Days Gone Is A Familiar Experience, But That Might Not Be So Bad

The upcoming PS4 exclusive Days Gone is fast approaching its release on April 26. Coming from Bend Studio, the developers behind the Syphon Filter series and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, the third-person open-world game takes a lot of cues from previous Sony AAA titles, all while set within the popular setting of a zombie apocalypse. After a recent hands-on session with the game, GameSpot editors Edmond Tran and Alessandro Fillari came together to share their thoughts on what it was like exploring Days Gone’s take on the Pacific Northwest during harsher times.

For more on Days Gone, check out our interview with the developers from Bend Studio about the making of the game, and stay tuned for our video impressions detailing how the new open world game stacks up.

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Alessandro: So to start things off, what do you think of Days Gone in the broader sense? The basic premise is essentially Sons of Anarchy by way of The Walking Dead, and I certainly got the impression it was sticking fairly close to those sources of inspiration. Like the main character, Deacon St. John, seems like he’d fit right in within either of those shows.

Edmond: I’ve never seen SOA and I actively dislike the TV adaptation of TWD, so Days Gone didn’t spark excitement in that sense. My reaction to the trailers and demos was that it looked okay, if a bit generic. But after reading preview coverage from yourself and Oscar last year, where you both sounded pretty unimpressed, this just flew way off my radar and I had very low expectations going into my first experience of the game.

Alessandro: Yeah, I was fairly underwhelmed by last year’s demo. To reiterate a bit, in addition to it feeling a bit run of the mill as an open world game, a big factor that left me unimpressed was the poor technical performance. In the 2018 demo, this was particularly noticeable during moments when you encounter massive swarms of Freakers–zombies, basically–which made these encounters a major drag. However, this recent build of the game was far more improved. I still felt a bit underwhelmed by some parts of what Days Gone is about, but I ended up finding more to like in this newer slice.

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The Freakers

Edmond: Oh wow, I actually didn’t see any of the huge hordes of zombies–I’m sorry, “Freakers”–in my three hours of the game at all so I can’t really speak to how I found those, but I did run into one noticeable technical hiccup: I raided an enemy encampment where all the environmental dressing failed to load, so enemies were taking cover behind nothing and pickup items were floating in thin air. But I’m taking a “whatever” stance on bugs since this isn’t the final product.

Alessandro: Yeah, I saw some weird bugs as well, like some moments characters had their guns stuck to their hands during cutscenes. But anyway, the times I saw herds of Freakers during this demo were some of my favorite moments during my playthrough. The first time was in a cave, which they like to hide out in, and the other time was when I was trying to rescue a survivor. When I went back to my bike after helping this NPC out, I found it surrounded by a hoard of freakers. I tried running for my bike, but they quickly got to me and I died. It was a brutal way for Deacon to go out, but with that said, I actually really dig how much of a presence the undead have because of their sheers numbers and how easily they can catch you off guard. They’re a lot more unnerving to encounter than in most other zombies games.

Edmond: Please, Alessandro. The “Freakers” don’t like to be associated with common zombie folk, since Freakers are not actually undead, they’re just really messed up living beings, hence the hibernation in caves and their need to eat and drink. Also a factor which really makes things very uncomfortable when the game put me in a situation where I had to kill freaker CHILDREN. It’s messed up.

I saw a few other freakers types, which were basically Witches and Boomers from Left 4 Dead, or Screamers and Bloaters from State of Decay, but the kids, the “Newts”, mostly avoid you unless you’re low on health. I got into a situation where I had to beat one with a baseball bat and I don’t think I’m going to heaven anymore.

Alessandro: Yeah, Newts only appear in specific areas where they set up dens, so thankfully they don’t come up too often. It was very off-putting seeing them watch you from afar, just sort of looming in the distance. They’ll only attack if you get in their space.

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The Open World

Edmond: Which is something you don’t necessarily have to do. I hate being reductive, but I really think the best way to describe this game is a narrative- and character-focused State Of Decay with a Far Cry level of freedom in approaching scenarios.

My biggest takeaway from this game was how much I enjoyed the different ways you could use your variety of abilities and the environment to complete objectives, whether that be to get into a place, or destroy people or things. I respect any game that attempts to emphasise a flexibility to move back and forth between stealthy and loud approaches, or the fluidity to switch between ranged, melee, and guerilla combat techniques on the fly. I like mixing things up.

Alessandro: That’s actually a pretty fair way to describe the game. You do go around collecting herbs and helping survivors in the bases around the map. It channels a lot of the survivalist-experience you’d find from State of Decay, all within a large open world like Far Cry.

And you know, I actually have to say that I ended up enjoying the setting of the Pacific Northwest a lot more than I thought I would. It went against a lot of my expectations for the region and it was pretty educational to be honest. The second area we got to explore in the demo seemed fairly close to a desert environment. It was inspired by the Belknap Crater, a real location that has a volcano. On one occasion I kinda got distracted by the beauty of the world that I totally didn’t catch an obvious ambush spot in the road that was set up by one of the enemy factions.

Edmond: Oh man, I was really caught off-guard by the random ambushes, and they led to some great watercooler moments, kinda like getting mugged in Red Dead Redemption 2. There was a moment during my session where I was wandering around, deeply focused on using the game’s tracking mechanic to search the ground for some footprints, when I got jumped and overwhelmed.

