The Final Fantasy VII Remake gets a slight next generation treatment in the form of a free upgrade and new DLC. Announced through PlayStation’s State of Play in February, Square Enix unveiled Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade. Now, the company sheds light on more details regarding the next saga in the lore of Final Fantasy VII.
The story as far as we know
With the new DLC, Square Enix adds an entire new episode called INTERmission. It features Yuffie Kisaragi, one of the optional characters in the base game. In the DLC, she will be the main character alongside her partner, Sonon Kusakabe in a mission that takes them to Midgar.
As ninja operatives for Wutai, Yuffie and Sonon will infiltrate the Shinra Electric Power Company for its most powerful materia. In their quest, they will receive support from Avalanche, an eco-terrorist group seeking to save the planet from those misusing mako energy. However, they will encounter swift and strict opposition in fulfilling their mission.
Old faces reimagined
One of the members of the opposition is Nero, more known as Nero the Sable. With the release of Integrade, Nero receives a more modern yet sinister look, harkening back to his design from Dirge of Cerberus. For starters, he retains the dark Mako suit with mechanical wings at the back. Also, part of his redesign includes his patented handguns for combat.
In INTERmission, Nero serves as one of the main antagonists who wields the power to control the darkness. With stylized weaponry and the darkness by his side, he will stand in the way of Yuffie and Sonon from completing their mission.
From the Shinra side, Scarlet makes a grand entrance to the next-gen DLC. In the original Final Fantasy VII, she was the Head of the Weapons Department for Shinra. In INTERmission, she is responsible for creating the materia that Yuffie and Sonon will try to take from the company. As such, she will stand as one of the bosses in the game with a little assist from her weapon of mass destrcution: the Crimson Mare.
More gameplay mechanics to master
With this new episode, there are a ton of new gameplay mechanics to work with. First off is the synergy dynamic between our protagonists, Yuffie and Sonon. Unlike in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, Intergrade only allows you to control Yuffie in battle. However, you can basically give orders to Sonon and even engage in team attacks with him. For instance, both characters have access to synergized versions of their attacks when both their ATB charges are available.
Another common gameplay between these two characters is called a Limit Break. Essentially, it’s a devastating attack that is unleashed unto enemies once a character takes enough damage. This type of attack might come in handy when dealing with Scarlet’s Crimson Mare in the new episode.
Finally, you now have access to entities known as Summons — provided you have the materia for it. These powerful beings will aid you in combat, and you can even order them to do certain attacks. Before leaving the battlefield, these entities will strike with a devastating ultimate attack. In Intergrade, one of these new Summons is Ramuh, the Lord of Levin who wields lightning to strike enemies.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade will be available for the PlayStation 5 on June 10, 2021.
Diablo II: Resurrected is now available on PC and consoles
Clearer, harder, more destructive and more available than ever before
Back in the year 1997, Blizzard Entertainment had this rather unique idea for a hack-and-slash game for the PC in Diablo. In essence, it’s a medieval-themed action-RPG that puts the player face-to-face with the menacing Diablo himself. Three years later, they released the critically-acclaimed Diablo II, following the events of its prequel. 21 years later, this same critically-acclaimed title got a remaster in Diablo II: Resurrected.
Diablo II: Resurrected takes elements from the 2000 classic and gives it a completely modern touch. Apart from keeping the same gameplay mechanics, Blizzard improves on the overall visual and audio quality. For example, they re-shot all 27 minutes of the original cinematics in high fidelity color and surround sound. Also, the game stays true to the original in terms of game logic and game engine calculations.
Much like the original, players can choose between seven iconic character classes, including the two classes in the Druid and Assassin from Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Of course, this remaster also comes with some quality-of-life improvements — including controller support, colorblind modes, and extensive keybind options.
Diablo II: Resurrected is now available on PC (Battle.net), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo announces huge list of games for holidays
Titles like Kirby, Bayonetta, and a Nintendo Switch Online expansion
The holiday season is here. Every year, the gaming industry gets a speed boost coming from annual holiday discounts, new games, and newly gifted consoles. Keeping with that trend, Nintendo has hosted a new Nintendo Direct in anticipation for the coming holiday season. Here are the biggest announcements from the event:
Play a selection of Nintendo 64 and SEGA Genesis games with #NintendoSwitchOnline + Expansion Pack!
This new membership plan launches late October and includes all features of the base Nintendo Switch Online membership. Details on pricing, timing, and more will be shared soon. pic.twitter.com/BMArRe5Vg6
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) September 23, 2021
Nintendo 64, meet the Switch
Since the launch of the first wave of classic games, Nintendo Switch Online held the most promise for Switch owners. The subscription service offered games from decades past for free. Naturally, the growing catalog is working its way forwards, starting off with the NES and SNES generations.
In late October, the clock is moving even further. Nintendo is launching a massive booster pack, infusing the service with classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. The launch lineup will include favorites like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, and many others. Further along, it will also add games like Pokémon Snap and Majora’s Mask.
Kirby is coming
After years of smaller games, Kirby is finally getting a major platformer release for the Switch. Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes the eponymous blob to a new post-apocalyptic world. As always, the hero can swallow different characters and enemies to claim their powers. It even features familiar characters like Link – at least according to the trailer.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land will launch sometime in Spring 2022.
