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Game News

What Does Xbox Smell Like? Xbox Deodorant, Body Spray, And Shower Gel Announced

What does Xbox smell like? You may soon be able to find out. Just ahead of E3 2019, Microsoft has partnered with Lynx to create a new fragrance called Lynx Xbox. The range includes body spray, deodorant, and shower gel, so really all of your bases are covered.

The official description is simply delightful:

“Lynx Xbox is a fresh scent of pulsing green citrus, featuring top notes of kaffir lime and winter lemon, aromatic herbal middle notes of mint and sage, and woody bottom notes of patchouli and clearwood. Containing a range of natural essential oils, the Xbox Lynx range comes with a sleek new look and features a body spray, deodorant, and shower gel.”

Xbox ANZ boss Tania Chee said in a statement that users can spray or wash themselves with Xbox Lynx to “power up” before heading out the door in the morning.

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Xbox Lynx will be available from July at grocery stores and pharmacies across Australia and New Zealand. There is no word yet on if it’ll be released in other parts of the world.

Next up for Xbox is its E3 2019 press conference where Microsoft is expected to “go big.” Among other things, Microsoft is expected to announce a next-generation Xbox and show more of Halo Infinite.


Minecraft Earth Announces iOS-Exclusive Features At Apple WWDC

Microsoft showed the first gameplay for Minecraft Earth at Apple’s annual WWDC conference, and in the process announced a couple of new iOS-exclusive features for the upcoming AR game.

The people occlusion feature lets you walk through or around your own life-size 3D creations. You can also use a motion capture feature to map your actual gestures to triggers for pre-set animations from characters in the game.

A closed beta for Minecraft Earth is scheduled for this summer on iOS and Android. The full game will let you tap on treasure chests, blocks, and mobs, take part in Adventures with resources to collect, and progress in your career with experience points. You can also build structures on Build Plates, and connect them with physical locations so that other people can see your work.

Apple’s WWDC conference had another big video game reveal, with the announcement of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controller support for iOS and Apple TV. WWDC was just the first of several planned events for this week, in which various publishers and developers are getting ahead of the E3 2019 rush with their own dedicated events. Those include a Google Stadia announcement, a Pokemon Nintendo Direct, and more.


Final Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Mini Games Revealed, Including Some Super-Rare Titles

After drip-feeding information over the past few months, Sega has finally announced the final games coming to its Mega Drive / Genesis Mini console. Among the last 12 titles to be revealed are a couple of surprises, including Tetris and Darius.

Darius never actually came to the original console–it’s a brand-new port, specifically for the Mega Drive / Genesis Mini. The original console’s version of Tetris, meanwhile, is exceedingly rare, with only three physical copies available in the wild. Both games will be pre-installed on the new Mini console.

The other games revealed today are Road Rash II, Strider, Virtua Fighter 2, Alisia Dragoon, Columns, Dynamite Headdy, Kid Chameleon, Monster World IV, Light Crusader, and Eternal Champions. They bring the final count up to 42 games, with other big titles like Earthworm Jim and Sonic the Hedgehog also included.

The Mega Drive Mini / Genesis Mini launches worldwide on September 19, costing $80 / £70 / AU $140. It’s based on the Model 1 version of the original console, except approximately 55% smaller. The box contains the console, a power adapter, two replica three-button USB controllers, one USB to micro-USB power cable, and one HDMI lead.

The game ports that are on the Genesis Mini were handled by M2, a team that is well known for its work on emulation and re-releases. M2 previously worked on Sega Ages and Sega 3D Classics Collection.

Releasing Mini versions of classic consoles has become something of a trend recently. Nintendo led the way with the NES Classic and the SNES Classic, both of which were received well by critics and went on to be hot commercial items. Sony followed suit with the PlayStation Classic, which wasn’t received as warmly.

