TIME Video Games

Watch the Trailer for the Most Anticipated Star Wars Game in Years

Star Wars: Battlefront is due out this November

Star Wars: Battlefront, an upcoming large-scale multiplayer battle game set in the Star Wars universe, is due out for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on Nov. 17.

Savvy Star Wars fans will notice that’s just about a month before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next installment in the saga’s film franchise. That isn’t an accident — according to Battlefront’s design director, the game will help bridge the story gap between Return of the Jedi and Awakens.

Watch the new trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront above. You can read more about the game here.

Read more: See the 5 Most Important Scenes in the New Star Wars Trailer

 

TIME Video Games

You Can Play Halo on Your iPhone Now

Halo: Spartan Strike is a new top-down shooter

Microsoft released the latest addition to its Halo series with a surprise announcement: the game is available for download not only on Windows devices, but also for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Halo: Spartan Strike popped up in the iTunes store on Thursday, offering Apple fans the opportunity to take on 30 new missions in the Halo universe. The top-down shooter follows a spin-off story from Halo 2, and is available for digital download for $5.99.

If 30 missions isn’t enough, gamers can also purchase Halo: Spartan Bundle, which adds a second historic campaign from the Halo series for $9.99.

TIME Internet

Video Imagines Titanic Movie as an 8-Bit Video Game

It looks like Jack has stepped in for Mario

Love for Titanic will go on (like Celine Dion’s heart), thanks to this 8-bit retelling of the tragic story.

Cinefix, who have also made 8-bit versions of The Fast and the Furious and Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, have turned their creative energies on James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as a lovestruck couple on an ill-fated cruise.

Now fans of the heart-wrenching saga of Jack and Rose can relive their adventures aboard the unsinkable ship that turned out to be 100% sinkable in a fun 8-bit video game inspired video. Thanks to the retro format, as you watch the Jack and Rose avatars run the gamut of the doomed ship in a bid to survive, it looks like Jack has stepped in for Mario as he works to save the princess, and it would not be a surprise to see Donkey Kong show up and re-arrange the deck chairs.

Watch now, but if you haven’t seen the film (get on that), then beware: There are definitely spoilers.

TIME Video Games

Meet the Guy Who Saved Final Fantasy XIV from Total Disaster

Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida talks to TIME about redesigning a troubled icon

Final Fantasy XIV might not be around today if not for Naoki Yoshida.

The original Final Fantasy XIV MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game) that launched in September 2010 received widespread criticism for poor quality, threatening to become a black spot in the history of the beloved Final Fantasy game franchise. Yoshida was given the unenviable task of fixing one of the greatest failures in Square Enix’s history. He was made both producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV in December 2010 with a mandate to revamp the title.

An avid MMO gamer himself, Yoshida undertook to simultaneously create content for the original Final Fantasy XIV while developing a brand new MMORPG from the ground up to succeed it. The result was Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, launched in August 2013, a streamlined MMO that has been praised for its solid gameplay and numerous quality of life features.

More than a year and a half since later, A Realm Reborn now boasts more than 4 million accounts worldwide and is gearing up for the release of its first expansion, Heavensward on June 23. TIME caught up with Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida to talk about Final Fantasy XIV, its upcoming Heavensward expansion and the numerous challenges posed in designing a MMORPG.

Square EnixNaoki Yoshida, Producer and Director of Final Fantasy XIV

What are some key lessons that you have learned from creating Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn that you have incorporated into Heavensward?

To recover from the failure of the original version of Final Fantasy XIV, we had to come up with a long-term plan for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. So we worked frantically on designing detailed game mechanics and content within a very tight schedule. Throughout the different updates we were making for A Realm Reborn, we were gradually able to incorporate elements stemming from player feedback as well as improvisations that weren’t necessarily in our original designs. We are applying this experience to Heavensward, and are open to receiving even more feedback than before to challenge ourselves even more—while keeping a “long-term plan” in mind. Other than player feedback, we have gathered very valuable information, including the ever-diversifying tastes of our players, as well as log-in patterns based on lifestyle choices. We are considering all these factors to deliver an even more exciting experience.

