Just Cause 3 is one of our favorite action games of all time. So naturally we preordered Just Cause 4, which unlocked yesterday for Gold Edition owners and promises some new innovations such as extreme weather and giant balloons you can tether to pretty much anything.

In just the first 30 minutes you can see that gameplay is pretty similar to the winning formula of its predecessor - lots of grappling, parachuting, and wingsuiting:

Here's another 30 minutes, so you can see some of the innovations including tethers that attach balloons and booster rockets to things:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I first saw Rooster Teeth's Bendy And The Ink Machine at PAX West 2018 where I played part of the demo but couldn't get a real read on it. It looks like a cross between the animation style of Cuphead and simplified first-person mechanics of BioShock (complete with audio logs to collect) and maybe a dash of the horror vibe from Five Nights at Freddy's.

Having played a few hours now, I can say that it gets much darker - literally and figuratively - and is not afraid to drop some jump scares on you. The first 30 minutes gets you a little past the start of Chapter Two with no significant spoilers (apart from the first puzzle, which just takes a little wandering to figure out):

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I totally wasn't expecting Noir Chronicles: City Of Crime, a soft-boiled hidden object detective story from one of my favorite studios, Artifex Mundi. There was no trial version, for once, but I was intrigued enough to buy it anyway.

If you don't mind the usual half-baked voice acting typical of these hidden object adventures, the game is pretty fun:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Let's start by saying: We love Portal. Long-time followers may recall our impromptu tour of Valve thanks to our Child's Play charity purchase of a Portal 2 merchandising artifact.

That said, I didn't care much for the original Bridge Constructor when I tried it some time ago. My bridges tended to collapse and they game didn't do a great job of explaining what I was doing wrong.

That's fixed in Bridge Constructor Portal, which joins the joy of GLaDOS with a better tutorial and a Lemmings-like test chamber-solving mechanic.

I played a little long because I wanted to solve one more test chamber, and then I found the Menu option that provided an in-depth look at sound bridge construction techniques:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I've been a fan of Artifex Mundi hidden object games since they first landed on consoles, and I've played nearly all of them. At PAX West, I met some of the team and they shared how they are dabbling in different sorts of games (interview coming soon about this and another title they're making that's due next year!). My Brother Rabbit has hidden object elements but it's more of a puzzle adventure, quite similar in style and mechanics to The Tiny Bang Story - a fun mobile game I quite enjoyed years ago.

This game is beautiful and delightful but with a tender story:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Snake Pass looked like my kind of game when it got added to Xbox Game Pass: a puzzler where you play as a viper. Alas, it landed while I was in the midst of PAX West and then I got hooked on Destiny 2: Forsaken and Forza Horizon 4. I finally remembered that I wanted to try it and took the serpentine plunge.

While not super kiddified it is still quite family friendly. Where it fails is the controls. Mastering how to be a snake doesn't seem like it would be that difficult, but this video is evidence to the contrary:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

One of the best new things in Forza Horizon 4 is Forzathon Live, the hourly co-op activities that are sort of like Destiny public events but with vehicles.

You can earn up to 30 Forzathon points per event, which can be spent on weekly bonus items - notably rare vehicles plus clothing items, car horns, and wheelspins. If you play a lot, picking up these items will become a no brainer and can help you fill in the gaps in your collections. I'm close to banking 900 points before the next season starts.

These events start every hour on the hour, so you'll want to login about 10 minutes early to connect to a Horizon Life session, check the map to see where the pink circle for Forzathon Live is, and then either drive or fast travel to it. Even if you keep the game running dormant or resident in memory on your console, you'll likely lose your Horizon Life session and it may take a minute or two to reconnect. I've also had the game load with a black screen, forcing me to force quit and relaunch it. Plan accordingly.

Travel tricks: If Forzathon Live happens to be at or very near the Horizon Festival site, you can fast travel there for free regardless of how many Fast Travel boards you've cleared (just use the Cars menu instead of the map). Also, if you purchase Fairlawn Manor near Edinburgh, you can use its bonus perk to fast travel to any spot on the map, making it easier to drop in precisely where the event is. If you do need to spend credits, remember that credits are easier to earn that Forzathon points so it's probably worth it.

Vehicle choice: You'll want a vehicle that's ready for anything: speed (launch in particular, as you'll generally want to get from zero to 100+ as fast as you can), off-road (since many challenges are on dirt roads), and drifting (as drift zones are a popular event round and cars that corner like they on rails won't score as high as those that can slide around curves).

