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Friday, Jun 13

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate E3 2014 Hands-On Impressions: The beast doesn't die, it grows stronger

25 comments Rory Young - 9:24am (PST) Like (1) Share

I didn't accomplish anything and that makes all the difference

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In many ways I believe a majority of games for the Nintendo 3DS are designed  to be too simple, built for an audience on the go or with little patience. Generally, this makes demoing them in places like the E3 show-floor a great opportunity. People walk up, they consume a delightful bit of the game, and they walk away very pleased. This isn't a bad thing overall, but it does set the page for me to say that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the complete and utter opposite of this idea.

With only around six live demos on the E3 show-floor, each time I walked by the booth set-up there were at least 2-3 seats completely empty. Considering Monster Hunter is a hugely popular franchise both in Japan and North America I was curious how this could be. Why wasn't this demo station crawling with nerds wanting to know Monster Hunter felt like on the Nintendo 3DS?

Now, I consider myself a fan of the Monster Hunter franchise, but only from a distance. It's often taken too long to be localized or has been released on platforms I've generally set aside. With Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate coming to the 3DS, releasing in North America only a few months after Japan, I feel like this might be the opportune time to finally take part. There I am on the show-floor and I decide this is the best way to dip my toes into the pool, so to speak. Little did I know it was less a pool and more of an ocean.

I very quickly realized why very few E3 attendees were playing the demo.

 

I spent my first five minutes with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate acclimating myself to the controls on the 3DS. I've put countless hours into my Nintendo 3DS with dozens of different games, but I don't think I've ever truly seen that joystick and those buttons until that day. Everything was wrong and nothing made sense. I had to hold this button and now press these buttons to go through this menu? I had to equip this weapon with this button and then reload with this button, but then with this other button while aiming with this one? Oh dear, my fingers are in knots.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not in any way saying that the controls for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate are bad. Rather, I'm saying that it's complex. Complex in a way that I've certainly never experienced on a Nintendo 3DS. Experts may have the luxury of muscle memory providing them quick, precise movement, but for filthy casuals like myself every movement, every attack, has to be a measured choice. 

Keep in mind, by this point I've yet to even encounter my target monster. The demo gave the option of Beginner, Amateur and Expert missions, of which I of course decided on the Beginner option. It was not beginner enough.

Finding the monster took a couple of loading screens, which separate a dozen different zones on the map. When I reached the area where my monster was located it was obvious what the target was. They stood openly with little fear of a hunter like myself, surrounded by a half-dozen smaller dinosaur-like creatures standing like raptors. They certainly recognized me for what I was as soon as I approached, however.

 

My character sported a bow-gun, which isn't one of the new weapons to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, but it was very new to me. I decided afterwards I should have gone with a melee weapon. Despite my choice of a ranged gun, the game kicked me into one of new features after a brief cinematic. I was riding the beast, stabbing it repeatedly and struggling not to be thrown. The game prompted me to try jumping on its back again, but such complex things as jumping were beyond my grasp and not listed on my controls cheat sheet.

What followed was 15-minutes of chugging potions, pondering how ammo worked, and wondering whether I was ever truly doing damage to my monster target. It was both exhilarating, exhausting and educating. I honestly can't say if whether my time with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate's demo was fun, or even productive, but I will say I'm more intrigued than ever. I'm feeling challenged.

Franchise faithful almost certainly have a billion different questions which I'm in no way capable of answering. Sorry, fellows, but I'm not a Monster Hunter veteran.

All I can really say, all I feel obligated to say with this impressions piece, is that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will provide an experience on the Nintendo 3DS that has otherwise been absent from the platform. It's just a ridiculously huge game, complex and of disgusting depth. I didn't even kill a monster, let alone start to think about crafting or multiplayer gameplay. Let's not even go there. The headaches are already kicking in.

For a 20-minute demo, not accomplishing anything in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate did more to sell me on the game than if I'd killed a 100 monsters by spamming a simple, basic attack. 



