News Category RSS Feed | News RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network GTA Online's Diamond Casino and Resort Opens Soon With Lots of New Content Fri, 19 Jul 2019 10:54:12 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

GTA Online has been rather quiet of late, though that's about to change on July 26. The Diamond Grand Casino and Resort hosts its grand opening on that day, bringing with it plenty of nightlife content to spice life up.

Situated on Vinewood Park Drive and Mirror Park Boulevard, the Diamond belongs to Tao Cheng and the Diamond family and offers high-end entertainment and experiences. Players own a luxury penthouse at the top of the resort, giving them an investment in the family and making sure the Diamond's operations run smoothly.

It's a casino, so naturally, that means the usual casino fare is on offer: slot machines, roulette, Three Card Poker, Blackjack, and a Lucky Wheel. There's a Casino Store as well, offering clothing and accessories for those who can afford it.

Should players grow bored of these activities, they can always retreat to the luxury penthouse. It's completely customizable, with different floorplans available, special spas, an in-home bar, and a media room, among other things. Whether the color palette needs changing or there's a lonely corner in need of an abstract piece of art, the Penthouse exists for the player to mold it.

It's designed for hosting wild parties, but it also grants access to a range of VIP services, like High-Limit Tables and the VIP Lounge, along with limo services and even a private aircraft.

However, that's not all The Diamond has to offer. The family is under siege from Texan incomers looking to stake their claim in the business and will lay out a series of co-op missions for players to complete. Clearing one the first time grants a special Award, while finishing the entire story will earn the player a free vehicle.

Fortunately, all this information comes from an official update, so there's no worry about it being a series of leaks — unlike that other news from the not-so-distant past.

New Pokemon Masters Trailer Offers Glimpse at 3-on-3 Battles, Sync Moves Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:15:31 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

DeNA and The Pokemon Company released a new trailer for Pokemon Masters recently, outlining some of the features players can expect when the game launches on mobile devices sometime this summer.

First up is more information about Sync Pairings. Trainers will team up with various famous figures from Pokemon's storied past, like Claire and Kingdra from Johto or Iris and Haxorus from Unova, along with plenty of others.

We've known for a while now the game will feature 3-on-3 combat, but the new trailer finally gives a good look at what that'll be like.

Players team up with two other Sync Pairs or friends via global co-op and take on AI-controlled opponents. These 3-on-3 matches aren't like Rotation Battles from Gen V or even the staple double battles. Attacks like Razor Lead that normally affect more than one opponent seem to be restricted to targeting just one in Pokemon Masters.









The real centerpiece of combat is the powerful Sync Move players can unleash with their partner Pokemon, moves that are essentially like slightly altered Z-Moves.

Players can unlock their partner Pokemon's levels and teach them new moves as they progress through the game. Additionally, with Sygna Suits, some Sync Pairs can even change to include new Pokemon. For instance, Brock's Sygna Suit changes his partner to Tyranitar instead of Onix.

The goal of all this battling is similar to almost every other Pokemon game: defeat powerful trainers, earn Badges, and become the Champion of the Pasio Masters League.

It doesn't seem like Masters will offer new Gym Leaders. However, according to Serebii, there is a new professor, Professor Bellis, who researches Sync Stones, along with Pasio's Prince Lear who set up the Masters League, and his assistants Rachael and Sawyer. What role these all play in the game still isn't known, though.

Another unknown factor is how players will go about forming Sync Pairs. There's some suggestion in a batch of new screenshots that other trainers are assigned ranks via stars, which could mean Pokemon Masters will take a Fire Emblem Heroes approach to acquiring new Sync Pairs — in other words, that Masters will be another gachapon-style game.

As of yet, Pokemon Masters is still without a firm release date, but expect more information to come along before summer's end.

33 Confirmed Dead in Kyoto Animation Arson Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:20:52 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Any anime fan knows the name Kyoto Animation, as the studio has historically upheld high standards in animation and employee quality of life. On a normal day, we'd be talking about one of their many works. Today is, unfortunately, different.

This morning, one of the Kyoto Animation studio branches was burned down in an apparent planned arson attack. Thirty-three have been confirmed dead.

The 41-year-old suspect was seen purchasing 40 liters of gasoline near the studio, and they were reportedly seen pouring it in the building and on people. The man also had brought multiple knives along with him, though they were unused in the arson.

Witnesses report the suspect claimed the animation studio had "ripped him off".

Kyoto Animation is known as one of the shining stars in the anime industry due to its high production quality and standards. The studio's biggest programs fall within the slice-of-life genre, with such heavy hitters as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, Nichijou, Clannad, K-On!, and Free!.

This is one of the largest mass murders in Japan's history, with 33 out of the 75 people present within the building having died in the fire.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his condolences on Twitter after the attack to state:

There are a large number of casualties in the arson murder case that occurred in Kyoto today. I don't have words for the gruesomeness of it. I pray for the deceased. I would like to give my deepest sympathies to those injured and pray for their quick recoveries.

American anime licensing company Sentai Filmworks set up a GoFundMe to aid the survivors and families of the arson, with the total raised above $500,000 at the time of writing.

Sentai Filmworks President John Ledford promises they are "coordinating with others in the Japanese anime industry within Japan to ensure that funds collected reach those in need."

Our best wishes are with the family and staff of those at Kyoto Animation in this terrible and horrific time.

Surprise Mid-Week PSN Flash Sale Live Now Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:17:30 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Sony's shaking things up a bit with its regular-yet-random Flash Sales. Where the sales usually go live for the weekend, this week's Flash Sale starts today, 7/18, and runs until July 22 at 8 a.m. PST/11a.m. EST. Note this sale is for PS Plus members only, it appears.

This time around, there are quite a few titles included, some of which are up to 75% off. Sony's picked a few particular highlights to lead the way, like Plague Tale: Innocence ($34.99) and Batman: Arkham Collection ($23.99), though it's a fair mix of well-known and niche titles.

As always, the July Flash Sale has something for almost all PlayStation Platforms except the PlayStation Portable, though even that has some titles still up for grabs from the previous retro sale until July 23.

We've rounded up some of the notable titles from each platform:

PlayStation 4

PlayStation 3

PlayStation Vita

The full list of games included in the sale can be found here.

If it seems odd Sony's suddenly decided to break form, there might be a pretty good reason behind it. Xbox just launched its massive Super Game Sale yesterday, offering equally steep discounts and incentives to part with hard-earned cash.

When chances like this come along, it's best to hop to it if something is of interest. Earlier this year, Sony tightened the reins of control over its digital offerings, meaning consumers won't be able to find most of these titles elsewhere — legally, at least.

Xbox Super Game Sale Live, Offers Savings on More Than Just Games Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:04:23 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Microsoft's massive Xbox Super Game Sale is live now, bringing with it steep discounts on games, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and even hardware and accessories. The sale begins today, July 17, and runs until July 29.

The sale's game segment includes more than 300 games, some of which are up to 70% off.

These range from recent hits like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Rage 2 to established classics such as NieR: Automata BECOME AS GODS Edition, and even the recently revamped Sea of Thieves.

There are also discounts on bundles and add-on items, and as always, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Xbox Live Gold members get an extra 10% off all games, on sale or otherwise.

Speaking of Game Pass Ultimate, Xbox is running a special deal on the service during the Super Game Sale. Consumers can get three months of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the price of one month for a limited time. Included in that membership is an exclusive Gears 5 Tech Test (no smoking allowed) that acts as a sort of test for the game's future Versus online multiplayer mode.

Keep in mind the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate grants access to Xbox and PC games, along with the benefits of Xbox Live Gold.

Some PC games are included in the Super Sale as well, though they aren't discounted quite as much — up to 50% off instead of up to 75%.

However, during the sale, consumers can save up to $300 on gaming rigs, VR headsets, HyperX accessories, and a number of other accessories as well. Note that aspect of the sale doesn't start until July 19.

Finally, those in the US looking to buy a new Xbox system can save $50 on a new Xbox One S, including the All-Digital version.

Gearbox is Giving Away Borderlands 3 Loot to Vault Insiders Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:10:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

With the recent launch of its Vault Insider Program, Gearbox has essentially gamified its marketing efforts around Borderlands 3. The program appears to be a mixture between a street team and an information hub, where members can view information about the game and share that information with friends for points. 

Activities include watching trailers, visiting social media accounts, completing surveys, reading blog posts, and inviting friends to the program. 

However, those that sign up for the program, which requires a SHiFT account, are entitled to some pretty enticing rewards, including guns, mods, and skins for Borderlands 3. Other items up for grabs include wallpapers as well as 10 Gold Keys and weapons for the previous games in the franchise. 

Points are fairly easy to come by, too, it seems. For simply registering for the program, subscribing to the 2K newsletter, and "reading about Borderlands 3" on the VIP program page, members can rack up 1,600 points in less than five minutes. 

Rewards are redeemed in-game via a linked account. 

Leading up to the release of yesterday's official trailer, which you can see at the top of this article, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford confirmed that Borderlands 3 would not have crossplay at launch.

While he did not confirm when crossplay would come to the highly-anticipated shooter, he did say that it would come "as soon as practicable after launch," in some ways confirming what Gearbox has said all along: that it is "very keen" on crossplay. 

Of course, we do know that Borderlands 3 will, unsurprisingly, have multiplayer at launch as well as co-op. Crossplay will undoubtedly be the icing of the cake for some players, but there will be plenty to do until that becomes a reality. 

Earlier this year, Paul Sage, the creative director for Borderlands 3, said that the game is about 30 hours long "if you beeline it through... the main story." Earlier this month, Gearbox unveiled a new Duel MP mode for the game, which will certainly extend that playtime for many players, not considering those that historically play strictly for loot.

Borderlands 3 is currently up for pre-order on a variety of storefronts, including the VIP Program page, which will give players the "Early Adopter Pack containing a Children of the Vault weapon, an Echo Device skin, and five Gold Keys..."

Borderlands 3 is set to release for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on September 13. It will be exclusive to the Epic Games store on PC. 

Luigi's Mansion 3 Gets a Spook-tacular Release Date Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:41:54 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Luigi's Mansion 3 was one of Nintendo's primary E3 showpieces, taking up a great deal of the showroom floor and surprising people with how polished and varied its gameplay was — yet its release date remained a mystery after the show ended.

It's a mystery no longer, though. As the headline not-so-subtly suggests, Luigi's Mansion 3 is launching October 31 — Halloween itself. It's a break from Nintendo's norm as well. Halloween 2019 is on a Thursday. Typically, major retail games release on a Friday, so this is an intentional move seemingly to make sure consumers can enjoy the game in the ghostliest context possible.

Nintendo also released a very brief trailer to accompany the information. While it doesn't showcase anything new, it does officially reveal King Boo as the game's main antagonist — or, at least, as one of them.

The tweet links to the series' official website as well, presumably for more information about the game. However, at the time of writing, it appears said site is down.

Despite the game releasing soon, we still don't know all that much about it. Mario and co. go missing in a haunted hotel, Luigi must find them using new abilities, there are boss ghosts — and that's about it. Whether the other characters are playable and what other surprises await are still an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Luigi's Mansion 3 is up for pre-order on all the usual sites, though there aren't any bonuses on offer. It's also part of the Nintendo Switch Voucher program (which we've detailed before), open for Nintendo Switch Online members and offering a slight discount on two select digital games.

GameStop Looks to Consumer Innovation to Attract New Customers Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:16:58 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

GameStop recently made an announcement signifying the company's commitment both to not fading from existence and ensuring it remains an important part of gamer culture by creating "cultural gaming experiences."

It's no secret the retail chain hasn't been doing well in recent years. The rise of digital gaming drew customers away from stores, a situation worsened by decisions like Sony's to take greater control of its digital offerings by removing them from storefronts anyway.

That, combined with retail decisions that tended to alienate consumers, gave many cause to believe the company might close its doors for good.

However, that's not quite the case — at least, not yet. GameStop is partnering with consumer innovation firm R/GA to provide new experiences that "make gaming culture part of every neighborhood."

What that translates to in daily life and business is actually quite a few different things. For one, GameStop plans to develop stores offering competitive play and "home-grown e-Leagues," along with shops designed specifically with retro play and gamers in mind, all in an effort to provide experiences consumers can't find anywhere else.

These experiences will center around four main areas R/GA helped GameStop identify: immersion, achievement, creativity, and community.

If this sounds rather heavy on marketing speak, that's because the announcement smacks of being geared toward investors. After all, most consumers wouldn't feel inspired to shop at a store after hearing a phrase describing them like this one:

This consumer believes gaming is the most immersive, most challenging, most creative and most inclusive form of entertainment and vibrant storytelling available, and in many cases is an important facet of their identity.

Still, retail stores turning to experiences as a way of attracting and retaining customers is a growing trend in the age of internet shopping.

Even if its press release phrasing is slightly questionable, GameStop certainly has the resources to turn itself around by pursuing this new model — including a near-monopoly on affordable retro gaming and a good many retail locations already.

Dauntless Fortune and Glory Update Brings Trials Mode, New Hunt Pass Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:09:48 -0400 Joey Marrazzo

Yesterday, a new update to the free-to-play RPG Dauntless launched. Titled Fortune and Glory, it was released for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Fortune and Glory is the first expansive content update for Dauntless, and it includes a new Trials mode, brought along thanks to a new character that arrives in Ramsgate, Lady Luck. 

Of the update, Phoenix Labs said in a release: 

Trials will pit adventurous Slayers against dangerous, modified Behemoths and all-new environmental challenges, like terrain-transforming pests. With the clock ticking through each hunt, it will be up to Trials challengers to prove that they can execute under pressure. Trials are split into two difficulty levels: "Normal" and "Dauntless."

Completing Trials' normal difficulty will grant players Slayers with Steel Marks. Players can then use these to purchase unique rewards such as weapon mods and alternate special attacks.

More skilled competitors that have finished the Dauntless difficulty will receive Slayers with Gilded Marks. Those can be used to buy exclusive cosmetic rewards.

Rewards for both the Normal and Dauntless difficulties are exclusive to the new Trials mode and can only be found at Lady Luck's shop. 

For those who want to see how they rank compared to the other 12 million Dauntless players, there is now a Wall of Champions conveniently located right outside Lady Luck's shop in Ramsgate. There, players can see the top performers whether they play solo or in a group.

If a name isn't on the leaderboards this week, there's no need to worry: the Trials rotate every week, so players have numerous chances to get on the board.

Fortune and Glory contains 50 levels of content, and it is just the beginning of this season of Dauntless, which is named High Skies. The season will also include two consecutive Hunt Passes that include new content. The first pass revolves around a pirate theme.

Be sure to head over to our Dauntless guides hub page for more on the free-to-play Epic Games exclusive. 

Nintendo Switch Hardware Update Boasts Improved Battery Life Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:00:20 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Following on from last week's Nintendo Switch Lite reveal and rumors of an enhanced vanilla Switch, Nintendo announced there will, indeed, be a new and improved regular Nintendo Switch.

The improved Nintendo Switch will be sold as Model HAC-001(-01), and it's expected to start shipping in the middle of August. 

It looks like consumers will also be able to tell the model difference based on packaging; the new model is shown (left) in a red box, where the original came in a white box  plus there are some other differences in how the product is shown off.






As we reported on last week
, after new FCC filings surfaced, these improvements aren't related to graphical enhancements or anything of that nature. Instead, it's all about improved battery life, likely thanks to the changes in storage and the new processor mentioned in those Class II FCC filings. Otherwise, the system itself is the same.

What's more, these improvements mean the enhanced Nintendo Switch will actually outperform the Nintendo Switch Lite in terms of battery life.

Nintendo provided a comparison of how the three systems stack up:

As can be seen, the HAC-001 Switch model almost doubles the battery life of the original and offers a definite improvement over the Switch Lite as well. That's just with Breath of the Wild as a reference point, too. It's one of the Switch's most demanding games and sucks the battery dry rapidly. Other games aren't quite so greedy, hence the estimate that battery life could last up to nine hours. 

That's not the only new thing coming to the Switch. On October 4, Nintendo fans are also getting two new sets of Joy-Con: Neon Purple/Neon Orange and Blue/Neon Yellow. These will retain for the usual $79.99. Just as a reminder, the Nintendo Switch Lite won't have removable Joy-Con, so these new sets are only for the original Nintendo Switch and its enhancements.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition Complete Out Soon Tue, 16 Jul 2019 14:13:22 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Natsume's Harvest Moon: Light of Hope made its debut a couple of years ago, but it's getting repackaged in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition Complete for release on July 30. It'll be a digital and physical release for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch for $29.99.

The news originally comes from a Natsume press release via Gematsu. The Special Edition Complete includes "special features made specifically for consoles," though Natsume doesn't elaborate on what those are. It also introduces a brand-new character in Soleil. Soleil uses Gem Sprite magic to help on the farm, be it gathering materials or tending livestock, and is playable in co-op mode.

All four previously released DLC packs will be bundled in with the Special Edition Complete too.

  • Decorations and Tool Upgrade Pack
  • Divine Marriageable Characters Pack
  • New Marriageable Characters Pack
  • Doc and Melanie's Special Episodes

Previously, these were available separately for $3.99 each.

Light of Hope tried steering a difficult current between previous recent entries like A New Beginning and Skytree Village while maintaining some of the classic Harvest Moon games' charm. It wasn't completely successful in this attempt, though, with Light of Hope receiving a less than stellar reception, both critically and from consumers.

Some of the issues came from the rather confusing split between Marvelous and Natsume, where Natsume's Harvest Moon now is separate from the Harvest Moon (Bokujou Monogatari) many grew up playing.

Light of Hope has the player work to rebuild a broken-down harbor town and brings back features like town design from earlier entries. In particular, it was accused of simply rehashing the older games' concepts without trying to do anything new with them, along with several bugs and loading time issues that kept the experience from being as smooth as it could be.

Still, including the four DLC packs means players who do pick up the Light of Hope Special Edition Complete will have plenty of content to work through, not to mention more marriage candidates than they could shake a cow at.

Among Demons and Deities: An Interview with The Blackout Club's Jordan Thomas Tue, 16 Jul 2019 10:50:07 -0400 Mark Delaney

To the uninitiated, the words "immersive sim" may not be entirely helpful in describing a game. The genre made famous by the likes of BioShock, Thief, and Deus Ex has been a favorite among those who want to approach every area with the curiosity of a mad scientist, toying with their world and observing how it responds.

But what if that world toyed with you, too? How would you respond?

That's the thrill of Question's The Blackout Club, a four-player co-op immersive horror sim that bends the rules of the genre in more ways than one. Some of those ways are so mysterious that our recent chat with Lead Designer Jordan Thomas left us with a cryptic teasing that players will unravel with the game's 1.0 launch on July 30.

We caught up with Thomas to find out more about the game's multiplayer environment and the cultish lore behind the game, all while trying to get to the bottom of its mysterious Enhanced Horror feature.

GameSkinny: When I first heard about The Blackout Club, I likened it to Left 4 Dead meets Stranger Things, but for reasons we’ll get to momentarily, I now feel like that doesn’t fully capture the game’s essence. For those unfamiliar, what’s the basic premise of The Blackout Club?

Jordan Thomas: Sure! The Blackout Club is first-person, modern co-op horror with a twist. You play teenagers investigating a potentially supernatural threat beneath the streets of your hometown. Everyone is sleepwalking at night, experiencing blackouts, and you want to know why. The enemies are bigger than you, and they could be your parents, so the focus is on non-lethal sneaky or mobility-focused tactics.

You can also play a traitor kid called The Stalker, who is trying to catch the Blackout Club kids on camera. It’s harder, because you’re all alone, but can be thrilling. Some of the kids report hearing voices that claim to be ancient, and know things they should not — and part of the game involves interacting with those voices.

GS: Playing The Blackout Club at PAX West last year, I was surprised to learn the National Radio Quiet Zone is a real thing here in the U.S. Was the intent to always place your game in this area or did that come later as you fleshed out what The Blackout Club would be?

Thomas: I’ve told other, private stories in this universe, and there was — well, our term is a “strong edge metaphor.” A reason why a single phone call or bus across state lines wouldn’t solve the protagonists’ problems. It’s so frustrating when you’re enjoying some genre piece and for completely baffling reasons they won’t do the rational thing to take themselves out of harm’s way.

Redacre, our fictional town, is on a private network controlled by the antagonists, and they have people watching the borders. Though the NRQZ is our unique take on that for this game, it was a decision we made fairly early. 

Plus, nobody believes a group of kids who say, “Hi, you don’t know me, but my town’s possessed.” 

GS: What were some of the chief inspirations for The Blackout Club?

Thomas: Well, there’s all the alter-ego oriented horror I love, starting with Jekyll & Hyde. The vast, unknowable maze beneath the earth, somewhat inspired by House of Leaves, though we leave more room for reasonable doubt about whether mortal forces could achieve it all, or if there truly is something supernatural happening.

As far as TV and film  Twin Peaks, It Follows, Stranger Things, The X-Files, Supernatural… some folks have drawn parallels with American Gods. Our goal was to draw on a great number of sources, but synthesize it into something that feels like its own animal. It’s very gratifying to hear that now, you might feel we’ve done that.

In games, I’d have to say Eternal Darkness. Horror that seems to reach back out through the controller to grab you back.

GS: How scary is it intended to be?

Thomas: The single-player intro has definitely brought a few folks to their limit, because they have maximal vulnerability and minimal information at that point. Once you’ve got your friends along and they’re carrying a metaphorical elephant gun packed with memes, it can lean into the comedy side of horror.

Accounting for that tonal variance was pretty key for us early on, and another reason we chose to go with teenage protagonists  humor is a defense mechanism, after all. That said, it is extremely satisfying to hear a certain kind of player go from cocky and vocally dunking on the challenge level to impress their friends  to shrieking in front of those self-same friends a moment later. And that’s just within typical gameplay. 

There are times when The Blackout Club makes things more personal for players who have enabled Enhanced Horror — and some of the things they report, we definitely did not put in the game. That may sound like hyperbole, and to an extent, sure, I’m being mysterious. But it’s true: the feature’s black-box nature causes players to project a lot of meaning onto what happens, and we are listening to what they believe, and altering the world, by degree, in response.

GS: The central villain is The Shape, a monster pulled right out of horror cinema in some ways. Can you talk about the ways in which The Shape interacts with players?

Thomas: The Shape is a nickname the kids chose, and horror folks will probably guess why. The sleepwalkers call it The Angel, and it does serve a sort of moral enforcer role in Redacre, monitoring the children for the worst “sinners” (as it perceives that term).

When one of them has committed too many sins while running a mission, a menacing song plays on the city-sized instrument under the town’s streets, and it is deployed to hunt that kid down. It cannot be seen unless the player closes their in-game eyes, and then it appears as a kind of burning shadow that … changes as things intensify.

When it gets ahold of them, at first, it turns them into a sleepwalker that acts as a roving alarm system against fellow players. If their friends rescue them and they’re caught a couple more times, however, The Angel’s mercy runs out and it ends their lives.

GS: Who and what else will players contend with in Redacre?

Thomas: Sleepwalkers come in a couple of varieties. Mothers and fathers within the town, dressed in pyjamas and special CHORUS branded sleep masks. CHORUS is the housing association which arranged the internet- & cellular-free community of Redacre. The elite sleepwalkers wear these very striking white and red clothes. These uniforms help them labor on the Great Instrument under the streets, monitor their hearts, and protect them in that semi-hazardous underground environment.

In the morning, they remember nothing  they wake up with aches and pains, so families often have one or more people who are subconsciously spying for the enemy.

Lucids have bare faces, but the populace of Redacre has been brainwashed to see their faces improperly, a sort of concentrated face blindness, so they appear to be a writhing swirl of features. Unlike the sleepwalkers, they are fully aware of the conspiracy and are always trying to play Mr. Friendly with the kids, talking them out of hiding. The savvy Blackout Club kids are rarely fooled, however.

Finally, there are The Voices. Most of the kids report hearing one or more. Some of them claim to be demons, or even deities. They offer the kids knowledge, and better control over their potential talent — but at a price.

GS: Those who have been playing in Early Access share their stories of the Enhanced Horror feature. This is something which, as far as I can tell, no one has done before in games. Understanding you want some of the fun to remain hidden until players see it for themselves, can you detail how Enhanced Horror works? What is the game like if players elect to turn off Enhanced Horror?

Thomas: Yes, tricky to discuss without ruining it for the very people who most benefit from surprise. But at a coarse level, it is meant to function like a Ouija board, meaning that you can opt in to let it listen to you as you play.

In a way, occult amusements like that are a bigger inspiration than any of the media we talked about. Players in co-op are already chattering all the time via the in-game voice or Discord, etc. In The Blackout Club, what they say actually matters. To name a particular god or demonlike entity with its proper name, for example, might provoke a surprising result. Out of a match, players can use a Ritual Item to ask questions of the voices in their minds, and everything they say … actually matters. 

Finishing a mission gives them a Dream, which lets them eavesdrop on what other players have asked for or stated, via these — and listen to the replies they received. If you’re lucky, your question might be the one that becomes a public Dream.

Players’ knowledge of the world lore is being driven by this system, in part, and they are quick to rush to Discord to speculate on what it means. Already, these interactions have shaped the story, gently, and behind a veil of mystery. They seem to get something out of it they can’t find elsewhere, which makes us wildly happy.

GS: Some of you on the team have a history with immersive sims like BioShock and Thief. How has that work history informed the design of The Blackout Club, and what’s it been like trying to map some of those features onto a multiplayer game?

Thomas: As with the story elements, it has been a process of choosing what serves the immediacy of a session-based multiplayer game, and letting the rest either fall away or be hidden within deep systems context where the power-users will find it eventually. In a Shock-like game, you frequently have one hand that is sort of a … murder boquet, guns, direct damage in so many colors. And the other that is sort of about putting the enemy in interesting states.

In The Blackout Club, you’re supposed to feel like a disempowered teenager from some of the media we discussed above, so those abilities are distributed across you and several other players, and the combinations require you to coordinate with them, or at least to get the drop on your enemies first.

GS: What is the game’s map like? Is the town fully accessible right away or must players work to progress through new areas?

