability that happens when that minion dies, and Knights of the Frozen throne has a lot of creatures that care about when they die. New to the theme are creatures that care when they die and punish opponents who aggressively destroy your creatures.


Why should you pick up this game?

Hearthstone, and its recent expansion Knights of the Frozen throne, is a game that is easy to learn and play for computers, tablets and mobile devices. It offers one of the best free to play experiences around and its short games are perfect for gaming opportunities when time is short or physical space is limited. With it being an online only game, it is important to note that chat and social interactions are opt in, which is important for younger family gamers.

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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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Starlink: Battle for Atlus is a Sci-fi Flight Sim/Shooter that takes place in a fictional galaxy in the distant future. Starlink’s main feature is that the game comes with a dock for each controller style (for each platform).

Developer: Ubisoft Toronto

Platform: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Release Date: Fall 2018

Players use the dock to build spaceships using Toys to Life spaceship components. Changing the parts of the spaceship on the dock changes the parts of the spaceship in the game, in real time. The game features play areas that take place on the surface of fantastical planets as well as outer space. This allows for full three dimensional flight.

The forces of the villainous “Legion” are built to require adaptive strategies on the part of the player. They will need to change parts on the fly during game play.

Ubisoft has avoided painting itself into a Toys to Life corner though. Starlink will feature digital representations of all of the physical parts that can be swapped out. Ubisoft hinted in its press conference that these digital parts can be purchased separately and/or instead of physical products. This is a great way to keep the game going even if the toy sales don’t take off.

Why is this awesome?

This game is essentially a grown up version of the “Toys to Life” model of gaming made popular by the Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Lego Dimensions games. Starlink: Battle for Atlus appears to be hand tailored to an audience who grew up with the Toys to Life model of games and are now young adults who would be interested in more complex gameplay and story content.

Clearly, Starlink also leans heavily on the nostalgia of the science fiction boom of the 80’s and 90’s. This gives adults access to a game style that was previously marketed to children. This game represents the logical next step in a gaming genre that has been around for the several years and is looking to grow up with its target audience.

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