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PS5 stock UK: Final PlayStation 5 restock in April skipping Argos and GAME?

PS5 stock UK: Final PlayStation 5 restock in April skipping Argos and GAME?
There aren’t any guaranteed PS5 stock drops left for UK gamers to track, although one store has provided some hope for the final week of April.

While there is always a chance for a surprise restock of PlayStation 5s over the coming days, Smyths is one of the only retailers suggesting they have something to share before May.

The official Smyths Toys site reveals that the PS5 Digital Edition is currently out of stock but is expected back in stock in April.

Meanwhile, the same site has been updated to confirm that the disc-drive PS5 will not be back in stock until May 2021.

The difference in information shared on both pages suggests that the final stock drop will include Smyths and the Digital PS5.

We have no word on when this fabled stock drop will be arriving, or how many consoles will be included.

And as ever, Smyths could always update its site to delay this drop, which could leave gamers waiting another week or two.

Meanwhile, other retailers like Argos and Game aren’t expected to offer any big stock drops for the rest of this month.

The latest news from the Argos support team is that more next-gen consoles are on the way, but doesn’t provide any kind of ETA or countdown.

“We are working hard to replenish stock of the PS5/Xbox Series X at the moment,” a message shared by Argos on Twitter reads.

“Please keep an eye on our website, where you will find the most up to date information on current stock availability.”

The only upside to these latest delays is that there should be a large stock drop in May.

UK retailers who have not been able to buy PlayStation 5 consoles in April due to supply delays will have a better chance next month.

Knowing that more PlayStation stock is coming is important, but console hunters should also know the best ways to get stock from each platform.

Here are a few examples of how best to try and buy a PlayStation 5 console from leading UK retailers:

AMAZON UK: Amazon UK runs better under strain but still comes with a few kinks worth mentioning. Having an account set up with your card details is a good start, and gamers should also try adding a console to their wishlist before checking out.

GAME: GAME is a UK retailer that offers the most regular stock updates for PS5 consoles. However, console hunters have been warned to use Guest Checkout, as this option is less likely to crash when completing a purchase. GAME is currently expected to get its next major restock during May 2021.

ARGOS: The Argos website is notorious for crashing and being unable to complete purchases when site traffic is high. Stock trackers suggest using the mobile Argos app and keeping an eye on local store listings. Argos is not expected to receive any more stock until May 11.

Expect more news from stock tracker sites regarding the next PS5 drops, and we’ll be sure to add the latest news to the top of this article. 

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

Mini Review: Angry Golf – Novelty Arcade Golfing That Lives Up To Its Name

Angry Golf is perhaps the most apt title for a video game ever. This isn’t because the main character has a permanently furrowed brow, but rather for how the game makes you feel while you’re playing it. It’s one of the most poorly designed, unfinished games we’ve played on the Switch, and the golf gameplay feels like it’s almost entirely reliant on random luck rather than skill. In short, it’s a game that will make you seethe with rage.

Starting off with an incredibly basic main menu, you’re given the option to either play through each level in order, or choose one at will (provided you’ve completed the level at least once). Once you load into the game’s first stage, you’ll immediately notice problems. As you move the camera around, the space around your ball disappears and reappears completely, flashing in and out of existence for several seconds at a time. It’s ludicrous, and makes lining up each shot a huge chore.

The level design itself is really no better. Unlike normal golf games, your goal isn’t a hole in the ground, but rather a literal golden goal post. The game frustratingly doesn’t give you much indication as to where the goal is located in each level, and with a few of the courses branching off into different directions, it’s often impossible to complete your task within the designated number of strokes, as you can waste a good four or five hits just trying to find the goal.

Taking each shot is a simple case of holding down the ‘ZR’ button until you reach your desired power level. The power gauge is located in the bottom right of the screen, but there’s no guide or marker to show where your shot might land. You have to completely rely on the direction the camera is facing and just sort of guess where the ball might end up. Needless to say, you’ll end up falling off the edge of the map a lot during Angry Golf (a point made even more frustrating when you consider that some of the holes don’t reset; you just keep falling and falling in perpetuity unless you manually restart).

Visually, there’s little to no coherency or consistency. Environmental textures are sometimes present, although often not, so trees and buildings just look like blocks of solid colour. Other surfaces are also poorly implemented; one such level is located within a passageway made entirely of glass, but because the glass looks nothing like what you’d expect glass to look like, the developer actually includes the words ‘glass walls and ceiling’ within the level itself to clue you in. Better than nothing, we suppose.

