Category Archives: Game News

Game News

Phoenix Point only available on the Epic Game Store because developers ‘dropped the ball’

Phoenix Point, the new game from the co-creator of the original X-Com: UFO Defense, is out now and reviews are mixed. The developer announced earlier this year that Phoenix Point would be coming to the Epic Games Store instead of Steam, and there were also plans to release it simultaneously on Xbox Game Pass for PC and the Windows Store. But developer Snapshot Games now says it “dropped the ball” and can’t say when those versions will be ready.

“We know that some of you are waiting for our release on Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for PC and the Microsoft Windows Store,” wrote a member of the Snapshot Games staff on the game’s official forums. “The fact is we dropped the ball. We were exceedingly busy getting the game itself ready, and being inexperienced with Game Pass and the Microsoft Store, we simply had not properly prepared the groundwork to get the game released on time on these platforms.”

The post goes on the state that the complexity of Microsoft’s certification and a legal review surprised them, and have created unforeseen delays. That’s why the game isn’t available there yet.

“We are currently unable to make the same content available on Microsoft’s platform that is available to players on other platforms. Since we want to make sure all players have access to all versions of Phoenix Point regardless of where they choose to play, we need to get this working before we can release.”

They added that there is no expected time of arrival at this time. That makes it a de facto Epic Games Store exclusive.

Of course, Phoenix Point was never supposed to launch on the Epic Games Store in the first place. The original Fig crowdfunding campaign promised a Steam release for the strategy game. Polygon has reached out to Snapshot Games, Microsoft, and Fig for more details.


I’m being stalked by a passive-aggressive lich

Warframe recently introduced a new system: the Kuva Lich, a nemesis who stalks you from planet to planet and can only be permanently ended via complex secrets held by powerful minions in the lich’s territory.

That sounds pretty great on paper, but so much of Warframe is about lateral progression. Instead of moving from mission to mission, I tend to bounce around the Origin System. Sometimes I’m in the Void, farming Argon Crystals to make some neat new Warframes. Or sometimes I’m on an older planet because I need to get a whole bunch of nano spores to build beautiful plants in the dojo I share with my friends.

And so, while I’ve spawned my very own Kuva Lich named Halidd Sorr, I haven’t progressed too far down the path of beating her. From her perspective, that’s pretty rude. I show up, gank her larval form with a very impressive and lethal stab, and then when she revives as a dark wraith of vengeance and takes over an entire planet as revenge, I just kind of leave her on read. In the Warframe universe, this is the ultimate neg.

Am I the baddie?

The Grineer are kind of a tragic bunch. They were once the working class of a vast, galaxy-spanning empire run by a bunch of expansionist sociopaths. When that empire was overthrown, the Grineer rose up. The only problem is that they were genetically modified by the empire, and without easy access to that technology, they are continuously deteriorating. The Grineer salvage whatever tech they can, clone themselves en masse, and swear allegiance to a pair of evil queens.

At this point in Warframe, I’ve mowed down thousands of Grineer. In general, I haven’t thought too much about it. With the exception of Tyl Regor, an absolute daddy of a Grineer general, and the noble Steel Meridian faction, the Grineer are nothing to me. They may have a tragic backstory, but the world of Warframe is grim. Nobody’s doing well! It’s no excuse for trying to murder me!

a Kuva Lich spawns and sends the player a message in Warframe
Hey … I’m really sorry about setting you on fire and stabbing you. My bad.
Digital Extremes

Because I am in the state of having a nemesis yet not having triggered her higher aggression levels, the two of us are caught in a little bit of a cold war. Here’s how a day of playing Warframe goes now that Halidd Sorr is all up in my business:

I log in, and Halidd Sorr sends me a little bon mot, calling me her Adversary. It’s usually something about how she’s going to destroy me, and crush my weak, brittle tin skull. I go adventuring on some completely unrelated missions, chuckling to myself about her idle threats. Then, she steals a chunk of my quest rewards!

C’mon, what the hell? Am I not entitled to the sweat of my brow?

At this point, I’m not afraid of Halidd at all. I wish she would stop calling me at work so much, because that’s unprofessional, but she stays on her side of the system and I stay on mine. Everything’s fine, up until it changes.