Square EnixA flying mount in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

What feature(s) in Heavensward are you the most excited for?

As producer and director, I look forward to seeing all of our players enter the land of Ishgard. I get the same kind of feeling when we release a patch update, but it’s truly a wonderful and happy moment to see excited players run around in a field or area that we’ve created. As a player of the game, I’m looking forward to new actions that will be added to my main job, the black mage, and the raised level cap! I’m also looking forward playing as a dark knight and flying around using the new flying mounts. There are just so many things to do! (laughs)

Were there any real life locations that inspired the architecture and landscape in Heavensward?

There isn’t a specific thing or location we can reference, but we focused on “gothic high fantasy” as the central theme for the artwork and in-game modelling. We also made sure to visually accentuate the dark and light areas with pronounced contrast to come up with a novel look. As for the storyline we moved towards dark fantasy which is reflected in each scene. That is another new challenge we’ve put forth for ourselves. All in all, this is a very unique realm created through the interpretations and imaginations of a core development team that is located in Japan. I hope everyone has the opportunity to get their hands on this new Final Fantasy.

Heavensward will launch on PC, Mac, PS3 and PS4. What were the main challenges you faced when creating a game for so many different platforms and did it affect or limit design decisions in any way?

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was designed to be on many platforms so that many different people can play. On top of that, we focused on ensuring that the gameplay experience was uniform across these platforms. This can be seen implemented through many different facets, including support for both keyboard and mouse and controllers. At the moment, I don’t think of this as a limitation, so it didn’t really affect or limit design decisions. Of course, hardware will evolve over time, so I believe we will eventually have to modify our target specs and evolve the gameplay experience based on the evolution of the hardware.

On another note, working with this many platforms simultaneously with language support, simultaneous updates, and simultaneous master submissions was an extremely challenging undertaking for all of us.

Not only do I want to thank each of our First Party and corporate partners for their undivided support, but I also want to thank and praise all of the efforts of my development and operation/management teams—as well as the managers—who have worked tirelessly. Last but not least, I want to extend the biggest thank you to the players and fans out there who motivate us to keep moving forward!

Square EnixThe new Dark Knight job introduced in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

The three new classes introduced in Heavensward, the Dark Knight, Astrologian and Machinist maintain the concept of the MMO holy trinity of a tank, healer and dps. Are there any plans in the future to branch out from this paradigm to include hybrid classes, such as the dps/healer Dancer class from Final Fantasy XI, or other non-traditional roles?

Of course, I won’t say that it would never happen in the future, but in party situations, hybrid roles can become either be too overpowering or very difficult to use, and it can lead to imbalance. Final Fantasy XIV’s core concept is to have the freedom to play each role through the Armoury System, so we may explore new directions through a skill tree, in which the player’s job will be determined by what actions have been obtained. Needless to say these won’t be immediate changes, but we will continue to work on creating jobs that are in line with Final Fantasy in a system that is very much like Final Fantasy. The red mage is one of my favorites, after all…

Patch 2.55 introduced a significant plot twist to the final storyline of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. How far in advance was the final storyline for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn planned out and how much of the future storyline has already been written?

First and foremost, thank you very much for enjoying the storyline!

The final storyline of A Realm Reborn was finalized before the release of Patch 2.1 (December 2013). We needed a solid plot from the start so that we could create a story that wouldn’t fall apart. We introduced characters in each patch update every 3.5 months, and created the dialogue to establish these characters and/or build tension and excitement in the story.

Also, Final Fantasy XIV supports Japanese, English, French, German, Chinese (and Korean, in just a short while), with voice overs in many of the cut scenes. In order to accomplish this we need to record in the various languages well ahead of time, which naturally requires that the script be finalized much earlier than that. For Patch 2.55 (“Before the Fall, Part 2”) we recorded the voice overs in between the release of Patch 2.3 and 2.4. (This is about a 6 month lead time). I take my hat off to our script writers, localization team, and sound team.

