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Preview: Prominence Poker is Texas Hold 'Em With a Twist

Prominence Poker is a new take on Texas Hold ‘Em. It couples the conventions of a traditional Texas Hold ‘Em-style video game with a fun, heist-like narrative in which players gain experience and rise up in power.

It takes place in the fictional town of Prominence, an underworld city run by gangsters and criminals. As a tourist, players begin to work their way into the Prominence hierarchy by playing poker against members of the top gangs in the city. At launch, the city will be home to two gangs: the Hearts, an Italian Mafia-like group, and the Clubs, a biker gang with Sons of Anarchy. Developer Pipeworks has plans to later introduce more gangs into Prominence, all of which the player can eventually join.

Each gang is best compared to a faction. They offer exclusive gear, customization options, and perks to help the player in various ways, be it extra experience earned or bonuses for defeating members of a rival gang. In order to join, however, the player will first have to prove themselves by defeating one of the unique bosses of each gang. As the player continues to progress, they’ll eventually attract the attention of The Mayor, the figurehead and kingpin of Prominence.

Taking lessons learned from their previous work on the World Series of Poker: Full House Pro, the creative team at Pipeworks has taken steps to make poker an intuitive controller-based game. Regular games take place in one of a handful of locations, including a run-down laundromat, a classy casino bar, and a biker bar inspired by some of the developer’s favorite bars in Oregon. Each has a different design and is fully rendered in 3D, complete with animated background characters and a table full of opponents. Like the gang factions, there are plans to introduce new locations in the future.

The actual Poker is played using analog sticks and carefully-designed selection click wheels on the bottom of the screen. Players can look at cards, call another’s bet, raise the stakes, and fold, depending on their strategy.

Body language also plays a role in reading opponents seated around the table. Whenever highlighting selections on the click wheel, the player character moves along with the analog stick, their hands hovering over the stack of chips, the table, and their hand. This movement is meant to simulate a player’s thought patterns on their turn. Mimicking the actions of real Poker players in the World Series of Poker. The intention is to cue players in on the attitudes and processes of other players, thus giving them the tools to identify when an opponent may be bluffing.

A series of emotes are available to, ranging from threatening to celebratory. During my time with it, I attempted to intimidate the others with a knife-across-the-throat motion directed at the players across from me. It’s a fun, mostly entertaining way of bringing life and personality to the table.

As a free-to-play game, Prominence will emphasize online multiplayer games as one of the core ways to track progression. The single-player story campaign is said to always be a free option, while players can also opt in to buying additional chips for in-game use.

A steady reward system will also dole out items and chips to players for completing a handful of daily and weekly challenges, each of which varies in difficulty and yields different rewards.

Character customization plays a big role in Prominence Poker, and people can choose from a wide array of facial and physical features, clothing options, tattoos, and accessories. It’s something I found appealing, since the standard tourist outfit is made up of a Hawaiian shirt and a fanny pack.

Prominence Poker is a straightforward Texas Hold ‘Em game, but there’s an inventive role-playing and progression element layered on top of it. Its depth and staying power remains to be seen, but developer Pipeworks and publisher 505 Games have planned support content in the works and will be seeking community input after it releases later this year on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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