There were too many to fight close-quarters so I booked it into a nearby forest when I got an opening, dodging gunfire by weaving between the trees. I eventually ran down a hill, over a big rock, and hunkered under it. They lost sight of me but eventually, one passed right by the rock, I ambushed him as he wandered past, and thought: “thank you, varied environment for giving me that movie-like chase.” They’re definitely pitching the “high desert” and variable weather and terrain thing pretty hard. I’ve never been to Oregon, but the developers lead me to believe that there can be a blizzard in one region, real hot in another, there’s no sales tax and everyone has their own craft beer, all of which affects how enemies behave, and how your motorbike reacts.

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Deacon’s Bike

Alessandro: Yeah, your bike is like your best friend in this game. It’s your lifeline and it’ll get you out of trouble fast. In addition to some general upkeep and keeping it gassed up, you can also upgrade the different parts to make it more durable. This all ties back into the survivor camps as well, since you can only upgrade it with their mechanics once you’ve built up enough trust with these camps.

Edmond: …which you do by completing missions, side stories, and bringing back freaker ears, animal pelts, that sort of thing. The bike really felt like my own, I had to protect it and keep an eye on it at all times, especially since I couldn’t just whistle for it like a horse. I’m sure you can steal other bikes and maybe even buy a new one later in the game, but man I did not want this bike to get ruined, especially since Deacon loses his souped-up bike as part of the story in the first hour.

Alessandro: Usually when you get a bike in a game, you want to go as fast as possible and do sick jumps, but it’s like the total opposite here. I really went out of my way to avoid danger as much as possible on the bike. I seldom used the nitro boost.

Edmond: My first inclination was to use the bike to ram enemies, but that kills its durability which I certainly did not want, since it’ll then require more scrap to repair. I also really got into fuel conservation–I found myself being very light on the throttle and making the most of hills and momentum when riding it, which leads into the whole scavenging, crafting, and conservation aspect.

Alessandro: During one encounter with some freakers on the road, they literally threw themselves at my bike to take me out. It did a lot of damage to myself and the bike. Even though it gives you a lot of mobility and freedom to explore, you’re still very vulnerable on the bike, which I kinda like. It’s very much an extension of you.

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Combat Encounters

Edmond: You know what else was an extension of me? The spiked baseball bat I used across my entire session. I loved that thing so much that when it got close to breaking (most weapons have durability), I switched back to the weak-but-indestructible knife until I could get enough materials to repair the bat.

Alessandro: There are a surprising amount of melee weapons to find. It sort of reminded me of a classic beat-em-up game. You can get lead pipes and spiked bats, and even machetes. Unless you’re squaring off against heavily-armed bandits, close-range combat is generally really reliable.

Edmond: It is! Well, unless you’re fighting more than two people. But I really enjoyed relying on melee not only because it saved ammo, but because it was satisfying to perform and watch. I’m one of those Uncharted players that hip-fires like a maniac while closing the distance and then finishes with melee, and Days Gone caters to that same kind of flow. There’s even a perk that enhances the damage when do when you switch it up like this, among other perks to boost weapon damage and durability. The shooting on its own felt serviceable enough, but at this early stage I found it was only really useful when you used it in tandem with the focus/slowdown perk. What did you think about the combat?

Alessandro: For me, that was actually one of the areas where the game fell a bit flat. I mean the combat mechanics and amount of tools you have at your disposal are all well and good, but it just felt a bit unremarkable in actual practice. The mechanics on display, the slowdown shooting mechanic, and along with the variety of skills found within the fairly robust skill-tree, all of these are ideas that I’ve seen executed in plenty of other games. That’s not totally a bad thing, but the way Days Gone goes about just felt more like going down a checklist of features to have in an open-world adventure game.

Edmond: I definitely can’t argue against that, though I feel like there’s only so much you can do with a grounded, realistic setting like this without diving off the deep end. Although there is a gameplay element where you upgrade your stats with bio-injectors from the game’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control) equivalent, so who knows? Maybe we’ll get a double jump like New Dawn.

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Alessandro: I enjoyed the stealth gameplay however–which even comes with a tracking vision mode. That to me felt a bit more developed and also more in keeping with the tone. I especially liked seeing how the systems in the world would interact with one another, like when freakers attack other hostile humans.

Edmond: Yes! I really appreciated the quality-of-life stealth features. You really need go out of your way to mark enemies with binoculars to get their pips on the map (it’s not as generous as Far Cry), but you also get their vision cones. There’s a sound indicator, they do the hiding in bushes thing, there are a few different tools to misdirect enemies, and the line-of-sight logic actually felt natural and believable.

Alessandro: Yeah, the game does a nice job of helping you keep track of all these systems. I do hope we’ll see a lot more variety towards the later sections. However, I felt that each of the systems–stealth, combat, and exploration–were better when they were blending different mechanics together, rather than in isolation. It’s all about being super resourceful.

Edmond: For sure, it’s the ease of flowing between different states which keeps the encounters interesting, which I think they did for the three hours I played. I found certain situations where one kind of approach is just not effective–melee is impossible if there are more than two people like I mentioned before, for example, but I also found myself running low on ammo in prolonged firefights, meaning I would have to break line-of-sight, crouch-run between buildings to get across town, and find advantageous vantage points (like a hole in a boarded-up window) to get the jump and make sure my shots counted. I love doing that shit.

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Characters

Alessandro: What’s your take on Deacon, the protagonist? The game really goes out of its way to try and sell you on the really harsh struggle he goes through.

Edmond: Going in, I thought he was going to be a one-note, gruff biker dude. But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that he goes through a lot of real emotional twists and turns that really do work to make you empathise with him–this is a First-Party, “Wasn’t The Last Of Us Great?”-Styled Sony Game, after all. I saw enough in the preview to suggest that he’s got range and maybe even some shit going on deep down.