Halidd Sorr shows up in one of my missions to beat my ass.

Warframe - a Khoura Warframe aims her weapon
How could you possibly want to murder this robot and her nice cat?
Digital Extremes

I am being bullied online

I’m not going to lie: It was a humiliating encounter. I’m on voice chat with my friends, and I’m in the middle of explaining the way a certain kind of upgrade works when I cut myself off with an “OH NO!” My Kuva Lich has arrived, and her health bar takes up a massive chunk of my screen. She’s screaming at me, I’m trying to get out of the elevator shaft I’m currently in so that I can start a fight, and my friends are reassuring me that everything will be alright.

We chip her down to about a third of her health, and then Halidd Sorr grabs me, breaking my spine over her knee à la Bane. After I revive myself I complete the mission, she steals even more of my loot! I haven’t experienced such a vicious act of bullying since high school.

I can’t stress enough how alarming this is. Warframe is a power fantasy where I can spin-jump 80 feet into the air, slide down a catwalk, and murder a dozen dudes without breaking a sweat. Now I know how those guys feel, because that’s how easily Halidd Sorr dispatches me.

Suddenly I realize that the day that I immolated and stabbed a Kuva larvling on Saturn was the most important day of Halidd’s life.

I don’t deserve this

The worst part about all of this is that Halidd Sorr sees me as an enormous threat to the Origin System and the Grineer way of life. She’s technically correct, but I’m not killing Grineer out of a mission or set of ethics or anything. I just need Nano Spores and Plastids so I can build koi ponds in my dojo. But then my day is interrupted by an immortal nightmare demon. It’s a little distressing, and I’d like to issue a formal apology to Halidd Sorr. I’m really, really sorry about the time that I detonated an explosive barrel, shot you in the face, and then stabbed you to death.

Please be nice to me. I have so many individual shrubs to build, and a big space dog to feed. At the very least, can you stop calling me every day to tell me how much you’re going to relish murdering me?


Destiny 2 players can buy more cosmetics without real money in Season of Dawn

Bungie continues to experiment with Destiny 2’s store of cosmetic items, the Eververse. And the store is changing again in the upcoming Season of Dawn — this time in an effort to be a bit more friendly to players.

Destiny 2 offers two currencies for the in-game store: Silver, bought with real money, and Bright Dust, earned by playing the game. Over Bungie’s first year as an independent studio, it’s moved more items over to Silver-only status than ever before. Players can only use their Bright Dust to purchase items on a weekly shop rotation, while most Silver items are available all season long.

According to a new blog post from Bungie, only 50% of new Eververse items went on sale for Bright Dust during the Season of the Undying — Destiny 2’s fall season. If players wanted to purchase one of the many items not on sale for Bright Dust, they’d need to pony up $7-8 worth of Silver. Moreover, players didn’t have any idea which items the studio would eventually sell for Bright Dust, and which items were Silver-only.

Bungie agrees with players that the number of items available for Bright Dust was too low in Season of the Undying, and the store’s lack of communication led to frustrating situations. Starting in Season of Dawn, the Eververse store will feature around 80% of the season’s items for both Bright Dust and Silver. And the studio will clarify on their social channels which new items will never go on sale for Bright Dust.

The studio also stated it needs the Eververse store to fund Destiny 2’s development. “Offering some amount of Eververse content for Silver-only is part of ensuring we are able to fund our ability to keep creating and maintaining Destiny and supporting the team that makes Destiny,” said Bungie. Silver-only items are mostly new to Destiny in 2019, with players previously earning a random loot box filled with new goodies by just playing the game.

All of these Eververse changes hit Destiny 2 on Tuesday, Dec. 10, alongside Season of Dawn.


Is Playmobil: The Movie just a reskinned Lego Movie?

When the trailer for Playmobil: The Movie first debuted, it seemed to elicit one universal reaction: “Wait, isn’t this just a cheaper-looking version of The Lego Movie?” Those who can’t tell their Playmobil klickies from their Lego mini-figs can be forgiven for thinking Playmobil is just another downmarket Lego spin-off, like The Lego Ninjago Movie. But, nope, it’s a separate film franchise, designed to do for the German Playmobil company what The Lego Movie did for the Danish Lego corporation.