Thomas: It is gated by player level, and is focused around the main hillside climb up to the place where CHORUS has centered their activity in town. There are forested areas, suburban homes, a daycare facility, and, of course, the underground maze.

The maze is a giant musical instrument as we’ve talked about, and it plays a central role in the fiction. That function hugely alters the appearance of the maze — I’m very proud of the work Stephen and CJ have done on the environment art side, it feels like no other game world I’ve ever seen. 

GS: With the game involving a live element, how do you see it evolving over time? 

Thomas: Without spoiling too much, there are community-wide story goals, and players can make progress towards them by running typical missions. The means by which they do so, though, aren’t readily exposed or easy to “game”  they involve interacting and discussing with other players, sending Rituals to the Voices, and hoping for a useful reply.

Periodically, we want to build larger updates and release them, reflecting the results of that great search for truth, but, of course, the amount of that we’re able to do will be driven by how well the game does.

"The Blackout Club makes things more personal for players who have enabled Enhanced Horror and some of the things they report, we definitely did not put in the game."

GS: Similarly, considering how the game changes with Enhanced Horror, does the team at Question have settled lore to build on or are you adjusting to player interactions as time goes on?

Thomas: The Blackout Club is meant to feel something like a less well-worn Call of Cthulhu or Hunter: The Vigil style game, where the protagonists are ultra vulnerable and only brush against the truth by aggregated effort. So there is a great deal of hidden truth that has existed for a long time, but already, even in Early Access, some tectonic shifts have occurred based on player interest.

So it will be a hybrid of the world as it is, and the world as they want to see it. Fitting, I hope, for a story that involves an element of growing up and grappling with reality. I’ll let you and the player community hash out how well we’re pulling that off!

GS: What does player progression look like? How does one beat The Blackout Club? Is there an ending to see or is it meant to be played more as repeat-friendly levels like Left 4 Dead?

Thomas: It is definitely meant to be endlessly replayed; the actual mission content is procedural/dynamically generated, the placement of enemies, lights, security, and so on will shift around. But it does begin with the story of a girl who got too close to the truth, and the players are just like the kids in the Blackout Club, they expect some kind of resolution to that arc.

Of course, if they send enough ritual offerings asking for something else, who are we to deny the power of belief?

The Blackout Club exits Steam Early Access and comes to Xbox One and PS4 all on July 30. You can read our early impression of the game here

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD Confirmed for a Fall Release Date Tue, 16 Jul 2019 10:23:23 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Note [7/16]: Sega has indeed confirmed the new Monkey Ball remake is coming to North America on October 29, titled Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD. Nintendo provided a new cinematic trailer for the game as well.

The original story is below.

Super Monkey Ball chatter has been rife recently, with rumors of new installments following Taiwanese and Korean ratings for a new game in the franchise. Japanese publication Famitsu has confirmed that, indeed, Tabegoro! Super Monkey Ball is a thing and will release October 31 in Japan for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, with a Steam version set for a December release.

The game is a remake of the Wii launch title, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, which was the first game in the series to allow players to jump over obstacles on a course.

It also included a ton of mini-games, such as the fan-favorite Monkey Target and roughly 50 others, which some argue are more important than the series' story content.

Being a Wii game, Banana Blitz also incorporated motion controls, doing away with the control stick or D-pad as methods for getting an encapsulated monkey through the obstacle courses. Whether the remake will also use motion controls isn't known yet, though Famitsu is set to print in a few days and might provide more information then.

Should it require motion controls, then it seems Tabegoro! would make it on the list of Nintendo Switch games you won't be able to play easily on the new Nintendo Switch Lite.

It seems unlikely the game would be motion-control only, though. The only danger for the Wii was throwing a Nun-chuck through the TV screen by chance. Flailing around trying to frantically save a monkey from falling off the edge probably wouldn't go down as well in public or on a crowded transit system.

For now, there's no word on whether the West will see a release for Tabegoro! Super Monkey Ball, but given the series' popularity in years past, chances are, we'll be hearing an announcement from Sega on the subject soon.

8BitDo Might Have Created an Almost-Perfect Controller Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:39:16 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

8BitDo's newest controller, the SN30 Pro+ Control, is highly customizable, strives to be ergonomically sound in its stick and button placement, and offers a bevy of user features. It's set for an August 7 launch date and will cost $49.99.

The SN30 Pro+ resembles an SNES control combined with a Switch Pro and PS4 controller, though it's meant primarily for use with the Switch, Windows and Mac, Android devices, and even homebrew consoles.

There's the standard ABXY button setup, with a proper D-Pad (something the Switch won't see for a while yet), and what looks like a much better grip than the Switch Pro Controller currently offers.

It's got all the standards one would expect from a modern controller as well, like 6-axis motion control, wireless Bluetooth, and rumble options.

What makes 8BitDo's control really stand out, though, is its Ultimate Software. This software basically lets the user completely redesign the controller to suit their needs. The buttons can be completely remapped, and the Ultimate Software even lets users assign more than one input for any button as well.

Remapping isn't anything new, as those familiar with retro gaming already know. However, 8BitDo takes things even further with the Ultimate Software and allows users to customize the analog button and stick responsiveness. These settings can all be saved and reloaded to the controller, essentially meaning the SN30 Pro+ can be customized in a different way for every game in the user's library.

The drawback here is that 8BitDo's new controller isn't natively compatible with Xbox One and PlayStation 4, without the use of adapters that more than double the controller's cost.

Still, 8BitDo has released plenty of different adapters in the past, so it's always possible the SN30 Pro+ will get its own PS4 and Xbox One adapter at some point.

This retro-meets-modern controller is just the latest in the never-ending march of retro goods. From the pricey N64 scaling upgrade, to a new classic mini-type handheld that actually lets consumers have physical copies of its games, and even a return of the TurboGrafx-16, retro is more modern than it's ever been.

Meanwhile, those interested in pre-ordering ahead of the SN30 Pro+'s August 7 release date can do so here.

Gears 5 Won't Depict Tobacco Use After Non-Profit Claims It's Too Dangerous Mon, 15 Jul 2019 14:12:35 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Following a length showing at this year's E3, The Coalition's upcoming Gears 5 just got its first big broadcast over the weekend. Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed one thing missing, though, and it's entirely by design: there was no tobacco usage depicted.

According to Variety, the non-profit, anti-smoking organization Truth Initiative reached out to ELeague's President, Rod Ferguson; ELeague is the organization that owns all eSports broadcasting rights for Gears 5.

Truth Initiative asked that The Coalition remove all depictions of smoking in Gears 5. The request was formed based on statistics that show viewers and players tend to be younger than the game's M-rating would suggest they might be, along with causal links that see increases in smoking tied to depictions of it in pop culture — including TV shows and video games.

Ferguson agreed to the request and provided a rather personal reason for his decision:

I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of smoking.

It’s always been important for me to not use smoking as a narrative device, which is why we made the conscious choice to avoid highlighting or glorifying smoking in ‘Gears 5’ and throughout the Gears of War Universe moving forward

That firsthand experience was his father's death at age 38, when Rod Ferguson was only 4. Apparently, because of these experiences, Ferguson has tried limiting depictions of tobacco use in all Gears games.

Of course, there's no way to verify these remarks one way or the other.

The move does open up another topic of discussion, though. Truth Initiative claims there are definite links between images showing certain actions and people's behavior, though that contradicts claims stating depictions of violence — and Gears 5 comes with an M rating for gore and violence — have no impact on others.

While it would seem there's some casual picking and choosing when it comes to causality here, that's another topic for another time.

Konami Details TurboGrafx-16 Mini Price, Library, Launch Date in New Trailer Fri, 12 Jul 2019 10:33:04 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Shortly after revealing the TurboGrafx-16 mini to the world, Konami has released a trailer highlighting the system's price, release date, and pre-installed software lineup.

The TurboGrafx-16 mini will include 24 TurboGrafx games and 26 PC Engine games for a total of 50 pre-installed games. It'll cost roughly $100, includes the system and a controller, and is expected to launch March 19, 2020.

As with the PlayStation Classic Mini, the TurboGrafx-16 mini's lineup differs from West to East. U.S. fans might not be getting games like Fantasy Zone or Fantasy Star Soldier, but they will get other well-known system hits such as Bonk's Revenge and Lords of Thunder. Others, including Ys: Book I and II and Bomberman '93 are common across both versions.

The U.S. TurboGrafx-16 mini will also look slightly different. Whereas the Japanese version is modeled after the PC Engine, and Europe gets one based on the CoreGrafx, the U.S. gets the classic TurboGrafx-16 look.

The full list of games is below:

  • Air Zonk
  • Alien Crush
  • Blazing Lazers
  • Bomberman '93
  • Bonk's Revenge
  • Cadash
  • Chew-Man-Fu
  • Dungeon Explorer
  • J.J. & Jeff
  • Lords Of Thunder
  • Military Madness (Nectaris)
  • Moto Roader
  • Neutopia
  • Neutopia II
  • New Adventure Island
  • Ninjaspirit
  • Parasol Stars
  • Power Golf
  • Psychosis
  • R-Type
  • Soldier Blade
  • Space Harrier
  • Victory Run
  • Ys Book I&II

The world anxiously awaits major upcoming hardware releases like the PlayStation 5 (or whatever it is), Xbox's Scarlett, or the Switch Lite revision, but the retro craze is keeping pace on its own.

There's Hyperkin's version of the N64 classic mini, the Commodore 64's rebirth, Evercade's take on retro handheld gaming, and platforms like Anstream that hauls retro forward into the streaming world.

It goes to show there's still a sizeable demand for the games of yesteryear — even if some companies aren't sure how to handle it. Some, like Square Enix, are looking into offering their classics as a subscription service.

However, the Big 3 are seemingly not at that point yet, with Nintendo working on ways to improve subscription offerings, Xbox ending its backwards compatibility with the 360, and Sony apparently forgetting they had classic games before the PlayStation 4 existed.

First Look at Minecraft Earth's AR Gameplay, Beta Registration Open Now Fri, 12 Jul 2019 09:23:05 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Microsoft released a new trailer highlighting the location-based, augmented reality, aspects of the upcoming Minecraft Earth mobile game — in other words, the bits that make this Minecraft's take on Pokemon GO.

Like Pokemon GO, the Minecraft Earth world is based on the player's location. Streets and other notable landmarks are rendered in Minecraft form in the game, and players can expect to encounter a plethora of Minecraft items, collectibles, and enemies as they travel around.

These appear as icons called Tappables, because players tap to interact with them, and they form Minecraft Earth's backbone. Tappables are everywhere, in block form, item form, or even mob form, and interacting with them provides building materials and numerous other bonuses.

For instance, enemy mobs that appear on screen aren't always as they appear. Instead, players must tap them to uncover their true nature, and in doing so, they collect that mob and place it in their inventory. The same goes for chests — always loaded with items — environment blocks, and pretty much everything else.

Players gain experience points with each Tappable collected, though how leveling up affects the game still remains to be seen.

The Minecraft part of the game comes when players want to create using the Tappables they've gathered. To do so, they'll select one among many various Buildplates, which are essentially like mini-Biomes or seeds.

Each Buildplate has a basic foundation to work with, and from there, players can add blocks, mobs, items, or whatever strikes their fancy at the time, and watch their creation come to life. Water flows, animals move around, crops grow, and fires spread in what amounts to a miniature, realized Minecraft world.

Once creation is finished, the Buildplate can then be plunked down somewhere in real life. Friends can add to or take from it, and players can venture inside and interact with the Buildplate.

More information will be released in the coming months, but players can sign up for this summer's open beta by visiting this link.

Looks Like Shenmue 3 Backers Won't Get Season Pass or Deluxe Edition Bonuses Thu, 11 Jul 2019 15:46:34 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Adding fuel to what was the dwindling bonfire around Shenmue 3, it now appears that backers who funded the game's development on Kickstarter or Slacker Backer will not receive the game's season pass or Deluxe Edition content. 

As reported by multiple outlets, the news comes from a recent blog post from the Shenmue III Team on the game's Kickstarter page. Specifically, the information can be found in the comments section of the post. 

A backer by the name of Antonio Miranda shared a response they received from the Shenmue III team after reaching out to "Ys Net regarding [the] Season Pass and Trial Version." 

Dear Antonio,

We apologize for the long delay in responding. Your feedback is appreciated and we will look into having your noted points in future updates.

Standard and deluxe versions released through retail sales are not affiliated with the crowdfunding campaign, so will not be included with backer pledges, however, they will be available for sale separately. Kickstarter Backers will receive the Kickstarter version, Slacker Backers will receive the Slacker Backer version. Both have unique content respective to their versions not available in the retail versions.

A season pass is not included.

Trial version release date info has yet to be confirmed and will be announced in the updates when details are available. You will be receiving your trial trial version, but we must ask for your patience for a little longer.

There will be more information following in the days ahead concerning updates.


The Shenmue III Team

Of course, the news has not gone over well in the comments section of the Kickstarter page. However, it's worth noting that neither a Season Pass nor Deluxe Edition pre-order goodies are mentioned anywhere in the project's stretch goals or pledge tiers. 

Indeed, those who backed the game on Kickstarter and Slacker Backer will receive bonuses unavailable to those who did not support the game's development. 

In other developments surrounding the game, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney recently said that the company would spearhead refund efforts around the game

Sweeney said on Twitter:  

Epic is funding the cost of all Kickstarter refunds resulting from Shenmue III’s move to the Epic Games store, so that refunds won’t reduce Ys Net’s development funding.

The move comes after it was revealed at E3 2019 that Shenmue 3 will be a timed Epic Games exclusive. Furor quickly rose around the news, specifically stemming from backers who did not want their money going to the developer. 

More recently, Ys Net released a 30-second trailer for the game, showcasing forklift driving, mini-games, and several brief glimpses of the game's combat. Currently, there is no word if forklift races will make a return in the series' third installment. 

Shenmue 3 is set to release November 30 on PC and PlayStation. Of course, that is barring any further delays

Forklift Driving, Arcade Games Underscore Forking Short Shenmue 3 Teaser Thu, 11 Jul 2019 14:59:51 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Hot damn, folks. We've got forklifts, we've got whack-a-mole, and we've got kickass kung-fu action. It looks like we've got a veritable Shenmue game on our hands after all.  

In a new 30-second trailer finally released online by Ys Net, fans and players get a quick look at Shenmue 3's mini-games and combat. The trailer is the same one that has been circulating in the real-world at PlayStation kiosks for the past month or so. 

For anyone that's played either of the Shenmue games, it's clear that Yu Suzuki has a soft spot for industrial machinery, especially glorified hand-trucks such as the forklift. Indeed, players know how fun it is to race with them, too, since the equipment featured so heavily in the original classic, and the game's forklift race is one of the most classic gaming moments of all time. 

While it's unclear if the forklift race will make a comeback in Shenmue 3, it is clear that Ryo will at least get to drive one at some point during the game, perhaps to make an extra buck or uncover the nefarious machinations of Lan Di and the Chi You Men. 

Suzuki confirmed forklifts as far back as January of this year, but it's still great to see it in action here. 

Also shown in the trailer, albeit shortly, is a game of whack-a-mole, confirming that Shenmue 3 will feature more arcade mini-game fun, as we've come to expect. 

Since this year's E3, where it was confirmed that Shenmue 3 will be a timed-exclusive for the Epic Games Store, controversy has surrounded the Kickstarted project. Since the exclusivity deal came after the game was fully funded on the crowdsourcing platform, some backers weren't happy with the fact that they would be forced to use the Epic Games Store over another storefront such as Steam. 

At the time, those asking for refunds from the "Shenmue III Team" were being denied. At the time, some reached out to Deep Silver, the company publishing the game, for clarification on the matter. Sources speaking with PC gamer said: 

... "the developer is 'looking into it." The publication was also told that while Deep Silver is publishing Shenmue 3, it "joined the project long after the KickStarter was set up and therefore isn't in a position to comment on the actions as we are not involved in that side of the project." 

However, Epic Games has recently said that it will bear the burden of refunding backers who wish to take their money elsewhere. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games said on Twitter: 

Epic is funding the cost of all Kickstarter refunds resulting from Shenmue III’s move to the Epic Games store, so that refunds won’t reduce Ys Net’s development funding.

Unfortunately, the announcement only calmed the stormy waters surrounding the game for a short time. It seems that Kickstarter backers will now have to purchase the game's season pass and Deluxe Edition separately

Shenmue 3 was originally set to release on August 27. However, the game was recently delayed for "refinements," according to the developer. The game will now release on November 19 for PC and PlayStation 4. 

Nintendo Plans to Update the Original Switch with New Chips Thu, 11 Jul 2019 09:28:13 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo just announced the Nintendo Switch Lite this morning, but another new hardware upgrade surfaced as well, this time for the original Nintendo Switch.

The folks at The Verge spotted a new filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a Class II change to Nintendo's original Switch license. Class II changes with the FCC are for existing products getting minor upgrades that don't drastically alter the existing framework or performance.

The filing states the Nintendo Switch is getting a new SoC (system on chip, or in layman's terms, processor) and a new NAND memory type; for the less tech-savvy among us, NAND memory is a type of flash memory.

Flash memory uses less power, so an upgraded NAND type potentially means longer battery life for the Switch and, combined with a better processor, possibly even lower heat output, which is especially good given the many reports of Switch units that crack near the heat vent.

The new processor could very well be the rumored new Tegra chip we reported on last week. If so, it could be a way to get around in-game slowdown and improve load times. Longer load times aren't terribly common, but they do still pop up from time to time, like when Stardew Valley first came to the Switch and, more recently, with the Dragon Quest Builders 2 demo.

On the downside, if these changes end up improving the system, it means original adopters are left high and dry with a system that's not quite as efficient. On the upside, if the rumored new Tegra is going in the base Switch system, then it's possible the Switch Pro (rumored to be in development alongside the Switch Lite) would have yet another different processor that would set itself further apart from the vanilla console.

Either way, it's certainly shaping up to be a busy year for Nintendo, with new system models, plenty of remakes and remasters this fall, and two new entries in the flagship Pokemon franchise all due out within a few months of each other.

Get Lost with Stranded Sails, An Indie Survival Game Coming to Consoles Wed, 10 Jul 2019 13:18:26 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Developer Lemonbomb Entertainment and publisher Merge Games recently announced the successful Steam indie Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands is heading to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in October.

It'll be available on consoles both digitally and physically, though only the Switch and PS4 are getting the special Signature Edition. What that edition entails hasn't been revealed, but it's designed as a collector's edition.

Stranded Sails is billed as an "open-world exploration farming adventure." It sounds like SEO cramming, but the game's premise actually delivers by blending all those elements together, taking inspiration from Harvest Moon, The Legend of Zelda, and My Time at Portia to deliver a unique take on those styles.

Like any good exploration story, survival is key to Stranded Sails' gameplay. Players will have to grow and harvest their own food not just for themselves, but for the others in their island settlements as well; feeding the masses also happens to be an important part of managing each NPC's happiness. It's an open-ended cooking system that lets players experiment with new ingredients and develop new recipes too.

The trailer shows off a surprisingly wide variety of crops and resources as well, from the standard food and environmental resources to what looks like herbs and flowers.

There won't be just one base of operations, though. The islands under exploration are ripe for development, and players will work on expanding their camps into proper settlements while also developing their shipbuilding skills.

All this is centered around a primary plot and dozens of sub-quests as the player tries to uncover the truth behind the curse darkening the island shores. That naturally requires traveling to different islands using said ships and exploring various dungeons that appear to be full of ghost pirates.

We don't get to see much of the game's combat just yet, but it's looking like Stranded Sails has a lot to offer and balances it pretty well.

Nintendo Switch Online Adds a Rewind Feature for Classic NES Games Wed, 10 Jul 2019 10:42:23 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo is adding something to its Nintendo Switch Online service this month. No, it's not SNES and GCN games (yet); it's a special rewind feature.

It's set to release alongside July's NES games, Donkey Kong 3 and Wrecking Crew. As the name suggests, it lets players rewind their gameplay for a do-over. It's essentially Fire Emblem Echoes' Mila's Turnwheel, only unlimited and applicable for the entire library of Nintendo Switch Online NES games.

Players of the Mega Man Legacy Collection and SNES Classic Mini will already know how a rewind feature works.

Say something dreadful happens in the middle of a Metroid run — getting stuck in lava, for instance.Simply press ZL and ZR at the same time, and the game lets players choose which frame they want to start back at.

The feature is handy for minor screw-ups, like the trailer shows, and also for learning from mistakes in some of the more difficult NES offerings.

Even if the rewind feature can be used for every Nintendo Switch Online NES game, it obviously isn't very useful for all of them and highlights the service's continued limitations.

During the recent Nintendo shareholders meeting, along with questions about the company's cloud plans, some investors brought up that exact limitation with Nintendo's plans for expanding its online services. At the time, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said the company knows it lags behind competitors in this regard and needs to enrich the Nintendo Switch Online offerings, but will make decisions on a product-by-product basis.

It was a particularly evasive answer, even for a video game executive. It's true the NS Online service has more than 10 million subscribers, but that's surely related to games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate requiring a subscription for online play — not because of Nintendo's other subscription offerings.

Nintendo Reveals the Nintendo Switch Lite, Out September Wed, 10 Jul 2019 10:10:24 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo revealed the long-rumored "Switch Mini" system in a new video today. It's called the Nintendo Switch Lite and will release September 20 for $199.99.

The Nintendo Switch Lite does pretty much everything the rumors said it would. It's slightly smaller, with a 5.5" touch screen, as opposed to the original Switch's 6.2" touch screen.

The system is also handheld-only, with the controllers being fully integrated into the system, and it boasts a slightly longer battery life of 3-7 hours, as opposed to the original's 2.5-6.5.

The Nintendo Switch Lite does away with the pseudo control pad from the vanilla Switch and finally gives us a real D-Pad. Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser spoke with CNET shortly after the announcement and confirmed both that players can transfer games between their regular Switch and Switch Lite, and that the latter uses more efficient processors that allow for smaller heat vents.

Naturally, some concessions had to be made. It won't support HD Rumble or motion controls, and it can't be used with a dock.

That means it also can't play games that don't support handheld mode. Nintendo said the way to tell what games are supported from here on is to check for the handheld icon either on the back of the game box or in the eShop listing.

Games that require detached Joy-Con can still be played using an extra set of Joy-Con, though, which fits with the Nintendo Switch Lite's marketing as a second system in the home.

The system will launch in three different color options: blue, yellow, and grayish-black.

However, there's a special Pokemon Sword and Shield edition already announced, or more specifically, the Nintendo Switch Lite Zacian and Zamazenta Edition. It features a silver chassis with cyan and magenta button color schemes, matching the upcoming Pokemon games' primary colors. The back sports a graphic of Zacian and Zamazenta, the Galar region's legendary Pokemon.

The Zacian and Zamazenta edition will be available starting November 8 for $199.99. It's a little while before the games themselves release, and that's because the system is just a system; it doesn't include pre-installed versions of either new Pokemon game.

Hi-Rez Studios Opens New Development Studio in United Kingdom Tue, 09 Jul 2019 16:12:33 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Hi-Rez Studios, most notably the makers of SMITE, Paladins, and Realm Royale, is growing yet again. This time, the developer is expanding across the pond by opening a new studio in the United Kingdom.  

According to a press release regarding the expansion, Red Beard Games will be located in Brighton, England, where Hi-Rez built its European headquarters in 2016. It will be led by European General Manager and Global Vice President of Marketing, Veronique Lallier. 

Last year, the Atlanta-based developer restructured itself into the Hi-Rez Publishing Group, spawning a dedicated esports production company, an art studio, and three subsidiary development studios with the purpose of focusing on its core gaming experiences.

Currently, Titan Forge Games is dedicated to developing SMITE, while Evil Mojo Games and Heroic Leap Games are dedicated to Paladins and Realm Royale respectively. 

As of this writing, there is no word on what title Red Beard Games will be working on. However, it's safe to guess it will follow the new Hi-Rez model of developing and nurturing a single gaming product at a single development studio. It will also most likely be an online, multiplayer title that takes advantage of the games-as-a-service model the company is known for. 

Of the expansion, Hi-Rez Studios' CEO and President Stew Chisam said: 

The ambition for Red Beard Games is to mix the excitement and focus found in a little indie studio with the production capacity and features you would expect from a major developer and publisher. The details of the new studios project will soon be revealed but fans can expect that
our commitment to community collaboration and innovation are as strong as ever.

Although there are not any specific positions listed on the Red Beard Games' careers page, the developer will be hiring for various positions "shortly". Opportunities will be posted on the Hi-Rez Studios career page

For those already in the U.K., the Hi-Rez Studios' talent team is attending the Develop:Brighton conference on Wednesday, July 10 and Thursday, July 11. Those not attending the conference will have another opportunity to meet the team at the Hi-Rez Studios student open house on July 10 from 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Lallier said that Red Beard Games is "open for business and actively looking for candidates from all disciplines to build a best in class development team." 

Hi-Rez Studios is currently is "the only developer both creating and publishing three live-service cross-platform titles." SMITE, Paladins, and Realm Royale are playable across PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 

Nintendo Moves Production Out of China, Sony and Microsoft May Follow Tue, 09 Jul 2019 16:05:49 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo confirmed it has moved some parts of its production lines out of China and into Vietnam, while the Nikkei Asian Review reports Microsoft and Sony will likely follow suit in the near future.

Rumors had been swirling about the Big 3 leaving China as a result of the Trump administration imposing tariffs on Chinese-manufactured goods, including video game consoles. However, it was only today that Nintendo gave weight to those rumors in an official statement to Reuters.

The Nintendo spokeswoman said part of the company's Switch production will move to Vietnam, and the process will begin this summer. Though nothing has been officially confirmed from Sony and Microsoft yet, they join the list of other technology and retail giants considering alternatives for their production needs.

The Americas make up 44% of Nintendo's profits, which would be hampered by the 25% tariff the Trump administration is proposing.