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Thursday, Jun 12



The Internet with Rory and Lydia: E3 2014's Thursday Wrap-Up, Smash Bros, Far Cry, Fable

48 comments Rory Young - 7:48pm (PST) Like Share

E3 is dead, long live E3

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[The stream is now long over, but please check out the recording witch is annoyingly broken into 15-minute chunks care of Youtube's lovely policies.]

Today each of us celebrates surviving another E3. The show-floor is open only three days for a sum of twenty one hours total, but for those who travel the desolate wastes of the Los Angeles Convention Center it can be an eternity. Both Lydia and I have come out alive, though it's likely some part of us will never be the same. In today's IRL (the Internet with Rory and Lydia) stream-cast-thing we talk about our battle scares. Also, video games.

Today's IRL will focus on several Nintendo games, a handful of Microsoft titles, a few indies, and an assortment of other random games. Basically, Lydia and I each did our best to try out a few of the bigger titles that we might otherwise have missed. It'll be fun just to chat about our final thoughts from the event, I think. Therapeutic.

Please post a comment below with a question, riddle or just wingding gibberish if needs be. Lydia and I will do our best to respond, but at this point I'm curious whether we'll be able to speak properly. Seriously, I'm going to say this over and over again, but we're tired yo. Still, there have been awesome video games seen and so those experiences must be shared.

Check out our other IRL casts from the earlier days of E3 2014 here, or follow Lydia and Rory on Twitter at @rabidchinagirl and @bluexy:

 
 

First Far Cry 4 gameplay footage shows two player co-op, PS4 owners can even bring a friend

4 comments Matt Newbould - 11:28am (PST) Like (1) Share (1)

So tigers now have two targets to pounce on

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E3 came with not one but two demonstrations of Far Cry 4, the latest installment in Ubisoft’s hit shooter franchise. Expanding on the previous cinematic trailer and its introduction to the fictional setting of Kyrat, the latest footage provides an insight into the actual gameplay of Far Cry 4 and its move towards a more co-op orientated experience.

As with previous titles in the series, players will still be able to go at it alone in Far Cry 4 if they wish. However there is now also the option to tackle the open world aspect of the game with a friend. Upon inviting a friend, the game seals off the main story missions and leaves players to roam the open world environment, taking on fortresses (expanded versions of the outposts from Far Cry 3), towers and side quests as they see fit.

Entertaining co-op multiplayer is certainly something to anticipate especially for PlayStation 4 owners following the announcement that they will be able to invite any PSN friend to join them in the game, even if said friend doesn’t happen to own a copy of Far Cry 4 themselves-- a feature that appears to be exclusive to PS4.

Besides the big news regarding co-op, Ubisoft also had plenty of new gameplay features to show off, one of the most exciting being the new grappling hook. This device allows players to traverse previously impassable terrain such as cliff faces and crevices. Through so-called “Adventure Zones”, it will be possible to reach hidden areas and side quests using the grapple. It remains to be seen just how scripted these areas will be, or if it’s possible to do grapple any old rock face. It’s a very welcome addition to Far Cry 4 specifically, considering the mountainous setting of the game.

Along with the grapple come glimpses of some other exciting features. No longer will players be restricted to escaping from pursuing foes using their driving skill alone, or needing to take the risk of leaving a vehicle to engage on foot. It is now possible to not only open fire on enemy troops and vehicles while driving, but also perform vehicle based takedowns. These takedowns see the main character James Bond their way from one car to another, eliminating the enemy occupants along the way.

The 007 homages don't stop there, as Far Cry 4 features a Gyrocopter like the one from You Only Live Twice (though perhaps I’m the only one seeing that link) , with room for two. This is not only a kick ass way to get around the world, but allows for some great fly by shooting moments to boot. Those who get airsick can rest assured that all the fun isn’t aerial based with the option to either stampede elephants towards enemies or, and who could resist this, hop onto an elephant and use it to charge down some foes yourself.

Far Cry 4 stampedes its way to PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360  on November 18 for North America and November 21 in Europe.