In terms of future storylines, we’ve already determined a general outline of the next expansion pack (Version 4.0) after Heavensward. Of course, the details may potentially change, and depending on our players’ reactions, there is always a possibility for adjustments, too!

Square EnixA dragoon suits up in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

What’s your favorite fantasy story and why is it your favorite?

Considering recent works, I’m into Game of Thrones, but what holds a special place in my heart are The Legend of King Arthur and The Lord of the Rings. (I think anyone around my generation will think so too!) Then there’s Star Wars, Dragon Quest I through III, and Final Fantasy I, which impacted me in terms of storytelling and world creation. As for “why” – all of these titles have a strong foundation in their settings and a sense of reality in a fictional world. Not only are they very entertaining, but they leave room for the imagination of the people who enjoy these titles to run wild.

I’ve read that Dark Age of Camelot is one of your favorite games. What other games, either past or present, have been the most influential to you as a producer and director?

As an avid online gamer, I can’t go without mentioning Diablo and Ultima Online. Diablo taught me about the joys of playing online with other players, and how to add value to an item so that players would obsess over it. I don’t even want to think about how many hundreds of hours I’ve put into that game (laughs). As for Ultima Online, the thousands of people sharing one world, the thrill of player killers, and role-play that is very free, were all very impactful to me. There are many other games that fuel my passion, but I would list these two as must-haves. I can still talk through the night about all of the episodes I had in-game.

With a game as wide-reaching as Final Fantasy XIV, how do you design for both hardcore and casual MMO players?

In recent years, the MMORPG genre has become more geared towards hardcore players. In order to attract experienced MMORPG players, games tend to be more action-oriented, or visually flashy. As a result, I feel that casual gamers find it difficult to continue playing MMO games. Having said this, from a business standpoint, it is more effective to cater to core MMORPG gamers, so titles are faced with a very difficult decision.

With Final Fantasy XIV, we deliberately targeted those who have yet to play an MMORPG, and made certain that the first part of the game wouldn’t require players to recruit a party of other players. Also, the speed at which players need to react is intentionally slower at the start of the game. For hardcore MMORPG players, this may seem boring (and admittedly this is an actual piece of feedback we receive), but if we don’t attract new MMORPG players, then we can’t expect this genre to expand. Based on this concept, we took a story-driven approach, where the battle content becomes progressively harder while the story motivates the player to continue. At the same time, we introduced non-combat-focused elements such as player housing, the Gold Saucer and its attractions, and the Triple Triad mini-game for players to enjoy. We also added other content that mitigates the more casual player’s fear of not being able to catch up to high-level players, such as easing the difficulty of obtaining gear over time. For high-end content, the stages are very difficult at first, but through subsequent updates, their difficulty level is toned down so that casual players will be able to clear the older content. These little touches can be seen all throughout Final Fantasy XIV.

Square EnixThe Triple Triad card mini-game in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Are there any plans in the future to incorporate additional mini-games from other Final Fantasy titles such as Chocobo Hot and Cold from Final Fantasy IX or Blitzball from Final Fantasy X given the popularity of introducing Final Fantasy VIII‘s Triple Triad to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn?

For readers who are unaware, the Manderville Gold Saucer is an amusement center located in the world of Eorzea which houses content like the Triple Triad card game, chocobo racing, and other mini-games. We are already creating a new attraction for Patch 3.1, and looking to introduce more attractions in the future that hearken back to popular mini-games found within the Final Fantasy franchise. In addition to this, we are looking to create many Final Fantasy XIV-original attractions so I don’t intend to imply that we will only have one or the other.

By the way, it seems there’s a big demand from our players for “snowboarding” in the Gold Saucer (laugh). Outside of video games, I love snowboarding, so it would be great if I can make that a reality. I may have players start with crafting their own snowboards first, though.