However, Nintendo's spokeswoman also made it a point to emphasize another rationale behind this move. Rather than it taking place solely to avoid impacts from the tariff — impacts that could potentially cost consumers and manufacturers millions — NIntendo is looking to diversify its risks by branching out.

At first glance, "risks" seem like just another way of saying "tariff hikes". However, as the Nikkei Asian Review also notes, Chinese production costs have been steadily rising for the past few years anyway. Even without the potential extra costs added on top of that, it's becoming more expensive to locate supply chains in China.

The reason for that is manifold, but it essentially boils down to China making changes in its labor and environmental regulations to avoid coming under fire from the international community. Production centers increase their costs to compensate, and it gets passed on to the company using that production location — and said company looks elsewhere for less costly methods of production.

What effects consumers will feel from Nintendo and possibly Sony and Microsoft shifting their production centers, if there are any at all, isn't certain, It's also unclear clear whether the change might affect Nintendo's new relationship with Tencent or production of the chip rumored to power the Switch Mini.

New Turok Game in the Works — But It's Not What You Think Tue, 09 Jul 2019 11:41:22 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

It's getting to where different studios or indie devs taking on classic franchises isn't all that surprising anymore. The latest such case is related to the Turok franchise, which is getting an indie reboot called Turok: Escape from Lost Valley in a style that's very different indeed.

Pillow Pig is the brain behind Turok's rebirth, and it'll be published by Universal Studios. The initiative was actually part of a contest Unity and Universal hosted, challenging developers to create a new entry in a classic Universal franchise, like Back to the Future and, of course, Turok. While the grand prize winner was Gbanga's Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion, other dev teams continued with development and Universal backing.

As the trailer thumbnail shows, this isn't your granny's Turok. It's a bloodless, adorable, chibi-styled re-imagining that tasks Turok with... well, with escaping from Lost Valley.

Despite the obvious visual changes, the rest of the series' mechanics are largely intact. Players are challenged with choosing the best weapon for a given situation as they face off against massive foes drawn from Turok's history of deadly, murderous beasts — though they look awfully cuddly. It's worth noting that the game is inspired by the Turok comic series, not just the games.

The Turok: Escape from the Lost Valley Steam description gives an overview of what to expect:

Encounter iconic creatures from the Turok comic series with a cute but dangerous twist...Confront your foes, assist primordial natives, and keep Andar and yourself alive as you Escape from Lost Valley!

That last part about assisting natives is particularly important, since it means Escape from Lost Valley shakes up the Turok gameplay style of kill everything in sight before moving on and killing everything else.

Turok games in the PS2 era couldn't keep up with modern FPS titles like Halo and failed to distinguish themselves, partly due to presentation issues, but also because they just didn't offer anything new.

Escape from Lost Valley follows in the trend of Cadence of Hyrule by daring to do something different from its source material and, as a result, brings a breath of fresh air to a tried and sometimes tired formula.

Turok: Escape from Lost Valley is set for a July 25 release date on Steam.

The Cuphead Show Is a Thing, and It's Coming to Netflix Tue, 09 Jul 2019 10:56:23 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Studio MDHR announced a new venture for its flagship creation Cuphead: an animated series that will air on Netflix called The Cuphead Show.

The original announcement came in a Tweet, but  IGN interviewed brothers Jared and Chad Moldenhauer, founders of Studio MDHR, for further information about their latest venture.

The Cuphead Show will be a comedy of some kind, featuring the adventures of Cuphead (obviously) and his brother Mughead as they journey across Inkwell Isles.

There's no indication whether the plot of the Cuphead game will influence the show in any way, where the brothers must face off against the devil's debtors to pay off their own arrears incurred during a gambling match. However, the Moldenhauers told IGN the show is still very early in production, so details are naturally thin on the ground — even for the show's creators.

What they did say is that the show won't retell the game's story and isn't directly tied to it. Instead, they view it as something similar to Mickey Mouse cartoons, where the plot and Mickey himself could be completely different from episode to episode.

Chad Moldenhauer said The Cuphead Show is designed so it's safe for children, but it features plenty of things adults would understand and appreciate. In other words, it's basically like the cartoons of the 1930s and later that inspired Cuphead to begin with.

Speaking of early 20th century cartoons, The Cuphead Show will retain an art style very close to the game's hand-drawn animations. However, Studio MDHR said they aren't actually working on the animations themselves; instead, Netflix's in-house animation studio is responsible for the show.

The primary difference is the approach drawing the frames by hand. Each frame will still be hand-drawn, but not to paper. It'll be what Chad Moldenhauer called "Tradigital," where frames are drawn by hand into a computer.

The Moldenhauers will be the show's executive producers, meaning they ultimately have the final say in the show's direction, and they'll be working alongside C.J. Kettler (of Carmen Sandiego, MTV, and Oxygen notoriety) with King Features. King Features is a branch of Hearst Entertainment, a company that owns the rights to classic cartoons like Betty Boop and Popeye, so Cuphead is in good company.

Netflix is certainly leading the charge for games-turned-series, adding The Cuphead Show to its already-announced The Witcher series. Alongside the Final Fantasy XIV TV adaptation and whatever PlayStation Productions has in the works, we've come a long way from the dark days of the Super Mario Bros Show.

Accessibility Options, Duel MP Mode Detailed for Borderlands 3 Mon, 08 Jul 2019 17:37:29 -0400 Jonathan Moore

There's little doubt that Borderlands 3 is shaping up to be the best game in the popular FPS franchise, giving Borderlands 2 a decent run for its money. From the looks of it, the game is also shaping up to be the most accessible. 

As reported by IGN, Borderlands 3 will have a plethora of accessibility options when the game launches later this year. Chief among them is a ping system similar to the one found in Apex Legends

Players will be able to highlight enemies and items in the environment as well as give a select number of orders to teammates. Just as the system in Apex Legends, the system here reportedly works whether other players have voice chat or not, which makes logical sense considering the application. 

The video above shows the system in action. 

Gearbox also revealed at Guardian Con last week that other accessibility options will appear in Borderlands 3, including those for adjusting text size and opacity, and for using subtitles and closed captioning. The game's controls will be completely re-mappable, too, fully supporting the Xbox Adaptive Controller and alternate gamepad configurations. 

Rounding things out, it was revealed that a new multiplayer mode will come to Borderlands 3: Free-for-All Dueling. This will let up to four players duke it out for whatever rewards they choose, be it a legendary weapon or good old fashioned superiority. 

While the game will have a shared loot feature, meaning players won't miss out on loot dropped in the heat of battle, the new multiplayer mode is a bit of fanservice for legacy players. Now PvP battles will be a bit more voluntary than they previously were. 

These recently revealed tidbits run in line with what we already know about the game, specifically that Gearbox wants to give players control of their Borderlands 3 experience. 

Earlier this year, the developer revealed Echocast, a way for Borderlands 3 players and fans to interact with Twitch streamers by directly impacting their gameplay. Viewers can earn in-game loot by tuning in, and there is currently no information on how this system might evolve over the game's lifespan. 

During E3, Gearbox also confirmed that the shooter would have microtransactions. However, they will not be pay to win. Despite some early confusion to the contrary, Gearbox affirmed that micros will only be used for cosmetic items

Borderlands 3 is set to release on September 13 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Pre-orders are currently open, and those interested can see what's in each version here

The 7th Guest Fan Sequel The 13th Doll Slated For Halloween Release Mon, 08 Jul 2019 14:04:49 -0400 Ty Arthur

Initially crowdfunded way back in 2015, the fan-made sequel to cult classic FMV horror game The 7th Guest is on the verge of release.

Originally slated for release in February and then pushed to July, Attic Door Productions just announced The 13th Doll is in the final stretch of development. It is now due to release by Halloween 2019.

Set 10 years after the original game, The 13th Doll follows protagonist Tad on a quest to escape a mental institution and return to Stauf's mansion for a final confrontation. 

The Attic Door development team issued this message to fans and backers today:

Apologies again for another big gap between updates - can't believe where the time goes! On a positive note tho, we have fantastic news - FINALLY, after years of hard work, we're confident that the game will be finished by the end of the month! It's been a long time coming, and we can't wait to finish the game and see what you think!

On the good cop, bad cop side, well, we think we need at least a few months to properly market the game and do a more robust round of testing and debugging, so the official launch date will be some time in October, just in time for Halloween - as several of you predicted.

Following in the footsteps of the original title, the game will feature logic-based puzzles as the core gameplay between FMV movie scenes.

The delay from the original February launch window saw polishing of existing rooms as well as the addition of new animations, collectibles to search for across the game, and colorblindness options for color-based puzzles.

You can read the full update sent out to Kickstarter backers over here or check out The 13th Doll's newly launched official Steam game page to wishlist the title or jump into the forum discussions.

Nintendo Talks 5G for the Future, Cloud Gaming for Switch Mon, 08 Jul 2019 13:41:55 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

A wide variety of topics came up during the recent Nintendo shareholders meeting, including the future of Nintendo Switch Online. But one of the more interesting subjects is the video game giant's stance on cloud gaming and 5G as new communication technology.

One of the shareholders said Nintendo gives the impression of being slow to adopt new trends or adapt to widespread changes, pointing out VR, cloud gaming, and 5G as specific examples.

Nintendo of Japan President Shuntaro Furukawa, Representative Director Shigeru Miyamoto, and Senior Executive Officer Ko Shiota provided a response and some background on Nintendo's thought process when it comes to technological innovation.

On cloud gaming, Furukawa said Nintendo understands delivering games via the cloud will eventually become more common, and the company will keep pace with changes as they occur. More importantly, he said Nintendo sees such changes as another chance to take advantage of the company's hardware-and-software integration, saying cloud gaming:

will just give us more opportunities with our integrated hardware and software development approach to reach people worldwide with the unique entertainment that Nintendo can provide

Miyamoto further clarified the company's stance on innovation by pointing out what the consumer sees isn't the extent of what the company does. He clarified that Nintendo was working on VR long before delivering the Labo announcement and said, "Because we don't publicize this [behind the scenes work] until we release a product, it may look like we're falling behind."

Miyamoto is also a bit less certain about cloud gaming being the extent of gaming's future. He pointed to Super Mario Run's install base of more than 300 million as an example of how there will always be demand for various ways to play games, including demand for those that can only be enjoyed running locally.

In other words, Nintendo will probably be offering more games through cloud-based delivery, but don't expect it to be their next big thing.

One reason for that is the technology available for stable cloud gaming. Shiota pointed out that Nintendo doesn't always go after the latest technology because the company wants to prioritize the best choices for its main focus: what new experiences it can offer and how those will affect the consumer.

5G is often looked at as the answer to cloud streaming's current problems, given its ability to avoid latency issues. However, considering it's new, largely untested, and very, very expensive at the present, Shiota said it's not the best option for Nintendo given the cost of running 5G technology, though the company is still looking into it.

It's understandable Nintendo isn't making cloud gaming a major priority for the Switch's future when one considers The Witcher 3 manages to fit the game and all its DLC on one Switch card.

It's also an interesting move from a company often considered out of touch with its consumers. As people look forward with dread to a digital-only future where one never owns one's games, Nintendo is apparently committed to delivering at least some content we can all proudly display on a shelf somewhere.

Fallout 76 to See Big Changes With Delayed Patch 11 Mon, 08 Jul 2019 11:52:07 -0400 Ty Arthur

The upcoming Patch 11 for Fallout 76 will see a slight delay from the originally announced launch window. It is now due to drop in mid-July, which means players can likely expect to download the new update by July 19.  

The online RPG has already seen some major overhauls in recent weeks, with the addition of a Battle Royale mode called Nuclear Winter and a huge combat update.

That's just the start of what's in store, as, of course, human NPCs with dialog trees are still in the works, while a number of quality of life tweaks are coming with Patch 11.

While waiting on the next patch to officially arrive, Bethesda issued this statement about what changes are in store:

Lots of new Dwellers have been leaving Vault 76 for the first time over the past few weeks and, in Patch 11, we’re looking to make a few adjustments to help new and low-level characters have more gradual introductions to some of the game’s mechanics and challenges. For example, characters under level 25 will pay fewer caps when fast traveling, those under level 15 will have higher disease resistance, and we’re replacing a number of early-game Challenge rewards with items and other supplies that will give these Dwellers a better chance at survival.

We’re also looking to reduce creature difficulty in a few sub-regions within the Ash Heap, the Savage Divide, and Toxic Valley so that Dwellers who are stepping out of the Forest for the first time have fewer encounters with higher-level enemies. We’ll have more details to share in the full patch notes, but these are a few of the larger changes we’re planning to make to help new characters better adapt to life in the Wasteland.

That's not the only major shakeup to the gameplay in store with the update, however.

Aside from those new player friendly updates, here's an overview of the major changes coming to Fallout 76 with Patch 11 later this month:

  • Raw food items and fluxes will last 50% longer before spoiling, and food and drink won't lower in condition while fast traveling
  • Legendary items will display all their current attributes with better descriptions
  • Power armor overhaul including option to toggle power armor HUD and ability to activate Stealth Boy while in power armor
  • Bulk junk items in your inventory will be safe from the “Scrap All Junk” option
  • You’ll once again be able to add your favorite alcohols to your Punch Bowl

Full patch notes are expected to arrive in the coming weeks as we get close to the official launch of Fallout 76's Patch 11.

Yo-Kai Watch 4 Western Localization Announced Mon, 08 Jul 2019 10:28:17 -0400 Erroll Maas

At their panel during Anime Expo 2019, Level-5 announced that Yo-Kai Watch 4 will receive a western localization for Nintendo Switch. The subtitle for the western version, which in Japan is We're Looking Up at the Same Sky, has not yet been revealed.

The trailer shown at the expo was in Japanese with English subtitles, so it may be a while before an official release window or release date is announced. Not much else information is yet known, but it has been said that the developers are trying to make sure it releases as quickly as possible.

Yo-Kai Watch 4: We're Looking Up at the Same Sky released for Nintendo Switch in Japan on June 20, 2019 after several delays. Recently, it was announced that Yo-kai Watch 4 would be receiving a free update with new yo-kai and a new map.

Additionally, paid DLC was also announced, which will include a multiplayer mode, even more yo-kai, and other updates not yet detailed.

Yo-Kai Watch 4 is the first game in the series to be released for Nintendo Switch. The western localization for Yo-Kai Watch 3, which combines all three Japanese versions of the game into one, was released for Nintendo 3DS in Europe on December 7, 2018, and in North America on February 9, 2019.

Yo-Kai Watch 4 will launch on Nintendo Switch in North America and Europe some time in the future.

New Trailer Shows Off More Galar Pokemon, Gym Leaders, and Gigantamaxing Mon, 08 Jul 2019 10:10:27 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The Pokemon Company quietly released a new Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield trailer packed with details about new Pokemon, an additional form of Dynamaxing, and what looks like another first for the series: Gym Leaders that differ depending on the version of the game.

First up is Alcremie, a pure Fairy-type that looks like a variation of Kalos's Slurpuff — not too surprising given how close Galar and Kalos might be. Its ability is Sweet Veil.

Next is the official reveal of Yamper, the Electric-type Corgi who's a very good boy indeed and sports the Ball Fetch ability.

A new Pokemon game wouldn't be complete without a new Rock-type 'mon, and Galar's contribution is Rolycoly. It's pure Rock, unlike many similar monsters, and it has two possible abilities: Steam Engine and Heat Proof.

Galar has a new Dragon type as well, the Steel/Dragon hybrid Duraludon. It's two possible abilities are Light Metal and Heavy Metal. It's worth noting this particular type combination is the first of its kind — and finally ends Ice types' reign of terror over the majestic dragon Pokemon.

Another first of its kind was shown off as well: branching Gym Leaders. The trailer showed Milo and Nessa, which we already know about, and then it showed Bea, a Fighting-type Gym Leader.

What's different about Bea's introduction, though, is that there's a "Pokemon Sword" logo on the screen; the next leader is Allister, a Ghost-type leader, and a Pokemon Shield logo is on screen for the duration of the clip.

What towns have which Gyms will differ depending on whether the player is playing Pokemon Sword or Pokemon Shield. During the Gym Challenge, players' clothing changes to a special uniform, and they can choose the three numbers that will appear on it.

We also get a glimpse of two more characters, Chairman Rose and the rather suspicious looking Oleana. They're the brains behind turning the Gym Challenge into a national phenomenon, but what their function is remains a mystery for now.

Finally, there's Gigantamaxing. No, Dynamaxing hasn't already been replaced. Gigantamaxing is exactly what it sounds like and is quite similar to Mega Evolutions.

It's not completely certain from the trailer whether Dynamaxing is required before a trainer can Gigantamax, but either way, once it happens, the Pokemon changes appearance and, naturally, power, gaining a new G-Max move.

Unlike Dynamaxing, though, Gigantamaxing is limited to "select Pokemon," which is also like Mega Evolution.

As a reminder, Pokemon Sword and Shield launch worldwide November 15 for Nintendo Switch.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition Coming to Nintendo Switch and PC Mon, 08 Jul 2019 09:09:22 -0400 Erroll Maas

At the Future of Digimon panel during Anime Expo 2019, Bandai Namco revealed that Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition would be coming to Nintendo Switch and PC on October 18, 2019.

This complete edition includes both the original Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth game as well as Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Hacker's Memory, which shows the story of the original game from another side. It is currently unknown if the complete edition will have any exclusive content or feature previously exclusive content.

The first Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth game released in Japan for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on March 12, 2015. The western localization was announced at Anime Expo 2015 and launched in North America on February 2, 2016 and in Europe on February 5, 2016.

The following game, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory launched for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on December 14, 2017 and worldwide on January 19, 2018.

The western version of Hacker's Memory did not include a feature which allows players to transfer their Digimon from an original Cyber Sleuth save file, which was present in the Japanese version. It is currently unknown if the complete edition will now include this feature.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition will launch worldwide for Nintendo Switch and PC on October 18, 2019. Here's to hoping for some more information from Bandai Namco over the coming months.

Digimon Survive Delayed to 2020 Sun, 07 Jul 2019 12:02:06 -0400 Erroll Maas

At the "Future of Digimon" panel during Anime Expo 2019, it was revealed that the upcoming strategy RPG set in the Digimon universe, Digimon Survive, has been delayed to 2020. The game was previously slated to release sometime in 2019

Producer Kazumasa Habu also revealed some new information about the game. The setting for Digimon Survive is actually a different world from what fans have seen before in the Digimon franchise. Habu revealed that the world was heavily inspired by Japanese mythology.

Additionally, due to a conversation with the director of Digimon Adventure, an idea brought up and featured in Digimon Survive is how Digimon have actually existed since ancient times and were thought of as spirits. In this mythology, humans rarely interacted with Digimon before society was introduced to digital technology.

One other way that Digimon Survive was inspired by Digimon Adventure was how Digimon respond to their human partner's emotional state. Player choices will affect how Digimon respond as well as their digivolutions, so players will experience the consequences of the actions they take.

The opening movie for the game was also revealed to those attending the panel, but it has not yet been released anywhere online.

Earlier this year, new details about the game were released in a developer diary. Including other details, the developer diary shared what players can expect from the game's combat. 

Combat borrows a lot from traditional tactical RPGs, but the key feature here is digivolution. Digimon can digivolve at any point during the battle, but doing so uses up the player's energy. It can be refilled by exploiting enemy weaknesses.

Digimon Survive will launch for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch some time in 2020.

New Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution Trailer Shows off Lush CG Style Fri, 05 Jul 2019 10:55:46 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is launching soon in Japan, July 12 in fact, and it just recently got a new trailer featuring some lengthier CG segments, including the dramatic cloned Pokemon battle.

Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is a 1:1 remake of the first Pokemon movie from way back in 1998. It's loosely connected to a side-plot in Pokemon Red and Blue, where Team Rocket, Giovanni in particular, experiments with Pokemon genetics to recreate the mythical Mew.

Instead, they get a substandard clone dubbed Mewtwo who, while not quite up to snuff with its bubblegum-pink counterpart, can still use its psychic powers to cause a good deal of trouble.

Despite being a direct remake, it seems there's some effort to emphasize one of the film's key themes — all life is worthy of love and respect — through the film's main song. That song is Rita Ora's "Let You Love Me," which is basically asking why the singer is apparently unworthy of love; it doesn't take much to connect that to the unloved psychic monster Mewtwo.

Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution caused a bit of a stir with its drastic departure from the original's hand-drawn style. It's naturally not something many fans associate with the franchise, but the trailer shows it's used to good and dramatic effect nonetheless. It's also the second big change-up for Pokemon we've seen this year, not long after the live-action Detective Pikachu's grittier, more realistic style.

Fans pining for a Pokemon film in the usual style won't have too long to wait, though. As CPokemon reports, a special screening of Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution shown during Anime Expo 2019 teased a new Pokemon film for 2020 done in a hand-drawn style. Not much else is known about this film, other than Pikachu slides down vines at some point.

Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is set for a November 17 release date in the US.

Epic Games Offers Refunds for Crowdfunded Games that Turn EGS Exclusive Thu, 04 Jul 2019 10:53:53 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

As PCGamer recently reported, Epic Games has announced a new policy regarding refunds and crowdfunded games that become Epic Games Store exclusive titles — namely, EG will foot the bill for refunds should backers not want the title on EGS.

This announcement follows Ys Net and Deep Silver's decision to make Shenmue 3 an Epic Games Store exclusive, despite previously suggesting fans could purchase the game through Steam on the day of its release. Now, fans wanting the game on PC can choose a physical PC disc that basically just installs the Epic Games Store or an EGS key.

Naturally, some backers were less than pleased and saw this as yet another case of unexpected poaching on Epic's part. Ys Net and Deep Silver offered refunds for those who decided against an EGS copy, but originally didn't provide details on how these refunds would be realized.

That's when Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney stepped in. Sweeney announced on Twitter that Epic would cover the cost of refunds for backers who don't want the game on Epic's platform.

There's a promise for future EGS exclusives too. After offering rewards, Sweeney said Epic would work with other PC platform holders to either ensure key availability or, should that not be possible, offer refunds.

In other words, PC gamers should expect Epic to gather in more crowdfunded games and works from smaller development teams in the future.

It's not a popular choice with consumers for various reasons, but it's a practical choice for many developers. A little while back, Mobius announced Outer Wilds would be EGS exclusive because Epic offered vital financial support the team couldn't pass up. The same rationale probably applied to the Shenmue III decision as well, not to mention the support Ys Net received with Unreal Engine — an Epic-developed engine.

Essentially, Epic is acting much like a big development studio. Just as Sony is rumored to be doing for the PlayStation 5 (or whatever it ends up being), Epic is focused on acquiring big-name titles for its platform, such as Borderlands 3 and Ghost Recon, while also gathering in multiple small developers to fill out its roster.

Could A Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Port be Announced Soon? Thu, 04 Jul 2019 10:49:03 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Rockstar Games still hasn't said whether a Red Dead Redemption 2 PC port is in the works, but an eagle-eyed Twitter user spotted something that might just confirm its existence anyway.

JakoMako51 browsed the massive wall of Rockstar Social Club source code, as one does, and posted his findings in a Tweet.

He came across a very specific string in the code: RDR2_PC_Accomplishments. That sounds very much like a set of trophies for a PC port of Red Dead Redemption 2. It sounds even more like that when one considers this string is right next to code about Trophies in the PS4 version of the game.

Those interested in checking out the code themselves can find it here, or there's always the easier way of just looking at the highlighted string in the original tweet:

Of course, nothing is confirmed until Rockstar confirms it. The company has been stubbornly silent about a RDR2 PC port for a while now, despite persistent rumors and shreds of evidence pointing to its existence.

Some fans remarked the string could simply refer to "player character" accomplishments in the console version. It's a possibility, since being placed near the Trophies code segment could point either way; accomplishments are connected to Trophies, after all.

However, as other Twitter users pointed out, it's likely the code was only recently added to the Social Club. If that's true, it would be a bit more difficult to think player character accomplishments that have existed since the game released would only just be added to the page's source code.

Whether it's been there for a year or a day, at least it's a solid piece of evidence, unlike those fake Grand Theft Auto VI leaks earlier in the week.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD Launches in August Wed, 03 Jul 2019 14:10:10 -0400 Erroll Maas

Devolver Digital has officially announced via Twitter that From Software's formerly Japan-exclusive mech action title, Metal Wolf Chaos XD, will launch for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on August 6.

The publisher also released a, which can be seen above. 

It has been said that Metal Wolf Chaos XD will feature upgraded visuals, refined controls and gameplay, a new save system, and 4K and 16:9 support for a modern display.

Players who purchase the game will also receive an exclusive mech skin, which depends on what platform upon which it's purchased. Additionally, those who pre-order on PlayStation 4 will receive an exclusive theme.

Metal Wolf Chaos stars fictional 47th U.S. President Michael Wilson as he takes on U.S. Vice President Richard Hawk, who has conquered the country with an army of mechs. Using a mech of his own, it's Wilson's sworn duty to take the country back, no matter what.

Metal Wolf Chaos was originally released in Japan for the original Xbox on December 22, 2004. Despite only being released in Japan, the game is notable for its cheesy voice acting.

In a Gamescom 2018 interview with Famitsu, Producer Yatsutaka Ogura revealed that Metal Wolf Chaos was originally supposed to release worldwide, but did not due to sensitive timing after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD was first officially announced during Devolver Digital's Press Briefing for E3 2018 with a release window for later that year, until it was delayed to mid-2019. Prior to E3 2019, it was announced that the release date would not be revealed until after the event. 

A Famitsu article claimed the game would also be coming to Nintendo Switch, but corrected this false information via Twitter.

World War Z Adds New Difficulty Level With Free Six Skulls Update Wed, 03 Jul 2019 13:49:45 -0400 Ty Arthur

Looking for a serious zombie-killing challenge this 4th of July weekend? World War Z is about to significantly increase its difficulty with the brand-new Six Skull update.

After swarming past the 1 million unit threshold, WWZ has been busy adding in new content, much like the Undead Sea patch released back in May.

Now in celebration of summer's arrival, the Six Skull update goes beyond the previous Insane level cap, as the free update offers an Extreme difficulty level to test your skills in this action co-op shooter.

