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Google's Stadia Controller Hides The Konami Code, Which Has Some New Tricks

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 08:35

At Google's GDC 2019 keynote, company VP Phil Harrison revealed a new cloud gaming streaming service called Stadia. During the presentation, Harrison also unveiled a new controller specifically designed for Stadia. The floor model that's currently being displayed at the show, as confirmed by GameSpot' sister site CNET, has the Konami code engraved on it. You can see the engraving in the tweet below.

According to Polygon, you can go to Stadia's website and actually input the Konami code with your computer keyboard to find a cool Easter egg: a 3D model of the new controller. You can spin the controller around on your screen in order to get a better idea as to how it's shaped. For those who don't know, the full Konami code is up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, start. You only need to input the first 10 keys, however, to see the controller model on Stadia's website.

Yes, Google did put the Konami code on the back of the #Stadia controller. #GDC19 https://t.co/wbMcyQPBqi pic.twitter.com/86un28ZLKI

— CNET (@CNET) March 19, 2019

The Konami code engraving isn't the only unique aspect of Stadia's controller. It also comes with a share button that allows you to upload footage straight to your YouTube channel. Another button allows you to ask Google Assistant a question at anytime. Stadia's controller links to the platform via Wi-Fi as well.

During the Google keynote, the company described Stadia as a platform meant to unify players, spectators, and developers. So, for example, you'll be able to watch a YouTube trailer for a game and then, if you want, just start playing said title via cloud streaming within a few seconds. Stadia will feature cross-platform support as well, allowing you to play with others regardless of system. As Stadia will support cloud saves for game state and save files, it should have cross-platform progression for specific games as well.

At launch, Stadia will stream games up to 4K HDR at 60 FPS, and Google has scheduled plans to increase that threshold to 8K resolution. Stadia is scheduled to release sometime this year and will be supported across several platforms, including desktops, laptops, TVs, tablets, and phones. In an interview with GameSpot, Ubisoft chief executive officer Yves Guillemot said that Stadia should be viewed as a platform that exists alongside consoles and PCs, and not a replacement. For now, anyway.

You can read up on how cloud gaming works if you have additional questions about it, and also see which companies are making the largest strides and investing the most time and resources behind it. We've collected all of the Google gaming news announced during the GDC keynote too--including the reveal that Doom Eternal will release on Stadia. We've captured gameplay of Doom Eternal on Stadia as well if you want to know what it looks like.

The Remake Of Classic Horror Movie Jacob's Ladder Will Tackle PTSD, Writer Says

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 08:20

The remake of the 1990 classic psychological horror film Jacob's Ladder was supposed to be released last month, until it was pushed back to an undisclosed date later this year. Adrian Lyne's film dealt with a haunted Vietnam War veteran who tries to discover a secret from his past by deciphering his own dreams, and over the years it has become a cult classic. This is mostly thanks to a twist near the end of the film that puts everything that came before it in a completely new light.

GameSpot had a chance to catch up with writer Jeff Buhler while he promoted his new film Pet Sematary at SXSW, and we asked him about his approach to the Jacob's Ladder remake and how his script modernizes the classic tale.

"The original has a twist that you can't repeat because without the secret it doesn't have any power," Buhler said. "So we wanted to come up with another twist that could catch people off guard."

Buhler admitted to being a fan of the original film, having seen it many times including when the film was in theaters. He wrote the remake with Sarah Thorpe, and it's said to focus on two brothers coming from the Middle East instead of one soldier returning from Vietnam.

"We tried to focus on the modern soldier's experience returning from war," Buhler told GameSpot. "The PTSD side of it is more prevalent compared to the original, which instead focuses on medical experiments done on soldiers with the use of drugs. We kind of shifted it to something more personal and grounded, which opened a lot of doors in making this story our own."

He added, "It is nerve-wracking because the original is sacred material."

Jacob's Ladder stars Michael Ealy (Underworld: Awakening), Guy Burnet (Ray Donovan), Karla Souza (How to Get Away with Murder) and Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow). It currently has no exact release date but is expected out this year.

Google Stadia Hands-on Impressions From GDC 2019

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 08:19

Google made a big splash at GDC 2019 with its announcement of Stadia, the cloud-based platform that streams games from a remote data center to nearly any device--laptops, phones, tablets, PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, and TVs with Chromecast. All graphics processing is relegated to off-site hardware, meaning there's little stress on your local hardware; all you need is a strong internet connection. It's a technologically impressive concept that has come to fruition, and we were one of the first to experience what it's like to play games on Stadia. Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Doom (2016) were playable on the GDC show floor, and while they ran and looked great, I couldn't help but notice one significant shortcoming.

Keep in mind, my hands-on time was at the Google stations on the GDC show floor, so your mileage may vary. There are a lot variables at play in addition to the internet connection, and these are early playable builds under unknown conditions. Display response time is another factor that we couldn't account for during the hands-on demo, and it's an important spec to consider, especially for a PC-like experience--these were not gaming-grade monitors at the demo stations.

Input lag was the worst offender during my time with Doom; this was readily apparent when swiping the mouse around to aim. The aiming reticule would trail behind my mouse movements ever so slightly, and for a game like Doom--a hyper-fast first-person shooter that relies on precision aiming--it can be a deal-breaker. Playing on a controller mitigated the emphasis on speed and precision and made input lag a little less of a factor, but it doesn't negate the issue altogether. Another thing to note is that Google staff told me the Doom demo in particular was running in a low-latency mode available on Stadia itself. From a fidelity standpoint, the game ran at a consistent frame-rate using medium-high settings with adequate overall image quality; artifacting (or compression) didn't affect the experience. However, it's a bit disappointing that input lag could hold this back from being the ideal way to play a game as fast as Doom.