Last question — can we ever expect to see a Yoshida Triple Triad card?

Ha ha ha, thank you for the suggestion! In all seriousness, though, I believe we shouldn’t take a real-life character or person and put them in a game. There is a special character, known as the “Wandering Minstrel,” that exists in the game, but he is an exception because the scenario creation team really wanted to have a character represent the development team so that we could thank the legacy players who remained committed through the original (Version 1.0) Final Fantasy XIV. Eorzea is “another reality” created in the digital world. Wouldn’t it be awkward if I showed up in that fantasy world? (laughs) But it is an honor as both a game developer and as an individual to hear many players ask “What about a Yoshida card? Or a minion?” and I am very happy to hear it. Your continued support for Final Fantasy XIV is greatly appreciated!

Square EnixNaoki Yoshida’s “Wandering Minstrel” character in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
TIME Video Games

12 Ways the New Guitar Hero Live Reinvents the Series

Activision

First Rock Band and now Guitar Hero are making bids to resurrect the music-rhythm game category

What’s the one thing missing from the Guitar Hero games, aside from their somehow magically transmogrifying you into a bona fide, string-sawing, fret-shredding, tremolo-slapping Rock God?

How about live stadium-sized audiences? Okay, so let’s assume there’s no way you’re luring thousands of people to watch you hammer tiny plastic buttons in tandem with onscreen cues while mugging for your webcam. But what if you could conjure an audience of real (as in not computer-rendered) concertgoers who looked and acted live instead?

This is Guitar Hero Live‘s big idea, and I’m not sure how it works, or even if it works. But the idea is definitely going to turn heads, if only because it seems so completely at odds with what you’d expect from this sort of experience in 2015.

FreeStyleGames demoed Guitar Hero Live for me last week in New York. Here’s what they’re saying about the game, due this fall for $99 with controller.

It’s the first new Guitar Hero game in five years

Guitar Hero Live marks Activision’s first mainline Guitar Hero since 2010’s Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, and it’s as clean a break as you’re liable to see in the category. For one, its existence depends counterintuitively on full motion video, weirdly shelving it alongside games like The Seventh Guest, Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, Mad Dog McCree and Wing Commander III.

Activision

The timing of the game’s announcement couldn’t be weirder, either. Activision claims it had no idea category rival (and original Guitar Hero creator) Harmonix was going to announce a new Rock Band game last month. I guess enterprising minds think—and subconsciously schedule—alike.

It’s the world’s first “first-person rhythm” game

In Guitar Hero, you tap buttons on a faux-guitar controller in step with onscreen cues that signify rhythmic divisions of the beat. Get a solid sequence going and the audience will cheer you on, or flub your part and they’ll break into choruses of boos.

But in Guitar Hero Live, instead of watching a camera pan around cartoonish avatars and concertgoers rocking out, the game sticks the camera on your shoulders, then shoves you onstage alongside filmed live action drummers, singers, bassists, keyboardists and the like, gazing out over a sea of expectant, all-too-easily disappointed fans. It’s first-person Guitar Hero, in other words, only without the option to move around on your own—a wise choice, since having to ambulate while interpolating rapid-fire rhythmic cues sounds nightmarish.

“You never see yourself in Guitar Hero Live, you never really hear yourself talk, because the whole idea is for you to imagine that you’re there,” says FreeStyleGames studio head Jamie Jackson. “It’s about getting you to believe that you’re on that stage, and to be completely swept along by the whole thing. That’s our vision for the game.”

The pretend-guitar control scheme is totally different

The original Guitar Hero games had players tapping up to five uniquely colored buttons along the top of a faux-guitar fretboard. The more difficult the song, the more the fourth and fifth buttons were used. Guitar Hero Live increases the button total to six, but eschews primary colors for just two—black and white—then stacks them at the top of the guitar neck as two rows of three, giving one a unique crisscross texture to help you sense (without looking) which row each finger’s in.