Focus Home Interactive commented on the newly released patch:

This latest content pack introduces the new six-skull extreme difficulty setting for all chapters released so far. More than ever, these challenges demand careful resource conservation, a strategy to cover every corner and truly skilled trigger fingers, with unique rewards available for those brave enough to take them on.

Aside from the additional mode, the patch also features a series of balance tweaks and new weapon unlocks, including the wakizashi melee weapon and new sniper rifle variant, which are earned by beating levels in Extreme mode.

One of those balance tweaks includes a change to ammo crates, with limited ammo available depending on the difficulty level selected, while a fan-requested change arrives as AI bots will no longer explode barrels and mines by accidental shooting. You can read the full patch notes over here.

World War Z’s free Six Skulls update is available now on the PS4 and Xbox One editions, with the update set to arrive soon for the Epic Games Store PC version.

Want to get started with World War Z but aren't quite ready for Insane or Extreme modes yet? Check out our guide to the best campaign builds over here and give yourself an edge in the zombie killing mayhem.

Ark's 2019 Summer Bash Arrives With Speed Boosts And Uncle Sam Tophats Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:32:09 -0400 Ty Arthur

Before getting loaded and risking life and limb with fireworks, don't forget that many of your favorite online games have big summer events currently running.

Ark: Survival Evolved now joins that list as the game's two week Summer Bash 2019 officially kicks off today (for PC players, anyway). The event includes fireworks displays, new summer styles for your survivor bod, and even nifty Uncle Sam top hats.

It's not just new cosmetics landing for the event, however, as dinos will breed at double the normal speed throughout the next 14 days. Survivors will also earn double XP and harvesting any resource additionally gets also gets a x2 boost.

The Ark developers issued this statement about the Summer Bash:

Get everything at a faster speed, that’s what the forefathers would have wanted! Gather seasonal candy that when eaten by tamed beasts, changes their skin colors randomly.

Deck out your party in stylin’ summer game cosmetics including new Sparkler Skin, Fireworks Flare Gun Skin, RPG Firework Rocket Skin, Summer Swimsuits for both male and female characters, a Tophat, and finish it all out with new Flex Emotes!

While currently up and running for PC, note that the Summer Bash event's launch has been delayed on consoles and is expected to arrive tomorrow instead. Check out a trailer for the Summer Bash below.

For those who haven't saddled up a dinosaur yet (or, more realistically, died horribly dozens of times at the hands of a Level 35 monstrosity guarding a water source dozens of times), you can grab Ark: Survival Evolved for 65% off as part of the Steam Summer Sale right now.

Both the Scorched Earth and Aberration DLC sets are also available at 65% off throughout the sale.

You can also follow the latest on Ark's continuing development and get updates on server maintenance and the console Summer Bash launch via Twitter.

Chinese Media Giant Tencent Forms Nintendo Partnership Department Wed, 03 Jul 2019 11:42:18 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Technode recently reported that Chinese mega-corp Tencent is developing a new department solely for the purpose of creating a partnership with Nintendo for Switch distribution.

The news comes a short while after the beginnings of a partnership between Nintendo and Tencent was announced. At the time, Nintendo of Japan President Shuntaro Furukawa said while the partnership would be important for the future, it was still an uncertain venture and didn't factor into Nintendo's short-term fiscal strategy.

Despite Furukawa's cautious approach, Nintendo's shares and those of companies that develop for it rose a fair bit after the announcement.

Now, it seems Nintendo's break-in to the Chinese console market might be getting more certain after all. The Technode briefing says Tencent posted two job openings on July 1, advertising positions for its "Nintendo cooperation department" in Shenzhen, which is where Tencent is located.

The first position is for a business analyst handling insights and other related tasks, and the other is for a front-end web developer, likely in preparation for a Tencent-backed Nintendo website in the China region.

NSMBU Deluxe is reportedly going to be bundled with the Switch in China

These positions come hot on the heels of two previous openings posted in June, advertising for community operations professionals for the Switch's Chinese launch.

The April report from Bloomberg we reported on didn't mention an anticipated timeframe for the Switch's launch in the region, though if the company is already preparing for launch and possibly building a website, it might be sooner rather than later.

Still, how successful the Switch will be once it does release in China remains uncertain. Piracy is rampant in the Chinese games industry, partly in response to the often strict government regulations determining what's acceptable for distribution.

Yet Tencent is responsible for a significant amount of (legal) Chinese games distribution, and with the Nintendo x Tencent partnership seemingly in full swing, it's always possible Nintendo might be the first major non-Chinese video game software company to crack open the market.

Dr. Mario World Multiplayer Trailer Shows Off Heart Sharing and Versus Mode Wed, 03 Jul 2019 11:02:23 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo showed off some of Dr. Mario World's multiplayer features ahead of the mobile game's July 10 launch, including the send Hearts feature and Versus mode.

The game's original announcement mentioned players can send their friends Hearts, in-game items players have to spend so they can challenge the game's stages. No other details were given at the time, but the recent multiplayer trailer confirmed that's basically all there is to it: select a friend from your list in the game, and choose how many Hearts you want to send.

There don't seem to be any limits on how many Hearts you can send, but of course, the maximum number of hearts a player can hold at a time is still five.

However, it appears actually creating a friends list is dependent on linking social media accounts, and for now, only Facebook and Line are supported. Once a friend is included in the player's friends list, both can keep track of each other's level progress and rankings.

It wouldn't be a Dr. Mario game — or a match-three puzzler, for that matter — without some competition, and Dr. Mario World offers that in its Versus mode. Two players can challenge each other to see who can survive the longest before their stage is filled with viruses.

To keep things interesting, the game lets players send viruses to their opponent's stage from time to time. How effective these viral assaults are depends on the Doctor the player chooses; those with higher defense, like Dr. Bowser for instance, aren't affected as drastically by incoming viruses.

As mentioned in the Dr. Mario World announcement, each Doctor has special skills they can use after filling up their Skill Meter, and these carry over to Versus mode as well. They offer a variety of advantages: for instance, Toad can clear five random objects, and Peach can clear a random column.

There's still no word on how many Doctors the game will offer, but the multiplayer trailer did show the Koopalings taking part in Versus battles. We don't get to see them kitted out as full-on Doctors, though it seems like they'll bring their own unique skills as well, which means plenty of variety in playstyles — once you spend the Diamonds needed to unlock them, naturally.

Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town Coming to the Switch Wed, 03 Jul 2019 10:51:09 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Marvelous Studios recently announced it's remaking Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town and Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town for the Nintendo Switch, together in one package titled Reunion with Mineral Town.

Or, more accurately, it's Story of Seasons: Reunion with Mineral Town, thanks to "that thing" with Marvelous, Natsume, and copyrights for the Bokujou Monogatari franchise name.

Currently, the game is set for a Japan-only release on October 17.

Since it's built on both Mineral Town and More Friends of Mineral Town, players will be able to choose either a male or female protagonist. Judging from the pictures shared via Japanese publication Famitsu, it seems all the familiar bachelors and bachelorettes are returning, such as Popuri and Cliff, along with some potential new characters. Whether these silhouettes will be woo-able is likely, though, of course, still unconfirmed.

While this is an entry in the Marvelous Story of Seasons franchise, it appears Reunion with Mineral Town is sporting an aesthetic more similar to recent Harvest Moon games like Skytree Village.

The original Friends of Mineral Town for Game Boy Advance was essentially a more polished version of Harvest Moon: Back to Nature/64 with some of the edge taken off its characters and a ton of QoL improvements — like actually making movement easy.

More Friends was the same basic game, but the player played as a female protagonist instead, with the option to be "best friends" with one of the town's eligible ladies.

These are widely regarded as the series' pinnacle for a variety of reasons, partly for improving the Back to Nature formula. The games featured an excellent balance between enhancing activities like fishing and the relationship system vis a vis introducing new animals and elements.

One thing FoMT was noted for was its connection to the GameCube game Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. It's a bit of a stretch to hope we'll see an AWL remake alongside, but there could very well be more new features added to Reunion with Mineral Town to replace old ones.

We'll know more soon, as additional information is expected to be revealed when this month's Famitsu is officially released on July 4.

Cyberpunk 2077 Features Branching Prologues, May Have 80GB+ File Size Tue, 02 Jul 2019 16:27:38 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Though Cyberpunk 2077's release date is still a ways off, we're getting some more information about parts of its story structure and just how much content the game's going to have. (Spoiler alert: It's going to have a lot).

VG247 conducted a lengthy interview and follow-up with Pawel Sasko, CD Projekt Red's lead designer for Cyberpunk 2077, during and after E3 last month.

E3 showed us the game begins in the Badlands area around Night City. But there's apparently more than one beginning players can experience.

Sasko said the player can create a custom character that has one of three origin stories, called lifepaths: Nomad, Corpo, or Street Kid. Each origin story has its own separate starting point and background prologue as well, meaning it'll take multiple playthroughs to see everything Cyberpunk 2077 has to offer.

It's not certain whether the rest of the story will branch depending on which lifepath players choose, as Sasko only said revealing anything else would spoil too much of the story.

It wouldn't be too surprising if it does end up with branching story paths, though, as Cyberpunk 2077's file size will likely be larger than The Witcher 3's and possibly even come close to Red Dead Redemption 2's.

Several days ago, a Reddit user spotted a PlayStation Store entry listing the game's file size as 80GB; TW3's file size with all DLC included is 51GB. Another Reddit user, PhoOhThree, said the Cyberpunk 2077 team already mentioned on the game's Discord server that the file size is only a placeholder — meaning the final product, even before DLC, could well be much bigger.

For context, The Witcher 3 takes roughly 50 hours to complete, while finishing everything the game has to offer could take upwards of 150 hours or more; while RDR2, with its 100GB+ file size, might not take quite as long to beat, it's still a massive and richly realized world.

Either way, it looks like there's going to be plenty of content in Cyberpunk 2077 when it launches in April 2020.

Battle Royale, Gun Game, More Rumored for Call of Duty Modern Warfare Tue, 02 Jul 2019 16:22:08 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Although the leaks have not been confirmed, it appears that 2019's Call of Duty Modern Warfare will have a battle royale mode when it launches for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 25. 

As reported by my multiple outlets, the rumor originated with YouTuber  TheGamingRevolution in a video where he claims to have knowledge of confidential information regarding the upcoming first-person shooter.

Among a slew of details, TGR claims that Infinity Ward is shooting for around 150 players in MW's battle royale mode and that the current map is "two to three times the size of Blackout's" battle royale map.  

He continues by laying out more key differences for the mode, including the possible inclusion of zombies. According to TGR's anonymous sources, Infinity Ward has toyed with the idea, but the developer has not solidified anything at this point in development. 

Allegedly, the mode will diverge from Blackout in other important ways as well. Attachments will come pre-attached to weapons, and there will be "different tiers, or colors, of weapons," making it similar to the weapons system found in Fortnite

Of course, some fan reaction to the news of a purported battle royale mode in what the developers have called a "realistic" Modern Warfare experience without zombies has been extremely negative.

To ease those frustrated with the mode and/or its inclusion, TGR provided some more information about what Infinity Ward plans to bring to the FPS, including fan-favorite mode, Gun Game: 

As with any rumor, it's best to take everything laid out here with a massive, massive, massive, grain of delicious salt. Infinity Ward has not officially confirmed any of the information proposed here

When asked on Twitter about the leak, IW's Studio Art Director Joel Emslie had nothing to say on the matter, instead opting for an appropriate "no comment" meme from The Office

As of this writing, it has been confirmed that Spec Ops mode will make a return in 2019's Call of Duty. We also know that crossplay between next-gen and current-gen systems is definitely a thing. 

Only time will tell if these newest rumors will become reality. 

Sony Reportedly to Target Hardcore Gamers With PlayStation 5 Tue, 02 Jul 2019 15:09:57 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The Wall Street Journal's Takashi Mochizuki recently published a report from two anonymous Sony officials about how Sony is prioritizing hardcore gamers for the PlayStation 5 at the expense of indies and smaller studios.

As always, TWJ's article is behind a paywall, but's James Batchelor provided a summary.

According to Mochizuki's sources, a recent strategy meeting, headed by Sony's chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida, focused on making the PS5 a niche console for hardcore gamers. Visuals would be key in the console's marketing strategy, as we already knew, with Sony pushing for 8K resolution and ultra-high definition graphics.

Reportedly, Sony will also be pursuing more relationships with larger publishers, hoping to make the PS5 mostly a AAA game machine; smaller developers and indie developers won't be a major part of the company's plan for the system — if they factor in at all — according to the report. Exclusives will be key, whether they are from Sony's internal studios or outside publishers.

Mochizuki's sources said Sony believes high-quality visuals are key in consumers' purchasing decisions, not whether they can play an indie game that's already available on a mobile device.

Naturally, smaller developers might feel left out by this reported move, but Mochizuki's other unnamed source claims he believes they'll still develop for the system anyway because it will be so popular.

The reason for this apparent shift in publishing focus is Sony's view of its competition. Nintendo doesn't factor into its strategy plans, nor does Google currently; instead, Microsoft is still seen as Sony's biggest rival.

Not courting smaller developers and indies is certainly an unexpected tactic, considering how indie titles on the PlayStation 4 have regularly filled the gap between major releases, and Sony made their inclusion of primary focus this generation.

Sony still knows that gap is potentially a problem, too, as Sony Production's executives mentioned when the studio was first revealedRegardless of how popular a game's film or TV series becomes, it's still a separate entity and doesn't encourage consumers to purchase a brand-new console.

Since Sony is also reportedly counting on a large number of consumers purchasing the PS5 at launch, it'll need to ensure the kind of consistent lineup of exclusives we saw Nintendo produce in the Switch's first few years if it wants to avoid a Wii U scenario.

New GTA 6 Leaks Tell of Drug Wars, Decade-Spanning Story, and Bad Weather Mon, 01 Jul 2019 17:56:27 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Some lengthy new leaks about Grant Theft Auto 6 emerged from the depths of the Internet recently, providing alleged inside information about the game's setting, development process, and some features. As is always the case with leaks and rumors, they shouldn't be taken as gospel truth until otherwise confirmed.

Although some say these rumors are nothing but bunk (and they probably are nothing but bunk), it's fun to take a look at them anyway. 

The first set of alleged leaks comes from Reddit user u/JackOLantern19, who claims to have friends at PCGamer and Kotaku who provided the information and a friend at Rockstar who didn't deny the information — though, no uncle who works for Nintendo.

According to JackOLantern19's reported source, Grand Theft Auto 6 has been in the works since 2012 (a staggering seven years), but only entered the production process in 2015; it's being developed under the code name PROJECT AMERICAS and, now that Red Dead Redemption 2 has shipped, Rockstar is devoting its full attention to the game.

Despite entering production four years ago, Project Americas is supposedly still in a pre-alpha stage, with no anticipated release date. As such, when it does release, it will only be a next-gen game, the Reddit user says.

As for what the game would consist of, JackOLantern19 claims it'll span multiple decades and encompass Liberty City, Vice City, and a fictional locale based on Rio de Janeiro. GTA 6's plot is said to be heavily inspired by the series Narcos, and like said Netflix series, follows a 1980s drug cartel leader  — Ricardo — as the sole main character in a vast open world.

The leaked information suggests GTA 6 will be skewed towards the more realistic in terms of mechanics. For example, gameplay will be heavily affected by weather like hurricanes, and the protagonist can only use as many weapons as he can carry.

Buildings and vehicles change as time passes, with an example about classic cars offered for illustration: a classic car from the 1980s suddenly becomes more valuable later in the game and reflects the state of the in-game economy.

The full list of information can be found here.

JackOLantern19 doesn't post too often on Reddit, with the last post of note coming in 2018 on the tail of the many Ubisoft Predator game rumors. Thus far, none of the information provided then has turned out true, but it doesn't necessarily mean their GTA 6 rumors are false as well (ahem).

The second set of supposed leaks comes from a Fireden user called GTAVIMan who claims to be involved in the game's voice acting and recording. It's a shorter set of information and corroborates some key points from the Reddit post, including the setting and basic plot.

However, it does contradict the number of playable protagonists, putting the number at four, with varying gameplay styles as the plot progresses.

It's worth noting that despite being similar to the Reddit post in some key ways, there is less to support the Fireden poster's claims, and the thread was archived just three days after it was originally posted.

As we can all suspect from the above information, this GTA 6 leak is probably fake. Even if we all know that Rockstar will officially announce the game someday, it will most likely look entirely different than what's rumored here.   

MadMind Studio Releases Trailer For Agony Follow-Up Paranoid Mon, 01 Jul 2019 17:00:38 -0400 Ty Arthur

Madmind Studio just dropped a trailer for its upcoming first-person survival horror game, Paranoid, which is set in the 1980s and revolves heavily around drug usage.

Some might recall Madmind as the development studio behind Agony, the erotic horror game that managed to simultaneously cause controversy for being too graphic and not graphic enough. It later released an Unrated version late last year.

Paranoid will reportedly combine a psychological plot with dynamic and brutal action as protagonist, Patrick Calman, deals with the mental trauma of losing his entire family.

He subsequently shut himself away from the world in his apartment and descends into madness. Madmind commented on the trailer and the themes of the upcoming game:

The trailer ... focuses on presenting the paranoia of the main protagonist showing his struggle with the progressive mental illness. The subject of mental illness is very serious and we want to address it with proper respect.

One day, Patrick answers the phone and the voice in the receiver seems to belong to his sister who went missing 13 years ago. She announces her arrival so many years after disappearing. This forces Patrick to walk away from his safe but unhealthy life in isolation, exposing himself to horrible experiences on the verge of madness.

Players can look forward to finding three different endings based on actions taken during the course of this surreal horror experience. While there's currently no official release date for the Steam exclusive, you can follow Paranoid's development and wishlist it over on Steam

MadMind is also currently working on the follow-up to Agony with a sequel titled Succubus, which lets players take the role of a demonic priestess using diabolical skills to take over hell.

First Look at Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri in Netflix's The Witcher Series Mon, 01 Jul 2019 11:34:53 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

We've known Netflix is producing a series based on Andrzej Sapkowski's The Witcher novels for some time now, but after many months of waiting, the streaming service has at last teased us with an official poster and some snazzy cast shots from the production.

The poster shows off the series' tagline and title logo, the former of which is in keeping with Netflix's own description of the series. Geralt is a mutated monster hunter, but the real monsters he faces are his fellow human beings.

On a not-entirely-equal note, it also shows how Cavill's wig has evolved from the first release shot. 


Cavill also shared two other, more revealing pictures on his Instagram page. You can view them here

After revealing their respective actresses a while back, Netflix also showed off a first look at the sorceress Yennefer (Aya Chalotra), as well as a younger version of Ciri (Freya Allan).

The other Geralt image released caused a bit of a stir among some of the fanbase, because it shows him with just one sword. However, it's important to remember the Netflix series is based on the novels, not the games.

In the novels, as some fans pointed out, Geralt leaves his second sword on the faithful Roach, because he has much more time to prepare for battles than the games allow. 

With Sapkowski himself acting as the film's creative director, it's not too surprising Netflix is following the books more than the games.

So, we know Geralt's hair looks a bit less like a party wig now, and Netflix launched an official Twitter account for the series with this morning's update. But what we still don't know is when Netflix's adaptation of The Witcher will release other than presumably sometime this fall.

Get More Family XP, Spell Energy in Upcoming Wizards Unite Event Fri, 28 Jun 2019 16:35:39 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Niantic greeted Harry Potter: Wizards Unite players with a special alert message today, outlining an event that starts June 29 and will offer bonuses to those who participate.

The event is labeled a Task Force Emergency, with the alert asking all Task Force members (read: Wizards Unite players) to take up their wands and help contain a "flare-up of Foundables."

During the event, Inns and Greenhouses will provide additional Spell Energy (on top of the already-implemented Spell Energy increase), and Care of Magical Creatures Traces will grant double Family XP once players return them.

There will be more Magical Creatures Traces on the map as well, offering more chances to nab that sweet extra XP.

Foundables already entered into the Register will also award double Family XP.

The special Task Force Emergency event begins in the Americas at 2 p.m. EST, and it truly is a limited-time event. Niantic said it only lasts three hours.

Spell Energy is the veritable lifeblood of Wizards Unite. It's what lets S.O.S. Task Force members engage in combat, and combat is necessary to advance in the game.

Unsurprisingly, XP levels up some aspect of the player's wizard or witch avatar. Family XP, in particular, goes in the Exploration part of the Registry. Ranking up part of the Registry grants access to a special Treasure Trunk, which, gives items that can be exchanged for loot.

It also helps fulfill Niantic's promise to continue providing more content and improving the gameplay experience, a promise after Wizards Unite got off to a slightly rocky launch with the grind required to bypass paying for upgrades.

The only problem? Wizards Unite players who can't Apparate to a more densely populated area are still left without.

Nintendo Doesn't Shut Door for N64, GCN Games on Switch Online Fri, 28 Jun 2019 11:36:12 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

During the 79th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, Nintendo executives responded to the usual gamut of questions about the company's future, including what plans exist for accessing Nintendo's classic games library.

This question in, well, question, as translated by Cheesemeister on Twitter, was directed at Nintendo of Japan President Shuntaro Furukawa and specifically asked about games from the Nintendo 64 and GameCube.

Apparently, the investor asking the question has been rather interested in seeing classic Kirby games re-released for the past few years. However, Furukawa's response acknowledged the desire many people, other than avid Kirby fans, have to play these classic games:

While I can't give any new information about further classic hardware, etc. here, we are thinking about expanding the NES software lineup on the online service and other ways of providing them.

We understand your desire to play past products.

It's likely Furukawa wasn't directing his last comment to just the Kirby fan's persistent requests either. The investor questions all centered around the Switch's long-term viability, trying to gain assurance the system's sales wouldn't go the Wii route and suddenly drop off after a few years.

Providing paid access to Nintendo's classics would more than likely be one way of ensuring continued profit.

While there are nearly 10 million Switch Online subscribers, many lament the lack of desirable titles offered under the Classics option, which range from truly classic NES titles to the rather more obscure.

There's no easy way to play many of Nintendo's other classic games without owning the original hardware. While the SNES Classic Mini is still available on the market, it's offerings are limited — not taking pirating into consideration, at least. Other retro consoles are pricey, with no guarantee of quality and functionality either.

In short, there's definitely a market for a wider selection of classic games spanning the generations.

Whether this means we'll see SNES, N64, and GameCube games on Switch Online isn't certain, of course. The "other ways of providing them" could easily refer to a separate digital subscription service like Square Enix recently said it was considering, one not tied to the Switch's emulation limitations.

New Switch Model Processor Could Be Behind Mini and Pro Rumors Fri, 28 Jun 2019 11:25:28 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Digital Foundry Tech Editor, Rich Leadbetter, recently examined the Tegra X1 t214 chip and speculated on whether it could be the driving force behind one of the new, rumored Switch consoles. 

The current version of the Nintendo Switch uses the Tegra X1 t210, and while it's certainly functional, it does come with a few problems, including a massive hole in its security that can let hackers run essentially whatever code they want on the system.

The t214 would close that hole, Leadbetter says, making it a good candidate for a Switch upgrade, should one be in the works.

There's another reason the Tegra X1 t214 could be the foundation of a Switch Mini or Switch Pro. It's not a massive upgrade from the Switch's existing core chip and, instead, functions more like a streamlined partner device. According to Leadbetter, the chips' code names offer a clue in that regard.

Tegra's code names are borrowed from the world of superheroes. The  X1 was named Erista, after the son of Wolverine, while the t214 is nicknamed Mariko, one of Logan's lovers. The wordplay here is that instead of being a new generation, the t214 is a partner to the existing X1.

That the Switch's 5.0 firmware update provided support for the t214 only adds to the likelihood that, at some point, Nintendo plans on using the X1 upgrade in its hybrid system.

Leadbetter also examines what sort of enhancements the Mariko chip would provide for the Switch, should it be used in an upgraded system.

Chief among them is heat output and battery life. Leadbetter estimates Mariko is made with the 16-nanometer process instead of the current chip's 20-nanometer process. Though only a slight difference, the smaller size is enough to significantly reduce the heat the Switch generates, thanks to using less voltage, and would also extend the battery life somewhat.

However, being a "partner" chip, Mariko wouldn't offer any huge visual upgrades for the system. It could smooth out framerates and result in better visuals on the whole, but Leadbetter claims the change would be less drastic even than the change from 3DS to New 3DS.

That also fits with the rumors we reported on earlier in the year that the Switch Pro wouldn't make the base system obsolete. Moreover, it makes good sense. Nintendo does its own thing, but it surely knows not many consumers would be happy about buying a new, modern console only to find it's outdated in less than three years or can't play the hottest new games.

Those wondering why Leadbetter should be taken seriously might be interested to know he speculated about The Witcher 3 running on the Switch earlier this year — just before it was announced during Nintendo's E3 presentation

You can hear what Leadbetter has to say in the header image above, which comes from Digital Foundry via Nintendo Life

Canceled WoW Successor Project Titan Dev Troubles Revealed at Gameslab Thu, 27 Jun 2019 15:37:07 -0400 Ashley Shankle

World of Warcraft players and Blizzard fans will likely remember the rumors of the failed Project Titan while it was still in development.

A bit of a legend among the World of Warcraft community, Blizzard was rumored to be working on the game as the successor to its flagship MMORPG since the 2000s. It was confirmed in 2014 the company had been working on Titan, but the project had been canceled.

Now in 2019, Co-founder and former President of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime shed some light on the failed endeavor.

Morhaime spoke at the Gamelab conference in Barcelona yesterday on Blizzard's efforts with the title, particularly on its trouble with direction during development.

We failed to control scope. It was very ambitious. It was a brand new universe, and it was going to be the next generation MMO that did all sorts of different things, it had different modes. We were sort of building two games in parallel, and it really struggled to come together.

The pitch was basically an evolution of a sort of Team Fortress-style game in a superhero universe. It was going to leverage some of our best technology from Titan and World of Warcraft. We were going to take some characters and worlds from the Titan universe design.

