Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 builds on the bones of the 2019 original, putting gamers behind the wheel of even more of the utterly ridiculous big-tired behemoths of the track and letting them loose in all-new open world environments.
In-arena racing, destruction, and trick events won’t wow you, but they’re fun enough in short bursts even with controls that never feel quite right. The twin-stick controls, where the left analog stick turns the front wheels and the right stick turns the rear wheels, allows for true all-wheel steering so you can do those ‘on a dime’ spins the big trucks are known for, but it makes them incredibly prone to rolling over and leaves you at the mercy of a computer-controlled camera.
The game does include an RPG-like leveling up system, where trucks will earn experience used to level up the chassis, engine, suspension, tires, etc… to help improve all aspects of their handling. Even with that, I found it hard to get to a point where I’d say I was comfortable throwing one of these 1,400+ hp monsters into a drift around a corner or that I could hit the ground after a big jump without anticipating the near-inevitable rollover.
The career mode is lengthy, but events get repetitive quickly enough that all but true monster truck fanatics are going to want to space it out a bit by playing a few and then doing something else. There are a lot of races and a whole lot of trucks to take them on with – the full roster is just shy of 40 of the big metal monsters – so expect this to take some time to wrap up no matter how you choose to tackle it.
Where the game really comes into its own is in the five open world environments, which you can explore either alone or with friends in same-screen or online play. Jumping into these Monster Jam Worlds and bombing around with a friend is a lot of fun, and home to some of the more unusual physics bugs when vehicle collision physics don’t quite work out the way you’d expect.
What I Loved:
Open world environments are a great add
Multiplayer is a blast
What I Liked:
Lengthy career mode offers replay value
RPG system offers progression even in small play doses
What I Disliked:
Events get repetitive quickly
Fighting the camera
What I Hated:
The Final Word: Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is fun in short bursts and monster truck fans will love it, but it’s not the big step forward I’d hoped for.
Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, and PS4. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.
Truck simulators are common – and almost disturbingly popular – on PC, with Euro Truck Simulator probably the best known of the bunch, but it’s not a genre that’s really caught on with console gamers. A distressing lack of polish means On The Road – Truck Simulator is unlikely to be that breakout title, but it’s not all bad…
For starters, this truck sim really nails most of the audio. Jamming through the gears is great and the engine noise is certainly serviceable, but there are a lot of smaller sounds that add to the experience. The way the brakes squeal that little bit as you ease off them is perfect, for example, as is the pfft of the air brake and the little rumble of the cab shake as you roll the power on.
I also really liked how you could customize your seat position, pushing forward or backwards to get the field of view you wanted, and raising/lowering the seat to see more of the road or the instrument panel. Getting the seat ‘right’ is a tough thing in a real vehicle, and it’s just as difficult here.
You’ll want to get the seat right, because you can spend hours on these roads just cruising from location to location. This is a reasonable replica of Germany, though it only includes just over a dozen locations that you’ll visit to pick up and deliver cargo, with thousands of kilometers worth of virtual highway to drive.
Unfortunately, that’s the end of the things I really liked here. There’s a lot of ‘well, this is ok’ stuff here – from the thousands of kilometers of German roadways that you can drive to the feel of the big rigs you’ll be powering down them, expanding your company with new trucks, drivers, and routes – but also a lot of ‘this could be a whole lot better’ disappointment.
Mirrors, for example, are an essential part of your driving experience…but they don’t work in On The Road. I thought it was a bug at first and restarted the game, but they never changed off a flat gray texture. It’s possible this is still just a bug, as the game has quite a few right now, the funniest of which is the way vehicles spawning in the distance drop down to the road like they just jumped off a ramp you can’t quite see.
The lack of mirrors makes cornering far harder than it needs to be, and though you can ameliorate this a bit using the third-person camera perspective that does entail fighting with camera controls that should be a whole lot smoother than they are. Getting the camera angle right can take longer than parking the trailer should have.
Adding to the frustration are obstacles like shrubbery or light poles that a big rig with a fully loaded trailer should – and have, in real life – be able to just knock over. In On The Road, however, those lightweight obstacles will stop you dead in your tracks leaving you prey to every other driver on the road, who apparently think nothing of smashing headlong into the rear end of a trailer loaded with hogs heading to market.
All this, and the game freezes up or crashes far too often for my liking…
What I Loved
Some great – and subtle – truck audio
What I Liked
A version of Germany that’s reasonable condensed
Truck feels ‘ok’ to drive
Expanding your trucking empire, hiring drivers, and managing routes
What I Disliked
Low-end graphics for environments – especially buildings and trees
Tons of pop-in couples with low draw distance to hurt visuals even more
Simplistic menus, with no explanations
Routine game freezes or crashes
What I Hated
The Final Word
I think transport sims can be as popular on consoles as they are on PC, but On The Road The Truck Simulator isn’t the breakout game the genre needs to make that happen.
