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Official PlayStation Podcast Episode 479: Abubakar Salim Talks Tales of Kenzera: Zau

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Email us at PSPodcast@sony.com!

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Howdy! This week Abubakar Salim of Surgent Studios stops by to discuss the upcoming platformer Tales of Kenzera: Zau. Plus the team talks Helldivers 2 and Tekken 8.

Stuff We Talked About

  • Pacific Drive – PS5, PS4
  • Foamstars Foam Technology Deep-Dive Blog
  • Ultros Developer Interview Blog
  • MLB 24 Negro Leagues Season 2
  • PlayStation Plus Game Catalog for February – Need for Speed Unbound, The Outer Worlds, Tales of Arise, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and more
  • Pacific Drive Dev Interview Blog
  • Tales of Kenzera: ZAU Dev Profile Blog
  • Interview w/ Abubakar Salim (begins at 08:55)
  • Helldivers 2 – PS5
  • Tekken 8 – PS5

The Cast

Share of the Week: Romantic

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Last week, we asked you share romantic moments from a game of your choice using #PSshare #PSBlog. Here are this week’s highlights:

bluegreenherb shares Tifa and Aerith each holding one of Cloud’s arms in Final Fantasy VII Remake

Amianan_NiRaGuB shares Astarion lovingly gazing up at the player character who romanced him in Baldur’s Gate 3

DEX_exiled shares Zo and Varl from Horizon Forbidden West sharing a sweet kiss

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JarrinWasHere shares Garrus pulling Shepard into a dramatic dip in Mass Effect Legendary Edition

K_Alien121 shares Dion and Terence holding each other close in Final Fantasy XVI

Lny_Trpr_EE7 shares Catwoman and Batman sharing a moment in Batman Arkham Knight

Search #PSshare #PSBlog on Twitter or Instagram to see more entries to this week’s theme. Want to be featured in the next Share of the Week?

THEME:  Best Friends
SUBMIT BY: 11:59 PM PT on February 21, 2024

Next week, we’re shining a light on gaming besties. Share a pair of gaming best friends or close companions from the game of your choice using #PSshare #PSBlog for a chance to be featured.

PS VR2 FPS Hubris introduces Arena game mode in today’s free update 

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We’re excited to announce a new free addition to Hubris, now available at PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR2. Introducing a thrilling Arena mode where you’ll encounter multiple rounds of Uron invaders and have to navigate through a closed combat map, all set in a never-before-revealed environment. 

Players will have to shoot, jump, climb and move through a map, set in a training ground deep in OOO (Order of Objectivity)-controlled territory. While you’ll encounter diverse combinations of enemies familiar from the game’s core experience, the revamped setting and enemy encounters provide an entirely fresh gameplay experience. And if you want to challenge yourself even more the new game mode has three different difficulty tiers to play through.

But that’s not all – we’ve dialed up the gameplay by adding some weapon powers and upgrades which can be earned by completing waves. 

This adventure unfolds outside the main storyline and enables us to push the boundaries. This game mode gives players access to upgrades that would typically break the game’s balance. Grenades are also newly added to this game mode so you have a better way to deal with grouped enemies, and let’s be honest – there is no better feeling than throwing a well-placed grenade to blow up a huge amount of enemies in one blow.


New mode details from developer Hubris


“We recognized the potential in the mechanics we integrated into Hubris and seized the opportunity to offer our fans something new, exciting, and fresh. When designing the levels for Hubris, our focus was on ensuring they were understandable and accessible. Our goal was to guide the player from point A to point B in an engaging manner, with a clear flow, while also maintaining a balanced level of challenge.

But this custom-built level forces players to move, climb and jump in all directions, reach a defence point and eliminate enemies before succumbing to their attacks. The new game mode starts off relatively easy but quickly escalates with Uron threats emerging from various directions. Only the most skilled players will survive more than a couple of waves especially on hard difficulty. This level is designed with numerous pathways and options for maneuvering between points A and B, emphasizing the importance of strategic movement in overcoming the obstacles posed by the Uron forces.“

– Elie Van Ravels, Game Designer, Cyborn BV

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Looking ahead, we’re loo

Tales of Kenzera: Zau creator interview — Finding the beauty of creation in grief

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I recently had the pleasure to speak with Abubakar Salim, founder of Surgent Studios and creative director of Tales of Kenzera: Zau, about founding his gaming studio and how his childhood, grief, and becoming a father were essential building blocks in the development of Tales of Kenzera: Zau coming to PS5 April 23. Listen to the full interview below.

