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E3 2019: A History Of Xbox Console Reveals

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 03:00

E3 is almost here, and Microsoft appears likely to begin debuting its plans for the next generation of Xbox. The timing is right, and Sony has already started to outline its PlayStation 5 specs. Microsoft has said it will "go big" at this year's E3. Rumors have been circulating for months about a new Xbox, and E3 would be the place to finally make it official.

Before we look forward, though, let's take a look back. Microsoft has been debuting new hardware for almost 20 years, and it may be instructive to the future of Xbox if we look back at how Microsoft has debuted its previous consoles.


Microsoft's first foray into video games debuted in two parts, a sign of a time period when the industry was more fractured and hadn't yet coalesced into a handful of big consumer-facing trade shows. First, the company debuted the console to potential developers at the Game Developers Conference in 2000. Then the company took its console to the general public with a separate presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2001.

At the second presentation in Las Vegas, then-chairman Bill Gates took the stage to show it off. The presentation promised a "revolution" and an October rollout backed by a $500 million marketing campaign. The consumer presentation revolved mostly around showing off its performance, which positioned it as a powerful contemporary of Sony's PlayStation 2. Microsoft also promised easier architecture for developers. It all led to a wrestling game debut, complete with a cameo by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Analysts claimed it could be used as a Trojan horse to push Internet and interactive TV functions, but games publishing VP Ed Fries shrugged off this eventuality.

"We've been fighting a lot of battles all along to make this box all about gaming," Fries said. "Whether it makes sense long term, if Xbox works its way into that networked home Bill was talking about, we'll see about that later."

It launched at $300, or approximately $430 adjusted for inflation.

Xbox 360

Work began on the Xbox 360 in 2003, and Microsoft again targeted developers first with a small event in Bellevue, Washington. The company was quietly making moves to recruit executives like Sega's Peter Moore to improve its workflow and build the architecture, but this time it had a different plan in mind for debuting the machine to the general public. Rather than hold a keynote at an industry trade show, Microsoft went straight to TV. More specifically, MTV.

In a special called "MTV Presents Xbox: The Next Generation Revealed," Microsoft took the wraps off the Xbox 360, per Polygon. The event was hosted by Elijah Woods, and featured guests like The Killers and Lil' Jon. Xbox 360 executive producer J. Allard was interviewed, and Microsoft stressed the console as always-connected and personalized. That set the stage for the success of Xbox Live.

The Xbox 360 launched on November 22, 2005 in two configurations: a Core unit for $300, and a Premium with a 20 GB harddrive for $400--or $390 and $520 adjusted for inflation, respectively.

As a result of its long lifespan, Xbox 360 had the most rebranding and revisions of all Xbox consoles. Most of the revisions were rebranded models with different harddrive sizes and slight changes. The largest change was the Xbox 360 S, also called the 360 Slim, which was an entirely new form factor for the console that debuted in 2010. This revision not only gave the console a new look, but it also included revised hardware to stave off the overheating issues that had lead to the console failure known as the "Red Ring of Death."

Xbox One

As the most recent console debut, the Xbox One is the one most recognizable to modern audiences. The Xbox 360 had gotten an extended lifespan, lasting roughly eight years instead of the usual four. One late addition to the Xbox 360 was a key part of the Xbox One: the Xbox Kinect. The motion-sensing camera was an optional accessory for the 360, but it was a major part of Xbox One's "all-in-one entertainment device" pitch.

Microsoft debuted the console in a special event in Redmond, Washington, stressing it as a multimedia console. The console could serve as a cable pass-through box, and the Kinect would allow voice commands for entertainment and gaming functions.

A second event scheduled for E3 in that year was meant to focus on its video game capabilities. At this event Microsoft announced a plan to bind Xbox One games to a user account, including retail disc copies. The company announced a complicated scheme to allow players to continue trading games or transferring ownership, and the console had an always-on requirement to verify game ownership. In response to a negative reaction, including some mockery from its competition, Microsoft changed its DRM plans before launch. Over the years since launch, the company has also issued firmware updates that de-emphasized its entertainment functionality.

The Xbox One launched on November 22, 2013 in two configurations: a standalone unit for $400, and a bundle with Kinect for $500--or $440 and $550 inflation-adjusted, respectively.

Since then, Xbox One has gotten two significant hardware revisions. The first, the streamlined Xbox One S, was announced during Microsoft's E3 2016 press conference. The second, the more powerful Xbox One X, was announced at E3 2017.

The New Xbox

Now all eyes are on E3 2019 as the most likely place for Microsoft to debut new consoles. Xbox head Phil Spencer seeded an announcement last year at E3 by stating that new consoles are in development. He later reiterated that the company has "a lot to share" at this year's event. Now, with only weeks remaining, we'll see what exactly that means.

Pokemon Go: Catch Shiny Lapras During Special Raid Event Tomorrow Only

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 01:50

Pokemon Go's Extraordinary Raid Week is set to end on May 28, which means there are only a few days left to battle new Raid bosses and earn extra bonuses. Before the event officially wraps up, however, Niantic is holding a special Lapras Raid Day tomorrow, May 25 (May 26 in the Asia-Pacific region), which will give you a chance to battle the beloved Ice Pokemon in Gyms--and maybe even catch a Shiny one.

The Lapras Raid Day runs from 11 AM to 2 PM local time. During that window, Lapras will appear as a Raid boss, and you may even encounter its Shiny form. Moreover, you'll be able to earn up to five Raid Passes--the item you need in order to participate in Raid Battles--from Gyms during the event. You can read more details about the Lapras Raid Day on the official Pokemon Go website.

That isn't the only event on the horizon for Pokemon Go. Beginning next week, Niantic is bringing three Legendary Pokemon back to the game. Cresselia will appear in five-star Raids from May 27 to June 18; Kyogre will follow from June 18 to June 27; and Groudon will return from June 27 to July 10. Not only does this give you another opportunity to add these rare Legendaries to your collection, you'll have a chance to encounter each one's Shiny form during their respective stints as Raid bosses.

Niantic has also announced the first details for Pokemon Go's next Community Day. The monthly event will return on Saturday, June 8, and this time, the featured Pokemon will be Slakoth, the adorable sloth from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. During June's Community Day, Slakoth will appear in the wild much more often than it normally does, and you'll have a chance to catch its Shiny variant. On top of that, Pokemon Eggs will hatch at a quarter of the distance they typically require.

In other Pokemon Go news, Niantic recently rolled out a new wave of Gen 4 Pokemon. Gible, Hippopotas, Cherrim, and more Pokemon originally from Diamond and Pearl are now available in the mobile game. Additionally, Niantic introduced new kinds of Lure Modules, which attract certain types of Pokemon and allow you to evolve Eevee into Glaceon and Leafeon.