On The Road The Truck Simulator is available now for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and is playable on PS5 and Xbox Series consoles via backwards compatibility. Reviewed on Xbox Series X using code provided by the publisher.
I have to admit I didn’t foresee HITMAN supporting VR, but the new gameplay trailer from IO Interactive reveals exactly that.
The trailer – check it out here – makes it look great, which has me curious as to how it’ll play on PS VR. Situational awareness has always been key for Hitman, so restricting your view would up the challenge significantly.
HITMAN 3 arrives January 20th on PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and the Xbox Series consoles, Google Stadia, and PC. The game will also arrive on Nintendo Switch, playable using cloud streaming tech.
If you’re interested, HITMAN and HITMAN 2 are both on sale on assorted platforms and the games will import into HITMAN 3 so it’s a great time to jump into the whole franchise.
Here’s the press release:
HITMAN 3 VR Gameplay Trailer Revealed
New Trailer Reveals Key Details about IO Interactive introducing VR to the World of Assassination trilogy
HITMAN 3 takes immersion to the next level with PS VR. HITMAN has always been about immersing yourself in a living, breathing world. A world filled to the brim with interesting characters, secrets, and opportunities. But you’ve never experienced it like this.
HITMAN 3 will be available on 20 January 2021 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC. HITMAN 3 will also be coming to Nintendo Switch, playable via cloud streaming technology. Pre-order today for access to the Trinity Pack, a celebration of the World of Assassination.
About IO Interactive IO Interactive is an independent videogame development and publishing studio with offices in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. As the creative force behind some of the most talked-about multiplatform videogames in the last decade, IOI is dedicated to creating unforgettable characters and experiences using their award-winning proprietary Glacier technology. IO Interactive are developing and publishing the very first James Bond origin story with the working title Project 007. For more information, visit: https://ioi.dk.
A free content update for The Falconeer drops this morning. The update, called ‘The Kraken’ adds new diving and exploration missions, as well as new locations. New tutorials will help onboard new players, and quality of life changes will help keep them playing.
I really liked The Falconeer when it launched – read my review here – and I’m looking forward to jumping back in to see the new content later today.
I have long considered Xbox Game Pass to be the best value in gaming and in my mind it’s not particularly close – and that was BEFORE Xbox dropped this Game Pass trailer at The Game Awards showcasing what’s coming soon to the service.
Morkredd, Cyber Shadow, Neoverse, Killer Queen Black, Medium, Among Us (PC only), Yakuza 3, 4, 5, and 6.
Oh, and a little game called Skyrim.
Game Pass is currently available on promo with three months for $1 for new subscribers. No better time to jump in than now.
Let’s be honest, 2020 has been a bit garbage to this point but Geoff Keighley and The Game Awards helped salvage things a bit with a ton of reveals. Mass Effect isn’t dead! Crimson Desert looks awesome! Outriders still doesn’t look like it’ll let us down!
There’s a lot to celebrate, but here’s my favourites:
Best known for their MMORPG Black Desert Online, Pearl Abyss is looking to shake things up a bit with Crimson Desert – an open-world action-adventure that looks…well, let’s be honest, I spent about half this trailer thinking it was a new next-gen-only Assassin’s Creed game.
That’s not a negative – the AC games are fantastic examples of the genre, and I’m pumped to hear more about Crimson Desert soon. The game is slated to hit in Winter 2021, with both single-player and online multiplayer components – we’ll see if they go full MMORPG with it or not.
The Callisto Protocol
You had me at ‘directed by Dead Space creator Glen Schofield’… Set on Jupiter’s moon in 2320, the game promises to be a next-gen take on survival horror.
“We’re setting out to make one of the most terrifying games of all time, and we can’t wait to share more about The Callisto Protocol next year,” said Schofield, Striking Distance Studios’ founder and CEO in a statement.
Next-gen jump scares are going to be heartstopping…
Disco Elysium The Final Cut
Disco Elysium is an RPG that you really have to play to appreciate. With a ton of freedom at your disposal and a superbly written world to explore, this is one of the best RPGs of the last decade and a must-play.
The game is expected to release in Summer 2021 on PS5, Xbox Series consoles, Switch, and PC – a free upgrade on PC for existing owners.
