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Stadia Pricing Model Already Decided, But Google Isn't Sharing It Just Yet

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:33

Google's announcement of Stadia is a big step towards the future of cloud gaming. The service allows players to stream video games via the cloud across a variety of different devices. Google is still keeping a lot of details about Stadia close to the chest, but during GDC 2019, the company's VP Phil Harrison sat down with GameSpot to further delve into the service.

During the interview, we asked Harrison about Stadia's pricing model. We didn't get too many details, but Harrison did reveal that a pricing model for Sadia already exists. It's just being revealed at a later date. In an interview with Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, Guillemot predicted Stadia would launch with a "multitude" of pricing models. "Either you buy full price and you play; or you will be able to also register, possibly, to play either one hour or two hours a day. There will be plenty of ways," he said.

Harrison was able to talk about the process behind deciding the specific model for Stadia, though. "[It was a lot] of very deep conversations with our developer and publisher partners over many many months, and years in some cases. A lot of deep consumer research. We have had a fantastic user research team as a core part of the Stadia team for two years now. And so, we have our point of view, we then test various hypotheses with consumers and publishing partners, and then get to the right result."

During the interview, Harrison did confirm that Stadia would not support offline downloads. When asked if Google would consider adding the option down the line, Harrison said it was "not technically possible." He further clarified that adding offline downloads to Stadia "would be a compromise of our vision."

During the Google GDC keynote, the company announced that Stadia is scheduled to launch in 2019 in the US, Canada, UK, and "most of" Europe. More details, such as which games are coming to the service, will be revealed at a later time. For now, we know both Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Doom Eternal are confirmed for the service. If you happened to miss the keynote, we've compiled every bit of Google gaming news.

If you're still confused about how cloud gaming works, be sure to read our in-depth explanation. We've also outlined the top companies investing in cloud gaming tech.

Google Stadia Boss Is "Absolutely, Unequivocally" Sure Latency Won't Be An Issue

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:25

Google's new video game platform, Stadia, is completely digital and requires a constant, reliable internet connection to function. One of the issues people immediately bring up with streaming technology is latency--or lag. Everyone who has experienced lag in some capacity knows how frustrating it can be. Will lag be an issue with Stadia?

Stadia boss Phil Harrison says he is "absolutely, unequivocally" sure that latency won't be an issue. "We believe that it's not just for when the service starts; actually we've demonstrated it today," Harrison told us from San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference where Stadia was announced.

Harrison--who formerly held executive-level positions at Sony and Microsoft--added that it was no accident that Google used Doom Eternal to highlight Stadia.

"Having a studio with the very, very high threshold of quality and functionality from id; having id on our stage was very purposeful because the way [producer Marty Stratton] tells the story is spot on," he said. "They were skeptical when we first started talking to them. they were skeptical that a streaming platform could support the level of quality and responsiveness that they needed to deliver on their game experience. What they have delivered with Doom Eternal absolutely demonstrates that."

Harrison went on to say that Google has been able to achieve a low-latency platform because of the investments its made into the infrastructure supporting Stadia.

"It's because of the investments that we are making in the hardware and the fundamental networking fabric in the compression and encoder and the way we transport the bits from our data center to your home," he said. "There's probably 100 innovations there that each mean that we can deliver that quality of experience."

Also in the interview, Harrison pointed out that Stadia streams faster than the human body can process the information.

"We get the data, the video, from our data center to your eyeball quicker than your eyeball to brain to nervous system to finger," he said. "The human operating system is the slowest part of the [Stadia] operating system. Some humans are slower than others."

As with any internet-connected service, your experience will depend on the quality of your connection so mileage may vary between users. Harrison added Stadia will offer a bandwidth test service that informs them of the performance characteristics of their network, while he said Google will help players optimise the internet quality of their homes in a number of ways, including simply moving a router closer to the device.

Given that streaming a video game will be highly data-intensive, some people are also concerned about data caps and limits imposed by Internet service providers. Harrison said ISPs have a history of adapting their models to support new services. As an example, he said when music streaming became popular, ISPs increased bandwidth limits, and the same thing happened with the rise of YouTube and Netflix. Bandwidth limits are expected to continue to rise over time, Harrison said. That may be true, but it remains to be seen if ISPs will continue to charge extra for such increases.

Stadia launches later this year, but there are still many unanswered questions about it. One of the biggest ones is price. Harrison also told us that Google has the pricing sorted out, but it's saving that reveal for a future point in time. Google will talk more about Stadia this summer, and one possible forum for further announcements is E3.

Google's Stadia Won't Allow Offline Downloads

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 08:55

Google is taking its first significant step into gaming with Stadia, its ambitious new cloud platform. Like Microsoft's xCloud, Stadia will offer players the ability to stream video games across a variety of devices, along with a host of other innovations such as state sharing. And while there are still many questions lingering around the platform, one thing we now know is that it won't offer offline downloads.

GameSpot got a chance to speak with Google VP Phil Harrison at the Game Developers Conference. We asked Harrison if Google will ever consider giving players the option to download content from Stadia and enjoy it offline, as services such as Spotify and Netflix do. "No, not technically possible," Harrison replied. "It would be a compromise of our vision if we were to do that."

This ties into Google's previous confirmation that it won't release its own set-top box to run Stadia; rather, all of the games available on the platform will be streamed from the company's data centers, and they'll be playable across across desktops, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs--the latter through a Chromecast Ultra HDMI streamer. Google will, however, release a dedicated Stadia controller that features unique buttons to capture/share gameplay and access Google Assistant.

Only a handful of games have been confirmed for Stadia thus far, among them Doom Eternal and Assassin's Creed Odyssey, which was the game Google used to test the platform last year under the Project Stream moniker. Google also announced it is forming its own first-party studio led by Jade Raymond to develop games exclusively for the platform.

Google Stadia is slated to launch later this year. It will initially be available in the US, Canada, the UK, and "most of" Europe. Google says it will share additional details about the platform and its launch lineup this summer. You can read more about how cloud gaming works and check out all of the Google gaming news from GDC.

