The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Is a 'Prince of Persia-Like' Stealth Game With a Branching Narrative - IGN - IGN
We spoke exclusively to the developers of the next-gen Gollum game to find out about its gameplay, story, decision-making and more.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will mix Prince of Persia-like stealth action, feature a branching narrative, and expand on the hints given by J.R.R. Tolkien about the Stoor-formerly-known-as-Sméagol to create a brand new Lord of the Rings story that aims to fit alongside the books.Daedelic still isn't showing off gameplay footage of its 2021 next-gen stealth project, but the game's developers spoke exclusively to IGN about Gollum's mixture of stealth-action and interactive narrative gameplay, how they're expanding on Tolkien's original fiction, how they tried to create a version of the character you actually want to spend time with, and more.We can also reveal a first CG teaser trailer, giving you a better look at this take on Gollum, and the Mordor he finds himself stranded in. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum's Stealth Gameplay Gollum will be a game broadly spent in two distinct states - either stealthily making your way past the various hulking threats living in Mordor, and making narrative chocies as the warring personalities of Sméagol and Gollum fight for control.The former should be familiar to many: "The game mixes stealth with vertical climbing parkour," explains lead game designer Martin Wilkes. "If you want a reference you might think of it as similar to Prince of Persia. It is mostly a non-combat game, but Gollum will be able to stealthily take out enemies. However, this will not be easy and always come with big risks. We want players to carefully weigh these encounters. After all, Gollums strengths lie in cunning not combat." That focus on cunning over combat means you won't be directly taking on enemies - instead you'll be relying on scavenged items, environmental hazards, and even newfound friends for help. Wilkes continues: "Gollum doesnt use weapons, but he can distract enemies with throwables. In parts of the game, he will also profit from the abilities of special allies and can use the environment to his advantage." That mention of "special allies" is interesting - will we meet familiar characters along the way? "You will!" says lead narrative designer Tilman Schanen. "We cannot wait to talk about this but it's still a bit early for that. Keeping in mind the scope and timeline of our narrative, we have to closely consider who Gollum would even be able to meet, where, and when. This means that for the most part, they will play smaller - but in some cases very significant - roles in the story." The Lord of the Rings: Gollum's Narrative Gameplay Between those stealth sections, Gollum will be forced to make decisions and dialogue choices, choosing from responses proposed by both his gentler Sméagol personality, and the Gollum psyche that emerged after he was corrupted by the One Ring. So, do those decisions mean there's a branching narrative to play through?"There is," explains Schanen. "Also, the decisions you make affect the way the game feels. You always either play as Sméagol or as Gollum as the 'dominant' persona and that can influence animations, soundscapes, certain gameplay situations, and in-game dialogue." Daedelic's quick to make clear that it won't be changing the source material - this is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings books, meaning Gollum has to reach a set place by the end of the game, but the journey there can change: "We naturally stay within certain limits," Schanen continues. "It wont be like youre going to end up destroying Middle-earth because you never made a Sméagol choice. In the end, of course, Gollum's fate is pretty much determined by the books. But your decisions can and will have effects, for example, for other NPCs in the game. Some decisions will have a bigger impact, others very little. Just as in real life." Wilkes adds that it's "sort of" a morality system as seen in other narrative-focused titles (although we won't see any physical changes in the character, a la Fable), "but a bit more twisted than in most other games. It's not as simple as, 'Choose Sméagol to be good, choose Gollum to be evil'. Our first rule is to stay true to the character (or our interpretation of him at least). Since you play two personalities in one character, choosing sides will give you some control. But it's more like maneuvering a truck with two flat tires and trying not to drive it off a cliff." The Lord of the Rings: Gollum's Level Design and Structure Middle-earth is a huge place, and we've seen other games adapt it as an open world, but Gollum will take a slightly more curated approach."The game is, for the most part, structured in sets of levels and hubs," Wilkes