Arma Reforger First-Look Preview: An Early But Promising Return for a Milsim Great

Arma Reforger is a work in progress. That point was hammered home over and over again at a recent preview event hosted by developer Bohemia Interactive. It’s been almost a decade since the release of Arma 3, and while a formal sequel is still on the horizon, the company is first offering a smaller, scaled-down version of their traditional warfighting precision. The goal, says Bohemia, is for Reforger to be a “bridge” towards Arma 4; using the platform as a testbed to gauge community feedback throughout the rest of the development cycle. That makes a lot of sense considering how Reforger, and the future Arma 4, are both headed to consoles for the first time in the series’ history. The studio now needs to answer questions it never had to ask before. Can a gamepad mesh with the complex logistics of a military simulator? Does the console audience even have an appetite for Arma’s many quirks? You can understand why Bohemia wanted to dip their toes in first before taking a dive.

Arma Reforger is, in some ways, a reimagining of the first game of the series — 2001’s Operation Flashpoint. A fictional Eastern European island from that game, Everon, has been fully remastered in Bohemia’s new Enfusion engine, and players are cast as either Americans or Soviets in the keening, late-’80s apogee of the Cold War. I was granted access to a pre-release build, which gave me a tutorial and a few multiplayer servers that were otherwise abandoned by any other actual human players, and it was immediately clear that Bohemia’s graphical retrofitting paid off. Pastures bloomed with dewy grass, trees lined the horizon on the impressive draw distance, glassy water lapped against the shores. Bohemia mentioned that development for Reforger has been difficult, likely because importing systems to a brand new gaming infrastructure is always challenging. But this new chapter of Arma is both beautiful, functional, and right in line with other triple-A shooters on the market.

Reforger plans on keeping the vibrant Arma modding scene alive and well. The main menu includes a link to the Workshop, where players will be able to upload their own bespoke creations directly to the game’s servers. Reforger also includes a new game mode called Game Master, which is pitched as a way one player can effectively direct an Arma multiplayer match through the ebb and flow of battle. (It sounds similar to a DM in Dungeons & Dragons.) This should be a boon for diehards of the series; finally, a chance to play around with Arma’s tools using modern technology.

Game Master is pitched as a way one player can effectively direct an Arma multiplayer match through the ebb and flow of battle.

Some PC lifers might fear that Bohemia’s console pivot means that the studio will deemphasize some of Arma’s more fiddly, hardcore tics. I’m not a milsim expert by any means, but from what I saw, those anxieties can be safely put to bed. Reforger keeps both the restless shooting mechanics and all of the administrative overhead; you will absolutely be hauling supplies to different checkpoints in order to construct vehicle depots and armories, and this remains a waypoint free experience. That means Xbox players are going to become very much accustomed with their compass and coordinates, as they triangulate where, exactly, the enemy lines are located.

But anyone spending the $29.99 on Reforger’s early access release should know that, as of this writing, the game seems to be in its opening stages of development — especially compared to how fleshed-out and content-rich earlier games in the series are. Reforger has one gigantic map so far, and only two modes. One is the aforementioned Game Master suite of tools, and the other is a capture-and-hold rigamarole, which means that currently, Reforger has a dearth of single-player content outside of the tutorial. Compare that to Arma 3, which released an expansion focused on a literal alien invasion three years ago. It becomes clear that Bohemia has a long way to go before Reforger reaches feature parity with the rest of the series. (Right now, the studio is saying that Reforger will be in Early Access for about a year, with frequent updates occurring throughout the cycle.)

Unsurprisingly for a work-in-progress Early Access game, I also ran into a number of bugs during my playthrough, including some psychedelic visual glitches and a number of crashes as I attempted to load into matches. Remember, I was playing on empty servers, so I can’t speak to the stability once everyone is piling onto Everon at the same time. I can only imagine that Bohemia is eager to see how their backend holds up.

From what I saw, any concerns about Arma being ‘dumbed down’ for consoles can be safely put to bed. Reforger keeps both the restless shooting mechanics and all of the administrative overhead.

But hey, these are the growing pains of any intrepid new platform. New Arma games are treated like seismic events in the milsim community, and Reforger – with its new engine and fresh debut on consoles – stands as one of the boldest ventures in Bohemia’s history. We’ll keep checking in as the war rages on.

