Supergiant Games’ excellent roguelike Hades, which was one of the best games of 2020, is coming to Xbox and PlayStation consoles on August 13th. It will be available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, PS4, and PS5. And if you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, you’ll have access to the game on August 13th as well.
Supergiant is also offering physical editions of the game in partnership with Private Division. The Xbox physical edition will work on both Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles, and there will be separate physical versions for PS4 and PS5. But if you pick up the physical or digital PS4 version of the game, you’ll be entitled to a free upgrade to the PS5 version.
The PS5 version of the game will also take advantage of some of the DualSense controller’s special features such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, Supergiant Games creative director Greg Kasavin said on the PlayStation blog.
As for performance, “the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Hades run at 1080p at a target 60 frames per second,” Supergiant Games said on its blog. “The Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 versions run at 4K at a target 60 frames per second.” The Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game won’t support the PC cross-save feature that the Nintendo Switch version has, however.
(Pocket-lint) – Audeze is a big name in high-end audio – it specialises in planar magnetic headphones that get up to eye-watering prices. However, it’s also recently been making strides in gaming, with more and more headsets coming to its line-up.
Best PS5 and PS4 headset: Superb Playstation gaming headphones
The company’s first wireless console headset comes in the form of the Penrose, available in two versions for PlayStation or Xbox users, and we’ve been using it day in, day out for a number of weeks to see if it lives up to Audeze’s lofty reputation.
Memory foam pads
The Penrose might come from a premium heritage, but it’s actually fairly unremarkable to look at – calling it generic would be far too harsh, but there’s not much here to catch your eye. That could also be spun as subtlety, of course.
We’ve been using the PlayStation version, which features blue accents around each earcup – the the only splash of colour on an otherwise grey and black design. If you pick the Xbox model then these are bright green instead. It’s all very on brand.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with a headset that doesn’t look over-the-top. The Penrose also has plenty of neat touches up its sleeve. For one, the all-important microphone can be removed when you’re not using it. That’s not quite as helpful as a retractable or stowable microphone that you can’t therefore lose, but it’s still appreciated.
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There’s also a manual mute switch on one earcup, positioned just above the main power button, in case you want to remove your voice from a chat that way. Holding this button turns the Penrose on, and it’ll quickly connect to the included dongle if its plugged into your console or PC. This connection is solid and reliable even if you wander off to grab a drink in a next-door room – although its range isn’t endless.
One the same earcup you also find two dials: one for the master volume; another to adjust your microphone’s pickup – which is a good pairing for on-the-fly adjustments if you’re in party chat while you game. It’s a little hard to be sure which one you’re touching at first, but you’ll get used to it.
A huge part of any headset’s success is in the wearing, though, and here the Penrose doesn’t quite excel. It’s not the lightest headset we’ve used, and has a noticeably tight fit that can feel a little clamp-like on your head. After a few dozen hours of wearing it, though, this has abated somewhat, and we’re now finding it comfortable to wear for hours at a time. That’s most likely helped by the memory foam in its cushioning.
While it might not look particularly astonishing, then, the Penrose is obviously built to a high standard, and feels really sturdy, too. Fragile headsets are a menace on your wallet, so it’s good to know that you’re paying for quality. We just wish it was a little more comfortable from the off.
100mm planar magnetic drivers
Dual 2.4GHz and Bluetooth connectivity
Wired connection also available
If its design is straightforward, Audeze is extremely proud of its headset’s raw sound quality. It’s here the Penrose does a solid job of matching the hype once you drop into a game.
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The drivers Audeze use are planar magnetic ones – which makes for lightning-fast reponse times and little to no distortion. That means whether you’re caught in a huge bassy explosion or if a soundtrack is full of intricate high-end notes you’ll find it easy to pick it all out accurately.
In more mundane terms, it means that the Penrose is in the top grade of headsets we’ve tried when it comes to competitive environments – for example, being able to pick out the famously inconsistent footstep sounds in Call of Duty: Warzone. Its sound is clear and doesn’t rely on too much bass, making for a really enjoyable experience.
When you use it in a native PS5 game, this is all the more impressive. Resident Evil Village, for example, was frankly a bit too terrifying, with the Penrose reproducing the game’s 3D audio absolutely brilliantly.
Another key facet in this performance is the closed-back design, which is one of the most isolating we’ve tried on a gaming headset – even with no sound playing, you’re kind-of ‘closed in’ nicely. There’s no active noise cancellation (ANC) to be found, but we nonetheless felt entirely immersed.
You have the option to connect via Bluetooth to other devices, too, if you prefer, and there’s also a 3.5mm jack in case you run out of battery and need to go old-school, which is again a useful fall-back.
Battery life is stated at 15 hours, but we found that we struggled to make it that far before running into the need to charge via USB-C. That’s not a terrible standard, but it’s equally outclassed by plenty of more affordable options.
Finally, we turn to the microphone – a key feature for anyone looking to play online with friends. The good news is that it’s an impressive one, with clear and accurate pickup.
The included wind-muffler is an extra that helps with ensuring your breathing isn’t picked up, but even without it you should be fine. That said, you might find that you hear your own breath, even if the headset isn’t transmitting that through to your chat, which can occasionally be distracting – but is also fixable by tweaking your pickup level manually.
If your core concern is sound quality, at the expense of anything else, the Audeze Penrose is mightily persuasive and will make a great investment.
