Video game spending in the US increased in the third quarter of 2018 over the previous year, according to a report by the NPD Group. The sales tracking firm said the games having the biggest impact on the figures were Candy Crush Saga, Fortnite, Madden NFL 19, Spider-Man, and NBA 2K19.
Altogether the firm says that total spending on video games increased 24% from July-September, over the same period in 2017. It reached a total of $9.1 billion. "Video game content" accounted for $7.9 billion, but that broad category includes full games, DLC, and subscriptions. Mobile games and digital content sales had the highest growth.
Hardware grew by 11% to $737 million, while accessories like headsets grew by 44%. Game cards had a particularly sharp increase of 63%, marking the first time they've beaten accessories during this period of the year.
This isn't the first we've heard of games like Spider-Man and Fortnite lifting the industry up. Earlier this year NPD announced similarly rising figures on the back of Fortnite and God of War. Similarly, Sony boasted in September that Spider-Man had broken sales records set by God of War, and sales have apparently been so strong that the PlayStation business lifted Sony's financial forecast as a whole.
"The Video Game market in the U.S. continues to thrive with compelling gaming content expanding the market, driving higher spending of hardware, accessory and software," said Mat Piscatella, games industry analyst at The NPD Group. "And with the sales strength of recent releases such as Marvel's Spider-Man and NBA 2K19, combined with cross-platform titles such as Fortnite, there appears to be no slowing down as we head into the final stretch of the holiday shopping season."
There's a good chance you still have holiday shopping left to do, either for someone else or--ahem--for yourself. If the person you're buying for is into video games, Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or other things of the sort, here's a tip: For four hours, today only, between 1 PM - 5 PM ET (10 AM - 3 PM PT), you can get half off anything on Thinkgeek's online store. All you have to do is visit the site during that time, and you'll find a promo code you can enter at checkout.
You can peruse Thinkgeek at your leisure to see what you might want to get with this generous discount, but we've highlighted some of our suggestions below, along with their prices after the discount.Pokemon Snorlax Bean Bag Chair
Sure, you can sit on any old chair. But when you could be sitting on this enormous Snorlax bean bag, why would you want to rest your body on anything else? (You wouldn't.)
- Buy it here -- $75
_____________________Harry Potter: Hagrid's Lantern
This human-sized version of Hagrid's lamp lights up the room with a low-power LED candle that flickers realistically. Just note that the three AA batteries it requires are sold separately.
- Buy it here -- $17.50
_____________________Captain Marvel Crossbody Purse
The Captain Marvel movie is slated to hit theaters on March 8. If the superhero fan in your life is in need of a purse, you can't go wrong with this stylish one.
- Buy it here -- $21
_____________________Game of Thrones Jon Snow Fur Hoodie
For anyone in the northern hemisphere, winter is literally coming. Be prepared with this fur hoodie inspired by Jon Snow's iconic cloak.
- Buy it here -- $35
_____________________Fallout Nuka-Cola Quantum Mood Light
For the Fallout fan in your life, get the only bottle of soda that comes with its own atomic glow. Batteries are included, but you can also power this nuclear nightlight using a USB cable (also included).
- Buy it here -- $15
_____________________Star Wars Choose Your Side Cap
Do you want to represent the Empire or the Rebellion? You can pick your side with these simple, stylish caps--or buy one of each so you can switch them out depending on which side of the Force you're feeling on any given day.
- Buy it here -- $12.50
FIFA 19 has finished top of the UK physical games chart for the second week in a row, according to sales monitor Chart-Track. EA's sports title maintains its run at the top despite Red Dead Redemption 2 gaining ground by finishing at No.2 for the week ending December 1.
Below the two huge games lies another behemoth, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which is down one place to No.3, while Battlefield V finishes at No.4 for the second week running. Forza Horizon 4 rounds out the top five.