Full Sega Mega Drive / Genesis Mini Games Lineup

  1. Sonic the Hedgehog
  2. Ecco the Dolphin
  3. Castlevania: The New Generation
  4. Space Harrier 2
  5. Shining Force
  6. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  7. ToeJam & Earl
  8. Comix Zone
  9. Altered Beast
  10. Gunstar Heroes
  11. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  12. World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  13. Thunder Force III
  14. Super Fantasy Zone
  15. Shinobi III
  16. Streets of Rage 2
  17. Earthworm Jim
  18. Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  19. Probotector
  20. Landstalker
  21. Mega Man®: The Wily Wars
  22. Street Fighter II®: Special Champion Edition
  23. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts®
  24. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  25. Story of Thor
  26. Golden Axe
  27. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  28. Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
  29. Vectorman
  30. Wonder Boy in Monster World
  31. Tetris®
  32. Darius
  33. Road Rash II
  34. Strider
  35. Virtua Fighter 2
  36. Alisia Dragoon
  37. Kid Chameleon
  38. Monster World IV
  39. Eternal Champions
  40. Columns
  41. Dynamite Headdy
  42. Light Crusader


Godzilla might have dropped nuclear horror, but Chernobyl more than makes up for it

Godzilla has been many things over the decades: a destroyer of cities, Earth’s greatest defender, an Avengers villain, and Charles Barkley’s basketball rival. But it all began with the atomic bomb.

There would be no Godzilla without the horrors of radiation, so it’s a curious bit of timing that the most iconic kaiju’s legacy continued in two very different ways last weekend. There’s Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla: King of the Monsters, obviously, and then there’s the series finale of Chernobyl. The HBO miniseries doesn’t contain any giant monsters knocking over buildings, but it treats nuclear energy as the same sort of all-powerful monster Godzilla seemed to be when he first emerged from Tokyo Bay.

But we have to go back a bit before these two very different pieces of pop culture begin to link up in ways that make sense.

Godzilla was once about fear, not thrills

The original 1954 Godzilla film is a horror movie, released less than a decade after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and extensively firebombed Tokyo. Godzilla was a walking metaphor for the aftermath of nuclear terror.

Watching the film can be a sobering experience for genre fans who are more familiar with Godzilla’s monster brawls, or even with the American release of the original film, which adds Raymond Burr to the plot and cuts many of the more overt allusions to atomic bombs.

It’s worth revisiting the original release to see how the film’s initial intentions differed from how we understand the character’s tone now.

Godzilla briefly focuses on a mother and her three crying children as Godzilla burns Tokyo, spewing atomic breath and bringing down rubble on panicking civilians. The mother, weeping, tries to console her kids with the assurance that they’ll be joining their father soon — the implication being that he died in an earlier bombing.

There are scenes of crowded hospitals full of dead and dying people, and a Geiger counter crackles wildly when brushed against a confused, irradiated little girl after Godzilla heads back out to sea. The villagers who survived Godzilla’s first landfall are warned to stand back from dangerously irradiated footprints, and are told they can no longer use one of the wells on the island for fear of radiation poisoning. The monster’s very skin is modeled after radiation burns and scars.

But not every allusion references the old wounds of World War II, as there were more recent nuclear fears to dramatize. The film opens with an unseen Godzilla sinking and irradiating several ships, and the few sailors to survive the initial attack perish shortly after washing on shore.

In 1954, only a few months before Godzilla premiered, a tuna fishing ship called the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (“Lucky Dragon No. 5”) was caught in the fallout from an American nuclear test bombing near Bikini Atoll. White-gray ash from the irradiated remains of a destroyed coral reef rained down on the fishermen, and they sailed home while suffering from the symptoms of radiation sickness. One sailor, Aikichi Kuboyama, the boat’s chief radioman, died as a result.

Japan’s fears of nuclear power were fresh when the movie was released, in other words, and they weren’t without merit.

“At the time, I think there was an ability to grasp a thing of absolute terror,” Godzilla’s director, Ishiro Honda, recalled in a 1991 interview with G-Fan magazine about the atomic bomb’s influence on the film. “When I returned from the war and passed through Hiroshima, there was a heavy atmosphere — a fear that the Earth was already coming to an end. That was my basis.”

The real-world horror of Chernobyl

Chernobyl, a dramatization of the 1986 nuclear disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine, feels similarly apocalyptic. Without being able to resort to monstrous metaphors — or perhaps, unburdened by them — the HBO miniseries is a raw, unflinching look at the horrors of nuclear power that has slipped its leash.