Sonic The Hedgehog Movie Delayed While Sonic Is Redesigned

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 01:11

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie has been delayed to February 14, 2020. The film originally set to be released in November, but following a negative reaction to the design to the titular character in the first trailer, the movie has now been put back three months while he is reworked.

The news came via a tweet from director Jeff Fowler. The tweet reveals the new date, and states that the filmmakers are "taking a little more time to make Sonic just right." Check it out below:

Taking a little more time to make Sonic just right.#novfxartistswereharmedinthemakingofthismovie

— Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 24, 2019

The trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog was released in April. There was much criticism online about Sonic's appearance, and within a day Fowler had stated that the character would be redesigned ahead of the films's release. There was some concern that a complete Sonic redesign in short time would lead to rushed VFX work, but at least now the filmmakers have more time to get the design right.

Criticism for Sonic's design in the movie was aimed at pretty much every part of the speedy blue hedgehog. Much of the dislike seems to stem from the movie version's legs, torso, teeth, and eyes. Most of the changes to Sonic's design in the coming movie currently make him appear uncannily human, which some fans have found unnerving.

Sonic is voiced by Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), with Jim Carry as Dr. Robotnik. Westworld's James Marsden will feature as a state trooper who catches onto Sonic's super speed.

This story is developing...

The Most Influential Games Of The 21st Century: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 01:00

Join GameSpot as we celebrate gaming history and give recognition to the most influential games of the 21st century. These aren't the best games, and they aren't necessarily games that you need to rush out and play today, but there's no question that they left an indelible impact on game developers, players, and in some cases, society at large.

Nowadays, when a new shooter is announced or comes out there's one question that consistently pops up: is it going to have battle royale? It's one that's asked both seriously and in jest ever since the sub-genre's popularity exploded just a few years back. The fascination with large-scale multiplayer, where only one player or team per match is left standing, took off like never before when PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds hit Steam early access in March 2017. And while there were battle royale games that came before it and, of course, many that came afterward, PUBG is undoubtedly the force that thrust battle royale into the mainstream.

PUBG's creator, Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene, had a history of making mods for existing games, namely the military sim series ARMA. His creation of an ARMA 2 mod DayZ: Battle Royale (a mod for a mod, if you will) seeded the first step for the sub-genre. He was then brought on as a consultant with Sony Online Entertainment (now Daybreak Games) for the creation of H1Z1's battle royale mode. In 2016, this battle royale mode split from the survival-based version of the game and became a standalone product known as H1Z1: King of the Kill.

At the time, H1Z1 had built a dedicated player-base because of the unique thrill of having one life per match, the unpredictable variables like randomized loot and safe zones, and the intrinsic reward of besting 100+ other players. However, there was always a sense of refinement that was missing from renditions of battle royale at the time, even H1Z1. Their nature as mods really showed, whether it was because of some janky mechanics, relatively low production values, or bare overall structure.

That’s not to say PUBG didn’t carry some of that baggage when it came on the scene. But when Greene collaborated with Korean developer Bluehole to bring PUBG to early access on PC in 2017, it was readily apparent that it was breaking the barriers to entry that held battle royale back from a larger audience. The game made a slew of mechanics relatively accessible, allowing newcomers to quickly understand the premise and what needed to be done to survive in a match. Drop from a plane with 99 other players, gear up at key locations on the map, adapt to the map's ever-changing safe zones, and win those nerve-racking firefights with what you can scavenge.

While there were battle royale games that came before it and, of course, many that came afterward, PUBG is undoubtedly the force that thrust battle royale into the mainstream.

PUBG's roster of weapons also had a lot to do with its lasting appeal, thanks to their distinct characteristics of damage, range, and recoil, but the attachments system added an extra layer of tactical depth. Firefights carried an unmatched level of intensity because you truly had to understand how your weapons worked and earn your kills with proper positioning and precise aim. Combine that with tools like smoke grenades and the on-the-fly tactics of using your surroundings for cover, and it's almost as if you had to play mind games with your enemies. Thus, coming out on top would feel like its own reward. Chicken dinners were never this tasty.

PUBG even sustained popularity with only one map through most of its early access period, which is a testament to how varied the map was and the unpredictable nature of safe zones. Previous battle royales were made up of fairly barren battlefields, so with PUBG's map featuring dense city centers, varied terrain, and expansive hotspots for action, it set the bar higher for such an important aspect of the game. Thus, no two matches would play out the same and emergent situations kept PUBG feeling fresh match after match.

It was the right game at the right time, and the first fully-realized version of battle royale in video game form. PUBG leaned heavily into its military sim roots in a way that made its action play more like a tactical shooter, but struck a balance between hardcore and approachable mechanics. And although it wasn't without its share of technical issues, it didn't bear the weight of a mod's jankiness. When critics were able to have a definitive word on the game when it fully launched with a 1.0 release, it was showered with praise.

To echo the sentiments from my own review of PUBG for GameSpot, I wrote, "It's not the first of its kind, and despite glaring flaws, PUBG emerges as the most accessible, mechanically refined battle royale game to date." I capped it off by saying, "Every player has unique stories of their most memorable matches, and even after hundreds of hours, PUBG continues to inspire rousing tales of victory and defeat."

Polygon's Chris Plante awarded PUBG a 10/10 score (Polygon no longer does scored reviews), and stated, "Battlegrounds is the refinement of a new language of play, but what may earn it a spot in the video game canon is that conceptual efficiency," and briefly described PUBG as "imperfectly perfect." And after hours of on-air deliberation, our colleagues at Giant Bomb named PUBG their game of the year for 2017. Even in a year of amazing, genre-defining games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Persona 5, Nier Automata, Super Mario Odyssey, and Divinity: Original Sin II, PUBG most certainly stood out in its own right and set in motion something larger than itself.

According to, PUBG exceeded 1.5 million peak concurrent players in September 2017, breaking the previous record set by Dota 2 in March 2016 with 1.3 million players. PUBG continued its meteoric rise and hit a peak of 3.2 million concurrent players in January 2018, nearly three-times that of Dota 2's highest player count. Needless to say, others took note of PUBG's increasingly wild popularity.

Sure, it hasn't been very long since PUBG busted onto the scene, but battle royale essentially went viral because of it.

A little game called Fortnite is a household name and a cultural phenomenon today due to its adoption of the battle royale game mode. Fortnite was initially a wave-based shooter with construction mechanics akin to a survival game (now called "Save The World"), but the team at Epic Games clearly kept a close eye on PUBG. Game director Donald Mustard stated that Epic loved battle royale games, including PUBG, and a separate team at Epic quite literally spun the battle royale mode for Fortnite in a span of two months. In September 2017, Fortnite: Battle Royale hit early access as free-to-play for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, and soon became its own beast.

