• Series Kings: The Best Games In Five Big Franchises
    by Joe Juba

    Most people can easily rattle off a handful of their favorite games, but comparing every game you’ve ever played against every other one is tough – especially if you’re supposed to rank them. But what if you limit the field a bit? If you only compare the games within a specific series, it gets easier to single out your favorites. With that in mind, I’ve chosen five major franchises in which I’ve played every mainline installment, and then selected the one game from each that deserves to wear the series’ crown.  Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence Metal Gear Series For a series with as many entries as Metal Gear (and so many passionate fans), you’d think the debate over the best entry would be a contentious one. But surprisingly, most players seem to agree with me that Metal Gear Solid 3 is the standout game. It’s not unanimous, of course, but Metal Gear Solid 3 just has so many outstanding characters and moments. The mystery surrounding The Boss’ motives. The fight against The End. The ladder. Plus, because it is the first game chronologically in the Metal Gear timeline, you don’t need a ton of background knowledge to appreciate the story. All of this, combined with tense stealth in both interior and jungle environments, creates the quintessential Metal Gear experience. By the way, I specifically singled out the Subsistence re-release here (rather than the original Snake Eater) because it has a much-improved camera, plus it includes the original MSX Metal Gear and Metal Gear: Solid Snake games for those who really want to dive into the series’ history. Final Fantasy VI Final Fantasy Series Over the years, Final Fantasy VI has established an insurmountable lead in my mind as my personal favorite Final Fantasy. In fact, it’s my favorite game, period … so it has this win locked down. However, a person could easily make the case for several other games in Square Enix’s long-running RPG series. For example, I think Final Fantasy X has the best story, while Final Fantasy VII is certainly the most groundbreaking. And though it’s a sprawling MMO rather than a traditional single-player adventure, Final Fantasy XIV is like a “greatest hits” of the whole series. I can’t argue against those excellent games, but Final Fantasy VI comes out on top with its fantastic cast, airtight combat system, beautiful music, and a surprising mid-game twist that left me staring at my screen in disbelief. I’m sure my nostalgia for this 16-bit classic weighs heavily on my choice here, but Final Fantasy VI blew my mind when I first played it. Assassin's Creed Valhalla Assassin's Creed Series For several years, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was my favorite installment in this series. To me, Syndicate represents the pinnacle of the “old style” of Assassin’s Creed, before Origins pressed reset and took everything in a more RPG-like direction. That new direction for the series is not a bad thing; after spending a decade traveling down one evolutionary path, it just took a few installments for the series to find its stride in a new direction. With Valhalla, Ubisoft finally seemed to get a firm grip on Assassin’s Creed’s new identity, and it knocked Syndicate out of my top slot for the series. Valhalla has a little bit of everything I loved from older installments – sailing, town-building, weird present-day stuff – and incorporates them into the newer RPG-style foundation. The result is a massive and enticing Norse world full of cool little stories, entertaining combat, and lots of secrets waiting to be found. God of War (2018) God of War series I’ve been a fan of God of War since the beginning. I loved the original trilogy, I enjoyed the PSP spin-offs, and I even had fun with God of War Ascension. But even though those older games drew me in with their bombast and gore at the time, today they just feel like the foundation that made 2018’s God of War possible. That isn’t to diminish their influence, but I don’t think Kratos’ original adventures have aged particularly well. However, his most recent outing takes a mesmerizing leap into the modern era, updating the series’ approach to combat and redefining the tone of the its narrative. Kratos is a quiet, restrained father – a transformation that carries added weight if you played previous games, but doesn’t depend on them to tell the tale. The fights are more brutal and intimate, trading zoomed-out blade-slinging for up-close axe-throwing. And delving into Norse mythology opens up a whole new pantheon for Kratos to confront. But even though the gameplay and story are great, the thing that elevates this entry above its peers is its ability to acknowledge the past and learn from it, a theme that applies to God of War just as much on a meta level as it does to the in-game events. Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition Devil May Cry Series One word: Vergil. The original version of Devil May Cry 3 was already a high point in terms of ridiculous weapons, stylish combos, and action-packed cutscenes. But when the special edition released, it introduced a playable version of Dante’s twin brother, Vergil, and sent this entry blowing past the competition. He offers a distinctly different playstyle from Dante, emphasizing precision and mobility rather than overwhelming force. And, let’s face it: With his icy and aloof demeanor, Vergil is just cooler than Dante. Of course, other games in the series have also added Vergil (including special editions of Devil May Cry 4, Devil May Cry 5, and even DLC for Ninja Theory’s DmC), but none of those versions are built on Devil May Cry 3’s rock-solid foundation. The base game has creepy demonic locations, amazing boss fights, and a versatile progression system that lets players develop a playstyle tailored to their preferences. When taking all of that into account, plus the option to play as either Dante or Vergil, this entry is undeniably the total DMC package. If you can't get enough of series-related lists, check out our rankings for https://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2017/02/17/legend-of-ze…; target="_blank">every entry in The Legend of Zelda franchise, as well https://www.gameinformer.com/feature/2019/02/04/ranking-every-single-ro…; target="_blank">every Rockstar game. And if you'd choose different games for the series listed above, let us know in the comments!