The only new entry this week was Darksiders 3, which finished at No.32. THQ Nordic's action title has suffered from poor reviews, including a 4/10 from GameSpot. "Darksiders 3 retrogrades on its predecessors with an unfocused approach that constantly clashes with itself," wrote critic Richard Wakeling. "There are remnants of a good game here, buried within the vivacious combos of a combat style this game doesn't want to embrace. Unfortunately, it's buried far too deep to ever salvage." For more, read our full Darksiders 3 review.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launches for Nintendo Switch this week, so it'll be interesting to see what effect that has on the UK sales chart. Check back next week for the outcome.
You can read the full top 10 sales chart for this week below, courtesy of UKIE and GfK Chart-Track. Note this table does not include digital sales data, and so should not be considered representative of all UK game sales.
- FIFA 19
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
- Battlefield V
- Forza Horizon 4
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
- Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Fortnite: Deep Freeze Bundle
Ubisoft's massive Assassin's Creed Odyssey offers the series' largest open world to date, greatly dwarfing the scale of its predecessors. With no plans for another AC game in 2019, fans will be firmly set in the realm of Ancient Greece for some time, though the developers at Ubisoft plan to keep things interesting for the foreseeable future. Players have already seen some new events in the form of the free Lost Tales of Greece series, along with tweaks to the core gameplay. Now, the debut installment of the first major DLC releases on December 4 for season pass holders on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. With the first episode, Odyssey shows off a promising start for its post-launch initiative.
In Legacy of the First Blade, the lead character will encounter Darius, son of Xerxes and one of the earliest assassins to wield the original hidden blade. Fans with a sharp eye will recognize the character from one of the hidden tombs visited in Assassin's Creed II, and you'll eventually team up with him to take down a new threat in the form of the Order of the Ancients. As something of a mini-series, Legacy of the First Blade will span across three episodes, with the conclusion coming sometime in early 2019. We had the opportunity to play the first episode prior to launch, and we also spoke with game director Scott Phillips about how much has changed since release and where Ubisoft plans to take things from here.
"We've been very happy with the feedback from fans so far," said the director. "It's been very cool to see the reception from people that like the big things we've all worked on, such as the role-playing and progression aspects, the dialog systems, the massive world, the naval [systems], and all that stuff. People have been coming back for the daily and weekly events, and so on. So having players being continually engaged with the events has been super fun to see. We wanted to keep that going for the long-term with this new DLC."
Legacy of the First Blade feels very much like a continuation of the gameplay loop from Odyssey. Taking around four to five hours to complete, the new questline will unlock after completing the events on Naxos in Chapter 7, with a minimum level cap of 29. In the first episode, Hunted, you'll travel to the existing island of Makedonia in the northern section of the map and find it in turmoil. Though this location, along with others, felt underutilized in the main game, the region is put to better use in the DLC. Once you learn of the Order of the Ancients--setting the stage for their appearance in Origins--you'll work with Darius to dismantle their influence. Continuing the Cultist gameplay from the main game, you'll find a brand-new page in the sub-menu to dive into, with the following episodes adding even more targets to uncover.
Prior to the first story DLC, Odyssey has had many updates since launch, which includes a new level cap, new quests, and mastery levels that allow you to spend ability points on stats boosts. In Legacy of the First Blade, a brand-new skill is also added to the mix. In the Assassin ability tree, you'll find a new passive skill known as Death Veil. With this ability, any target that's killed with a stealth takedown, and without any witnesses nearby, will vanish instantly--leaving no traces behind. Though it only has a single rank, as opposed to the typical three levels, the passive skill is a great fit and should make stealth-focused players feel more at ease during some of the more challenging encounters in the episode.