Silent Hill 2 Remake Rumors: Bloober Team CEO Refuses to Comment, But Says New Project ‘Will Still Be a Bloober Team Title’

Following rumors that horror game developer Bloober Team is remaking the legendary Silent Hill 2, CEO Piotr Babieno has said he cannot comment, but hopes to make an announcement about the company’s future projects “as soon as we can”. He added that its unannounced project will “still be a Bloober Team title”, even if it’s made in partnership with another company. Babieno also explained that future Bloober games will be bigger and more gameplay-focused than in the past, and will not be “walking sim”-type experiences.

Speaking to IGN at Polish games conference Digital Dragons, Babieno responded to rumors (first reported by influencer Nate the Hate and subsequently journalist Jeff Grubb) about a Silent Hill 2 Remake by saying:

“We can’t comment on anything we are doing because we appreciate our relationship with our partners, of course. So we can’t [say] anything. We will make an announcement about our future projects as soon as we can. So then you will know much more.” Chuckling, he added, “Officially.”

Bloober Team entered into a partnership with Konami — owner of the Silent Hill series — last year. Since then, multiple reports have linked the developer (which developed horror games Layers of Fear, Observer, Blair Witch, and The Medium) with a Silent Hill project. It was even forced to deny that some of its unused game concepts were planned Silent Hill titles. Bloober confirmed previously that it’s simultaneously working on two titles, one with Konami, while another, due to be published by Private Division, is a new IP. Babieno tells me a third title is in pre-production.

Later in the interview, I asked Babieno about the company’s experience working with a license holder in the case of Blair Witch, and the CEO briefly referenced one of Bloober’s upcoming projects, making clear that his company’s approach is to make games on its own terms, even if it’s within someone else’s franchise.

“I would say that it’s hard to work with someone who [owns an IP you’re working on], but we are always talking with those licensors, [saying] ‘Guys we would like to use your license, but we would like to tell our own story.’ If we are not able to tell our own story, if we will not have creative freedom, it doesn’t make sense, because Bloober Team will not make a great game,” Babieno said. “If you are in a prison, you will not be able to fly. So that’s why we are trying to only [make] those titles in which we are feeling, ‘OK, it will be a Bloober Team game, not someone [else’s].’ So even on the project we can’t talk [about], it will still be a Bloober Team title.”

Babieno didn’t make clear that this was a reference to the Konami title, but it feels likely given that Bloober’s Private Division game is a new IP. If that is the case, and Bloober is working on Silent Hill, Babieno’s words could be taken to mean that the company is applying its own ideas to Silent Hill 2, or alternatively that its Silent Hill game is actually a new story in the series entirely. The CEO did not provide any further comment on those lines.

Speaking more generally about Bloober Team’s future, Babieno said that the company was aiming to change the kinds of games it makes, while sticking with the dark, psychologically focused subject areas it has specialised in.

“There are a lot of people in our team who would like to do bigger games, with more gameplay, with some game mechanics [we haven’t used before] because mostly our past titles were experience-like, right? It was more about the mood, about the story, not necessarily about gameplay. […] We would like to do games which will tell our stories based on the game mechanics. So you could expect that each of our future titles will have a lot of gameplay mechanics. Those titles will be bigger.”

He added that Bloober’s games would continue to transition away from the “walking simulator” approach of its early successes, such as Layers of Fear.

“It’s not a huge jump, it’s rather evolution, but right now we are well-prepared to make games similar to Hellblade, to name [one example]. But I would say that we will still have our DNA – those games will still belong to Bloober Team’s legacy, and they will be bigger. We will tell stories [through gameplay], it will not be walking sim kinds of experience in the future, but still, the subject, those feelings which we would [we would like our fans to feel], they will remain,” Babieno said.

Aside from the rumors about a Silent Hill 2 remake, images from what is rumored to be a brand new Silent Hill were revealed last week — and swiftly deleted after a copyright claim. The deletion seems to lend credence to their authenticity, although Konami has not commented.

Silent Hill 2 remains one of the most beloved games ever released. We named the PS2 psychological horror one of the best games of all time, calling it “an exploration of the depths of human depravity and the effects it has on the people and places around us that few video games have handled with such a disturbing grace and maturity.”

Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Techland Reveals First Concept Art of Its Open-World Fantasy RPG

Techland has revealed the first piece of concept art for its unannounced AAA open-world fantasy action RPG. Additionally, the development team has recently recruited talent that has previously worked at Arkane and CD Projekt Red.

The concept art features a man looking at some sort of ancient city surrounded by lush trees, pink vegetation, and waterfalls. Notably, the archetecture of this ruin isn’t traditional medieval England in its aesthetic, so we may be in for something slightly left field for AAA fantasy.

For this new IP, the studio has employed narrative director Karolina Stachyra and narrative lead Arkadiusz Borowik, both of whom previously worked on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The rest of the team has similarly notable backgrounds. Recently recruited members include open world director Bartosz Ochman, who previously worked on Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3. Mario Maltezos, the project’s creative director, has worked on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Mad Max, while lead game designer David McClure worked on Deathloop. Lead animator Kevin Quad worked on Horizon Zero Dawn and its DLC, and lead UI designer Marcin Surosz was a UI/UX designer at People Can Fly.

“We’re very happy with what we have accomplished with the Dying Light franchise so far,” explained Techland CEO Pawel Marchewka in a press release. “Moreover, our journey with Dying Light 2 Stay Human has only just begun as we plan to support this game for at least 5 years, with its scope and size matching, if not exceeding, what we have provided our community with during post-launch support for its predecessor.”

“At the same time, our ambition is to introduce a brand new IP that is vastly different from what we have been doing for the past several years. We want to create a fully next-gen experience,” he continued. “A new fantasy epic set in a sprawling open world, fueled by the skills and experience we have gained as a team over the years, infused with new ideas, passion, and creativity. While we cannot share more details about this project now, we’re all truly invested in it and looking forward to showing it to gamers when the time is right.”

Techland is currently hiring more developers to work on the unannounced fantasy game. This seems to be an ongoing trend of studios trying to court more talent by teasing high profile projects either on social media or showing them off within game showcases, as in the case of Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell remake.

Techland are fresh off developing Dying Light 2, and while many of the development staff are remaining with the zombie open world to create post-release content, it seems clear that the studio is gearing up for production on their next (hopefully major) IP.

George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @yinyangfooey

Xbox Game Pass in May 2022: Sniper Elite 5, Jurassic World Evolution 2, and More

Xbox has revealed its second wave of games coming to Xbox Game Pass in May. We’ve already seen Trek to Yomi, NHL 22, and Loot River come to Game Pass in the first half of the month, and now games such as Sniper Elite 5, Vampire Survivors, Jurassic World Evolution 2, Pacman Museum+, and more are coming to the Game Pass over the next couple of weeks.

More games are expected to hit the service soon, including Assassin’s Creed Origins, but with it confirmed to be not turning up in May, you should probably expect it in June instead. For now, here’s everything so far coming to Game Pass this month. (ICYMI, Sony has also announced some of the games coming to the new PS Plus as well)

Sniper Elite 5 is On Game Pass from May 26

The award winning shooter series is returning with Sniper Elite 5, and it’ll be available on day one of release on Xbox Game Pass for console and PC users. Experience sniping and tactical third-person combat with a wild x-ray kill-cam that can still produce some stunning cinematic shots.

Everything Coming to Xbox Game Pass in May 2022

  • Loot River — Available Now
  • Citizen Sleeper (Console, PC, Cloud) — Available Now
  • Trek to Yomi (Console, PC, Cloud) — Available Now
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Anniversary Edition (Console, PC, Cloud) — Available Now
  • Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (Console, PC, Cloud) — Available Now
  • This War Of Mine: Final Cut (Console, PC, Cloud) — Available Now
  • NHL 22 (EA Play) (Console) — Available Now
  • Her Story (PC) ID@Xbox — Available Now
  • Jurassic World Evolution 2 (Cloud, Console, and PC) — Available Now
  • Little Witch in the Woods (Game Preview) (Console and PC) ID@Xbox — Available Now
  • Skate (Cloud) EA Play — Available Now
  • Umurangi Generation Special Edition (Cloud, Console, and PC) ID@Xbox — Available Now
  • Farming Simulator 22 (Cloud, Console, and PC) — May 19
  • Vampire Survivors (PC) ID@Xbox — May 19
  • Floppy Knights (Console, PC) — May 24
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker (PC) — May 24
  • Sniper Elite 5 (Console, PC) — May 26
  • Pac-Man Museum+ (Console, PC) — May 27
  • Cricket 22 (PC) ID@Xbox — May 27

Jurassic World Evolution 2 is Now on Xbox Game Pass

“While it lacks the customization and management depth of Frontier’s other recent, excellent park-builders, Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo, getting to see these prehistoric beasts at eye-level from one of those stylish ‘90s tour Jeeps has never looked more enticing.” – IGN reviewed Jurassic World: Evolution 2 last year and gave it a 7/10.