People survive the reactor’s initial explosion and are seemingly unharmed, only to have their flesh turn black and liquefy due to absorbing massive doses of radiation. A pregnant wife embraces her husband, unaware that the radiation that will soon kill him will now kill their unborn child as well. Young, conscripted men shoot a litter of puppies in an attempt to stop the spread of radiation, should the animals roam freely.

Government and military officials scramble to try to make sense of a gigantic, perhaps unstoppable problem, and scores of civilians are evacuated from the area around the remains of the reactor. The villain here, radiation, is so small that it’s invisible. Yet it is everywhere, more subtle and insidious than any lumbering monster.

Though Chernobyl is historical fiction rather than science fiction, and it deals with an accident rather than warfare, the series’ subject matter and somber nature stir many of the same fears as Godzilla does in its best moments. But even the original Godzilla, for all its depictions of metaphorical nuclear death, can’t compete with the graphic nature of Chernobyl.

Nor should it be able to. Chernobyl is prestige TV in 2019, while Godzilla was a mid-’50s blockbuster from a studio that needed (and got) a big win at the box office. Godzilla manages to resonate and entertain, a tricky balance that the franchise would lose almost instantly.

The first era of Godzilla films, which lasted until 1975, dropped the nuclear metaphor very quickly. Godzilla was just a monster in the sequels, and then later Earth’s greatest defender, as he continually battled increasingly ludicrous enemies. The model buildings toppled during these fights seemed like, and were, empty props. The human cost of all that destruction was no longer the point of the series.

The only real exception to this shift is 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah, a bizarre and surprisingly graphic anti-pollution parable, though the titular Smog Monster consisted of toxic, not nuclear, waste.

No matter how high the rad count is throughout the series — which would sometimes revisit its original dread of nuclear power — the stakes often seem silly rather than existential.

Godzilla movies in the ’80s and ’90s would return to some of the series’ original themes of nuclear dread, but radiation often ended up being a plot device, rather than a thing of actual horror. The Legendary Pictures series continues this trend.

Even though the 2014 film Godzilla begins with the destruction of a nuclear power plant that appears Chernobyl-like on the surface, the monsters end up absorbing all the radiation, negating the threat. In King of the Monsters, humanity uses nukes to power up Godzilla, so radiation ultimately saves the day. Any downsides to this monster meltdown are casually brushed aside.

The Godzilla franchise quickly made radiation a spectacle rather than an ongoing source of horror, which is a trap that Chernobyl neatly avoids during its five episodes. It’s a miniseries based on historical events, which means that it doesn’t need to launch a franchise or pivot toward pure entertainment to keep the attention of its viewers.

The first Godzilla film treated the dread of nuclear war as a serious topic by turning an invisible fear into a beast whose form can be seen towering over skyscrapers, while Chernobyl takes a more direct approach. It’s able to tackle the surreal nature of radiation by describing, and showing, its dangers and effects. Both pieces of art serve as warnings, even if they exist over 70 years apart and serve those messages in vastly different ways.

The bomb and its fallout, both literal and metaphorical, were what spawned Godzilla, even if the King of the Monsters has successfully rebranded himself as the stuff of pure summer blockbusters. That’s fine. While he’s saving the world from a three-headed alien invader, Chernobyl can quietly serve as a reminder of the very real, and very scary, forces that first gave Godzilla meaning.

The half-life of radioactive material can be counted in tens of thousands of years; there is room, and time, for pop culture to continue to find ways to make sense of the terrifying potential of splitting the atom.


Sega Genesis Mini: all 42 games coming to the tiny console

Sega confirmed on Tuesday the final 12 games that will be included in the Sega Genesis Mini, bringing the total roster to 42, two more than originally planned. The last dozen games include two rival puzzle games, two notorious fighting games, and a brand-new port of an arcade classic.

Darius is the biggest surprise. The 1987 arcade game famously spread its shoot-’em-up action across three screens. It inspired numerous sequels, many of which were recently collected in Darius Cozmic Collection, released on Nintendo Switch in Japan. The Darius port for Sega Genesis Mini is entirely new and will run on a single TV screen.