Yet can this suspiciously similar looking new film possibly hold a candle to the sky-high standard set by Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s modern classic? I set out to answer that question, but Playmobil: The Movie wasn’t screened for critics. So I showed up at an opening-day screening, where I was the only person in my entire theater, much to the ushers’ bafflement. (The man who took my ticket said, “Oh, I thought this was a kids’ movie.” I could only respond, “It is.”) That bit of social awkwardness out of the way, I deployed a five-point criteria to figure out how alike these two movies actually are.

Party like your parents are tragically gone.
ON Animation Studios

1. The real-world/animation juxtaposition

One of the things that makes the first Lego Movie so great is the big third-act reveal (spoilers ahead!) that the animated story up to that point is an adventure being acted out by a creative kid playing with his perfectionist dad’s Lego set. Playmobil similarly mixes live-action and animated storytelling, although it’s more akin to The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, where the live-action portion opens the film, and focuses on a brother/sister relationship. In this case, that’s 18-year-old Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her kid brother Charlie (Ryan S. Hill).

However, unlike in The Lego Movie franchise, where the animated world is a representation of the stories the humans are acting out, Marla and Charlie actually get sucked into the world of Playmobil, where they’re trapped inside plastic figurine bodies. (Marla mostly looks like herself, while Charlie is transformed into a super-strong bearded Viking warrior.) In that way, Playmobil feels more like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, or any number of 1990s kids’ films, like Macaulay Culkin’s The Pagemaster.

Verdict: Sort of the same, but with a major difference.

Nobody dispenses life lessons better than a guy with a van.
On Animation Studios

2. The emotional themes

The Lego Movie has a moving emotional core about a dad who needs to learn to loosen up and understand his son. But that’s nothing compared to the emotions at play in Playmobil. Within the first five minutes of the movie, Marla and Charlie’s parents have been killed in a car crash. Four years later, Marla has had to put aside her dreams of traveling the world, so she can serve as a single parent to her little brother (now played by Gabriel Bateman). Charlie is mad that Marla has lost her adventurous spirit and is becoming a boring adult, which is harsh, considering how she’s upended her life for him. But the whole movie is about Marla learning to recapture her youthful zest for life while still being a responsible guardian for Charlie.

Verdict: Very different.

Everything is awesome. And shiny.
On Animation Studios

3. The music

The Lego Movie gave the world the almost unbearably catchy tune “Everything Is Awesome,” but it isn’t actually a full-on musical. Playmobil, however, opens with Marla delivering an upbeat live-action musical performance straight out of a lesser Disney Channel original movie. Anya Taylor-Joy is a master of silent intensity in films like The Witch and Split, so it’s a blast to watch her throw herself into something so purely joyful, especially when she turns out to have a surprisingly capable set of pipes.

Unfortunately, most of the songs in Playmobil are generic and forgettable. (Sample lyrics: “This is rad!” / “It’s mad.”) And while this would seem like a clear-cut case of Playmobil at least doing something different than The Lego Movie by more clearly foregrounding the music, The Lego Movie 2 also stepped up the musical commitment from the first film, so even that element feels less unique. Still, the Lego Movie franchise has yet to tackle live-action singing, so Playmobil gets some points for originality. And at least a couple of the film’s songs — including one written by Meghan Trainor — have a few toe-tapping qualities.

Verdict: Different than The Lego Movie, not different than The Lego Movie 2.

Watch out, most Bond women don’t last long.
On Animation Studios

4. The pop-culture references

On the surface, Playmobil isn’t nearly the same IP smorgasbord as The Lego Movie, since The Lego Movie had access to DC Comics and Harry Potter franchise characters, while Playmobil’s biggest franchise tie-in toy lines are Ghostbusters, How To Train Your Dragon, and the NHL. Instead, Playmobil emphasizes the world-building of its play sets. Charlie is kidnapped by evil Emperor Maximus (Adam Lambert), who runs a gladiator competition in the Roman-style kingdom of Constatinopolis. Charlie’s fellow captives include a pirate captain named Bloodbones (Kenan Thompson), a caveman named Ook (Kirk Thornton), and an Amazonian named Valera (Paloma Michelle). Elsewhere, Marla teams up with laid-back food-truck driver Del (Jim Gaffigan) on a mission that takes them to the Old West, a futuristic science-fiction world, and on an espionage adventure with a suave, self-important spy named Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe).