Over the course of the first episode, we took on missions that covered the gamut of what you'll find in Odyssey: investigations, stealth gameplay, naval travel and battles, and plenty of on-foot combat. Though the missions themselves consist of the sort of events you'd find in the main game--save for a few standout encounters--the narrative in the DLC offers many surprising and heartfelt moments with the lead character as they realize the growing impact their choices have throughout the world. Moreover, seeing the earliest traces of the Assassin order in Odyssey's world--which is largely devoid of their influence--is interesting. Though it all manages to tie back into the larger story, especially if you've played the game to completion, the developers wanted to keep it as a side story for the sake of those who haven't seen the game's main arc to completion.
"We knew that there were certain systems that were sort of infinite and would continue to expand--such as the mercenaries and conquests--but it was important for us to gradually expand and pace things out for players to keep them coming back to the game with interesting events," says Phillips. "We're aware that more people will be coming into the game later on as the months go by, so we wanted to make sure that new content we are adding wouldn't negatively impact the core game itself. This DLC is a great way for newcomers especially to level up and take part in an interesting quest while stepping away for a bit from the longer term odyssey."
The most apparent thing playing through Odyssey to completion is the massive scale of the game. However, the first episode of The First Blade sticks with the island of Makedonia, making it feel like an interlude during many of the core chapters throughout the game. That's not a bad thing. Given the scale of Odyssey, easing into a new quest that slowly builds up to what's to come is a nice change of pace--especially for those that have already completed all the main stories.
It is a bit of an adjustment seeing Assassin's Creed take a different approach to launching new content. The series has seen all sorts of standalone DLC over the years, so having a continuing story unravel over several weeks could make for a more engaging story. Along with the free updates adding new quests and enemies to fight, there always seems to be something new happening in the world. The events in the first episode of Legacy of the First Blade does keep things a bit subdued compared to some of the larger events in the main game. However, the teases for what's to come during the brisk first episode hints at a much larger battle with greater stakes, and it'll be intriguing--especially for longtime fans--to see how it all manages to play out within the broader setting of the world.
The Nintendo Switch continues to get great games. Developer Campo Santo has announced that its acclaimed 2016 adventure game, Firewatch, is coming to Switch very soon.
You don't have to wait long at all to pick it up on Nintendo's hybrid console, as it arrives in the eShop on December 17 in the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Japan. It's being published by the Portland, Oregon-based independent studio Panic. Campo Santo announced Firewatch for Switch earlier this year, at the time pegging it launch in spring 2018, so the wait has been longer than expected.
Firewatch is coming to Nintendo Switch on December 17th! We'll be in the Americas, Europe, Australia, and Japan eShops. pic.twitter.com/BJvPnTd4KU— Campo Santo (@camposanto) December 1, 2018
Set in 1989, Firewatch takes place in the Wyoming wilderness and puts you in the role of Henry (voiced by Mad Men's Richard Sommer), a man with a troubled past who seeks a new life as a fire lookout. The other main character is Delilah (Cissy Jones), whom Henry speaks with using a walkie-talkie. The game was originally released in February 2016 for PC and PlayStation 4, before landing on Xbox One in September of that year.
It was Campo Santo's first title and reviews were positive across the board. Here at GameSpot, it was one of our favourite games of 2016. It was also a commercial success, selling more than 1 million copies in its first year.
A Firewatch movie is currently in the works at Good Universe, the film company that also produced the well-received horror movie Don't Breathe and Last Vegas.
Campo Santo's next game is the intriguing-looking In The Valley Of Gods, which was announced during The Game Awards last year. In other news, Valve acquired Campo Santo earlier this year for an undisclosed sum.
The revival/reboot era of television is truly in full swing, with shows like Full House, Roseanne, Twin Peaks, Will & Grace, and many others returning after years away with varying degrees of success. Could the American version of The Office be next? There have been a few reports stating the show is coming back, but NBC has yet to make any official announcements.
While we wait for official word, the teases for an Office revival continue. Angela Kinsey, who played Angela from accounting on the show, posted a picture on Twitter today of herself and (almost) all of the main cast attending some kind of get-together. The gathering, whatever it was for, took place at the home of Greg Daniels, who famously adapted Ricky Gervais' The Office for American TV.