I also got to revisit Assassin's Creed Odyssey with Stadia and it felt very similar to Google's early cloud-gaming beta that called Project Stream. Of course, Odyssey doesn't have the same emphasis on speed and accuracy as Doom, so naturally the experience translated better to the cloud-based platform. When peeking at some of the settings, the demo was running at 1080p, 60 FPS, with a 20 Mbps bit rate. The game had decent visual quality with some discernible artifacting, but we were playing up-close on large TVs which isn't a typical setup

At launch, it'll be capable of delivering up to 4K resolution and 60 FPS thanks to a brand-new AMD GPU rated at 10.7 TFLOPs that powers the data center hardware--remember, the Xbox One X, currently the most powerful console to date, has 6.0 TFLOPs. Stadia will come with a whole roster of features in addition to the convenience of playing games over a powerful cloud-based platform.

Google will also offer its own controller for Stadia which has integrated Google Assistant, its voice-controlled AI technology--developers will be able to incorporate this capability into their games. Additionally, Stadia will have seamless streaming to YouTube with plenty of features change how people will able to jump into multiplayer games (Crowd Play), and share specific gameplay moments for other players to jump into (State Share).

Google isn't the only one staking a claim in cloud-based gaming, however. Microsoft's Project xCloud, which also streams games from hardware at a data center to devices via an internet connection, will be having test runs later this year as well. For more on the game streaming landscape, be sure to read our quick rundown of all the gaming companies investing in cloud gaming and what they're offering.

If Google can improve key aspects, namely the apparent issues with input lag, Stadia would be a serious competitor in the gaming landscape. Otherwise, there may be limitations as to which games would work best on this new platform. Regardless, the accessibility that Google will offer is unprecedented. While cloud gaming itself is not new, the combination of accessibility and convenience could help this service to establish a foothold. We'll all be able to see for ourselves when Stadia launches sometime in 2019.

What's New To Netflix This Week?

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 07:45

If you're looking to unravel events from the past, then this week's new Netflix offerings will be right up your alley. While the streaming service is also known for its movie options, the majority of March's selections came out earlier this month.

Coming out on March 22 is ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre. The documentary tells the tale of the murder of most of the members of the Miami Snowband who some called "The Irish Beatles" during the 1970s. Almost 40 years later, the documentary seems to get closer to the truth of who killed the band.

Speaking of music, also coming to Netflix on March 22 is The Dirt, which tells the tale of '80s rock band Motley Crue, based on the best-selling book. If you know anything about the band, you know their off-stage antics were extremely over-the-top, which this movie will cover.

Below, you'll find everything coming to Netflix this week. Additionally, the April release list for Netflix is already out, and you should probably watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series before it leaves early next month.

Avail. 3/19/19
  • Amy Schumer Growing-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Avail. 3/21/19
  • Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Avail. 3/22/19
  • Carlo & Malik-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Charlie's Colorforms City-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Delhi Crime-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Historia de un crimen: Colosio-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Mirage (ES)-- NETFLIX FILM
  • Most Beautiful Thing-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Selling Sunset-- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • The Dirt-- NETFLIX FILM

GDC: Google Forms First-Party Games Studio For Stadia

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 07:15

Google has finally given the world its first look at its big video game initiative: Stadia, an ambitious cloud gaming platform that will allow players to stream games across smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs. The company has already announced a handful of third-party titles coming to the platform, but it'll also be venturing into game development with its own internal studio.

During its Game Developers Conference presentation, Google announced the formation of Stadia Games and Entertainment, a first-party studio that will develop titles exclusively for the platform. No projects have been announced just yet, but Google revealed the studio will be led by Jade Raymond, a former studio head at Ubisoft and EA.

We first learned that Raymond was hired by Google last week, when she announced she was joining the company as a vice president. At the time, her exact role was unclear, but her hiring further signified Google was making a serious attempt at entering the video game space.

Few other games have been announced for Stadia at this juncture, but Google also showed off Assassin's Creed Odyssey--which was the same game the company used for its Project Stream test last year--running on the platform. We also got confirmation that Doom Eternal is coming to Stadia, as is a new game from Star Fox co-creator Dylan Cuthbert's studio, Q-Games.

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

GDC 2019: Google Stadia Will Be "Complementary" To PCs And Consoles, Says Ubisoft CEO

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 07:11

Google announced its cloud gaming platform, Stadia with an in-depth presentation detailing the tech and its features. The idea promises to open up high-fidelity gaming to everyone regardless of whether they can afford a gaming PC or console. Still, some areas of the US have low broadband penetration, which is why Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot says the platform is likely to be used alongside consoles and PCs, not as an outright replacement--at least for the time being.

"You have to look at Stadia as complementary," Guillemot told GameSpot during an interview at GDC. "If you get internet you play on the machine that gives you a chance to experience your game. What's good in this industry, either you play on the mobile or you play on PC, and now it's starting to be the same game. I think this is a way to play differently depending on where you are as well."

He said Ubisoft recognizes that quality internet isn't available everywhere, but that the studio will be able to "scale the game to the quality of the internet experience." He also suggested that 5G, the next generation of cellular communications tech, could be a big boon and that cities will have to compete with each other for it.

