Role-Locking Is Coming To Overwatch, According To Leaked Video

Today, a pre-recorded Overwatch League video leaked sharing news that Blizzard is apparently implementing role-locking in Overwatch and the Overwatch League. It is currently unclear how role-locking will manifest in the game itself.

Starting soon, all team compositions in the Overwatch League will consist of two damage-dealers, two supports, and two tanks, explained league staffers in the leaked video. The decision was made because “the more that we can do to keep the pro experience in Overwatch League consistent with the live game experience of Overwatch players, the better from the Overwatch League perspective,” explained Overwatch senior product director Jonathan Spector.

The dramatic shift may not come as a surprise to lots of fans; hints have been dropped for months. Before quitting the league, former pro Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek apparently confirmed it. The esports site Upcomer did, too, in a report where they spoke with several internal sources. And before announcing tonight’s Overwatch League broadcast, where the news was apparently slated to air, three Overwatch league casters each threw up a peace sign—2-2-2.

What might rattle even the most tuned-in fans was Spector’s comment that “2-2-2 is coming to the game soon” in what he describes as the “biggest change that’s happened in Overwatch since they added the one-hero limit.” Without more details, it seems like the rule will be implemented in the game, meaning regular players will be asked to follow the pros’ lead and specialize in a certain class map-by-map. It’s unclear whether this will be across the board or simply in the game’s competitive mode. On the Overwatch subreddit, players are expressing cautious optimism.


Role-locking will come as a welcome change for Overwatch league fans who are sick of the dominant “GOATS” meta, an unflashy playstyle of three tanks and three supports. Without Widowmaker’s hype headshots or Tracer’s zippy time-turning, players became bored of tuning in to the same old compositions over and over for months. Those opposed to role-locking’s implementation would argue that GOATS was already on its way out. Damage-dealing heroes like Sombra and Pharah were insinuating themselves more and more into the meta; who’s to say that Tracer might not come back, too?


In the leaked video, Spector says that the Overwatch League team let pro players vote on implementing role-locking. “An overwhelming majority of the teams supported the approach that we’re taking here,” he says.

For fans tired of playing support when four players insta-lock DPS, or fans excited to play tank knowing they’ll have two supports behind them, role-locking will unlock a version of the game they believe best represents its core. Others who prefer a more molten and chaotic meta might find Blizzard’s unilateral decision stifling. For my part, I can’t wait to see Saebyeolbe back in action.


The upcoming Wanderlust is a chill way to travel without leaving your desk

It’s only within the last few years that I started traveling for work, and I’ve never had the chance to go backpacking across Europe or spend days bussing around Thailand. Wanderlust: Travel Stories, a narrative game coming to Windows PC (via Steam) and iOS on Aug. 28 for $19.99, is likely the closest thing I’ll have to that experience without spending a few thousand dollars and booking time off.

My time with the game’s demo chapter was both relaxing and a little stressful, as Wanderlust captures more than just the tourist experience of traveling on a ferry or floating on a hotel pool. It also highlights some of the little stresses and friction that come from traveling to a new place with a purpose in mind.

Wanderlust is a text adventure-style game illustrated with photography. The story branches depending on the player’s choice in ways that are often small and mundane, but feel true to the spirit of being in a strange place among new people. Where do I stay? What clothes do I wear? Who do I talk to, and how do I respond to them? Should I stay in and relax, or decide to burn the last of my energy on exploring the neighborhood of my hotel?

Not only does the player have to make choices, they must manage practical restrictions too. Stress, fatigue, and money are all ever-present concerns that change the options on the table. I have an emotional state as well that changes as I explore the world. Am I a cynic? Do I go just for tourist fun? Am I sad that I failed to “find myself?” All of these emotional states can show up, and affect what choices I make in the moment and what I prioritize next.

