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Final Fantasy 7 Remake: 'This is not just for the players of the original' – BBC News

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Cloud Strife and his iconic mop of spiked blonde hair emerge through the rising steam of an overcrowded city.

The main character of Final Fantasy 7 has his distinctive buster sword strapped to his back.

This time, however, he’s not a pixelated image as seen in the 1997 PlayStation original – he’s been fully rendered in life-like modern graphics.

It’s been five years since gamers got a first glimpse of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, when the first trailer dropped.

The remake, which is out now, is a completely rebuilt version of a role-playing game that has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.

And fans of the original are excited to make a return to Midgar, the fantasy city where the remake takes place.

One of those eagerly awaiting the release is Youtuber Elz the Witch, who says she felt “really emotional” when she first played the remake.

“When the title screen came up with the theme music, it looked exactly how I imagined it looking 23 years ago, but with a hundred times better graphics,” she tells BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“I didn’t expect to be emotional but it’s just that nostalgia of something that you’ve wanted for so long – and you’ve grown up with – to see come to fruition is really remarkable.”

‘It helped me understand my sexuality’

For civil servant Rob Bowman, it helped him understand his sexuality.

“Cloud is the protagonist and I related to him a lot,” he says.

“In the game, he’s trying to figure out who he is, and I was doing the same when I was playing it, although for different reasons.

“For me, it was figuring out my sexuality. Within the game Cloud found out who he was, and it made him stronger as a result.

“To this day, I feel it was the same for me. The game helped me open my eyes.”

Getting the remake right for fans of the original, like Rob and Elz, was important for the development team.

Yoshinori Kitase, one of the game’s producers, told Newsbeat: “You’ll really get that that hit of nostalgia as soon as you start playing.

“There are loads of little moments to recognize and go, ‘wow, I really remember this’, but it’s cool and exciting to see how it’s been depicted in in a more modern style.”

‘This will resonate with new players’

It’s been 23 years since the release of the original.

That game broke new ground in terms of its visual style and storytelling – and fans have idolised the story and characters.

But in the two decades since it was first released, a brand-new generation of gamers has emerged.

And that’s something the development team were very aware of.

“This is not just for the players of the original,” the remake’s director, Naoki Hamaguchi, tells Newsbeat.

“It’s got the same really well-loved core elements to it, but shown with more style, which will really help the game resonate with players today.”

To do that the team have added story details that were not explored in the original and designed an entirely new way for battles to take place.

Yoshinori and Naoki agree it was important to get the balance right between innovating and staying true to the original.

Early reviews are positive but it’s too early to tell how the game has landed with new players – although Elz is pleased with what she’s played.

“There are always going to be high expectations that the remake is going to be held against,” she says.

“I can only speak for myself and I’m really enjoying with how the gameplay has developed.”

‘Final Fantasy was my first thought after surgery’

Rob is still waiting to get his hands on the release after a mix-up with his pre-order. He’s struggled with his health in recent years but believes the wait will be worth it.

“About three years ago I had to have emergency surgery on my heart, it was very likely that I would have died,” he says.

“But I came around and the first thing I thought about, the thing I was most upset about, was the fact that I nearly didn’t get to play Final Fantasy 7 Remake.”

Expectations are high and the development team know that.

“We would definitely be lying if we said there’s no pressure at all,” they tells Newsbeat.

“We think perhaps more important than that is the passion and the desire of the team to make something good.”


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Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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Far Cry 6 announced at Ubisoft Forward, launches next year – GamesIndustry.biz

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Ubisoft’s single newly announced title at its Ubisoft Forward presentation today was Far Cry 6, which was shown along with a cinematic trailer and a release date of February 18, 2021.

The game is planned for release across both current and next-generation systems, on Xbox and PlayStation as well as Google Stadia, and the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Store on PC. It will also be a part of the Uplay+ subscription service.

Other titles shown during the showcase included Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, which received release dates of October 29, 2020 and November 17, 2020, respectively.

Both games will feature smart delivery on Xbox systems — meaning users who purchase the game on either Xbox Series X or Xbox One will be able to play it on both systems without purchasing a second time.