Dumbo Stars Are Excited For Their Batman Returns Role Reversal

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 08:21

The main focus of the upcoming live-action remake of the Disney animated classic Dumbo is a CGI elephant and the kids who teach it to fly in the circus. However, the element of the film that's almost as compelling is the cast that director Tim Burton put together for it.

In addition to casting Colin Farrell and Eva Green in major roles, Burton also staged a Batman Returns reunion for the ages. Both Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito appear in major roles for the movie, marking the first time in 27 years that the pair have shared the screen since 1992's Batman Returns, another of Burton's films.

For DeVito, finding out he'd be sharing scenes with Keaton once again was a big part of what excited him about the project. "When Tim called a year ago or whenever it was and said he was making the movie, I was really thrilled to be able to be part of it," the actor said at a press conference for Dumbo. "And then the joy factor went up through the roof when I heard that Michael was in it with me."

Perhaps even more excitingly, though, was that the roles were reversed this time around. "The first thing he reminded me was, he got to be the hero, and I got to be the bad guy," Keaton remembered. "He was just thrilled with that."

In Batman Returns, Keaton obviously played the titular Batman, while DeVito played Penguin, which he described as "the gross Penguin, grunting and groaning and stuff." Now the tables have turned and Keaton is no longer the masked vigilante hero. Instead, he's a nefarious businessman who wants to exploit the elephant. DeVito's character, meanwhile, is the owner of a small circus that gets swept up by Keaton's V. A. Vandevere.

It's not just acting together that brought joy to Keaton and DeVito, though. They also relished the opportunity to work with Burton again--DeVito's last collaboration with the director was 2003's Big Fish, while Keaton's was Batman Returns.

"It's a rare thing to work with an original," Keaton said of Dumbo's director. "And to be in the thick of it. To be right in the middle of a piece of art." And for DeVito, Burton's commitment to his work is what makes everything turn out so special. "Tim just works 24/7 when he's making a movie, keeping everything going, keeping the plates spinning, keeping all the balls in the air, keeping everything moving," he said. "All the moving parts congealing. Everything going together. So I feel like he's an inspiration when we're on the set and it pushes you to new heights."

What's more, DeVito explained, Burton's dedication to his vision creates a familiar feeling on set. "We're all the weirdos. But there is one really weird daddy down in the end. He's like pulling all the strings. And so we were really thrilled to be together."

"Welcome to the island of misfit toys," Burton added.

Dumbo is in theaters on March 29.

Pokemon Go March Community Day: Start Time, Featured Pokemon, And Everything You Need To Know

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:55

Pokemon Go's spring equinox celebration isn't the only event happening in the popular mobile game this week; the next Community Day is just around the corner as well. The monthly event returns this coming Saturday, March 23, giving players around the world another opportunity to catch rare Pokemon and take advantage of some generous rewards.

As usual, March's Community Day will run for three hours, during which you'll be able to find increased spawns of a certain Pokemon. This time around, however, Niantic is doing things a little differently for the event schedule. To help you prepare, we've rounded up everything you need to know about March's Community Day below, from what time it starts in each region to what this month's featured Pokemon and bonuses.

What Is The Featured Pokemon?

Each Community Day, Niantic designates a "featured" Pokemon that will appear much more frequently in the wild than it typically does. Not only that, but players will have a chance of encountering the featured Pokemon's Shiny form during the Community Day, and the featured Pokemon will be able to learn a special move if it evolves into its final form by the end of the event.

For this month's Community Day, the featured Pokemon is Treecko, the Grass-type starter from Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. Throughout the event, Treecko will be much easier to find in the wild, and if you can evolve it into Sceptile up to an hour after the Community Day ends, the Pokemon will automatically know the powerful Grass-type attack Frenzy Plant.

What Time Does It Start?

Up until now, each Community Day has taken place during a specific window of time, which would vary depending upon your region; in North America, for instance, the event would always run from 11 AM - 2 PM PT, while Europe's Community Day would traditionally run from 10 AM - 1 PM UTC.

This month, Niantic is doing things a little differently and hosting the event from 3-6 PM local time. This should make it much easier to remember when the event is happening, as you won't need to convert the event hours to your time zone as you previously had to.

What Other Bonuses Are There?

On top of increased Pokemon spawns, Niantic offers a couple of other bonuses for players to take advantage of during each Community Day. This month, Pokemon Egg Incubators will be four times as effect as normal, allowing you to hatch Eggs at a quarter of the distance they typically require. Additionally, any Lure Modules you activate during the event will remain in use for three hours, rather than 30 minutes as they typically do.

In addition to this month's Community Day, a spring equinox event is underway in Pokemon Go until March 26. Until then, Grass-type Pokemon like Oddish, Exeggcute, and Sunkern will appear more frequently in the wild, and Niantic has added a special batch of limited-time Field Research tasks revolving around Grass Pokemon. Moreover, the region-exclusive Pokemon Lunatone and Solrock have swapped regions, and you have a chance of coming across their Shiny forms for the first time.

Apex Legends Octane Character Guide: Getting Kills As The Adrenaline Junky

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:04

Winning in Apex Legends often comes down to finding the right balance between caution and aggression. You want to avoid putting yourself in bad situations where other teams might get the best of you--but you also need to be sure to push the attack and best vulnerable enemies while you have the chance, or risk letting them take you down again later.

Apex's newest character, Octane, leans much more toward the aggressive side. He's great for running down a team and blasting away at them, especially if he has backup, but his speed demon nature can also leave you vulnerable. To use him effectively, you'll need quick reflexes, a smart team, and a willingness to take the fight to the enemy and push your advantage. Oh, and don't forget to bring lots of healing items.

We've got everything you need to know about Octane's abilities, how they can be used effectively or paired with other characters, and what pitfalls you'll want to avoid along the way. You should also check out the best Octane skins Apex Legends has to offer, as well as all the skins in its new battle pass.

