Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Red Dead Online Beta: Upcoming Features, New Free Roam Event, Autumn Update Content and More

Red Dead Online Beta: Upcoming Features, New Free Roam Event, Autumn Update Content and More

Red Dead Online Beta: The Road Ahead

With each passing week we continue to add more to the Red Dead Online Beta, and the next four weeks will bring new Showdown Modes and Racing Modes, as well as a new Free Roam Event that launched earlier today. Alongside incorporating player feedback and addressing existing issues, the beta period has allowed us to lay the groundwork for the more advanced aspects of Red Dead Online still to come. Our experience of building other online worlds has helped us create a more evolved foundation for the open spaces of Red Dead Online, but the world of Red Dead Online will evolve in its own unique direction - one in which players have greater freedom to customize their play style uniquely over time, allowing them to sink into the world and their character and feel more connected to the experience of living as cowboys, outlaws and gunslingers in the wilds of 19th century America. 

The next major update is currently planned to arrive later this Autumn, bringing a host of feature upgrades and new content including:

The Hostility System
The Hostility system builds upon the anti-griefing measures added in February with smarter and responsive features that keep players immersed in the world through confrontations and PvP action. For example, players who have damage inflicted on them by attackers will be able to defend themselves without incurring Bounties or Hostility increases. Previously, the attacker and target would be marked as an enemy - now the attacker who inflicts damage will be immediately marked as an enemy to the attacked player; players will not accumulate Hostility increases for killing other players who are marked as an enemy.

Hostility increases will not apply within structured events such as Free Roam Events, Free Roam Missions, Showdowns and Races. Engaging in player vs player behaviors related to Free Roam missions will not incur Hostility increases, however attacking other players not engaged in the activity will cause your Hostility level to rise. 

The Hostility System has many more functions and will help balance experiences for all play styles.

Offensive and Defensive Playing Style Options
Some players just want to immerse themselves in the world, riding, hunting and fishing in peace. We want to offer these options while allowing players to coexist comfortably alongside other players in the world. The Offensive Playing Style is much like the current Free Roam play as we know it while the Defensive Playing Style is a more evolved version of the Passive Mode concept, designed for Red Dead Online’s more grounded experience - giving players more flexibility in how they interact with the world and at the same time de-emphasizing hostile contact with other players.

Choosing the Defensive option introduces balances that compliment a less confrontational approach: Defensive players cannot be lassoed by rival players - although if a Defensive player lassos another player, they’ll be removed from Defensive play and incur a significant Hostility level increase. Defensive players will trade the ability to lock on to other players for the benefit that other players will not be able to lock on to Defensive players.

While Defensive players can target and be targeted in free aim, they cannot deliver or receive critical hits – if a Defensive player is attacked with a headshot, they’ll survive and be able to defend themselves via the Hostility system or escape all while remaining Defensive.  There are several other adjustments that come with the Defensive Playing Style, all of which are built to work seamlessly with systems like Hostility and Bounties to keep all players rooted in the world.

Some other new additions include:

-       More A Land of Opportunities Missions: continue Jessica LeClerk’s search for revenge as you explore between the path of a Gunslinger or an Outlaw
-       New Free Roam Mission givers and mission types: Red Dead Online is set in the years before the single player story so expect to encounter a range of new and familiar faces as you traverse the frontier
-       The Introduction of dynamic events: fight off ambushes, initiate rescues, defend folks in need and more as you travel across the world

All this, plus updates to the character creator, restructured Daily Challenges that eliminate hostile gameplay in Free Roam and introduce streaks for bigger rewards, the return of another classic weapon, the LeMat Revolverfrom the original Red Dead Redemption, and much more.

In the coming months, we will continue to add features and content that will allow players to immerse themselves in the world of Red Dead Online in brand new ways as they choose what kind of life they will make for themselves in frontier America.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice New Gameplay Overview Trailer Available

Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice New Gameplay Overview Trailer Available


Good afternoon,

Intense sword combat, surprise attacks, resurrection, enemy deception and more await! Get a glimpse of the impeccable gameplay mechanics that await your discovery in this game walkthrough video.


Sekiro™: Shadows Die Twice releases on 22 March


Monday, 18 March 2019

Stray: DVD Review

Stray: DVD Review

Mixing in elements of Starred Up, the landscapes of New Zealand and edges of last year's great festival hit God's Own Country, Dustin Feneley's strikingly sparse Stray is a ferocious debut.

Focussing in on Kieran Charnock's Jack who finds himself on parole for GBH, it's the story of one man's attempted escape from the confines of his own tortured demons and prison. Trapped in central Otago and taunted by something within, Jack's routine is one of isolation above all else.

But that changes when he returns home one night to find Grace (Arta Dobroshi) in the woods - in one of the film's rare scenes of action. She's seeking refuge and Jack reluctantly agrees to provide shelter...