It goes without saying at this point, but we can’t recommend you play this. It’s a frustrating experience right from the start, and there’s really no incentive to play through the game’s forty-odd stages beyond morbid curiosity. The visuals are unattractive, and taking each shot is a chore we wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Angry Golf is a bunker shot; best leave it there.

This article originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Xbox Cloud Gaming for Windows 10 PC and Apple Phones and Tablets Begin as Limited Beta for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Members

Our mission at Xbox is to empower you to play the games you want with the people you want, anywhere you want. Simply put, we believe games have the power to connect humanity and it’s our mission to make gaming more accessible to people around the world.

As we shared at the end of last year, we’re bringing Xbox to more players on more devices via the cloud this year. Starting tomorrow, we’ll begin sending out invites to select Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to start testing the Xbox Cloud Gaming limited beta for Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets via web browsers. We’re launching where invitees can play over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles through Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari. Offering cloud gaming through the browser and having a simplified, universal landing page presents a great opportunity to make cloud gaming approachable to more players in more places over time.

The limited beta is our time to test and learn; we’ll send out more invites on a continuous basis to players in all 22 supported countries, evaluate feedback, continue to improve the experience, and add support for more devices. Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways.

Those who receive an invite just need a compatible Bluetooth or USB-connected controller or can use custom touch controls for more than 50 games to start playing and testing. In the early stages of the beta, we’ll be focusing on fine-tuning features and creating a consistent experience across platforms, while making sure games are running their best. For more information on how to play, an updated list of supported devices, and release notes, please visit our support hub.

This is an exciting step on our journey to bring gaming to the 3 billion players around the world. Thanks so much for helping us shape cloud gaming, from the early days in Preview to today, quite simply we couldn’t have done it without you.

Catherine Gluckstein, Vice President & Head of Product, Project xCloud

This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Next Week on Xbox: April 20 to 23

Bad Dream Coma – April 20

Bad Dream Coma – April 20

A point-and-click adventure game where unique minimalistic art style creates an unforgettable and atmospheric experience. Travel through the surreal and disturbing dreamland where everything depends on your actions.

MLB The Show 21 – April 20 – Xbox Game Pass, Optimized for Xbox Series X|S

MLB The Show 21 – April 20 – Xbox Game Pass, Optimized for Xbox Series X|S

Welcome to MLB The Show 21! Experience faster, deeper, and more intense moment-to-moment action on the field with a variety of game modes for rookies and returning vets. Lead your ballplayer in Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty, enjoy updates to Franchise and March to October modes, and face your friends across consoles with cross-platform play. MLB The Show 21 Digital Deluxe Edition is available now and MLB The Show 21 standard edition will launch April 20 on the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and with Xbox Game Pass.

Dungeon Escape – April 21

Dungeon Escape – April 21

You’ve been trapped in a dungeon filled with deadly traps and ruthless enemies! But with enough cunning and nimble dexterity, there could still be a chance at survival, however small it may be. Navigate chambers of increasing difficulty as your search for an exit. Dodge or kill your captors, find keys to unlock doors, leap over spikes and watch out for saw blades!

MotoGP 21 – April 21 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S

MotoGP 21 – April 21 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S

Take your place on the starting grid and get ready for the most realistic and immersive MotoGP video game ever. Live the most authentic and immersive 2-wheels racing experience with more than 120 official riders, over 20 tracks and new and improved features for an unprecedented level of realism. And for the first time, experience the Long Lap Penalty. Relive the history of MotoGP with more than 40 historic riders and their iconic bikes. Pre-order today and get the VIP Multiplier Pack.

Buildings Have Feelings Too – April 22

Buildings Have Feelings Too – April 22

Imagine a city where buildings can walk and talk to one another. Each one has its own aspirations, hopes, and fears. Most of the time they are just trying to get along with each other and make it through the day. Grow your city into a bustling metropolitan center with an array of shops, offices, entertainment facilities and amenities, to help your buildings thrive; or risk them being demolished forever.

Smelter – April 22

Smelter – April 22

A strategy, action platformer combo inspired by classics from the 16-bit era. Lead Smelter and his faithful Zirm forces by expanding Smelter’s territory across the Rumbly Lands in top-down strategy levels, then dive into thrilling side-scrolling action stages after annexing key locations. Build, attack and advance your army — unlock, upgrade, and unleash elemental action skills against vicious enemies, perilous environments, and dangerous bosses.