We thought we could make a really compelling game with much tighter scope control. And I think it was probably one of the best decisions that we made. We took something that wasn't going to ship for a very long time, might never have shipped, and turned it into an awesome game.

He further touched on the auction house in Diablo 3, which was removed after ultimately proving to be a hindrance to natural game progression.

People are going to do this anyway - why don't we provide them a safe and secure way to trade items? But the problem was that we didn't design the loot model with that in mind.

We designed it without an auction house initially, and when you have an auction house in a game that's dropping tonnes and tons of loot, it's way cheaper and easier to get second-hand items from the auction house.

Blizzard is known to toss about 50% of its in-production titles, a staggering but unsurprising percentage. The developer's last standalone release was Overwatch in 2016, and its last large release was last year's World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth

The developer will be launching World of Warcraft Classic to all WoW subscribers in late August.

Morhaime had many other nuggets of information about Blizzard's development process and history that are well worth the read for any fan. Even if Diablo fans are a little miffed at last year's Diablo Immortal reveal, there is surely more in the works from the famed developer.

FFXIV Getting a Live-Action Television Adaptation Thu, 27 Jun 2019 13:15:28 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Sony Pictures Television, Square Enix, and Hivemind, the production company behind Netflix's upcoming version of The Witcher, recently announced a collaboration for a live-action television series in the Final Fantasy XIV universe.

The series' narrative will be an original story based in Eorzea, but will still focus on the game's central themes of the struggle between magic and technology.

Of course, that means plenty of Magitek, chocobos, airships, fighting, fancy costumes, and series-staple Cid, who will be making his live-action debut in the forthcoming show. In addition to recognizable characters, though, the FFXIV TV show will also likely introduce several new faces.

The news comes a short while after both FFXIV's Shadowbringers expansion was shown off at E3 and after Sony announced the birth of PlayStation productions, a new studio tackling the challenge of creating quality video game movies and potentially TV shows as well.

The FFXIV TV adaptation isn't coming from PlayStation Productions, but it certainly seems as though it's following the general philosophy behind the latter, which is to create complementary material that both furthers the game's own narrative while filling the gap between content releases.

Chris Parnell, Sony Pictures Television's Co-President, mentioned something to that end as well, saying:

FINAL FANTASY XIV and Eorzea are the perfect gateway into FINAL FANTASY for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

This show is about embracing and embodying all of the elements that have made the mythos such an endlessly captivating phenomenon...

In other words, it's set to do what transmedia does best: introducing new audiences to the franchise's main medium and spinoffs, while still providing a compelling narrative and overall experience for established fans.

Jason Brown, Hivemind's Co-Founder, said television is the best choice for a production like this since it allows for greater depth and theme development. He also made an interesting comment that could suggest the FFXIV series gets a new or revamped art style, stating the production team is gathering artists from around the world to honor the franchise and its legacy.

To what extent a quest-based MMO can be translated into a full series wasn't addressed, nor did the press release offer a timeline for when we can expect the finished product or more updates.

Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft Issue Formal Protest to Trump's China Tariffs Thu, 27 Jun 2019 11:35:25 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The industry's Big 3 — Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft — recently joined forces to issue a formal rebuttal to the Trump administration's proposed schedule of tariffs on goods manufactured in China.

Specifically, the form requested that HTSUS subheading 9504.50.00, which directly covers video game consoles, be removed from the final list of proposed tariffs.

The request was signed by Linda Norman, Microsoft's Vice President and Deputy General Counsel; Devon Pritchard, Nintendo of America's General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business Affairs; and Jennifer Liu, Sony Interactive Entertainment's General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs.

It's an unprecedented move in response to an equally unprecedented 25% tariff that could go into effect, and according to the grievance, it would result in upwards of $840 million in additional costs passed on to consumers.

As Norman, Pritchard, and Liu say in the public document, retailers like Best Buy and Walmart sell consoles at very tight margins to begin with, and the only way for those companies to actually make a profit off of those sales is to pass to the consumer the extra cost via a price increase.

Nothing exists in a vacuum, and economics is no exception. The rebuttal contends that not only would these increases harm the consumer and retailers — and during the holiday season to boot — but they would drastically impact the games industry in general.

Fewer sales, especially during the most profitable times of the year, means companies would eventually have to cut back on expenditures.

The document asserts that "console game development is already a highly competitive space" and that the proposed tariffs could mean potential layoffs. The Big 3 executives make a point to note that their companies employ roughly 8,000 people, running a gamut of roles important to any economy, from creative to programming and engineering fields.

Combined with other mid- and small-sized development teams across the country, there are more than 65,000 people employed in the U.S. games industry; that does not take into account the millions more employed by companies making accessories or related goods.

Another consequence Norman, Pritchard, and Liu predict from the tariffs, should they be imposed, is a decrease in important research that goes beyond the games industry. They say Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all contribute extensively to research that ultimately benefits a variety of areas, from healthcare to software development in general.

In other words, these tariffs would do the exact opposite of their intent behind them:

While we appreciate the Administration’s efforts to protect U.S. intellectual property and preserve U.S. high-tech leadership, the disproportionate harm caused by these tariffs to U.S. consumers and businesses will undermine — not advance — these goals

Pokemon Masters Introduces Real-Time Battles and Sync Pairings Thu, 27 Jun 2019 10:07:53 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

This morning's brief info dump on the upcoming mobile game Pokemon Masters gave fans a taste of what they can expect when the game launches this summer, including real-time battles and which classic trainers will make an appearance.

As for a specific Pokemon Masters release date, that summer time frame is all we have for nowwhich is more than its announcement trailer provided, but the game will be launching worldwide when it does release and is free-to-start as well.

The game takes place on the island of Pasio, a new location in the Pokemon world. It's a place where dozens of powerful — and familiar — trainers from all regions gather to test their skills against each other via a new kind of Pokemon battling and pairing.

Pokemon Masters is introducing Sync Pairs, which is where a trainer forms a special bond with one partner Pokemon and apparently uses that Pokemon exclusively throughout their time on Pasio. However, that doesn't mean PM lacks variety in battle style and strategy.

In place of recruiting other Pokemon, players will make friends with other Synch Pairs, including iconic match-ups like Clair and Kingdra from the Johto region and Korrina and Lucario from the Kalos region.

At the game's launch, Pokemon Masters will have 65 Synch Pairs for players to form bonds with, and more will be added as time goes on. The trailer, seen above, gives an idea of some pairings players can expect — Gym Leaders such as Misty, Fantine, and Erika and even some of the gang leaders like Giovanni, though it isn't certain if these will act solely as villains or if they're recruitable too (though we expect it's the former).

In a first for the Pokemon universe, the three-on-three battles take place in real time, with players issuing commands both for their Pokemon and the trainer; there's even a Z-Move style special move called a Synch Move.

The catch — this is a F2P game, after all — is that the game introduces a move gauge which limits the number of moves players can order their team to take. The gauge refills over time, and like Dr Mario World, it's likely some sort of in-game purchase will help it refill faster.

CastleMania Announces Release Date for N64 HDMI Accessory Wed, 26 Jun 2019 14:20:28 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

CastleMania Games and EON, makers of retro and modern peripheral console accessories, have set July 22 as the release date for their latest gadget, the Eon Super 64.

Pre-orders for the EON Super 64 are open now, and the accessory will retail for $149.99.

The Super 64 is a plug-in that fits in the back of the Nintendo 64 console and lets it connect via HDMI to modern televisions. While the output isn't 4K or nearing HD in any way, it does upscale all Nintendo 64 games to 480p. 480p might not seem super fancy for some modern gamers, but it's double the N64's native output, making it quite the upgrade indeed.

It features two display modes as well. There's Sharp Mode, which retains the original jagged edges of N64 games but enhances colors and line definition, and Slick Mode, which polishes the display by removing said edges.

More importantly, unlike some visual upgrade devices, the Super N64 requires no modding and won't result in input lag either.

CastleMania says Eon's attention to detail has produced the most faithful representation of color so players on the market, basically meaning that players get as close to the real thing as if Nintendo had released their own enhanced N64 (which they haven't).

The plug-in is designed to take up as little space as possible, so retro fans can keep their N64 alongside their other systems. It reportedly puts no strain on the console and also comes in a special custom-designed package paying homage to the original hardware itself.

This isn't EON's first foray into the retro upscaling market either. The company developed the GCHD Mk-II plug-in a few years back, which enhances GameCube games to HD. It was a success as well and received almost universal critical praise.

The Next PUBG Game Is in The Works, Headed by a New PUBG Studio Wed, 26 Jun 2019 11:17:40 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

PUBG Corp. made two big announcements today. A new PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) development studio called Striking Distance is opening in San Ramon, California, and the next PUBG game is currently under development.

Some of this news comes from Striking Distance's CEO, Glen Schofield, who also revealed the studio's birth and his role in making it a reality on Twitter.

Schofield is no stranger to starting new studios or taking series in new directions. His background includes co-founding Sledgehammer Games and leading development for Call of Duty: WWII, Modern Warfare 3, and Dead Space. He has also won several awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for his work.

PUBG Corp's CEO, C.H. Kim, said bringing Schofield on board and creating Striking Distance is part of the company's overall vision to expand its creative portfolio by developing new international, collaborative teams.

Striking Distance is wasting no time getting a new project off the ground, either. The next PUBG game is already in development, and while Schofield said the process is still in its early days, the game will likely not be a battle royale game.

Instead, Schofield wants to explore the PUBG universe in more depth and suggested in a tweet that the game will be driven by its original narrative.

The move is in keeping with PUBG creator Brendan Greene's vision for the franchise as well. Earlier this year, Greene told that he had no interest in creating a PUBG sequel. Everyone knows what they want out of the battle royale genre, so the goal is moving on to make something different.

While it doesn't seem Striking Distance is directly connected to Greene's Special Projects branch of PUBG Corp., it seems it's certainly carrying out Greene's vision nonetheless.

Moreover, it's a spot of good news for the series after a run of bad international press earlier in the year, when it was banned in Nepal, India, and Iraq.

Full-Sized C64 Maxi Remake Gets Price and Release Date Tue, 25 Jun 2019 16:30:46 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Koch Media recently announced the C64 Maxi's release date and pricing information. The company also confirmed the retro console's size.

The C64 Maxi will release on December 5 for $119.99, roughly a year after the C64 mini's release. The retro remake system is a fully licensed collaboration between Retro Inc. and Koch Media

As the name suggests, the C64 Maxi will be a full-sized remake of the Commodore 64 and comes with a full-sized keyboard and a microswitch joystick. Unlike its mini predecessor, the C64 Maxi's keyboard isn't just there for looks; it will be fully functional as well.

Not just for looks this time

The C64 Maxi includes four USB ports and an HDMI outlet and offers several different ways to play games. Consumers can play any of the 64 games pre-installed on the system, and the C64 Maxi also supports C64 and Vic20 games and saves stored on USB drives, including multi-disk games.

Some of the games in the pre-installed library include Paradroid and California Games, much like the C64 Mini. Players can also choose CRT filters and switch between 50 and 60 Hz.

If the idea of a full-sized Commodore 64 reboot sounds familiar, it's because the project was first announced back in 2016. At the time, Retro Inc tried crowdfunding the effort through Indiegogo but fell short of its goal by roughly $50,000.

It's also the latest in a wave of retro and retro-inspired consoles. What started quietly a few years ago with the NES Classic Mini has turned into a veritable rush of retro consoles, with Atari's modern twist on old classics, Hyperkin's N64 reboot (since Nintendo so far has no plans for an N64 Mini),and then the Evercade, a retro handheld console with custom-built cartridges.

Once upon a time, the C64 handheld was said to be in line for a remake, and with this trend in retro consoles showing no sign of slowing, it's highly possible we'll see that soon too.

Game Developer Makes Andy's House From Toy Story in Far Cry 5 Tue, 25 Jun 2019 14:31:41 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Toy Story and Far Cry, two franchises that seemingly go together as well as pomegranates and pizza. On the surface, the two couldn't seem more different. 

However, game developer and YouTuber Mojo Swoptops doesn't see it that way. The seemingly anachronistic pairing didn't keep Mojo from using Far Cry 5's robust map editor to make one of the most stunningly accurate representations of Andy's House we've seen outside of the movies themselves. 

Speaking with us on Reddit about the scene, Mojo said:

The original Toy Story movie captured the essence of youth so well and the pain of leaving it all behind. It was a subject I wanted to try and capture with my creativity.

I chose to recreate Andy's house not just because it's so recognizable to anyone familiar with Toy Story, but simply because it's a nice looking scene, and I felt confident that my creative abilities could do it justice.

This isn't the first scene Mojo's created using the FC5 editor, either. There are 47 more scenes on Mojo's YouTube channel.

Most are scenes from other films and television shows, such as Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard, the Dragonpit from Game of Thrones, Mike Wheeler's House from Stranger Things, and Walter White's house from Breaking Bad. 

There are real-life locations, too, such as the Amityville house and the Lincoln Memorial. Mojo even lovingly re-created all of Kakariko Village from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which you can see below. 

Mojo said it typically takes around four to six hours to complete a single scene in the editor; it often takes another one to two hours to edit the timelapse videos.

As a professional game developer for Scotland-based Rivet Games, Mojo has used Unreal Engine 4 in the past to make scenes like Andy's House, but Mojo keeps coming back to the FC5 editor is because it's faster for these types of scenes. 

I use the Far Cry 5 map editor on PS4 simply because it's quick and does what I need it to do. I look after my 2-year-old daughter most evenings, so my free time is limited to when she's gone to bed. This means I often stay up past midnight to get a scene finished for the next day. Then I'm up at 6 a.m. for work.

It can be tough but the way I see it, you can stay up late one night to work on a creative project and feel tired for a couple of days but if that project turns out well, you have something positive to look back on for a lifetime.

With the recent release of Toy Story 4, it's like Mojo said: What better time to remake an iconic scene like Andy's house? 

You can see more of Mojo's awesome work over on YouTube. Rivet Games is currently working on DLC for Train Simulator

Riot Blocks League of Legends in Iran, Syria In Response to U.S. Sanctions Tue, 25 Jun 2019 09:16:24 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Iranian and Syrian players received an unwelcome surprise recently when they tried logging into Riot Games' League of Legends, as the game has been blocked in their countries.

The full message reads:

Due to U.S. laws and regulations, players in your country cannot access League of Legends at this time. Such restrictions are subject to change by the U.S. government, so if and when that happens, we look forward to having you back on the Rift.

The regulations in question are the various economic sanctions the US imposed on Iran in recent years. This particular move comes soon after tensions between the two nations have increased still further when the Trump administration accused Iran of shooting down an unmanned drone in international airspace and reportedly aborted airstrikes planned in retaliation.

There have been many instances, even recently, where a game is banned in a country for social reasons, such as PUBG being banned in Iraq, Nepal, and China. However, this is the first time a video game has ever been affected by economic sanctions and current political issues.

Some players expressed their surprise and disappointment on LoL's forums, with one poster saying "IRAN is one of big EUW League Communities. there are a lot of players here and now they can't play the game [sic]."

The original Dot Esports piece on the topic blames the government for the decision, as do some posters on the LoL forums. But that's not quite accurate since this is a company decision, not something directly forced by the US government or implemented by the Iranian government.

The BBC spoke about Riot's sudden decision with Joseph Finn, a London-based sanctions advisor for an insurance broker. According to Finn, Riot is basically playing it safe by blocking Iran and Syria.

Riot has to report its earnings every year to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which could flag money Riot earns through subscriptions and payments from Iranian and Syrian players. Technically, a U.S. company would be doing business with a nation in violation of economic sanctions.

Other recent instances of blocked games were cleared up with relative speed. However, with a new round of sanctions set to be imposed on Iran soon, it's unclear when or if Riot will repeal this decision and allow Iranian and Syrian players access to League of Legends.

Niantic Partnering with AT&T, Simon for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Mon, 24 Jun 2019 14:29:18 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite just launched last week, and Niantic is already announcing a partnership with AT&T and Simon for a set of events centered around real-world locations.

For a limited time, Wizards Unite players can earn additional rewards and find more foes than usual at Inns and Fortresses around more than 10,000 AT&T and Cricket Wireless retail locations.

The sponsored AT&T locations will give players more XP and Spell Energy than usual. That's on top of the already-announced Spell Energy increase to boot, and our handy Wizards Unite Spell Energy guide can help you get even more from these locations.

Both AT&T and Cricket Wireless locations will also host special, exclusive quests to help players level up even faster.

The event's start date is staggered depending on the retail location. The AT&T portion of the event started June 21, while Cricket Wireless stores will begin participating on July 15.

However, Simon Malls, Mills, and Premium Outlet locations have already begun their part in the event. U.S. players can visit one of the many Simon locations in the country to earn more XP and Spell Energy from Inns and have the chance to encounter hard-to-find enemies as well.

The idea behind both sets of events is encouraging people to explore their surroundings, just like with Pokemon GO. Omar Tellez, Niantic's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, said:

Real world games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite are all about engaging with the world around you, creating new and unique opportunities for players to interact within their neighborhoods, towns and cities like never-before.

To that end, AT&T and Simon will both be taking part in future events connected to Wizards Unite as well, such as offering special QR quests. It's potentially good news for some players as well since events that take advantage of commonplace retail stores like these are also Niantic's way of combating the ever-present problem of empty game worlds in rural areas.

For more on HP: Wizards Unite, be sure to head over to our growing guides page for the game, which has info on changing your codename and the game's professions.

Tyler "Ninja" Blevins Won't Be at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Mon, 24 Jun 2019 11:25:57 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja, won't be participating in the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. He and his partner, Malachi Greine ("Reverse2k"), failed to qualify for this year's event.

The duo earned a total of 64 points in the qualifying matches, 25 less than the minimum requirements for qualifying. The matches weren't streamed due in part to Ninja's poor health at the time, and both Ninja and Reverse2k took to Twitter afterwards to thank their followers and graciously admit defeat:

The Fortnite World Cup isn't just a for-fun event, either. This year's competition is for a hefty $30 million prize.

Those who don't follow eSports a great deal have undoubtedly still heard of Blevins, thanks to his prolific streaming career and recent appearance as the first eSports star on ESPN magazine. He's also credited with making Fortnite as popular as it is, with over 14 million followers on Twitch and more than 600,000 concurrent viewers.

However, that fame and success comes with a price. Blevins told CNN last year that while he earned $10 million in 2018 and helped boost Epic Games' profits when Fortnite was lagging, he also had to stream for 12 hours a day to retain his viewers.

That equates to over 7,000 hours on Twitch for the length of his career so far. It's also cost some quality time with his wife and manager, Jessica, with Blevins mentioning the two hadn't been on vacation together since their honeymoon eight years ago.

It's a side of streaming we don't often hear much about. With crunch in the video game industry starting to get a lot more attention, it seems the focus shouldn't stop there and should extend to those who keep us entertained by playing those games as well.

Epic Games Giving Employees a Two-Week Summer Holiday Mon, 24 Jun 2019 11:12:11 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Fortnite developer Epic Games made a quiet, but somewhat unprecedented, announcement in a new blog post recently: its employees are receiving a two-week holiday from June 24 to July 8. A fortnight off.

The news was tucked at the bottom of a short post about Week 10 of Fortnite's World Cup. However, the team assured readers that any problems they may experience during this time can still be addressed, and two additional content updates are planned during this period as well.

PC Gamer's Ian Boudreau notes that Epic employees previously only received this kind of vacation over the winter holidays, making it the first time Epic has offered a summer break.

Epic didn't give a rationale for the decision, but it isn't too difficult to see where the choice came from. Polygon exposed the toxic and high-pressured crunch culture Epic created for its Fortnite team back in April, and since then, the conversation around crunch in the games industry has grown louder and more strident.

Nintendo made headlines during E3 for the opposite reason. Three separate, high-profile Nintendo employees — Senior Product Marketing Manager Bill Trinen, Deputy General Manager Eiji Aounuma, and NoA President Doug Bowser — said games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Breath of the Wild 2, and Luigi's Mansion 3 were either delayed or not given firm release dates to avoid pressuring employees too much.

This new summer holiday could be Epic's way of responding to the crunch problem by showing that it does take care of its employees. On its company profile pages, Epic notes paid vacation is unlimited for employees — but it requires approval. The summer break looks to be available for all employees and presumably, it's paid as well.

Whether companies granting extra — paid — time off for all employees will be a new trend, only time will tell. For now, at least it's a step in the right direction for Epic Games.

Niantic Makes It Easier to Get Spell Energy in New Wizards Unite Update Sun, 23 Jun 2019 11:18:48 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the highly anticipated sequel to Niantic's other AR hit Pokemon GO is getting a new update that grants more spell energy to players.

The change was announced on the Wizards Unite Reddit page and comes in response to player feedback.

The game will now award players with double Spell Energy when they first start playing, raising the Energy level from 25 to 50. Spell Energy received from Inns, Greenhouses, and completing Daily Challenges is getting a boost too, including “To Collect an Ingredient or Portmanteau” going from 5 to 10.

Niantic didn't mention a concrete number for the increases in Inn and Greenhouse Spell Energy — the two main ways of obtaining Spell Energy in Wizards Unite — but any increase is a boon for Energy-starved players, and the overall reaction to the announcement is positive so far.

That's likely because shortly after the game launched, Reddit was filling up with comments about how Inns and Daily Challenges didn't offer enough Spell Energy, which is required for battle.

Instead of getting a more seamless experience, players had to play the waiting-and-grinding game, lingering around Inns until they reset and repeating that process ad infinitum until they had enough Spell Energy to continue playing the game.

The alternative was, of course, buying Spell Energy, which wasn't high on the top of most people's preferred methods of obtaining Energy. As such, it resulted in some, especially those who had played during the beta testing, leaving the game for a while until Niantic balanced things further.

It didn't help that some players were, and still are, experiencing issues with Inn locations, What might be a Pokestop in Pokemon GO ends up being a Fortress in Wizards Unite, making it difficult to find areas granting Spell Energy, particularly for those in rural areas.

This bit of balancing has happened rather quickly and lends some credence to Niantic's statement they want to continue making the game better by gathering feedback.

While the lack of available content in rural areas is still a concern, Wizards Unite players are making their concerns known. It's always possible some solution or other will arise as time goes on, such as Niantic adding more events to the game as time goes on. 

For more on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, be sure to head over to our growing guides page. If you're stuck, here are a few to get you started: 

Gears 5 Drops Gear Packs, Season Pass But Adds Pay-to-Win Feature Fri, 21 Jun 2019 12:21:42 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Gears 5 developers The Coalition recently announced that the upcoming game will not feature Gear Packs or a Season Pass. The shift is in an effort to make the game's additional paid offerings more transparent.

The news comes via a development blog shortly after Gears 5 received a lengthy overview at E3 — and not long after several countries are moving to take action against loot boxes and their inherent element of gambling.

Rather than paying to get a random set of items, players will be able to either purchase some items they want directly or earn them through normal play. DLC maps will also be free for Matchmaking and Private Play.

The earnable content will feature primarily in a new introduction to Gears 5: Tour of Duty. This replaces the Season Pass, but it ultimately fulfills the same basic function. Gears 5's Tour of Duty will regularly introduce new content all players can earn, instead of splitting player bases between those who bought a pass and those who didn't.

Content can be earned through completing daily challenges and earning medals, and it'll be largely similar to content earned through Season Passes, e.g. character skins and the like. Earnable content will also be transparent in that Gears 5 gives players a clear path to follow to obtain what they want.

Supply Drops are replacing Gear Packs and offer random rewards just for playing, but content purchased using Iron via the in-game store won't be random. Instead, players will pay for what they want.

Tucked away at the end of the developers' blog is an interesting tidbit that seemingly goes against the blog's general grain of appeasing the players. Gears 5 is introducing Boost as a new mechanic as well. Boost offers advanced progression rates for a set period of real-time days, for instance, 24 hours or a 7-day week in the form of:

  • Double Multiplayer XP
  • Double Character XP for Escape & Horde
  • Double speed Supply Drop Progression

However, it's a paid feature. The Coalition says it isn't required to earn content or unlock features. But it's fairly easy to see the increased experience rates have the potential to divide players from a progression perspective. 

EA Defends Lootboxes As "Quite Ethical" In Statements to U.K. Parliament Fri, 21 Jun 2019 12:17:27 -0400 Jonathan Moore

The conjecture surrounding lootboxes is widespread. Some see them as insidious devices by which money-hungry corporations feed their greed. Others seem them as less invasive tactics by which games-as-services operate, chocking it all up to capitalism, baby. 

One that's certain, though, is that EA has been at the forefront of nearly all lootbox discussion over the past several years. The implementation of pay-to-win lootbox mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront 2 assured that. It was one of the biggest controversies of 2017, after all. 

The micros in Madden Ultimate Team and FIFA Ultimate Team only serve to further strengthen the connection between the company and the conversation. 

Now, EA has added fuel to the proverbial fire by saying lootboxes are "surprise mechanics" and "quite ethical." 

The comments come from Kerry Hopkins, vice president of legal and government affairs at EA, while speaking with the United Kingdom Parliament regarding the practice. Hopkins went on to compare loot boxes to other luck-based, prize-giving items such as Cadbury Eggs and Kinder Eggs, saying they are essentially one and the same. 

We do think the way we’ve implemented these kinds of mechanics is quite ethical and quite fun. They aren’t gambling and we disagree that there’s evidence that shows they lead to gambling.

Regardless of how one feels about the efficacy and ethical nature of lootboxes and pay-to-win microtransactions, there's no debate surrounding EA's commitment to the practice at this point in time. 

Players, despite their complaints, still pour millions of dollars each year into these systems that benefit they purveyance. According to, EA's CFO Blak Jorgensen said that Madden and FIFA's Ultimate Team modes generate roughly $650 million each year by themselves. 

Recently, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) brought the issue to the United States Congress by introducing the Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act. It would seek "to curb what he calls the exploitation of children through loot boxes and microtransactions."

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Out Now, But Leaves Some Players in the Lurch Fri, 21 Jun 2019 09:21:24 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Niantic's follow-up to Pokemon GO, is out now on Android and iOS in the U.S. and U.K. Technically, it released yesterday, a day earlier than expected. 

