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Editorial

Three Single Player Games to Look Out For in May

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May

This month, gamers are treated to several meaty RPGs, updated re-releases, and a whole lot of exploration and puzzle-solving. Dig in and enjoy three of these single player games to look out for in May.


PREY

Arkane Studios, the minds behind the critically acclaimed Dishonored, is following its excellent spiritual successor to Thief and Deus Ex with another in the immersive sim genre, this time walking in the footsteps of System Shock 2.

After the disappointing cancellation of Human Head Studios’s Prey 2, rumours broke that Arkane was working on a Prey reboot that was unrelated to the cancelled sequel. As perplexing as that seems, the real story is actually rather simple: when Prey 2 imploded, Arkane was already working on a new IP that shared its stealthy, systems-based gameplay with Dishonored but took place aboard a futuristic space station. With both being owned by Bethesda, the new game was free to use the Prey name.

Although “Dishonored in space” is more than enough to sell a game, Prey stands out from Arkane Studios’s other recent output. Due to a combination of factors, including the technological limitations of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and a de-emphasis on the deeper aspects of immersive sims and RPGs, contemporary immersive sim games like Dishonored and Bioshock shared a smaller scope than their PC antecedents.

However, the new Prey has been developed for current-generation consoles and PCs, focused on delivering greater interactivity than has been seen since the genre’s popularity in the early 2000s. Indeed, Arkane’s first game—cult hit Arx Fatalis—is a major influence on Prey‘s design, particularly its open-ended exploration as opposed to Dishonored‘s level-based structure. The game’s space-station, Talos I, is a very nearly Metroid-style location—sprawling, interconnected, and anything but linear.

Players are free to approach Prey‘s many challenges using stealth, hacking, alien powers, or straight-up action. On the whole, Prey is a gamer’s game filled to the brim with exciting prospects. Like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, expect to see wild exploitations of the systems herein on YouTube, and fingers crossed the game can stick the landing and remain as promising throughout.

Prey stalks onto PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 5.

THE SURGE

Another sci-fi RPG but with an entirely different tone, The Surge comes from half of the team behind Lords of the Fallen, which combined Dark Souls– inspired design with chunkier melee combat and a more straightforward story.

The Surge is pitched as Lords of the Fallen with robots. Adopting a mechanised, industrial aesthetic, The Surge might be the most unusual Souls-like game so far, even in a year where Nioh‘s samurai action advanced the genre in strange new directions. Like Dark Souls, The Surge takes place after society has suffered an apocalyptic collapse, although the extent of the collapse is left ambiguous.

On the other hand, players are restricted to a pre-made character,Warren, who wears a heavy-grade exoskeleton that can be upgraded with scrap collected from fallen enemies (The Surge‘s equivalent of souls). The story sees Warren at his first day on the job at a futuristic construction facility when the titular Surge renders everyone else as braindead husks—and their exoskeletons bent on destroying anything organic that remains.

All of the requisite progression hooks—exosuit upgrades, crafting, loot and so on—are present and accounted for, as is the Souls-like tradition of terrifying bosses, this time featured as construction equipment and inhuman robots. Unlocking shortcuts, exploring a decaying world and unravelling what actually caused the Surge promises to be an excellent sci-fi transposition of the Dark Souls formula, so fingers crossed it remains entertaining all the way to the end.

The Surge comes to PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 16.

RIME

The history of Tequila Works’s Rime is long and unflattering. Green-lit as an exclusive by Microsoft before the launch of the Xbox One, only to be dropped and picked up by Sony, Rime was apparently dropped again and finally bought back by the developer themselves to be released multiplatform.

Whatever the reason for the game being treated like a hot potato, punters would not be blamed for a little wariness. Yet, Rime looks beautiful, with an unrealistic art style reminiscent of The Wind Waker and Firewatch. Tequila Works has also not been coy about its other inspirations, citing Journey and Ico as touchstones for the tone and gameplay.

Players are cast as a young boy, washed ashore on a deserted island, where he must explore mysterious ruins and complete puzzles. Without anything resembling a combat system, though, Rime plays less like Zelda and more like The Witness: the puzzles are about learning the environment and how different elements fit together.

Will Rime offer a deeply woven thematic beauty that goes beyond looks, or is it simply a pretty face? Fans of puzzle-adventure games will find out in a few weeks.

Rime releases for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 26 and for Nintendo Switch later in 2017.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

For players looking for something more familiar, several new releases in well-loved series drop this month, with the classical JRPG The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd coming to Windows PCs on May 3, the console version of Dreamfall Chapters on May 5, Injustice 2‘s superhero dust- ups on May 16, and the spin-off antics of Fire Emblem Echoes on 3DS on May 19.

Even more familiar are the remastered or re-released titles, with Minecraft coming to Nintendo Switch on May 11, followed by Disgaea 5 Complete on May 23. Also on May 23, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition finally hits Wii U and on May 30, Ys Origin, a stand-alone prequel in the Ys series, comes to PlayStation Vita.


That is all for another month of single player games, if we missed any, be sure to share your most anticipated in the comments below. Thanks again for reading OnlySP and happy gaming.

Mitchell is a writer from Currawang, Australia, where his metaphorical sword-pen cleaves fiction from reality daily. When he's not writing, he plays video games and watches movies. While thinking about writing.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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