 
 

PayDay 2 launching crime wave on PS4 and Xbox One

2 comments Leo Chan - 11:14am (PST) Like Share

Bank robbing with friends goes next-gen

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Overkill Software's PayDay 2 will be pulling its next big heist on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with the newly announced Crimewave Edition. The next-gen releases of the co-op shooter promises the "ultimate PayDay experience" yet with enhanced features and new bonus content.

PayDay 2 allows players to create their own career criminals using a variety of skill trees ranging from the heavy hitting Enforcer to the more stealth-oriented Ghost, modify weapons, create masks to wear, then team up with up to three other like-minded players and take on shady contracts all in the name of busting into some cash vaults.

 
 

Evolve E3 2014 Hands-On Impressions: The thrill of the 4v1 hunt and harsh lessons in teamwork

5 comments Lydia Sung - 4:12am (PST) Like (1) Share

Where players go head to head as Hunters versus THE KRAKEN

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On paper, Evolve might just sound like the most ridiculous, nonsensical multiplayer experience ever conceived. A 4v1 setup that combines co-op with asymmetrical multiplayer? Of course Turtle Rock Studios would be crazy enough to take on such an unconventional project, after earning some serious stripes in creating Left 4 Dead and some of the most impressive enemy AI we've ever seen.

Our time with Evolve brought together the recently-revealed Kraken monster (get those "RELEASE THE KRAKEN" jokes out of your systems) and four new Hunters introduced during E3, creating that 4v1 matchup we've heard so much about. Four players step into the shoes of well-armed game hunters, and the fifth person gets to play as their terrifying quarry. Think of it as a small team going into a boss fight of epic proportions; this is the kind of dynamic Turtle Rock hoped to create with the asymmetrical multiplayer.

When you're first looking at the numbers, Evolve seems to really favor the Hunters. Fortunately for the one person stuck on their own team, the player-controlled monster comes outfitted with deadly abilities and sheer size, making it more than capable of taking out a group of puny humans. In the end, neither side is particularly disadvantaged compared to the other, and winning really comes down to how smart the monster is versus how well the Hunters work together.

For anyone who knows how Left 4 Dead works, Evolve should be pretty familiar. The two share an emphasis on teamwork, where players are really encouraged to stick together in the interest of survival. Wandering from the rest of your team could lead to swift death by monster or any of the other wildlife loitering about (as our Support learned), and potentially screw your entire team in the process. Never be selfish, and never try to be a hero unless it's strategically sound to do so.

Hunters are armed with a variety of weapons and special abilities determined by their class, and all four classes each have two separate characters to choose from. Beyond the obvious aesthetic differences, characters also possess unique perks or weapons that a counterpart would not. For instance, the first Medic we were introduced to, Val, can continuously heal her entire party. Lazarus, on the other hand, has very limited healing capabilities but can actually resurrect dead teammates -- as his name already suggests. Maggie the Trapper comes with her own lizard-hound named Daisy, who can help players track their target and act as a fifth party member, which is beyond convenient when a team-wide KO is usually a loss. Griffin, the other available Trapper, tracks targets using his special Sound Spikes skill. You get the idea, right? Classes aren't necessarily confined to a single role, either, and perks can be equipped before matches to better suit a certain play style.

Similarly, monsters follow their own progression system that spans across three different evolutions, including the starter form. By consuming various forms of wildlife around a map, the beast can eventually level up, as it were, and learn new skills for an easier time at pulverizing the Hunters. While the Goliath (seen in the first photo) can breathe fire, the Kraken monster (above) may learn a lightning ability more in line with its ranged superiority. Certain passives waiting to be unlocked may provide less direct but incredibly beneficial effects. Really, the monsters are surprisingly customizable, at least from a gameplay perspective.

In the end, Evolve is hardly a complicated game. Hunters need to work together in order to take down a formidable opponent, and everyone can, to some extent, customize their characters to suit personal preferences. Just because everyone thinks the Kraken's lightning strike doesn't mean you have to unlock it too, and you're certainly not going to be judged by your three nonexistent teammates.