Wizards Unite employs a structure very similar to Pokemon GO. It's an AR-based game with special Inns and Fortresses at notable landmarks, but instead of capturing magical creatures, players are tasked with locating certain people or items stuck between the Muggle and magical worlds.

Inns and Fortresses are all based on real-world locations; the more landmarks or places of interest in a given area, the more content the game will feature for players in said area.

Of course, like Pokemon GO, that means some rural players are left feeling like Muggles waiting for their Hogwarts letter. Less populous areas naturally don't have as many sites of greater interest, which leads to fewer opportunities to engage with the game's content.

Multiple Reddit users report having few or only one Inn near their locations, saying they'd have to drive at least 30 minutes to an hour to actually enjoy the game.

WB Games San Francisco's Mary Casey spoke to Eurogamer about the issue and said the developers are working to ensure a healthy balance between urban and rural areas. As far as how this balance would be created, Casey only referred to the landmark feature and said the game is built around the idea of going out to explore surroundings.

Some aspects like potion making can be done at home, but users are already pointing to problems with time mechanics and grinding required to make any progress. Potion making, in particular, is a central feature of the game, making use of various items that can be found and eventually offering benefits to the player once it's finished brewing. However, it takes a long time to finish brewing — unless players pay to rent a better cauldron.

Whether coin grinding, waiting on potions, and staring at empty space for miles around in the AR wizarding world end up getting addressed in later patches is uncertain.

Still, the game only just exited its beta testing, so the build we have now isn't going to be the same build we see later this year or even by the end of the summer. After all, Pokemon GO itself went from barebones experience to featuring multiple new mechanics and hosting worldwide events in a very short time.

Looking for tips on Wizards Unite? We've got you covered with our growing guides page, where you can find out how to change your codename, as well as how to recharge spell energy and what professions are the best. 

Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories Making Its Way to PS4, Switch, and PC Thu, 20 Jun 2019 10:56:06 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nippon Ichi Software America (NISA) announced Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is finally coming to the West in 2020, for the PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC.

The game takes place in a typical Japanese city, where everything starts off seemingly ordinary. Then a massive earthquake strikes and devastates the city. The player takes control of one person and must navigate the wreckage of what was once their home to survive and possibly help others survive as well.

That last part is a key element of Disaster Report games: players' choices, from deciding who needs help to figure out how to help, determine which NPCs survive, how — and if — the player's own character survives, and what ending the player sees.

Each situation requires the player to stop and think how they should approach whatever danger they're facing. Those can range from massive fires to collapsing buildings and completely altered landscapes, many of which can take place spontaneously, completely without warning.

The scenarios players encounter are inspired by both real-life events and the potential for what could happen in similar situations, and many of the challenges were developed in coordination with the Kobe City Fire Bureau.

The above trailer gives a glimpse of a handful of challenges the game has in store, as well as a few instances of how players can interact with NPCs during and after disaster strikes.

If the series name sounds familiar, that's because the West isn't a complete stranger to Disaster Report. The first game released on the PlayStation 2, though the second and third were never localized. Disaster Report 4 was originally planned for the PlayStation 3 and ended up scrapped, but got a remake for the PS4 and is now being ported to other platforms for a Western release.

Currently, Disaster Report 4's release date is just a vague 2020, but pre-orders will be open soon on NISA's website

New Retro Console Evercade Goes Old School with Cartridge Compilations Thu, 20 Jun 2019 08:09:03 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The newest entry on the retro console stage is Evercade, a handheld retro game system aiming to put classic, licensed 8- and 16-bit games in players' hands.

The system is being developed by a team of the same name (Evercade) and is expected to release sometime in Q4 2019.

The team has secured licensing from a number of well-known developers, including Namco, Atari, Data East, and Interplay. Evercade will announce more partnerships in the lead-up to the system's release.

The console's screen is similar in size to the PlayStation Portable's screen, at 4.3 inches, and its rechargeable battery should last about four hours before needing a recharge. The Evercade can also connect to a TV via an HDMI cable and supports 4:3 and 16:9 screen ratios.

Like many other retro systems currently available on the console market, the Evercade relies on emulation to re-create the games as near as possible to their original form. There are a few key differences, though.

The Evercade team is using licensed versions of the games' original codes, when possible. These games will be compiled in collections on actual cartridges as well, unlike, say, the digital emulation-only SNES Classic Mini. The cartridges are Evercade's own, unique design, which means no inserting a homemade SD card with ROM dumps. How many games each will include ranges from six to 20, depending on the specific collection.

That being said, Evercade mentioned plans are in the works to allow developers of retro-style games to work with the company and potentially have their games included on an Evercade cartridge.

Some of the games players can expect on the console are Atari classics like Asteroids and Ninja Golf, Namco Museum games like Pac-Man, and Interplay's Earthworm Jim games and Claymates, among many others. A full list of the first wave of games can be found here, with more to come after launch. All games will support save states too.

The Evercade will come in two forms: the Standard edition, which includes one cartridge and is priced at $79.99, and the Premium edition, which includes three cartridges and will cost $99.99. Additional cartridges will be available for $19.99. However, it isn't clear yet which cartridges will come with either version or if the consumer can choose them.

2019 is certainly shaping up to be the year of the classic retro revival. From Anstream's retro streaming service to Hyperkin's new N64 mini-console in the works, and Atari's own classic-meets-modern console, it seems the trend begun with the NES Classic Mini is showing no signs of stopping.

Grim Dawn Getting Epic Fantasy Makeover With Loyalist Pack DLC, New Patch Wed, 19 Jun 2019 14:48:26 -0400 Ty Arthur

After the release of Forgotten Gods, fans have worried that the expansion may have signaled the end of development for ARPG Grim Dawn. However, good news on that front just arrived this week, as we're getting some new content sooner rather than later.

While there's no official word on any sort of major release to follow Forgotten Gods and Ashes Of Malmouth, both a minor DLC and a new patch are set to arrive shortly.

The new Loyalist Item Pack arrives tomorrow June 20  offering aesthetic changes to make your character a little less grim and more epic.

The $8.99 second loyalist pack will include the following vanity items:

  • Sinister Black Knight’s Full Set of Armor
  • Black Knight’s Sword and Shield
  • Sacred Silver Knight’s Full Set of Armor
  • Silver Knight’s Sword and Shield
  • Venerable Dragon General’s Helm, Chestguard, and two-handed Spear
  • Enigmatic White Wizard’s Hat, Robe, and Staff off-hand
  • Crate companion pet

Those skins will also be available to apply as illusions. Developer Crate Entertainment had this to say about the new pack?

The items in this collection will bring out the classic fantasy hero within you. Always wanted to vanquish your foes dressed as a royal knight or a mighty wizard? Well now you can! To top it off, you can show off your support for Crate with your very own companion pet (PTSD warning for those that have faced the mighty Crate of Entertainment secret boss).

Yes, the pet is, in fact, a Crate logo that follows you all around the world of Cairn.

The previous Loyalist Item pack was released back in 2016 and featured historical themed items like a George Washington powdered wig and southern general's hat, in addition to a will 'o wisp pet to act as a light source.

In addition to the new Loyalist pack, a host of updated spell effects are due to land with the V1.1.3.0 patch in the next few days, providing visual changes to Amarasta’s Blade Burst, Blackwater Cocktail, Lightning Strike, Maelstrom, Primal Strike, Reckless Tempest, Ring of Steel, Eye of Reckoning, Righteous Fervor, and Savagery.

That patch will also bring four brand-new anomalies in the Shattered Realm section of the Forgotten Gods expansion.

Just getting started with this love letter to classic ARPG titles? Check out our guides to jumping in with the best mastery builds here:

Cyberpunk 2077 E3 2019 Preview: The Future is Completely Customizable Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:55:05 -0400 Erroll Maas

It's no secret that Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most hotly anticipated games currently in development. Unsurprisingly, it was (and still is) one of the most talked about games of E3 2019.

We were lucky enough to see a live gameplay demo of the game led by CD Project Red; unfortunately, we didn't get hands-on with the game.

After showing us a brief glimpse of the game's character customization options, which affect how different NPCs interact with the player depending on the player's background, of which there are many options, we were shown two different sides of the game.

The first involved stealth, while the second was decidedly more bombastic and action-oriented. 

Next Stop, Night City

The first player character we were shown was a stealthy male with few enhancements. What sets him apart, however, is that he has a biochip which may contain the secret of immortality. Of course, this makes him a hot target.

Through this section, Keanu Reeves' character, Johnny Silverhand, which was revealed during Mircosoft's E3 press conference, serves as a guide. He pops up every so often to give the player advice or react to what's happening, seemingly at his own leisure.

Our mission is to seek out the Voodoo boys, a hacker gang obsessed with permanently uploading consciousness into cyberspace. Since their leader has gone missing, we go to a nearby shop to inquire about the gang and its leader's whereabouts. 

We are told to go to the Pacifica district, an area originally meant for the rich and famous until a huge crisis caused investors to back out and abandon it.

With no police presence and plenty of empty buildings, most people avoid the area, making it the perfect spot for illegal black markets and underground shops. Here, the developers told us that with the right build, players can manipulate shopkeepers and be presented with the option to open their own private, secret reserve (hub, anyone?).

The developers didn't elaborate on this much, but it's likely useful for players who want to keep some money and valuable items safe.

Getting Into the Groove

Because Cyberpunk 2077 involves dealing with many different characters in many different scenarios, the developers told us it's important to look the part when going out on missions; it's best to wear the appropriate outfits depending on your intentions. 

It's duly important to wear the correct cybernetic implants when they become available. Since they are as common as tattoos and have different effects such as enhanced strength, speed, and more, the CD Projekt team said that finding the right implants for the job is important. 

When we reach Placide, a high-ranking member of the Voodoo Boys, these enhancements and abilities show their power.

Here, the player character and Placide link up via a personal link cord, connecting their brains and allowing Placide to see through the player's eyes. This allows Placide to provide strategic support, guiding the player through the next area: the Grand Imperial Mall. 

Stealth and Strategy

Going through to the abandoned Grand Imperial Mall, the objective is two-fold: investigate why the Animal gang is working for a Netwatcher hiding there, and to free fellow Voodoo Boys member, Brigitte.

Quickly, we were told that the Animal gang is a group of bodybuilders obsessed with a muscle enhancing drug called Juice, which increases their strength and agility. Since the devs were playing as a stealthy hacker, the best option to take down these drug-infused muscle heads was to do so quietly, but not without hacking into the security cameras first to get a better look at the situation.

When taking out enemies, there are both lethal and non-lethal options, so players don't have to kill anyone if they don't want to. How letting enemies live will affect the larger narrative is currently unknown With a high enough hacking skill, stealthier characters can take out several enemies without being noticed. CD Projekt showed off just two of many ways this type of strategy can play out.

In the first instance, the player character hacks a training robot to knock an enemy out, while in the following instance, a bench press is hacked to immobilize the enemy below.

Guns Blazin'

After showing us the sneakier approach, the developers switched to a female character who has a number of cybernetic enhancements, granting her increased strength. Consequently, she can use heavier weapons not available to normal humans. What's more, instead of hacking doors open, this character can take a more direct approach, such as ripping them open with her bare hands.

Once the leader is spotted, the developers allowed more enemies to come into the room so they could show off more of the game's gunplay. The action was fast, frenetic, and violent; the player even ripped the cybernetic leg from an enemy with the cyberwire weapon, which also serves as a hacking tool. 

One on one with the gang leader, the action ratcheted up. Pouncing on the player, the gang leader hacks them through their cybernetic implants. This begins a countdown timer; when the hacking is complete, the player's brain will be melted. 

Being a Juice-obsessed leader of the Animal gang, this characters weak spot is the large Juice container on her back. After bobbing and weaving through her powerful attacks, made more difficult by her boosted agility, the juice container is destroyed, making her much easier to take down.

The developers decided not to kill this character or take her weapon despite having the chance, showing the options available to players for action or diplomacy.

Finally coming to the objective, the Netwatcher cuts the player's connection to the feed, preventing communication with the outside world. They invite the player to chat in their private movie theater, where they have a chat I won't spoil. 

While Cyberpunk 2077 is admirable because of the various builds players can create as well as all of the different options it offers while going through its campaign, showing just a bit more detail about how personalities, fashion, cybernetic implants, and skills affect what happens to the player would have been beneficial.

Despite this, Cyberpunk 2077 is definitely a game to keep an eye on, and interested players should look forward to receiving more information about it leading up to release.

Cyberpunk 2077 will launch for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on April 16, 2020.

Tetsuya Nomura Says FFVII Includes Modernized Honeybee Inn and Tifa Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:26:20 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Final Fantasy VII Remake's director, Tetsuya Nomura, recently spoke with Famitsu magazine about the game and some aspects of it that were adapted for modern sensibilities. Gematsu translated key points of the interview.

As those familiar with the game would probably guess, the Honeybee Inn cross-dressing sequence was near the top of the list. FFVII Remake will include the Honeybee Inn, though certain aspects of it have been changed.

"We’ve made it more modern. If we made the facility like we did in the original game, the physical unease would be staggering, so that was no good…" Nomura said.

Nomura didn't give any hints about what exactly was changed or how.

Tifa Lockheart's character design was another topic of discussion. Her design in the original FFVII is somewhat infamous for its over-exaggerated proportions, proportions which essentially overshadowed other aspects of her physical depiction.

Not so with FFVII Remake. One of Tifa's features the team wanted to emphasize is her body type. Nomura said they gave her defined abs to help emphasize her athletic nature, and that emphasis helped make it easier to keep her signature outfit as well.

The Square Enix ethics department (and this is the first mention we've had that one even exists) also recommended her chest be tightened some, so as to not create "unnatural" situations during combat, hence the inclusion of a new undergarment to prevent problems during action sequences.

Tifa is also meant to be a deliberate foil for Aerith, with the former representing Eastern style and design, while the latter represents Western style.

The interview shifted gears and covered a few things longtime fans can expect that will help keep the game feeling fresh no matter how many times they've played the original. The May trailer showed mysterious black wisps circling Aeirth and Cloud, and Nomura named these entities the Watchmen of Fate; apparently, these beings will appear before the party no matter where they are.

New dialogue options and branching dialogue paths have been added to help give more weight to player choice. Whether these affect elements of the story isn't clear, but Nomura did say the team added several new scenarios to the game — hence the fact it takes up two Blu-Ray discs.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is set for a March 3, 2020 release. Those who didn't get a chance to experience the E3 demo of the game can check out our hands-on impressions to get an idea of what the game will offer.

For more on Final Fantasy VII Remake, see what Square needs to do to modernize the game's characters

All Aboard the Death Boat in Phantom: Covert Ops, a Stealth-Action Kayaking Game in VR Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:19:07 -0400 Thomas Wilde

I spoke with Lewis Brundish, director of Phantom: Covert Ops, at Oculus's booth at E3 2019, with no idea what I was in for. The game is set in 1991, he explained to me, in a flooded outpost on the coast of the Black Sea. A militia group has gone rogue, unwilling to admit the Cold War has actually ended, and you're a lone stealth operative who must go in to deal with them by any means necessary before they figure out a way to drive the world back towards the brink of war.

Up to this point, I'll admit I was a little cynical, because it sounded like he was basically describing Metal Gear Solid.

"And you're seated in a kayak the entire time," Brundish said.

Okay, so it's not like Metal Gear Solid.

Phantom: Covert Ops is an exclusive game for Oculus platforms by nDreams, the UK-based studio behind Shooty Fruity and The Assembly. It's been in development for about 18 months, and in part, is an experiment by the studio regarding movement in virtual reality.

The idea that led to Phantom, as Brundish told me, is to try to figure out new ways of allowing for exploration and movement-based gameplay in VR without breaking immersion. A lot of other games use teleport systems, where you hop around a few feet at a time, or locomotion, where you walk around using your thumbsticks. Both have their pluses and minuses, but both unavoidably remind you that you're playing a game.

Hence Phantoms: a stealth action game where you do not move at all unless you do so by rowing your boat.

Phantoms is played from a seated position, mirroring your character's position inside the kayak. In-game, you have a silenced pistol holstered on your character's chest, an unsilenced SMG slung across your back, a silenced rifle kept on the right side of the boat, and your kayak paddle hooked onto the left side. Your spare ammunition is kept in a satchel in front of you, with each gun's magazines stacked neatly in rows, along with a small supply of plastic explosives.

To move, you have to pick up the paddle, take hold of it with both hands, and actually drag it through the virtual water. Turning requires you to paddle harder on one side or the other, with sharper turns made possible by holding down a button on the right controller.

It takes some getting used to. The water physics in Phantoms are accurate enough that I found the kayak reacted about as I expected it to, which was both good and bad.

When you're moving along at a brisk pace and have to hang a hairpin turn to avoid a helicopter's searchlight, you rapidly have to confront the fact that you can't actually do that in a boat. I spent a lot of time frantically paddling, trying to get the kayak to spin in the direction I wanted before somebody saw me and picked me off.

Notably, Phantoms sticks to the ammo economy and general tactical approach of a stealth game. Your guns are reasonably powerful, but they are also realistically accurate, and resupplying on the go is a dicey proposition. There will be resupply drops in the final version, but no such option existed in the E3 build. You can shoot out enemy spotlights to give yourself room to slip by or snipe a couple of stragglers to leave yourself an opening, but actually trying to run and gun through the game was almost guaranteed to result in disaster. If nothing else, there just isn't enough ammo for it.

That leaves you with stealth, which is a unique experience when you're trying to do it in a kayak. You can use tall reeds to conceal yourself, which gives you a handy way to hide if you get into a jam, but there's nothing on the market today quite like trying to get back into concealment in a hurry in Phantoms. You have to row like a crazy person in just the right way, to manage sharp turns or throw yourself into reverse. You can also deliberately gather enough speed on a straightaway to let the boat move on its own for a while, which lets you drop the paddle and pull out a weapon for a good solid drive-by shooting. In a kayak.

Phantoms is a weird one. It's got the feel down pat of a solid VR shooter, with a decent feel to its weapons, and I got used to stealth kayak action faster than I expected to. It is a little weird to go through an entire game from a riverside perspective, floating through checkpoints and underneath flooded buildings; it's like an entire gimmick level from a non-VR game blown up to a full-length experience.

At the same time, though, if there's ever another game that can describe itself as "stealth kayak action," I'll be surprised. Phantoms: Covert Ops is, if nothing else, a memorably weird entry into the crowded field of realistic military VR shooters, and it deserves attention just because it's doing something legitimately new.

Monster Hunter: World Iceborne Beta Soon, Here Are the Dates Tue, 18 Jun 2019 14:12:25 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Monster Hunter: World Iceborne may not be seeing its PlayStation 4 release until September, but hunters will get their first taste of the expansion much sooner than that.

Capcom will be holding a beta for Iceborne on PS4 in the coming days, in two waves. The first wave being for PlayStation Plus subscribers only, with the second being for all PS4 Monster Hunter: World players.

PS Plus subscribers will be able to hop onto Monster Hunter: World and get to hunting on the frosty peaks of Hoarfrost Reach on June 21, and be able to play the beta until June 23. That's three days of early-early beta access!

You're not out of luck if you're not a PS Plus subscriber, though: all MHW hunters will be able to partake in the beta on June 28 regardless of whether they have a PS Plus account. This more open beta phase will be running until June 30.

Now in bullet points:

  • PS+ subscribers get access from June 21 to 23
  • All MHW PS4 players get access from June 28 to 30

Monster Hunter: World Iceborne won't just bring the new Hoarfrost Reach map and new monsters. The expansion will also bring riding on select monsters for easier transport, a new grappling hook mechanic, a slinger system overhaul, and Master Rank (the G Rank replacement). If that all isn't music to a hunter's ears, I don't know what is.

Capcom plans on releasing the full expansion come September 6, but be sure to log into Monster Hunter: World during the beta period to get a taste of the future of the game.

Dr Mario World Pre-Registration Open Now for iOS and Android Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:30:07 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Dr. Mario World, Nintendo's latest mobile title, is now open for pre-registration on Android and iOS ahead of its July 10 release.

Alongside the announcement, Nintendo also released a lengthy overview trailer demonstrating how the game works — including its microtransactions.

Dr. Mario World is a Match-3 puzzle game, tasking players with matching different pill colors to different viruses to clear stages. Of course, it's not as simple as it sounds.

Each stage has its share of obstacles, be they have traps to work around or blocks impeding progress. The stages are spread out over five themed worlds (hence "world" in the title) based on the usual Mario themes: sky, ice, haunted, and so on. Nintendo will be adding more worlds eventually, too.

The game initially gives access to Dr. Mario himself, but as players collect coins and diamonds  the game's primary collectible items  they can eventually unlock other doctors, including Peach, Yoshi, and even Bowser. Each doctor has their own special skill, like randomly clearing obstacles or rows.

The catch here is a stamina-like system, similar to Fire Emblem Heroes, but much more limiting. Players must spend hearts to attempt a stage, and while they refill one every 30 minutes, the little "+" icon next to the heart shows, unsurprisingly, hearts can be purchased using diamonds as well.

It appears the player can only hold five hearts at once, which means either tackling one or two stages per day or buying diamonds to buy more hearts. There's an infinite option that lets players attempt as many stages as they want in 60 minutes, too — for a price. A full five-heart refill would cost 10 diamonds, which translates to $1.99 (for 20 diamonds), while the hour-long unlimited option goes for 30 diamonds.

Diamonds are also used to obtain additional capsules players can use to continue a stage should they run out of capsules before finishing. As one would expect, these, too, are available for purchase in the in-game store and can be used to obtain more hearts.

There's a feature where friends can share hearts with each other as well, though the trailer doesn't provide any more information than that.

World of Warcraft Classic's Wednesday Stress Test to Allow All Subscribers Mon, 17 Jun 2019 16:00:07 -0400 Ashley Shankle

If you're one of the many waiting in the wings for World of Warcraft Classic, you may be happy to find that anyone subscribed to the game will be able to participate in this week's stress test.

Active subscribers will be able to download the WoW Classic client tomorrow to prepare for the open stress test starting on June 19 (this Wednesday) at 5 p.m. EDT/2  p.m. PDT, running until June 21. It's only three full days of playtime, but it's certainly better than nothing.

This stress test will be raising the level cap for testers up to Level 15, granting them a few talent points to play with and a wider net of quests to complete compared to the last test with its cap of Level 10.

In the official forum blue post from Blizzard Community Manager Kalvax, it's requested that testers play as much as possible during the first three hours of the test, though it will be completely available for 48 hours over the testing period.

Players will be able to run some classic instances during this test, the dungeons available being Deadmines, Ragefire Chasm, and Wailing Caverns all instances some Vanilla players have spent a little too much time in, but certainly important parts of the testing experience. PvP battleground Warsong Gulch will also be available.

So rev up those subs and get ready to whap that download button tomorrow afternoon or evening as the Classic client becomes available to subscribers, and be ready for the stress test launch at 5  p.m. EDT/2 p.m. PDT on Wednesday. Hype! Full launch is only two months away, on August 26 in NA and August 27 worldwide.

Eldest Souls E3 2019 Preview: Praise the Boss Rush Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:46:36 -0400 Erroll Maas

Eldest Souls is an upcoming pixel-art, Dark Souls inspired RPG from developer Fallen Flag Studios. In the world of Eldest Souls, the Old Gods have been imprisoned, letting humanity prosper until they seek their revenge by causing a great desolation throughout the world, destroying flourishing resources farmland and rivers.

Because of this, there was a Great Crusade sent to slay the Gods, but they have mysteriously disappeared. The task of disposing of the Old Gods once and for all and bringing humanity back to its former glory now falls upon a single warrior.

Eldest Souls takes place in the Citadel, a long-forgotten and expansive temple which also serves as a prison for the Old Gods. Without having minions of their own to serve them outside of their cages, the bosses in Eldest Souls are currently fought in a boss-rush format, somewhat reminiscent of Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption.

The only things players have to worry about when traveling between boss locations are harmful obstacles that could ultimately lead to their demise if they aren't paying attention or time traversals correctly.

Each boss a player defeats will give them talents they can use to enhance their combat skills. While talents are rather basic as of now and only given to players by certain bosses, larger bosses have shards, which grant players new abilities themed after the defeated boss.

Players have three talent trees to enhance: offense, defense, and agility. Each of these has three branches of its own. Because only some bosses grant these talents to the player, it's not possible to unlock and complete every branch in one playthrough, increasing the game's replayability factor.

Besides the player and boss characters, there are also a number of NPCs to talk to throughout the Citadel. While some will offer more generic rewards for helping them, others will give more unique rewards. The developers said they are even planning scenarios where players must choose between NPC tasks. 

For those who enjoy tougher experiences, gaining new items and abilities in Eldest Souls is completely optional, and the game can be finished without them. For those who prefer an even greater boss-rush experience, this means exploration between bosses is also completely optional, putting more emphasis on the game's fast travel locations. 

Although the combat in Eldest Souls is quick, the timing seemed a touch brutal in my time with it. Whether that's due to the demo being an early build or the game is set to employ a devastating pixel-perfect gameplay style, the quick dodge must be timed perfectly with no hiccups to avoid damage and death.

The demo weapon also seemed just a little slower than it should have been, although increasing the agility stat over time may be exactly what solves this problem.

In addition to a basic attack and quick dodge, there is also a charge attack which gives you increased damage as well as a rage buff the longer the corresponding button is held, increasing one of your stats. However, we'll have to wait and see how such a mechanic will ultimately influence moment-to-moment combat and strategy. 

Eldest Souls may have a few small problems which might be intentional and fixed in later areas, but giving players a challenging boss rush with optional exploration and enhancements sounds just like what players have been waiting for. 

Eldest Souls is currently in its alpha phase of development

The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening E3 2019 Preview: Gameplay You Remember, New Visuals You Already Love Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:18:58 -0400 Erroll Maas

When the Nintendo Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was first announced, longtime fans were overjoyed. Now, their favorite entry would be returning.

While details were scant at the time, we now know more about the upcoming remake. Fortunately, everything is just as players remember, other than the new and improved visuals that is.