Here's a sample of one such event, which played out in about half the allotted time (audio is scratchy at first but clears up about 30 seconds in):

Here are some additional tips to help clear Forzathon Live events quickly--

  • At the start, the screen will briefly lock and you won't be able to see anything but what's directly in front of you. Position yourself facing a road so you can see the directional marker as soon as it appears to get a head start toward the first objective.
  • When traveling to rounds, you don't need to follow the prescribed path - by all means, go off-road and make a beeline for the marker. Just be careful not to overshoot the start of any zone challenges.
  • Vehicles will ghost, so don't worry about crashing into anyone or anything except impenetrable barriers (large rocks, thick trees, and cement walls). It takes a little getting used to but driving through ghost cars will become second nature after a few of these events.
  • For speed traps, quantity is more important than speed. Many racers will drive a distance away to get their speed up. Backing too far away is risky as you might miss the trap entirely. You're better off pulling a 180 as soon as you clear the trap and then powering through again. Rinse, repeat until the challenge is over. A vehicle with high launch should get you up to 100 mph or more per pass, and it adds up quick - especially if there are lots of drivers.
  • Drifting can be tough, especially on long courses. There are many opportunities to fail. Do not go far off the road (drifts only count on the track itself) and avoid backing up or turning around, or you risk losing it all. Just loop around quick as you can and keep going in the prescribed direction. Make sure you nail the final marker (just drive through it) or you will lose all your accrued points. Better to bank a smaller amount than nothing at all. Then turn around as fast as possible and do it again.
  • Drift markers and speed trap posts can get knocked over so you may need to use the mini-map to see when you're approaching the end of a zone.
  • Danger signs, as with speed traps, are a volume game and don't necessarily require a ton of speed - just be sure you can clear any obstacles like trees and rocks to land it and bank the points. Also, danger signs work both ways - so if the terrain allows it, climb and hit it again coming back up from the bottom for a much smaller jump that's still worth a few bonus points. Every little bit helps!
  • Some challenges require tricks - either any skills or specific ones. Get into an open space so you have room to maneuver. If you have the Angel perk on your favorite Forzathon vehicle, you can suffer one crash without losing your points.
  • If you end up in a Forzathon Live event by yourself or with one other person (which has happened to me a few times), don't give up. You may be able to clear 1 or 2 rounds depending on the difficulty. I've also seen a flood of people arrive late, thankful that I had almost cleared the first round on my own.
  • Not all Forzathon Live events are created equal. Some can be cleared in a few minutes while others, even with a crowd of players, may leave you struggling to complete in the 15 minutes allotted. Sometimes you'll come up short, either due to volume of players and/or difficulty of rounds. But you should generally get something for your efforts.
  • If you get disconnected from Live mid-event, there's really nothing you can do to rejoin. If you connect to a new Horizon Life session, you'll be too late and still won't get credit for any rounds you helped complete. Don't worry, there's another Forzathon Live event happening in less than an hour.

Anything to add? Post your thoughts on Forzathon Live in the comments.

If you know me, then you know that Forza Horizon is my jam, at least where racing games are concerned. I love the open world-ness and exploration. This may be the Forza Horizon 4 demo, but this is how the full game will open, I'm certain. You start with a quick tour of all four seasons and then jump into Summer races and activities, including a movie stunt driver stint that I messed up hilariously on the first try.

You also can review some of the settings (like how to turn off Rewind, which I consider a dangerous crutch that once ruined me for other racing games) and some of the early character customization options (J chose the nickname "Nitro"):

As expected, the demo represents the start of the full game. Pro-tip: If you don't quit, you can play for awhile - at least until the Autumn season. But if you quit and the game leaves memory, you start over.

Now that the full game has launched, I played up to where my first 30 minutes with the demo left off and picked up, more or less, there with another hour of play. You can observe how car tuning can be critical to getting wins and see some of the deeper customization options. I've also created a Club - after you join the roster (a couple hours into the game), you can join: Look for Busy Gamer Nation.

Here's my next hour of play:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I was on the fence about Destiny 2: Forsaken but I enjoyed enough of Year 1 to give the second year (aka Season 4) a shot.

The game has already evolved quite a bit. Most of my mods were toast so I ground them down to component bits. My Solstice of Heroes mid-level armor, which I ground solo for, is nearly all retired. But I'm enjoying the new story and game dynamics (even though PvP is not my jam) so I'd say it was a worthwhile investment. You can watch the first 40 minutes (gameplay proper starts about 10 minutes in):

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Untitled Goose ProjectPAX West 2018 was our 15th PAX – we’ve been to every one since the first in 2004. The last several years have been a mixed bag but this year we threw out the game plans and mostly had fun.

We played lots of games. Some we loved, like My Friend Pedro (sort of a mashup of Deadpool, The Matrix, and Happy), Untitled Goose Project (dubbed Asshole Goose and Metal Goose Solid for lack of a final title) Resident Evil 2, Irony Curtain (a satiric adventure game from the makers of my favorite hidden object games), What the Golf? and many more.

A few weren’t so great - notably Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, which demo’d only land and sea combat battles that left us lost and pining for a satisfying demo like the one made for Origins just last year.

We gave up on parties, including Bethesda’s epic but super selective shindig at the Hard Rock in favor of good games and talk with the devs and PR folk who would speak with us. We’ll post many short but sweet interviews over the next several weeks so keep checking the podcast feed for more great gaming content.

We also finally bought camp stools to keep our aging knees and feet from giving out. Best $8 we ever spent. Why didn’t we do this years ago instead of turning our feet into sausages over four days of near constant walking and waiting.