The end product will have a script that runs over 300,000 words, and it’s impossible to see everything in one go. The environments often have a variety of options, but there are only so many hours in a day. Do I check out a local cooking course in the Bangkok slums, or go to an upscale mall to try and find some beautiful fashion? Do I go with the safe, tourist-y options, or try to find something more “authentic?” Am I here for fun, or to find myself? I can’t do everything, but that restriction is part of the reality of travel, and it makes the experiences I do choose feel more interesting and novel.

Developer Different Tales describes Wanderlust as belonging to “the emotive genre of ‘slow gaming,’” and that’s a good descriptor. In the game’s press release, Different Tales says that its collective of developers have worked on a variety of projects, ranging from “fantasy franchises with a cult following” to “critically acclaimed products about killing people.” The studio was founded by The Witcher head story designer Artur Ganszyniec and project lead Jacek Brzeziński (The Witcher, Hitman, Dying Light); Wanderlust is Different Tales’ debut game.

It’s fascinating to see developers with such broad resumes on elaborate projects focus on something smaller. Even though Wanderlust doesn’t cover as much ground, and it only offers text and imagery, the game still manages to feel dense. It’s tough to capture the bustling chaos of a new city, the heat and stress of travel, and the novelty of pushing yourself to try something new without actually doing those things, but the presentation of Wanderlust, and its frequency of choices, manages to come close.

Because I so often travel for work, sometimes the best look I get of a city is being in the back of a taxi, traveling through a new place and watching the people and attractions from afar. It’s pleasant, comfortable, and air conditioned, even if it’s distant. Wanderlust is like a compromise between that detached view from afar and the actual nitty gritty of exploring a city; dust, sweat, sore feet, and all. It’s also much cheaper than actually picking up and taking off to a whole new country, so that’s nice.

Wanderlust: Travel Stories will release on Aug. 28, 2019.


The Lion King’s revised songs are nearly as uncanny as its CGI

Never have I ever had to eat crow so completely as when I complained that “Be Prepared,” the second-best song in The Lion King, was apparently going to be cut from Jon Favreau’s remake of The Lion King, only to discover that an infinitely and unspeakably worse version had been swapped in. In an instant, I went from “how could they cut this song?” to “how could they keep this song?”

Instead of a bombastic number filled with goose-stepping hyenas and clouds of sickeningly green gas, we get a moody speech that just happens to be set to music, delivered in the fog and dark of the elephant graveyard. All of the joy has been sucked out of Elton John and Tim Rice’s eighth-notes-versus-triplets rumpus (as well as Hans Zimmer’s score), leaving behind a computer-animated husk and some bland spoken-word poetry.

Plenty has been written about the expressionless, deepfake-like animation of the 2019 remake of The Lion King, which trades the emotion of the original for some uncanny realism. But less has been said about the similar mangling of its music. You can hear the dissonance just as easily as you can see it, with familiar tunes shifting into radio-friendly and “cooler” territory.

The attempted shift toward “cool” is audible not only in the new “Be Prepared” (which is the worst offender) but even in the relatively unaltered songs — “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” — which now feel more like would-be pop hits than part of a musical. Which is a shame, because this movie is a musical.

The production on every song is bigger, brighter, and poppier. If the intention was to make them more awe-inspiring, the result is the opposite. Rather, the laserlike precision of the voices in the new recordings makes the songs sound narrow rather than full. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them; it’s just their context. They’re too smooth, coming out on the other side of sonic uncanny valley in sounding so ultra-produced that they no longer sound real — just as the animals, for looking so perfect, no longer seem to be possessed of any relatable feelings.

There is a reason The Lion King translated so well to Broadway, just as there’s a reason it was rendered in 2D to begin with. The two forms allowed the animal characters to express the full range of human emotions in a concise and spirited runtime.