"I think 5G has to come fast, but what we see is there will be lots of possibilities to use it," he said. "So if cities are really putting 5G, the oldest cities will have to react quite fast if they want keep all the people they have in cities. So this, I think, is going to push 5G a lot."

Ubisoft partnered with Google last year for Project Stream, a practical test of the tech used ultimately used in Stadia. That allowed testers to play Assassin's Creed Odyssey for free, but they needed a 25 Mbps connection. That benchmark may give us an idea of what to expect for optimum performance when Stadia launches later this year. Guillemot also shared thoughts on how Ubisoft could price its games for Stadia.

To catch up on the news surrounding Google's cloud platform, read all we know about Stadia. Plus check out why cloud gaming is the next big thing, which companies are investing in cloud tech.

All Of The Best PS4 Game Deals In The PlayStation Store This Week

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 06:45

It's a great time to be a PS4 owner. Some of the best games in recent years--Bloodborne, God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel's Spider-Man, etc.--have been released as PS4 exclusives, and over in the PlayStation Store, there are always special sales going on in addition to the rotating weekly deals.

This week is particularly loaded with deals, starting with the Great Indoors Sale, which has hundreds of games steeply discounted, like Horizon Zero Dawn ($17), Borderlands 2 ($5), The Last Guardian ($14), and The Witcher 3: Complete Edition ($20). There's even an entire section of budget-friendly deals with games that are mostly under $10, so be sure to take a peek at that if you're trying to curb your game spending. Plus, most of these games are even cheaper if you're a PS Plus member. Game deals within the Great Indoors Sale will be live until March 29 at 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET, so you have a little extra time to claim those.

Fans of online multiplayer, take note: The PlayStation Store has also slashed the price of one-year PS Plus membership by 25% for the next week. Instead of paying $60 for a one-year subscription, you'll only pay $45--and even if you already have a membership, you can stack subscriptions to save yourself money down the road. This particular offer is only valid until March 26 at 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET.

The EA publisher sale continues in the PlayStation Store this week as well, with major discounts on some of its best titles. All three Dragon Age games, including the Game of the Year edition for Dragon Age: Inquisition, are marked down, along with Titanfall 2: Ultimate Edition, Battlefield V, A Way Out, and many more. The EA sale also ends March 26 at 8 AM PT / 11 AM ET.

There are plenty of other game deals worth picking up in the PlayStation Store this week, including Kingdom Hearts III for $45 and the Kingdom Hearts III All-in-One Package for $75. The bundle option provides instant access to Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue along with the newest game. Both the standard game and the bundle also come with a limited time Midnight Blue Keyblade.

Shop this week's PS4 deals in the PlayStation Store »

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GDC: Google Showcases One Of Stadia's Coolest Features

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 06:20

Google pulled back the curtain on its video game plans during the Game Developers Conference, unveiling its ambitious Stadia cloud gaming platform. Through Stadia, players and developers will not only be able to stream video games across a variety of devices such as smartphones, tablets, and TVs, they'll even be able to share precise in-game moments with others.

During the company's keynote address, veteran game designer Dylan Cuthbert took the stage to discuss Stadia's State Share technology. Using the feature, developers will be able to "instantly share a playable moment from the game," down to the world state, the player's position and inventory, and any other aspects. The state can then be shared as a link that will allow other players to pick up from that exact moment.

Cuthbert discussed some of the examples possible with State Share. "I can create moments specifically for this kind of sharing--challenges to beat my incredible speed runs, or chances for other players to also experience those same tough boss battles. I can build as many shareable moments as I want and let the internet turn my whole game into an infinitely replayable treasure hunt."

According to Google, Stadia will also enable game streamers to better engage with their audience with a feature called Crowd Play. This will allow viewers to jump into the same game session as a streamer by clicking a button on the screen and joining a queue.

Stadia will launch later this year. The platform will initially be available in the US, Canada, the UK, and "most of Europe" and will support various input devices, including its own proprietary controller. Additional details about Stadia and its launch lineup will be shared this summer.

For more on cloud gaming, be sure to check out how cloud gaming works and read up on the companies investing heavily in the cloud. You can also catch up on all of the Google gaming news from today's GDC event.

How Google Stadia Pricing Could Work, According To Ubisoft's CEO

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 06:09

Google's Stadia announcement shared an in-depth look at the streaming platform, technology, features, and more. One conspicuously missing component was price, either for the first-party controller or for games. Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot, whose company partnered with Google for the Project Stream test last year, shared some thoughts in an interview. Project Stream was a free test of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, but how will we pay for future games offered through Stadia?

"I think we will have a multitude of ways," Guillemot told GameSpot. "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."

The question of price is looming over the Stadia platform, since streaming games from the cloud is such a different model than traditional game sales. As opposed to buying a physical copy that you can hold, or even a digital copy that downloads data onto your console, consumers will have to get accustomed to paying for the ability to stream a game. Guillemot's comments suggest that traditional purchases and subscription models are on the table, and he's had plenty of time to think about the subject.

"We have been working with Google for a long time now," he said. "The first time we went to see them [Google] was six years ago, about what was the beginning of what this is today. We even created at that time a joint venture with Square Enix to do that job. We have been looking at that technology for a long time."

For more on Google's cloud platform, catch up with all we know about Stadia. Or you can read our primer on why cloud gaming is the next big thing, and see some of the competition Google will face with the companies investing in cloud tech.