Vampire Survivors is Coming to Xbox Game Pass on May 19

Don’t underestimate this game just because of its graphics, it’s an addictive and wild ride that can create some serious gaming chaos once you get into the later stages of a session.

Everything Leaving Xbox Game Pass This Month

Here’s everything Xbox has confirmed is leaving Xbox Game Pass in May. This includes Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition which will depart the service on May 10. Notable games also leaving the service at the end of the month include Resident Evil 7, NHL 20, and Superhot. See all the other games departing Game Pass below.

Leaving May 10

  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition (Cloud and Console)

Leaving May 15

  • Enter The Gungeon (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (Console and PC)
  • Remnant: From the Ashes (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Steep (Cloud and Console)
  • The Catch: Carp and Coarse (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • The Wild at Heart (Cloud, Console, and PC)

Leaving May 31

  • EA Sports NHL 20 (Console)
  • Farming Simulator 19 (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Knockout City (Console and PC) EA Play
  • Resident Evil 7 Biohazard (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Spellforce 3: Soul Harvest (PC)
  • Superhot Mind Control Delete (Cloud, Console, and PC)
  • Yes Your Grace (Cloud, Console, and PC)

Best Game Pass Deal Right Now: 2-Years of Game Pass Ultimate for $135 (Save $224)

First up, your Game Pass subscription must not currently be active – I repeat, you must not have an active Game Pass for this to work. Once you’re confident, proceed to the next step.

Next, you need to invest in up to 3-years worth of Xbox Live Gold. You can easily buy 12-month Xbox Live Gold codes from Amazon or other retailers, costing $60/£50 depending on your region.

I Recommend Stacking 2-Years of Xbox Live Gold

The maximum amount of stacking for Gold subscriptions is 36-months (costing $180), any more than that will be lost. So, to keep things safe for those who currently have a Gold membership, I recommend sticking to just 2-years’ worth (costing $120/£100).

Now, here’s the fun part. Once you’ve redeemed these codes and stacked your Xbox Live Gold membership up to your liking, you can then convert this time to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at a 1:1 ratio.

Head to the Xbox Live Gold upgrade page and proceed to convert the time you’ve paid for directly into Game Pass Ultimate. If you’ve never used the upgrade feature before, this will cost $1/£1 (total cost coming to $121/£101). If you have used this before, it will instead cost you $14.99/£10.99 to upgrade.

Overall, at most, you’ll be paying only $135 for 2-years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (instead of $359). If you manage to pull off a 3-year conversion, at most you’ll be paying $195 instead (instead of $539). Now that’s a big discount. Once you’re done, just make sure you turn off auto renewal as well.

Robert Anderson is a deals expert and Commerce Editor for IGN. You can follow him @robertliam21 on Twitter.

Say Hello To These Lost Scarface 2 Screens Revealing Its Planned Las Vegas Setting

Screenshots and concept art from a cancelled Scarface game have appeared online after more than a decade.

Scarface 2 was a never-released sequel to 2006’s Scarface: The World is Yours from Radical Entertainment, the developer behind The Simpsons: Hit & Run and the Prototype games, and the newly found art reveals a colourful Las Vegas setting.

Mafia Game Videos uploaded the screenshots (spotted by PC Gamer) which show the glorious Las Vegas Strip, Nevada desert, and, of course, a bloody basement or two.

The first Scarface game was well received – IGN said it was great as it did “an absolutely fantastic job of bringing the world of Scarface to gamers” – but the sequel was seemingly cancelled around 2009 for unknown reasons.

Radical was acquired by Activision in 2008 and went on to release the first Prototype game a year later, around the time Scarface 2 was thought to be cancelled.

It later released Prototype 2 in 2012 before being switched to a support studio for Activision, working on games including the original Destiny.