PlayStation Blog: We’ve been curious about your game ever since you announced it on stage at The Game Awards. How do you feel now that all of it is out there in the open?

Abubakar Salim: Terrified, absolutely terrified. It’s one of those things where we’ve been building it behind the scenes for so long, and you reveal it to people, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, wow, you’ve been building this. It looks so great.’ And you’re like, yes, so much blood, sweat, and tears went into this, but I’m super happy that it’s being received so well.

Tales of Kenzera: Zau is your first game. You’re originally more of a gamer, so what was the journey there?

I got into video games from my father. Essentially, he introduced me to them, and he would play a lot. Well, he would watch me play a lot, and he would dive in now and then. It’s always been my medium of taking in stories. I didn’t know you could have a career or work in games. It was this thing that you put a CD in a PlayStation, and gremlins work their magic inside. 

It was one of those where it didn’t cross my mind that you could do it as a career. So I went into acting because I’ve always loved telling stories. Then, I started working in games, and Assassin’s Creed Origins was the first game that I did. I was a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. So then, to be in it was mind-blowing. And that gave me the behind-the-scenes of, oh, wow, there are actual people making this stuff.

You’ve said the game’s gated exploration is well-suited to discussing grief. Can you explain that?

The beauty of these Castlevania or Metroid-like games is you throw the player into a map that they have no idea about, that they’re lost. They’re trying to gauge an idea of what it is, and the longer they spend in it, the more comfortable they feel, but at the same time, it’s still dangerous. And I think that is, to me, the perfect explanation or personification of grief. 

You learn to live with it, and it’s not a bad thing. You then find your boundaries, and you play with them. I’ve accepted that, yeah, I will sometimes feel sad, and sometimes I feel angry. But sometimes, I’ll feel an element of relief and freedom, and that’s okay. At first, it’s a bit alien, but after a while, it’s like, Alright, cool. Let’s play. 

The game is inspired by Bantu mythology. Can you tell us more about that mythology and why you chose it?&nbs

Dev interview: How Pacific Drive tunes up the survival genre with a station wagon

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We’ve all wondered why no one gets in a car and drives away from the terror in scary movies and games. Pacific Drive by Ironwood Studios lets us live out that scenario. This upcoming first-person survival adventure drives a customizable station wagon into the genre.

Ahead of the February 22 launch date, we spoke with the game’s director, Alexander Dracott, about the inspiration behind this genre-twisting game and its development journey.

PlayStation Blog: What was the inspiration behind Pacific Drive?

Alexander Dracott: The initial idea goes back to some of my hobbies and growing up driving station wagons to go camping and out into the woods of the Pacific Northwest. The seed came from the things I saw driving alone in the woods, fog, and rain, seeing things like mining towns that haven’t seen the light of day. The game started as simple test car in the woods, and as we started inserting more mechanics, we decided you should be able to turn the car off and on. It should have gas like you should have to refuel your car. It became apparent that there’s this overlap between the maintenance of a car you would expect and the item juggling you want from a survival game. What we ended up doing is taking the pressure that is always on the player in a lot of survival games and pushed it onto the car, and it clicked. You’re forming this relationship with this car that becomes your protector.

Where did the idea of the Olympic Exclusion Zone come from, and how does it contribute to the game’s mechanics?

I’ve always been a big fan of zoned stories and players being isolated, but in a space filled with interesting mechanics. For example, a lot of the enemy anomalies aren’t zombies that you just shoot. They’re more interesting and unique, and discovering what they are is part of the experience. The idea behind the Exclusion Zone, something that the government has walled off, instantly clicked because it gave us the freedom to both tell an interesting story and build this world while also filling it with things like those anomalies that people are going to have to learn and discover through the game’s mechanics.