I thought the performance was pretty good. He’s believably uncomfortable in some situations–there was a point where he had to coerce a teenage girl to come with him, he fumbles over his words and seemed like he had no idea what to do, so he lies to her. He visibly regrets it later on, but it’s communicated purely through his facial expressions, which I found notable.

Out in the world he’s certainly tough, but it also seems like he has some repressed anger and deep sorrow when he’s put into situations where he has to face Bad People–you can hear him breathing heavily and angrily, he mumbles things to himself like “oh so you wanna rob and murder helpless people? Well how do you like this, you scum”, that kind of thing. It certainly adds a lot of character to the game and reminds you that this is a game about Deacon, not necessarily your own survival fantasy.

To that point though, one thing I noticed about this demo was the absence of branching story choices. I saw some earlier gameplay demos where the same cutscenes we saw had moments where you had to choose what actions Deacon takes (like mercifully kill a man or leave him to the freakers, give your partner back his gun or keep it). These choices were previously pitched with the idea that you can change Deacon’s relationship to the characters and perhaps the overall narrative, Telltale Games style. Maybe they’re doubling down on the “Deacon’s story, not yours” thing. Did you see any of that stuff in your previous demos?

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Alessandro: I didn’t, actually. The recent stuff we played covered a lot of the same ground from last year’s demo. It does seem like there’s a greater focus on specific storylines for characters–which you can view in the game’s menu. That young woman that you mentioned actually opens up her own storyline called “You’re Safe Now”, which deals with her circumstances in the camp you bring her to. This particular camp has its own troubles, most of which are related to the leader who imposes some harsh rules on everyone inside the safety of the base. Deacon clashes with her numerous times, which leads to some tense moments.

But to your point, it does seem like there are moments that are prime for choices and player-agency. I do wonder if that’s even a thing in the game at this point during the section we played. There was a particular moment early where you have to make a choice in executing a particular character. They sort of linger on the scene for a bit before Deacon ends up going through with it.

I was initially a bit lukewarm on Deacon, in some cases I found him unlikable even, but I do agree that advancing the story helped humanize him a bit. I am curious to see how he’ll change towards the end-game, and what sort of storylines will come about.

Edmond: I also need to draw attention to the fact that the actor who plays Deacon, Sam Witwer, was the voice and face of the moody protagonist in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. So I think we all know how this story is going to end: Darth Vader saves him from a ravaged Earth and becomes his senpai.

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Closing Thoughts

Alessandro: I do have to say that I feel a little more positive about the game compared to last year’s demo. The world itself was a lot more expansive and varied than I expected, and it was interesting seeing how those systems sort of mingle together. However, I still have some reservations. This game has been in development for over six years, and I feel that’s very noticeable in the style and type of gameplay it employs–which is something that’s been seen in numerous other games. The zombie apocalypse feels a bit passé for me, and I’m hoping that Days Gone has a lot more going on than what I saw.

Edmond: I played a lot of DayZ, which well and truly burnt me out on the zombie thing. But I still enjoy scavenging and survival gameplay if the loop is done really well and there’s a good hook. I wanted to like State of Decay 2, but it was a little too monotonous and soulless for me. I went into Days Gone with similarly low expectations, which is probably why I ended up feeling so positive on it. The fact that Days Gone is going to be so focused on narrative, characters, and flexible combat options has me eager to put time aside for it. But like you, I also hope it has some surprises up its sleeve.

Mortal Kombat 11’s Story And Towers Should Have Solo Players Excited

When I think about my own history with Mortal Kombat, it was all about beating my brother or friends one-on-one so I could finish them with a savage fatality in MK3. It revolved around a light-hearted sense of competition wrapped in a disgustingly hilarious gore-filled fighting game. By no means has that been lost in Mortal Kombat 11, but it’s not necessarily the thing I’m most excited about. Even as I pay closer attention to the FGC and find pro-level play ever-fascinating, it’s the single-player content that I’m eager to jump into.

During a preview event in Chicago, Illinois–home to developer NetherRealm Studios–I had the opportunity to spend about two hours with Mortal Kombat 11’s latest playable build. This included a roster of familiar faces such as Johnny Cage, Cassie Cage, and Kano in addition to the playable characters available during January’s reveal event. But this time, I got a taste of the game’s story mode and Towers of Time challenges, and messed around with Variations and customization. Considering the pedigree of NetherRealm and the breadth of content Injustice 2 packed in, it doesn’t come as much of surprise that MK11 follows suit.

Get ready for present-day Johnny Cage arguing with '90s Johnny Cage.
Get ready for present-day Johnny Cage arguing with ’90s Johnny Cage.
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Story Time

From the opening cutscene to the end of the first chapter, it’s apparent that MK11 touches on some of the best parts from NetherRealm’s previous work. After the stellar execution of Injustice 2’s story mode, that had a cinematic flair expected to accompany DC universe characters, you’d hope that carries over into MK11, and it does. Mortal Kombat 11 picks up where MKX’s story left off, and starts with the scene that was shown during the game’s reveal. In the Jinsei Chamber, Raiden decapitates the Elder God Shinnok just before the mysterious Kronika shows up to hint at her time-manipulating abilities, saying, “The arc of the universe bends to my will. It is only a matter of time,” and halting the flow of blood from Shinnok’s severed head.

Cut to Earthrealm, where Cassie Cage earns a promotion within the ranks of the Special Forces commissioned by… her mom, Sonya Blade. As the unit’s leader, Sonya insists it isn’t due to nepotism and tells Cassie that she has to pass one more test: to fight… her mom. You’re put in Cassie’s shoes in this chapter, and there’s still that smooth transition from cutscene to fight that gets you into the action without a hitch, blending gameplay and story seamlessly. After a brutal (yet respectful) beatdown that’s oddly humorous in context, the whole family comes together as Johnny Cage jumps in to celebrate the promotion with his daughter. But the good times are in short order; Raiden arrives to let everyone know that an evil Liu Kang and the Netherrealm army are on the prowl, and Earthrealm must hurry to take them down.

