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    Keystone Masters: Gauntlet, Quinton Flynn Voice Actor Update, Raid Testing Schedule

    Curse
    By Curse,
    Keystone Masters: Gauntlet - May 7-9
    Keystone Masters has teamed up with Diabolus Esports to host another Mythic+ Tournament.
    • The event takes places over three days on the Tournament Realm.
      • The Proving Grounds - Friday, May 7th at 10am PST (7pm CEST)
      • Tournament Day 1 - Saturday, May 8th at 10am PST (7pm CEST)
      • Tournament Day 2 - Sunday, May 9th at 10am PST (7pm CEST)
    • Players with a World of Warcraft account in good standing can sign up until April 26th.
    • Teams will compete for their share of the $7,000 prizepool and will be featured on the front page of the Raider.IO website.
    • Affixes will be a mixture of preset from the tournament organisers, viewer choice and teams choice. The key level may fluctuate from round to round.

    KeystoneMastersGauntletBanner.jpg


    Quinton Flynn Voice Actor Update
    Quinton Flynn, the original voice actor of Kael'thas Sunstrider, has shared an update regarding the accusations against him. Quinton Flynn explained that he was the actual victim of harassment, and that the Court decided to have all defamatory content taken down. You can read his full statement on Twitter.

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    Sanctum of Domination Raid Testing Schedule - April 22nd
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    On Thursday, April 22nd, we will be continuing our raid tests in the Sanctum of Domination.

    Thursday, April 22nd

    Soulrender Dormazain - Heroic Sanctum of Domination
    13:00 PDT (16:00 EDT, 22:00 CEST)

    The Nine - Heroic Sanctum of Domination
    14:00 PDT (17:00 EDT, 23:00 CEST)

    As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a test environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session, change the bosses being tested, or cancel a test entirely, due to bugs, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.

    Q: How do I get into the raid zone?
    A: In Oribos, Dalaran, Orgrimmar, or Stormwind, you may speak to Nexus-Lord Donjon Rade IV in order to teleport into the raid zone while it is open for testing. (The option to teleport into a zone will not be available when the zone is not open for testing.)

    Q: What character should I use to test the raid?
    A: Whichever you prefer. We will be scaling players’ effective level to 60 for raid testing, and their item level to an appropriate threshold for the encounter(s) being tested.

    Q: How long does testing last?
    A: The primary purpose of testing is to give us the information we need to balance the encounters, evaluate how mechanics are playing out in practice, and identify bugs. Once we’re satisfied that we’ve received that information for a given boss, we’ll be shutting down testing. Usually this takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, but there are no guarantees.

    We appreciate you taking the time to test our content and look forward to reading your feedback.

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    Before Your Eyes Review – An Emotional, Eye-Opening Experience

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    before_your_eyes_2.jpg

    Publisher: Skybound
    Developer: GoodbyeWorld Games
    Release: April 8, 2021
    Reviewed on: PC

    Blinking for the first time in Before Your Eyes is a genuinely magical moment. I don’t mean hitting a button to close your virtual eyes. Through the power of a webcam, Before Your Eyes tracks when you blink which allows you to progress through a wonderful narrative adventure title from GoodbyeWorld Games. It may seem like a novel gimmick on the surface, but the mechanic is used so inventively that it meaningfully enhances the already powerful storytelling that fans of narrative adventure titles would be mistaken to write it off as a shallow trick.

    Players take on the role of Benjamin Brynn, a lost soul who has already passed on. At the beginning of the game, you encounter a canine ferryman who forces you to relive the events of Ben’s life, beginning at birth. This is all to impress a being called the Gatekeeper who wants an honest assessment of the kind of person Ben was.  

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    By blinking when prompted, you’ll jump days, weeks, and sometimes years forward in Ben’s life. I’m impressed by how the game accurately recognizes eye-tracking. I never had an issue where a blink didn’t register or my camera needed recalibration. I also never felt disoriented or uncomfortable playing using eye tracking, but those factors will vary by person. On that note, it’s good that there’s an option to play the entire game using traditional mouse clicks, but I think you’d be doing yourself a major disservice in doing so.

