Category Archives: Game

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – the design philosophy that makes it a classic

What separates Zelda: Breath Of The Wild from other open-world games? Its design philosophy, as Ryan explains…

When Nintendo made the decision to take its long-running Zelda franchise into open-world territory, the risks were clear. By doing so, the Japanese firm faced the possibility that its new game would be compared to some of the finest examples of the sandbox genre: Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption, even Minecraft.

By changing its tried and trusted – and on occasion ground-breaking – Zelda formula, Breath Of The Wild could have wound up looking ordinary; a derivative amalgam of elements previously introduced by western developers like Rockstar and Bethesda, albeit with familiar jingles and natty green hats awkwardly placed on top.

As we now know, this isn’t what happened at all. Breath Of The Wild takes inspiration from other open-world games, certainly, but in a way that is entirely in keeping with the established traditions of a 31-year-old series. Far from riding in the creative slipstream of western adventure games, Breath Of The Wild takes existing ideas and uses them to make something new. The result is one of the best-reviewed games of recent years and, it’s fair to say, the most invigorating and satisfying Zelda game since the series’ previous high watermark, Ocarina Of Time.

Within a few minutes of play, as Link stumbles from his weird Shrine of Resurrection, it’s clear that Breath Of The Wild simply works. After an hour or two, your humble writer began to suspect that Breath Of The Wild didn’t just work, but that it might be one of the best sandbox games ever made. Yet while most would agree that is a great game, exactly why it works is harder to pin down; like the best Nintendo games, Breath’s design and mechanics feel so cohesive, so effortless, that it’s difficult to pick apart exactly why it all hangs together.

What follows, then, is a personal theory as to why Breath Of The Wild feels so immersive, rewarding, and so refreshing to play. For this writer, the new Legend Of Zelda works not just because of the fine-tuning of its mechanics, or the care which has gone into every element of its artwork, but thanks to the design philosophy which underpins every aspect of the game.

The conventions of the open-world sub-genre

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Open-world games are, unsurprisingly, marked out by their scale – the sheer wealth of things there are to see and do.
We aren’t tethered down to a rigid plot, or a narrow set of activities to work through in order to trigger the next cut-scene; the best sandbox games allow us to create our own stories within a carefully-built framework. Open-worlds still have rules and confines – just like our work-a-day reality – but they provide broad enough parameters in which we can make our own decisions and miniature dramas.

Breath Of The World does this: there’s a save-the-kingdom narrative, but otherwise, the fields and mountains of Hyrule are yours to explore. Its physics and AI systems can be exploited in all kinds of odd and surprising ways – you can use your magnetic powers to hurl metal boxes high into the air, wreaking havoc in an enemy camp. You can create ice blocks in a river to catch fish. Throw a nigh-on-useless weapon at a disarmed Bokoblin, and he’ll pick it up and try to fight you with it (fruitlessly) instead of going for a more powerful sword or club lying further afield. But again, these aren’t elements that are unique to Breath Of The Wild; they’re simply examples of the finely-honed, perfectly judged mechanics which interweave almost without a seam.

What is pretty much unique about Breath Of The Wild, however, is that it somehow rewards you with something every time you play it. Whether you sink a generous two or three-hour session (or more, if you have that much spare time) into the game, or whether you can only spare five minutes, there’s always something to do, or discover, or achieve. Don’t have time to wade through the puzzles and fighting required to capture one of those Divine Beasts? Not a problem – you can simply warp out of that area to another part of the map and do something else.

By the same token, spending a short tea break on Breath Of The Wild means your time will be rewarded, even in some small way. You can cook up some elixirs and energy-boosting meals for your next big venture into the unknown. You could indulge in a spot of hunting, since prime meat, once cooked, is great for selling to shopkeepers in exchange for rupees. You can head off into the mountains to look for precious stones and other minerals.

Even an aimless wander around a part of the map will reveal something engaging, or unexpected, or beautiful; whether it’s stumbling over a group of Moblins in the woods, who’ve hoarded some handy arrows and other loot, or stumbling on the Korok seeds which are hidden all over the place, Breath Of The Wild’s seemingly desolate landscape is positively teeming with things to see and do.

Part of this pick-up-and-play appeal is thanks in no small part to the design of the Nintendo Switch, since its flexibility means you can enjoy Breath Of The Wild on the go or in front of you unfeasibly huge television. That you can save the game at any time, and that Breath can be booted up and resumed within seconds of turning the Switch on, also helps. But the game’s immediacy runs much deeper that – arguably, it’s woven into its very fabric.