AntVentor – April 23 – Xbox Play Anywhere

AnyVentor – April 23 – Xbox Play Anywhere

A point-and-click adventure game where you find yourself in a photorealistic macroworld where you immediately manage to ruin the life of the main character, ant, and foil all his plans for making his dream come true. Can you help get everything back in order?

Dead Dust – April 23

Dead Dust – April 23

Pick a hero and run through the crowds of deadly enemies and stay alive through challenging levels while collecting loot from fallen enemies. To discover the secrets of Dead Dust, talk to barkeepers who’ll sell you the most useful equipment to overcome any obstacles or hostels on your way to save a kidnapped girl.

Dungeon and Gravestone – April 23

Dungeon and Gravestone – April 23

A mysterious world where not only dungeons but even towns change their appearance. Dive in and get items, strengthen your equipment, and aim for lower layers. Collect food, complete quests, and even fish and live out your life in a dungeon. You’re the only one who can solve the mystery of the dungeon.

Judgment – April 23 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S

Judgement – April 23 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S

From the team that brought you the critically acclaimed Yakuza series comes Judgment, a gritty tale of disgraced attorney Takayuki Yagami in his quest for redemption. Haunted by his past, he takes up arms as a private detective, clawing his way through Kamurocho’s underground crime network to investigate a string of grisly murders.

Moon Raider – April 23

Moon Raider – April 23

Ava is the young daughter of the brilliant-but-aging scientist Dr. Cavor and Selene, the former queen of the moon. Selene is a selenite whose life depends on special energy only moon gems can provide. With none left and time running out, Dr. Cavor enlists Ava to raid the moon and bring back as many gems as she can find!

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… – April 23

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139... – April 23

Prequel of the critically-acclaimed masterpiece NieR:Automata, receives a modern upgrade. The protagonist is a kind young man living in a remote village. To save his sister Yonah, who fell terminally ill to the Black Scrawl, he sets out with Grimoire Weiss, a strange talking tome, to search for the Sealed Verses.

The Skylia Prophecy – April 23

The Skylia Prophecy – April 23

Explore a dangerous fantasy world in this epic quest for redemption inspired by Souls games. And if you feel this type of game is too hard for you, you can make the game easier by completing side quests and spending the money earned on items in shops.

This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Mini Review: Toree 3D – Low Poly, Pint-Sized Platforming For Pennies

Say what you like about fancy level design and clever mechanics that turn everything you know about the genre on its head, but when it comes to 3D platformers there’s really only one reason we return to our favourites again and again: throwing Mario around a course feels fun on an instinctual, sensory level. It’s the fundamental way Banjo, with his little bobbing backpack, instantly responds to our inputs — and the joy we get from performing a perfect sideways somersault in Super Mario 64 or Sunshine or Galaxy or Odyssey — that has us going back to the ‘golden’ 3D platformers. Intricate courses that put your acrobatic skills to the test are important, of course, but the best platformers just feel good to control. So, the greatest praise we can heap on Toree 3D, a super-cheap, micro-sized offering from Diplodocus Games, is that basic locomotion ‘feels’ great.

It’s elementary two-button stuff, with a dash on ‘Y’ and (double) jump on ‘B’, but developer Siactro nails every basic birdy bounce. Each of the game’s nine short courses — linear gauntlets littered with conveyors, moving platforms and fans — features a set number of stars to collect as you scramble though to retrieve Toree’s stolen ice cream (or something) from some evil-looking spirit thing. Unsurprisingly, the game’s not big on narrative, and that’s just fine.

Your speed through each course is graded upon completion, and there are two characters to unlock which provide some incentive to improve your score or grab stars you missed. The game harks back to the low poly platformers of the mid-late 1990s, with the look and feel of an early PlayStation or Saturn game. Pure blue-sky nostalgia would mean nothing if it played poorly, though, and surprising as it may be for a game lingering on the 99-cent zone on the Switch eShop, it plays rather well.

It’s not perfect, you understand; there’s plenty of room for improvement around its central competent core. The camera proves irritating; the inability to invert the Y-axis on the right stick was something we couldn’t acclimatise to over the game’s extremely short playtime (you’ll have breezed through everything in well under an hour). The ‘B’ button is used to confirm on menus, too, (with ‘Y’ to cancel) and you’ll initially try hitting ‘A’ to start the game. Hardly a biggy, but indicative of areas where a little UI polish wouldn’t go amiss.