However, on factors like comfort and battery life it’s outclassed by a lot of other headsets that we’ve tried, including many that are around half of its price – and these options don’t exactly sound terrible either.
So while the Penrose has offered some of the best sound we’ve experience from a console – especially over a wireless connection and with 3D audio truly immersing us – that makes it one to think hard about before you take the pluge.
Steelseries Arctis 7P
If you want a PlayStation headset that’s extremely comfortable to wear and still sounds extremely solid (though it can’t compete with the Penrose), this option from Steelseries is a winner. It’s nearly half the price of Audeze’s effort, but we prefer its design and it’s like a cloud to wear over multiple hours.
EPOS GSP 370
Alternatively, if you want to bring the budget down even further but your main concern is having enormous battery life, this option from EPOS is almost baffling on the battery front. It offers a mind-boggling 80 hours between charges, which is perfect for forgetful types who don’t want to charge after every session.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Mike Lowe.
After introducing the guerrilla freedom fighter protagonist for Far Cry 6, Ubisoft’s new trailer pivots back to the highlight of any new installment: its villain, Antón Castillo.
Played by Giancarlo Esposito, the despotic leader of the fictional island nation of Yara is seen making his terrifying entrance onboard a boat where the protagonist Dani is attempting to flee with a group, one of them who turns out to be Diego, Castillo’s son.
The cinematic is a chilling introduction as he chews the scenery with his charisma before unleashing his brutality, which is surely the turning point for what making Dani join the resistance to overthrow the Yaran tyrant.
The Far Cry series is of course known for its iconic villains, and Ubisoft were keen to leverage this by announcing post-launch plans for Far Cry 6 that will actually let players see the other side of the story from past games.
In the Far Cry 6 season pass, you’ll get to play as Vaas Montenegro (Far Cry 3), Pagan Min (Far Cry 4), and Joseph Seed (Far Cry 5) in three unique episodes as you delve inside these legendary villains’ minds to uncover their backstories and experience what it’s like to be the villain. Of course, as Esposito had said in an interview with Geoff Keighley during the Summer Game Fest Kickoff Live stream, none of them think they’re the bad guy.
Michael Mando, Troy Baker, and Greg Bryk, also return to reprise the voice roles of Vaas, Pagan Min, and Joseph Seed respectively.
As an added bonus, the season pass will also include the cyberpunk-themed Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
Far Cry 6 launches on October 7th on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC, Stadia, and Amazon Luna.
Ubisoft capped off its E3 keynote with a big surprise: a first look at Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. The next-gen take on James Cameron’s world looks gorgeous, and Ubisoft says it’s being built with its own Snowdrop engine at internal studio Massive.
Here’s the story premise:
In this new, standalone story, play as a Na’vi and embark on a journey across the Western Frontier, a never-before-seen part of Pandora. Explore a living and reactive world inhabited by unique creatures and new characters, and push back the formidable RDA forces that threaten it.
The game appears to be built with next-gen hardware in mind. Frontiers of Pandora is slated for release on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X / S, along with cloud services Google Stadia and Amazon Luna.
It also isn’t the only sci-fi universe Ubisoft is exploring: the publisher previously revealed that it was making an open-world Star Wars game, which is also been made by Massive.
Ubisoft’s upcoming extreme sports MMO, Riders Republic, will launch on September 2nd, the company announced at its Ubisoft Forward show on Saturday.
In a nearly five-minute trailer, Ubisoft showed off some of the sports that you can play, including biking, snowboarding, and even wing suiting. The game will have a variety of modes, including mass races (with more than 50 players on next-gen consoles) and six vs. six trick battles. And you’ll also be able to customize your player with all sorts of gear — in the trailer, I think I spotted a biker with a built-in ice cream stand on their bike, for example.
Riders Republic will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, Google Stadia, Amazon Luna, and PC when it launches in September, and the game will support crossplay and cross-save across all platforms, Ubisoft says. You can register now for the chance to participate in upcoming betas for the game ahead of launch.
Soon the Xbox experience will come baked right into your TV. That’s thanks to an Xbox TV app that Microsoft is launching that will bring games directly to your big screen with no console required.
Don’t have a smart TV? No problem. Microsoft has streaming devices in the works, too, which will bring Xbox gaming to any set with an HDMI port.
Microsoft made the announcement ahead of the E3 games conference, which kicks off tomorrow.
“We’re working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Game Pass experience directly into internet-connected TVs so all you’ll need to play is a controller,” the blog post reads.
There’s no word on when the app will launch, nor which TV makers will offer it. There’s also no mention of which games will be available, although the suggestion appears to be that it will tied into Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate service, which gives subscribers unlimited access to over 100 top-tier games (including all first-party Microsoft titles) for £10.99 ($14.99, AU$15.95) a month.
The spec of your TV will likely matter a bit, too, but the speed of your internet connection will likely be a bigger factor. Both the Xbox Series X and S are powerhouse consoles, so with no dedicated games machine in the equation, all that processing grunt will have to be handled somewhere.
“We’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience,” the post goes on. These could be a streaming stick or dongle along the lines of the Google Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, or it could be a bigger, Apple TV 4K-sized device.
The Vergedescribes it specifically as an xCloud streaming stick, but this appears to be an assumption on their part as Microsoft hasn’t confirmed this in the announcement.
