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Nintendo Switch Showcase Games: All The New Titles Available To Purchase Today

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:27

Nintendo's Direct-style Nindies stream brought a bunch of new game announcements for Nintendo Switch. Titles such as Cuphead, Neo Cab, and Cadence of Hyrule were all revealed and look exciting. However, many of the games unveiled during the stream are available to purchase right now, so let's take a look at those.

First up, Vlambeer's Nuclear Throne is out today for Switch. The roguelike first launched for PS4, PS Vita, and PC in 2015, but will be available for download today on Nintendo's hybrid console.

Blaster Master Zero II, meanwhile, is another of those that'll be available to download in the next few hours 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.

Additionally, there were two games featured that aren't launching until later in the year but that you can pre-purchase right now. Those are Katana Zero, a 2D side-scrolling combat game; and Cuphead, a port of the previously Xbox One- and PC-exclusive platformer. Finally, a sale begins today on many existing indie Switch games, including Donut County, Inside, Moonlighter, and many more.

Some of the most exciting news to come from the direct was the announcement of a new Zelda game--sort of. It's technically a new Crypt of the NecroDancer game, but it features Link and Princess Zelda herself. The game is titled (take a deep breath) Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer feat. The Legend of Zelda, and it's coming to Switch this spring.

Is Google Stadia What The Next-Gen Of Gaming Will Look Like?

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:26

OPINION: If the reality of what Google is promising with Stadia is accurate, then we're looking at the future of video games.

Yes, that could read a little hyperbolic given that outside of the Project Stream beta last year (successful as it was), we're not exactly sure just how well Stadia will cope with fluctuating latency in widespread, real-world conditions. And no, we're not saying that Google and specifically Stadia is the one and only future for games. But Stadia's promise--a hardware agnostic world for consumers that can deliver the best gaming has to offer on whatever device you happen to have in front of you (as long as you have a decent internet connection)--feels like where we're all headed. And while we've had other companies try to deliver on this, Google seems uniquely positioned to actually make it work.

That promise is certainly intoxicating. A new gaming platform, delivered completely online and with all the processing handled in the cloud, is revolutionary for consumers in a few ways. It removes a lot of the friction we normally associate with playing games: having to spend hundreds of dollars on console or speccing up a PC to run the latest and greatest; having to buy physical discs or download gigabyte upon gigabyte of data to local drives; or being surprised by hefty patches or updates when all you want to do is play.

Will Doom Eternal's performance on Stadia be on par with consoles and PCS?

And of course, there's the convenience. You can watch Netflix on your TV or PC at home, and then continue watching on your phone on your way to work. You can do the same with music on Spotify, switching from device to device seamlessly. If you want to play The Division 2, however, you're stuck to the screen your console or PC is tethered to. Even the most convenient gaming console ever--the Nintendo Switch--is "locked" to one device. A service like Stadia makes playing games more accessible than ever.

It will also seemingly have a major impact on how games are made. Google made a big song and dance at its GDC reveal event about all the ways Stadia could help developers create games, the biggest of which is the added power that a cloud-based development platform can offer. Google is saying game development no longer needs to be tied to finite processing and hardware specs, or that only one "instance" of Stadia infrastructure is what design should be pegged to. Imagine a scenario where the world's best game makers weren't constrained by the processing power of one unchanging piece of hardware? How will that impact the types of games we'll all be playing in the future? "As a developer, you're used to being forced to tone down your creative ambitions that are limited by the hardware, but our vision with Stadia is the processing resources available will scale up to match your imagination. In this new generation, the data center is your platform," Stadia's head of engineering Maj Baker said during the Stadia briefing.

Of course, all of this dazzling potential could be undone if Stadia doesn't provide a smooth, seamless gaming experience when it launches later this year. The bane of online game streaming--high latency leading to lag--is a problem Google claims to have answered thanks to a combination of its geographically widespread data centers and other infrastructure solutions, but just how well it has solved this won't be known for sure until the service is released. Will this only be a viable alternative to a PC or console if you live somewhere like San Francisco or New York? What if you're in a remote location? And location isn't the only thing standing in the way of Stadia's widespread success. If you're one of the millions on fixed data caps every month, is this service viable for you (especially with the 8K video Google is saying is coming down the line)? And of course, there will always be those who prefer a physical device to game on, either because of the visual fidelity, the want to fully control one's gaming environment, and the fact that owning a game on a disc you can hold in your hand is simply more... tangible.

But even if you're someone who thinks a platform like Stadia isn't for you, what is undeniable is the promise of a purely online, hardware agnostic platform is a massive disruption to not only the way we play games, but to the video games industry as a whole. If Stadia works as well as advertised, then the future of games is no longer tied to hardware. It's all about connectivity.

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

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:23

Nintendo's "Nindies" showcase ended with a surprise crossover. The rhythm game Crypt of the NecroDancer is getting a new spin-off featuring characters and enemies from The Legend of Zelda called Cadence of Hyrule. It's launching on Nintendo Switch this spring.

The game is being developed by Brace Yourself games, the studio behind the original Crypt of the NecroDancer. The art style has been revised heavily, appearing similar to games like The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, and it features both Link and Zelda has playable characters. Link can be seen doing his signature spin attack, while Zelda wields magical attacks.

Crypt of the NecroDancer was a rhythm-based roguelike released in 2015, and received a positive reception for its clever twist of a genre mash-up. The original game is available for $20 on the Nintendo Switch through the Eshop.

"Regardless of your musical tastes, Crypt of the NecroDancer takes a proven but basic recipe and improves it with a seemingly simple twist," wrote Britton Peele in GameSpot's review. "It would have been a fine roguelike game without its musical side, but the rhythm mechanic makes it a truly special experience."

