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Deadly Class Has A Very Complicated Relationship With Violence

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 09:44

When Deadly Class debuts on Syfy--it's already available online--you might find the level of graphic content in the series to be a little surprising. After all, this show is adapted from a graphic novel about a high school for assassins, the training ground for contract killers. With subject matter like that, you might be expecting gunfights left and right, with blood splattered on the walls.

Deadly Class, though, isn't the ultraviolent playground you might think it is. Yes, there are still plenty of fight sequences and based on the first three episodes made available to the press, some heinous kills. However, if you're walking into this series expecting the type of violence you might see on a show like DC Universe's Titans, it's time to temper your expectations. That's not what Deadly Class is attempting to be. Instead, it's carving out its own place in the crowded world of comic book adaptations, where what's far more interesting than the violence on display is seeing the toll is takes on the characters forces to participate in it.

"In this show, we tell stories about the cost of violence," Luke Tennie, who plays Willie, told GameSpot during a visit to the show's set. "We are not glorified. It's not casual. If there is a loss of life on our show, we see everything about the price. We don't spend time on blood and gore, and we don't glorify the violence."

That's a price that will vary, depending on the student that finds themself in the middle of it. While it may bring certain characters joy, there are others enrolled in King's Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts that struggle with its murderous teachings. "[Marcus] just really wants friends and a family and that's what he's creating over here," star Benjamin Wadsworth explained of his character, a newcomer at the school. "But he does not like violence. When he was on the streets he saw that all the time. He saw homeless guys beat up women. He saw money stolen. He's forced to get in these violent situations and he personally gets to feel the ramifications of violence... And it kind of teaches everyone at the school when we do this stuff it's gonna affect us physically and mentally."

Given his outlook on this world he's being immersed in, Marcus quickly finds an ally in Willie. While the leader of the Final World Order clique may present himself as a stone-cold killer, the truth is quite a bit different. "He hates it. No one knows he does, and the only time he opens up is with Marcus, and that's something you find in the comics right off the bat between Willie and Marcus," Tennie admitted.

Then, of course, there's those who don't necessarily love or hate the terrible acts they're learning to commit. There are some, like punk rock outcast Billy (Liam Jones), who simply don't know any other way of living. "From a very young age, he's dealt with violence outside of his school," the actor said, referring to his character's past in an abusive home. "If all of that violence was for nothing, it would be really hard for him to take. So I think he's trying to harness what he's had to deal with."

In truth, much of the way these characters react to the violence is pulled straight from the comics. With Rick Remender, the writer of the comic book series by Image, serving as one of the showrunners on Deadly Class, this is an adaptation that sticks very closely to its source material.

However, when looking at the more violent aspects of the show, there is one major change being made to the source material. The series is set in 1987, but the creative team behind it is sensitive to the world of 2019. Though this is an academy for budding assassins, you will never see guns used as weapons on school grounds.

"When I first cooked this up six, seven years ago, the amount of school shootings, whatever's going on in our society, whatever this f***ing meltdown is, makes it abundantly clear to me as we're developing this, that I don't want to see a gun in the school," Remender said. That's not to say you won't see guns anywhere in the series, but they won't be brandished in the halls of King's Dominion, which is a change from the comic. The explanation given within the show is that Master Lin, the headmaster of King's Dominion played by Benedict Wong, loathes firearms and sees them as a tool of the weak.

Instead, viewers will see a lot more hand-to-hand combat and the student body finding more creative ways of expressing themselves through violence, whether it's a through Lana Candor's expert use of a katana or María Gabriela de Faría doing some serious damage to police officers using bladed fans in the role of Maria. And truthfully, that's far more interesting to watch than someone swinging around a pistol anyway.

Deadly Class premieres on Syfy on Wednesday, January 16.

Nintendo Switch Adds More Than 30 Games This Week

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 09:40

January may traditionally be a slow period for game releases, but this month is certainly an exception, with some big games coming to each platform. That's especially true for Nintendo Switch this week, as more than 30 titles have arrived in the Eshop.

Headlining this week's releases is the 2D Mario adventure New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. This port contains both the Wii U launch game New Super Mario Bros. U and its DLC expansion, New Super Luigi U. It also features two new characters: Nabbit, who is invulnerable to damage (and was previously only playable in New Super Luigi U), and Toadette, who can use the exclusive Super Crown power-up to transform into Peachette, allowing her to double jump and hover through the air.

Also available on Switch this week (as well as on PS4 and Xbox One) is Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. Originally released in 2008, Vesperia stands as one of the most beloved entries in the Tales series, and the Definitive Edition features all of the additional content that was added to the game's Japan-exclusive PS3 port, as well as all the paid DLC that was originally released for it. You can read more about the title in our Tales of Vesperia impressions.

Other highlights this week include Bury Me, My Love, a poignant text-based adventure game about a refugee fleeing war-torn Syria. There's also the classic Sega racer OutRun, as well as the Neo Geo fighting game Kizuna Encounter. You can see the full list of this week's Nintendo Switch releases below.

The next additions to Nintendo Switch Online's NES library are Blaster Master and Zelda II, and they arrive on the service on January 16. Nintendo also recently announced a release date for one of this year's big-name Switch exclusives, Yoshi's Crafted World. The colorful platformer launches on March 29. You can see the other big games coming to Switch (and 3DS) this year in our gallery of all the Nintendo-exclusive titles in 2019.