Microsoft is also opening up cloud gaming to more devices by enabling it through the Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Apple Safari web browsers. According to Microsoft, “players will be a click away from gaming on almost any device.” Again, there’s no word on hardware or internet requirements.
Xbox’s Phil Spencer has previously hinted at these developments, saying in November that he would expect the TV app to land within a year. So it could be a Christmas treat for anyone still unable to lay their hands on a new Xbox.
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EA released a free next-gen update for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on Friday, and the announcement comes with good news for people who own a physical copy of the game but have a discless next-gen console: EA will let you convert your physical copy to a digital one so you can take advantage of the upgrade, the company says in an FAQ.
If you want to upgrade your disc version to digital, click this link to EA’s support website. If you click on the Digital Edition PS5 or Xbox Series S icons, then “Codes and promotions,” then “Replace disc with code,” then “Select Contact Option,” you’ll be taken to a form to fill out to request your digital code. The form says an EA support representative will email you within 72 hours after you fill it out.
Jedi: Fallen Order’s next-gen update adds 4K / HDR resolution, improved 60fps performance, and “significantly faster” loading speeds, according to EA. It also adds a performance mode on PS5 and Xbox Series X that runs at a 1440p resolution and 60fps — when turned off, the game runs at a 4K resolution at 30fps. Those options might be disappointing for players who were hoping for a way to play in 4K and 60fps on next-gen consoles. And Xbox Series S players won’t be able to pick from either mode; the Series S version of the game will be capped at 1080p / 60fps, EA says.
You’ll also be able to transfer your saves, and if you do that, unlocked trophies and achievements will carry over, too.
Elon Musk teased that Tesla’s new Model S Plaid would be capable of running Cyberpunk 2077 earlier this year, and he’s now demonstrated the car’s “PS5-level performance.” The refreshed Model S includes a new Tesla infotainment system, powered by AMD’s Ryzen processor and a discrete AMD RDNA 2 GPU.
“There’s never been a car that has state of the art computing technology, state of the art infotainment where this is literally at the level of a PlayStation 5,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during a demo event last night. “This is actual PlayStation 5-level performance… yes it can run Cyberpunk. It’s high frame rate, it will do 60fps with state of the art games.”
AMD revealed last week that it’s powering this new infotainment system in both the new Model S and Model X, with 10 teraflops of compute power. That in itself is nearly identical to the 10.28 teraflops found on Sony’s PlayStation 5, although Tesla’s total compute includes both the integrated and discrete GPUs so it won’t be a full 10 teraflops for gaming alone.
We only saw a brief demo of Cyberpunk 2077 running at high frame rates on the $130,000 Model S Plaid during Tesla’s event, alongside a closer look at the updated UI on the infotainment system.
In separate demonstrations after the event, some Tesla fans were able to get pictures of what appears to be a Tesla-branded game controller. It’s not clear if the controller, which mimics the shape of the car’s steering wheel, is a dummy unit or not. It appears alongside an Xbox controller in a photo published by Reddit users (above), and videos seem to show the Xbox controller being used to play Cyberpunk 2077.
You might be wondering why you’d need PS5-level gaming performance in your car, which the Technoking is happy to answer. “If you think about the future of where the car is often in autopilot or full self-driving mode, then entertainment is going to become increasing important,” said Musk. Until that’s a reality, we’re hoping to see the folks at Digital Foundry benchmark a car running the latest AAA games against powerful PCs, the PS5, and the Xbox Series X.
While the PS5’s divisive two-tone design has led some to swap out large pieces of plastic for a more unified look, this month did at least see Sony release some official new color options for the excellent DualSense controller. There are now “cosmic red” and “midnight black” models that might appeal to you more than the black and white default.
The black controller doesn’t seem all that interesting, but as a fan of red objects I ordered the red one in to see how it looks in person. The color is actually quite unusual — Sony’s marketing info places the controller in front of a bright red nebula, in keeping with the “cosmic red” name, and it’s a pretty good match.
Basically, it’s a little pinker than you might expect, falling somewhere between crimson, ruby, and raspberry. I think it looks good with the black trim and manages to feel appropriate for the PS5’s aesthetic.
And yes, the tiny PlayStation symbols microtexture is back, though it’s still pretty much impossible to see with the naked eye:
Sony is quite slow to release its first PS5 controller color variations. Microsoft had black, white, and blue options available at the launch of the Xbox Series X and Series S, and soon followed up with red, yellow, and camo options.
I have the red Series X controller too, and it’s a much more straightforward, primary-color shade than the PS5. The difference is clear when they’re next to each other.
The red and black PS5 controllers are out this week in Japan and should be available next week in North America, though like the PS5 itself it’ll probably be difficult to find stock. The black version costs $69.99, while the red version is for some inexplicable reason $5 more expensive at $74.99.
Elden Ring, the long-awaited action RPG made in collaboration between FromSoftware and writer George R.R. Martin, has finally shown new signs of life. We got a surprise trailer today at the end of the Summer Game Fest Kickoff Live event as well as a release date. January 21, 2022 is when you’ll be able to play it on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, and last-gen consoles.
The first gameplay from the elusive title that was announced during E3 2019 shows plenty of PvE magic and swordplay while traversing through fantastical environments on horseback. I’m sure we’ll see more gameplay in the near future, but this first look at Elden Ring looks like it should please fans of Bloodborne and Dark Souls.
