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Dauntless Officially Launches Out Of Beta With Cross-Play Support

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 02:20

The action-RPG Dauntless has officially launched, ending a year-long open beta. The free-to-play game is now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC through the Epic Games Store. Phoenix Labs notes that this official launch fulfills its promise of cross-platform functionality, letting you play with friends regardless of platform or take your account with you.

The launch also comes alongside several updates. A new Mastery system lets you refine your skills and achieve rewards, and each Behemoth and weapon have their own unique Mastery cards to customize. The campaign has also been revised, and the update includes the new Season 5 Hunt Pass, named Hidden Blades. Hidden Blades opens a Moon Blossom festival and unlocks a bunch of new cosmetic rewards as you work your way through the levels.

As previously announced, this update launches alongside the new Arcslayer pack. It comes with a set of mech-inspired armor, consumables, and some premium currency. Switch and mobile versions are in development but a release date for either has not been announced.

"No one has ever launched on console with full cross-play support from the start, but we believed in our vision and, thankfully, our friends at Epic Games, Sony, and Microsoft did too," said Phoenix CEO Jesse Houston. "Keeping the community connected is one of our top priorities, and with all the new players coming in at launch, there's never been a better time to be a Slayer in Dauntless."

Black Mirror Season 5: "Striking Vipers" Trailer Features An Unhappily Married Marvel Star

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:58

Fans of Netflix's acclaimed sci-fi satire Black Mirror had much to celebrate last week when the company announced that Season 5 will be released on June 5. The first trailer was very impressive but it edited all three of the new stories together, and it wasn't always clear what the episodes would be about. But now individual trailers and details for each episode have been released.

The episode titled "Striking Vipers" features a trio of actors best known for their roles in superhero movies. Avengers star Anthony Mackie, Aquaman's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Guardians of the Galaxy's Pom Klementieff feature in the episodes. Netflix's synopsis states that it focuses on "two estranged college friends who reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever." This promo actually reveals less than the first trailer, which included shots of a VR-style fighting game, but it still looks very intriguing. Check it out below.

The other episodes in the new season of Black Mirror are titled "Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too," and "Smithereens." The former stars Miley Cyrus as a pop star whose "charmed existence isn't quite as rosy it appears," with Madison Davenport (Sharp Objects) as a teenage fan, while "Smithereens" features Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Topher Grace (Blackkklansman) and looks at the dangers of app addictions.

Black Mirror Season 5 will be the first release from the show since the interactive special Bandersnatch, which hit the service in December 2018. Prior to that, Season 4 was released in December 2017. For more on Black Mirror, check out our look at the most WTF moments in Season 4 and all the Season 4 Easter Eggs.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Online Adds More PS4 Timed-Exclusive Content

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:40

Red Dead Redemption 2's multiplayer mode, Red Dead Online, received a huge update last week, finally bringing it out of its beta phase. Rockstar has now rolled out another update for the online mode, introducing yet more Free Roam missions and other content--including a new batch of timed-exclusive goodies for PS4.

With this week's RDO update, PS4 players have early access to a brand-new weapon, the "devastating" Ancient Tomahawk. You can pick one up for free from your local Fence, regardless of your rank. Going along with it is a new Showdown mode called Make It Count, a battle royale-style free-for-all that has players vying to be the last one standing on a shrinking battlefield using nothing but the Ancient Tomahawk.

Additionally, PS4 players can pick up the Perlino Andalusian Horse, which has higher stamina than a standard steed. There's also a new assortment of clothing and emotes, as well as a second brand-new Showdown mode, Last Stand. This mode has players fighting to survive in frantic two-minute rounds. You can read more details on the PlayStation Blog.

On top of the new content, Rockstar is extending a special offer for PS4 players. Those without a PS Plus subscription, which you typically need in order to play online games on the console, will be able to jump into Red Dead Online for free until May 27. You'll still need to own a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 to get access to Red Dead Online, but you'll be able to try its online mode out for a limited time at no cost. You'll also be able to get a discount on a PS Plus subscription if you decide to sign up after the trial period.

Like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and a handful of other games, Red Dead Online offers some timed-exclusive content for PS4. Those playing on Sony's console get early access to select weapons, modes, and other things 30 days before they go live on Xbox One. Past timed-exclusive content included the Red Chestnut Arabian Horse and the Open Target Races mode.

Rockstar has more updates in store for Red Dead Online over the next few weeks. On May 28, the developer is introducing another new Showdown mode, Head for the Hills, as well as a Wild Animal Kills Free Roam challenge. You can read more about what's on the way to Red Dead Online soon on Rockstar's website.

Black Mirror Season 5: "Rachel, Jack And Ashley, Too" Trailer Features Miley Cyrus Robo-Doll

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:38

The sci-fi anthology satire Black Mirror is set to return to Netflix on June 5, and following last week's first trailer, we now know more about the three new episodes. While the first promo didn't always make it clear what the individual stories would be, the streaming giant has now released separate details and trailers for each episode.

The episode featuring pop star Miley Cyrus is titled "Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too." Cyrus plays--you guess it--a pop star, but one whose public persona and private life seem very different. In addition, she's loaned her name and voice to a series of sinister robo-dolls, which a lonely teenager called Rachel (Madison Davenport) has recently acquired. Check the trailer out below.

