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Diablo 3 Begins New Seasonal Rewards, Quality Of Life Changes

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 13:11

Diablo 3 has kicked off its latest season, allowing you to earn new cosmetic items for fulfilling special seasonal objectives. The theme for this round is "The Season of Grandeur," and it also includes some quality-of-life changes and a buff for seasonal players. The season is estimated to last through March 17.

New cosmetic rewards include the Helm and Shoulder armor of the Conqueror Set. Players can also earn a new portrait frame and the Wings of Lempo, modeled after a monarch butterfly. Seasonal players will automatically get the Ring of Royal Grandeur buffs, which will make it easier to get set bonuses and to combine unique combinations.

Seasonal players can also gain a new Stash tab by taking on this season's challenges, and a set of seasonal conquests rewards you with bonuses as well. All those are detailed at the official blog. You can find the class sets listed below.

The blog also details some quality-of-life changes, such as removing Legendary potions from your inventory to free up some space. The biggest change comes to Primal Legendaries, which will shine specially beams and show a unique mini-map icon so players are sure to know when they drop. Their tooltip and border colors are also a bit brighter to make them stand out. Keep in mind you can't start collecting Primal Legendaries until you finish your first Greater Rift 70 or higher while playing Solo. A number of balance tweaks are also listed on the blog, and Blizzard calls this season a "numbers pass."

  • Barbarian – Immortal King’s Call
  • Crusader – Seeker of the Light
  • Demon Hunter – Natalya’s Vengeance
  • Monk – Uliana’s Stratagem
  • Necromancer – Trag’Oul’s Avatar
  • Witch Doctor – Spirit of Arachyr
  • Wizard – Vyr’s Amazing Arcana

Fortnite Ice Storm Event Beings After Mysterious Orb Has Opened

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 07:54

Shortly after the release of Fortnite's 7.20 update earlier this week, players noticed that a mysterious icy sphere had appeared in the game above Polar Peak, leading to speculation that it would somehow tie into the impending Season 8. As it would turn out, the sphere actually housed the Ice King, who has now emerged and blanketed the entire island with an ice storm, kicking off a new event.

During an in-game sequence that unfolded on Saturday, the mysterious sphere burst open, revealing the Ice King, who conjured up a blizzard that rolled over the island. Along with the storm arrived Ice Fiends, zombie-like monsters reminiscent of those that appeared during the Fortnitemares event back in October. You can watch a replay of the entire event below.

Full HD video of the Event. #Fortnite #FortniteNews pic.twitter.com/0Db7tAwErr

— UltimateFortniteNews (@LeaksUltimate) January 19, 2019

The Ice Storm event also brings a new set of challenges to complete. Over the course of the next several days, Epic will be rolling out new objectives. Clearing each will reward you with XP, and finishing six will unlock a black and ice blue wrap. Players who manage to finish all 13 of the Ice Storm challenges will also get a special reward: the Winter's Thorn Glider.

We'll be rounding up the full list of Ice Storm challenges as they're unveiled, so be sure to check back throughout the event. If you need help completing some of Fortnite's other challenges, we also have tips on those in our full Fortnite Season 7 challenge guide.

While the mystery of the ice sphere has seemingly been solved, a few other unusual objects were recently spotted in the game. The iceberg that was once near Happy Hamlet has been destroyed, revealing a mysterious bunker underneath. Players have also discovered strange, giant eggs within prison cells beneath Polar Peak's castle. What these signify is anyone's guess, but we likely won't have to wait too long to find out.

Fortnite Ice Storm Challenge Guide (Day 1): Destroy Ice Fiends, Damage Ice Legion

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 07:05

Epic Games has kicked off a new Fortnite world event that, along with changing the island where all the action takes places, introduces a new batch of challenges to complete. If you've been keeping a close eye on what's been happening in Fortnite you'll know that a mysterious orb appeared recently above Polar Peak. That orb has now opened, and from within it the Ice King has emerged.

His arrival has also buffeted the island with an Ice Storm, which has frozen it over. An icy mist has reduced visibility and, wouldn't you know it, strange zombie-like creatures called Ice Fiends have appeared. This is the second event of this type, the previous being Fortnitemares. New changes and enemies to take on means there's ample opportunity to throw in some fresh challenges for players, and that's exactly what Epic has done.

Over the next five days, new challenges will unlock in Fortnite, each one offering 500 experience points for completion. Once six Ice Storm challenges are completed, players will received a cool black and ice blue wrap. For those that manage to complete all 13 challenges, there's a Winter's Thorn Glider as a reward. Check out the challenges available on day one below.

Fortnite Ice Storm Challenges
  • Complete Ice Storm Challenges (6) -- Wrap Reward
  • Destroy Ice Fiends (250) -- 500 XP
  • Deal damage with explosive weapons to the Ice Legion (5000) -- 500 XP

The mysterious orb that housed the Ice King appeared as part of Fortnite's 7.20 update, which also brought back glider redeploy as an item you can collect and use. Additionally, it dropped a new gun into the mix: the Scoped Revolver.

The Ice Storm challenges should generally be fairly easy to complete, unlike their weekly counterparts, which take some legwork. We're now in Season 7, Week 7 of Fortnite, and one challenge for the week involves finding and visiting Expedition Outposts. We've put together a guide that will speed the whole process up, so you can see all the Expedition Outpost locations here. For the other difficult challenges from previous weeks, you can use our full Fortnite Season 7 challenge guide for help with those.

History Channel Has Lost Its Damned Mind With New Series Knight Fight, And We Love It

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 10:02

History Channel has ventured into the world of reality competition shows, and thus far, they've all been a lot of fun. Forged in Fire has weaponeers forging their own weapons. Knife or Death--hosted by WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg--puts bladesmith's weapons through a rigerous gauntlet to test its durability. And now, Knight Fight--hosted by WWE's Jay "Christian" Reso--has competitors in full armor fighting each other with actual weapons.

On the surface, the idea of armored warriors fighting each other is exceptionally appealing, until you start asking yourself, "How do they do this without killing each other?" According to one of the show's judges and host, Reso, it's all pretty safe. "Most of them are from a league called, The Armor Combat League," Reso told GameSpot. "And they do have their own armor that they feel comfortable in and they do have a tendency to lean towards certain weapons, like all the weapons that are used in the show itself, are blunted, but they're full size, scale, everything of the originals."

The show itself seems like a crazy idea, but even considering everything is about as safe as you can make it, Knight Fight is still a wild concept for a series. The first promo for the show, which you can see below, lean heavy towards non-stop action.

"It's got a little bit of everything in it," continued Reso. "Action and obviously, with the interviews and stuff that we do with the Knights themselves, the competitors. Their personalities shine through in that, of course you have different personalities and different sized of each competitor, which also makes it interesting."

While these real-life knights are beating the hell out of each other in battle, one thing Reso found compelling was how they treated each other after each round. "The thing was the camaraderie to me that the guys had. I mean, they're in there dealing out punishment and taking punishment, in between rounds they're kind of shouting over to one each other from across the ring asking, as in, 'Hey, good round?' or, 'You okay?' or things like that. The sportsmanship, the camaraderie is what kind of, like you said, the brutality of it and the action and how much each competitor wanted to win, but at the end of it, they were all shaking hands, patting each other on the back and making sure they were all right."

The winners will combat each other every week until there's only one knight standing for the season finale, and they'll go home with $10,000 and a championship belt. You can watch the madness unfold for yourself when Knight Fight comes to History Channel on Wednesday, January 23 at 10 PM ET / PT.

Three Xbox One Games Are Free To Play This Weekend

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 10:00

If you're looking for something new to play on Xbox One--and you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription--then you're in luck. As part of its next Free Play Days promotion, Microsoft is giving Gold members a chance to try out three titles at no charge this weekend.

From now through January 20, Gold subscribers can download and play Override: Mech City Brawl, Metro 2033 Redux, and Metro: Last Light Redux for free. You'll have full access to each throughout the trial period, and you can keep your Gamerscore and any achievements you earn if you decide to pick the titles up after the free weekend ends.

To jump into the games, simply download them from the Gold member area on your Xbox One's dashboard. Each is also discounted as part of this week's Xbox One game sale, so you can pick them up for cheap if you're interested in continuing your adventures. The sale prices will be available through January 21.