It seems to be delivering a new take on the studio’s signature action RPG gameplay, nestled into deep, entrancing game design. Congratulations to George R.R. Martin for delivering some new content in this decade — maybe now he can get back to finishing The Winds of Winter.
Though there was a long gap between when this game was announced and when we got this trailer today, we’ll likely hear more from FromSoftware and publisher Bandai Namco as the game’s release date is approaching.
Hideo Kojima stopped by this year’s Summer Game Fest to announce a surprise: Death Stranding is not only coming to the PS5, but it’ll be an enhanced director’s cut of the game. Unfortunately, there’s no real detail about the new version, but an early glimpse hinted at some additional stealth elements, similar to Kojima’s work on the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Players can likely expect visual and performance upgrades as well. The director’s cut is slated as “coming soon,” with a proper reveal in the coming weeks.
Death Stranding first launched on the PS4 in 2019 and made its way to the PC last year.
The next Battlefield is coming this fall — and it appears to be bringing plenty of mayhem. At an event today, EA revealed Battlefield 2042, the latest entry in Dice’s long-running shooter series, for the Xbox One, Series X, PS4, PS5, and PC through Origin, Steam, and the Epic Game Store. Among other changes to the formula, the game will introduce new tornadoes that move around the map, wingsuits so players can fly around, and weapons that can be customized on the fly.
Despite being a series primarily known for ridiculous action set pieces, the upcoming near-future title has a very serious premise. Here’s the world that the game takes place in, according to EA:
In Battlefield 2042, the world is on the brink. Shortages of food, energy and clean water have led to dozens of failed nations, creating the greatest refugee crisis in human history. Among these Non-Patriated, or No-Pats, are families, farmers, engineers — and even soldiers. Amidst this crisis, the United States and Russia draw the world into an all-out war. No-Pat Specialists join both sides, not fighting for a flag, but for the future of the Non-Patriated in this new world.
2042’s new maps reflect this bleak setup. They include a map set in the Antarctic where players fight over oil, a version of Doha besieged by sandstorms like something from Mad Max, a dried-up seabed in India filled with the remains of stranded ships, and a gleaming South Korean metropolis where players have to seize control of “a quantum powered disinformation hub.” Dynamic events appear to be a big focus; one map takes place amid a rocket preparing to launch into space.
Dice says that the maps have been built with next-gen hardware in mind, and the biggest change appears to be the sheer number of players. In the main mode, “all-out warfare” matches will feature 128 players if you’re playing on PC, PS5, or Xbox Series X. For older consoles, that number will shrink down to a more standard 64. Outside of that mode, 2042 will also have a squad-based mode called “hazard zone” (which, Dice stresses, will not be a battle royale), as well as a third, yet-to-be-announced multiplayer mode. The game won’t feature a traditional single-player campaign.
When 2042 does launch later this year, EA says that it will act as a live service game, with seasonal battle passes — both free and paid — that “will push the narrative of the world forward,” as well as add new features.
Battlefield 2042 launches on October 22nd. A mobile Battlefield spinoff is also in the works.
(Pocket-lint) – The Ratchet & Clank series has been a PlayStation stalwart for almost two decades. But we’ve not had an original outing since Into the Nexus in 2013 – and that was on the PlayStation 3.
Yes, developer Insomniac Games remade the first game for PS4 in the shape of 2016’s Ratchet & Clank, but it has rather focused its attention on Sunset Overdrive and the superb Marvel’s Spider-Man games instead.
That’s why we’re thrilled to see the return of everyone’s favourite Lombax and his robot chum. And, thanks to the leap to PlayStation 5 proper, they have never looked – or arguably played – better.
Insomniac cut its next-gen teeth on Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, plus a dolled-up remaster of its predecessor, but Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is its first PS5 exclusive. That has given the studio free rein on a featureset of tools and talents only the latest in Sony’s kitbag can provide.
The entire premise of the game is only possible thanks to clever compression techniques and superfast SSD loading speeds. The graphics drip with ray-tracing and other wizardry from every pore. And the tricks afforded by the PS5’s DualSense controller are exploited to the max. In many respects, this is the first truly next-gen game on any console and has us salivating for what’s possible in the future.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. Technical bells and whistles aside, this is a Ratchet & Clank game through and through, so we’ll start there.
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Like most others in the series, this is essentially a shooter-meets-platformer with a keen sense of humour and stunning, Pixar-like visuals. It is split across a fair few planets and regions, each with their own puzzles, secrets, bosses and, in the case of some, open-world landscapes.
Favourite elements return, such as crazy, often hilarious weapons, hover boots, rail riding, the weapons shop (which is now in shape of Mrs Zurkon – an enemy in the 2016 remake), and plenty more besides – but there are some key differences too. Not least the fact you play as two Lombaxes this time around.
That’s because, after Dr Nefarious gets his hands on the oft-featured Dimensionator and accidentally opens up huge dimensional rifts, our eponymous heroes are split up. That leads Clank to meet with Rivet, a female Lombax who is new to the series, and Ratchet, to eventually hook-up with an alternative robot pal named Kit.
Sony Interactive Entertainment
This allows for missions to be split between them all – and provides variety in both gameplay and dialogue. You will often swap characters when choosing which mission to undertake from the navigation screen and likely not return until it is complete – certainly for the first part, anyway.
There are also other-dimensional versions of many recognisable friends and foes, to add extra weight and humour to the story. Certainly, as fans of the series, we loved the references and a few Easter Eggs. However, if you’re new to it, you’ll still get plenty from it – you might even end up seeking older outings elsewhere, such as on PlayStation Now.
