With Season 7 of Fortnite winding down and a new season on the horizon, strange phenomena have once again begun occurring in the hit battle royale game. Epic Games typically heralds the arrival of each new season with some kind of world-changing event, so this isn’t entirely surprising. This time, however, the developer is literally shaking things up, as players have begun to experience earthquakes while playing.
Following the release of game’s 7.30 update, dataminers discovered audio files indicating some sort of earthquake event would occur in the game (via Fortnite Insider). It appears the tremors have started, as players on Twitter and Reddit are posting clips of the map spontaneously quaking in the middle of a match.
The aforementioned audio files were labeled as “small,” “med,” and “lrg,” suggesting the tremors players are experiencing in the game will only continue to grow in strength as we approach Season 8. As for what they could mean for the new season, that remains anyone’s guess at this point, although it’ll likely result in some portion of the map being dramatically transformed.
Season 7 of Fortnite is set to end on February 28 according to Epic’s website, which means you only have a little time left to complete any outstanding challenges and unlock this season’s skins and other rewards. If you need help mopping up any remaining tasks, you can find tips and guides in our complete Season 7 challenges roundup.
In other Fortnite news, Epic recently rolled out the game’s 7.30 content update, which introduced another new item to the game: Bottle Rockets. The developer also tweaked environmental campfires so they can be lit to restore health and kicked off another limited-time mode.
Last year, Capcom made changes to their official Street Fighter V competition, the Capcom Pro Tour, that hurt the qualifying chances of a very specific sector of the fighting game community: those who live outside competitive hubs like the United States and Japan. The adjusted points system impacted players who lacked the means to travel to major tournaments in foreign countries. The tour’s Latin America region was hit particularly hard thanks to an almost complete lack of premier events, but new details released last week for the 2019 Capcom Pro Tour show that the organizers seem to be moving towards rectifying the circuit’s glaring balancing issues.
While it’s no longer the only game in town, the Capcom Pro Tour remains the biggest of the developer-backed competitions in the fighting game community. Starting in 2014, Capcom has spread qualifying events across the globe, giving players worldwide the opportunity to earn a spot in the year-end Capcom Cup. It wasn’t perfect (nothing is), but it also didn’t feel like it was actively working against anyone who was willing to put in the work. That all changed when, in 2018, the tour dramatically altered its point structure. A greater emphasis was placed on the major, Premier events while regional- and local-level Ranking events took a back seat. Where before a player could earn the same points by winning a Premier event as they could by winning four Ranking events, it now took twice as many, thanks to the doubling of the former’s points and a slight decrease of the latter’s.
This change only helped accentuate the failings of the qualifying structure that already existed. Players in Latin America, who had been routinely shafted on the amount of Premier events their region received every year, no longer had an easy way to supplement with Ranking events alone. For many players, traveling to another country, even those as close as Brazil and the United States, was something that several said they simplycouldn’t manage. And yet theirs was the same region that had produced the previous year’s Capcom Cup champion, a surprise upstart from the Dominican Republic named Saul “MenaRD” Mena. With the new rules, even qualifying for the Capcom Cup became much harder.
When these details about the different points system were first announced in early 2018, many players voiced their concerns about the changes on social media, but Capcom made no public statement about why these adjustments were made at the time, nor did the company respond to Kotaku’s request for clarification. By the end of last year, only two players from Latin America had earned their way into Capcom Cup: MenaRD’s teammate and training partner Cristhoper “Caba” Rodriguez and Gonzalo “Pikoro” Buleje of Peru. Meanwhile, dozens of competitors from the North America and Asia regions were able to qualify.
“It was incredibly hard for any [Latin America] player to round up enough points to qualify for Capcom Cup,” Ricardo “Mono” Román, a Puerto Rican competitor and tournament organizer, told Kotaku via email. “[Bruno “Doomsnake” La Grotta] and others are prime examples. They traveled to Premier events in North America just to have a fighting chance at getting points. Seventh place [at Ranking events] last year equaled one Capcom Pro Tour point, and that was discouraging.”