Cassie and Sonya are leading the Earthrealm Special Forces to put an end to the Netherrealm army.
Cassie and Sonya are leading the Earthrealm Special Forces to put an end to the Netherrealm army.

In the war room, Raiden, Sonya, Johnny, and Cassie gather to devise a plan for a two-pronged assault on the Netherrealm, and it turns out successful at first. Raiden mows down the hordes of brutes, raining lightning as a one-man-army while acting as a diversion for the Special Forces to infiltrate the castle. Jade and Kabal catch wind of the invasion, and start to throw hands with Jacqui Briggs and Cassie, and now you enter another playable fight. Although I’m not at liberty to discuss a few important details that close out this opening chapter, it was left on a cliffhanger when the Earthrealm army starts to get overwhelmed and Sonya falls victim to the castle’s crumbling walls. All the while, I was drawn into what MK11 is trying to do with its cast and narrative beats thanks to incredibly well-rendered character models and a high-stakes script that will have both series fans and newcomers invested. That’s not to mention the wild possibilities in store when merging timelines begin to factor into the story.

NetherRealm isn’t afraid to play fast-and-loose with its narrative and timeline. The introduction of Kronika and time manipulation may seem like an easy excuse to throw in all its characters and insert fan service at will, but it’s Mortal Kombat, and that means things were always bound to get bonkers. MK11 opens the door for some wild possibilities that are already apparent in the new story trailer (see above) by giving us a taste of not one, but two Johnny Cages riffing off of each other. It’s also evident in the trailer that this creates room for more complicated conflicts, plot twists, and ever-changing allegiances between the Netherrealm and Earthrealm.

I spoke with series creator Ed Boon about many things, but among them was story inspiration. He pointed to the writing team, stating, “They came up with this whole time bending thing and bringing characters back from the past. So when we got excited about that, a lot of it just sparked [the thought], ‘Okay, now we can do this, this and that!'” When asking NetherRealm game designer Derek Kirtzic about the direction MK11 is taking, he said, “You’re going to start seeing the resurrection of a lot of old characters. A lot of fan favorites. And it’s always just [a question of] how we can continue to expand on this universe.”

Kronika's time manipulation is sure to make the story mode a wild ride. Maybe we'll see Liu Kang face himself.
Kronika’s time manipulation is sure to make the story mode a wild ride. Maybe we’ll see Liu Kang face himself.
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The cinematic presentation is sharp as ever, and the premise is more enticing than its predecessors. It helps big time that MK11 will be a high watermark visually for the series, with a cast that’s vividly brought to life (and death). If there’s a disappointing aspect from the small snippet I played, it’s that the story mode might be a bit light on the gameplay front by having only a few fights throughout. But let me tell you about the Towers of Time.

Towers of Time

If a heavier emphasis on gameplay and challenge is what you’re looking for in MK11, you’ll want to dig into the Towers of Time mode. Here, you’re presented with a multitude of towers, each that embody a series of thematic fights in rapid succession featuring modifiers to keep things fresh. This may sound familiar since it’s essentially a parallel to Injustice 2’s Multiverse Mode.

In the “Kold Chill” tower, I had to win four matches, one after the other, with the perk of having Sub-Zero available as an assist. I could call him into the fight for a quick attack using the right stick; directions dictate what he’d do whether it was a launching attack to initiate a juggle or a freeze that stunned my opponent for a second. Things got spicier in the “Test Your Might” tower that granted me access to Konsumables, which are modifiers that let me equip special attacks to the right stick or grant me buffs during fights. The catch here is that I had to win two rounds without my health bar replenishing after winning the first round–on top of that, the CPU-controlled opponent only had to win one round to finish the fight. It turned into this weird mix of turtling as I called in meteors and missile strikes from the Konsumable perks I equipped, but also moving in close to land a combo without taking too much damage in the process. It’s a different way to enjoy the game, and a means of acquiring new gear to tinker with the roster’s Variations.

Mortal Kombat 11 – Johnny And Cassie Cage Towers Of Time Gameplay

The Towers of Time aren’t static, though. They’ll also act as incentivized leaderboards. When I asked Ed Boon about how the mode will keep players interested beyond what’s in the launch package, he said, “we’re introducing different online game modes that are single-player-focused and give you your own personal challenge, to go up leaderboards and also earn special prizes and whatnot.” You can think of these as daily or weekly challenges, similar to ongoing events in other online games. Kirtzic described it as, “almost like an infinite amount of single player content.” If my brief time with the game is any indication, NetherRealm seems to be tackling Mortal Kombat 11’s longevity from several different directions, though we’ll have to wait and see how well these future challenges sustain interest in the game and change up the experience.

A Matter Of Time

Fighting games sometimes struggle to maintain solo players’ attention, but it seems to be a concern that’s being firmly addressed in Mortal Kombat 11. The game will have Klassic Towers and the Krypt mode in addition to the story and Towers of Time, though we weren’t able to check them out. However, none of the content would really land if it wasn’t for MK11’s heavy, satisfying fighting system that improves upon a good foundation set by NetherRealm’s previous games.

There’s also a sense of playfulness throughout the game, even as dark and violent as the game can get. Relentless gore might be a deal-breaker for some but for many, the cartoonishly over-the-top brutality is a staple that makes the series what it is. You’ll be able to see for yourself when Mortal Kombat 11 hits the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on April 23.

