All posts by gamesavepoint

Apex Legends Season 1 Battle Pass Is Now Live

Season 1 of Apex Legends has begun. The game’s Wild Frontier Battle Pass is now available to purchase on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, bringing a new assortment of skins, stat trackers, and other exclusive rewards to unlock in Respawn’s popular battle royale game.

Much like Fortnite‘s own seasonal Battle Pass, the Wild Frontier Battle Pass costs 950 Apex Coins, which roughly equates to $10 / £8. If you’re eager to get a head start, EA is also offering a Battle Pass bundle for 2,800 Apex Coins that will instantly unlock the first 25 tiers, giving you immediate access to those rewards.

Apex Coins are Legends’ premium currency. They can typically only be purchased with real money, although there are a few other ways to get your hands on some for free. You’ll receive 1,000 Apex Coins by signing up for EA/Origin Access, which effectively amounts to a 50% discount if you spring for a one-month subscription. You’ll also be able to earn up to 1,000 Apex Coins by leveling up the Battle Pass.

As in Fortnite, you’ll unlock rewards as you level up Apex Legends’ Battle Pass, and you’ll receive three exclusive character skins automatically just for purchasing it. Even if you don’t decide to buy the pass, however, you’ll still be able to earn a handful of rewards, and you’ll retroactively unlock any you would have earned if you decide to purchase it partway through the season.

Unlike Fortnite, however, Apex Legends’ Battle Pass doesn’t offer any challenges. According to Respawn, this was a deliberate decision in order to let players focus on learning the ins and outs of the game rather than striving to check off contrived tasks.

“You’ll notice the first version isn’t built around a complex quest system where you need to do a 720 backflip off of Watchtower Artemis and get two Wingman headshots before hitting the ground,” Respawn wrote in a blog post. “While we think there’s really cool design space in quests and challenges for future Battle Passes, we wanted the initial version to allow our players to just play and learn the game.”

You can read more about how the Apex Legends Battle Pass works here. Also arriving to the game today is Octane, Apex Legends’ newest playable character. However, he isn’t included as part of the Battle Pass; rather, players will need to purchase him separately from the in-game store for 12,000 Legend Tokens or 750 Apex Coins.


Google Stadia is the new streaming gaming platform from Google

Google announced Stadia, a new cloud-based gaming platform, at its GDC 2019 keynote Tuesday morning. It’s a major move for Google into the video game business, which is increasingly building toward streaming as a solution.

Stadia is not a dedicated console or set-top box. The platform will be accessible over the internet on a variety of platforms: browsers, computers, TVs, and mobile devices. In an onstage demonstration of Stadia, Google showed someone playing a game on a Chromebook, then playing it on a phone, then immediately playing it on PC, picking up where the game left off in real time.

Stadia can stream games in 60 fps, with HDR and 4K resolution, said Google’s Majd Bakar. In the future, Bakar said, Stadia will achieve resolutions up to 8K and frame rates up to 120 fps. Google showed AAA games like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and id Software Doom Eternal running on Stadia.

Google will have a hardware component, however: the Stadia Controller. It’s a traditional looking gamepad, with dual analog joysticks, four face buttons, and shoulder buttons. The controller will connect to the cloud via wi-fi, and includes a “share” button to connect to YouTube and a Google Assistant button.

Stadia will be powered by Google’s worldwide data centers, which live in more than 200 countries and territories, streamed over hundreds of millions of miles of fiber optic cable, Pichai said. Executive Phil Harrison, previously at PlayStation and Xbox, now at Google, said the company will give developers access to its data centers to bring games to Stadia.

Harrison said that players will be able to access and play Stadia games, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, within seconds. Harrison showed a YouTube video of Odyssey featuring a “Play” button that would offer near-instant access to the game.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the new platform at the Game Developers Conference, saying that Google want to build a gaming platform for everyone, and break down barriers to access for high-end games.

Google offered a glimpse of its new gaming initiative in 2018 with the public test of Project Stream, a technology that made it possible to stream Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through its Chrome web browser.


Google Unveils Gaming Platform Stadia, A Competitor To Xbox, PlayStation And PC

Tech giant Google is getting into gaming in a big way with a direct challenge to the giants of console and PC gaming. It’s called Stadia.

Former Sony and Xbox executive and current Google gaming boss Phil Harrison detailed the platform today at an event in San Francisco during the Game Developers Conference, saying it would link all the ways people play games. The core of it is that it’ll be a gaming platform that runs via streaming, no console or PC needed and no games downloaded or running on a disc at the users’ end.

Harrison and a host of other presenters boasted of high-end gaming running in 4K and 60 frames per second, streamed across Google’s network to any screen you can think of.

“This new generation of gaming is not a box,” Harrison said. It will launch later this year, first in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe.

Crucially, Harrison and the other assembled presenters did not say how fast users’ internet speeds would need to be to get the sky-high performance hyped throughout the event, let alone to enjoy multiplayer games that run entirely via streaming.

Previous game-streaming services such as OnLive have offered similar hardware-free or hardware-light propositions but didn’t hit it big in part due to users’ discomfort, distrust or dissatisfaction with connection lags. Google argues that its custom hardware network can offer high enough quality gaming to satisfy and even convert people used to buying games on disc or downloading them. The company prototyped the Stadia tech last fall by allowing users of a program called Project Stream to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in a Google Chrome browser. We had tested it ourselves and were impressed. That service had required users to have download speeds of at least 15 megabits per second and latency of 40 milliseconds or less.