So while Playmobil technically doesn’t name names, it’s has its own take on pop-culture references. Rex is an overt James Bond parody (Radcliffe is hilarious in the role), and a lot of the creatures from the science-fiction world look suspiciously like Star Wars characters. A trip to a fairy-tale kingdom is a chance for first-time director Lino DiSalvo to pay loving homage to his long career at Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he served as the Head of Animation on the first Frozen film. Playmobil has a little bit more of a historical angle than The Lego Movie (plus way more Vikings), but the zanily mishmashed world-building is definitely the place where the two films feel the most similar.

Verdict: Exactly the same, and The Lego Movie does it better.

Welcome to the jam.
On Animation Studios

5. The humor

The Lego Movie went for a manic, laugh-a-minute style, while Playmobil only elicits a polite chuckle every now and again. It’s not nearly as funny, but it’s also not really meant to be. Playmobil is aimed at a younger audience, and the filmmakers are less interested in delivering the winking all-ages appeal of The Lego Movie. Instead, they offer up a low-key, non-judgmental message about seeking out adventure and fun where you can find it, even if it’s just through imagination and play.

And there are advantages to that “Be anything you want to be” ethos. For one, the film doesn’t need to strictly define Marla as either a tomboy or a girly-girl. She gets to appear as both a gown-wearing princess and a knight in shining armor, not to mention a spy, a science-fiction heroine, and a comically unconvincing cowgirl.

While a lot of modern kids’ movies (especially those based on toys or apps) feel crass and cheap, Playmobil is heartfelt and earnest. It doesn’t have much to offer childfree moviegoers, and it does mostly feel like The Lego Movie with the serial numbers filed off. But it’s the sort of film that will keep kids entertained without driving their parents crazy. Plus, perhaps due to panic over a potential box-office bomb, the film is being released at a discounted $5 rate at theaters across the country. So while it isn’t the best kids’ movie in town, it just might be the cheapest.

Verdict: Different, and that’s okay.

Playmobil: The Movie is in theaters now.


Destiny 2 Xur location and items, Dec. 6-9

If you played Destiny, you may be familiar with Xur, the weekly Exotic item merchant. In Destiny 2, he’s back, and he now appears all over the map. This week, you can find Xur on Titan, taking shelter from the rain in a small building east of The Rig.

Destiny 2 Xur location July 6-9, 2018 Bungie/Activision

Xur’s inventory this week consists of the following:

  • Black Talon, sword: 29 Legendary Shards
  • Wormhusk Crown, Hunter helmet: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Stronghold, Titan gauntlets: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Lunafaction Boots, Warlock boots: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Isochronal Engram: 97 Legendary Shards
  • Invitation quest: 9 Legendary Shards

Xur’s inventory caps out at 931 if you’re 950. He also offers specific rolls on each armor piece each week, giving out different perks for the same pieces.

Black Talon

Black Talon is a powerful Exotic sword from the Forsaken expansion. Its Exotic perk, Crow’s Wings, allow it to fire a Void projectile after two subsequent heavy attacks. Its trait, Tireless Blade, regenerates ammo on certain powerful blow kills.


The Black Talon isn’t the most useful sword in late-game activities, but it is a fun weapon. Adding a ranged attack to a sword takes away a lot of the weapon type’s usual danger. Instead of slamming your blade into enemies in their face, you can blast at them from a safe distance. If you don’t have Black Talon, you should add it to your collection. Just don’t expect to pull it out more than a couple times a year.

Wormhusk Crown

Wormhusk Crown is one of the campaign Exotics from Warmind, and you can earn the helmet from completing the campaign. Or you can buy it from Xur this week. The Exotic perk is Burning Souls, which heals you after dodging.

This is a powerful helmet in the Crucible, so if you’re a PvP player you should pick this up.

Xur’s roll this week is Void, and comes with 50 total stats.