We've also got plenty more guides, including things that Apex Legends doesn't tell you, a list of myths we've tested about how the game works, and a full rundown of the game's best guns. You might also want to check out our Apex Legends review while you're at it.

Other Character GuidesGeneral Overview

Describing Octane as The Adrenaline Junky is Respawn giving you a sense of how you should think about the new character. He's all about big risks and big rewards. His abilities boost his speed, which can make him a devastating skirmisher and front-line fighter, but he generally can take less damage than other heroes, since his tactical ability trades health for speed. That means you should be using him as a fast fighter up close with enemies to try to drop them fast, while the rest of your team supports you and mops up the people you damage.

A hit-and-run approach is best with Octane because he can be very hard to hit when moving quickly. Get in close with weapons like the R-99, Peacekeeper, EVA-8, and other hard-hitting guns, and try to knock people out or at least get them close to dead as often as you can. That doesn't mean you should be throwing yourself at well-placed three-player squads, of course, but streaking in as Octane to bust up a team's line or scatter them can be highly effective, as can isolating one player and messing them up. Octane is a great one-on-one fighter because he's so quick, so use that to your advantage in weakening squads.

Most of all, though, you want to use Octane's speed to your advantage without becoming a liability. That means you should get in, do some damage, and get out. Octane's Stim tactical ability and Launch Pad ultimate are as good for escaping as they are for attacking, so use them to get out of bad situations, reposition, and attack again.

Abilities

Passive: Swift Mend

Because Octane's tactical ability costs him health (and because if you're playing as him, you're probably constantly getting blasted), his passive ability regenerates health over time. You won't get a huge amount of health back--one point every two seconds, in fact--but it can be enough to help get you healthy again after using your tactical, after getting stuck outside the ring, or after a tussle with another squad. You don't want to rely on Swift Mend since the regen rate is relatively low, but you should factor it into your healing plans. The passive ability even heals you while you're knocked down. If you can hide somewhere, it can help, but don't rely on Swift Mend to keep you alive if you don't have to.

Tactical: Stim

Swift Mend works in tandem with Octane's Stim ability, which allows him to inject adrenaline to get a massive increase in movement speed. You'll boost Octane's speed by 30% for six seconds when you use Stim, and the ability cools down quickly--about another six seconds to use it again. It's great for pressing the attack and crossing open ground, and can also get you out of dangerous situations, since you can boost through stuns from things like arc stars and Caustic gas. The trouble is, it damages Octane's health, so going overboard on Stim can put you at a disadvantage. That big speed boost can make you very effective in battle, though, allowing you to close gaps on enemies, flank them, and execute hit-and-run maneuvers. Just be careful not to overcommit or put yourself in a losing battle right when your speed boost wears off.

Ultimate: Launch Pad

Octane's ultimate allows him to drop a Launch Pad on the ground. Step on it, and you'll get launched into the air--as will any other characters. The Launch Pad is great for rocketing yourself into battle, dropping in from somewhere enemies might not expect, and you can use it to quickly relocate your team, flank an enemy position, or gain high ground. The Launch Pad can also work like a Pathfinder zip line or Wraith portal to get you and your squad out of a bad situation quickly. Note that the angle of launch always seems to be the same, though, so make sure not to spring yourself straight into walls.

Tips For Playing As Octane

Octane's speed can make him incredibly deadly. With a Stim active, you can cut distance on enemies very quickly and strafe them effectively, becoming really hard to hit--so you definitely want to use Octane to get in close and wreck enemies with your favorite and most effective shotguns and SMGs. Generally, skip carrying long-range guns as Octane, because even when fighting snipers, your speed can let you get in close and make their long-range guns ineffective. Instead, carry complementary guns like an SMG and shotgun or Wingman, which will let you blast away with one, then quickly switch to the other to finish people off. For Octane, the best way to be effective is to walk away from an engagement with a knock down.

Your weakened health from using your Stim ability means you should focus on hit-and-run tactics and on using the environment to your advantage. Get in close, blast away at an enemy, and get out of harm's way by dancing around a wall or object. Use your speed to avoid getting shot, but remember that Stim boosts only last for six seconds, and the return to normal speed can be jarring. Try to time your attacks so that you get in close, do your damage, and get out before you're stuck in a fight and going slow. And avoid tight interior areas like Bunker that will cancel out your speed advantage.

Octane's passive ability, Swift Mend, means he's always healing, but that regeneration is very slow--so make sure you keep ample healing items, especially syringes, to counteract your Stim usage. In combat scenarios, getting in to blast enemies and then getting out to heal will let you keep coming at a team over and over again without the debilitating effects of multiple Stim uses. Be sure, however, not to leave your team at a disadvantage while you're hiding somewhere, healing up.

One of the best things you can do with Octane's speed is reposition yourself in fights. Where other characters might commit to fighting in one location, and therefore become predictable, Octane can quickly move to new cover or flank around an enemy to hit them from an exposed side. Lots of players get tunnel vision when they start fighting a team from a specific direction, so if you can come at them from a side they don't expect, you can usually finish them off. Octane's speed makes that a highly viable strategy, but be careful you don't expose yourself and get picked off in transit.

Launch Pads have a lot of uses. Drop one to give your team the ability to fling themselves over an enemy position to hit them from behind or just cause chaos, or bounce up on top of buildings to put yourself in a better tactical position as you engage another team. They're also great for getaways, because people flying through the air are generally tougher to hit than those running on the ground. Even if you just use your Launch Pad to separate from your squad to force enemies to shoot in multiple directions to hit you all, you're using it effectively. Drop them to help downed teammates get out of the fray, as well--they work when the person who steps on them is crawling.

You can also use Launch Pads in goofy ways to mess with enemies. Toss one in battle and you might wind up flinging an opponent away a bit in the chaos, forcing them to get their bearings. Leave one at the end of a Wraith portal and you could potentially shoot someone off a cliff. And keep in mind that you don't need to launch people with your Launch Pads--you can also launch throwables like grenades. Get creative.