The list also includes the Sega Genesis versions of Virtua Fighter 2 and Eternal Champions; EA’s cult hit Road Rash 2; and Capcom’s side-scrolling action-platformer Strider. For me, the real standouts on the list are the once-great puzzle game rivals Columns and Tetris.

Here are the 12 newly announced additions to the Sega Genesis Mini:

The Final 12

  • Tetris
  • Darius
  • Virtua Fighter 2
  • Alisia Dragoon
  • Monster World 4
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Road Rash 2
  • Eternal Champions
  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Strider
  • Light Crusader

And here’s the full list of Sega Genesis Mini games, including the newly announced additions to its roster:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Space Harrier 2
  • Shining Force
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • Comix Zone
  • Altered Beast
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  • Thunder Force 3
  • Super Fantasy Zone
  • Shinobi 3
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Contra: Hard Corps
  • Landstalker
  • Mega Man: The Wily Wars
  • Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition
  • Ghouls ’n Ghosts
  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Golden Axe
  • Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball
  • Vectorman
  • Wonder Boy in Monster World
  • Tetris
  • Darius
  • Road Rash 2
  • Strider
  • Virtua Fighter 2
  • Alisia Dragoon
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Monster World 4
  • Eternal Champions
  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Light Crusader

The Sega Genesis Mini will be released Sept. 19 and will cost $79.99. The U.S. version will include two three-button controllers, perfect for Columns multiplayer.


Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Cross-Play Feature Explained

After Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s reveal last week, Activision confirmed the shooter will feature cross-play between PS4, Xbox One, and PC players. This will allow you to play MW’s multiplayer mode with and against those on any platform, rather than being restricted only to those on the same hardware as you are. But just how will cross-play work, particularly given concerns that keyboard and mouse users will have an advantage against those using a controller? Developer Infinity Ward has shed a bit more light on the mechanics of that feature.

Modern Warfare’s cross-play system will work much like Fortnite‘s, according to a Forbes article endorsed by Infinity Ward producer Candice Capen. You’ll therefore only be put into matches against players using the same control input method as you–meaning PC users won’t be able to use the quicker keyboard and mouse combination to walk all over console players.

This does change slightly if you’re a console user wanting to play with a PC-owning friend, however. In that situation, Infinity Ward has no choice but to mix the two communities, so you might find yourself having a slightly tricky match. But at least the option is there.

Activision also revealed last week that the new Call of Duty will not have a season pass system. Instead, all post-launch maps and events will be free for all players.

Both this and cross-play should go a long way to helping keep the Call of Duty player base together, without limiting them to only playing with people on the same platform and who own the same maps that they do. In general, there should be a whole lot more people to play against. It may also make the Call of Duty esports scene a little more welcoming, as players will be able to compete on their preferred platforms.

One thing that is not changing is that it will have timed exclusive content on PS4. We don’t know all the details at this point, but like last year’s Black Ops 4, the window will be only seven days, which is much shorter than the 30-day window CoD’s exclusivity used to be.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s release date has been set for October 25.


The wildest thing about Doom Patrol is how it carries on the work of Norman Lear

In terms of television series, Doom Patrol is pretty out there. Based on a DC Comics property (specifically, the late-1980s iteration written by Grant Morrison), the show revolves around outcasts and weirdos of the superhero universe, people who see themselves not as superior beings, but unlucky souls cursed with powers that bring them hardship and sadness.

There’s Larry “Negative Man” Trainor (Matt Bomer), a former test pilot stuck with a being of pure energy in his body, one he can’t communicate with and that renders him helpless when it emerges. Cliff “Robotman” Steele (Brendan Fraser) is the brain of an auto racer welded into an outdated metal body following the accident that killed his wife and daughter. Rita “Elasti-Girl” Farr (April Bowlby) was a film star, forced into hiding after developing an uncontrollable power that turns her body into a sagging, gooey mass of flesh. Rounding out the main quartet is Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), a woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder who has 64 different personas, each with their own unique superpower. With aid from Cyborg (yes, the character from Justice League, here re-envisioned as a young man terrified of being taken over by his cybernetic parts), these broken and bruised individuals exist outside the comic book norm.