Cuphead Coming To Nintendo Switch Next Month

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 03:15

Nintendo kicked off today's Nindies Spring Showcase with a big announcement: Cuphead is coming to Nintendo Switch next month. The acclaimed platformer arrives in the Switch Eshop on April 18, but you can pre-purchase it from the digital store today, March 20.

Nintendo specifically thanked its "friends at Microsoft" for helping it bring Cuphead to Switch. The game first launched for Xbox One and PC as a Microsoft exclusive in 2017, garnering critical acclaim for its challenging run-and-gun gameplay and beautiful hand-drawn visuals, which evoke the style of classic 1930s cartoons.

On top of that, Microsoft announced that Cuphead on Switch will support Xbox Live, allowing you to unlock Achievements when you play the game on Nintendo's console. In a blog post on the Xbox website, the company explained it is working with developer Studio MDHR on implementing Xbox Live features into the Switch version later this year as a post-launch update. This follows Microsoft's previous announcement that it plans to expand Xbox Live to Switch, iOS, and Android.

GameSpot awarded Cuphead an 8/10 when it first launched on Xbox One. "Cuphead has been a longtime coming, and it's great to see that it lives up to its initial promises," critic Peter Brown wrote in GameSpot's Cuphead review. "It's beautiful to look at, and with a pitch-perfect soundtrack, it flawlessly captures the era its developers so clearly revere. It's also an intense action game that pulls no punches."

An expansion for Cuphead titled The Delicious Last Course was announced during Microsoft's E3 2018 presentation. The expansion is slated to arrive sometime this year and will introduce new challenges, bosses, and another playable character, Ms. Chalice.

That certainly wasn't the only announcement to come out of the Nindies Spring Showcase; Nintendo also unveiled Cadence of Hyrule, a Zelda-themed Crypt of the NecroDancer crossover coming to Switch this spring.

Epic Giving Away $100 Million To Aspiring Game Devs, Thanks To Fortnite

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 02:30

As part of its presentation at the Game Developers Conference, Epic Games announced a massive grant program, and it's thanks to the popularity of Fortnite. The Epic MegaGrants program will award shares of $100 million over the course of five years to aspiring game developers, educators, and other professionals using the Unreal Engine and open-source tools.

This is the next stage in Epic's grants program, which started in 2015 with a $5 million pool. That funding has expanded significantly, which Epic chalks up to "Fortnite's unbelievable success."

The grants will be awarded ranging from $5,000 to $500,000. Those who receive grants will still own their IP and be allowed to publish. Epic says that these grants have no strings attached, which means you don't need to sign any kind of exclusivity arrangement to receive them. There is no firm deadline for grant applications.

Specifically, Epic is looking for grant recipients across five categories: game developers, media and entertainment, enterprise, education, and tools and open-source development. Each application should focus on how you plan to use Unreal Engine 4 in your work, curriculum, or research. You can check out the official site for more details.

"At Epic we succeed when developers succeed," said CEO Tim Sweeney in the announcement. "With Epic MegaGrants we're reinvesting in all areas of the Unreal Engine development community and also committing to accelerate the open sourcing of content, tools, and knowledge."

Oculus Rift S Revealed, New VR Headset With Built-In Sensors For $400

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 02:16

Oculus has revealed its next PC-based VR headset called the Rift S as part of GDC 2019. The most notable improvement is the inclusion of built-in sensors for inside-out tracking; this means you no longer need to set up external sensors if you use a Rift S. Additional details on Oculus Quest have also been announced as well, which is the company's upcoming standalone headset.

The built-in sensors make up what's called Oculus Insight and it's capable of free-roaming room scale VR gaming. The Rift S features five separate sensors on the headset while the Quest has four. Rift S also comes with a bump in visual quality--it'll have a total resolution of 2560x1440 (1280x1440 per eye) on a fast-switch LCD display. However, refresh rate has been slightly dropped down, going from 90 Hz to 80 Hz. Oculus stated that this was done to offset the increase in resolution in order to maintain the same required PC hardware specifications to run Oculus games properly.

As for the Quest's specs, it's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with storage options starting at 64 GB. Oculus states that the headset's resolution is 1600x1440 per eye on an OLED display with an overall refresh rate of 72 Hz.

Oculus Quest (left), Oculus Rift S (right)

Other notable improvements that come with the Oculus Rift S include the new head strap. It takes on a similar design to the PlayStation VR with a ring-like headband that's simply adjusted with a dial on the back. There is integrated audio on the headset so separate audio devices aren't necessary, but a 3.5mm audio jack still allows you to use your own headphones.

Oculus made it clear that the Rift S is not a "Rift 2" and instead a much better version of the original since it'll play all of the same games and live on the same ecosystem. The Quest's game library will differ due to the lower specs of the standalone headset; however, all Quest games will be playable on the Rift. More than 50 games will be available for Quest on launch day.

The Rift S and Quest headsets will launch sometime in Spring 2019 for $400.

Outdrink Satan To Escape Hell In Oxenfree Dev's Next Game, Afterparty

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 02:00

Night School Studio's Afterparty captures the same colorful graphic novel art style--complete with speech balloons--as the developer's first game, Oxenfree. Its hilarious writing is brought to life through an excellent assortment of voice actors as well. However, the simpler mechanics in Oxenfree have become more complex in Afterparty, and the world feels larger and more alive. The writing, though still humorous, is definitely intended for a more mature audience as well.

During GDC 2019, I had the opportunity to talk to Night School co-founders Sean Krankel and Adam Hines, as well as see 20 minutes-or-so of gameplay from early in Afterparty's story. You can read my interview with Krankel and Hines below.

Gameplay wise, Afterparty handles a lot like Oxenfree, with the major mechanics at your control being walking around and choosing dialogue options during conversations. Afterparty does shake up the formula a bit with mini activities, like beer pong, sprinkled throughout and a system where getting drunk opens up new dialogue options--such as angrily insulting someone or flirting. You also have access to hell's version of Twitter, called Bicker, which gives you insight into what people are thinking or feeling.

