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PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Dev Threatens Epic Over Fortnite's Similar New Mode

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 02:12

Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene invented the battle royale game mode long before he turned it into a standalone game with PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. But for all of the battle royale mods and games that exist, PUBG has been far more successful: The game has smashed all-time records on Steam and enjoyed a meteoric rise, with no end in sight. As you'd expect, other companies are looking to capitalize on the interest in PUBG, but the game's developer is unhappy with the particular approach Epic Games is taking with a new mode in Fortnite.

Epic announced earlier this month that it was releasing a new battle royale-style game mode for its upcoming free-to-play game, Fortnite. It made no attempt to hide its obvious inspiration, naming the mode Battle Royale and stating in a blog post, "We love battle royale games like PUBG and thought Fortnite would make a great foundation for our own version." After initially opening it only to those who purchased the early access version, Epic recently revealed that it will offer this aspect of the game for free to everyone starting on September 26 (the entirety of Fortnite will be free-to-play beginning next year).

In a curious move, PUBG developer Bluehole has now spoken out about the mode, even going so far as to release a press release sharing its reaction to Epic's announcement. The press release, which refers to PUBG as "the first standalone Battle Royale survival shooter game," states that it's decided to respond to "growing concerns regarding the similarities between the battle royale mode in Epic Games' newly revealed Fortnite and PUBG."

"We've had an ongoing relationship with Epic Games throughout PUBG's development as they are the creators of UE4, the engine we licensed for the game," said Bluehole VP and executive producer Chang Han Kim. "After listening to the growing feedback from our community and reviewing the gameplay for ourselves, we are concerned that Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known."

The press release notes that PUBG developers have "no relationship to Fortnite's development as concerns around User Interface (UI), gameplay, and structural replication in the battle royale mode exist."

Han Kim also took issue with Epic mentioning PUBG in reference to Fortnite's new mode. "We have also noticed that Epic Games references PUBG in the promotion of Fortnite to their community and in communications with the press. This was never discussed with us and we don't feel that it's right."

He also issued a threat, suggesting that Bluehole could attempt to take some "action" against Epic. "The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action," Han Kim said.

No further specifics were shared, and it's unclear whether Bluehole has any intention of actually pursuing legal action. In light of PUBG's massive success, it's no surprise to see other developers looking to it for inspiration. As the press release even points out, Greene discussed copycats in a recent Reddit AMA.

"Other companies will, of course, enter the marketplace, but I would just hope they put their own spin on the game mode and not just make a carbon copy!" he said in response to a question (which didn't specifically mention Fortnite). "I try not to worry about them to be honest and instead just concentrate on completing my vision for a battle royale game."

We've reached out to Epic for a response to Bluehole's comments. We'll report back with anything it has to share.

Nintendo Switch Deal Includes System And Mario + Rabbids For $340

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 02:06

Since launch, the Nintendo Switch has been hard to come by, and that may not change soon. It's uncommon to see it in stock, but not only can you pick one up right now in the US, you can do so with a discounted copy of one of its best games for a limited time.

Over on Ebay, highly rated seller antonline is offering a bundle with a Switch with gray Joy-Cons and a copy of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle for $340. Provided you're interested in the game, that's $20 cheaper than you would pay to get them individually (assuming you can actually find a Switch to purchase). Considering there haven't been many deals on the Switch or its games, this is a particularly good deal.

As such, you may want to act quickly if you're interested--we don't know how many are in stock or how long the deal will last for. Free shipping is also available.

Nintendo recently affirmed that there could be shortages of Switch heading into this holiday. Meanwhile, Mario + Rabbids has already become the system's best-selling third-party game despite releasing just late last month. And that's with good reason, as detailed in our Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle review. If you do pick up the bundle, be sure to check out our guide detailing 13 things we wish we knew before starting Kingdom Battle.

Nazi-Hunting TV Drama On The Way From Get Out's Jordan Peele

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 01:19

Comedian, actor, and director Jordan Peele is working on a new TV show about Nazi hunters in the 1970s. It has been reported that Peele, best known the Comedy Central's sketch show Key & Peele and this year's horror hit Get Out, will develop and produce the series, titled The Hunt.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, this is the first project from a development deal that Peele signed with Sonar Entertainment earlier this year. The site states that The Hunt will tell the true story of "a diverse band of Nazi hunters in 1970s America as they set out on a quest for revenge and justice--tracking and killing hundreds of Nazis who, with the unconscionable help of the U.S. government, escaped justice and embedded themselves in American society."

Although no network is yet attached to the show, THR says that the project is already attracting interest from potential broadcasters.