Update – 7:25pm: A Google PR rep tells Kotaku that Google’s Project Stream was able to provide 1080p, 60fps gameplay for users with 25 megabits per second connections. “When Stadia launches later this year, we expect to be able to deliver 4k 60 fps at approximately the same bandwidth requirements,” they said.

Kotaku readers have shared their own experiences with Stream in the comments to this article, some saying performance was superb, others saying it was lacking. Download speeds are just one factor for having an optimal connection and those speeds and the latency of connections will be a key factor for Stadia’s viability.

At the event, Harrison walked through an example of how Stadia might work. Someone could be watching a trailer for a game, click the option to play now and be playing within five seconds. “No download, no patch and no install,” Harrison said. “Stadia offers instant access to play.” He said it reduces the friction between being excited about a game and playing it.

Stadia will work on TVs, tablets, laptops, and phones. It’ll work with existing controllers when playing on a laptop and PC. Stadia will also have its own controller. The Stadia controller, which is optional, connects to Google’s streaming data centers directly over WiFi, for limiting latency. It has a capture button that shares to YouTube and a Google Assistant button that’ll activate the controller’s microphone to provide help in a game.

Harrison said that Google has already shipped Stadia development kits to more than 100 studios and announced the creation of Google’s own first-pary development studio, Stadia Games & Entertainment. It will make exclusive content for Stadia and will be run by Jade Raymond, the longtime game producer whose credits include the creation of the Assassin’s Creed franchise at Ubisoft. Raymond said her team will also work with external studios to bring Stadia’s features to their games.

“I’m actually not a big gamer,” Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai said at the start of the keynote. But he said he leads a company full of people interested in solving hard technology problems. To that end, the presentation of Google’s platform today was angled as a way to offer an approach to gaming that is based on streaming games over a low-latency network.

Pichai showed off the company’s custom server hardware and connections.

The idea, he said, is “building a game platform for everyone,” removing hardware barriers.

Google is saying that is thousands of edge nodes and racks of powerful hardware can offer significant technological muscle to provide games running at high specs. For launch, they’re promising 4K gaming at 60 frames per second.

Stadia is being built with the help of PC giant AMD, which is offering a custom GPU for the platform’s server-side processing (remember, nothing is really happening on the device Stadia gamers use to play games).

In an interview with Eurogamer, Harrison confirmed what we’d reported yesterday that you’ll need a Chromecast dongle if you’re using Stadia on a TV.

Crucially, at the event the Stadia team didn’t immediately clarify how fast a user’s internet needs to be to get the best performance, a make or break element of Google’s plans. 

As for the games? The first game announced for Stadia turned out to be the upcoming Doom Eternal, which Id Software producer Marty Stratton said took a few weeks to get working on Stadia. Stratton said the game would run at 4K and 60 FPS.

Harrison noted that Stadia would support cross-platform play.

Some proofs of concept shown for Stadia include things like allowing couch co-up through streaming that doesn’t tax the performance of a game, the ability for multiple people to view the same game world from a range of perspectives, again without a hit on performance.

Q-Games founder Dylan Cuthbert (of PixelJunk gaming fame) introduced a Stadia concept called “state share,” which enables the game to code a particular moment (where the player is, what they have, a specific moment int he game) that can be shared via a link. Cuthbert said his team is making a game that is based all around this concept, but couldn’t unveil it yet.

Another Stadia feature demoed today is something called Crowd Play. They demoed it by letting people watch a stream of a game and the queue up to be next to take over the game and play it. This, YouTube Gaming’s Ryan Wyatt said, would allow YouTubers to curate a group gaming experience.

Harrison said Google will reveal more about the platform’s launch line-up this summer. For what it’s worth, sets of icons shown on Google’s event stream even before the game began hinted at some of the games that could be on the service.

Red Dead?


We’ll share more as we find out.

While we described Google’s Stadia as a competitor to traditional console and PC gaming models, it’s also worth considering that one of those bastions of traditional console gaming, Microsoft, is also prepping a streaming-based service. Project xCloud, revealed last year, is intended to also enable high-end gaming experiences on a wide range of screens, freeing people from needing to own a PC or console to play games that would otherwise only run on those devices. In a company blog post a week ago, Microsoft said that users would be able to “test it in real-world scenarios later this year.”

Note: This story was updated throughout the day with more details about Stadia and its competition.


Apex Legends Patch Notes: New Update Adjust Hit Boxes, Adds Octane

After what felt like a very long wait, Apex Legendsfirst battle pass is here, along with the first new addition to its character roster: Octane. Both come in a pretty substantial update to Respawn Entertainment’s battle royale shooter, but hidden behind all the flash of new stuff to earn and buy is another significant change players have been waiting for. That’s an adjustment to character hit boxes that should make big characters like Gibraltar, Caustic, and Pathfinder a lot more viable on the battlefield.

Respawn released the patch notes for the Season 1: Wild Frontier update on the Apex Legends subreddit. The notes give a little more detail on a few things, like how long Octane’s abilities last, and included a bunch of quality-of-live improvements that are now part of the game as well. Arguably the biggest is the hit box change, though. According to Respawn, the hit boxes for Gibraltar, Caustic, and Pathfinder have been changed “to better align with their shapes.”

Hit boxes are invisible shapes assigned to characters that register when they’ve been hit–if you shoot a character but your bullet lands outside their hit box (hitting, say, a hand or a piece of clothing), the hit doesn’t count and the character takes no damage. Caustic and Gibraltar, being the biggest characters in Apex Legends, had the biggest hit boxes, but they were also apparently not quite in line with the character players see on screen. The same is true of the robot Pathfinder, whose hit box previously extended into places that didn’t look like they should count as a hit, such as the space between his metal legs. The change should make all three characters a little tougher to hit, and therefore, more players will be likely to choose them going forward.