    Having played Before Your Eyes twice, once using blinks and the other using the mouse, I think the story loses a fair bit of its magic when playing with solely traditional control inputs. Closing your eyes, then opening them to a brand-new scene creates the awesome sensation that you’re reliving a life through an old-school View-Master toy. Ben’s memories are fleeting, and the mechanic sells that point perfectly. Yes, I was occasionally disappointed after I blinked involuntarily and advanced the story sooner than I would have liked. However, I didn’t mind it for long because I found that doing so lends to the game’s dreamlike quality and the sensation that even cherished memories eventually fade even – when we hope that they won’t.  

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    Some of my favorite moments involve closing my eyes to better eavesdrop on hushed conversations or so my childhood bestie could leave a heartfelt note embarrassment-free. It's also just more fun to "look and blink" instead of pointing and clicking on objects. Even while playing with your eyes, you still use a mouse for other actions like connecting stars in the night sky to write a cosmic message or to keep in rhythm with a piano tempo. These interactions are largely basic but are still delightful.  

    No matter how you play, Before Your Eyes’ story is a heartfelt tale that me close to tears at several points. Despite its pleasantly whimsical veneer, the narrative’s themes of depression and existentialism hit hard, as does understanding life’s meaning from the perspective of a person who, despite having a great family and born with prodigious gifts, struggles to find personal fulfillment. The writing is earnest and thoughtful, and the story takes some unexpected turns culminating in a bittersweet final message that lands harder than I was prepared for (in a good way). 

    A great story needs good characters, and Before Your Eyes has that in spades. Ben’s parents, a caring yet demanding mother and a lovably goofy father, are sweethearts. The same goes for Chloe, your mischievous neighbor who comes off as a genuinely endearing kid you can’t help but want to impress and hang out with. I was surprised by how attached I became to the cast in such a short time, but the superb performances and well-written dialogue do their job and ingratiated me to the characters.   

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    Throughout the story you’ll make some choices, but I was disappointed in how little they impact the overall narrative. Don’t stress too much over whether to sneak out with your friend or get much-needed sleep for your big piano recital; this is one of those games where you’re merely choosing what colors to paint the road as opposed to creating whole new paths. Since the game only takes about an hour or so to get through, it’s worth replaying just to see a few of those scenes, but I wish my decisions had more weight given the large number of choices presented.

    Before Your Eyes’ story left me reeling by the end, and it’s a memorable journey worth going out of your way to play. You rarely get a lot of first-of-a-kind experiences in games anymore, and Before Your Eyes largely nails the execution of its primary hook. It’s a concept I’d love to see further explored in a follow-up, and I couldn’t be happier that something like this exists.

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    Score: 8.5

    Summary: Before Your Eyes puts its unique blinking mechanic to great use, offering a novel and fun method of interacting with this memorable, bittersweet tale.

    Concept: Relive the memories of a troubled child prodigy by using your actual eyes to blink forward in time

    Graphics: The visuals trade realism for colorful stylization, and it’s fitting for the dream-like premise

    Sound: The voice performances are excellent, and made me grow attached to the small cast faster than expected

    Playability: Provided your webcam works, the blinking mechanic works great and is used ingeniously during certain moments. Playing with a mouse works fine but doesn’t capture the same magic

    Entertainment: Before Your Eyes is much more than a neat gimmick. It offers a wonderful method of interacting with a touching and impactful story that’ll stick with you long after the credits roll

    Replay: Moderately High

    Click to Purchase

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    Discord Reportedly Ends Acquisition Talks With Microsoft

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Discord has reportedly ended any and all talks of being acquired by outside parties, including Microsoft. In March it was reported that Microsoft was one of several potential suitors hoping to buy the popular social app for the fine tune of $10 billion. 

    The Wall Street Journal reports that sources close to matter have claimed that Discord has decided to remain independent. According to sources, Discord’s reasoning appears to be a simple one: The company is performing well on its own. Its current value sits at around $7 billion with over 300 million registered users as of 2020. 