These gauntlets have the exotic perk Clenched Fist, where guarding with with a sword increases movement speed and doesn’t drain sword ammo. Well timed guards that block damage also heal the Titan. Until swords are useful, these Titan gloves aren’t really worth using. Pick them up for your collection if you’re a Titan main, but don’t expect to use them anytime soon.

Xur’s roll this week is Arc, and comes with 52 total stats.

Lunafaction Boots

Lunafaction Boots are very powerful Warlock Exotic boots, and have been since the original Destiny 2. Their Exotic perk is Alchemical Etchings. This perk grants a reload speed increase while standing in a Lunafaction-empowered Rift. This Exotic got hit hard in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, but it’s still very powerful and worth using. You need these.

Xur’s roll this week is Solar, and comes with 48 total stats.


If you haven’t completed the Invitation quest yet, Xur is still offering it for nine Legendary Shards.


The food on Food Wars! looks so delicious for one big reason

Food Wars! is a great anime with one major downside: it’s impossible to watch without getting hungry. In this clip from the new Crunchyroll documentary about the making of the show, Dayna Akahara, who handles Food Wars!’s food design at the J.C. Staff studio, takes viewers through the detailed and careful process of drawing anime’s best looking food.

The series centers on junior chefs as they train to become the new cooking-world elite, and the young chefs constantly challenge each other to one on one competitions. Since the show is about cooks at the top of the culinary game the dishes they make have to be outstanding. Of course, since the series is based on a manga, the animators have a point of reference to go on, but static, black-and-white drawings of food, aren’t the same as J.C. Staff’s animation.

As it turns out the process of animating each food item starts with a mountain of research. In the clip, Akahara toils over an alligator ramen dish that appears in the series’ third season. She takes everything from the texture of each individually hand-drawn noodles to the colors of real-world broth into account when working on the dish. As for the alligator meat itself, she used the manga as well as real alligator to make sure it looked right.

Akahara explains that she views the food itself sort of like a guest star on each Food Wars! episode. Every time a new dish comes in it’s important that every piece is right so we can understand how the character interact with it. And most important, it’s critical that every new dish looks delicious. With all this intricate detail put into each dish, it’s no wonder they make viewers hungry. In fact, according to Akahara, that’s always her goal.

The Food Wars! documentary is live now on Crunchyroll’s YouTube channel, and will be on Crunchyroll, and VRV on Dec. 13.


Dr. Disrespect teaming with Skybound Entertainment for potential TV show

Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm has always put a ridiculous amount of production work into his streams. From cutaways to fake car chases, to mid-match music videos, the Dr Disrespect persona Beahm has created is all about putting on a show for viewers. But, now that Beahm has signed a deal with Skybound Entertainment, the production company co-founded by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, he’s got the potential to take that showmanship to television.

As part of this new deal, which was initially announced by The Hollywood Reporter, Beahm and Skybound will develop a scripted narrative television series based on the Dr Disrespect character. The series would focus on “how the doctor became the doctor,” a sort of origin story for Beahm’s Twitch persona.

Beahm said to the Hollywood Reporter that the show is “pretty early in terms of creative and the direction we want to take it,” but he also noted that there have been, “some early discussions around animation.”

Before he started streaming, Beahm worked at Sledgehammer games as the community manager and later as a level designer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. In 2015, Beahm left Sledgehammer to stream full time. His Dr Disrespect stream persona blew up around the launch of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in 2017. While he has enjoyed phenomenal success since then, Beahm has been at the center of several controversies over the last couple of years.

In late 2017, Beahm admitted publicly to having an extramarital affair. After this Beahm took a brief break from streaming, before returning to a record-setting number of viewers. Beahm once again faced scrutiny during this year’s E3 Video Game show when, during his first IRL stream ever, he brought his still-rolling cameras into the convention center bathroom — a crime in the state of California. This stream resulted in a short ban for his streaming channel on Twitch.

Beahm isn’t the only streamer to take their persona to a medium beyond gaming though. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has marketed his on-stream personality far beyond the world of Fortnite, and earlier this year released a narrative comic book. Something along those lines doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility for Beahm either, as Skybound does work in comics as well.