Some of the old gang got together today... it was so great to see everyone! I turned to Ed and said, “I feel like we are at a family reunion.” He smiled and said, “We are.” ❤️ Thanks Greg for hosting! For those who couldn’t make it... you were missed! pic.twitter.com/DwF42lNGHk— Angela Kinsey (@AngelaKinsey) December 3, 2018
Pictured here are Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute), Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly), Leslie David Baker (Stanley Hudson), Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone), Ed Helms (Andy Bernard), Paul Liberstein (Toby Flenderson), Phyllis Smith (Phyllis Vance), Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton), and Oscar Nunez (Oscar Martinez), along with Kinsey and Daniels.
As you'll immediately notice, some people are missing. John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert, is nowhere to be seen, nor is Steve Carrel, the glue that held the show together with his character Michael Scott. According to one report, the character Michael Scott won't be in the reboot, with the show instead bringing in a new boss. As for Krasinski, there are any number of reasons as to why he wasn't in the picture, though intriguingly he re-tweeted Kinsey's picture today. Also missing are B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) and Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor), who in addition to their acting duties, wrote some episodes of The Office. Kate Flannery, who played Meredith Palmer, is also nowhere to be seen, nor are any of the characters from the newer seasons such as Ellie Kemper (Erin Hannon).
Back in July, Krasinski said he would love to reunite with his Office castmates for something new; he called them his family. Krasinski also said he thinks The Office could return as a one-off Christmas special.
On a November episode of Saturday Night Live, Carrel trolled the audience with a playful opening monologue in which cast members talked about bringing the show back because they need the money. Even Carrel's real-life family urged him to do it. You can watch the silly segment below.November 18, 2018
Before that, Carell said in an interview that he thinks it's a bad idea to bring back The Office. Not only should the show not come back, but it also might not work if it has a similar tone.
"The climate's different. I mean, the whole idea of that character, Michael Scott, so much of it was predicated on inappropriate behavior."
Michael Scott being out-of-touch and kind of a jerk is the point, Carell said, but this attitude probably wouldn't fly in 2018. "A lot of what is depicted on that show is completely wrong-minded. That's the point, you know? But I just don't know how that would fly now. There's a very high awareness of offensive things today--which is good, for sure. But at the same time, when you take a character like that too literally, it doesn't really work," he said.
Would you like to see The Office return? Let us know in the comments below!
The second season of Netflix's witch show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will premiere on April 5, 2019, the network has announced. Not only that, but Netflix revealed a teaser trailer for the second season, while it also posted a brief synopsis of what to expect in the sophomore season.
"Get ready, mortals. Our girl's gone full witch," reads a line from the description. "Join Sabrina as she navigates the Path of Night while holding on tight to her friends who walk the Path of Light. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina continue on April 5." You can watch the reveal trailer above.
Kiernan Shipka plays Sabrina in the show, which is far darker and edgier than the more family friendly version of the show starring Melissa Joan Hart in the late '90s show.
In addition to Shipka, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Lord of the Rings' Mirando Otto as her aunt Zelda and Wonder Woman's Lucy Davis as her other aunt Helga. The cat Salem is also in the show, but he doesn't talk like he did on the '90s show.
The 10 episodes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premiered on Netflix at the end of October. While you have to wait until 2019 for Season 2, a Christmas special premieres on December 14.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina generated some amount of controversy after the Satanic Temple sued Netflix and production company Warner Bros. for $50 million over the show's use of the Temple's goat-headed Baphomet creature. The companies eventually settled amicably.
A new trailer for Marvel's next big movie, Captain Marvel, is coming very soon. Marvel has announced that the premiere trailer will debut during Monday Night Football on ESPN tomorrow, December 3. The game starts at 8:15 PM ET / 5:15 PM PT, but there is no word as of yet as to when the trailer will drop during the matchup between the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. Whatever the case, we'll post it here on GameSpot as soon as we can.