Castle Crashers Releases For PS4 And Switch Soon

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 05:49

It's nearing four years since Castle Crashers made the jump to current gen with a remaster on Xbox One. It's been even longer since San Diego-based developers, The Behemoth, launched the side-scrolling beat-em-up on last generation's hardware. Now, in celebration of the game's 10th--going on 11th--year on the market, the studio has announced that Castle Crashers is re-re-releasing, this time for Nintendo Switch and PS4.

In a Twitter post, The Behemoth stated Castle Crashers Remastered, the version of the game that launched on Xbox One back in September 2015, is making its way to the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Unfortunately, no release date accompanied the announcement.

The developers penned a blog post on its official website detailing the announcement. Castle Crashers Remastered for Switch and PS4 will contain the Back Off Barbarian mini-game, all previously released DLC, and various gameplay improvements and performance updates. This re-release will also run at 60 frames per second and feature textures much improved over the original game's. Essentially, it's the Xbox One version of the game and more.

For the Switch version, Castle Crashers Remastered utilizes the system's HD Rumble feature and four-player local Joy-Con support. So you, your friend, and your friend's friend can play on one system using multiple Joy-Cons. PS4 owners who purchase the game will see the color of their controlled character displayed on the controller's lightbar. Who doesn't love a pink lightbar?

The Behemoth co-founder Dan Paladin gave some very specific reasons why this remaster is happening. It boils down to game preservation, a hot-button topic in the industry. "When we make games we want them to stick around," Paladin wrote in the blog post. He also notes that "higher resolutions, higher framerates, chances to make tweaks, and better overall quality" are "very satisfying."

At the end of the post, Paladin confirms that the studio is working on a new game. As of right now, it's codenamed "Game 5." There's no other information on this title, but Paladin ensures the studio will "have more information on this later in the year hopefully."

In our initial Castle Crashers review, we said the game is "an absurdly hilarious romp you won't soon forget."

Castle Crashers Remastered is available now on Mac, PC, and Xbox One. If you happen to have a PS3 or Xbox 360, you can play it there, too.

GDC: Google's Confirmed Stadia Games Include Doom Eternal

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 05:39

During the Google GDC 2019 keynote, company VP Phil Harrison revealed a new cloud gaming streaming service called Stadia. Following its use in the Project Stream test last year, Assassin's Creed Odyssey was featured prominently during the event, but it wasn't the only triple-A game promised to run on the hardware. At a later point in the presentation, id Software executive producer Marty Stratton took the stage to announce Doom Eternal would be one of the games coming to Stadia.

Stratton said that Doom Eternal both plays and looks "great" on Stadia. The sequel to 2016's Doom will play in true 4K HDR at 60 FPS on the cloud gaming platform. Stadia itself is designed to unite players, spectators, and developers all on one platform. For example, during Google's keynote, the company showcased how you will be able to watch a trailer for a game on YouTube and then start playing said game through streaming within a few seconds.

Stadia will also feature cross-platform support. Harrison confirmed cross-platform play, allowing you to play with others regardless of platform. Stadia will also support cloud saves for game state and save files, so specific titles could have cross-platform progression as well.

Stadia will be supported across several platforms, including desktops, laptops, TVs, tablets, and phones. At launch, the service will be able to stream games up to 4K HDR at 60 FPS with surround sound, and Google has scheduled plans to increase that to 8K resolution in the future. Although you can use existing controllers with Stadia, Google is also releasing its own controller--which supports Google Assistant. Stadia scheduled to release this year.

For more information on cloud gaming, you can read up on how it works as well as which companies other than Google are investing in the technology behind it. We're collecting all the Google Stadia gaming news announced at GDC today as well.

Doom Eternal is also loosely scheduled for 2019, coming to Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, and now Stadia. Neither Bethesda or id Software has announced whether the game is coming to the Switch the same day as the other platforms, or if that version will be delayed. Eternal is more immersive and gruesome than its predecessor. The new game also offers additional means of moving around the map--including a grappling hook and free running.

Stadia, Google's Cloud Gaming Platform, Will Have Cross-Platform Support

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 05:02

During Google's GDC 2019 keynote presentation, the company's vice president and general manager Phil Harrison announced Stadia, a cloud-based streaming service that allows you to play games across most of your devices. At the end of his portion of the keynote, Harrison also mentioned that most games on Stadia would feature cross-platform support, which could come in multiple forms.

Cross-platform play specifically has been confirmed, allowing you to play with your friends regardless of whether you're gaming on console, PC, tablet, or mobile device. Whether games will allow play between Stadia versions and those on other dedicated gaming platforms like PS4, Xbox One, and PC remains to be seen (and will likely vary by game), games running on Stadia should work regardless of what hardware you and other players are using.

Harrison also said that Stadia would support cloud saves for game state and save files, so specific titles will also have cross-platform progression. Again, it's unclear if progression will be shared between Stadia and non-Stadia versions of games, but if you're playing a Stadia game on multiple devices, your progress will move with you. So, if you were to play a multiplayer-focused game on your PC through Stadia, navigating over to your phone would bring all your unlocked items with you.

Google plans to use Stadia to bring together all aspects of gaming--whether you want to play, spectate, or develop--on to one platform. During the GDC keynote, for example, the company showcased how someone watching a trailer for Assassin's Creed Odyssey on Ubisoft's YouTube channel can click a link at the end of the video which allows them to begin playing the game through streaming in just a few seconds.