The Initiative was formed two years ago by Microsoft, assembled with top-tier talent and they’ve continually been stocking it with more over time – and now we know what they’re making…a Perfect Dark reboot.
I can’t lie, I was hoping for a killer new IP from this massively talented studio, but hey – this does look pretty killer so I’ll give it a chance.
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
After years of having the license abused by bargain bin-quality games, Warhammer 40,000 has had a remarkable resurgence recently with a string of solid releases. That looks to continue with Darktide – slated to hit shelves in 2021 for PC and Xbox Series consoles.
Vermintide was great, and I have high hopes for Darktide – and whatever comes next for the Warhammer IP. I can finally get excited about it again!
Back 4 Blood
A spiritual sequel to Left 4 Dead and it’s by the developers behind the hugely successful cooperative zombie shooter?
I didn’t even need to see the awesome looking gameplay footage – that was just gravy.
Back 4 Blood hits June 22, 2021 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, and PC.
They didn’t tell us a lot, but it does look pretty so it has that going for it which is nice.
I’m a huge BioWare fan, so I’m interested in whatever comes next in the Dragon Age franchise. I just hope they don’t keep us waiting too long…
Fall Guys: Season 3
The popular hot take is that Fall Guys fell from glory, but the truth is the game is still doing amazingly well and is still a lot of fun to play. Season 3 looks to expand on that when it hits, December 15th.
Evil Dead The Game
This was a great surprise and it looks WAY better than I would have expected.
Coming in 2021 is really all we know so far.
It Takes Two
From Josef Fares, director of A Way Out, comes It Takes Two – a co-op game that looks like a ton of fun with a huge amount of gameplay diversity.
The game’s slated to hit shelves March 26, 2021.
Century: Age of Ashes
A free-to-play team-based shooter that’s hitting Early Access in February, Century: Age of Ashes sports giant dragons and skill-based combat with 3 classes: Windguard, Marauder, and Phantom.
Players will have some options as to how they want to approach combat when this game hits Steam Early Access. Can’t wait to see how it shakes out.
** You’ll have to check out the actual The Game Awards trailer here, as it’s behind an age gate. **
Developed by People Can Fly – that’s a major reason I’m interested in Outriders, despite the underwhelming nature of other loot-based shooter/melee games recently – Outriders looks awesome. It’s slated for February 2, 2021 and I’ll be there day one.
Monster Hunter Rise
I don’t get in as much Switch time as I’d like, thanks to the kids keeping a deathgrip on it, but I’ll find time for Monster Hunter Rise.
The demo hits in January!
F.I.S.T Forged In Shadow Torch
Previously announced for PS4 and PC, FIST will now be launching on PS5 as well and it’s super weird but I’m here for it.
It’s a Metroidvania with a whole lot going on. Check out that trailer and tell me you’re not at least a little interested.
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
** Check out the age-gated trailer from The Game Awards here. **
A rebuild of NieR Replicant for its 10th anniversary? OK, you got me.
As a vampire hunter, Evil West has you tasked with wiping out the undead menace and saving the world. Battle solo or with a friend? Ok, who do I trust to watch my back in a supernatural apocalypse?
Coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, and PC in 2021.
I still don’t know if Scarlet Nexus is going to be good or not, but it’s caught my interest and that’s good enough for me.
Scarlet Nexus is slated for release in Summer 2021.
Personally I’m not so sure about this one, but I have a three-year-old who can name every single dinosaur that I can plus about a dozen more so there’s no doubt I’ll be running around in this dinosaur-filled environment whenever it releases.
I just hope this releases in a better condition than the original did.
Elite Dangerous: Odyssey
I’m a sucker for space games and Elite Dangerous has been a personal favourite for a while now. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next, and this expansion releases in early 2021 to allow on-foot exploration among a ton of other improvements.
Ruined King: A League of Legends Story
IT’S MORE BATTLECHASERS! PLAY IT!
Ruined King has been moved to a simple ‘some time in 2021’ release date at this point. Hope to hear more soon.
Following up on the recent release of Xbox One X and Xbox Series X (via backwards compatibility) gameplay footage of Cyberpunk 2077, the hotly-anticipated open-world action-adventure/roleplaying title from CD Projekt Red, now we have footage from the PS4 Pro and PS5 (again in compatibility mode) to take a look at.
Here’s the two videos.
Cyberpunk 2077 is slated to release on December 10th, 2020 on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Stadia. While it will be playable on Xbox Series S|X and PS5 via backwards compatibility, CD Projekt Red has promised a free upgrade to a full next-gen version will be available at a later date.