Afterparty is currently scheduled for a 2019 release on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Switch. The game launches day one on Xbox One Game Pass.

Note: edits were made to the interview in order to make certain parts of it easier to read.

Night School Studios GDC 2019 Interview

So one of the best parts about Oxenfree was that--even though it wasn't a short game by any means--it was short enough that you could easily play through it a few times and get the different endings. Is that going to be the same for Afterparty?

Sean Krankel: [Afterparty is] a lot bigger, but a single play through probably is six to seven hours in this one. But you're gonna miss stuff no matter what, whereas in Oxenfree it was a very set sort of linear story that the player was given a lot of agency how they push and pull. This is also like, "Well, if I miss this, I can't go back and do this."

That was a decision we made pretty early on where we were like, do we do the thing where you get right up to the end of the game and then you're like, "I'm gonna 100 percent everything and then go through the door," you know? Or do we want to be like no, it's a crazy night out and you're gonna miss stuff. And yeah, you don't know. It's hard to tell what's gonna happen next.

It's been a much crazier spaghetti of writing for [Adam] because now, even just on those dialogue options, like instead of three options now there's six or seven potentially at literally any time you can talk, right? So the script is way bigger than Oxenfree was. But that's more to give players just more agency over how it changes.

As for replayability, that was something we didn't expect as much of when Oxenfree shipped, was that people were getting back to us, saying, "Okay, on my third play through, blah blah blah." And we're like oh my god, we don't even do anything to reward you! So we're baking more into this to support that type of play style.

So will there only be one or two different endings? Because it sounds like there's a lot of different choices you'll be making, which I imagine means exponentially more endings this time around in comparison to Oxenfree.

Adam Hines: I don't want to spoil things. But yeah, basically a little more than a handful of like giant, massive versions of the endings, and then within each version there's a lot of who's there and who's not there, and who's your pal and who's not your pal, and who have you pissed off.

What was the decision process behind two playable protagonists? Because you can kind of argue that Alex and her step-brother Jonas are both the protagonists of Oxenfree, but you're very much just in control of Alex for pretty much the entire game.

Krankel: We talked about that for a while in the beginning, and ultimately where we landed was we're making a playable buddy adventure type of a thing, right? And it was like, you wouldn't want to be just Ted; you'd want to be Billy and Ted. So we kinda just kept leaning into that, going like how can we make the player feel like they're in one of those movies. And controlling these two characters very early on was a thing that we were like yes, that's a new innovation that we can try to put a stake in the ground for.

And because of that, we really tried to also then craft the story around that, around players' expectations of that. So in the beginning, where it was fairly seamless about how you're bouncing between the two, we're gonna throw stuff at them as characters that will test their friendship as well. So it's stuff that, you know, just from a player expectation perspective we wanted to fulfill, but it's also stuff that for us as the creators we can really then play with and subvert expectations because they do think they're just attached at the hip, and things can change in friendships.

And what's the inspiration behind going a more supernatural route, as opposed to sci-fi, this time?

Hines: I think just a break. Even though Oxenfree did feel very supernatural, and otherworldly, and I can think of things throughout that game that can't possibly happen in real life, we wanted the story to feel at least like there's some sort of plausible sounding scientific explanation for everything that occurs. And then in Afterparty, since we knew it was gonna be primarily a comedy and just have more of a zany Simpsons, Rick and Morty, BoJack Horseman tone, we just kinda wanted our tool chest to be as big as possible. So yeah, we just wanted to be able to kinda throw whatever we wanted in there.

But then too, just the fact that you're in hell means it's gonna be a magical, fantastic experience. So making things have any kind of scientific reasoning just definitely went out the window with that choice.

Krankel: It just evolved. This is similar to what happened with Oxenfree too, where creating a story game like this from the ground up means that the mechanics can really inform aspects of the story and vice versa. And like Oxenfree's story, so much of it was born from us initially just going like we want a game where you can communicate and move. Like that was it. We were like okay, well, how big of a game should we make? And then it's like okay, well how big is the cast, and what's the setting? And then suddenly that starts to inform and inspire certain things.

And we were looking at, you know, like Papers, Please and thinking about how economic and efficient that game is, and the storytelling that can be done with a lot of characters from various walks of life but in a single settings. And so we thought a bar was like a fun version of that, instead of the DMV or something.

And so then we were like okay, well a bar's cool, and then we thought well you're probably gonna be a bartender. So we spent a lot of time doing that, and then we're like you don't want to be the bartender; you want to be partying. So then that evolved into how about a game about going on a crazy pub crawl?

So hell was not part of any of it during that phase. It was more like just over the top pub crawl. And then one day we were walking through a massive cemetery called Forest Lawn across the street from our office, which is where, I don't know, like every actor from 1930 'til now is buried. So we're walking through these giant graves and we're like, "What if it's Satan? That'd be funny!" And then we were like, "That's stupid," and then we moved on, and then a week later we were like, "No, that's pretty good."

And then that really became that final glue throughout all of it because hell afforded us the opportunity to have something that is familiar enough to most people but that we can define our own version of hell. So it's not the pitchfork, orange fire, heavy metal hell; it's like our own weird party version of hell. So yeah, it really just kind of all came together based on little micro-decisions.

So even though Afterparty uses the same style of dialogue that Oxenfree did where you can interrupt people or just kind of wait it out and let your dialogue go away, it's more of a comedy. And one of the big things about comedy is timing, so how did you write in jokes?

Hines: That aspect, yeah, it's tough. It's just tough because we'll watch people play and I'm like "No no no no, stay there. Please don't run away."

Honestly, it's a lot of getting just the dialogue to overlap in the exact right way and kind of having the joke's needs not be based on button presses. Because if that happened, it would just be impossible. No one's gonna talk exactly how you wanted to when you design it. So it's just a matter of making sure that the jokes and the comedy kinda come within their own little controlled timing-wise beats, but then the strings that get you there are completely defined by what the player wants to do.