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that discussions for such an acquisition won’t ever resume, and it’s easy to understand why Microsoft, or any company for that matter, would want to have Discord under its umbrella. Microsoft has been on an acquisition spree in recent years, snapping up several third-party studios left and right, including Bethesda, to bolster its internal development portfolio. This also isn’t the first time Microsoft considered buying a popular social app. A recent example was when the company looked into purchasing TikTok following the Trump Administration's attempt to ban the video-sharing app last August. 

    Microsoft might not get to have Discord, but it’s still making big moves in terms of Xbox Game Pass. The platform has locked down major releases in Outriders and the formerly PlayStation-exclusive MLB The Show 21. The aforementioned addition of Bethesda games as well as EA Play titles have expanded Game Pass’ value. One has to wonder how a Discord purchase would have figured into the company’s plans, especially since it still has Skype, not to mention the Xbox's native chat functionality. 

    So there you have it. Anyone that was worried that Microsoft could turn Discord into the second coming of Skype can rest easy for the time being. Or perhaps you were looking forward to the idea of accessing a Discord app on your Xbox? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.

    [Source: The Wall Street Journal]

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    New Leadership for Overwatch

    Curse
    By Curse,
    New Leadership for Overwatch
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    We want to let you know that Jeff Kaplan has decided to leave the company after a long and storied career here, and that Aaron Keller, a Blizzard veteran and founding member of the Overwatch team, will be stepping in as game director.

    Aaron has been a critical part of the Overwatch team and a key driver in creating the vision for the game. He helped create Overwatch as an original member of the team, and as an 18-year veteran at Blizzard, he has worked side-by-side with Jeff for a long time, not only in building Overwatch but previously in helping to build WoW as well. A few words from Aaron:

    Greetings, Overwatch Community,

    Jeff’s been a great leader, mentor, and friend, and he knows how much we’re going to miss him. I’ve been lucky to work alongside him and the rest of the Overwatch team for many years in building something that continues to inspire people all around the world, and I’m honored to carry the torch forward.

    I love Overwatch. From our first pieces of concept art, to the first maps we built, to the first time I was able to run around as Tracer (who at that early point shot laser beams out of her eyes), this game has just clicked with me. I love its inspiring, hopeful, beautiful world worth fighting for. I love its characters—larger than life, colorful, powerful, and global. And most of all, I love the fast, fluid gameplay requiring teamwork, situational awareness, and quick decision making.

    I also recognize that making games at Blizzard has always been a group effort and never about just one point of view. Together with the rest of the team I feel fortunate that we have a deep bench of development and creative leaders, numerous veteran Blizzard artists and designers, and some extremely talented new blood as well—along with tons of support throughout the company for the live game and for Overwatch 2.

    Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace. We have an exceptional vision we’re executing on, the reaction from many of you to the updates we shared at BlizzConline thrilled us, and we have exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch. We’ll be sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon.

    While I have no pretenses about filling Jeff’s shoes, I’m excited to step into the game director role and continue to be part of a team that’s putting all of its heart, talent, and focus into the next iteration of Overwatch, and I’m honored to continue serving this incredible community.

    -Aaron


    We’re also tremendously grateful for Jeff’s contributions over the years. Please see a personal note from Jeff below:

    i am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years.

    it was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience. i want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at blizzard who supported our games, our game teams and our players. but i want to say a special thanks to the wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation with me.

    never accept the world as it appears to be. always dare to see it for what it could be. i hope you do the same.

    gg,

    jeffrey kaplan


    You’ll hear more from Aaron and the rest of the Overwatch team soon. In the meantime, please join us in thanking Jeff, and in welcoming Aaron into his new role.

    View the full article


    Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan Is Leaving Blizzard, Overwatch 2 Still In Development

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    jeffrey_kaplan.jpg

    Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that he is leaving Blizzard after 20 years with the company. Kaplan has been at the epicenter of the Overwatch community, providing inspiration for gamers with his journey from gamer to game dev, and facilitating a microcosm of fans that are unafraid to geek out and be involved with the Blizzard family. 