Don't forget to use Octane's speed to support teammates. You can potentially quickly reach a downed teammate to pick them up in a bad situation, and speed boosting through Bangalore's smoke can help you completely surprise an enemy. Stims also help you deal with stuns, so try pairing up with a Caustic to use his gas as cover. Sprinting around drawing fire can be effective in helping a teammate flank out a distracted squad, and combining speedy relocation with grenades can help you annihilate an enemy position before they know what hit them. You can also more easily avoid air strikes or the Ring with your Stim ability, which means you might want to try fighting around those things more often, since you have a dodging disadvantage that other players don't.

WWE Wrestlemania 35 Hall Of Fame 2019: Start Time, Everyone Being Inducted

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:44

Wrestlemania week is a more than just the main WWE PPV. It's a whole week of WWE programming, including NXT: Takeover, Axxess, and of course, the Hall of Fame. Each year, the sports entertainment company honors its premiere athletes from the past by immortalizing their contribution to the world of wrestling in its hall of fame.

This year, the WWE Hall of Fame--which you can watch on the WWE Network--will take place at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, April 6. The show will start at 3:45 PM PT / 6:45 PM ET. As of this writing, WWE is honoring two groups and three people, for a total off 11 inductees. Here is the Class of 2019.

WWE Hall of Fame 2018 Inductees:
  • D-Generation X: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn
  • Harlem Heat: Booker T and Stevie Ray
  • Honky Tonk Man
  • Torrie Wilson
  • Warrior Award: Sue Aitchison

D-Generation X is WWE's biggest and most popular stable from the Attitude Era. It launched the careers of everyone involved, through comedic antics and memorable segments. All of the members of the group--aside from early member/manager Rick Rude--are included for the Hall of Fame. In addition, 10 time WCW Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat are entering as well. Both Booker T and Steve Ray were a dominant force in WCW and the most prolific tag team in the company during this time.

The longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time, Honky Tonk Man, gets this year's honor as well. The wrestler was an iconic heel during the '80s and early '90s. Torrie Wilson, who competed in both WCW and WWE during the early '00s, gets the honor of joining the hall as well. Lastly, this year's Warrior Award goes to none other than WWE employee Sue Aitchison. Throughout her 30 year career with the company, she's a part of community outreach programs and built the relationship with the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Make sure to head back to GameSpot on Sunday, April 7 for live coverage of Wrestlemania as well as a review of the show. And check out our streaming guide to find out where to watch every wrestling event during Mania week.

Split-Screen Multiplayer Fans Should Be Excited For Stadia And Cloud Gaming

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:07

Google took its first steps into being a major competitor in video games with the announcement of Stadia, its cloud-based game streaming platform. The presentation showed off lots of ways the company is leveraging the game tech against its other products like YouTube and Google Assistant, but one particular point showed how games on Stadia could be a major boon for split-screen gaming.

The moment came when lead research and development designer Erin Hoffman-John walked through various features, including multiplayer features. One tech demo showed Stream Connect, a purportedly easy way for developers to feed different views to each player. Since every player is being fed their own video stream of a play session, Stream Connect can combine these and feed one video inside of another player's stream.

"Each of these screens is powered by a separate Stadia instance," Hoffman-John explained. "But what would happen to squad-based games if developers could allow players to call up the views of their teammates on demand? Or utilize any polygonal surface as a receiver for another player's video stream? Stream Connect makes this possible with extremely little effort on the part of the developer, bringing dynamic squad-based gaming into easy reach even for very small teams. We've shown you three views but we can keep going. We can keep adding streams and shape how they're shown to the player."

In the demo, this was used for each player in an asymmetrical game to see each other's viewpoint alongside their own. The stream was also shown adding more and more views, and adding a hypothetical third player with their own "command center" view to direct other players.

Split-screen multiplayer has become less prevalent in recent years, in part because of the advent of online multiplayer, but also because it's a strain on computing power. When a single PC or console has to render two separate player perspectives, developers usually have to drop the fidelity on both views to make it work. With a streaming solution and all the computing power being handled remotely, this would no longer be a problem.

For more on Google Stadia, catch up with everything we know and read our hands-on impressions. Or for more on cloud gaming as an emerging trend, read our primer on cloud streaming and which big companies are investing in the tech.

Apex Legends Battle Pass Lets You Unlock Crafting Metal Instead Of Loot Boxes

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 06:04

If you're not a fan of loot boxes in Apex Legends, changing your Origin account region to Belgium removes them from the game. Instead, leveling up will unlock crafting metals bundles, which allows you to make the cosmetic items you want.

In Belgium, there are laws against loot boxes in video games. As Reddit user UnicornPL pointed out, this results in Belgium Apex Legends players earning crafting metals instead of Apex Packs when they level up. Rock Paper Shotgun went one step further to discover changing your region to Belgium allows you to take advantage of this as well, but adds on that it's possible EA will block this trick soon.

Season 1: Wild Frontier has started in Apex Legends, and it's added a battle pass and brand-new playable character, named Octane, to the game. The standard battle pass costs 950 Apex Coins. If you sign up for a one-month subscription to EA Access on Xbox One or Origin Basic Access on PC, you can effectively grab the battle pass for half off. There's currently no cheaper option on PS4. For 2,800 Apex Coins, you can purchase a bundle that includes the pass and also unlocks 25 of its 100 levels of rewards. Like Fortnite, Apex Legends Season 1 battle pass lets you unlock enough Apex Coins to purchase next season's pass. However, unlike Epic's game, Apex Legend's first battle pass does not include challenges.

Octane is the ninth Legend to join Respawn's battle royale game, and he's specifically designed for players looking for a little bit more speed. Like Mirage and Wraith--who have new battle pass skins--Octane is an offense-focused character. Octane's tactical ability gives him a six-second boost of speed at the cost of his own health. His passive counteracts this, allowing the speed demon to regenerate his health while he's out of combat. Finally, Octane's ultimate ability allows him to throw out a launch pad that he, his allies, and enemies can use to launch into the air.