explains. "When Gollum arrives at a new location the places where he can go from that hub are limited until he either works his way in (for example, the prisons of the Dark Tower), finds secret passages or information, or manages to scheme his way into otherwise restricted areas. "Some levels are completely open in all three dimensions and can be explored freely, while others are more linear but often with alternative routes where players can, for example, decide if they rather sneak around some guards or take a risky parkour route in vertiginous heights to pass the next segment." The idea seems to be to balance player choice with allowing for satisfying puzzle solving and perhaps even platforming, with Wilkes saying that, "Verticality plays a big role in our levels, and the outstanding climbing skills of our main character not only provide us with epic views but also really open up this dimension for the players from a gameplay perspective." As for the look of the world itself, Daedelic's environments are in part inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's own drawings, but without straying too far from expectations of what Middle-earth should look like because of the film series: "Peter Jacksons movies are fantastic but our game is based on the original book license," says Wilkes. "The source material for both is, of course, largely the same. Our world follows the same descriptions and is also in parts inspired by the same artworks as were the movies. Their influence on popular culture has been tremendous, so we have to be mindful of players who might only know Middle-earth from the two film trilogies." Art director Mathias Fischer adds, "Our approach is therefore to create a unique and distinctive style but at the same time not deviate entirely from the iconic shapes that are familiar from the movies. Sauron's Dark Tower will still look like a tower and not like a broad fortress, even if the books would allow such interpretation." The Lord of the Rings: Gollum's Story So what are we doing all of this stealthing and inner warring for? We knew previously that the game would be set in the relatively unexplored time period before we meet Gollum in the Lord of the Rings books, and now we know how this new story begins, with Schanen explaining:"We start our story parallel to the first book when Frodo is still in the Shire and knows nothing about anything. Gollum at that time ventures to Mordor still desperately looking for Bilbo Baggins and the Ring. Unfortunately, he gets caught by Saurons servants and this is basically where our story begins. "Gollums overall goal in the game?" adds Wilkes. "Well, thats a bit more complicated. Obviously, Gollum wants to escape his captors and retake the Ring (and hopefully get his hands on some nice fish along the way). After some time, though, the Sméagol-side causes trouble and distractions and opens up new, conflicting goals that we cannot talk about yet." The Daedelic team says they've worked closely with Middle-earth Enterprises in order to stay respectful to Tolkien's work (a process that has apparently been "an absolute pleasure"), but they're having to create their own story as they go simply due to a lack of direct source material: "We follow Tolkien's story quite strictly and only take some freedom for purposes of gamification or sometimes simplification," says Schanen. "Tolkien doesn't describe Gollum's story before he appears in the book in great detail. So mainly, we draw from small notes in the appendices and second-hand reports from characters like Gandalf. Since we need to fill in many gaps, it gives us quite a bit of creative freedom to pursue our narrative vision. "At the same time, we would have never gotten the chance to work on this project if that vision would not be in tune with the source material. Think of it like taking a few verses from the bible and extending them to a novel without changing the overall narrative." And what of Gollum himself? As many pointed out after the first screenshots emerged, the character looks like a slightly more wide-eyed take on the version Andy Serkis made famous. As it turns out, that's more or less the point. Fischer explains the goal with the design of their anti-hero: "With Gollum himself, our goal is to make him more relatable, as players have to be able to slip into his skin for the course of an entire game. That's why our Gollum looks less creepy (and has more hair) than the movie version." The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will come to PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC in 2021 Joe Skrebels is IGN's Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to [email protected]
Watch Dogs Legion Gets October Release Date - IGN
Watch Dogs Legion will arrive on October 29, and we got a look at its multiple version of the same missions, based on its "Play As Anyone" system.