Montreal – OCTOBER 29, 2020 – Ubisoft® announced today that the highly-anticipated video game, Watch Dogs®: Legion, is now available worldwide on Xbox One, PlayStation®4, the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Store on Windows PC, Stadia and Ubisoft+*, Ubisoft’s subscription service. The game is rated M for Mature. Watch Dogs: Legion will also release on Xbox Series X | S and Amazon Luna on November 10 and digitally on PlayStation®5 alongside the console on November 12. The physical version of the game on PlayStation®5 will be available on November 24.
Built with a next-gen concept, Watch Dogs: Legion introduces “Play as Anyone,” a never-before-seen gameplay innovation created by Ubisoft Toronto**, the studio behind Watch Dogs: Legion. Play as Anyone gives players the entire city of London to choose for their roster of resistance members. Every single person in the open world can be recruited and played, is unique and has a backstory, personality and skillset. Watch Dogs: Legion will also support hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing on Xbox Series X and full ray-tracing support on Nvidia RTX-equipped PC devices, bringing real-time ray-tracing reflections to the streets of London. Players who purchase Watch Dogs: Legion on Xbox One or PlayStation®4 will be able to upgrade their game to the next-gen version (Xbox Series X or PlayStation®5) at no additional cost,*** while keeping their progression and in-game content between current and next-generation of consoles within the same family thanks to the new Ubisoft Connect ecosystem.
In Watch Dogs: Legion, London is facing its downfall. Amidst the growing unrest of a restless London, an unknown entity named Zero-Day has framed secret underground resistance DedSec for coordinated bombings across London. In the aftermath, criminal opportunists from every corner of London took hold and filled the void left by a defeated government. As a member of DedSec, players will be going up against those criminal opportunists in Watch Dogs: Legion: sadists, mercenaries, cybercriminals, and more, so they’ll have to be prepared for a variety of situations. Players must recruit members into their DedSec Resistance to take on these criminal opportunists, liberate London and uncover the identity of Zero-Day.
Players who acquire the Season Pass of Watch Dogs: Legion will get access to Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline, a new storyline which includes Aiden Pearce from the original Watch Dogs game and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2, fully playable in the single player campaign and online. Additionally, players will be introduced to Darcy, a member of the Assassin Order, thanks to a crossover with Assassin’s Creed®; and Mina, a subject of transhuman experiments, who possesses the ability to mind control individuals.In addition to the unique playable characters and Watch Dogs: Legion – Bloodline story expansion, the Season Pass will offer extra DedSec missions, the original Watch Dogs Complete Edition from 2014****, and more. The Season Pass of Watch Dogs: Legion is available for purchase as part of the Gold, Ultimate and Collector editions.
The Online multiplayer mode of Watch Dogs: Legion will be available on December 3 as part of a free game update for all Watch Dogs: Legion players. Watch Dogs: Legion has a robust post-launch plan that will bring fresh content to the single-player mode and introduce online multiplayer modes.
Watch Dogs: Legion has a variety of accessibility options, ranging from fully customizable controls to directional audio captions. A full list of accessibility options can be found on news.ubisoft.com.
With Ubisoft Connect, the ideal destination to connect with friends or participate in game events and activities, Watch Dogs: Legion also brings new exciting time-limited and community challenges, as well as a cross-game loyalty system that lets players earn an uncapped amount of Units to spend on unique rewards, like weapons, outfits and consumables. For more information on Ubisoft Connect, please visit ubisoftconnect.com.
For the latest news on Watch Dogs: Legion and all of Ubisoft’s games, please visit news.ubisoft.com.
For more information about Watch Dogs: Legion, please visit watchdogs.com, and join the conversation by using #watchdogslegion.
*$19.99 per month. Cancel anytime. The Ultimate Edition (Excluding VIP status) will be available as part of a Ubisoft+ subscription. More information at ubisoft-plus.com.
**Associate studios are Ubisoft Montreal, Paris, Bucharest, Kiev, Newcastle and Massive Entertainment, a Ubisoft Studio.
***Watch Dogs: Legion leverages Smart Delivery allowing access to both the Xbox One title and Xbox Series X title when available. Watch Dogs: Legion PlayStation 4 Digital and Blu-Ray games gives access to the corresponding Watch Dogs: Legion PlayStation 5 Digital version at no additional cost, when available. Requires a PlayStation 5 or a PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, the game disc (if owned on Blu-Ray) must be kept inserted in the PlayStation 5 disc tray to play, a PlayStationNetwork registration, additional storage & Broadband internet connection. May incur bandwidth usage fees.
****Stadia players will be able to access Watch Dogs Complete Edition later this year, while all other platforms will have access in available territories when Watch Dogs: Legion launches.