“What we’re trying to tell you, in design language, is ‘Do you hit the top row, or the bottom row?'” says Jackson.

Activision

The idea’s that casual players who maybe want to jam with at lower difficulty levels can do so by fingering just one row of buttons (three) at a time, whereas more sophisticated tappers will have to access both rows of three simultaneously. In practice, it’s a hair more like playing chords on a real guitar, your hands challenged to operate in two dimensions (simultaneously horizontal and vertical) instead of one.

The buttons (and onscreen cues) are now black and white

It sounds drab, and at first it does look bland, but FreeStyleGames says the decision to strip out the series’ trademark orange, blue, yellow, red and green buttons for black and white ones came about because it realized, belatedly, that those colors were throwing up informational roadblocks.

“In early development, we actually had the buttons using the original Guitar Hero colors,” says Jackson. But then one of the studio’s user interface designers came up with the idea to reduce the button colors from five to two, one for each button row. Jackson thought it was a terrible idea at first, but after giving the idea a try, he found he was able to play even more accurately.

“What we realized when we broke it down was, by having these as colors and trying to tell you whether to hit top row or bottom row, your brain was having to read color first, then top row or bottom row,” explains Jackson. “But it didn’t need to actually read color, because your fingers never actually move out of position. You always know which is left or right or the middle, that was a given piece of information. We just didn’t realize we knew that. So by taking out that process of your brain having to read the colors, everyone’s reactions got quicker. And that’s why we took the colors away.”

“Live” doesn’t mean actually live, but you’re not supposed to be able to tell the difference

That’s the promise, anyway, and it hinges, bizarrely, on fully filmed play-spaces.

So how did the studio keep the filmed reactions from looking artificial and the seams sufficiently seamless, since you can veer on or off course at any point in the midst of a song? The studio isn’t saying yet (expect more coming out of E3 in June), but claims their technology allows for the sort of reactive dynamism you’d expect from any of its prior titles.

Activision

“Your experience can change at any point,” explains Jackson. “There are no gates where the crowd’s reaction switches. You might get a song wrong in one place, one time, but the audience will have a totally different reaction if you get it wrong in a different place the next time. It’s entirely down to your performance.”

When I asked if this involved shooting epic volumes of video, the studio, which isn’t yet offering precise figures, was nonetheless emphatic that it involved “a lot.”

The studio wants to scare you

A little, anyway. FreeStyleGames says part of its design discovery process involved identifying the psychological rituals band members often go through before heading onstage. Imagine the sort of stage fright you might be grappling with, however accomplished or seasoned you are, if you’re playing a festival in front of a hundred thousand people. To that end, Guitar Hero Live supports multiple venue types, from intimate hundred-person clubs to sprawling stadiums.

The studio didn’t film any real bands

Imagine how expensive that might have been. But no, while FreeStyleGames says it’s using the original masters for the game’s hit lists, all the bands you’ll play in were created ad hoc.

Call it “Cover Band Hero,” then.

The audiences aren’t generic

Make no mistake: the musicians you’ll jam alongside in each song are playing the song you’re hearing, nor are they merely actors faking instrumentally out of sync performances. FreeStyleGames says that all of the musical performances line up visually with the master track, and even the audiences have been tailored to match the style of music you’re playing.

Activision

“Each song has been crafted to fit with a certain audience, and that audience will look like it’s there to experience that genre of music,” explains Jackson.

You can’t import your old Guitar Hero song library

The new Rock Band game, whatever else it turns out to be, supports most of the old Rock Band songs. For better or worse, Guitar Hero Live, because of the nature of its shift to handcrafted filmic experiences per song, supports none.