    The news of Kaplan's departure is shocking, and it was revealed when the company took to the Blizzard Blog to detail the change in leadership for Overwatch going forward. Though he is leaving the Overwatch community as the game'sdirector, Blizzard promises fans that Overwatch 2 is continuing in its development under the helm of Aaron Keller. Keller is a founding member of the Overwatch team, and he will be taking over Kaplan's role going forward. 

    "Speaking of Overwatch 2, development is continuing at a good pace," said Keller in an open letter to fans. "We have an exceptional vision we’re executing on, the reaction from many of you to the updates we shared at BlizzConline thrilled us, and we have exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch. We’ll be sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the live game with you all very soon."

    Kaplan himself weighed in with his own personal note, saying, "It was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience. i want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at blizzard who supported our games, our game teams, and our players. but I want to say a special thanks to the wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation with me." 

    Blizzard promises that a more thorough update is on the horizon. For now, we must say goodbye to Kaplan and everything he has done to keep the Overwatch community wholesome, hopeful, and excited for the future. 

    [Source: Blizzard]

    View the full article


    Making Nier New Again

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    characters_2.jpg

    When Nier: Automata was released in 2017, it was a surprise success for publisher Square Enix and developer PlatinumGames, selling over 5 million copies. The action/RPG fascinated players with its thought-provoking story, interesting boss battles, and unconventional design. However, back in 2010, its predecessor – simply called Nier – set the stage. The original Nier wasn’t the most polished or impressive in the gameplay department, but it struck an emotional chord and became a cult hit. 

    People who missed that first entry are getting a new opportunity to see it at its best. Nier Replicant ver. 1.22474487139, which hits on April 23, is a re-release of the original with an array of interesting updates. We sat down with series creator Yoko Taro, producer Yosuke Saito, composer Keiichi Okabe, and Replicant’s development director Saki Ito to reflect on the game and their approach to bringing it back for a new generation. 

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    Replicant Versus Gestalt

    Originally, two versions of Nier were released in Japan: Replicant for PS3, and Gestalt for Xbox 360. This will be North America’s first time experiencing Replicant. The difference? In Replicant, you play as an older brother trying to save his little sister rather than a father searching for a cure for his young daughter. 

    Yoko Taro (via his Zoom video stand-in, a Kermit the Frog puppet) says this impacts very little in terms of the story, and it was more of a marketing idea. “Whenever there is the same title being released on multiple platforms, people tend to compare the technical aspects of it, like framerate and graphics,” he explains. “In order to bring out a complete difference because they’re on different platforms, you might as well just use different characters, so that it will take their attention away from technical aspects and they’ll pay more attention to the more obvious difference of the characters.”

    Producer Yosuke Saito confirms that the team struggled with the game’s marketing, which led to the two versions, but he thinks the bigger challenge was developing on multiple platforms. “It took quite a long time, somewhere upwards of a year to a year and a half,” he recalls. “We didn't see very much development in production, so that was definitely something that sticks in my mind. For a year and a half, we [just] had the Hansel and Gretel boss. And while we were working on this, I would hear Mr. Okabe’s voice in that BGM track and I kept listening to that.” 

    “Vocals aside, I think it is a very good song,” adds composer Keiichi Okabe, laughing. 

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    Finding Inspiration

    When we asked Taro how he came up with his ideas for Nier, he said he’s giving us a different answer than what he’s told other members of the media. “I was actually quite tired with the production of games,” he says. “I thought, ‘This might be the last piece of work that I might create in video game media.’ And if I were to make this my last title, I wanted to do something that’s quite normal – a regular action/RPG.” 

    Taro says his mind went to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for inspiration, but when he consulted with Saito, Saito turned it down, saying he wanted “something unusual.” 

    “With doing a standard RPG with Square Enix, we have Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy,” Saito explains. “So my feedback to Mr. Yoko was, ‘Well,I don't think we can win against something like that.’”

