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Assassin's Creed Odyssey PS4 Freebie Available Now

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 05:24

Here's a PSA for PS4 owners. Assassin's Creed Odyssey might not launch on PS4, Xbox One, and PC until October 5, but you can download an Assassin's Creed Odyssey theme for your PlayStation 4 right now. No pre-order or any other purchase is necessary. Just hop on the PlayStation Store, add it to your account, and you're good to go.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey is primarily being developed by Ubisoft Quebec, the same team that made Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Set in Ancient Greece, Odyssey leans into RPG territory more than any other entry in the series. It lets you play as a male or female protagonist, grants you branching dialog choices, and has you make decisions that can significantly affect your experience with the game. You can read more about what changes are in store in our Assassin's Creed Odyssey hands-on preview.

The free dynamic PS4 theme plants a male Spartan warrior on the right side of your PS4 dashboard. If you press up on the controller to bring up the top row of icons, the soldier is whisked off the edge of the screen and replaced by a female Spartan warrior.

If you want to pre-order Assassin's Creed Odyssey, you'll face a whole mess of different versions of the game. To help you sort through what comes in each one, check out our Assassin's Creed Odyssey pre-order guide to find the one that's right for you.

Former WWE And WCW Wrestler Big Van Vader Dies At 63

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 05:08

Wrestling fans across the world were shocked to see the news that Leon White, better known as Big Van Vader, passed away recently after a long battle with his health. The past year and a half have been tough for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and Wrestling Observer Hall of Famer, as he has been battling congestive heart failure.

One of White's children tweeted from the wrestler's account that he had passed away on Monday night after battling his heart condition and pneumonia: "Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time."

Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time. pic.twitter.com/hJYjumvxjH

— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) June 20, 2018

In early May, White mentioned that he had successful heart surgery, and things were looking up him. There have been concerns about his heart for quite some time, since White announced his struggles publicly on Twitter back in November 2016. During an event in Japan in Spring 2017, Vader collapsed during a show, which he claimed was because of a shot to the head.

Outside of wrestling, White was remembered primarily for his appearance on the TV series Boy Meets World. He played Frankie Stecchino Sr., the father of the bully Frankie the Enforcer. On the show, Stecchino Sr. was also a professional wrestler who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Additionally, White appeared on an episode of Baywatch cleverly titled "Bash at the Beach."

Because of White's popularity in Japan, after wrestling in NJPW for years and winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship--which is where he got the name Big Van Vader--his likeness has actually been in a couple of video games as well. Alexander The Grater from Saturday Night Slam Masters and Raiden from Fatal Fury.

He was a powerhouse performer who was well-loved within the wrestling communities and paved the way for the next generation or superstars. Hopefully, WWE will honor him by adding him to the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame.

WWE's Daniel Bryan Performed A Reckless, Unnecessary, Diving Headbutt On Smackdown

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 04:44

On the June 19 episode of WWE Smackdown, Daniel Bryan performed a diving headbutt of the top rope. From health standpoint, this is a bad idea for any wrestler. But it's a specifically bad idea for a wrestler like Daniel Bryan, who not long ago was suffering from trauma-related seizures. Everyone who cares about him--hopefully, that includes the WWE itself--should remind him of his well-being and what he stands to lose if he continues down this path.

It happened during a gauntlet match between Bryan, Big E, The Miz, Rusev, and Samoa Joe. The winner would compete for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules on July 15. In a shocking upset, Rusev won the match and the right to face AJ Styles in four weeks. Happy Rusev Day indeed.

But I found it difficult to focus on Rusev's achievement. I was too busy being appalled by what happened in the first third of the match. Daniel Bryan and Big E were the first two entrants and were engaged in a standard back-and-forth when suddenly, Bryan climbed on the turnbuckles and did this:

That's not an old screencap from several years ago; that's from the June 19 episode of Smackdown. Daniel Bryan, against all reason and advice to the contrary, attempted a diving headbutt. Big E rolled out of the way, and Bryan landed face first on the mat, with only his outstretched hands to cushion the blow.

There is no positive upside to this. A man with a history of multiple concussions (and a lesser history of concealing them from others) put himself at considerable, unnecessary risk for no reason. And if WWE officials signed off or approved of this, they're complicit in his recklessness. It's odd, because WWE has a controversial history of banning dangerous moves. The most well-known banned move is the classic Texas Piledriver, which has a long, established history; Jerry "The King" Lawler popularized it in the Memphis territories; it was the move he delivered to Andy Kaufman that "broke his neck." But just because something is established doesn't mean we continue to do it.

And after Owen Hart botched a variation of the move, in the Tombstone position, on "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and shortened his career, WWE stepped in. Since then, the Texas Piledriver has been rare to nonexistent in WWE. Lawler, when he occasionally wrestled, still used it, but certainly no younger wrestlers were using it as their go-to signature or finisher.

Why hasn't WWE applied this level of scrutiny to the diving headbutt? It was innovated by Harley Race. The man who adopted it after him, The Dynamite Kid, is now confined to a wheelchair; Race regrets inventing the move for this very reason. Prior to Daniel Bryan, the most notable practitioner of this move was Chris Benoit, who suffered from multiple, untreated concussions. These concussions may have contributed to his mental instability, which ultimately led him to kill his wife, his young son, and himself. The autopsy would later reveal he had the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient.

Bryan, like Benoit and Dynamite before him, is one of the most talented wrestlers of his generation. He can mat wrestle and he can fly high; he can brawl when the occasion calls for it. And for a large chunk of his WWE career--largely by choice--Bryan opted for a spot-heavy, high-impact style, which included moves such as the diving headbutt.

It made him stand out in a crowd of men who were bigger than him. Narratively, it said: "I may be smaller and weaker, but I have more heart and more guts than you. I am willing to make the bigger sacrifice." Bryan got over with the fans, but this unrestrained style exacted a toll. He missed months of ring time; his run as WWE Champion after Wrestlemania XXX was cut short after he lost feeling in his arm. He required neck surgery. He suffered multiple concussions and post-concussion seizures. He hid this from many of his colleagues, thus putting himself--not to mention his opponents--in danger.

And all the while, WWE was telling him to slow down. He was now the most beloved wrestler in the company; he no longer needed these dangerous spots to get over with the crowd. But still, he ignored that advice and continued working like he had nothing to lose.

Eventually, WWE forced Bryan to retire in 2016. He had lesions on his brain; WWE could no longer trust him to take care of himself, and by extension, protect the company. And for two years, Bryan was relegated to mostly backstage roles.

Then in March 2018, the impossible happened. After months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which Bryan credits to healing his brain, he was cleared by WWE to wrestle again. And for his first few matches, it seemed as though the man had recognized his mortality. He grabbed the ropes to brace himself on his corner attacks. He stopped diving through the ring ropes to the floor, instead launching himself partially outside, feet-first. His top rope maneuvers were also feet first, and he landed with a flat back bump. He used more grapples and submissions.

And eventually, it felt comfortable to watch Bryan wrestle. He was finally taking care of himself, and we, as an audience, weren't enabling him to cripple himself or dig an early grave.

Now, that's gone. Instead, we'll worrying about the velocity of his next move. We'll be watching to see how hard his head hits the mat or the security barrier. We'll be wondering if this time, he's going to botch the next diving headbutt and get stretchered out of the ring. And even if we can't see the damage now, there may be long term damage, quietly piling up, that Bryan won't see for another 15-20 years.

No WWE fan should want Bryan to continue this backslide into old habits. But as of this morning, no major wrestling site has called Bryan or WWE over the carpet for allowing this. After months of bellyaching and performative "concern" over his health, the press has thrown up their hands and accepted this as standard operating procedure. But it shouldn't be this way; the multi-million dollar class-action lawsuit filed by former WWE employees, who now suffer from concussion-related disorders, confirms this.

Bryan needs to control himself. And if he can't do that, WWE needs to step in and do it for him, whether that's by banning the move, reprimanding him, fining him, or firing him. The company may not be directly responsible for Bryan destroying himself; the man can make his own choices, no matter how destructive. But it doesn't mean the fans have to accept it as a given, or that WWE has to give him a platform to broadcast it on.

Octopath Traveler Devs Talk Modernizing Classic RPG Tropes On Nintendo Switch

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 04:39

A new demo for Octopath Traveler lets you experience all eight prologue stories in anticipation for the Nintendo Switch release on July 13. The stylized retro RPG pays homage to Super NES classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6, but it strikes a considerably darker tone. At E3 2018, producer Masashi Takahashi and director Keisuke Miyauchi told GameSpot what influenced this new take on old tropes, and how they've been updated.

The serious tone was punctuated in the very first demo, released last year. The story of Primrose, a dancer, touched on themes of sexual abuse and human trafficking. It was jarring, given the cute, doe-eyed sprite work and classically styled battle system, to see a story that many older RPGs it imitated would have implied at most.

"We're creating a medieval world, and we wanted to think of the realities within that medieval world," Takahashi said, via a translator. "What would be a kind of inevitability that would happen as a result of this world existing? What kind of dramas would play out? I think, out of the eight people, that Primrose has the story that deals with the heaviest themes, but that's not to say that the other themes are light in any way. There are also characters that deal with other heavy elements of this world, as well, like Cyrus, the scholar. His story deals with the darkness that exists within this world."

By the same token, Square Enix felt it was important to create a style that was reminiscent of classic RPGs, with a modern twist. The result is a game that looks like a game from the 1990s at a glance, but that comes alive with depth and movement thanks to its 2.5D animation.

"This is the art style that was used for the games that we played when we were growing up," Takahashi said. "Even though it has a simple character design, the simplicity of the character design allows the user to use their imagination to kind of create their own story of the characters in their own minds, versus how you would respond to, for example, a realistic art style."

The final ingredient was the battle system and the new "path actions" system, which give characters a variety of ways of interacting in and out of battle. Like the story and art style, it was important that this was rooted in classic RPG tropes, but had its own twists and stylistic choices. It's a turn-based battle system, and Takahashi said that's meant to make it inviting to new or lapsed players who may not have touched an RPG in years.

"In addition to that, we've added in things like the additional strategic dimensions of what you can accomplish during battle," added Miyauchi. "And also, things like path actions--where, in other RPGs, if you're talking about NPCs around a town, the only action that you could accomplish with them was to talk to them. We've added in considerably more dimensions of being able to talk with them so that you're able to role-play now in more different ways than you ever were. So that you could feel like you're a scholar, for example, like you're really playing this role of this character in this game."

Buy An Xbox Gaming Set For Your American Girl Doll

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 04:16

The Xbox Gaming Set is a collection of accessories created to fit any American Girl Doll. Now your kid can play video games with their plastic best friend.

The set comes with everything needed to transform a doll into the perfect gaming partner. The set includes a pretend Xbox One S controller and console. The controller is small enough to fit perfectly into the doll's hands and the console can project scenes from 10 different games. The 10 games are divided between two game discs, which can be stored in two colorful game cases when not in use.

The set also includes a faux-leather game chair and fake wireless mic. The chair has built in speakers and comes with a cord that allows you to plug in your own personal devices to play whatever music or sound effects you want.

The reveal of the Xbox Gaming Set comes the week after Microsoft's E3 2018 announcement heavy press conference. A few of the games they showcased would be perfect for younger audiences, such as Kingdom Hearts III, who want something to play with their American Girl Doll.

Grab This Free Steam Game ASAP

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 03:54

Swords & Soldiers II Shawarmageddon is heading to Steam this fall. To celebrate--and to put the series on players' radar--developer Ronimo Games is giving away Swords & Soldiers HD for free on Steam. The catch is that it's only available for free for 24 hours, ending on June 21, and the clock is ticking.

Swords & Soldiers HD is a cartoonish side-scrolling RTS game from 2010 that pits Vikings, Aztecs, and Chinese forces against one another in an effort to win the favor of the gods. You do so by gathering resources, building units, and using magic (along with brute force) to defeat your opponent and destroy their castle. It has a lengthy single-player campaign, as well as a number of multiplayer modes.

In GameSpot's 8/10 Swords & Soldiers review, we said, "It may not be as serious or ponderous as other RTS games out there, but don't let its appearance fool you: Swords & Soldiers is a great example of its genre, and its simple controls and abounding good humor are likely to engage even those who have never dipped their controllers into the strategy pool."

If you download Swords & Soldiers HD for free and find that you enjoy the game, you can pre-order Swords & Soldiers II Shawarmageddon for $20 on Steam. Ronimo Games has also launched a Kickstarter to add more content to the upcoming game, with various rewards for backers depending on how much they kick in. So grab your free copy of Swords & Soldiers HD here before the price goes back up and give it a try.

PUBG Giving Out Free BP After Banning Players By Mistake

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 03:49

With cheating still an ongoing concern in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, developer PUBG Corp. has regularly implemented new measures in an effort to curb the practice. While the studio says this has helped winnow cheaters and bots from the game, it has also inadvertently resulted in some innocent players being temporarily banned.

"As you know, one of our highest priorities is working towards eliminating hackers and cheaters from PUBG," PUBG Corp. wrote in a post on Steam. "We've made great strides in this area recently, but unfortunately sometimes we get it wrong, which was the case recently when a number of players were improperly banned and were unable to access the game for a period of time. While we will continually work to improve these cheat detection methods, we ask for your patience on the hopefully few occasions where a false ban happens."

As a way to compensate players who have been wrongly banned from the game, PUBG Corp. is offering 20,000 BP--PUBG's in-game currency--to affected users. The developer says the BP should already appear in your account if you're one of those who have been inadvertently banned. Those unsure if they qualify to receive the compensation will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Logged into the 3.8.38.15 version between June 16, 11 AM - 1:30 PM PDT / June 16, 8 PM - 10:30 PM CEST / June 17, 3 AM - 5:30 AM KST
  • Were wrongfully banned due to internal ban detection logic

A new update for PUBG is rolling out later this week, on June 22. Along with an assortment of UI and sound improvements, it introduces the tropical Sanhok map to the live game, as well as a Sanhok-exclusive weapon: the QBZ95.

Alongside the update, PUBG Corp. is releasing the Event Pass--PUBG's equivalent of Fortnite's Battle Pass. As with the Battle Pass, the Event Pass allows players to complete daily and weekly challenges, which will level the pass up and unlock exclusive rewards. The Event Pass is available to try out now on PUBG's test server.

From Software's New PS4 Exclusive, Deracine, Is Baffling

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 02:55

In addition to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the developer of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, From Software, announced another new game at E3 2018. This one, Deracine, is exclusive to PS4 and PSVR, and many--including myself--were confused after watching its reveal trailer. In the search for answers, I went and played around 40 minutes of the VR game at E3. I'm still confused.

You play a spirit "summoned by a young girl in a secluded boarding school." At first, it's not clear what exactly to do, but with the help of a Sony Japan Studio developer I worked out that you have the power to talk to students at the school and interact with a limited number of the objects contained in the old house you find yourself in. Every object and being in the world is frozen in time until you touch them, at which point they will briefly spring to action, providing you with a sprinkling of exposition.

The concept of life is seemingly a running theme in Deracine; another power you yield is the ability to breathe life into dead objects. My first task was to revive a wilted flower, though for what purpose isn't clear. The rest of the demo centers around the girl's desire--and therefore my task--to poison a fellow student's soup using four herbs scattered around the building. Obtaining those herbs requires some light puzzle solving, such as carrying keys from one area to another to open a lockbox or finding missing characters whose belongings are useful to progress.

Deracine is seemingly a slow-paced point-and-click adventure, though at this early stage it's almost impossible to tell if that will be the case for the rest of the campaign, or what other elements it will introduce. This is a From Software game, after all.

Even with a developer next to me, I was forever wondering about what this ethereal, aged school was, who the girl was, who I was, and what I was doing. Given the developer's history, my guess is that's very much intentional. Let's hope we find out more about Deracine's world when the game launches for PSVR later this year.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Parent Company: Single-Player Games "Not Even Close" To Dead

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 02:52

Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick is skeptical of the rush to capitalize on the multiplayer flavor of the day. The publisher of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 said in an interview that single-player isn't dead, and scoffed at the battle royale gold rush.

"[T]here are also people saying that it won’t work if it's not a free-to-play battle royale. People really are saying that, and not even tongue-in-cheek. I don't buy that," Zelnick told VentureBeat. "Single-player, in my opinion, is not dead, not even close. Companies that feel like they'll just avoid the hard work of building a story and characters and go right to where the money is in multiplayer, I don't think that's going to work. I'd be surprised."

He pointed out that Take-Two's approach is to give teams a lot of time and resources and then reap the benefits. Grand Theft Auto 5 is still paying dividends thanks to GTA Online, but plenty of players are still engaging with the story too. He said he understands that approach sometimes means their schedule can be hard to pin down.

"That's why we don't annualize titles," he said. "That's why we sometimes have slippage. That's why we're so focused on making sure that every title is better than the last title. We don't always succeed, but that's the goal."

Asked if his personal involvement means he's the one to call up one of their partners and ask for a battle royale, he was dismissive. "The fact that I'm very involved doesn't mean I say stupid things. I'm involved by saying hopefully intelligent things that are going to advance our strategy. So no, I don't do that."

Finally, Zelnick said the publisher doesn't intend to share technology across their separate labels. Asked what he would say to Hanger 13 (Mafia 3) requesting the GTA 5 engine, he balked. "Our studios are trying to create their own phenomenally competitive products. It seems unlikely that they would take another studio's properties in any form and try to replicate them or jump off from them to a creative solution. It's not what we're trying to do."

RWBY's Yang Joins BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle As Free DLC

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 02:41

Seven new characters are now available for BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, playable on PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The most notable addition is Yang Xiao Long, who comes as a free download for all players, as she completes the Team RWBY roster alongside her teammates Ruby, Weiss, and Blake.

The other six characters are divided evenly between two new character packs, which players must purchase. Character Pack 2 contains Aegis from Persona 4 Arena, Jubei from BlazBlue, and Carmine from Under Night In-Birth. Character Pack 3 includes Naoto from Persona 4 Arena, Hakumen from BlazBlue, and Vatista from Under Night In-Birth.

A new trailer offers a glimpse of the seven new fighters in action. Yang gets the most attention, showing off how she can use her signature weapon, Ember Celica, to perform quick, short ranged attacks.

Yang excels at juggling other fighters and preventing them from attacking, and can use Ember Celica to boost forward and close the distance between her and an opponent trying to escape. She can also fire off a blast while in midair to give her a diagonal range attack, the recoil of which fires her back and offers her an opportunity to create some breathing room. Yang is voiced in-game by the same actress who voices her in the RWBY anime: Barbara Dunkelman.

In our BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle review, Michael Higham gave the game a 9/10 and said, "Whether playing through the story mode alone or against hardened opponents online, Cross Tag Battle is an absolute joy with a surplus of possibilities within its wide roster and versatile fighting system. Even with all the ridiculousness of the overarching plot, I reveled in the charm of my favorite characters and embraced the many moments of fan service. It's a masterful unification of styles and mechanics from four different universes that compels you to dig deeper and dedicate the time to getting the most out of the beloved members of this cast."

PUBG Update Adds New Sanhok Map On PC This Week; Patch Notes Released

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 07:05

A new update is on the way soon for the PC version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Patch #15 is scheduled to arrive this Friday, June 22, and will introduce an assortment of UI and sound improvements to the game, as well as the tropical map, Sanhok.

Following several weeks of testing on PUBG's Experimental Server, Sanhok will officially roll out for the live game with Patch 15. The map's most distinctive feature is its size; unlike Erangel or Miramar, Sanhok is 4km x 4km, making it one-fourth as large as PUBG's previous two maps. Despite its smaller scale, it still hosts 100 players, meaning matches are much quicker and more intense when contested on Sanhok.

Developer PUBG Corp. is also introducing the QBZ95, a new weapon slated to arrive alongside Sanhok in Patch 15. The QBZ95 is an AR that uses 5.56mm rounds. It holds 30 rounds per magazine, although PUBG Corp. notes that can be extended to 40 rounds. The QBZ95 can be found exclusively on the new tropical map, replacing the SCAR-L in Sanhok’s item spawn pool.

In addition to the new map and item, Patch 15 introduces a slate of interface improvements to the game. In particular, PUBG Corp. has tweaked the UI of the Leaderboard, Replay function, and friends list. Many in-game UI elements, such as the inventory, map, and results screen, have likewise been visually improved, while the mini-map can now be expanded and dynamically zooms in or out depending on your movement speed.

Patch 15 also addresses a handful of bugs and other technical issues in the game. Among them, PUBG Corp. has removed some objects from Erangel and Miramar that previously obstructed movement, and an issue that would cause characters to occasionally get stuck in the aforementioned maps has also been fixed. The full list of changes are outlined in the patch notes on Steam.

The Best Gaming Deals Of The Week In The US

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:59

Listen up, deal hunters. Now that the week is in full swing, let's take a moment to appraise the deals that have gone live this week and see what kinds of savings we can wrangle. No matter your platform of choice, from PS4 and PC to Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, you can find great deals on great games. Read on to learn about all the best sales going on right now, along with highlights for some of the biggest savings.

PS4

As usual, a handful of PS4 and PS3 games are on sale this week on the PlayStation Store (ending June 25). In particular, you can get games from the Call of Duty and Sonic series for cheap. Here are some of our picks, or check here for the full slate of PlayStation deals.

Nintendo Switch and 3DS

Nintendo doesn't put discounts on its games as often as the other big publishers, but now through June 21 just happens to be one of those rare times. Thankfully, the sale is filled with excellent games. Below are some of our picks for Switch and 3DS games on sale right now. You can find more here.

Xbox One

Microsoft has refreshed its weekly Xbox sale, with a number of games getting discounts, including a whole swatch of Telltale's adventure games. And if you haven't played Diablo 3 on console yet, this deal is the one you didn't know you've been waiting for. The sale ends June 25.

PC

We'll highlight more PC games later this week, but for now let's just focus on a single one. For the first time ever, PUBG is on sale on Steam. You can get it for $20, which is 33% off its regular price. Not a bad deal for the battle royale game that kicked off the craze. It's on sale until July 5.

Call Of Duty: WW2 DLC 3, United Front, Releases Soon For PS4

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:51

Activision has announced the third DLC pack for Call of Duty: WWII. Dubbed United Front, the expansion is slated to release for PS4 players early next week and introduces a new assortment of maps, a new War mode mission, and other additional content to the popular online shooter.

As usual, headlining the United Front expansion are three new maps for Call of Duty: WWII's multiplayer mode. The first, Market Garden, is inspired by the military operation of the same name and features "intense tight-quarters combat." Monte Cassino takes place in a "war-torn village" and emphasizes verticality. The final new map, Stalingrad, is based on World War II's largest confrontation and features two main bases located on opposite ends of a ruined city.

Alongside the aforementioned maps, those who purchase the upcoming expansion will get a new War mode mission called Operation Supercharge. This mission drops players in Tunisia, with the objective being to fight their way into a Nazi-occupied village and capture key supplies. Once the supplies have been secured, players must detonate a key transport bridge, then complete the mission by capturing "entrenched Axis fortifications."

Rounding out the United Front DLC pack is a new installment in the ongoing Nazi Zombies saga, dubbed The Tortured Path. Here's the synopsis for the new chapter, courtesy of the PlayStation Blog:

"The Allied forces are crumbling under the relentless advance of the Final Reich. General Rideau decides to take one last, dangerous gambit: to personally lead a small, unmarked caravan across the 2,000 miles of smoldering, infested land that stand between Berlin and the Allied-controlled port of Malaga. From there, he and his crew face a treacherous voyage across icy southern waters and U-boat blockades.

"His mission? Transport the remaining pieces of Emperor Barbarossa's legendary sword to the edge of the world. Uncover the lost forges of ancient Thule. Make the sword whole again… and deliver a final death to the Undying."

The United Front DLC pack releases for some players on Tuesday, June 26. Thanks to a timed exclusivity agreement with Sony, the expansion will launch first on PS4, with an Xbox One and PC release slated to follow about a month later. Activision hasn't confirmed pricing details for United Front, but the previous two Call of Duty: WWII expansions could be purchased for $15 / £11.59 / AU $20.45 apiece. Each expansion is also included together in the game's $50 / £40 / AU $65 season pass.

WWE Releases Big Cass After Money In The Bank PPV

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:35

Best of luck with whatever comes next, Big Cass. Following a loss to Daniel Bryan at Money in the Bank, WWE has announced that the superstar whose real name is William Morrissey has been released from his contract.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise, given that it was only recently that Cass returned from injury and was regularly highlighted on Smackdown Live. However, following back-to-back pay-per-view losses to Daniel Bryan--who also recently returned after coming out of retirement--he has reached the end of his road with the company.

Interestingly, WWE's announcement of Cass's parting ways with the company is missing the signature "We wish them the best in all of their future endeavors" line that has become standard in all talent releases. What that means for the reason behind the departure remains to be seen, as Cass has yet to make any public comment on the news.

Another recent WWE departure of note is Cass's former tag team partner Enzo Amore, who was released from WWE amid sexual assault allegations. Though Amore, real name Eric Arndt, was eventually cleared when police determined there was insufficient evidence to continue their investigation, he has not returned to the company. Together, Enzo and Cass won the 2015 NXT Year-End Award for Tag Team of the Year, though they never won championship gold.

Killer Nintendo Switch Game Deals On The US Eshop--But Hurry

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:31

Nintendo isn't as regular with its sales as Sony and Microsoft, but the Mario company's been known to bring the deals from time to time. Between now and June 21, you can save good money on some fantastic games on the Nintendo Eshop. That's good news for anyone who's looking to add fresh software to their Nintendo Switch or Nintendo 3DS, so let's dive in and see what games are on sale right now.

As always for Nintendo hardware, it's Nintendo's first-party software that gets people the most riled up. To that end, a number of first-party games are on sale, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for $45, and Splatoon 2 for $40. And although Ubisoft handled the development, Mario + Rabbids is crawling with Nintendo characters; it's on sale for $44.

Other Switch highlights include Ultimate Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and WWE 2K19, both available for $20, while Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is $25. If you're looking for fun indies, you're well served on that front: games like Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, Darkest Dungeon, Golf Story, and Night in the Woods are all on sale for under $20 each.

Over on 3DS, you can save money on newer titles like Mario Party: The Top 100 and Metroid: Samus Returns, or on classics like Animal Crossing: New Leaf and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. You can more of our picks below, or jump over to the full list of games on sale here.

Nintendo SwitchNintendo 3DS

The Story Behind Bao, Pixar's Cutest Short Film Yet

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 06:28

"Bao," the title of the Pixar short film that precedes Incredibles 2 in theaters, has two meanings, according to its director, Domee Shi: Depending how you pronounce it, the word "Bao" can mean either "steamed bun" or "treasure or something precious," Shi told journalists on a recent visit to Pixar.

Starring a very precious steamed bun, Pixar's latest short film fits its title perfectly. Like many of Pixar's shorts, it contains no dialogue and is animated with a unique art style not seen in the studio's feature films. In Bao, a Chinese woman's homemade dumpling sprouts limbs and a face, and she treats it like her son--until the dumpling grows up, and the inevitable happens.

Shi started thinking about Bao when when she was working as a story artist on Inside Out. She was feeling the itch to make something on her own--a side project--but after pitching Bao to Pixar during an open call for short film ideas, it became the official next Pixar short in 2015.

Shi said Bao has three main ingredients from her life: what she loves (food), what she knows (growing up as an only child spending lots of time with her mother), and what she admires (the culture of Toronto Chinatown). "Bao was inspired by a few of my favorite things in this world: food, cute things, and old Chinese people," she said.

She had been doodling cute, crudely animated web comics titled "My Food Fantasies" in her spare time, and through those she realized she loved drawing food. "I felt like it was a very universal pleasure that everyone can relate to, much like stories about love or family," she said. Whatever she was going to spend years of her life working on, it would have to revolve around food.

"In Chinese culture, food and family go hand in hand," she said. "When you want to show you care about someone, or that you love someone, you don't say, 'I love you.' You say, 'Have you eaten yet?'"

But Shi's love of food was only one part of what inspired Bao. Another main ingredient was her mother's love of her.

"Ever since I was little, she's always treated me like her precious little baby dumpling, always watching over me, making sure I was safe, making sure I had a good education for a good college in the future," Shi said. "We did everything together. We ate together, we commuted to work and school together, we even vacationed together, like mother-daughter Chinese bus tours all over the east coast."

Shi's mother is also "the dumpling queen," and she came into the studio to give the Bao team personal demonstrations. She has a cultural consultant credit on the film.

Bao was personal for its production designer, Rona Liu, as well. Liu lived in China until she was 10, and she said Bao's visual aesthetic is heavily inspired by traditional Chinese folk art. Shi added My Neighbors the Yamadas and One Piece to that list.

"Working on Bao was extremely special to me, because it gave me the chance to express my experience as an immigrant through color and design," Liu said.

The last piece of the puzzle was the setting itself, and the way it informed the characters. "Chinatown is such a vibrant, lively nostalgic place for me, and I wanted to honor that setting in my short," Shi said. She and Liu took field research trips to immerse themselves in Chinatown culture, especially noticing the bold fashion choice and unique exercise habits of a certain group.

"I wanted to honor the equally vibrant and awesome residents of Chinatown: the Chinatown grannies," Shi said. "I wanted to celebrate their bold colors, their keen eye in picking out the freshest produce, their determination to get the best deal and to mow down anybody in their way."

The story changed just a bit during development. In the original version, the mom crafts an entire miniature food world for her dumpling. At the end, she rampages through it, destroying everything in her path. The final ending is significantly different--"more digestible" to viewers, Shi said, laughing at the pun.

Ultimately, it all goes back to Shi's mother. "When I started to grow up, it was hard for her to let go," Shi said. "In fact, she'd often hold me close and say, 'I wish I could put you back in my stomach so I knew exactly where you were at all times.' And that creepy, sweet love of a mom who learns to let go of her little dumpling was the spark that became the heart of the short."

Bao is playing now in theaters preceding Incredibles 2. Read more about why Incredibles 2 took nearly 14 years to make, whether Incredibles 3 will take as long, the records Incredibles 2 has broken so far, why Incredibles 2 puts its female star in the spotlight, why Incredibles 2 begins exactly where the original left off, how Jack-Jack got so many powers, and the challenges of making Incredibles 2 in a post-Avengers world.

BioWare's Anthem Has No Romance Options, Limited Dialogue Choices

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:44

Anthem will not include romance options, BioWare has confirmed. Producer Mike Gamble told Game Informer directly that "there are no romances." Players can still forge friendships, but as for the romances? "The romantic stuff, we're moving away from that for Anthem," Gamble said.

This news is a bit of a bummer for fans of BioWare games, which are known for their romance options. At the same time, however, Anthem appears to be a very different game for BioWare. It is an always-online, shooting focused co-op game with exosuits.

Romances aren't the only area where Anthem will differ from past BioWare games. Dialogue options are also being scaled back compared to previous titles. Producer Mark Darrah told GameSpot at E3 2018 that Anthem will offer simpler dialogue options during the Fort Tarsis single-player portion. It's unclear, however, if there will be any dialogue options or branching story in the multiplayer shared-world.

For more on Anthem, you can check out GameSpot's hands-on preview of the game in which we called the title an exciting new direction for BioWare. Anthem launches on February 22 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

You can read more about Anthem and other news from EA's E3 briefing in our recap of all the announcements from EA Play. For our full coverage of the big event, be sure to visit GameSpot's E3 2018 hub to catch up on all of the biggest news from the show.

The Best PlayStation 4 Games On Sale This Week In The US

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:36

A new week means a new batch of PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and even PS Vita games has gone on sale over at the PlayStation Store. This week finds sales on the Call of Duty and Sonic the Hedgehog series, along with an assortment of other deals. If you're a PlayStation Plus member, you'll get an extra 10% off some of the deals. Read on for our picks of the best PS3 and PS4 game deals of the week.

Shooters from one of the biggest video game series on the planet are on sale, including Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for $26 apiece ($20 with PS Plus), and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered for $28 ($24 with PS Plus). And if you have PS Plus, you can download Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for free right now; its add-on content is also on sale.

FIFA 18 is down to just $24 this week, regardless of your PS Plus status. The arcade-style racing game Redout: Lightspeed Edition is available for $20, while Sonic Forces will only set you back $24.

Speaking of the speedy blue mascot, PlayStation 3 owners can grab up an array of Sonic games for cheap. Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are available for $2 each, while Sonic Generations and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed are both on sale for $10. Now go on and save some money.

PS4 Game DealsPS3 Game Deals

Fallout 76 Beta Launches On Xbox One First, Followed By PS4 And PC

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 03:52

Although the exact launch date of the Fallout 76 beta is still a mystery, we now know it will be coming to Xbox One first. On the Fallout FAQ page, the launch date for 76's beta is listed as unknown. Players are asked to stay tuned to Fallout's social accounts before being left with one final note: "the B.E.T.A. for Xbox One will begin first, followed by other platforms." Fallout 76 is scheduled to release November 14.

The beta is still scheduled to release on both PS4 and PC, but players on those two platforms will have to wait a little bit longer to play the game. Bethesda has supplied no clues as to how much earlier Xbox One players will get the beta, nor whether the Xbox One beta will end early or go on for as long as the betas on PS4 and PC.

Fallout 76 takes place centuries before Fallout 4, near the start of the Fallout timeline. This title brings a lot of new mechanics to the franchise, including nuclear missile strikes, and will be a multiplayer-focused, always online game instead of a single-player shooter. In order to balance these mechanics, Bethesda has implemented new systems to stop trolls from breaking the game.

The only way to play the Fallout 76 beta is by pre-ordering the game. Check out our handy-dandy pre-order guide so you can nab the edition that's best for you.

Never Alone Dev Reveals Haunting Underwater Adventure Game, Beyond Blue

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 02:56

E-Line Media, the studio behind the Iñupiat-inspired platformer Never Alone, has unveiled its latest effort: Beyond Blue, a narrative-driven underwater exploration game developed in collaboration with scientists and the BBC. The game was formally announced during E3 2018 and is slated to launch for PC and consoles early next year.

Envisioned as a "thematic cousin" to BBC's Blue Planet II documentary series, Beyond Blue casts players in the role of Mirai, the leader of an underwater research team. Mirai can explore her surroundings either by swimming or manually controlling aquatic drones, which will gradually collect information that can allow her to venture further and discover different types of marine life.

In addition to its exploration elements, Beyond Blue places a heavy emphasis on resource management, which will affect how your adventure unfolds. According to E-Line, players will be forced to "make high-stakes decisions and prioritize which objectives can be successfully achieved during the crew’s expedition." You can watch the announcement trailer for Beyond Blue below.

Like the aforementioned Never Alone, which doubled as a sort of documentary on Alaska Native culture, Beyond Blue features footage from Blue Planet II. During the course of the game, players will be able to unlock Ocean Insight videos that provide more information about the creatures and moments they encounter in the title.

"Inspired by the way the Cultural Insight videos inside Never Alone brought resonance and context to a game infused with Alaska Native culture, we reached out to E-Line to explore the potential for a creative collaboration on Blue Planet II," said Bradley Crooks, Head of Digital Entertainment & Games at BBC Studios. "We think there's great synergy in the way E-Line make their games and our own approach to program making where we care passionately about the subject matter and want to help people better understand the world in which they live."

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