The Pokémon Company is preparing big time for the arrival of Detective Pikachu, the series’ first-ever Hollywood movie. Next on the hype-cycle list is a whole slew of merchandise, from T-shirts to toys — and even official trading cards with art on these new takes on classic Pokémon.
The Detective Pikachu trading card game starter and booster packs go on sale April 5, and the line will contain 26 new cards as well as collectible pins. Other special promo cards in the collection feature the movie’s versions of Charizard and Greninja, both seen trying to attack Pikachu in the first teaser.
Meanwhile, the Pokémon Center online store will sell apparel referencing Ryme City, where Detective Pikachu takes place. There are shirts calling out the Hi-Hat Cafe (where we saw Jigglypuff), the Ryme City anniversary parade (also seen in the trailer), as well as the city’s police force. These are slightly more subtle ways to get into the movie than another item that will go on sale April 2 along with the rest of the line — a deerstalker hat mimicking the one that our great electric mouse detective wears. Yes, that means it has ears.
Also coming are action figures and, crucially, a talking Pikachu plush. (He has “two voice modes” and “motorized ears,” too!) You can preview the collection in the gallery below. Detective Pikachu is in theaters May 10.
This year’s Free Comic Book Day isn’t happening until May, but we already have a bit of an idea of what will be available come May 4th.
Free Comic Book Day recently released a full list of this year’s free comics and it looks pretty fantastic. There are 12 Gold Sponsor comics and 39 Silver sponsors this year, with options ranging from Avengers to Stranger Things.
Shops all have different policies on how many free comics you’ll be able to get, but all participating shops should let you snag at least one of these. You can check out the shop locater here closer to May to determine what stores are participating near you.
Here’s the full list:
Riverdale Season 3 Special – Archie Comics
Welcome to the Whedonverse – BOOM! Studios
Stranger Things & Black Hammer – Dark Horse Comics
DC Entertainment Top Secret Gold Title – DC Comics
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casualty of War – IDW Publishing
Deadly Class: Killer Set One-Shot – Image Comics
Avengers – Marvel Comics
Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor – Titan Comics
Disney Descendants: Dizzy’s New Fortune Chapter 1 Preview – Tokyopop
Bloodshot Special – Valiant Entertainment
Interceptor 01 – Vault Comics
Pokemon: I chose you & Pokemon Adventures – VIZ Media
Animosity Tales- After Shock Comics
Dragonfly and Dragonfly #1 – Ahoy Comics
Grumble vs. the Goon – Albatross Funnybooks
Casper’s Spooksville – American Mythology Productions
Punchline #1 – Antarctic Press
Go Fish! – Arcana Studio
Lady Mechanic – Benitez Productions
Lumberjanes: The Shape of Friendship – BOOM! Studios
Giga Wrecker, a 2017 Steam platformer by Pokemon developer Game Freak, is officially coming to consoles. Publisher Rising Star Games has confirmed it is bringing the title to PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch later this year under the moniker Giga Wrecker Alt, and it’ll include additional content and other console-exclusive features.
Among other things, Game Freak has added 20 new puzzle stages to Alt. Rising Star says the game will also introduce a new companion character “to assist players with the game’s increasingly challenging puzzles,” as well as a much more formidable Iron Man mode, in which players take five times as much damage as normal. You can take a look at the announcement trailer below.
Giga Wrecker is set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by an army of invading robots. Players take on the role of Reika, a young girl who is given a power known as ARCHE, which allows her to control debris. Players will need to use this ability in order to navigate the world and solve environmental puzzles, manipulating rubble into different shapes to create makeshift platforms, weapons, and other objects.
We first heard that Giga Wrecker could be coming to consoles last week, when a rating for the game appeared on the Taiwan Digital Game Rating Committee. Rising Star hasn’t announced a release date yet, but the title is slated to launch digitally for all three consoles later in 2019. Limited Run Games will also distribute physical copies of Giga Wrecker Alt for PS4 and Switch.