To help ease the wait for the trailer, Marvel released a brand-new poster for Captain Marvel, showcasing Brie Larson as the star. Check it out below.December 3, 2018
Monday Night Football airs on ESPN, whose parent company is Disney (which owns Marvel), so the Captain Marvel trailer premiering on the sports network makes a lot of sense.
Captain Marvel is set to premiere in March 2019. The first Captain Marvel trailer came online in September--you can check out GameSpot's in-depth breakdown in the video above.
In addition to Larson in the title role, Captain Marvel--which is set in the 1990s--stars a two-eyed, digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as a Kree commander, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, and Gemma Chan as Minn-Rrva. You can see a full breakdown of who's in the movie here.
Larson, who won the Best Actress Oscar for his role in Room, will play Captain Marvel again in 2019's untitled Avengers 4.
For the first time in E3's history, Sony is skipping the annual big-time gaming show next year. Microsoft, meanwhile, will attend the event. Now, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has shared some insight into why Microsoft remains committed to E3 after its biggest competitor dropped out.
According to Twinfinite, during Microsoft's Extra Life livestream event, Spencer acknowledged how E3 has changed over the years. E3 began as a very business-focused event that retailers would attend to determine how many games to order for the holidays. That still happens, and E3 remains important for business reasons, but show is now open to the public and overall it's taken more of a consumer and press focus in recent years. Spencer said Microsoft continues to enjoy and support E3 is because it's a "celebration" of gaming that helps bring people today.
He admitted that Microsoft could host its own gaming event outside of E3 or a "direct" in the fashion of Nintendo. But Microsoft won't do that because "it's an awesome and frankly convenient way for the fans to experience video games. I think we do it because it's a U.S. celebration in L.A. It's easy for people in the U.S. to come to one place and just share their love of video games."
Spencer went on to say that he hopes E3 grows bigger still in the future, while at the same time acknowledging that he also expects the show to change "in some ways" in the future.
In addition to E3, Microsoft recently resurrected its X018 event, holding the show in Mexico City last month where it announced the acquisitions of Obsidian and inXile, among other things. Spencer said in the new livestream that Microsoft is "really happy" with how X018 went, and while he stopped short of confirming a 2019 show, he said, "We want to do it again."
Explaining its decision to not attend E3 next year, a Sony representative said, "We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can't wait to share our plans with you."
The company added: "As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community. PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019."
There won't be a PlayStation Experience event this year, either.
The major gaming companies--Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo--have all adjusted their E3 plans in recent years. In 2018, Microsoft notably moved nearly its entire presence offsite to the Microsoft Theater, with only Mixer present on the showfloor, while Nintendo has forgone live press conferences in favor of pre-recorded video presentations for the past several years. Sony, too, tried something different with its E3 2018 showing by focusing primarily on four of its upcoming games and presenting them through a "guided experience," which garnered a mixed reaction from viewers.
While Sony is skipping E3 2019, Microsoft and Nintendo, as well as Ubisoft, Activision, Take-Two, and other notable gaming companies are confirmed to attend the event.
E3 2019 takes place June 11-13. It is notably the final show confirmed for the Los Angeles Convention Center--the venue it has traditionally been held in for much of its history. Former ESA CEO Michael Gallagher had previously said the organization may pursue other options if the LACC does not modernize and upgrade the facility.
The next big patch for Bethesda's multiplayer RPG Fallout 76 is coming soon, and now developer Bethesda has posted the full patch notes for the December 4 update.
As announced previously, this patch will increase the maximum stash storage to 600 pounds, and it could expand further down the road, Bethesda said. The update also introduces stability improvements to the Fallout 76 client and servers, which in turn should lead to a better experience overall.
In terms of balance changes, the Fallout 76 patch makes bosses drop 2-4 items per boss (depending on difficulty and level), while weapon damage has been increased by 20 percent "across the board," so it sounds like you'll feel more powerful right away with this update.