Our E3 2019 demo covered the very first section of the game, starting at Link's actual awakening on the island of Koholint in Tarin's house. After meeting Tarin's daughter, Marin, and picking up his shield, Link goes off to the beach to try and find his sword.

Once found, an owl tells him that if he wants to go home, he must wake the wind fish by collecting the eight instruments of the Sirens.

The demo then took us to the forest with the tanuki encounter, collecting toadstools for the witch's magic dust, and going to the witch's house to obtain the dust to prevent the Tanuki from confusing Link and getting him lost. Unfortunately, the demo ended before we could take care of the tanuki.

Having played a large portion of Link's Awakening DX years ago, this Nintendo Switch remake feels exactly the same from a gameplay perspective. For most remakes, this would seem like a bad thing, but it works well for this particular title.

Traversal works just fine and combat is just how you would expect it to be from any top-down Legend of Zelda title.

While I've never been a huge fan of Link's Awakening, it's clear that Nintendo has put plenty of care into this remake and has tried its best to update it without changing the core gameplay elements that diehard fans love.

Being able to also develop a new and unique art style that fans are now enamored with only further improves the fact this remake exists. While I was disappointed I couldn't try the brand-new dungeon editor mode, this demo and the impending release of the full game gives me hope for the future of Legend of Zelda titles, and if any more of the Game Boy entries are planned to be remade.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening will launch for Nintendo Switch on September 20, 2019. A limited edition with a Game Boy-themed steelbook case and 120-page art book is available for pre-order in Europe, but it is unknown if or when it will be available in other territories.

Additionally, a Link's Awakening Link amiibo will be released on the same day as the game and will unlock additional content in the Dungeon Editor.

Pokemon Sword & Shield E3 2019 Preview: The Biggest Gym Battles Ever Deserve Bigger Features Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:54:14 -0400 Erroll Maas

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, the eighth generation of mainline Pokemon titles and the second pair to launch on Nintendo Switch after Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu and Pokemon Let's Go, Eevee, have fans both excited and skeptical for their release.

From the E3 demo I played, this is understandable, although the playable build only featured battling a few gym trainers, solving a gym puzzle, and battling the gym leader at the end. So in the end, it didn't give the best idea of what the full experience will ultimately be like.

The team in the demo consisted of the three starter Pokemon of the new Galar region, Scorbunny, Grookey, and Sobble, the recently revealed Corviknight and Wooloo, and the newly-introduced electric corgi Yamper.

While trying to solve the Gym Mission and gain access to the Gym Leader's arena by pressing different colored buttons to turn corresponding waterfalls on and off, several trainers were encountered, each having only one Pokemon of their own. These trainers seemed to be only for demo purposes, as their Pokemon did not seem to match with the Water-type theme of the gym at all.

While the trainer battles were ordinary except for one of them featuring the new Dark and Fairy dual-type Pokemon, Impidimp, the battle against the Gym Leader is where the demo really got exciting.

Going against Gym Leader Nessa, I thought it would be best to send Yamper out first, but to my surprise, the demo featured no menu outside of battle. Consequently, my initial lineup could not be changed, meaning Pokemon could only be switched while in battle.

Nessa sent out Goldeen while I swapped out for Yamper, but to my surprise, it was taken out in just two turns from Goldeen's waterfall attack, which seemed to have a bigger and much flashier animation than the other attacks I had seen.

After Yamper was taken down, I sent out Grookey to make quick work of Nessa's horned fish and it did exactly that.

After this, Nessa sent out her dual water and rock type turtle Dreadnaw and immediately used Dynamax, making it grow to Gamera size. Of course, I followed suit and activated Dynamax with Grookey to level the playing field.

While information for attacks and types were shown when highlighted, stats were not, so it's unknown if or how Dynamax affects them. It's also unknown just how strong Dreadnaw is, as it was able to knock out Dynamax Grookey with little trouble.

Having a much tougher time than I expected, my options were Wooloo, which couldn't do much, Sobble, which was resistant but likely wouldn't do much damage, Scorbunny, which might have been able to deal a decent amount of damage with double kick but was weak to water, and Corviknight, whose Steel Wing attack might be able to help.

I decided to try out Corviknight, and his Steel Wing did not prove useful in these trying times. After Dreadnaw had returned to normal size — Dynamax has a three-turn limit —  taking out a few slivers of health, I decided to experiment a little bit and switch to Sobble.

As it turned out, Sobble's liquidation attack dealt a decent amount of damage, and I was able to finally get Dreadnaw to faint in two turns. I had finally beat Gym Leader Nessa.

Despite being fun for most longtime Pokemon fans, the Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield demo lacked new features to showcase. While Dynamax is a neat new battle mechanic, not being able to see how or if it changes Pokmon stats makes it feel less significant.

A demo of wild areas and max raids may have been a more preferable way to showcase Dynamax in addition to other new features.

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will launch for Nintendo Switch on November 15. A steelbook bundle featuring both versions is also available for pre-order.

Ready to catch em' all in the new Galar region? Here are a few reasons you should be excited for the upcoming Pokemon games

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order E3 2019 Preview Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:29:41 -0400 Erroll Maas

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is a brand-new entry in the beloved Ultimate Alliance series that features a handful of different playable heroes from Marvel Comics, as well as plenty of iconic villains to fight.

In Ultimate Alliance 3, heroes team up to collect the Infinity Stones before Thanos can get to them and unleash chaos throughout the universe.

Every level of the game's campaign mode can be played in either single-player or co-op, though in either single-player or multiplayer you have a team of four heroes to work with.

For my E3 demo team, I played as Venom and my partner chose Storm, while I chose Miles Morales and Deadpool as our CPU teammates. Players can swap between the four chosen heroes at any time as long as there are less than four players -- in case they want to experience each character's playstyle.

Team lineups can also be changed at S.H.E.I.L.D. Points, which appear at several locations in each level

Venom felt like more of a brute character; he didn't have as much finesse as Spider-Man and featured different abilities except for his web swinging double jump. In many ways, he felt similar to the Hulk.

After Venom-smashing a few of the ninja enemies from The Hand, I switched to Miles as I expected him to be more agile. While Miles was indeed more agile than Venom, the constant chaos of battle made it difficult to know what was going on.

Due to my team combination, differentiating between allies and enemies could get confusing. The ninjas of The Hand had red and black outfits, somewhat reminiscent of Deadpool, so at times, Deadpool would be mistaken for the last enemy we would have to take out before progressing to the next section of the level.

Each playable hero had quick light attacks, which can be chained for combos, and slower but more powerful heavy attacks. Enemies seemed to always have more health than expected, so it always took longer than desirable to take a whole group down, even after characters would level up through battle.

In addition to different basic attacks, each hero had special powers called Abilities that can deal more damage but use up energy points, which refill over time.

When heroes use abilities in unison it creates Synergy, which allows for a variety of more powerful attacks. Unfortunately, even when using Synergy attacks, the enemies still seemed to have more health than necessary.

While Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is far from the worst experience I've played on Nintendo Switch, it's clear that it has a few problems, or at least the demo at E3 did.

It's also completely possible the full game will be more enjoyable after becoming more accustomed to the gameplay, although it may not be enjoyable for those who have never been fond of the Ultimate Alliance series or the Marvel universe.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order launches for Nintendo Switch on July 19.

The Art of Amy Brown Set to Enchant the Tabletop World With Fickle Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:17:24 -0400 Glitchieetv

Amy Brown is a well known watercolor painter specializing in fairies and other fantastical creatures. With a product line featuring calendars, statues, art books, stickers, coloring books, and more, her line is expanding to the tabletop world.

Recently, Brown partnered with Bard Games and launched a tabletop game via Kickstarter. Titled Fickle, the game features Brown's vivid artwork and is set in the fairy realm.

The goal of Fickle is to gain the favor of the fairy world and become its ruler by winning the Ritual of Ascendancy. Five fairy family decks are chosen at the start of the game. The deck is shuffled and each player receives three cards. From there, players stack their neighbor's cards in a specific order. Players can choose to keep or discard the card on top of their stack.

To win, a player can either collect five members of the same family or gather a high-scoring diverse alliance. Too many of one family can cancel out their favor. There are five rounds of play, forcing players to think quickly. 

Fickle is fully funded and pushing toward various stretch goals with three days left on its Kickstarter campaign. With 672 backers, the goal of $8,000 was quickly reached; currently, the project has just over $40,000 pledged.

Those interested can pledge as little as $1. Those who pledge $60 or more will receive the game with all unlocked stretch goals and the game's three add ons.

The base game comes with 12 family decks, the rule book, a double-sided game board, one court crier token, one phase token, and eight round tokens.

Stretch goals already unlocked include new family decks, a play mat, and the three add ons: a Fickle branded token pouch, an e-coloring book, and a token crown. The next goal, card sleeves, unlocks at 700 backers. 

Contra: Rogue Corps E3 2019 Preview — An Altered Take on the Contra Experience Mon, 17 Jun 2019 11:04:49 -0400 Erroll Maas

First shown during the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, Contra: Rogue Corps is a brand-new entry in the Contra series that has some pretty big differences from what fans might usually expect.

Despite these differences, and having been directed by Nobuya Nakazato (Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra: Hard Corps), it aims to be a worthy entry in the returning series.

A Mad, Mad World

Rogue Corps takes place after Contra III: The Alien Wars; after the aliens have seemingly been defeated, a mysterious alien-infested city appears. Known to many as the Damned City, anyone who ventures into it goes insane.

The game's four playable characters include Kaiser, a soldier who participated in the Alien Wars and now has cybernetic enhancements including an arm that can turn into a massive drill.

Ms. Harakiri is a stealthy former assassin who avoided death by fusing herself with an alien, and as a result, has to stab her midsection to prevent the alien from taking over. Weirdly enough, it also happens to be another way to attack her enemies.

Hungry Beast is a former scientist named Kurt Steiner whose brain was implanted into a cyborg panda, and Gentleman is a brain bug alien who was raised by humans and acts like an Englishman. 

Burn It to the Ground

Contra: Rogue Corps is a three dimensional, top-down experience, although some sections are on a 2D plane and feel more like the Contra players are familiar with.

While directional movement feels fine, aiming feels looser than it should, especially considering that enemies can be on several levels of the same area, high, low, and mid.

This also doesn't help much if the appropriate weapon isn't being used. The machine gun seemed to be much harder to aim upward than the missile launcher, but even after switching, it's hard to determine when exactly you'll be in the right spot to hit an enemy that's above you, which, unfortunately, may take a few tries of unnecessary trial and error.

After taking down a number of enemies, weapons will overheat and switching to another equipped weapon is required to keep the bullet storm going. That's particularly true if the environment can't be utilized to your advantage; throughout each area, you can pick up barrels and crates to throw at enemies or shoot at explosive containers to get rid of several enemies at once. However, these must be used strategically or you might be left scrambling. 

One peculiar thing to note is that if explosive barrels are in close proximity to each other, it takes a second or two for each following explosive barrel to explode, causing fewer enemies to be taken out over time. Perhaps it's just a quirk of the current build, but it is an odd mechanic that may make it into the final product. 

In addition to just shooting enemies, you can also take them out with finishing moves and special attacks. To execute flashy finishing moves, you must dodge a close-range attack from an enemy with a low health at the correct time. This staggers them, allowing you to brutally finish them off.

Special attacks are charged up over time and vary by character. Kaiser uses his giant drill to plow through enemies, and Hungry Beast, who I played as, calls in four mini panda robots to continuously shoot in the same selected direction, letting players lead aggressive enemies to their doom.

Once all enemies in an area have been dealt with, players can proceed to the next area; however, these areas are sometimes locked behind a door. So what are you supposed to do? Find a password? Hack into it with some kind of cybernetic technology? No, just shoot the heck out of it and the door will be destroyed. It might not be sophisticated, but it's par for the course in a Contra game. 


Between levels, you can customize your equipment and characters. New weapons and items can either be developed or purchased at base camp, and there's a shooting range for you to try them out before bringing them along on a mission.

Additionally, playable characters can be upgraded and given cybernetic enhancements, which grant them new abilities to more successfully take out the alien menace for good.

Our demo was only single-player/co-op. so none of the announced PvP gameplay was shown. But from what we've seen so far, it's sure to be an interesting take on the gameplay mode and the classic Contra experience.

Contra: Rogue Corps is a strange game, but it's not nearly as bad as many first impressions expected it to be. It's somewhat of a departure from what Contra fans have come to expect from the franchise, but the same Contra spirit is still there. Hopefully, the full game will have a lot more to offer once we finally get our hands on it.

Contra: Rogue Corps launches on September 26 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. 

Luigi's Mansion 3 E3 Preview: Boo, Goo, and Improved Mon, 17 Jun 2019 10:53:47 -0400 Erroll Maas

Since its initial announcement during the September 2018 Nintendo Direct, Luigi's Mansion 3 has been somewhat of a mystery.

During Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct, we finally saw some of the gameplay that will be featured in the series' third entry.

We were fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with a demo on the showroom floor, and it provided both a nostalgic blast to the past as well as an optimistic look toward the future.

In Luigi's Mansion 3, players once again take control of Mario's ever frightened younger brother Luigi. Thinking he would be going on vacation to a seemingly luxurious hotel, he actually gets trapped in a plan by King Boo to capture the Mario brothers and their friends.

With assistance from Professor E. Gadd and the newly upgraded Poltergust G-00, Luigi must venture through the hotel to save his friends and bust some ghosts along the way.

The tutorial for this demo featured returning character Polterpup, as players are taught the basics by playing with him.

Luigi is equipped with a flashlight that can stun ghosts, and he also has the Poltergust-00, a new model of the familiar ghost busting vacuum which can now help Luigi slam ghosts back and forth in addition to pulling them toward him.

This short but sweet introduction is one of the best tutorials I've played, as it's straight to the point and doesn't waste the players time by trying to make them perform tedious tasks, and you even get to play with a ghost puppy as a bonus.

After this brief tutorial, it's off to explore the hotel, which has all manner of ghosts inside, from a few basic ghosts to other sorts of ghosts equipped with different tools such as shields. These require just a little more strategy to defeat.

In addition to ghosts, there are also treasures hidden behind certain walls which players can seek out to restore health and find items. Finding and obtaining these items may require the use of the suction shot, a more powerful suction tactic using the assistance of a plunger, or burst, which as you might be able to tell from the name, is the opposite of suction.

A brand-new mechanic first introduced during the Nintendo Direct is the inclusion of Gooigi, a playable clone of Luigi made out of slime who can ooze through obstacles Luigi can't get past by himself, such as spikes and metal bars.

Gooigi is useful once players become accustomed to switching between him and Luigi; in some cases, both can also be used at the same time. If the latter option proves to be too tricky for a single player, as it did for me due to using a pro controller instead of handheld mode and having to pay attention to both analog sticks for movement of both characters, a second player can join in and play as Gooigi to help them out.

While I only played the first Luigi's Mansion briefly and found Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon to be highly unsatisfying, Luigi's Mansion 3 seems like it takes both the praise and criticism of past entries to heart, in turn improving its own gameplay by both enhancing old features as well as adding new ones.

After playing the demo, it feels like Luigi's Mansion 3 will provide what fans want and will likely even have some pleasant surprises waiting for them.

As of writing, Luigi's Mansion 3 does not yet have a release date, but it is still planned to launch for Nintendo Switch sometime in Q4 2019.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 E3 2019 Preview Mon, 17 Jun 2019 10:03:25 -0400 Erroll Maas

At E3 2019, I was able to try out the upcoming Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the lengthily-titled next entry in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series.

The game has plenty of different characters to play as and a variety of different mini-games in which to partake, and its gameplay is surprisingly simple. Perhaps too much so for those that have yet to try the games.

The E3 demo featured a few playable characters and four different sports in which they could partcipate, including karate, skateboarding, surfing, and archery.

Karate was the first one I tried. Here, players must quickly hit or block opponents to gain points. Each round of karate can end in the blink of an eye, so it's best players keep their guard up if they want to ensure victory.

Skateboarding is extremely simple; all players have to do is go whichever direction they want and press "A" at the right time to perform tricks, and sometimes both "A" and "R" to garner more points while doing them.

Surfing is similar but includes rapidly pressing the "A" button to paddle and catch a wave. Once a player starts paddling, catching the wave behind is automatic, but staying on the wave and performing tricks requires use of the analog stick as well as the "A" button once again. There's also only a limited amount of time for players to stay on the wave, with the goal being to stay on it for as long as possible.

For Archery, players can either compete against each other or team up and get points by shooting arrows at targets. In this demo, Archery may have been the easiest sport of the bunch, since hitting the middle of the target was nearly unavoidable.

While it's still fun to play all of these modes in quick succession, from all of the simple actions utilized by the four available sports in the demo, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is best recommended for younger kids and more casual players at this point.

Maybe things will be more difficult in the final build over time, but this demo did nothing to indicate that. If you're looking for a modern title with similar gameplay to Wii Sports, this likely isn't the one.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 launches for Nintendo Switch in November 2019.

Mark Your Calendars: Every Release Date Announced at E3 2019 Fri, 14 Jun 2019 14:32:51 -0400 Mark Delaney

At E3, it's not just about the games we can play. It's just as much about when we can play them. E3 2019 was no different.

With hundreds of games shown off on stage and at the show floor in Los Angeles, it can be dizzying to keep up with every launch window and specific release date announced at E3, so we've done the hard part for you.

Use our recap of every release date announced at E3 2019 to see just when you'll be calling in sick to work over the next several months. 

June 2019
  • The Last Remnant Remastered (Switch): June 10 
  • Collection of Mana (Switch): June 11
  • Contra Anniversary Collection (Switch): June 11
  • Cadence of Hyrule (Switch): June 13
July 2019
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (Switch): July 19
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC): July 16
August 2019
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC): August 6
  • Oninaki (Switch): August 22
  • Astral Chain (Switch): August 30
  • Blair Witch (Xbox One, PC): August 30
September 2019
  • Conan Chop Chop (Mobile): September 3
  • Gears of War 5 (Xbox One, PC): September 10
  • Daemon X Machina (Switch): September 13
  • Police Stories (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC): September 19
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch): September 20
  • Contras Rogue Corps (Switch): September 24
  • Code Vein: September 27th
  • Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch): September 27
  • FIFA 20 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch): September 27
October 2019
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) - October 4
  • The Outer Worlds (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) - October 25
November 2019
  • Death Stranding (PlayStation 4): November 8
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC): November 15
  • Doom Eternal (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia): November 22
Note: No New Dates Announced for December 2019 or January 2020
February 2020
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox One, PC): February 11
  • Gods and Monsters (PlayStation 4, Xbox One Switch, PC, Stadia): February 25
March 2020
  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PlayStation 4): March 3
  • Watch Dogs: Legion (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC): March 3
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch): March 20
April 2020
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC): April 16
May 2020
  • Marvel's Avengers (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia): May 15
Holiday 2020
  • Halo Infinite (Project Scarlett)
2020 (Unspecified)
  • Crossfire X (Xbox One)
  • Dragon Ball Kakarot (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dying Light 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Tales of Arise (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

As you can expect, this calendar will be further filled in as months go on, but even right now, there's quite a range and number of major releases headed our way. Which games have you marking your calendar?

Be sure to check out our complete 2019 release calendar to see all of the games releasing this year. 

The Outer Worlds E3 2019 Preview: Strange Worlds in Strange Times Fri, 14 Jun 2019 14:31:39 -0400 Erroll Maas

The Outer Worlds is an upcoming sci-fi RPG published by Private Division and developed by Obsidian, the developers of Fallout: New Vegas. It includes the creators of the original Fallout.

In The Outer Worlds, players take control of their own created character who was lost in transit while on their way to the furthest edge of the galaxy only to awake decades later than planned in a colonized part of the galaxy known as Halcyon.

While in Halcyon, players encounter a variety of power-hungry factions, and they begin to unravel a conspiracy which threatens to destroy all of Halcyon.

Players will be able to completely customize their character and develop a distinct personality through their various skills and stats. They will also be able to recruit two companions to journey alongside them.

For our live gameplay demonstration preview at E3 2019, we were shown a character with a leadership-type build, which helps make companions tougher and in turn, boosts the enhancements given to the player by their companions.

The two companions we saw were Nyoka, an alcoholic big game hunter who loves to fight big, hostile creatures, and Ellie (pictured above), a fast-talking medic.

On the planet Monarch, named after the corporation that took it over, we were first taken to the town of Fallbrook to talk to Catherine Malin, the leader of the Sublight Corporation. This is where we learned that players can have several different dialogue options depending on their stats, such as charm and intimidate, and certain options will still be shown even if the specific stat isn't quite high enough. Companions can also help boost these stats when needed.

The player was given a mission to ruin Clive Lumbergh, the head of the Monarch Corporation, and was given several different options to be used at their leisure. The first was to go in guns blazing and just take down everything in sight until they got to Clive; the second was to use a disguise to get into the factory and take the stealthier approach; and the third was to use a back entrance to sneak around.

The third option is what was chosen for the demo playthrough.

On the way to the factory, we learned about the weapons currently equipped to the player character, which included a Dead Eye Sniper with modified accuracy, a heavy machine gun modified with shock damage to help take down robots, and a blade for close-quarters combat.

We also saw some strange looking wildlife that at the time, was not to be interacted with as they were a bit tough thanks to the events that transpired when the planet was first terraformed by the Monarch Corporation.

After quickly observing the fauna, we were shown some of the combat mechanics players can employ when encountering a group of bandits.

As a side effect of hibernation sickness, the player character has an ability known as tactical time dilation, which will slow down time when staying still and focusing on an enemy. Focusing on an enemy when using this ability will scan them and show information about them, including location-based hits that will have different effects, such as stunning or disarming enemies.

After making some quick work of the bandits, we were told that abilities recharge quickly for the next fight, as to not waste the player's time with waiting.

As the player character made their way closer to the factory, a waterfall was seen, which contained the secret entrance to the factory in the cave behind it.

Once we got into the factory through the sewer behind the waterfall, we were greeted by a group of pigs covered in large tumors, known as Cysty Pigs. these were the factory's main source for their food product Borst, which these tumors were filled with. There was an option to overfeed the Cysty Pigs and force the factory to shut down, but a slightly different approach.

After sneaking past a couple of guards, the player entered a larger area that contained both human employees and robots alike. A higher hacking skill can help with robot enemies, but this was not the method chosen by the developers during the demo.

Instead, the player character used the PA system to tell employees that they had been invited to dinner by the fictional King of Borst himself, which was so ridiculous it caused a mass walkout of employees, leaving only the robot enemies to deal with. We were also told that low intelligence characters have "dumb" response choices, which may not always help but often have quite humorous outcomes.

After sneaking past some robots and switching to the blade weapon, the player character finally reached Clive's "office," but of course, he wanted to talk things through before losing his head.

While talking to this weirdly Borst-obsessed boss, a perception-based dialogue option popped up due to his blood-spattered outfit and eventually, he told us that if we killed Catherine Malin instead, he could give us a lifetime supply of Borst.

One of the companions quickly offered their thoughts on the matter, and then the choice was given to either kill Clive, kill Catherine, or try to convince them to work together instead. The outcome was unknown, however; this is where our demonstration ended.

Overall, The Outer Worlds seems like it will be a strange yet fulfilling experience. While the skill-based dialogue options are somewhat reminiscent of Fallout series, which might be expected from former developers making it, the setting, wildlife, weirder characters, and more vibrant and colorful visuals help differentiate it from it's gloomier predecessors.

Whether you're a fan of Obsidian's previous work, or the concept itself has just piqued your interest, The Outer Worlds will likely provide a weird but worthwhile sci-fi RPG experience.

The Outer Worlds launches for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25, 2019. It will also be available via Xbox Game Pass.

Project Scarlett: Everything We Know So Far About Microsoft's Next Generation Console Fri, 14 Jun 2019 12:22:05 -0400 Mark Delaney

As the doors close on E3 2019, it can be tough to catch every detail from another busy week of game reveals, developer interviews, and new console teases.

With Sony taking the week off and Nintendo firmly entrenched in the Switch generation, it was Microsoft's time to discuss their next generation console.

While they left plenty of details for the year ahead, we still got a lot of new information of the console's specs, prospective features, and launch window. Here's everything we know on the next generation Microsoft console.

What is the official name of Microsoft's next console?

For over a year now, rumors pointed to the code name for the next-gen Microsoft games console as "Project Scarlett." As it turns out, those rumors were exactly true. On stage at their E3 presser, Phil Spencer confirmed the code name. It's very likely the system will eventually keep the Xbox moniker in some fashion, but for now the press, fans, and even Microsoft big wigs are calling it one thing: Scarlett.

When does Project Scarlett release?

If you're saving up to buy the next generation console from Microsoft, you'll be able to cash out with your new toy at the end of 2020. No firm date has been announced just yet, but Spencer confirmed a holiday 2020 window.

Historically, every Xbox has launched in mid-November. The original Xbox hit US stores on November 15th, 2001, while the 360 and One both launched on November 22nd (2005 and 2013) respectively.

It stands to reason that the next console will aim for a very similar window -- the Friday before Black Friday. As the shopping holiday is November 27th next year, we'd place our bets on a November 20th launch for Project Scarlett, but this is speculation for now.

Another aspect to consider is when the PlayStation 5 comes out. Team Xbox has famously trailed their Sony rival all generation long by a margin of more than two to one by some metrics, so they may seek to get out a week or more ahead of the next PlayStation, which is currently also anticipated to arrive before Christmas next year.

What are the launch titles for Project Scarlett?

As we are a year and a half away from the next Microsoft console, it should be forgivable that we only know of one launch title so far. Besides, it's a big one. Day and date with the Scarlett launch in 2020 will be Halo Infinite, the next game in Xbox's flagship series.

The original Halo cemented Xbox as a legitimate contender in the home console market and the last two decades of games wouldn't be the same without it, so it's a fitting first game announcement.

Beyond that, one may reasonably expect some other titles, such as the first next-gen Forza game, and probably a few new titles from their many newly acquired studios, depending on what's ready to reveal.