This Week's Nintendo Switch Releases

January 10

  • A Ch'ti Bundle
  • ACA Neo Geo: Kizuna Encounter
  • Apocalipsis: Wormwood Edition
  • Big Crown: Showdown
  • BQM: Block Quest Maker
  • Bubble Shooter DX
  • Bury Me, My Love
  • Caveblazers
  • Clock Simulator
  • Combat Core
  • Double Cross
  • Everything
  • Grab Lab
  • Guns of Mercy: Rangers Edition
  • Hopiko
  • Inside My Radio
  • Knock 'Em Down Bowling
  • Lightseekers
  • Marble Power Blast
  • Mecho Wars: Desert Ashes
  • Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
  • Neko Navy: Daydream Edition
  • Number Place 10000
  • Overdriven Reloaded: Special Edition
  • Samsara: Deluxe Edition
  • Sega Ages: OutRun
  • Snowboarding: The Next Phase
  • Voxel Sword

January 11

  • Hive Jump
  • Stellar Interface
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
  • Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

New Details About Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's Hub Area Revealed

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 08:15

From Software has revealed additional details concerning the hub area in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Like the Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, Sekiro features an enclosed area, titled the Dilapidated Temple, that's safe from enemies where you can buy items and upgrade your abilities.

According to Game Informer, the Dilapidated Temple shares a lot of elements with the hubs seen in past Soulsborne games, including the area's expansion as you recruit other characters. "If you're familiar with the Souls games, you know how you can find NPCs in the world," From Software marketing and communications manager Yasuhiro Kitao said. "Maybe they're vendors, maybe they do something with you, maybe they head back to the hub, where you can speak to them and progress their quests."

Like other Soulsborne games, you'll be able to fast travel to Sekiro's hub too. You can either rest at the bonfire-like sculptor's idols or use items that immediately send you to the temple if an idol isn't nearby. While in the Dilapidated Temple, you'll have the opportunity to increase the number of healing items you can carry at a time as well.

The Dilapidated Temple does differ in a few ways from recent Soulsborne hubs though. For one, there's a character in the Dilapidated Temple, called The Immortal Soldier, who teaches you combat moves and how to use items, and willingly offers himself as a test dummy for you to practice different attacks. Also, unlike Dark Souls III and Bloodborne's hub areas--both of which you must teleport from to explore the world--Sekiro's Dilapidated Temple connects to multiple areas. In turn, several of these areas are also interconnected with each other.

"We feel like Sekiro's probably on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of the freedom the player has to explore the world if we're to compare it to our previous games," From Software director Hidetaka Miyazaki said. "Particularly from the mid-game onward, the world really opens up, and you have a great deal of choice and freedom about which order and way you choose to explore." Miyazaki did not reveal just how often Sekiro's many areas would connect with one another, but with the game on the near horizon, we'll find out soon enough.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice releases for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on March 22. The standard version of the game releases alongside a Collector's Edition, both of which are available for pre-order.

Marvel's The Punisher Season 2 Review: Taking A Bullet

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 07:29

Following cancellations throughout 2018, there are two Netflix/Marvel shows from the Defenders universe still standing: The Punisher and Jessica Jones. These also happen to be the two shows with upcoming seasons still outstanding, with Punisher Season 2 dropping on January 18.

Clearly, Netflix is waiting to actually release these final seasons before cancelling them too, judging by the fact that Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil were all canned after their seasons aired last year. If I'm wrong, great! These shows haven't exactly been consistent in quality, but overall I've enjoyed becoming immersed in the world of Netflix's Defenders. On the other hand, if I'm right--well, at least for now we can enjoy the carnage that is The Punisher Season 2.

The Punisher Season 2 is very much more of the same, as far as Frank Castle's bloody hijinks go. Season 1, which released in 2017, left Frank in the wind, having maimed but not murdered his rival Billy Russo, and been cut loose by the powers that be. When we catch up with the Punisher in Season 2, he's sort of just drifting, staying in motels and hanging out in bars. It's very un-Punisher like; he even meets a nice lady, although predictably, that doesn't last long. You see, the Punisher's gotta Punish. It's what he does.

Frank's little fantasy drifter life as Pete Castiglione doesn't last long, as trouble quickly finds him in the form of damsel-in-distress Amy (Giorgia Whigham), a young girl being hunted by a small army of douchebags. The story of why plays out over the course of the season, and it proves to be somewhat relevant to the times in which we live, though probably not too relevant that it will ruffle any particular feathers.

Needless to say, Frank tangles himself up in the whole mess through a misguided but lovable desire to protect the innocent by executing as many of the guilty as possible. He faces off this season with two main villains: John Pilgrim (the very creepy Josh Stewart), a religious fundamentalist who paradoxically loves murder almost as much as Frank does, and the escaped Billy Russo, whose face isn't nearly as disfigured as everyone makes it out to be, which is a shame, because that would have been cool. Like last season, Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani (Amber Rose Revah) and Castle's former squadmate Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore) play prominent roles, and some other characters from the all-but-dead Defenders universe even crop up, which was clearly planned before the whole thing got cancelled.

On what could be its last time around the Netflix merry-go-round, Punisher Season 2 presents a mess of morals, motivations, and messages. Its portrayal of veterans as mainly degenerate dickheads looking for any excuse to do violent crimes remains problematic. Billy has selective amnesia, and remembers being best friends with Frank, but not why Frank now wants to kill him, which is just boring and never really pays off in the way you want it to. Frank, meanwhile, is still undoubtedly a psychopath, but the show seems hesitant to call a spade by its name, and Madani spends half the season trying to convince other characters (Royce Johnson's no-BS Detective Sergeant Mahoney, and Floriana Lima's imitation Harley Quinn, Dr. Krista Dumont) that he's really a good guy deep down. That may be the case, but it's easy to see the other side of it too.

That's really what makes The Punisher fun to watch: Castle is a deceptively complex character. Even though he's on the right side of these various conflicts, you kind of want someone to check Frank Castle's unstoppable macho killing spree. And yet, that would mean stopping Jon Bernthal too, which would be a shame, because he remains an absolute joy to watch. He's the manliest man on the planet; his endless grunting and hollering causes lesser beings to crumple in fear (also, he punches them really hard). Castle takes more bullets, slashes, and various hard knocks than any real human could possibly withstand, but the show never stretches disbelief too far, because Bernthal really seems that tough. The whole thing wouldn't work without him.