As for bug fixes, on console Bethesda has fixed an issue that could lead to an infinite loading screen when players signed out of their console while playing the game. And on Xbox One specifically, the patch addresses a crash scenario for a specific situation related to team invites. There are UI, Survival, and Perk changes, too, included in this update. You can see the full patch notes below, as posted by Bethesda on their website.
Fallout 76 launched in mid-November, and while it might not have been a hit with critics, the game quickly reached "millions" of players. The game is underperforming GameStop's expectations, but that doesn't necessarily mean the game is doing badly.
- Performance: PC framerates are once again uncapped. However, reaching very high framerates will no longer cause movement speed to increase. This was originally fixed in the November 19 patch.
- Stability: The Fallout 76 game client and servers have received additional stability improvements.
- Stash: Maximum stash storage has been increased by 50%, to 600 pounds. This is a conservative adjustment, and we plan to increase the storage cap further in the future once we’ve verified this change does not impact the stability of the game.
- Enemies: XP rewards for killing high-level creatures have been reduced.
- Bosses: Fixed an issue affecting instanced Boss loot. Players should now correctly receive 2-4 items per boss, depending on the creature’s difficulty and level.
- Weapons: Automatic weapon damage has been increased by approximately 20% across the board.
- Weapon Effects: Hitting another player with a Cryolator now applies a Chilled, Frosted, or Frozen status based on how many times they are hit. The duration of movement speed reductions applied by these effects have been significantly decreased.
- Console: Fixed an issue that could cause the player to encounter an infinite loading screen when signing out of their console account while playing Fallout 76.
- Xbox: Addressed a crash that could occur when sending multiple team invites immediately after exiting Vault 76 to a player who is not a friend.
- Power Armor: Fixed an issue affecting Power Armor frames that could prevent the player from exiting their Power Armor.
- Nuke Silos: Flipboards inside Nuke Silos no longer display portions of launch codes too soon after the codes were reset for the week.
- C.A.M.P.: Moving C.A.M.P. locations will now correctly move standalone items built by the player into the build menu’s Stored tab.
- Workshops: On PS4, wires will no longer appear to float in mid-air when attempting connect two or more objects.
- Turrets: Will no longer become invisible if the player is not present at their C.A.M.P. when their turrets are destroyed.
- Perk Cards: Ranking up a Perk Card will no longer cause a duplicate card to appear.
- Teams: Fixed an issue that could prevent a team from being correctly formed in a game world after creating the team on the Main Menu when both players are using new characters.
- Teams: Display durations for social notification have been reduced when many notifications are pending. This should help address an issue in which players did not see that they successfully joined a team.
- Mutations: The Electrically Charged and Unstable Isotope Mutations no longer provide the player with bonus Health.
- AFK: Players will now be disconnected from a game world after 10 minutes of inactivity and will be prompted with a timer 1 minute before being kicked.
- Atomic Shop: On PC, cursor position will no longer be disjointed from clicks in the Atomic Shop while using 16:10 resolutions.
- Enemies: Red crosshairs and enemy health bars will no longer persist on-screen when an enemy is no longer in view.
- Localization: Subtitles will now appear correctly, and English voiceover will play, for game clients in languages that do not have their own localized voiceover when listening to a Holotape or interacting with robots.
- Pip-Boy: Fixed an issue that could cause duplicate data to appear in the Pip-Boy’s Stat and Effects interfaces.
- Respawn: Dying while severely overencumbered will no longer remove all map markers when attempting to respawn. Instead, the player can now respawn at the nearest discovered Map Marker.
- Quest Tracker: Quest objective notifications will no longer appear for inactive Quests immediately upon connecting to a world.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, which revealed the news, the new show will allow actors to "come and go," while the nature of the show allows the producers to cast people later in production than normal. Nolte has been acting for decades; he's been nominated for three Oscars, for the movies The Prince of Tides, Affliction, and Warrior.Image credit: StarWars.com
The Mandalorian was written by Iron Man director Jon Favreau, and individual episodes will be directed by established Hollywood and TV veterans like Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi and Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard, among others.