Román, whose annual First Attack tournament will be the host of the Capcom Pro Tour’s Latin America regional finals this year, told Kotaku that he sees great promise in the recent changes made to the competition for 2019. While the ability to attend Premier events will still go a long way towards qualifying for Capcom Cup, the new point spread for Ranking events means the ratio hews closer to the 2017 standard. This is good because, much like previous years, the Latin America region has been limited to only two Premier events compared to five in North America, four in Asia, and four in Europe.
In addition to Premier and Ranking events, this year’s Capcom Pro Tour will expand to include more events at an even higher tier that was previously only occupied by the Evolution Championship Series, which is the largest fighting game event of the year. This tier will now also include the Japan Premier in September and the North America regional finals in November. “Super Premiers,” as Capcom has taken to calling these events, will feature greater opportunities to earn money and qualifying points. Where winning a Premier event will earn a player 700 points towards a spot at Capcom Cup, for example, Super Premier events reward a whopping 1,000. But with only three Super Premiers on the schedule, two of which are located in the United States, this upper tier of events introduces even more disparity into the Capcom Pro Tour qualifying process. No details were given as to why this change was made, and requests for comment have yet to be returned.
Competing on the Capcom Pro Tour was once a way for Street Fighter players to turn their love for fighting games into a living, but it’s become harder and harder for those outside of traditional competitive hubs to keep up in the rankings. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with skill level, but rather is due to the lack of opportunities they are afforded. Capcom Cup 2017 champion MenaRD showed that fighting game talent isn’t limited to the United States and Japan but spread across the globe. It’s time for these massive circuits to match the fighting game community’s egalitarian ethos by catering to every world warrior rather than the few already situated at the top. 2019’s changes are a good start, but there’s still a lot more that could be done to make qualifications more achievable for competitors around the world.
“I wish there were more Premiers in Latin America, but again, baby steps,” Román said. “This changes [everything] for us, and it is a stepping stone for future growth. This year it’s two Premiers, maybe next year will be even more. I am just really grateful that Latin America is getting more opportunities, slowly but surely.”
Ian Walker loves fighting games and loves writing about them even more. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.
With Anthem only a few weeks away, BioWare has released a new video in its “This Is Anthem” series, breaking down gameplay systems. This video is all about Anthem’s endgame, and what awaits players who finish the main story campaign and want to keep pushing their Javelin’s power level.
There are a few activities for players to engage with, including challenges, contracts, strongholds, and free play. Players are also able to bump up the difficulty six times. When players hit max level, they’ll gain access to the Grand Master difficulty, which will come in three tiers at launch.
These higher-level difficulties will drastically increase enemy health and damage, and come with a recommended power level before jumping in. The reward is a much higher drop chance for powerful gear, increasing your own odds to build the ideal Javelin.
The end of the trailer mentions a new system called Cataclysms: the most challenging content in Anthem. Cataclysms are described as time-limited world events where groups of difficult enemies spawn and extreme weather occurs in the open world of Anthem.
Very little is known about this activity. However, it seems that a miniature version of a Cataclysm appeared on the final day of the open demo. In the roadmap above, it appears that the Cataclysm will be part of the first act of the game’s launch cycle. But the dates on that aren’t particularly clear.
Yep, if you went out in the storm that formed today and fought some titans then you’ve experienced the mini-event that we added to this weekend’s demo. Just a small tease of some of the things we’ll be doing when @anthemgame goes live. https://t.co/uWrKxfYqNM
Nothing is known about the rewards around these events, what kinds of enemies players will be facing, or when they’ll first arrive in the game. However, more on Anthem’s endgame will likely be revealed before the game is released on Feb. 22.
Crackdown was released for Xbox 360 and is backward-compatible on Xbox One.
Released in 2007, Crackdown was a breakout hit for the Xbox 360. Players quickly became hooked on the elaborate superhero-style power fantasy, which was notable for helping to kick off the collectibles craze with Orbs scattered all around the game’s environment. The backward compatible version of the game has been optimized for Xbox One, allowing players to select graphics enhancements up to 4K resolutions for modern TVs or performance enhancements to reduce loading times.