Even Beyoncé’s new number, “Spirit,” can’t avoid this problem. It’s great as a stand-alone song, but so divorced from the rest of The Lion King that it causes musical whiplash. Written by Ilya Salmanzadeh, Labrinth, and Beyoncé herself rather than John and Rice, it sounds as if it’s been beamed in from an entirely different album (that album being The Lion King: The Gift, Beyoncé’s upcoming album of music inspired by the film). The same goes, to a lesser extent, for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” which, besides now taking place during broad daylight (as if to further stress the distance — or disregard? — for the original material), is a showcase for Beyoncé and Donald Glover’s remarkable vocals rather than a crucial turning point for the story.

Thank goodness for the comic relief, which brings the songs back to earth, delivering the lines with as much clarity as the high notes. Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen, as Timon and Pumbaa, respectively, get to chime in now and then. They’re the only people who sound like they’re in a musical rather than recording a new album. (And to some degree, John Oliver as Zazu, who has to scream his way through “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” to aurally make up for how photorealism sucks a lot of the zest from the number.) Eichner fares the best out of anyone on the album, nailing the Broadway-ready tone of the original compositions, while Rogen’s imperfect pitch ends up being charming simply because it doesn’t seem as manufactured as everything around it.

Similarly, the other new song in the film, Elton John’s “Never Too Late,” is so funky and unconcerned with being cool — i.e., in the spirit of the original Lion King — that it’s easily the remake’s best addition. However, it’s played over the credits rather than slotted into the movie, as are new recordings of “He Lives in You” and “Mbube” by Lebo M. Their inclusion only rubs salt into the wound of just how much of the great music from the Broadway musical (or The Lion King 2, in the case of “He Lives in You”) was ignored, including “Shadowland,” a Nala number that Beyoncé would have crushed. I want Beyoncé to perform at the Oscars as much as anything but, come on, “Spirit” is kind of boring! “Shadowland” wouldn’t be eligible for a Best Original Song Oscar, but at least it’d pop off.

That’s the fundamental problem with the new Lion King: Despite being so upgraded, it no longer pops off. There’s no “oh yeah, that’s my jam!” moment anymore, and the orchestral arrangements have become so big that they more closely resemble Zimmer’s work on, say, Pirates of the Caribbean (fantastic, but very different from The Lion King) than lion-Hamlet. The film, in striving for “cool” cred as a trendy update, feels unwilling to embrace its cheesy roots — which are what made it great to begin with.

If you’re curious just how the music (specifically the songs, not the score) holds up, here is my scientific ranking:

1. The Circle of Life

It’s “The Circle of Life.” It will practically always be strong no matter what you do to it, and it handily occurs in the new Lion King A) without any animals visibly mumble-singing (watching Zazu “talk” is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, as birds don’t have any real mouth articulation so it’s just the equivalent of miming talking with your hand) and B) before you’ve been clubbed into exhaustion by the rest of the movie. I teared up when “The Circle of Life” played. I regret giving this movie even an iota of my emotional bandwidth.

2. Never Too Late

When this song came on at the end of the movie, I felt like the clouds had parted and a beam of sunlight had come streaming through. “It’s Elton!” I screamed, hopped up on the song’s welcome silliness. Sure, it takes a little while to get going, but as soon as the chorus kicks in, it gets cookin’. This is the one song on this whole soundtrack that would make me happy if I heard it come on in the club.

I would also rank the new recordings of “He Lives in You” and “Mbube” here, just lumping all of the credits songs here as a technicality.

3. Hakuna Matata

Honestly, this has never been my favorite Lion King song, but Eichner and Rogen deliver. I love that Rogen is not a good singer! It’s like being fed meal replacement products (e.g. Soylent) because they’re “efficient” and “healthy” and “good for you” and then receiving a cheeseburger. In the words of Gordon Ramsay, “Delicious. Finally, some good fucking food. Wow.”

4. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Barely a song in the movie, but good for the same reasons as “Hakuna Matata.”