Microsoft regularly offers free weekends for select games through its Free Play Days promotion. Last weekend, Xbox Live Gold members could download and play Halo 5: Guardians at no charge. Subscriptions cost $10 for one month, $25 for three months, and $60 for one year.

The free play weekend is a good opportunity to revisit Metro 2033 and Last Light, as the next installment in the series, Metro Exodus, is set to launch on February 15--a week earlier than originally scheduled. Unlike its predecessors, Exodus features some large, sandbox-like environments, although we thought the game feels best when it sticks to its roots.

Toy Story 3 & Coco Director Leaves Pixar After 25 Years For "New Adventures"

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 09:49

A major change is happening at Pixar. Lee Unkrich, the longtime creative team member that directed films like Coco and Toy Story 2, has announced his departure from the animation studio. The news was shared in a simple tweet, reading, "After twenty-five incredible years, I've decided to leave Pixar. The time has come for new adventures."

While he doesn't specify what those adventures are, it seems his plan is not to jump to another studio. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Unkrich explained, "I'm not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered."

After twenty-five incredible years, I’ve decided to leave Pixar.

The time has come for new adventures. pic.twitter.com/0KZyHXhs8L

— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) January 18, 2019

He leaves the company with no further projects in the pipeline, though he is one of those responsible for the story of the upcoming Toy Story 4. His departure comes at an interesting time for Pixar, shortly after the news that former boss John Lasseter--who was ousted from the company in 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct--was named head of Skydance Animation.

Unkrich started at Pixar in 1994 as the company was working on the original Toy Story, a movie in which he served as editor. From there he was involved in a number of titles for the company, including co-directing Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. His most recent film for the studio, Coco, won Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Where Unkrich goes from here may be a mystery, but those at Disney and Pixar aren't holding back their well-wishes for the animator. "Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he's had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting," Pixar's chief creative officer Pete Docter told THR. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn added, "Lee has left an indelible mark on the world of film, and we are so grateful for the passion and talent he has brought to each movie he has worked on. He'll always be part of the Disney-Pixar family, and we will miss him."

A Bloodbath Erupts In New Catherine Remaster Trailer

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 08:55

Atlus has released a new trailer for Catherine: Full Body. The trailer depicts some of the more graphic scenes from the game.

The new Catherine: Full Body trailer was put together in a joint partnership between Atlus and Japanese pop-rock band Sekai No Owari, according to Game Informer. The video features one of the band's songs, titled Re:set. Beginning with remastered scenes from the original Catherine, the trailer eventually starts showcasing some of the new cutscenes included in Full Body.

The trailer itself is still in Japanese, and hasn't been translated with subtitles yet. However, based on this trailer, it looks like the inclusion of Rin--a new love interest vying for the attention of protagonist Vincent against the titular Catherine and Katherine--is going to create new outcomes to certain plot points that were not seen in the original game's story.

Rin isn't the only new addition to Full Body in comparison to the original Catherine. Atlus has announced the game will have a Safety mode, which, according to Gematsu, will allow you "to skip stages you have not cleared with the press of a button, and solely enjoy the event scenes." Full Body will also feature online battles and new difficulty levels as well. Although Atlus has not confirmed DLC for Full Body outside of Japan, Gematsu did notice that the Japanese version of the game is getting some. If the same expansions launch in North America and Europe, we can expect plenty of bundles that include different voices for Catherine, with each one performed by a different actress.

Catherine: Full Body is releasing for PS4 and PS Vita in Japan on February 14. The game has been confirmed to launch in both North America and Europe for PS4, but an official release date has not been announced.

When the original Catherine released in 2011, we gave it an 8.5/10 in our review, describing the game as a "story-heavy puzzler" that is "mature and occasionally profound" in its exploration of "sexual fidelity, personal responsibility, and trust." Originally only available on consoles, Catherine was ported to PC in January 2019.

Pokemon Go Limited Research Event (Tomorrow Only): Start Time, Research Rewards, And More

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 08:00

Niantic is kicking off a new type of event in Pokemon Go this weekend. On Saturday, January 19, the studio is holding the game's first-ever Limited Research event, which will feature special Field Research tasks--and an opportunity to catch a new Shiny Pokemon--for a limited time.

Much like Pokemon Go's monthly Community Days, the Limited Research event will only run for three hours. During that window of time, you'll be able to receive special Limited Research tasks when you spin the Photo Disc at a PokeStop. These tasks can be completed at any time after you've obtained them, but they'll only be distributed during the event hours, and you'll only get one from each PokeStop you visit.

Every Limited Research task will culminate in an encounter with Feebas, the first form of the majestic Water Pokemon Milotic. Additionally, Niantic says you'll have a chance of coming across a Shiny Feebas, making this the first time this particular Shiny will be available in the game. You can find the event hours for each region below.

On top of the Limited Research event, Niantic is holding a big Hoenn celebration in Pokemon Go right now. Until January 29, Gen 3 Pokemon will appear much more frequently in the wild. Moreover, you'll have a chance of catching Shiny variants of Zigzagoon and Taillow, while any Shroomish you evolve into Breloom will learn the move Grass Knot.

The Gen 3 Legendaries Groudon and Kyogre have also returned as part of the Hoenn celebration, giving you another chance to add them to your collection. There are new Field Research tasks revolving around Gen 3 Pokemon as well, and new avatar items based on Team Aqua and Team Magma--the villainous teams from Ruby and Sapphire--are available in the game's Style Shop.

Pokemon Go Limited Research Event Schedule

The Americas and Greenland

  • 11 AM - 2 PM PT
  • 2 PM - 5 PM ET

Europe, Middle East, and Africa

  • 10 AM - 1 PM UTC

Asia-Pacific

  • 12 PM - 3 PM JST (January 20)

"GameStop Holiday Sales Were Down, But It's Not All Bad News Today

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 06:53

GameStop reported its sales results for the 2018 holiday season, which showed the company suffering decreases to many of its top revenue generators. Hardware, software, and pre-owned sales all decreased in the 2018 season, whereas accessories and digital currency grew.

The total global sales for holiday 2018 were $2.63 billion, which was a 5% decrease compared to the 2017 holiday period. But that compares the nine weeks ending January 5, 2019 to the nine weeks ending December 30, 2017, which the store notes isn't a comparable sales period. By shifting the sales periods to end on January 5 and January 6, respectively, total store sales increased 1.5%. That includes a 3.6% increase in the US that helped offset a 3.1% decrease internationally.

The company also broke down several types of revenue for comparison. New hardware sales were down 6.1%, due to the Xbox One X launch in 2017. It says this was partially offset by the growth in Nintendo Switch sales. New software decreased 8.3%, due mostly to Black Ops 4 launching outside of the holiday window in October 2018, versus Call of Duty WW2 in November 2017. Its pre-owned sales declined 16.4%. Technology brands sales were not included in the comparable store sale measure, but decreased 19.3% due to a decrease in store traffic.

Some revenue streams did grow, however. Accessories grew 28.7% based on controller and headset sales, whereas collectibles increased 3.7%, and digital receipts (such as digital currency) increased 16.8%.

Despite the mixed news, GameStop sales were up today, rising 1.01% to $15.93. At one point it even hit its highest figures since September. This all comes amid reports that GameStop could be up for sale itself, as two private equity companies seem interested in the purchase. That deal may reportedly be finalized by mid-February.

New Power Rangers Fighting Game Trailer Confirms Mighty Morphin' Green Is Still The Best

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 06:45

A new Power Rangers fighting game, titled Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, has been announced. Despite featuring characters from the mobile game, Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, Battle for the Grid is a brand-new title that's been designed with consoles in mind.

According to a tweet from the official Battle for the Grid Twitter account, the game will "feature a completely brand new battle mechanic" in comparison to Legacy Wars, as well as "different movesets" for each fighter. Hasbro creative director Jason Bischoff tweeted that Battle for the Grid would include both a story mode and online PvP, DLC content, and both cross-play and cross-progression across systems. He added that, unlike Legacy Wars, Battle for the Grid would not be free-to-play.

An announcement trailer for Battle for the Grid teases what combat in the new game looks like. On Battle for the Grid's official website, combat is described as being "easy to learn but hard to master" with the challenge coming from knowing "when to strike, not how."