We really want this game to feel like you're creating the comedy. Like the jokes wouldn't be a thing unless you walked over there and do something. It's just a lot of trial and error trying to get the timing right.

Can we expect any sort of Oxenfree Easter eggs in Afterparty? You don't have to spoil what they are.

Krankel: That's funny you ask that because literally last week we were talking about this, right? And we won't say what they are, if they will be there, but probably.

Hines: Oh, there is gonna be an Oxenfree Easter egg! Oh, yes.

Krankel: We don't know what it'll be, but yeah. It's the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Does the social media feature play into Afterparty mechanically at any point? Will you need to kind of know what people are thinking based off their social media?

Krankel: Sometimes quest relevant information will come out, for sure.

Hines: They're kind of an evolution in a way of how in Oxenfree when you'll be talking to somebody and a little icon would appear above their heads, meaning that their opinion of you or the other characters has changed in some way. And we liked it in Oxenfree, but that was kind of an, not an esoteric, but kind of an oblique system that not everyone fully understood.

So with this bigger system, we're kind of able to be much more explicit with exactly what the characters are thinking about at any given time. And it's just a very natural fit for the game, so it's been working really well in terms of both like a feedback loop, in terms of what characters that even aren't on screen are thinking about or doing at the same time, while also giving you like quest info or hints. Because you can access that Bicker feed like in the map screen whenever you want, and so there's a linear feed, just like a real timeline that you can see what everybody has said.

Krankel: To Adam's point, one of the challenges with any story game is making it feel like the rest of the world is moving on without the player. A lot of what we wanted to do here was make it feel like the whole world is going on without you, while some of the impact that you can have is just based on spatially where you are; not what you're saying, but where you decide to be or what you've done in a specific location.

And so Bicker lets us know what's going on on a whole other island without having to actually be there. So it's like efficient, and fun, and everybody's feed will be different, so it's pretty cool. There's a ton of different posts.

For Afterparty, is it just Milo and Lola or will their partnership grow into a group?

Hines: It's very focused on Milo and Lola, and one of the big themes, if not the big theme, is what friendship is. And particularly a close friendship that lasts as long as it has for them, and what can go wrong, and what can go right, and the resentment that can build. But also at the same time, it's about getting new friends, so you throughout the game you'll encounter characters that kind of pop up more and kind of become a part of your journey in a way.

So yeah, it's definitely not just constrained to Milo and Lola. They're the focus, but much like any kind of wild night out, you'll see people at one bar, then see them again, you'll join up for a bit, and then maybe they'll disappear for a while. We really wanted to replicate the experience of one really long night out amongst multiple bars where you're running into your old friends and things.

The Best Xbox One Game Deals On Xbox Live This Week

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 01:56

Another batch of deals is now live in the Xbox Live store, including a new publisher sale, controller discounts, and price cuts on dozens of great games. Last week, Square Enix ran a publisher sale in the PlayStation Store, and this week, that sale jumps over to the Xbox Store, where you can find 70 games from some of its best series marked down.

Released less than two months ago, Kingdom Hearts III is already discounted at $45. Life Is Strange fans, this is a great time to pick up the complete first season if you're looking to own it on Xbox One, as it's only $4. You can also grab the complete season of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm for only $5.10 and the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 for $4.

Final Fantasy XV is also marked down this week--you can grab the Royal edition for just $25 and the season pass for only $7.50. Released in 2016, the JRPG received an 8/10 in GameSpot's Final Fantasy XV review. "It would be hard for anyone to deny that Final Fantasy XV is a fascinating game after giving it a chance," wrote critic Peter Brown. "Where its characters fail to impress, Final Fantasy XV's beautiful world and exciting challenges save the day."

Other notable deals include Battlefield V for just $30, a 50% price cut for the first-person shooter. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is on sale for only $4.50. Octahedron, an action-packed platformer with a killer electronic soundtrack, is down to $6.50.

If you're in the market for a new wireless Xbox controller, many of those controllers are on sale for $10 off, including the Phantom Black Special Edition, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Limited Edition, and the Sport White Special Edition, among others. The gorgeous Phantom White Special Edition was announced just this week and is also available for pre-order. Click through below to see the controllers on sale right now.

Shop Xbox Live's weekly Xbox One deals »

See some of our picks below!

Brad Pitt And Leonardo DiCaprio Get Retro In First Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Trailer

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 01:43

The first trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been released. The latest movie from the revered director of Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained arrives in July and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie.

The trailer doesn't reveal many plot details, but it does establish the late '60s setting and main characters. We see DiCaprio as action star Rick Dalton, being interviewed alongside his long-time stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Pitt. There are shots of Robbie as Sharon Tate, the actress who was murdered by the Manson family in 1969, plus lots of cool period detail. Oh, and a very funny appearance from martial arts star Bruce Lee (played here by Mike Moh). Check it out above.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood hits theaters on July 26 and features probably the most ridiculously star-studded cast of the year (outside of Avengers Endgame of course). It also includes Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, James Marsden, Scoot McNairy, Damian Lewis, Emile Hirsch, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Lena Dunham, plus Luke Perry, who shot a role before his death earlier this month.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Tarantino spoke about the origins of the film. "I've been working on this script for five years, as well as living in Los Angeles County most of my life, including in 1969, when I was seven years old," he said. "I'm very excited to tell this story of an LA and a Hollywood that don't exist anymore. And I couldn't be happier about the dynamic teaming of DiCaprio and Pitt as Rick and Cliff."

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Tarantino's ninth movie as director. In 2016 he stated that he would quit directing after his tenth movie, but we don't know if this is still the case. In addition, there were rumors last year that he was working a new Star Trek movie, but with the future of that entire franchise on the big screen uncertain, there has been no further news about this.