The “graphics” setting enables Xbox One X enhancements, which, for Xbox 360 games, include features such as higher-quality anti-aliasing, increased texture detail and nine times the resolution (4K versus 720p). The “performance” setting turns those features off, but may deliver a higher frame rate. Microsoft noted that in performance mode, visuals “will be comparable to the experience on Xbox One or Xbox One S.”
Crackdown 3 was originally scheduled for a 2017 release, but has been set back by multiple delays. The most recent delay leaked out last summer, while the current release date was locked in just last fall.
Players will once again take on the role of powerful Agents in an open-world sandbox set in the city of New Providence. The game will include solo and cooperative modes of play, and require Xbox Live Gold membership for online play. For more on Crackdown 3, read our hands-on impressions of the game.
Starting in March, players will be able to purchase a battle pass for Apex Legends. This seems to follow Fortnite’s example pretty closely, with new skins and levels that can be earned only through the battle pass. These passes will run for an entire season. Season 1 runs until June, when season 2 will start. The seasons last three months, with the final season of year 1 starting in December.
But new items and legends will also be coming with each season, aside from the battle pass itself. The roadmap suggests that new legends, weapons, and loot will all be added every season, which should add another layer of strategy to the ever-changing meta.
It’s currently unclear how these items will be rolled out: whether all the new content will be front-loaded on the first day of the season, or if it’ll be spread through the three months. With the first season starting in March, we should know a bit more about the plan soon.
Record a killer win in Apex Legends? Get a great shot in Rainbow Six Siege? Did something funny happen to you in Resident Evil 2 or Kingdom Hearts III? We wanna see it! Send your clips to Highlightreel@kotaku.com and we might feature them on our show!
Microsoft has made Crackdown free on the Xbox Live marketplace, allowing you to download the game on Xbox 360 or Xbox One. With Crackdown 3 right around the corner, it’s a good opportunity to see how the series originated.
In Microsoft’s announcement of the deal, there was no word whether or not the game would be free forever or for a limited time. However, as the deal is to “celebrate the launch of Crackdown 3” it’s probably best to act on this offer prior to Crackdown 3’s release.
When we got the chance to check out Crackdown 3, we thought it’s single-player was a little too much like the original game. Despite the 12 year difference in release dates, Crackdown 3’s campaign looks and plays just like the first title in the series. However, Crackdown 3’s multiplayer is fantastic, and made an incredible first impression that completely overshadowed the single-player gameplay.
The original Crackdown is available for Xbox 360, and can be played on Xbox One with X-Enhancement via backwards compatibility–along with a long list of other games. Crackdown 3 is scheduled to launch for Xbox One and PC on February 15.
In our Crackdown review, Jeff Gerstmann gave the game a 7.8/10, writing, “Crackdown feels unfinished. It feels like the developers sat down and crafted a wonderful-looking city and carefully considered how the gameplay and abilities should work, and then they didn’t have enough time to plug in enough activities to take advantage of it all. While you’ll certainly have a lot of fun playing Crackdown, it’s hard not to get the distinct feeling that it was on the cusp of being so much more.”
The best video game sidequests are detours worth taking. They can be even more delightful than a good game’s main quests by their very nature of being optional. Bad sidequests are tedious filler that are best ignored. Those good ones, however, were made for you to find and enjoy, but only if you want to.
I found some great sidequests in Far Cry 5 early last year and just got back to finishing them in the last week, as I took a break from playing more recent releases. They’re called Prepper Stashes, and they amazed me. They’re a wonderful deviation from the series formula. These games are mostly about chaos, but each of these Prepper Stashes is a conundrum set in relatively calm crevices of these violent Far Cry worlds. They’re also coming back in a modified form in next week’s Far Cry New Dawn, a return I learned more about as I quizzed Ubisoft about how Far Cry 5’s superb Prepper Stashes came to be.
The big Far Cry games of late offer satisfying first-person shooting set in a vast, violent open world full of bases to raid, animals to fend off, and vehicles to commandeer. They have main missions and side tasks, but they deliver their best fun when players roam a map that is always on the verge of eruption. You stalk an enemy soldier only to get pounced on by a bear, rush to a Jeep to escape, get chased by an armed patrol helicopter, drive off a cliff, and dive into the sea. That’s the series’ thing. It’s cool.