  • Pringles Unveils Limited Edition, Halo-Inspired Moa Burger Flavor
    by Marcus Stewart

    Halo Reach fans may remember Moa as an alien species of bird native to planet Reach. The large, flightless bird resembles an emu, and apparently made good burger meat, evidenced by the game's World Cuisine restaurant advertising Moa burgers. If you ever wondered how a fictional bird-turned-hamburger tastes, Pringles of all companies has pulled the curtain back on its limited edition Moa burger flavored chips. According to Halo’s official Twitter account, the chips are being sold exclusively by Walmart, because when I think of where to get Moa flavored things, I think "Walmart." I mean, they sell everything, so why should this be the exception? What I want to know is how Pringles determined the flavor of an imaginary alien bird. Maybe they taste like a Beyond Meat burger? Or maybe they just taste like potato-y chicken.  A pre-burger Moa, in case you're curious What makes this product a little messed up is that according to the Halo Wiki, Moa technically became endangered during the fall of Reach (tough to survive on a glassed over planet). So now we’re eating fictional, near-extinct alien bird flavored Pringle chips. That presents a tangled ethical conundrum that could stump even the greatest minds.  Be sure to grab a can of these Moa Burger Pringles soon if you want to try them, because they won’t be around forever. We don’t know how long they’ll be on shelves, but assume the general population will want to snack on this curiosity and grab it sooner than later. If nothing else, eating these might add a new layer of immersion during your next Reach playthrough.  In less edible Halo news, the latest game, Halo Infinite, continues to churn along with help from Gears of War developer The Coalition. If you’re looking for other weird Halo partnerships, Xbox is apparently interested in teaming with Elon Musk to manufacture real-life warthogs.