Going in with diminished expectations no-doubt coloured our impressions, but our brief time with Toree 3D was undeniably delightful. For significantly less than the price of a decent cup of coffee, you get an enjoyably bite-sized, colourful 3D platformer with great music and a fun aesthetic that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest — and it doesn’t stick around long enough to get boring, or for its weak points (and inevitable lack of depth) to become an issue. Big studios who feel obliged to stretch games out for dozens of hours could learn a thing or two from its brevity.

So, if you’ve got some unused Gold Points on your account, Toree 3D offers a very solid half hour of platforming pleasure for mere pennies. What’s not to like?

This article originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Want a PS5? UK customers should mark this PlayStation 5 restock date in the diary

Want a PS5? UK customers should mark this PlayStation 5 restock date in the diary
It looks like PlayStation 5 customers will have to wait a little longer for the next major PS5 UK restock.

After virtually no major stock drops in April, the exact date of the next big PS5 restock has been revealed for May 2021.

Indeed, according to one PS5 UK stock checker site, PlayStation 5 consoles will go on sale during the second week of May.

“Major PS5 Stock should arrive second week of May if everything goes to plan,” reads a PS5 UK Stock – Instant Updates tweet.

If the tweet is accurate, then the stock will drop on the week beginning May 10.

It’s rare for retailers to put PS5 consoles up for sale on Monday, so the first big stock drop is likely to take place on the morning of May 11.

Additional drops will almost certainly take place on the days that follow, so get your wallets ready for May 12 and May 13.

While it’s a long wait for the stock to become available in stores, the good news is that the stock drops should be rather large.

This is because the delayed April stock should be available at the same time as the May drop.

As a reminder, international PlayStation 5 shipments were delayed due to transport issues.

“All UK PS5 stock delayed due to transport issues,” reads a previous tweet.

“Stock release was planned every week. Good news is Sony shipped out May’s stock, we’ll get April and May’s PS5 restock altogether so huge windows per drop!”

Of course, there’s always a chance PlayStation 5 consoles could arrive sooner, so it’s worth bookmarking all of the usual stock checking sites.

This includes Digital Foundry Deals, Stock Informer, PS5 UK Stock – Instant Updates, and Express Gaming.

If you do manage to get hold of a PS5 then you’re in for a treat, because the next few weeks are packed with new game releases.

This includes action platformer Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, which is one of the more visually impressive games coming to PS5.

Launching on June 11, the Ratchet and Clank sequel sees the pairing battle across multiple dimensions.

“The intergalactic adventurers are back with a bang. Help them stop a robotic emperor intent on conquering cross-dimensional worlds, with their own universe next in the firing line.”

It features near-instant loading times, which means switching between dimensions should be seamless.

The title also takes advantage of the DualSense controller, featuring haptic feedback that reacts to the environment.

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

MLB The Show 21 release date: MLB release time and countdown for PS4 and Xbox One

MLB The Show 21 release date
MLB The Show 21 release date begins this week for everyone who doesn’t have a special Deluxe Edition of the game.If you own The Jackie Robinson Edition of MLB The Show 21, you can start playing as part of early access

But for anyone else, The MLB Show 21 release time has been locked in for later this week on PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X.

Plenty of new features and options are available in this year’s franchise launch, with one of the biggest changes being the platforms it’s available on.

MLB The Show has remained a PlayStation console exclusive for some time, and even though a Sony studio has developed this year’s edition, it will be available to buy on Xbox.

The best part of the Xbox release is that The Show 21 will be available on Xbox Game Pass from Day One.

That’s a huge win for Microsoft, who told fans earlier this month: “Both MLB The Show 21 Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S Standard Editions will be included with Xbox Game Pass so members will be able to play the best version of the game regardless of which console they’re on.“And with cross-platform play and progress, you can play against others online, and earn and use content across the platform and generation you choose.

“As we said from the beginning, this is an incredible moment for all of us and bringing the franchise to more players and baseball fans is something that we at MLB, MLB Players, Inc., and Xbox are all excited about.”

It has also been confirmed that PlayStation will donate $ 1 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) for every MLB The Show 21 Collector’s Edition sold in the U.S. from when pre-orders open through December 31, 2021.

MLB THE SHOW 21 RELEASE DATE AND LAUNCH TIME LATESTDevelopers San Diego Studio has confirmed that MLB The Show 21 has a release date set for Tuesday, April 20.