Prepper Stashes are different. In Far Cry 5’s fictional Hope County, Montana, the towns and countryside are overrun by a violent, religious doomsday cult. Hidden throughout are hideouts made by “preppers”—people preparing to survive a catastrophe by building shelters and stockpiling necessities. The Prepper Stash missions involve accessing these hideouts, all of them abandoned and all of them initially blocked off by some sort of environmental puzzle. Or sometimes the prepper was trying to flee Hope, but they left their stash behind in a box that can’t easily be cracked open.
One Prepper Stash mission involves trying to access a hideout that’s been set up in the trestle of a massive steel bridge. You need to swing on a grappling hook underneath the bridge to get it.
Another presents you with a locked box on a lake shore. You need to follow a debris trail underwater to find the key.
Then there’s the one about trying to find a key eaten by one of the dogs living at an otherwise-abandoned summer camp. The clue you’re given is that the one of the dogs must have shat it out:
“In Far Cry 5 we wanted to encourage players to fully explore the world, and Prepper Stashes were created as a way to hide loot in specific locations and points of interest,” the game’s assistant level design director Alain Greco told me over email. Far Cry worlds are vast, but he and his colleagues at Ubisoft Montreal noticed that players wouldn’t wander into areas of the map where there wasn’t combat. “Level designers then started to add some ingredients to make the loot in these locations more challenging to get: for example, players had to push a vehicle to access a bunker, break crates to access hidden doors, or wingsuit into a rooftop to get rewards.”
Far Cry games are knocked for being formulaic to the point of being repetitive. If you’re not into, say, stealthily raiding a base filled with a dozen guards, a few explosive barrels, and a caged attack dog, then you’re going to be tired of these games before any one of them presents the tenth such base to take down. Some of us find the basic mechanics and the myriad ways attacking such a base can unfold to be fun enough, but the Prepper Stashes need no defense against monotony because they’re refreshingly varied. There’s a clever one set in an overstuffed garage and another in a toxic mine. Greco said the dog poop one is a team favorite, and that a fan favorite is the game’s Prepper Stash that involves a haunted house.
One of my favorites is called “Long-Range Lockpick,” which involves a lakeside building that is locked from within. It’s Greco’s favorite, too. “The main reason is that for this stash, we do not explicitly tell players what to do but just give them clues on how to resolve the puzzle,” he said. “The title, the notes, the enemy on the outer shore, the ladder, the zipline, the boat, the hidden sniper gun on the shed, the bullet holes on the building—every single ingredient used in this location points to the Prepper Stash, without giving away the solution of how to get it. I like how this Prepper Stash gives players agency, and provides them the foundation to create their own story, accomplish their own goal, and play their own way.”
One of the reasons I got back to Far Cry 5 in the last week is because I am fascinated by the fact that Ubisoft is releasing a sequel, Far Cry: New Dawn, next week, just 11 months after 5 came out. I’m curious how the game will connect to the original. It’s set 17 years later, after a disaster has transformed Hope. I figured I’d experience all of FC5’s story and then see how New Dawn references it, but as I went back I kept breaking from the main path to do more of these Prepper Stashes. That got me wondering if New Dawn would be making callbacks to that design features as well. It will, Greco said.
Prepper Stashes are evolving in the new game into something called Treasure Hunts. Greco said they differ from the Stashes in two ways. “First, on the gameplay side we are not holding players’ hand anymore. Treasure Hunts are much less objective-driven and much more demanding of players’ attention to detail and experimentation. Instead of asking players to ‘get the key’ and give them an objective marker, we are asking them to ‘find a way to get the key,’ and any means of doing this is valid. Increasing the challenge was in line with the overall goal of providing a more challenging experience in this harsh but beautiful world.”