Battle for the Grid features heroes and villains from throughout the Power Ranger franchise's years of TV shows, movies, and comics. The announcement trailer sees Mighty Morphin' Green Ranger v2, who's still the best version of Tommy Oliver, taking on both Mighty Morphin' Red Ranger and Super Megaforce Yellow Ranger. Battle for the Grid's website also confirms Lord Drakkon--an alternate universe version of Mighty Morphin' Tommy Oliver who went on to become an evil Green/White Ranger hybrid that desires to destroy every Ranger across the multiverse--will be in the game as well. According to the game's website, there are 11 more characters scheduled for the game, but their identities have not been revealed.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is scheduled to release for Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and PC in April 2019. If you pre-order the game, you'll receive the Mighty Morphin' Green Ranger v2 character skin.

PS4 Flash Sale Happening Now On US PlayStation Store

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 05:45

This week's PSN sale may be fairly underwhelming, but those aren't the only deals to be had on the PlayStation Store right now. Sony has kicked off a surprise PSN flash sale in the US, offering discounts on a ton of great titles for PS4, PS3, and Vita. But you'll need to hurry, as the deals won't be available for very long.

From now until January 21, more than 200 PS4 games are on sale for $20 or less. That includes the acclaimed platformer Hollow Knight, which is available for $9.89. Also on sale is Tearaway Unfolded, the PS4 port of LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule's Vita platformer; it can be yours for $10. Meanwhile, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition and LA Noire are down to $20 apiece, and Just Cause 3 is $8.

If you've got a soft spot for classic titles, you can pick up Dragon's Lair Trilogy for $10. The fast-paced frisbee game Windjammers is also on sale for $7.49, while Rockstar's first western, Red Dead Revolver, is discounted to $9. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, a great remake of the classic Sega Master System game, is $10, and the arcadey Super Mega Baseball 2 is $12.

Other notable deals include Life Is Strange - Complete Season ($6), Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition ($10), Floor Kids ($12), Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris ($6), and Life Is Strange: Before the Storm - Complete Season ($6.79). You can see some other PS4 deals below.

The PSN flash sale is scheduled to end at 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET on January 21. The full list of deals can be found on the PlayStation Store and the PlayStation Blog.

New The Division 2 PvP Details Announced, Including How The Dark Zones Work

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 05:40

Ubisoft has announced how PvP play will look in The Division 2. There will be two forms of PvP multiplayer in the game--the first of which takes place in the game's Dark Zones.

Similar to its predecessor's Dark Zone, The Division 2's three Dark Zones--of which there is an east, south, and west--are PvEvP areas where you can choose to take action against other players. In a blog post, Ubisoft explained how it has changed the way players will perceive you if you perform aggressive actions against others. There are three statuses you can hold if you attack other players in one of the Dark Zones.

If you're mostly performing aggressive, yet relatively harmless actions--such as stealing from other players or hijacking a supply drop--you'll be labeled as a Rogue. As a Rogue, you can enter Thieves Den, which operates as a black market that randomly moves around the Dark Zones. Exiting the Den returns you to your normal state, but killing a player while Rogue will cause you to become Disavowed.

Being Disavowed paints a target on your back. Any other player that kills you earns a bounty, so you'll have to be careful while exploring the Dark Zones. If you kill enough players, you'll be upgraded to Manhunt status. You'll still have to contend with bounty hunters while at Manhunt status, but you'll be able unlock huge rewards if you can reach one of the three random SHD terminals and clear your notoriety.

The Division 2's second form of PvP play is a more traditional, organized multiplayer called Conflict. Conflict is split into two modes, Skirmish and Domination. Skirmish is team deathmatch, while Domination is focused on capturing objectives and defending them from the other team. Ubisoft has announced three maps for both modes will launch with the game: Capital Ruins, Stadium, and Georgetown.

The Division 2 releases for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on March 15. The PC version of the game, previously scheduled for Steam, will now come out exclusively on the Epic Games Store. If you want to try out the game before deciding whether or not to buy it, there's a beta scheduled for all three systems that launches next month.

Alita: Battle Angel's Passport To Iron City Is The Type Of Interactive Experience We Need More Of

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 04:12

Alita: Battle Angel won't be in theaters until February 14. However, some cities are getting a taste of the upcoming manga adaptation early, thanks to a new interactive experience. Alita: Battle Angel - Passport to Iron City opens on January 23 in Los Angeles, with an installation in New York City following on January 25 and Austin on January 29.

Interactive experiences tied to movies are nothing new, whether it's the opening of Neibolt haunted house to promote the horror movie It or the Ready Player One event that sent visitors into the OASIS. After having the opportunity to try out the LA experience ahead of its opening, though, I can say with confidence that Passport to Iron City is unlike just about anything else.

The experience is a collaboration between iam8bit and TSG Entertainment, along with 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment, that transports users from their world to Iron City, the cyberpunk city of the future in which the film is set. And right from the start, as writer and producer James Cameron explains, the entire 12,000 square foot space works hard to immerse you in the world of the film, starting with a stop at the Kansas Bar, which has been meticulously recreated to resemble the actual set used in production.

The bar actually serves wine and beer--including city-specific brews that are exclusive to the experience--for a fee. While the drinks, which include non-alcoholic options, aren't free, they do help in setting the tone that Kansas is an in-world pub you're free to hang out in. Like Iron City itself, Kansas is filled with actors playing characters and hints in the decor that could be very useful upon setting foot in Iron City, the proverbial "game board" of the experience, which is filled with elaborate sets and characters that are fun to interact with and filled with useful clues if you get them talking.

Once you're in Iron City, that's where the fun begins. Upon arrival, you're divided into teams that are competing to collect the most credits. The team that stands tall at the end--in the preview, it was my team--walks away with a special coin created for Passport to Iron City, which claims to be worth 1,000 credits.

How do you win credits, though? Great question.

The bulk of Passport to Iron City involves a series of team-based activities and scavenger hunts, each of which is worth a specified number of credits. They range from something as simple as piecing together a puzzle containing propaganda critical of the Factory--the in-world government--to digging through a tech scrapyard to find the highest-value items in an activity that includes some elements of an escape room.

What makes Passport to Iron City work, in this regard, is the challenges are all different enough that they appeal to different strengths. While one of the activities is based on how good your sense of smell is, another finds you tracking criminals on the loose in Iron City with the Factory's surveillance equipment.

Of course, you could just wander around the experience, admiring what's been built. Good luck with that, though, as Passport to Iron City has figured out how to turn the entire thing into a very competitive affair. Near the entrance of the experience is a scoreboard, which keeps real-time track of the credits earned by each team. I definitely didn't expect to find myself rushing around the play area trying to solve riddles and decipher words in other languages. After realizing that my team's score depended on it, though, it was hard not to get wrapped up in what was happening. Even as the experience came to a close with one final challenge involving all teams, everyone was shouting at and cheering on a game of motorball--Iron City's favorite pastime--as if we were watching a real sporting event unfold.

That all said, even those with no knowledge of Alita: Battle Angel--the movie or the manga it's based on--aren't going to be left out of the action. I know practically nothing about the franchise, but managed to easily figure out enough to operate within the experience. Still, fans of Alita will be able to pick up on small details scattered throughout the experience and may even have a bit of a leg-up in some of the challenges.

It's simply a fun and engaging experience set that draws you further into the world of the movie. I had very little interest in the film before visiting Passport to Iron City. Now I feel like I know the world a bit better and am curious to see how it unfolds on the big screen, even if I'm still unclear about how all of the cyborgs fit in.

What's more, I want to see other films take this approach to promotions. Yes, trailers and TV spots are still a useful tactic for many films, but as major blockbusters dive deeper and deeper into their world-building, why not take the audience into that world and let them explore pieces of it on their own?

Alita: Battle Angel - Passport to Iron City opens in Los Angeles on January 23, with New York and Austin locations following soon thereafter, with no announced end date. You can find out far more information and purchase tickets to the experience on the official website.