  • 5 Fantasy RPGs To Play If You Like D&D
    by Matt Miller

    Ask anyone who has been involved with the tabletop role-playing scene for a long time, and they’ll confirm that we’re in the middle of a golden age for the hobby. A number of factors – including livestreamed shows, remote play options, crowdfunded projects, and mature design – have led to an explosion of interest in the role-playing experience. Without a doubt, the latest version of the original tabletop RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, remains a driving force for the current success across the industry. The excellent 5th edition has done wonders for uniting disparate fan groups of the game around an approachable (but still nuanced) fantasy role-playing system. As a player of various editions of that game since childhood, I’ll be the first to recommend the current edition of D&D to both newcomers and old-timers. At the same time, the breadth of the hobby has grown so much that I also recommend players consider the tremendous variety of other games on the market today. Even if you desire to stay mostly within the bounds of the fantasy milieu, there’s no shortage of options. And that’s without even stepping beyond into other genres or playstyles, which could easily occupy a whole range of additional articles like this. These games will refresh both GMs and players, with different rulesets and approaches that are sure to reinvigorate the whole group’s excitement. Moreover, I think you’ll find that exploring other game systems often has major benefits, even if you ultimately return to the familiar territory of d20-style D&D games, as you carry some of your favorite ideas back. Here are five of my top recommendations of other fantasy role-playing games you should try, each of which brings some wonderful mechanics and playstyles to the table.   Pathfinder: 2nd Edition Publisher: Paizo If you like the general structure of D&D, but you’re looking for more options and a style of play that more closely emulates the venerated 3rd edition, you should strongly consider diving into Pathfinder. Paizo’s flagship property began as an outgrowth of the D&D 3.5 edition ruleset, but as Wizards of the Coast moved on from that, Paizo transformed Pathfinder into its own fully realized experience. In the many years since, that system has continued to be refined and developed, eventually resulting in the impressively flexible Pathfinder 2nd Edition game. If your gaming group likes the idea of trying something new, and is ready for a bit of increased complexity and customization, Pathfinder 2E is the ideal choice. Many mechanics will be instantly familiar, from the focus on d20 rolls for action resolution to the general flow of play. But Pathfinder has some meaningful distinctions, including an action system that tends to provide for more tactical choices in a given round, as well as a character builds that have more room for customization. In general, it’s a “crunchier” game than modern D&D, with more complexities and rules to track. But the rulebooks are remarkably well-written and feature gorgeous design and illustrations, easing you into any new ideas without making you feel overwhelmed. Pathfinder is an easy recommendation to make, especially to existing D&D players, since it shares so many of its roots with the more well-known and longer-running game. I often tell people that Pathfinder feels like playing an alternate timeline of how D&D could have developed over the last decade-plus, and both timelines have turned out pretty amazing. Also Consider: Starfinder Vaesen Publisher: Free League Publishing One of my favorite new entries in the RPG field from the last few years, Vaesen is a wonderful departure from expectation. A simple and elegant rules system won’t take your group long to learn, and the 19th century Scandinavian folklore setting is miles away from D&D’s familiar western medieval adventures, but still rooted firmly in the fantasy tradition, albeit with a hefty dose of atmospheric horror thrown into the mix. Vaesen draws from one central artistic inspiration, and a separate core game design source. The artistic and setting source is found in the art of Swedish illustrator/author, Johan Egerkrans. He’s become known for his evocative takes on Scandinavian monsters, gods, and other mythological elements, having published a series of wonderful art books that include fictional elements, and his art is gloriously spread across the game. Meanwhile, Vaesen borrows its core gaming engine from other Free League books, adapting the stellar Year Zero system from other games the company has released, like Tales from the Loop and Mutant Year Zero. Players control investigators who – due to some past trauma or event – have gained the Sight, and can see the invisible creatures like trolls, fairies, and ghosts, that act to manipulate or interact with the world of people. Taking on archetypes like hunters, priests, or scholars, you investigate the strange happenings involving these “vaesen” across Scandinavia, working to resolve conflicts that often arise between the old ways of nature, and the burgeoning worlds of industry and modernity. Vaesen and its unique rules focus less on constant combat, and more on mystery, atmosphere, character relationships, and encounters without clear-cut answers. The clever structure of play moves the group between important scenes, much in the way you’d expect a good movie to skip over the small stuff. Play groups can also expect a healthy dose of gothic horror, where the mundane is suddenly thrown into stark relief against the terrifying power and fickle aspects of nature unbound. Also Consider: Tales From The Loop, Forgotten Lands Conan: Adventures In An Age Undreamed Of Publisher: Modiphius The entire genre of fantasy, specifically anything related to sword-and-sorcery vibes, owes much to the storytelling of Robert E. Howard, and the tales he spun of Conan the Barbarian. Modiphius took up the challenge of bringing Conan’s world to life in its role-playing adaptation of the setting, leveraging the company’s successful 2d20 tabletop RPG game system to invigorate and realize the bloody, swashbuckling, and primitive tone that pervades the world of the Hyborian Age. For gaming groups that want to focus on savage encounters, particularly deadly and evil magic, along with exciting action-packed adventures, this is an awesome choice. Modiphius’ 2d20 system has a lot of things worth celebrating, and the system is strong enough that the publisher has adapted it for a number of different settings in all kinds of genres, including everything from Star Trek to John Carter of Mars.  