Levels in the game will often require a lot of blasting, but are reasonably varied. Some are based on massive open areas that can be explored, a la the R&C remake, others tighter and largely on rails. One thing that ties them all together is the ability to jump through dimension portals to reach different areas in a zone.
Sony Interactive Entertainment
For example, a small rift might appear on an otherwise hard-to-reach patform, so you just focus at it, tap a button, then are instantly zipped over to that location. It certainly helps you get around a map during a battle, zipping through portals to keep ahead of enemies.
Traversing different dimensions is also used cleverly too, with one level in particular requiring you to hop between an existing, thriving world and a destroyed version in another dimension. By jumping between the two, you can get past barriers in one, or solve an otherwise impossible puzzle.
It is here where the PS5 exclusivity becomes obvious. Travelling through rifts or swapping between dimensions is instant – you certainy don’t notice any loading time, even when everything in the landscape has completely changed or you are on a totally new part of the map. Insomniac has previously said that this needs both the SSD and Sony’s clever loading shenanigans to work, and it’s easy to see why.
The DualSense controller is also a necessity for gunplay, as the game uses both haptic feedback and the adaptive triggers as effectively as Returnal (a very different game, but an amazing one – as we said in our review).
Not only do you feel every shot – with the gamepad’s speaker also utilised for some elements – you get different shot options on the right trigger. Press it down halfway and you get one weapon mode, pull it harder and the other activates. It takes a little getting used to, but is intuitive and immersive when you do.
So, so pretty
The last, obvious reason why this is a PS5-only game lies not in its gameplay but in its look. This is quite simply the most gorgeous next-gen game yet. Easily the best use of high dynamic range (HDR) that we’ve seen.
As with Miles Morales, the developer has provided three graphics modes: Performance, Performance RT, and Fidelity.
Sony Interactive Entertainment
The prettiest – Fidelity – runs at 30 frames-per-second (30fps) but is in 4K resolution with HDR and features ray-tracing, enhanced lighting, additional VFX, and increased scene density. This is the way we preferred to play, even with the lower frame rate. It looks incredible. The different worlds are bursting with details and creativity, so having the enhancements make it for us.
Performance RT keeps some of the options, such as ray-tracing, but drops the resolution and some of the effects in favour of 60fps. While, Performance mode offers 60fps with an increased resolution over the last, it ditches the ray-tracing entirely.
Whichever you opt for, the game is still a stunner. We played it on a 65-inch OLED telly, where the colours popped out of the screen so vividly, but we’d expect it’d look great whatever your TV or display tech. There are also so many instances of neon lighting in the game – not least cascading from your weapons – that it would even be a great reference test for a new HDR TV.
Sound is superb, too, especially the excellent voice acting. And the use of Sony’s 3D Audio tech is great if you have compatible headphones. The spacing in open-world segments is especially good.
Sony Interactive Entertainment
Indeed, our only minor quibbles with the game is that there is a fair amount of repetition in bog standard enemy types and, like with previous outings, it’s a little short.
Still, there are sub-quests on most of the worlds, and there is a decent enough challenge here, with some bosses that will take you multiple tries to defeat. Also, it’s refreshing to have a game that doesn’t take over your life for a month once in a while.
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Rachet & Clank: Rift Apart is an excellent return for the franchise. It is steeped in invention and it wrings every ounce out of the PlayStation 5’s capabilities.
We’ll no doubt see more complex, even better-looking games over this generation of gaming, but considering we are still relatively at the beginning, this is highly impressive stuff.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that, because it looks like a cartoon, this is a kids game. Like previous R&C adventures, there’s plenty to enjoy here for young and old, with ample challenge too.
Throwing new playable characters into the mix is also inspired, because it both breaks up the narrative and gameplay a touch. There’s a fair amount of repetition, which is par for the course, but apart from that, this is top-level stuff.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t take Insomniac eight years and a new console generation to deliver another slice. But then when it’s this good, it’s worth the wait.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart takes great advantage of the PlayStation 5’s SSD and offers creative third-person combat, but a second playable character doesn’t do much to change the formula.
+ Fast level changes enabled by SSD
+ Grinding levels are particularly fun
+ Creative weapons for hectic combat
+ Plenty of collectibles and side quests
– Goes overboard with DualSense haptic features
– Ratchet and Rivet have no gameplay differences at all
– Glitch puzzles don’t connect
When the PlayStation 5 arrived about six months ago, we were promised a number of improvements under the hood that would change the way people play games. One of the big ones was that consoles finally moved to solid state drives for faster loading.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Available on: PlayStation 5
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Platformer, Action, Third-person shooter ESRB Rating: E10+ Release Date: June 11, 2021 Price: $69.99 ($79.99 for Deluxe Edition)
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart takes full advantage of that upgrade. The latest game in the franchise, exclusive to Sony’s latest console, throws the heroes through multiple dimensions, often at a moment’s notice to show off that speed. But it also expresses it through chaotic combat and some zany platforming.
Still, it slows down just enough to examine the main characters’ thoughts and vulnerabilities when it comes to heroism, their own confidence and which questions about your life are worth asking, making for some strong character moments amidst all the havoc.