Apex Legends is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. In our Apex Legends review, Phil Hornshaw gave the game a 9/10, writing, "Apex Legends is a mix of smart shooter ideas that makes for a competitive, team-based game that gets at all the best parts of battle royale while addressing a lot of the weaknesses. Respawn's intense focus on team play makes Apex more than just a worthy addition to the genre; it's an indicator of where battle royale should go in the future."

Nintendo Switch Spring Nindies Showcase: Watch All The Trailers

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 05:40

Nintendo showed off a ton of games during its annual Nindies Spring Showcase on Wednesday. The nearly 30-minute-long broadcast was packed with reveals and announcements, giving us our first look at more than a dozen indie titles coming to Switch this year--including a few that are available now.

Nintendo bookended the showcase with two big announcements. First, the company revealed that Microsoft's acclaimed platformer Cuphead will arrive on Switch on April 18, and it'll add Xbox Live integration down the line, allowing players to unlock Achievements even when they play on the hybrid console. Nintendo later closed out the presentation with the first trailer for Cadence of Hyrule, a Zelda-themed Crypt of the NecroDancer crossover coming to Switch this spring.

There were plenty of other announcements in between, from the retro-style Stranger Things 3 game to Blaster Master Zero 2, and nearly every title featured during the showcase was accompanied by a new trailer. If you missed the presentation, you can watch all of the new trailers from it below. You can also catch a replay of the entire broadcast here, and if it inspires you to pick up some indie games, Nintendo is holding a big sale right now in the Eshop.

CupheadCadence of Hyrule - Crypt Of The NecroDancer Ft. The Legend Of ZeldaBlaster Master Zero 2Katana ZeroRadThe Red LanternStranger Things 3: The GameMy Friend PedroNuclear ThroneSuper Crate BoxCreature In The WellPineBloodrootsOverlandNeo CabSwimsanity

Epic Store Lands Another Exclusive With Online Action Game The Cycle

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 05:00

As the Epic Store grows in influence, we're seeing a number of games--including Hades and the PC releases for Metro Exodus and The Division 2--release as exclusives on the new online marketplace. Another game launching as an Epic Store exclusive is The Cycle, coming from Yager Entertainment--the same developers behind Spec Ops: The Line and 2018's multiplayer combat-sim Dreadnought. With the full rollout planned later this year, The Cycle will be Yager's first self-published game, it blends PvE gameplay with the pace of an online shooter.

The developers explained why they felt the game was such a good fit for the Epic Store, crediting the success of Fortnite and flexibility of the Unreal Engine for online games. As a live game, Yager has plans to work on The Cycle for the long-term, adding in new content and features over its lifetime.

"We wanted to have a different type of relationship with the community than what we'd had before on Dreadnought," said Jonathan Lindsay, Executive Producer at Yager Entertainment. "There's been a lot of lessons learned from that, on a technical level, and also, we've gotten a lot of benefit out of the lessons we've learned from Epic on Fortnite, since they've worked on the Unreal Engine. The engine itself is really great for a live game and it supports that format really well."

The Cycle is a PvPvE game (player-versus-player-versus-environment) that blends together different genres for a somewhat unorthodox approach to an online shooter. Landing on the hostile alien world Fortuna III, your character will have to explore the surface of the planet and collect resources to craft new gear to survive. In addition to fighting off the local wildlife, you'll need to complete a number of contracts from your chosen faction in order to gain enough credits to call in better gear. However, you'll also come across other players who are doing the same.

When reading that particular premise, it sounds like a game trying to take a crack at the battle royale genre. Though it features a very similar setup, complete with a map that has themed areas, The Cycle is not a battle royale game. Along with contending with dangerous alien creatures and tackling new missions thrown in during a match, you'll need to actively collect materials to haul back to the extraction point. You're certainly free to shoot other players on sight and try to take some of their resources, but you might be better off trying to form a squad with other players you can meet in the world.

The end goal is to make it to the extraction with your set of resources by the end of the match, but unlike other online shooters, multiple players can come away with a win. Resources kept with you during extraction can be used to craft new upgrades for your gear. These upgrades are persistent, allowing to you flesh out your character and loadouts, letting you bring a slightly more prepared character into the next game. However, you'll still start fresh in every match, and you'll need to collect credits to call-in the more high-end gear you've acquired.

The developers at Yager Entertainment state that The Cycle will be a community-driven game, with feedback collected from players helping to inform what comes next for the online game. At the end of this month, from March 28-30, a new alpha test will open up for players who sign up for access on the official site, allowing newcomers to check out what the online shooter has in store.

Xbox Boss Reacts To Google Stadia Reveal In Internal Email

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:48

Google's announcement of its streaming platform Stadia was being carefully watched not just by gamers and press, but also by competitors. Microsoft's Xbox division, which appears primed to be a major competitor to Google in the game streaming business, reportedly feels encouraged by the news.

An internal email from Xbox head Phil Spencer was published by Thurrott. While Spencer concedes that he was impressed by how well Google leveraged its various technologies, he also suggested that Google's approach validates the current course for his division. The tone of the email strongly suggests that Xbox is planning its own streaming service, and that we'll see it unveiled at E3 2019.

Microsoft has already indicated that it is working on a streaming solution with the announcement of Project xCloud, which will begin public tests this year. Most recently we saw it in action playing Forza Horizon 4. Google unveiled its streaming solution first, but Microsoft has similar infrastructure tools and an established gaming brand in Xbox.

Spencer also alludes specifically to E3, saying that will be Xbox's turn to "go big." This phrasing rings a bell, as he also used it when declaring that the company would be appearing at E3 after news broke that Sony would be dropping out of the show.

Streaming games through the cloud appears to be the next corporate battleground. You can read up on everything we know about Stadia and our hands-on impressions, or just familiarize yourself on cloud streaming and some companies eyeing the emerging market.

