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Dragon Quest Treasures is a great way to introduce your kids to RPGs

RPGs aren’t always the most kid-friendly experience. They can be filled with complicated combat systems, massive difficulty spikes, and long run-times that can make them feel insurmountably long. While series like Pokémon cracked the code, making the genre more approachable for players of all ages, most young children aren’t likely to pick up something like Tales of Arise.


Dragon Quest Treasures tries to solve that problem. The upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive takes the colorful world of Dragon Quest XI and places it in a chilled-out game built for both kids and those who find 100-hour RPGs a little too demanding. After demoing the first hour of the game, I can see how it could make for a great stepping stone into the Dragon Quest IP for younger players. Its slow pace and simplified systems may leave long-term fans yearning for a deeper RPG, but it might be the perfect game for long-time fans to share with their kids.

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A world full of treasure

Dragon Quest Treasures acts as a sort of prequel to Dragon Quest XI, starring Mia and Erik in their younger days. The opening scene of their adventure plays like a childhood fantasy, complete with pirate skeletons. It’s a bit like if you turned Dragon Quest into a Netflix cartoon, turning its monsters into adorable sidekicks.

It’s a bit slow to get going, and that’s where you can really feel who the game was built for. Early on, I’m taught basic actions like crouching and using my slingshot to solve little environmental puzzles in between long text box conversations. As someone who hasn’t been following the game closely, I wasn’t even sure if it was an RPG with battles and leveling up for a good 20 minutes.

Photos hint at treasure locations in Dragon Quest Treasures.

Before it gets to any of those hooks, it introduces the “Treasures” part of its title. As soon as I’m dropped into the world, I come across a locked gate. I’ll need to find a key to open it and I’m given a clue as to where it is: a photo of some lily pads. My first task is to find where that photo was taken to unearth the key. It’s a simple exploration puzzle that I imagine a very young child could figure out, especially with a parent controlling the action. I’m not sure how complex that system will get as the world expands, but that treasure-hunting aspect could make for a fun, relaxed exploration hook depending on how widely the game opens up.

I would eventually get to the more traditional RPG hooks, though the bits I played were very streamlined. Combat works in an action-RPG fashion, with players controlling their hero who can slash enemies with one button or shoot pebbles at them with a slingshot. Characters travel around with a party of monsters, like slimes, who auto-attack when an enemy comes into range. My early battles were easy to manage as a result. I could hang back and let my monsters do the work, poking in to get some shots on my enemy while it was preoccupied.

It’s another decision that makes this game theoretically easy for a kid to pick up, though adults might struggle with the overall feel. The pace of battle is quite slow, with slashes feeling a little sluggish. I found that the one-button attack system got repetitive quickly, leaving me a little unengaged during the demo’s first boss fight. I’m hoping that’s more due to how early in the game I was rather than being indicative of the whole combat system.

A party battles a knight in Dragon Quest Treasures.

I’m ultimately more interested to see where the treasure-hunting gameplay goes, as I only got a taste of that. Toward the back half of the demo, I learn that my monster pals have specific abilities that let me traverse the world. For instance, one allows me to bounce in the air, letting me reach high up cliffs. I imagine that could open the world for some more free-form exploration that opens the door for unexpected discoveries, ala The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Dragon Quest Treasures certainly seems like it’s accomplishing what it sets out to do. It’s an endearing little cartoon that combines easy-to-understand treasure hunting with streamlined RPG combat. It reminds me a bit of the Monster Hunter Stories series, which strips the complicated systems of Monster Hunter into a more easily legible game of rock/paper/scissors. And though I hope to see a little more complexity to its battles in the full release, I imagine it’ll be a fun way for parents to pass their love of Dragon Quest down to their kids.

Dragon Quest Treasures launches on December 9 for Nintendo Switch.