Talk About Distant Relatives…
Rift Apart serves as a sequel to 2013’s Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus, but, at the beginning, at least, it serves as a fine entry point to the series. The game finds Ratchet, the last Lombax in the galaxy, and his robot compatriot Clank, being celebrated for most of their major achievements (cue the history lesson for newer players). And Clank has a surprise for Ratchet — he has repaired the Dimensionator, a device that opens rifts to other, well, dimensions, in the hopes that Ratchet can find one where the Lombaxes still exist and meet his family.
Ratchet is hesitant about this. Life is good. He’s getting a parade. Why mess up a good thing with questions he’s always had at the back of his mind? But there’s a bit less of a choice when their enemy, Dr. Nefarious, steals it to find a dimension in which he’s always the victor.
The chase to stop Dr. Nefarious leads Ratchet and Clank to a dimension where a small group of freedom fighters are led by Rivet, the last Lombax in the galaxy (that is, in her dimension). The game switches between Ratchet and Rivet, both of whom suddenly are partnered with someone very different, but also very familiar.
From there, the game hops between planets and dimensions, some of which are alternate versions of levels from earlier games in the franchise.
Rivet and Ratchet are similar beyond their heritage. Both are quick to take action and like to crack jokes. Rivet is a bit more competent than her interdimensional counterpart, but she’s not used to working with others, robot or otherwise. Of course, meeting each other turns everything Ratchet and Rivet know upside down, and leads to alternate realities that flip what you may know about the franchise, too, with references to other games in the franchise taking a bit of turn.
Much of the game, especially its quieter moments, focuses on introspection and self doubt. Ratchet isn’t sure how long he can keep the hero thing up. Rivet isn’t sure if she can overcome her loner tendencies. Heck, even Dr. Nefarious’ plan is based on the fact that he feels he’s not good enough in his own dimension.
Two Different Lombaxes, Same Crazy Gameplay
Rift Apart is a single-player third-person shooter with heavy platformer elements. Much of the game consists of sections in which you transverse different planets on foot. But to get to your goals, you’ll also wall-run, jump between platforms, stick to magnetic platforms, grind on rails and race with rocket boots.
The other big part is combat, where waves of enemies attack as you fight them off with increasingly bizarre weapons that you obtain from Mrs. Zurkon, a robot with enough southern charm that I’m sure she has a good cornbread recipe. These include the executor (a double barrelled shotgun), the lightning rod (yeah, it shoots lightning) and my personal favorite, the topiary sprinkler, which temporarily stuns enemies in place and turns them into landscaping. The game is heavy on the gunplay, but the violence is cartoony, making it more than appropriate for its E10+ rated target audience.
By time you’re done with the game, you’ll be shooting rockets, bullets, lasers and have tons of little minions at your command. As you move on and get more powerful, the combat shines more and more, with wackier weapons and higher stakes. Additionally, certain battle and puzzle areas have rifts that you can “tether” to in order to pull yourself around the stage, instantly loading the new area around you. It’s disorienting and a bit gimmicky, but ultimately provides some novelty in each part of the game.
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Beyond their species, Ratchet and Rivet are incredibly similar in that no matter which of them you’re playing as, the game feels exactly the same. The two share gadgets, controls and even weapons. Buy something as Rivet, and Ratchet will have it next time. On the one hand, this makes the game seamless. You never lose something you just saved up for because you switched to another character. But it also creates a bit of sameness when you’re playing as a new, interesting character.
Most of the missions contribute directly to moving the story forward, but there are some that branch out to encourage you to explore, and those tend to reward you with collectibles. Throughout the game, there are two other types of puzzles. The first, which largely features Clank, requires you to explore a level and use a number of powers (speed, antigravity, etc.) to move alternate-dimension “possibilities” throughout the level. It doesn’t make huge amounts of sense to the story, but they’re a fun way to put the spotlight on Clank. The others are worse. Early in the game, Ratchet meets a spider-like robot named Glitch, who can enter computers and fight viruses. Glitch has a small side-story, but it ultimately doesn’t affect the main narrative, and I found that it pulled too much attention from the plot that I actually cared about.
My other personal favorites, which I completed as soon as I could, were a series of combat challenges that provided tons of in-game unlockables and money for further upgrades. These fights have unique gimmicks, like randomizing weapons or changing gravity.
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In combat, switching between weapons requires opening a menu and picking new arms. This has the effect of pausing fights often, and varieties of enemies, like some with shields that require attacks that don’t hit from the front, encourage you to switch. I personally liked the little pauses, as they gave me time to plan, but the game also lets you assign four weapons to the D-pad for quick switching. However, those four didn’t seem to serve enough, as I ultimately ended up using the larger menu.
All-in-all, my initial playthrough lasted about 16 hours per the PlayStation 5’s clock. (I don’t believe you should necessarily judge a game’s worthiness by it’s length.) That was with some, but not all, of the optional quests, nor did I find every single collectible or piece of armor, so there’s still plenty to go back for. For those looking to squeeze every bit out of their $70, there’s also a Challenge Mode that makes the game more difficult, provides new weapon upgrades and lets you earn far more bolts, the in-game currency.
I suspect some diehard fans will wish that the game were longer, though the story doesn’t necessarily require it.
The PS5’s SSD Makes the Difference
Rift Apart is the first major exclusive in the back-half of the PlayStation 5’s first year, and, in some ways, takes the most advantage of the system’s new features, both to its advantage and to its detriment.