This also isn’t the first time images of one of Radical’s cancelled projects have emerged online, as last year footage emerged of a cancelled Spider-Man game.

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.

Scavengers Console Version Cancelled After Developer Sold to Behaviour Interactive

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of multiplayer survival game Scavengers have been cancelled as developer Midwinter Entertainment has been sold by parent company Improbable.

As reported by Eurogamer, Midwinter has been sold to Dead by Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive for an unknown amount, with the most of the studio now working on a new project.

The PC version of Scavengers is unaffected as only a small portion of the development team is required to maintain it, though the game is still in Early Access on Steam and has only had a few hundred players since November last year according to Steam DB.

Improbable CEO Herman Narula told Eurogamer that the publisher sold Midwinter as it’s now switched focus to metaverse development, but Midwinter appears happy with the sale as studio head Mary Olson said her studio and Behaviour share very similar values and development philosophies.

“We are thrilled to join and learn from a team with proven success across a broad spectrum of IP, while in turn leveraging the strong foundation, culture, and team we’ve built at Midwinter to expand Behaviour’s portfolio,” she said.

The console versions of Scavengers already seemed fairly forgotten, as the game’s official website still has them pegged for a late 2021 release date.

Scavengers was first announced in 2018 from former Halo developers from 343 Industries and released several demos and tests for the game before it finally launched in Early Access last May.

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.

Take-Two ‘Likes Being an Independent Organization’ Amid Increased Gaming Acquisition

Like most other large gaming companies, Take-Two has been a part of a recent flurry of acquisition activity industry-wide. Its planned acquisition of Zynga is set to close by the end of the month, and its Private Division label snapped up Roll7 late last year. But what about Take-Two itself? Is it possible that it, like fellow major publisher Activision-Blizzard, might be acquired by a bigger gaming corporation?

For now, that seems unlikely, based on comments made by CEO Strauss Zelnick in an interview ahead of today’s full year and quarterly earnings call.

“We’re a public company, and we’re here for the shareholders,” he told IGN. “That said, our track record of creating value as an independent entireprise is pretty terrific, especially if you exclude the last three months. We think there’s plenty of great times ahead, and we like being an independent organization. But we’re here for the shareholders.”

Zelnick also offered some context for the publisher’s recent acquisitions of Zynga and Roll7. He acknowledged the reality of industry consolidation, especially over the last six months. But he added that the increase in overall indistry acquisitions wasn’t going to change anything for Take-Two, whose growth he says has “always been largely organic” but “populated with some selective acquisitions along the way.”

“We’re looking for creative deals that bring us great intellectual property and great teams, and we’ll continue to do that in the future,” he said. “Undoubtedly the Zynga transaction is exceedingly significant for this company and we have a lot of work to do collectively to make sure we deliver on the value, and the focus will be largely organic growing forward. But that will not prevent us from continuing to make acquisitions that are selective and disciplined for Private Division and the rest of the business, including the mobile part of the business.”

Zelnick also spoke to us on a few other topics, including the likelihood of Take-Two picking up the FIFA license after EA and FIFA parted ways, and the currrent fan frustration with the state of Red Dead Online.

Looking ahead, Take-Two is planning 18 new releases in the coming fiscal year, including core titles The Quarry, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, NBA 2K23, WWE 2K23, PGA Tour 2K23, and Kerbal Space Program 2. There are also eight mobile games coming, a new sports title from 2K (likely its NFL arcade game), a new franchise from Private Division, Tales from the Borderlands 2, and “one new iteration of a previously-released title available for purchase”.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

Fall Guys Is Working On Its Own Version Of Mario Maker’s Level Creator

Not only is Fall Guys going free-to-play starting next month, the developers at Mediatonic are also working on adding a level editor to the frantic platforming battle royale.

At the very end of today’s Fall Guys Free for All stream, we got a very early look at the new level creator. Similar to Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker and other level creation tools, the mode lets players create their own obstacle courses from scratch.

The tool gives creators a catalog of common Fall Guys objects, like swinging axes, conveyor belts, and fruit-shooting cannons, and lets players place them anywhere on the map. As long as you don’t exceed the weight limit, it seems you can mix and match objects to create anything that comes to mind.