Watch Dogs Legion will be released on October 29, for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Stadia, and PC (for Epic Games Store and Uplay).Shown off at today's Ubisoft Forward event, Xbox's Phil Spencer added that the game will support Smart Delivery between Xbox One and Xbox Series X, with the latter version using Direct X Raytracing. A store page later confirmed that free upgrades will also be available between PS4 and PS5 versions.We got a look at a live-action/CG trailer for the game's dystopian themes and futuristic London setting. We also saw a series of gameplay clips, showing London's Dedsec in action. Preorder Watch Dogs Legion We saw recruitment profiling, differences in dialogue between procedurally generated characters, and a look at the game's story - featuring a mysterious terrorist cell, London's new PMC police group, Albion, and the Kelly Gang, led by Mary Kelly. Mission gameplay shows a series of Dedsec operatives attempting to break into the Tower of London, including a contruction worker armed with a wrench, nailgun and a cargo drone. It then shows the same mission attempted by a more stealth oriented drone expert, who uses surveillance and spider drones, and an Albion officer who can simply walk through the Tower's defences. A separate mission sees Dedsec attempting to disrupt an organ farming operation from the perspective of a drunk football fan (who passes out) and a John Wick-like hitman, able to take down swathes of security. It's a confident showing of quite how different Legion can be for every player. We got a new hands-on with Watch Dogs Legion ahead of the announcement, and called Ubisoft's new London "a world of compelling stories". We also spoke to creative director Clint Hocking, who explained to us how the game's delay from March to October actually improved multiple parts of the game. After previous hands-on previews of the game, we called said Watch Dogs Legion is unlike any other Ubisoft game. We've previously learned how its "Play As Anyone" system actually works, and been told the game will at some point come to PS5 and Xbox Series X. Joe Skrebels is IGN's Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to [email protected]
Endgame: Where the Hell Were These Characters When the Avengers Needed Them? - IGN - IGN
From SHIELD agents and shapeshifters to Asgardians and Abominations, here are the bozos who bowed out of the Battle of Earth.
While the final battle in Avengers: Endgame utilized just about every superhero the MCU could muster, pitting them all against the dark forces of 2014 Thanos in an attempt to stop the Mad Titan from rebooting the entire universe, it didn't bring back everyone.Yes, as wildly successful as the MCU is, over its decade of dominance at the multiplex, not every storyline has paid off. Some characters who were important early on returned to play very important roles in later films (General Ross, Happy Hogan, Frigga, etc.) but some have all-but vanished from the long-running saga completely (Sif, Emil Blonsky, Justin Hammer, and more).The following list doesn't just spotlight the heroes who took a powder during humanity's last clash against Thanos, but also some of villains still lingering out there in the MCU who may have had a vested interest in saving the world they hoped to one day conquer and/or control. From SHIELD agents and shapeshifters to Asgardians and Abominations, here are some notable MCU players who didn't bother to portal in for the The Battle of Earth. Sharon Carter Last seen kissing Cap goodbye in Civil War, ex-SHIELD agent Sharon Carter, formerly Agent 13, was apparently one of the poor souls erased from existence after Thanos' snap. When Bruce Banner effectively reversed the snap in Endgame, however, Peggy Carter's niece was not among the army of heroes who appeared at the eleventh hour to back up Cap in his final stand against the Black Order.Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne Scott Lang, who was neatly tucked away in the Quantum Realm during the Snap, was a huge part of the Battle of Earth. Likewise, Hope van Dyne arrived in the nick of time too, as Wasp, to help defeat Thanos when she was brought back into reality. But Hank and Janet, original Ant-Man and Wasp, were left out of the mix despite having vanished with Hope at the exact same time and place. Maybe there just weren't enough suits to go around.Nakia Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia was one of the more noticeably absent faces from the final act of Endgame since other major Black Panther characters like King T'Challa, Shuri, Okoye, and M'Baku were all there in the end, helping rescue all of existence from the dire, dark fate being utterly erased.Everett Ross Civil War and Black Panther's CIA agent Everett Ross, despite having helped save Wakanda from being overthrown by Erik Killmonger, wasn't around for the final moments of Endgame to help save the universe from being overthrown by the vast void of nothingness.Ava Starr/Ghost When we last saw the swiftly deteriorating Ava Starr -- aka Ghost -- she had been momentarily healed by Janet van Dyne's quantum energy and was seemingly on the road to wellness. But Hank, Janet, and Hope were all erased in the Snap while in the midst of trying to harness more energy for Ava's treatment. So we don't know what Ghost's status is, necessarily. But her phasing ability would have come in super handy against the ravaging forces of Thanos' minions.Bill Foster A surrogate father to Ava, Hank's ex-partner, Bill Foster, would never leave her