Peele wrote and starred in five season of Key & Peele, alongside comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key, and the pair collaborated on last year's comedy Keanu as well as appearing in the first season of Fargo. Get Out was Peele's writing/directing debut; produced by Blumhouse films, the social horror movie has became one of the 2017's most profitable movies. To date it has made $252 million from a budget of just $4.5 million.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Teaser Points To Reveal Next Week

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 00:23

If you're starved for new information about Red Dead Redemption 2, it seems we have something to look forward to quite soon. Rockstar has teased that some kind of announcement or reveal is slated for next week.

Unfortunately, we have almost no idea of what to expect--Rockstar merely tweeted the image below. It contains nothing but a date and time--Thursday, September 28, at 11 AM ET (8 AM PT/4 PM BST, or 1 AM AEST the next day)--on a background that resembles the look of Red Dead Redemption 2's marketing materials. The company might plan to share new details or release another trailer, but for the time being, there's no way to know exactly what's coming.

It's been months since Rockstar had anything to share from the game. It was originally slated for release this fall, only to be delayed until next year. New screenshots were shared in May, and prior to that, we got the trailer above. Beyond that it's been an excruciatingly quiet period for the game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn't have an exact release date yet, but it's due out during Spring 2018 (no sooner than April 1). It's slated for release on PS4 and Xbox One. Like the first game, there's no word on a PC version, a possibility that Rockstar parent company Take-Two has declined to address.

The Evil Within Director Wants To Port Sequel To Nintendo Switch

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 22:01

The Evil Within 2 is out in just a few weeks for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and now producer Shinji Mikami--who previously directed the original game as well as the Resident Evil series--has said he would like to see a Switch version of the horror title.

In an interview with GameSpot, Mikami said, "I think a Switch version would be interesting. I'd like to try it if I had the chance." While not exactly confirmation that such a port is happening, it's at least promising that such a prominent figure in the series (Mikami is acting as producer and supervisor on the sequel) would like to see it happen.

There's at least one small stumbling block however: "First I'd like to buy a Switch myself," Mikami said. "I had to borrow Zelda with the Switch from another staff member to play it."

The Evil Within 2 is being published by Bethesda, a company that is currently in the process of porting Doom, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to Nintendo's hybrid console. If you want to see more of those games, you can now watch eight minutes of Doom on Switch gameplay.

Elsewhere in our interview, Mikami said the development period for The Evil Within 2 was "quite a bit shorter" than that of the first game. But that's not hugely uncommon, as he noted, "It always takes more time to make the first game in a series, compared to subsequent games."

We also asked Mikami about the growing expense of game development, particularly for bigger projects. Noting that it isn't a new trend, he said, "It's hard to make an original [game] now. The budgets are very big and the stakes are higher than they used to be." As for whether he would like to do a smaller project, he said, "Yes. I would like to do that," adding, "I don't know if it's OK to say that."

The Evil Within 2 is just a few weeks away; its release date is set for October 13 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. For more, You can read our impressions of The Evil Within 2.

Nintendo Switch’s Super Bomberman R Update Bringing New Game Modes And Characters

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 21:44

Super Bomberman R on Nintendo Switch is getting new characters and a brand new game mode. Publisher Konami announced the upcoming DLC at the Tokyo Game Show.

At the heart of the announcement is the new Grand Prix mode. Teams of up to three players will get to compete with each other in explosive combat, and Grand Prix will have "new rule-sets, unique new stages, new characters, and special skills," Konami said. It will also introduce a new rule called Crystal (check out a screenshot of the new mode and rule below).

"The two teams will battle it out to see who can collect the most crystals strewn around the stage. Make your opponents drop their crystals and then steal them. You have to work together--teamwork is a must," the publisher said.

The DLC also introduces new characters from two other Konami franchises, Zone of the Enders and Rumble Roses.

Developer Konami has suggested that the new characters may be available sooner than the new mode: "Oh and just to hold you over, presenting Jehuty, Anubis and Reiko Hinomoto Bombers," it said on Facebook. It's currently unclear whether the new fighters are already live.

Super Bomberman R's last DLC introduced a ton of new features, including team battles, four new maps, and new accessories. It also added three new characters to the game from the Silent Hill, Castlevania, and Gradius series.

In related TGS news, Sony has announced a virtual reality version of Konami's game Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is on its way for PS4 and PC, featuring enhanced graphics and support for 4K resolution. The remaster will be called Zone of the Enders: Anubis Mars and is due out in spring 2018.