    Saito says this made them come up with the idea to go all-in on the action and focus on that aspect, but it proved more difficult than the team expected. “So in the pre-production phase, we were talking about having this be more action-oriented and less story-driven,” he says. “We wanted it to be more about gameplay … but when we looked at how it was coming along, I didn't feel confident that something that is just pure action would capture the hearts of those in the worldwide market. That's why we changed directions from there and leaned back into a more story-driven RPG”

    Taro also didn’t think the gameplay could hook people by “just going into a dungeon and killing characters,” so he focused on the narrative to make it stand out. “Thinking about the story, I also wanted to go with something very traditional,” says Taro, who looked to Shonen Jump manga like Bleach and Hunter x Hunter for inspiration. “Those were quite twisted in their own right,” he says. “I feel like Nier [matched that].” 

    The team also wanted something a little lighter than what fans experienced with the dark and disturbing Drakengard games, which the Nier series is a spin-off of. “I was executive producer on Drakengard, and that was quite a story when it came out,” Saito says. “When we were thinking of our next installment called Nier, it was like, ‘Okay, maybe we should try something more happy.’ People might not see the happy aspect of Nier Replicant/Gestalt, but we feel it's a happy title.”

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    The Weight Of Words

    While Nier focused on the power of words and their meaning, Taro had an ulterior motive for the theme. “I’m sorry if this breaks the illusion, but using words doesn’t require much effort and graphical depiction. It actually saves on resource allocation. We did our best to make a very appealing game and tried to incorporate the element of words and the weight they carry, but again, the start of it all was just trying to save some pennies.”

    Nier’s cast featured the kind-yet-troubled Emil, hot-tempered Kaine, and egotistical talking book Grimoire Weiss. Kaine’s and Grimoire Weiss’ banter became a highlight for fans. Taro says he made it a point to have random, non-meaningful conversations to give players a breather from the chaos of battle. “In an RPG, you have many times where you’re trying to defeat this particular enemy and you’ve got these very strong emotions like, ‘I hate him.’ [I incorporated banter] as a way to relieve that stress.”

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    Favorite Moments

    While Nier had an interesting cast, Yoko Taro’s favorite character isn’t from the main party members. “Fyra, the princess of the Facade Kingdom is one of my favorite characters,” he says. Taro thinks the whole part where the player enters Facade and learns about the kingdom in the desert is one of the game’s more memorable moments. He even toyed with casting Fyra and the King of Facade as the story’s protagonists, but as he wrote more, he realized they didn’t function the best in that role. "I'm sure people will understand what I mean by that as they play the game in that area,” he says. 

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    Replicant’s development director Saki Ito was a fan of the original game and actually went back to play it before starting work on Replicant ver. 1.22474487139. “Parts still really stick out to me,” he says. “Some of them being the very difficult decisions that I had to make. Just being able to go through with [the choices] and owning that experience of making it my story was something very memorable to me.” Without spoiling anything, he says a particular ending that involves a certain headstrong character remains his favorite. 

    It's an unexpected but fascinating battle that both Saito and Okabe love the most, but they find it memorable for much different reasons. Before we go further, we are warning that these next two paragraphs contain some *spoilers* from the original Nier.

    Saito really loves the characters of Devola and Popola, so a big highlight for him was seeing how their roles transformed later in the game. “I’m sorry I’m kind of spoiling this; but when you fight them, and Popola was so nice up to that point and she just suddenly goes berserk - that’s my favorite part.”

    Okabe agrees that it’s a powerful scene, and had a huge personal investment in how it played out: “It’s actually the same scene for me, but my memorable moment for that scene was with the twins singing and dancing to the song and attacking you as they dance. I had the song made ahead of time, and so the motion capture was actually done in sync to match with the timing of the music; it was part of the cinematic presentation. But the camera was pulled back so far that it really didn't show the effort that was put into trying to match everything. The effect was so lost and I was so shocked. I reached out to Yoko-san, telling him, ‘I don't think we achieved the effect we were going for.’ To which he responded, ‘Oh, well. You won't know until you do something, haha.’ That's what I remember.”