How do you even begin to describe Fortnite's position in games? For starters, the highest concurrent player count Epic has recorded during a non-event day was 7.6 million in February 2019. The game has partnered with Marvel for a limited time Avengers-themed event where players could embody Thanos. It has official NFL-themed jerseys as skins, and just recently incorporated the Jordan brand. And 10.7 million people hopped onto Fortnite for Marshmello's live in-game concert. Fortnite's massive success also provided the leverage for Epic Games to open its own digital storefront for PC games. There's a whole lot more to unpack, like its impact on streamers and esports, but this is all to say that battle royale has been an extremely powerful thing for games, and PUBG led the way.

Fortnite was just the beginning for the battle royale games that followed in PUBG's footsteps. The biggest first-person shooter franchise in the history of games, Call of Duty, did its own take on the concept with Blackout mode in Black Ops 4, which launched back in October 2018. Electronic Arts and DICE took notice as well, and brought battle royale to their long-running large-scale FPS series with Battlefield V--although it didn't launch with Firestorm, the mode came as a free update in March 2019. Publisher EA would sort of double-dip when the team at Respawn Entertainment, known for its critically acclaimed Titanfall series, came out with Apex Legends in February 2019.

Apex Legends set itself apart by merging elements of hero shooters, like Overwatch, with the core traditions of a battle royale game. However, smart tweaks to the formula such as the intuitive ping system and the incorporation of respawning teammates kept the genre's premise fresh. Apex Legends simplified the necessary mechanics for a seamless experience as well, like the automation of looting better items and equipping better attachments. In a way, it makes PUBG look ancient, but Apex's great success is nonetheless rooted in the foundation PUBG set.

Sure, it hasn't been very long since PUBG busted onto the scene, but battle royale essentially went viral because of it. While others have bested it from a gameplay perspective and in current relevance, it's still going strong. Even at the time of publication of this article, PUBG is the third-most played game on Steam with a peak of 680,000 concurrent players, just behind Valve's own CSGO and Dota 2. PUBG may not have the same popularity it did only a year and a half ago, but it didn't have to maintain that peak for it to have influenced such a large part of the gaming industry--an influence that we're still witnessing evolve.

So, what's the next big game to do battle royale? Tetris?! Oh, wait...

For a look at the rest of our features in this series, head over to our Most Influential Games Of The 21st Century hub.

Borderlands 3 Studio Appears To Lessen Legal Pressure In Court Battle With Former Employee

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 00:54

Gearbox Software, the studio behind the upcoming Borderlands 3, appears to be softening its position in an ongoing legal battle with a former employee. The company had previously threatened to file an official grievance against Wade Callender, its former general counsel, but has since dropped that threat and filed a new petition that removes some of its original claims.

Polygon reports that in its most recent court filing, Gearbox dropped a section that accused Callender of breaching his fiduciary duty by revealing confidential information. That claim was in relation to disclosures made in Callender's own suit against Gearbox.

Gearbox has also reportedly not filed a grievance with the State Bar of Texas, as it threatened when the legal matter came to light. Callender himself confirmed that the grievance has not yet been filed, saying he contacted the state bar directly to inquire about his record.

The ongoing legal dispute has been a volley of suits and counter-suits. Gearbox first filed suit against Callender, claiming he had failed to repay a loan and had improperly used company credit cards. A month later, Callender filed suit against Gearbox, alleging that CEO Randy Pitchford had taken $12 million from the company coffers, and more luridly, that he had left a USB drive with pornography and trade secrets at an event. Gearbox then updated its original petition with an amendment accusing Callender's suit of breaching his fiduciary duty--that claim has now been dropped.

Pitchford has been a focal point of other controversies as well. Another former employee, David Eddings, recently explained why he won't be resuming his role as Claptrap for Borderlands 3. That led to a testy exchange with Pitchford until Eddings ultimately alleged that Pitchford had physically assaulted him at GDC 2017, and subsequently stalked him on social media.

Pokemon Go Bringing Three Legendaries Back Soon

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 00:45

Pokemon Go's ongoing Extraordinary Raid Week event is set to wrap up on May 28, giving players a chance to battle new Raid bosses and earn extra bonuses until then. If that isn't enough to scratch your Raid itch, however, Niantic has announced it is bringing three Legendary Pokemon back to Gyms very soon--and this time, you'll have a chance to encounter their Shiny forms.

Cresselia, Kyogre, and Groudon are all set to reappear as five-star Raids over the next few weeks. The Lunar Pokemon will be the first to return, appearing in Raids from May 27 to June 18. The Sea Basin Pokemon Kyogre will follow from June 18 to June 27, while Groundon is scheduled to appear from June 27 to July 10.

It's rare to see the aforementioned three Legendaries in Pokemon Go, so if you missed previous chances to catch them, this is a good opportunity to add them to your collection. Each one also only has a single type, which should make it easier to prepare a team to counter them. The Psychic-type Cresselia is weak to Bug, Dark, and Ghost Pokemon; the Water-type Kyogre is vulnerable to Grass and Electric Pokemon; and the Ground-type Groudon has a disadvantage against Grass, Water, and Ice Pokemon.

In the meantime, you still have a chance to catch Azelf, Mesprit, and Uxie. The Legendary lake trio will appear in Raids until May 27. Even after that date, however, it will still be possible to come across the Pokemon in the wild, although the chance of encountering them is exceptionally rare. Each Legendary is also currently exclusive to a specific region, so there's no word if or when they'll rotate to other parts of the world.

Niantic has also announced the date of Pokemon Go's next Community Day. June's event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 8, and the featured Pokemon this time will be Slakoth, the adorable sloth originally from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. On top of increased Slakoth spawns, Pokemon Eggs will hatch at a quarter of the distance they normally require during the event.

E3 2019: Wolfenstein: Youngblood -- What We Know And What We Want

Sat, 05/25/2019 - 00:00

It's been two years since our last adventure in the Nazi-killing, bombastic world of Wolfenstein, but the wait is almost over as Wolfenstein: Youngblood is fast approaching. Bethesda are returning to E3 2019 with its very own press conference once again, and Wolfenstein fans have their fingers crossed for a new gameplay demonstration of Youngblood ahead of its June 26 release date.

What We Know So Far

Wolfenstein: Youngblood was first announced at E3 last year. The game is being developed by MachineGames, who has created all of the most recent Wolfenstein games, though this time it is in collaboration with Dishonored developer Arkane Studios. Youngblood leaves B.J. Blazkowicz behind and shifts focus to his two daughters, Jessica and Sophia. Set 19 years in the future during the 1980s, the twin sisters are in Paris trying to locate B.J., and lending a Nazi-killing hand where need be.

