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Video game preview: Latest installments breathe new life into popular franchises this spring

(Alicia Caldera/Daily Bruin)

By Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon and Harbaksh Kaur

April 16, 2023 9:09 p.m.

With the advent of the spring season, many may choose to take advantage of the pleasant weather with outdoor activities. But for those who want to stay inside, various new video games based on fan-favorite franchises are also flourishing.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s springtime video game recommendations.

(Courtesy of Mojang)
The "Minecraft Legends" poster offers a fiery look into the cube-based universe. "Legends" differs from the original sandbox game because it has overarching goals and enemies that players must defeat using strategies. (Courtesy of Mojang)

“Minecraft Legends” (Mojang Studios)

The latest legend from the Minecraft universe is about to reveal itself.

Following the original 2011 game’s success and Microsoft’s 2014 acquisition of Minecraft, the beloved block world is expanding to yet another standalone game Tuesday. The latest addition to the family is “Minecraft Legends,” an action-strategy game in which players must unite the Overworld to defend it from a piglin invasion. The collaboration between Mojang Studios and Blackbird Interactive will be available for select Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch consoles, as well as on Steam, Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass.

The game boasts a stylized version of the original’s characteristic blocky look, as the new animation methods and terrain generation inject life into the vibrant Overworld. The developers expanded on the preexisting Minecraft ecosystem with flora and fauna that aim to stay true to the feel of the original sandbox game and used keyframe animation to allow for variations in each action. Each mountain was digitally hand painted and then translated to a 3D pixel art form in Photoshop to create intricate landscapes. Players may also notice picturesque lighting that reflects the effects once achieved by using shaders in the base game.

With a refreshing take on the classic, the “Minecraft Legends” sound design enhances moments as minuscule as blades of grass blowing in the wind. From sparkly chimes to an epic orchestra, the designers fully lean into the storybook premise to create an enchanting soundscape. As players rally animals across the biomes, running over different vegetation will produce whirs and bubbly noises to indicate that the player has received a power-up effect. Though the game sings a new tune, it’s all done as an ode to the original.

Taking a page out of Minecraft’s storybook and crafting it into something new, “Minecraft Legends” sets out to create a legendary gaming experience.

– Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon

[Related: Book preview: Spring literature releases bloom with romance, adventure and social criticism]

(Courtesy of Nintendo)
A character springs through a golden, grassy field. "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is the sequel to 2017's "Breath of the Wild." Like its predecessor, the game was developed for the Nintendo Switch. (Courtesy of Nintendo)

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” (Nintendo)

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” will have players linking materials together like never before.

Almost six years after its predecessor “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” was released, the open-world action-adventure sequel is almost here. Launching for the Nintendo Switch on May 12 – with a matching game-themed console model releasing April 28 – “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” sees protagonist Link fending off evil in the kingdom of Hyrule once again. This sequel to the 2017 Game Awards Game of the Year was first announced in 2019, and in the March 28 gameplay demo, producer Eiji Aonuma gave a glimpse into some new features, as development on the game has officially wrapped.

Four new abilities – Recall, Fuse, Ultrahand and Ascend – aid Link in exploring the expansive world of Hyrule, now containing sky islands. Recall allows objects to be briefly rewound in time, giving players free lifts into the air or a chance to inflict unexpected damage to enemies. Fuse combines two weapons and materials, granting them new properties such as increased durability or tracking. Notably, this feature gives more utility to monster drops.

Meanwhile, Ultrahand allows players to attach objects together using a removable green goo. The gameplay demo revealed that this could be used to create vehicles, as seen in the game’s trailer. Cutting down on the first installment’s need for climbing, Ascend can be used from under almost any ceiling to have Link swim to the top, phasing through the obstacle. That being said, climbing was still shown in the gameplay demo, confirming that it will be a returning mechanic in the game.

Though the duo shares the same setting, the true link between “Breath of the Wild” and “Tears of the Kingdom” is the promise of a worthy adventure.

– Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon

[Related: Film preview: Spring 2023 blossoms with anticipated theater releases]

(Courtesy of Visual Concepts)
Several vehicles made out of Legos drive speedily through a colorful city. "Lego 2K Drive" is set to release May 19 on several gaming platforms in three different formats. (Courtesy of Visual Concepts)

“LEGO 2K Drive” (Visual Concepts)

“Lego 2K Drive” promises to deliver the ultimate driving experience.

The game is set to release May 19 for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC. Offered in three different formats – standard, awesome and awesome rivals editions – “Lego 2K Drive” is an open-world racing game with solo-play, co-op and multiplayer abilities. Set in the fictional world of Bricklandia, players will be treated to classic Lego visuals with colorful towns and humor on par with the Lego movies.

The game comes from 2K Games and Visual Concepts with inspiration drawn from classical arcade racing games. “Lego 2K Drive” captures the spirit of classic games as players can build their own custom vehicles from scratch, simulating the Lego experience. Players can also complete a multitude of tasks and missions as well as unlock special races.

The trailer displayed the game’s explosive gameplay, as players can crash into anything and everything, but the Legos gained from destroying structures are at one’s disposal to help repair vehicles, similar to other Lego-branded games where breaking items grants the user rewards in the form of studs. The game also automatically transforms vehicles when the terrain changes to whatever is necessary. For instance, players can drive on the ground, but once they go into water, their car will become a boat. Players also have the ability to drive on walls and are not limited to driving on any singular surface.

Racing fans are sure to enjoy “Lego 2K Drive” while experiencing an adventurous and witty game unlike any other.

Harbaksh Kaur

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Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon
Cobo Cordon is the 2023-2024 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts reporter. She is also a second-year student from northern Virginia.
Cobo Cordon is the 2023-2024 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts reporter. She is also a second-year student from northern Virginia.
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