For now, with Beahm’s Skybound show still in the early days of production, Beahm says that his focus will remain on streaming. While many content creators have moved to platforms such as YouTube, Mixer, or Facebook Gaming, Beahm will continue his stream on Twitch as he has for the last several years.


Behold Wonder Woman’s greatest living creators teaming up for landmark issue

Next year, DC Comics will debut a big anniversary issue of Wonder Woman that will kick off a new phase of the hero’s mission in Man’s World, and Polygon has an exclusive look at art from the 96-page anthology.

Wonder Woman #750 will feature stories from Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, who, among other iconic work on the character, modernized Diana’s origin in 2016; Gail Simone and Colleen Doran, who will reprise their character Star-Blossom from 2016’s Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special; and Mariko Tamaki and Elena Casagrande. You can get a preview of all of their work below.

DC Comics has also assembled a veritable army of creators new and old to contribute to Wonder Woman #750, including Kami Garcia, Shannon and Dean Hale, Ramona Fradon, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Liam Sharp, Marguerite Bennett, Vita Alaya, Bilquis Evely, and, of course, current Wonder Woman writer Steve Orlando.

But just because this is an anthology issue, doesn’t mean it won’t have long-reaching repercussions for the Princess of the Amazons, according to Orlando.

Wonder Woman #750 hits shelves on Jan. 22, 2020. Here are seven exclusive images from the 96-page anthology issue.

Wonder Woman confronts the Cheetah in a cave in unfinished pages from Wonder Woman #750, DC Comics (2020). Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott/DC Comics

Wonder Woman and Star-Blossom fight a fire together, in unfinished art from Wonder Woman #750, DC Comics (2020). Gail Simone, Colleen Doran/DC Comics
Wonder Woman holds a metal-wrought globe of the earth on her shoulders like Atlas, on the cover of Wonder Woman #750, DC Comics (2020).
The cover of Wonder Woman #750.
Joëlle Jones, Tricia Mulvihill/DC Comics


Amazon is having a one-day sale on strategy board games, some as much as 65% off

Black Friday has come and gone, but Amazon is keeping the holiday sales rolling with an up-to 50 percent off board games sale. The sale includes dozens of strategy games, including everything from card games to traditional board games to role-playing game miniatures.

Among the sale titles is Wasteland Express Deliver Service, a post-apocalyptic board game about making deliveries. The game is something like a cross between Borderlands and Mad Max, and tasks players with completing delivery contracts between the world’s competing civilizations and factions. The prices of the various items you might be carrying is constantly in flux so you’ll need to keep track of whether the citizens need food, water, or ammunition.

Another item on offer from Amazon are numerous booster bricks for the Pathfinder RPG that can add a little extra flavor to your next campaign. This Dungeons & Dragons competitor is a pen and paper RPG with an emphasis on tactics. Pathfinder’s second edition succeeds at refining the game’s complicated combat system into something a little more manageable, without taking away from its strategic depth.

For a few more recommendations on which games to pick up during Amazon’s sale you can check out our full rundown of some of the year’s most ambitious games from Gen Con 2019. Below you can find a short list of a few of the other games Amazon has on sale.

Amazon half-off board game sale

One Night Ultimate Werewolf — $8.75 (65 percent off)

Forbidden Island — $9.99 (44 percent off)

Photosynthesis — $20.99 (53 percent off)

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong — $22.99 (43 percent off)

Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game — $9.44 (62 percent off)

Castles of Mad King Ludwig — $27.99 (53 percent off)

Queendomino — $15.25 (54 percent off)

Sentinels of the Multiverse — $17.49 (56 percent off)

Tiny Epic Mechs — $14.99 (40 percent off)

Castle Panic — $41.29 (54 percent off)

Nyctophobia: The Hunted — $18.71 (53 percent off)

Three Kingdoms Redux — $28.48 (30 percent off)

Village Crone — $18 (64 percent off)


What Death Stranding gets wrong about asexuality

It’s not unusual for people to not know what “asexuality” means.

When friends talked about how they were sexually attracted to their partners, I had always pretended I understood. But the reality was that I never felt that way about anyone, even in long-term relationships with people I truly, deeply loved.