The show’s recently concluded first season (now streaming on DC Universe) was a postmodern mashup that never found a plotline or character too gonzo to employ, no emotion so sincere it can’t be mined for scatological comedy, no image too goofy to become integral to the plot. Whether it’s a farting donkey that hides a dimension inside itself or a cockroach with Curtis Armstrong’s voice who pops up periodically to rant about the end of days, the series prides itself on an unabashed embrace of its over-the-top source material. It all raises the obvious question: “How do you make that a coherent TV show?” Imagine my surprise when the series accomplished this tall order by following one of the sturdiest blueprints in TV history: the humanistic, progressive work of Norman Lear.

It’s an odd comparison, I’ll grant. Lear is a true icon of the medium, a pioneering and revolutionizing force whose résumé teems with some of the most admired and influential sitcoms ever made: All In The Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times, One Day At A Time, Sanford & Son. Doom Patrol is a superhero show with a recurring character who tracks people by eating bits of their hair. American television has absorbed the DNA of Lear’s output so deeply that his latter-day influence is difficult to quantify. It’s rare to find scripted comedies that aren’t indebted to him, even when it’s not explicit. But what makes Doom Patrol’s Lear parallels interesting is all the ways the show seems to rebut his shows’ structures and aesthetic while subtly embracing their spirit. So let’s look at what these canonical shows have in common with an obscure bunch of DC also-rans swearing up a storm on a niche streaming service.

The storytelling is painfully intimate

My colleague Noel Murray has compared Lear’s work to the social realist theater of the early 20th century, and it’s not hard to see why. Shows like The Jeffersons and Maude are small-scale stories of working people dealing with culture clash, class consciousness, and changing social norms and mores that render life both more difficult and more bearable, depending on the day. It’s intimate, and sometimes harsh. It’s tempered by the “comedy” part of these situation comedies, but there’s challenging stuff at the heart of Lear’s endeavors, an effort to confront America with the uglier sides of itself.

For all the seeming pyrotechnics and CGI-aided chaos, Doom Patrol remains an uncomfortably close and personal affair. Its narrative resides as much in the flashbacks and memories of its traumatized protagonists as in their present. Any one installment is likely to devote attention to a painful encounter from the past, such as Larry’s heartbreaking lie of a marriage, a desperate attempt to keep his homosexuality secret amid the hypocritical optimism of the “Greatest Generation.” Here, there are striking parallels to the Lear oeuvre: The episode “Therapy Patrol,” in which the characters reflect on their interpersonal relationships and whether or not they should move forward together or apart, would make an excellent double bill with Maude’s first-season episode “Flashback,” in which Maude and husband Walter reminisce about their earlier years, and confront the decision about whether to get married, cohabitate, or just split up. Both showcase the messy relationship struggles that define our closest connections, and forego the normal theatrics of their respective genres for close-knit stories that defy easy classification.

Both confront hot-button social issues while avoiding soapbox moralizing or “very special episode” treacle

Lear’s shows never felt like homework, but it’s not because there weren’t profoundly serious issues being dealt with most of the time. Grappling with thorny questions of racism, classism, oppression, and generational culture-clash were par for the course on his sitcoms. From instances like The Jeffersons’ exploration of guns in America in season eight’s “A Case Of Self-Defense,” to All In The Family’s near-weekly calling out of mainstream racism, the social concerns of the time were always front and center in these programs. In a close look at the Sanford And Son episode “The Piano Movers,” we see the messages weren’t openly stated as “what have we learned?”-style lectures, but baked into the plotting and performances. Lamont Sanford repeatedly gets caught by a white employer finding him at rest during expected periods of work, while his father, Fred, the actual would-be slacker, is seen as being exploited by his lazy son. The reasons for the uncomfortableness of the predicament—racial, class-based, and generational—become fodder for humor and character beats, not PSAs. Similarly, season one’s “The Suitcase Case” finds the pair forced into (eventually) doing the right thing when they find a briefcase filled with stolen cash, the slow acceptance of the ethical decision mined for comedic pathos, given their financial straits.