Where Is Xur? Destiny 2 Location And Exotic Weapons And Armor Guide (Jan. 18-22)

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 03:36

The Iron Banner is in full swing and the final Forge of The Black Armory has been unlocked, so there's plenty to do in Destiny 2 this week. As always, the weekend also means that Xur ventures back into the solar system, ready to sell to Guardians from his batch of Year One Exotic weapons and armor. If you're still chasing Izanagi's Burden and have to wait three more weeks to complete the Dreaming City's Shattered Throne, Xur's offerings might tide you over.

You'll find Xur on Io this week. Head to the Giant's Scar region, then ride your sparrow north to look for a cave in the northwest wall of the area. As is always the case, he's offering three pieces of Exotic armor, one for each class, and an Exotic weapon. While all copies of Exotic guns are identical, it's worth checking out Xur's armor: Each piece of Exotic armor gets random perk roles, which means you might be able to buy a more useful version of something you already have.

This week's Exotic weapon is Vigilance Wing, an Exotic pulse rifle that packs a punch. Instead of the usual three-round burst of weapons in the pulse rifle class, Vigilance Wing fires five rounds with each pull of the trigger. It also gets more accurate when you're the last living person on your fireteam, which includes amping up your recovery time to make you a little more likely to survive--which makes it great for Crucible.

In the armor department, Hunters can snag the Orpheus Rig boots, which give you more shots in the Moebius Quiver version of the Shadowshot super, and gives you back ability energy for each enemy you tether with your Shadowshot arrows. For Warlocks, it's the Varity's Brow helmet, which is great if you have an energy weapon you particularly like. The helmet restores grenade energy for each energy weapon kill you make, for nearby allies as well as yourself. Finally, Titans get Hallowfire Heart, a chest armor piece that amps up the recharge rate of your solar abilities, especially when your Super is active.

Here are all the Exotics Xur offers this week and what they'll cost you:

  • Vigilance Wing (Exotic pulse rifle) -- 29 Legendary Shards
  • Hallowfire Heart (Exotic Titan chest armor) -- 23 Legendary Shards
  • Orpheus Rig (Exotic Hunter leg armor) -- 23 Legendary Shards
  • Verity's Brow (Exotic Warlock helmet) -- 23 Legendary Shards

You can also buy a Fated Engram, if you can afford it. Dropping 97 Legendary Shards on the item will grant you one Year One Exotic you don't already have for that character. Xur also offers the Five of Swords challenge card for free, which allows you to add difficulty modifiers that increase your score in Nightfall runs.

The Iron Banner this weekend also means you have something to do while we wait on the next big event of Destiny 2's ongoing content rollout. That's another Exotic weapon quest, known as The Draw, which drops on January 29. If you're hungry for even more Exotics, check out our guide for hunting down Jotunn, one of The Black Armory's best.

Unlocking Kingdom Hearts: A Story Recap

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 03:01

Few game series carry such a reputation for obtuse and puzzling storylines as Kingdom Hearts. The series that began as an ambitious crossover project has produced a complex interwoven mythology. Compounding the difficulty is the series' tendency to add supplemental scenes out of sequence, and for several characters to appear in multiple distinct ways.

To help you navigate the convoluted tangle that is the Kingdom Hearts story, we’ve compiled this simple primer that will get you up to speed ahead of Kingdom Hearts 3's release on January 29.

Table of Contents [hide]Kingdom Hearts 3: The Basic Gist

Right now you’re likely interested in the most important information you need to understand what’s happening when you begin playing Kingdom Hearts 3.

As of the start of Kingdom Hearts 3, the Keyblade Master Xehanort has been reconstituted and plans to start a war that will force the warriors of light and darkness against each other. He hopes that, in doing this, he will reforge the original Keyblade, which will give him power over Kingdom Hearts, the source of all light and darkness. He needs seven beings of light--people who are pure of heart--to clash with his own thirteen beings of darkness to make this prophetic war happen, and previously he’s attempted to do it by kidnapping seven Princesses of Heart--these are the recognizable Disney characters Alice, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle, Cinderella, and Aurora, along with Kairi, a princess created by Square Enix for the series. Now that the heroes have caught wise to Xehanort’s plans, however, it’s much more likely that they themselves will be the seven beings of light--presumably hoping that if this plan does result in a reforged Keyblade, they’ll be there to stop him from using it.

To that end, we probably already know the identities of the seven Guardians of Light: Sora, Riku, and Mickey Mouse from the numbered games, along with Ventus, Aqua, and Terra from the prequel games. Many of them are in different states of distress: Sora’s power is diminished, Aqua and Ventus are both hidden away, and Terra’s body was possessed by Xehanort, while his soul lives on. The heroes’ story in Kingdom Hearts 3 will very likely involve marshalling the forces of light. It has been strongly suggested that Kairi, Sora and Riku’s childhood friend, will be the seventh Guardian of Light.

While all this is happening, of course, Xehanort will be gathering his own forces. He needs all of his Organization XIII in place to serve as the agents of darkness for the battle to take place. His initial plan fell apart, and his new plan is to gather versions of himself from across time to fill the roles.

With that, you know all you absolutely need to in order to begin playing Kingdom Hearts. If you want more detail, to fully understand all the background and how the characters reached this point, read on.

Chronological Story Summary

In sum, the story of Kingdom Hearts can be confounding for a few reasons. One of the largest factors is that the story itself has been told wildly out of sequence, with games released representing various points in the timeline, and even extra story sequences in special editions adding other pieces of plot in a completely different time. Telling the entire story chronologically helps clear up this layer of the confusion.

The Prophecy and the Dandelions

In the earliest point of the timeline, the world was pure. In this time we only know of seven named characters: the original Keyblade wielders. These were a band of six apprentices following the tutelage of the Master of Masters. Together they protected the source of all light and wisdom in the universe, Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts existed in a symbiotic relationship with the legendary weapon, the original Keyblade (commonly referred to in the series as the χ-blade). All Keyblades in the series are modeled after this original weapon, but none of them can unlock Kingdom Hearts like it can.

After warning of a prophecy that a cataclysm would destroy the world, the Master of Masters vanished and left his apprentices to form Unions, with their own Keyblade pupils and distinct tasks to perform. These assignments were ostensibly meant to protect the world, but it actually sowed distrust and pitted them against each other. The resulting Keyblade War killed nearly all the Keyblade wielders, and in the process, shattered the χ-blade into 20 pieces: seven pieces of pure light and thirteen of pure darkness. Without the χ-blade to protect it, Kingdom Hearts disappeared.

All Keyblades in the series are modeled after the legendary original Keyblade, but none of them can unlock Kingdom Hearts like it can.

The site of the great battle became the Keyblade Graveyard, a sprawling area filled with the Keyblades of fallen warriors. But they weren’t entirely gone. One disciple named Ava had secretly assembled and trained a new team of Keyblade wielders, with explicit instructions to escape rather than take part in the battle. This group was called the Dandelions.

The intentions of the Master of Masters are left ambiguous in all of this. He appears to have intentionally engineered the Keyblade War, but he also instructed Ava on the plans to organize the Dandelions and escape. This new class of Keyblade Masters would be the only ones left to remember the perfect world as it was, and created Union χ to work together to protect the light.

As time passed and only a select few remembered the world as it was, the Keyblade War became the stuff of legends, and people began building their own Keyblades in an attempt to tap the legendary power of Kingdom Hearts.

TL;DR Summary: In ancient times, a group of guardians were manipulated into fighting among themselves, and in the process of the battle the original Keyblade was shattered and Kingdom Hearts vanished. But a few had secret instructions to escape the battle, and started anew.

The Rise of Xehanort

Xehanort was a resident of Destiny Islands, just like our eventual protagonists, and he set off on his own to become a Keyblade Master. In his research, he concluded that the war had left the world unbalanced in favor of light. In order to rebalance the world, he attempted to begin a new Keyblade War, so that light and darkness would clash and forge the χ-blade.

Meanwhile, three other Keyblade wielders were undergoing training of their own. Terra, Aqua, and Ventus were learning under Master Eraqus. In secret, Xehanort was already manipulating them. He encouraged Terra to embrace the darkness, and he likewise used the darkness in Ventus to create his own apprentice, Vanitas. Then Terra and Aqua, as the older trainees, took the Mark of Mastery exam together, and Terra was rejected due to the darkness in his heart.