The quality and thought behind Evolve is obvious in just about every aspect of every match, especially the balancing that's keeping monster and Hunters in check. The influence from Left 4 Dead is certainly present, though without encroaching on what Evolve is trying to do and the identity it seeks to earn. Clearly, this is a game most of us need to keep an eye on.

Evolve will be released on October 21 for Xbox One, PC and PS4.

Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.



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Mortal Kombat X E3 2014 Hands-On Impressions: Let the bloodbath begin anew

4 comments Rory Young - 1:34am (PST) Like Share

Look at all these friendly new faces

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As all new character Torr, his companion Ferra running along the edge of the map, had his insides torn out before his face was devoured by new character D'Vorah's insects, I knew Mortal Kombat X was in good hands. 2011's Mortal Kombat "reset", which left half of an iconic roster six feet under, left the franchise in an undefined position. Where would Mortal Kombat go next? The answer is nowhere. Mortal Kombat X is perfectly happy following in the footsteps of its predecessors. This a Mortal Kombat game for Mortal Kombat lovers.

That isn't to say that Mortal Kombat X is resting on its laurels, however. Far from it! Rather, it's best to look at Mortal Kombat's traditions in a specific light. Mortal Kombat isn't just violent, it's designed to push the boundaries of violence in fighting games. Thus, when I say Mortal Kombat is a very respectfully traditional game, it's intended meaning is that Mortal Kombat X is a sick, demented bloodbath. A glorious and outrageously fun bloodbath, but sick and demented nevertheless.

Let me provide an anecdote. The first thing, the very first action that I performed in Mortal Kombat X, was to use the game's environmental action (inherited from Injustice: Gods Among Us) to pluck an older woman spectating the fight and throw her through the air into my opponent. The older woman was left broken and unmoving, my opponent received a bloodied wound to their chest which lasted the duration of the fight. NetherRealm, y'all got issues... and I love it.

NetherRealm's hand has carefully plucked aspects of its fighting game to improve, bolster or accent, but the majority of the game seems starkly traditional. While I'm no fighting game expert, the moment-to-moment combat was as if I was still putting quarters on the arcade machine back in that 90's pizzeria. Both Sub Zero and Scorpion are still in the game, fighting ice with fire and vice versa. Even NetherRealm would never mess with those two hombres in any significant way.

Of course, the system has been iterated on in the past decade. It has evolved to include 2011's energy meter, which enables cancels and can be built all the way into the game's now iconic X-Ray moves that shatter bones and  rupture organs. Visions of new character Cassie Cage X-Ray punching poor Torr's testicles will scar my mind for some time. Another significant addition with Mortal Kombat X is the option of three different play-styles for each character selectable prior to a match.

These play-styles will dramatically change how each character is played, unlocking certain abilities, damage modifiers and so on. For instance, as mentioned in this article's first sentence, there's an option to not have Ferra ride on top of Torr at all in order to allow him to do more damage alone. Another option is for Ferra to damage Torr herself, pushing him  to do terrible things in trade for his own health.

Fans of Mortal Kombat should already be thinking, "Ferra and Torr? Cassie Cage? D'Vorah? Where's my Raiden?" Even I was surprised at NetherRealm's confidence in announcing four new characters to be played alongside Scorpion and Sub Zero. There's no way these new scrubs could even stand in the shadow of that old iconic roster. Yet I left a believer. Each character is unique and delightfully ****ed up in their own way. Okay, well, Cassie Cage is a saint, but the rest...

Plus, showing off these new characters shows NetherRealm's willingness to sacrifice comfort and embrace risk. They started in 2011 by killing half the roster. They take another leap with Mortal Kombat X, which will progress 25 years after the events of its predecessor. Cassie Cage is Johnny and Sonya's child, and these other roster additions are certain to tie in in a myriad of ways to the past.Yes, they're each brilliantly designed to be unique in their own way and they're wonderfully tied into the franchise's history. It's almost too much to ask.