For the first time in the rebooted series, you'll be able to play cooperatively. If you don't have a buddy on hand, you sister will be AI-controlled. Unfortunately, there is no split-screen capability planned for Youngblood. The game is adding new RPG elements, updated weaponry, new abilities and gadgets. Youngblood executive producer Jerk Gustafsson told Official PlayStation Magazine that the level design will resemble that of Dishonored. MachineGames also confirmed that the gameplay structure will be more open-ended and branching, with plenty of side missions to get stuck into. Missions can also be taken on in any order. As this is not a full priced game, we're expecting a condensed version of the Wolfenstein formula.

The game is set to cost $29.99 for the standard edition and if you splash out on the $39.99 Deluxe Edition you will also get access to a Buddy Pass where you can invite a friend who doesn't have the game to play with you for free. The game will have cosmetic only microtransactions and will arrive on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch on June 26.

What's Confirmed For E3?

So far, Bethesda have confirmed very little for its 2019 press conference. While there's sure to be a variety of titles showcased, only Doom Eternal has a confirmed appearance at this stage. Bethesda's Todd Howard has also ruled out the possibility of Starfield or Elder Scrolls VI making an appearance, but there's no official word on whether we'll see more Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

What We Hope To See At E3

Given Wolfenstein: Youngblood releases mere weeks after Bethesda's E3 conference, we're hoping to see an extended look at how co-op gameplay will work. So far, it seems clear that high-octane action is making a significant return but we've yet to check it out in all its uncut glory, so that's what we'll be hoping for come E3. Excellent co-operative campaigns aren't always easy to come by, so we're keen to see how the multiplayer elements are integrated with the story and combat mechanics.

Additionally, we'd love to get a closer look at the new weapons, gadgets, and abilities that have been teased for Youngblood. It would also be great to learn whether each twin will have a unique approach to combat. The fast approaching release date makes us pretty confident that at least seem of these questions will be answered come E3.

Overwatch Is Finally Getting A Much-Requested Feature

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 21:20

Blizzard has revealed that Overwatch will be updated with a new replay feature that will allow players to dive back into previous matches and watch how the action unfolded from any perspective. The Replay feature is currently available on the Public Test Realm PC, where it will be put through its paces before being officially made available on all versions of the game.

As detailed on Blizzard's website, players will be able to watch replays from the first-person and third-person perspectives, or take a bird's-eye view of it all. The action can be sped up or slowed down, and the UI can also be removed.

Replays will be accessible from the Player Profile page, where the Replays tab will appear. Overwatch will store the 10 most recent matches from all games, except for the Tutorial and Practice Range modes. However, Blizzard notes that replays will be available for the duration of a patch, so if the game is updated to a new version, replays will be reset--as is also the case for Highlights.

You can take a look at some of the tips for using Replay that Blizzard has provided on its website, below.

Here are a few tips to help you level up your Replays experience:

  • If you want to learn how a specific player uses a hero, make sure to spectate both them and the enemy they're attacking. This will help you understand the difference in their play styles.
  • Using the map overlay (Ctrl+I) to watch a match will help you understand how team fights unfold. The icons for each hero provide status indicators so you can see exactly what is happening to that player.
  • For the best view when using the map overlay, position your camera high in the sky and look straight down at the ground. This allows you to see an overhead map when using the tool.
  • Setting up static cameras in specific locations can help you view fights from multiple perspectives and better understand team rotations. Remember to bookmark your locations in each new match.
  • If you're creating highlight footage for videos, don't overuse slow motion. For the most dramatic effect, slow down the most impactful moments of a play or a team fight.

Overwatch Anniversary event is currently live on all platforms and runs through June 10. It has introduced a bunch of new skins, in addition to other cosmetics and rotating brawls. Blizzard is also hosting an in-game contest for Overwatch League fans. From May 27-31, players can wear an Overwatch League team hero skin and take part in Quick Play or Competitive matches. Each match completed while wearing one of these skins earns a point for the team represented. On June 3 a winning team will be announced and the winning team gets to take over the official OWL Instagram account.

Dead Island 2 Has Not Been Canceled

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 15:35

Dead Island 2 was announced all the way back in 2014, and its development has been anything but smooth. The game was originally announced with Spec Ops: The Line studio Yager announced as the developer.

But in 2015, publisher Deep Silver announced that it was parting ways with Yager, and it was later confirmed that Sumo Digital would be taking over as the lead developer.

Deep Silver was later acquired by THQ Nordic, which is now the publisher of Dead Island 2. This week, THQ Nordic announced earnings, and it included an image of Dead Island 2's logo. This suggested that the game is still in the works, and THQ Nordic CEO Lars Wingefors confirmed it.

"Dead Island 2 [is] still being worked on. Stay tuned," he said (via IGN).

That's all Wingefors had to say on the subject of Dead Island 2. There is no word as of yet as to when Dead Island 2 may resurface or what changes might be

Also during the call, Wingefors talked about THQ Nordic's massive development pipeline. He said the company has 80 projects in the works, including 32 titles that have been announced and 48 that are unannounced. The unannounced titles include new games from Kingdom Come studio Warhorse, Saints Row developer Volition, and Metro dev 4A Games.

Years ago, it was said that Dead Island 2 would feature a heavy emphasis on melee combat and role-playing game elements. According to Deep Silver, it will also have "never-before-seen" handcrafted weapons. The game is powered by Unreal Engine 4, and will take players to places like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Venice Beach. Another previously touted feature is "seamless" multiplayer for up to eight players that can "cooperate, compete, or simply coexist." The publisher has described this as a "new-gen multiplayer experience."

However, it remains to see what might have changed throughout the game's tumultuous development. E3 2019 is coming up next month, but nothing so far has suggested that Dead Island 2 will resurface at the gaming show.

Assassin's Creed Creator's New Game, Ancestors, Gets Release Date And New Trailer

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 15:14

Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the new title from Assassin's Creed creator Patrice Desilets, now has a release date. The title will launch on PC on August 27, with a release on console for PS4 and Xbox One coming in December. The PC version is exclusive to the Epic Games Store for its first year.

Ancestors is the first title from Desilets' new studio, Panache Digital Games. The studio was founded in 2014, so it's been a while to see the first title from the independent team.

"Our goal for Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is to provide an experience no player has ever lived before," Desilets said in a statement. "Our small team is creating an ambitious and immersive game with a unique setting that will captivate gamers of all types, and we look forward to players exploring our world later this year."