When creatures called the Unversed started to attack various worlds, Master Xehanort vanished. Terra was sent to find him and to defeat the Unversed. Ventus had an encounter with his dark counterpart Vanitas, not realizing his origins, and was convinced to follow Terra as well. Eraqus sent Aqua to watch after both of them and to bring Ventus back safely.

While on his mission, Terra fell in with a dark crowd of Disney villains, who offered to trade information on Xehanort for helping them with their own schemes. Terra rationalized this as necessary to complete his mission, and tried to act as a double agent still on the side of good. He fed Aqua information about Xehanort’s plan to kidnap the seven Princesses of Heart, and tried (but failed) to help Aqua convince Ventus to go home.

During this sequence of events, the trio briefly met with the younger versions of the eventual protagonists of the numbered Kingdom Hearts games: first helping Kairi strengthen the light in her heart, and then seeing potential in Sora and Riku. At this point Sora created a strong bond with Ventus, which becomes important later in the story.

Ventus found Xehanort, and learned of his plans to use Ventus’s own heart to create the χ-blade. He claimed that Eraqus had known this all along, so Ventus went to confront his Master. Through a series of misunderstandings, Terra attacked Eraqus to protect Ventus, then realized his error too late. Xehanort killed Eraqus, and encouraged all three to go to the Keyblade Graveyard.

At that final confrontation, he explained his plan to the three and then badly injured Aqua and Ventus. The resulting rage from Terra opened his heart to darkness, allowing Xehanort to take control and use his body as a new vessel, referred to as Terra-Xehanort. Terra’s mind transferred to his suit of armor and battled against Terra-Xehanort, defeating him. But meanwhile, Vanitas merged with Ventus to create the χ-blade. Aqua destroyed the χ-blade while Ventus’ will did battle with Vanitas’ will in their body, and the resulting burst of energy sent all involved scattered to different locations.

The heroes became separated, with Ventus rendered unconscious and unable to wake up until his heart returns. Aqua made sure he was safe inside a special chamber for the time being. She then went to confront Terra-Xehanort again, but an attempt to unlock his heart erased his memories and drew him towards the Realm of Darkness. Aqua sacrificed herself to save Terra-Xehanort and fell into darkness herself. Ventus’ heart found its way to Sora and took refuge inside of him.

TL;DR Summary: Years later, the nature of Keyblades and Kingdom Hearts is the realm of scholars and researchers. A Keyblade Master and researcher named Xehanort had plans to reforge the χ-blade and use it to rebalance the world. In the process of enacting his plan, he took over the body of a young apprentice named Terra and in the process, Xehanort lost his memories. The apprentice’s friends, Aqua and Ventus, were left worse for wear: Aqua was lost in the Realm of Darkness, and Ventus was rendered unconscious after being separated from his heart. His heart found a new home in a young boy named Sora, who he had forged a bond with previously.

Xehanort and Organization XIII

In a new body and lacking his old memories, Xehanort was discovered by a benevolent ruler named Ansem the Wise, who was conducting research into the nature of darkness. Ansem took Xehanort under his wing while conducting his experiments, but as Xehanort slowly regained his memories, he began his own experiments in secret, and kept records of the research posing under the king’s name. Ansem ultimately shut down his research, deeming it too dangerous, but Xehanort led a rebellion of the other darkness-obsessed researchers and banished Ansem the Wise into the Realm of Darkness.

At this point in the story, the nature of Xehanort’s corporeal form becomes complicated. He had fully regained his memories, but he was still in the body of Terra. So he gave his own heart over to the darkness completely, creating two distinct identities: his Heartless form, called Ansem, and his Nobody form, called Xemnas. Ansem appeared as a dark form of the wise king, while Xemnas looked like a dark form of Terra.

It’s crucial to understand that a Heartless and Nobody are complimentary pieces of one whole being. A Heartless is a heart that has given itself over completely to the darkness, while a Nobody is a body that has lost its heart. Therefore, when someone gives their heart to the darkness, their heart becomes a Heartless, and their body becomes a Nobody. These often appear as monsters, but particularly strong-willed individuals can have their Heartless and Nobody forms develop their own distinct personalities, as in the case of Xehanort.

At this point in the story, the nature of Xehanort’s corporeal form becomes complicated. He created two distinct identities: Ansem and Xemnas.

These two distinct identities would later exercise their own unique plans to take control of Kingdom Hearts, which laid the groundwork for the two core games. Ansem struck an alliance with the villain Maleficent to gather hearts of pure light. Meanwhile, Xemnas founded Organization XIII and filled its membership with the Nobodies created when the other researchers gave their own hearts to darkness.

Xemnas intended for these members to hold pieces of his own dark heart, to serve as his thirteen agents of pure darkness. To complicate matters further, though, Ansem sensed that Xemnas’ new apprentices would develop their own personalities and wouldn’t be accessible as vessels. So, he traveled backward through time and taught a young Xehanort the secrets of time travel, so that he could use it to gather different incarnations of himself to fill any necessary spots in the XIII. The young Xehanort wasn’t left with specific memories of the encounter, but retained the skills.

TL;DR Summary: Xehanort split himself into two beings: Ansem, a Heartless modeled after the benevolent king who had helped him recover his memories; and Xemnas, his Nobody. Both personalities began undertaking their own actions, including the forming Organization XIII from the Nobodies of researchers who had lost their hearts--and learning the secret to time travel so that he could fill out the organization’s ranks with versions of himself from different time periods as a backup plan.

The Quests of Sora and King Mickey

Finally the story has reached the core numbered games, which introduced the main protagonists and plot threads that will be developed and resolved in Kingdom Hearts 3. And it all starts, simply enough, with a few friends living on Destiny Islands: Sora, Riku, and Kairi.

Sora, the primary protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series, began experiencing strange events--first a disturbing dream, then an encounter with a hooded figure. When the island was attacked by Heartless, Sora lost his friends, who had been scattered to various lands. Meanwhile, King Mickey Mouse left his kingdom to look into the darkness that was encroaching on the world, and instructed Donald Duck and Goofy to find a special key. Sora, Donald, and Goofy all met in Traverse Town, and resolved to travel together to find their friends.

Maleficent and a cast of other recognizable Disney villains were seeking seven Princesses of Heart to unlock a door to Kingdom Hearts. She recruited Riku by promising to help him find Kairi, and turned him against Sora. When Riku eventually did find Kairi, her heart was gone. Sora eventually confronted Riku, and the two argued over who was the proper wielder of the Keyblade. Riku was chastened, but his shame over the ordeal only drove him further toward the darkness. He encountered the dark Ansem and allowed his heart to be possessed.

With this newfound power, the possessed Riku revealed important parts of his plan. He told Sora that Kairi was the final Princess of Heart, and that her catatonic state was rendered when her heart transferred inside Sora during the attack on their home. To save Kairi, Sora released his own heart with Kairi’s inside of it, and temporarily turned into a Heartless. When Kairi’s heart returned and she regained consciousness, she used the strength of her own heart to turn Sora back into a human.

In a dramatic final confrontation, Sora, Donald, and Goofy faced Ansem. He explained his master plan to claim the power of Kingdom Hearts. He believed Kingdom Hearts was a dark power, and so when he was defeated in battle, he attempted to tap into its power to help him defeat the heroes. But in a final irony, the door Ansem had worked so hard to open finally unlocked and revealed the power of Kingdom Hearts was actually light, and it destroyed the dark Ansem.

Inside the door, King Mickey and Riku emerged and began to help Sora close the door. But the area was becoming overrun with Heartless, so Mickey and Riku remained inside to help seal it. Mickey and Sora worked together with their Keyblades to seal the door. At this point, Riku and King Mickey were lost, and Kairi was transported back to Destiny Island. Sora, Donald, and Goofy set out on a quest to find their friends again, chasing after Mickey’s dog Pluto.

In a brief epilogue, Riku confronted a previously unseen character, later revealed to be Roxas from Kingdom Hearts 2.

TL;DR Summary: A young boy named Sora teamed up with Donald and Goofy from King Mickey’s kingdom and embarked on a shared quest to find their friends. In the process they learned about the nature of the Heartless--and Sora became one himself for a short time. They all banded together to save Sora’s friends Kairi and Riku, and eventually confronted and destroyed the dark Ansem. But they were separated in the ensuing chaos, and so the quest to reunite started anew.