5. Can You Feel the Love Tonight

It’s a good song, but it’s not really a “getting in the mood” song anymore, you know? It’s a riffing song now, like when your friends who kept doing a cappella after graduating from college come to karaoke and do a “duet” which turns out to be more of a “which one of us can sing louder/better” contest. Obviously the winner here is Beyoncé.

6. Spirit

Great advertising for The Lion King: The Gift.

Seriously, though, there has never been a musical that has been made into a movie that has had a new “we want an Oscar” song that was good. “Evermore” in the new Beauty and the Beast is … well, now that I listen to it again, it’s OK, mostly because it mostly meshes with the songs around it. But it’s still not great. “Suddenly” in Les Misérables is just bad. “Spirit” is the best of the bunch, but it’s its own thing. When you talk about this song in years to come, you’ll refer to it as “Beyoncé’s Lion King song,” but you won’t think of it as part of The Lion King.

7. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King

I really can’t stress how much John Oliver has to scream in order to save this song. It’s downplayed in the soundtrack, but in the film, every instrumental break has Oliver warbling over it as Zazu tries to find Nala and Simba, because footage of animals loping around isn’t as exciting as the music would suggest.

8. Be Prepared

Ugh. I would even prefer the b-boy dance break in the Broadway version of “Be Prepared” to this non-song. I should note that this is not the fault of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who chooses a bit and commits to it. The problem with the new Lion King is not a penchant for “grittiness” or anything, but the new “Be Prepared” certainly skews in that direction. In the new movie, cloud Mufasa is a featureless mass of grey that looks like a lion for approximately 0.05 seconds when lightning flashes. This song is the equivalent of that.


Sea Of Thieves Gets Monthly Updates And The First One Is Pretty…Explosive

Sea of Thieves, Rare’s chill pirate hangout game, has been on the upswing lately. After an expansive (and excellent) Anniversary Update that brought story quests and cooking to its cartoony high seas in May, Sea of Thieves is upping the ante yet again with monthly updates. Log into the game now on Xbox One or PC and you’ll be greeted by the very first one, the Black Powder Stashes.

Like the name suggests, the update brings quests that send players off in search of gunpowder barrels. As you complete voyages and score the extremely expensive booty, you’ll be able to earn new titles and exclusive cosmetics for your ship.

As far as updates go, it seems a little light—the most interesting thing here is the way gunpowder adds some more tension to the Sea of Thieves loop. Ferrying loot back and forth becomes a lot more intense when that loot can blow up your entire ship with one lucky shot from a foe.

The prospect of monthly updates, however, is exciting. While it lacked variety in much of its first year, Sea of Thieves has only gotten better with time, and its developers remain vocal about their plan to continue that momentum. Giving players a reason to log in and see something new on their voyages every month is an excellent move. It brings Sea of Thieves closer in line with other live service games like Destiny 2, with one important distinction: You can’t play sea shanties in Destiny 2


The CW’s Batwoman pilot gets the most important thing about Batwoman right

Every San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros. kicks off the show with an evening of exclusive previews and premieres of its upcoming slate, and this year was no different. I got a chance to sit down and watch the first episode of the latest installment of the ever-expanding Arrowverse: Batwoman starring Ruby Rose.

Batwoman continues writer-producer Greg Berlanti’s run of solid superhero adaptations for the CW crowd. The show’s a little cartoony, a little gritty, and confident in the comic book elements that it picks up and the ones it discards. But if I have a favorite thing about it, it’s that the show understands that the best Batwoman stories are about integrity — and who can and can’t afford to have it.

[Ed. note: This piece will contain mild spoilers for the first episode of Batwoman.]

The establishment of Kate Kane’s sense of integrity is worth a little fudging of the edges of the rest of her story. As Batwoman opens, Batman hasn’t been seen in Gotham in three years. From Titans to Gotham to the ol’ Birds of Prey series and Arrow’s liberal use of Gotham’s Rogues Gallery, Batman is becoming the most notorious cryptid in DC Comics-based television.