Spencer's email can be read in full below:

We just wrapped up watching the Google announcement of Stadia as team here at GDC. Their announcement is validation of the path we embarked on two years ago..

Today we saw a big tech competitor enter the gaming market, and frame the necessary ingredients for success as Content, Community and Cloud. There were no big surprises in their announcement although I was impressed by their leveraging of YouTube, the use of Google Assistant and the new WiFi controller.

But I want get back to us, there has been really good work to get us to the position where we are poised to compete for 2 billion gamers across the planet. Google went big today and we have a couple of months until E3 when we will go big.

We have to stay agile and continue to build with our customer at the center. We have the content, community, cloud team and strategy, and as I’ve been saying for a while, it’s all about execution. This is even more true today.

Energizing times.

New John Wick Chapter 3 Character Posters Are Incredibly Stylish

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:36

With both Speed and The Matrix on his resumé, Keanu Reeves was no stranger to acclaimed action movies when he starred in 2014's John Wick. But while that film wasn't the huge box office smash of those earlier classics, it quickly built a devoted cult audience and led to 2017's bigger budget sequel John Wick: Chapter 2. The third movie, titled John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, is set to hit theaters in May. A new trailer is expected later this week, and ahead of that a new series of characters posters have been released.

There are ten posters in all. They are extremely stylish and show the movie's main characters. Obviously there is Wick himself, plus Winston (Ian McShane), The Bowery King (Lawrence Fishburne), and Charon (Lance Reddick), all of whom featured in the earlier movies. The other posters showcase the new characters, including Sofia (Halle Berry), the Director (Angelica Huston), Tick Tock Man (Jason Mantzoukas), and Zero (Mark Dacascos). Check them out below:

John Wick 3: Parabellum is directed by Chad Stahelski, who helmed Chapter 2 and co-directed the first movie. It releases on May 17. The first teaser was released in January.

Even though the movie is still two months away, Stahelski has already spoken about the possibility of John Wick: Chapter 4. He told Entertainment Weekly in December: "If people go see the movie, and it makes money, and they came back to us, Keanu and I have ideas for days. I could live here for the rest of my career. If people like it and want to watch more, I could think of way worse ways to spend your career. But, you know, we're in the entertainment business. We'll let the audience figure that out."

A John Wick TV spin-off named The Continental was also announced by Starz last year, but there has been no further news about the status of this project.

Nintendo Just Launched A Huge Eshop Sale On Some Great Games (US)

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:31

Following today's Nindies Showcase, which announced new indie games for the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo is continuing its celebration of indie games with a massive Switch eshop sale, which just went live. The US-only sale includes discounts up to 30% off on some of the Nintendo Switch's best indie games.

The indie sale quite a few notable deals, such as Iconoclasts for $15, Inside for $14, Night in the Woods for $14, and Darkest Dungeon for $17.49. Moonlighter is marked down to $16.74, and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is only $7. All of these indie games are now below $20 with the discounts.

The eshop sale on select indie games runs now until March 27 at 8:59 AM PT / 11:59 AM ET, so pick up these amazing titles for yourself while this offer lasts. And while you're already in the eshop, check out the new indie games announced in today's Showcase that are available to purchase now, such as Nuclear Throne and Blaster Master Zero II.

Shop Nintendo's eshop sale on indie games »

See the full list of games on sale below!

Quantic Dream's PS4/PS3 Exclusives Detroit, Beyond, And Heavy Rain Are Coming To PC

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:30

French developer Quantic Dreams today announced a big change. Some of the studio's most popular games, including Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human, are coming to PC. They'll debut first on the Epic Games Store, with a one-year exclusivity window before launching on other, unspecified PC stores, Quantic said in a press release.

This is a big deal, considering these games were previously not only exclusive to console, but only the PlayStation family. And in the case of Detroit, it was released as a PS4 exclusive back in May 2018, less than a year ago.

"We are so grateful for twelve fantastic years of collaboration with Sony Interactive Entertainment and all they have allowed us to create and produce," Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere said in a statement. "With this new partnership with Epic, we can now expand our products to a wider fan base and allow PC players to enjoy our titles."

Quantic's earlier titles, including The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit, were released on PC, along with additional console platforms in some cases.

"We are extremely excited for the Epic Games Store to host such a well-known and established video game studio like Quantic Dream," Epic Games' Steve Allison said in a statement. "Their games have truly pioneered the genre of interactive storytelling, and with their expansion onto other platforms we are truly honored they chose to take that first step with Epic Games."

Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human will launch on the Epic Games store later this year. However, Quantic didn't provide specific release dates or pricing details.

Quantic is going through big changes. Though it was never owned by Sony, the company exclusively released its games on Sony machines since 2010 with Heavy Rain. Now, the company is working on a new IP that will come to multiple platforms, while it's taken on NetEase as a minority stakeholder to help fund its "future technologies."

NetEase, a Chinese internet company, is itself making moves lately. The company also invested $100 million into Bungie to develop non-Destiny games. The company also poured $30 million in Second Dinner, a small team founded by Hearthstone developers who are making a Marvel game.

Looking to Quantic's future, studio boss David Cage said the company aims to become a "global, multi-franchise company" that retains its independence, and raising the money from NetEase will help it achieve that. "We want to keep developing original games in the genre we pioneered, but also expand our audience by being present on all platforms," he said.

As for the Epic Games Store, it's attracted a number of developers since its launch in 2018. Unlike other PC game stores, the Epic Games Store gives developers 88 percent of revenue, while keeping only 12 percent.

Nintendo Switch Spring Showcase Recap: All The Games And News

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:21

On Wednesday, Nintendo hosted its annual Nindies Spring Showcase. Running for nearly 30 minutes, the Direct-style video presentation provided us with a look at a bunch of new games headed to Nintendo Switch this year, including a couple that are available right now.