Stray: NZIFF Review

Stray is a feature in no hurry to get where it's going and it's all the better for it.

It takes at least half of the film before the protagonists meet, and there are very few words spoken, though Charnock offers up some extreme subtleties in how he changes his interactions when there's someone else, someone unknown in his orbit.

But it's in his interactions with others that the true pain starts to emerge, and Charnock channels the unease well. Equally Dobroshi, with her unfamiliarity and unease gives Grace an edge that makes their connection understandable and natural.

Feneley's made the film a lighting dream; from the clear crisp shots of the outside mountains to moments of intimacy within the cabin, the screen is rarely looked more enticing. The South Island's rarely looked better either, a combination of both desolation, isolation, beauty and despondency all wrapped up into one big screen parcel.

Its ending may seem abrupt and potentially up for debate, but Stray's connection and capability for exploring the human connection makes this debut a tenacious one and marks Feneley out as a Kiwi talent to watch.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Overlord: Blu Ray Review

Overlord: Blu Ray Review

Drawing more in truth from Bethesda Studios' video game Wolfenstein (complete with side missions - raid the castle, kill the baddies) than Dod Sno and revelling in its B-movie aspirations, Overlord is here for nothing but a good time.
Overlord: Film Review

Even if it could, in honesty, have lost 20 minutes of its near 2 hour run time.

A truly stunning and visceral opening drops a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears US troopers into France on June 6th 1944 - their sole mission is to take out a radio tower built on top of a church so the Allied Invasion can take place.

But they're not prepared for what their small number finds in the village...

Overlord: Film Review

Overlord starts brilliantly - the tension's ratcheted up as the troops get ready to make their drop, and the inevitable plays out. Meshing the war tropes with the everyman soldiers (and their cursory dialogue to give a degree of sympathy when they're offed) works well for it - but once it hits the ground, it doesn't run, but slightly stumbles in terms of pacing.

And while the B-movie body horror aspirations are on show early on, it's a full two-thirds of the film before Avery unleashes all the monster mash elements into a series of set pieces that bring the gore and jump scares, but not the over-show.

The science falls by the way side, and the allegories over Nazis and hell (talk early on of jackals, a tracking shot of a Jesus statue burning in a fire) are ramped up. Its only interest is in dispatching the "rotten sons of bitches" and in truth, Avery does it well, neither scrimping on what's expected or overplaying what's hinted.

Overlord: Film Review

It's a mix that works largely well, thanks in part to Adepo's sensitive everyman, man-with-a-moral-compass trooper, who tries to do the right thing, but finds, that in war, that's not always the best thing to do.

The body horror ramps up for the finale, one which can ludicrously be seen a way off, and feels like a cross between Wolfenstein, creature feature and a 2000AD story, but still manages to deliver what's expected.

Overlord is very much a case of a film that does exactly what it says on the tin, even if it does feel occasionally like it's holding back as it treads a fine line on the genre tightropes it's walking. The atmosphere is sustained throughout (even though earlier mentioned expeditious trim could have helped) and to be frank, while there are threads that could build a universe, as a stand-alone, one-off Nazi-killin, war story, brothers-in-arms, supernatural mix, it all comes together for an entertaining, if disposable, good time. 

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Anna and the Apocalypse: DVD Review

Anna and the Apocalypse: DVD Review

Christmas films are a notoriously tricky beast to negotiate; either they are a syrupy sentimental mix or they're loosely connected to the season and a miss.
Anna and The Apocalypse: Film Review

So it's heartening to report that Anna and The Apocalypse is a mix of horror, High School Musical, Shaun of the Dead and Christmas edges.

A well cast, and down-to-earth Hunt is Anna, a teenager looking to get out of the small Scottish town she lives in. With a plan to take a gap year rather than go to university, but unable to tell her father (Benton) that that's what she wants, Anna's trapped.

Anna and The Apocalypse: Film Review

But she finds her world changed when a pandemic suddenly sweeps her corner of Scotland...

In truth, Anna and The Apocalypse is more a fun that's a light and fluffy genre rejoinder to both horror and the musical. Meshing poppy power ballad songs that follow the usual trick of revealing feelings, some impressive choreography and throwing in pop culture references early on, the film's clearly hellbent on being a Buffy-style musical via John Hughes' sensibilities.

However, it kind of works, with a degree of joie de vivre and Edgar Wright quick cut editing homage carrying it through.

It helps greatly that Hunt's engaging and affable, as she negotiates a moping best friend who's in love with her, an ex who's gone from nice guy to bully and a father who doesn't want to see his daughter go. There's a heart and relatability to her performance that's hard to deny.