Side-missions and filler

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In many open-world games, their scale, their sheer big-ness, is not only their unique selling point, but also their drawback. Sure, the map’s huge, but after wandering around for a few hours, a gnawing sense of familiarity can set in; the side-quests start to feel repetitive. The amount of time spent travelling between locations becomes a chore. The hunt for every last trinket at the behest of a non-player character begins to feel like a full-time job. It’s as though some developers are so set on giving their customers a ‘big’ experience that they either make a colossal map with little of interest to do in it, or stuff the thing with so many loot items and other filler that the whole thing feels numbing.

In other words, lesser open-world games are sold on the abstract idea of freedom and absence of barriers, without stopping to think what that freedom actually means to an end user. An example that springs to mind is Fuel, a half-forgotten sandbox driving game from 2009. Developed by Asoba Studios, Fuel was sold on its post-apocalyptic world, laid out over 5,000 or so miles of scorched earth. At the helm of your Mad Max-like vehicle, you could drive anywhere, take part in challenges, find hidden tracks, and unlock additional stuff like clothes and new cars.

Conceptually, this all sounds perfectly fine; in practice, the game just felt empty. You could spend endless hours driving around with no real sense of purpose; there were hidden barrels of fuel and other bits and pieces hidden around if you fancied hunting for them, but the overall air of dry desolation hardly encouraged exploration. The developer seemed to realise this, since exploring Fuel’s open world was an optional extra; if you just wanted to jump straight to the races, you could simply select them from a menu.

Fuel’s an extreme example of a common problem in open-world games: the developers’ focus seems to be more on stuffing a game with ‘content’ rather than things that are actually engaging; unsurprising, given that so many games are marketed how many dozens of hours they take to complete. What better way to give the appearance of value for money than to pack a game with filler, or place all the missions really, really far apart?

Even some superior sandbox games, like the Grand Theft Auto series, say, can feel somewhat desolate if you don’t keep attacking the main missions. Sure, you can go and steal cars, buy some clothes or maybe go bowling – but then what? Without the main missions to carry you along, life and activities in these open worlds can feel rather meaningless.

An underlying philosophy

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Breath Of The Wild has side-quests, non-player characters and copious loot, of course. But again, these open-world mechanics are tied together by what we described at the top of this article: an underlying design philosophy. So what is it?

Simple: everything in the game has a purpose, and nothing you do in Breath Of The Wild is a pointless time-sink.

Take those Korok seeds, for example. When a non-player character named Hestu shows up early in the game, asking you to locate the missing contents of his maracas, you might be forgiven for thinking, “Oh for feck’s sake” or something similar. Yet persevering with Hestu’s request brings all kinds of material and incidental benefits: actually tracking down the Korok seeds requires observation and puzzle-solving. Some you’ll even discover completely by accident. And once you have enough of them, you can exchange the seeds for pouch expansions – which means you can carry more stuff around with you at any one time.

Every element in Breath Of The Wild is balanced with this same level of care. Whether it’s hunting animals, foraging for fruit or mushrooms, or simply climbing up the side of a hill to see what’s on the other side, Nintendo’s natural-looking world is actually a complex and intoxicating web of mysteries and rewards.

Here’s an example to illustrate this. One evening, I had a spare few minutes between jobs, so I quickly fired up Breath Of The Wild. Knowing I didn’t have time to do anything particularly intense, I simply went for a wander in the hills near Zora’s Domain. Within a minute or two of climbing and running, I found a lake which, because of the loose way I’d gone about the main missions, I’d never heard word of before. The ruined church jutting from the water suggested that I’d be rewarded for investigating further, and – sure enough – I found a submerged treasure chest containing a profoundly useful piece of headwear.

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It’s but one instance of a game that constantly rewards your effort, and Breath Of The Wild is full of them. Sure, there are bits here and there that don’t really work – those motion-controlled Shrine challenges are flat-out horrible – but they’re more than outweighed by the sensation of a world that is always in motion. By ensuring that every action has a tangible reaction, Breath Of The Wild creates a palpable sense of connection between player and world.

Here’s a telling difference between Breath and Fuel, mentioned earlier: after playing Breath for a few hours, and unlocking Shrines and Towers, you can insta-travel from place to place in a few seconds. Yet time and again, I’ve found myself ignoring this option and simply galloping off on my horse, Appleby (named for his tendency to steal apples) – a stark contrast to Fuel, where exploration was something I strove to avoid at all costs.