We reviewed the game using pre-release code from Sony. For this review, we played primarily in Fidelity mode, which promises a stable 30 frames per second with ray tracing and other enhanced effects using a high quality image derived from a 4K base. We had less time with the day one patch, which adds Performance RT mode, which aims for 60 frames per second with fewer effects and a lower resolution; and performance mode, which eliminates more effects for a higher resolution 60 fps. It also fixed a few bugs from our first playthrough.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game, with its mix of colorful, lush environments and the darker, grimmer environments was beautiful. There’s some nice fur effects, primarily in cutscenes. And no matter how much was happening on screen during the most intense battles (and they got pretty crazy towards the end), the game was stable.
Ultimately, though, I preferred playing at the higher frame rates. The 60 fps made combat and platforming puzzles, like pocket dimensions, look and feel smoother to play. It simply felt right to be playing it that way. Unless you’re gaming on a 4K TV, you shouldn’t even consider Fidelity. Even then, I think the sacrifice for frames is worth it.
But the star of the show here is the SSD. For most of the game, it feels as if there’s no loading at all, which is surprising when you’re pulled through multiple, complicated environments in just a few seconds as Ratchet, Rivet and Clank travel through rifts. This happens for the first time fairly early in the game, and it was clear then that the SSD, not the graphics, is the most important reason for a console owner to upgrade. Sure, PC gamers have had SSDs for years. But now we’re starting to see what happens when a game is designed around it.
This wasn’t complete, though. There were a few sections where it felt like the game was slowing down to enable the game to load, which put those parts at odds with the rest of the game’s tempo. On one mid-game planet, I got into an elevator several times, and waited the entire ride while the characters had small-talk. After so much speed, everything, for a little bit, screeched to a halt until those rides were done.
Sure, when we saw Spider-Man: Miles Morales (and Spider-Man Remastered), it was surprising how quickly one could fast-travel around New York City. But here, it’s not just a feature – it’s integral to the story. That’s really cool.
The DualSense controller was a real mixed bag. While I was initially wowed — and sometimes continue to be — by the controller’s enhanced rumble and trigger features, it sometimes felt like Insomniac lacked restraint when using them. Every single effect in the game does something with the rumble, as does each gun. During combat, it’s a cacophony in your hands, as the controller vibrates and the triggers lock and unlock almost constantly. I did, however, get some joy out of the built-in speaker as I used the ricochet, a button which lets you fire and then bounce ammo off enemies. It made an arcade pinball sound that burst from the controller, which gave me a laugh.
You can turn down the rumble by switching to a “functional” mode that provides gameplay cues and nothing else, or shut it off altogether. This sometimes felt like it went too far in the other direction, as not every action you would expect provides feedback.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a chaotic thrill ride through space and, well, space in other dimensions. While the storytelling is not especially deep, it’s enough to make for a game that enables some creative platforming setpieces and intense combat.
Even when the game dips into the dark world of a facist leader, has heroes hide from tortured monsters or simply asks them to be introspective about their flaws, its soul is ultimately zany and upbeat. With the exception of a handful of side-puzzles, it’s a tight, fast-moving game with room for the cast to shine.
While the game doesn’t always feel like it’s taking full advantage of the PS5’s power, the near-instant changes in scenery powered by a game designed by an SSD is exciting. The developers would be well-served by being more conservative with the DualSense controller, though. The game has a lot of rumble, and sometimes it’s too much to be immersive.
Those looking for a moderately-sized family-friendly romp that takes advantage of the latest PlayStation’s features will likely enjoy Rift Apart and all of the bonkers experiences it provides.
There were times during Rift Apart, the latest entry in the Ratchet & Clank series, when I felt like treasure hunter Nathan Drake. Buildings collapsed around me as I made my way through perfectly tuned action set pieces, and I’d manage to jump out of the way of each explosion at just the right second. The only difference, of course, is Rift Apart is much cuter — think of it like a sci-fi, family-friendly take on Uncharted.
A combination of shooter and platformer, Ratchet & Clank has always been a series closely associated with PlayStation, and the last game — a 2016 reboot of the original — showed that it could also be a technical showcase. Rift Apart, meanwhile, might just be the most pivotal entry in the franchise to date. Thanks to cross-generation releases, true PS5 exclusives still remain vanishingly rare, even months into the console’s life. But Rift Apart is exactly that: a game you can only play on Sony’s next-gen console and one that actually takes advantage of the new hardware. It also happens to be an extremely fun adventure.
Though the series dates back to 2002, Rift Apart is largely a standalone story. It stars a fuzzy little fox creature named Ratchet (he’s actually an alien called a Lombax, believed to be the last of his kind) and his adorable robot companion Clank. As a nice intro for new players (and a refresher for longtime fans), the game starts with the pair being honored for their past achievements in a parade-like setting in front of a huge crowd of adoring onlookers. It even serves as a clever mini-tutorial — but it’s not long before the celebration is interrupted when longtime villain Dr. Nefarious attacks.
The core of Rift Apart is a device that can open up portals between dimensions. After yet another defeat, Nefarious uses the device to go to a dimension where he always wins — and he accidentally brings Ratchet and Clank along in the process. The two become separated. Ratchet is on his own for a while before befriending a tiny bot named Kit, while Clank teams up with another Lombax named Rivet. It’s a clever setup that has the new duos jumping across planets, searching for sci-fi MacGuffins to fix the device and return the dimensions back to normal. The setup is also great because it allows you to play as both characters in a way that feels organic; often, you have a choice of which planet to explore, and you’ll control whichever Lombax is closest.