Why did the team decide on this smaller-scale gameplay loop versus a free-roam open-world title?

Initially, we were considering something that was a little bit more like a traditional survival game on a relatively large map. Our maps are big because you have a car and go quick. We found that while all of our survival mechanics were working, we wanted those rest stops. We wanted those breaks like looting and fixing up your car. With that came the birth of the garage as a permanent place that you could go to and fix up your car, take the time, and engage with the different systems that are in the game. That cemented into this idea of, “Okay, I’ve got my garage, but now I can go out and take these trips to other parts of the game world.”

Was it difficult to build so many mechanics around a car?

Pacific Drive is a big game full of systems that

Beat the Beats VR lets you groove like a boxing champ on PS VR2 February 27

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Hello! I’m Josef, one of the creators of Beat the Beats VR, coming out February 27 on PlayStation VR2. It is a rhythm VR game you play with your fists and all about learning actual boxing moves like jab, dodge, and uppercut.

In this article I would like to share with you how the natural feeling boxing moves in our game came to fruition.

At Parallel Circles, we’re huge rhythm game fans. And VR? We love it. It immerses you like nothing else. I’ve always been captivated by the agility, coordination, and precision of boxers. So, blending these passions felt like a no-brainer. Thus, Beat the Beats VR was born.

Boxing greenhorn to boxing champion

Pulling off energetic boxing moves in real life takes years of training. But in Beat the Beats VR, we wanted players to feel like pros from the get-go. Jabs, hooks, uppercuts — they should all flow naturally. 

After lots of experimentation, we realized the traditional rhythm game approach didn’t quite fit boxing’s fluidity. So we switched it up. Instead of the “notes” (we call them beats) coming straight at you, they come from different directions in arcs challenging you to move exactly in the same way you would in a boxing fight.

You can’t help but make perfect jabs for beats from the front, hooks from the side, and uppercuts for ones coming from above.

Punching through the whole game

As soon as we nailed the boxing punches we brought other aspects of the sport into the game. You can also evade (called a “roll”) and block beats.

You can also unlock new levels/albums by punching them.

Mix all of the boxing action with some exhilarating music and you have a rhythm game that’s the best of both worlds: a fun experience for casual players and a full-throttle workout for the ones that want to go the extra mile.

We hope you have as much fun with our game as we had creating it. Maybe you’ll sweat as much as we did, too. Beat the Beats comes to PS VR2 on February 27!

How a toxic world inspired Forever Skies, a first-person sci-fi survival game

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A state-of-the-art airship hovers above a vast toxic dust cloud, shrouding an ecologically devastated Earth. That’s what most people notice when they see Forever Skies for the first time. And while this creates an interesting and unique premise to explore, it’s one that was inspired by rather somber real-world circumstances.

Read on to learn about the inspiration behind this first-person post-apocalyptic survival game, coming to PS5 this year.

How a toxic world inspired Forever Skies, a first-person sci-fi survival game

While our team is from around the world, a significant portion of us are based in Poland. For decades now, our country has been notorious for its poor air quality, particularly during the winter months. Iconic Polish cities such as Krakow or Wroclaw are frequently ranked alongside massive megacities like Beijing, Delhi, or Lahore. But these are massive metropolises with 10 or even 20+ million people living in them. Cracow or Wroclaw don’t even exceed 700,000 people and yet we regularly get public warning announcements to stay indoors because of the current air pollution levels.

Some studies even suggest that to breathe clean, unpolluted air, people would need to go 100 meters above the cities. And so the first spark of inspiration that kicked off our entire world design was found.

We envisioned a scenario where humanity confronts an irreversible ecological catastrophe of its own making by erecting towering highrises above the toxic dust clouds as a last-ditch effort to survive. But all this did was delay the inevitable societal collapse. Decades later, a select group of humans who fled into orbit dispatch a research team back to Earth to rediscover the world, marking the beginning of the story in Forever Skies.

At your side will be a high-tech airship that you

No Man’s Sky universe opens to newcomers for limited time with new Omega expedition, launching today

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Hello! Last year was a busy one for the small team at Hello Games, with lots of No Man’s Sky updates and the announce of Light No Fire.