More Animal Crossing
It’s a trailer of a trailer, but it’s worth mentioning. The popular island simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting a major update this November. Though the announcement was scant with details, it looks like the game is finally getting a café inside the museum. Nintendo will announce more in October.
Final Fantasy but Mario Kart
What would a famous franchise be without its own racing game spinoff? The long-running Final Fantasy franchise is getting its own racing game called Chocobo GP. Though the title features the iconic creature, the game will also have familiar characters from the series. It will launch sometime next year.
And a host of others
Aside from the main announcements, Nintendo also previewed some new titles, upcoming expansions, and remakes for the console. Headlining this crew is Bayonetta 3 which is due to come out next year.
Monster Hunter Rise, the Switch-exclusive entry to the series, is getting an expansion pack called Sunbreak is coming summertime next year.
Creators of the quirky franchise Nier are making a new spinoff to their series. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is card game coming to the Switch on October 28.
Finally, the classic Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic is now on the Switch. It’s not a remake, too. It’s the original game, and it’s out already.
Death Stranding Director’s Cut: Best game I don’t enjoy
Brilliant but tough to power through
Maybe it was already my mindset heading into this review. But I’d like to think I really gave it a chance. Despite that, every time I launched Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5, I felt burdened instead of excited.
That said, I don’t think this is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Full disclosure, due to the burdensome feeling I only managed to get to about 30-40 percent of the game. That, on top of other responsibilities for this publication.
So yeah, I think it’s a combination of things. The generally slow pace of the game, the premise of avoiding enemies you can’t see, and just the grind work of having to lug around packages — these all contributed to an experience that I cannot describe as fun.
You can say, that isn’t the point of the game. After all, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic America and you make your way around the open world wary of enemies you can’t see. But isn’t that something we’re already kind of going through. I guess I could just never wrap my head around my form of escape mirroring bleak real world situations a little too much.
Early game additions
Death Stranding Director’s Cut goes out of its way to make sure players feel less strained. About five to seven hours into the game and you’ll gain access to two key additions: the Maser Gun and the Support Skeleton.
The Maser Gun is essentially a high-powered stun gun. It electrocutes MULEs (human enemies) you’ll encounter in deliveries. And immediately after acquiring it, you’ll also gain access to another addition in the Director’s Cut — the shooting range.
At the shooting range, you’ll be faced with various challenges in taking down MULEs. Most importantly, you’ll be able to practice your aim while dealing with multiple MULEs.
Meanwhile, the Support Skeleton is as straightforward as it sounds. It’s equipped on your lower body to help with traversal. It’s an especially helpful tool early in the game when you don’t have access yet to vehicles and other support items.
Overall good game design
Death Stranding pulls off many interesting ideas and presents them in ways that undeniably gives it the feel of a AAA (Triple-A) game. The character models and environments, as you may have seen on trailers, are brilliant and blockbuster-worthy.
In terms of gameplay, I was particularly impressed by how you can traverse every single element in the open world. Whether that’s a dirt road, grassy fields, and rocky terrain, the game doesn’t make any completely inaccessible.
Of course, sometimes you have to get creative. Crossing waterways and rock formations may require that you use ladders. You’ll also sometimes find yourself looking down on a cliff. Thankfully, you can also carry items that will let you rappel.
Social Strand System
But perhaps the most unique game mechanic is the Social Strand System. If you play online, this means you’ll gain access to ladders and other structures that other players have built. If any of these structures were particularly helpful for you, you can smash likes to show the other player your appreciation.
It’s such a creative way to include some form of community building in a single player game. It’s a fantastic idea and one I hope we see some iteration of in other games in the future.
If I had a bone to pick with the visual presentation, it would probably be the mail. The text is incredibly tiny, even if you choose the large option. It’s no fun having to read blocks of text and the game encourages you to read the emails as part of the story. I mean, I already read tons of emails daily. I don’t need that in games I play. I think this is another part of the game that really lowered the fun meter for me.
Death Stranding Director’s Cut also comes with plenty of the usual next-gen improvements on PS5 games. You get the usual upgrades in haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller. Although, I would argue that they could’ve been utilized better especially for sensing BTs (the ghost-life figures you have to avoid) nearby.
I’ve already gushed about the visuals but playing this in 4K 60fps was really a treat for the eyes. I personally am not a fan of the graphics setting that prioritizes refresh rate. I’m always after a more cinematic feel which I think is what this game suits best. So my recommendation is to play the game prioritizing resolution.
Other in-game additions include the Cargo Catapult and Buddy Bot. Both will help you complete deliveries and quests faster. They are helpful tools that improve the pace of the game.
Should you play Death Stranding Director’s Cut?
Firing up this game felt like work after I’ve already done my work for the day. That just isn’t the experience I long for in games. But maybe, that’s just me.
I think most gamers know exactly what they want to play. But if you’re only now dipping your toes into Death Stranding Director’s Cut because you missed the first launch and you’re a Hideo Kojima fan, it’s definitely worth picking up. But my recommendation is to get the physical copy so you can flip it for cash as soon as you find that it’s not for you.
Death Stranding Director’s Cut is brilliant. However, it’s not for everybody.
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