In Conan, the most notable dynamic at play is the push and pull between a shared player bonus pool called Momentum, and a similar pool called Doom that the GM can pull from to create additional challenge. By drawing from this bonus pool, PCs can accomplish remarkable tasks at critical moments, or villains can enact particularly devastating actions. Consider the Conan RPG if your aim is to amp up the action of big battles, focus on party cohesion and cooperation, or if you simply love the idea of a tailor-made system built around this expansive fantasy world. Modiphius is known for its high production values, as well as its meticulous research to nail the "feeling" of a property. Both those dynamics are in place with this Conan RPG, which captures the magic and intensity of those early pulpy stories. Also Consider: John Carter of Mars, Star Trek Adventures Zweihänder: Grim & Perilous RPG Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing If D&D has always felt just a bit too colorful and whimsical, and you and your group just really want to embrace the darker and grittier aspects of the fantasy genre, then you should take a close look at Zweihänder. While the game nods to the oldest of old-school tendencies in the role-playing genre, it’s more fair to say that it looks to one corner of those traditions – where luckless vagabonds and adventurers struggle against nearly impossible odds, often dying along the way, but seeing some bloody and grim battles fought on their way down. Zweihänder embraces a relatively simple-to-grasp percentile-based rules system for resolving actions, but it’s the many details and character options that flesh out the massive 700-page tome that makes up the core book. Rather than more stratified classes that present lots of room for customizing, the game includes a plethora of professions (well over 100 in the core book) that let you take on all kinds of weird and wonderful roles, from jesters and animal tamers to necromancers and inquisitors. Those professions are given added depth as players take on a variety of skills and talents, which they may desperately try to use to survive in a horribly unfair and often chance-driven world. I’ve heard from many potential players over the years about their enthusiasm for the worlds presented in franchises like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), or Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, which feature dark themes, brutal political machinations, and unlikely heroes drawn into impossible conflict. In many ways, Zweihänder offers a better fit for those kind of stories than the more general purpose fantasies supported by D&D. If you’re willing to put in the work to learn and embrace a very different set of mechanics, you’ll find a lot to love in Zweihänder. Also Consider: Mythras, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: 4th Edition Numenera Publisher: Monte Cook Games You like the emotional tone and sense of exploration and discovery that is core to fantasy narratives, but you’re sick to death of dragon-slaying knights and wizards in a western European setting? For those ready for something completely different, there is no better fantasy game to embrace than the weird and lavishly imagined universe of Numenera. After a long tenure contributing to the Dungeons & Dragons game, Monte Cook started his own company and released the first iteration of Numenera back in 2013. The game is set on Earth in an impossibly distant future. After a long absence, humanity has come again to the planet after eight prior great civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving behind the detritus of technology that is indistinguishable from magic for those who live there. Players take on the role of explorers and builders who sift through the remains of these old civilizations, repurposing it to fuel a new age of discovery. Firmly rooted in the traditions of science/fantasy as well as a variation of the sub-genre often called Dying Earth, Numenera will win your affection thanks to the constant surprises and unique ideas that make up its world. From monsters to locations to adventure hooks, the game excels at presenting insane twists on expectation, playing with the ideas of reality, time, technology, virtual existence, and alternate dimensions, all while remaining firmly rooted in tropes of the classic fantasy adventuring party. Numenera is a rules-light game that values narrative flexibility and player participation over almost all else. This is a place for a gaming group to be inventive and push the boundaries of character creation and storytelling, and it demands a narrator who likes to be the architect of a game, but who also wants the players to actually be the builders. The game was given increased depth by a loose second edition a few years ago (presented as a paired set of books called Numenera: Discovery and Numenera: Destiny), which expanded on the existing rules without invalidating what came before. Numenera is a personal favorite of mine; as someone who spent years loving D&D (and I still do), this is a game that is a stark departure, focused on fewer rules and more on weird moments of wonder, and I can’t recommend it enough. And, as an aside, if you want a taste of Numenera's unique tone without leaving behind D&D 5E rules, Monte Cook Games has you covered with its excellent Arcana of the Ancients supplement. Also Consider: The Strange, Invisible Sun The role-playing game scene today is filled with an array of remarkable projects. In the fantasy genre, D&D serves a wonderful role, acting as an an adaptable and streamlined game system that carries the advantage of familiarity – many gamers have already encountered its core conceits in other places, like in video games. It's a great place to start, but can also fuel years or even decades of fun. Even so, with so many rich systems out there to dig into, it would be a shame to not try out more of what is on offer, and the above recommendations just scratch the surface of other fantasy games you might enjoy. If you're a dedicated role-playing gamer, I can't stress enough how much fun is waiting for you if you stretch your wings and explore other game systems. If you’d like a more focused  recommendation catered to your group, drop me a line via email, and I'll try to help you out. If you’re just looking for other great tabletop games to enjoy with friends and family, feel free to peruse the backlog of our Top of the Table articles, where you’ll find a selection of strong options, including some of the best tabletop RPGs of 2020.  

