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Game News

Look at these Bloodborne monsters and tell me they’re not Muppets

Bloodborne is a game full of eldritch horrors and mean dudes that want nothing more than to chop you into ragged chunks with busted, rusty old meat cleavers. Its bestiary is huge and diverse: witches, werewolves, flightless birds, ogres, fungal aliens, walking brains, magic centipedes, fish people, sentient coffins, and more.

Apart from being nasty, the one thing that these monsters have in common is that they absolutely look like Muppets. Tufts of fur. Long, lanky limbs. Wildly exaggerated body language.

I’m not accusing FromSoftware of copying Jim Henson’s homework here, but the overlap was enough to make me wonder if Bloodborne and Muppets were actually being guided by some common design principles. Check out the video above, where we dive into how character designers use shape, movement, and texture to bring horrible monsters and furry friends to life.

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Epic admits it overpriced Fortnite’s Slippery weapon skin

Fortnite has had weapon wraps for a few seasons now and fans feel like they have a pretty good handle on what the pricing of the cosmetic items should look like. So, when Epic broke with that traditional pricing with the game’s new Slippery Wrap fans weren’t happy. After a bit of backlash, Epic has decided to change the price of the wrap to match fans’ expectations.

In the past, when Epic has sold cosmetic Wraps in the store, the standard has been that they would cost 500 V-Bucks for animated Wraps — which have moving patterns that constantly shift throughout the game — and 300 for non-animated ones. But the Slippery Wrap, which isn’t animated, was released at 500 V-Bucks. The wrap itself looks nice in-game with its fish-scale-like pattern, but without any animation fans were unhappy to see the price set at the higher tier.

Just two hours after the skin debuted, Epic acknowledged the criticism it was receiving from fans, and tweeted out an apology about the skin.

For now, the skin is still in the Fortnite in-game store, though it’s likely to rotate out soon as all Fortnite skins do. It appears that the skin itself couldn’t have its price changed while it was in the store, so the price listed remains 500 V-Bucks, but based on this tweet it would appear that Epic will still refund players who pay the higher price for the skin. Next time the Slippery Wrap shows up in the store, it will probably reflect the new 300 V-Bucks price point instead.

While Epic made a habit in the past of setting the prices on wraps around the idea of animated versus non-animated, this price change is the first time we’ve gotten an official confirmation of this difference. This may not be a guarantee from the company, but it seems likely that from here on out all of Fortnite’s wraps will be priced to reflect this difference.


World’s best Fortnite dad coached son into $30M tournament

Fortnite’s World Cup is just around the corner, and players are giving it their all to qualify for the big event. BuckeFPS, like many other players, wanted to throw his hat into the ring. Unlike most players, however, BuckeFPS’ secret weapon was none other than his dad.

BuckeFPS uploaded a video where he showcases the crucial matches that helped him qualify for the Fortnite tournament, and in the backdrop of his careful play is one constant: his dad’s voice. As BuckeFPS tries to survive a closing storm circle and a handful of determined Fortnite rivals, his dad tries to calm him down, gives him tips, and encourages him. He also constantly reminds him of how many points his son needs, and how many people are left on the map. It’s not just your typical parent support here — the dad clearly knows how the game works at a high level, and is able to commentate the gameplay even as it moves at a fast pace. I love it.

For his efforts, BuckeFPS will get at minimum $50,000 for entering the World Cup — and the moment he realizes he’s secured that money is raw and emotional. “Just do me one favor,” the dad says. “Be a humble, thankful player.” When the reality of the situation sets in, and BuckeFPS knows what he’s accomplished, he can’t hold it in. The tears start flowing, and I’ve got to admit, hearing BuckeFPS’ reaction got me feeling tender too. Fortnite is giving people life-changing money, and that’s no small thing.

When the World Cup rolls around, it’s unlikely that BuckeFPS’ dad will be able to continue coaching him, given that it’s going be a LAN competition. Still, it’s probably going to help to know that his parents are cheering him on fiercely from the sidelines.


