Now that we’re a month into the Xbox Series X run, we’ve gathered reviewers from IGN, GameSpot, and Bloomberg to discuss if the new Microsoft Xbox Series X …
Additional Resource: 116 Xbox Series X Reviews: One Month Later – The Review Crew
Start your engines because Season 3 is speeding into Rocket League! This new season is bringing high-octane content, like an all-new Rocket Pass, new Arena variant, and the arrival of two titans of the track, NASCAR and Formula 1! NASCAR and Formula 1 Coming in May Since Season 3 is celebrating the art of auto […]
Plants vs Zombies 2 wasn’t what a lot of fans expected out of a sequel to the classic strategy game, as it was rife with microtransactions that many players said felt like hitting a free-to-play wall. The original producer of the game, Matt Johnston, has opened up about what was going on behind the scenes as those decisions were being made.
In an interview with MinnMax, Johnston said that the seed of microtransactions in Plants vs Zombies 2 was part of its original design, with the idea of plant food. This was intended to be a leg up for players who were struggling, as a way to overcome a particular obstacle. In the midst of development, though, his team was suddenly asked to make a slice of the game playable for upper management, for reasons he didn’t know at the time. And while the team made the demo, it’s at this point that he first expressed some reservations about following a F2P model.
“We don’t think that’s possible without breaking the game,” Johnston explained. “The game is this interwoven, meticulously hand-balanced set of interdependent components. Every plant has a zombie that it depends on for that balance. Making sure that that whole thing is woven together in that perfect lineage and that perfect experience was just a magic trick that you can’t mess with.”
The demo was well-received by management, and shortly after PopCap was acquired by EA. That’s when Johnston was told that the earlier demo had been to give EA, as potential buyers, an idea of what was going on with the game. Sometime after the acquisition, Johnston says he was visited by then-EA CEO John Riccitiello who said his kid–a big PvZ plan–had suggested the idea of rent-able plants.
“It went against everything we had just learned,” Johnston said. “If you have that interwoven fabric of all these elements, you pull one out and the whole thing unravels.”
Johnston said he advocated for keeping PvZ2 as-is and making a separate free-to-play game, built from the ground up with those hooks in mind, so it wouldn’t “break anything.” Shortly after, he claims, he was taken off the project and then later asked to leave the company.
PopCap’s Peggle series saw a similar outcome with Peggle Blast, which also made heavy use of microtransactions. Plants vs Zombies has since gone on to spin off into the Garden Warfare series of shooters, which has three entries of its own, along with the F2P collectible card game Plants vs Zombies Heroes. Plants vs Zombies 3 has been soft-launched in some territories, but a final release date has not been set. EA says it has “optional microtransactions that can help you speed up progression.”
We don’t see enough Chinese legends and folklore explored in Western games, which is what makes the pitch for Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s second expansion, Myths of the Eastern Realm, so exciting. Developed by Ubisoft Chengdu, the DLC moves Immortals’ open-world structure from Greek to Chinese mythology. But while its open-world fundamentals are still solid, the Chinese mythology that defines its aesthetic is more of a coat of paint than an imaginative look at a new realm.
Myths of the Eastern Realm wastes no time getting you up to speed. After a brief explanation of how chaos threatens to upset the balance of Heaven and Earth and how a mysterious force has wiped out most of the world’s gods, new hero Ku wakes up inside a cave filled with his compatriots, who’ve been turned to stone. The legendary Bu Zhou mountain has erupted and caused the emergence of the Scar, a powerful primordial force reverting the world back into chaos. The premise is almost identical to the base game’s, and that ends up being true of the rest of the expansion: The two new islands that make up the DLC’s Mortal Lands are hard to distinguish from the Golden Isles from the original game, even if the buildings and foliage are pulled from Chinese history.
Immortals’ main loop, in which you search for a nearby mountaintop, tag a bunch of icons so they appear on your map, then hunt them down until you decide to progress the story, is identical. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it was a good loop the first time around. But solving a new round of puzzles and checking icons off on a map lost its allure much more quickly in this DLC–Myths of the Eastern Realm just doesn’t have much to keep that loop interesting. Unlocking my glide ability, clearing out vaults (now called gateways), and grappling enemies isn’t as fun because Ku plays exactly like Fenyx, and I’m disappointed he doesn’t have any new abilities that change how you explore or interact with the world a second time through. The fact that your skills are now called the Blades of Huang Di and Pangu’s Strength instead of Ares’ Wrath and Herakles’ Strength does little to hide that.