Additionally, Brawlhalla received an iOS and Android release date of August 6, and Ubisoft’s free-to-play battle royale Hyper Scape is now out in a free PC open beta.

The presentation closed with the news that another Ubisoft Forward event would be coming later this year with more announcements.

Ubisoft Forward took place today as a stand-in for the publisher’s usual E3 presentation, coming on the heels of a wave of abuse allegations against a number of company employees all the way up to top executives.

The company has since announced a plan to restructure its editorial team in response to allegations, and has placed some executives on leave while others have stepped down.

Ubisoft acknowledged this morning that its presentation took place during a time of “big internal change,” stating in advance that it would not be addressing these issues during its pre-recorded Ubisoft Forward showcase.

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Senior staff leave gaming firm Ubisoft in harassment probe – Japan Today

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Gaming company Ubisoft’s second most powerful executive is among senior staff to have left the firm as it pursues an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations, it said Sunday.

Last month the French company, one of the world’s largest video game publishers whose portfolio includes Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, launched a probe after allegations of sexual misconduct were shared online.

Serge Hascoet, chief creative officer and the company’s second-in-command, has now resigned along with human resources director Cecile Cornet, Ubisoft said in a statement.

“Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees,” said CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot.

“This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised — and never will,” he said.

Guillemot will take over Hascoet’s role temporarily as he oversees a staffing overhaul, the statement said.

The managing director of the company’s Canadian branch, Yannis Mallat, also stepped down.

“The recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him (Mallat) to continue in this position,” the company said.

The announcement follows the departures of another two top executives earlier in July, after current and former employees used social media to denounce predatory behavior by managers.

Ubisoft, which counts 18,000 employees worldwide, is the latest video game company to face sexual harassment allegations.

The global game industry has been dogged by criticism over its treatment of women in both games and real life.

This was encapsulated in the so-called “gamergate” controversy in the United States in 2014, which saw critics of the way women were depicted in games receive death and rape threats, prompting calls to reform the industry’s culture.

The allegations made against Ubisoft on Twitter last month accused managers in the company’s Toronto and Montreal studios of sexual misconduct, and denounced an allegedly toxic work environment for women.

Accusations also targeted managers in Brazil, Bulgaria and the United States, with some of the alleged incidents going back years.

Some named the alleged perpetrators, and many accused the company of failing to respond to staff complaints and even promoting those accused of wrongdoing.

“I am a former employee and they swept every claim of sexual harassment under the rug,” read one tweet.

Alleged incidents include a creative director licking the face of a female co-worker during an office party, and a manager demanding oral sex from a colleague.

“Moving forward, as we collectively embark on a path leading to a better Ubisoft, it is my expectation that leaders across the company manage their teams with the utmost respect,” Guillemot said on Sunday.

© 2020 AFP

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Watch Dogs: Legion preview: Three hours with Jane Bond and a construction worker – Polygon

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My name is Margareta Ionescu, and I am a spy.

I spent the last several minutes on the trail of a possible informant, investigating a series of crime scenes and tailing the ghostlike AR apparitions of getaway vehicles in my Aston Martin-inspired spy car that fires missiles like I’m in Spy Hunter. I’m wearing a designer suit and way-beyond-smart watch, which is useful for hacking into the high technology of near-future dystopian London in Watch Dogs: Legion.

All of that led me here — a city block that’ll one day be a building but is now little more than a crater filled with construction equipment and ramps and bare concrete rooms. I crouch behind a Jersey barrier and consider my options.

I put my spy skills to the test, and I looked good while doing it. But now I’m wearing a mask that looks like a pig with a monocle mouthing a stick of dynamite like it’s Churchill’s cigar, and honestly, it’s cramping my style.

I can’t take off the mask, though. And anybody who sees Jane Bond here will throw me some serious side-eye. Probably attack me on sight, now that I think of it. Everything that makes me a credible MI6 agent also makes me a terrible fit for the next phase of this subterfuge.

I consider the possibilities, pull out my phone, and call my teammate for an assist. A few seconds later, I’m no longer a spy.

Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

My name is Pam Ahmadi, and I am an unassuming blue-collar construction worker.