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Atlas Fallen unexpectedly gives Forspoken some real competition
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Atlas Fallen has the potential to surprise a lot of people. Although it's launching in just two months, we haven't seen much about this new game from The Surge developer Deck13 and publisher Focus Entertainment since its reveal at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2022. That's a shame because after going hands-on with an early build of it, I've found that Atlas Fallen has the potential to appeal to people who didn't like one of the year's most divisive titles: Forspoken. 
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Square Enix's open-world action RPG featured some neat ideas with its fast-paced magical combat and freeing traversal abilities, but many people couldn't get into it. While more focused on melee combat than magic, Atlas Fallen is a similarly ambitious open-world game that delivers satisfying movement and action that's different from the norm. That makes it a game that might scratch some itches that Forspoken didn't fully reach due to its heavily criticized writing. If it's not on your radar yet, you might want to know what Atlas Fallen has to offer.
Encouraged exploration
Based on my demo, I'm not fully sure what to expect from Atlas Fallen's mysterious story yet. The basic premise is that player was a person from the lowest caste in this world's society who was bonded with an ancient gauntlet. That gauntlet has an amnesic spirit named Nyaal living inside it and is now trying to save the world from gods that have left it in desert-filled ruins. The narrative wasn't a big focus in my preview build, though, and the script is full of jargon that probably will only make sense once I play more of the game.
A talking companion bonded to the player's arm and hand is already an unexpected narrative coincidence between Forspoken and Atlas Fallen. But neither game's story is the appeal of either to me: It's their fun traversal and combat that interest me. The few seconds of Atlas Fallen's sand-surfing and fighting in its Gamescom trailer caught my eye last year, and both lived up to the hype.
As I worked my way out of a cave at the start of the demo, I learned how to raise large structures out of the ground, surf across large patches of sand, and dash through the air with the help of my gauntlet. After I entered the game's open world, I could play around with all my movement options and found them to be a treat. Open-ended games with large worlds like Atlas Fallen can live or die on how satisfying they are to explore, and making movement fun is a crucial way developers can make traversal enjoyable.
Forspoken was able to capture some of that magic despite its problems, and it looks like Atlas Fallen has too. Of course, that's only one part of the game, as players will run into many enemy Wraiths and need to fight them. That's where Atlas Fallen's engaging combat system comes into play.
Satisfying combat
Deck13 and Focus Entertainment had yet to go into much detail about Atlas Fallen's combat before now, so I was shocked by how unique it was. The core combat revolves around attacking, dodging, and parrying, with weapons shapeshifting as you use them in different ways. It's faster-paced than I expected from a developer who previously made Souslikes, but it's the Ascension system that really caught my attention.
In between fights, players can equip their character with Essence Stones that buff or add abilities, assigning them to one of three tiers in the process. Once they are in a fight, attacking and defeating enemies causes players to gain momentum, which fills a bar at the bottom left of the screen. As this bar fills, or "ascends," players gradually gain those Essence Stone abilities, getting more powerful the more aggressive they are.
Ascending does come with a catch: The more momentum you build, the more damage you take. Players can counteract this by equipping defensive or health-related Essence Stones or using "Shatter" once an Ascension tier is filled to deal lots of damage and crystalize enemies for a short while. To succeed in Atlas Fallen, I needed to fight aggressively, but fights would quickly turn in the enemy's favor if I missed a crucial parry or dodge when I had lots of momentum.

This system gives each fight a push-and-pull feeling not common in action games. Most of the time, games like to make players feel significantly more powerful or weaker than everything around them; Atlas Fallen does both. This unique system hasn't gotten more attention and promotion, but it ultimately is what makes Atlas Fallen stand out the most at the moment.
There's something exciting about how mysterious this game still is to me, as that means there could be lots of surprises when players finally get to try the whole thing in a couple of months. It's shaping up to be an unexpected, almost accidental alternative to Forspoken. If you're still looking for an action-heavy RPG with innovative movement and combat gameplay ideas, Atlas Fallen should be on your radar.
Atlas Fallen will launch for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S on May 16.

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Warning: There's been a crisis detected. You might call it a dino crisis, but Capcom won't. Exoprimal may look like the long-awaited revival of the Resident Evil spinoff series that replaced zombies with dinosaurs for a new twist on survival horror, but it's not. It's a new IP entirely.

Revealed at the March 2022 State of Play showcase, Exoprimal was a very unexpected announcement from Capcom. We didn't know what to expect going into the showcase, let alone that Capcom would be there with a brand new game. Unlike its other popular ongoing series and recent output of new IP, Exoprimal appears to take itself a bit less seriously, judging by the trailer and premise -- and it looks like a ton of fun. While it might not be the next Dino Crisis as some had hoped, here's everything we know about the chaotic dinosaur-filled shooter game Exoprimal.

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How Zelda: Ocarina of Time speedrunners break the N64 in incredible new ways
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ReSpec is normally a column about the wonderful, technical world of PC gaming, but occasionally there are topics that are too good to pass up. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is universally acclaimed as one the best Nintendo 64 games ever made, and while it's not a PC title, the highest-level, most technical speedruns of the game expose how games work on a fundamental level. More importantly, these incredible feats are only possible with a lot of community effort.

Ocarina of Time is a game that would take a normal player around 30 hours to beat; the most skilled speedrunners, who aim to play the game as fast as possible, can beat it in around three hours and 40 minutes without glitches. But the Any% category of the game, which tasks players with completing the game regardless of the methods used, is down to three minutes, 54 seconds, and 566 milliseconds. And yes, those milliseconds matter. The second-place record holder is less than a full second behind the world record.

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