Bravery Network Online Delivers A Fresh Take On Pokemon Combat, In Style

Speaking to the developers from Gloam Collective about their upcoming PC and Mac game, Bravery Network Online, they raised a point that I hadn’t considered before: despite its popularity, Pokemon’s team-based combat system is rarely imitated, leaving a gap in the market. “It’s super specific,” Gloam says, “but we found ourselves craving more games like these, and not finding any. We want to fill that void!”

Bravery Network Online http://fgpgames.com  won’t set you off as a plucky youth on a spirited adventure–it will instead present short stories in visual novel form to clue you into the world’s backstory, and the various human characters that you’ll take into battle–rough-and-tumble cuties that love nothing more than a good fight. Judging by a recent demo, combat and creativity are put front and center. I’ve never seen a cast of characters quite like these, which run the gamut from imposing fashionable warriors to equally stylish yet seemingly frail fighters.

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Gloam made a point to mention that all of the characters in Bravery Network Online are essentially immortal, a detail that explains the range of physicality among the cast, and the game’s standout combat mechanic: the use of feelings and emotions as status effects. “When we made the decision to have emotional attacks, it immediately clicked that feelings could be the status effects of the game,” Gloam explained. “Feeling is a vague word that can refer to a more physical feeling, like ‘Dizzy’ or ‘Hungry’ but can also just straight up be an emotion like ‘Guilty’ or ‘Excited.’ This theming gave us a ton of room to play in, and we loved it.”

Though you will get to build your own teams of offbeat characters, the recent demo we played had two pre-built teams, and two distinct headcanons. “Trust Punks are kind of this ragtag team being led by their elder mentor, Ferran,” says Gloam. “They are a kind of well-rounded team, with a bunch of different avenues for winning, and good for exploring a bunch of BNO’s mechanics. The Cold & The Beautiful on the other hand is a team filled with fast, gorgeous fighters. They focus on chipping their opponents away, tagging out with Escape Whip to build up charge, and then getting in the heavy hitters, Zael and Annora, to blast their foes apart.”

Gloam currently plans to ready 25 fighters for launch. The ten characters available in the demo share a few moves here and there, but they are otherwise distinct, with strong visual identities that convey their individuality.

“Seyla’s one of our favourite characters at Gloam,” says the team, “just because of how emotive she is. She has a super short fuse, and a constant drive to be the best Bravery fighter, so you can imagine how she is when it’s pretty clear she’s losing. Mechanically though, Seyla’s a ridiculously strong Physical attacker, and has a few ways of buffing herself up. A well-played Seyla can plow through an unprepared team.”

As focused as Gloam is on delivering an interesting array of fighters, it’s really all in service of making Bravery Network Online a hotbed of competition. Even though Pokemon was a direct inspiration, Gloam made some fundamental changes for Bravery Network Online’s combat system. “One of the most obvious is that we removed randomness from the game, replacing them with fighting game-style meter mechanics. Flourishing is meant to represent those times you’d get a critical hit out of nowhere, or randomly have a move give a status effect. Parrying is essentially a reskin of your opponent’s moves missing, but you control when it happens instead of it being a percent-based chance.”

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While playing the recent demo, even against computer-controlled opponents, I had to pay very close attention to the aforementioned meters and the specific fighter matchups in order to win. Bravery Network Online is built to reward careful, considered play, and while there’s no doubt benefits to the element of surprise that random blocks or heavy hits bring to the table, it’s refreshing to see a team-based battler that’s closer to game of chess than a roll of dice. In Gloam’s own words: “If you appreciate a rich strategy game with lots of room for customization and mind games, there’s plenty to explore.

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Are you visiting Edinburgh First Time? Read our 5 Tips to Save time and Money

Edinburgh is a great city in Scotland. The British pound is still hefty on a side although the US Dollar is growing stronger against the pound, but still visiting Scotland’s capital may still break your pocket. As a tourist, you should always be aware of the currency of the city you are visiting measured against the US Dollar.  Edinburgh city is a costly city from all perspective, although, maybe not to the locals, but to tourists, care must be taken not to spend above the budgeted amount for the tour. So, where to sleep, what to eat, where to visit, when to visit where, what to buy and so on, will determine whether you will leave this city broke or by budget. This article will help you as much as possible to enjoy your stay in Edinburgh as well as save on your stay and enjoy your tour to the maximum.

  1. Drink at student bars.

Although you can find cheap pubs in Edinburgh, using a club at night is quite expensive in the city. Make sure you get to a student’s night club if you must go clubbing and always make use of pubs with student discounts. There are usually cheap drinks and free cover in most discounted nights at most clubs in the city. It should also be noted that Mondays are “WhyNot” nights at clubs where they offer reduced cover charge and even several £1 shots. The Brass-Monkey offer discounted drink prices to begin with and most clubs will not even ask for your student ID card, especially if you look like a student already. Learn about Edinburgh and become a local during your stay at the city.