The Bridge Between Hearts

Between the events of the first and second numbered Kingdom Hearts games, a supplemental story took place--partially overlapping with both. These events, as depicted in Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days are mostly table-setting for Kingdom Hearts 2, though they also start to establish important secondary characters.

Simultaneous to some of the events in the original Kingdom Hearts, we have the story of Roxas--the Nobody created when Sora briefly became a Heartless. Because of the piece of Ventus in Sora’s heart, Roxas looks identical to Ventus. Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, found Roxas and dubbed him the thirteenth member of the cabal. He apprenticed under Axel, and went on missions to defeat Heartless in hopes of eventually summoning Kingdom Hearts so they could become whole people. Shortly after, Organization XIII received a fourteenth member, named Xion, whose physical appearance was different for each member of the Organization, almost as if she had a shapeshifting qualities. Axel and several other members were assigned to oversee a mission at Castle Oblivion.

After following Pluto down a path, Sora, Donald, and Goofy found themselves in Castle Oblivion. This area had them relive distorted versions of their memories, while slowly erasing the original memories. As they progressed through the castle, they discovered Namine, a Nobody created from Kairi’s heart when Sora returned it to her body. Namine planned to take Kairi’s place in Sora’s heart by replacing his memories. All of this was being done at the direction of Organization XIII, which wanted to trick Sora into becoming loyal to them. In the process, Sora encountered several members of Organization XIII for the first time: Axel, Marluxia, Larxene, and Vexen.

Meanwhile, Riku was battling his own existential demons, fighting off the temptation to give in to the dark Ansem, who left a piece of himself inside Riku. Other members of Organization XIII were attempting to use Riku against Sora, as part of their group’s ongoing infighting. Riku also met the mysterious DiZ at this point--the benevolent King Ansem in disguise.

Finally, Sora defeated Marluxia and Namine offered to put him into a deep sleep to restore his memories--the process of which would erase all of his memories of Castle Oblivion.

While Axel and some of the other Organization XIII members were busy at Castle Oblivion, Roxas was partnered with Xion. The two grew close, but then Roxas fell into a coma when Sora was put to sleep in Castle Oblivion. When he woke, he learned that all of the XIII sent to Castle Oblivion were eliminated, aside from Axel. The three remaining--Roxas, Axel, and Xion--became friends, even as Roxas' growing memories of Sora’s life made him suspicious of the Organization’s true purpose.

Xion discovered that Xemnas had created her from Sora’s memories, as something of a backup plan if Sora resisted obeying the XIII. She left the Organization in a quest to become a true person, followed by Roxas, who also wanted to find himself. Xemnas intercepted Xion and turned her against Roxas. After defeating her, the two reconciled just before she died peacefully. The memories used to create Xion returned to Sora, and Roxas carried her Keyblade in her memory.

Roxas was suddenly confronted by Riku, who had been sent by DiZ to capture him and restore Sora’s memories. Riku was forced to tap into the darkness in his heart to defeat Roxas, proving the piece of Ansem was still lingering there. Riku brought Roxas’ unconscious body back to DiZ, who digitized Roxas and placed him in a virtual simulation. Finally, DiZ helped Riku draw out the memory of dark Ansem to defeat him and purify his heart, and he continued on his journey with King Mickey.

TL;DR Summary: Sora’s brief transformation into a Heartless created the Nobody Roxas, who was tricked into joining Organization XIII. The Organization had several schemes going at once, but many of their members were wiped out during a single mission against Sora and Riku. The kind King Ansem was still alive, having taken on a disguise as “DiZ.” He helped Riku conquer the darkness in his heart, and organized a mission to recover Roxas and place him in a simulated reality.

Sora vs Organization XIII

Inside his simulated world, Roxas began to question his reality. He acquired his own Keyblade and encountered Axel and then Namine, who explained that he was a Nobody. Soon after he met DiZ, who put him on the path to discovering digital versions of Sora and his friends Donald and Goofy sleeping. At this point Roxas understood his nature and merged with Sora, who was awoken.

Back in the real world, Sora and his friends briefly encountered Mickey Mouse, who rushed them onto a train. The train took them to the Mysterious Tower, and set them on a mission to stop the Heartless and Organization XIII. As Sora continued on his quest, he learned more about the nature of Roxas and heard that Riku could be alive. Meanwhile, Axel abducted Kairi.

After a massive battle against the Heartless, Sora learned the truth about Xehanort--that the Ansem he defeated was Xehanort’s Heartless, and Xemnas was his Nobody. He also learned at this point that the real King Ansem had been overthrown and was still missing. He caught wind of the Organization’s plan to create a new Kingdom Hearts in order to restore their own hearts and become full beings again.

This led to a series of internal struggles that revealed even more to Sora. He battled Roxas within his own heart, and then learned the nature of Roxas and Namine as his and Kairi’s Nobodies. He then fought through the Organization and reunited with Riku and Kairi. King Ansem’s machine, which he had been using to digitize data, became overloaded and Ansem sacrificed himself to save Sora and the others. Similarly, Maleficent and Pete allied themselves with Sora and held off the Heartless so that he could confront Xemnas.

Sora defeated a series of Organization XIII members, culminating in a fight against Xemnas. While he seemed incapacitated, Namine merged with Kairi, and Roxas with Sora. Xemnas got his strength back and Sora and Riku teamed up to defeat him and close his newly created Kingdom Hearts. The two found themselves reunited in Destiny Islands with all of their friends: Kairi, Donald, Goofy, and King Mickey. Meanwhile, Xehanort enacted a new plan to fill the new Organization with manifestations of himself from throughout time.

TL;DR Summary: Sora learned about the true nature and plans of Organization XIII, Ansem, and Xemnas. Roxas merged with Sora, making him whole. Sora and Riku teamed up to defeat Xemnas. The Organization was fractured and the newly reconstituted Xehanort was forced to use his backup plan: finding incarnations of himself from throughout time.

Preparing for Battle

Following the events of Kingdom Hearts 2, a few more supplemental story pieces have set the stage for the third installment.

The sorcerer Yen Sid gave Sora and Riku the Mark of Mastery exam, which included a mission to restore several more worlds from creatures called Dream Eaters. During this quest, Sora encountered a young Xehanort, who revealed that he had been visited by his older self and taught the secrets of time travel. With that knowledge, he has been hopping throughout time looking for various incarnations of himself to create a new Organization XIII. Sora fought Xemnas, one of the incarnations of Xehanort brought back through time, but the battle left him unconscious and Xemnas abducted him, with plans to place a piece of his own dark heart inside Sora’s body.

Meanwhile, several of the former Organization XIII members awoke in their own original bodies after the destruction of their Nobodies. Several more were missing, though, so Lea (the real form of Axel) went looking for them.

Riku attempted to save Sora, and was eventually flanked by several allies including Lea, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. Riku brought Sora back to Yen Sid and helped revive him. Once Sora regained consciousness, Yen Sid named Riku a Keyblade Master--but not Sora. Sora left on his own quest, having lost most of his power from nearly becoming a vessel for Xehanort. Lea found he was able to summon his own Keyblade for the first time. Ventus, though still asleep, began to regain consciousness. Finally, Yen Sid asked for Kairi to come and undergo her own training.

TL;DR Summary: Xemnas abducted Sora with plans to turn him into a vessel for Xehanort, a process that left Sora severely weakened. Riku became a Keyblade Master. Lea, the real form of Axl, wielded his own Keyblade for the first time, and set off to find the real identities of several missing Organization members. Kairi has been summoned to undergo her own Keyblade training.

The Stage Is Set

All of this puts the pieces in place for Kingdom Hearts 3. Sora is on a quest to regain his power, Riku and King Mickey are both full-fledged Keyblade Masters, and Kairi is undergoing training. Aqua is still lost in darkness but fighting her way through, while Terra is battling his own darkness having served as a vessel for Xehanort. Ventus, meanwhile, is starting to regain consciousness. That makes seven potential Guardians of Light, though Lea’s newfound power to wield a Keyblade is bound to come in handy as well. Lea is also still searching for the other original forms of the displaced Organization XIII members, and any of them could become allies or adversaries.