As I started to question how my way of feeling attraction differed from that of my friends, I discovered there were others like me: asexual people, or “aces” for short. For me, attraction is about aesthetics — personality, conversation, style, appearance, and attitude. I found that many other aces feel that way as well. According to the Asexual Visibility & Education Network, asexuality is a spectrum of sexual orientations and identities, all of which lack sexual attraction at some level.

“Asexuals are fully capable of being physically intimate and enjoying it,” an AVEN spokesperson told me via email. “Being asexual simply means you don’t feel sexual attraction. There are different types of attraction, not all of them sexual. Aces can feel desire or attraction romantically, platonically, sensually, among others.”

If you’re finding this difficult to understand, imagine how it feels to be on the other side of it. The world often treats us like we should inherently experience and understand sexual attraction, but some of us just … don’t. It can be confusing, especially when you’re young, because the subject of how we experience attraction is complicated and often conflated with sex, a complex subject which many parents and teachers have difficulty discussing in itself.

Many of us learn about asexuality after years of second-guessing ourselves, of trying to be something we aren’t. For me, it was such a relief when I finally understood my own orientation. It freed me to become more intimate with people important to me.

Knowing that asexuality is not a commonly understood orientation, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see how it is represented in Death Stranding.

Death Stranding’s ‘Asexual World’ fundamentally misunderstands asexuality

In the week of its release, a screenshot from Death Stranding started circling on social media featuring a bit of in-game world-building text titled “An Asexual World.”

This is what it says:

An in-universe email from Death Stranding, the full text is in the body of this story, under the image. Kojima Productions/Sony interactive Entertainment

Records suggest that the widespread aversion towards physical contact and intimacy was a phenomenon that had been observed even before the Death Stranding. One contemporary report, for example, details the increasing popularity of the “sexless lifestyle” among young people. A growing percentage of the younger cohort were self-identifying as asexual, claiming to be incapable of feeling desire or attraction. Accordingly, such individuals were less likely to have children or engage in sexual activity.

It should be noted, however, that many other unique sexual identities were being recognized during this period, such as demisexuals, who are incapable of sexual attraction without an emotional connection, and panromantics, who profess an attraction unrestricted by sex or gender — albeit one not necessarily sexual in nature.

One theory posits that the Stranding accelerated the proliferation of these sexualities. In a terrifying new world in which BTs roam and annihilation is an everyday occurrence, people have grown reticent to form emotional connections with others.

Although there has been no measurable decrease in human fertility, the birth rate has nevertheless dropped dramatically. Incidence of sexual harassment and assault have also seen a sharp decrease, which seems to suggest that sex could not be further from our minds, for better or for worse.

I must preempt myself by admitting that I do not have any empirical data with which to support the following claim. That said, it is my contention that, based on the aforementioned observations and others, the vast majority of the population could be categorized as asexual.

I cringed while reading the text. There is a lot wrong with this description of asexuality.

I asked Hideo Kojima’s company, Kojima Productions, what relevance the content of this letter has to the narrative of the game, but received no reply. I also got my hands on the Japanese version of the letter and can confirm, as a fluent Japanese speaker, that it is almost word-for-word identical to the English version. This wasn’t an issue of translation.

It’s also not a small thing: A lot of people may have heard the term “asexual” in the past few years, but may not understand what it means, or even that they may themselves be asexual. A well-written letter in a mainstream, popular video game may seem like it offers a few answers, or at least a solid conversation about the topic.

But a game like Death Stranding isn’t a great place to engage with sexual education, and its content may actually spread misinformation about asexuality rather than educating people about it, or just avoiding the subject altogether.

What this letter gets wrong, and why it matters

We should be clear that this letter is meant to be a part of the fictional world of Death Stranding, so it obviously shouldn’t be automatically taken as a comment on the real world. However, the choice of the word “asexual,” and the way it is tied to behaviors that are not actually related to asexuality, is careless.

Among the misconceptions the “Asexual World” text contains are those that misrepresent how aces feel about sex, intimacy, and desire.

It begins by going on about “aversion towards physical contact and intimacy” and the “popularity of the sexless lifestyle.” But as described above, aces can enjoy physical contact and intimacy, and many happily engage in sex. The note defines asexual as “incapable of feeling desire or attraction” but again, aces do feel desire and attraction, just not sexual attraction.