Taking his place is The Crows, a private security firm headed by Kate Kane’s father, out to make Gotham City feel safe when it doesn’t trust its own police force to keep a lid on crime without a costumed vigilante. Our villain, the Lewis Carroll-quoting Alice, kidnaps The Crows’ star agent as part of a scheme to show it’s a bad idea for a private security firm to supplement a police force.

She’s not wrong! I, too, would do my utmost to interrupt a party in which a bunch of rich people excitedly count down to the moment Gotham City turns off the Batsignal for good, while safe behind a wall of private security forces. But the agent Alice kidnaps just happens to be the ex-girlfriend that Kate Kane got kicked out of West Point for having, which puts our hero on the first flight back to Gotham from the indeterminately ethnic location she was in, where she was training in obscure survival techniques with an indeterminately ethnic mentor.

In practice, Rose’s Kate Kane is a down and dirty brawler like any other scrawny male action hero in a leather jacket, and Rose knows how to sell a batsuit as well, or better, than her male counterparts. I also enjoyed the original role of Mary Hamilton (played by Nicole Kang), Kate’s step-sister. Seemingly a social butterfly, she turns out to have a refreshing secret life going on underneath — one that I’m sure will lead to her being brought into the Batfamily secrets soon enough.

The character work in Batwoman is as broad as the rest of the Berlantiverse, serving the plot more often than it should. But over all the show feels a little older, a little less comic-booky than its tonal cousin, Arrow. Batwoman still asks you to believe that a scalloped cape can act like a hang glider — but not that Oliver Queen’s family would believe that he was totally alone on that island when he came back with a back tattoo.

If there was one thing the show really needs to back off from, it’s lines like “You’re a female Bruce Wayne,” and “[The batsuit] will be [perfect]. When it fits a woman.” We get it. We’ve seen the name of the show. One of the most powerful things about Batwoman’s comic book origin is how little it is about Batman.

That said, the most important part of Kate Kane’s story remains intact in Batwoman. In Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s origin story — a plot that is now, against all odds, outdated — Kate’s transformation into Batwoman began when she was kicked out of West Point under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She could have stayed: Her commanding officer, given her stellar grades, offered to wipe her record if she refuted the accusation of homosexual behavior. In response, she quoted the Army Cadet Honor Code: A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do — and took the discharge.

Kate Kane refuses to lie in order to saver herself from being discharged from the Army under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Detective Comics, DC Comics (2009). Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III/DC Comics

Batwoman keeps this origin, and combines it with another of Kate Kane’s ex-girlfriends; when her Army beau tells her that she was given the same offer, and took it. Kate is betrayed, but her newly axed ex-girlfriend tells her bluntly: You can afford to get kicked out. I can’t.

Good Batwoman stories are about Kate Kane’s integrity in refusing to live as anyone other than who she is. The best ones interrogate the privilege she has to exercise that integrity. Rucka and Williams did this in early Batwoman arcs when they showcased her relationship with Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya. When Renee and Kate fought, Kate had a habit of accusing Renee of hypocrisy for living closeted at work and to her family. Renee would say the same as Kate’s television ex: Kate may be gay, but she reads as white, her family supports her, and her family is rich. She sacrificed her dream, yes, but not her survival.

There was never any doubt that Kate Kane would still be a lesbian in her television adaptation, but the nuance with which her origin story treats privilege within the queer community could have been the first thing to go. I was relieved and excited to see that it wasn’t, and am interested to see what the show does with it next.

Batwoman premieres Oct. 6, 2019.


Etherborn Review

The manicured lawns in Etherborn are minimally sculptured. Their soil is thinly layered with patches of grass contained within grey slabs of concrete, and they stand in stark contrast to a backdrop of crumbling pillars and decrepit buildings. And like examining the self-contained scenes of a diorama, you’ll find yourself ruminating over these landscapes as you unravel the puzzle of how to traverse them. But while Etherborn’s minimalist beauty carries suggestions of loftier and more ambitious storytelling it’s instead hampered a dissonant narrative, and a brevity that makes it feel lacking.