Finally, Xehanort is gathering his power, preparing for the confrontation that will give him control over Kingdom Hearts to rebalance the world.

Character Cheat Sheet

A large part of the confusion over Kingdom Hearts is the multitude of distinct characters with Russian nesting doll connections to each other. Multiple characters reside in the hearts of others, or have had their bodies taken over. Others have embraced the darkness and a Heartless persona, which also creates a Nobody--a heart without a body, and a body without a heart. Making matters more confounding, these Heartless and Nobody characters often develop their own personalities. They may even look slightly differently than their source, or take on the appearance of someone they had some connection with.

To help untangle all of this, we’ve outlined all the notable multi-layered characters below.

Xehanort

The chief antagonist of the Kingdom Hearts series has the most forms and connections of any character, making him the most complex. First, he implanted his own heart into the body of Terra, one of the Keyblade wielders in Birth by Sleep. This body was struck down in battle and recovered by the good king Ansem the Wise. As a partial amnesiac, he became Ansem’s pupil and did research on the nature of darkness in hearts. Ansem the Wise later realized the danger of these experiments and ended them. Xehanort continued the experiments in secret as he recovered his memory, and eventually staged a coup with his fellow apprentices to banish Ansem the Wise. At this point he cast off his body and made a Heartless, which appeared as a dark form of Ansem. In the process this also created his Nobody, named Xemnas, who looked very similar to Terra. Each of these beings enacted their own distinct plans to recover Kingdom Hearts. After the defeat of the dark Ansem (KH1) and Xemnas (KH2) his body has reconstituted itself in its original form as an elderly man.

Terra

Terra was a Keyblade apprentice who battled against Xehanort, but in the process Xehanort forced his heart into Terra’s body. Terra’s own heart remained, battling with Xehanort’s heart for dominance over the body--in part because he has the memory of his Keyblade Master, Eraqus in his heart as well. When Terra’s body was used to create Xehanort’s Heartless and Nobody, the Nobody (Xemnas) took an appearance similar to Terra. His heart still exists, but it’s unclear whether he has any physical body to occupy.

Sora

As the main protagonist of the series, Sora’s various connections are nearly as complex as the antagonist, Xehanort. Sora is holding Ventus’ heart inside his own while he heals. Because Sora’s heart connected with Ventus’ when Xehanort was creating Vanitas, Vanitas appears very similar to Sora. When Sora was briefly made into a Heartless, a Nobody was created, named Roxas, who looks like Ventus due to Sora’s connection with him.

Ventus

Ventus was one of the Keyblade wielders in Birth by Sleep. The darkness in his heart was used to create the villain Vanitas. His heart was severely damaged by this process, and later by an ensuing battle, so his heart has gone to rest inside Sora to recover. His body is currently unconscious and waiting to be rejoined with his heart.

Roxas

Roxas was the Nobody created when Sora briefly became a Heartless. Since Ventus’ heart was residing in Sora when this happened, Roxas looked identical to Ventus. Eventually he realized his true nature and merged with Sora to restore him.

King Ansem / DiZ

The real Ansem was a kind and benevolent king who found Xehanort (in Terra’s body) and nursed him back to health, and conducted experiments meant to help restore his memory. After deeming his experiments too dangerous, Xehanort staged a coup and cast him into the Realm of Darkness so that he and the other researchers could continue the experiments themselves. When Xehanort embraced the darkness himself, his Heartless took the form of a dark, gray-haired Ansem. Meanwhile, the real Ansem lived on and disguised himself in bandages, calling himself DiZ. DiZ offered help to the heroes before sacrificing himself to save them.

Riku

Riku was briefly possessed by the spirit of the dark Ansem. He also appeared as a digital representation inside DiZ’s simulation.

Organization XIII

The antagonist Organization has changed its membership over time, which can create confusion over who is and isn’t a member. At first the name applied to the Nobodies of the researchers who helped to overthrow King Ansem, and they were led by Xemnas, Xehanort’s Nobody. Roxas was also inducted for a brief time, as well as an imperfect clone of Sora named Xion. Once the heroes defeated several of the Organization and left them scattered, some are lost and others have changed loyalties. Having thirteen beings of darkness is vital to Xehanort’s plans, though, so he’s filling the empty spots with manifestations of himself plucked from throughout time.

Simple and Clean: The TL;DR Story of Kingdom Hearts

In ancient times, a group of guardians were manipulated into fighting among themselves, and in the process of the battle, the original Keyblade was shattered and Kingdom Hearts vanished. But a few had secret instructions to escape the battle, and started anew.

Years later, the nature of Keyblades and Kingdom Hearts is the realm of scholars and researchers. A Keyblade Master and researcher named Xehanort had plans to reforge the χ-blade and use it to rebalance the world. In the process of enacting his plan, he took over the body of a young apprentice named Terra and in the process, Xehanort lost his memories. The apprentice’s friends, Aqua and Ventus, were left worse for wear: Aqua was lost in the Realm of Darkness, and Ventus was rendered unconscious after being separated from his heart. His heart found a new home in a young boy named Sora, who he had forged a bond with previously.

Xehanort split himself into two beings: Ansem, a Heartless modeled after the benevolent king who had helped him recover his memories; and Xemnas, his Nobody. Both personalities began undertaking their own actions, including the forming Organization XIII from the Nobodies of researchers who had lost their hearts--and learning the secret to time travel so that he could fill out the organization’s ranks with versions of himself from different time periods as a backup plan.

A young boy named Sora teamed up with Donald and Goofy from King Mickey’s kingdom and embarked on a shared quest to find their friends. In the process they learned about the nature of the Heartless--and Sora became one himself for a short time. They all banded together to save Sora’s friends Kairi and Riku, and eventually confronted and destroyed the dark Ansem. But they were separated in the ensuing chaos, and so the quest to reunite started anew.

Sora’s brief transformation into a Heartless created the Nobody Roxas, who was tricked into joining Organization XIII. The Organization had several schemes going at once, but many of their members were wiped out during a single mission against Sora and Riku. The kind King Ansem was still alive, having taken on a disguise as “DiZ.” He helped Riku conquer the darkness in his heart, and organized a mission to recover Roxas and place him in a simulated reality.

Sora learned about the true nature and plans of Organization XIII, Ansem, and Xemnas. Roxas merged with Sora, making him whole. Sora and Riku teamed up to defeat Xemnas. The Organization was fractured and the newly reconstituted Xehanort was forced to use his backup plan: finding incarnations of himself from throughout time.

Xemnas abducted Sora with plans to turn him into a vessel for Xehanort, a process that left Sora severely weakened. Riku became a Keyblade Master. Lea, the real form of Axl, wielded his own Keyblade for the first time, and set off to find the real identities of several missing Organization members. Kairi has been summoned to undergo her own Keyblade training.

Dragon Ball FighterZ To Add Jiren As New DLC Fighter

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 02:09

The next fighter to join Dragon Ball FighterZ looks set to be Jiren, the incredibly powerful member of the Pride Troopers that served as the main antagonist for Dragon Ball Super's Tournament of Power arc. Although developer Arc System Works and publisher Bandai Namco haven't officially announced Jiren yet, a scan from Japanese magazine Shonen Jump has appeared online showing him.

The image, which you can see below, features Super Saiyan Blue Goku clashing with Jiren, which is reminiscent of their brawls in the Dragon Ball Super anime series. The Dragon Ball FighterZ logo is featured prominently alongside them, all but officially announcing his arrival.

The Dragon Ball FighterZ ~ Goku Vs Jiren ~ visual with slightly better quality. pic.twitter.com/pUzYERMPws

— SPY - سباي (@Spy_0taku) January 18, 2019

On January 17 it was teased that more information about DLC for the fighting game would be revealed at the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour Finals, which take place on January 26-27. "The Warrior from Universe 11 is joining the fight," Bandai Namco said in a tweet, sparking speculation that the character in question would likely be Jiren.

Plans for Dragon Ball FighterZ DLC beyond this character haven't been confirmed as of yet, but Jiren could be the first in a second season of content for the game. Dragon Ball FighterZ has proven itself to be popular among fighting game aficionados and was one of the big draws at 2018's EVO fighting game tournament. This, along with a resurgence in popularity thanks to the Super series and the new Broly movie, no doubt makes ongoing support for the game more enticing for its developer and publisher.