Here's How To Get Your Free Celebi In Pokemon Sun And Moon

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 14:00

Pokemon Gold and Silver are now available in the 3DS Eshop, and those who purchase either of the classic titles will receive a free gift: a code for the Mythical Pokemon Celebi, which you can redeem in either Pokemon Sun, Moon, or the upcoming Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. However, how you get your code may not be readily apparent, so we've outlined the steps you'll need to take to receive your Celebi.

To find your code, launch the 3DS Eshop and select the Settings/Other option from the main menu. From there, choose Account Activity and view your receipt for either Pokemon Gold or Silver, depending on which version you purchased. Your code can be found at the bottom of the receipt. Make a note of the code, then launch either Pokemon Sun or Moon (or Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon, if you choose to wait for those versions to launch) and select the Mystery Gift option. Input your code, and you'll be able to pick your Celebi up from the deliveryman waiting inside any of the games' Pokemon Centers.

While Nintendo has given away Celebi for several previous Pokemon games, this marks the first time the Mythical Pokemon has been distributed for Sun and Moon. The Grass/Psychic-type comes at level 30 and knows the following moves:

  • Heal Bell
  • Safeguard
  • Ancient Power
  • Future Sight

All players who purchase either Pokemon Gold or Silver between September 22, 2017 and September 21, 2018 will receive a code for Celebi. You have until October 31, 2018 to redeem it.

Celebi isn't the only special Pokemon that Sun and Moon players can get right now; Nintendo is also giving away six different Pikachu, each wearing one of Ash's hats from the anime series. However, you'll only be able to acquire one of them; you can find the Pikachu distribution schedule here. Target stores will also give away a free Charizard beginning on October 1, and GameStop will start distributing codes for the Mythical Pokemon Marshadow the following week.

Fallout: New Vegas Dev "Would Love" To Make Another Fallout Game

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 13:08

Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment would "certainly love to" make another game in Bethesda's acclaimed RPG series. New Vegas director Josh Sawyer said in a recent interview that he and other staffers at the studio would be jazzed about returning to the post-apocalyptic series after making the beloved New Vegas.

"I would certainly love to work on a Fallout game again," Sawyer told IGN. "I know there are tons of people at Obsidian who would love to work on a Fallout game again. If we were given the chance, we would certainly love to."

Sawyer went on to say that he frequently gets asked about Obsidian making another Fallout game. He said he fields "more questions about Fallout than anything else." And there is good reason; New Vegas was well received.

GameSpot's review scored it a 7.5/10. Review Kevin VanOrd said at the time, "Fallout: New Vegas is periodically awesome and consistently compelling. If you've got the stomach for some technological lunacy, this is one gamble that will pay off."

New Vegas was released in 2010 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart previously talked about his potential plans for New Vegas 2.

"I think if we were to do Fallout: New Vegas 2--or just a new Fallout--we would probably separate it from what the internal team at Bethesda's doing," Urquhart said said in 2013. "We'd keep it on the West Coast, because we're West Coast people. They're East Coast, so it makes sense."

"And we need an interesting confined area. So I mean, it could be LA. Fallout LA," he added at the time. "That could be interesting. It'd probably be The Boneyard, which is from Fallout 1. It could be very different. It could be almost a Walking Dead meets Fallout-like thing because of all the radiation."

The latest Fallout game was Fallout 4, which came out in November 2015, and sold like crazy. A Game of the Year edition is coming next week. As for Obsidian, one of the studio's upcoming projects is Pillars of Eternity: Deadfire, which is due out in 2018.

Given how massively popular the Fallout series is, publisher Bethesda will surely announce more games in due time. But whether or not Obsidian will get the job to make a new entry could depend on a number of factors. 

Would you like to see Obsidian make a sequel to New Vegas? Let us know in the comments below!

Square Enix Talks About Embracing "Games As A Service" Model

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:18

Back in May, Square Enix management said the video game industry is heading towards the "games as a service" model, at the time stating that the Final Fantasy publisher "will approach game design with a mind to generate recurring revenue streams." Now, Square Enix president Yousuke Matsuda has doubled down on those comments, saying in a new note to shareholders that the games as a service model is the way forward.

"Gone are the days in which single-player games were of primary status and multiplayer games secondary," Matsuda said (via @Nibellion). "Lately, multiplayer games have taken the lead, and it is standard for games to be designed for long-term play."

Games as a service is not a new concept, and it's a term that is defined differently depending on which company you're looking at. For Square Enix, games as a service means a game that "place[s] a strong emphasis on longer-term user engagement."

Square Enix will continue to make games that fit this description. The idea is to make games that people play for a long time instead of completing them quickly and moving on. "In so doing, we will increase customer satisfaction and enhance the lifetime value of the games themselves," Matsuda said.