  1. Stay in a hostel.

If you are planning to stay in a hotel in Edinburgh city, then you must be ready to spend a lot of money. In place, you can use the cheap hostels that are available all round the Old Town. Along Cowgate, you will find several hostels, situated in the middle of Old Town’s action and they are usually safe, clean. Affordable and well integrated into the city. The Three-Sister pub is by far the liveliest in all of Edinburgh and the pub even has hostel upstairs also. There is also Safestay which offers cheap drinks, pool tables and even a trivia night like the pubs

  1. Check out the free museums.

Scottish National Gallery, Writer’s Museum and even the National Museum of Scotland are all free to visit as a tourist in Edinburgh city. So if you are looking for a way to do some touring activities without paying a cent, well here is your opportunity. Make it to the Royal Botanical Gardens across the bridge in New Town if there is sun shining so as to soak in as much sunlight as possible before the clouds rise up to cover it up again. You need the Edinburgh Tourist attractions map

  1. Avoid the tourist traps.

As a tourist, upon landing in the city of Edinburgh, one the great sites that comes to mind is the iconic castle, a huge fortress built into one of the highest hills in the city. To get to the Edinburgh’s highest hills castle, you will need to pay an exuberant amount of money as entrance fee with a long queue of people. You need to know that paying the entrance fee here is just a tourist’s trap. The entry fee price is not always worth what can be seen from and within the castle. In fact it is best to not climb the castle but to have the lovely view from below. Be wary of the Edinburgh dungeons and several other ghostly and hidden evening tours.  Taking a free walking tour will serve better and this will cost you nothing. Make sure you visit the street gardens and the hidden alleyways. These will not be filled with “selfie tourists” and will cost you no money at all.

  1. Hop-on Hop-off bus tour

You tickets can be gotten from the Edinburgh Bus Tours Ticket Office on Waverley Bridge The hop-on hop-off buses allows tourists to have a great view of the Edinburgh city from the top of an open roof bus tour with other tourists. Tourists are provided with free headphones for listening to audio guide translations, free Wi-Fi and even special kids commentary. Attraction sites that the bus will stop by include the Waverly Bridge, Grassmarket, Lauriston place, Lothian Road, Johnston terrace, Lawn market, Canongate, Hlyrod, Chambers street, Regent road, Our Dynamic Earth, Market street, Hanover street. Remember to click here for Edinburgh bus tours comparisonfg

 

 

Are you visiting Malaga First Time? Read our 5 Tips to Save time and Money

Malaga is a great destination for tourists in Spain but it is a costly city. To get by all the costs in the city and still save a lot of time and money is what this article is all about. The best practices that will save you a lot of money and make your tour fit into your budget. To learn more about Malaga city, you can click here.

  1. Save on accommodation

Do not doubt the fact that accommodation is quite expensive in Malaga. This is due to the fat that the city is a hub for tourists. Hotel owners are aware of the fact that tourists flock into the country with their hard earned cash to spend, they want to make a buck or 2 more than usual and so the prices of hotel rooms spike.

The Spanish government is not a fan of Airbnb and as such, you may not be able to find those low budget houses there in Malaga. The hotel owners are aware of this and are not happy, but  the Spanish government in turn generates some amount of income from the fact that rich tourist will be in the city to buy real estate.

The only easy way to get in to Malaga and get quite a decent accommodation at a cheap rate is to plan your visit in the low season. The low season is the time when tourists are few in the city of Malaga. Although the prices then will not be rock bottom prices, but at least, it will be cheaper than what you will get during the summer and holiday season.

  1. Save money on food

You should learn to eat without breaking your bank in Malaga. Spain is a home to different kinds of delicious food and you as a tourist shouldn’t be left out of all the tasty bites around you. One of the easiest ways to save on food is to eat like the locals, small breakfast and a heavy lunch.

In Malaga, and all of Spain in general, lunch is always cheaper while breakfast and dinner costs a fortune. So if you are on a vacation and you are to eat once a day, don’t forget to eat the lunch and save some extra money. By 7pm, most restaurants are filled up already because people are retiring to their beds very soon and as such want to fill their bellies. If you were to eat at this time, you will pay more but in the afternoon, restaurants tend to get fewer customers and so lower the cost of food.

  1. Visit museums

 

Spain offers culture and art in large quantity and as such you should not be left out of the sightseeing in Malaga. Most museums in Malaga offer discount to students and senior citizens and some museums are even free on some certain days of the week. Though the museums will be very busy on the free days because everybody loves free stuffs, you can always pick another day and make your way to the free museum. Checkout the Malaga Tourist attractions map to see more attraction sites that you can visit in Malaga.

  1. Use public transport

It’s a good thing to travel like the locals. If you make use of taxis, you will spend a lot of money travelling around the city of Malaga. Public transport is cheap, helps you relax and even avail you the opportunity to see much of the city with eyes of the locals. Get a care to hire at  a cheap price if you have over-packed.

  1. Hop-on Hop-off bus tour

Hop-on hop-off bus in Malaga kick starts at Renfe Viala on the red line. The bus tour covers 14 major stops all through the city with a lot of places to hop-off and enjoy the tour round the city. There are several plazas and walkways all around the city which will give tourists the opportunity to hop-off and take a walk around and even have a feel of the culture and history of the city. The bus will also get to the main city stadium, home to the Malaga CF, a great football club in the Spanish league. Some of the attraction sites the bus will stop by include:

  1. Boat tour
  2. Walking tour
  3. Jaleo Flamenco Show
  4. Entrance to Casa y Fundación Picasso
  5. Entrance to Museo de la Musíca
  6. Entrance to Museo Alborania de Aula del Mar
  7. Entrance to Museo Carmen Thyssen
  8. Entrance to Museo Revello de Toro
  9. Entrance to Museo Málaga C.F.
  10. Entrance to Museo Picasso
  11. Entrance To Museo del Automóvil
  12. Entrance to Cuevas del Tesoro
  13. VRFUN virtual reality experience (5 minutes)

Click here for Malaga bus tours comparison to learn more about each type of bus, prices and even hours of work.

 

 

 

Are you visiting Budapest First Time? Read our 6 Tips to save time and Money

Budapest, a city located in the heart of Europe is already famous for its budget nature. You can always grab a frothy beer cheaper than a bottle of water in Budapest that is how cheap things can get in this gorgeous city.