The new update also throws in a number of bug fixes, like patching a spot in Gibraltar’s shield that wasn’t blocking bullets and fixing a problem in which Pathfinder’s zip line wouldn’t deploy if players used it while jumping. There are a bunch of other quality-of-life changes that should make playing the game a bit easier for some people, like the ability to swap the functions of the left and right bumpers on controllers.

Another notable addition in this patch is the new ability to report people you suspect might be cheating. Players using hacks have been a problem for Apex on PC, and Respawn said in its patch notes it has banned just shy of 500,000 players for cheating. That’s a pretty big number, but considering Respawn says 50 million people have downloaded the game, there might still be a long way to go in cleaning up the cheater problem.

You can read the full patch notes below.

Apex Legends March 19 Update Patch Notes

Stability & Performance

We’ve got some fixes in this patch that will improve stability on PC but we know there are still issues out there we need to address. We also added crash reporting so we can better understand how to tackle the issues we haven’t solved yet and address future ones.

  • Improved stability for various GPU configurations.
  • Capped PC FPS to 300 to balance improving stability but still letting you folks enjoy those sweet frames.
  • Addressed issue with PS4 crashes due to running out of memory.
  • Introducing better reporting when Apex crashes on PC without error message.
    • We really want to fix any crashes people happen to get on PC. We also respect our player’s privacy. So, if the PC game crashes, it will write “apex_crash.txt” to your “Documents” folder. This tiny file is plain text, so you can easily see for yourself that it has no personal information. If you choose to share this file with us, it will tell us whether the crash was in Apex or in third party software. If the crash was in Apex, our programmers can use the information to find and fix it. If you experience a crash, please include this file when you report.
      • We protect your personal information.
      • You can easily see everything in the file yourself; we have no secrets.
      • You’re in control of whether we ever see the file.
  • Added Report a Player feature for cheating and abuse on PC.
    • Players can now report cheaters they encounter in-game and it’ll be sent directly to Easy Anti-Cheat. You can do this from either the spectate view after dying or when looking at your team’s Banner Cards in the Squad tab.
    • We have lots of other work going on behind the scenes and this remains high priority for us. We won’t be able to share many specifics of what we’re doing but we’ll strive to provide updates on progress for the things we can talk about.
    • As I’m finishing the notes this morning, 499,937 accounts and counting have been banned for cheating.
    • Speed hacking: We do currently have anti-speed hacking in Apex Legends, but it’s not being as effective as intended due to a bug that we believe we’ve identified and will be addressing in our next server update. Will provide ETA for it when I have it. Working to get it out ASAP.
  • Added Report a Player for abuse on Consoles
    • You can report players from the spectate view after dying or when looking at your team’s Banner Cards in the Squad tab.
  • Optimized skydiving to improve overall server performance.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes the client could crash when opening Apex Packs one right after the other.

Quality Of Life

  • Added “Swap LT/RT & LB/RB” / “Swap L1/R1 & L2/R2”) toggle in the Controller Button Layout settings.
    • Lets you quickly swap what your bumpers & triggers are set to, with any controller preset.

  • Added “Sprint View Shake” setting under the Video tab.
    • Setting this to “Minimal” can be especially helpful for players susceptible to motion sickness.

  • Added “Trigger Deadzones” setting under the Controller tab.
    • Customize how far you want to pull the triggers before they register.

  1. Added “Advanced Look Controls” settings submenu under the Controller tab.
    • Fine-tune specific aspects of the look controls for a custom feel; such as Deadzone, Response Curve, Target Compensation (aim assist), and more.

  • When you relinquish the Jumpmaster position to another player you will now hear your Legend’s VO line in addition to the new Jumpmaster. The third player won’t hear it though.
  • Pathfinder grapple: updated icon
  • Pathfinder grapple: added indicator near crosshair to show when player is in range of grapple-able geo
  • Improved mantling from a grapple point.
  • Pathfinder can now grapple ziplines.
  • We’ve added D-pad navigation as a convenience in most of the menus. Our hope is this will speed up browsing and improve accessibility.
  • UI improvements to the KO Shield
    • Shield bar drains to indicate the remaining health of the shield.
    • When you have a Gold KO Shield and are down, we’ve added an effect to the label that reminds you that you can self revive.
  • We saw that the Ring indicator that appears when players are viewing the whole map wasn’t accurately showing the player’s position so we fixed that.
  • Character animations while taking damage now accurately reflect the direction the damage is coming from.
  • Fixed a bug where occluded sounds would sometimes sound unoccluded.
  • Patched up some issues with missing geo on Kings Canyon and fixed a few spots where players were getting stuck.
  • Fixed a script error that could happen when removing attachments on holstered weapons.
  • General polish to game UI fixing some grammar issues, improved navigation, and composition of elements.
  • Fixed PC users constantly switching weapons while scrolling through items in a Death Box.
  • Fixed issue where we were seeing server stability issues sometimes caused by purchasing items while matchmaking.
  • Fixed script errors that could occur during the skydive.
  • Reduced skybox fog.
  • Adjusted the code for Supply Bins so they are less likely to kill players. If you do still get killed by one please let us know!
  • Made it so push-to-talk is no longer on when a chat box is active.
  • LT/RT no longer switches between players in spectator mode while the map is open.
  • Updated the minimap to more accurately reflect the geo and points of interest on the main map.
  • Adding sound FX to the UI for the key binding menu.
  • Fixed issue where a player’s name would not show up when they send a message that reached the character limit.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes the Champion screen resolution would be stretched in widescreen resolutions.
  • Fixed audio bug where sometimes the zipline sounds FX would keep playing after disembarking.
  • Added accessibility option to modify the subtitle size.
  • Improvements / fixes for color blind players:
    • Added better color blind support for Blood Hound’s Threat Vision.
    • Colorblind colors per setting are now displayed in the settings menu.
    • Colorblind settings moved from Video Settings to Gameplay->Accessibility. They are now applied on the fly.
    • Enemy pings now use proper enemy color instead of only using red.
  • Audio:
    • Turned down volume when Wraith activates a portal.
    • Turned down the end sounds on the Peacekeeper charged shot.
    • Turned down the draw/holster sound slightly for thermite grenades.