One of Square Enix's biggest recent games, Final Fantasy XV, is adding online multiplayer through an expansion coming up soon. And just this week, the company announced a brand-new shooter called Left Alive, which we wouldn't be surprised to learn has a significant online element. The games as a service model makes business sense, as a publisher can continue to sell the game and its related content over time. And provided that content is compelling enough, it can be a good thing for gamers.

Also in the note to investors, Matsuda spoke about the growing importance of gameplay streaming. Square Enix is looking into how it can turn this into a business to create another form of revenue.

"An increasing number of our customers around the world enjoy not only playing games themselves, but also watching other gamers play them. You do not actually need to play a game yourself to enjoy it," Matsuda said. "Watching the advanced techniques of professional gamers and the unique broadcasts of game streamers is another way to enjoy games. Watching gaming is growing into a major form of entertainment thanks to considerable advances in the online streaming environment. It is the presence of e-sports spectators that make this meaningful."

"Once the size of gaming spectatorship grows, gaming itself will gain value as a form of media. This conversion of gaming into a form of media is proceeding rapidly. We also have a great deal of interest in this field and intend to proactively work to turn it into an actual business."

You can read Matsuda's full note to investors here.

Destiny 2 Guided Games: What You Need To Know Ahead Of Launch

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:26

One of the new features coming to Destiny 2 is what Bungie is calling "Guided Games." This is where a solo player can group up with a higher-level players to help learn the ropes of end-game activities such as Nightfalls and Raids. The Guided Games feature officially rolls out on September 26, but it's been available for testers for a little over a week now in beta form, and Bungie has now talked about how many people tested it out and what it learned from the beta.

Senior designer Steve Dolan said in the latest Bungie weekly blog post that more than 100,000 people have used the Guided Games feature to get through the Nightfall Strike, with a 90 percent completion rate. For Nightfalls, communication is important for the success of a team. Dolan pointed out in the blog that while players are not forced to join group chat, it is recommended. But even if you don't have a mic or don't want to use one, listening in on the battle chatter can help your team get through a mission easier.

Here are some other takeaways and key details that Dolan shared about Guided Games:

  • Finishing a Guided Game version of any activity will advance you through a milestone, even though the UI does not mention this.
  • If a Clan leading your Guided Game does a bad job, potentially on purpose, their Oathkeeper rating will fall. It is recommended that you look at the Oathkeeper score of a Clan before jumping into an activity.
  • Oathkeeper scores are given after completing four Guided Games. You can join a Guided Game for a Clan with a blank Oathkeeper score, but that could be a risk.
  • If all three players in a Nightfall agree to abandon their Guided Game, the Oathkeeper score won't be affected. This could be for a situation like you need to take an important phone call or have to run somewhere in real life. "Sometimes life happens," Bungie said.
  • When you match with a Clan for a Guided Games activity, you can decline joining that crew--for whatever reason--and you will stay at the front of the queue to find another.
  • Bungie reviews Clan names to ensure they don't included "objectionable" names, missions, statements, or mottos. Players can file a report about this if they come across something unsavoury, and doing so won't kick you out of the Guided Games queue.

In other Destiny 2 news, Bungie has announced that the game's servers will be offline next week for a round of maintenance. The servers will be down for 5 hours or more. Additionally, Bungie listed off some new Destiny 2 known issues, while the studio also provided the first details on the Faction Rallies event.

Destiny 2 Known Issues List Includes Clan XP Bug And More

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 10:52

Bungie has updated its list of Destiny 2 known issues to let players know what problems the studio is aware of and actively working to fix. The studio outlined these in its latest weekly blog post.

Starting off, the limited-time multiplayer event, Trials of the Nine, was disabled at the wrong time this week. Going forward, you can expect it to run from 10 AM PT on Friday until Tuesday at 2 AM PT. Another issue Bungie is aware of and working on is that Clan XP is not always being awarded upon completion of public events. Bungie said it's also aware of a problem where Clan Engrams are not given to members. One note Bungie provided is that you can't earn a Clan Engram if you quit a clan and join another one before the weekly reset.

Additionally, there is a problem with Destiny's microtransaction store, Eververse. Players are experiencing delays in receiving Silver after buying it through errors such as "Silver Sync Pending" and "Query Failed."

If you bought Destiny 2 Silver but it's not attached to your account yet, you should close Destiny fully, clear your console's cache, relaunch the game, and then select your character. This should fix the problem until a more permanent solution is implemented, Bungie said. If it doesn't work, you can reach out to Bungie through this Eververse Contact Form.

