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Final Fantasy 15 Director On What's Next, And Hopes Controversial Mods Are "In Good Taste"

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 01:00

Over the last year, Final Fantasy XV has evolved from a rather ambitious entry in the JRPG franchise that may have bitten off more than it could chew, into a expansive game that will soon add a new online game mode, DLC Episodes featuring lengthy adventures with its supporting cast of characters, and general quality-of-life updates to smooth many of the rough edges from the initial launch. With the Windows Edition coming early 2018, the developers at Square Enix are looking to wind things down with FFXV, but are ready to offer PC players the complete experience.

During PAX West 2017, we had the chance to talk with the game's director, Hajime Tabata, about what's coming up for Final Fantasy XV, the focus on creating value for the game post-launch, and what could be next for the development team after work on the PC release is complete.

GameSpot: This particular game had the longest development period of any entry in the Final Fantasy series. It initially started as a spin-off, but it eventually became a core entry in the series. What are your reactions to seeing how it's evolved into what it is now?

Hajime Tabata: From a business standpoint, we've achieved over 6.5 million units, and the fact that we're still going to be putting out content till the launch of the Windows Edition--and then we have the Pocket Edition--this project has been very successful for us. But from a personal level, and from a dev team standpoint, what really resonates with us is the fan feedback we got from the day one release. A lot of the major criticisms was that they felt the story was lacking in certain aspects. So for us, we did our best to give back and supplement those areas where people felt it was lacking.

When those fans who were complaining about the story from the early days are now completely satisfied with the overall experience, that's the moment when we can say as a team that we're pleased with what we did for Final Fantasy XV. And obviously, we don't plan to draw this out forever. At some point we're going to have to mark the end of the journey for Final Fantasy XV. With that said, we're still listening to what the fans want and expect for this game.

It's unusual to see so much post-launch support for a Final Fantasy game that's not an MMO. What was the mindset the development team had when creating these new updates?

Hajime Tabata: We always had the plan of showing what happened with them in the DLC. Our goal is to give back to the players and give them content that they're gonna love. When you're playing as Noctis, your three allies are going through this journey with you, and their experiences throughout that adventure aren't shown. We tried a lot of new things for this, and it has allowed the dev team to really grow, develop, get stronger, and become more experienced. So in the long run, it all panned out for us. We're so happy with how it all worked out.

Was the desire to create more content in such a large space what led to the online mode? There are a lot of new features and support happening in FFXV, and an online component is a bit of an ambitious addition.

Hajime Tabata: We always had a plan for the multiplayer expansion. When we announced the DLC lineup, we started really thinking about how do we take on that project, and we needed a mission to have the players really feel like they're part of the overall story. It takes place during the 10 years that wasn't told in the main story. So we wanted people to really feel like they had a part in the story. Once we started thinking about the actual multiplayer, it became bigger than what we had initially anticipated.

Even before launch, we worked closely with the community and were open about our plans, addressing fan feedback. That's sort of what led up to the online service, where XV is a living, breathing world. Our approach was that we wanted to give back to our fan base, and we're seeing that support pay off. A month after the game had launched, about 30% of the people had beaten the game. Now, after several months, that's been continuously improving. We saw that rise to 60%. We're making the game more accessible to people and we're probably bringing in more fans. So as an overall kind of experience, we like this is a lot, but we still have a lot we learn from doing it this way.

Not including the MMO titles, this is easily one of the larger single-player oriented entries in the series. What would you say was the largest lesson you learned from making a game of this scale?

Hajime Tabata: The biggest takeaway we got from creating an open-world Final Fantasy game is that we understand why the big western developers that make these massive open world games require that much manpower. For FFXV, we made a lot of progress from a technological standpoint. We were able to push the boundaries, but we also streamlined our internal process to keep up with that pace. Looking back, there's still a lot to look back on, what we were lacking experience in, and what we didn't have the knowledge for. But there was still a lot that we were able to see and were aware of to make good progress on. When it comes time to work on our next project--taking everything we did--we're gonna do it even bigger and better, when that time comes.

So are you and the development team on XV planning on pursuing this style of open-world game for your next project?

Hajime Tabata: It's hard to say at this point if the entire game is gonna be based on an open world. But I would say that the overall experience that users get from playing in a massive area, that overall game experience is something that we're gonna make sure is in the next project as well.

Well, another Japanese developer came out with a rather notable open-world game this year with Breath of the Wild, which many fans have enjoyed. Have you all gotten the chance to play it, and if so, did anything stick out for you?

Hajime Tabata: So I personally haven't been able to get my hands on a Switch yet because they're really hard to find in Japan right now. [Laughs] It's embarrassing to say. I do have the game; I bought the game already so that I could just pop it in when I do get a Switch. But I've heard a lot from the dev team and their reactions to having played it. But just from hearing the stories and the feedback, you know, we can tell that it's a really complete game. It's very polished, almost a perfect game in that regard. And our goals are probably to take that experience that players felt with Breath of the Wild, but with our own technology and our own knowhow. We have in our disposal to create a very, very high-quality game with a strong visual element to it, while creating a world that's really immersive and really beautiful. That's probably our goals in terms of what we want to be with our next project.