Legend Hit Box Adjustments

  • Adjusted hit boxes for Gibraltar, Caustic, and Pathfinder to better align with their shapes.


  • Fixed players being able to shortcut weapon swap by changing stance
  • Fixed players being able to shortcut Peacekeeper rechamber sequence
  • Fixed inaccurate auto ranging fullscreen (sniper) optics when base FOV is not set to default
  • Spitfire: fixed ADS view on Legendaries partially obscured by custom geo. (The Continuum, The Heavy Construct)
  • Fixed ADS view being blocked when using Caustic legendary skins with certain weapon/ optic combos
  • Digital threat optics: threat highlights are now more visible (slightly brighter; no longer affected by TSAA)
  • Fixed bug where Devotion audio sometimes wouldn’t accurately reflect rate of fire.

Additional Bug Fixes

  • Fixed rare issue where a player could get stuck on the drop ship and be invulnerable.
  • Patched up the hole we found in Gibraltar’s shield.
  • Fixed issue where Lifeline’s revive shield wouldn’t stay put while on a moving platform.
  • Fixed issue where sometimes players would get stuck in map geometry while skydiving from the dropship or Jump Towers.
  • Fixed bug where players could still shoot even after being downed.
  • Fixed bug where occasionally Lifeline’s D.O.C. drone would stay connected to a player but not heal them.
  • Limited the amount of Lifeline’s D.O.C. drones that can connect to a player to 2.
  • Fixed Pathfinder’s zipline not deploying when jumping.
  • Fixed a bug with the HUD where sometimes the Heal Bar would stay up if the heal was cancelled right after it was started.
  • Fixed a bug where sometimes the audio would continue to play sound FX for the Knockdown Shield even after it’s been destroyed.
  • Fixed issue where sometimes players could get disconnected when unplugging their controller during a game.
  • Fixed the exploit where you could do infinite wallclimb using Pathfinder’s Grapple.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes you couldn’t fire the Peacekeeper after riding a zip line.
  • Fixed issue where sometimes the skybox fog would not appear while spectating after you died.
  • Fixed bug where Banner Cards would show through walls occasionally when viewed through a very high FOV.
  • Fixed some odd light flickering that was happening on the ballon flags attached to Jump Towers.
  • Fixed bug where sometimes a player’s Banner Card would not show up after character select.

Razer Chroma Support

Apex Legends will now detect Razer Chroma peripherals and supported devices will now play animated colors that react to things you do in the game! Some examples:

  • Red lights during banner transitions.
  • While skydiving colors will tune to the color of your smoke trail.
  • Picking up loot.
  • Opening Apex Packs
  • Firing and taking damage.
  • Colors that flash when your Ultimate is ready.
  • And more!


Apex Legends’ New Character Octane Is Live: Here’s What He Can Do

The first new addition to Apex Legends‘ character roster is here along with its first season and its first battle pass. There are a lot of cool things coming with the battle pass, but the biggest change to the game is Octane, its newest character. Octane changes up the game with a focus on adrenaline–he’s a character who benefits from moving fast, sacrificing health for speed. He can also change up the battlefield by getting characters into places they couldn’t previously reach, and when facing him, expect to be looking up, since he can help enemy players descend on you from above.

Octane is an aggressive character, so if you’re going to use him, expect to be in the fight a lot. He should operate similarly to Wraith, Bangalore, and Mirage, allowing you to close distance quickly with his speed abilities. It sounds like while Wraith and Mirage are positioned more as flanking characters who distract enemies, Octane operates more like Bangalore as a front-line fighter. His abilities should make him tougher to hit, and when you do take damage, you’ll likely be able to deal with it more easily.

Like other characters, Octane packs three abilities: one passive, one activated by a button push, and one ultimate that takes a long time to charge up. Octane’s active ability lets him boost his speed at the cost of his health, increasing his movement speed by 30% for six seconds. That allows you to jet around the battlefield, drawing fire or flanking enemies while being much tougher to hit. To counteract the fact that Octane is the only character who sacrifices his own health for his abilities, his passive ability slowly regenerates at a rate of one health point every two seconds. That should also help in tough battle situations if you’re able to hide or get to safety, but you’re short on healing items.

For an ultimate, Octane’s ability should change a lot of battles. He can drop a launch pad on the ground that springs players through the air, allowing you to send your teammates flying in on enemy positions, or giving you a chance to bounce out of the battle and back to safety. The verticality is going to mean players will need to get used to looking up more when Octane is on the battlefield, since you never know when death might be descending from above.

We’ll have more coverage of Octane coming soon, including a full guide on how to use him most effectively. Until then, check out our other character guides, as well as our Apex Legends pro tips and a rundown of things the game doesn’t tell you.


Angry Birds AR Game Announced For iOS

Angry Birds developer Rovio has announced a new game in its popular bird-flinging franchise. Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs, the series’ first-ever step into augmented reality, is coming exclusively to iOS devices in late spring, with pre-orders opening in the App Store today, March 19.

Like other Angry Birds games, the object of Isle of Pigs is to slingshot your small flock of birds at increasingly complex block towers, toppling them over and crushing the pigs lurking within. The game is divided up into four themed worlds and is “initially launching with at least 40 levels,” according to Rovio, suggesting more may be on the way.

Where Isle of Pigs differs from most other Angry Birds games is that it reinterprets the series’ gameplay in a 3D space. Using Apple’s ARKit technology, the game overlays the levels onto your surroundings, making them appear as though they were in the real-world. You still drag your finger on the screen to draw the slingshot back and fire your birds, but like the series’ VR spin-off, you’ll be doing so from a first-person perspective rather than a side-on view.

No Caption ProvidedGallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4

The AR tech also allows you to get a 360-degree view of each level. You can maneuver your iPhone or iPad around to better angle your shots, and many levels feature explosive blocks and other items hidden around the back, encouraging you to play around with the angle in order to clear the stages in as few shots as possible.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs will be free to download when it launches, with optional in-app purchases. The game will be compatible with any iOS device that supports ARKit, meaning it can run on iPhone 6 and newer models, as well as fifth- and sixth-generation iPads and all iPad Pro devices.


Anthem Launch “Rougher Than Expected,” BioWare Still Committed

Anthem‘s launch had its share of issues, from crash bugs to weapon balance bugs and more. Now BioWare general manager Casey Hudson has conceded to the launch issues while also recommitting to long-term support.

In a post-launch update on the BioWare Blog, Hudson says it was a “rougher launch than expected,” and says that the studio was “ready for the possibility that unexpected issues might arise.” In a broader sense, he said that the degree of the problems didn’t become apparent until the scale of players had increased, and that the studio shares in the community’s disappointment at these issues.

“It makes me sad to hear about any issues that would hold someone back from fully enjoying the game,” Hudson said. “I take that very personally, and it’s been our top priority to get improvements out to you in the fastest, safest way.”

He then transitioned to plans for the future, explaining that improvements are coming to endgame loot, game flow, and stability. This is in addition to adding more world events and story content, as outlined in its roadmap.

“But we understand there is skepticism out there,” he continued. “We hear the criticisms and doubts. But we’ll keep going anyway, working hard every day on Anthem – an ever-changing world, constantly improving and growing, and supported well into the future by our team of passionate developers.”

Anthem’s rocky launch has included crashing PS4 consoles that forced Sony to issue refunds, an update inadvertently broke the game, and mediocre reviews. At one point a bug made Legendary and Masterwork items more common, and BioWare irked players by fixing it. The studio later issued a patch that adjusted drop rates more intentionally.


Stadia: Google’s gaming service and hardware announcement, keynote, and details

Everything you need to know about Google’s new gaming-related announcement

Today at the 2019 Game Developers Conference, Google will announce a brand new gaming-related project. Details from the keynote are incoming; we’ll update this storystream as Google reveals more information.

Today’s keynote will offer what Google calls its “vision for the future of gaming.” While more details are still to be seen, we do know that Google unveiled Project Stream last year, a tech demo that made it possible to stream Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through a Google Chrome browser.

We also know that Google is reportedly working on a “a subscription-based game streaming service that could work either on Google’s Chromecast or possibly a Google-made console,” according to a report from The Information. That project is reportedly codenamed “Yeti.”


Google’s gaming service and hardware announcement, keynote, and details

Everything you need to know about Google’s new gaming-related announcement

Today at the 2019 Game Developers Conference, Google will announce a brand new gaming-related project. Details from the keynote are incoming; we’ll update this storystream as Google reveals more information.

Today’s keynote will offer what Google calls its “vision for the future of gaming.” While more details are still to be seen, we do know that Google unveiled Project Stream last year, a tech demo that made it possible to stream Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey through a Google Chrome browser.

We also know that Google is reportedly working on a “a subscription-based game streaming service that could work either on Google’s Chromecast or possibly a Google-made console,” according to a report from The Information. That project is reportedly codenamed “Yeti.”


The complete ranking of the Metroid series

Today in Japan 25 years ago, Nintendo gave the world one of its most influential creations: Super Metroid. Highly regarded by fans, constantly imitated by game developers, Super Metroid has even been called the greatest game of all time. To commemorate the anniversary of this landmark work, I recently stepped back to consider the entirety of the Metroid franchise and rank the games from worst to best.

Sure, Super Metroid was the high point of the series back in 1994 — but there have been nearly a dozen other Metroid games since then. Does it still hold that vaunted title? And if not, which Metroid adventure has dethroned it? Read on.

Metroid: Other M

14. Metroid: Other M

(Wii, 2010)

Scraping the dead-last barrel-bottom of the Metroid franchise, we have the massively disappointing Metroid: Other M. It’s not actually a bad game, but it’s a devastatingly awful excuse for a Metroid sequel. Had Nintendo shipped this under an unrelated title (something like … “Robo-Lady’s Surly Shooting Adventure in Space”), it would have been fine. But as an attempt to revitalize a beloved franchise, it demonstrated a shocking failure to capture what actually draws fans to the series.

Other M transforms Metroid into a highly linear, fast-paced shooter with few opportunities for real exploration, no sense of freedom, and a painfully contrived character progression gimmick. There’s no looking to the plotline to redeem the game, either. As an action game built around quick reflexes and evasion, the game has its charms, yet the story is irredeemable. It casually reduces heroine Samus Aran from the stoic, hyper-competent warrior fans love to a bratty, timid girl-child. Other M turned out to be such a massive misfire and a flop with fans that it practically killed the series: Nintendo’s only Metroid output in the decade since has been a single spinoff and a lone remake.

Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt

13. Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt

(Nintendo DS, 2004)

Once upon a time, video game systems shipped with games packed in. Nintendo DS did not. Instead, it shipped with a tiny demo of a Metroid game that wouldn’t arrive for another year and a half. A pared-down version of Metroid Prime Hunters, First Hunt consists of three tiny, bite-sized scenarios set in environments drawn from the final game. It’s a tutorial-teaser for Hunters rather than an actual game in its own right. It’s decent enough, but there’s almost no substance to it.

Metroid Prime Hunters

12. Metroid Prime Hunters

(Nintendo DS, 2006)

Nintendo made a big deal about Metroid Prime not being a “first-person shooter.” This was partially to assuage the fears of fans who assumed the series was going to transforms into a mindless run-and-gun game, and partially because, well, Prime actually didn’t focus much on shooting. Hunters, on the other hand, was precisely the kind of game that everyone expected the Prime titles to be before they played them. Players take control of Samus in a single-player campaign or play as one of several different bounty hunters in a head-to-head competitive mode, running around claustrophobic alien environments and attempting to gun down as many other rivals as possible.

It’s fine for what it is. However, “what it is” turned out to be a generic multiplayer shooter wearing Metroid clothing, running on a woefully underpowered handheld system, centered around the use of a clumsy virtual touch-screen control pad. Hunters is basically a smartphone spinoff that shipped several years before such things even existed. Points for prescience, then, but none for giving players a proper, classic Metroid game for DS.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force

11. Metroid Prime: Federation Force

(Nintendo 3DS, 2016)

Much like Metroid: Other M, Federation Force represents above all else a tremendous failure by Nintendo to read the proverbial room. Metroid fans were desperate for a new game in 2016, having gone six years without a follow-up to rectify the wrongs of Other M. But Federation Force absolutely wasn’t that redeemer. Rather than further the tale of Samus Aran in a sprawling solo adventure, it instead centered on a team of generic space marines in a mission-based multiplayer shooter … on 3DS, of all systems. It also has a somewhat goofy visual style that speaks to a younger audience than the hardened veterans who love Metroid most. Nintendo presumably hoped to draw in a younger audience, but the end result was a game that spoke to no one.

Yet weird and misguided as its basic pretext for existence may be, Federation Force isn’t bad! It looks great considering the platform, and it offers a variety of mission objectives along with some excellent first-person team-based combat. Its biggest shortcomings come from the fact that its difficulty and design don’t scale based on the number of active players, and from that its big end-game twist revolves around an extraordinarily dopey plot development involving Samus. Flawed but fun, Federation Force feels like it could have led to better things if Nintendo had targeted it a bit more carefully.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

10. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

(GameCube, 2004)

Samus’ second outing in 3D abandons much of the cohesion and sense of purpose that drove its predecessor. The original Prime suffered from what were ultimately fairly forgivable issues, but Echoes exacerbated all of those issues and threw in problems of its own making on top.

Echoes revolves around a duality-based gimmick that might work on paper but falls flat in practice. Here, players have to navigate a world divided into dark and light zones, a concept that defines every last inch of the game. Venturing into the dark world drains Samus’ energy, and certain creatures within each realm can only be destroyed with specific expendable ammunition. Things do become less punishing toward the end of the game, as Samus finds tools to help mitigate the effects of shifting universes, but the journey to reaching that point is so exhausting most players never get there. It doesn’t help that Echoes is probably the single most challenging Metroid game ever made even without the reality-shifting elements, with some of the trickiest bosses in the entire franchise to conquer. Taxing, tiring, and tedious throughout most of its running length, Echoes is one of those sequels that demonstrates the “difficult second album” phenomenon in action.

Metroid Prime Pinball

9. Metroid Prime Pinball

(Nintendo DS, 2005)

Samus Aran’s only outing on Nintendo DS besides Hunters and First Hunt turned out to be even less of a traditional Metroid game than those two. In fact, it was so far removed from the platonic ideal of “Metroid” that it stands up a lot better to scrutiny. Metroid Prime Pinball continues a long-running tradition of Nintendo franchises spinning off into handheld pinball sims, which have ranged from brilliant (Pokémon Pinball) to weirdly disappointing (Mario Pinball Land). Prime Pinball a pretty fun take on the venerable arcade pastime, and it even almost kind of makes sense within the context of Metroid; after all, one of Samus’s trademark powers is the ability to duck into a “morph ball” form and roll around, right?

Metroid Prime Pinball makes great use of the Nintendo DS, too, as the system’s evenly sized dual screens allow players to enjoy playing on a full vertical table without the need to scroll or flip between screens. The game does have a fairly ugly look to it, lacking the trademark luminosity and vivid colors that made the Prime games so delightful to play, but it incorporate the motifs and themes of Metroid Prime effectively all the way down to the inevitable pinball-based boss fights. An odd excursion, but an enjoyable one.

Metroid II: Return of Samus

8. Metroid II: Return of Samus

(Game Boy, 1992)

Metroid’s first sequel immediately took the series in an unexpected direction: Onto a handheld platform with less horsepower than the system that hosted the original. Still, no one knew the Game Boy’s strengths and weaknesses like Nintendo’s R&D1 division — the creators of both the Metroid series and the Game Boy hardware — so the pairing turned out to be a forward step for Samus Aran regardless.

Metroid II did a great deal to flesh out the series’ universe, exploring the origins and evolution of the eponymous space monsters, and its minimalist narrative set the stage for the magnificent Super Metroid. That said, Return of Samus does suffer from a few notable issues. Samus looks great, but she’s huge on the tiny Game Boy screen, and the chunky proportions of the graphics crowd the action and hamper exploration. Planet SR-388 also isn’t nearly as thoughtfully structured as other settings that have appeared throughout the Metroid franchise, and the monochrome graphics make the corridors both confusing and repetitive. It’s a remarkable feat of a Game Boy game, but it nevertheless stands as the weakest of the core Metroid titles.

Metroid Prime 3

7. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

(Wii, 2007)

The finale of the initial Metroid Prime trilogy wrapped on a slightly less frustrating note than Echoes. Corruption took a dramatically different approach to the classic Metroid structure, breaking Samus’ adventure into a series of discrete environments spread across multiple planets — similar to Fusion’s standalone space station sectors, but without that game’s opportunities for unexpected intersections and the satisfying discovery of secret passageways connecting the different areas.

Corruption’s approach mostly works, though spreading the quest across so many disparate settings does strain the plausibility of the numerous navigation puzzles. Thankfully, Corruption manages to maintain a brisk enough pace that you rarely have time to sit down and contemplate its more inane moments. Samus finds herself constantly racing against (and often battling) some of her rival bounty hunters and even teaming up with the Galactic Federation to deal with a steady stream of sci-fi threats. It’s the franchise’s first proper attempt to combine the trademark Metroid style with the fast-paced action of other sci-fi shooter franchises, and the effort pans out a lot better here than it does a few years later in Other M.


6. Metroid

(Famicom Disk System/NES, 1986/1987)

At launch, the original Metroid was Nintendo’s biggest, boldest take on the newly-forged platform shooter genre. By modern standards, it’s far from a perfect experience. But it nevertheless holds up to the ravages of time thanks to the enormous care with which its tiny team constructed the whole thing. Certainly Metroid suffers from opaque objectives and critical paths that tend to be hidden a little too efficiently within its secretive walls and floors. The limited visuals and stark backgrounds can make it tough to keep track of Samus’s precise whereabouts at any given time. You need to spend a little too much grinding on enemies to top off Samus’ health. The fussy password system turns the process of recording data into a grade school handwriting text. Minor frustrations abound here.

To balance out these complaints, the original Metroid presents you with a sprawling, open-ended world and the incredible abilities you need to conquer it. Here we see one of Nintendo’s greatest achievements: Samus’ tools double as weapons, so that as she grows more powerful she also gains the ability to traverse more of the world. This creates a brilliant, addictive gameplay loop. Oh, and the big plot twist at the end, the one where legendary top-tier armored bounty hunter Samus Aran turns out to be a lady? That holds up pretty well these days, too.

Metroid: Samus Returns

5. Metroid: Samus Returns

(Nintendo 3DS, 2017)

The second remake in the Metroid line, this one for a game that genuinely needed revisiting to bring it more into line with the series’ standards and vision. Samus Returns reworks Metroid II into a post-Metroid Fusion adventure, maintaining the original game’s plotline, the general layout of SR-388, and the need to face off against rapidly evolving metroids on their turf. But the overall flow of the adventure is radically changed here, with repetitive caverns taking on a denser, more puzzle-oriented feel with an emphasis on acquiring weapons and gear in order to delve deeper into the planet. Likewise, the formerly monotonous metroid battles now play out as challenging, tactical battles emphasizing counterattacks and evasion — something that even carries over into basic play.

While this is undoubtedly a more involved game than the original, it errs on the side of over-complicating things. Unlike the best Metroid entries, Samus Returns is all complex corridor-crawling and monster-battling, and its reliance on counterattack-based combat renders our heroine strangely passive while bogging down the action as you wait for enemies to strike first so you can parry them. There’s never an opportunity to breathe easy, and the rhythm of the game fails to convey a sensation that Samus has grown powerful only to move along to face even greater threats. It’s a good and interesting take on a flawed Game Boy creation, but it introduces its own vexing quirks in the process of bringing things up to code.

Metroid Fusion

4. Metroid Fusion

(Game Boy Advance, 2002)

Metroid Fusion was the first of several entries in the series to experiment with the concept of taking away Samus’ incredible powers and putting her on the defensive, and it’s still the best take on that idea to date. It’s also a deeply divisive game as a result, as it strips away the freedom and sense of discovery that defined the first three chapters of the series. But that’s the whole point of Fusion: It begins by disempowering Samus, forcing her to take orders from a computer that locks her into restrictive spaces, all to emphasize the importance of the freedom she eventually gains once she breaks out of the boundaries of the space station in which the action is set.

Further emphasizing Samus’ reduced state here is a literal X factor that roams the station: SA-X, a copy of Samus borne from a mysterious sentient virus codenamed X. SA-X serves as a constant deadly reminder of how unstoppable Samus used to be and how fragile she’s become. Throughout most of the game, Samus is forced to flee meekly whenever she encounters SA-X, a force even more overwhelming than the massive bosses you face throughout the station. Yet choking back your pride to escape these encounters simply makes the endgame all the more satisfying — you restore Samus’ true strength over the course of her quest, ultimately facing off against and defeating her clone in the game’s climactic battle. On top of that, Fusion streamlines Super Metroid’s sometimes inelegant control scheme to work within the GBA’s limits, adds all-new abilities to Samus’ repertoire, and allows players a glimpse of her inner monologue without diminishing her the way Other M does. It’s a clever (and frequently misunderstood) classic.