Destiny 2’s new Contest mode evens the playing field for a world-first raid race

Prior to this week’s Bungie blog post, Destiny 2’s game director Luke Smith released an update on how the world first raid race will work in the game’s upcoming season. Not only will the Season of Opulence raid launch the same day the new season begins but, for the first 24 hours, the raid will have a different difficulty level designed to enhance competition.

The new difficulty mode is called Contest, and it will be mandatory for anyone trying to tackle the Crown of Sorrow raid on the first day. Contest doesn’t add mechanics, but instead limits how powerful players can be during the raid. The recommended Power level for player’s gear is 715 for the raid’s first fight. Contest mode restricts that Power, scaling everyone down to 700 max Power for the first fight instead.

Destiny’s Power scaling is a bit strange. If a recommended activity is 715 Power and the player character is also 715 Power, the Guardian and the enemies will deal 100% damage to one another. For every power under the recommended level, the Guardian deals less damage to enemies and takes more damage as well.

Contest evens the playing field between competing groups. No matter how high level a Guardian is in Contest mode, their effective Power level will still be 700 for that first fight — 15 levels under the recommended. At most, players will deal about 71% normal damage in the first encounter and suffer a comparable damage increase from enemies.

But the recommended Power goes up over the course of Crown of Sorrow, just like any other raid in Destiny 2. The Power limit enforced by the Contest mode will go up as well. For the final fight, players can be a maximum of 720 Power.

It’s important to note that in Contest mode, Power scaling only works in one direction. Players who enter the raid under 700 or reach the final encounter under 720 will take their natural Power penalty — their Power won’t be scaled up for Contest. That means there’s still a benefit to players who grind for Power before Bungie releases the raid. Going from the current max Power of 700 to 720 will take a lot of work — even with new raid loot.

Bungie will take the game servers down before Opulence starts, and release the update data two hours ahead of time so players can preload the new season. The goal is to give all players — streamers and casual fans alike — the chance to compete in the raid on day one. At 1 p.m. ET on June 4, Season of Opulence goes live, and all players can start racing for gear. Six hours later, Crown of Sorrow opens worldwide.

Smith clarified that Contest is an experiment for Destiny 2, and the team at Bungie will evaluate how successful it is before implementing it again. Also, Contest mode won’t stick around forever. One day after Crown of Sorrow’s release time Bungie will disable it, and Power will function normally in raids again.


Bloodborne hack lets you play as enemies, creator says it might work on Sekiro

A particularly skilled modder has found a way to take control of the enemies in Bloodborne on PlayStation 4. While not practical for average players, the hack opens the door to learning more behind-the-scenes secrets of the FromSoftware game. The creator says the hack works for Dark Souls 3, and should also work on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Fans of Souls-like games should already know Lance McDonald’s work. He’s made a name for himself hacking FromSoftware games for years now. His most-watched video on YouTube is the exploration of an early version of Oceiros, the Consumed King from Dark Souls 3 featuring his infant son, Ocelotte. Be warned, however, that the video contains some challenging Old Testament-style violence that was eventually cut from the final game.

McDonald announced the hack for Bloodborne late Thursday night, but it didn’t really gain traction until a second tweet early Friday morning.

Speaking with Polygon on his private Discord server, McDonald said that the ability to control enemies appears to have been part of the game’s debug mode. All he had to do was move the game’s code to his PC, reactivate the feature, and then push it back to his PS4 to test it. Now he’s able to take control of any enemy that he can lock on to, and travel through the game world as that creature.

“I am going to port it to Sekiro, or at least try, this weekend,” McDonald says. “It works on Dark Souls 3, too. Both of those are on PC so I’m sure I could share that [if I wanted to].”

Recently, McDonald uncovered Sekiro’s debug camera, which he’s been sharing with other YouTubers to allow them to make their content. You can see some of that work over on VaatiVidya’s YouTube channel.


Sonic the Hedgehog movie delayed three months to ‘fix’ Sonic

We’ll have to wait a little longer to see Sonic the Hedgehog hit the big screen. The film Sonic the Hedgehog has been pushed to Feb. 14, 2020 — making it the perfect Valentine’s Day movie to see with your boo. The original release date was set for November of this year, but has been delayed in order to “fix” Sonic’s look.