In this regard, the game’s philosophy could be distilled even further: the player’s time is precious, and every minute should be rewarded.

Sometimes, that reward comes with a new piece of loot, or a dredged-up piece of armour, the discovery of a Korok seed. But at others, it can be even more basic: the funny aside from a passing stranger; a wolf randomly struck by lightning, running in circles, on fire. The beauty of a sunset; the warm, cosy music that plays as you approach the safety of a ranch – the kind of soothing melody that makes you wish you could climb inside the game and lie down by a campfire.

As a technical achievement, Breath Of The Wild sets a new yardstick for Nintendo – one that will likely be studied by rival developers for years to come. Artistically, it’s as stunning to look at as any game that has emerged from Japan since the start of the new millennium. But it’s as a thoughtful reinvention of the open-world formula that Breath Of The Wild really excels.

Put it all together, and you have a game with scale and intimacy; technical ingenuity, but also real heart and soul. It’s a sandbox adventure which provides a link to the past, but also points the way ahead to the genre’s future.

For Honor Gaming Review

Well, look at you, Ubisoft, giving us some original titles like For Honor and acting like a grown up game development company trying to do original things. Sort of.

It wasn’t that long ago Ubisoft took an interesting chance with Rainbow Six: Seige, a highly tactical, slow-paced shooter that has managed to capture itself a dedicated audience who appreciate the emphasis on skill over pure twitch shooting.

It seems Ubisoft want to repeat their success but in a very different setting. Enter the game. Who doesn’t want to see a knight go up against Vikings? Or a fat samurai tackling a colossal armored foe?

For Honor believes that everyone wants to see these epic fights and therefore presents a completely bonkers reason for why this could happen. Most importantly, though, this is a game about skill and some awesome multiplayer that pits twelve heroes against each other.

But, before we get to that we have to tackle the single player campaign where Ubisoft realized you can save a lot of time and effort in animation when your characters are almost all wearing helmets.

Basically what the game comes down to is a nefarious plan to send the world into war thanks to one very angry person, a huge disaster that pits knight’s, Viking’s and samurai’s against each other for control of territory. Don’t worry, though, despite whichever faction you opt to support when you first fire up the game you can play as any of the four heroes in each faction.

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Somewhat surprisingly the three campaigns on offer are quite reasonable, if entirely unspectacular. They serve more as glorified tutorials for the multiplayer, a very basic foundation on which to build from with the various video packages that the devs smartly included for each hero.

The characters and story are instantly forgettable dross that isn’t helped by the fact that the leads always wear helmets and don’t even have names, but there is a few fun set pieces and playing through them will help get the combat system basics cemented into your mind.

Still, it’s fair to say that if you’re looking for a good, strong single player experience, this isn’t it. Multiplayer is the true focus of For Honor, and honestly while I’m sure many people would disagree with me, I’d rather Ubisoft put their efforts wholly into the multiplayer if a single player offering clearly isn’t going to be a true priority.

The Combat

So let us get to the true meat of the game: the combat. Once you lock on to an opponent by holding the left trigger, the right stick changes from controlling the camera to shifting your stance from left, right and overhead. This not only dictates what direction your attacks will come from but where you’re blocking, too.

Hold the stick to match the direction of the flashing red warning on the enemy and you’ll block the incoming strike, taking minimal damage in the process.

As for that whole attacking the enemy thing, you’ve got two basic options: light attacks are quicker but do less damage, and heavy attacks are slow but deal much more damage. Each character also has chainable attack combos and a few special moves to augment them, such as a dash and then stunning blow. Figuring out how to nail these short, simple combos is vital, as is learning how other moves and techniques can flow in and out of them.

That’s the absolute basics that you need to know to start playing For Honor, but go in with this little knowledge, and you’ll be creamed because there’s quite a bit more to learn before you pose even a slight threat to most players.

First and foremost is the guard break which punches through a foe’s defenses so that you can follow up with an attack or even a throw, handy for tossing them off the edge of a cliff. Guard breaks can be countered with good timing, though, which is another skill you’ll need to become familiar with as time goes on.

Then there is the parry, a perfectly timed tap of the heavy attack as the enemy blow comes hurtling toward your face. Get it just right and you’ll force the opponent off balance, opening them up for a snappy counterattack, something which certain heroes excel at. Get it wrong, and their assault will turn your flesh into pulp.