Among the highlights of the event was word that Cuphead, previously an Xbox One and PC exclusive, is headed to Switch. We also learned of a Zelda-themed successor to Crypt of the NecroDancer called Cadence of Hyrule. Below, you'll find a roundup of all the games and news from the event, along with many of the new trailers.

Cadence of Hyrule - Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring the Legend of Zelda

Brace Yourself Games is making this spin-off follow-up to its 2015 indie hit. Cadence of Hyrule takes the familiar rhythm gameplay from Crypt of the NecroDancer, but this time Cadence finds herself in the land of Hyrule, assisted by Nintendo's Link and Zelda. It's coming this spring.

Switch Gets Zelda-Themed Crypt Of The NecroDancer Crossover This Spring

Cuphead

The acclaimed 2D action game Cuphead, noted for its gorgeous 1930s cartoon-style visuals and brutal difficulty, is officially coming to Switch. Notably, the Studio MDHR-developed game was previously an Xbox One and PC exclusive. The showcase specifically shouted out Nintendo's "friends at Microsoft" for helping to make this port possible. The game releases on April 18.

Cuphead Coming To Nintendo Switch Next Month

Stranger Things 3: The Game

The retro Netflix show is getting a game to match, with this co-op action game that sports a 16-bit style. In Stranger Things 3: The Game, you can fight your way through Hawkins and the latest threats from the Upside Down as one of 12 playable characters. It will release alongside the Season 3 of the show (which just got a new trailer) on July 4.

Red Lantern

Red Lantern is set against the harrowing backdrop of the real-life Alaskan Iditarod race. As the Musher for a team of five sled dogs, you’ll have to contend with bears, frostbite, and catching food to survive as you navigate the wilderness and make your way back home. It’s coming this year.

Rad

Double Fine is teaming up with publisher Bandai Namco for an action roguelike called Rad. A post-apocalyptic wasteland is crawling with monsters and mutants, but you'll develop your own mutations to unlock new powers and attacks as well. It's coming this summer.

Katana Zero

Devolver Digital's stylish action-platformer Katana Zero arrives in the Switch Eshop on April 18. As an assassin known enigmatically as "The Dragon," you'll cut your way through side-scrolling levels, using your precognitive powers to see into the future and manipulate time. You'll need to tread carefully, however, as a single hit from an enemy will be enough to bring you down--but even if you fall in battle, you'll rewind to the beginning of the level and get another chance.

Nuclear Throne

Vlambeer's Nuclear Throne is out today for Switch. The roguelike-style shooter first launched for PS4, PS Vita, and PC in 2015, but is now available for download on Nintendo's hybrid console.

Super Crate Box

Another Vlambeer game coming to Switch is Super Crate Box, which releases in April. It's a single-screen action game in which you fight off an endless horde of enemies and collect weapon crates in an attempt to set a high score. On Switch, there will be exclusive multiplayer modes for two players, with co-op and competitive options available.

Vlambeer Arcade with Ultrabugs

Whereas the previous two Vlambeer games are existing ones, the third is something new and different. Vlambeer Arcade will serve as a collection of "bite-sized games" that will expand over time. The first of these games it will include is Ultrabugs, an action game in which you kill enemies using a spaceship but then have to deal with the additional enemies those spawn when defeated. Vlambeer Arcade is slated to launch with Ultrabugs later this year.

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro is a quirky balletic action game that has you running and gunning and pirouetting through a series of gangsters, with the help of a talking banana named Pedro. The game from Devolver Digital and developer Deadtoast is coming this June.

Creature in the WellBlaster Master Zero 2

Blaster Master Zero II is another of the games that is already available for download from the Switch Eshop. It's a sequel to the 2017 3DS platformer Blaster Master Zero, itself a remake of the NES's 1988 title Blaster Master.

Pine

Described as a primeval fantasy, Pine stages a war between anthropomorphized moose, foxes, and alligators. Five different factions do battle across six biomes, and you'll have to harvest and craft your wares to take on the other tribes. It launches in August.

Bloodroots

Bloodroots is a top-down action game built around pulling off combos and using every tool in the environment to your advantage. The fast-paced revenge tale launches this summer.

Overland

The squad-based survival game Overland is coming to Switch this fall. The procedurally generated levels will get increasingly hazardous as you make your way westward, in a post-apocalyptic roadtrip.

Darkwood

Darkwood is a survival-horror game played from a top-down perspective. It doesn't feature a single linear path and is said to not rely on jump scares to terrify you. The game is set in a European forest where evil is abound, and you're forced to fight back by injecting an "essence" from mutated plants into your blood to obtain new powers. It releases in May.

Neo Cab

Neo Cab is a narrative-driven survival game from Fellow Traveler and Chance Agency that puts you in the shows of Lina, the last human rideshare driver in a city driven by automation. You'll need to pick up fares and control your emotions while searching for your missing friend. It’s coming this summer.

Swimsanity

Swimsanity is a side-scrolling multiplayer shooter that is set underwater. You can play with a total of four players (or bots) through online and local multiplayer in co-op and competitive game modes. Based on what we saw, the game has a vaguely Castle Crashers-like vibe to it. It releases this summer.

WWE Wrestlemania 35 News Roundup: Match Lineup, Rumors, Time, Tickets, Predictions

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 04:01

On Sunday, April 7, Wrestlemania comes to PPV and the WWE Network. It is the biggest event of the year for WWE, and the company considers the show its Super Bowl. The 35th edition of Mania will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The big show will kick off at 4 PM PT / 7 PM ET / 12 AM BST (April 8), with a Kickoff Show starting two hours prior.

If you're looking to attend Wrestlemania 35, tickets are still available, including ringside seats, believe it or not. On the Ticketmaster site, the cheapest you can get seats is $457 each, and there's almost a whole row available in one of the sections. However, if you're looking to be as close to the action as possible, you can get yourself into the third row, behind commentary for $6,507. Additionally, there are still seats available near the entrance ramp which range between $2,100-$6,000. Wrestlemania ain't cheap, but it is WWE's biggest event of the year.