We actually got the chance to check out the PC version of XV, and it's quite an improvement over the original in terms of visuals. We're actually seeing more developers in Japan take on PC releases for their games to solid success. What's impressed you with working on the PC release, and is this something you hope more developers in Japan will dive into?

Hajime Tabata: With the Windows Edition, the platform is already beyond what we did for the console version. Even our in-house engineering with the Luminous Engine has moved up a step in development. So we're at the next level in terms of our environmental creations. That's a little bit of a showcase of what we're capable of, but it's still something that we're still continuously working on. We've incorporated a lot of improved technologies for physics simulations and made it more natural and realistic. So we've tried to kind of elevate our game in a sense.

Obviously, we couldn't do a simultaneous release for console and PC for FFXV, as we were focused on getting the console version right first. So it's hard to say if that's gonna be a trend for more Japanese games in the future.

We saw with Nier: Automata, they released the Steam version pretty much alongside the console version. We saw that they had a massive reaction from their Steam user fanbase. So as a trend, moving forward, we think that means publishers and developers are gonna put focus on the PC and make sure that that's part of their overall strategy. We've made some great strides with the PC release of FFXV. From technical standpoint, to run the Windows Edition at a native 4K and 60 frames per second requires a beefy system. We understand that, there's certain things that PC gamers hold a lot of value for, like turning up all the graphics options to run the game how you want. But being able to experience this in 60 frames per second, it is really a genuinely rich experience.

One thing that PC gamers are really into is on the modification side of things. Many developers release tool-sets and design kits for their games on PC. While many people are anticipating mods to make the characters nude, there's likely going to much more than that with actual gameplay creations. What's your stance on PC mods, and are you OK with fans going at it with the game?

Hajime Tabata: Well, we'll definitely be allowing user-generated content for players. We know that that's a common thing. We'll provide a level editor so that players can create their own quests and their own mini missions. So that's at least one type of thing that we want to contribute and give to the players. But as far as the other stuff, we'll look at how the PC audience reacts to the Windows Edition with these and how many of them actually engaging with it. And depending on that, we might start thinking about what to contribute or what other tool sets to provide. We have plans for months, but we we want to see how this takes off first. Before we start thinking about okay, maybe if people seem to like this, so let's give them this tool set.

So you're pretty open to what fans plan to make?

Hajime Tabata: We want players to enjoy the experience, and that's part of the PC gaming world. So we understand that that's something that people are looking forward to. We definitely have concerns at how extreme people might take the mods, however. But we hope that people take advantage of it in good taste. Depending on how that turns out, is actually going to determine what kind of tool sets we end up providing. We'll be hands-off and just see what happens. What content that comes from PC mods, it's there for the players to use. But we'll be keeping an eye on the Steam workshop page.

Again, work on Final Fantasy XV has been going on for a long time. Looking back on the time you've spent with the game, what stick out most to you as something that you feel most proud of accomplishing?

Hajime Tabata: Well, it might not be one particular thing, but the fact that throughout the course of the development for Final Fantasy XV, we constantly made an effort to try new things and try new challenges, and also challenge ourselves to do something at a higher level than what we'd previously done. So being able to do that, you know, through all this time is the one thing that I'm really proud of.

What To Watch (And Skip) On TV This Week: The Orville, South Park, The Deuce, & More

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 00:00

Get your DVRs ready for the fall TV season, when networks release every new show and season they have at the exact same time. Obviously, that can be a lot to go through, making it difficult to figure out what's worth your time. Don't worry: we've got you covered.

Over the course of the next couple of months, we'll be looking at a selection of new and returning shows and giving you a quick breakdown of what is worth watching and what you should pass on. This week, we're talking about The Orville, The Deuce, The Mindy Project, and South Park.

The Orville

400 years in the future, Seth MacFarlane plays Ed Mercer, who has been given command of a spaceship named The Orville. His second in command is his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), and the two bicker with each other while running the ship. Their first mission goes awry, and the crew find themselves face-to-face with an evil alien race known as the Krill.

Regardless of what you've seen from the teasers and promos for this show, The Orville is not a true comedy. It's more a drama with a couple of jokes sprinkled in. In fact, every joke from the series premiere is contained within the trailer for the show. So what is The Orville actually like? Well, it's Star Trek: The Next Generation with a better computer-effects budget and some knee-slappers tossed in. While the show seems like it is supposed to be a parody, it never hits that same level that one would, like Galaxy Quest. The Orville tiptoes around parody and can't decide if it's going to be a serious show or a mildly amusing comedy. Luckily, the supporting cast is dynamic, fun, and adds some life to the show. If you're really looking for a space adventure with some comedy tossed in, Firefly exists, and it has its own voice.