Giga Wrecker isn’t the only title coming from Game Freak. The studio is also developing a “core” Pokemon RPG for Switch, which is slated to release sometime this year. On top of that, the developer is working on a non-Pokemon RPG for the hybrid console tentatively known as Town.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s creative director has apologized for a story choice in the game’s latest expansion that forces the main character into a heterosexual marriage, undoing the promises of same-sex romance options in the main game and reversing the personal stories some players may have built.
[Warning: The remainder of this post contains spoilers for “Shadow Heritage,” the second chapter of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Legacy of the First Blade add-on.]
Jonathan Dumont, in a post on the game’s forums, said that, despite developers’ benign intentions for chapter two of the Legacy of the First Blade expansion, “it is clear that we missed the mark.” Dumont said that the story arc, in which either Kassandra or Alexios ends up in a marriage and with a child, was meant to link those characters to the lineage of Assassins established elsewhere in the series.
That means that, even if a player refuses the romantic appeals, they still wind up marrying the son (if playing as Kassandra) or daughter (as Alexios) of Darius, introduced in Odyssey as a proto-Assassin who is the first to use a hidden blade.
“Alexios/Kassandra realizing their own mortality and the sacrifice Leonidas and Myrrine [their grandfather and mother] made before them to keep their legacy alive, felt the desire and duty to preserve their important lineage,” Dumont reasoned. “Our goal was to let players choose between a utilitarian view of ensuring your bloodline lived on or forming a romantic relationship.”
The gravity of that choice — that is, to biologically perpetuate one’s bloodline despite their sexual orientation — was not apparent, Dumont acknowledged. “The clarity and motivation for this decision was poorly executed,” he said. “As you continue the adventure in [the next episode, ‘Bloodline,’] please know that you will not have to engage in a lasting romantic relationship if you do not desire to.”
On the game’s subreddit, fans decried the major change in story direction, regardless of whether they had chosen same-sex relationships. “This is just really lazy and dumb on Ubisoft’s part,” said one. “Either stick to linear stories or give us total freedom. This weird in-between bullshit just makes all the optional dialogue and ‘choices’ feel like a complete waste of our time.”
“Being forced into ‘lol here get railroaded into a sexual [en]counter and have a baby?’ I literally recoiled,” wrote another player, who said they are bisexual.
“That honestly kills any desire for me to play the rest of the DLC. I really have no desire to have a romance plot shoved down my throat in a game that up until now at least gave me the option,” said a third. “What a poor decision.”
“We have read your responses online and taken them to heart,” Dumont said on the Ubisoft forums. “This has been a learning experience for us. Understanding how attached you feel to your Kassandra and your Alexios is humbling and knowing we let you down is not something we take lightly.”
Further alienating some players was the name of a trophy/achievement given out after the scene where the character has the child. It’s called “Growing Up,” to which some took offense, believing it regarded being gay or childless as a youthful phase to grow out of.
Polygon reached out to a Ubisoft representative for comment but did not hear back as of publication time. Kotaku on Wednesday got a statement from Ubisoft saying that the trophy/achievement will be renamed in a future patch. However, the story and choices in the DLC itself will not be altered.
“Natakas [Darius’ son] is a nice enough fella, but I don’t appreciate the way he moons over me,” he wrote. “There’s something desperate, even vaguely douchey, about his demeanor.” Despite making every effort to reject him, Kassandra still ended up “fetching groceries and cooing over her baby.
Regarding my first PvP kill in the Dark Zone in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2: Yeah, it was dirty. Yeah, it was cheap. But it wasn’t my fault.
Now, yes, I did totally shoot the guy, point blank and unprovoked. That’s on me. We had just come up on his team and helped them clear out some AI vermin from a small park near the Capitol. But one of my teammates decided to go Rogue, by holding down the Share button, and that took the rest of the group Rogue with him. At that point, I have a skull over my head and it’s you-or-me time. I had to shoot you, my dude.
Tony Sturtzel, a senior producer for Ubisoft’s Red Storm Entertainment, chuckled at my dog-ate-the-homework excuses when he asked me how my time in the Dark Zone went after a hands-on preview last month. Mainly, Sturtzel seemed relieved when I said I had a good time there — and a better time than in the more traditional multiplayer we also tested out.