This article hopes to shed more light into deeper money saving techniques in the city of Budapest as a tourist.

  1. Be a tourist but act like a local.

You are probably wondering by now how to move from the status of tourists to a citizen or a local. Well, do not get bothered.  Acting like a local simply mean you need to eat, dress and do things the way the locals do. Let’s take the Budapest’s famous thermal baths for instance, if you follow the way of tourists, you will spend a lot of money to enjoy the thermal bath, but instead of that, you can save by visiting the thermal baths with fewer tourists and crowds, the way the locals do it. If you are the social media type that most post your tour online, then you might want to visit Rudas, Szechenyi and Gellért. They are perfect, neat, well placed and the bath will give you the selfie of your choice. Király or Szént Lukács rival these other 3 but a way cheaper than them.

If you don’t mind a total local hangout for the summer with a beach and restaurant, the benefits of hot spas indoor, giant wave pool and slides and even outdoor chilling pools, then you need to be at Palantinus on Margaret Island. You also get a discount if you get there in the evening and spend only 3 hours there. Learn about  Budapest  by clicking here

  1. Start your own walking tour

Budapest has a lot of monuments lined up on its street and is all free for tourists to see.  You can enjoy your tour of the city by taking a walking tour on your own though the city marveling at the great architecture, the impressive monuments, Roman ruins. You even get to see the Neo-Renaissance era, Art Nouveau and even the Communists era. The city is also filled with green spaces and parks like the City Park, Margaret Island. You can even go for jaunt at the Gellért Hill. All of these can be enjoyed for free without paying a penny. You should also visit the Buda Hills for forest immersion experience.

  1. Make it to a show

Budapest offer tourists a nosebleed eat at their opera house for just a few dollars. Show up early at the opera house so as to walk its interior and have a feel of Budapest architecture. You can as well see a film, often n English, if you are not the performing arts type. The city’s old cinema house will be of great console to you as a tourist.  The cost at the cinema is also a few bucks and you will enjoy every bit of it to the full. If you can,. Visit Budapest during the international film festival in the spring, and you will get to tour the world in movies at the cinemas all around the city.

 

  1. Venture outside the city center.

You will feel wonderful if you were to wonder outside the District V core. Although Budapest is a wonderful city itself, and tourists enjoy themselves greatly within the city, but the idea of venturing outside the city will leave you in awe with the discount you will get on food prices especially. You can visit District II to see some of the beautiful outdoors, District XIII which is far more different than any other district there is. District VIII is filled with splendid architecture and even young spaces and, District III which is the home of oldest histories. You can be sure the prices are dirt cheap to visit these districts outside the city and enjoy a great deal of fun.

 

  1. Walk or use public transportation.

Budapest has a complete underground metro, trolleys, river taxis, day and night buses, trams and even suburban railway system. As a tourist, you will get to enjoy one of the oldest metro systems in all of Europe. The public transportation system in Budapest snakes through the entire city and there is nowhere you want to get to that the public transportation cannot get you. You only need $20 for one week, $17 for 3 days and $7 for a day to use all of the public transport systems available in Budapest. A Budapest card can also be purchased that covers all transport system as well as Thermal baths and over ten museums. All of these make the Budapest tour cheap. Well, you can even take a walk through the city if you feel like, and mind you, that will cost you nothing.

  1. Hop-on Hop-off bus tour

There are 24 hour and 48 hour tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus tour in Budapest. The bus tour offers 35 major stops with a 1 hour cruise along the river Danube. The bonus of free goulash and even free beer coupons at restaurants and bars are also available. Attraction sites covered by the hop-on hop-off bus tour in Budapest include and not limited to: Buda Castle, The chain bridge, The Hungarian Parliament Building, The Citadel and Jewish Synagogue, Széchenyi István tér, The Hungarian State Opera House, St Stephen’s Basilica, Fovam Square and a host of them. Click here for Budapest bus tours comparison. For more attraction sites within the city of Budapest, click here for the Budapest Tourist attractions map.

 

 

Are you visiting Florence First Time? Read our 7 Tips to save time and Money

If you are visiting Italy for the first time, then you should about standing on the streets of Florence with your bare feet. Not only is this great city the capital of art in the world, it is also one of the most popular cities in Italy among tourists. As much as Florence is historical, it is also modern, with great shopping malls, nice streets, great towers to climb and a lot more fun sightseeing.  You will totally love you tour t Florence but you need to learn to save money else you may end up spending way above your budget for the visit.

This article will do justice to what you can expect to see in Florence and how best to save time and money and still have the fun of your life touring the gorgeous city. You will need the Florence Tourist attractions map to sail through the city seamlessly.

  1. You must visit Duomo

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo, is the most famous site of attraction in all of Florence. The cathedral is a complex building consisting of the Brunelleschi’s Dome, the nave, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery.

The Brunelleschi’s Dome ha s a total of 463 steps to the top of it and you get to see the interior walls of the Duomo while you climb the steps up, covered with paintings of the judgment day picturing heaven and hell. When you atop the dome, you can see the whole of Florence in a 360 degree view, a wonderful sight to behold.

From the top of the Dome, enjoy one of the best views of Florence. Nowadays, you need make reservation in advance to be able to climb the Brunelleschi’s Dome because you need a time slot as a pass and these time slots sells out days before the climbing starts.

  1. The Baptistery

Standing in Piazza del Duomo just opposite the Duomo, the Baptistery remains one of the oldest buildings in the city of Florence. The interior of the baptistery is covered in beautiful mosaic while the main external giant bronze door is made from a mixture of art and architecture because it is covered from top to bottom in sculptures.