    WORKING WITH Yoko TARO AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

    Yoko Taro was quick to admit to us that he’s not always the easiest person to work with, and actually confessed that he might have caused the most challenges on the production of the original Nier. “My natural qualities are not very amenable, so to speak, and many people left the project,” Taro admits. “I think my biggest challenge was maintaining my staff and me having this personality that wasn’t very well-liked. My sort of arrogance, I’m sure, is very well understood by Toylogic’s Ito-san [now].”

    “He's not at all hard to work with,” responds Replicant’s development director Saki Ito. “He's just very confident in what he says. If people think that's arrogance, well, that's their loss.”

    Yosuke Saito and Keiichi Okabe have been long-time collaborators with Taro for over a decade now, so we couldn’t resist asking what’s been the best thing about working with the eccentric creator after all this time. “Nothing in particular,” Saito says, causing the room to erupt in laughter. “I mean, I’m glad that we are still happy and healthy at this age; we’ve aged well together.”

    Okabe takes the moment to reflect on the creative process and the crazy roller coaster ride Taro takes him on by not giving him much instruction and then having him redo certain parts over and over. “There are moments I get frustrated, but when I hear the song actually implemented in the game and see what kind of visual presentation we wanted to go for with the music element in there, I understand where he comes from and the role [he wants] my music to play in the presentation of a particular scene and that it's necessary for it to be implemented in a specific way. He really takes care of the music that I provide, so that's why he would have me fix areas that may not necessarily match or be appropriate for a specific scene. I feel like I was able to finally understand that after years of working with him.” 
     

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    Creating The Sound

    Nier’s soundtrack stands as one of the most memorable parts of the experience, but composer Keiichi Okabe had to approach it in an unconventional way. “With the original title 10 years ago – and this is very unusual in the case of game music because a lot of the times the game will already be built to a certain extent and then the composer jumps into the project. But when I joined the project, they were still in a sort of prototype phase,” he explains. “I was going into it without really being able to see what's going on and what's going into the game.” 

    Okabe says he would compose songs based on the production team giving him just a few adjectives to describe what type of song they were looking for and kept building upon them based on feedback. “I didn't have a strong image or a vision of what I wanted to make at the very beginning,” he says, “but then I watched the game take shape and expanded my imagination based on what I saw being built.”

    The biggest challenge for Okabe came from a request by Taro. “One of the directives that Mr. Yoko provided was to include some kind of voice with every single music track,” he says. “So, we would have those vocal songs where we feature Emi Evans, and we would also have a chorus or a choir singing. Then we also have songs like “Bluebird” where we're using the element of voice as more of a percussive or in a sound effect kind of way. With recording vocals, compared to instrumentals, it is a bit more challenging as it does require multiple takes of recording. Plus, we had lyrics, albeit it was a made-up language (a.k.a. the chaos language). The process of developing these pieces was just time-consuming, and not to mention the cost aspect of it is also a challenge that we had to face.”

    However, in the end, Okabe thinks the extra difficulties paid off and are a big part of what made people latch onto Nier’s soundtrack and hold it in such high regard. “I think what makes it stand out is just the vocal parts and [Emi Evans’] voice is very memorable. The songs in Nier, because we have vocals - and such unique vocals - that come in and out of the track, I think that helps with making an impression on the players.”

    Because all the tracks are so integral to the story and gameplay, Okabe still can’t pick a favorite track. “That's a question that I'm always stumped on because the [songs] all have different roles that they play in the game, and they each have their sort of moment that's appropriate for the different pieces,” he says. “I don't want to specify one single song because it might cause people to think, ‘Oh, this song has a special meaning to the overall game,’ and so I'm afraid I'm unable to pick one single song.”

    Saito isn’t quite as shy to announce a favorite, adding, “I do not have that worry, so I'm going to unabashedly let you know again that I loved Devola and Popola, and my favorite song is "Song of the Ancients.” 