Destiny 2 Known Issues
  • Trials of the Nine was not disabled properly at this week’s ritual reset. Moving forward, players should expect this activity to be available each Friday at 10 AM PDT through Tuesday at 2 AM PDT.
  • The quest step “His Highness’s Seal” is not properly incrementing when players acquire Emperor Seals.
  • Occasionally, objects aren’t properly spawning within the Exodus Crash Nightfall strike. Players may need to relaunch the activity for objectives to properly spawn.
  • Public event completions are not properly granting Clan XP upon completion.
  • Clan Engrams are not being rewarded to some qualifying players. NOTE: If a player leaves a clan and joins a new clan mid-week, they will not be able to earn further Clan Engrams until the following weekly reset.
  • If a player creates a new character after an alternate character has earned a raid key on a given week, the key will be erroneously removed from character Inventory. NOTE: Raid keys are removed, by design, with each weekly ritual reset.

In other Destiny 2 news, Bungie has announced that the game's servers will be offline next week for a round of maintenance. The servers will be down for 5 hours or more.

Lots Of New Details Revealed For Square Enix's New Shooter Left Alive

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 08:37

Following the announcement of Square Enix's intriguing-looking game Left Alive during Sony's TGS briefing this week, a mountain of new details about it have come to light. The details come by way of a Weekly Famitsu story, translated and reported by Gematsu.

Starting off, Left Alive is a third-person "survival action shooter" for PS4 and PC due out in 2018. The game is set in the Front Mission series, taking place between Front Mission 5 and Front Mission Evolved. Left Alive has three protagonists, one of which is a woman, and you'll switch between them as the game progresses. You can see the three protagonists in the artwork below.

We also learned that Left Alive's story has one ending but the final outcome for your character can change depending on the actions you take. Here are some other tidbits:

  • Mainly offline but there could be online elements
  • There are Wanzer-riding scenes and stealth
  • The game takes place in Russia, in 2127
  • Development is 50 percent finished

These are just a few of the newly revealed details about Left Alive. Go to Gematsu to learn a lot more about Left Alive.

Another interesting part of the announcement is that Metal Gear veteran Yoji Shinkawa is working on the project. His artwork can be seen in the trailer above and is also featured below.

Shinji Hashimoto, who has worked on the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises, is producing Left Alive, while Toshifumi Nabeshima, director of the Armored Core series, and Takayuki Yanase, mech designer on Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, and Xenoblade Chronicles X are also involved.

Sony's TGS briefing brought a lot of new trailers, including new videos for games like Detroit: Become Human, Zone of the Enders VR, and the new Shadow of the Colossus. You can catch up with all the big news and trailers in GameSpot's roundup here.

FIFA 18 Launches Early With EA Access, Playable Right Now

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 08:15

FIFA 18 doesn't officially launch until September 29, but it's playable right now on Xbox One with EA Access. Subscribers can check out the game's Play First Trial right now, a week ahead of the game's launch. The download is pretty large, clocking in at 43.56 GB, so be aware that it might take some time to get started.

This is the full version of FIFA 18, including the Kick Off mode and the single-player story The Journey: Hunter Returns, along with FIFA Ultimate Team.

Everyone who downloads the trial will be entered into a contest for a chance to win a trip for two to Bernabeu Stadium to watch a Real Madrid match. The winner also gets the opportunity to attend a football clinic with coaches, and an Xbox One X and copy of FIFA 18. You can also retweet this tweet for a chance to win.

EA Access costs $5/month or $30/year, and is available on Xbox One and PC (where the service is called Origin Access). In addition to early access up upcoming EA games, a membership gets you 10 percent off all EA digital content. Subscribers can also play a growing library of Vault games for free, including Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2.

The Evil Within 2 Doesn't Want To "Suffocate" You With Horror Elements

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 07:45

The Evil Within 2 is very much a sequel to the first game: It continues the story of protagonist Sebastian Castellanos, who is now seeking his daughter Lily, whom he believed to be dead. But it also presents players with a larger, more open space to play in, despite the fact that it's being developed in less time than its predecessor.

GameSpot recently spoke with The Evil Within 2 producer Shinji Mikami (best known for his work on the Resident Evil series) and director John Johanas. Mikami reiterated what we've heard before, that the development period on the upcoming survival-horror game was "quite a bit shorter" than that of the first game. But that's not hugely uncommon, as he noted, "It always takes more time to make the first game in a series, compared to subsequent games."

Asked what kind of challenges the shorter development cycle presented Tango Gameworks, Mikami said, "The last game was completely linear, and this time was more open feeling, which for a horror game was quite a challenge to create." Johanas added that creating something bigger than the first game "takes a lot of work," because it's a more complex process than simply creating a large game world.

