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Why start something that you know you'll never finish? An hour into Elden Ring, I already knew I'd be chipping away at this game for years. The temptation to move on from anything too tricky, the endless number of things to move on to, an ocean of a map, my own limited free time... I could tell this would be another Bloodborne, another Skyrim, another Minecraft, another thing I love where I'd never see the credits roll. In this way Elden Ring is a lot like Berserk, the legendary fantasy manga so closely threaded into the DNA of the FromSoft games that it can sometimes feel impossible to pull the two apart. I'll never finish Berserk either, though not for lack of trying. The author Kentaro Miura died last May at the age of 54. His manga, which ran for over thirty years, was never completed.
I'll be frank: Miura's death hit me like a truck. Unfair doesn't even begin to cover it. I will never know Miura and I envy those who did, but through his work I felt I understood him, at least a little bit. There's something very teenager-ish about early Berserk. It's a whole lot of angst and blood and frustration splattered willy-nilly on the page. As the series went on, though, it grew into something that cautiously examined or even regretted the tone of the early chapters. Protagonist Guts - and Miura, through him - seemed to lose interest in avenging what he'd lost and instead chose to focus on protecting what he had left. Unfathomable horrors both man-made and Lovecraftian, institutional religion, war, political intrigue, sexual assault, grief, trauma, love, betrayal; Berserk took everything on, all while looking the best that any comic has ever looked, ever. And you can quote me on that.
It's also a hard manga at times. Berserk has some of the most upsetting moments I've seen in any story, and repeat readings don't make it any easier to bear. Instead those pre-Bad Thing chapters are infused with anticipatory dread, as you glimpse the trauma to come like a vine-throttled tower on a distant mountain. Some pages are a total ordeal. Many people bail out early, and I can't blame them. The world of Berserk is barren, violent and meaningless. Bad things happen to good people all the time, and the Gods, who are very much real and very much powerful, simply do not care. The hard part to explain to non-fans is that all this grimness is what makes the comic so damn joyful to read. Every little victory, every joke, every moment of redemption and kindness in Berserk (especially in the more introspective second half), feels like a great big middle finger shoved up in the face of an indifferent universe.
Activision Blizzard will no longer require staff to be vaccinated against Covid, as the embattled Call of Duty and World of Warcraft company tries to encourage more people back into its offices from June.
The company said its move reflected similar changes made by other businesses across the US, in a company-wide email from exec Brian Bulatao, shared by ABK Worker Alliance's Jessica Gonzalez (thanks, Kotaku).
Bulatao's email began by suggesting conditions in the US were currently improving - despite the rising tide of new cases brought by the increasingly-dominant Omicron BA.2 subvariant, and the relatively low percentage of US citizens protected by a Covid booster dose.
A group of US senators has expressed concern at the possibility of a windfall payout for controversial Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick, as part of Microsoft's proposed acquisition of his company.
Four politicians, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, signed a letter to the Federal Trade Commission alerting it to the issue, The Wall St Journal has reported.
The FTC is currently examining the details of Microsoft's proposed $68bn deal to buy Activision Blizzard, which is expected to be finalised next year.
Players have already translated the runic language in Tunic.
Throughout the game, instructions from characters, signposts, and the in-game manual are written in a made-up runic language. Players aren't required to translate it; instead it adds an air of mystery to the foxy adventure and forces players to analyse visual clues instead.
However, some eager players have begun diligently translating the runes, including Reddit user oposdeo.
A new report has shed light behind the scenes of State of Decay 3, the upcoming open world zombie game from the Undead Labs.
Details published by Kotaku include allegations of sexism and mismanagement at the Microsoft-owned studio, and paint a picture of a game project which is still struggling to get off the ground years after its official reveal.
State of Decay 3 began pre-production in late 2018, though developers at Undead Labs were reportedly poorly-managed and the project took several team re-organisations to get off the ground. Staff have claimed the game's public announcement in 2020 was too early, and at that point Undead Labs "didn't even know what it was".
On the surface, Below the Ocean may look to be another pixel platformer paying homage to the 90s, but beneath that lies a curious twist worth exploring: floatiness.
When thinking of indie platformers, the likes of Super Meat Boy and Celeste comes to mind, and although they look joyful and cute, playing them is an entirely different experience. There is a harsh edge to the pixel precision these games often require, where a single misstep leads to a game over screen. Below the Ocean has a different approach. It sands down the harsh edges and embraces a floaty movement system that, in a palpable way, feels like swimming. If you feel intimidated by pixel platformers this might be the one to get you started.
Floatiness in the movement system is often harshly criticized when it comes to platformers. Little Big Planet, despite all its charm and creativity, never managed to escape that disparaging. label. Understandably, most platformer games these days try to avoid it. However, Below the Ocean developer Ismael Rodriguez built an entire game to support its floaty movement system.
Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we've found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: foxes, a unique take on running, and spooky stuff.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing,
here's our archive.
For me, Tunic is a game soaked in nostalgia. That's partly for its Zelda references - the green tunic, awaking on a beach in search of a sword, Link's Awakening by way of Souls - but it's also for the instruction manual.
Developer WashBear Studio's relentlessly adorable (and highly enjoyable) dinosaur park management sim Parkasaurus will be welcoming a host of aquatic exhibits for the very first time come the arrival of its newly announced Sea Monsters expansion "soon".
Parkasaurus, if you're unfamiliar, takes obvious inspiration from the likes of Theme Park and DinoPark Tycoon, giving players all the tools they need to build and staff their very own dino-flavoured tourist attraction. Crucially, that involves providing the perfect habitats for a wide variety of adorable prehistoric creatures, with each dinosaur having specific terrain, water, food, privacy, and scenery requirements.
And once that's done, it's time to throw open the doors for an endless procession of guests, and they in turn have their own needs to be fulfilled - from places to eat to places to poop - if they're going to continue to spend, spend, spend. And hopefully not get eaten.
E3 has officially ditched its digital-only event this year, which, following the cancellation of its in-person show back in January, means there'll be no E3 at all in 2022.
E3's 2022 started to look shaky in January, when show organiser the ESA confirmed it wouldn't be holding a physical event this year due to potential risks from covid - though several journalists subsequently suggested it had actually been scrapped before Christmas - marking the third year in a row E3's in-person component has been cancelled.
Instead, there were reports the Entertainment Software Association was once again planning a digital offering in place of this year's live show - in a similar manner to last year's virtual event - but the organisation has now confirmed E3 will be skipping 2022 entirely.