Anna and The Apocalypse: Film Review

Occasionally, it lapses close to parody, and silliness, but in terms of the festive season, it sits nicely within the pantheon of Christmas films that are slightly awry from what's expected.

Its goofy edges and self-obsessed teens, wrapped up in their own issues, rather than the global concerns collide nicely to make a charming film that meshes genres to pleasing and surprisingly emotional effect. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Metro Exodus: PS4 Review

Metro Exodus: PS4 Review

Developed by 4A Games
Platform: PS4

Metro: Last Light was a riveting experience.
Metro Exodus: PS4 Review

But Metro: Exodus has taken that to another level, with the latest game from Dmitry Glukhovsky's novels revelling in the atmospherics and diving deeper into the world.

Metro Exodus: PS4 ReviewIn the latest first person shooter, you find yourself as Artyom in the Russian post-apocalyptic wastelands, where shooting and horror are the only constants. As if dealing with post rag-tag humans isn't bad enough, there are also mutated horrific creatures to deal with as well.

But as if survival isn't enough, this game is not your typical run and gun and hope to survive. Pulling in elements of maintenance as well, Metro: Exodus delights in keeping you aware of the surroundings and ensuring your equipment is always in tiptop condition.

Beginning within a nuclear winter and spanning a year, it's about survival and dealing with more unstable elements than ever before as you begin to search for life beyond the Metro...

Beautifully realised and with some truly edge-of-the-seat jump scares, Metro Exodus makes a case for one of the best survivalist shooters out there - from the small details like dirt on your gas mask to some real jolts, the game's prided itself on being atmospheric in extremis, and engrossing as it plays out.
Metro Exodus: PS4 Review

There's the usual QTEs in place, and the game does style over substance at times, but that doesn't detract from what Deep Silver is trying to achieve with it. In some ways, in terms of style, it's a mix of Far Cry's New Dawn post-apocalypse world and Doom style creatures piling in on you as it swirls up stealth and gunplay in equal amount. There are a few issues with long load times here and there, but with a game looking like this, it's to be expected - though one can only hope long term, it's sorted.

All in all, Metro: Exodus is an engrossing game, one which shows that once the story mechanics are truly realised and the game elements folded in, a post-apocalyptic world can be more than its cliches would suggest.

New Avengers Endgame trailer drops

New Avengers Endgame trailer drops

A Brand new Avengers Endgame trailer has released, showing new suits for the gang and a new look for Captain Marvel.

Watch it below

New Avengers Endgame trailer drops

Destroyer: Film Review

Destroyer: Film Review

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Scoot McNairy, Sebastian Stan, Bradley Whitford
Director: Karyn Kusama

As thrilling as it can be to see Nicole Kidman completely transformed in this role of Erin Bell, the intricacies of what Karyn Kusama has constructed may lead some to recall the winding narrative of True Detective.
Destroyer: Film Review

Kidman is detective Erin Bell, who discovers at a crime scene that a body has a connection to a case from her past, and the possibility that a gang boss (Kebbell) she once believed dead is somehow back.

Setting out on a dogged trail, Bell finds the dots from her past reconnecting as the former LAPD detective gets more deeply involved.

Destroyer is a hard film to endure at times, such is its unrelenting commitment to bleakness.

And despite a transformed Kidman's tenacious grip on proceedings, she's occasionally  a hard emotional and unempathetic character to latch on to, no matter how intriguing proceedings are.

But where Destroyer triumphs is in layering a narrative that takes a little time to crack.

As the pieces on the board shift and re-align, things start to fall into place as they should, eventually rewarding you for your efforts. And it's here that Destroyer's strength seems to appear, thanks to
Kidman's gritty turn and the fact she's shuffling through past mistakes of her life.

It may be difficult to love, but it's not difficult to salute Destroyer for doing something that feels different, even if parts of the story are traditional in many ways. It could have done with some more urgency at times, but for now Destroyer shows that a combination of killer acting and material are no bad thing.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Hotel Mumbai: Film Review

Hotel Mumbai: Film Review

Cast: Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs, Anupam Kher
Director: Anthony Maras

Tense, claustrophobic and never once exploitative, Hotel Mumbai's recreation of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks is simultaneously nail-biting and verging on the factual.

Dev Patel is a worker at the Taj Hotel, one of those places targeted by Pakistani militants who launch a series of attacks to wreak chaos. Trapped inside and with time running out, a group of disparate guests and hotel workers try to survive.

Hotel Mumbai has a sense of claustrophobia, a sense of terror and a sense of the unending mercilessness of terrorism. As the almost robotic servants carry out their master's bidding communicated to them via phone lines, there's a true feeling of horror as the attacks take place, a relentless march against the perversion and hatred of other's ways of life.