The customization appears to be fairly in-depth, as an options menu popped up that lets you choose a variety of settings like item size, rotation speed and direction, and more. And — also like Mario Maker — after you finish building the level, you have to prove it can be completed before you can publish it, which suggests we’ll see online content sharing where you’ll hopefully be able to try out levels other people built, and see how many people test out your own levels.

There’s no timetable for when this level creator mode will actually join Fall Guys. In the stream, Mediatonic said, “just to be clear, this mode is still a fair way from release.”

The new free-to-play version of Fall Guys will launch on June 21 for Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and on the Epic Games Store. In addition to cross-platform play and progression, the new season will bring an overhauled monetization system, new levels, and more crossover costumes, including Mecha Godzilla.

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN. You can find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

Achilles: Legends Untold Early Access Review

Achilles: Legends Untold puts the “early” in Early Access. Across the board, this action RPG is full of ideas that feel like they are still an epic journey away from being ready. Combat, which has Soulslike ambitions, is competent but a bit flat; the first stage of this world looks good and is full of monsters to kill but devoid of things worth exploring; and the story – beyond its interesting reframing of the death of Achilles by a well-placed arrow from Paris of Troy – is trivial and its characters are rote. And, while it should go without saying that early access games are buggy, at launch Achilles has more than its fair share, even by this standard. In its current state, there’s nothing legendary to talk about.

The imaginative addition to the myth is that after being slain, our titular demigod goes to Tartarus and meets Hades, where they agree that it would be in their mutual interest to let Achilles return to the surface so that he can take his revenge; in return, Hades gets a superhuman tool to do his bidding. Familiar characters, like King Agamemnon, meet the freshly undead Achilles and aren’t always happy to see him. It’s a good start, but the other characters and story elements introduced thus far are largely forgettable, and much of the dialogue is utterly underwhelming.

Once reborn, Achilles is thrown into a colorful, verdant Greece, with the first bits of his new lease on life spent finding Hades’ missing nephew, Hephestus, the god of fire. Once they’re reunited the three of them hatch a plan: they’ll restore the connection between Greece and the underworld so that the shambling undead can go back to their homes. Sounds good to me, what could go wrong?

It’s incredibly easy to get lost on the way.

From there, I did a bunch of running from dungeon to dungeon, gathering doodads for so-and-sos, all in pursuit of Hades’ big plan – that takes about five hours to hit the current finish line. Doing so was more inconvenient than it needed to be because without a minimap, in conjunction with the great distance between these locations, it’s incredibly easy to get lost on the way. You can eventually fast-travel between shrines, but because there isn’t a proper world map either it’s impossible to know where they are in relation to each other. As an example of the trouble this causes: when you first begin your adventure, you unlock a forge that’s supposed to be your early go-to location for upgrading and buying equipment… but you can’t teleport to it. So until I memorized exactly where it is among a lot of samey-looking ruins and rocks, I spent more time searching for it than I did engaging with any of the crafting.

This confusion can go double for dungeons. The second one, the Temple of Cronus, changed its layout every time I died in it – but only slightly, with some sections being exactly how I left them, sandwiched between new sections that I’d never seen before. This was a maddening and cruel penalty that made what should have been a simple restart take so much longer, and one that could be easily made palatable by a map or wayfinding system of any sort. Contemporary games with randomized dungeons are almost always a linear path from one room to the next, or at least have tools for finding your way through them – and I didn’t know how much I missed those until now.

Rarely did any of my sidetracking bear any fruit.

All of that aimlessness is a side effect of the fact that the countryside between dungeons is surprisingly large, full of pretty scenery and diverse locations like rugged mountains, dark temples, and rolling hills… but it’s also devoid of anything worth walking off the beaten path to discover. Maybe it’s expecting too much of a modest game like Achilles, but this many years after games like The Witcher 3 and Breath of the Wild stoked our urge to explore by filling their massive open worlds with points of interest with elaborate side quests or puzzle dungeons, I was disappointed by what I found. Rarely did any of my sidetracking bear any fruit, and when it did, it was just to add a new unremarkable weapon to my arsenal of swords, bigger swords, spears, and shields. That might be one thing if you have an exciting loot system, but right now Achilles does not. Other than that, many items you find are various sorts of health potions or status cures, most of which I never even engaged with because (thus far) things like being poisoned are never presented as a viable threat to you.