The other episodes in the new season of Black Mirror are titled "Smithereens" and "Striking Vipers." The former stars Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Topher Grace (Blackkklansman) and looks at the dangers of app addiction, while "Striking Vipers" features Marvel stars Anthony Mackie and Pom Klementieff, alongside Aquaman's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. According to the official synopsis, this episode focuses on two estranged college friends who "reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever."

Black Mirror Season 5 will be the first release from the show since the interactive special Bandersnatch, which hit the service in December 2018. Prior to that, Season 4 was released in December 2017. For more on Black Mirror, check out our look at the most WTF moments in Season 4 and all the Season 4 Easter Eggs.

This Week's New Movie Releases In Stores And Digitally

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:22

If you're looking for something new to watch at home but don't want to wait until it releases on one of the various streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Netflix, then you're probably aware that each week, various digital storefronts release new movies. Additionally, on Tuesdays, physical copies of movies come out at various retailers as well.

This is a pretty light week for releases on both the digital and physical fronts. If you don't subscribe to Netflix--which feels like a weird statement--and you want to check out one of the service's more popular series, Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why is available for purchase today. The show follows teenagers at a high school and how they deal with the suicide of one of their peers. There aren't a lot of other notable releases, aside from Tyler Perry's latest Madea movie.

If you want to head to an actual store--or just jump on Amazon--you can pick up The Upside or the latest How To Train Your Dragon movie. However, one of the most fun releases this week is Isn't It Romantic. Rebel Wilson stars as a woman stuck in a rut who somehow gets transported into a typical romantic comedy, but only she realizes this. Her cynicism drives the comedy in the film, and it's the perfect date movie, with a little something for everyone. It may drag at times, and it flat out becomes a rom-com towards the end, but this is still a solid watch.

Below, you'll find the full list for this week's releases, both digitally and physically. There are also links to connect you to purchase them if you like.


Some links to supporting retailers are automatically made into affiliate links, and GameSpot may receive a small share of those sales.

Get A Free Game With Purchase Of Nintendo 2DS Bundle

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:22

We're well into the era of the Nintendo Switch, but there's still a nostalgic charm to Nintendo's handheld consoles of the past. Released in 2013, the Nintendo 2DS isn't that old, but even at the time it was released, it felt like a step back from the 3D technology introduced with its predecessor, the 3DS. The 2DS was marketed as a more affordable option ($40 cheaper than the 3DS at launch), and some find the tablet shape more comfortable than the 3DS' clamshell design.

If you've been wanting to pick up a Nintendo 2DS, GameStop currently has a great deal on the handheld console. When you purchase a 2DS bundle with New Super Mario Bros. 2, you'll also receive your choice of a free game. The free games available include:

Each of the above games sells for $20 at GameStop (and New Super Mario Bros. 2 sells for $30 on its own), so getting a brand-new (not refurbished) 2DS with two games for $80 is a pretty solid deal. This offer expires Sunday, May 26, so act fast if you want to claim it. You'll have to add both the console bundle and your selected game to your cart, where you'll see the discount applied.

As a reminder, the 2DS can play both DS and 3DS games; it'll just show the 2D visuals. The handheld is a perfect way to revisit some of the best games of the 3DS era, and it also makes a great gift for young ones who are just getting into gaming.


Black Mirror Season 5: "Smithereens" Trailer Confronts App Addiction

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 01:20

Last week it was announced that the sci-fi anthology satire Black Mirror will be returning to Netflix on June 5. Season 5 will consist of three new episodes and while the first trailer was very impressive, it wasn't always clear what the individual stories would be. Now Netflix has released separate trailers and details for each episode.

The first trailer is the episode that opened that initial promo. It's titled "Smithereens," and the official synopsis states that it focuses on a "cab driver with an agenda who becomes the centre of attention on a day that rapidly spirals out of control." This episode stars Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Spectre), Topher Grace (Blackkklansman), and Damson Idris (The Twilight Zone) and seems to center on the dangers of app addiction. Check it out below:

The other episodes in the new season of Black Mirror are titled "Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too," and "Striking Vipers." The former stars Miley Cyrus as a pop star whose "charmed existence isn't quite as rosy it appears," with Madison Davenport (Sharp Objects) as a teenage fan. "Striking Vipers," meanwhile, features Marvel stars Anthony Mackie and Pom Klementieff, alongside Aquaman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. This episode centers on "two estranged college friends who reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever."

Black Mirror Season 5 will be the first release from the show since the interactive special Bandersnatch, which hit the service in December 2018. Prior to that, Season 4 was released in December 2017. For more on Black Mirror, check out our look at the most WTF moments in Season 4 and all the Season 4 Easter Eggs.

Stranger Things Season 3 Clip Celebrates Summer In Hawkins

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 23:06

The return of Stranger Things is one of the big TV events of the year, and it's now only six weeks from release. Following the recent batch of new character posters, Netflix has revealed the first clip from the season.

We've known for some time that Season 3 is set during the summer of 1985. This first clip is set by the pool, where bad boy Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) is working as a lifeguard, much to the delight of various admirers, including Nancy and Mike's mom Karen (Cara Buono). It's very funny and is set to the classic Cars song "Moving In Stereo." 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 and 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.

For more on Stranger Things Season 3, check out the first trailer and this early teaser and poster, plus GameSpot's look at everything we've learnt about the season so far.

Falcon & Winter Soldier Show Adds Key Marvel Characters

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 22:04

Disney's streaming platform, Disney+, is set to launch in the fall, and the studio's biggest properties are all getting new TV shows. Among them, several Marvel shows are on the way, including a series focusing the Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are set to play the characters once more, and some of the supporting cast has now been revealed.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Brühl and Emily Van Camp will reprise their roles from 2016's Captain America: Civil War. Bruhl plays the villainous Baron Zemo, while Van Camp will appear as Sharon Carter. Van Camp also appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

In addition, Falcon & Winter Soldier will be directed by Kari Skogland, whose extensive TV credits include The Handmaid's Tale, Fear the Walking Dead, The Punisher, and House of Cards. It will be written by Empire's Malcolm Spellman and will run for six episodes.

Although it was first rumored back in December, Falcon & Winter Soldier wasn't confirmed until last month. The logo was revealed during a presentation of the Disney+ app at the studio's Investor Day webinar.

Other Marvel series in the works for Disney + include shows focusing on Loki, Vision and Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye. No release dates have been announced so far, but we will almost certainly see some in 2020. Disney+ launches on November 12 with a subscription price of $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a year.

In related news, Avengers: Endgame continues to do incredible business at the worldwide box office. It is now the second most successful movie ever released in the US, beating James Cameron's Avatar, and second only to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

George R.R. Martin Teases New Game That Could Be Developed By From Software

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 15:37

HBO's Game of Thrones is officially over, but the series is continuing with a two-hour documentary on May 26 and then potentially a new prequel TV show. Outside of TV, author George R.R. Martin is keeping busy. He wrote on his blog that he did some consulting work on a video game from a studio in Japan. He never says it is a Game of Thrones game, so he may only be doing consulting work for writing or other world-building, but it's still exciting to think about.

Martin said this mysterious game is being developed "out of Japan." Gematsu reports that Sekiro, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls developer FromSoftware is working on the game, which is an open-world title featuring horse-riding. Hidetaka Miyazaki is reportedly working on the title with Martin. It remains to be seen if it is a Game of Thrones game, however.

The game is said to be published by Bandai Namco, with a reveal at Microsoft's E3 2019 briefing planned for June. The game has reportedly been in development for three years. Gematsu notes that it only confirmed this information with a single source but decided to publish its story in light of Martin's blog post revealing a new game in development by a Japanese studio.

It would definitely be an intriguing development to learn that From Software was working on a new title from Hidetaka Miyazaki with the help of George R.R. Martin, even if it isn't a Game of Thrones game. It is the kind of announcement that would be a huge get for Microsoft if it were to premiere at the Xbox E3 briefing. Even if the cat is out of the bag now--if this is even real--it's exciting to think about.

From Software's latest big release was Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which was published by Call of Duty publisher Activision. The game was received well by critics and it sold more than 2 million copies around the world in less than 10 days.

Correction: this story originally incorrectly stated that From Software's title could be a Game of Thrones game. The only suggestion is that Martin is working with From Software on a new video game project of some kind.

Game Of Thrones TV Show Ending Might Not Be Same As The Book, GRRM Says

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 15:20

The Game of Thrones series finale, "The Iron Throne," aired on Sunday and it was divisive. Not everyone enjoyed how writers/showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff wrapped things up for the show that began back in 2011.

The book series on which the show is based, George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire," however, might have a different ending. The author wrote on his blog today that the ending to his book series, which finishes with The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, might be different than the TV show.

Or maybe not.

First off, he said he knows he's late with The Winds of Winter, but he promises that "it will be done." He isn't ready to commit to a release date, but he stressed that it will be finished, and then A Dream of Spring will follow. But how will it all end?

"The same ending as the show? Different? Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes," Martin said. "I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget. They had eight hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I'm done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I'll add them. And of course the butterfly effect will be at work as well; those of you who follow [my blog] will know that I've been talking about that since season one."

Martin added: "There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… so if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet. And yes, there will be unicorns… of a sort…"

But what will be the "real" ending to Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire? Martin says that is a "silly question." Instead, Martin said fans should get comfortable, sit back, and buy his books to find out how it all ends.

"How about this? I'll write it. You read it. Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet," he said.

For lots more on Game of Thrones, check out GameSpot's recap of the series finale in the video embedded above. You can also read GameSpot's The Iron Throne review here.

Please Don't Spoil Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Tarantino Says

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:51

Quentin Tarantino's ninth movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is premiering this week at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Tarantino is now speaking up to urge those fortunate enough to see it early to keep their lips shut so as to preserve the "journey of discovering a story for the first time." The movie doesn't have its public premiere until July.

In a note posted on Twitter, Tarantino said, "I love cinema. You love cinema. It's the journey of discovering a story for the first time. I'm thrilled to be here in Cannes to share 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," with the festival audience. The cast and crew have worked so hard to create something original, and I only ask that everyone avoids revealing anything that would prevent later audiences from experiencing the film in the same way. Thank you."


— Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (@OnceInHollywood) May 20, 2019

The Cannes Film Festival is a special place for Tarantino. One of his earlier movies, Pulp Fiction, won the show's Palme d'Or award years ago that helped make Tarantino a big name.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells a Pulp Fiction-style story that features intersecting stories set in Los Angeles during 1969. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, who is the struggling former star of a Western TV show, while Brad Pitt plays his stunt double Cliff Booth. Rick's neighbour is Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), who was murdered by the family of Charles Manson (Damon Herriman).

The movie is due in theatres on July 26. It also features 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 might be one of Tarantino's 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.

PS5 Will Offer "Transformative" Gaming Experiences; Faster Load Times Shown Off In New Video

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:16

Sony has again provided some new details on its next-generation console. As part of Sony's Corporate Strategy Meeting today, the company discussed at a high level what it hopes to achieve in the future across its various business units, including PlayStation.

The two keywords for PlayStation going forward are "immersive" and "seamless," Sony said. Concerning hardware, Sony said its next-generation console, the PlayStation 5, will offer an "immersive experience created by dramatically increased graphics rendering speeds."

This will be made possible through the "employment of further improved computational power and a customized ultra-fast, broadband SSD," Sony said.

Overall, the PlayStation 5--or whatever Sony ends up calling its new console--will offer experiences that "greatly exceed" what is possible on PS4 and PS4 Pro. Sony said people can expect "completely transformative and immersive gaming experiences" on the PS5.

One of the features that PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny talked about for the PS5 is how its use of solid-state drives will reduce loading screen times.

Cerny pointed out that the fast travel loading screen in Spider-Man on PS4 took roughly 15 seconds on a PS4 Pro, but less than one second on a dev kit for the PS5. Given that the new hardware will be backwards compatible with older games, that means your load times will likely be reduced across the board when you upgrade. Check out the video below from The Wall Street Journal report Takashi Mochizuki who is attending the Sony event today to see the faster load times in action.

Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation

— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) May 21, 2019

Cerny also talked about how the PS5 will allow for faster rendering, which means more environmental objects and textures will populate at a faster rate. In the presentation today, Sony said the PS5 will offer "many new features" beyond these advancements to loading and rendering, though none were mentioned.

Also during the presentation, Sony said it expects the PS4 to reach sales of 100 million units by the end of the 2019 calendar year. PS4 sales currently stand at 96.8 million systems sold. PlayStation Network has 94 million monthly active users, the company said.

Additionally, Sony management talked about how streaming will play a big role in the PlayStation brand going forward. The PS5 will support Remote Play functionality, Sony confirmed, while management also said it's looking to its new deal with Microsoft for cloud-gaming solutions to play a role in the company's future success in that area. Sony of course already operates the PlayStation Now streaming service (which has 700,000 subscribers by Sony's latest count), but it appears the company has bigger and bolder plans in the future.

Sony is not attending E3 2019 next month, so the company presumably won't be announcing the PlayStation 5 there. The PlayStation 5 will have an "appealing" price point given its specs, according to Cerny, but there is no ballpark estimate yet regarding what the price may be.

As for the release date of the PlayStation 5, Sony has said it will not release in the next fiscal year, which means it won't launch April 2020 at the soonest.

Bran's Ending In Game Of Thrones' Finale Might Make More Sense In The Books

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:14

Game of Thrones Season 8 is over, for better or worse. The finale made some pretty unexpected moves, perhaps most of all placing Bran on the throne (well, a throne, not the Throne). How the show reached that point, and what it all means, is a topic we could (and honestly will) debate for years to come. But the big question looming over all of this is: Will the ending be the same in the books, once author George R.R. Martin actually finishes writing them?

Bran ascending to rule Westeros (six of the seven kingdoms, at least) makes a certain amount of sense in the show. In communing with the Three-Eyed Raven beyond the Wall, Bran gained powers that allowed him to view events from throughout history, past and present, anywhere in the world. Once every character in the show accepted that Bran has these powers and thus has more knowledge than anyone else could ever hope to gain, the lords of Westeros all agreeing to crown him king is a logical move. It's not totally clear why Bran did many of the things that he did (or didn't do) over the last few seasons, besides a vague sense that everything happened for a reason.

If you're a glass-half-full type of viewer, you might choose to believe that Bran spent several years playing puppet master with the goal of becoming king because he's ultimately benevolent. Bran has seen every possible future, and he knows that, despite the horrors that have occurred along the way, this was the best path in the end, because he'll be a good ruler and avoid even more bloodshed in the future. It's the fantasy version of Doctor Strange's "one in 14 million" path forward in Avengers: Infinity War.

There's one key difference, though: Doctor Strange didn't peer into 14 million possible futures and then pick the one where he becomes emperor of the galaxy. Did Bran manipulate events throughout Game of Thrones to achieve the best possible ending for everyone--least lives lost, most wars averted, etc.--or was the purpose of his machinations simply to put himself in power, no matter the cost?

If Bran was meant to be evil in the end, the show did a pretty bad job explaining how he got that way. I don't believe that's the case, but things might turn out very differently in the next book, The Winds of Winter--even if on the surface, they appear to turn out the same. It all has to do with the Three-Eyed Raven's real identity, Bran's warging/skinchanging abilities, and another possible meaning of the "song of ice and fire."

Who Is The Three-Eyed Raven?

The entire storyline around the Three-Eyed Raven is one area in which Game of Thrones simply missed its mark. If you only watch the show, you probably know roughly three things about this character: He was played by two different actors across two seasons (Struan Rodger and Max von Sydow), he lived in a cave north of the Wall, and he didn't much care for the Night King.

His story is so much better in the books, where he's known as the Three-Eyed Crow--and where he has an actual identity beyond teaching Bran how to do magic and be weird. In the books, the Three-Eyed Crow is actually Brynden Rivers, or Lord Bloodraven--a Targaryen bastard who served as Hand to multiple Targaryen kings, remained loyal to the Targaryens through several rebellions of a splinter faction called the Blackfyres, and was eventually arrested and sent off to the Night's Watch. There, he rose through the ranks to become Lord Commander, but disappeared while ranging north of the Wall (not unlike Ned Stark's brother Benjen).

When Bran meets Bloodraven in that cave in the far north, the Targaryen bastard is around 125 years old. Obviously, that's far beyond a normal human's lifespan; the sorcerer is essentially a living corpse, with a weirwood tree growing around and through him, roots snaking in and out of the empty socket where he lost an eye in a duel with his half-brother Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers over 100 years earlier. (There's a saying that Bloodraven, a spymaster and skinchanger, had "a thousand eyes, and one.") He also has a distinctive winestain birthmark on one cheek--the source of his name, as it apparently resembles a bird.

(I should stop here to note that, technically, the Three-Eyed Crow and Bloodraven being the same person isn't 100% confirmed yet in the books, although the amount of evidence and clues that point to this theory being fact is overwhelmingly convincing.)

Why does any of this matter?

It's been established that author George R.R. Martin gave Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, at the very minimum, the basic gist of his story outline, so that they could work toward the same ending even as the show passed the books. But "Bran is king in the end" might not be the exact same ending George has in mind.

In the books, Bran was still chilling in that cave with the Three-Eyed Crow the last we saw. The show passed the books when Bran escaped the Night King's attack there, was rescued by Benjen, and headed back down South. Afterward, Bran was clearly changed: He no longer seemed like himself, and even made cryptic statements about how he wasn't really Bran anymore.

Read next: Game Of Thrones Season 8 Makes A Lot More Sense If Bran Is Evil

If we assume that some or all of these details came directly from the original author's still-unpublished book material, then there are some logical leaps we can make. I'll shout-out here to Twitter user T.J. Hafer, who started me thinking about this theory.

What if Bran really isn't Bran anymore? What if the Three-Eyed Crow isn't a benevolent being who wants to help Bran fight the White Walkers (the "Others" in the books), but simply another player of the game of thrones vying for power? The books are full of Targaryens and Targaryen loyalists who want to see their dynasty returned to glory, many of whom are not present in the show, and Bloodraven might be simply one more--albeit one playing a very long game.

Bloodraven may have sensed Bran's latent magical abilities and lured him north of the Wall so that he could get close to the Stark boy--and steal his body. It's been suggested--and this is how it seemed to work in the show--that "Three-Eyed Raven" is a mantle that can be passed from character to character. But what if becoming the Three-Eyed Crow really means that Bran literally becomes Bloodraven?

In the books, if Bran is really the Targaryen bastard Brynden Rivers in disguise when he returns southward, his actions throughout the rest of the series--if the novels play out at all like the show did--could make a lot more sense. Brandon Stark wouldn't sit around doing nothing while tens of thousands of innocent people died, but Bloodraven might, if it meant returning the Targaryens to power. In the book's history, Bloodraven traveled north to the Wall in the company of a young Maester Aemon--yes, the same Maester Aemon who's still alive in Jon and Sam's time. But unlike Aemon, Bloodraven may not have been content to let his family be snuffed out, even if it meant biding his time for decades and concocting a demented, complex plan to maneuver his way back to power in King's Landing.

And maybe the titular Song of Ice and Fire--although it still applies to Jon and Dany, too--could also symbolize the war between Bloodraven, a firey Targaryen, and the Others, who want to stop him from carrying his plan out for some reason. For book readers who have had a lot of time to speculate in between releases, these theories go deep--there are rabbit holes involving things like the Stark family's connections to the Others, and that may all play into this as well.

One thing I know for sure is that the ending as presented on the show--that Bran appeared to manipulate the other characters by selectively revealing bits and pieces of information only when it suited him and allowed tens of thousands of people to die horribly so he could be a Good, Just King--doesn't sit quite right with me. Whether the series' true ending is something that fans have already predicted, exactly the same as the show or completely different, or even something that no one has yet foreseen, we'll simply have to wait to find out.

Read next: Game Of Thrones Season 8 Finale: 36 Easter Eggs And References You Might Have Missed

Game Of Thrones Spinoffs -- Everything We Know

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 10:17

The mainline Game of Thrones show is over. Sunday night's finale, "The Iron Throne," wrapped up the story that began back in 2011. People were divided on the episode, but whatever the case, it was a huge ratings success with more than 19 million viewers to set a new series record.

While the main show is over, a two-hour documentary is coming next week. After that, HBO has multiple prequel spinoff programs--or "successor shows," as George R.R. Martin calls them--in the works that are scheduled to debut at some point in the future.

Here is a brief breakdown of everything we know about the Game of Thrones spinoffs.

HBO initially announced that it was working on scripts for as many as five different Game of Thrones spinoffs, though the network never committed to actually producing that many. HBO announced in 2017 that it had commissioned pitch scripts for shows to be run by Jane Goldman, Max Borenstein, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray. Goldman's show is being made (or at least a pilot; more on that later), but it's unclear what the status is of the other projects.

The latest update from George R.R. Martin, who is involved with the spinoffs as a producer, is that three of the five shows are coming along well. The highest-profile show that we know about is the one starring Naomi Watts that is reportedly scheduled to begin shooting this year.

Martin wrote on his blog that the Naomi Watts Game of Thrones prequel is called The Long Night, though he later walked that back, so the name could change. Whatever the title is, the show is set thousands of years before the mainline HBO show and concerns legendary characters like Bran the Builder, founder of House Stark, and Lann the Clever, founder of House Lannister. None of the characters from HBO's mainline Game of Thrones show are expected to appear in the prequels.

The title Martin mentioned, the Long Night, refers to a winter that lasted a generation--which also included the first war with the White Walkers. The program's showrunner is Jane Goldman, who worked on Kingsman and the X-Men film series. The pilot episode will be directed by S.J. Clarkson who directed episodes of Jessica Jones and The Defenders

The other two shows are still working on scripts, but there is no word yet on the stories they'll tell or who may star in them. Martin teased that at least one might concern the Targaryen dynasty, which is covered in the recently released companion book, "Fire & Blood."

"We have had five different Game of Thrones successor shows in development (I mislike the term 'spinoffs') at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely," Martin said. "The one I am not supposed to call The Long Night will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer. What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of Fire & Blood and come up with your own theories."

In terms of what the new show could cover for its story, the 300-year history of the Targaryens in Westeros make up a rich tapestry of storytelling opportunities. Aegon Targaryen's original conquest of the Seven Kingdoms would be pretty intense, but there's also the Dance of Dragons, when a Targaryen prince battled a princess over who would succeed their father on the Iron Throne, and the Blackfyre Rebellion, when a bunch of legitimized Targaryen bastards banded together to overthrow the trueborn Targaryens.

Before you get too excited, remember that HBO has only ordered a pilot for the Naomi Watts Game of Thrones successor show, so it remains to be seen if it will get picked up to series. As you may recall, the pilot episode of Game of Thrones was problematic and had to undergo reshoots. Not only that, but HBO recast Daenarys and Catelyn Stark after the original pilot, which never aired. Tamzin Merchant played Daenerys in the pilot, while Jennifer Ehle portrayed Catelyn Stark in roles that were later given to Emilia Clarke and Michelle Fairley respectively.

One of the Game of Thrones prequels that will not happen is the one from Game of Thrones series producer Bryan Cogman. He said recently that HBO has decided to not move forward with his idea. Cogman recently signed a deal with Amazon to work on their network of shows going forward.

It's not immediately clear why HBO decided to pass on Cogman's Game of Thrones prequel idea, but HBO programming boss Casey Bloys previously talked about why the network was commissioning so many. "The idea was, if we're going to try it, let's take a couple of shots and see," he said. "My hope is at least one lives up to the level of quality [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] have set."

Benioff and Weiss are apparently not involved in the new Game of Thrones prequels. They are currently working on a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, the first of which is scheduled to premiere in 2022.

Game Of Thrones Season 8 Makes A Lot More Sense If Bran Is Evil

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 09:57

The finale episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 is here, and at last, the question of who will sit the Iron Throne has been answered. Fans, viewers, and Las Vegas have speculated about which character would ultimately rule since the show's beginning, with all kinds of callbacks and Easter eggs providing clues along the way. Plenty of characters have tried to manipulate their way to power over the years, only to ultimately fail (and die, often horribly).

So the fact that Bran Stark wound up the ruler of Westeros is somewhat confusing. He's an entirely unassuming choice, having seemingly done very little since he became the new Three-Eyed Raven way back in Season 6. Though Bran has the ability to warg into animals (and sometimes people) and to know about seemingly anything that's happening anywhere, he seems to rarely use these powers, and hasn't been very involved in the goings-on of Westeros. He outed Littlefinger in Season 7, provided some information about dealing with the Night King, and helped Jon learn about his true identity, but that's about it. Bran came off as a good choice for the ruler of Westeros because it's seemingly not a job he wants ("I don't really 'want' anymore," he said earlier in Season 8), because he's supposedly wise, and because he's distant and therefore can be objective and just.

But some viewers are questioning the choice of Bran in the end, because it doesn't make a ton of sense. For someone who knows seemingly everything, Bran hasn't spent much time this season helping anyone. He did little during Season 7, he did nothing during the Battle of Winterfell, and what information he has provided hasn't been all that useful. What makes him such a good choice for king, other than the fact that he's a great compromise to keep the power away from everyone else?

The fact that Bran hasn't had much going on since Season 6 has bothered a lot of viewers, and now to have him wind up on the throne seemingly by default is even less satisfying. Bran does say one thing that suggests he knows more than he's letting on, though. During the council to choose the new king, when Tyrion asks Bran if he's up for the job, Bran responds, "Why do you think I came all this way?" Once again, Bran suggests he knew something would happen before it did, so why isn't he using that information more effectively?

If you think about it, Bran's actions--and more aptly, his inaction--have constantly and subtly pushed in the direction of him becoming king. Season 8 makes a lot more sense if you consider that Bran might have been manipulating events for his own benefit all along. After all, he could have saved a lot more lives along the way, if that had been his goal. But what if it wasn't?

Bran the Deceiver

Consider Bran's actions during the Battle of Winterfell. Though he can warg into animals and get a bird's eye view of the battle, which could then allow him to pass useful intelligence to the fighters defending the castle, Bran does nothing. He just sits in the godswood, quietly using himself as bait for the Night King. If he could have helped, why didn't he? Maybe because Bran foresaw several key deaths that would help bolster his position.

The Battle of Winterfell saw so many of Daenerys's forces eliminated that she was suddenly on even ground with the Lannisters. She also lost Jorah Mormont, her most trusted adviser and most capable protector. Other key deaths during the battle included a popular and capable leader in Lyanna Mormont, who was known to sway public opinion with gripping speeches, and Theon Greyjoy, who had a history with Sansa Stark that could divide her loyalties. Key people who might have changed the rest of the events of Season 8 were lost during the battle.

Bran also helps provide Jon with the information about his true parentage, even though that does nothing but complicate an already strained wartime situation. It's Bran who convinces Samwell Tarly to tell Jon the truth about who his parents were, which instantly puts Jon into conflict with Dany even though he's already pledged her his loyalty, bent the knee, and given up being King in the North for her. Jon has a better claim to the Iron Throne than Dany, but it's obvious he doesn't want to rule. Why tell Jon about his parents at all, or at least, why tell him right before he fights a battle that could mean the destruction of all of Westeros? It seems like a bad move that doesn't help anyone, unless you consider that Bran wants to sow discord and push Daenerys over the edge.

Losing Ser Jorah leaves Daenerys without her best bodyguard and without the man who had often acted as the voice of reason against her worst impulses, right when Dany is within sight of her goal, and right when the biggest threat to her claim to the throne, Jon, is suddenly revealed. Daenerys then loses her dragon Rhaegal and her close friend and adviser Missandei to a sneak attack at Dragonstone--again, something that seems like a guy who can become a bird and see things anywhere in the world could have helped her avoid.

That puts Daenerys at King's Landing in a fraught state. Her enemies have killed her best people, her advisers are turning on her, her dragons are dead, she hasn't won any loyalty despite helping beat the army of the dead, and the man she loves could challenge her pursuit of the goal she spent her life chasing. She's primed to do something terrible, and Bran could have stopped any or all of those circumstances from coming to pass with his superpowers. But he doesn't.

Playing The Long Game

Really, the events of Season 8 make a lot more sense if you assume Bran is manipulating people on purpose, Littlefinger-style. He tells Jon that he's actually Aegon Targaryen knowing that at the very least, it'll create distrust between him and Daenerys. He lets lots of people die fighting the army of the dead because he wants them gone, but sets up Arya to kill the Night King (he gave her that Valryian steel dagger, don't forget) to eliminate one of his chief adversaries. He allows Dany to lose her armies and her dragons to weaken her. He doesn't provide any of his family members with information about King's Landing or their enemies that could help them take the city with less bloodshed. Everything he does or doesn't do sets up the opportunity for Cersei, Dany, and Jon to eliminate each other, and nothing he does or doesn't do saves lives or de-escalates that conflict.

There's even a fan theory to go with this idea, but it's based more on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels than what's in the show. It concerns the true identity of the Three-Eyed Raven: a Targaryen bastard called Brynden Rivers, also known as the Bloodraven. With his greensight and warg powers, the theory goes, the Bloodraven could have lured Bran north of the Wall and then taken over his body, executing a lengthy plan to take the Iron Throne for himself.

Fans have also speculated that Bran could become the Night King through some combination of time travel and magic ever since Season 6. The touch of the Night King has been enough to turn babies into White Walkers and dragons into wights, and the Night King pointedly touched Bran during a vision in Season 6 ("His mark is on me," Bran reminded us in Season 8). Maybe that touch had more of an effect on Bran than we all realized.

If Bran is evil, then his arc in Season 8 is a masterstroke of manipulation and careful inaction--everything Bran doesn't do matters as much as everything he does do. There's a reason he doesn't use his powers to help people in Season 8: He doesn't want to help them. And by doing very little, acting disinterested, and downplaying his magic abilities, Bran sets himself up to seem like an excellent choice for king. He gets the throne with no opposition because everyone else thinks it was their idea to crown him. Littlefinger couldn't have executed a better deception.

John Wick 4 Release Date Announced While Chapter 3 Is Still In Theatres

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 09:56

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum is still in theatres, but we're already learning about the sequel. It was confirmed today that John Wick 4 will open in theatres on May 21, 2021.

This was announced by way of a text message sent to fans and media (including here at GameSpot). It says: "You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming - May 21, 2021."

The ending to John Wick Chapter 3 certainly set up more stories to be told in the John Wick universe, so the announcement today is no surprise. Part of what drives the success of the series is star Keanu Reeves and stunt-coordinator-turned-director Chad Stahelski, so hopefully the pair return for the 2021 sequel.

John Wick Chapter 3 opened to around $57 million in North America to dethrone Avengers: Endgame and become the No. 1 movie.

In addition to John Wick Chapter 4, it was announced in 2017 that a spin-off film centered on a young female assassin was being developed. There is also a TV show; Starz is developing The Continental, a series set in the Los Angeles location of the franchise's infamous assassin hotel.

Game Of Thrones Finale The Iron Throne Set A New Ratings Record For The Show

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 09:32

Surprising no one, the Game of Thrones finale was a ratings smash. The episode, "The Iron Throne," attracted 19.3 million viewers across all platforms right away, HBO announced. This includes 13.6 million people who watched the linear TV broadcast on HBO, and the rest coming from replays and streaming.

The previous record for a linear broadcast episode on HBO was 13.4 million from Season 4 premiere of The Sopranos back in 2002. "The Iron Throne" is the most-watched episode of the final Game of Thrones season, surpassing "The Bells," which had 18.4 million viewers.

Overall, Game of Thrones Season 8 averaged 44.2 million viewers per episode after a week of viewing, which is up by more than 10 million over the average of Season 7.

HBO also announced that the show that follows Game of Thrones on HBO, Barry, reached 2.7 million viewers for its own season finale to reach an all-time series high. It is up 253 percent from the previous season's finale which attracted 774,000 viewers.

"The Iron Throne" was written and directed by Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. The pair are finished with Game of Thrones, but the series will continue through prequels, one of which stars Naomi Watts and begins filming this year. On May 26, HBO will air a two-hour Game of Thrones Season 8 documentary that promises to dive deep into the story behind how the final season came to be.

Weiss and Benioff are now working on a new Star Wars trilogy with Lucasfilm, the first instalment of which will premiere in 2022. They are also shopping around for a new "overall" deal with multiple different studios, according to a report.

For more on Episode 6, check out the show's latest coffee cup-style gaffe (this time featuring a pair of water bottles) and a reminder of who was at the council meeting (there were some faces present who we hadn't seen in years). For our thoughts on the final episode, check out our "The Iron Throne" review.

New Harry Potter Roller Coaster At Universal Studios: Check Out New Photos, Video, And More

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 07:02

The more Universal Studios Orlando reveals about their upcoming Harry Potter-themed roller coaster, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, the more exciting it looks. In addition to the incredibly lifelike animatronic of Hagrid, the theme park has revealed many new details about the immersive ride, as well as a bunch of new photos and a ride-along video of the attraction.

According to Universal Orlando Resort, the coaster is set in an actual forest made up of 1,200 living trees. It also breaks a few roller coaster records, including having the most launches in a single ride--there are seven--and featuring the first free-fall vertical drop on a coaster in the United States, which lets riders fall 17 feet without warning.

The ride is also story-driven, which is unlike what you'll find on most roller coasters. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is heavily themed and takes riders through numerous scenes as there encounter various elements from the Harry Potter franchise. An official ride description reads, "As they make their way to their enchanted motorbikes, guests will see materials from the class, including dragon eggs on the verge of hatching and a makeshift nursery where Hagrid kept his Blast-Ended Skrewts--the creatures that are being brought to life for the first time ever for this epic new adventure." There will also be a pre-show in the ride's queue, which includes appearances by Hagrid, his trusty dog Fang, and Arthur Weasley.

As you can see in the photos above and the video below, the theming on this particular ride is extensive and loaded with Easter eggs from the Harry Potter franchise--including the Monsters Book of Monsters playing a role in the story. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opens at Universal Orlando's Island of Adventure on June 13.

What's New to Netflix This Week? Movies, TV, And Originals

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 06:38

Netflix subscribers have plenty to check out on the service this upcoming week, with originals, comedy specials, TV seasons, and movies all hitting every day of the week. It was actually a smaller month for Netflix in May, with a more limited selection compared to what subscribers are used to. Here's what you can look forward to for the week of May 19.

If you're a fan of CW's series based on the characters from DC Comics, you'll have a lot to binge this week. Season 7 of Arrow arrives on May 21 and Season 5 of The Flash heads to Netflix on May 22. If you enjoy the CW shows, but you're not into superheroes, find out what madness happened on Season 3 of Riverdale, which lands on May 23.

Additionally, there are plenty of Netflix originals to keep you occupied. Comedian Wanda Sykes has her new special "Not Normal" coming on May 21. The horror anthology series Slasher returns with a new entry, exclusively on Netflix, titled "Solstice." Someone is murdered at an apartment complex and no one did anything to help, even though there were plenty of witnesses. One year later, someone is extracting revenge on those who wouldn't help.

On the sci-fi side of things, Rim of the World arrives on May 24, and the movie follows four teenagers stuck at a summer camp while an alien invasion threatens the rest of the world. Finally, sharing a name with a Marvel Comic series--and nothing else-- What / If is a new anthology series that explores the decisions people make and the ripple effects they create. It lands on Netflix on May 24.

Below, you'll find the list for what's coming out for Netflix this week. Additionally, both Hulu and Amazon Prime Video have revealed what's coming to those services for the month of June.

Coming To Netflix This Week

May 20

  • Prince of Peoria: Part 2 -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Rosario Tijeras (Mexico Version): Season 2

May 21

  • Arrow: Season 7
  • Moonlight
  • Wanda Sykes: Not Normal -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL

May 22

  • A Tale of Two Kitchens -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • One Night in Spring -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • The Flash: Season 5

May 23

  • Riverdale: Season 3
  • Slasher: Solstice -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL

May 24

  • After Maria -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • Rim of the World -- NETFLIX FILM
  • She's Gotta Have It: Season 2 -- NETFLIX ORIGINAL
  • The Perfection -- NETFLIX FILM