The game was also received well by critics. GameSpot awarded it a 9/10 in our Dragon Ball FighterZ review, calling it "a Dragon Ball fighting game that can go toe-to-toe with the best of the genre." Critic Peter Brown described it as "complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there's no question that it's been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball's most dedicated fans."

"Where past games attempted to get there through huge character rosters and deliberately predictable trips down memory lane, FighterZ has bottled the essence of what makes the series' characters, animation, and sense of humor so beloved and reconfigured it into something new," he added.

In addition to more Dragon Ball FighterZ DLC information, Bandai Namco is expected to talk about other Dragon Ball games at the World Tour Finals. The company has confirmed that a new Dragon Ball RPG is in development, and fans are no doubt hoping to hear and perhaps see more of that.

Bungie Teases "Future Experiences" For Destiny After Splitting With Activision

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 14:55

Activision and Bungie broke up recently, with Bungie getting the rights to Destiny and announcing it will self-publish the sci-fi series going forward. Now, for the first time Destiny's franchise director, Luke Smith, is speaking out about the breakup and what it means. OK, so Smith did already respond with a fiery tweet, but this is his first full statement on the matter.

Speaking on behalf of the Destiny team, Smith started off his note by thanking Activision for supporting Bungie and the Destiny franchise over the years. Bungie and Activision locked down a 10-year publishing deal back in 2010 for a game that we now know is Destiny. The first game was released in 2014 with a sequel arriving in 2017, in addition to numerous expansions. Activision was behind Destiny and Bungie in a big way, even if the relationship isn't continuing. Smith also thanked Destiny support studios High Moon and Vicarious Visions, the latter of which continues to work on a new piece of content for Destiny 2. Smith teased that Vicarious Visions is "currently readying their Destiny swan song with content that will appear in the upcoming Season of [Redacted]."

After this, however, it remains to be seen if Bungie will enlist the help of other outside studios to work on new Destiny content or if Bungie will develop everything in-house. We also don't know what this move means for High Moon and Vicarious Visions; it's possible that the studios, which are owned by Activision, will shift to other projects within the publisher.

On a short-term basis, Smith said Bungie is committed to releasing all of the Annual Pass content for Destiny 2 that it promised to deliver. Smith also said Destiny 2's recent Black Armory release was a learning experience of sorts for Bungie.

"We've learned a lot from Black Armory that we will apply to future releases, most notably that we'd like the beginning experiences of content drops to be a better point of convergence for the playerbase," he said. "In Black Armory, we set the Power requirement for the first forge too high, and that meant it wasn't a great chance to jump into some new content. We want to find the line between new content that many players can play, and aspirational content for players to progress toward. We're exploring improvements to catch-up mechanics for players in upcoming seasons."

On a longer timeline, Smith said Destiny fans can rest assured that Bungie is "committed to Destiny." Now that Activision is out of the picture, Bungie controls its destiny (sorry).

"We created the universe and we hold its future entirely in our hands," Smith said. "The vast majority of the team is hard at work envisioning future experiences, enemies, and ways to play the Guardian you've been building since 2014. We're going to keep doing that."

Without the help of an established, global publishing leader like Activision, it sounds like Bungie is moving fast to determine the best way forward.

"We're thinking about what it means to be truly independent, what it means to self-publish, and crucially, what Destiny's future can now look like for our players," Smith said. "It was a busy Fall, and it is going to be a busy year. When I look ahead and think about Destiny and where it could go, I see a bright future, with roots in a memorable past. Not everything has been lost in the dark corners of time. See you soon."

On the immediate horizon for Destiny are changes to Super Abilities, and fine-tuning for weapon balance in the forthcoming 2.1.4 update. A number of changes for the Black Armory are also planned for the next update; head to Bungie's website to see a full rundown of the changes.

Destiny 3 is expected to launch in 2020, according to an analyst, who also said Bungie likely paid Activision a fee to end its publishing arrangement. In addition to more Destiny content, Bungie recently raised $100 million from Chinese internet company NetEase for non-Destiny projects, so it seems the studio is keeping itself very busy these days.

Super Bowl 53 Confirms Gladys Knight To Sing National Anthem, As She Responds To Kaepernick Situation

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 14:28

The NFL has announced who will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl LIII next month. The "Empress of Soul," Gladys Knight, will sing the tune, following Pink last year.

Knight won seven Grammy awards and is known for songs like "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "That's What Friends Are For." Knight hails from Atlanta, Georgia, the site of this year's Super Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz stadium. The NFL interviewed Knight about her singing the anthem this year, and she says she hopes the anthem carries even more weight this year given the controversy and discussion about racial inequality and Colin Kaepernick.

Knight expanded in an interview with Variety, telling the site that she's saddened by the current climate and how the anthem is entangled in it.

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice," she said. "It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.

"I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good--I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII."

She added: "I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

In other Super Bowl LIII news, it was recently confirmed that Maroon 5 will headline the halftime show, with Big Boi and Travis Scott also set to appearing as supporting acts. Jay-Z, Cardi B, and Rihanna said no to performing at the Super Bowl as a show of solidarity with Kaepernick. Kaepernick made headlines when he kneeled during the National Anthem in protest of the racial inequality in the United States, and he hasn't played professionally since 2017.

Scott told Billboard that he only agreed to performing at the Super Bowl if the football league agreed to make a donation to an organisation fighting for social justice. Scott himself donated $500,000 to Dream Corps.

Super Bowl LIII takes place on Sunday, February 3, from Atlanta, Georgia. You can watch the game on TV or stream it through CBSSports.com.

For more on Super Bowl LIII, check out CBS Sports' Super Bowl hub. You can also stream more CBS content through the new CBS All Access streaming package.

GameSpot and CBS are sister companies.

See Sam Elliott As The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then Bigfoot In New Trailer

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 13:48

Sam Elliott's next movie The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then Bigfoot is coming out soon, and now it's received a new trailer. As the title suggests, the movie stars Elliot as the man who killed Hitler during World War II but couldn't tell anyone about it. Decades later, the governments of the United States and Canada call on him to take down another foe: Bigfoot.

In this timeline, Bigfoot carries a disease capable of wiping out humanity. Elliott's character, Calvin Barr, is finally coming to terms with his life when he's called back to fight the beast.

"Bigfoot has been living deep in the Canadian wilderness and carrying a deadly plague that is now threatening to spread to the general population. Relying on the same skills that he honed during the war, Calvin must set out to save the free world yet again," reads a line from the movie's official description.

The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then Bigfoot also stars Aiden Turner (The Hobbit trilogy), Caitlin FitzGerald (Masters of Sex), Larry Miller (10 Things I Hate About You), and Ron Livingston (Office Space). The film was written and directed by Robert Krzykowski; this is his feature debut. Douglas Trumbull, a multi-Oscar winning effects legend who worked on Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, worked on the film's visual effects.

The film originally premiered at the Fantasia film festival in 2018. It comes to theatres and digital stores on February 8.

Elliott has been acting since the '60s. He's perhaps best known for his roles in the films Roadhouse and The Big Lebowski. More recently, he starred in A Star Is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

More Of Mortal Kombat 11's Sub-Zero, Raiden, And Sonya Shown In New Gameplay Video

Fri, 01/18/2019 - 12:01

Thursday was a very big day for Mortal Kombat 11, and more continues to roll in. Embedded in this post (above and below) are some new gameplay videos for the much-anticipated fighting game showing off Sub-Zero, Raiden, Sonya, and more.

The Sonya vs. Raiden match below is particularly impressive to watch, as it's a fight between the professional players SonicFox and Rewind. Check it out below.

In addition to the characters, NetherRealm shared some details about Mortal Kombat 11's story, which takes place after the events of 2015's Mortal Kombat X. The developer also demonstrated some of the gruesome new fatalities in the game.

Mortal Kombat 11 is on the way for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. The game is slated to launch on April 23, and those who pre-order it will get a bonus character: Shao Kahn. Reserving the game for either PS4 and Xbox One will also get you access to an upcoming beta, which is scheduled to take place on March 28.

For lots more on Mortal Kombat 11, check out the stories linked below.

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