Like many platformers, Etherborn seems deceptively simple initially: just leapfrog your way towards the level’s finale while collecting crystalline orbs that unlock previously inaccessible areas. In fact, some of Etherborn’s geometric planes and architectural complexity very much harken back to Monument Valley, a title that famously plays on optical illusions and the mathematically-inspired art of MC Escher. What makes this puzzle game different is that its laws of gravity aren’t like our world’s. You can simply walk across any surface–even those perpendicular to your character–as long as there’s a curved edge that connects them. However, you’re still vulnerable to injuries and death; accidentally sliding off these landscapes and into the endless void below is a possibility.

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Scaling these lopsided grounds introduces another dimension and new, unforeseen challenges. Etherborn often manipulates your perspectives, challenging you to find the abstract solutions to its puzzles. There are occasions where I was left baffled, unable to move on, only to realize much later that I didn’t notice a few platforms I could jump on because they were turned onto their sides. At other times, you may even spend the bulk of a level on a horizontal wall and leaping over chasms within the same plane–a perspective that’s tough to get the hang of. It’s highly likely that you’ll slip through the cracks at least once or twice due to the obtuse angles and see yourself spiraling downwards into the emptiness below (or sideways, given the game’s unconventional gravitational pull).

Key to solving some puzzles is a keen eye for detail, which can help you to spot obscure passageways that open another route to your goal. Becoming intimately familiar with the nooks and crannies of every miniature world is something you’ll want to do not only to satisfy your curiosity about the environment–it’s also necessary if you want to get through the game’s levels. Upping the ante in later chapters are shifting monochrome blocks, which expand and retract depending on where you are–and they can be a great source of grievance when they hinder your path.

It would have been a drag to commit to all these efforts if Etherborn’s ecosystem were a lusterless one. Luckily, wandering and discovering each microcosm is mostly joyful and even oddly meditative. You can hike along the side of a flight of steps and find a starkly different landscape tucked away underneath, or run along the contours of the structures surrounding the island. Even though Etherborn’s world is sparsely decorated and may even appear sterile, with only a few shrubberies, dandelions and elements of urban decay adorning each world, it is a universe still feels genuinely intriguing.

Discovering a hidden passage or a curved pathway as a new means of moving forward toward uncharted surfaces is hugely gratifying. Given that you’ll probably be devoting a fair amount of time tinkering away at its puzzles, it also helps that the orchestral, instrumental soundtrack is soothing and non-intrusive. And while there are only five chapters in the game, each will probably take you at least an hour to figure out. Coupled with its steep levels of difficulty, it’s also comforting that mistakes via accidental deaths are also quickly forgiven, with the game swiftly transporting you back to the state you were in a few seconds ago.

What’s decidedly less impressive, however, is how hard Etherborn tries to shoehorn an ill-fitting narrative within the puzzles. You’re a featureless, transparent humanoid figure with a very visible circulatory system, a character vaguely resembling the human anatomy mannequin found in a biology classroom. At the behest of an incorporeal, hallowed voice, you’re tasked to travel across these lands in search of a series of waypoints. Tapping on these will eventually reveal various paths on a massive tree called the Endless Tree, its bark gradually peeling off to expose a meandering, vein-like system across its trunk that ties all the chapters together. It’s a nifty inclusion that references the game’s imagery of humanity and anatomy, but ultimately an inconsequential one.

Even as this disembodied voice tells a story that alludes to the beginnings of human civilization, the plot feels perfunctory and strangely divorced from its puzzles. Aside from introducing each chapter, the voice doesn’t influence the game very much; instead, it simply delves into vague parables about the folly of human nature, without really explaining the significance of your mannequin character and this exotic world. This sense of dissonance makes the tale rather tenuous to follow. Exacerbating this is how the dialogue is filled with abstract ideas that teeter on pretentiousness, bloated with lofty lines like, “And so, their vast ego was also reduced to mere language.” Etherborn would have been even more intriguing had it allowed you to project your own stories and interpretations onto this universe–like many curious onlookers would as they peer into a diorama.

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The highlights of Etherborn are undoubtedly its inventive puzzles and its constellation of small, compelling worlds. But with just five chapters, its brief runtime feels lacking, and it left me wanting for more puzzles to solve. Etherborn attempts to compensate for this by unlocking a new game plus mode after you’ve completed the game, which lets you dive into the same worlds once more. This mode is largely similar to the original one, the only difference being the crystalline orbs, which are located in harder-to-reach places. Apart from the slightly more challenging platforming puzzles, however, the electrifying thrill of discovery has largely subsided–you’ve already found all the secrets, after all–and there’s little incentive to revisit it. By the end, even the allure of these small worlds isn’t enough to make you return, with only the yearning for more remaining in its wake.


33 Confirmed Dead After Fire At Kyoto Animation, Suspected Arsonist In Custody [Updated]

Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

A fire, suspected to be arson, at a Kyoto, Japan animation studio has left at least 33 people dead and hospitalized more with injuries. A man in his 40s, allegedly seen pouring a flammable liquid at the site and setting it on fire, has been taken into police custody.

The fire occurred at the Studio 1 building of Kyoto Animation, one of Japan’s most popular producers of anime. At around 10 a.m. JST Thursday morning, residents living near the studio heard the sound of an explosion and saw smoke emitting from the building, which is located in Kyoto’s Fushimi ward. One witness said the suspect was screaming “Die” as he lit the fire.


Kyoto Animation, founded in 1981, is known for anime like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, K-On! and more recently, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Free!, among many others. While the building that was set on fire was its main animation studio, the company’s head office is in Uji City, Kyoto, which is about 20 minutes away by car.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Hideaki Hatta told reporters that for the past few years, death threats had often been sent to the company.


In the aftermath of the event, fans have posting messages, expressing sorrow and offering condolences using a #prayforkyoani hashtag on Twitter.

This developing story has been updated since its original publication. A list of updates is below.


Updated: 7/18/2019, 8:26 a.m. ET: Thirty-three people have been confirmed dead.

Updated: 7/18/2019, 7:09 a.m. ET: Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead.

Updated: 7/18/2019, 6:09 a.m. ET: Fans have posting messages, expressing sorrow and offering condolences using a #prayforkyoani hashtag on Twitter.


Updated: 7/18/2019, 5:18 a.m. ET: Kyoto Animation CEO Hideaki Hatta told reporters that for the past few years, death threats have often been sent to the company.

Updated: 7/18/2019, 4:36 a.m. ET: Sixteen people are now confirmed dead, the Japanese TV media reports.


Updated: 7/18/2019, 3:30 a.m. ET: An announcement scheduled tomorrow for Kyoto Animation’s new Free! movie has been canceled. [Editor’s note: This update originally stated that the movie had been canceled. It has not. We regret the error.]

Updated: 7/18/2019, 3:08 a.m. ET: The Japanese media is now reporting that seven people are confirmed dead.


Updated: 7/18/2019, 12:59 a.m. ET: One witness said the suspect was screaming “die” as he lit the fire.

Updated: 7/18/2019, 12:46 a.m. ET: According to Japanese TV news, there are still people trapped in the studio and there are 20 people who are still unaccounted for.


Earlier: Sankei News reported that 38 employees have been taken to the hospital for major and minor injuries. ANN added that nine people are unconscious. According to Kyoto Shimbun, one person is reported dead.