Ancestors is published by Private Division, which is the independent games label run by Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead parent publisher Take-Two Interactive.

A single-player, third-person exploration survival game, your journey in Ancestors begins as a hominid in Neogene Africa some 10 million years ago. Over time, you grow and literally evolve to the Australopithecus popularly known as Lucy. On your way to becoming Lucy, you'll learn new skills and abilities as you take the form of the next subspecies of hominid that would eventually become the human form of today. It is quite an ambitious concept to say the least.

You can check out the latest trailer for Ancestors in the embed above.

Read next: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey Is An Uncompromising, Relentless Survival Experience

Between Two Ferns Is Becoming A Netflix Movie

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 14:55

Funny or Die's absolutely absurd, low-budget fake interview show featuring Zach Galifianakis as its host, Between Two Ferns, is being made into a movie for Netflix. The film will be released on September 20 this year, so thankfully fans don't have very long to wait.

It's being written by Galifianakis and Scott Aukerman, who wrote the original web show, with Aukerman directing. Caitlin Daley and Mike Farah of Funny or Die are producing alongside Aukerman and Galifianakis.

Here is the silly synopsis:

"Zach Galifianakis dreamed of becoming a star. But when Will Ferrell discovered his public access TV show "Between Two Ferns" and uploaded it to Funny or Die, Zach became a viral laughing stock.

"Zach and his crew are taking a road trip to complete a series of high-profile celebrity interviews and restore his reputation. Directed by Scott Aukerman, Between Two Ferns: The Movie is a laugh-out-loud comedy that gives new insight into the curmudgeonly, beloved outsider Zach Galifianakis has created over the years."

Between Two Ferns has welcome some huge names in the past, including Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, Bradley Cooper, Bruce Willis, Ben Stiller, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Carell, and many others.

The interviews are cringe-worthy and very awkward, and they usually end in calamity or worse. They proved to be immensely popular on YouTube, so it is no surprise that a new version of the show is now being made.

A Knights Of The Old Republic Movie Is Being Written - Report

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 14:21

Lucasfilm might be developing a movie based on the 2003 BioWare RPG Knights of the Old Republic. According to BuzzFeed, Lucasfilm has hired Altered Carbon creator, Laeta Kalogridis--who also wrote the scripts for Shutter Island and Alita: Battle Angle--to pen the script. Kalogridis also produced the box office juggernaut Avatar, which is the highest-grossing movie in history.

Knights of the Old Republic takes place 4,000 years before the events of the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope.

News that Lucasfilm is developing a Knights of the Old Republic movie is not a surprise. At Star Wars Celebration in April, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that the studio talks about making a Knights of the Old Republic movie "all the time." Kennedy straight-up confirmed at the time that a Knights of the Old Republic film would be made or at least considered. "Yes, we are developing something to look at," she told MTV News at the time.

According to BuzzFeed, Kalogridis is "close" to finishing the initial draft of her script for Knights of the Old Republic, which could be a trilogy. Three anonymous sources told this to BuzzFeed.

Kalogridis would become the first woman to script a Star Wars movie since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, which was co-written by Leigh Brackett.

If the Knights of the Old Republic movie is indeed real, it is not coming anytime soon. The next Star Wars movie is 2022's film from Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. BuzzFeed's report notes that Kalogridis has not yet submitted the Knights of the Old Republic movie script's first draft, so it could be a very long time before the movie gets made (if it ever does). There is no word as of yet regarding who will direct or star in the film, or when it may be released.

Whatever the case, Knights of the Old Republic is a fan-favorite Star Wars game rich with storytelling opportunities, so it's exciting to think about what could happen.

#Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy talked to us about the future of #StarWars – including a Knights of the Old Republic movie and female filmmakers taking the helm, as well as Palpatine’s surprise return in the trailer for @StarWars #EpisodeIX

— MTV NEWS (@MTVNEWS) April 16, 2019

The next Star Wars film is this December's The Rise of Skywalker, which concludes the new trilogy that began with 2015's The Force Awakens. It also wraps up the entire Skywalker Saga that started back in 1977, so it is truly the end of an era. The first images from the film recently emerged, and they showcase some brand-new characters.

Loot Boxes Could Be Made Illegal: New Bill Officially Introduced With Bipartisan Support

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 09:46

After releasing the first details of his plan to go after loot boxes and pay-to-win mechanics in video games, Republican US Senator Josh Hawley today officially released the full text of his bill. Not only that, but Hawley revealed two co-sponsors, and they are both of the rival Democratic party.

"It's pretty simple. Video game companies shouldn't put casinos targeted at kids in their games. Proud of this bipartisan effort," Hawley said on Twitter.

The two co-sponsors of the bill, which is called Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act, are Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Ed Markey (Massachusetts).

The bill asks Congress to regulate some pay-to-win microtransactions in video games, while it also seeks a ban on loot boxes for games that are designed to appeal to people under the age of 18. Specifically, the full wording of the bill states that it would become illegal for a publisher to release a "minor-oriented" game that features pay-to-win microtransactions or loot boxes, while it also seeks to previously released games from receiving updates that add such mechanics.

Key to this bill is how pay-to-win and loot boxes are defined. The bill states that a pay-to-win mechanic is one that "eases a user's progression through content otherwise available within the game without the purchase of such transaction," as well as one that "assists a user in accomplishing an achievement within the game that can otherwise be accomplished without the purchase of such transaction.

It is also defined as something that "assists a user in receiving an award associated with the game that is otherwise available in association with the game without the purchase of such transaction." And finally, the bill states that pay-to-win also means a purchase that "permits a user to continue to access content of the game that had previously been accessible to the user but has been made inaccessible after the expiration of a timer or a number of gameplay attempts."

Exclusions include difficulty modes, cosmetic items that do not affect gameplay, and add-on content like DLC packs and expansions.

As for loot boxes, the bill defines a loot box as a "randomized or partly randomized" item that unlocks a feature of the product or adds to or enhances the entertainment value of the product without disclosing what the actual content is until after the purchase of the loot box.

The bill defines a "minor-oriented" game as one that is targeted at people under the age of 18 as judged by the subject matter, the visual content, and the music or audio content, among other things. No examples of what a "minor-oriented" game are were provided. The bill's language also does not say if Hawley will work with the United States' ratings organization the ESRB on this bill. That group is owned and operated by the Entertainment Software Association, which opposes this bill, so that could be one reason why.

Hawley's bill says he's able to ask for this ban under the Federal Trade Commission's Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices act.

In addition to the ban on some loot boxes and pay-to-win mechanics, the bill is asking for a study to be conducted on the effect of pay-to-win and loot boxes that would be commissioned not later than two years after the act is enacted.