Greco said New Dawn’s Treasure Hunts are also being used to provide glimpses to what happened to some key characters and locations from the previous game. The sidequests will reveal the fate of the fisherwoman Skylar, or of that big bridge that had that stash in its trestle. “With Far Cry New Dawn we were able to mix the familiar and novel in very exciting ways,” he said. “Each Treasure Hunt is unique, and the rewards you will get from them are invaluable to your progression through the game.”
It’s inevitable that a good new idea in a Ubisoft game will become part of the formula for the next. Prepper Stashes were a winner in Far Cry 5 and I’m looking forward to seeing what they become in New Dawn. Our violent pastimes can always benefit from some smartly-structured puzzle-solving calm.
Crackdown 3 is finally actually arriving, but you can try out the Wrecking Zone multiplayer a little early by taking part in a technical test. It will begin on Thursday, February 7 at 12 PM PT / 3 PM ET.
According to the announcement, the test will be exclusive to Xbox Insiders. Players will try out the Agent Hunter game mode, which involves taking down rival agents and stealing their badges for points. The Blackout Zone map will be the one used for this test. If you’re in the program you can begin installing at 9 AM PT / 12 PM ET. Other playtests throughout the weekend will be announced through the Xbox Insider hub, as well as on Discord and on game’s Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re not an Xbox Insider, membership is free so you can join whenever you’d like. You just have to download the Xbox Insider Hub from the storefront on your Xbox One, and then go to the Insider Content section and download “Wrecking Zone: Technical Test.” That will give you access to the test, and Microsoft encourages users to leave feedback.
The company says that the Wrecking Zone multiplayer uses its Azure Cloud service, which is part of why it’s putting the mode through its paces this way. We came away impressed by Crackdown 3’s multiplayer, finding it overshadowed even its single-player offering. If you’re a subscriber to Game Pass, you’ll have access to Crackdown 3 on its release day, February 15–along with a raft of other games this month. A new launch trailer (above) shows off some of what’s in store.
With no pre-release marketing whatsoever (unless you count the leaks), EA and Respawn both announced and released a brand-new game earlier this week, Apex Legends. It’s a battle royale game spin-off of sorts from the Titanfall series, and early impressions of it have been positive. Being free-to-play on PS4, Xbox One, and PC means that most anyone can jump in. But maybe battle royale isn’t your thing. Or perhaps using the weapons from Titanfall has, like me, gotten you thinking about that series. Whatever the case, if you’ve gotten the urge to jump back into a proper Titanfall game, you can do so for awfully cheap right now on Xbox One.
As part of this week’s Xbox Live sale, you can pick up Titanfall 2: Ultimate Edition for just $4.50/£3.75. That’s a steep discount of 85% off the regular price, and a mere pittance for such a terrific game. It’ll be available for that price through February 11 with or without Xbox Live Gold (though you’ll need it in order to play online multiplayer). This Ultimate Edition comes with some extra perks to give you a head start on progression and some cosmetics in multiplayer.
Titanfall 2 was released back in October 2016 and faced somewhat of an uphill battle to garner attention, due to stiff competition launching that fall. But it was nonetheless a genuinely excellent game, expanding on its predecessor in intelligent ways while still providing the fluid, fast-paced gameplay it was known for. There are few, if any, games that can deliver the same kind of thrills as Titanfall 2. It’s not uncommon to parkour through the environment, leap into your titan, and take out an enemy all in one intense sequence, or to rip the pilot out of a titan using your own and then soar through the air as you eject, causing a massive explosion. It’s great.
Titanfall 2 also features two notable elements absent from Apex Legends–the titular titans and the ability to wallrun–as well as a surprisingly enjoyable single-player campaign. While short, for just a few bucks, the story mode is worth the price of admission on its own.
This great deal is unfortunately only available on Xbox One, and not PS4 or PC. Bear in mind, Titanfall is 2 is available for free to EA Access subscribers on Xbox One and Origin Access subscribers on PC, so you do potentially have an avenue to play it for relatively cheap on those platforms. An equivalent PS4 service is not yet available, although comments made by EA this week may have teased that a PS4 version of EA Access is finally on the way. And although Respawn has said Titanfall 3 is not currently in the works, a new “premium” Titanfall game of some sort is on the way.