2020 also looks like a very busy year for games this still coming to current generation hardware, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Final Fantasy 7 RemakeIt stands to reason that we will see some current generation games get ported to the next generation and take advantage of the improved technical capabilities of those consoles.

Will Project Scarlett Be Backward Compatible?

Early indications are that Scarlett is being built to be very consumer-friendly for players carrying over their Xbox career and library to the next generation console. Microsoft released the last batch of Xbox 360 and original Xbox backward compatible games alongside announcing those 23 titles would be the last of the 600+ that will come to the Xbox One.

Moving forward, the back compat team at Xbox is focusing on making the Scarlett console fully backward compatibility with the Xbox One, and perhaps even offer as much as all previous generation games too. 

Even more exciting, Scarlett will also be compatible with all current generation accessories, like controllers and hard drives. It seems as technology has moved to a more uniform assembly, with most things using stuff like Bluetooth and USB cables, the future is now forward compatible. Your expensive Elite controller can come along for the upgrade to the Scarlett nice and easily. 

What are the specs for Project Scarlett?

While we don't know all of the console's specs yet, a reveal video from some of Microsoft's leadership did go into some detail about how powerful the console is looking so far.

Scarlett's internal architecture uses a hybrid, custom-built CPU built from an AMD Zen 2 framework and Navi GPU. In the video above, Microsoft execs tout currently absurd-sounding 8K resolution and frame rates up to 120 frames per second thanks to the DDR6 RAM. 

The system will also feature ray tracing, the next big thing in visual fidelity, as well as a variable refresh rate. Ray tracing is a proprietary feature from AMD, but because they're working with Microsoft, players can expect to have the feature on the Scarlett when it arrives with its new name.

Like Sony's PS5 (assumed name), Project Scarlett will use a solid state drive, helping to deliver load times so decreased, they will in many cases be nonexistent. In the video, Microsoft's execs discuss what this may mean for the way they play games, calling it "the most immersive console experience ever."

All in all, it's promised to be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, which itself is currently the world's most powerful console -- a phrase often boasted about among Team Xbox.

Will there be multiple versions of Project Scarlett?

The short answer to this is we don't know for sure yet. At E3 2018, Phil Spencer used the plural form, "consoles," to describe their next-gen plans. This would line up with the rumors that said Microsoft is developing two consoles concurrently -- these same rumors originally gave us the Project Scarlett moniker, mind you.

One console, described above, would offer the most powerful console experience the manufacturer has ever built, if not once again the world's most powerful console in general. The other is rumored to be something more akin to Google Stadia, a streaming-focused alternative for players who want the affordability and versatility of such a system. 

This year, however, Spencer and his team alluded to just one "project," though a project can, of course, include two consoles still. Have plans changed? Perhaps, but more likely it seems they want to focus on their bigger, more powerful console now, and later they can assure financially strapped or streaming-focused players that they can get the next Xbox experience for a cheaper price tag.

We still expect a second SKU under the Project Scarlett banner, but we likely won't know for sure until next spring or perhaps not even until E3 2020. Of course, there's always the chance of another leak.

For now, we know there will be at least one next generation console from Microsoft that still uses a disc drive, even while the company also looks to build on their Project xCloud game streaming infrastructure.

Over the next 12 months, we will find out much more about Project Scarlett, but as of today, this is everything we know. What's your opinion of Microsoft's Project Scarlett so far?

Pokemon Sword and Shield Ditch Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves Thu, 13 Jun 2019 14:15:18 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Pokemon Sword and Shield have been getting some additional news as E3 wears on, including some new information from producer Junichi Masuda: Gen VIII won't have Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves.

These two features were staples in Gen VI and Gen VII respectively, with Mega Evolutions actually carrying over into Gen VII on top of Z-Moves. Now, they're being replaced with Dynamaxing.

For those just catching up with the latest Pokemon Sword and Shield news, Dynamaxing is where a select Pokemon becomes gigantic and more powerful. Unlike straight up Mega Evolution, though, the Pokemon's moveset also changes, and the state only lasts for three turns in a battle.

Masuda didn't necessarily say why the decision was made, though many are speculating it's related to the decision about not bringing all 1,000+ Pokemon to the Galar region.

Since Charizard's here, that means Charmander and Charmeleon at least will be in Galar.

In a recent Famitsu interview, Masuda said the graphical upgrades required for rendering Gen VIII's Pokemon on the Switch hardware translated to more time and effort for the development team. It was more practical to simply limit the Pokedex this time around, and it's likely the same will happen in future installments.

Considering the number of Pokemon capable of Mega Evolving only continued to grow since Pokemon X and Y, it means chances are, there would have been quite a few cuts to the roster had Mega Evolution been left in.

Masuda also mentioned the goal for Dynamaxing is to increase strategic options and conversations about the game, since players will need to form new tactics and choose moves wisely to take advantage of the changes Dynamaxing brings.

In other words, we might be losing Z-Moves, but each Pokemon capable of Dynamaxing essentially has 2 full movesets for players to tinker with and learn, hence the decision to make it the main focus.

It's worth noting as well that while not all Pokemon can make it to Galar, they can still be brought to Pokemon Home, and Masuda said plans are underway to ensure players can still interact with and play some kind of games via Home and the Pokemon therein.

Patrick Munnik, Lead Producer at Guerrilla Games, Has Passed Away Thu, 13 Jun 2019 14:07:55 -0400 Jonathan Moore

In a memorial post shared to the company's official Twitter account today, Guerrilla Games confirmed the passing of Patrick Munnik, lead designer at the Netherlands-based studio. 

Munnik passed away on June 10 at the age of 44. As of this writing, a cause of death has not been released.  

According to his Linkedin, Munnik had worked at Guerrilla Games since 2011. He held a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Hogeschool van Amsterdam.

Munnik worked on some of Guerrilla's most iconic franchises, including Killzone: Shadow Fall and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Early in his career at Guerrilla, Munnik also worked on DLC for Killzone 3, before moving to those bigger projects in 2013 and 2017, respectively. 

According to a biography on the LevelUp conference website, Munnik "initially worked as a C++ programmer in different industries before gradually transitioning to the role of Project Manager." 

There has been an outpouring of support and love on social media for Munnik's family, as well as the entire Guerrilla team. 

We would like to extend our condolences to all of those affected by his passing. 

Header image credit: LevelUp

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Delay Leads to Big Nintendo Stock Drop Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:10:29 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

Nintendo apparently saw a massive drop in its stock value following the news that Animal Crossing: New Horizons was delayed until March 2020.

The news comes from a Financial Times report; the original is locked behind a paywall, but the folks at Nintendo Life shared all the major content.

At the close of the day on Wednesday, Nintendo's stock had fallen by 3.53%. That might not seem like a significant number, but the report states the drop took over $1 billion off of Nintendo's stock value.

Investors aren't quite so willing to wait patiently for Animal Crossing on Switch.

Chief among the causes for concern investors listed was Animal Crossing's delay. However, it wasn't the only problem. Nintendo made no mention of cloud-streaming technology or services during E3, unlike its competitors, didn't announce the rumored new Switch models, and didn't unveil any sort of big collaborations.

David Gibson, an Astris Advisory Japan analyst, mentioned in the report that it was surprising Breath of the Wild 2's announcement didn't provide any encouragement to investors. It seems news that the game was delayed to provide higher quality of life for employees didn't encourage investors either.

However, these reasons highlight an important difference between what investors and consumers expect. Nintendo already said there would be no Switch upgrade announcements during E3, it's only just started implemented cloud-based saves, and collaborations with Microsoft have been only rumors — nothing concrete.

Switch owners have generally been pleased with Nintendo's E3 2019 showing, which provided substantially more information and games than last year's Direct. According to entertainment marketing research firm Fizziology, not only did Animal Crossing: New Horizons receive the most mentions on Twitter, but only 2% of those mentions were negative reactions about the delay.

Of course, this isn't the first time investors have reacted strongly to E3. Last year's Smash Ultimate-centric presentation produced yet another drop in stock prices before Pokemon Let's GO launched later that year.

How this significant drop will affect Nintendo, if at all, remains uncertain. Yet with more Pokemon on the way this year, plus more rumblings about new Switch models, it seems likely stock prices will do what they do best: fluctuate.

Wave Break Preview: Move over Tony Hawk, It's Time For Bears & Boats Thu, 13 Jun 2019 11:26:54 -0400 Erroll Maas

Wave Break is an in-development title by Funkotronic Labs where players perform tricks as animals like bears and otters in motorboats and compete to get the highest score.

The concept may sound strange, but after seeing the core gameplay and getting to experience it, there's no doubt that Wave Break was heavily inspired by the extreme sports arcade titles of the past such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.

Players compete with each other in one of several giant open levels,  performing all of the tricks you would expect from a skateboarding game. such Jumping off ramps, flipping around, grinding rails, and all that jazz while using a boat instead of a skateboard.

Players can also shoot at one another as a way to interrupt their opponents' tricks, gaining more points in the process, as well as kill each other for a point advantage. 

One interesting feature is that players aren't permanently connected to their boats and can get out and swim or run around on land, providing another way to take down opponents performing tricks in case being in the boat a shooting is a bit too tricky for some players.

The boat can also be called back with the quick press of a button and will automatically appear right at the players location, without any need for having to press something else to jump back into the vehicle.

Something else kind of crazy is that boats don't slow down on land areas like you'd expect, making it easier to perform a larger variety of tricks no matter where the player ends up.

The one small problem is that the controls feel just a tad too slippery, particularly in the boats. Players may slip off of certain areas without meaning to when trying to perform tricks, though just getting used to the gameplay over time may be all that's called for here.

Other than what has already been described, Wave Race is planned to feature boat customization with plenty of decals and decorations, as well as numerous cosmetic accessories to equip to player characters. It might not affect the actual gameplay, but it's a feature that's still useful for the local and online multiplayer modes.

Wave Break is an indie title that really stands out due to its extreme sports influences and bizarre premise, and it's clear that the developers at Funkotronic Labs are putting plenty of care into the game to help give players a more nostalgic feel through gameplay while at the same time still providing something new.

Other than the normal local and online multiplayer mode, a party mode and special streamer modes are also planned to be added in the future. It may not be some time until the full game is released, but until then fans of the Pro Skater series and similar titles should keep an eye on Wave Break as development continues and more features are added. Interested players can also get a glimpse of gameplay in the trailer below.


Wave Break is currently in development for PC.

Square Enix Wants to Create a Digital Library of All Its Classic Titles Thu, 13 Jun 2019 11:04:34 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

In an interview with Game Informer, Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda said the company is exploring various options for making all of its classic titles available digitally.

In fact, SE is already working on a dedicated internal project to port many classic titles to a variety of platforms. Beyond that, Matsuda mentioned SE is considering a subscription or download-exclusive service that would give players access to the entire library of classic Square Enix games, saying "I think everyone is going in that direction, so we do want to be proactive in considering those options."

However,  NES games are Square Enix's particular focus right now, since, as Matsuda says, many other titles are currently still available in some form or another.

Which NES titles is another matter. Squaresoft's major NES titles, e.g. Final Fantasy I, II, and III, are available in multiple formats already, and the same goes for Enix's Dragon Quest games. It may be mobile availability is being excluded from these considerations, then.

There's also the challenge of dealing with code for older games — challenges such as the code being lost.

Rumors had been floating around for a long time about SE losing some of its original source codes, especially when it initially seemed like Final Fantasy VIII was the only PSX-era FF game not getting the modern port treatment.

Matsuda basically confirmed that scenario is true for many of its older games, saying that at the time, the dev teams never really thought about preserving code for future sales:

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but in some cases, we don't know where the code is anymore. It's very hard to find them sometimes, because back in the day you just made them and put them out there and you were done you didn't think of how you were going to sell them down the road.

Still, there may be ways around that particular problem. Despite some believing the Junction and Draw systems should never see the light of day again, Final Fantasy VIII is finally getting the HD remaster treatment this fall.

In some cases, Matsuda said the team is actually able to recover lost code by pure serendipity, noting one instance where a developer who had left the company years previously had the code for a game still stored on his PC.

This news isn't altogether surprising, either. A few years ago, Matsuda told investors SE would be leveraging its classic IPs extensively in the future, and the company even made almost every FF soundtrack available for streaming recently as well. It certainly seems Square Enix is following through on its promises.

League of Legends Follows Auto Chess Trend with Teamfight Tactics Wed, 12 Jun 2019 14:47:12 -0400 Glitchieetv

Riot Games just unveiled a new game mode hitting the Public Beta Environment (PBE) later this month. Players can expect Teamfight Tactics to hit live servers in Patch 9.13, with features like ranked play estimated to be included in Patch 9.14.

Teamfight Tactics is the League of Legends version of Auto Chess, a strategic game revolving around the champions of League of Legends. Facing off against seven opponents, the goal is to be the last player standing. 

Each round starts off with players using gold to hire League Champions. They can then combine three of the same champion to form a super champion, as well as three of the same super champion to form an ultimate champion. Champions with the same origins or classes can unlock trait bonuses when put together on a team. 

Once a team is ready, the battle will begin. Each turn, players will decide where to move their champions, what spells or attacks to use, and what the best way to defeat the enemy is. Wise placement of champions is key to creating effective team compositions. 

When a round is won, gold with be awarded, which can be spent for future rounds.

Riot says that Special Events will occur as well. Only certain champions will be able to be selected in these events. Players will select their team in reverse order of their standing, giving underdogs more equal footing. 

Little Legends


A new game mode is not the only thing coming to the world of League of Legends. Unlockable after the first few games of Teamfight Tactics, Little Legends will be players' avatars in the game. Players can only unlock one Legend for free, with additional ones costing 750 RP.

The six species featured above will be available at launch, with more species and skins coming in later patches. On top of that, Rare LL Eggs can be purchased for 450 RP and include rare variants of the above species.

Just like Teamfight Tactics Champions, if players have a variant already and hatch another, it will level up the Legend. If players level up a Little Legend to Level 3, it will no longer drop from Rare LL Eggs. 

Little Legends will also be appearing in Howling Abyss, cheering on player's ARAM skills from the sidelines. 

A new Auto Chess, separate from Dota 2 Auto Chess, was revealed to be in development during the PC Gaming Show at E3 2019. 

Spec Ops Returns to Call of Duty Modern Warfare, New Information Revealed Wed, 12 Jun 2019 14:13:28 -0400 Jonathan Moore

As promised, Activision has released new information about the upcoming reboot of Call of Duty Modern Warfare.

At a short E3 panel, members of the Infinity Ward team revealed that the series' Spec Ops multiplayer mode would make a return in the upcoming FPS. They also shared new screens of the game's multiplayer mode, as well as insight into the game's narrative and design. 

Speaking with Geoff Keighley at the E3 Colesium, the panel first unveiled new images of Capt. Price, played by Barry Sloan, two player characters, Sergeant Kyle Garrick and CIA operative "Alex," and Commander Farah Kareem. 

Taylor Kurosaki, narrative director at Infinity Ward, said Modern Warfare is a  "reimagining" of the first game. Asked what the game means, he said: 

We've been working on this game for two and a half years now. When we started out, we asked ourselves a really simple question: we said the words "modern" and "warfare," what does that mean to us today? Kind of devoid of the games that preceded them. 

He said that the relevancy of the game hasn't diminished over the years, and many of its narrative beats still echo in the world today. He also said that the soft reboot would be inspired by the original and the games that followed, but wouldn't be "beholden" to them.

That means that Modern Warfare 2019 will be both nostalgic and, well, modern. However, it won't be as "bombastic" as some of its later titles, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

The conversation then moved to the multiplayer aspects of the game. While the developers couldn't share specific information, they provided a few new screenshots of the game's competitive element, one of which can be seen in the header image at the top of this article. 

Kurosaki expressed that while Spec Ops mode and the Juggernaut suit would make a return in Modern Warfare, multiplayer would be somewhat different this time around:

The important thing for MP is that this is a unified experience. These are not modes; this is not a modal game. When you're playing Modern Warfare, you're playing Modern Warfare. Whether you're playing SP or MP or Co-Op, you're playing in this same world.

Much more about the characters, narrative, and technology can be seen in the 24-minute video above. 

Special Ops mode was not in the original Modern Warfare. It first appeared in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, then again in Modern Warfare 3. 

Modern Warfare was announced in May. It will be coming to the PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 25. While Spec Ops will be returning to the title, the series' Zombies Mode will not.  

Wasteland 3 Due To Drop In Spring of 2020 as E3 Trailer Lands Wed, 12 Jun 2019 13:50:18 -0400 Ty Arthur

Wasteland 3, the follow-up to the crowd-funded resurrection of the classic '80s cRPG franchise released in 2014, is now officially due to hit consoles and PC in Spring of 2020. It will be published by Deep Silver.

Developed by InXile, Wasteland 3 will launch on PS4, Xbox One (including Xbox Game Pass), Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.

While the second game took place in dry, dusty sections of post-apocalyptic Arizona and California, this time around, the Rangers are headed to snowy Colorado for a variety of frozen badlands locales.

InXile Entertainment Studio Head Brian Fargo commented on the upcoming release:

Wasteland 3 is a passion project for inXile and especially me. I directed the first Wasteland in 1988 and its sequel was one of the original great crowdfunding successes, and it’s a series we care deeply about. Thanks to our partnership with Deep Silver and Microsoft, we’re able to deliver the kind of deep, immersive experience that Wasteland fans want and expect.

A new E3 trailer covering some of the changes in environment and combat (featuring the return of the lovable drunk Scotchmo) can be seen below.

Needless to say, the Rangers are expected to receive an "icy" reception from the local bandit gangs, and it seems like there will be more of the series trademark dark humor on display. 

The upcoming third Wasteland title is just the latest in a string of old franchises InXile has brought back from the dead in recent years, with the release of Torment: Tides Of Numenera in 2017 as well as last year's The Bards Tale IV: Barrows Deep.

While heavily focusing on players and crowdfunding old fan favorites in recent years, InXile just saw a major shift in operations and was acquired by Microsoft in November of 2018, alongside fellow cRPG developer Obsidian Entertainment.

Atari VCS Retro Console Pre-Orders Open — But It'll Cost You Wed, 12 Jun 2019 13:45:57 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

The Atari VCS, Atari's take on the latest version of the console wars — the mini-console wars — is finally up for pre-order, and it will cost players anywhere from $249 to $389.99.

The cost depends on the model. There's the Atari VCS 400, which has 4GB of RAM ($249), the VCS 800, which has 8GB of RAM ($279), and an All-In Bundle that comes with peripheral accessories and the VCS 800 ($389). All versions are expected to ship in early 2020.

Those who have followed the system's progress will no doubt realize this is a bit later than the original pre-order announcement promised and also a lot more expensive.

The price point may seem a bit steep, but there's a reason for that. Along with the 100+ classic Atari games like Centipede and Asteroids, the Atari VCS will be adding new games as time goes on.

It also has a host of modern and interactive features. These range from 4K support and an AMD Ryzen graphics card to a feature that lets users create their own TV apps and games to share with others and the wider Atari community; that wider Atari community is something the company hopes to create and sustain with the VCS connectivity options. The VCS will also let users stream web-based videos and games.

Despite the announcement that pre-orders are open, they aren't all open.

The only pre-order option on the Atari website right now is for the All-In Bundle, which includes the VCS 800 console, Classic Atari Joystick, and Atari Modern Controller. The Joystick retails separately for $49.99, and the Modern Controller goes for $59.99.

Walmart has the All-In Bundle and the VCS 800. GameStop has all three, though: the VCS 400, VCS 800, and the All-In Bundle.

Atari said it would provide more details throughout the rest of the year, though it certainly seems as if Atari is one step ahead of its old rival Intellivision in the mini-console wars.

Zombie Army 4: Dead War E3 2019 Preview — More Zombies Than You Can Snipe At Wed, 12 Jun 2019 10:45:02 -0400 Erroll Maas

Zombie Army 4: Dead War, the fourth installment in the zombie-centric Sniper Elite spin-off series, takes place in a world where Hitler revived an army of dead Nazis only to be defeated by a group of allied heroes. In this new installment, the dead have risen once again, and it's up to you to defeat them and make sure they stay dead for good.

For our E3 2019 preview, we played the first level of the campaign, which can be played alone or with up to three other players online. Before starting the level, you choose which character you want to play as and which melee attack you want them to have. Later on, you can also choose different types of weapons and perks.

I chose Sniper Elite protagonist Karl Fairburne as well as the machete attack, although the electric punch melee attack was very tempting.

The level starts off quiet, showing you where to go for your next objective as expected; taking the time to explore the level beforehand can be useful for the unfamiliar player, helping them determine the best spots to camp or defend, as well as stock up on items throughout the level.

Once I reached my objective, a train full of zombies crashed just outside, and it was time to use my set of tools to merc the undead.

At first, I used the sniper rifle and zoomed in on zombies walking in my direction, taking a more traditional Sniper Elite approach. But when I realized that may not be the best option for close-range fighting, I toggled the zoom off to see a more advantageous third-person perspective.

While the sniper rifle seems to be the default weapon, there are plenty of other weapons to find. I tried to mix things up by using the sniper, a nearby turret gun, and some incendiary grenades. Thanks to my previous exploration, I also knew that there were a few explosive containers around in case I needed to take out multiple zombies at once with a well-placed shot or tossed grenade.

Once the turret gun was out of ammo and zombies started to get to close to me, I started to use the machete melee attack, which managed to take out a decent number of zombies despite putting me at risk of losing some health. The brutal takedowns I was able to perform made up for it, though. 

While melee attacks are impressive, having to click the left analog stick to use them still feels strange, although I'm sure by the final release, controls will be able to be remapped.

Eventually, I was overwhelmed by the zombie horde and was crawling on the floor with only my pistol. I had the choice to give up, but there was still hope. To regain some of my health and get back up, all I had to do was kill a zombie. I was still taken down shortly after, but having the ability to revive myself was welcome.

After quickly repeating the first section, it was time to explore the train and check for any survivors. Once I went through the first car and got off through the second, more zombies started to appear. This time, because of so few explosive containers in the area, I used some incendiary grenades, which were able to kill multiple zombies in fiery glory.

I also started to utilize an electric (shocking) attachment for my sniper that connected damage to the zombies I shot to others close by, disposing of all of them in quick succession.

By this time, I had also charged my special shot, which was a more powerful and slightly explosive technique I could use once I had killed enough zombies, once again taking down several at once.

Of course, the X-Ray killcam is back in all of its glory. This time, you're getting up-close looks at putrified zombie organs. The killcam activates when you pull off a precise sniper shot, hit multiple zombies with a single sniper shot, or pull off a well-planned explosive kill. 

There's not much to say about the feature outside of that. If you've played the Sniper Elite series or one of the previous entries in the Zombie Army Trilogy, you know what to expect here. If not, the screenshot above tells you most of what you need to know. 

Being Nazis, some zombies had weapons like knives, saw, and even flamethrowers; many started to show up with guns of their own once I arrived at a later section of the level.

For those who prefer not to use a sniper rifle as their weapon of choice, killing these zombies is the best way to gain new weapons without exploring the rest of a level or section, although it's still best to do so when you have some downtime.

I swapped out my sniper for an assault rifle, and took down a few more zombies on the way to my next objective.

It was then revealed that I had to destroy a blood seal, a mark which raises the dead and in this case, also revives the zombies you've already killed. To prevent an endless respawn of zombies, I was told to kill the guard zombie, which was also the only way to get to the blood seal and destroy it.

Before I had the chance to, however, I was once again overwhelmed by the undead horde and my session was over.

Zombie Army 4: Dead War is for those who enjoy zombie games like World War Z and Left 4 Dead 2. It's also for those that like frenetic co-op experiences. The game also provides more of a story than other similar games for those who would like one, although it has serious characters in a campier world.

In the level I played, the music also felt much less intense than similar titles and more like something you would hear on a Halloween playlist or something in a game like Strange Brigade.

Overall, Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the co-op zombie shooter I never knew I wanted. With plenty of weapon and melee choices and some truly interesting mechanics, it's sure to make series fans happy while garnering new ones along the way

Zombie Army 4: Dead War is slated to release sometime in 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One. For those curious about the previous installments in the series, Zombie Army Trilogy is currently available for purchase on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.


Zombie Army 4: Dead War Gameplay Revealed at E3 2019 Tue, 11 Jun 2019 15:51:40 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Fresh off the heels of the game's official reveal during the PC Gaming Show at E3 2019, Rebellion has released the first gameplay footage of Zombie Army 4: Dead War

The game takes place directly after the events of Zombie Army Trilogy. Tim Jones, head of creative at Rebellion, and Ryan Baker, lead designer at Rebellion, showed off the game's first level, Milan. The nine-minute trailer is full of zombies, full of brains, and full of brand-new mechanics. 

As Zombie Army 4 starts out, players are on what Jones and Baker call "clean-up duty" from the chaos of the last three games. Series' staple Karl Fairburn makes an early appearance, showing off his wounds from his last encounter with the undead.

Of course, things don't stay calm and the dead come back with a vengeance and a purpose. 

The Biggest Changes Coming to Zombie Army 4

The gameplay trailer shows off a lot of new mechanics for Dead War. From paranormal weapon enhancements to unique special attacks and environmental traps, Jones and Baker quickly get to the good stuff. 

While our writer on the showroom floor met with Rebellion in person and has more info on his hands-on preview here, we do know that safe rooms and weapon upgrade kits will play a large part in Zombie Army 4.

Players can upgrade any of the weapons they're carrying, adding attachments like electrified barrels, and upgrading Tiers that can unlock new attacks. Some provide singular attacks while others provide AoE-type attacks. 

Jones and Baker said the biggest upgrades coming to Dead War are progression and upgrade paths for weapons, perks, and characters.  

Zombie Army 4: Dead War is slated for an "early 2020" release for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It will feature 4-player co-op.

As has seemingly become a recurring theme with many recently-announced PC games, the end of the trailer features the Epic Games logo. Dead War has not yet been named an exclusive to that store on PC. However, it could follow in the footsteps of Shenmue 3, which is currently facing backlash for ditching Steam at launch.