But the song list sounds massive

Activision says it’s positioning Guitar Hero Live as tantamount to playing a “modern music festival, with rock, folk, EDM, hip-hop, country and pop acts sharing the same stage.” The initial lineup (which Activision says amounts to “hundreds of playable tunes”) includes: The Black Keys, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Gary Clark, Jr., Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The War on Drugs, The Killers, Skrillex, The Rolling Stones, The Lumineers, Pierce the Veil and Blitz Kids.

So what’s on “Guitar Hero TV?”

Guitar Hero TV, or GHTV, is Activision’s shot at a self-hosted, 24-hour music video channel. At this point there’s still a lot we don’t know about it (save that it doesn’t involve Twitch), but the idea is to let players play along with official music videos, or compete with friends, whether local or online.

Activision

You won’t need a console to play

Paralleling the Skylanders franchise’s recent leap to mobile device, Activision says Guitar Hero Live will be playable on tablets and smartphones—all you need is the guitar controller—as well as PlayStations 3 or 4, Xbox 360 or One, and Nintendo’s Wii U.

Read next: Rock Band 4 Exists and It’ll Be on PS4 and Xbox One This Year

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TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Week

Try Rogue Star, a Star Wars-like space adventure

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

Smove

Overall an incredibly simple game with a very rewarding premise, Smove takes you through a number of levels in which you fly through different stages, dodging obstacles as they fly toward you. And though it may not be the world’s most complex game, it’ll keep you playing for a very long time.

Smove is free in the App Store

Attack the Light

For fans of Steven Universe, this game is an absolute necessity. For those who have yet to watch the endearing Cartoon Network show, then allow this game to be your gateway. Run through maps related to the show and clobber enemies while playing as the show’s main characters. However, Attack the Light isn’t entirely a fighting game. You lead your characters on an adventure, turning this game into an adorable RPG.

Attack the Light is $2.99 in the App Store

Tiltagon

Tiltagon is a truly fantastic, fast-paced puzzle game. The object is simple: you must continuously tilt your device in order to manipulate the trajectory of a ball on a series of increasingly complex hexagonal landscapes. Keep the ball rolling, and you stay alive. If not, you explode, which is a great way to go out.

Tiltagon is free in the App Store

Rogue Star

Perhaps it’s simply the game’s name, but Rogue Star has great similarities to the celebrated GameCube game Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. In Rogue Star, you fly your ship in a band of criminals, blasting your way through space and completing missions in order to ascend the ranks.

Rogue Star is $4.99 in the App Store

MORTAL KOMBAT X

This hugely anticipated game was well worth the wait. It’s essentially just like the much-loved button mashing games of yesteryear, except with greatly improved graphics. You can unlock a variety of characters, including some of your favorites from the old series, and spend your time ripping opponents throats out or stabbing them in the face or turning them into ice sculptures.

MORTAL KOMBAT X is free in the App Store

TIME Video Games

The Next Call of Duty Is Apparently Black Ops III

We'll know for sure on April 26

Call of Duty: Black Ops III, anyone? That’s the presumptive punchline at the end of Activision’s trippy teaser for a new game, which not-so-cryptically sports the hashtag #backinblack, making this either the third installment in the mega-publisher’s storied spy-thriller shooter Call of Duty sub-series, or a really weird promo for a joint endeavor with AC/DC.

But surely the Roman numerology at the end (“III”) gives it away, if not the callout to “Mason” (as in Black Ops mainstay Alex Mason) at the beginning. And the line “Everything you know is wrong” makes it sound like the game’s going to be bouncing Mason off the whole introspective ret-con trope.

Symbols, GPS coordinates and looping lines of letters and numbers fill the screen as sinister Dr. Evil-ish voices threaten and goad. It’s an Internet sleuth’s dream come true, even if the end result of all the busywork’s something like “Mother may I have the next clue, please?” We should know more on April 26, the game’s official worldwide reveal.

As for the question “The numbers Mason, what do they mean?,” someone get Damon Lindelof or Carlton Cuse on the horn.

Update: Activision has now confirmed Call of Duty: Black Ops III is happening, longtime developer Treyarch’s helming, and we’ll see it this year.