Even More PC Games Are Skipping Steam For Epic's Store

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 01:25

During its "State of Unreal" presentation at the Game Developers Conference, Epic Games announced several new exclusives coming to the Epic Games Store. Those include big upcoming titles from Take-Two Interactive, the back-catalog from Quantic Dream, and more.

Take-Two's Private Division label will bring The Outer Worlds from Obsidian and Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey from Panache Digital Games exclusively to Epic's storefront.

Additionally, Quantic Dream will be bringing its back-catalog of Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human to PC for the first time through the Epic Games Store. Following the arrangement for The Division 2, Ubisoft has extended its agreement with Epic to release its PC games through the Epic Games Store. Ubisoft has also agreed to offer some unspecified games through Epic's free games program.

Other exclusives announced today include Afterparty, Control, The Cycle, Dauntless, Industries of Titan, Journey to the Savage Planet, Kine, Phoenix Point, The Sinking City, Spellbreak, and Solar Ash. Details of these exclusivity arrangements, and how long the exclusivity will last, was not disclosed in the announcement.

Epic also boasted some sales numbers, including a direct comparison with its chief competitor, Steam. It claimed that Metro: Exodus sold more than twice as much in its first few weeks on the Epic Games Store than the previous game, Metro: Last Light, sold on Steam over the same period. Metro going Epic-exclusive after already having been listed on Steam was enough to prompt a rare response from Valve.

Epic also announced that Subnautica and Slime Rancher both exceeded 4.5 million downloads during their respective two-week periods in the free games program.

Fortnite Update Adds Flint-Knock Pistol; Patch Notes Available Here

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 23:45

Fortnite's updates keep on coming, and now we've got yet another patch to keep us entertained in our battle royale excursions. Version 8.11 is live now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile, bringing with it a new weapon and another limited-time mode.

The new weapon is named the Flint-Knock Pistol, and it looks powerful. Developer Epic Games says the gun does up to 90 damage at close range, but it suffers from "significant damage falloff" at range and needs to be reloaded after every shot--a process that takes three seconds. The Flint-Knock Pistol uses Heavy Ammo and can be found in floor loot in Common and Uncommon rarities.

One Shot is Fortnite's latest LTM, meanwhile. This mode enables low gravity and restricts player health to just 50. Sniper Rifles and Hunting Rifles are the only weapons available, while Bandages are your only help if things go wrong.

Elsewhere, the Impulse Grenade has been unvaulted and seen its strength against vehicles increased by 344%. In fact, all explosive weapons have had their impulse strength against vehicles increased by 233%. Finally, The Baller's spawn rate has been halved and the Scoped Assault Rifle's base damage has increased to 27/26 from 24/23.

Read on below for the full Fortnite: Battle Royale patch notes, via Epic, or click here to read what's happening to Save the World and Creative modes with the 8.11 update.

Fortnite: Battle Royale Update 8.11 Patch NotesTable of Contents [hide]
  • Fortnite: Battle Royale Update 8.11 Patch Notes
    • Weapons And Items
    • Limited-Time Mode: One Shot
    • Events
    • Audio
    • UI
    • Art And Animation
    • MobileWeapons And Items
      • Flint-Knock Pistol
        • Available in Common and Uncommon Rarities.
        • Found from Floor Loot.
        • Knocks back the shooter. Can also knock back the target if they’re close enough.
          • The closer you are to the target, the farther they get knocked away.
          • The shooter can crouch to prevent the knockback.
        • Close range damage: 86/90
          • Significant damage falloff.
        • Must reload after each shot.
          • 3 second reload time.
        • Uses Heavy Ammo.
      • Unvaulted the Impulse Grenade
        • Impulse strength against vehicles has been increased by 344%
      • Increased the impulse strength of explosive weapons against vehicles by 233%
      • Scoped Assault Rifle
        • Increased base damage from 24/23 to 27/26
      • Reduced the spawn rate of the Baller from 100% to 50%
      Limited-Time Mode: One ShotSummary

      Low Gravity. Every player has 50 health. Snipers are the only weapon and Bandages are the only healing item. Jump high and aim well!

      Mode Details
      • Gravity is set lower than normal.
      • The Storm wait time has been greatly reduced in all phases of the game.
      • The only weapons in this mode are Hunting Rifles and Sniper Rifles.
      • Semi-Auto Snipers and Bounce Pads have been removed from the Vault in this mode.
      • Players will spawn with 50 health, and can only heal if they find Bandages.
      • Tournament Update: Gauntlet Solo Test Event & Gauntlet Duo Test Event
        • Added two additional extended sessions, which will run 24 hours a day.
          • 3/19/2019 00:00 UTC until 3/23/2019 00:00 UTC
          • 3/23/2019 00:00 UTC until 3/26/2019 00:00 UTC
      • New Tournament: Blackheart Cup (March 23rd & 24th) [$100,000 in Cash Prizes!]
        • Participation in this event requires players to have placed in the Top 3% (global) of any Gauntlet Test Event session prior to the start of the tournament.
        • The prize pool will be distributed across all server regions, with official rules and details released later this week.
        • Format:
          • March 23rd - Round One: All Eligible Players
          • March 24th - Round Two: Top 3000 Players from Round One
      • Participating in tournaments and the Gauntlet Test now requires a minimum account level of 15. The requirement was previously at level 10.
      AudioBug Fixes
      • Fixed an issue that caused The Baller’s tow-hook “release” sound to trigger twice each time.
      UIBug Fixes
      • The new style for the Whiteout Outfit can now be selected.
      • Event leaderboards no longer display everyone as being at rank #0.
      Art And Animation
      • Adjusted lighting.
        • Increased lighting contrast in areas of shadow.
        • Increased color vibrancy.
      MobileBug Fixes
      • Fixed an issue where full-screen support was not working on Samsung S10 devices.
      • Fixed an issue preventing in-game surveys from appearing on mobile devices.
        • These random surveys were added in the v8.10 update but were not appearing on mobile devices. Be sure to leave us your feedback if you receive one after a match.
      • Fixed various mobile stability related issues.
        • We’ll be monitoring their impact and continue investigating any additional issues. Let us know what you’re experiencing on our social channels.