Then there is the art of feinting heavy attacks by canceling out of them, something you’ll find the higher level players using a fair bit as a way of playing with the opponent’s mind, although it is risky since a foe who predicts the feint will punish it hard.

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Additional Stuff

There is a bunch of smaller things about using dodges, zone attacks, unblockables and more that I’ve not touched upon, but suffice to say while each of the twelve available heroes doesn’t have an extensive move list, the combat has an impressive level of depth to it.

For Honor puts the emphasis on skillful defensive play, as indicated by the stamina bars. Depleted via attacks, dodges and feints once stamina empties, your character slows down considerably and can easily be knocked to the ground. A good player picks their openings carefully, so fights between skilled people are like dances of death, each trying to find a weakness while varying their tactics to throw the opponent of guard. A few light pokes here, a quick rush there, a feint and finally an opening.

On top of that, you have the current roster of twelve heroes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses to be discovered. To really understand how to beat certain heroes, you need to play as them, a smart way of encouraging people to diversify, at least enough to understand the basic principles behind the various characters.

The beastly Lawbringer, for example, excels at savage counter-attacks and draining stamina, while the Viking Berserker has very limited range but can launch into infinite attacks while the Orochi has incredible speed.

It’s for this very reason and the emphasis on smart-play that For Honor is at its very best in 1v1 duels, where it comes down to pure skill. And yes, For Honor really does reward pure skill over all else, which is wonderful to see.

Spamming attacks gets you killed in seconds, and putting in hours of practice against the actually quite impressive A.I. is a good use of your time, especially when trying to learn a new character. The downside is that it remains to be seen how divided the community could become as the weeks go on as this very much feels like a game you have to play almost every day in order to keep up.

Because of that, we could see huge gaps between groups as the more casual players or people who simply don’t have much spare time can’t hope to compete with the elite fighters who are willing to really learn the ins and outs of the game’s mechanics. As a fault, though, it’s one of the better ones to have.

If a community is potentially going to be divided, I’d rather it be due to skill than because of paid expansions or other nonsense.

This aside, though, taking on an opponent is incredibly tense and exciting, especially when you run into a skilled player who really makes you work hard for the victory. I’ve not played a game like this in a long time, a game that makes me feel nervous in multiplayer.

There are no other players to hide behind, no chaos to blame. It’s just you and them and a whole lot of awesome fighting. Excitingly, this also means you can learn from mistakes and correct them, while also getting a feel for your challenger. Find the right person, and you could have a dozen rematches, each one unique as you attempt to vary your style to combat an enemy who is quickly adapting. It’s deeply satisfying stuff.

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2v2 captures this sense of excitement pretty well, too. As the name implies, you and one other ally get to face off against two opponents. It’s interesting because players implement their own honor system within the game; it’s generally viewed as dishonorable to toss someone off a cliff, and it’s extremely dishonorable to kill your opponent and then gang up on the remaining player in 2v2.

The honorable thing is to simply wait for the fight to finish, and if the enemy player wins, challenge them. There’s almost a touch of role playing behind it.

Limitations

Where the game falters is actually within its showcase mode, Dominion. Here, two teams of four players go against each other in a fight to control three points on the map with the middle lane being occupied by little A.I. grunts who can be dispatched in a single swipe.

To control the center point you need to wade in and decimate the A.I. while the outer points are fought over solely by the hero characters. Once a thousand points are achieved by a team, the opposition breaks, meaning their heroes get no more respawns.

But here, the excellently refined mechanics which feel designed purely for one-on-one combat gets ousted in favor of being ganged up on, most battles ending because somebody comes from behind and delivers a savage ax blow.

The game attempts to let you fight against a few people by allowing you to block incoming attacks by just matching the direction of the person who you aren’t locked on to, but fighting back is close to impossible unless you happen to be vastly more skilled. It’s realistic, but not much fun.

Thoughts of heroes squaring off against each other in the middle of a chaotic fight are overridden by 3v1 beatdowns that can’t be won. The game simply doesn’t feel like it was ever designed for this kind of mode.

It’s a shame because Dominion can be a lot of fun, and some awesome moments blossom from the insanity. By way of example, when you go charging in as a Viking, bodily tackle someone and throw hem straight off a cliff, or when you do manage to hold off multiple people until the rest of your team come charging in.