The good news is that the new Baseball game will be coming out at the same time across all platforms.

As mentioned above, the special edition of MLB The Show 21 has early access, meaning you can start playing now if you own it.

The MLB The Show 21 release time for April 20 is reportedly set for 12:01am EST, across all platforms.

It’s unclear if the game will be going live at midnight in the UK, or if gamers will have to wait until 5am BST, in line with EST.

More news could be shared in the coming hours before launch and it will be worth tracking the game on social media in the build up to release.

More news on MLB The Show’s upgraded pitching mechanics can be found below:“The two most important attributes that influence pitch accuracy and thus PAR are BB/9 and the individual pitch accuracy for the selected pitch. The most accurate pitchers will have a high BB/9 and high control for that selected pitch. It’s good to note that generally the average fastballs are more accurate than other pitch types.

“Checked swings are user driven on all hitting interfaces and as far as the main hitting engine goes, you determine the timing of your swing with Directional.

“The PAR feature is available for Pinpoint, Meter, and Analog pitching. PAR is inherent in the pulse pitching mechanic and is displayed when the pulse circle is at its smallest point.

“Meter has a smaller PAR than Analog due to the huge asymmetry between underthrows and overthrows in timing (you are trying to hit perfect accuracy without waiting so long you throw into the dirt). With Analog, there is also a timing element that controls the over/under throws, but it is not as extreme like the meter (inherently because of the interface).”

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

Mini Review: Kingdom of Arcadia – A Pleasant Little Not-Quite-Metroidvania

Kingdom of Arcadia’s premise should be familiar to everyone who loves gaming. Admit it, we’ve all imagined being sucked into one of our favourite gaming worlds at one point or another. That’s exactly what happens to Sam, a normal boy who is suddenly pulled inside his father’s arcade cabinet. Now stuck inside the Kingdom of Arcadia, Sam must traverse a series of increasingly complex levels, fight off hordes of enemies, and level up his equipment in order to survive.

Despite being billed as a Metroidvania, Kingdom of Arcadia doesn’t really feel like one. Its five core locations are split into several bite-sized levels before ending with a boss fight. The levels themselves feature branching paths and locked doorways, but their overall length and complexity simply cannot be compared to other titles like Hollow Knight or Axiom Verge. Your two main goals in the game are fairly simple; reach the end of each level in one piece, and collect as much money as you can along the way.

The gameplay itself is reasonably well executed. Sam has a double jump ability right from the start, and his sword attacks — while simplistic — feel quick and effective, dispatching most standard enemies within just a few hits. Early in the game, you also gain throwing knives, which work well if you’re up against a few enemies that can throw projectiles of their own. Ultimately though, it all feels a bit basic; there are no fancy flourishes or additional abilities, and while some may argue that this is refreshing, it does admittedly make the game feel a tad repetitive after a while.

The money you collect in each level can be used at the central hub’s shop, which offers upgrades to your armour, sword, and axe. Each upgrade naturally costs significantly more than the last, and you might find you’ll need to replay a few levels in order to afford some of the more expensive items, particularly if you find yourself stuck against a tricky boss. Each upgrade also offers visual differences to your equipment, which is a neat little touch.

In terms of visuals and audio, Kingdom of Arcadia does just enough to scrape by. The pixel graphics are fairly basic, and the enemy designs are often repeated throughout the game, albeit with different splashes of colour. The music is pretty limited, with only one distinct track playing for most of the game’s levels, and there’s no voiceover for the game’s dialogue, unsurprisingly (which might actually be a blessing — there are several glaring translation issues in the text).

Kingdom of Arcadia is worth a punt if you’re a fan of side-scrolling fantasy games. It doesn’t quite do enough to earn the title of ‘Metroidvania’ in our eyes, but that’s not a bad thing in itself. We’d say it’s closer to your basic linear platformer, and although it has some clear limitations, the core gameplay is definitely strong enough to keep you engaged throughout.

This article originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Feature: Final Fantasy Veterans Discuss Their Upcoming JRPG, Astria Ascending

AstriaAscending Keyart© Dear Villagers

Announced initially in Famitsu in March and unveiled for worldwide release shortly after, Astria Ascending is a JRPG in the classic mould that has a bevy of veterans from the genre — and the Final Fantasy series in particular — involved, including narrative by Kazushige Nojima (whose credits include Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII Remake), art from CyDesignation (Akihiko Yoshida and Hideo Minaba), as well a soundtrack from composer Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII, Vagrant Story, Radiant Silvergun, Gradius V, Final Fantasy Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles).