"Scale is one thing; it's really easy to make something big--you just make it big," Johanas explained. "But [you have] to find the right density. One of the things we wanted to make sure this time is that it's not too suffocating in terms of how we presented horror elements compared to the first game. We want it to be open, so you can explore at your own place, and have a sort of ebb and flow to horror experiences and downtime. That just takes trial and error, going back and forth. But because the trial-and-error period was very quick, we made things, we adjusted based on feedback, very quickly."

We also asked Mikami about the growing expense of game development, particularly for bigger projects. Noting that it isn't a new trend, he said, "It's hard to make an original [game] now. The budgets are very big and the stakes are higher than they used to be." As for whether he would like to do a smaller project, he said, "Yes. I would like to do that," adding, "I don't know if it's OK to say that."

The Evil Within 2 is just a few weeks away; its release date is set for October 13 on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. For more, You can read our impressions of The Evil Within 2.

Minecraft's Better Together Update Out Now, Adds Cross-Play Between Xbox One, PC, And Mobile

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 07:27

The next major update for Minecraft is out now for Xbox One, PC, VR, and mobile. Dubbed the Better Together update, it adds a number of new features to the popular sandbox title, most notably cross-play support between the different platforms.

With the new update, players on Xbox One, PC, and mobile devices are now able to play together online regardless of what platform they're on. The update will also be released for the Nintendo Switch version to allow cross-play with Nintendo's console, though developer Mojang says that won't be ready until sometime this winter.

While Minecraft will eventually support cross-play between most of the platforms it is available on, it doesn't appear PS4 players will be able to join in on the fun. Sony has been reluctant to allow cross-play between PS4 and other consoles, though Mojang says it is still in discussions with the company about bringing the feature to the PS4 version.

In addition to cross-play, the Better Together update gives all players access to a ton of player-made items on the Marketplace and adds stained glass, fireworks, banners, parrots, and many other new features to the game. The update also allows players to continue their progress in their Realm on a different platform, and they can now share invite links to Realms with other players.

Finally, the Better Together update addresses a long list of bugs--so many that Mojang couldn't list them all in its patch notes. The developer did, however, specify that llamas will now no longer creepily stare at you while you ride them. You can read more about the Better Together update on the Minecraft website.

Minecraft Better Together Patch NotesNew Features
  • Stained Glass
  • Fireworks (with Elytra boost!)
  • Parrots
  • Banners
  • Armor Stands
  • Jukebox and music discs
  • Recipe Book
  • Book & Quill
  • Ravines
  • Coarse Dirt
  • New world start options: Starting Map; Bonus Chest; Trust Players
  • New game rules: Show Coordinates; TNT Explodes; Natural Regeneration
  • Added "/tickingarea" command to create areas that still update when no players are there
  • Player permissions
  • Zombie Villager spawn egg
  • In-game host options
  • Paper doll viewer
  • Outline selection toggle
  • In-game player names toggle
  • HUD opacity toggle
  • Expanded Xbox Live multiplayer world settings
  • New loading screens with funny and helpful tips
  • How to Play screen
  • Remix 3D export functionality (Windows 10 only)
  • New achievements
  • Server Partners
  • Realms invite links
  • Mash-up Packs and Texture Packs will now decorate the main menu and in-game HUD
Tweaks
  • Rebalanced most of the game sound effects and music, such as rain being much quieter
  • It is now much easier to see underwater after drinking a Potion of Water Breathing and Potion of Night Vision
  • Blaze Powder is now needed to fuel brewing stands
  • Ice blocks are now transparent
  • Maps can now be held off-hand and show the heads of players' skins
  • Locator maps now track the owner's position, regardless of dimension
  • Worlds can now be set to Invite Only, Friends Only, or Friends of Friends
  • Various improvements and changes to navigating the user interface
  • Redesigned button mapping and added Pick Block for controllers
  • Render Clouds and Fancy Leaves can now be toggled in Video Settings
  • Skins can now be changed from the pause menu
  • Chat messages can now be muted
  • Items picked up are now animated on the hotbar
  • Stained glass and banners will now spawn on End Cities
  • Increased the default player limit on worlds from 5 to 8 on higher-end devices
  • Block placement speed now matches the player's movement speed
  • Temperature decreases with height and it can now snow at high elevations
  • Observer blocks have updated textures and will now blink red when outputting a redstone pulse
  • Adjusted the color that flashes when mobs are attacked
  • Brick Blocks, Nether Brick Blocks, and Clay Blocks have been renamed to better differentiate from other items
  • Underwater particles
  • Jungle leaves are now transparent on higher-end devices when Fancy Leaves are enabled
  • Changed the sound effects for Creeper explosions
  • Added sound effects for placing Eyes of Ender into portal frames and opening The End portal
Bug fixes

"Too many to mention. My favourites are: making cats purr again, preventing bats from swimming underwater and stopping llamas from creepily turning their heads to stare at you while riding them."