The first Division, made by Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment in cooperation with Red Storm,took about six months to find its footing after its March 2016 launch. One of the most vexing issues, lasting even longer, was balancing the Dark Zone. The Division is a loot shooter like Destiny; that’s how the newest series under the Tom Clancy name fits in among the brand’s longer-running tactical and stealth offerings. The Dark Zone was supposed to feed that farming urge, but early on the risks seemed to far outweigh the rewards — mainly in the form of surprise attacks coming from other players hanging out near the loot extraction points and entrances. Massive and Red Storm wrestled with making the Dark Zone of New York City into something still accessible to players who were just there for the loot, without sacrificing much of the challenge that hardcore PvP players expected and enjoyed.
“The post-launch of The Division absolutely informed the decisions we made with Division 2. In fact, some of the mechanics were tested outright in The Division, as a test bed,” Sturtzel said. The toggle button to go Rogue, that was one of the later changes, coming as “Rogue 2.0” in September 2017. “That was a very controversial decision, because we were taking the advantage away from Rogue players,” Sturtzel said. Under the old system, PvP in the Dark Zone was initiated by opening fire; you could empty half a clip into the other guy before he knew you were hostile.
Some cheered the toggle, now feeling free to go in search of loot and not be continually frustrated trying to get it extracted. Others called it the death of the mode, or at least a strong disincentive to ever initiate PvP. But in what I played last month of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, that toggle, plus several other assists and quality-of-life changes, made the Dark Zone something to look forward to, not fear. The Division 2 may not feel starkly different from The Division, but a more accessible Dark Zone — three of them, actually — should make it feel like a bigger game with more to do, even if you’re a risk-averse lone wolf of a player.
“In the first game, a lot of those same ingredients were there, and a lot of those same player stories exist,” Sturtzel said, when I told him about other encounters I’d had. “This time around, we wanted to flesh them all out, in their own directions. So everything gets embellished, gets a little bit more depth, gets a little more signs and feedback.”
The Capitol Ruins, a map for The Division 2’s Skirmish and Domination PvP multiplayer. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
The Capitol Ruins, a map for The Division 2’s Skirmish and Domination PvP multiplayer. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Georgetown, a map for The Division 2’s Skirmish and Domination PvP multiplayer. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Perparing an ambush in the Dark Zone East. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
In the story of The Division 2, “DC 62” is a compound created to destroy the Green Poison. It didn’t work. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
The Dark Zone East in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
The entrance to the Dark Zone East, one of three Dark Zones in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Guarding an extraction of contaminated gear from the Dark Zone East. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Fighters guard an extraction of contaminated gear from the Dark Zone East. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Two rival factions duke it out in the Dark Zone East. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
A showdown with AI enemies in the Dark Zone East. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
A Rogue agent prepares to rob the extraction in the Dark Zone East. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
The entrance to the Dark Zone South in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
A swampy District of Columbia seethes with overgrown vegetation in the Dark Zone South. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
The Dark Zone West involves the residential areas of Georgetown. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
The PvP mode Skirmish being played on the Georgetown map. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Skirmish being played on the Stadium map. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
Skirmish being played on the Stadium map. Massive Entertainment, Red Storm Entertainment/Ubisoft
In The Division 2, the inaugural visit to each Dark Zone, alone or accompanied, is a private PvE-only event that tasks the players with exploring and mapping the area, bringing a safe house back online, finding an extraction point and hoisting their first loot out of there, leavened by some introductory combat with the AI. The onboarding familiarized me with the essential locations and paths to them and let me know every trip to the Dark Zone wasn’t an immediate brush with high-level AI foes and certain death. That happened to me in The Division and it was very off-putting; I didn’t return until I was level 20.
After the familiarization, landmark areas felt less like places to avoid or be cautious around and more like opportunities, the same way I’d look at my single-player map and see what was in the area to do. There’s a new call-out on the map, differentiating normal difficulty (solo-able) from harder ones (better as a team). “It’s that much more vindicating when you manage to clear landmarks solo,” Sturtzel offered.
The introductory mission of the Dark Zone East in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2.