Hawley and his co-sponsors are asking for the study to analyze the psychological effects of pay-to-win microtransactions and loot boxes on users and also to study game development practices related to pay-to-win microtransactions and loot boxes, among other things. It's not clear why Hawley is asking for these studies to be held after his bill is theoretically enacted and not before it.

The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act's co-sponsors released statements in support of the bill to The Verge. Markey said, "Inherently manipulative game features that take advantage of kids and turn play time into pay time should be out of bounds." Blumenthal commented, "Congress must send a clear warning to app developers and tech companies: Children are not cash cows to exploit for profit."

For its part, the ESA has said it opposes Hawley's bill. The trade group, which represents the video game industry's interests in Washington D.C. and also runs E3 every year, is in business to protect and support its members. A lawmaker from Hawaii who also targeted loot boxes told GameSpot that the ESA sent lobbyists to Hawaii to try to kill his bill. In response to Hawley's bill, the ESA said in a statement to PC Gamer that countries like Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have also determined that "loot boxes do not constitute gambling."

"We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents' hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls," the ESA said.

An Uphill Battle

Research firm Cowen & Company released a note to investors about Hawley's proposal. The overwhelming majority of bills that are proposed never pass in US Congress, and Cowen & Company said Hawley's bill is no exception in that it faces an uphill battle.

Analyst Doug Creutz says Hawley's bill represents a "far more serious, existential-level threat" to gaming, and specifically mobile gaming, because it also focuses on pay-to-win mechanics in addition to loot boxes.

As for why Hawley's bill might run into trouble, Cowen & Company acknowledged that Hawley is an outlier among Republicans in that most Republicans are pro-business and regularly oppose regulation on technology companies. Not only that, but Congress is "barely functioning" in 2019, with lawmakers focusing more on "must-pass legislation" that keeps the government open.

"Loot boxes have very little mind share in Congress," Cowen & Company said.

The firm also said Hawley's bill might face a roadblock because the Supreme Court already decided in 2011 that video games are protected as free speech under the First Amendment. As such, some lawmakers might not want to be involved in a committee about loot boxes and microtransactions, Cowen & Company said. One of the new bill's co-sponsors, Richard Blumenthal, supported the bill that sought to ban the sale of violent video games to minors which was eventually struck down.

The next step for Hawley's bill would be to head to a Congressional hearing. No hearing is currently scheduled, which may not bode well for the bill. However, Cowen & Company noted that Markey and Blumenthal coming on as co-sponsors gives the bill more chances at getting a hearing. Hawley, a freshman Senator and the youngest US Senator at age 39, sits on the Judiciary Committee and he might ask chairman Lindsey Graham for a hearing, Cowen & Company said.

Another issue at play is that the FTC already announced it is holding a hearing on August 7 to dig into loot boxes. Democratic lawmaker Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) requested this hearing, though despite that, she did not become a co-sponsor of Hawley's bill.

Overall, Cowen & Company says the video game industry should take Hawley's bill seriously, even though it also believes the legislation is not a near-term concern. You can read the full text of the Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act here.

Read next: Nintendo Is Removing Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem Mobile Games In Belgium Amid Loot Box Concerns

Call Of Duty Mobile's Battle Royale Mode Revealed

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 09:16

This year's mainline Call of Duty title is rumored to be Modern Warfare 4, but it's not the only new Call of Duty game coming this year. Activision is releasing Call of Duty Mobile, and the company has now revealed the title's Battle Royale mode. In a blog post, Activision said the mode is similar in structure to Black Ops 4's Blackout mode and other battle royale games in that players are dropped onto a "colossal map" and must fight until only one player--or one team--remains alive.

It does share some similarities with Blackout, but it stands alone with its own unique elements as well, Activision said. The high points are as following:

  • Up to 100 players supported
  • Solo, Duo, and four-player teams are being tested currently
  • There are six classes, each with their own unique ability and skill
  • You can revive teammates, who drop back into the map from a cargo plane after healing
  • You can play in first- or third-person, though this is locked in before a match begins, and players will be matched together with those using the same camera perspective.
  • The map features locations from past CoD games including Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2, Black Ops, and Black Ops II.
  • Vehicles are supported, including ATV, Light Helicopter, SUV, and Tactical Raft.

Call of Duty Mobile is only still in the "early" stages of development and testing, so things could change. That being said, Activision released some work-in-progress images; see them in the gallery below.

Here is a rundown of the game's classes, with descriptions written by Activision:

Call of Duty Mobile Classes
  • Defender: With the ability to place a deformable Transform Shield, this class also is Reinforced, raising resistance to all damage except bullets.
  • Mechanic: Able to call an EMP Drone to create electro-magnetic interference on hostile forces, this class also features the Engineer ability, granting augmented sight to vehicles, hostile traps, and other equipment.
  • Scout: Utilizing the Sensor Dart that can view hostile positions in the immediate area of the radar map, this class also benefits from the Tracker ability; allowing you to see fresh footprints of hostiles.
  • Clown: A master of distraction and friend of the undead, this class has a Toy Bomb to detonate, summoning zombies that only attack hostiles near to them; due in part to the Clown having the Anti-Zombieability, which reduces the zombies’ aggression distance.
  • Medic: This class can place a Medical Station that continuously heals the Medic and associated allies in the immediate vicinity. In addition, the Master Healer ability allows a Medic to heal more quickly, and reduces the time it takes to revive teammates.
  • Ninja: Lastly, this clandestine class has a Grapple Gun that fires a hook, allowing you to propel yourself up and onto target buildings or across the landscape at speed. Movement is quiet too, due to this class having the Dead Silence ability.

In terms of reviving, players who die drop a dog tag. Players can pick up the dog tag and press a button to revive their fallen teammate. It takes some time, and it must be completed fully before a player gets respawned via a cargo plane drop.

The full blog post has all the important details you need to know, so head to Activision's website to read all about Call of Duty Mobile's battle royale mode.

Call of Duty Mobile is developed by Tencent's Timi studio. It will release around the world, and the first, small-scale beta recently began in India. Another beta is coming to Australia "soon," with more regions to be supported later on.

E3 2019: Halo Infinite -- What We Know And What We Want

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 09:10

E3 2019 is right around the corner. One of the biggest games at the show is Halo: Infinite, which is Microsoft's ambitious new instalment in its long-running sci-fi blockbuster series.

It's been almost four years since the release of Halo 5: Guardians, so it is high time that Microsoft begins to talk about and show off the next entry in the popular shooter series. Here's what we know about the Xbox One and PC game, as well as what we'd hope to see from an E3 reveal.