Stranger Things Season 3 Trailer Promises A Summer Of Fun And Frights

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 23:33

The first trailer for Stranger Things Season 3 is here. The hugely popular Netflix show will return in July--it's been nearly two years since Season 2 was released, so expectations are high for the new batch of episodes.

The trailer doesn't reveal any plot details, but does reintroduce us to all the main characters and establishes the new season's setting. As we already knew, Season 3 will be set during the summer vacation 1985 and the trailer shows that the kids will be hanging around the pool and the mall rather than at school. They're clearly growing up fast too, with the suggestion that their relationships will be tested. But this being Stranger Things, it's not all teen drama--there's a very big and scary new creature shown right near the end. Check it out above.

All the main cast are back for Season 3. So that's Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Noah Schnapp (Will), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), and Sadie Sink (Max). There's also Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton as lovelorn teenagers Nancy and Jonathan, plus Winona Ryder as Will; Jonathan's mom Joyce; and, of course, David Harbour as everyone's favorite small-town cop Jim Hopper.

There are some new characters too. In keeping with the tradition of casting actors who became famous in the '80s (Ryder, Matthew Modine, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin), Princess Bride star Cary Elwes is joining as sleazy politician Mayor Kline. There's also the offspring of some '80s stars; Jake Busey, son of Point Break star Gary Busey, will play a journalist named Bruce, while Maya Thurman-Hawke (daughter of Uma and Ethan) is set to play a character named Robin.

Stranger Things Season 3 hits Netflix on July 4. For more, check out everything we know so far about the new season.

Konami Anniversary Collection Series Announced, Get All The Details Here

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 14:50

Konami has announced a new compilation pack series that bundles together a number of "iconic arcade games and classic console titles" into one package on modern systems. The Konami Anniversary Collection series, as it's called, is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

The first in the series is the Konami Anniversary Arcade Classics, which launches on April 20, as a digital-only title for $20 USD. The package comes with the following games:

  • Haunted Castle
  • A-Jax
  • Nemesis
  • Vulcan Venture
  • Life Force
  • Thunder Cross
  • Scramble
  • TwinBee

In addition to the games, the package includes an ebook that contains extras like interviews with developers, sketches, and design documents that have reportedly never been seen by the public before.

Following that will be the Castlevania Anniversary Collection and the Contra Anniversary Collection, both of which are due out in Summer 2019. The Castlevania bundle comes with Castlevania, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, and Super Castlevania IV, along with four other titles and an ebook to be revealed later.

The Contra package will include Contra, Super Contra, Super C, Contra III: The Alien Wars, and at least four games to be revealed later, along with a bonus ebook.

2019 is Konami's 50th anniversary.

Friends Reboot Is A Bad Idea, Creator Says

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 14:20

Friends is one of the most iconic TV shows ever, and it's remained popular--and lucrative--thanks to its continued play on Netflix and other streaming sources. Given the current wave of reboots happening for TV shows, many are wondering if Friends might come back someday.

Creator Marta Kauffman said in a new interview that there are "several reasons" why there will be no Friends reunion, and if it were to happen, it would only disappoint.

"One, the show is about a time in your life when your friends are your family. It's not that time anymore. All we'd be doing is putting those six actors back together, but the heart of the show would be gone," she told Rolling Stone. "Two, I don't know what good it does us. The show is doing just fine, people love it. [A reunion] could only disappoint."

Last year, NBC executive Robert Greenblatt said there was effectively zero chance of Friends coming back for a reunion show. One of the issues with reboots of shows that were immensely successful in their own time is that actors are asking for big paydays.

"The actors want a lot more money than we're willing to pay them," Greenblatt said.

The entire catalog of Friends is available on Netflix in the United States, and the streaming network reportedly paid $100 million to keep it there through the end of 2019.

Friends ran for 10 seasons from 1994 through 2004. Its May 2004 finale drew 52.5 million viewers in America, according to The New York Times. As of 2015, the show was bringing in $1 billion every year from syndication, with stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, and Matthew Perry making $20 million a year from that based on their 2 percent share of syndication revenue, according to USA Today.

Disney's Deal To Buy Fox--Including Simpsons, Deadpool, X-Men--Nearly Finished

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 12:35

Disney's massive deal to buy the majority of Fox's assets and franchises--including The Simpsons, Family Guy, Deadpool, and X-Men--for around $71 billion is nearly completed. Fox and Disney announced in their own press releases that the acquisition is expected to become effective at 12:02 AM EST on March 20.

"This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us--one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders," Disney CEO Robert Iger said in a statement. "Combining Disney's and 21st Century Fox's wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era."

Disney said buying Fox's franchises will allow Disney to "provide more appealing high-quality content and entertainment options to meet growing consumer demand; increase its international footprint; and expand its direct-to-consumer offerings."

Some of the "direct-to-consumer offerings" Disney has in the pipeline include ESPN+, and Disney+, along with its continued investment in Hulu.

Here is a specific rundown of what Disney gets in its Fox acquisition:

  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • Fox 2000 Pictures
  • Fox Family
  • Fox Animation
  • Twentieth Century Fox Television
  • FX Productions
  • Fox21
  • FX Networks
  • National Geographic Partners
  • Fox Networks Group International
  • Star India
  • Fox's interests in Hulu, Tata Sky, and Endemol Shine Group

After the buyout, Fox will still live on, but in a more limited capacity. Fox is creating a spinoff unit that will continue to operate the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports, and the Fox Televisions Stations Group, along with the cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes, and Big Ten Network.