  1. Get to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower

The Campanile, also called the Giotto’s Bell Tower is a tower attached to the Duomo with a 414 steps stretching to the top of the tower. At the very top of the tower, you will be able to see the whole of Florence from the top and even look down on the Dome itself. If you have the Firenze card, this tower is included in it.

  1. Uffizi Museum

From the windows upstairs in the Uffizi, you will get to see the Ponte Vecchio. The gallery of Uffizi contains art work from the great artists of old, the great Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and the likes of them. You will get to see art works from ancient history here. To save your time because of the long queue at the Uffizi, you should reserve your ticket in advance before time by booking online or get a Firenze card. It costs €20 between March 1st and October 31st while between November 1st and February 28th, it costs just €12.

  1. Shop at the Mercato Centrale and San Lorenzo market

If you want to get good leather, souvenirs, pottery and the likes, you need to visit the San Lorenzo market. It is an open market for all and sundry. Enter the Mercato Centrale to pick up grocery for lunch, within its small shops. Want to visit more shops and markets in Florence? Click here

  1. Get accommodation at Hotel Ungherese.

It’s a 2 star hotel located 1km from the centre of the city of Florence. From the hotel to the main attraction sites is a 25 minutes walk or 10 minutes by bus. This is the cheapest hotel in Florence and it is decent

  1. Hop-on Hop-off bus tour

The Hop-on hop-off buses in the city of Florence has 30 stops covering the main attraction sites within the city. Departure is frequent and as such you will not waste your valuable time waiting for bus to arrive or leave. You can choose between a 24 hour bus tour, 48 hours and even 72 hour bus tour.

The bus tour starts at the S. M. Novella Railway Station in Florence. You can hop-off at Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy a great panorama of the city and hop back on when done with the sightseeing. You also need to know that this hop-on hop-off bus ticket gives you the opportunity to skip the long queues at the Accademia Gallery. You can click here for Florence bus tours comparison and select which of these bus tours is best for you.

 

Are you visiting Dubai First Time? Read our 5 Tips to Save time and Money

Dubai is one city of the world that earns most of its income from tourism. The city is a great place to when it comes to tourism, and with the expo 2020 allocated to Dubai as a host, the whole world is turning to the beautiful city for the grand vacation. The hot weather and harsh dust ought to chase away visitors from the city, but the government of Dubai has resolved to soften the heart of tourists by providing a lot of “only in Dubai” sights and so, tourists flood into the city. It is said that the Dubai airports are the busiest in the world with airplanes and private jets landing almost every minute of the day. Dubai is a costly city and you have to learn to find your way in the city so the city doesn’t eat deep into your pocket. This article will lead the way and show you how best to save time and money while visiting Dubai city in the United Arab Emirates.

  1. Use the city metro

If you are on a tight budget or you want to save money on your visit to Dubai, then you need to always make use of the Dubai city Metro service. The Metro serves all the commercial part of Dubai city and currently runs two lines only because it is still under construction. The Dubai metro card is available for just 25 AED and this is around $8. This can be used for almost 4 days although the fact is dependent on how far you travel within the city. This by far cheaper than taking a cab that can cost between 1000 AED or more for the 4 days.

  1. Use the internet not a guide

Dubai is a connected city. Funny as it were, an area in Dubai city is named Internet city. As a tourist, you can get by in Dubai city all by yourself if you have an internet enabled device with a GPS and or Google map. Using a guide in the city will cost you more than you bargain for, but the internet is free, of course, outside the cost of connection and data charges. With a guide, you will only get to go and visit where the guide wants you to, but all by yourself, you are free to explore anyway, anyhow. . Be free to

  1. Accommodation

Burj-Al-Arab is a fantasy hotel for everyone that visit Dubai but most of us cannot truly afford a night in it. In Dubai, Hotel is hotel, whether it is 5 star, 3 star or no star. The idea behind all of the different hotels is not different only that as the stars increase, you get to enjoy some more royalty alongside it. This is because Dubai city is a hot tourist spot as of now and so, all hotels tend to be as moderately good and serving as possible. Why book an expensive hotel in Dubai where all you do in a day is just sleep at night. Most of your day in Dubai, you will spend outside the hotel room, so save on the accommodation.

  1. Expensive restaurants

The price of food in Dubai, especially for tourists is as high as the Burj Khalifa in fancy restaurants. My candid advice is for you to stay out of fancy restaurants. Take your bites at local cafeterias where you won’t have to break your bank to eat. You get the more local Arabian food at these local cafeterias with culture embedded. If you are travelling on your own, better eat at a local cafeteria, but if you are on a company’s budget, a 5 star restaurant won’t kill a company.

  1. Hop-on Hop-off bus tour

There are 6 routes in the hop-on hop-off bus tour of the Dubai city with 40 convenient stops. You will even get to see the city of lights during the night tour when it is dark. The tickets are1day,  3 days and 7 days tickets. The 3 and 7 days tickets offer you a chance to enter the Dubai Aquarium, Palm Jumeirah Cruise. Click here for Dubai bus tours comparison

Redeem your ticket at the Emirates Mall or the Dubai Mall and you are set on the biggest sightseeing ever. You ticket will also give you the opportunity of:

  1. The night tour
  2. See the Dubai Museum
  3. See the Global Village
  4. Take the Dhow Cruise
  5. The Flying Cup
  6. 1hr Palm Jumeirah Cruise
  7. Dubai Aquarium and underwater zoo

You can can view more attraction sites in Dubai by using the  Dubai Tourist attractions map.