Is It Worth Watching?: It's a pass. This is a really middle-of-the-road pilot. It doesn't feel like anything new, with only its supporting cast managing to stand out. Ultimately, it's Star Trek fanfiction.

The Orville airs on Sundays at 8 PM ET on Fox. You can watch the first episode on Hulu.

The Deuce

HBO's newest series takes place during the '70s in New York City; more specifically, Manhattan. It was a time when drugs, porn, and prostitution ruled Times Square, not Broadway shows and people dressed as Elmo. James Franco stars as twin brothers Frankie and Vincent Martino: one is a degenerate gambler, and the other is a bar manager trying to make a living to help his family, whom he never sees. In addition, the show follows numerous other characters including prostitutes working the area, their pimps, and an NYU student.

The pilot episode comes in at almost an hour and a half, and it is a giant information dump onto the audience; however, this show is brilliant. There is not a single moment when we're being introduced to the world that the show feels like it drags at all. The Deuce does a spectacular job jumping between characters and introducing their story arcs, which tend to weave into other character's stories as well. Maggie Gyllenhaal does a spectacular job as a prostitute who doesn't have a pimp, something almost unheard of in this world. Somehow, a fully fleshed-out story arc for her is present in the pilot, without feeling rushed or overshadowing the rest of the episode. The pacing and balance for these arcs is expertly crafted. Also of note is the set design and overall look of the show, which are perfect. It's hard to wrap your head around the fact that Times Square used to be a completely different place than it is now.

Is It Worth Watching?: Stop reading this and sign into HBO or video on demand and watch this episode. The Deuce is one of the best pilots for a series I have ever seen.

The Deuce airs on Sundays at 9 PM ET on HBO. The first episode is available on HBO Go/HBO Now.

The Mindy Project

Mindy Kaling is back as Mindy Lahiri, the young doctor trying to balance her work life and her personal life. The premiere for the final season has a recently wed Mindy learning about what it takes to be in a marriage. Obviously, she has a lot to learn as she's not very good at it.

This was a rough episode. The Mindy Project was a show I casually enjoyed a few seasons back, but this episode really didn't do anything for me. The show looks as if it was shot in 2017, but the writing and characters feel like something from a decade prior. It's clinging to a grounder, but overly wacky writing style that just doesn't work anymore. The episode straddles the line between being a compelling comedic drama and an over-the-top, silly show. The Mindy Project could be a whole lot more successful if it focused on one direction or the other.

Is It Worth Watching?: No.

New episodes of The Mindy Project are released on Tuesdays on Hulu.

South Park

The 21st season of South Park opened with Alexas and Google Homes taking over homes across the town. However, this has angered unemployed citizens who feel Google and Amazon are taking their jobs (dey derp r derps). The unemployed stage a protest in town, complete with Confederate flags and tiki torches. Meanwhile, Cartman deals with his girlfriend. What is Randy Marsh up to? He's hosting a new show with his wife called "White People Renovating Houses."

The episode is weirdly disjointed and the sound mixing was way off, leaving the score a whole lot louder than the dialogue; however, I've come to expect pure insanity when it comes to South Park, especially after last year's season, which was the only episodic season to date. Everything during the episode was a home run, especially a local waving a Confederate flag over an Alexa.

Is Is Worth Watching?: Even if you were put off by last season, you should check this episode out, but please make sure your Alexa, Google Home, and/or Siri are turned off before starting it. You'll thank me later.

South Park airs on Comedy Central on Wednesdays at 10 PM ET. New episode appear the day after they air on Hulu.

Come back next week when we're talking about Vice Principals, Channel Zero, Gotham, and Fuller House.

More Free Xbox One And 360 Games With Gold Titles Now Available

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 00:00

As we make our way into the second half of September, the Games With Gold lineup has changed. Microsoft today rotated in two more games that Xbox Live Gold subscribers can now download free for a limited time.

Replacing Trials Fusion and Hydro Thunder Hurricane, which have now returned to their regular price, are two games: one each for Xbox One and Xbox 360. On Xbox One, the new addition is Oxenfree, the excellent dialogue-driven adventure game, while Xbox 360 owners get Battlefield 3. The latter is also playable on the newer console through Xbox One backwards compatibility.

You can grab both of these games (as well as Forza 5) right now for free. Adding them to your library will allow you to continue playing them even after they return to their regular price. You have until September 30 to grab Forza and Battlefield, while Oxenfree will stick around until October 15. October's lineup of free Games With Gold titles has not yet been announced, but we'll be hearing about that later this month.

September 2017 Games With GoldXbox OneXbox 360

SMITE: Hand Of The Gods - Egyptian Starter Pack Codes Giveaway (PC)

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 23:00

We teamed up with Hi-Rez Studios to give away 10,000 codes for SMITE: Hand of the Gods Egyptian Starter Pack. This is an instant win and entry is open Worldwide.