Sure, okay, so the franchise is going to show respect to its roots and its fanbase. What about non-fighters and folk wondering what Mortal Kombat X can offer a new player? How about the bloodiest, most visceral fighting game combat on the market? A light kick hits with impactful, meaty thunks which I refuse to ask further about from the developers. Gross, guys. Damage collects on the skin of each character throughout a fight to create a visually hurtful experience. Add in the most detailed maps and character designs I've seen in a fighting game yet and, assuming they're an adult and not afraid of exploding testicle animations, gamers are going to want to play Mortal Kombat X.

I say that because I certainly want to play more Mortal Kombat X as soon as possible. There's an unbelievable amount of heart that NetherRealm's found within themselves to put into their game. All they really want is for us to reach in and tear off a chunk of that heart for ourselves.



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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare E3 2014 Impressions: The future is now, with cooler gadgets & abilities

2 comments Lydia Sung - 12:41am (PST) Like Share

They don't call it "Advanced Warfare" for nothing

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Power changes everything. That's the tagline for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the next Call of Duty installment and perhaps a sign that the well-established series is finally embracing change.

This is the first full Call of Duty from Sledgehammer Games, who previously co-developed Modern Warfare 3 with Infinity Ward. A heart-stopping demo at Monday's Xbox press event left many of us breathless and curious, as we saw a shooter that appeared familiar and unmistakably Call of Duty -- but it was also different somehow. Hi-tech drones clouded the skies while a futuristic war waged across a bright, colorful urban landscape. The soldiers kept us grounded, but even they looked like characters taken out of movies like Edge of Tomorrow and District 9, with their Exo suits and holographic weapons displays. The future had arrived.

The new visual style is reminiscent of more than just sci-fi flicks though. The tech adopted by Advanced Warfare actually felt like a throwback to Visceral's horror shooter Dead Space, a connection that might seem far-fetched until you realize Sledgehammer co-founders Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield actually worked on Dead Space together while still at EA. Funny how that works.

The Exo suits in particular bring to mind Isaac's iconic attire, but the most apparent similarity (or inspiration) might be the minimalist display, one that's been trimmed down to show only the most essential info. Without the distractions of a cluttered HUD, the player can feel more immersed in whatever they happen to be experiencing.

Not that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare separates itself from recent predecessors. The game remains distinctly Call of Duty, in the pacing and linearity of the missions we've seen. Behind closed doors, we saw two such missions not shown during the public Xbox conference. They served as contrasts, with one being driven by action and the other by stealth, but did an excellent job of demonstrating how these sci-fi tools of the trade can aid the player in two different situations.

The futuristic elements are incredibly prevalent throughout. A new type of grenade that was used frequently during the demos triggered a digital overlay to reveal hidden enemies (like a thermal detector). Holographic projections are everywhere, and drones of all sizes occupy the world, mostly trying to kill you. Fortunately, no one in Call of Duty ever goes wanting, and you'll be given plenty of tools for taking out the opposition. One of my personal favorites is the new mute charge, a mine that cancels out the noise in a small radius when triggered, allowing for some crazy stealth kills in bullet time. What? It's not Call of Duty without bullet time.

So yes, stealth is kind of a thing now, and we observed a mission that sent the protagonists into the deep woods of Bulgaria that utilized the new cloaking feature. Here, the enemy forces were too numerous and entrenched to be directly confronted, so the player character (Mitchell) and an NPC ally had to sneak their way through enemy lines, sometimes stopping for a knife kill. Cloaking allows you to go full-on stealth but only lasts so long before cooldown, and certain enemy drone units called Seekers can actually detect thermal heat signatures. Better think twice before going Rambo. Intimidating units like walking armor suits similar to the Ubersoldat from Wolfenstein.

Vehicles are another big thing now, and if you're at all familiar with how moving objects are typically treated in Call of Duty games, then you'll understand the significance here. Rather than being more fodder to be blown up, vehicles in Advanced Warfare actually play a more integral role in combat, mainly as sources of cover in firefights. Thanks to the Exo suits, soldiers can actually rip car doors free and use them as temporary yet mobile shields. The ridiculously well-armed hover (Walking?) tanks can also be controlled, and the end of that stealth mission I mentioned actually involves piloting one of these juggernauts. Seriously, it fires missiles and EMP shots in addition to the anti-infantry cannon. Welcome to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, people.