Even before the Fox buyout, Disney was primed for a massive 2019 with movies alone. The company already released Captain Marvel from its Marvel division, while Avengers: Endgame is coming next month. Some of Disney's other major film releases in 2019 include Dumbo, Aladdin, Lion King, Frozen 2, and Star Wars: Episode IX.

See Margot Robbie As Sharon Tate In Tarantino's New Movie

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:51

Following the new Once Upon A Time In Hollywood poster featuring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio's characters, another one has come online for Margot Robbie's role.

Robbie plays Sharon Tate, who was murdered by Charles Manson's followers in 1969. Check it out below.

Hollywood. 1969. #OnceUponATimeInHollywood

— Margot Robbie (@MargotRobbie) March 19, 2019

According to Deadline, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood tells a Pulp Fiction-style story that features intersecting stories set in Los Angeles during 1969. DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, who is the struggling former star of a Western TV show, while Pitt plays his stunt double Cliff Booth. Rick's neighbour is Sharon Tate.

In addition to DiCaprio, Pitt, and Robbie, the film features other huge names like Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, James Marsden, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Timothy Olyphant, Lena Dunham, Emile Hirsch, and Dakota Fanning. Bruce Dern came aboard the movie last year to play a part meant for Burt Reynolds who died in September 2018.

Luke Perry filmed scenes for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood before his death in March.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, which is due in theatres on July 26, is Tarantino's ninth film, and it might be one of his final movies. In 2016 he said that he would quit directing after his tenth movie, but it remains to be the seen if this is still the case.

According to IndieWire, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood may make its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival in May.

Overwatch's New Hero, Baptiste, Is Available Now For Everyone

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:27

Overwatch's new hero, Baptiste, is out now for everyone on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Baptiste had been available on Overwatch's PTR for a while now, but he's finally available for everyone on every platform. Like Overwatch's other post-release characters, he's free.

Baptiste is Overwatch's 30th hero. A combat medic who serves as a support class in Blizzard's hero shooter, his primary weapon is the Biotic Launcher, which is a burst-fire rifle that fires three rounds at a time. His secondary fire heals allies.

He is also capable of jumping extra high thanks to his powerful Exo Boots. Additionally, Baptiste wields an "Immortality Field" that creates a field that keeps his allies alive, while he also has an "Amplification Matrix" that doubles damage and healing effects.

Check out the video in the embed above to see Baptiste in action.

Red Dead Online Update Adds Fishing Challenge And More

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 10:55

The latest update for the ongoing Red Dead Online beta has arrived, and it adds a new free roam event. The event is a "Fishing Challenge," that, as its name suggests, challenges players to compete against others to catch as many fish as possible.

As part of the challenge, players are tasked with racking up the most total weight for fish; and this has variations for water types: Lakes, Rivers, and Swamps.

In addition to the new fishing challenge, Rockstar has introduced a number of new items to grab from the store, including the Gator Hat, Ortega Vest, Pelt Half Chaps, and Woodland Gloves. They are available for a limited time from Wheeler, Rawson, and Co.

Finally, Rockstar is offering a 30 percent XP boost for hunting all animals, while players can also get a Fishing Care Package that comes with 5x Live Crickets, 1x River Lure, 1x Lake Lure and 1x Swamp Lure. The package is available from the Post office or loxkbox at camp.

The new Gator Hat and more

Red Dead Online is the multiplayer component of Red Dead Redemption 2 that is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is still in beta.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection: Dev Talks Mods, Dedicated Servers, Frame Rate, And Much More For PC Release

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 10:11

Halo developer 343 Industries held a Reddit AMA today where it answered a series of fans' burning questions about Halo: The Master Chief Collection's PC release and more. The studio talked about mod support on PC, dedicated servers, how you'll be able to buy each game on PC within the package, the possibility of bringing Halo 5 to The Master Chief Collection, and a lot more.

You can read the full Reddit AMA here, while we've rounded up some of the more interesting subjects and answers in this post.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection comes to PC through Steam and the Windows Store later . this year. As announced previously, games within the package will be released individually, beginning with Halo: Reach (which is also coming to Xbox One). The game was recently revealed to not be an Xbox Play Anywhere title.

On The Master Chief Collection's PC Release Plans

"Players can purchase each title one-by-one along the way or wait until the collection is complete at the end. We don't have any plans for a 'season pass' model." [Full quote]

On The Specific Release Timing Of Each Game

"Right now the priority is getting Halo: Reach ready for public flighting and work is underway almost in parallel for Halo: CE, which will be the second game. Ultimately we want to get these games into player's hands as soon as possible."

"We're hesitant to commit to a firm time frame because the truth is they're ready when they're ready. Flighting will be critical to help us get these titles to a great place and depending on how that goes, it could lengthen or extend the release cadence. We'll definitely share more details as we start ramping up flighting." [Full quote]

On Frame Rates, Controls, And 144hz

"Current plan is to support 'uncapped FPS' in each title. But, as we move deeper into development on each title, we'll have to determine what's feasible within each game."