Artisan Studio is leading development on the game and we had the chance to talk with Kazushige Nojima, Hitoshi Sakimoto and Julien Bourgeois to find out some more about the game, how they got involved with the project and the challenges of cross-continental remote collaboration.

Nintendo Life: Artisan Studios is the core developer on the game, but a host of stellar JRPG veterans across several disciplines are also involved. Could you briefly outline your specific role and contributions to the game?

Kazushige Nojima: My work is to provide the overarching world view, setting and context for each character’s attributes, as well as the story and script (the in-game dialogue, for example).

Hitoshi Sakimoto: I’m in charge of the direction of Astria Ascending’s music and its composition.

Julien Bourgeois: I am the director of the game. I designed the game as well as the initial vision for it, and I’m supervising development to make sure it runs smoothly based on what we want to achieve with the project. Making a game (especially a game like Astria Ascending) is a big collaborative effort, and the main part of my role is to ensure everyone on the team has the information and answers they need to succeed within their roles.

First up, can you tell us how the idea for Astria Ascending came into being and how/when you got involved with the project?

Julien Bourgeois: Some of our team members made a game a few years ago called Zodiac Orcanon Odyssey, but we’ve been eager to take another approach with that project ever since. After creating Artisan Studios we had the opportunity to get the game’s assets back, and we thought we could make a totally new game reusing Zodiac’s fantastic character design, as we didn’t want those designs to be lost. So we started designing a brand new game and writing a completely new story for it.

Immediately we wanted the game to be fun and challenging both in exploration as well as battle, but we also wanted it to appeal to older J-RPG fans by bringing back many things they love about the genre. That was the base of Astria Ascending’s design.

Kazushige Nojima: In 2013, the team which eventually became the Astria Ascending development group contacted me and I joined this project. The story of Astria Ascending is based on the rough settings and ideas I created at that time. However, Astria Ascending’s final story has no connection with those initial ideas. Astria Ascending doesn’t even share the general settings of that initial concept.

Hitoshi Sakimoto: I became involved with this project because I was in charge of the previous title (Zodiac Orcanon Odyssey) which shares the same character design with Astria Ascending. I’m not sure how long ago that was, but I heard about the concept stage roughly five years ago. And I officially joined the Astria Ascending project two years ago.

Though the character designs are inherited from the previous game, the atmosphere of Astria Ascending is much more serious. So I try to reinforce that with music, and use the medium to bring a feeling of hope to the in-game world. This overarching direction was decided after the project started, but since there was already some sense of this “feeling” at Astria Ascending’s concept stage, this initial atmosphere would have remained even if the direction of the story was changed significantly.

How long has the game been in development?

Julien Bourgeois: The game has been in development for about 2.5 years.

You have a long, enviable list of game credits and contributions – what was it about Astria Ascending that attracted you to collaborating on this project?

Kazushige Nojima: First of all, I was impressed by the kindness and respect shown to JRPGs from game director Julian and his fellow developers. And I was eager to discover what I could achieve while making a game with a team comprised of younger talent born and raised in different countries.

I was eager to discover what I could achieve while making a game with a team comprised of younger talent born and raised in different countries.

Hitoshi Sakimoto: I like its SCI-FI setting, but above all else, I love its world view and stories. This is a story about people trying to leave something better for future generations as they navigate an age of chaos and a complex vortex of races and ideas. There must be a general theme during that process.

The story revolves around eight people – the Fated Eight, whose “fates are doomed”. We’ve read that it’ll offer a more “mature” experience, with “a story based around adult characters”. Could you tell us more about that?

Kazushige Nojima: Want to know more? Please play the game (laughs). The protagonists are called Demigods, who often reflect on whether they’re everything adults are meant to be, or even worthy of their position as a Demigod. From that perspective, I sculpted meaning around growth and the theme of “being an adult.” When you play Astria Ascending, it’s obvious that the story of the Demigods is not following mentally mature, well-educated people.

Astria Screenshot 03© Dear Villagers

Can you explain a little about your process for creating complex plots and narratives in games like this? We’re imagining a huge board on the wall with notes, string and pins keeping track of events and characters!

Kazushige Nojima: That’s pretty much true (laughs), but all the notes and pins were inside my computer.