What We Know So Far

Halo Infinite was officially announced a year ago at Microsoft's E3 2018 briefing. Microsoft showcased an impressing-looking trailer not for the game itself, but rather, its brand-new engine, Slipspace. While it didn't contain any gameplay, and we know nothing about the story, the trailer got Halo fans hyped for the long-awaited sequel to 2015's Halo 5: Guardians.

While story details are being kept under wraps for now, Microsoft did confirm that Halo Infinite will tell a story that focuses more on Master Chief than Halo 5 did. As fans may recall, that title strayed from the franchise's hero with a storyline that touched on another character, Agent Locke, and even had players fight as him for some parts of the campaign.

Putting more of an emphasis on Master Chief is the smart call by Microsoft, demonstrating a commitment to getting the story right this time around with Halo Infinite. Microsoft has acknowledged that Halo 5's story was a letdown, so fans will be eager to see how the story grows and improves this time. For what it's worth, Microsoft is telling fans to think of Halo Infinite as Halo 6 instead of some other kind of spin-off or other form of franchise extension beyond the main storyline. It is a "spiritual reboot" of the franchise, according to 343 studio boss Bonnie Ross.

Halo is best known for its multiplayer mode, but unfortunately no details are available at this stage beyond the news from years ago that it will feature local split-screen (huzzah!). Microsoft has said the new Slipspace Engine is capable of supporting numerous different modes, including battle royale (though that mode is not currently in development). You can expect Halo Infinite to bring back its classic team-based multiplayer, but with the Halo franchise generally understood to not as popular or strong as it once was, Microsoft will need to deliver something new and compelling in the multiplayer department to reignite interest in the aging series. Halo 5's massive-scale, MOBA-style Warzone mode was a refreshing take on the Halo formula, and fans will be looking to see Halo Infinite innovate even further on the multiplayer side.

Another big thing to know about Halo Infinite is that it is coming to Xbox One (or the Xbox One family of consoles; more on that later) as well as PC. That's notable because the Halo FPS series hasn't been on PC since 2004's Halo 2. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming this year to PC, so PC players are getting a double-dose of Halo goodness after all the years.

It is also worth noting that Halo Infinite isn't being developed by 343 Industries alone. The studio has recruited SkyBox labs to help; the Vancouver-based studio also worked on Halo 5: Forge for Windows 10 and did the work on Halo 5's Xbox One X enhancements.

What's Confirmed For E3?

Bonnie Ross, the head of Halo developer 343 Industries, has said game director Chris Lee will appear at E3 2019 to talk about Halo Infinite, or at least its new Slipspace Engine. That is all that is confirmed at this stage, however.

What We Hope To See At E3

Last year's trailer for the Slipspace Engine was an exciting first look at what Halo Infinite could be, but Microsoft has yet to share any details on what the game actually is or what it looks like. It is time, at E3 2019, for Microsoft to release new details and gameplay footage for Halo Infinite. What's the story going to be? What will multiplayer offer? How will the team expand on Forge? What is the big new hook to get people excited to return to the aging sci-fi series? We are hoping Microsoft answers these questions and more, even if the company is only willing to talk at a high level.

There is also the matter of the rumored next-generation Xbox and what Halo's place is on it. The latest rumor is that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the new Xbox in 2020, while also supporting the current model as well as a cross-generation title. No Halo game since Halo 1 has released as a launch title for a new Xbox, so it would be a big deal, and it makes sense for Microsoft to release Halo Infinite as a launch title for the next Xbox to help sales start strong.

According to Microsoft insider Brad Sams, careers will be made or lost based on the success of Halo Infinite given Microsoft's reported half-billion dollar investment in the game and its engine. Microsoft's commitment to expanding upon and improving Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been impressive, and the game is in a great state today, but it's time for Halo Infinite details.

Dead Cells DLC Gets Hilarious New Trailer

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 07:10

French indie studio Motion Twin is celebrating the release of Dead Cells' new free DLC in a hilarious new trailer. Promoting the game's Rise of the Giant DLC, we see the protagonist effortlessly incinerated by the end of the one-minute trailer.

The trailer starts with the character walking into a cave before tumbling Emperor's New Groove-style into a pit overrun with monsters who seamlessly take all of the protagonist's weapons. As he flees, he climbs up the bones of a giant, who reanimates itself and cheekily burns our protagonist to a crisp with eye lasers. Seems the giant doesn't mess around. You can check out the trailer above.

In marking the Rise of Giant DLC's release, Motion Twin has announced that the critically-acclaimed indie title sold more than two million copies. The DLC is available everywhere (Nintendo Switch, PC, and PS4) except Xbox One because, as the team has discovered, there was "a last minute bug in the Certification process." Xbox players will see the update a bit later, Motion Twin explained.

Motion Twin also announced earlier this month that Dead Cells will make the jump from consoles and PC to mobile devices, with iOS releasing first and Android following shortly thereafter. There's no exact release date as of yet, but the title is expected to drop "soon."

In our Dead Cells review, we said that "Dead Cells is a phenomenal effort to blend together some very disparate genres into a tight, cohesive whole. It's one of the better examples of how to remix ideas without losing their individual strengths."

Fortnite Week 3 Secret Battle Star Location Guide (Season 9 Utopia Challenge)

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:50

Season 9 of Fortnite rolls on with a new batch of content for Epic's hit battle royale shooter. In addition to the ongoing Downtown Drop limited-time mode, Week 3's challenges are now available across PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, and mobile devices. These are your best bet for snagging all the new Season 9 cosmetics, as each task you complete will net you Battle Stars, which in turn will level up your Battle Pass and unlock rewards.

Week 3's challenges are particularly straightforward, so you shouldn't have too much difficulty completing them. This is fortunate, because there's an added bonus for finishing all seven challenges from a given week: You'll also complete one of Season 9's Utopia challenges, which will reward you with a special loading screen. These typically hide a clue that points you to a free item hidden somewhere around the game's map, such as a Battle Star that will level your Battle Pass up by one full tier.

If you've finished three weeks' worth of missions this season, you'll complete the third Season 9 Utopia challenge and unlock the loading screen pictured below. Per tradition, this screen features a clue leading eagle-eyed players to a free Battle Star. Specifically, the clue is scrawled onto the concrete wall the puppies are standing on; look closely and you can see the sketch of a Battle Star above a stack of cars. You'll need to go to someplace on the map that resembles the drawing in order to find the item.

If the drawing wasn't clear enough, you can find a pile of cars like that in Junk Junction, near the northwestern corner of the island. Glide toward the area at the start of a match and you should be able to easily spot the stack of cars. Make your way to the top and the Battle Star will appear. Collect it, finish the match, and your Battle Pass will be leveled up by one tier. If you need more help finding it, we've marked the Battle Star's location on the map below. You can also watch us lead you to it in the video at the top of this guide.