"Delivering great KB+M controls is one of our top priorities. We are exploring different ways to make a balanced, fun experience for PC and will share more details in the future." [Full quote]

"The goal is to support 144hz+ for all of the games in MCC, though as with things like FOV sliders and framerates, it could vary slightly by title." [Quote 2]

On The Possibility Of Split-Screen On PC

"This one is tricky and the team is still looking at what can be supported." [Full quote]

On Mod Support For The Master Chief Collection On PC

"We are working closely with the members of the modding community (including some friends on the ElDewrito team) to explore our options for 'official' mod support, but we won't have this at launch. Our #1 priority for launch is ensuring we get each of these core games 'right' for PC and security/anti-cheat is a big focus. As we've stated, this entire offering will grow and evolve over time." [Full quote]

On Halo 5 Joining The Master Chief Collection

"Our focus is bringing MCC and Reach to PC, there are no current plans to bring over Halo 5" [Full quote]

On Dedicated Servers And Custom Game Browser

"This is a topic of discussion here but currently this isn't something we're able to commit to in terms of actual community-hosted dedicated servers. A custom games browser is of course very important to us and something we're looking forward to bringing to MCC on PC and Xbox One." [Full quote]

On PC Specs

"Ultimately, flighting and the results of those tests will help finalize the min specs but we want to support the widest range of hardware possible. We'll definitely share spec details soon." [Full quote]

Your Progress Moves Between Xbox One And PC Versions Of The Master Chief Collection

"Within MCC, yes, your progress and progression will carry-over between the console and PC versions. All stats, achievements, Forged maps, and game variants will be shared between all of the games within MCC. Mid mission saves will be unique to each platform and cannot be shared."

"Your Halo: Reach unlocks and progression from the original game on Xbox 360 will NOT carry over to MCC. And as a reminder, MCC on Steam will require a free Microsoft Account, but not Xbox Live Gold." [Full quote]

Windows 8 May Not Be Supported

"Currently our focus is on Win10 and Win7. Win8 is still being investigated." [Full quote]

Forge And Theatre Won't Be Available When Reach Launches On PC

"Forge and Theater for Reach won't be ready at the same time as the MP/Campaign/Firefight experiences on PC. From a development perspective, it makes more sense for the team to tackle Reach's Forge/Theater a little later in the roadmap at the same time as Halo 3 and Halo 4 work." [Full quote]

ODST Firefight Not Planned For Release On PC

"We know this is a longstanding request from players and is something the team will continue to evaluate for the future. For now, our focus is on bringing ODST's Campaign to MCC on PC. (and we'll of course have Reach Firefight coming to MCC!)" [Full quote]

Anthem Sales Open Strong In The US, Second-Biggest BioWare Release Ever For First Month

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 09:30

The NPD Group has released its US sales report for February, revealing the best-selling hardware and software for the month and providing an overall health update on the industry.

Starting with game sales, BioWare's Anthem was the best-selling title of the month, beating out other new releases like Jump Force, Far Cry New Dawn, and Metro Exodus.

Anthem enjoyed the second highest launch-month sales in BioWare's history, only behind 2012's Mass Effect 3. It is now 2019's second best-selling game, trailing only Kingdom Hearts III. One caveat to mention with Anthem is that PC digital sales are not included. Publisher Electronic Arts has not shared any hard sales data for Anthem.

Also notable on the software side is that Metro Exodus debuted at No. 8; it was outsold by a number of 2018 games such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Red Dead Redemption II. Still, Exodus' first-month sales were the highest in franchise history, eclipsing the first-month sales of Metro: Last Light by almost 50 percent, according to the NPD. As with Anthem, PC digital sales for Metro Exodus are not included.

In total, February software spending in the US across console, portable, and PC games reached $457 million, which is up 15 percent. Year-to-date, spending stands at $896 million, and that's up 10 percent compared to last year.

You can see the best-seller charts for February 2019 at the bottom of this post.

Moving to hardware, the Nintendo Switch was February's best-selling platform. It is also the highest-selling system of 2019. Also notable is that Nintendo posted its highest February month for hardware sales since February 2011. Across all platforms, hardware spending dropped 12 percent year-over-year to $277 million.

February 2019 US SalesTop 20 Games All Platforms
  1. Anthem^
  2. Jump Force
  3. Kingdom Hearts III
  4. Far Cry New Dawn
  5. Red Dead Redemption II
  6. Resident Evil 2
  7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  8. Metro: Exodus^
  9. NBA 2K19
  10. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  11. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  12. Mario Kart 8*
  13. Grand Theft Auto V
  14. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  15. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  16. Minecraft#
  17. Super Mario Party*
  18. Rainbow Six Siege
  19. Madden NFL 19^
  20. Spider-Man
2019 Year-To-Date Top 10 Games
  1. Kingdom Hearts III
  2. Anthem^
  3. Resident Evil 2
  4. Jump Force
  5. Red Dead Redemption II
  6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  7. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  8. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe*
  9. NBA 2K19
  10. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
All Platforms 12 Months Ending February 2019
  1. Red Dead Redemption II
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4^
  3. NBA 2K19
  4. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  5. Madden NFL 19^
  6. Spider-Man
  7. Far Cry 5
  8. God of War
  9. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
  10. Mario Kart 8*
February 2019 Xbox One
  1. Anthem
  2. Jump Force
  3. Far Cry New Dawn
  4. Red Dead Redemption II
  5. Kingdom Hearts III
  6. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  7. NBA 2K19
  8. Resident Evil 2
  9. Metro: Exodus
  10. Grand Theft Auto V
February 2019 PS4
  1. Anthem
  2. Jump Force
  3. Kingdom Hearts III
  4. Red Dead Redemption II
  5. Resident Evil 2
  6. Metro: Exodus
  7. Far Cry New Dawn
  8. NBA 2K19
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  10. Spider-Man
February 2019 Nintendo Switch
  1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  2. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
  3. Mario Kart 8
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  5. Super Mario Party
  6. Super Mario Odyssey
  7. Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu
  8. Pokemon: Let's Go Eevee
  9. Splatoon 2
  10. Minecraft
February 2019 3DS
  1. Yo-Kai Watch 3
  2. Etrian Odyssey: Nexus
  3. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey
  4. Pokemon: Ultra Sun
  5. Pokemon: Ultra Moon
  6. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
  7. Super Smash Bros.
  8. Super Mario Maker
  9. Mario Kart 7
  10. Super Mario 3D Land

* Digital sales not included

^ PC digital sales not included

# Minecraft digital sales on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One included