But Maras, while delivering an almost workman-like and straight forward retelling of events, never once slips into the exploitative, giving it a feeling of something sickening growing with dread throughout.
Hotel Mumbai: Film Review

The thing with Hotel Mumbai is that the film's unswerving dedication to the unfolding reality of a terrorist attack helps it to grip, and leaving you twisting in its grimmer edges.

What Maras is smart enough to do is to realise that within the horror of every crisis, there is humanity to be found at every level.

While he does use the story of Hammer and  Boniadi's baby being trapped and separated with their sitter to promote some tension, he's wise enough to not milk it for all it's worth and just leave you teetering on the edge of your seat. Slivers of background provide enough to guide an audience in, and don't feel like sentimental set-up sap.

It's this element of sensitivity with the film's truly awful premise that helps ground Hotel Mumbai into a gripping and sickening watch.

Equally Patel and Kher show the humanity of the staff and the humility of their approach that the guest comes first, no matter what the situation. It's horrifying in many ways, but like any disaster film, it's the human elements which shine through in Hotel Mumbai to keep the light burning.

Ultimately, Hotel Mumbai's commitment to the reality of the Mumbai terror attacks means the film passes without direct judgement on those perpetrating them. There's a subtlety in the condemnation that does play out, but not an overtness - it's a key difference in making this disaster movie crowd-pleasing and turning tragedy into gripping drama.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: DVD Review

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: DVD Review

In truth, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald struggles to justify carrying on the franchise into five-films beast.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Film Review

From the pen of JK Rowling and expanding on what was a flimsy compendium of creatures, the latest picks up the end thread of the appearance of nasty wizard Grindelwald (Depp, bleached white, and downplaying the menace for once) and ups the ante with talk of shattering the fragile peace between the wizarding world and the Muggles.

Finding himself in the centre of all this is Eddie Redmayne's awkward, but openly honest and pure-of-heart Newt Scamander, still being punished for his altruistic actions in Fantastic Beasts.

To say more, is to break the marketing omerta imposed on all reviewers, but suffice to say the problem with Fantastic Beasts 2 is that it gets tied up in its own world, starts talking only to its own and not the average Muggle who's not that keen on every throwback.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Film Review

Character arcs feel unformed with one twist feeling unearned and emotionally underwhelming, demanding you appreciate them because you met them in the last film, rather than for their own journey.

And for a film whose subtitle is The Crimes of Grindelwald, Grindelwald himself carries out scant any crimes - although given the uproar of Johnny Depp's casting as the veiled Trumpian baddie, some may strongly disagree.

The major problem is a lot of what's delivered here is swathed in large amounts of world-building, of set-up and of promises further down the line; sub-plots swirl and float, leaving undernourished edges to waft among the murkily executed CGI.

Of the principal cast, Depp is serviceable and serves really to bookend the film; Redmayne and Waterston conjure up the same kind of tension that was last seen executed by Edward and Bella in The Twilight Saga; and Law brings a heart and earnestness to a young Dumbledore which is sorely needed to anchor the film's lack of anything else.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Film Review

Ultimately, the Fantastic Beasts film series needs to deliver more of a case for being fantastic and bring the magic back to the world - and feel like less of an ill-conceived thinly-veiled cash grab to extend a dying franchise. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: DVD Review

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: DVD Review

Possibly the best-looking film of the year, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms' fairytale approach is the one thing strongly in its favour.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Film Review

Foy plays Clara, whose life is staccato following the death of her mother; with her father trying to ensure Christmas still happens, even though nobody is interested, Clara's given a gift from her departed mother - a locked egg that says everything she seeks is within.

During attending an annual festive ball, Clara finds herself pulled into the magical world that's facing danger from Mother Ginger (Mirren). Recruited by Sugar Plum (Knightley in Marilyn Monroe squeaky voice territory) to help, Clara finds her loyalties torn as she tries to save the realms from falling into war.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms's production aesthetic is second-to-none, and is Oscar-worthy in extremis.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Film Review

Every sequence oozes with sumptuous details, with figures from fantasy tales standing out and with each scene dripping with colour and attention to detail. It's almost overwhelming, but does go some way to setting the fantasy tone needed for the film, whose plot sadly falls flat and feels uninspired and underwhelming at best.

The message is easy to decipher from early on, and even though Foy tries, she can't quite summon enough of the depth needed to sell the lighter story to an audience. Knightley's flouncy Sugar Plum is a joy to behold, although Mirren's baddie Mother Ginger feels underwritten and inconsequential.

Ultimately, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms feels more shallow than a tale as old as time should.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Film Review

Its fantastical visual images may capture the audience of a younger generation, but in truth, they may get restless later on with the film as it ploughs a furrow between whimsy and empowerment message.

It may have some elements of visual pleasure, but The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is more a confectionary headrush than a nourishing lasting pleasure.