    Okabe is quick to say he loves that song, too: “Again, it fulfills its purpose and I’m very satisfied by the way it’s used. I will not deliberately say this is my personal favorite song, but it’s a wonderful song.”

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    Making The Old Feel New

    With the original Nier’s 10th anniversary approaching, Saito said Square Enix wanted to celebrate the milestone, and that sparked the idea to release an updated version of the game. “On top of that, we were coming out of the console lifecycle that games on the PlayStation 3 would no longer be playable, so to speak,” he says. “[The discussion] was fairly casual when we thought about making an updated version of this game, but when we actually jumped into the project, there's a lot of items that we did update and replace, so it did become quite the upgrade.” 

    While having a new edition to commemorate the cult hit’s 10-year anniversary seemed like a great idea, not everyone was immediately on board. Taro was on the fence about the entire project, fearing the game would get compared unfairly to Automata. “I was actually against doing a remaster or a version update of [the original Nier] because it is a very old game, and the story will probably come across as old if people play it in this modern day,” he says. “However, working with [developer] Toylogic and seeing how they were able to get the quality really high, I feel that we were able to create a place where people who played this game before can get together for a reunion. As for new players, I have no idea how they’re going to react to this.”

    Nier wasn’t super successful when it initially released, but Saito feels confident in giving it another chance to shine. “We were able to glean a lot of knowledge on building a good game [from Automata],” he says. “It's been 10 years, but we didn't waste those 10 years. We do feel that we were able to achieve a fairly good standard in how we made [Replicant]. Plus, we had some young members of the staff that helped with the Replicant project and they did a good job on it. I do feel confident, especially with the success of Automata, and that we were able to carry over that into the version update for Replicant.”

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    The Big Changes

    One of the things from the original Ito did want to improve for Replicant was the action, using Automata as a reference and target goal. “We did change some of the action elements,” he confirms. “Some of the more recognizable changes would be the movement speed, as well as the variation of the moves.”

    You can now lock-on to targets, and the team altered the way enemies move and react to players. “A lot of the times, I looked at it and thought to myself, ‘I didn’t expect to change this much of the game,” he says. “But because the resolution has become higher, there were more elements that stuck out that I felt required some touch-ups so that it would look good on screen.”

    Saito was impressed by Ito’s work, especially in how his team improved the action and remapped the controls. “Their ideas [for] magic, improving accuracy on the homing element, and how Grimoire Weiss is now available to you as you're moving around in the field … They really wanted to take reference from Automata and that was really well done." 

    Toylogic didn’t stop at the combat, though. Enhancements were also made to the environments and character faces alongside more subtle improvements in character positioning and camera movements. “We also wanted to make Grimoire Weiss more prominent to make sure that he is recognized as the protagonist’s buddy and have that connection with the character,” Ito says. In addition, extra dungeons and new story content were also included.

    Fans can also expect to hear some variations in the music. Okabe says he tried to keep in mind how he feels when something that’s beloved to him gets remade or updated when he created the new arrangements for Replicant. “Rather than trying to change the impression that the music was giving off, I wanted to make sure that we're not taking away from the original and make the rearrangements in line with what the players would be familiar with,” he says. 

    When deciding how to approach the rearrangements, a piece of feedback from Yoko Taro on the original Nier stuck with him about the songs being on the shorter side. “I bolstered and extended them in the game while retaining the good elements of the original,” Okabe explains. “I still added a new element, maybe incorporating it into a different zone of the same field to bring a refreshing feeling. I hope people enjoy that sort of newness but it still feels kind of familiar.”

    Over a decade later, people who haven’t played Nier can finally see what made it so special and how the series managed to live on after its original studio, Cavia, shuttered. “We hope people will [play] this and recognize, ‘This is how it all started; this is what Nier is about,” Ito says. “We updated it so that people can now play it very comfortably and very smoothly while still having that nostalgic feeling that this was a game that existed in the past.” 


    For more on Nier Replicant, you can check out our recent hands-on preview here.
     

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