In the Doom Patrol episode “Danny Patrol,” the team splits up to deal with a pair of pressing issues. Cyborg and Larry head off on the latest step in their season-long quest to locate their mentor, Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), who’s been abducted by a villain called Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). Stepping into what looks like a block-long, old-school, small-town main street, the two enter a cabaret theater, in which they learn the truth: The street itself is alive, a gender-queer being named Danny, who has used their powers of teleportation to stay one step ahead of the Bureau Of Normalcy, a government agency trying to hunt down and capture or destroy Danny. So far, so weird.

Image: DC Universe

But Cyborg and Larry soon discover Danny is far more than just a sentient being. They’re also a safe haven for people who have never felt at home, who for whatever reason felt persecuted in the wider world, or were forced to repress their true nature until Danny offered them a place where it was okay to be themselves. At first, Cyborg and Larry have no interest in the plight of the others; they have their own problems. (“I’m trying to find my middle finger emoji,” Cyborg tells the drag performer who explains Danny’s nature to them.) But by eventually joining the Dannyzens to take a stand against the Bureau and fight back, Cyborg and Larry align themselves with marginalized people of all stripes.

This is the grudging embrace of “doing the right thing” that Lear’s characters were also often forced into, a narrative in which previously more isolated or prejudiced people learn a little something about accepting themselves and others. Every discussion of the people saved on Danny Street echoes with the personal experience of a lead character giving voice and drama to the social issues on display, a Lear hallmark, and arguably the most important one.

Lear’s sitcoms took place in a heightened reality

Lear mined fraught conversations of the day for pathos and pratfalls, often on spare stages representing his characters’ drab surroundings (give or take a deluxe apartment in the sky). But these slice-of-life tales were performed for studio audiences primed for the over-the-top, Shakespearean zing of his bold put-downs and acerbic one-liners.

Image: DC Universe

The latter is an element which often gets overlooked in encomiums to Lear’s shows and his outsized influence. For all the hard-hitting topicality and real-world seriousness of his series, there was a loudness—and a very literal one. So much of his characters’ dialogue and wit was turned up to 11, a way to amplify the emotion and maintain a steady attention-getting atmosphere for discussions of touchy subjects. It’s not the aspect that scholars like to linger on, any more than they do the aforementioned Shakespeare’s dick jokes and cartoonish violence. But it’s a crucial ingredient in the mix.

Doom Patrol is loud as fuck. Truly: Cliff, a.k.a. Robotman, says “fuck” so often and with such gusto that he’d give Al Swearengen a run for his money. But that broad and larger-than-life tone actually feels borrowed from Lear—and at its best (which is surprisingly often), it contains the same combination of highly individual tragedy and perspective with the broad-based nature of the issues being addressed. The episode “Jane Patrol” highlights the traumatic jumble of identities vying for attention in Jane’s psyche. They’re each strikingly different—a nun with a chainsaw, a punk, a child afraid of her own shadow—and the resulting interactions are uproarious and bracing. But they do so in a manner that nonetheless conveys the underlying gravity of the situation, without mocking it or playing her illness for cheap laughs. The loudness is the conveyance by which to deliver the subtle character study.

Laughs come first

At best, Lear’s sitcoms were a spoonful-of-sugar endeavor, ginning up its sociopolitical discussions with comedy and action to such a degree that no one ever felt lectured to or scolded. Doom Patrol has this in spades; it’s so daffy, and so concerned with delivering fleet, sharp entertainment, that the coyly humanist heart lingering beneath every exchange never gets too clear a spotlight. Such emphasizing of humor over hectoring is a Lear specialty: As he told The A.V. Club in 2005, “What we wanted to say came after, ‘How do we make them laugh?’”

This is evident in even his most hard-hitting stories. Maude’s famous two-part narrative in which the character decides to get an abortion would still be incredibly edgy today, a sad statement about how far society hasn’t come in the realm of women’s rights. But watching the episode, what often gets left out is just how funny it also is, a bold and sharp-tongued joke-delivery system that never forgets entertainment is job number one. When her friend Carol tells Maude she doesn’t have to have the baby, Maude retorts, “Oh? What’ll I do, trade it in for a volleyball on Let’s Make A Deal?”