Tell us about the turn-based battle system and the character/team dynamic. What sets Astria Ascending apart from other JRPGs?

Julien Bourgeois: In Astria Ascending, we introduce a unique system we call the “Focus Point” system. I can’t go into too many details for now, but the system was designed to prevent a situation that all J-RPG players very commonly face.

I’m sure we’ve all been in a peculiar situation; for example, a battle where you have a magician with fire magic facing a group of enemies which isn’t weak to fire (or even worse, resistant to fire). So what would be your choices in that situation? You can do a regular attack or a fire magic attack, but that wouldn’t be very efficient, right? What is left? Should you guard, or skip that character’s turn altogether?

You get my point, right? So in Astria, the “Focus Point” system will allow all characters to be effective in every situation.

I’m sure we’ve all been in a peculiar situation […] a battle where you have a magician with fire magic facing a group of enemies which isn’t weak to fire (or even worse, resistant to fire) […] in Astria, the “Focus Point” system will allow all characters to be effective in every situation

Has work on your previous game, Super Neptunia RPG, informed your approach to this project?

Julien Bourgeois: Working on Super Neptunia RPG was a very rich experience for us. We learned many lessons that were directly useful within Astria’s development. For instance, Neptunia has a lot of voice acting and cutscenes. Astria is building from the experience we gained creating those aspects of Neptunia, so this project will make even better use of voice acting and cutscenes!

Astria Ascending features mini-games, including “shoot ‘em ups”, an “original fantasy-themed token game”, and “environmental puzzles” – could you tell us a little about these and how they fit into the overall structure?

Julien Bourgeois: I’m sorry again that I am not allowed to go too much into details on those points. What I can say is that those additional gameplays are part of the main story. But you can enjoy the game in a different way if you go beyond doing only the main quests and play those supplementary games. It is totally up to the player on how they want to approach them.

In terms of the score, do you have a specific method or ritual when sitting down to write music for a large RPG world like Orcanon? Do you look at concept art or have a build of the game to hand, for example?

Hitoshi Sakimoto: The conversation with the director and key figures of the team are most important. That’s when you can learn their unique thoughts about the project – or any projects, really. After having that conversation, I try to supplement the team’s thoughts and vision through sound. At the same time, I can also try new things and bring new challenges into my work based on their perspectives.

Astria Screenshot 04© Dear Villagers

How collaborative was the relationship between you and the team at Artisan? Did you send musical ideas and move forward following feedback, or were you given more of a free rein to follow your instincts?

Hitoshi Sakimoto: We decided through discussions that the general collaborative process would not change significantly from the previous work (Zodiac Orcanon Odyssey). In addition, sound director Denys [Fontanarosa — Artisan Studio composer] has proposed a musical approach to evoking the game’s key themes, and we are incorporating that as well.

the conversation with the director and key figures of the team are most important. That’s when you can learn their unique thoughts about the project – or any projects, really. After having that conversation

Veteran artists Hideo Minaba and Akihiko Yoshida have also collaborated on this project. How have they contributed exactly, and what qualities do you feel they brought to Astria Ascending?

Julien Bourgeois: The main character design and the overall art direction was led and done by CyDesignation under Hideo Minaba’s supervision. We feel very proud and honoured to be able to put their actual art into the game for the player to enjoy. Artists at CyDesignation are incredibly talented and our team at Artisan Studios made sure to deliver the same level of quality in their art to realize 2D visuals the best way we possibly can.

Looking back over your long histories within the games industry, how did working on Astria Ascending compare to other projects you’ve worked on in the past? With your experience, do ideas and inspiration come easier nowadays than they used to?

Kazushige Nojima: When I got the offer to join this team, they showed me most of the gameplay outline. I was able to focus on thinking about settings and stories which included all elements of their proposed game. It’s common to start writing scenarios before game mechanics, systems, and rules have been decided. Since the content of the game will be decided later, there’s always a risk of falling into a bad situation where what the player wants to do in the game and what the main characters want to do in the story are completely different. But Astria Ascending is an exception … well, we can say it is “almost” an exception.

Hitoshi Sakimoto: Actually, the opportunity to develop a SCI-FI game is valuable; I’m a SCI-FI fan, so that naturally powers my motive. The game has some complex narrative themes, but my hope is that the soundtrack should be easy to understand, and I will do my best to achieve that.

Astria Screenshot 05© Dear Villagers

In what ways has the global situation of the last year or so impacted development? Have you been able to meet up face-to-face at all?