TIME Video Games

The 15 Biggest Video Games Coming Out This Spring

Check out our springtime list of PC, console and handheld video games to keep an eye on

These are the biggest games for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and Nintendo 3DS out this spring, including Bloodborne, Mortal Kombat X, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D.

  • Mario Party 10

    Nintendo’s jamboree four-player Mario Party series comes to the Wii U, harboring its peculiar melange of boardgame-like mini-games, with this particular batch crafted to avail itself of both the Wii U’s unique second-screen controller and Nintendo’s wirelessly programmable Amiibo figurines.

    Wii U

    March 20

  • Bloodborne

    The popular line on developer From Software is that the studio makes counter-culturally punishing hack and slash games. That’s too easy. Once you isolate each game’s patterns, they’re relatively simple to crack. The difficulty’s in sussing the patterns, it’s true, but these games trade as much on their ambience, and Bloodborne‘s no different: an abattoir of the arcane that’s as gratifying to rubberneck as unravel, piece by bloody piece.

    PlayStation 4

    March 24

  • Pillars of Eternity

    A bona fide old-school PC roleplaying escapade inspired by several popular turn of the century Dungeons & Dragons computer gaming hits, Pillars of Eternity resurrects bygone staples like isometric (top-down, off-center) camera angles, round-driven tactical combat and an almanac’s worth of statistical esoterica. But it’s all thoroughly modernized here, and as friendly as this sort of world-building exercise is likely to get.

    PC

    March 26

  • Axiom Verge

    Give Petroglyph (Command & Conquer) developer Tom Happ five years to fiddle in his spare time with a side-scrolling platformer, and you get Axiom Verge, an homage to games like Metroid and Castlevania, but one that layers in its own curiosities and inventions, adding to a growing chorus of recent, deceptively throwback games that bristle with progressive surprises.

    PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita

    March 31

  • Story of Seasons

    A Harvest Moon-like (developer Marvelous Entertainment is known for its work on the long-running Harvest Moon series), Story of Seasons lets players raise ye olde crops and livestock, but in this case you can peddle your wares in an online market composed of various “countries,” each with unique trade-related demands.

    Nintendo 3DS

    March 31

  • Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin

    Another Sisyphean From Software ordeal, Scholar of the First Sin packages last year’s Dark Souls II with all of its expansion content, upgraded for the latest consoles and sporting new enemies, items as well as support for more simultaneous players in online sessions.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    April 2

  • Etrian Mystery Dungeon

    The dungeon-exploring Etrian Odyssey series meets the roguelike Mystery Dungeon games. It’s not clear yet how that mashup’s going to distinguish itself, but it presumably involves random-generated dungeons, three-dimensional environments and chess-like (I go, you go) combat.

    Nintendo 3DS

    April 7

  • Affordable Space Adventures

    2015’s list of Wii U games feels worryingly sparse with The Legend of Zelda slipping to 2016. While you’re waiting, there’s Affordable Space Adventures to think about, a clever-sounding Wii U exclusive that hands you control of a tiny spaceship with discretely playable and granular systems, allowing friends to crew aspects of the ship like thrust, stabilization or scanning in concert.

    Wii U

    April 9

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

    One of the smartest roleplaying games in the genre’s history comes to the New Nintendo 3DS (and only to the New 3DS–it’ll be the first that taps the new handheld’s souped up processor). This is your chance to play what by all accounts looks to be the definitive version.

    Nintendo 3DS

    April 10

  • Grand Theft Auto V

    It’s a shame a studio as stately as Rockstar’s made players on the most popular and generationally resilient video game platform around wait a full year and a half to play the company’s 2013 magnum opus. If you’re one of PC gaming’s many slighted, however, the Windows version appears to be definitive (that is, if you have a PC powerful enough to crunch it).