This announcement comes after a wave of internet backlash followed the first trailer, with many complaining about the beloved hedgehog’s design. The stinging internet critique prompted director Jeff Fowler to declare that Sonic’s look would be redone before the final version hit theaters. He announced this on Twitter, complete with the hashtag #gottafixfast. The internet then reacted to this news, questioning the feasibility of doing intense overhauls on such a project.

Fowler seems to have taken the second wave of feedback into account and took to Twitter again on Friday, posting the new release date of the movie with a new, rather loquacious hashtag, #novfxartistswereharmedinthemakingofthismovie. Sonic the Hedgehog holds up a sign with the new release date. It should be noted that, unlike his appearance in the trailer where his hands were simply white fur, the Sonic in the illustration has his signature white gloves. Paramount confirmed the new release date.

Though the character design will change, Sonic the Hedgehog is still voiced by Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), with Richard Madden and Jim Carrey also starring.


Rime is now free on the Epic Games Store

The 2017 puzzle game Rime is free on the Epic Games Store through May 30. It and the procedural action-adventure City of Brass are both available as Epic accelerates its schedule of free giveaways from twice a month to every single week.

Rime, by Tequila Works, launched almost exactly two years ago, on May 26, 2017. Players take on the role of a boy uncovering the abandoned buildings of a lost, fantastical island. It’s an exploration-based game, which we praised for its visual appeal but found somewhat lacking in overall impact. The story’s conclusion pays off well, however.

When it launched, Tequila Works fitted it with the Denuvo anti-tampering DRM, but immediately promised to remove it should players crack the DRM. The players did, and the studio followed suit.

City of Brass was released May 4 (after a Steam Early Access launch in September 2017) and, like Rime, also launched on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will be free on the Epic Games Store from May 30 to June 6. City of Brass is a first-person dungeon crawler through a procedurally generated, Arabian Nights-themed city.

In January, Epic Games Store began offering free games to all who sign up for an account with the store, as it tries to draw an audience since launching at the end of 2018. The new marketplace is the subject of some controversy, with a vocal set of users resentful of Epic’s encroachment on turf dominated by Steam for more than a decade.


Brightburn makes gory, bleak changes to the Superman story we all know

There’s a scene in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel that feels like the inspiration for Brightburn, the new film from David Yarovesky (The Hive). After a young Clark Kent uses his powers to save a bus full of classmates, his father explains the significance of who he is and the choices he makes:

“You just have to decide what kind of a man you want to grow up to be, Clark; because whoever that man is, good character or bad … he’s gonna change the world.”

We all know Clark Kent chose to use his powers for good and become a hero. The question Brightburn asks is: What happens if you put that kind of power in the hands of someone who isn’t so kind, selfless, and moral?

Yarovesky’s film, written by Brian and Mark Gunn (brother and cousin, respectively, of Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, filling a producer role for Brightburn) checks all the boxes of a classic Superman origin story: Kind, midwestern couple Tori and Kyle Breyer, played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, desperately want a child, and miraculously find one in a crashed spaceship. They give the child a comic book-style alliterative name: Brandon Breyer. They raise him in an idyllic Smallville-esque town. They live on a farm. At the age of 12, Brandon starts to develop superhuman powers and wonders where he really came from.

Superman’s origin story has been retold so many times in so many different mediums that it has become baked into our cultural consciousness. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely famously boiled it down to a mere eight words.

But there’s something deeply weird about finding an alien baby in a crashed spaceship and deciding to adopt him. What’s most impressive about Brightburn is how little it takes to shift the narrative into full-blown horror. Here, that one element is Brandon himself, and how he reacts to his developing superpowers and the revelation that he’s not from Earth. Instead of accepting the responsibility to use these powers to protect humanity, Brandon becomes convinced that he is superior, and that he is entitled to subjugate humanity. It doesn’t take much for him to escalate from creepy spying to petty revenge to full-blown murder. And played by Jackson A. Dunn, he convincingly evolves from “nice, quiet kid” to “terrifying sociopath.”