Pascal, who starred on Game of Thrones and Narcos, will play the lead role in The Mandalorian. He'll play a "lone gunfighter," in a story set after Return of the Jedi.
"After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic," reads the TV show's official description.
The program will air on Disney's new streaming service, Disney+. The service launches in 2019, but it's unclear when the new Star Wars show may arrive. It is one of "several" Star Wars shows in development.
The Switch may appear to live in the same family as tablets and smartphones at first glance, but Nintendo, perhaps wisely, has kept those comparisons at arm's length. The Switch OS doesn't react when you pivot the system from landscape to portrait orientation, and the vast majority of Switch games feature only minimal support for touchscreen interaction. These limitations aren't generally an issue, but there is a subset of Switch games that may cause you to question Nintendo's apparent rigid view of the system's identity.
Thanks to the efforts of developers such as Hamster Corp. and Digital Eclipse, the Switch plays host to numerous arcade ports, a large number of which were designed to be played with the screen rotated 90 degrees. Playing them that way, of course, requires you to disconnect the Switch's Joycons so you can prop up the system. That's all well and good if you're in a suitable environment, but the process is easier said than done on the go. Thankfully, the $12 Flip Grip has arrived to pick up where Nintendo's design team left off.
Inexpensive, straightforward, and hugely impactful in the right situation, the Flip Grip quickly feels like a must-own accessory once you start using it. Simply disconnect the Joycons, rotate and insert your Switch into the Flip Grip, put your Joycons into the tracks on both sides of the bracket, and you're basically ready to go.
One caveat of an attachment like Flip Grip in a world where Nintendo isn't concerned with portrait mode is that navigating the system requires a bit of roundabout thinking on your part. Because the Flip Grip will obstruct access to the power button and the volume toggle, you will have to resort to pressing the Home button and using menus as an alternative means of powering off the system and adjusting your audio. Once in a game, you will also have to enter a menu to rotate the image into portrait mode. There is a bit of an adjustment period while you get these habits down, but once you're used to the process it's hard to imagine playing certain games on Switch without Flip Grip.
Arcade ports like Punch-Out and Donkey Kong go from using a small portion of the Switch's display to filling up the entire screen, and rather than sitting away from your Switch with a controller in hand, you get to be up close and personal with it while you play--the way Nintendo originally intended. It's not only a more enjoyable experience, but when playing vertical shooters like Ikaruga or Gunbird 2, the larger viewable area makes it easier to navigate complex bullet patterns and live to fight in another level.
While you're enjoying your newfound appreciation for Switch, it's easy to take the Flip Grip's finer details for granted, but they are worth noting both for piece of mind and for the added appreciation of the accessory's thoughtful nature.The Flip Grip is a simple yet versatile Switch accessory that, for the right person, is worth far more than the modest asking price.
The inside of the bracket's support wall features four felt pads that prevent scratches and smooth out the insertion process. Nearby is a flexible plastic tab with a rubber stopper that helps secure your Switch in place by slotting into one of the two speaker grooves on the back of the system. Releasing it requires just a little tug from the backside of the Flip Grip, but not so little that you'd disengage the stopper by accident.
Most important of all, long gaps along the inside edge of the Flip Grip allow for sound and air to move relatively unimpeded. And while you may not realize it at first, you can also slot a plastic card into one side for a makeshift vertical stand.
With adequate safety measures, thoughtful design considerations, and a very modest asking price, there's almost no reason to think twice about Flip Grip if you have interest in the Switch's current and upcoming vertically oriented games. The only other minor considerations to keep in mind are that the Joycons won't be able to charge while you play and that the OS isn't built to support the Flip Grip the way some games are. These grievances aside, 12 bucks is a trivial cost for an improved gameplay experience. The Flip Grip will make you think twice about what the Switch is capable of--and perhaps wonder why Nintendo hasn't capitalized on an obvious opportunity.