When I saunter into the construction site, nobody cares. My reflective vest, hardhat, and the wrench that I’m carrying reflect my humble origins and also hide me in plain sight. To the baddies patrolling, I look like I belong here. No pig mask necessary.

I spend the next 15 minutes or more role-playing as a lowly construction worker. But I’m really a DedSec agent, a member of the heroic faction in Watch Dogs: Legion. We fight for the people, I’m told, and against the forces of technological oppression.

I hack the closest surveillance camera and use my electronic vantage points to mark enemies. I arc to another camera where I disable the alarm systems above doors. A few cameras later, I even find the hostage I’m looking for.

I turn the surveillance systems against their owners, and I sneak up behind armed guards and choke them unconscious. When stealth fails me, I knock the forces of evil out cold with my wrench.

This is the ideal, I think. This is how those at Ubisoft want me to play Watch Dogs: Legion.

The moment-to-moment gameplay in an open-world city is so familiar that it’s hardly worth discussing. I can do all of the things I expect — wander around, hijack cars, bump into people, fast travel, accidentally punch people when I hit the wrong button, find missions and liberate neighborhoods. Exploring greater London lifts the fog of war that’s covering most of my map, so incentive abounds to check my map for hotspots, missions, and landmarks.

If that was all there was, I’d be bored. But Watch Dogs’ twist has always been a layer of futurism — a not-too-distant, more or less credible version of our future world where high technology allows you to do more than just run around a city. That continues in Watch Dogs: Legion with ambition — everyone you meet in its vast open world of near-future London is potentially a playable character.

That’s why I could trade my spy for a construction worker. I have a roster, and I can and should bring the best person possible to the front. But I’d need to put in the work first using the system to recruit Londoners to my squad. If I showed up to that mission without a construction worker, things would have played out very differently. But if, say, a few hours before, I found and recruited someone from a construction site, contacted them, went on a mission to convince them that I was helpful, and then folded them into my team of rebels, I could be better prepared later. Apply the same logic to a Bobby or an office worker, and the argument for team diversity makes itself.

Speaking of which, my construction worker is still on the trail of the prisoner, and there are two doors leading into the room where he’s tied up. Both of them are locked. (Of course they are.) I need a key. Fair enough, I figure. I’ve played video games before. I know what I need to do.

A construction worker hits someone with a wrench in Watch Dogs: Legion

Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

I spend the next five minutes or so looking for the people I haven’t knocked out yet. And I’m getting good at this. I’m hacking and downing drones, I’m stealthing my way through, and I’m enjoying myself. It’s only when I think that everybody’s incapacitated and nobody’s dropped a card that I find myself confused. Where’s the key card?

To answer that, I have to think like Watch Dogs: Legion, which is unlike basically any other game.

So I walk back to the room where the prisoner’s waiting patiently. I peek through a window and hack into a surveillance camera, and wait — what’s that I see in the corner of the room? An item labeled “Smart Tablet / Access Key!” But if I can’t get in the room, how do I get the … oh.

Duh.

I’m not thinking in the way that Watch Dogs: Legion wants me to. I don’t need a physical key.

I highlight the tablet, press my controller’s left bumper, and I’m downloading the key’s data. A few seconds later, I open the door and save the prisoner’s day. Not bad for a construction worker. And not bad for an open-world game that’s trying to do something different.

This is Watch Dogs: Legion’s potential, if you ask me (and thanks for asking, by the way!). It’s also what sets Watch Dogs apart from its city-based open-world competitor cousins. Grand Theft Auto games have grit and grime. Saints Row games have smut and superpowers. Watch Dogs has a layer of in-game tech that twists open-world ideas into a game that wants you to rely on the near-future hacking skills as much as (if not more than) your punching or shooting.

If you aren’t building a team of everyman subversives and switching between characters and cameras, then you’re just playing it like yet another open-world game set inside of a city, and that’d be pretty boring. This, on the other hand? Whether I’m Margareta Ionescu or Pam Ahmadi or potentially thousands of other characters, this twist has potential.

Watch Dogs: Legion will be released Oct. 29, 2020 on Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows and later on next-gen consoles.

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