Harrison promises Stadia will be supported across several platforms, including desktops, laptops, TVs, tablets, and phones. At launch, Stadia will support streams in 4K at 60 FPS with surround sound, and Google plans on upping that to 8K resolution in the future. You'll be able to use existing controllers with Stadia, but Google also announced its own controller specifically built for the service. The controller features most button inputs seen on Xbox One and PS4's respective controllers, but it will also include one that allows you to ask Google Assistant a question. Stadia is scheduled to launch in 2019.

For more information on cloud gaming, you can read up on how it works as well as which companies other than Google are investing in the technology behind it. We're collecting all the Google gaming news announced at GDC today as well, including the reveal that Doom Eternal is coming to Stadia.

GDC: Google Stadia Release Date Window Set For This Year

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 04:51

Google has revealed a vague release window for its new Stadia platform. The service will launch later this year, coming first to the US, UK, Canada, and "most of Europe," with a worldwide release coming at some point after that.

Pricing was not revealed for the new platform; while you won't need specific hardware, you will presumably need to buy access to games or some kind of subscription service, but Google didn't share any information regarding this aspect of the service. However, we did get lots of other details besides that, including the basics of what Stadia is: Google's vision for a new kind of gaming service powered by the cloud. You'll be able to play games, even high-end ones like Assassin's Creed Odyssey or Doom Eternal, on most any internet-connected device.

As well as offering cloud streaming of games to phones, laptops, PCs, and TVs, it will also launch with its own controller. In addition, the company has founded a first-party development house to make games exclusively for Stadia.

Stadia will support cross-platform multiplayer and allow you to seamlessly switch between devices. You can also simply click a link while watching a game on YouTube to dive into that very same game at the exact same point. Alternatively, streamers can allow viewers to sign up to join in to play in the same game session with them. All of this is done seamlessly; you don't have to download anything or have specific, high-end hardware to play.

At launch, Stadia will support 4K HDR gameplay at 60 FPS, with plans to scale that up to 8K at 120 FPS. Ubisoft, Doom Eternal developer Id Software, and Q-Games were among the developers mentioned as partners at Google's GDC conference, while more than 100 studios already have Stadia in their hands. For more, check out everything we know about Google Stadia.

Here's Google's Stadia Video Game Controller

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 04:32

At the Game Developers Conference, Google unveiled its vision for the future of video games: a cloud streaming service called Stadia that gives instant access to play games across Chromebooks, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. While it will be compatible with keyboards and other input devices, Google will also release its own proprietary Stadia controller, and now we know how it looks.

The Stadia controller was shown off in three different color schemes. It connects to Google's servers through Wi-Fi, and it identifies what screen you want to play on. In addition to the standard array of inputs, it also features two unique buttons: one allows you to capture gameplay and share and save it to YouTube, while the other is a Google Assistant button, which allows you to access the controller's built-in microphone to get gameplay advice from an assistant.

The streaming tech appears similar to a test than ran last year, when Google partnered with Ubisoft for Project Stream. That service allowed testers to try Assassin's Creed Odyssey for free through a Chrome browser. The company also hired Jade Raymond, best known for her work at Ubisoft and EA.

For more on cloud gaming, check out how cloud gaming works and read up on the companies investing heavily in the cloud. Be sure to catch up on all of the Google gaming news from today's GDC event.

Developing...

Apex Legends Season 1 Battle Pass Is Now Live

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 04:15

Season 1 of Apex Legends has begun. The game's Wild Frontier Battle Pass is now available to purchase on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, bringing a new assortment of skins, stat trackers, and other exclusive rewards to unlock in Respawn's popular battle royale game.

Much like Fortnite's own seasonal Battle Pass, the Wild Frontier Battle Pass costs 950 Apex Coins, which roughly equates to $10 / £8. If you're eager to get a head start, EA is also offering a Battle Pass bundle for 2,800 Apex Coins that will instantly unlock the first 25 tiers, giving you immediate access to those rewards.

Apex Coins are Legends' premium currency. They can typically only be purchased with real money, although there are a few other ways to get your hands on some for free. You'll receive 1,000 Apex Coins by signing up for EA/Origin Access, which effectively amounts to a 50% discount if you spring for a one-month subscription. You'll also be able to earn up to 1,000 Apex Coins by leveling up the Battle Pass.

As in Fortnite, you'll unlock rewards as you level up Apex Legends' Battle Pass, and you'll receive three exclusive character skins automatically just for purchasing it. Even if you don't decide to buy the pass, however, you'll still be able to earn a handful of rewards, and you'll retroactively unlock any you would have earned if you decide to purchase it partway through the season.

Unlike Fortnite, however, Apex Legends' Battle Pass doesn't offer any challenges. According to Respawn, this was a deliberate decision in order to let players focus on learning the ins and outs of the game rather than striving to check off contrived tasks.

"You'll notice the first version isn't built around a complex quest system where you need to do a 720 backflip off of Watchtower Artemis and get two Wingman headshots before hitting the ground," Respawn wrote in a blog post. "While we think there's really cool design space in quests and challenges for future Battle Passes, we wanted the initial version to allow our players to just play and learn the game."

You can read more about how the Apex Legends Battle Pass works here. Also arriving to the game today is Octane, Apex Legends' newest playable character. However, he isn't included as part of the Battle Pass; rather, players will need to purchase him separately from the in-game store for 12,000 Legend Tokens or 750 Apex Coins.

Apex Legends Patch Notes: What's New In Season 1 Update?

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 04:00

A big new Apex Legends update is out now, and Respawn has shared the full patch notes. Alongside a variety of changes and fixes, the game's Season 1 battle pass is here, along with the first new addition to its character roster: Octane. Tons of new cosmetic items, including skins for Octane, come with the update and make for a pretty substantial update to Respawn Entertainment's battle royale shooter. But hidden behind all the flash of new stuff to earn and buy is another significant change players have been waiting for. That's an adjustment to character hit boxes that should make big characters like Gibraltar, Caustic, and Pathfinder a lot more viable on the battlefield. Here's the rundown on what's new in today's update.

Respawn released the patch notes for the Season 1: Wild Frontier update on the Apex Legends subreddit. The notes give a little more detail on a few things, like how long Octane's abilities last, and included a bunch of quality-of-live improvements that are now part of the game as well. Arguably the biggest is the hit box change, though. According to Respawn, the hit boxes for Gibraltar, Caustic, and Pathfinder have been changed "to better align with their shapes."

Hit boxes are invisible shapes assigned to characters that register when they've been hit--if you shoot a character but your bullet lands outside their hit box (hitting, say, a hand or a piece of clothing), the hit doesn't count and the character takes no damage. Caustic and Gibraltar, being the biggest characters in Apex Legends, had the biggest hit boxes, but they were also apparently not quite in line with the character players see on screen. The same is true of the robot Pathfinder, whose hit box previously extended into places that didn't look like they should count as a hit, such as the space between his metal legs. The change should make all three characters a little tougher to hit, and therefore, more players will be likely to choose them going forward.

The new update also throws in a number of bug fixes, like patching a spot in Gibraltar's shield that wasn't blocking bullets and fixing a problem in which Pathfinder's zip line wouldn't deploy if players used it while jumping. There are a bunch of other quality-of-life changes that should make playing the game a bit easier for some people, like the ability to swap the functions of the left and right bumpers on controllers.

Another notable addition in this patch is the new ability to report people you suspect might be cheating. Players using hacks have been a problem for Apex on PC, and Respawn said in its patch notes it has banned just shy of 500,000 players for cheating. That's a pretty big number, but considering Respawn says 50 million people have downloaded the game, there might still be a long way to go in cleaning up the cheater problem.

You can read the full patch notes below. The update--and accompanying new content--is now live on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Apex Legends March 19 Update Patch NotesStability & Performance

We’ve got some fixes in this patch that will improve stability on PC but we know there are still issues out there we need to address. We also added crash reporting so we can better understand how to tackle the issues we haven’t solved yet and address future ones.

  • Improved stability for various GPU configurations.
  • Capped PC FPS to 300 to balance improving stability but still letting you folks enjoy those sweet frames.
  • Addressed issue with PS4 crashes due to running out of memory.
  • Introducing better reporting when Apex crashes on PC without error message.
    • We really want to fix any crashes people happen to get on PC. We also respect our player’s privacy. So, if the PC game crashes, it will write "apex_crash.txt" to your "Documents" folder. This tiny file is plain text, so you can easily see for yourself that it has no personal information. If you choose to share this file with us, it will tell us whether the crash was in Apex or in third party software. If the crash was in Apex, our programmers can use the information to find and fix it. If you experience a crash, please include this file when you report.
      • We protect your personal information.
      • You can easily see everything in the file yourself; we have no secrets.
      • You're in control of whether we ever see the file.
  • Added Report a Player feature for cheating and abuse on PC.
    • Players can now report cheaters they encounter in-game and it’ll be sent directly to Easy Anti-Cheat. You can do this from either the spectate view after dying or when looking at your team’s Banner Cards in the Squad tab.
    • We have lots of other work going on behind the scenes and this remains high priority for us. We won’t be able to share many specifics of what we’re doing but we’ll strive to provide updates on progress for the things we can talk about.
    • As I'm finishing the notes this morning, 499,937 accounts and counting have been banned for cheating.
    • Speed hacking: We do currently have anti-speed hacking in Apex Legends, but it’s not being as effective as intended due to a bug that we believe we’ve identified and will be addressing in our next server update. Will provide ETA for it when I have it. Working to get it out ASAP.
  • Added Report a Player for abuse on Consoles
    • You can report players from the spectate view after dying or when looking at your team’s Banner Cards in the Squad tab.
  • Optimized skydiving to improve overall server performance.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes the client could crash when opening Apex Packs one right after the other.

Quality Of Life
  • Added "Swap LT/RT & LB/RB" / "Swap L1/R1 & L2/R2") toggle in the Controller Button Layout settings.
    • Lets you quickly swap what your bumpers & triggers are set to, with any controller preset.

  • Added "Sprint View Shake" setting under the Video tab.
    • Setting this to "Minimal" can be especially helpful for players susceptible to motion sickness.

  • Added "Trigger Deadzones" setting under the Controller tab.
    • Customize how far you want to pull the triggers before they register.

  1. Added "Advanced Look Controls" settings submenu under the Controller tab.
    • Fine-tune specific aspects of the look controls for a custom feel; such as Deadzone, Response Curve, Target Compensation (aim assist), and more.

  • When you relinquish the Jumpmaster position to another player you will now hear your Legend’s VO line in addition to the new Jumpmaster. The third player won’t hear it though.
  • Pathfinder grapple: updated icon
  • Pathfinder grapple: added indicator near crosshair to show when player is in range of grapple-able geo
  • Improved mantling from a grapple point.
  • Pathfinder can now grapple ziplines.
  • We’ve added D-pad navigation as a convenience in most of the menus. Our hope is this will speed up browsing and improve accessibility.
  • UI improvements to the KO Shield
    • Shield bar drains to indicate the remaining health of the shield.
    • When you have a Gold KO Shield and are down, we’ve added an effect to the label that reminds you that you can self revive.
  • We saw that the Ring indicator that appears when players are viewing the whole map wasn’t accurately showing the player’s position so we fixed that.
  • Character animations while taking damage now accurately reflect the direction the damage is coming from.
  • Fixed a bug where occluded sounds would sometimes sound unoccluded.
  • Patched up some issues with missing geo on Kings Canyon and fixed a few spots where players were getting stuck.
  • Fixed a script error that could happen when removing attachments on holstered weapons.
  • General polish to game UI fixing some grammar issues, improved navigation, and composition of elements.
  • Fixed PC users constantly switching weapons while scrolling through items in a Death Box.
  • Fixed issue where we were seeing server stability issues sometimes caused by purchasing items while matchmaking.
  • Fixed script errors that could occur during the skydive.
  • Reduced skybox fog.
  • Adjusted the code for Supply Bins so they are less likely to kill players. If you do still get killed by one please let us know!
  • Made it so push-to-talk is no longer on when a chat box is active.
  • LT/RT no longer switches between players in spectator mode while the map is open.
  • Updated the minimap to more accurately reflect the geo and points of interest on the main map.
  • Adding sound FX to the UI for the key binding menu.
  • Fixed issue where a player’s name would not show up when they send a message that reached the character limit.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes the Champion screen resolution would be stretched in widescreen resolutions.
  • Fixed audio bug where sometimes the zipline sounds FX would keep playing after disembarking.
  • Added accessibility option to modify the subtitle size.
  • Improvements / fixes for color blind players:
    • Added better color blind support for Blood Hound’s Threat Vision.
    • Colorblind colors per setting are now displayed in the settings menu.
    • Colorblind settings moved from Video Settings to Gameplay->Accessibility. They are now applied on the fly.
    • Enemy pings now use proper enemy color instead of only using red.
  • Audio:
    • Turned down volume when Wraith activates a portal.
    • Turned down the end sounds on the Peacekeeper charged shot.
    • Turned down the draw/holster sound slightly for thermite grenades.

Legend Hit Box Adjustments
  • Adjusted hit boxes for Gibraltar, Caustic, and Pathfinder to better align with their shapes.

Weapons
  • Fixed players being able to shortcut weapon swap by changing stance
  • Fixed players being able to shortcut Peacekeeper rechamber sequence
  • Fixed inaccurate auto ranging fullscreen (sniper) optics when base FOV is not set to default
  • Spitfire: fixed ADS view on Legendaries partially obscured by custom geo. (The Continuum, The Heavy Construct)
  • Fixed ADS view being blocked when using Caustic legendary skins with certain weapon/ optic combos
  • Digital threat optics: threat highlights are now more visible (slightly brighter; no longer affected by TSAA)
  • Fixed bug where Devotion audio sometimes wouldn’t accurately reflect rate of fire.

Additional Bug Fixes
  • Fixed rare issue where a player could get stuck on the drop ship and be invulnerable.
  • Patched up the hole we found in Gibraltar’s shield.
  • Fixed issue where Lifeline’s revive shield wouldn’t stay put while on a moving platform.
  • Fixed issue where sometimes players would get stuck in map geometry while skydiving from the dropship or Jump Towers.
  • Fixed bug where players could still shoot even after being downed.
  • Fixed bug where occasionally Lifeline’s D.O.C. drone would stay connected to a player but not heal them.
  • Limited the amount of Lifeline’s D.O.C. drones that can connect to a player to 2.
  • Fixed Pathfinder’s zipline not deploying when jumping.
  • Fixed a bug with the HUD where sometimes the Heal Bar would stay up if the heal was cancelled right after it was started.
  • Fixed a bug where sometimes the audio would continue to play sound FX for the Knockdown Shield even after it’s been destroyed.
  • Fixed issue where sometimes players could get disconnected when unplugging their controller during a game.
  • Fixed the exploit where you could do infinite wallclimb using Pathfinder’s Grapple.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes you couldn’t fire the Peacekeeper after riding a zip line.
  • Fixed issue where sometimes the skybox fog would not appear while spectating after you died.
  • Fixed bug where Banner Cards would show through walls occasionally when viewed through a very high FOV.
  • Fixed some odd light flickering that was happening on the ballon flags attached to Jump Towers.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes a player’s Banner Card would not show up after character select.
Razer Chroma Support

Apex Legends will now detect Razer Chroma peripherals and supported devices will now play animated colors that react to things you do in the game! Some examples:

  • Red lights during banner transitions.
  • While skydiving colors will tune to the color of your smoke trail.
  • Picking up loot.
  • Opening Apex Packs
  • Firing and taking damage.
  • Colors that flash when your Ultimate is ready.
  • And more!

Apex Legends' New Character Octane Is Live: Here's What He Can Do

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 03:18

The first new addition to Apex Legends' character roster is here along with its first season and its first battle pass. There are a lot of cool things coming with the battle pass, but the biggest change to the game is Octane, its newest character. Octane changes up the game with a focus on adrenaline--he's a character who benefits from moving fast, sacrificing health for speed. He can also change up the battlefield by getting characters into places they couldn't previously reach, and when facing him, expect to be looking up, since he can help enemy players descend on you from above.

Octane is an aggressive character, so if you're going to use him, expect to be in the fight a lot. He should operate similarly to Wraith, Bangalore, and Mirage, allowing you to close distance quickly with his speed abilities. It sounds like while Wraith and Mirage are positioned more as flanking characters who distract enemies, Octane operates more like Bangalore as a front-line fighter. His abilities should make him tougher to hit, and when you do take damage, you'll likely be able to deal with it more easily.

Like other characters, Octane packs three abilities: one passive, one activated by a button push, and one ultimate that takes a long time to charge up. Octane's active ability lets him boost his speed at the cost of his health, increasing his movement speed by 30% for six seconds. That allows you to jet around the battlefield, drawing fire or flanking enemies while being much tougher to hit. To counteract the fact that Octane is the only character who sacrifices his own health for his abilities, his passive ability slowly regenerates at a rate of one health point every two seconds. That should also help in tough battle situations if you're able to hide or get to safety, but you're short on healing items.

For an ultimate, Octane's ability should change a lot of battles. He can drop a launch pad on the ground that springs players through the air, allowing you to send your teammates flying in on enemy positions, or giving you a chance to bounce out of the battle and back to safety. The verticality is going to mean players will need to get used to looking up more when Octane is on the battlefield, since you never know when death might be descending from above.

We'll have more coverage of Octane coming soon, including a full guide on how to use him most effectively. Until then, check out our other character guides, as well as our Apex Legends pro tips and a rundown of things the game doesn't tell you.

The MCU's First Three Phases Have Been Officially Dubbed The Infinity Saga

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 03:09

With the end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the horizon, Marvel Studios come up with a very fitting name for the group of films that stretch from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame. The new moniker is also another sign that there are some big changes coming to the film series shortly.

As revealed in Empire Magazine (via IGN), the first 22 films in the MCU will become known as The Infinity Saga. Explaining the decision, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said, "We wanted to bring to a conclusion a series of movies in a way that had never been done before. Harry Potter had an ending because there were only so many books. Lord of the Rings too. But we thought, 22 movies in, wouldn't it be fun to bring some finality to the storyline."

The word finality is a scary one where this particular saga is concerned. After Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped half of the universe out of existence in Avengers: Infinity War, it seemed only logical that by the time Endgame's credits rolled, some members of the MCU would be dead for good. At this point no, there's no telling who it is--though one major theory posits that it's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) that will bite the dust once and for all.

Whatever happens in Endgame, though, it will be the end of the Infinity Saga. Whether that means it's the end of Infinity Stones in the MCU is a question that will be answered in time. Though we have some thoughts on what the future of the MCU will look like. Until then, get ready for Avengers: Endgame's April 26 release by checking out our latest trailer breakdown and deep dive into the character Kate Bishop and whether she'll appear in the movie.

Angry Birds AR Game Announced For iOS

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 03:00

Angry Birds developer Rovio has announced a new game in its popular bird-flinging franchise. Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, the series' first-ever step into augmented reality, is coming exclusively to iOS devices in late spring, with pre-orders opening in the App Store today, March 19.

Like other Angry Birds games, the object of Isle of Pigs is to slingshot your small flock of birds at increasingly complex block towers, toppling them over and crushing the pigs lurking within. The game is divided up into four themed worlds and is "initially launching with at least 40 levels," according to Rovio, suggesting more may be on the way.

Where Isle of Pigs differs from most other Angry Birds games is that it reinterprets the series' gameplay in a 3D space. Using Apple's ARKit technology, the game overlays the levels onto your surroundings, making them appear as though they were in the real-world. You still drag your finger on the screen to draw the slingshot back and fire your birds, but like the series' VR spin-off, you'll be doing so from a first-person perspective rather than a side-on view.

The AR tech also allows you to get a 360-degree view of each level. You can maneuver your iPhone or iPad around to better angle your shots, and many levels feature explosive blocks and other items hidden around the back, encouraging you to play around with the angle in order to clear the stages in as few shots as possible.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs will be free to download when it launches, with optional in-app purchases. The game will be compatible with any iOS device that supports ARKit, meaning it can run on iPhone 6 and newer models, as well as fifth- and sixth-generation iPads and all iPad Pro devices.

Anthem Launch "Rougher Than Expected," BioWare Still Committed

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 02:27

Anthem's launch had its share of issues, from crash bugs to weapon balance bugs and more. Now BioWare general manager Casey Hudson has conceded to the launch issues while also recommitting to long-term support.

In a post-launch update on the BioWare Blog, Hudson says it was a "rougher launch than expected," and says that the studio was "ready for the possibility that unexpected issues might arise." In a broader sense, he said that the degree of the problems didn't become apparent until the scale of players had increased, and that the studio shares in the community's disappointment at these issues.

"It makes me sad to hear about any issues that would hold someone back from fully enjoying the game," Hudson said. "I take that very personally, and it’s been our top priority to get improvements out to you in the fastest, safest way."

He then transitioned to plans for the future, explaining that improvements are coming to endgame loot, game flow, and stability. This is in addition to adding more world events and story content, as outlined in its roadmap.

"But we understand there is skepticism out there," he continued. "We hear the criticisms and doubts. But we’ll keep going anyway, working hard every day on Anthem – an ever-changing world, constantly improving and growing, and supported well into the future by our team of passionate developers."

Anthem's rocky launch has included crashing PS4 consoles that forced Sony to issue refunds, an update inadvertently broke the game, and mediocre reviews. At one point a bug made Legendary and Masterwork items more common, and BioWare irked players by fixing it. The studio later issued a patch that adjusted drop rates more intentionally.

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