Each code will unlock 3 cards. Here's what you get:

  • Cataclysm x1
  • Geb x1
  • Magma Slam x1

You can download the game for free here or on Steam, and enter below to get your code below:

Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics is a turn-based, one-vs-one strategy game set in the same mythological universe as the hit MOBA, SMITE. Players build decks of cards that spawn units onto a fully rendered battlefield using Unreal Engine 4. Each pantheon has its own unique leader ability and pantheon specific cards that can be combined with neutral cards to support a variety of playstyles. Hand of the Gods is currently in open beta on PC. Download and play for free at www.handofthegods.com

Dragon Ball FighterZ Closed Beta Begins Today On PS4 And Xbox One, Here Are The Times

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 19:00

Some lucky Dragon Ball fans now have a chance to go hands-on with Dragon Ball FighterZ. The closed beta for the upcoming fighting game kicks off today, September 16, and will only be available for a limited time.

PS4 players who were selected to participate in the beta following the registration period last month will receive a download code via email, while those on Xbox One will see a notification of their selection in the Xbox Insider Hub's Announcement feed. Unlike a typical beta, however, this test will only run during specific, three-hour blocks of time. You can see the full list of sessions below.

Saturday, September 16

  • 2 AM PT - 5 AM PT
  • 10 AM PT - 1 PM PT
  • 6 PM PT - 9 PM PT

Sunday, September 17

  • 1 PM PT - 4 PM PT

Bandai Namco hasn't revealed which fighters will be available in the beta, but the publisher has announced 13 characters for the game thus far: Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Frieza, Cell, Majin Buu, Future Trunks, Krillin, Piccolo, Android 16, Android 18, and Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta. Those who pre-order the title will unlock the latter two early as a bonus.

Dragon Ball FighterZ launches for PS4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam in early 2018. While the game still doesn't have a concrete release date in the US, it will arrive in Europe sometime in February. Bandai Namco released a trailer for the game at Gamescom that provided a look at some of its recently announced characters and its original story mode, which imagines Android 16 being revived to battle Goku and friends.

Telltale Games Names Former Zynga Boss Its New CEO

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 15:53

Telltale Games, the independent studio behind the popular Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and Minecraft adventure games, has a new CEO. Pete Hawley, the former executive at mobile and social gaming giant Zynga, has been hired to lead Telltale.

Hawley replaces Dan Connors, the Telltale co-founder who was CEO before being replaced by Kevin Bruner in 2015. Bruner resigned and Connors was CEO again in 2015. At this time, Telltale's board of directors was looking for a permanent replacement for its CEO, leading up to the announcement of Hawley in the top role this week.

Hawley worked at Zynga as a senior vice president and general manager since 2014. Speaking to VentureBeat, Hawley said it is "quite an honor" to join Telltale.

"I've been a huge fan since Telltale reinvented the old LucasArts games," Hawley said. "Now it is working with some of the biggest intellectual properties in the world. It was too good an opportunity to pass up."

Before joining Zynga, Hawley was a production lead at Fable studio Lionhead, working alongside Peter Molyneux on that series from 1993 to 2003. He then spent time with Sony (2003-2005), then EA (2005 to 2010).

You can read more quotes and get the full story here at VentureBeat.

Telltale has a number of high-profile projects in the works, including follow-up seasons for its Wolf Among Us and Game of Thrones franchises.

Next Final Fantasy Game Could Be Open-World Again; FF15 Director Talks Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 08:05

One of the most notable elements of Final Fantasy XV is its open world. Barring the series' MMO installments, XV features one of the biggest settings in a Final Fantasy game to date, and it seems a future installment could also have a similarly large world.

GameSpot got to speak with Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata at PAX West, and among the topics he discussed was what he would like to achieve with his next project. While he didn't say for sure whether or not his team would again take an open-world approach, Tabata did tease that the game would at least give players the same feeling.

"It's hard to say at this point if the entire game is gonna be based on an open world," Tabata said. "But I would say that the overall experience that users get from playing in a massive area, that overall game experience is something that we're gonna make sure is in the next project as well."

Tabata also shared his thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and what his team could learn from Nintendo's critically acclaimed title. While he says he hasn't personally played the game yet because he hasn't been able to find a Switch, he has heard all about it from his team and would like to create a similar experience with his own team's expertise.

"I've heard a lot from the dev team and their reactions to having played it. But just from hearing the stories and the feedback, you know, we can tell that it's a really complete game," Tabata said. "It's very polished, almost a perfect game in that regard. And our goals are probably to take that experience that players felt with Breath of the Wild, but with our own technology and our own know-how.

"We have in our disposal to create a very, very high-quality game with a strong visual element to it, while creating a world that's really immersive and really beautiful. That's probably our goals in terms of what we want to be with our next project."

You can read our full interview with Tabata tomorrow. Final Fantasy XV is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One; the game arrives on PC early next year and will feature mod support. Square Enix has said it has no intention of censoring mods, even nude ones, the company says the kinds that players create could affect future mod support.

First Details On Call Of Duty: WW2's Zombies Mode Emerge

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 06:44

Like other Call of Duty games, the series' upcoming installment, Call of Duty: WWII, will feature a Zombies mode. While we've known about the cast that will appear in it for some time now, we've now learned the first details about what players can expect from this year's Zombies experience.

Speaking to PlayStation Blog, Jon Horsley, senior director at Sledgehammer and the lead on WWII's Zombies mode, confirmed that it revolves around wave-based encounters like previous Zombies modes. "[T]he mode is focused on exciting four-player cooperative combat against waves of increasingly deadly zombies," Horsley said. The mode will be "grounded in a gritty, horrifying setting" that draws on the developers' experience with horror games like Dead Space; Horsley says the team is striving to make it "the most terrifying Zombies experience" Sledgehammer has ever created.

Horsley also shared some details about the mode's setting and story. "Zombies will take place in a quiet Bavarian village in Germany in the later years of WWII," he revealed. "Players will be transported to a horrifying corner of the town, where bloody sewers, evil laboratories, and ancient tombs will reveal their dark secrets." They'll also encounter different types of zombies, each of which "fills a specialized role as well." In one example, Horsley says players will encounter flaming and running zombies that will "give you serious problems if you get cornered."

You can read the full interview here. Call of Duty: WWII releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 3. We got a chance to sit down with Horsley and Sledgehammer creative director Cameron Dayton at San Diego Comic-Con, who spoke about how the team was working to make both WWII and Zombies feel fresh for a modern audience.

Free Charizard For Pokemon Sun And Moon Coming Soon

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 06:05

Pokemon Sun and Moon players who want to add some firepower to their team will be able to get a free Charizard next month. Target is offering special download codes for the 3DS games to any player who shows up, starting October 1.

The Charizard is level 50 and knows Dragon Dance, Flare Blitz, Fly, and Earthquake. It also knows the ability Blaze and holds a Red Card item. The download codes are given out in person at Target locations, but the offer is only around until October 14. Once you get the code, you input it by selecting the Mystery Gift option from the game's menu. After you enter the code, you can pick Charizard up from the deliveryman in any Pokemon Center.

Target also has another exclusive arrival for Charizard fans. The new Charizard-GX Premium Collection hits the store on September 24, which features a Charizard-GX card for the Pokemon TCG and a Charizard collector's pin.

Meanwhile, GameStop is giving away its own free Pokemon. From October 9-23, players in the US can stop into a location and get a code for the Mythical Pokemon Marshadow, a level 50 dual Fighting/Ghost-type monster equipped with its own unique Z-Crystal, Marshadium Z. With that, Marshadow can unleash the move Soul-Stealing 7-Star Strike Z.

The Story Behind It's Biggest (And Best) Change From The Book

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 05:40

Spoilers for Stephen King's It below

There's been much ado made about that famous It scene from the books that wasn't included in the new 2017 movie. But the new It doesn't just exclude scenes from the book--it also adds some of its own. The best new addition is one toward the end, and GameSpot asked It Director Andy Muschietti exactly how the change from the book came about.

When the kids venture down into the sewers to rescue Bev, they find her floating in the air in Pennywise's lair. The creature's home is dominated by a mountain of children's toys and other detritus, and as the camera tilts upward we see the bodies of the kids he's killed swirling around in mid-air like some sort of cosmic drain. The scene is grotesque and unnerving, and more importantly, it gives concrete meaning to the oft-repeated phrase "We all float down here." And this change from the book was entirely Muschietti's idea.

"It's a pay-off of the concept of floating," the director told GameSpot. "That was, you know, sort of metaphoric in the book. In my mind I suddenly pictured these guys literally floating in the air around that grotesque pile of toys, and it seemed like a great idea."

"[In the book] it's some sort of symbolic depiction of dying, and floating is like, you know, 'Your soul will come into my inter-dimensional realm,'" he continued. "But I didn't want to introduce the macroverse and the inter-dimensional cosmic element into the story, because It, for me, was so much about the Losers and their journey, and I wanted to keep the story as pure and as focused on that point of view as possible."

In an interview prior to It's release, the film's co-writer, Gary Dauberman, told GameSpot that Muschietti first brought up the idea for the scene by showing him a sketch. Muschietti has a background in art and storyboarding, and the director said that's the easiest way for him to convey his thoughts and ideas. For that reason, he often conceives things visually first.

"I always had this idea of a concentric final set piece that was a huge thing," he said.

"It's one of the great things about the book, is that we are in front of a monster that is not explained at all," he continued. "I wanted to keep part of the horror of that uncertainty in the movie. And I thought that the kids floating there was a very graphic and macabre imagery."

He also explained how Bev is able to escape the same fate as the other floating kids: "She is the first kid that basically challenged It. He cannot kill her because she's not afraid. If you're not afraid, Pennywise is not going to eat you because he does not take pleasure in eating flesh that's unseasoned. So basically what he does with Bev right there, is putting her in the freezer for a bit. That was the concept, and that's why she's not floating up there with the rest of the mangled and dead kids."

The whole sequence, Muschietti concluded, was part of his desire to see more surreal elements in horror. "We're not very used to that in horror movies," he said. "Normally we go for more graphic and familiar things. I wanted to bring that surreal element."

It set records with a $117 million opening weekend. Read GameSpot's official It review, and click these links to find out how being R-rated helped It, and how they came up with the new Pennywise.

More Overwatch Characters And A Giant Co-Op Mech Coming To Heroes Of The Storm

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 04:30

Blizzard will once again draw on its most recent game, Overwatch, for upcoming content in Heroes of the Storm. A pair of characters and a new map inspired by the shooter are on their way to HotS in the near future, as are new skins and an event.

On the character side, the first of the two is Ana, who in Overwatch serves as a hybrid sniper/healer that's also capable of mitigating healing done by the enemy team. Coming after her is the explosion-crazed Junkrat. No specific details for either character have been announced yet, but given Blizzard's usual pattern in the past, we'll likely be hearing about them soon.

The map is called Volskaya Foundry, which, as you can guess, is inspired by the Volskaya Industries map in Overwatch. It's the second Overwatch map to make it into the game, though the first one, Hanamura, has been temporarily removed so that it can be improved, possibly due to its complexity. This new one sounds more straightforward--albeit with a cool twist.

Volskaya is a large, three-lane map with conveyor belts that can speed up (or slow down) players' movement as they attempt to periodically capture points around the map. As in Overwatch, capture progress can be blocked by a single enemy; if one steps into the area at 99%, you'll have to deal with them before reaching 100%. Certain mercenary camps also yield sentry guns that can be placed around the map.

By securing the capture points, two members of a team can join together to control a giant mech called the Triglav Protector that can then be used to push a lane or generally wreak havoc. Much like the co-op character Cho'Gall, one player controls movement while another serves as the gunner. Only two players at a time can take control of it; Blizzard told GameSpot that it hasn't yet looked at characters or vehicles used by more than two players. But you'll have more of an opportunity to play with the Protector than just on Volskaya; Blizzard plans to introduce a single-lane Brawl mode called Bash 'em Smash 'em Robots where players can more freely use them.

Additionally, a new event is coming to the game that also draws inspiration from Overwatch. Pachimari Mania causes Loot Boxes to appear around the starting area during the pre-match phase. By scrambling to open them, players have a chance to unlock a new portrait, banner, spray, and emoji.

New skins and mounts were also announced today. Skins include the Shrike version of Ana from Overwatch, as well as Commandant Varian, while the mounts are Celestial Raptor and the Invisible Horse, all of which are pictured above. A specific release date for all of this content has not yet been announced.

Destiny 2: What Is Trials Of The Nine? How To Get Started

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 04:26

New content for Destiny 2 continues to roll out. Following the Leviathan Raid earlier this week, Crucible players now have a high-end challenge as well. Trials of the Nine is now available, but only for a limited time.

There are a number of pre-requisites for accessing Trials of the Nine, as it's not intended for just anyone. Like other Crucible modes, Trials is a 4v4 mode, but it's one that Bungie describes as "high intensity." To participate, you'll need to have completed the campaign, fulfilled the Call to Arms Milestone (where you simply play enough Crucible matches before the weekly reset) at least once, and have a Power level of at least 260.

While you'll have to tick all of those boxes to even be allowed in, you'll also need to form a Fireteam in advance. Additionally, Trials is one of Destiny 2's activities where your equipment is locked, so be sure to review what you have equipped and get ready before diving in.

Provided none of that stands in your way, Trials will pit you against other teams of four in an attempt to win a total of seven matches before losing three. Successfully doing so will complete the newly added Trials of the Nine Milestone, the reward for which is Spire access. Trials progress resets as part of the aforementioned weekly reset. We'll report back as more details about Trials are uncovered.

Hearthstone Recipe Book Combines Cooking And Crafting

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 04:11

Books outlining strategies, expanding the lore, or showing off the art of video game worlds are commonplace. Video game cookbooks, on the other hand, are not something you find quite so often.

Following up on the World of Warcraft: The Official Cookbook, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel has a new recipe collection on the way, this time inspired by Hearthstone. The Innkeeper's Tavern Cookbook promises to include over 50 "Hearthstone-inspired eats, cocktails, and mocktails" according to the book's description.

Although theory- and deck-crafting use very different skills from food-crafting, the creativity and skills required for home chefs have obvious parallels to the gaming world. The book's publisher, Insight, shared three recipes from Inkeeper's Tavern, which you can check out, and try yourself, below.

  • Polymorph Puffs: Made with lamb sausage--a grown-up version of pigs-in-a-blanket
  • Blood of the Ancient One: An Old Gods-inspired take on the Bloody Mary
  • Fireside Log: Roll cake with a distinctive blue spiral when you cut through it.

Hearthstone: Innkeeper's Tavern Cookbook will retail for $22 and is set to release on November 7, though pre-orders are available now. If you want a taste of what might be in store, we put together a video last year making a Delicious Chocolate Cake from Monroe-Cassel's previous Warcraft book.

SNES-Style Controllers With Analog Sticks For Switch Get Release Date; Pre-orders Open Now

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 03:57

Retro peripheral manufacturer 8bitdo announced today that its SN30 Pro and SF30 Pro controllers for the Nintendo Switch will hit store shelves on December 10 this year. Preorders are now open through Amazon and carry a price tag of $50 USD. The SN30 Pro sports the color scheme of the original Super Nintendo controller released in North America; the SF30 Pro rocks the Super Famicom controller's color with red, green, blue, and yellow face buttons.

Both the SN30 Pro and SF30 Pro are fully featured with two shoulder buttons, two triggers, and two analog sticks that click downward. In addition to working with the Switch, they're compatible with Windows PCs, macOS systems, and Android devices. These controllers connect through USB-C and work wirelessly through bluetooth. There's currently no word on the approximate battery life of the controllers' lithium ion battery.

Take a closer look at 8bitdo's gamepads:

SN30 Pro (top), SF30 Pro (bottom)

These retro gamepads also come with rumble vibration, a turbo function, and motion controls for Switch users. While they work with Android devices, the smartphone clip shown in the photos is sold separately for $8 USD.

8bitdo previously released non-Pro versions of the SN30 and SF30, which didn't include analog sticks, or triggers. We previously reviewed Hyperkin's take on an SNES-style controller in the X91 for Xbox One and PC, you can check out what we said here.

You'll Need A MicroSD Card To Play NBA 2K18 On Switch

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 03:00

NBA 2K18 launches digitally today for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (with its physical release for the latter two platforms arriving on September 19). However, those who plan on picking the basketball game up on Nintendo's console better have a microSD card handy.

As pointed out on NeoGAF by users Pokemaniac and ggx2ac, NBA 2K18 requires a hefty 22.9 GB of space to download on Switch. What's more, each save file for the game takes up 5 GB--a larger file size than many full Switch titles, such as Pokken Tournament DX, which only requires 3.2 GB to download. That's problematic considering that the console only comes with 32 GB of internal memory, roughly 25 of which are actually usable.

Even if you plan to hold off and buy the physical version when it releases on October 17, you'll still need to have a microSD card, according to Nintendo's support website. While the game itself is 6.8 GB large, its software update takes up 16.1 GB, which accounts for the digital version's massive size and why you'll need a microSD card regardless of which you pick up.

NBA 2K18 releases for everyone on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360 on September 19. The Switch version includes the same features as the other releases, though it runs at 30 FPS, while the PS4 and Xbox One versions run at 60. The game's free Prelude demo is available now and lets you carry your progress over to the full release.

Xbox One Games Soon May Not Require Full Downloads To Play, Saving Hard Drive Space

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 02:42

Microsoft is designing a new system for mastering games that will mean faster downloads and less hard drive space used for its Xbox One and Xbox One X games. According to Digital Foundry, the internal name for the system is Intelligent Delivery, and it will split game content into tagged chunks. Players will be able to download only the chunks they need or want to play the game, rather than downloading the complete game with all content.

For example, Xbox One users won't have to download 4K assets meant specifically for the Xbox One X when they buy their game, saving loads of wasted space on your Xbox One hard drive. Another example, reportedly given by Microsoft, is games with multi-language support. Players won't have to download audio assets in languages they don't want, saving even more space. Digital Foundry reports this represents a significant amount of data, particularly in sports games.

Dividing content into chunks and tagging it will apply to gameplay-specific content too; players can delete game modes they're not using, for example. Microsoft is recommending the Intelligent Delivery system only be used for new games, but the technology can technically be applied to existing games. It's not clear how widely publishers will adopt it, however, as there's no indication using the system will be mandatory.

The new system also reopens the door for games with multiple discs, with essential data on disc one and additional or optional data on subsequent discs (right now, Microsoft is offering the option for two disc mastering, but the technology allows for up to 15 discs of content).

There's no mention of when Intelligent Delivery will be rolled out, but with the launch of the Xbox One X just a couple of months away (on November 7), it could be coming soon. Microsoft says the Xbox One X is the most pre-ordered console in Xbox history, and you can click here to check out all the enhanced games coming to the console.

Cowboy Bebop Director Is Releasing An Anime Blade Runner Film

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 02:36

The influence of the 1982 classic Blade Runner can be felt across three decades of sci-fi, and it's hard to think of a dystopian, urban sci-fi movie that hasn't been impacted by it in some way. With the long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049 set to hit theaters next month, it has been revealed that Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe is making a new anime short set within the Blade Runner universe.

As reported by Kotaku, Watanabe's film is called Blade Runner Black Out 2022. As the title suggests, it is set three years after the original movie, during a massive power outage in futuristic Los Angeles. A teaser for the project has been released, in which Watanabe states: "The work that has influenced me the most in my anime profession would be, of course, Blade Runner." Check it out below:

Blade Runner Black Out 2022 is set to hit Sony Picture Japan's YouTube channel on September 26. It has also been revealed that it will have a score by noted electronic musician Flying Lotus (real name Stephen Ellison). Ellison tweeted: "Doing something with Watanabe was a dream of mine. Cowboy Bebop is one of the greatest! Seeing Blade Runner imagery set to my music was a beautiful feeling."

In related news, the latest short film prequel to Blade Runner 2049 has been released. This is the second of three promotional shorts for the movie, and it features this one shows Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista getting involved in some trouble on the streets of LA.

Last Chance For These Xbox One And 360 Games With Gold Titles

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 01:37

We're halfway through September, and that means the Games With Gold selection is about to partially change. Today marks the last chance for Xbox Live Gold members to claim some of the free Xbox One and Xbox 360 games currently available to them.

A total of two games return to their regular price after today. On Xbox One, it's the last day to grab Trials Fusion, the physics-based platformer/racing game. On Xbox 360, it's another racing game, Hydro Thunder Hurricane. Thanks to backwards compatibility, Hydro Thunder can be played on Xbox One. Claiming the games will allow you to continue playing them for free even after they go back to their regular prices. You can hit the links below to add them to your library.

Tomorrow, September 16, brings with it two new additions to September's Games With Gold lineup. Battlefield 3 will be available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners, while those with the newer console can also grab Oxenfree. Forza 5 also remains free through the end of the month.

September 2017 Games With GoldXbox OneXbox 360

Splatoon 2 Gets A New Weapon And Great Map Tonight

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 01:18

Splatoon 2's next free DLC is on the way tonight. In addition to another free weapon, Nintendo is bringing back a great map from the original Splatoon.

Beginning at 7 PM PT/10 PM ET, players will be able to pick up the Heavy Splatling Deco from the Ammo Knights weapon shop. The Deco is a modified version of the standard Heavy Splatling. It features the same stats as the regular gun, but it boasts a bedazzled ink tank and comes outfitted with a different sub weapon and special.

In Splatoon 2, the Heavy Splatling Deco's sub weapon is the Splash Wall, which allows players to place a temporary barrier of ink on the map. Its special is the recently added Bubble Blower. Once the special is activated, players can release up to three large bubbles that will float around the stage and explode when shot with your team's ink.

Arriving alongside the Heavy Splatling Deco is Kelp Dome, one of the best stages from the first Splatoon. This map is modeled after a self-contained ecosystem and features grated walkways between its different sections. Nintendo has also added some "new twists" to the stage, such as extra grates and more turf to ink. You can see screenshots of it below.

Kelp Dome isn't the only new map coming to the game soon. During this week's Nintendo Direct broadcast, Nintendo revealed Snapper Canal, an all-new stage set beneath a bridge. What makes this map unique is that it's divided in half by a river, so players will have to figure out how to bypass it to reach the center portion and gain the advantage. A new brella weapon called the Tenta Brella was also announced, though Nintendo hasn't said when either will be available in the game.

Activision Touts Destiny 2 Sales Records, But Doesn't Share Specific Figures

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 00:54

Bungie shared last week that millions of people had already played Destiny 2, with as many as 1.3 million doing so at the same time. Publisher Activision today finally spoke out on the subject of the sequel's sales, though we still don't have a firm idea of how many copies it's sold so far.

In a press release, Activision said that Destiny 2 set a day-one sales record on the PlayStation Store. The company shied away from many comparisons to the original Destiny, presumably because that game sold more overall at launch due to being available on two more platforms with sizable install bases (Xbox 360 and PS3). However, Activision said that Destiny 2 surpassed the first game's launch week digital sales and "engagement." The former is to be expected given the industry-wide shift toward digital games; the latter seems to be in reference to the number of people playing online simultaneously.

Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg noted that the company saw "engagement at the highest ever week-one concurrency for the franchise." Bungie CEO Pete Persons added that Destiny 2 has attracted more than 1 million concurrent players for eight days in a row.

As for specific sales figures, we're left with no firm idea, although we know it topped the charts last week in the UK, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. New content for Destiny 2 rolled out this week with the launch of the Leviathan Raid, while Trials of the Nine (and Xur) make their first appearance today. Destiny 2's PC version launches on October 24, and a leaked DLC pack called Curse of Osiris has since been confirmed by Bungie as real, but we don't yet know how soon it will be released.

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