Brightburn (Jackson A. Dunn) stars in Screen Gems’ BRIGHTBURN. Screen Gems

Brightburn goes exactly where you think it will, and how much you enjoy that depends on how much you enjoy watching a grisly, ultra-bleak take on a traditionally wholesome story.

(Seriously, I want to stress how grim and nasty this movie is. There are a couple of particularly gory set-pieces that many audience members will watch through their fingers.)

While the violent latter half of Brightburn is familiar — Brandon stalks people in the dark and then they tend to die — the super-powered approach adds a compelling twist. We’re used to slasher movies in which killer seems to move impossibly fast and appear wherever the protagonists go, but here the killer actually is impossibly fast. Brightburn has a villain who can fly, move faster than the eye can follow, and lift cars into the air, and this raises the stakes. Be honest: if Superman wants to kill you, is there anything you can really do to stop him?

Yarovesky shoots the horror sequences with refreshing clarity, taking the time to ramp up suspense. He likes to hold on wide shots of the victims in isolation, letting a sense of hopelessness sink in as we scan the background for some sight of Brandon. Usually, in horror movies there’s the chance a person might subdue the killer long enough to escape. Here, the only chance of survival is if Brandon decides to show mercy. There’s something more human about this than a traditional horror movie killer, which makes it even more disturbing.

Watching Brandon’s empathy erode is genuinely unnerving, especially when contrasted with how we’re used to seeing the Superman story play out, but it feels like the filmmakers weren’t confident in the arc they were already writing for the character. Ultimately, his final shift into villainy is accompanied by a bit of devil ex machina, and it feels undercooked, leaving us wondering how much of what Brandon does is him, and how much is this genetic programming. It’s not enough to cripple the movie, but it does somewhat undercut the central idea.

While we eventually lose some of our connection to Brandon, at least his parents remain compelling protagonists. Banks and Denman sell the tragedy of the situation, as they are slowly forced to accept that the son they’ve loved for the past twelve years is really a monster.

Elizabeth Banks in Brightburn Screen Gems

As the movie builds to its conclusion, there’s a feeling of inevitability to it, but it’s oddly satisfying to see this “what if?” scenario explored, even in such a grim way. Yarovesky and the Gunns clearly understand the iconography well enough to twist it in interesting ways. Like Superman, Brandon’s cape is fashioned out of the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby. The angry, glowing red eyes that Zack Snyder was so fond of are present here, but with a better understanding of how sinister they really look, especially when surrounded by darkness.

I realize I’ve referenced Superman repeatedly throughout this review, but it’s impossible not to. Brightburn exists as a subversion of a specific story we’ve seen play out repeatedly over the past 80 years, and as a commentary on the genre that has come to dominate modern cinema. I’m not sure how much it has to say other than “when you think about it, this idea is actually pretty scary,” but it makes its point well. And if this does kick off a wave of superheroes reimagined as horror movies, there’s plenty more material left to explore.

Patrick Willems is a filmmaker. He lives in New York City, where he makes videos.


Pokémon Go Lapras raid guide: Counters, best movesets, and more

Lapras is taking over Pokémon Go raids on May 25 (or May 26 for players in Asia-Pacific) from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in your local time. The ice- and water-type Pokémon is a rare spawn, so this’ll be a great chance for any players to grab one.

This Raid Day event will give players up to five free Raid Passes from gyms and a chance to nab a Shiny Lapras.

It will also bring back Lapras’ legacy moveset: Ice Shard for a quick attack and Ice Beam as a charge attack. Lapras isn’t the best attacker around, but is a pretty decent gym defender with this moveset. Ice Shard and Hydro Pump are also good and will keep attacking trainers on their toes. With the popularity of using fighting-type Pokémon to take down gyms, Lapras suffers a bit, but its tanky enough to be worth dropping in there anyway.

To counter Lapras in raids, use electric-type or fighting-type moves. The following Pokémon are the best:

  • Electivire with Thunder Shock and Wild Charge
  • Raikou with Thunder Shock and Wild Charge
  • Machamp with Counter/Karate Chop and Dynamic Punch/Close Combat/Cross Chop
  • Zapdos with Charge Beam and Thunderbolt/Zap Cannon
  • Breloom with Counter and Grass Knot/Dynamic Punch

As usual, keep in mind the moves that Lapras knows as well. If the opposing Lapras knows mostly ice-type moves, Zapdos and Breloom will have a much harder time.