The same can be said for the straight-up 4v4 mode without any A.I. bots scooting about, although again you do find a degree of honorable rol eplaying. Sometimes. Much less so than 1v1 or 2v2.

Behind everything, you’ve got the constant faction war raging for control of territories. At the end of each match you earn war assets, which is nothing more than a number, that can be deployed to defend or attack varying regions in a bid to grab the most land possible.

These battles will last for a set time before wrapping up and starting anew, with rewards handed out for participation. It feels….well, kind of boring. It’s like being told about a battle being waged on some other planet. You’re so damn distant it’s hard to care.

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No Dedicated Servers

Now we start to arrive at the problems, with the first being a big one: A triple-A multiplayer release in 2017 having no dedicated servers is mind-boggling. Sure, we all know servers are expensive to run, and the lack of them at launch perhaps indicate that Ubisoft aren’t quite sure how this new IP is going to perform, but it holds the game back massively.

The way the game currently works is that instead of having everyone connected to a single person, and thus risk host advantage, everyone is connected to everyone else. It sounds fine on paper, but in practice, this is a royal pain in the arse. Having to patiently wait while the system deals with a leaving player or working around crappy connections isn’t much fun, especially in a game that relies on perfect timing so heavily.

Even a moment of lag can screw everything up; I’d say every second or third match had a connection problem, though obviously, this will vary from person to person. Furthermore, there’s no punishment for quitting out of a match. In Dominion, it isn’t so bad because other than just causing a connection hiccup where the player is replaced by a bot and the match carries on, but during 1v1 it’s obviously infuriating to have a player rage-quit.

Equally frustrating is Ubisoft’s stupid decision to tie single player and A.I. matches into the multiplayer as well, so if your Internet connection is on the fritz you can’t fire up a Dominion, 1v1 or 2v2 match against A.I., nor muck about in single player.

Then there’s the progression system and the existence of micro-transactions. As you play, you can unlock new gear for your heroes that offer varying stat changes and some visual tweaks, too, so you can take pride in your leveled up Lawbringer.

Now, these only have an effect in Dominion, never 1v1, so that’s a smart choice and it’s nice to be able to tweak your favorite characters. However, while everything in the game can be unlocked by grinding away it’s quite clear the system is balanced to push you toward spending extra cash on the micro-transactions to speed it up. These have no place in a full-priced triple-a title, especially one that doesn’t even offer dedicated servers.

There’s also the thorny issue of balance which I’m going to completely sidestep. Why? Because in a game like this to adequately discuss, it would mean having to become highly proficient with every character, and even then there are bound to be gaps in my knowledge that I could profess were balance problems but actually aren’t.

Suffice to say that I didn’t notice any large issues where certain characters were dominating thanks to just being generally too powerful or boasting cheap moves. With that said, I would like to see aggressive play styles become more viable, especially as even heroes who should be aggressive feel like they have to go defensive.

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Final Thoughts on For Honor

Finally, we need to talk about longevity because that could be the game’s biggest potential problem. On the one hand, the satisfying combat system makes you want to invest a lot of time into the game, and yet on the other, it’s hard for me to say if I’ll still want to be playing it a few weeks down the line.

A fairly small selection of maps and modes at the moment could also prove to be troublesome, although Ubisoft has promised that new maps, modes and heroes will be free to everybody with season pass holders simply getting access to the new characters a week early.

There are quite a few problems with For Honor, then, and yet they never did manage to overshadow how much fun I was having with the game. I’ve not found myself drawn into a multiplayer in a long time, but For Honor managed to do just that.

The lack of dedicated servers hurts the game significantly, and I’m still not sure if I’ll be playing it a month from now, yet right now, I find myself switching it on for at least a couple of hours each day, relishing those brutal victories and learning from the harsh defeats. To play a triple-A game in 2017 that isn’t Dark Souls and demands actual skill and patience is a pleasure.

21 new cards coming to ‘Hearthstone’ look like game changers

Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion Journey to Un’Goro is changing up the game, and a handful of new cards revealed over the past few days are showing just how much the dinosaur-themed set of cards is going to do so.

Blizzard revealed nearly 20 new cards during a Twitch stream on Friday. Adding those to the 14 cards they revealed a couple weeks ago still just equates to a sliver of the 135 incoming cards, though. Among the new cards are a handful of legendaries, a second quest card and a few interesting new minions and spells to shake up the meta.