Unlike Week 2's secret Fortbyte #13, there's a caveat to be aware of before you can collect this Battle Star. The item will only appear if you've complete three full weeks' worth of challenges, which means you won't simply be able to go to the stack of cars in Junk Junction and expect to find it unless you've done all of the necessary work first. If you need help completing any earlier challenges, you can find guides for all the trickier ones in our full Fortnite Season 9 challenges roundup. We'll continue to update that with more tips as the season rolls on.

Epic recently rolled out Fortnite's 9.10 update, which kicked off the aforementioned Downtown Drop LTM, which features its own assortment of challenges to complete and rewards to unlock. Alongside that, Epic introduced the Hang Time bundle, which comes with a pair of Jordan tie-in skins. Other changes the patch made include the addition of Hot Spots--areas on the island where you'll have a chance to find Rare or better loot--and the reintroduction of the Semi-Auto Sniper Rifle, which is once again available in Vending Machines, chests, and as floor loot.

With PS5 Coming, Sony's Big First-Party Games Still Releasing On PS4

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:45

With the possibility of PS4 and PS5 playing together via backward compatibility, Sony has no plans of leaving the nearly 100 million PS4 owners in the past. Given how much recent attention has been given to PS5 and the fact that Sony won't be at E3, you might wonder what's going with first-party games coming to PS4. But Sony has reaffirmed that these exclusives are still headed to the current-gen platform.

"For the next three years or so, PS4 will be the engine of SIE's engagement and probability, as we seek to keep the existing owner base engaged and delighted and attract new owners from different markets and different demographics," SIE CEO and president Jim Ryan said during a Sony Investor Relations Day 2019 presentation (via IGN). "In this we will be massively helped by an outstanding roster of new and exclusive games that have yet to be launched."

Ryan was speaking over a slide at the investor meeting, which featured a graphic (pictured above) with one tile that read "Outstanding roster of exclusive AAA games still to come," followed by thumbnails of three upcoming PS4 games: The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding, and Ghost of Tsushima.

This doesn't rule out the possibility that these games are also released on PS5, but Ryan and the rest of Sony are not ready to cut off the flow of PS4 games just yet.

We recently saw footage of the PS5's insanely-fast load times, thanks in large part to the system's newly-equipped solid-state drives. Despite some of the impressive power packed into the system, PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny told Wired writer Peter Rubin that the PS5 will have an "appealing" price point: "I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set."

New Overwatch Event Makes Your Choice Of Skin Matter

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:33

Overwatch League, the official competitive scene for Blizzard's team shooter, is pitting fans against each other to win the honor of topping the teams. The winning team gets to take over the official OWL Instagram account.

From May 27-31, equip an Overwatch League team hero skin and take part in Quick Play or Competitive matches. Each match you complete earns one point for the team you're representing, and the winning team will be announced on June 3. It all works similar to Splatoon's Splatfests, which tie team colors to surveys.

The announcement notes that you must complete a match for your point to register, including overtime. It's okay if you need to switch to a different hero, as long as you were wearing a team skin at some point during the match. It also doesn't matter if you're wearing the Home or Away skin. You can also contribute points on Twitter by tweeting with the #MyOWLTeam hashtag and tagging your favorite team. Blizzard promises that stage three of the event will begin on June 6, but it didn't specify exactly what that will entail.

This is run concurrently with the middle of the Overwatch Anniversary event, which runs through June 10. As usual that has introduced a bunch of new skins, as well as other cosmetics and rotating brawls. Still, if you're a fan of the Los Angeles Gladiators or the Philadelphia Fusion, you may want to put aside your Honeydew Mei or Gargoyle Winston temporarily and support the team.

Super Mario Maker 2 Pre-Order Guide, Release Date, Switch Online Bundle

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:25

Super Mario Maker 2 was announced during a February 2019 Nintendo Direct and will release this summer on June 28 for Nintendo Switch. The upcoming game allows players to create their own Super Mario levels and share them for others to play. A sequel to Super Mario Maker, which released on Wii U in 2015, Super Mario Maker 2 expands on the original game's level-building tools and customization options in major ways.

A recent Direct showcased new gameplay elements for Super Mario Maker 2, and one of the biggest additions is online multiplayer. In fact, several online multiplayer modes will be available, including Multiplayer Versus, where you compete against others to finish a level first; Multiplayer Co-op, where you work together to clear a course; and Nearby Play, which lets you play locally with friends who also own a copy of the game, as long as you have a stable internet connection.

Players creating their own levels will have a whole new batch of assets to use from Super Mario World 3D; plus, new course themes (desert, snow, forest, etc.) and a wide range of other new customizations will be at players' fingertips. With Super Mario Maker 2, Nintendo is adding even more opportunities for players to get creative, which is sure to lead to some interesting level designs.

We've already seen a lot of promising gameplay from Super Mario Maker 2, and especially if you were a fan of the first game, you might be ready to secure your copy now. Nintendo is offering a couple of unique ways to bundle Super Mario Maker 2, and they each revolve around Nintendo Switch Online, which is required for many of Super Mario Maker 2's modes.

First, there's a Super Mario Maker 2 and Nintendo Switch Online bundle that'll get you the game and a one-year online membership for $70. That essentially saves you $10 on the membership, which generally sells for $20. If you already have a Switch online membership, Nintendo is also offering a pair of game vouchers for $100 that you can redeem for two eligible games. Assuming you pick two full-price ($60) games, the voucher deal will save you $20 in the long-term. However, we suggest checking prices for the games you want elsewhere first, as you can find many Nintendo games for cheaper at other retailers. For example, both Pokemon Let's Go games are selling for $44 each at Amazon, but Nintendo still has them listed at $60.

Super Mario Maker 2 pre-order bonuses

As of right now, there are no bonuses for pre-ordering Super Mario Maker 2, which is fairly common of Nintendo titles. If any retailers start offering bonuses, we'll include that info here.

Pre-order Super Mario Maker 2 standard edition

The standard edition just comes with the base game and sells for $60. If you already have a Nintendo Switch Online membership and aren't interested in Nintendo's voucher-compatible games, this is your best bet. Plus, if the game's price drops at Amazon before release day, you'll be charged the lowest price when the game ships.

Pre-order Super Mario Maker 2 + 12-Month Switch Online bundle

If you're planning to pick up Super Mario Maker 2 and don't already have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you'll probably want to invest in a membership if you want to enjoy any of the games online modes. You can, of course, pre-order the bundle at Nintendo, but other retailers are offering the bundle as well.

As a reminder, if you're already an Amazon Prime member, you can get 12 months of Switch Online for free.