Terminator: Dark Fate at least gets Sarah Connor right

Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest installment in the Terminator franchise, erases Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys from the continuity, and marks a return to basics. Directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller, Dark Fate plays out like a contemporary version of the first Terminator film, as future super soldier Grace (Mackenzie Davis) is sent back in time to protect Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) from a deadly Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna).

In true modern blockbuster fashion, Dark Fate also brings Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back. The remarkable thing is that their returns don’t feel like fan service or hurried cameos. Miller and screenwriters David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray recognize that though the Terminator’s red eye is the defining image of the franchise, the story has always belonged to Sarah Connor.

The same way 2018’s Halloween asserted Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode as the franchise keystone, Dark Fate proves that Terminator doesn’t compute without Hamilton. Revisiting those original arcs could be a superficial thrill, but both Halloween and Dark Fate investigate how traumatic events and adamant survival affected their heroes’ lives.

Mackenzie Davis, left, and Linda Hamilton star in Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures’ “TERMINATOR: DARK FATE.”
Grace (Mackenzie Davis) and Sarah (Linda Hamilton) confront each other.
Kerry Brown/Paramount Pictures

The best parts of Dark Fate all feature Sarah, who shifts between superhero toughness and all-too-human vulnerability as she works through decades’ worth of isolation and grief. Things get particularly interesting when an aging T-800 (not the friendly one we remember from Terminator 2: Judgment Day) enters the mix, not just because it’s always a pleasure to see Arnold but because the robot has undergone some development of its own since we last saw it.

Sarah crosses paths with Grace and Dani while hunting the Rev-9, and reveals that she’s spent the years since the events of Terminator and Terminator 2 killing terminators. Though the three women don’t initially trust each other — Grace and Sarah, in particular, find themselves butting heads as years of being on the run have turned them both into cynics when it comes to strangers — they have no choice but to work together to take down the Rev-9, which transforms into and out of black goo, and splits into two robots for double the trouble.

While the Terminator chase beats are familiar, Dark Fate adds a new dimension to the game of cat and mouse through its Latinx lead, Dani. From her initial concerns about losing her job to a robot, to being forced to illegally cross the border while fleeing the Rev-9 (and even being detained by border control in the process), Miller and the screenwriters have larger ambitions for this action thriller. They don’t necessarily coalesce — the need to tie up the immediate plot turns any more significant political messaging into “we’re all people in the end” — but it still feels significant to see a person of color in a blockbuster’s leading role and another as its major villain.

An older, gray-haired T-800, Arnold Schwarzenegger, dressed in a leather jacket.
The T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is back.
Kerry Brown/Paramount Pictures

It’s also a joy watching Davis kick ass, with Grace wielding everything from a giant hammer to a giant chain as she tears up the Rev-9. The action in Dark Fate is all over the map — an early highway chase is thrillingly clear, while a later airborne fight is visually incomprehensible, and the CGI doesn’t quite hold up from scene to scene — but the close-quarters combat Grace gets into is consistently great.

The fun parts of Terminator: Dark Fate can’t mask the fact that the episodic script drags. Sarah and the T-800 come with much more baggage and audience familiarity, which automatically makes them more compelling and more colorful than Dani and Grace, who have to share space and establish themselves as fully fleshed-out characters at the same time. The result is that their storyline — with the exception of one late-breaking twist — feels hackneyed, and almost parodic of the ending of Terminator Salvation.

There’s enough meaty material in Dark Fate — the immigration subplot, the bond between Sarah and the T-800 — that its steady, clichéd moments (“We make our own fate,” groan) stick out like robot wiring under human skin. Though the film leaves the door open for more Terminator shenanigans, it hopefully serves as a definitive end. Sarah deserves some closure. Dark Fate is at its best when offering it.

Terminator: Dark Fate hits U.S. theaters on Nov. 1.