    PC

    April 14

  • Mortal Kombat X

    It’s another Mortal Kombat for the latest-gen hardware, meaning a compendium of even more graphically intricate carnage erupting from the business end of whips, chains, bows, swords, hats, hammers and various weaponized limbs.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    April 14

  • Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China

    Assassin’s Creed Unity was the first critical misstep in Ubisoft’s annual stealth-parkour franchise, in part because the company oversold it as its boldest rethink since the series debuted in 2007. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, a downloadable 2.5D platformer (it’s a 2D side-scroller with 3D elements), will be the first in a trilogy of diversions designed to fill the space between Unity and the series’ next installment, ostensibly due this year and reportedly set in Victorian London.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    April 21

  • Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

    Sporting the world’s weirdest name and likely bound to scare off anyone not in the tactical roleplaying Tensei-series know, Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker revisits the acclaimed 2012 Nintendo DS game (of the same name, sans the “Record Breaker” appendage) by way of a new scenario that picks up where the original game left off.

    Nintendo 3DS

    May 5

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    You won’t need a copy of Wolfenstein: The New Order (reviewed here) to play developer MachineGames’s standalone prequel expansion, which takes series protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz back to Hitlerian climes circa 1946, canvassing two pivotal alternate history events leading up to the last game’s break with World War II and Man in the High Castle-ish leap forward.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    May 5

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    You may want to take the rest of the year off to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Polish developer CD Projekt Red’s apparent bid to eliminate every other game from your playtime schedule. Imagine Skyrim multiplied by Skyrim and you’re in the ballpark of this East European-inspired fantasy-verse. And if hundreds of potential hours of freeform gameplay isn’t enough to sate your Heisenbergian appetites, the studio just announced two expansions due for release over the course of this year into early next, totaling some 30 hours of additional content.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    May 19

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games of the Week

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Try 'Ducktails' and 'Hellrider'

Had enough Candy Crush and looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week.

DuckTales: Remastered

DuckTales, originally released in the late 1980s and 1990s, was one of the best adventure games ever. Now, it’s been remastered for iOS — which means no more crummy, hard to see graphics. Take Scrooge McDuck on a string of journeys through dangerous terrains, traps and maps until you find your treasure. It’s an expensive game, but it’s a small price to pay for reliving one of the best games ever developed – or discovering it for the first time.

DuckTales: Remastered is available for $9.99 in the App Store

Hellrider

Imagine Mad Max, but instead of fighting other humans, you’re battling an army of skeletons. Clobber your way through various maps and destroy your enemies. Despite the fact that Hellrider follows the basic arcade game principle of running through levels and smashing enemies to bits, the game is remarkably designed and never gets boring.

Hellrider is free in the App Store

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons

Until the day Nintendo decides to get launch a full suite of titles for iOS, games like Tiny Dangerous Dungeons will have to do. Take your character (who is wearing a suspiciously Mario-like outfit) through spooky arenas and over obstacles until you reach the end of each level. There’s not much enemy-fighting in this one, which is why it’s so endearingly like games of yesteryear, down to the blocky graphics and monochrome display. It’ll look really cool on your iPhone screen.

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons is free in the App Store

Last Voyage

Unlike almost every puzzle game, Last Voyage is a strange quest through time and space. One moment you’re solving something that looks more like a Rubik’s Cube, and the next, you’re racing from chapter to chapter and beaming around stars at warp speed. The puzzles are almost impossible to solve, but it’s incredibly rewarding once you unlock the next stage. Though the graphics are basic, games like Last Voyage are bringing a new level of complexity to the realm of iOS puzzle games.

Last Voyage is available for $0.99 in the App Store

Phil The Pill

A game that looks like it could be turned into a Cartoon Network show, Phil The Pill is the story of a character who must restore order to his once peaceful universe of strange animated characters. Enemies have invaded Phil’s village, and it’s up to him to fight his way through alleyways and mazes in order to liberate his town’s princess and free his fellow citizens from invaders.

Phil The Pill is free in the App Store

 

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