Kazushige Nojima: Before the impact of COVID-19 became worse, it was assumed that development would proceed by remote collaboration. So in that sense, I think there was not much impact. Thank you, internet. It’s sad that I can’t meet the team members in person, but if I did, I wouldn’t understand what they are saying and I would have been coy. So maybe remote collaboration is the best way after all!

Julien Bourgeois: Many teams, including us, have had to revise their workflow because of the overall situation. It indeed had some impact on meetings and collaborative work. We were able to mitigate this impact with online tools and limit face-to-face meetings to only when it was absolutely required. We of course want our employees to be safe above all.

Hitoshi Sakimoto: We haven’t met even once since the beginning of 2020, but we’ve had many more online meetings, so it’s not all bad. The current global reality is a whole new situation to everyone in the games industry; I think we’re all learning how to navigate it together, in part through trial and error. But let’s do our best to see this as an opportunity to change, instead of only a difficult obstacle!

Finally, is there anything else you would like to add that we haven’t touched upon?

Julien Bourgeois: There are still core systems yet to be revealed, so please keep an eye out for news about the game in the upcoming weeks. We hope everyone will enjoy the game. We put a lot of effort into making sure the experience will be unique and appealing to all J-RPG fans!

Kazushige Nojima: At the time of this interview, I’ve only seen a few fully realized scenes from the game. They’ve been most impressive, but there seems to be a lot of work to be done. I’ll continue supporting Julian and other team members from Tokyo!

And to our fellow players, I hope you enjoy “Astria Ascending”!

Our thanks to Kazushige Nojima, Hitoshi Sakimoto and Julien Bourgeois for their time. Astria Ascending is scheduled for launch in 2021.

This article originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

PS Plus May 2021 free PS5 and PS4 games: When will PlayStation Plus line-up be revealed

PS Plus May 2021 free PS5 and PS4 games: When will PlayStation Plus line-up be revealed
PlayStation Plus subscribers are waiting for Sony to reveal the May 2021 free PS5 and PS4 games.

This year’s PS Plus free games have been exceptional, featuring the likes of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Destruction All-Stars and Control Ultimate Edition.

The current line-up is equally as impressive, consisting of Days Gone, Zombie Army 4 and brand new PS5 game Oddworld Soulstorm.

If you haven’t already downloaded the April 2021 free games, then the good news is that you still have plenty of time.

The May 2021 PlayStation Plus line-up won’t be announced until 4.30pm on April 28. The games will be available to download less than a week later on May 4.

Unless the new games leak ahead of time, it’s going to be a long wait until we find out whether Sony can maintain its PS Plus hot streak.

The most interesting game of the current line-up us undoubtedly Oddworld Soulstorm, which is a direct sequel to Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty.

“Witness Abe’s horrifying conflict with a terrifying new machination in this fresh narrative adventure,” reads the official description.

“Oddworld Soulstorm represents a big visual and cinematic leap. With intelligent new mechanics and twisted new devices which enable highly explosive deviousness. This is a dark parable that tells an epic tale of a volatile society pushed to its limits.”

Days Gone is another high-profile PlayStation release, featuring a huge open world and some excellent zombie set-pieces.

“Ride into a desperate dog-eat-dog world ravaged by a deadly pandemic as drifter and bounty hunter, Deacon St. John.

“Risk the threats of the broken road on the back of your trusty drifter bike as you face swarms of mindless feral Freakers – and equally terrifying humans.

“Unpredictable weather and different times of day and night can cause incredible danger and shocking surprises… and everything wants you dead.”

Finally, Zombie Army 4 is an entertaining co-op shooter developed by UK studio Rebellion.

“Hitler’s hordes are back for more in this spine-chilling shooter from the makers of Sniper Elite 4! Abominable occult enemies, epic weapons and a harrowing new campaign for 1-4 players await in 1940s Europe, as you fight to save humankind from undead Armageddon!”

If you want to grab the April and May free PS4 and PS5 games, then it’s worth heading over to ShopTo for cheap PlayStation Plus subscriptions.

The UK retailer is currently selling 12-month PlayStation Plus subscriptions for just £42.85, compared to £49.99 on PSN.

As a digital membership, the PS Plus subscription will be delivered immediately, which means you can use it to bag the latest batch of free PlayStation Plus games.

You’ll also get the other benefits of PS Plus, including cloud storage, access to online multiplayer, and exclusive discounts.


This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed