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New Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Game Now Available (And On Sale)

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 02:44

There's been little news on the Xbox One backwards compatibility front as of late, but with E3 in the rear-view mirror, it's time for something new. Microsoft has announced a new addition to the BC lineup, and it's a pretty big one in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Major Nelson confirmed the news on Twitter, saying the Xbox 360 shooter is now playable on Xbox One. It joins a growing list of classic Call of Duty games that are playable on the console, although curiously it doesn't complete the Modern Warfare trilogy. 2009's Modern Warfare 2 has not yet been added to the list, so if you're looking for a chronological playthrough, you'll have to continue to wait for that to happen.

If you already own Modern Warfare 3, you can simply pop in the disc or head to the Ready to Download section of the My Games and Apps area to download it. Alternatively, you can purchase a copy right from the Xbox Store. As it happens, Modern Warfare 3 is a part of this week's Deals With Gold lineup. It's 50% off for Xbox Live Gold members until June 25, letting you get it for $15 / £12. Meanwhile, its DLC packs are all 33% off.

Backwards compatibility is a notable feature for Xbox One, but with a seemingly endless array of new games to tout during its press conference, Microsoft didn't focus on it at E3. It features prominently last year, as the company announced plans to introduce support for a select number of original Xbox games. Following the initial debut of that last year, another batch were released this spring. You can check out everything that's playable on Xbox One in our full list of backwards compatibility games.

Sony Announces New PS4 Line Of PlayStation Hits Games

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 01:48

PS4 has been on the market for quite a few years now, and we've reached the point in its lifecycle where Sony is prepared to introduce a standardized line of budget-priced versions of games. Much as it did with its Greatest Hits/Essentials line in the past, Sony has announced a PS4 equivalent called PlayStation Hits.

Games in the PlayStation Hits line will receive specialized box art with a red strip along the top, and the case itself will be red, rather than the usual blue. There are some terrific games included, although the specifics vary by market. In the US, you'll find Bloodborne, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Yakuza 0, Doom, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience. You can find complete lists for US and Europe below, or head to the official website to see the lineups in the US, Canada, and Europe (where specific availability varies by country).

In the US, PlayStation Hits will be priced at $20; in Canada, $20 CAD; in the UK, £16; and in Europe, €20. These will be available at both retail and on the PlayStation Store, with the first going on sale in the US/Canada on June 28 and in the UK/Europe on July 18.

Sony says more games will be added to the Hits line in the future, although it didn't share how often it will do so or how it decides what to include. A special PlayStation Hits PS4 bundle will be released that comes with a 1 TB system and three of Sony's first-party PlayStation Hits titles, but it will only be available in certain European markets.

PlayStation Hits US Lineup
  • Bloodborne
  • Battlefield 4
  • Doom
  • Driveclub
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • LittleBigPlanet 3
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience
  • Project CARS
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Street Fighter V
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • Yakuza 0
  • Yakuza Kiwami
PlayStation Hits UK/EU Lineup
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Batman Arkham Knight
  • Bloodborne
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse
  • Driveclub
  • Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition
  • EA Sports UFC 2
  • Earth Defense 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall
  • LittleBigPlanet 3
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Need for Speed
  • Need for Speed Rivals
  • Project CARS
  • Ratchet & Clank
  • Rayman Legends
  • Street Fighter V
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • Watch Dogs
  • Yakuza 0

Nintendo Could Go Back To Live Press Conferences At Future E3 Conferences

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 01:12

Since 2013, Nintendo has opted against hosting a live press conference for E3. Instead, the company has presented prerecorded Directs or Digital Events. But that all might change in the coming years.

In an interview with GamesBeat, Charlie Scibetta, senior director of corporate communications at Nintendo, said, "We decide each year what to show in the booth based on the content we have." He continued, "It's really whatever we think is the best way to bring those games to life."

Knowing Nintendo doesn't have a preference for prerecorded shows, and simply chooses a format that's believed to be the best fit for each game, we can assume that Nintendo might return to live shows in the future. Recent Nintendo titles announced at E3, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, might have presented better as a Nintendo Direct, but that doesn't mean a future title might better benefit from a live presentation.

Later in the interview, Scibetta hinted that Nintendo might even try something completely different for future E3 conferences. "In the future, [Nintendo] might go back to a presentation. We might stick with video. We might do something completely different. But it'll all be based on what we have to show that year," he said.

Nintendo spent a majority of the company's E3 2018 Direct presenting the massive rotation of levels, new roster, and added mechanics in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, the company also promoted a Donkey Kong expansion for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and announced Super Mario Party.

The Incredibles 2 Smashes Box Office Records In US

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 01:02

Pixar is no stranger to success at the box office, with movies such as Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory among the most successful animated movies ever made. But even by the impressive standards elsewhere in the studio's catalogue, the record-smashing opening weekend for its latest movie, Incredibles 2, is an amazing result. [Update: Updated figures have come in slightly higher than the estimates cited below. According to Box Office Mojo, The Incredibles 2 made just under $182.7 million for the weekend.]

The film made a stunning $180 million over the weekend in US, which is the biggest ever opening for animated movie by some distance. The previous record-holder, Finding Dory, made $135 million in its first three days in 2016. In addition, that total gives Incredibles 2 the eighth biggest opening of all time and makes it the highest-ever weekend debut for a PG-rated title.

Incredibles 2 was helped by a lack of competition from other new movies this weekend. The only other new films to get a wide release were the R-rated comedy Tag, which debuted at No.4 with $14.6 million, and the Blaxploitation remake Superfly, which made $6.3 million and entered the chart at No.7.

The heist comedy reboot Ocean's 8 slipped down to No.2 in its second week on release, with a $19.5 million take, while Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped to No.4. The Star Wars spin-off has been something of a commercial disappointment compared to other recent movies in the long-running franchise, and has only made $192 million after four weeks in theaters. Elsewhere, the superhero sequels Deadpool 2 and Avengers: Infinity War continued their impressive runs at No.5 and No.8 respectively, while the acclaimed horror movie Hereditary is at No.6.

You can see the full Top 10 list for the June 15-17 US box office below, as compiled by Box Office Mojo.

US/Canada Box Office For June 15-17:
  1. Incredibles 2 – $180 million
  2. Ocean's 8 – $19.5 million
  3. Tag – $14.6 million
  4. Solo: A Star Wars Story – $9.0 million
  5. Deadpool 2 – $8.8 million
  6. Hereditary – $7.0 million
  7. Superfly – $6.3 million
  8. Avengers: Infinity War – $5.2 million
  9. Adrift – $2.1 million
  10. Book Club – $1.8 million

Creed 2: First Poster Released, Trailer Due This Week

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 00:46

The success of 2015's sporting drama Creed not only revitalised the seemingly retired Rocky movie franchise, it also paved the way for director Ryan Coogler's Marvel blockbuster Black Panther. Inevitably Creed II is on the way, and while Coogler isn't returning, star Michael B. Jordan is, alongside Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa. The trailer for Creed II is expected this week, and ahead of that we have the first poster.

It's a simple and striking black-and-white poster, which shows Jordan as Adonis Creed, standing in front of a giant roman numeral 2. The caption reads "Know his name"--check it out below:

Know his name. #CreedII pic.twitter.com/q0UhcSVGIx

— #CREED (@creedmovie) June 19, 2018

Creed II is directed by Steven Caple Jr., who previously made the acclaimed 2016 indie hit The Land. Stallone himself was originally set to direct--as well as co-write--the movie, but he ultimately stepped aside. In December, the action icon explained this decision, stating that it was important for the director to be "part of this generation like I was in mine, to make the story as relatable as possible."

While we don't yet know many plot details about Creed II, we know that Dolph Lundgen is set to reprise his role as Ivan Drago from 1985's Rocky IV. In that movie, Drago killed Creed's father Apollo in the ring, which Creed II co-writer Cheo Hodari Coker recently suggested would play a part in the new movie.

"It's about the legacies of sons haunted by their fathers," Coker said, via Movieweb. "Even though Drago is alive, his son is haunted by him because Drago is a broken man who's trying to rebuild himself through the son. Apollo Creed isn't broken but because Apollo died, Adonis Creed is still haunted by his father's death and how it defined him, what it is it means now to be a champion. He's aspiring to be a champion but also at the same time trying to figure out who it is he is."

Stallone won a Golden Globe for his performance as the aging Rocky in Creed and also received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The movie made $173.6 million at the worldwide box office. Creed II hits theaters on November 21.

Best Xbox One Game Deals On The Xbox Store

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 00:37

A new sale on Xbox One and Xbox 360 games is live on the Microsoft Store. You can find the full details here, but we've sorted through and selected the highlights below. Note that some of the deals require you to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, while others are available to everyone. The sale ends June 25, so don't wait too long to pull the trigger on any games you've had your eye on.

The best deal here is probably on Diablo 3: Eternal Collection, which is on sale for $30 / £22. This bundle contains the game itself, plus the Reaper of Souls expansion and the Rise of the Necromancer pack. That's a lot of excellent content for a low price.

Loads of Telltale games are also on sale this week, including The Telltale Batman Bundle for $22 / £26. It contains both seasons of the company's Batman story. If you have a lot of Telltale games to catch up on, you may be interested in The Telltale Collection, which is currently available for $78 / £69. Most other Telltale games are on sale individually--including the Xbox 360 ones--so you can cherry-pick the ones you want. Just note that buying them in bundles saves you even more money.

If all the recent talk about The Division 2 has you intrigued, you can get all of the first game's expansions for cheap this week. The Division costs $50 / £40 (it's available elsewhere for cheaper, and is part of Game Pass), but the season pass is on sale for $16 / £12, and you can get the individual add-ons for 50% off.

On Xbox 360, you can get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on sale for $15 / £12, and Tropico 3, 4, and 5 for 75% off.

Xbox One DealsXbox 360 Deals

Fortnite Update 4.4 Out Now With Stink Bomb And More; Patch Notes Released

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 23:52

Regular updates continue to change Fortnite, and the latest update, v4.4, adds the Stink Bomb item and more to Battle Royale. Server downtime has ended, meaning the patch is now available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile.

The Stink Bomb is a new throwable weapon; it "creates a stinky cloud that deals five damage every half-second within the cloud." It lasts for nine seconds in total, and can be found in Epic rarity only in chests, Vending Machines, and in floor loot.

In addition, a new limited-time mode has been added. Named Final Fight: Teams of 20, the mode sees five teams of 20 players each go to battle in a Final Fight variant of Battle Royale. This means the storm circle ceases closing in after its third shift. At this point, a countdown will begin, and the team with the most players remaining at the end of the timer will win.

For more from update 4.4, check out the full patch notes at the bottom of this article, via Epic Games. The patch will not fix a recent issue which meant a symbol resembling a swastika could inadvertently be seen in-game--that fix is coming next week. Update 4.4 is the game's first since the launch of Battle Royale on Nintendo Switch. That came shortly after it was confirmed during Nintendo's E3 press conference broadcast, though it had been leaked and rumored for quite some time.

Fortnite Update 4.4 Patch NotesGeneralBug Fixes
  • Fixed several issues with Discord integration and improved the information displayed when in a Battle Royale or Save the World game.
Battle RoyaleGeneralLimited Time Mode - Final Fight: Teams Of 20Summary

Survive the countdown! The Storm Circles give players more room to hunt down opponents. The final circle triggers a countdown timer; when the time is up, the team with the most players remaining wins. In this LTM, teams can tie for the Victory Royale!

Mode Details
  • Final Fight plays similar to standard Battle Royale, but instead of the Storm circles closing all the way, the Storm stops after the 3rd circle.
  • When the circles have finished closing in, the final countdown timer will begin.
  • The remaining teams will battle it out until the timer expires.
  • The team with the most players remaining at the end of the timer wins!
  • In the event of a tie, the two (or more) teams tied for the lead win the match.
Weapons And Items
  • Stink Bomb added.
    • Creates a stinky cloud that deals 5 damage every half-second within the cloud.
    • 9-second duration.
    • Epic rarity.
    • Can be found from floor loot, chests, and Vending Machines.
    • Loot in stacks of 3 with a maximum stack of 5.
  • Increased the reload time of the Rocket Launcher based on rarity.
    • Rare from 2.3 seconds to 2.8.
    • Epic from 2.185 seconds to 2.66.
    • Legendary from 2.07 to 2.52.
  • The maximum number of unloaded Rocket Ammo that can be held has been changed to 12.
Bug Fixes
  • Enemy built structures are no longer lit up by the thermal scope.
  • Cozy Campfires are now lit by the thermal scope.
GameplayBug Fixes
  • Back Bling no longer appears detached from players at a distance.
  • Fixed the two intersecting busses on the starting island.
Performance
  • Fixed performance issues on Switch related to frequently called time functions during gameplay (especially when skydiving).
  • Level streaming optimization to smooth out some hitches during skydiving on Switch.
AudioBug Fixes
  • The music for the Fresh emote has been re-added.
  • Fixed attenuation of Supply Drop opening sound so it doesn't sound like it's right next to players even if it's opened far away.
  • The Clinger explosion sound now plays properly if detonated directly next to you on iOS/Switch platforms.
UI
  • Added the "Net Debug Stats" HUD UI option for Xbox.
Bug Fixes
  • Fixed a crash that could happen after buying items in the Item Shop.
  • When using styleable outfits, your last saved version will always appear in the locker preview.
Save The WorldMissions And SystemsBug Fixes
  • Fixed an issue which could block progression where the Chrome Husky would no longer spawn if the Magnets! quest was completed. Players who were blocked will now be unblocked with this fix.
Heroes
  • New Constructor Demolitionist: 8-Bit Demo added to the Event Store.
    • Available Wednesday, June 20 at 5 PM PT / 8 PM ET (June 21 at 1 AM BST / 10 AM AET)

E3 2018: PS4 Exclusive Days Gone Plays Simply, And That's Worrying

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 23:44

Days Gone was conspicuous in its absence from Sony's E3 2018 press conference. Despite its no-show, it was playable behind closed doors at E3, and after our first hands-on opportunity with the game, we were left a little worried.

The first level in my play session was a stealth-focused fetch quest: sneak into an abandoned garage, steal an engine part, get out. The stealth gameplay was basic, containing nothing more complex than simply avoiding the zombies' gaze and remaining quiet. The AI, meanwhile, was easily fooled by simply running away--the zombies refused to investigate my last known location.

Far more enlightening was the second mission I played, which presented me with a mass grave within a more open valley locale. Festering inside the mass grave were hundreds and hundreds of zombies, ready to pounce the moment I revealed myself. This level, developer Sony Bend told me, was more about preparation: collect materials, craft traps and plant them around the grave near environmental hazards, then let hell break loose.

So away I went, collecting everything I could find in the area. Despite the crafting element to Days Gone, it contains no real form of inventory management--there's no limit to the amount you can carry and everything is simply stockpiled under your weapon wheel with no way to view your whole backpack. I therefore found myself with an aching thumb and a creaky square button by the end of the demo--and combining them to make molotovs and proximity mines. However, when the horde noticed my presence, these items dealt very little damage, perhaps only taking out a zombie or two from the many hundreds chasing me.

So, I turned to my guns. This level was later in the game's campaign, and so I was more heavily armed than in the first mission. My LMG seemed the perfect tool for the situation, and it was: zombies fell with ease. In fact, they fell too easily, and I got no sense of completion or satisfaction from killing them. Seriously, one hit anywhere in the body and they were down.

The game encourages you to use your environment--specifically, the handily-placed red barrels and myriad oil tankers that happen to fill the small valley--to harm the zombies. But there were no more complex or interesting objects in that environment, so to be pushed so heavy-handedly towards using it felt frustrating. For the purposes of the demo, I was trapped in the valley and surrounding hills, so escape was not an option. Every attempt at fighting the crowd--no matter how well prepared I was--ended with one eventuality: me running in circles with half the world's population of undead chasing me, endlessly, until I either finally got overwhelmed or I managed to sprint long enough to gradually pick my pursuers off.

My hope is that this was a bad demo, rather than a bad game; the meta-game of character progression--as well as most meaningful narrative content and the entirety of the open world--was not accessible in the version I played. There's also, of course, another eight months until release, so there's plenty of time for Bend to refine the game's core. However, on present viewing, Days Gone will need to improve a significant amount in that timeframe to become more than the relatively basic zombie shooter it currently appears to be.

We're Giving Away 500 Game Codes From GOG.com

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 09:57

In honor of the end of GOG.com's Big Summer Sale, we're giving away 500 PC game codes free from their catalog. The PC game codes will be a mystery code, redeemable on GOG's platform, and are DRM-free. (Scroll down to enter below.)

Some of the mystery codes include The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Game of the Year Edition, Amnesia, Night In The Woods, Pillars of Eternity: Hero Edition, Beyond Good & Evil, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition, Battletech, Torchlight II, Transistor, and more.

Competition ends Monday, June 25, 2018 at 11:00 AM PT. Five-hundred (500) winners will be emailed a code.

Enter below (the additional entries are OPTIONAL to increase your chances of winning):

Why Jack-Jack Has So Many Powers In Incredibles 2

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 08:52

In Incredibles 2, Mr. Incredible is still incredible, Elastigirl remains fantastic, and Edna owns every scene she's in. But if there's one fresh breakout star from Pixar's Incredibles sequel, it's not one of the new villains or heroes conceived for this film. It's Jack-Jack.

The youngest member of the Incredibles crew stole the show this time around. With more of a starring role in Incredibles 2, Jack-Jack the baby showed everyone his true nature: He's "a Swiss Army Knife" of superpowers, as writer and director Brad Bird puts it. And because he's, well, a baby, Jack-Jack uses what little control he has over his awesome powers in the most hilarious ways.

But how did Jack-Jack wind up this way? The baby's mutating powers were a punch line in the original, a side joke that didn't have much effect on the main story until the very end. But as GameSpot learned from Pixar recently, making the baby a Jack-Jack of all trades--and making him a main star--was always in the cards.

Long before Bird wrote and directed the original Incredibles at Pixar, he visited a comic book store to brainstorm powers for the heroic family he was envisioning. When he realized every power had been done to death, he instead drew from societal expectations of various family roles; the dad would be strong, and the mom would be able to be pulled in all directions.

"Babies are unknown," Bird explained during a recent press conference at Pixar headquarters in Northern California. "Maybe they have no powers, maybe they have all powers. We don't know. So that's what Jack-Jack was. He was seemingly the first normal one in the family, and then at the end of Incredibles you find out that he's a wild card and he's sort of a Swiss Army Knife of powers. And that, to me, reminds me of the way babies can grasp languages really easily and adopt them easily."

For the original movie, Pixar animator Tony Fucile followed his son Eli around with a microphone for an hour and got enough audio to use for the entire film. It's been a decade and a half since then, so following Eli Fucile around with a microphone wouldn't have had the same results--as Fucile revealed when he showed us a photo of his son during the trip to Pixar, Eli is a teenager now (obviously). But surprisingly, they were able to continue drawing from that original hour of audio for Jack-Jack's voice in Incredibles 2.

Tony Fucile at Pixar HQ

That's even more impressive when you consider all of Jack-Jack's new powers. In Incredibles 2, the baby is able to generate fire, transform into a demonic monster, become malleable like silly putty, spawn multiple clones of himself, shoot lasers from his eyes, escape into an alternate dimension, levitate, alter his facial features to resemble other people, pass through solid objects, grow to a massive size, and more. Bird said even when they tried to put limits on giving Jack-Jack more and more powers, they just couldn't resist.

"I didn't put a lot of limits on [the story team] initially, so they started doing everything. And I think that we started to go 'Alright, we've got to settle down a little bit toward act 3. We don't want to have any new powers in act 3,'" Bird said. But that would go out the window when they'd think of yet another cool or funny way a new power could manifest and surprise or delight the audience.

"We told ourselves to stay strictly on our diet, and we kind of broke it a couple of times," he continued. "We tried to pepper in realism in terms of what people think, how they react to having powers--he's presented as a baby, so what interests him is what interests a baby. He never understands what's going on and can anticipate the villain's move, or whatever. It's more like 'That's shiny! I like that! This makes me angry!' You know? 'I want to go there!' It's those kind of emotions. And then you build the superpowers around that."

Jack-Jack's powers, like the rest of the movie, look better than ever, as well. Jason Johnston, who works in the effects department at Pixar, gave a demonstration at the studio's HQ that showed the process of designing the baby's pyrokinetic powers. The artists and animators went through countless iterations on just the fire power, testing out every variable imaginable. Should Jack-Jack appear to be on fire, or be generating fire from his skin? Should his skin, hair, or eyes change color when his fire power is active, should his body become grey like ash, or should he look the same? The final effects that the team lands on for any specific situation are the results of months of debates, tests, and iterations.

"Even though we knew that some may not work, it's good to see them," Johnston said--especially with how much Pixar's animation technology has changed and improved since the original Incredibles came out in 2004. "We used the opportunity to go in and try to keep everything rooted in the look of the original film, but definitely bring everything into the modern technology visual realm. We could put so much more detail and flourishy kind of things...Our skills and the technology and rendering time and everything has gotten so much better."

One thing that isn't new: Jack-Jack's amazingly hilarious fight with the raccoon. That scene was originally designed for the first Incredibles movie by Pixar artist Teddy Newton, Bird said during another recent press conference. The original idea involved Jack-Jack confronting a gang of raccoons in a fight that would eventually take them to the bottom of the pool.

"It went a lot darker, believe it or not," Bird said. But the catalyst of seeing the robber on TV and then conflating it with the raccoon in the backyard was there from the beginning. "I loved that," Bird continued. "It was so visual and clear, and it was such an off-the-wall idea, that that was one of the things that I couldn't wait to do if we got another Incredibles going."

Bird said at the recent press conference that Jack-Jack's powers were an "unexploded bomb" he always knew he'd want to set off in the sequel.

"We don't have enough time to discuss the ideas that didn't make it into this movie," he said at Pixar HQ. "The two ideas that were in my head as the first movie was ending...is a role switch between Bob and Helen, and showing Jack-Jack's powers, and exploring them, and making Jack-Jack a main character rather than a side character."

Anyone who's seen Incredibles 2 is well aware that they succeeded. Incredibles 2 is in theaters now. Read our full Incredibles 2 review, and 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, and the challenges of making Incredibles 2 in a post-Avengers world.

PSN Servers Down Right Now [Update]

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 08:34

If you're having trouble getting online with your PS4 or other PSN-connected device, it's not just you. Problems are plaguing several areas of the service, making it difficult to play games online, among other things. [Update: The status page now shows all services as working again. We'll report back if that changes.]

Although Sony has not yet published a statement on its Twitter support account, the PSN status page does confirm that all areas of PSN are being impacted. Sign-ins appear are listed as being unaffected, but creating accounts or editing your profile may both prove problematic. Worse, the Gaming and Social area of PSN is encountering problems. That could mean you're unable to open your games or get online to play them (which is obviously a major issue for online-only games like Fortnite).

"Our engineers are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible, and we thank you for your patience," a message reads on the status site. No further details are offered regarding what's causing the problems or how soon they might be resolved. We'll report back with any further information as it's shared.

While PS4 is certainly Sony's biggest platform these days, these issues extend both to its other gaming systems--PS3 and Vita--and to other services. That includes TV streaming service PlayStation Vue, PlayStation Music, and PlayStation Now.

WWE Announces New Championship Titles As Part Of NXT Brand Expansion

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 07:09

WWE's global expansion just took a major step forward. Appearing at WWE's UK Title Tournament taping on Monday, WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events, and Creative Triple H announced the United Kingdom was getting its own NXT brand, with taping for the new show beginning in July. The news comes on the heels of another major announcement from the company, which revealed current WWE Champion AJ Styles would be featured as the cover star of its next video game, WWE 2K19.

NXT UK will showcase wrestling's top talent in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with three championship titles being up for grabs. In addition to the WWE UK title, currently held by Pete Dunne, the UK Tag Team Championship and UK Women's Championship will also be featured on the new series.

"The UK has an amazing talent base and incredibly passionate fans that are deserving of their own showcase," Triple H says in a statement. "This is the next step in our ongoing strategy to create localized content and further develop our brand globally."

At this point, a roster of potential talent for the new series is not known, though it's very likely that reigning WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne will play a major role. Tickets for the first eight tapings of NXT UK go on sale June 29. You can find out more information through WWE's website.

It will be interesting to see what this offshoot of NXT means for future WWE global brands. Perhaps eventually there will be multiple NXT brands that represent various parts of the world.

The Incredibles 2 Review: Like You Never Left

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 06:39

Fourteen years is a long time to wait for a sequel, but The Incredibles has one huge advantage: Being animated, Incredibles 2 isn't tied down by the advancing age of the franchise's actors, like other long-awaited sequels, from Star Wars to Blade Runner. That lets Incredibles 2 pick up right where the original ended, and after a brief cold open, it'll be like you never left this vibrant, superhero-filled world.

You'll still notice a difference--the past decade and a half has seen animation technology improve faster than a speeding hover train, particularly at Pixar, a studio that's almost always on the cutting edge of new advancements and techniques. Incredibles 2 may pick the story and characters right up, but visually and aesthetically, it's by far superior to the original.

In the world of Incredibles, donning a disguise and fighting crime has been illegal for years. Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen (Holly Hunter) Parr--formerly the superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl--are raising their two superpowered kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner), as well as baby Jack-Jack, whose powers are just beginning to emerge, in boring mid-century suburbia. Adventures ensue as the family attempts to fight crime in secret while not stepping too far outside the bounds of the law.

Given that Incredibles 2 picks up just minutes after the original's conclusion, that core conflict hasn't changed at all. In fact, it only gets worse when the family teams up in the opening scenes to stop the Underminer, a mole-like villain who emerged at the very end of the first Incredibles, wrecking half the city in the process. And after that explosive beginning, Incredibles 2 starts to feel a little slow, as it re-hashes that same old conflict through several scenes of exposition.

The twist this time is that it's Helen--AKA Elastigirl--who's coming out of retirement, and she isn't doing it in secret like Bob did in the first film. Businessman Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) recruit her to be the face of a highly public PR campaign attempting to get superheroes legalized. The movie's pace picks back up as soon as she hops on her extremely cool, break-apart-at-will "Elastibike" and starts going up against the new supervillain, the Screenslaver. From there on, Incredibles 2 is just plain excellent.

The B-plot--and arguably the even more entertaining one--is Mr. Incredible's earnest struggle with being a stay-at-home dad. As we saw in the original, Bob Parr would rather be back in spandex, although dealing with Dash's math homework, Violet's boy troubles, and Jack-Jack's increasingly unmanageable powers proves an equally daunting task. Highlights include a fight between Jack-Jack and a raccoon in which the baby starts to use his new powers--from laser vision to multiplying--while Bob sleeps unaware nearby, not to mention a visit to fan favorite Edna (voiced again by writer and director Brad Bird) to get the infant's powers under control.

Between Incredibles 2 and last year's phenomenal Coco, it's clear that the talented artists at Pixar have never been more sure of themselves when it comes to creating an all-encompassing aesthetic. Incredibles 2 uses its setting in a generic mid-century metropolis (it's literally named Metroville) to much greater effect than the original. Every scene is packed with vibrant colors, while the family's new house (their first having been destroyed in the original) is a high-tech marvel of retro modernity. The animation during action scenes like Elastigirl's high speed chase or later fights featuring multiple new super-powered characters is unbelievably creative and fluid, while the Screenslaver's hypnotic screens hark back to schlocky comic book hypnotism of decades past.

Samuel L. Jackson's Frozone is another returning face, while Elastigirl's superhero activism prompts an entire new generation of powered individuals to don masks and emerge with their own hero identities. Characters like Voyd (Sophia Bush), who creates portals, and Reflux, who barfs acidic goo from his oversized gullet ("Medical condition or superpower? You decide!"), get less screen time than they deserve, but they make an impression nonetheless.

The plot ultimately revolves around the identity of the Screenslaver, which the movie unfortunately telegraphs with a little too much clarity. But even so, Incredibles 2 is yet more proof that Pixar is currently at the top of its game. The original is a favorite among fans, and given the state of superhero movies today compared with 2004, it seems downright prescient in retrospect.

Making Incredibles 2 now, in a post-Avengers world, no doubt came with a whole new set of unique challenges. It even puts the sequel at a slight disadvantage; Incredibles 2 being a better-than-decent superhero movie isn't as novel as it once would have been. There are a half dozen of those coming out every year, now. Thankfully, Incredibles 2 is much more than simply better-than-decent--it's beautiful, creative, smart, funny, and more fun than a barrel full of Jack-Jacks. It was well worth the wait.

The GoodThe BadPicks the story up effortlesslySlow first actHas a lot of fun with the setting and new charactersTelegraphs supervillain's identity too earlyFluid animation and beautiful aesthetic Creative and fun action Great sense of humor

Skull And Bones Pre-Order Guide (US)

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 05:54

Set sail on the Indian Ocean, a frontier region that's rife with riches. It's also a battleground between pirates, trading corporations, and colonial forces. This is Skull & Bones, an upcoming shared-world game that has you assemble a crew and engage in various modes of naval combat. It's expected in 2019.

We got our first look at Skull & Bones at Ubisoft's E3 2018 conference in a new cinematic trailer. As the name implies, it's a naval battle centered title, where you can ally with your friends or fight against them, and it's incredibly reminiscent of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. There will be plenty of customization options for your ship, and different ways to take on missions--guns blazing or slowly and stealthily. The name of the game is piracy, and you're seeking to be the greatest pirate in the Indian Ocean.

If you're ready to pre-order Skull & Bones, you'd probably like to know what kinds of bonuses to expect and what comes in the game's various editions. We have all the information you need below, so read on.

Skull & Bones Pre-Order Bonuses

No pre-order bonuses have been announced at this time.

Skull & Bones Standard Edition

Westworld Game Releases For Mobile This Week

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 05:47

The Westworld park is a bit of a mess in the HBO show right now, but starting this week you can prove that you could do better. A Westworld mobile game will be coming on Thursday, June 21, putting the park's controls and legion of murderous robots at your fingertips.

In Westworld Mobile, you play as a new Delos employee and manage the park, which mostly means seeing to its A.I. hosts. You'll be interacting with characters like Delores and Maeve, as well as other employees like Bernard. You can even match hosts with guests to let them explore their fantasies. In the context of the show, though, this is a pretty morally gray thing to do.

All of this is delivered with an art style that is disarmingly cute. Pre-registering through the official site will earn you some perks as soon as you begin, like access to Lawrence, a pack of coins and gems, a Basic Host Code pack, and a crafting pack.

pic.twitter.com/wxYNXRWQMV

— App Store (@AppStore) June 18, 2018

While the park may hum with efficiency under your control, the version on the show has seen better days--both in terms of the fictional chaos, and the show's dodgy second season.

Pokemon Go Update Adds Trading AndFriends System Soon

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 05:06

New features have steadily rolled out for Pokemon Go since the game's launch in Summer 2016. These have ranged from an expansion to gyms (including group raids) to daily and weekly quests and events with a variety of rewards. But if there's one thing Pokemon Go is still missing two years later--one that players have been requesting since release--it's Pokemon trading. Now, it's finally happening: Pokemon Go is getting trading, Niantic confirmed during a meeting with journalists at E3.

Trading will arrive in Pokemon Go "soon," meaning in the next month--Niantic representatives confirmed that players will be able to trade Pokemon with one another by the time Chicago's Pokemon Go Fest 2018 begins on July 14. Along with trading, Pokemon Go is also getting a robust friends system, and the two features will tie together in various ways.

Making Friends

Beginning soon, Pokemon Go players will be able to send one another friend requests using lengthy numerical friend codes, similar to the codes used on Nintendo consoles like the Switch. Players won't need to add one another's codes; if you have another player's code, you can send them a friend request, and they don't need to enter your code as well. At launch, each player's friends list will be limited to 200 players, and although that may expand in the future, Niantic confirmed that it has no plans to charge players in-game currency, which can be bought with real money, for expanded friends space. In other words, you'll never have to spend money to make room for more friends.

Your friends list will live as another tab on the trainer screen accessed by tapping on your character portrait in the bottom left of the screen. From there, you can see various stats (level, distance walked, number of Pokemon caught, etc.) and send your friends "gifts," which are a new item you'll collect from PokeStops. When you open a gift received from a friend, you'll see a postcard of the location where they collected it (take a screenshot if you want, because there's no way to save these postcards), and you'll receive a handful of items that may include new 7km eggs that can contain Alolan forms of Pokemon originally from the Kanto region (Pokemon Red/Blue). This will be the only way to obtain some Alolan forms, while others will be exclusive to raids or will appear during special events, like Alolan Exeggutor did briefly before E3.

You can also see your "friendship level" with each friend, which is tied closely with the new Pokemon trading feature. There are four levels of friendship, with "best friends" at the very top. You can increase your friendship level with specific friends by battling at rival teams' gyms together, raiding together, sending and receiving gifts, and trading Pokemon. Battling with friends also applies bonuses during battle that include attack buffs and extra balls for the catch phase. These don't stack for the whole raiding group; instead, the highest friend bonus of the entire raiding group is applied for all players.

Your friendship level with a specific friend can only increase once per day. More importantly, Niantic has designed the requirements to reach the highest levels of friendship so that it should take months to become "best friends" with another player.

"To get from 'friend' to 'good friend' is one day, and then from 'good friend' to 'great friend' is seven days total, and then 'great friend' to 'ultra friend' is 30 days total, and then 'ultra friend' to 'best friend' is 90," said Niantic engineer Kirsten Koa, the tech lead for these new features.

This is crucially important for one specific reason: The higher your friendship level, the less stardust it costs for two players to trade Pokemon.

Trade-offs

Collecting Pokemon is intrinsic to enjoying Pokemon Go, and two years into the game's lifespan, many players have impressive collections of powerful, rare, shiny, region-exclusive, and otherwise unique Pokemon in their games. If trading Pokemon in Pokemon Go was easy or cheap, it would ruin an essential part of what makes the game special. Niantic is acutely aware of that, and they designed Pokemon Go trading with limitations and costs designed to not detract from the pride many players feel in their Pokemon collections and the work players put into finding unique Pokemon.

"People work really hard to catch all these different pokemon," Koa said. "They travel to different continents and all that stuff. We don't want to devalue their effort by making trading so easy."

Trading Pokemon costs stardust, an in-game resource that's obtained through everyday play activities like catching Pokemon and hatching eggs. Currently, stardust is used to power Pokemon up, which has made it a scarce material for many high level players. (You can't buy stardust with real money, although you can spend money on special item boxes that contain items which increase the rate at which you gain stardust through other activities.)

Trades will cost the same amount of stardust for both players, which will discourage uneven trades and prevent players from trading with themselves via dummy accounts. Niantic showed journalists several examples of how much a Pokemon trade might cost. For players at lower friendship levels, making a "special" trade--trading a legendary Pokemon, a region exclusive, a shiny, or one that either player doesn't already have in their Pokedex--might not be possible at all, or might cost up to 1 million stardust.

Some high level players might have that much stardust to spare, but by anyone's measure it's a huge amount. In contrast, if you've achieved the highest possible level of friendship with someone, that same trade might cost only 40,000 stardust.

There are several other caveats designed to prevent the trading feature from de-valuing players' collections, and which Niantic hopes will prevent a "black market" from springing up around the feature. You can only trade with other players in person--there are no online trades in Pokemon Go. Both players must be level 10, and you have to be friends with one another. "Special" trades (as described above) can be made once per day. And a Pokemon's base stats--in other words, its IVs, or the stats that the game hints at when you use the "appraisal" feature--will change when it's traded, a limitation that is sure to frustrate the most hardcore players.

The thinking behind that is complex, but at its core it's designed to encourage players to trade Pokemon based on external attributes like shininess, rarity, and Pokedex completion, and not on intrinsic, semi-hidden attributes like specific IVs. Pokemon Go allows players to determine individual Pokemon's general base stats using a nonspecific "appraisal" feature that assigns each Pokemon a vague rating, but many players use third-party tools, like the phone app Poke Genie, to determine a Pokemon's exact IVs.

By randomizing IVs when a Pokemon is traded, Niantic ensures that those hidden stats won't be a factor in trades. Players with 100 IV Pokemon--Pokemon with perfect base stats, in other words--will want to keep those Pokemon instead of using them in trades. It's not all bad, though; a Pokemon's IVs can improve during a trade, and the higher your friendship level, the higher the Pokemon's base stats might become.

"One of the considerations for trading is we don't want there to be a black market," Koa told GameSpot after the presentation of these new features. "When Pokemon Go first came out, people were selling accounts online, and when trading comes out, we don't want the same thing to happen with like, 'perfect' Dragonites or something. And this is one way to prevent that."

"You can still get stronger Pokemon, though," she explained further. "Like I was mentioning with the friendship level, you can trade low IV Pokemon, and then maybe it will become something special when it gets to your phone." The likelihood of that happening--versus the alternative, which is trading a Pokemon with good stats and having them become worse--depends on your friendship level, she said.

(As a side note, Koa also provided an interesting glimpse at how Niantic communicates about these things internally, versus how the company speaks about them publicly: "We call them IVs internally, but since it's not communicated in the game, we don't really want to say IVs [in public], because we want to be friendly to casual users," she told GameSpot.)

It's not all limiting. You can get a Pokemon candy bonus when trading Pokemon that increases based on how far away the Pokemon were caught. Niantic showed an example where one player traded a Dratini caught over 100km away and received three candy. You can also change a Pokemon's nickname even after receiving it in a trade.

More To Come

Niantic said there are more features related to friends and trading coming this year. One thing they want to implement is sending friend requests via social networks, including Facebook. Their goal is to make Pokemon Go "the most sociable game in the world," according to the game's global product marketing manager, Kento Suga.

"Implementing trades for this type of game is very, very difficult, so we believe that this is the best way to be fair to the users, and safe for the users, and also fun for the users," Suga said. "This is just the first step of implementing new social related features. There are more and more coming later this year."

"Friends and trading is a really important aspect of the Pokemon franchise, so leading the implementation of these features has been one of the most exciting--but stressful--points of my career," Koa said, explaining that she played the original games and traded Pokemon cards with friends and family as a kid. "We wanted to make sure that we got things right. We needed to take into account how to introduce trading into this game, where exploring new places is really important to the game balance. We didn't want to mess with that. I hope we came up with something that's enjoyable and natural and safe for our users."

PUBG Creator Isn't Concerned With Other Games Doing Battle Royale

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 04:51

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a household name at this point since it helped propel the battle royale-style game into unprecedented popularity. Fortnite took the genre to new heights, and now new entries in long-running franchises are adopting the style; namely Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V. We had the chance to speak with Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene, and one of the many topics of discussion was the emergence of big names doing battle royale, and if that affects PUBG's development in any way.

During the interview, Greene said, "Oh, no. We have our own internal roadmap. And of course there's going to be competitors. This year is a battle royale of battle royales. Everyone has their own royale, which is great, I love seeing the genre grow. It's going to be interesting to see if it's going to develop as a full genre."

Greene continued, "We look internally, we have our own goals. We don't really look at what other people are doing. We kind of have blinders on. We've had these, sort of, stretch goals for quite some time. While, yes, competition is great to keep people on their toes, we don't necessarily look at what others are doing."

At Microsoft's E3 2018 press conference, PUBG made its big announcement that a snow map is on the way to both PC and Xbox One versions of the game. It's set to launch sometime in Winter 2018, and it will be the fourth map in PUBG's rotation. No details were given as to how the snow map will be designed. The third and much smaller map, named Sahnok, will go live for PC players on June 22 and for Xbox One users sometime in the Summer this year.

There's an on-going story among battle royale games, too. Development studio PUBG Corp. filed a lawsuit against Epic Games, developers of Fortnite, for copyright infringement in Korea. Epic is also the company behind the Unreal Engine, for which both PUBG and Fortnite are built on. You can read more details in our story here.

Nintendo Switch's Octopath Traveler Is Launching As A Complete Game With No Plans For DLC

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 04:36

In an interview with Dengeki Online, Octopath Traveler producer Masashi Takahashi said there is no planned DLC for the upcoming Switch title. "We haven't even thought of having DLC," Takahashi said, "The retail version is a complete game." Siliconera has the full interview translated into English.

Square Enix's Octopath Traveler is a turn-based RPG portrayed in a 2D pixelated aesthetic that's similar to what's seen in the developer's Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. Players begin as one of eight different adventurers before setting out on their journey. How the game begins is determined by which character the player starts as. Throughout Octopath Traveler's story, players encounter the seven other characters, each in the middle of their own journey, and can choose whether or not to recruit these characters and pursue their stories as well.

During the interview, Takahashi also said Octopath Traveler was always scheduled to launch on the Nintendo Switch, even though development of the game started well before anyone even knew of the console's existence. Square Enix and Nintendo's positive relationship, forged through the two companies' partnership on Bravely Default and its sequel, influenced Square Enix's decision to launch Octopath Traveler exclusively on Nintendo hardware.

Takahashi went on to deny the inclusion of any sort of New Game Plus mode, but added that Octopath Traveler's difficulty would evolve organically and make certain parts of the game harder based on player decisions. For example, it's possible to beat the entire campaign without recruiting a single character, but this limits the number of skills players will have access to when trying to interact with Octopath Traveler's world.

Takahashi also said that Octopath Traveler has a 50-60 hour story, but the game will take up to 100 hours for any completionists who want to tackle every side mission and optional dungeon.

Octopath Traveler is releasing for Nintendo Switch on July 13. During E3 2018, Square Enix announced a second demo for the game. You can play it right now.

New On Netflix This Week: More Movies, TV Shows, And Originals

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 04:27

New week, new Netflix! The streaming service has a slew of new titles arriving, including a highly anticipated new season of a Marvel favorite. Of course, that's not the only Netflix original to be on the lookout for.

Naturally, the biggest new arrival of the week is the new season of Marvel's Luke Cage. The second season follows the titular superhero in the aftermath of Defenders, as he grapples with his fame, while also coming up against a new threat in Bushmaster. If that's not enough of a Marvel fix for you, the fifth season of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD also arrives on Netflix this week.

As for other originals, the competitive cooking show Cooking on High debuts this week. The unique spin on this particular food show is all of the recipes include cannabis as an ingredient. The original movie Brain on Fire also arrives on June 22, along with Season 2 of Heavy Rescue: 401. Lastly, don't forget to revisit Disney's Tarzan when it begins streaming on June 23.

You can take a look at everything arriving on Netflix this week below. Then make sure to check out all that is coming and going from the service in June.

June 17

  • Club de Cuervos presenta: La balada de Hugo Sánchez (Netflix Original)
  • Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 5

June 18

  • Encerrados

June 19

  • Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (Netflix Original)

June 22

  • Brain on Fire (Netflix Original)
  • Cooking on High (Netflix Original)
  • Derren Brown: Miracle (Netflix Original)
  • Heavy Rescue: 401: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
  • Marvel's Luke Cage: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
  • Us and Them (Netflix Original)

June 23

  • Disney's Tarzan

New Fortnite Update 4.4 Launches Soon, Stink Bomb Likely On The Way

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 04:11

Another week means another Fortnite update is on the way. Developer Epic Games has confirmed the latest patch, version 4.4, is slated for release quite soon. And while we don't have patch notes just yet, we do know what looks to be one of its headlining features.

In a post on Twitter, Epic confirmed that server downtime will begin for Fortnite at 1 AM PT / 4 AM ET / 9 AM BST / 6 PM AET on Tuesday, June 19. An exact schedule for servers to return hasn't been announced, but whenever they are back online, update 4.4 will be available for download. This is described in-game as a "content update," so you can expect it to do more than just fix bugs.

Fortnite: Battle Royale's in-game New Updates screen teases an item called the Stink Bomb that's coming soon. It looks to be a new type of grenade that "explodes into a cloud on impact and slowly damage anyone inside." Just how lethal it will be is unclear, but given Epic's usual time table for adding items listed in the New Updates area, you can expect to begin playing with this on Tuesday.

One other element of the patch could be a fix for shopping carts, which have had to be disabled more than once recently due to a bug. These were added to the game not long ago and serve as Fortnite's first vehicle. They can be operated on your own, but the most fun use for them sees one player push while another rides inside, where they can fire their weapon.

As noted in the New Updates image above, Sniper Shootout v3, one of the current limited-time modes in Battle Royale, ends soon. That could mean that patch 4.4 will roll out another mode to mix up the usual set of playlists. 50v50 v3 is also currently available.

Update 4.4 is the game's first since the launch of Battle Royale on Nintendo Switch. That came shortly after it was confirmed during Nintendo's E3 press conference broadcast, though it had been leaked and rumored for quite some time.

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