I was playing a maxed-out, level 30 avatar to see the full range of abilities and perks. That didn’t make me superpowered against human opponents. The Division 2 will level weapon statistics among all human players in the Dark Zone, to make for a fairer fight in there. In The Division, players who had ranked up and acquired top-flight gear had an immediate and often insurmountable advantage before a firefight even began.
“An important goal for us was to make sure that progression doesn’t negatively impact fair play,” Terry Spier, Red Storm’s creative director, said in a presentation before our playthrough. “You had players with thousands of hours [in the game] and quite frankly, they had an advantage over a casual player who wanted to step in and enjoy the dynamic nature of the Dark Zone. So by normalizing the Dark Zone, we give everyone an opportunity to enjoy it.”
Spier added that developers will respect the role-playing choices of how players build their weapon loadouts and gear sets. That said, in my hands-on I hadn’t grown attached to my character or any of her gear, so how this normalization of weapon stats would nerf my go-to weapon would not have been apparent to me. Leveling the weapons did seem to take some of the bullet-sponginess out of human-on-human combat, though.
“We really want to make sure the Dark Zone is an even playing field for players and remove some of that intimidation that the Dark Zone has,” Spier said. “Our goal is to make it more about player skill. An important element for us to make sure that progression doesn’t negatively impact their play, and that was often the case in the original game.”
Weapon stats can be viewed in a menu, so the player has an understanding of what is being done to their gear for PvP. But for those who do want the old, no-holds-barred Dark Zone experience, after the end of the game’s campaign one of the Dark Zones will become “occupied.” In an occupied Dark Zone, friendly fire is on at all times, there is no weapon normalization, and there are no icons over other players calling them out if they’ve gone Rogue. We didn’t play an occupied Dark Zone, for the record.
We played in Dark Zone East (around the game’s version of Union Station) and Dark Zone South (the Potomac waterfront). There’s a Dark Zone West which is more residential, so, Georgetown. East, which was a military control point in The Division 2’s backstory, was set up with larger, more open spaces and longer sight lines, bringing marksman rifles and throwables into play. South had more interiors, denser street features, and more close-quarters combat for shotguns and submachine guns. West, we were told, is a blend of the two.
In all areas, taking and maintaining cover was a must; standing up out of cover was never a good idea in The Division but the instant effect of a Medkit could compensate for sloppy play. In The Division 2, when a player needs to recover, an armor kit is used by holding right on the directional pad, a process that can take a good three or four seconds if you’re really low. Nothing else can be done while this regeneration is going on, and it can be interrupted by an attack. Armor and health are shown as separate bars (with armor’s bar segmented), and armor wearing out first. (The differentiation of armor and health bars is a lot more subtle in The Division.) Get caught out by a flanker or stranded in the open and no number of armor kits can save you.
Cover also didn’t seem as sticky, speaking as someone who usually breaks cover with a stick move instead of pressing A. Movement, particularly mantling over low cover, was faster and more evasive. There’s now a menu option to auto-mantle cover if you’re running toward it; I found it helpful, but those instinctively holding the B button as they run may not.
The most exciting time in the Dark Zone for me was the one with the least shots fired. Another unit had ascended to Rogue’s top status, triggering a manhunt and their race to a terminal to clear their status. This also is a feature of the Rogue 2.0 changes implemented in 2017 for The Division. To this, The Division 2 will also add the ability to rob supply drops (instead of using Dark Zone keys to open them) giving players a way to go Rogue without shooting someone in the face. “Maybe you don’t like attacking players and stealing their loot,” Spier said. “So, fine. Attack the Dark Zone. Steal from the Dark Zone. Now there’s PvE actions in the Rogue loop.”
We also got a taste of the more traditional PvP combat, in Skirmish (a team deathmatch that was introduced in December 2017) and Domination, a new capture-and-control team mode where players try to hold three points. PvP multiplayer placed a greater emphasis on an agent’s special skills, particularly the pulse locator, which now can be thrown like a grenade instead of being centered on the player. A flying drone joins the game as a kind of airborne turret, and can be commanded to either seek out targets or to attack anyone attacking the player. (A bumper command can also specifically attack a targeted enemy.) Riot shields were especially durable and useful.