Source: Polygon.com

Destiny 2’s latest quest text is bumming players out

Poor Banshee-44, Destiny 2’s forgetful gunsmith. In the latest Exotic quest in Destiny 2 added on Oct. 22, Banshee-44 asks players to get some information from Cayde-6, who canonically died more than a year ago. And Destiny players are getting seriously bummed out.

Banshee-44 (voiced by John DiMaggio of Gears of War and Adventure Time fame) is an Exo. In the world of Destiny, Exos are people who’ve had their consciousness transferred to robot bodies. The numbers after their name signifies how many times they’ve had to reboot themselves, a problem all Exos face eventually.

Most Exos only get rebooted 20 times or so before they start to lose it, but Banshee’s on his 44th reboot. Banshee’s excessive reboots cause him to be a bit forgetful, and like real-life people facing memory loss, he has good moments and bad moments.

Sometimes, players can walk up to his booth in the Tower and hear him lament his forgetfulness, promising himself he won’t forget all the good folks he’s lost over the years. Sometimes he’ll ask players if they’ve seen Cayde-6 lately.

Cayde-6, originally voiced by Nathan Fillion and later by Nolan North, died during the events of the Destiny 2’s Forsaken expansion in 2018. Guardians spent the campaign avenging the puckish rogue, and there are numerous memorials to him in the Tower.

Banshee-44 knows — or knew — that Cayde-6 died. But because of his reboots, he can’t seem to hold onto the information for too long. Which brings us to Destiny’s most recent Exotic quest: Leviathan’s Breath.

With this new quest, players can talk to Banshee-44 and he’ll detail a weapon he’s been working on: a powerful new bow that’s unlike anything else. Banshee asks players to head to his secret workshop located in the Tower to pick it up. In the quest text, which gives players a bit more detail on the story, Banshee mentions that Cayde-6 should know the way to his workshop.

Destiny 2: Heavy bow quest Bungie via user IdealLogic on Reddit

The next step of the quest leaves players aimless. Without Cayde-6 around to ask, Guardians need to hunt around the Tower to locate the workshop on their own. To make matters worse, Leviathan’s Breath sits behind a locked case, and Banshee can’t remember where he put the keys.

Players on Reddit are lamenting this recent interaction with Banshee-44, speaking to how sad they feel for the robot NPC. Some players in the thread are wondering how many times Banshee’s had to learn of his friend Cayde’s death, or if Vanguard leaders in the Tower have a silent pact not to remind him of such things.

“My mom died of brain cancer 7 years ago. She had moments like this and it tore me up inside,” Reddit user Vyrrk wrote. “When Banshee says this stuff it hit me hard every time!”

“As an employee working in a senior community with two memory care wards this definitely hits me hard. I’ve had to reintroduce myself to some residents 50+ times,” said Grizzlyroach. “Banshee, come live here so I can take care of you!”

In my personal experience, Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect memory are hard to watch loved ones go through. And that sadness also extends to forgetful robots in video games.

Source: Polygon.com

EA ‘would jump for the opportunity’ to revive NCAA Football series, CEO says

A newly passed California law could eventually pave the way for Electronic Arts to bring back its long-dormant college sports video games, and now we have word that the company is very interested in that possibility.

Speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference on Monday, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said the company “would jump for the opportunity” to return to making college sports titles, reports the Wall Street Journal. Multiple lawsuits regarding EA’s use of the likenesses of student-athletes in its NCAA Football games forced the publisher to shelve the franchise in late 2013; to date, that year’s NCAA Football 14 remains the last entry in the series. EA had previously discontinued its NCAA Basketball franchise — 2009’s NCAA Basketball 10 was the final game — due to declining sales, not any legal concerns.

The Fair Pay to Play Act, also known as California Senate Bill 206, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom at the end of September. The act takes aim at the NCAA’s long-standing amateurism bylaws — which prohibit athletes from receiving any compensation for playing sports, financial or otherwise, aside from a scholarship — albeit in an oblique manner.

The law will not provide for student-athletes to be paid directly by schools. Instead, it will open up the ability for athletes to hire representatives such as agents, and will allow athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness by doing things like signing endorsement deals. The law applies only to students at colleges and universities in California, although other states are currently considering similar legislation. And most importantly, it will not go into effect until 2023. In the meantime, the NCAA — which vehemently opposed the legislation — said in a statement that it will “move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.”

An EA source familiar with Wilson’s thinking who attended the WSJ Tech Live discussion told Polygon that the company doesn’t believe the California law on its own is an instant fix for the issue. Instead, the source said that EA views the law as an “interesting first step,” and that if it leads to “broader solutions for compensating college athletes” — for instance, provisions that aren’t limited to one state — then the company would be eager to revive its college sports titles. Wilson noted at WSJ Tech Live that among college football fans, there remains considerable demand for EA to bring back the NCAA Football series.

If the phrase “name, image, and likeness” sounds familiar, it was at the heart of multiple federal class-action lawsuits over the past decade against the NCAA, the College Licensing Company, and EA. The best-known litigation is O’Bannon v. NCAA, the suit filed in 2009 by former University of California, Los Angeles, basketball star Ed O’Bannon. That lawsuit alleged antitrust violations by the defendants, while a separate complaint filed the same year by Arizona State University and University of Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller sought compensation for the use of athletes’ likenesses in EA’s college sports games. The latter suit resulted in settlements totaling $60 million that have been paid out to former athletes.

Source: Polygon.com

Epic seems to have fixed Fortnite’s Battle Pass XP problem

For many Fortnite players, buying and leveling up the game’s Battle Pass has become a ritual. But in the first season of Fortnite Chapter 2, which started last week, players immediately noticed that leveling up a Battle Pass is harder than it used to be. Thankfully for players who have things-that-aren’t-Fortnite to do, Epic seems to have made leveling up the Battle Pass a whole lot easier.

This change to Chapter 2’s XP system came on Tuesday morning when Fortnite patch v11.01 went live. While players don’t know for sure what’s in the patch, because Epic doesn’t seem to be releasing patch notes this season, Redditors quickly discovered that the XP amounts granted for completing certain objectives have increased dramatically.

The punch card, which is a list of milestones players can reach, now grants up to 96,000 XP per day, rather than the 24,000 XP it granted when Chapter 2 first launched. Meanwhile, weekly challenges, which once granted just 140,000 XP now grant 520,000 for completion — though this won’t change the XP amounts for the challenges that are already out.

According to these same calculations it takes nearly 8 million XP to reach tier 100. While the old system would have meant that a fully leveled-up pass required a massive commitment, it now seems much more achievable. With the remaining weeks of challenges and plenty of daily medals, it now seems that these two things alone can get you all the way to tier 100 before the season ends.

With these new changes, the dream of a fully completed Battle Pass should be far more achievable. But even with this easier-to-earn XP, the Battle Pass will remain a commitment that not every Fortnite player will be willing to undertake, which should still help the highest tier rewards feel special for the players that earn them.

Source: Polygon.com

Pokémon Go may get easier for rural players

Pokémon Go has received various changes designed to make the game more balanced for players in different areas, according to an announcement from Niantic.

Notably, the company said it has been testing “providing more items in areas with fewer PokéStops, introducing different shop bundles, and tailoring raid levels to fit the communities where the raids appear.” This is a big change for rural players; playing Pokémon Go in smaller towns that are less populated with PokéStops means that you get less items, and less of a chance to complete difficult raids.

It’s a little unclear what tests were specifically run and if they were event-tested. It’s also unknown if Niantic is saying that the company will make tier-five raids easier in rural areas, or if only lower tier raids will spawn in those areas, since they’re easier to complete. While players have talked a bit about getting more items from PokéStops, it’s unclear how raids have changed as part of Niantic’s efforst.

None of these changes are widespread or going to stay for sure, but if they do come to rural players, it’ll be a massive help to Pokémon Go fans in small towns.

Source: Polygon.com

Fortnite fans want their patch notes back

When Epic released Fortnite Chapter 2 it was coming off of one of the biggest and most surprising stunts an online game has ever pulled. One of the most popular games in the world had been dark for almost 36 hours, before it came back online with little fanfare. As part of this secrecy, Epic brought Fortnite back online with no patch notes. At first it seemed like a novel way to give players a new experience, but a week later players are starting to get restless.

On Tuesday morning, Epic released the first content update for Fortnite Chapter 2. We know it happened because there was a post on the Fortnite Battle Royale subreddit … and that’s it. No patch notes, no change list, no Tweet, no message. Just a post on Reddit that said “Downtime for patch v11.01 has begun,” then an update to let players know that the downtime had ended. With no notes, players were now left in the dark to wade into the new patch with no information on the changes.

One change that was quickly spotted, thanks to the sleuths on Reddit, was an increase in Battle Pass experience. The ridiculously low experience gain that Chapter 2 launched with was one of the community’s biggest concerns about the update, but it seems that Epic has quietly fixed that. Rather than the paltry XP gains of the early season, players now get nearly triple what they were getting before. But the rest of the changes in the patch remain a mystery.

Several Fortnite characters sit on a dock fishing from the trailer for the Chapter 2 battle pass
Some of the skins from Fortnite Chapter 2’s first Battle Pass
Epic Games

The first reaction to this week’s lack of patch notes was memes. In just a few hours players flooded the subreddit with posts and comments saying “patch notes have been vaulted.” Other players got a little more creative with their jokes, like one player who claimed to have found the rarest item in the game, along with an image of their character fishing patch notes out of a river.

But not every player was ready to joke about the absence of information. Many players took to Reddit comments to complain about the lack of patch notes, and one even claimed this as part of a larger pattern that Epic has stopped communicating with Fortnite players.

No game the size of Fortnite has ever reinvented itself over night in the way that Chapter 2 did. The sense of mystery and surprise that players got dropping into a brand-new map for the first time after the Fortnite blackout was completely unique. It didn’t need to be bogged down with details and patch notes. In fact, if Epic had released patch notes that meticulously listed each change, they would have been exhausting to read anyway.

But with the initial surprise out of the way, and Fortnite settling back into its groove, the details start to matter again. Now that we’re a week into the season, players want to see all the little changes. They want the satisfaction of knowing whether their favorite gun got buffed or if the shotguns that keep killing them had their damage reduced.

So far, Epic hasn’t said whether or not players can expect patch notes at some point in Chapter 2. For now, it doesn’t seem like this season’s first patch made too many changes to the game. But as the season continues on and the patches themselves are sure to get bigger and change more about the game. When these more meaningful changes happen, players are sure to want to know exactly what they are.

Polygon has reached out to Epic Games and will update this story when the company responds.

Source: Polygon.com

Warcraft’s Deathwing is coming to Heroes of the Storm

Deathwing, the big bad of World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion, is coming to Blizzard’s crossover MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. He’s a big, tanky boy and will stand out from Heroes of the Storm’s existing heroes in some intriguing ways.

Deathwing will be larger than the game’s other dragon, Alexstrasza in her dragon form, according to Adam Jackson, live game designer on Heroes of the Storm, and Kyle Dates, hero designer. But unlike Alexstrasza, Deathwing will play in his dragon form exclusively. And he’ll be “permanently unstoppable,” meaning opponents won’t be able to slow his roll.

Allies won’t be able to affect Deathwing either. He cannot be healed by his teammates or cloned by Abathur, for example. Deathwing also can’t ride Heroes of the Storm’s standard mounts. Instead, he flies off the map — where he can heal himself and restore armor plates — and can land anywhere he has visibility. When he lands, players can choose one of two forms: Destroyer or World-breaker. Which form players choose will determine Deathwing’s abilities, which include a lunge, an incinerating breath of flame, and a lava pool that slows enemies.

Deathwing’s heroic ability, Cataclysm, evokes his attack on Azeroth from the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm cinematic. Deathwing will fly over the map, dropping a “flying lava wave” that burns enemies.

In Warcraft lore, Deathwing was the Aspect of Earth, a noble protector of Azeroth. But the whispers of the Old Gods corrupted him, turning him into Deathwing. He showed up in the Warcraft real-time strategy games but really came into focus during the expansion Cataclysm for World of Warcraft, where he served as the final boss. In WoW, he was so big that players had to climb on his back and fight his spine; in HotS he’s been sized down a little to match the map.

Source: Polygon.com

Notorious Mii who kicks your ass is now a speedrun

The latest speed running trend involves … Mii Maker?

Over the last couple of weeks, there’s been a race to dwindle down the time for a speedrun known as Matt%. The latest record, currently held by YouTuber Silver, clocks in at 27.10 on the original Wii Mii Maker.

If you don’t know who Matt is, allow me to remind you. He is the Mii that you would fight against as a child in the Wii Sports boxing game, where he would proceed to whoop your ass. If you saw Matt on the screen for the match-up, it was time for a beatdown. According to the Wii Sports Fandom Wiki, “Matt is very good at every sport except Cycling, Baseball, and Tennis. In Basketball, he is average.” Since ruining the childhood of many, Matt has become the subject of a handful of memes that all normally state that Matt is the most powerful being in the universe.

Over on Reddit, where a previous run was posted by JGUY3486, we can see that particular runner has created Matt at least 25 times in the Nintendo Switch version of Mii Maker. Comments debate whether or not using the touch screen would produce a faster run. Another commenter notes that this is only a 99% run, as JGUY3486 did not adjust the height or weight of Matt. Speedrunning Matt is layered, given that you can do it across various Mii-enabled consoles. Let the Matt% speedruns begin.

Source: Polygon.com

Bots are making Fortnite players question what’s real

When Fortnite Chapter 2 launched last week, players everywhere dropped into a match and claimed a victory royale. But then a rumor started circulating. Was it actually possible for so many people to have come out on top like that? Was there perhaps something fishy going on?

News articles started popping up, claiming that Fortnite’s battle royale mode had placed everyone in bot lobbies, and in the absence of skilled enemies, the game made it possible for more people to secure a dub. The conspiracy theory was the confluence of a few factors; beyond the new addition of computer-controlled characters, Fortnite didn’t seem to spend any time actually matchmaking for that first Chapter 2 skirmish. And, players remembered that Epic, the developers, noted that bots would now be more pervasive at the lower levels of play. The idea, which Epic has been doubling down on over the course of 2019, was to open up a cutthroat game for more players.

And so we arrive at the first big cultural moment for the newest chapter of Fortnite, which is largely defined by skepticism. Whether or not the initial conspiracy theory is true is beside the point. (Epic declined to comment on bots in the game.) But the paranoid outlook isn’t limited to a single match. Examining the way people talk about Fortnite now, you see this hyper vigilance and fear of bots nearly everywhere you look.

When players win or rack up eliminations now, they don’t always know if they “deserve” it, at least not in the way we might traditionally think about skill. And “skill” is a huge thing in Fortnite — it’s a battle royale game, after all, and that means there can only be one winner. But that exclusivity is at odds with Fortnite’s mainstream success. How can a game that everyone plays continue to capture their imagination if, most of the time, players will probably lose? Enter bots.

“I forgot Fortnite added bots and here I thought I earned my 6 kills,” one Fortnite player remarked on Twitter.

“It does not make me feel good knowing I am killing fake players when I eliminate a whole team,” one fan pleaded to the official Fortnite account on Twitter.

“Is it me or does it seem like Fortnite games are easy,” one user mused on Twitter. “I mean everyone I came across plays like a bot.”

“Y’all really flexing y’all’s kills on Fortnite when you know half of those were bots,” one wary player remarked on Twitter.

“I have felt much more capable in a firefight,” actor Joe Ferrarelli told Polygon on Twitter. But, he adds, “The hidden nature of the bots feels shitty.”

Bots aren’t flagged by the system. They have usernames that sound believable, and they wear fancy skins, just like a human player might. And at first glance, or in the middle of a frantic firefight, bots might appear like actual users. This resemblance has led players to look for warning signs. Video game critic Carolin Petit likened the experience to a horror game, because there’s something uncanny about cataloguing the behaviors of something attempting to resemble an actual human being:

I feel like some kind of paranormal investigator, cataloging the eerie behavior of this insidious new life form. I cross the island now and I see single walls tossed up here and there, something the bots routinely do but that’s unusual for human players. Often a single wall in a structure will be destroyed, leaving a gaping hole, where most players would have just used the door. Sometimes you’re in a place where treasure chests have been looted, and you can just tell based on what’s been picked up and what hasn’t that whoever–or whatever–opened that chest wasn’t human. This haunted feeling follows me everywhere in the game now.

Folks aren’t just concerned about whether or not the people they’re killing are actual bots. They’re also worrying about whether or not they look real to other people, especially at the lower echelons. If you make a mistake, or play terribly, will someone confuse you for a bot?

The result is that players are sharing “foolproof” methods to determine whether or not you are playing with real people.

Others, meanwhile, are taking advantage of so-called bot behaviors to trick people into lowering their guards. This sort of thing has always existed in the game, but before, the aim was to make people believe you were a “default” — that is, a newbie player who hasn’t bought a skin yet. Now it’s about imitating pre-programmed behaviors that may not look natural, rather than simply looking unskilled.

Of course, it would be reductive to say that bots are hated or disliked by the Fortnite community at large. Some aficionados say they don’t like bot lobbies, because it’s never as interesting or as rewarding as dominating other real people. But there are also plenty of players out there who see bots as a boon.

Inevitably, as multiplayer games grow older, the skill gap widens. Those who play throughout the lifespan of a game become monsters to more casual players who may not have the time or inclination to get better at the game. Jumping into a game like Fortnite, where shooting at an experienced player suddenly means witnessing the instant creation of a protective tower, can be an intimidating experience. But Epic may have finally figured out how to level the playing field with the new season, thanks to a total map and mechanical refresh that goes way beyond the inclusion of bots. Those additions, along with a lack of patch notes for new updates, means that everyone is more or less starting off from the same place once again.

“I actually have a chance of winning now,” Twitter user funkarius told Polygon. “Before skill-based matchmaking I would get bopped by sweats in almost every single match. It’s hard to get better when I’m outmatched every time.”

Source: Polygon.com

Pokémon Go’s professor hints at something big with mysterious technology

Pokémon Go’s leading character, Professor Willow, announced that he found something suspicious while investigating Team Rocket.

He calls the newfound tech “Mysterious Components” and notes that these are what Team Rocket have been using to take over PokéStops over the past few months. He also notes that Team Rocket grunts have been dropping these when they’re defeated, which means that’s how we’ll likely obtain them in the future.

It’s unknown what the Mysterious Components will be used for, but Professor Willow did go on to confirm that they must have a use outside of turning PokéStops.

Some players are speculating this could have to do with Arceus, as it looks similar to the Alpha Pokémon’s plates that it needs to change typing, though it seems unlikely, given that the plates are more slate-like and involve no technology.

The last Team Rocket reveal we got in Pokémon Go showed the three admins of the group, so this may have something to do with them, but it’s all still up in the air.

More updates from Professor Willow will explain more over time, and we can likely expect whatever this is to be fully explained after this year’s Halloween event ends.

Source: Polygon.com

Skip to toolbar