  • Disgaea 6 Arrives To Switch In June Alongside Free Bonus Characters
    by Marcus Stewart

    Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is launching June 29 exclusively for Switch. The latest title in the quirky turn-based strategy series was announced last September and brings a host of new changes to the long-running franchise. For one, the game ditches the series’ traditional 2D sprites for fully 3D character models. A 32x mode speeds up battles exponentially, and the level cap has been raised to a staggering 99,999,999. But that’s not all! The release date trailer (posted below) also announces bonus content in the form of four additional characters from Disgaea’s past: Girl Laharl, Asagi, and Disgaea 2’s Adell and Rozalin. They, along with story content surrounding them, will be included in Disgaea 6 free of charge. Check them out in action in the video below and be treated to the bonus site of seeing Nippon Ichi Software president Souhei Niikawa rocking some sweet Prinny gear.   Click here to watch embedded media Disgaea 6 stars Zed, a cocky zombie residing in the lowest pits of the netherworld who can die and resurrect even stronger thanks to a new Super Reincarnation system. Zed’s world is rocked when a God of Destruction threatens to destroy everything, and it’s up to him to put a stop to it. Zed can’t do it alone, and he’s joined by his kid sister and a host of other zany characters (this is a Disgaea game after all). You can get to know the colorful cast better by watching the most recent character trailer here.  Although Disgaea 6 is also launching for the PlayStation 4 in Japan, the game is only coming to Nintendo’s platform here in the west, at least for the time being. You can also pick up the Unrelenting Edition of the game that comes with a mini art book and digital soundtrack.  Are you excited to play Disgaea 6 when it launches to Switch this summer? Let us know in the comments! You can also learn why we're excited for it by reading our list of upcoming RPG's we're most most eager to play here. 

  • Ghost Of Tsushima Developers Named Official Tourism Ambassadors
    by Joe Juba

    Ghost of Tsushima was one of the best games of last year, allowing players to explore the island of Tsushima in an open-world adventure inspired by classic samurai cinema. But it turns out that Sucker Punch's latest project did more than just entertain gamers; it raised awareness of the real-life location, and now the mayor is honoring two members of the development team by naming them tourism ambassadors for Tsushima. Click here to watch embedded media Game director Nate Fox (who we interviewed last year on the Game Informer Show) and creative director Jason Connell from Sucker Punch will be presented with the award and a letter of appreciation.  A statement from the mayor of Tsushima (as reported by VGC) reads: “[Fox and Connell] spread the name and history of Tsushima to the whole world in such a wonderful way,” he said. “Even a lot of Japanese people do not know the history of the Gen-ko period. When it comes to the world, the name and location of Tsushima is literally unknown, so I cannot thank them enough for telling our story with such phenomenal graphics and profound stories.” In addition, Sony Interactive Entertainment will work together with the island on a new tourism campaign to teach fans of the game more about its real-world counterpart. Though Ghost of Tsushima is a great game with an evocative setting, it's important to remember that it isn't necessarily historically faithful; Sucker Punch didn't recreate the era so much as pay homage to its popular depiction in movies.  That portrayal paid off; Ghost of Tsushima was a huge sales success for Sony and Sucker Punch, selling 2.4 million copies in just three days.   If you aren't able to actually visit Tsushima in real life, you can at least see some of the most impressive sights the game has to offer, like the hottest hot springs and bear-related mishaps. [via VGC]

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