Skill-based matchmaking will pair off combatants in PvP (and, relatedly, Sturtzel said the Dark Zone will try to shuttle solo players into worlds with more solo players than groups). PvP will be supported by its own progression track, Spier said, and will feature clans, which the Division community has been requesting for a long time. This will be supported by social tools like chat and direct messaging, as well as clan-specific leaderboards where members may compete against one another.
When The Division 2 was first shown off at E3 2018, early word coming back was that it felt like a refinement, or a continuation of what worked in The Division, more than anything new or groundbreaking. After three hours in the Dark Zones and more traditional PvP matches, the multiplayer has the same ring to it. But it does strengthen the Dark Zone’s appeal and make it more of a desirable destination for emergent mayhem and a chance to broaden a character’s range of experiences — as well as that good, good loot.
“That’s part of why we’re being so loud with the messaging about the fact that there’s something for everyone” in the Dark Zone, Sturtzel said. “It’s the idea that you are going to have a different story every single night when you play. You might be engaging in some PvE activity and turn the corner and run into a faction fight, and you’re watching the AI fight each other, and you don’t realize that some other players have come up behind you. And that changes the course of whatever plan you had for the night.”
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 launches March 15 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. A private beta for those who pre-order the game will run Feb. 7-10 on all platforms.
You don’t need the dark zone anymore to unleash some bullets on rogue agents. Division 2 introduces new types of PvP combat in game with varied maps. Here’s 10 minutes of multiplayer combat gameplay captured on Xbox One X. Source: GameSpot.com
This week, the curse has been reset in the Dreaming City, which means the Shattered Throne dungeon is no longer available–a bummer for anybody who needs to finish it to unlock Izanagi’s Burden from The Black Armory. It also brings us back to Week 2’s challenge. Below, you’ll find a complete guide on where you need to go and what to do to complete this week’s bounty to earn Powerful gear.
The Ascendant Challenge always involves you heading through a portal to the Ascendant Plane, but the particulars of what you’re doing are entirely different from week to week. To start out, you’ll need a consumable item called the Tincture of Queensfoil. With a Tincture in hand, make your way to the Garden of Esila area near the southernmost point of the map, as seen in the image below. Consuming the Tincture will provide you with the Ascendance buff that allows to see a Taken portal that’s somewhat hidden on a cliffside. Jump in, and you’ll be teleported to the Ascendant Plane’s Forfeit Shrine.
Once you’re there, you’ll have to fend off Taken–or just avoid them–while trying to secure three Arc Charges around the area. Once you pick one up, head toward the center starting area, near the giant Blight ball. Walk into the bright point at the bottom to dunk the charge you’re holding. Repeat the process two more times and you’ll receive an endless supply of Super energy that will help you to kill all of the remaining Taken in the area. Once they’re dealt with, you can complete the bounty (netting you Dark Fragments and Powerful gear) and open a chest.
Given that the bounty (not the chest) offers Powerful gear–a reliable way of increasing your Power level–this is an activity you’ll definitely want to take part in once you’re able. But bear in mind it is a challenge, so be sure to come prepared. It can be done solo, but having multiple teammates to grab charges and draw the enemies’ attention can help immensely.
Free games are always good, and PlayStation Plus members can try an extra one for a limited time soon. This weekend the PS4 shooter Firewall Zero Hour is free for anyone with an active PS Plus subscription, though you’ll also need a PSVR headset to play.
Firewall Zero Hour launched in August 2018 to a positive reception. The tactical shooter is multiplayer-based, pitting squads of four against each other. It ordinarily costs US $40 / £25 / AU $40, so to be able to play it for free is quite the deal. The offer is valid from January 18-20.
January’s free PS Plus games are also live now. PS4 owners can pick up Steep, an extreme sports game from Ubisoft that lets you ski, snowboard, and glide in a wing suit to go from a mountain’s snowy peaks to its powdery base. The other PS4 game for January is Portal Knights, which takes the building component of Minecraft and constructs around it an RPG that encourages crafting and exploration.
PS Plus members should note that, starting in March 2019, Sony will no longer give away free PS3 and PS Vita games for PS Plus members. If you subscribe to PS Plus primarily for those free titles, you’ll want to turn off your subscription’s auto-renewal option or cancel it then.