Most of what we've been able to see at E3 this year involves the campaign, but Call of Duty just wouldn't be the same or nearly as popular without its multiplayer. Hard to imagine at this point just how all this new tech will affect the dynamic there. Just imagine cloaked players running around a map, mute charges going off and grenades flushing everyone out of cover.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be out for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and PC on November 4, 2014.

Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.



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Wednesday, Jun 11



The Internet with Rory and Lydia: E3 2014's Wednesday Wrap-Up, Evolve, Mortal Kombat & Halo

4 comments Rory Young - 8:54pm (PST) Like Share

Just one more day... one more day

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Starting at 9:00 PM PDT once again, myself and hopefully also a zombified Lydia will be doing another IRL (The Internet with Rory and Lydia) live cast. Today was the second day of E3 proper, the second day of the show floor being open, and both Lydia and I were able to see some very cool games. It's only natural that we want to tell everyone about those games. Except we really only want to tell everyone in for particularly unnatural reasons... E3 is twisting my psyche.

Since there were no big press conferences today, it means that there's no need to recap anything. Much as Microsoft and Sony having been saying, it'll just be games, games, games. I won't lie though, considering both Lydia and I are suffering from sleep deprivation we're liking to go off on some tangents.

Please drop any comments or questions in the comments below and Lydia and I will do our best to answere then, whether they're gaming related or otherwise. I'll try to hook up with a supermoderator and get a live-chat going as well just in case folk want to jibber jabber with other Neoseeker community members too. Oh, and I'll set up the live-cam again so you can see my half-melted face, slack with exhaustion from two days of running the E3 show floor. Cheers!

 
 

Nintendo goes steampunk with Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

9 comments Leo Chan - 7:33pm (PST) Like Share

Independence Day meets H.P. Lovecraft meets Abraham Lincoln

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Nintendo pulled the wraps off its secret 3DS project behind closed doors at its E3 developer discussion, called Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. It's a third-person strategy RPG developed by Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem) featuring a dash of shooting action. Initial reactions compared the title to Valkyria Chronicles on PlayStation platforms, and while Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.'s lead developer is a fan of Sega's celebrated series, there's less emphasis on shooting.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. begins in a steampunk-inspired London, England, after H.P. Lovecraft-inspired aliens have attacked our fair planet. You command a special task force assembled by 16th U.S. president Abraham Lincoln to combat this otherworldly menace in turn-based strategy, where the actions you perform each term depend on the amount of steam of you have.

The art direction is said to be inspired by the Silver Age of American comics, with the legendary artist Jack Kirby said to be a major influence. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is currently due for a 2015 release, and will include online multiplayer. Intelligent Systems also noted that development on the anticipated Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem crossover title hasn't been affected as a result of Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.



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Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire introduces Mega Sableye in new gameplay trailer

29 comments Philip Moody - 2:41pm (PST) Like (1) Share (1)

One less unknown Mega Evolution

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Another day, another Mega Evolution. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have already added four Pokémon to the Mega Evolution roster, with more Mega Stones still to be discovered. Professor Birch is hard at work studying the data Brendan and May are collecting in their travels throughout the Hoenn region and can't wait until November 21 to share the good news. A new Mega Stone has been found and identified, and it belongs to Sableye.

Yes, Sableye. After extensive testing, the good professor teamed up with Game Freak to put together a brief video of Sableye's Mega Evolution in action. When Sableye is Mega Evolved, its eyes turn red and the jewel in its chest grows larger and detaches from its chest, which Sableye uses as a shield. Even with the jewel in the way, the Ghost/Dark Pokémon can still put out some serious hurt and exploit its opponent's weaknesses while the jewel reduces even an EV'd Crobat's Aerial Ace to a brief tickling sensation.

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire aren't due out until November 21, but that won't stop Professor Birch from revealing any new findings on Mega Stones that turn up in the Hoenn region.
 

 
 
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