One of the most exciting reveals was the new Warlock quest card — Lakkari Sacrifice — and its crazy reward, Nether Portal.

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Once you complete Lakkari Sacrifice by discarding six cards, you get the Nether Portal, a 5-mana card that opens a permanent portal summoning an endless stream of 2-mana 3/2 Nether Imps. You get two imps at the end of every turn, making this a very effective card for building up a horde of demons. When paired with the other new Warlock card, Lakkari Felhound, decks built around this quest look like they’ll have quite a lot of potential.

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Unlike the set above, Elise the Trailblazer and her battlecry Un’Goro Pack give you more cards instead of taking them away.

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Elise the Trailblazer is a very strong legendary despite being a middling 5-mana 5/5. Her battlecry puts an Un’Goro Pack into your deck, which for only 2 mana puts five Journey to Un’Goro cards right into your hand. This is a perfect late-in-the-game card for when you don’t have many cards left in your deck and you have faith in the RNG gods, but is also a solid mid-game card to play with the potential to give you some momentum-shifting cards.

Another potential game changer is the new legendary Hunter card Swamp King Dred, a very powerful 7-mana 9/9 with an interesting attribute: After your opponent plays a minion, attack it.

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This card has a lot of potential, with the ability to kill nearly every minion in the game as soon as they hit the board. It’s a great card to thwart a build up of low-cost minions, but can also be countered easily with the right card combos.

A Paladin legendary that IGN revealed Sunday is another strong mid-to-late card Sunkeeper Tarim that could actually act as a good counter to Swamp King Dred.

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For 6 mana, Sunkeeper Tarim does quite a lot. It’s a bit of a meat shield with 7 health and 3 attack but it comes with taunt and an interesting battlecry: “Set all other minions’ attack and health to 3.” This is a great counter to strong late-game cards and can be beneficial when matched with a few weak Paladin minions like 1/1 Silver Hand Recruits, suddenly turning a meager board into something with a lot more power.

The second Paladin card revealed is Dinosize, which buffs any minion into a 10/10 for 8 mana. That means for 9 mana, you could throw a 10/10 Silver Hand Recruit out onto the board late in the game.

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The final legendary card revealed this weekend is the Rogue card Sherazin, Corpse Flower, a 4-mana minion that is unkillable.

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After this 5/3 aggressive plant is killed, it enter its dormant state, Sherazin, Seed. It will then re-emerge into its Corpse Flower state after four cards are played in a single turn, which is very useful for Rogue decks that utilize a flurry of low-cost cards every turn to do damage.

The other epic card revealed this weekend is another spell called Explore Un’Goro, a Warrior card that costs 2 mana and completely changes your deck.

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Explore Un’Goro works similarly to Golden Monkey, except it doesn’t change any of the cards already in your hand and fills your deck with cards that discover other more powerful cards, not just legendaries. This can be very effective if things aren’t going your way and you need a momentum shift at any point in a game.

Next up are two neutral minions, Golakka Crawler — a direct response to Mean Streets of Gadgetzan’s pirate infestation — and Tar Creeper — a really solid defender for 3 mana.

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If Patches the Pirate is in play, Golakka Crawler is the perfect card to stop the incoming deluge of pirate cards, but is also a solid 2-mana card useful for taking any powerful pirate down. Meanwhile Tar Creeper, which has taunt, is a great early-game meat shield with 5 health and 1 attack (which boosts up to 3 attack on your opponent’s turn).

Speaking of good defensive cards, the Priest minion Tortollan Shellraiser is a solid addition to the heal-heavy class.

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For 4 mana, Tortollan Shellraiser is a good early defender at 2/6 and with taunt. Plus the deathrattle is pretty beneficial for fellow early-game cards out on the board.

Blizzard also revealed several more Adapt cards that modify dinosaur beasts who have the Adapt attribute, giving them customizable bonuses free of charge.

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Finally, the new Arcanologist card for Mage decks is a decent card that takes a random Secret from your deck and puts it in your hand. It’s nothing too special but is a helpful card to have on hand early in the game.

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With these cards it’s pretty clear that Paladins, Rogues and Warlocks are among some of the classes that may be getting a boost when Journey to Un’Goro comes out in April, but more card reveals in the next couple weeks could easily swing the momentum in another class’s favor, like Priests or Warriors.

‘Destiny 2’ won’t let you transfer your character progress from ‘Destiny’

Say goodbye to all the gear and currency you’ve spent hours and hours (and hours) farming for in Destiny, because the sequel won’t let you transfer any of it over.