To kick things off, I’ve posted audio from two of the panels from the show. You won’t be able to see what’s going on but they’re still great listens, and we hope you enjoy them:

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Reunion Panel

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Reunion Panel

Sexy or Stupid? The Great Video Game Sex Scene Debate

Sexy or Stupid? panel

Each panelist brought a game clip and after a brief discussion of each, the audience voted it sexy or stupid. It was a lot of fun but definitely not PG.

As with interviews, you can download these from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

NecrobaristaNecrobarista is one of those games that, when you stumble upon it at PAX, you just have to investigate.

What is a necrobarista, you wonder? Well, if you have 5 minutes, we get you the answers on this interesting visual novel/point-and-click adventure hybrid due early 2019 on Steam, PS4, and Switch.

This is another of our floor interviews from PAX West 2017 (read our full report).

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Once Upon a PuppetWe were drawn to Once Upon a Puppet by its shiny, polished graphics. You wouldn't have expected to find that it was the game's first public demo.

It takes less than 5 minutes to learn about this very indie project's origins and development, recorded at PAX West 2017. The game still isn't out yet so there's plenty of time to hear about its charms before its anticipated release on Steam early access and eventually PS4 and Xbox One.

This is another of our floor interviews from PAX West 2017 (read our full report).

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

As an owner of the We Happy Few game preview, I received the final launch edition today. First, about the running time: It's nearly an hour but at least 15 minutes of it is the game credits, which I triggered by taking my Joy (worth 15 gamerscore) near the start of the game. This ended things abruptly and I decided to record the full credits, partly to enjoy a good bit of the game's soundtrack.

Anyway, if you watched the Game Preview run that I posted in June, once this gets started for reals around the 20 minute mark, you'll see some key differences - notably more handholding as you rise from the tunnels and a lack of random passersby who would attack you for wearing the wrong clothes in the seedy part of town:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

CollidalotCollidalot is a new take on party games due on Nintendo Switch later in 2018. We spoke with the creators back when a Switch release was still a distant dream.

The game started as a game school project but has grown into something to see. We're wondering if we'll still see the PC and Xbox One releases discussed in the interview. Got 5 minutes? Hear these fledgling game designers describe their project better than many pros.

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

The final PAX game interviews are on the way as I rush to clear the backlog before PAX West 2018.

 

Battle Chef BrigadeAfter four days tromping the show floor, Battle Chef Brigade is the last interview we recorded at PAX West 2017 (which may explain why the subject sounds a bit on the tired side) but it probably won't be the last we post (we have 2-3 left).

An RPG-lite, Battle Chef Brigade is more like an improvisational puzzle battle game than a cooking sim. It's also out now on PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch.

    

This is another of our floor interviews from PAX West 2017 (read our full report). 

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Additional PAX game interviews are on the way as I rush to clear the backlog before PAX West 2018.

As a major fan of Clementine (one of the best videogame characters ever!), I was pretty much planning to preorder The Walking Dead: The Final Season anyway but the appearance of a prelaunch demo led me to give it a test drive before signing the papers.

It's more or less what I expected, though the demo is only slightly north of 20 minutes (or I'd have gladly filled the full 30 minutes for you):

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Donut CountyEvery year at PAX West, it seems, a game thoroughly charms us. Sometimes those games never see the light of day, like with Kitty Disastrous.

Donut County was our favorite game last year, and it finally has a release date: August 28 on PS4, PC, Mac, and iOS.

Got 5 minutes? That's all it takes to hear about the game's mechanics, inspirations, and why we love its raccoon protagonist even if he is a bit of a scamp.

This is another of our floor interviews from PAX West 2017 (read our full report). 

You can download Busy Gamer Nation from our podcast page, on iTunes, or via RSS feed.

Additional PAX game interviews are on the way as I rush to clear the backlog before PAX West 2018. Stay tuned!

Assault Android Cactus is a twin-stick shooter, a genre I've never had much luck with. But the game's humor and developer commentary carried me through the first boss battle, so I may just stick with it.

It's free this month for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, so I recommend you give it a look and - if you can - a play. If you get stuck, try the developer's commentary for some hints on how to proceed (I'd nearly figured it out but the commentary pushed me to lean into the winning strategy):

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I quite liked Shadow Complex on the Xbox 360 but didn't get too deep as I was sidetracked by my desire for completionism. This time, with Shadow Complex Remastered (now on Xbox Game Pass), I've vowed to focus on the story and backtrack very little.

Take a look at how far I got in the first half hour of the game (I'm now 2-3 hours in and still having a blast!):

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I love underwater exploration games but never really get too far. Mostly, I think, because they tend to be Wii titles and I just don't play with my Wii very often.

Abzu, newly added to Xbox Game Pass, is a bit more abstract and fantasy-based than I expected but after a few minutes I started to find its rhythm and had some success in unlocking new areas and sealife:

For more like this, follow my Mixer channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.




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