The Punisher Season 2 rests comfortably in that middle ground Netflix's Marvel superhero shows have too often occupied: It's pretty good, not mindblowing like the best of them, and nowhere near the dizzying lows they've hit over the years. It's entertaining more often than not, and mostly well made. If they'd all been like this and public opinion hadn't turned against the Defenders, maybe the whole thing would have played out differently. Maybe it still will--who knows! For now, stream The Punisher Season 2 on Netflix next Friday, January 18, and enjoy the carnage while you can.

PS4 Game Deals: Resident Evil 2, Kingdom Hearts 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, And More

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 07:01

Some highly anticipated PS4 games are heading our way in 2019, but you won't likely find deals on many of them until well after they launch. But if you want to pre-order digital versions of select PS4 games from Green Man Gaming, you can save 7% right now. The discount also applies to PlayStation Store credit that you can spend on anything you like, including already-discounted PS4 games. Below are some of the items that qualify for this 7% off deal.

In terms of pre-orders, $55.79 lets you reserve a copy of the long-in-the-making Disney/Square action-RPG Kingdom Hearts 3; it's set to release January 25. Releasing the same day is a very different game: the survival horror remake Resident Evil 2. The standard edition is on sale for $55.79, while the Deluxe edition, which comes with additional in-game items, is marked down to $65.09.

The standard edition of Metro Exodus, an open-world shooter set in Russia after a nuclear war, is marked down to $55.79, while the Gold Edition is on sale for $79.04. It's set to release on February 15. The final discounted PS4 digital pre-order is Left Alive, a survival shooter from Square Enix that doesn't have a release date but is expected this year.

There is one game in the sale that's already available, and it's one that has gone on sale very rarely since launch. It also happens to be GameSpot's 2018 Game of the Year. It's Red Dead Redemption 2, and you can buy the standard edition of this open-world western for $55.79 or the Ultimate edition for $92.99.

You'll find the full list below, including links to the PS Store credit you can also get for 7% off.

GamesPlayStation Store Credit

Minecraft Movie Unearths A New Director

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 06:46

Warner Bros. has tapped Peter Sollett to direct the big-screen adaptation of Minecraft, Variety reports. Sollett is known for films like the critical hit Raising Victor Vargas, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and Freeheld.

The adaptation has been in the works since WB acquired the movie rights to the popular game in 2014. Various directors have been in talks at different points, including Shawn Levy and Rob McElhenney. Each had a different idea for the film, from a Goonies-style adventure to something more off-the-wall. Steve Carell was also said to be in talks to star as well.

Mojang, the studio behind Minecraft, is listed as one of several producers on the film, and has been heavily involved in the story direction. Mojang COO Vu Bui said in 2015 that the company didn't want this to be seen as the definitive Minecraft story, because the building game is all about making your own. "We don't want any story that we make, whether it's a movie or a book, to create some sort of 'this is the official Minecraft, this is how you play the game' thing," Bui said. "That would discourage all the players who don't play in that way. When coming up with a story [for the movie], we want to make sure it is just a story within Minecraft, as opposed to the story within Minecraft."

This adaptation will follow a teenage girl and her friends as they attempt to save the blocky Overworld from the Ender Dragon.

Minecraft currently boasts 91 million monthly active players, which even tops the success of Fortnite. It has already spawned a variety of adaptations and licensing, from books and collectibles to Telltale's Minecraft Story Mode.

PS4's Most Downloaded Games Of 2018 Revealed

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 06:35

Sony has announced the top downloaded games in 2018 across each of its systems. The lists are divided into PS4, PSVR, Free-to-Play, PS Vita, PS4 Themes, and PS Classics.

2018 didn't see quite as many popular first-party exclusives on its systems in comparison to 2017, so it's no surprise to see a lot more third-party titles getting into the top spots this year. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 takes the top spot for PS4, while Job Simulator is number one on PSVR, Fortnite Battle Royale is first for free-to-play (no real surprise there), and God of War: Collection is the most downloaded title on PS Vita. The Monster Hunter: World theme is the most downloaded PS4 theme and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas proves it still has legs and comes in on top for PS Classics.

It is pretty incredible to see both Marvel's Spider-Man and God of War get nudged out of the top spots by both Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2, as both exclusives released much earlier in the year and are both critically acclaimed. However, Red Dead Redemption 2 did earn Game of the Year from a few outlets--including us--so it might have had a surplus of downloads in December. Also, Black Ops 4 did shake up the Call of Duty formula by dropping a traditional single-player campaign and adding a new battle royale mode. Perhaps the biggest surprise is seeing Grand Theft Auto V in the top five games for PS4. With that game repeatedly remaining in the top 10, it's a wonder there's still enough people to keep downloading the game each year.

The full list for each category is outlined below. Remember, these lists are not ranked by quality. They only reflect which games and themes were downloaded the most in 2018.