In a blog post today, Bungie announced that in order to make the second Destiny game feel like a true sequel, Destiny 1 players will not be able to bring any of their earned items or abilities over to the new game.

Sequels represent the start of a new adventure for every player, with new worlds to explore, new stories to tell, new powers to acquire, new loot to earn, and much more. This led us to a decision that would enable us to serve both the game and the player’s best interests: Destiny 1 power, possessions, and Eververse-related items and currency will not carry forward. They will, however, remain accessible to you in Destiny 1.

This was previously rumored by Kotaku, whose sources also noted that Destiny’s sequel will be coming to PC as well as Xbox One and PS4.

The team won’t completely forget about players who’ve spent hundreds or even thousands of hours with their Guardians, though. If you’ve reached level 20 on a Guardian and finished the Black Garden story mission, you’ll be able to carry over that Guardian’s class, race, gender, face, hair and marking selections. Additionally, you will receive “honors that reflect your Destiny 1 accomplishments.”

We believe this is the best path forward. It allows us to introduce the major advancements and improvements that all of us expect from a sequel, ensuring it will be the best game we can create, unencumbered by the past. We’re looking forward to sharing more details with you later this year for how we will honor your legacy in the future.

The Destiny sequel has yet to be officially announced but is expected to release in late 2017.

In the meantime, Destiny will be receiving one final event called Age of Triumph, which will be revealed March 8.

Screens, voice cast and release timing for Telltale’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ game

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 isn’t the only cosmic Marvel journey coming this spring; Telltale Games is getting in on that action as well.

The studio’s next episodic release — Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series — is a standalone story based on the Marvel Comics series. In other words: this isn’t an MCU joint.

We don’t know much about the story beyond that. Star-Lord and his gang of fellow cosmic protectors happen upon a strange artifact that each of them covet, but they’re not alone. Some as-yet-unidentified dark power wants the artifact for itself.

A newly released batch of screenshots and concept art don’t give away any spoilers, but they do offer a sense of what the game looks like. If you’re familiar with Telltale’s past forays into the comic book universes of The Walking Dead, Fables and Batman then this should look familiar.

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These images represent our first close-up look at the game, though Telltale recently revealed who will be voicing the five heroic stars. Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) is Star-Lord; Emily O’Brien (The Young and the Restless) is Gamora; Nolan North (Uncharted series) is Rocket Raccoon; Brandon Paul Eells (Watch Dogs) is Drax; and Adam Harrington (The Wolf Among Us) is Groot.

The first episode should arrive sometime between April and June. Assuming Guardians follows the same release pattern as past Telltale titles, expect subsequent episodes to follow every month or two after that.

Don’t be surprised if it arrives close to the upcoming movie. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which hits theaters on May 5.

How To Get Free ‘Hearthstone’ Cards During The ‘Hearthstone’ Global Games

The Hearthstone Global Games are almost upon us and voting for your favorite player in your   home country will earn you some free Whispers of the Old Gods cards.

Similar to the Overwatch World Cup, the Hearthstone Global Games brings together the top Hearthstone players from 48 countries around the world to compete for glory and a $300,000 prize pool. Teams are made up of the top player on each country’s leaderboard plus three more players voted on by their fellow countrypeople. If you participate in the vote, you get a free pack of cards.

How to get your cards

To vote, head on over to the Global Games page on the Hearthstone website, log in to your Battle.net account and select who you want to see representing your country in the games. You can only vote once and voting is open until March 13 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Unfortunately not every country is represented by the Global Games, but players whose countries aren’t represented can still participate by voting for one player from whichever country they want and get their pack of cards.

Blizzard mentions that your complimentary card pack won’t appear immediately but did not say when they would be delivered to players’ accounts.

The Global Games

This year’s Global Games tournament is the first of its kind for Hearthstone and will be played in a team format rather than 1v1, each player having two classes to play in a match.

The tournament starts with the 48 teams being seeded based on winter season Hearthstone Competitive Points (HCP) into groups of six for round robin play. The top three teams from each group will move onto a second group stage with seeding determined by spring season HCP. The top two teams in each group of four will move forward along with some third-place teams that win tie-breakers.

Sixteen teams will then compete in a single elimination bracket with the top four moving onto the Global Games finals with a single elimination bracket.

Specific dates have yet to be announced but expect the first group stage to start soon and the second group stage to start after the spring season concludes.