For more information on raids, check out our guide here.


Arma 3 is getting extraterrestrials with Contact, its most interesting update in years

Bohemia Interactive has announced a weird new spin-off for Arma 3, the hardcore infantry combat simulation it launched way back in 2013. Called Arma 3: Contact, the expansion will introduce spaceships and aliens to the franchise for the first time. It’s a bold move for a game known for its hyper realistic interpretations of modern and near-future military combat. Contact will launch on July 25.

Contact will offer a single-player campaign set on a brand new, 163-square-kilometer map. Extraterrestrials have landed, and it’s up to players to sort things out on the ground.

“When a massive alien vessel suddenly enters the atmosphere, you are sent to investigate the extraterrestrial visitors and determine their intentions,” Bohemia says in a press release. “However, amid the tension and chaos, armed conflict inevitably unfolds. Over the course of the campaign, players will engage in field science, electronic warfare, and combat reconnaissance, in an experience delivered in authentic Arma style.”

Pilots observe an alien anomaly in Arma 3: Contact. Bohemia Interactive

An unmanned ground vehicle samples an alien anomaly in Arma 3: Contact. Bohemia Interactive

An alien spacecraft as shown in Arma 3: Contact. Bohemia Interactive

Contact will add two new factions, including a Polish-speaking NATO ally and the Russian Spetsnaz. New weapons are assured, but also chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) protective clothing. Players will get access to new weapons, including throwbacks like the RPK and the Mk 14 — both popular weapons from previous iterations of the franchise. There will also be new multiplayer scenarios, along with new assets for modders and mission designers.

But is this a good idea? Or has Arma jumped the shark? Probably a little bit of both.

Arma 3 succeeded in propelling the near 20-year-old franchise into the modern age of gaming. The base product includes all manner of small arms, but also armored vehicles, fixed wing, and rotorwing aircraft. It allows for multiplayer combined arms combat across massive landmasses, each with hundreds of square kilometers to explore. It successfully melds first-person shooter gameplay with tank simulation and flight simulation in ways that no other game does.

But it was launched nearly six years ago, which is a long time when it comes to video games. And it’s starting to show its age.

So Arma is big. But Arma is also old. It’s also cumbersome, requiring that players relearn simple things like how to move and shoot from cover. What Arma 3 does is unique, but also very niche. That doesn’t always translate into continued sales six years after launch.

That’s why Contact has me so curious. It’s evidence that Bohemia is interested in trying new things.

Soldiers wearing CBRN protective equipment in Arma 3: Contact Bohemia Interactive

Players move into combat with air support in Arma 3: Contact. Bohemia Interactive

Players use an UGV to peer into a building in Arma 3: Contact Bohemia Interactive

“Although conventional infantry engagements can be expected, a significant portion of the campaign will focus on non-shooting gameplay,” Bohemia says in that same press release. “This involves operating a mini [unmanned ground vehicle], sampling laser, and CBRN defense equipment to study strange alien anomalies, as well as controlling the electromagnetic spectrum with the aptly named Spectrum Device. This advanced modern tool — depending on what antenna is fitted — can be used for navigation, intelligence gathering, and deception.”

The Arma series has always been a platform for experimentation, but rarely has that experimentation come from the developer itself. Arma 2 gave birth to not only DayZ but also PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, two experiences that changed the landscape of modern gaming. Nearly all of Bohemia’s DLC for Arma 3 have been very by-the-book.

This “non-shooting gameplay” and the spectrum device thing is content that is absolutely not by the book. Contact is a departure, and I’m excited to see how it turns out.

You can watch the trailer, which we’ve embedded above, on YouTube. But anything that gets me out into the wilderness, in the dark, with dangerous enemies lurking around every corner absolutely has my attention.

You can view the entire list of additions at Bohemia’s dedicated website.