Most Downloaded PlayStation Games And Themes In 2018PS4 Games
  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  2. Red Dead Redemption 2
  3. Marvel's Spider-Man
  4. God of War
  5. Grand Theft Auto V
  6. NBA 2K19
  7. FIFA 19
  8. Monster Hunter: World
  9. Far Cry 5
  10. Madden NFL 19
PSVR Games
  1. Job Simulator
  2. Beat Saber
  3. Superhot VR
  4. PlayStation VR Worlds
  5. Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
  6. Arizona Sunshine
  7. Moss
  8. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
  9. Driveclub VR
  10. Surgeon Simulator: Experience Reality
Free-To-Play Games
  1. Fortnite Battle Royale
  2. H1Z1: Battle Royale
  3. Brawlhalla
  4. Warface
  5. Paladins
  6. Warframe
  7. Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 Lite
  8. Fallout Shelter
  9. DC Universe Online Free-to-Play
  10. America's Army: Proving Grounds
PS Vita Games
  1. God of War: Collection PS Vita
  2. Persona 4 Golden
  3. Jak and Daxter Collection
  4. Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition
  5. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker's Memory
  6. Stardew Valley
  7. Adventures of Mana
  8. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
  9. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – HD Edition PS Vita
  10. Undertale
PS4 Themes
  1. Monster Hunter: World – Theme
  2. Legacy Dashboard Theme
  3. Friday the 13th: The Game Theme
  4. The Last of Us Outbreak Day Theme
  5. The Last of Us Part II Ellie Theme
  6. Assassin's Creed Odyssey – New Dynamic Theme
  7. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Original Theme
  8. BioShock: The Collection Theme
  9. Undertale Dynamic Theme (Ruins)
  10. Tropical Skeleton Dance HiQ Dynamic Theme
PS Classics
  1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  2. Bully
  3. Destroy All Humans! 2
  4. Destroy All Humans!
  5. Metal Slug Anthology
  6. The Warriors
  7. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy
  8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  9. Psychonauts
  10. Twisted Metal: Black

Monster Hunter World's Anniversary Event Starts Next Week

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 05:40

Monster Hunter World's first anniversary is just around the corner, and Capcom is commemorating the occasion with a special in-game event. The Appreciation Fest kicks off on all platforms--PS4, Xbox One, and PC--on January 26, and it'll feature new gear, along with new and returning event quests and more.

During the Appreciation Fest, the Gathering Hub will be decked out with balloons, confetti, and other special decorations. As with other seasonal events, a special platter will be available, and all facilities will hold sales on in-game items and services throughout the festival.

On top of that, Capcom says that "almost all" previous event quests will return during the Appreciation Fest. Players will also receive daily login bonuses and limited bounties to complete, and the company teases that there will also be "some very special event quests, featuring monsters that have had a whole year to build up a grudge and are ready to unleash their frustration." It appears one of these will be the Greatest Jagras, which will be available during the first half of the event.

Finally, Capcom will introduce a new set of Appreciation Fest equipment and items. Both the Handler and your Poogie will also sport new outfits. The event is scheduled to run until February 21; you can find more details on the game's official website.

Not long after the Appreciation Fest begins, Capcom will roll out another free update for Monster Hunter World, bringing The Witcher's 3 Geralt of Rivia to the game. The update arrives for PS4 and Xbox One on February 8 (with a PC release set to follow at a later date) and will also add new quests new quests "with a unique flavor, blending the RPG mechanics of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with Monster Hunter World's game systems."

Xbox One Free Games With Gold For January: Last Chance For These Titles

Sat, 01/12/2019 - 05:12

While the acclaimed platformer Celeste is free all month for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, two of this month's free Games with Gold will return to full price on January 15. The games in question are Never Alone for Xbox One and Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light for Xbox 360 (also backwards compatible with Xbox One). You can get your free games here.

Never Alone is a puzzle platformer about a native Alaskan girl and her pet fox on a journey to stop the blizzards that have been wreaking havoc on her town. The game was made in conjunction with Iñupiaq elders, who appear in unlockable documentary clips that offer information about this Northern Alaskan people's culture.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a co-op action-puzzle game that first launched in 2010. You can play it solo or with a partner, and the puzzles you encounter will change depending on the number of players. Either way, you'll find plenty of weapons, upgrades, and abilities to help put down the many enemies you'll face throughout the game.

Once they go away on January 15, January's second wave of Games with Gold will become available for free. These include WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship on Xbox One (free between January 16 and February 15) and the Xbox 360 game Far Cry 2 (free January 16-31).

Games With Gold January 2019

Xbox One

  • Celeste (Jan. 1-31)
  • WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship (Jan. 16-Feb. 15)
  • Never Alone (Dec. 16 - Jan. 15)

Xbox 360

  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Jan. 1-15)
  • Far Cry 2 (Jan. 16-31)

New Super Mario Bros U. Deluxe Has A Secret Character; Here's How To Unlock Them

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 23:44

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is out now on Nintendo Switch, with a few new features and improvements over its Wii U cousin. One of those, Toadette, is certainly welcome, but her inclusion seemed to mean one of the Wii U version's playable characters, Blue Toad, was no longer in the game.

However, it appears Nintendo was fooling us all along. You can still play as Blue Toad: simply hover over (Yellow) Toad on the character select screen and hold either ZL or L. Voila! Yellow Toad will switch out for Blue Toad, who is then playable in any level in the game--including those in the New Super Luigi U expansion.

We enjoyed the Switch remaster here at GameSpot, and we awarded it a 7/10 in our New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review. "Despite its aging formula, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is still a great entry in the series, with its typically tight platforming and both accessibility and depth to spare," we said. "While it can feel a bit stale for those who have been round the Mushroom Kingdom one too many times before, Deluxe is well worth playing, especially if you didn't get a chance to play NSMBU on Wii U."

For more on the game, check out our New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe review roundup or check out our report on how the game works with the Switch's NES controllers. You can also take a look at some gameplay of new character Peachette in the video above.

Dead Or Alive 6 Beta Given Surprise Release

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 23:10

Update: Koei Tecmo has stated Dead or Alive 6's beta is exclusive to PS4. A PlayStation Plus membership is required to play. Original story follows.

Dead or Alive 6 recently saw its release date delayed by a couple of weeks, but fans will still get to play the fighting game very soon. Without any form of prior announcement, publisher Koei Tecmo has launched an online beta of the game on PS4.

The demo version is available to download now on the PlayStation Store, though you'll need to wait until 7 AM PT / 10 AM ET / 3 PM GMT on January 11 (2 AM AET on January 12) to play. The trial will last for precisely 72 hours.

Fighters Online Beta test for #DOA6 is available for pre download now! It will be playable Jan. 11th 2019 at 8:00AM PDT - Jan. 14th 7:59AM PDT. Kasumi, Ayane, Hayabusa, Hayate, and one of the most anticipated newcomers, Diego will be the available characters! #DEADORALIVE6 #DOA6 pic.twitter.com/YXhsKjEyua

— DOATEC(DOA6)OFFICIAL (@DOATEC_OFFICIAL) January 11, 2019

In a tweet announcing the beta, Koei Tecmo did not mention platforms, leading many to believe the test would be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, as with the full game. However at present the beta only appears to be on the PlayStation Store, not the Xbox or Steam equivalents. Five characters are included in this free pre-release version: Kasumi, Ayane, Hayabusa, Hayate, and new fighter Diego.

Dead or Alive 6 was due to launch on February 15. However, following a delay to allow developer Team Ninja to "further polish its balance, gameplay, and expressivity," the game will now be released on March 1. The sixth main entry in the series focuses less on the overt sexuality of previous titles and more on easing in newcomers, according to our preview.

Should You Play Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition?

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 19:00

If you're eager for a great JRPG to dive into, you should pick up Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. Often cited by fans as one of the best games in the Tales franchise, this remaster of 2008's Tales of Vesperia is essentially an enhanced version of the Japan-exclusive PS3 port. This means you get additional playable party members, story subplots, dialogue, costumes, dungeons, mini-games, and much more that weren't available in the original Western release. In addition, all paid DLC is included. For hardcore fans who never imported the PS3 version, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is essential. And for newcomers, the remaster serves as an ample opportunity to experience the series at its greatest.

Tales of Vesperia tells the story of Yuri Lowell, a former soldier who embarks on a journey to aid a young noblewoman on an important mission. While simplistic at a glance, the story remains captivating thanks to its alluring cast of characters and vibrant anime-styled presentation. Much like last year's Dragon Quest XI, there's a strict adherence to classic fantasy conventions in Tales of Vesperia, but it's delivered with such infectious joy and charisma that you can't help but be drawn towards the plights of its characters.

Over a decade after its release, Tales of Vesperia is still fantastic.

It also helps that the Definitive Edition looks and runs great. Aside from a blurry filter that seems to pop up during cutscenes at times, the visuals have aged well. We spent the majority of our time with the Switch version, which divvies up its performance to 30 fps during exploration and 60 fps during combat. Returning players from previous versions should feel right at home with these specs, but if you're looking to experience the game at its most enhanced, you're better off with the PS4 and PC versions, which run at higher frame rates across the board. Interestingly enough, it's worth noting that the Xbox One version's performance is identical to Switch. Regardless of which platform you choose, you'll find few technical issues that'll take away from your time spent playing Tales of Vesperia.

Admittedly, one major shortcoming of the Definitive Edition is the new bonus dialogue interspersed across the story. A welcome addition on paper, the way it has been handled left us scratching our heads. While most of the original cast reprise their roles, a new actor has been brought on to play Yuri. Originally voiced by Troy Baker (The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, Metal Gear Solid V), the replacement does a decent enough job emulating the popular voice actor's performance. However, it's undoubtedly disorienting to hear Baker one moment only to hear a different actor take the reins for a brief slice of bonus dialogue. Fortunately, you're not without options, as the game does contain the original Japanese performances, which keeps its voice cast consistent throughout.

Over a decade after its release, Tales of Vesperia is still fantastic. With the flow of big releases slowing down, now's the perfect time to jump into this JRPG classic. For a closer look at how the game holds up and how it plays in its early hours, be sure to check out our commentary video above.

Al Pacino To Star On TV Show About Hunting Nazis In '70s America

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 15:28

Al Pacino has been acting since the 1960s, but he's never starred in a TV show in a recurring role. That could be set to change soon. Deadline and others report that the Oscar-winning actor will star in Amazon's new Nazi-hunting show, The Hunt, which comes from the mind of Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele.

Pacino appeared in an episode of the TV show N.Y.P.D. back in 1968, but this will be the first time he's in a TV show on a recurring basis. He joins actor Logan Lerman in The Hunt.

Lerman plays a character out for blood after his grandmother is murdered, while Pacino portrays the mentor to Lerman's character. The Hunt is set in 1977 New York City, when a group of people known as Hunters track down Nazis who live secretly in the US hoping to establish a Fourth Reich in America.

Peele is producing The Hunt through his Monkeypaw Productions and Sonar Entertainment labels. Moonfall's David Weil created the show, and he'll write and executive produce the show. Amazon has ordered 10 episodes of The Hunt, but there is no word yet on when the program will air or who else will star in it.

Peele is famous for his comedy show Key & Peele, but he reached another level of success with the horror movie Get Out, for which he won an Oscar. He's keeping busy, as in addition to The Hunt, he has a horrifying-looking new movie, Us, coming out, and he's also working on the new Twilight Zone that will air on GameSpot sister network CBS All Access.

Amazon Studios has a number of intriguing projects in the works, including a very expensive Lord of the Rings TV show that could focus on a young Aragorn.

Unity Disputes Accusations Of Crippling Games In Scathing Response; Fortnite Studio Gets Involved

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 14:27

Update 3: In a surprising announcement, Fortnite studio Epic Games announced that it had teamed up with Improbable to create a $25 million fund aimed at encouraging developers to leave Unity in favour of other platforms. Epic and Improbably created the fund to give cash to developers who abandon Unity for other game-development tools. Epic, of course, owns and operates the very popular Unreal Engine, which competes directly with Unity.

"To assist developers who are left in limbo by the new engine and service incompatibilities that were introduced today, Epic Games and Improbable are together establishing a US $25,000,000 combined fund to help developers transition to more open engines, services, and ecosystems," Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Improbable executive Herman Narula said in a joint statement. "This funding will come from a variety of sources including Unreal Dev Grants, Improbable developer assistance funds, and Epic Games store funding."

It continues:

"We believe we are at the beginning of an unprecedented age of inclusive online games that become parts of our everyday lives. Enabling this will take much more than Epic or Improbable; it will take a vastly more mature, broad-based industry to enable this future: a community of companies connected by values such as fair and openly disclosed business terms, respect for developer choice, and full interoperability between platforms, software, and services. We encourage others with a similar vision to reach out, so we can find ways to make it come sooner."

You can read the full statement here.

Update 2: Unity has now responded with a blog post of its own that disputes Improbable's account of the situation and states emphatically, "Improbable's blog is incorrect."

Unity offers a detailed breakdown of what's happened over the past year-plus, though it starts out by clarifying, "Projects that are currently in production or live using SpatialOS are not affected by any actions we have taken with Improbable. If a game developer runs a Unity-based game server on their own servers or generic cloud instances (like GCP, AWS or Azure), they are covered by our EULA. We have never communicated to any game developer that they should stop operating a game that runs using Improbable as a service."

It goes on to explain the background of the situation, claiming that despite discussions between the two sides, "Improbable chose an approach which doesn't involve partnering with Unity, but instead involves making unauthorized and improper use of Unity's technology and name in connection with the development, sale, and marketing of its own products. More than a year ago, we told Improbable in person that they were in violation of our Terms of Service or EULA. Six months ago, we informed Improbable about the violation in writing. Recent actions did not come as a surprise to Improbable; in fact, they've known about this for many months."

Unity explains that, two weeks ago, it turned off Improbable's Unity Engine license keys, saying it didn't take the matter lightly but that Improbable had "left us no choice. This was the only course of action to protect the integrity and value of our technology and Unity developers."

"We believe that even though Improbable is violating our EULA, game developers should never pay the price for that," Unity said. "We have been clear with Improbable that games currently in production and/or games that are live are unaffected, and we would have expected them to be honest with their community about this information. Unfortunately, this information is misrepresented in Improbable's blog."

Unity's blog post goes on to provide further details and discuss changes to its EULA. You can read about that in full here. The original story follows.

A dispute between Unity and the developer of the middleware SpatialOS is impacting developers. Studios have had to pull their games due to the conflict, and SpatialOS developer Improbable has strong words for Unity's approach.

In a blog post, Improbable explained that a change in Unity's terms of service puts SpatialOS games in breach of the license terms. In fact, it suggests that Unity clarified directly to the company that the change in the TOS was specifically to disallow services like theirs to work in the Unity engine. It says Unity also revoked the license due to another breach in an unspecified manner. Other engines remain unaffected.

[Update 1: Improbable has now published another blog post in which it accepts some of the blame alongside Unity but suggests the problems are deeper and could have involved any company. It proposes that the games industry "might need to consider making some changes which hugely increase the rate of innovation and the collective success we could all experience." It doesn't outline any specific solutions, instead seemingly seeking to initiate a dialogue on the subject.]

Going forward, Improbable says it is attempting to negotiate with Unity, and is offering development support to those who use the SpatialOS tech in the meantime, including opening an emergency fund. It's also looking into moving to a different engine as a last resort.

"This is an action by Unity that has immediately done harm to projects across the industry, including those of extremely vulnerable or small scale developers and damaged major projects in development over many years," the company said. "Games that have been funded based on the promise of SpatialOS to deliver next-generation multiplayer are now endangered due to their choice of game engine. Live games are now in legal limbo.

"All customers who entered into a relationship with us and Unity previously did so on the good faith understanding that the terms they signed up to, sometimes years ago, would allow them to be successful and not carry additional charges."

Indie developers like Spilt Milk and Vitor de Magalhaes have made announcements on Twitter of their projects going on hiatus, pending a resolution to the conflict.

Amazon Is Launching A Game-Streaming Service, Report Says

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 13:36

One of the biggest companies on the planet, Amazon, looks like it's extending its reach to yet another sector. The Information reports today that the retail giant is looking to launch its own game-streaming service. Deadline backed up the report with a report of its own that claims the project exists within Amazon right now.

Deadline also reports that Amazon is currently speaking with publishers to distribute their games on the untitled Amazon game-streaming platform. The service could reportedly launch in 2020 at the earliest, though it's unclear if this is for a beta version of the platform or the full thing.

It appears that streaming could be the next big battleground for game companies. Google already has its Project Cloud game-streaming service that it's testing with Assassin's Creed Odyssey (you can see our impressions in the video above), while Microsoft will let you play Halo on a phone with its Xcloud (working title) streaming service, and Electronic Arts has its own streaming technology in the works under its ridiculously ambitious-sounding Project Atlas. Sony has operated in the game-streaming area for a long time already through its PlayStation Now product.

Amazon already does a lot with games, as the retailer is one of the biggest sellers of games in the world, while it also owns the popular video-streaming site Twitch. Amazon also owns Killer Instinct developer Double Helix, while Amazon has its own game studio team called Amazon Game Studios. In August last year, Amazon announced it had hired 2K Games founder Christoph Hartmann to be the new boss of Amazon Game Studios. it hasn't been all smooth sailing, however, as Amazon Game Studios canceled one of its first games, Breakaway, and a number of high-profile staffers quit.

Amazon Game Studios has a number of games in the works, including a sandbox MMO called New World, the third-persons shooter Crucible, and a game based on Amazon's Grand Tour series.

Bethesda, the publisher of games like Fallout and Elder Scrolls, is already working with its studios around the world to prepare for a future where streaming is popular and prevalent.

Streaming is an exciting opportunity for games, and it could spell trouble for hardware manufacturers like PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo. In a streaming world, games would play off computers in data centers and stream to your computer or mobile device, which in turn would reduce the need to own a console like an Xbox or PlayStation. One potential issue with streaming is that it depends significantly on network availability and speed, which is no guarantee in some places around the world.

Dedicated console platforms are not going anywhere soon, it seems. Microsoft is making multiple new Xbox consoles, and according to a report from Brad Sams, one could be focused on streaming. Additionally, Sony has acknowledged the need for a PlayStation 5. Nintendo, intriguingly, has said it may eventually exit the hardware market.

Andrew Wilson, the CEO of EA, said during a presentation recently that he sees a future where you can play games on any device you want, with streaming/cloud gaming help accelerate that shift. Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive, has said he believes streaming will help accelerate the industry's transition away from "closed" systems.

Video game streaming hasn't been a total success story so far, as you may recall the OnLive service shut down before it ever got much of a foothold. However, given that some of the biggest companies in the world are now investing in game-streaming, it might finally be time for streaming to truly kick off in earnest.

God Of War, Spider-Man Lead DICE Awards; Here's All The Nominees

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 13:12

The 22nd annual D.I.C.E. Awards have announced the full list of nominees for this year, and Sony's God of War leads the way with 12 total nominations, including a nod for overall Game of the Year. The other Game of the Year nominees are Red Dead Redemption 2, Into the Breach, Spider-Man, and Return of the Obra Dinn.

God of War already won the Game of the Year award at The Game Awards back in December. It is also nominated for a top writing award at the Writers Guild Awards.

Fifty-six games in all received nominations this year. As mentioned, God of War led the way with 12 nominations, while Spider-Man picked up 11. Red Dead Redemption 2 grabbed eight nominations, while Return of the Obra Dinn picked up six.

The winners will be announced during the awards ceremony in Las Vegas on February 13, starting at 8 PM PT / 11 PM ET. Also during the event, Halo boss Bonnie Ross will be honoured as this year's Hall of Fame recipient.

Last year, Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took home the overall Game of the Year award at the D.I.C.E. Awards. The event has nothing to do with DICE, the developer of the Battlefield and Star Wars: Battlefront franchises. D.I.C.E. stands for Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain.

2018 D.I.C.E. Awards Nominees

Outstanding Achievement in Animation

  • God of War
  • GRIS
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Moss
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • GRIS
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Outstanding Achievement in Character

  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey (Kassandra)
  • God of War (Atreus)
  • God of War (Kratos)
  • Marvel's Spider-Man (Peter Parker/Spider-Man)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (Arthur Morgan)

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Forgotton Anne
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Tetris Effect

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

  • Battlefield V
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Moss

Outstanding Achievement in Story

  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Florence
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Outstanding Technical Achievement

  • Astro Bot Rescue Mission
  • Battlefield V
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Action Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  • Celeste
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken
  • Far Cry 5
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Adventure Game of the Year

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Family Game of the Year

  • Astro Bot Rescue Mission
  • Kirby Star Allies
  • Lego DC Super-Villains
  • Starlink: Battle for Atlas
  • Unravel Two

Fighting Game of the Year

  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ
  • SoulCalibur VI
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Racing Game of the Year

  • Forza Horizon 4
  • F1 2018
  • Wreckfest

Role-Playing Game of the Year

  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Sports Game of the Year

  • FIFA 19
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • MLB The Show 18

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year

  • Bad North
  • Frostpunk
  • Into the Breach
  • Northgard
  • RimWorld

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement

  • Astro Bot Rescue Mission
  • Beat Saber
  • Dr. Grordbort's Invaders
  • Tónandi
  • Torn

Immersive Reality Game of the Year

  • Astro Bot Rescue Mission
  • Beat Saber
  • Moss
  • Sprint Vector
  • Transference

Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game

  • Celeste
  • Florence
  • Into the Breach
  • Minit
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Portable Game of the Year

  • Dandara
  • Donut County
  • Dragalia Lost
  • Florence
  • Oddmar

Online Game of the Year

  • Fortnite
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken
  • Laser League
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Sea of Thieves

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

  • God of War
  • Into the Breach
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • Subnautica

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction

  • Florence
  • God of War
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Game of the Year

  • God of War
  • Into the Breach
  • Marvel's Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Halo 5 Is Free On Xbox One This Weekend

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 11:59

Looking for something new to play this weekend and don't want to spend any money? Microsoft has announced that Halo 5: Guardians is completely free to download and play starting now and running through the end of the weekend.

It's free on Xbox One as part of Microsoft's Free Play Days promotion which sees games drop to the low, low price of $0.00 for periods of time, usually on weekends. The one catch, if you can call it that, is that you need to have Xbox Live Gold.

Xbox Live Gold members can play Halo 5 for free today through Sunday as part of @Xbox Free Play Days. Jump in and join the Master Chief for an action-packed weekend! pic.twitter.com/PHAOxHWnKp

— Halo (@Halo) January 10, 2019

To sweeten the deal, Halo 5 is offering double XP for the duration of the free play weekend, while the fun-time playlists Holiday Fiesta and Castle Wars are in rotation. The Holiday Fiesta playlist is aimed at celebrating the holidays, of course, and it features "snow-themed" variants of Halo 5 arena maps. Castle Wars, meanwhile, is a large-scale capture-the-flag mode that supports 16 players.

Halo 5 still has a very active player population, so you should have no trouble at all finding multiplayer matches. The game is also free with Xbox Game Pass, which further helps the game reach even more players.

The next mainline Halo game is Halo Infinite, which is in development for Xbox One and PC. We still don't know a whole lot about it, but Halo boss Frank O'Connor recently talked about how the game's multiplayer is tons of fun.

Here's A Really Good Overwatch Drum Cover

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 11:47

Andrew Fleming, the drummer of Islander and maker of excellent drum cover videos of video game songs, is back with his latest--and it's all about Overwatch.

Fleming takes Overwatch's mostly serene, piano-filled "Hollywood" track and dials up the intensity with double-bass, fills galore, and open hi-hat. It's quite great.

The video caught the attention of Overwatch developer Blizzard. The official Overwatch Twitter account re-tweeted Fleming's video and congratulated him with a nice animated GIF of J.K. Simmons from the music movie Whiplash.

Fleming has posted many video game drum covers in the past. Before this, he crushed the Pokemon Red/Blue music and the "Battle Theme" from 2001's Final Fantasy X. In 2016, he performed a rippin' Sonic "Green Hill Zone" drum cover, and before that he nailed the awesome Destiny drum cover.

You can watch all of Fleming's videos on his AF Drums YouTube page.

Destiny 3 Coming In 2020, Analyst Predicts Amid Bungie/Activision Breakup

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:51

One of the biggest gaming news stories so far in 2019 broke today when Activision and Bungie confirmed they are ending their publishing deal for Destiny. Going forward, Bungie will take on development and publishing duties for Destiny, while Activision will focus on its own franchises, like Call of Duty.

Research firm Cowen & Company shared its thoughts on the news in a note to investors today, and one prediction the company made was that Bungie will release Destiny 3 in 2020. This is not an altogether surprising revelation, as the Destiny series normally releases new mainline entries every three years.

Destiny 1 launched in 2014, with Destiny 2 coming in 2017. According to Cowen & Company, the initial deal between Activision and Bungie called for new Destiny games every two years, but this shifted to one new game every three years. This slip might have contributed to what Cowen & Company called a "growing divergence" between Activision and Bungie's respective visions for where the Destiny franchise should go.

While Destiny and Destiny 2 might have been commercially successful on a unit basis, the games did not achievement the kind of "recurring revenue stream" that Activision wanted, Cowen & Company said. Indeed, Activision management recently said Destiny 2: Forsaken failed to meet its commercial expectations, and as a result, the company was looking at ways to bring more microtransactions to the game. Whether or not that's still the case now that Bungie operates Destiny 2 by itself remains to be seen.

According to Cowen, Bungie's attempts to broaden the Destiny player community with a more casual friendly Destiny 2 didn't work out, and while Destiny 2: Forsaken was praised by critics and fans, it didn't do a good enough job at bringing back lapsed players.

Cowen estimates that Activision severed ties with Bungie and Activision to focus on strengthening its own fully owned franchises like Call of Duty, even if it meant taking a financial hit in the short term. The upside of investing in its own franchises was greater than continuing to sink resources into an under-performing series like Destiny, Cowen said.

Also in the report, Cowen said Bungie likely paid Activision a fee to reclaim the Destiny publishing rights, but the figure is not likely "enormously significant," it said.

Losing Destiny will hurt Activision Blizzard's bottom line, Cowen said, estimating that the company will announce lowered financial guidance when it reports earnings next in February.

"Ultimately, we think this decision is probably for the best for Destiny as a franchise, as we think having two head cooks in the kitchen with somewhat divergent views created some issues with the development process and led the game down some blind alleys," Cowen said. "Destiny was a worthwhile attempt by Activision to build another cornerstone franchise, one that just didn't quite pan out as they had hoped (underlining once again the high difficulty of creating and managing a successful live service game business), in our view."

There continue to be unanswered questions about the Bungie/Activision breakup, including what it means for Destiny support studios High Moon and Vicarious Visions. Those studios, which are owned by Activision, might shift to other Activision projects, but no official announcements have been made at this point.

For more on the big Destiny news, check out the stories linked below.

Best PCs And Laptops Seen At CES 2019

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:51

As CES 2019 comes to an end, we're looking back at all the announcements and new pieces of tech shown off during the event. A bunch of laptops and PCs were displayed at this year's CES, and GameSpot's sister site, CNET, compiled a list. We've gone ahead and narrowed it down to ones best for playing video games.

If you're looking to invest in a new gaming machine, then you'll want to check out the Acer Nitro 5, Zotac Mek 1, or Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop. The latter two are PCs, while the Acer is a laptop. The Acer Nitro 5 has a 15.6-inch screen and is powered by AMD, with a Radeon RX560 GPU and Ryzen CPU. The price for the laptop isn't all that bad, with a starting price of $800 USD getting you a 512 gigabyte SSD hard drive.

You're getting a lot more bang with the Zotac Mek 1, but it's going to cost you a lot more bucks. The desktop will have a starting price between $1200 and $1400, but you get a machine with a seventh generation Intel processor and Nvidia GeForce 1070Ti CPU. The Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop falls between the two in terms of performance and price, costing a little over $800 with an eight generation Intel processor and Nvidia GeForce 1070 CPU.

If you just need a new laptop and don't want to use it for gaming, but still need the processing power to render and edit videos or photos, then ideally all the aforementioned computers should work. However, you can also look at a few other options that are primarily designed for business people and artists. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and HP Spectre x360 are the powerhouses of the non-gaming laptops shown off at CES, but they will each set you back at least $1300. Both the Asus Zenbook Flip 14 and HP Envy x2 are the new kids on the block--neither are out or priced yet--but they boast very impressive specs as well. The Flip 14 includes a Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU, eight generation Intel CPU, and a 512 gigabyte SSD. The Envy x2 is basically a souped up version of HP's laptop from last year, with a seventh generation Intel processor increasing the speed of the machine's performance.

Plenty of other pieces of tech were announced at CES this year. There wasn't much specifically geared towards gaming, but a few things hinted at a change in the industry landscape. Also, some products were just really weird.

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