It’s not barren of enemies, at least: the world you’ve returned to is overflowing with greedy bandits, shambling undead, and giant monstrosities who want to send you back across Styx. Alone, most enemies are simple fodder, but in groups they provide more than a little resistance. Some enemies actually use their numbers to explicit advantage, unleashing tag-team moves to attempt to throw you off your game. If they don’t have the numbers advantage, the notable evasiveness of the enemy AI often finds them backing away from you long enough to recruit allies from nearby camps. On occasion, they don’t even have to do that because engaging with some groups of enemies seemingly triggers aggro from off-screen camps. In short, what appears to be a manageable encounter can turn into an overwhelming mess in the blink of an eye.

On the other hand there are some, like archers, who just stand in groups and spam normal shots from a distance that chip away at your health and stamina on block; I’d classify them as more annoying than challenging. Bosses largely fit into that mold as well. There’s a half a dozen or so standing between you and the end of the early access content, and only one, the Skeleton King, really stands out as a challenge beyond simply being a bigger version of a normal monster with more health and more damage.

Achilles just waves a blade around in the air and then enemies fall over around him.

Meanwhile, Achilles’ tools for combat aren’t much to write home about. Light and heavy attacks can be chained into combos, the length of which is limited by the amount of stamina you have. They lack a bit of impact, though – at times, it feels like Achilles just waves a blade around in the air and then enemies fall over around him. I wish a solid blow landing on a foe felt meatier, more often. There’s a template for this within Legends Untold: adding a run or a dash modifies basic attacks into more stylish and powerful moves, including that fancy jumping sword one Brad Pitt made famous in 2004’s Troy. Getting some of these unique attacks to hit reliably can be a pain, though, as it seems like enemy hitboxes are more of a suggestion than a rule.

As you’d expect for a game in the Diablo mold, you can unlock special abilities via a constellation-shaped ability tree as you level up. An item lets you throw your shield early on, but by spending fate (ie: souls) you get things like parries and a weird “stealth” drain attack that allows you to suck life force from unsuspecting enemies from a distance, Legacy of Kain style. Those have the potential to mix combat up, but progression could use a rework because right now unlocking the cool stuff takes a pretty serious investment of this resource to get around the web of points on the various star charts, with lots of upgrading of uninteresting passive skills necessary to get to the next big active skill. So you can expect to spend a lot of time with what you have before you’ll get an opportunity to try something new.

In the interim, there are some one-use items that you can pick up and use to spice up your offensive game plan. One of my favorites was the explosive Greek Flame – effectively a grenade that does big damage to enemies in an area while also lighting them on fire. I also got a lot of mileage out of Groggus Darts, which slow enemies and give you wider windows of offense. If Achilles brought these to the bow fight, Paris would have had a much harder time getting in that lucky shot.

Speaking of luck, you’ll need plenty when it comes to navigating Legends Untold’s bugs, which are more of a problem than in most early access games I’ve played. Almost everything about this game is currently janky in some form. Enemy AI is prone to failure; invisible walls sometimes close you off from returning to areas you were just in; the lock-on system frequently ignores enemies within stabbing distance in favor of ones that are off screen; sound drops out from cutscenes; and (you guessed it) more. Again, it’s early access, but the price to play Achilles isn’t just cash, it’s sometimes a Sisyphean test of your patience. And in its current state, that’s a price I wouldn’t recommend paying.

Asterigos: Curse of the Stars Is a Promising (if Unpolished) Mythic-Fantasy Action-RPG

As someone who loves the melding of classical myth and epic fantasy, plus keeps having Netflix recommend him “shows with a strong female lead,” Asterigos: Curse of the Stars easily caught my eye when it was announced last fall. I was recently sent a demo build of an early segment, and while it may not be as polished as it could be at this stage, I definitely put down my controller curious to see how this fantastical adventure inspired by a combination of Greek and Roman mythology will come together.

Asterigos casts you as Hilda, a warrior of the Northwind Legion as she investigates the ancient city of Aphes in search of her missing father and its long-buried secrets. The city is said to have been cursed by the gods for its careless overuse of the world’s magic–which Hilda herself seems to be able to harness, though whether this is common for her people or she’s just Extra Special™ is unclear– and the once-great ruin is now filled with dangerous beasts and monsters. I didn’t run into anything as captivating as some of what’s been shown in trailers, though the Pixar-esque design aesthetic (reminiscent of Blizzard’s cinematic style or recent mythical adventures like Immortals: Fenyx Rising and Kena: Bridge of Spirits) made even what boiled down to “big alligator” or “giant boar” interesting creatures to square up against.