side, even in the most desperate of times. But having been the pioneer of growth technology, and the original Goliath, Bill would have made an awesome tag team partner for Scott as a fellow towering titan in the struggle to save all living things from being wiped out.Lady Sif In the movies, Jaimie Alexander's Sif went AWOL after Thor: The Dark World, but she has also appeared on two episodes of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, letting viewers know that Sif was capable of carrying on her own solo adventures. In fact, that's probably where she was during Thor: Ragnarok, when her entire homeward was obliterated. Just... somewhere else. So "off crusading, be back later" is probably also the explanation for her not helping out in Endgame.Talos Honestly, who's to say Talos wasn't a part of the big push at the close of Endgame? He can take anybody's form. He could have been there impersonating someone. Heck, he could have been Nick Fury at Tony's funeral since that's who we know he started morphing into after the Snap was reversed. So maybe we give Talos and the other Skrulls the benefit of the doubt.Nick Fury and Maria Hill Speaking of Skrulls assuming people's identities: Where were Nick and Maria? Do they only do funerals now? Or was that Talos and Soren as Fury and Hill, way in the back mourning Tony? Post-Endgame, we know Fury went into space and Maria apparently went off the grid, but that doesn't excuse them for missing out on the fun of whooping past-Thanos' giant purple butt.Karl Mordo Post-Doctor Strange, Mordo felt betrayed by the Ancient One and Strange and set off to rid the world of sorcerers who misused their magic. Still, you'd think the guy who helped Strange fend off Dormammu and the Dark Dimension would pick up a staff and help Wong and his sorcerers battle Thanos' avalanche of Outriders.Emil Blonsky/The Abomination The "Abomination formerly known as Emil Blonsky" hasn't been seen since The Incredible Hulk, but thanks to the Marvel One-Shot "The Consultant" (which takes place after Iron Man 2 and Thor) we know the World Security Council wanted to free him and say he was a hero who was defending himself against Hulk so that he could be a part of The Avengers. And then Marvel's Agents of SHIELD let us know Blonsky was being held in an Alaskan cry-cell called The Vault. Anyhow, he's still out there and could have been pretty useful in the giant war against the Dark Order.Stakar Ogord's Team The O.G. Ravager team -- consisting of Stakar Ogord, Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27, Mainframe, and Krugarr (and at one point, Yondu) -- was introduced to fans in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, basically revealing themselves to be an earlier version of the Guardians, resembling even the Guardians' mismatched family dynamic. They were M.I.A. from the fight against Thanos, however, possibly being too far away to reach Earth in time to join the fray.Justin Hammer As the quasi-hapless mastermind behind most of Tony Stark's troubles in Iron Man 2, tech-lord Justin Hammer has probably been sitting in prison since Ivan Vanko's assault on the Stark Expo. Regardless, Hammer and his Hammertech, as faulty as it could be, would have come in handy in the struggle to save the cosmos.The Real Mandarin Iron Man 3 revealed that A.I.M.'s Aldrich Killian had manufactured a fake terrorist called The Mandarin in order to cover up his explosive Extremis accidents. But then the Marvel One-Shot "All Hail the King" saw actor Trevor Slattery, who played Killian's Mandarin, being busted out of prison by the forces of the real Mandarin, a mythical crime lord. This shadowy figure, who will make an appearance for the first time in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is definitely out there. Yes, we understand why he'd usually want to remain in the background, as a hard-to-believe legend, but if there was ever a time to drop the curtain on your act, it's when Thanos was, once again, threatening to end everyone's existence.Any Remaining Nova Corps Members We were told, rather quickly, in Avengers: Infinity War, that Xandar had been completely destroyed during Thanos' push to get the Power Stone. We assume the Nova Empire was eviscerated along with its home planet, but that might not be the case. Maybe there are some straggling members of Nova Corps out there. And maybe it would have behooved them to get their butts to Earth so that they could help defeat the a-hole who nuked their world.Anyone From Marvel TV Obviously, this one's a long shot. When Marvel TV started up, the shows were directly connected to the MCU. Agents of SHIELD was drastically affected by the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier and the Marvel Netflix shows directly referenced the attack on New York from The Avengers. But as the years went on, it was clear this was a one-way street. Marvel movies never referenced the TV shows. And when the time came for Phil Coulson and his TV team to possibly enter the fight at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the movie just used Nick Fury and some random agents to fill the void. After a few years, there was barely a connection between the movies and the TV shows at all. So sorry, no Defenders defending the universe from cosmic creatures. Who did we miss? What other no-shows were there in Endgame? Let's discuss in the comments!Matt Fowler is a writer for IGN and a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler and Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBFowler.