New Apex Legends Event Will Deliver “One Of The Most Fan-Requested Features”

EA has confirmed a new event is coming to Apex Legends ahead of the battle royale game’s third season. The publisher made the announcement during its latest earnings call, where it also revealed that Apex Legends: Season 2 is performing beyond expectations.

According to VG247, Respawn will debut an in-game event in Apex Legends that will “bring new content and deliver one of the most fan-requested features.” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said the event will release “in the next few weeks.” No other details were provided, but if the event is scheduled to release fairly soon, it’s possible we’ll be given more concrete details before long.

Fans have requested numerous features for Apex Legends, so it’s difficult to deduce what Wilson might be teasing. The most common requests are typically the addition of Titans–as Apex Legends is a part of the same universe as Titanfall and Titanfall 2–or a singles mode where players compete without a team. It’s possible either one could happen, especially if the event turns out to be limited-time–meaning Respawn wouldn’t be required to devote long-term resources towards balancing the mode.

Also during the call, Wilson said that Apex Legends: Season 3 is “shaping up to be even bigger” than Season 2, though it will utilize a similar schedule of content drops and patch releases. Season 3 is currently scheduled to begin in the second quarter of the fiscal year, so sometime between now and the end of September. Apex Legends Season 2 battle pass is scheduled to end in the final days of September, so it’s probably safe to assume Season 3 will begin then. Wilson also reiterated that EA plans on porting Apex Legends to mobile devices, though he did not share when that might be.

Apex Legends is available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. In our Apex Legends review, Phil Hornshaw wrote, “Apex Legends is a mix of smart shooter ideas that makes for a competitive, team-based game that gets at all the best parts of battle royale while addressing a lot of the weaknesses. Respawn’s intense focus on team play makes Apex more than just a worthy addition to the genre; it’s an indicator of where battle royale should go in the future.”


Evangelion creator’s next project is a new take on Ultraman

Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno will re-imagine Ultraman, the iconic, 54-year-old tokusatsu superhero who has appeared in hundreds of Japanese movies, television shows, and video games, in a new movie called Shin Ultraman, which translates to New Ultraman.

Shin Ultraman will hit movie theaters in Japan in 2021, according to an announcement from animation studio Khara, production company Toho, and special effects studio Tsuburaya Productions, longtime producer of the Ultra Series, which includes Ultraman.

Anno is producing and writing the screenplay for Shin Ultraman, and will “fully join the project” after completing work on Evangelion: 3.0+1.0, the next film in the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. Shinji Higuchi will direct Shin Ultraman.

The studios involved in Shin Ultraman offered little detail on the project, including whether it would be animated, live action, or a combination of the two. But based on the title alone, Shin Ultraman sounds like it will offer fans of tokusatsu superhero action an original take on the character, just as Anno did with 2016’s Shin Godzilla (aka Godzilla Resurgence). That film was written by Anno, and co-directed by him and Higuchi. Shin Godzilla was as much of a biting satire of Japanese politics and bureaucracy as it was an engrossing kaiju movie.


Blizzard explains new Overwatch hero’s design, mental health, and baby-soft feet

Overwatch gets three new heroes a year. There’s a routine and a rhythm to their release, especially for the heroes who are announced outside of BlizzCon. There’s a tease or two on social media, and then we get to see an animation that introduces us to the character as, well, a character, and then finally there is a kit reveal. Sometimes, those reveals land well, and I am delighted or intrigued at the newest member of the Overwatch cast.

Sigma, Overwatch’s Hero 31, was far more of a gut punch. His origins animation is an ambitious piece of work from the Overwatch team; it involves non-linear storytelling, an abstract depiction of Sigma’s thought process, and a healthy dose of cosmic horror. It verges on the Lovecraftian, or inspired by a plot device like Warhammer 40k’s Warp.

The mental illness stigma

I’ve struggled with mental illness my entire life, including in-patient stints in hospitals. Today, my health is much better managed, and I take a cocktail of medications and see a surfeit of professionals to ensure it stays that way. But when you’ve been in the mental health system your entire life, it’s easy to see how parts of that experience have evolved into common cultural tropes and archetypes.

Padded rooms, abandoned asylums, and straitjackets are all imagery that is liberally used in media. It’s a convenient shorthand for unpredictability, violence, or loss of control that appeals to a primal fear — and unfortunately, that can contribute to the real-life stigma around mental illness. In Sigma’s origin video, he is restrained. Floating equations are liberally used throughout the narrative, reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind’s depiction of a mathematician dealing with schizophrenia.

When I had the chance to sit down with three Overwatch developers, including lead writer Michael Chu, I asked about the animation and whether it was an intentional depiction of mental illness.

“It’s interesting, because I can see how people in the community have identified with Sigma as someone who is struggling or dealing with mental health issues,” Chu said. “But with the idea of the character, we never intended him to be an example of someone who’s going through mental health issues. He’s really supposed to be more focused on this very specific thing that happened to him, which is that his body and his mind were literally ripped apart by the momentary exposure to a black hole.

“With other aspects of his character, he’s certainly supposed to be eccentric. The idea behind that is more just that he sees the world a little differently. We liked this idea that he had this connection to music. So, for example, the way that he thinks about the universe, gravity, and physics, is through this prism of music. From experience talking to physicists and especially theoretical physicists is that other things that aren’t literally just the equation or the mathematics have influenced the way in which they interpret things. And so that’s the direction we went with him.”

Overwatch - Sigma’s origin animation shows him in a medical gurney and a spacesuit. Blizzard Entertainment

Is Sigma a “bad guy”?

According to Blizzard, Sigma is “unaware” he’s “being used as a living weapon.” Instead, he’s largely working off-site, in a lab Talon has granted to him. It’s a similar dynamic as the one Symmetra shares with her Talon-affiliated boss at the unethical Vishkar corporation. Symmetra is also on the autism spectrum, as hinted in a comic and confirmed by game director Jeff Kaplan. It’s an uncomfortable dynamic to work with, and can potentially go wrong.

With Sigma, it’s easy to read the shorthand Blizzard uses as common mental health tropes, even if it wasn’t what was intended during production. If one sees him as unstable and ill, then the dynamic between him and Talon is inherently exploitative.

That’s not unprecedented; Talon kidnapped Widowmaker, brainwashed her until she killed her own husband, and then underwent genetic modification that included her heart slowing down and her skin turning blue. But Widowmaker is so extreme, so disconnected to real life, that it’s hard to imagine seeing yourself in the blue, catsuited, murder-loving, mysterious assassin.

I had a strong reaction to Sigma’s origins animation because I saw myself there. The gurney, the restraints, the artificial lighting, and the confusion were all familiar hallmarks of my experiences in mental health wards. It’s powerful imagery, but one that perhaps unintentionally trades in dangerous shorthand based on the stigma against mental illness.

Overwatch - Art from Sigma’s origin animation, showing him hovering. He’s wearing his in-game Overwatch uniform. Sigma is surrounded by the other members of Talon.

Best foot forward

After Sigma’s origin animation and gameplay, one of the biggest fan focuses has been Sigma’s feet. Some of that dialogue has been astonished (or a little bit horny) at Sigma’s bare feet and long toes. Other people have been more concerned about what Sigma’s feet might mean for the overall depiction of mental illness in Overwatch.

A Blizzard character artist, Qiu Fang, wrote that Sigma’s bare feet helped “sell the ‘asylum’ look a bit more”, citing the policy of hospitals and institutions removing shoelaces from patients as a way to reduce the risk of self-harm.

When I ask the assembled developers about their thoughts on the fan reaction around Sigma’s release, the topic of feet comes up naturally.

“The feet thing reminds me of a couple of funny stories, because I remember when Jeff [Kaplan] was like ‘He floats. Why does he have to wear shoes?’” said Chu. “It’s something he felt strongly about, and it was like… OK, that makes sense. He floats, he doesn’t need shoes. Jeff was also like ‘It… it’ll be a thing’, which… [laughs].”

“The other thing was from Alyssa [Wong, Overwatch writer],” Chu continued. “She was saying — and I can’t remember how she had heard this story — but when you’re up in space, and there’s no gravity, you don’t use your feet the way you do, and the blisters and calluses and stuff just fall off.”

There’s a moment of cross-talk with Chu and Joshua Noh where the two confirm that Sigma does, in fact, have soft feet and it influences why he floats. Chu credits concept artist Arnold Tsang with his “continued interesting footwear and foot design.”

new hero Sigma floats in the desert map Petra in a screenshot from Overwatch Blizzard Entertainment

Equations and conclusions

No Overwatch hero is the responsibility of any one developer at Blizzard. Sigma went through several iterations as he was developed, including a stint where developers thought the character might be Mauga, a Talon character from Baptiste’s past. His kit was eventually prototyped, and the rest was built around that kit and the idea of a gravity-based hero.

The origins animation and Sigma, as a whole, draws on established cultural understandings of mental illness. He’s described as a brilliant, yet eccentric pioneer, who’s ambition led him to undergo “serious psychological damage” that “fractured” his mind. Afterwards, he was “quarantined”, “deemed unsafe”, and “isolated.”

This isn’t a sci-fi, futuristic experience for many people; it’s an occurrence that many people dealing with the mental health system experience. The end result is that it comes across like Blizzard either wasn’t aware or didn’t think to investigate the real-life parallels of Sigma’s story. He doesn’t ruin the game for me, but he’s an uncomfortable splinter in the premise of the game.

Overwatch has been sold as a futuristic, inclusive world that is at best an utopia, and at worst, worth fighting for. When I look at Sigma’s origin animation, I see a depiction of a personal, painful experience I went through. I see a system that fails people that struggle, and sees illness as inherently dangerous.

It’s a lot to grapple with, and it raises questions. How does a game like Overwatch, which builds lore around the core experience of a team-based shooter, depict complex and multifaceted characters with inner conflicts that might match the ones real people experience?

“I think we thought this character would hit people, and they’d be like ‘Whoa! OK, that’s a lot to take in!’” says Chu. “That was very much by design.”


Pokemon Go Surpasses One Billion Downloads

The immensely-popular Pokemon Go has surpassed another impressive milestone. According to Pokemon website Serebii, the mobile game has been downloaded more than one billion times since its July 2016 launch.

Serebii caught a Japanese Pokemon Go advertisement released by the Pokemon Company. The video notes that the augumented reality game has been downloaded more than one billion times worldwide.

Pokemon Go’s rising numbers aren’t too surprising. Two months after market introduction, the game was downloaded 500 million times by September 2016. By February 2017, developer Niantic announced that Pokemon Go surpassed 650 million downloads. 800 million downloads was the last figure Niantic announced back in May 2018 before jumping over the one billion download mark.

The announcement comes off the heels of new features being introduced to Pokemon Go. A shiny version of Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald legendary Rayquaza is now catchable until September 2. Team Rocket finally made its debut, bringing along sShadow Pokemon as the evil corporation took over PokeStops. And with August right around the corner, Niantic confirmed that Saturday, August 3, is the next Pokemon Go Community Day.


Pokémon Go Rayquaza raid guide: counters, best movesets, and more

Rayquaza is returning to Pokémon Go raids from July 31 at 4 p.m. ET until Sept. 2 at 4 p.m. ET, which means it’s time to try to nab the best dragon-type attacker in the game.

The green dragon will also be returning with a chance to be Shiny, so if you see that mean black dragon instead, get pumped. Odds to nab a shiny are about 1 in 19, but if you do get one, remember that Shinies have a 100 percent catch rate when they appear (as long as you don’t miss all of your balls).

Shiny Rayquaza next to its normal form in Pokémon Go Niantic via Polygon

To take down Rayquaza, you’re best off using ice-type moves. Dragon-, rock-, and fairy-type moves also work, but ice-type moves do double-effective damage against it. The best counters are as follows:

  • Mamoswine with Powder Snow and Avalanche
  • Weavile with Ice Shard and Avalanche
  • Glaceon with Frost BReath and Avalanch
  • Mewtwo with Psycho Cut and Ice Beam

You can also use Dialga with Dragon Breath and Draco Meteor, but it’ll be in for some hurt if Rayquaza knows Outrage, so try to stick to ice-types if you can.

Rayquaza is one of the most powerful Pokémon in the game, but it’s also very possible to duo or trio in raids. One simple flowchart made by Reddit user stozball notes that a duo each using six level 25 or higher Mamoswines can take down Rayquaza. If you don’t have six Mamoswines, Weaviles or Glaceons at level 30 or higher can also fill that space. Even if you don’t have those, Rayquaza is shockingly easy to do with a low amount of people, so grab your friends and your ice-types and get raiding.

Once you get your beautiful dragon, make sure it knows Dragon Tail and Outrage. This is its best moveset. While you can replace Outrage with Aerial Ace if you need a flying-type attacker, its DPS with Outrage makes it one of the best in the entire game.

For more information on raids, you can check out our guide.


Hearthstone’s Most Exciting New Saviors Of Uldum Card, Zephrys The Great, Is Your Own A.I. Helper

Hearthstone‘s upcoming Saviors of Uldum expansion is introducing a lot of interesting new cards that are sure to shake up the meta-game. But during its final card reveal livestream, Blizzard introduced one of the coolest and (according to its engineers) most complicated cards yet: the Legendary Zephrys the Great.

Zephrys is a 2-Mana 3/2 Legendary minion that grants you a wish for “the perfect card.” Under the hood, that means the game is examining all the public factors in your game, and offering you three options for cards that might help. If you happen to need to clear the board, he might offer you some area-of-effect spells. If your board is already solid, maybe he’ll offer you a buff.

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It’s a simple concept, but it was apparently extremely hard to implement. Game Designer Chadd Nervig said on Twitter that “the amount of effort that went into bringing you this one individual card absolutely dwarfs all other cards.” He also pointed out that Zephrys is even smart enough to hand you lethal damage to finish a match before you necessarily realize why it’s offering a particular card.

In follow-up tweets, Nervig explained that Zephrys only looks at all the public info in a game–like how many cards are in your hand, minions on the board, and Mana crystals–but not private info like what you or your opponents’ cards are. Also, for obvious game balance reasons, Zephrys won’t ever offer you a way to replay him, like a bounce-back effect. It also comes with a limitation in that your deck can’t have any duplicates. This is commonly known in Hearthstone as a “singleton” or “Reno” deck.

As a Legendary card, Zephrys will be difficult to pull from random packs and expensive to craft. But as a value-generator that’s smarter than the average card, it’s probably a smart pick to be among your first crafted cards for Uldum.

For more cards from Hearthstone’s Saviors of Uldum expansion, including our own reveal of the powerful puzzle Mogu Cultist, check out our full gallery of all the cards coming in the expansion. Saviors of Uldum launches on August 6.


Ubisoft Announces Nintendo Switch Rabbids Game For China

Ubisoft looks to be targeting its Chinese market, as the publisher announced a new Rabbids game featuring Chinese themes is on its way to Nintendo Switch. The game, possibly titled Crazy Rabbid: Adventure Party, will be shown at ChinaJoy this weekend.

Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad tweeted that the game is a four-player “Rabbids meets Journey to the West” experience developed by Ubisoft Chengdu. It has a Mario Party quality to it, with various mini games where you cooperate with and play against your friends. Check out the reveal trailer below.

A post on the official Chinese Ubisoft page says “the world[s] of [the] game [are] inspired by ‘The Journey to the West,’ a traditional Chinese literature.” Journey to the West, normally attributed to Chinese novelist and poet Wu Cheng’en, was published in the 16th century and serves as an extended look at the travels of Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who explored the Western Regions of Central Asian and India.

While the post is in Chinese and translator services aren’t always accurate, Crazy Rabbid is looking to test “your ability to react, remember, endurance, and accuracy.” ChinaJoy, the largest gaming and digital entertainment conference in China, runs from Friday, August 2 to Monday, August 5. We’ll learn more about Crazy Rabbid: Adventure Party then, though there’s no confirmation whether the game will release in other regions.

Crazy Rabbids wouldn’t be the first exclusive Rabbids game for Nintendo Switch. In August 2017, Ubisoft released Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, a turn-based, tactical RPG similar to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, for the console-handheld hybrid. In our review of the game, we said, “Coupled with the annoyingly infectious allure of Rabbids, and the always delightful, colorful world of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is an implausibly engrossing formula that is positively challenging and endlessly charming.”


Destiny 2: Eververse store inventory reset, July 30-Aug. 6

Tess Everis is the owner and operator of the Eververse store in Destiny 2. Each week, Tess sells a new inventory of items for Bright Dust, the currency you earn just from playing Destiny 2. She also rotates a grouping of items for Silver, the game’s real-money currency.

You can always find Tess in the Tower, standing next to the postmaster.

Bright Dust shop

Here is Tess’ Bright Dust offerings for this week. With Solstice of Heroes going on, she has some new, summers themed items going on:

Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Petiolora Growth, green shader — 40 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Dream of a New World, weapon ornament for Sturm — 1250 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Jade Jester, weapon ornament for the Jade Rabbit — 1250 Bright Dust
  • Vor Pyl VIII, ship — 500 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Paperwork, emote — 3,250 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Micro Mini, 160 speed Sparrow — 2,500 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Jubilant Shell, Ghost shell — 2850 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Summertide Kite, ship — 2,000 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Hip Bump, emote — 1250 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Triumphant Projection, Ghost projection — 1500 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Buried Treasure Projection, Ghost projection — 1500 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Tangerine Gloss, orange and blue shader — 40 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Pomegranate Gloss, dark red and yellow shader — 40 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Beach Ball Effects, transmat effect— 450 Bright Dust
Image of Destiny Eververse item Bungie
  • Sandcastle Effects, transmat effect — 450 Bright Dust
  • Fireteam Medallion, XP boost — 50 Bright Dust
  • Gleaming Boon of the Vanguard, Eververse gift from Strikes — 250 Bright Dust
  • Gleaming Boon of the Crucible, Eververse gift from Crucible matches — 600 Bright Dust

Most Silver items will eventually go on sale for Bright Dust.


Fortnite season X brings emotes to Save the World

Fortnite’s first-but-less-glamorous mode Save the World will now share the locker full of emotes that players have been using in its more visible Battle Royale incarnation. This becomes effective with the launch of season X, a community coordinator told the game’s subreddit.

That means the emoticons, sprays, toys and, of course, dances available to a player in Battle Royale are available to them in Save the World after season X begins soon. This is part of a larger reconditioning that will bring other improvements to cosmetics and locker functionality, Epic said. The publisher also plans to update the emotes so that they play out, with every Hero type, without clipping or weird positioning.

“Fixing those is an ongoing process,” Epic said. The publisher also plans on adding Emote functionality to the end-of-mission screen (in Save the World) and to call out distances in chat when toys are used.

“We’re focusing on wraps and pickaxes as the next addition to the Locker,” the community coordinator wrote. “When pickaxes arrive in Save the World, we will grant all of the unique pickaxes you earn through progress in Save the World as cosmetic items which you’ll be able to use in Battle Royale as well.”

As work continues, Epic says three principles will guide any forthcoming changes: Cosmetics will be completely optional (meaning they provide no gameplay advantage); no one will lose any cosmetic option once acquired; and they will be as universal as possible.

At some point, Epic will add an Item Shop to Save the World. “At the moment, we’re focused on adding the ability to use cosmetics you already own,” the manager said. “For now, you’ll have to buy cosmetics through the Battle Royale store until the Save the World Item Shop goes live.”


Pokemon Go August 2019 Community Day: Start Times, Shiny Ralts, Event Move, And More

Between the arrival of Shiny Rayquaza and the long-awaited debut of Team Rocket, this summer has certainly been busy for Pokemon Go, and now the game’s next Community Day is just around the corner. Niantic is hosting its next monthly event this Saturday, August 3, which means players around the world will soon have another opportunity to catch a rare Pokemon and add a special event-exclusive move to their repertoire.

Traditionally, each Community Day only runs for three hours, but the specific details of the events–such as what Pokemon will appear more often in the wild and what other bonuses will be available–tend to vary month by month. To help you prepare for this month’s event, we’ve rounded up all of the most important details about August’s Community Day below, from its start times to its featured Pokemon and everything else you need to know.

What Is August’s Featured Pokemon?

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Every Community Day revolves around one “featured Pokemon,” which serves as the sort of star of the event. Not only will this monster spawn in the wild much more often than it normally does during the Community Day hours, you’ll also have your first opportunity to find and catch a Shiny version of it. This month, the featured Pokemon will be Ralts, a Psychic/Fairy Pokemon originally introduced in Ruby and Sapphire.

Throughout the Community Day, Ralts will appear in the wild much more frequently than usual, making this a good opportunity to catch as many as you can and stock up on Ralts Candy, which you’ll need to power up its CP and evolve it. On top of that, you’ll have your first chance to catch a Shiny Ralts during the Community Day hours. Shiny Pokemon are a rare sight in Pokemon Go, however, so you’ll want to stay out as long as you can to ensure you encounter one before the event ends.

What Is August’s Community Day Move?

In addition to appearing in greater numbers than normal, each featured Pokemon is capable of learning a special event-exclusive move that it otherwise couldn’t normally use in Pokemon Go. To obtain this move, you typically need to evolve the featured Pokemon into its final form by the end of the event. Ralts is unique in that it has two possible final evolutions, Gardevoir or Gallade, but regardless of which one you choose, it will learn the Psychic attack Synchronoise if you’re able to evolve it up to an hour after the Community Day ends.

Any Gardevoir or Gallade you obtain during August’s Community Day will learn Synchronoise, even if you originally captured their pre-evolved forms before the event. However, they’ll only learn the special attack if they’re evolved during the aforementioned time frame. Evolution is a costly process in Pokemon Go, so you’ll need to capture as many Ralts as you can during the event to amass enough Candy.

What Time Does August’s Community Day Start?

Community Days typically run from 3-6 PM local time, but much like last month’s event, August’s Community Day will take place from 4-7 PM local time instead. According to developer Niantic, the hours were pushed back slightly to make the event more enjoyable during the hot summer months. This is only a temporary change, however; Niantic says the schedule will return to its normal times once summer is over.

What Other Bonuses Are There?

Along with increased Pokemon spawns, Niantic offers a few other bonuses during each Community Day as another incentive to participate in the event. As usual, any Lure Modules you use will last three hours during the Community Day, rather than their usual 30-minute duration. On top of that, Incubators will be four times as effective as normal; that means Pokemon Eggs will hatch at a quarter of the distance they normally require. You can read more about August’s Community Day on the official Pokemon website.