I initially thought Asterigos was presenting itself as a family-friendly FromSoft homage. You collect “Startdust” from every enemy you defeat, and once the initial movement tutorials faded offscreen the next big teaching point was about how you can rest at a Conduit (basically a “magic fountain”) to create a checkpoint and refill your HP and mana reserve—but that doing so would respawn any enemies you’d defeated since your last rest. You’ll also respawn there (for the cost of some collected Stardust) if your HP drops to zero—an “emergency teleportation” they call it, making sure to be very clear that you have not died.

Even on the hardest difficulty, defeat was rare

However, that’s about as far as the KidSouls gimmick runs, it seems. Yes, dodge-rolling is important and taking enemies on one at a time seemed to be the best strategy to avoid losing any health, but aside from the last boss I ran into, I was hard-pressed to find myself being sent back to the last checkpoint—though that seemed to be demo-specific when a “this guy killed you – thanks for playing!” card showed up and the demo ended. The higher difficulty mode did feel notably different, with basic enemies introducing new tactics, and boss creatures definitely hit a lot harder—though even here, defeat was rare. That’s not a bad thing, of course; as someone who barely made it out of Limgrave in Elden Ring, I’m the last person to say a game needs to be difficult to be enjoyable.

As such, Asterigos’ combat system is relatively simple, but enjoyable: you can equip two magic-infused weapons, each of which has a unique ability in addition to its basic attack combo. The sword and shield, for instance – which counts as one weapon – lets you parry incoming attacks, leaving your opponent momentarily open to a counter, while the twin daggers allow you to make a long dash past (or sometimes through) nearby enemies. My go-to combo for most of my demo was the sword/shield combined with the extended reach of a spear – though I discovered too late how useful Hilda’s bracers were, which not only allow for both close and mid-range magic attacks but also let you drop arcane land mines, which were especially useful for dealing with primarily melee-centric monsters that inhabited these regions.

The biggest hurdle to get over during the roughly half-hour span it took to search every nook and cranny of the demo’s two regions were its controls. While not inherently awful, there were definitely some choices that made guiding Hilda around the world a bit unwieldy. Not being able to jump without holding Run and having those two buttons mapped under the same finger, for example, made fluid exploration tricky, and having to open a radial-menu to before using one of Hilda’s unique skill powers causes the flow of combat to stutter.

That clunkiness did get better as I became more comfortable with the controls, but never went away completely. However, the skills themselves seem to provide a wide variety of options—the demo powers ranged from simply “doing a bigger hit” to creating a temporary shield around yourself to absorb damage or creating an arcane lightning storm that tracked enemies to deal damage over time, and trailers have shown what seem like even more complicated maneuvers—meaning players of all fighting styles should have lots of tactical options.

We didn’t get a full picture of the progression system, but it appears to be a blend of fairly standard action-RPG conventions. You’ve got your RPG-style attribute points (Precision, Constitution, and Arcana, which determine your attack damage, HP and stamina pool, and magical strength/defense, respectively) or passive perks you unlock as you level up alongside those weapon skills, and can collect equippable trinkets with various resistances/vulnerabilities around the world., While I wasn’t able to do anything with the thousands of Stardust points I didn’t spend on emergency teleportations, I’m told it becomes a valuable currency once you get further into the world.

Yes, it’s still a bit rough around the edges—with some lurching animations and unsynced dialogue—but overall I’m curious to see how the full version of Asterigon comes together. Odds are my issues with its button layout will be alleviated once we’re able to configure our own controllers, and hopefully the story and ongoing action will become as compelling as its novel art style. Its Greco-Roman mythic fantasy vibe is one I can easily see myself getting lost in, and I’m always game to tinker with a litany of tactical options to hone the just the right build for my arcane war maiden in what was ultimately a promising, if simplistic, combat system.

Follow along for more on Asterigos: Curse of the Stars as we approach its scheduled launch window of Fall 2022, and for other animated mythic fantasy adventures (and serialized titling) check out our reviews of Immortals: Fenyx Rising or Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

JR is a Senior Producer at IGN, you can follow him on Twitter for more video games and tabletop RPG shenanigans.