Metroid Prime

3. Metroid Prime

(GameCube, 2002)

Released day-and-date with Fusion, Metroid Prime innovated in the other direction from its counterpart. Where Fusion used old-fashioned 2D graphics and mechanics to present an entirely different kind of Metroid adventure, Prime used tried-and-true gameplay as a foundation for a technological shift. Just as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a thinly veiled reworking of its predecessor A Link to the Past, Metroid Prime traces the the outlines of Super Metroid to ensure the series’ move into 3D is supported by impeccable underpinnings. And it works — in fact, Prime is at its worst when it strays too far from the Super Metroid formula, as with the pace-killing drudgery of the late-game Relic fetch quest.

Most importantly, developer Retro Studios managed to avoid allowing Metroid’s move into first-person action from reducing the game to a twitchy shooter, respecting the series’ cerebral nature from start to finish. While there’s plenty of shooting to be done here, it’s hardly, say, Quake or Unreal (thanks to the game’s reliance on an automatic lock-on feature). In fact, Prime probably has the lowest ratio of combat to navigation and exploration in the entire series. Meanwhile, the brilliant Scan Visor feature plays an essential role in battle (seeking out enemy weaknesses) while also allowing players to drink in all manner of world-building details — and what a world it is! Metroid Prime is one of the rare early ’00s 3D games that still looks gorgeous thanks to its sleek design and vivid use of color. Oh, and all the loving details it contains, like being able to glimpse Samus’ reflection on the inside of her visor whenever lightning flashes. Metroid seemingly shouldn’t have worked as a first-person shooter, but Prime pulled it off, and it remains a high-water mark for the format.

Metroid: Zero Mission

2. Metroid: Zero Mission

(Game Boy Advance, 2004)

In may respects, Zero Mission is the strongest, smartest, and sharpest of all the Metroid games. All it really has working against it is a lack of originality. As a remake of the original Metroid, Zero Mission covers a lot of the same ground that Super Metroid had already cased out so expertly a decade before. It expands on the NES game’s labyrinths in ways that feel familiar and ends with an unusual stealth sequence that demystifies the enigmatic Wrecked Ship area of Super Metroid. It also has a strange art style as a result of a mid-development creative shift that changed the overall look from cartoonish to traditional but didn’t bring all the existing background scenery into line with the new style.

Aside from these small annoyances, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find fault in Zero Mission. Its dev team took meticulous notes about all the things that didn’t quite work in previous entries ranging from the original game all the way through Fusion and Prime. Really, you could probably best describe Zero Mission as a hybrid of Super Metroid and Fusion (despite the fact that it’s a remake of a different game altogether); it maintains the zippy pace and streamlined control scheme of Fusion, but it does a much better job of stepping out of the player’s way and letting them figure out how to progress. Zero Mission points out new objectives on the in-game map, but more often than not you’ll find yourself taking circuitous routes through uncharted territory to get there. Much of this involves an all-new region called Chozodia, which provides much of the game’s mystery and introduces enigmatic tidbits about Samus’ background in the process.

Zero Mission gives Samus a fully updated arsenal, including Power Bombs and a ledge grip skill. It reinvents the original Metroid’s lackluster boss encounters, introduces new foes, and provides far greater incentive for full exploration of the world. Familiar scenery takes on a new flavor when reworked to include complex navigation puzzles. Even that stealth sequence manages not to be dead weight by properly presenting the epilogue as a key moment in Samus’ own personal journey. It’s a gold standard for video game remakes even 15 years later.

Super Metroid

1. Super Metroid

(Super NES, 1994)

One of the high-water marks of the 16-bit era, Super Metroid introduced players to a near-perfect synthesis of game mechanics, world design, and embedded narrative. Loosely built on the bones of the original Metroid, Super Metroid sent players back to the tunnels and tubes of planet Zebes. This return trip was no mere rehash, however. While the overall arrangement of Super Metroid’s underground labyrinth closely resembles the broad strokes of its NES predecessor, here that environment been both fleshed out and greatly expanded. Hidden passages and navigational puzzles play an even bigger part of Samus’ quest, but now they’re less obtuse in nature thanks to the addition of new quality-of-life elements, like a visor that can scan for secrets and an in-game auto-mapping feature.

The world of Zebes teems with detail, hinting at a much larger story but leaving details of its mysteries — things like the ghostly image of metroids on the monitors of the wrecked ship, or the dead explorer outside of Kraid’s lair — to the player’s imagination. Unexpected secrets abound, ranging from clever shortcuts the developers hid in plain sight to oblique alternate mechanisms to defeat bosses. Meanwhile, the primary throughline of the quest tells a surprisingly moving story that follows immediately on the heels of Metroid II and unfolds entirely in pantomime. Samus’ journey builds her into a near-invincible engine of destruction, pushes her to the edge of defeat regardless of that power, and ends with a brilliant catharsis of sheer destruction.

The flow and design of Super Metroid vary from area to area, from the leisurely underwater exploration that defines Maridia to the intense, oppressive action that propels Samus through the straightforward loop of Ridley’s lair. Super Metroid is one of those rare games that doesn’t take a single false step, and its failings ultimately boil down to a matter of taste: Samus’ floaty aerial physics, the precision required for wall-jumping, the way the game occasionally leaves players to their own devices in order to find the way forward. Dozens and dozens of games have looked to Super Metroid for design inspiration, but Nintendo’s masterpiece remains unrivaled.