We have big plans for 2024, and we’re starting the year off with a very different kind of update. We’re calling it Omega, and for the first time No Man’s Sky will be available to play for free!

No Man’s Sky universe opens to newcomers for limited time with new Omega expedition, launching today

For the first time, we are inviting every PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation VR and VR2 owner into our universe to play the latest No Man’s Sky expedition, even if they don’t own the full game, no purchase necessary. There are no microtransactions, no free-to-play mechanics, just a huge universe to explore for free with your friends.

Expeditions in No Man’s Sky have become one of the most popular ways to play the game. They bring all players together to the same planet for an interstellar, shared experience. This weekend we are allowing everyone, whether you own the game or not, to join the Omega Expedition.

This represents a moment for new players to try No Man’s Sky, and existing players to welcome them into the community. 

The Omega update also brings a complete overhaul of expeditions, new on-planet missions, a new pirate dreadnought to own, and much more.

Until now expeditions have been their own game mode, but we wanted to fully integrate them into our main game. Now, our new expedition system allows travellers to join expeditions with bespoke provisions, bring along their favourite starships or custom multi-tools and return to their main save with loot and exciting rewards.

We have revisited the Atlas Path, allowing players to commune with the Atlas and honor it with a new Atlas staff, jetpack and helmet.

On planets we have introduced a huge array of procedurally generated quests. Talking to alien lifeforms results in quests specific to an alien lifeforms locale, climate and personality.

For the first time, take on the universe with a fleet of frigates led by a dreadnought capital ship. If players can defeat pirate freighters in combat, travellers can board the dreadnought to demand control.

At the co

PlayStation Plus Game Catalog for February: Need for Speed Unbound, The Outer Worlds, Tales of Arise, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and more 

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February’s Game Catalog lineup for PlayStation Plus brings together racing thrills, sci-fi adventure and a selection of entries from a classic RPG series. Take to the streets in Need for Speed Unbound, blast off into space in The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition, then experience some acclaimed RPG fantasy action in the Tales of… series. These and many more titles are playable from February 20. Let’s take a closer look at each game in turn. 

PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium | Game Catalog

Need for Speed Unbound | PS5

With separate single and multiplayer campaigns, this latest edition in the Need for Speed franchise from Criterion Games delivers hours of electric, adrenaline-pumping racing action. Race against time, outsmart the cops, and take on weekly qualifiers to reach The Grand, Lakeshore’s ultimate street racing challenge. Pack your garage with precision-tuned, custom rides and light up the streets with your style, exclusive fits, and a vibrant global soundtrack that bumps in every corner

MLB The Show 24 unveils Storylines: The Negro Leagues Season 2

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Get ready to experience another slice of history in the playable micro-documentary, Storylines: The Negro Leagues Season 2, narrated by Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick. Season 2 continues our multiyear partnership with the NLBM and our shared mission to educate, enlighten, and inspire by celebrating the rich history of the Negro Leagues. We are so grateful and excited to introduce ten new Negro League legends to MLB The Show 24. Storylines combine immersive gameplay moments, historical footage, and more as we bring these incredible true stories to life.

MLB The Show 24 unveils Storylines: The Negro Leagues Season 2

The Season 2 roster for MLB  The Show 24 at launch includes:

Josh Gibson – The Black Babe Ruth

Buck Leonard – Baseball’s Greatest Fastball Hitter

Hank Aaron – The Hammer

Toni Stone – The Trailblazer

We will reveal additional players included in Storylines: Negro Leagues Season 2 at a later date. The next set of three Negro Leagues players will arrive in a content drop in early April, and the last three players will arrive in an additional content drop at the end of May. These will all be available via a free download. An internet connection is required to download and play content at launch and obtain updates after launch. In addition, all the players from Season 1 of Storylines will be included in MLB The Show 24 at launch.

To learn more about Storylines: Negro Leagues Season 2 and additional details on the mode, be sure to tune into our upcoming Feature Premiere livestream on theshow.com on February 15, 2024 at 3 pm PST / 6 pm EST. If you can’t make it live, catch the recap video afterward to keep up with t

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