ABOUT WATCH DOGS Watch Dogs launched in 2014 as the video game industry’s best-selling new IP at launch. To-date, the award-winning franchise has sold more than 40 million games worldwide. The hacker series extends to other entertainment media, including books and comics. The next opus in the franchise, Watch Dogs: Legion, released on October 29, 2020.
ABOUT UBISOFT Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, For Honor, Just Dance, Watch Dogs, Tom Clancy’s video game series including Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six and The Division. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. For the 2019–20 fiscal year, Ubisoft generated net bookings of €1,534 million. To learn more, please visit: www.ubisoftgroup.com.
I didn’t really understand the full impact of Ubisoft Toronto’s ‘Play As Anyone’ tagline for Watch Dogs: Legion until I was an hour or so into the London-based open-world stealth-heavy action title, playing on hard difficulty with permadeath turned on.
Permadeath is an option in Legion, but unlike other games it’s not the end of the world if you make some poor choices and lose your character in a hail of gunfire. Instead losing an operative means picking up where you left off with another of DedSec’s recruits – if you have any left. Lose all your recruits and it’s game over, so pick them smartly but don’t be too selective…
This ‘Play As Anyone’ approach serves a couple of purposes in Legion. First off, you’re going to be playing a bunch of characters that you’d likely never have created yourself. I spent much of the first few hours as Klaudia Kowalczyk, for example, a middle-aged woman with a red spiked mohawk who made up for her lack of mobility with a silenced pistol, the ability to hack access keys from unlimited distance, and a bit of cloaking tech I invested in that made her functionally invisible for short stretches.
Each operative you recruit has a selection of random traits from an extensive list of possibilities, but not all of them are positives. Maybe you find an MMA fighter who does double damage with melee attacks, but he’s a celebrity so he’s randomly recognized. Or maybe he’s not great at stealth thanks to the ‘flatulence’ trait, or got unlucky and wound up tagged with the ‘randomly dies’ trait… Some of these combinations don’t make a lot of sense, like why does an office worker have an AK-47 and the ability to automatically steal money from people he takes down, but if you want to make up your own backstory to fill that in I’m sure there’s room to explain it.
Secondly, you’re going to see emergent gameplay from this – like when Klaudia wound up in arrested and I had to send in Elia Healy to rescue her. I had recruited Elia solely for the comedy value of her ability to summon flying cargo drones, which can be ridden to avoid ground traffic and shortcut your way to some objectives. After all, why sneak, hack, and shoot my way through multiple floors of a building to rescue Klaudia when I can – and did – just land the drone on the roof and go down one floor to free her.
This also works against you, however. Infiltrating a building I was using an agent who was gifted with speed hacking skills – only they didn’t do him much good against a riot drone that spotted him. The replacement I sent to do the job didn’t have the skills to take the same path, so I had to plan out a new attack – not every mission can be ‘solved’ with the cargo drone approach.
Aside from the drones, the gameplay is familiar to those who’ve played past Watch Dogs games and if you enjoyed those, you’ll have a good time with Legion. The stealth elements are great, having been refined over the past titles, and the combat is equally satisfying.
The story is better than those past games, with characters that are more fleshed-out and a plot that seems pulled out of current headlines. A political crisis, a pandemic, anti-government and anti-police protests – there are a lot of references that, though this is set in London, could be straight out of the US.
This is a version of London that, though I’ve never been there, seems close to reality, but condensed. Some areas I recognized from movies or TV shows, and the game offers you the chance to check it all out at your leisure thanks to an ‘autodrive’ mechanic in all the cars that lets you set a destination and have the vehicle drive you there. While this impressively obeys all the rules of the road along the way I did find myself wishing someone had the ability to hack the autodrive into a ‘drive it like you stole it’ mode, however…
What I Loved:
Stealth-based action is a ton of fun
Prepping for a building infiltration using hacked cameras to find enemies
‘Play As Anyone’ far more than just a marketing tagline
Great recreation of London
What I Liked:
Solid shooting controls
Impressive recreation of London
Good story that doesn’t drag on
A ton of tech gadgets to unlock and play with
What I Disliked:
Driving controls need work
Hard to find drone assailants during firefights
What I Hated:
Autodrive is such a granny driver
The Final Word: Congrats to Ubisoft Toronto for proving ‘Play As Anyone’ is more than just a tagline. Watch Dogs: Legion sticks you in the shoes of characters you’d never have chosen otherwise, and it works more often than it doesn’t.
Watch Dogs: Legion is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Available at launch for PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. Reviewed on Xbox One X using code provided by the publisher.