Llamas Stop Creepily Staring At You Thanks(?) To New Minecraft Update

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 06:56

Sure, the latest update for Minecraft is a notable one for introducing cross-play to the wildly popular game--that's all well and good. But it's the bug fixes located in the patch notes that I think are the real highlight.

The latest instance of "patch notes that are much funnier than they have any right to be" comes with this week's Better Together update for Minecraft. There are a wide range of new features and tweaks, including the aforementioned cross-play support, but it also fixes so many bug fixes that developer Mojang decided not to share them all. Luckily, it did include a few.

Among them: This patch "stop[s] llamas from creepily turning their heads to stare at you while riding them." Not being a hardcore Minecraft player, this is something I was admittedly unaware of--you can seemingly see it in the image above, which comes from this YouTube video by Aiden Art. Suffice it to say, it's something I will forever regret not being able to experience myself.

Other bug fixes in this update include the return of cats purring (they're good for the soul) and bats losing the ability to swim underwater. The patch is out now for the Xbox One, PC, VR, and mobile versions, with cross-play support also coming to the Nintendo Switch version. Minecraft on PS4 won't offer cross-play support, at least yet.

New Han Solo Image Teases A Famous Star Wars Event For Spin-Off Movie

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 05:43

While most Star Wars sets have extremely high levels of secrecy, the production of the upcoming Han Solo movie has been surprisingly open. Director Ron Howard has been steadily releasing on-set images throughout its prolonged shooting period, and the latest picture provides another clue about what fans might expect when it arrives next year.

It's a picture of what looks like a mine entrance, captioned by Howard with the word "spicey?" This is very possibly the part of the spice mines of Kessel, a location in Star Wars lore that also lends its name to the Kessel Run. The Kessel Run was, of course, the famous space smuggler route that Solo completed in record time while piloting the Millennium Falcon. Check the image out below:

Spicey? pic.twitter.com/dLhop8S60T

— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 20, 2017

The Han Solo movie stars Alden Ehrenreich as Solo, Donald Glover as Lando, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. The cast also includes Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The Wire star Michael Kenneth Williams was originally cast in the movie, but he was unavailable for the film's extensive reshoots and has since been replaced by Paul Bettany. The Han Solo movie hits theaters on May 25, 2018.

Howard took over directing on the Solo movie in June, following the departure of original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord. Lord and Miller aren't the only directors to leave a Star Wars movie this year. Earlier this month, Colin Trevorrow exited Episode IX and has since been replaced by Force Awakens director JJ Abrams.

The Lego Ninjago Movie Review

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 05:00

There was an incredible perfection to 2014's The Lego Movie that continued into its sequel, The Lego Batman Movie. Against all odds, these films felt like so much more than the commerce-fueled Lego cash grabs they could have been. The Lego Ninjago Movie doesn't quite capture that same perfection--which isn't to say it's a bad Lego movie. It's just slightly disappointing in light of how great the last two were.

These brick-building blockbusters have become well known for their meta humor and fourth-wall-breaking action that melds elements of the real world with fantasy Lego locations. That's no different in Lego Ninjago, despite it being based on an existing Lego franchise that already has its own show.

Ninjago follows a squad of six high school-aged ninjas--voiced by Dave Franco, Abbi Jacobson, Michael Peña, Fred Armisen, Kumail Nanjiani, and Zach Woods--locked in perpetual battle with Justin Theroux's Lord Garmadon. Garmadon wants to take over the city of Ninjago, while our hero Ninjas and their leader, Jackie Chan-voiced Master Wu, use mystical powers and giant mechs to foil his every plan. What Lord Garmadon doesn't know is that the Green Ninja is actually Lloyd Garmadon, his son. Unsurprisingly, family drama ensues when Lloyd is unmasked.

The Lego Ninjago Movie doesn't quite strike the right balances between humor and drama or action and exposition, and as a result it feels overlong and a bit meandering, a step back from the previous Lego films. For every fun fight scene or great gag there's a dry conversation, a lengthy monologue, or an exposition dump that goes on way too long.

It also gives way too much time to Lloyd and Garmadon simply chatting or arguing with another for extended scenes, at the loss of any development or subplots involving the many other characters, whose talented voice actors are terribly underused. Jacobson's Water Ninja, the one female member of the crew, barely has anything at all to do; and although Lloyd's mom, voiced by Olivia Munn, is an important part of the overall story, she's not actually in most of the movie.