The match card for the show is still coming together, and as of this writing, there are 10 matches on the card, including two battle royals which will more than likely take place on the Kickoff Show. While the women's battle royal has yet to be confirmed, reports state it will be in the upcoming weeks. It's probably going to be a very long show, so make sure you have a very comfortable seat for the event.

Here is the collection of our biggest stories revolving around Wrestlemania for you to check out. We'll be updating these daily, so you'll want to come back. And make sure to head back to GameSpot on Sunday, April 7 for live coverage of the event and a review of the PPV.

Wrestlemania NewsWrestlemania FeaturesWWE NewsOther WWE Features

Bill And Ted 3 Will Finally Face The Music As Sequel Gets Release Date

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:58

It's been nearly 30 years since Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey hit theaters, but it's finally time for Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan to rock once again in Bill & Ted Face the Music. In a new video featuring franchise stars Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill), the duo revealed when they expect filming to begin, as well as when the third movie will land in theaters.

"We want to say thank you to you, the fans, because it looks like we might actually make a movie this summer," Reeves teased. Winter added, "It is all because of you guys, so we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. So thank you."

The duo then offered a signature "Be excellent" to fans of the Bill and Ted movies, before a title card promised Bill & Ted Face the Music would be in theaters in Summer 2020. This news is the latest stop on a long road to get the film made. As far back as 2010, Reeves was open about the possibility of a third film, though it never came to pass.

Then, in May 2018, it was announced that the sequel was officially happening, with a script from original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, as well as Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot signing on to helm. "We couldn't be more excited to get the whole band back together again. Chris and Ed wrote an amazing script, and with Dean at the helm we've got a dream team," Reeves and Winter said at the time.

Still, in the aftermath of that announcement, little was said about the movie. Now, though, it looks as though the time is finally right for the return of Bill and Ted.

As for what the plot of the film will be, it was revealed by Solomon in January 2018 that the story finds Bill and Ted in modern day, as middle-aged family men that go back in time to revisit their younger selves. This will be done by using footage from the original film. No casting has been announced for Face the Music at this point. However, it's been made clear that the role of Rufus, originally played by the late George Carlin, will not be recast.

And now the waiting game begins. Bill & Ted Face the Music will in theaters next year.

Red Dead 2 Online's Next Big Update Releases This Spring

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:55

Red Dead Redemption 2 released to a wave of positive praise. However, its online mode, Red Dead Online, hasn't been met with the same positive reception. With outlaws incessantly griefing players out in the Wild Wild West, Rockstar Games has tasked itself with addressing the problem in a new update releasing later this spring.

Alongside the release of a new game update, a blog post on the official Rockstar website details some of the additions and changes coming to the game. Keeping in line with anti-griefing methods implemented in February, Red Dead Online will add a hostility system. Players who defend themselves against attackers won't receive a bounty or an increase in their hostility meter as long as they don't initiate the gunfight. If you happen to gun down your griefer, your hostility meter won't increase. The hostility meter won't affect Free Roam events and missions, Showdowns, Races, and other structured events either.

Rockstar acknowledges not every cowboy's an outlaw. "Some players just want to immerse themselves in the world, riding, hunting, and fishing in peace," the post reads. To this effect, the developers are including two modes of play: Offensive and Defensive. Offensive play lets players interact with the world however they see fit, like the current Free Roam mode. Defensive play is, according to Rockstar, "a more evolved version of the Passive Mode concept," giving players access to the entire open world while de-emphasizing conflict.

Choosing to play in Defensive changes some of the game's mechanics. For example, Defensive players can't be lassoed, but if you, in Defensive play, lasso a player, you'll be removed from the playstyle with a "significant Hostility level increase." Further, you won't be able to lock-on to players in Defensive play. But in the same token, players can't lock-on to you either. Sounds like a fair trade-off for those looking to bask in the world a little longer.

Additionally, this Red Dead Online update will bring about new A Land of Opportunities missions, more Free Roam missions, an introduction to dynamic events (ambushes, resues, etc.), and more. And another Red Dead Redemption classic weapon, the LeMat Revolver, will make its way to the game with this update.

In our Red Dead Redemption 2 review, we called the game "an excellent prequel, but it's also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it's a world that is hard to leave when it's done."

Red Dead Redemption 2 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

The Latest Free Game From The Epic Store Is Out Tomorrow

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:32

In case you haven't heard: The Epic Games Store is giving away a free PC game every two weeks this year to celebrate its first 12 months in business, and all you have to do is create a free Epic account to claim it. For the past two weeks, Epic members have enjoyed free access to Slime Rancher, a charming game about collecting slimes and running a farm--but starting tomorrow, Slime Rancher will be replaced by Oxenfree, a supernatural mystery game from Night School Studio. Oxenfree will be available for free from March 21 to April 4--and once you claim the game during that time period, it's yours to keep forever. You don't even have to install it.

Oxenfree is a story-driven adventure where you play as a teenage girl named Alex on a weekend trip with her friends to an island. After they accidentally trigger the release of a supernatural force, Alex and her friends must find a way to set things right and escape with their lives. Alex has free rein to explore the whole island, and the main gameplay centers around dialogue bubbles that appear above her head as she talks--at any given time, you have multiple dialogue choices to pick from, or you can choose to say nothing at all. Player choices have a significant impact and multiple endings are possible.

"The rabbit hole of influence goes deep in Oxenfree--from playing matchmaker among Alex's friends to destroying or strengthening her own relationships with them--and it's entertaining to repeat it all in an effort to learn what could be," wrote Alexa Ray Corriea in GameSpot's Oxenfree review. The game received an 8/10 for its amazing dialogue, unpredictable story, fantastic soundtrack, and deep influence of player choice.

Oxenfree generally sells for $20 on PC, so don't miss this chance to pick it up for 100% off. And if you fall in love with its style and story, keep an eye out for the next game from Night School Studio, Afterparty, which is set to release this year.

Get Oxenfree for free in the Epic Games Store »

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