CWL Miami – Pro League Finals + Champs Qualifiers Event Details

The last major open event for the 2019 Call of Duty World League season takes place this weekend on July 19-21! The Call of Duty World League heads to a new location for the first time to celebrate the end of the 2019 Pro League season, Miami, Florida! CWL Finals takes place in the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The CWL Finals Event features the end of the Pro League 2019 Season, with the top 10 teams competing in the Finals for their share of $1,250,000 prize pool. 8 teams have already secured their spot in the Finals, and two more will secure it during a play in tournament at Miami. CWL Finals also features a dedicated amateur open tournament with its own price pool with $75,000 on the line for amateur dedicated tournament. The top 16 amateur teams will secure a spot for the 2019 CWL Championship event in August.

Live from the Miami Beach Convention Center, the CWL Finals is the culmination for a 12-week CWL Pro League season – acting as the location for the season playoffs, an event that had previously been held at the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio. CWL Finals also acts as the final MTN DEW® AMP® GAME FUEL® Open Bracket event of the season. Amateur teams from around the world will compete for a championship prize pool as well as a chance to compete at the 2019 Call of Duty World League Championship later this year.

The top 16 teams in the CWL Finals MTN DEW® AMP® GAME FUEL® Open Bracket will earn entry to the 2019 Call of Duty World League Championship, giving budding Call of Duty esports stars an opportunity to vie for glory against the best teams in the world.

The entire action will be streamed live on Twitch, MLG, and in the game live event viewer on PlayStation 4 in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.


Play In Tournament Bracket:

Pro League Finals Bracket:


  • Friday, July 19: Stream begins at 9AM PT / 12PM ET
  • Saturday, July 20: Stream begins at 10AM PT / 1PM ET
  • Sunday, July 21: Stream begins at 10AM PT / 1PM ET

Main Stream:

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You can watch the Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Open Bracket streams here.

Following this event, the 2019 Call of Duty World League season for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will conclude on August 16-18 in Los Angeles, CA with the 2019 Call of Duty World League Championship, presented by PlayStation 4 which will feature the top 32 teams competing for their share of $2 million prize pool.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter for the latest Call of Duty World League news!

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Overwatch comics are getting a mobile makeover, coming to Snapchat

Snapchat is best known for selfie filters and group messages, but its developers are partnering with Blizzard for a new content initiative. Overwatch will be coming to Snapchat via a new weekly feature called “Overwatch Comics.”

These Overwatch comics will draw from the existing archive of comics created and published, but will use Madefire’s animation technology to be a little more dynamic and action-oriented. These comics will premiere on July 18 on Snapchat’s Discover page.

“Overwatch Comics” will launch with two comics: Train Hopper, starring McCree, and Dragon Slayer, with Reinhardt and Brigitte. Successive comics will launch weekly. These comics originally debuted in 2016, and they were later collected in the Overwatch anthology, which released in 2017. Madefire has released “Motion Books” of Overwatch comics in the past; ten of the comics were released through the client.

These Madefire collaborations will be made exclusively for Snapchat; Overwatch is the first title in a series of “content offerings with further game-based content.”

This opens a new possibility for future Overwatch content after a period of dormancy. We’ve started receiving short stories based around Overwatch characters. The first, Bastet, released in January. The second, Reunion, launched in June. These short stories are one of the biggest ways that Blizzard has expanded the lore of Overwatch, along with cinematics and their line of comics.

Blizzard have released a full volume of 12 comics to date; a second volume started with Masquerade, released in July 2017. The most recent lore comic we’ve received was Retribution, in April 4, 2018. It looks as though Blizzard is looking for more ways to share their comics, and this collaboration with Snapchat may be a way to distribute their lore through mobile devices. While fans wait for BlizzCon 2019 in November, this may be a good way to revisit the previous stories of Overwatch and speculate what — or who — may be next.


The Tracks Lead Off In This Direction

Fine Art[Fine Art]( is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios. If you’re in the business and have some art you’d like to share, [get in touch!](  

Katya Gudkina is an artist at Bethesda, the developers of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series.

You can see more of Gudkina’s stuff at her personal site and ArtStation page.