On the other hand, Lego Ninjago is as wildly imaginative as you expect, and funny as well. The action, from citywide battle scenes to a duel between Garmadon and Master Wu, is mesmerizingly complex, the animation truly impressive. Like its predecessors, The Lego Ninjago Movie never loses sight of its Lego aesthetic, even as it gets crazier and crazier (although it does abandon the fun "Master Builder" mythology in favor of more generic martial arts stuff, which is a bit disappointing).

A particular high point comes when an actual live-action cat enters the fray between Garmadon and the Ninjas. Ninjago's residents run screaming for their lives from "Meowthra," the ultimate weapon--summoned to the island city with a giant laser pointer.

Lego Ninjago is also a deeply emotional film, even with all the high-flying dragon mechs and minifig evil generals being shot out of volcanoes. The flip-side of all that time being dedicated to Lloyd's relationship with his father is that their journey together is really well fleshed-out. One of the film's producers, Dan Lin, told GameSpot in a recent interview, "Our goal is to make you cry in these movies." Even its most patently absurd scenes are imbued with some real emotion, so the movie may very well succeed there.

You'll definitely want to call and/or hug your dad when it's over, no matter how old you are. And as long as kids don't start chucking Lego missiles at their family cats, Ninjago's overall legacy will turn out to be a net positive.

The Lego Ninjago Movie hits theaters Sept. 22.

The GoodThe BadFunny, smart writingSide characters, especially females, neglectedMesmerizing animationToo much dialogue and expositionSurprisingly heartfeltNo mention of Master Builder mythologyGreat for all ages

All Star Wars Battlefront 2 Maps Revealed For Galactic Assault

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 04:37

EA and DICE have revealed all 11 locations that will serve as maps in Star Wars Battlefront II's Galactic Assault mode at launch. This includes some we've already seen, like Naboo, as well as some newly revealed ones, such as Mos Eisley.

The companies teased the maps earlier this week, providing the number of letters and spaces in each one's names and allowing fans to make predictions. As previously announced, Battlefront II includes content from multiple eras, and not just a single one of the film trilogies. In a tweet today, EA shared the full list, which hits many of the most iconic locations from the full series, including the classics: the second Death Star, Endor, and Hoth. Here's the full list:

  • Naboo
  • Kamino
  • Kashyyyk
  • Endor
  • Death Star II
  • Hoth
  • Mos Eisley
  • Yavin IV
  • Jakku
  • Takodana
  • Starkiller Base

These maps will all be playable in Galactic Assault, the 40-player mode that features vehicles and hero units. This is the mode we saw featured at E3, when EA showcased a match on Theed in Naboo where Separatist droids storm a palace that Republic clone troopers try to defend.

That same Galactic Assault mission on Naboo will be playable in Battlefront II's upcoming open beta, which runs October 6-9 (or October 4-9 for those who pre-order). Starfighter Assault will also be available in the beta. Battlefront II's release date for PS4, Xbox One, and PC is coming up on November 17. In a welcome change from the first game, all Battlefront II DLC maps and characters will be free, although in place of those will be a microtransaction system. Battlefront II also features a single-player campaign set after Return of the Jedi.

Nintendo Switch's Best-Selling Third-Party Game Is Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 04:35

It may have seemed like an unusual premise at first, but Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is proving to be a critical and commercial success. The Ubisoft game is now Nintendo Switch's top-selling non-Nintendo title, according to sales numbers from the NPD Group and Chart-Track GFK and reported by Eurogamer.

While Nintendo titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 have continued to dominate the sales charts, other third-party games like Super Bomberman R have sold well. Still, Mario + Rabbids has already topped the list since its release at the end of August. Eurogamer also reports Nintendo has picked up the game for publishing in Japan and South Korea.

Back in early September, sales data from Australia and New Zealand showed Mario + Rabbids was the top-selling game across all platforms in the two countries during its launch week. The game was the second most-purchased game across all platforms during the same week in the UK.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a strategy game with its roots in XCOM-style, turn-based combat. You pick a squad of characters (including Super Mario staples and Mario-ified versions of Ubisoft's Rabbids) and face off against a bunch of enemy Rabbids. It also has a local co-op mode, where you team up with a friend and each control a squad of two.

The game has been a favorite among critics. In his Mario + Rabbids review, GameSpot's Edmond Tran said it "triumphs in creating a magical game world that is undeniably delightful." For anyone just picking up the game, check out our feature on the 13 things we wish we knew before starting Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.

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