One of the more egregious issues with “An Asexual World” is its third paragraph, where it talks about “the proliferation of these sexualities,” as if external forces guide who we are or aren’t attracted to.

“Just like any sexual orientation, asexuality can’t be spread from one person to another — even efforts to forcibly sterilize people have been found to have minimal impact on attraction,” an AVEN spokesperson told me. “While human sexuality can be highly fluid and subject to change, sexual orientations simply aren’t transmittable to one another, even in the case of large-scale societal change. The current ‘rise’ of asexuality, for example, has more to do with visibility efforts than individual identification.”

While it may seem like asexual orientations or identities are “new” and “proliferating,” even in our world, the reality is that, thanks to access to information about asexuality online and via outreach, asexual people are coming to understand themselves better. Identifying as asexual is about embracing the way that you feel attraction as a part of who you are, not something that stems from “growing reticent to form emotional connections with others,” as Death Stranding describes it.

You may be hearing the term more often because the folks who have always been asexual are hopefully finding it easier to learn about their sexuality, meet others who feel similarly, and talk about how they’d like to express the their sexuality in a healthy way.

That sort of support and information doesn’t create asexual people; it just gives people who may have already been asexual a better framework to think about something they’ve always felt. We’re not reacting to alienation or a lack of emotional connection — we just have a different way of experiencing attraction. Our emotional connections can be very strong, and we desire connection to others just as much as those with other sexual orientations. Once you realize that the difference is in the expression of love, but not in the emotion itself, asexuality will hopefully become easier to understand.

Getting asexuality right is a challenge worth facing

In the roughly 66 hours I’ve spent playing Death Stranding start to finish since seeing the screenshot, I haven’t seen any direct connection between the “Asexual World” text and the rest of the game. The story is essentially about “reconnecting” people who’ve become isolated from each other in a post-apocalyptic world, and this letter may have been an attempt to connect that theme with sexuality in some way. But if that’s the case, the note misses the mark by a wide margin.

an explosion seen in the distance in Death Stranding
This looks bad, sure, but not even a world-ending disaster will change your sexual orientation.
Kojima Productions/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Some asexual people may experience conflicts in their relationships because sex might not be important to them, but it doesn’t mean they don’t love their partners. In fact — even though it may be counterintuitive to folks who aren’t asexual — embracing their asexual orientation can enable aces to form stronger connections with friends and loved ones. Understanding how you experience attraction helps you look for a partner with similar needs, and can even help you be better equipped to articulate your feelings, desires, and struggles.

And again, being asexual doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t enjoy sex or the emotional connection it can bring. How any single asexual person feels about these things can vary, which is true of any sexual relationship. The first step toward navigating your own sexuality is understanding it and making peace with it, and that can be hard when there is so much bad information — like this in-game letter — out there.

Asexuality is about connection, not alienation. It shouldn’t be a prop used only to make your fictional world seem a little more dystopian to people who don’t understand what it means to be asexual, nor should it be used in world-building by people who may not understand the misinformation they’re spreading by doing so.

The good news is that gaming in general has multiple positive examples of asexuality. The AVEN team gave me a prime example: Mass Effect’s Salarians.

“Salarians are almost wholly asexual and manage to have a thriving society and powerful impact on the rest of the galactic community,” they said.

More recently, Obsidian Entertainment’s wonderful The Outer Worlds included an asexual companion character named Parvati. Parvati has struck a chord with players in general because she’s so relatable. But in addition, the game presents her sexuality as a natural part of who she is — something that makes her relationships different than most of the relationships of those around her, but not better or worse.

And if there’s one thing I want to get across to people who may be confused about asexuality, especially after Death Stranding, it’s this: Asexuality isn’t about disconnection. It’s not about needing a hero to help connect you to others, or a way to draw away from the world in times of stress or calamity.

Being asexual doesn’t mean I’m cut off from other people; it just means my emotional and physical life may be a little different than yours. Or maybe you’re just learning that you may be asexual yourself! It’s about wanting or needing different things from your relationships, and finding people who can provide those things in a healthy, supportive way, while also being able to make them feel more complete and treasured.

And that’s the most important thing in any relationship.