Editor's note: An early production model of the Flip Grip was provided to GameSpot courtesy of Fangamer.
The release date for MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries was announced at Mech-Con 2018 today. Originally scheduled for 2018, it is now slated to release on September 10 of next year.
Developed by MechWarrior Online studio Piranha Games, it's the first numbered game in the series since 2000's MechWarrior 4: Vengeance. The series is known for its sim-focused mech combat that pushes its players to master its intricacies. MechWarrior 5 continues that tradition; however, it is trying to be much more approachable for newcomers.
I got the opportunity to go to Piranha Games, speak to the team there, and play it for myself. One thing I talked to CEO Russ Bullock about was the balance of pleasing nostalgic while courting newcomers. As someone who hasn't played a MechWarrior game since the second installment from the mid-90s, I have fond yet admittedly foggy memories of firing rockets and peppering enemies with machine gun fire. MechWarrior 5 is easier to pick up and play than MechWarrior 2, and more action-packed, but Titanfall this is not. It still evokes the same feeling of controlling an incredibly heavy mech that feels like it can walk through a building as if you were slicing a stick of butter with a hot knife.
In fact, Bullock stressed how important it was for them to add destructible buildings into the game. He talked about how it's always been a fantasy for players to be able to absolutely decimate structures, so it was an important aspect of the game to get right. Buildings that are of the same height as your mech, or shorter, are easily destroyed by moving towards them. Taller buildings, on the other hand, will be left as skeletal structures.
And thankfully, it's relatively easy to get into the game and start causing all that destruction. Keyboard and mouse is the optimal way to play, but I also got a chance to go into a custom-made pod of sorts that was meant to simulate the cockpit of a mech. The first round of using a HOTAS setup was awkward, and my mech ended the round with both of its arms blown off. However, by the second round, I had gotten used to the throttle-and-stick and made it through relatively unscathed with a trail of dead mechs in my rear-view mirror. When the dust settled, I was thoroughly impressed with what I had experienced in my demos: shooting enemy mechs, stomping on ant-like tanks, and running through buildings.
As for multiplayer, MechWarrior 5 will have co-op. Bullock said that the team wanted to focus on the campaign and let PVP-minded players have MechWarrior Online. That means you can invite up to three friends to join you in your otherwise single-player missions in MechWarrior 5.
MechWarrior 5 releases for PC on September 10. You can follow more news from Mech-Con 2018 over on Piranha Games' Twitch channel where much of the event is being livestreamed this weekend.
Star Wars is such a cultural phenomenon that the major characters and story beats seem to soak in by osmosis before watching a single film. On the off chance that a young new fan might need to catch up, though, Disney has launched a new "Star Wars Kids" YouTube channel with a series of impressive shorts that summarize some major events in the original trilogy.
The Galaxy of Adventure shorts are only about a minute long apiece. They feature some light narration, but seem mostly built upon audio effects and voices from the original trilogy. Despite that, it does take some slight liberties to take advantage of the medium, like allowing Luke some more kinetic animation upon first activating his father's lightsaber or playing up the manic, comic haplessness of Han and Chewie desperately trying to fix the Falcon. In one short featuring Darth Vader, the animation appears largely based on a scene from Rogue One.
Other shorts feature scenes revolving around R2-D2, Luke's encounter with a Wampa in The Empire Strikes Back, and Vader's entrance set to the Imperial March. The animated shorts are complemented by brief "Fun Facts" videos that intersperse animation and original film clips, introducing both characters and starfighters.
The animation style is really something to see for newcomers and seasoned fan alike, and it's left plenty of room for other vignettes. So far, popular characters like Leia, Yoda, The Emperor, and Boba Fett are no where to be found, so we can probably expect more on the way. Check out a sampling of the shorts below.