Ratchet & Clank isn’t exactly a series known for its narrative, but Rift Apart pushes things quite a bit forward. The new characters, in particular, are a great addition, turning it from a wise-cracking caper into a story with real heart (though there are still lots of wisecracks). Rivet starts out as a pessimistic loner, but you get to watch her slowly learn how to trust and work with people, thanks to Clank’s calming presence. Likewise, for most of the game, Kit has a hard time connecting with anyone for reasons that become clear once you learn her surprisingly dark backstory. But this leads to some heartbreaking moments. At one point, in a fit of frustration, she yells, “Why do none of you understand? I am broken. I will always be broken!” This is not the level of emotional awareness I expected from a series with a character named Skidd McMarx. There are even side missions where you can learn more about Lombax lore.
The film-like quality of Rift Apart is heightened by the visuals. Simply put, the game looks incredible. I’ve said this about past games in the series, most notably the 2016 release on PS4, but it’s even more true now: playing Rift Apart is like being inside a gorgeous animated film. There’s a level of detail that you rarely see in games. You’ll venture through a densely packed sci-fi city that puts anything in Cyberpunk 2077 to shame and glide across desert wastelands, creepy underwater research facilities, and an incredibly charming gas station in space. It’s all rendered in a kid-friendly way but also with a sense of realism, whether it’s the gleam of a metallic robot or the fuzz on an alien sheep. Every time I saw Ratchet’s furry ears up close, I wanted to give him a pet and tell him he’s a good boy.
Rift Apart doesn’t just look great, but it runs incredibly well, too. I didn’t experience any slowdown during my time with the game, despite the fact that battles get pretty wild, with dozens of enemies on-screen and all kinds of projectiles flinging about. Ratchet is a series defined in part by its inventive weaponry; you’ll have guns that shoot razor blades, encase enemies in blocks of ice, and — my personal favorite — a grenade that launches a sprinkler, covering everything it touches in beautiful green foliage. Battles involve constantly switching between weapons and firing off all kinds of strange bombs and bullets, and yet I didn’t experience a single hiccup or stutter while playing. (Rift Apart also offers three different graphics options: “fidelity,” which runs at 30fps and features ray tracing, better lighting, and 4K support; “performance RT,” with 60fps and ray tracing, but lower resolution and fewer details and visual density; and “performance” which runs at 60fps but features increased resolution in place of ray-tracing.)
Perhaps even more impressive is that this happens with barely any noticeable load times. When you venture to a new planet, there’s a brief clip showing your ship taking off, but once you’re in a level, there’s no loading whatsoever. Likewise, the game transitions between cutscenes and gameplay seamlessly, to the point that sometimes I didn’t realize I had to pick the controller back up. One of the most impressive things in the game are the titular rifts. Essentially they’re cracks between dimensions, and you can see — and often enter — them to head to a completely different world. It’s wild standing in front of one and just staring through at a totally different location and then jumping into it without any friction whatsoever.
At its most basic, Rift Apart is a fairly standard action platformer. There are some nice diversions, including a side story involving a spider-bot that kills computer viruses, and a series of tricky puzzle rooms that reminded me a bit of the shrines from Breath of the Wild. But for the most part, you’re running around and shooting things. It’s straightforward, but it works: the gunplay is fun, there’s an almost overwhelming amount of variety in the weapons, and lots of cool spaces to move around in. At one point, you’re even riding a dragon. But all of this is elevated by how beautiful the game looks and how well it runs. Rift Apart is the kind of game where I keep stopping just to ogle at seemingly simple things like waves in water or the reflection on a glass cockpit. It shows the importance of aesthetics and style.
That said, the game is relatively linear. For the most part, that’s not an issue. The levels are big enough that you can still poke around and you never really feel boxed in. It also helps keep you from getting lost. (If you do, you can see your destination with a simple click of the right stick.) But what this does mean is that, much like in Uncharted, the big action set pieces follow a very specific path. When it works, it’s incredible, like you’re controlling an action movie sequence in real time. But if you miss a step or are unsure of what to do, everything falls apart. There were multiple times where I had to replay the same sequence a whole bunch of times because I missed the best way to time a jump or didn’t see a ramp with a speed boost on it. These moments are relatively rare, but they stand out because everything else is so seamless.
I should also note that Rift Apart makes great use of the PS5’s controller. In fact, aside from launch showcase Astro’s Playroom, it might be the best DualSense game so far. In one early sequence, for example, you have to find a dance club in a bustling alien city, and you’re able to do it by following the music through vibrations you feel in your hands. I especially loved how some of the weapons made use of the two states of the controller’s triggers; one lets you give a slight press to activate a shield, but when you push it all the way down, that shield turns into a destructive blast. It’s an intuitive way to add depth to the controls.
For the most part, Rift Apart doesn’t stray far from what has made Ratchet & Clank so enduring. The formula remains the same: silly characters, great graphics, and lots of interesting guns to play with. But virtually every element is better than it’s ever been, from the touching-if-goofy story to the frantic action set pieces. And through this Rift Apart becomes a showcase for why someone might go through all the trouble to secure a PS5. It shows how more detailed worlds and faster load times can elevate a tried-and-true formula — and it might even make you care about Lombax lore in the process.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart launches on the PlayStation 5 on June 11th.
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