Lacerating comedy like that is in Doom Patrol’s blood. It’s rarely far from calling out its own investment in drama—right before the first season’s penultimate episode, Mr. Nobody’s voice-over narration mocks the series’ rich investment in emotional development: “Finally, after 13 meandering episodes of character-driven schlock, we can finally get to the show that everyone wanted to see in the first place: A superhero show!”

Doom Patrol makes you laugh. But it also pulls your mind toward matters of consequence, and in a way that comes across as fresh and essential to the story. It helps a lot that the writing is strong, and the point of view deeply idiosyncratic in a nevertheless relatable way. But ultimately, Doom Patrol excels because of its blend of absurdist postmodern sensibilities and crazy scenarios with the firm, proven structure of a Norman Lear production. In other words, it carries on the noble tradition of Lear’s work; it says people are here to stay, they’re wildly different, and the best we can do comes from listening to each other—farting donkey or no.


New PS4 System Update To Make Big Changes To Party Chat

Sony might not be attending this year’s E3, but it still has plenty going on to share with players around the world. After recently offering a fresh look at Death Stranding, the company has now detailed some upcoming changes to the PS4‘s party system, and it sounds intriguing. Here’s what to expect from the forthcoming system update.

In a post on the PlayStation Blog, social media director Sid Shuman revealed Sony is currently testing enhanced chat audio quality, improved network connectivity, and the ability to create and participate in parties of up to 16 people, up from the current limit of eight.

No Caption Provided

The new features are part of the next PS4 update preview program, which gives beta access to select users for new updates. North American players will be able to test a couple of extra features, too: the PS4 Second Screen mobile app will allow you to enter text which will then be spoken aloud to other party members. Additionally, the app can transcribe the incoming chat audio from your friends. Sony says these app-focused updates are available to US- and Canada-based users only for the time being, and only in English.

Sign-ups for the upcoming beta update are now live in North America and are coming “soon” in Europe. Note, however, that if you participate in the preview program, you’ll only be able to join parties that contain other members of the program. If you are successfully selected for the beta, however, Sony will allow you to share your access code with 20 friends, meaning you can all test the update together.

In other PlayStation news, the PS4 exclusive Blood & Truth became the first ever VR-only game to top the UK sales chart last week. The shooter launched just a few days ago, and we awarded it a 7/10 in our Blood & Truth review.


Elder Scrolls, Fallout Boss Todd Howard Talks PS5 And Next Xbox Ahead Of E3 2019

Next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft are on the way, and Bethesda boss Todd Howard has apparently seen them. That’s no surprise given both of Bethesda’s big upcoming games, Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, are expected to launch on the new consoles. Howard has now offered some high-level thoughts on what to expect.

Speaking to IGN, Howard said, “They’re all … [pause] … How to not break NDAs? They are doing the right things.”

Throughout the entire interview, Howard spoke slowly and carefully as he seemed to run through his head what is public knowledge about the consoles and what hasn’t been revealed yet.

Whatever the case, Howard said he is “absolutely” confident about the direction the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft are headed.

“One of the big benefits of my position is I get to see stuff really early. I was one of the first people ever to see the Switch; that was one of the best hardware demos I have ever seen,” Howard said. “The things [Sony and Microsoft are] doing are, in my mind–no one is screwing up at the starting line which some people have done before.”

Pressed for more details, Howard mentioned the vastly improved loading times on the PlayStation 5 that system architect Mark Cenry previously revealed (see the faster load times here). Overall, Howard said both Sony and Microsoft are “focused on the right things.” Whatever those things are, they are suited to the kinds of games that Bethesda is making.

“Everybody is focused on the right things, and in particular, it helps the kind of games that we make tremendously,” he said. “Everybody has learned their lessons in some good ways and some hard ways. And they are very very thoughtful about their audience and the developers. My view of it is it’s going to be awesome across the board. Not just the systems but the business models.”

In regards to business models, Howard said the video game industry is finally growing and evolving and adapting to provide consumers with a variety of choices.

“Gaming is finally reaching the point that linear entertainment is,” Howard said. “Movies, television, all that, where you’re going to have games that are big tentpoles that people can buy for $60. That’s kind of like going to the theater. You’re going to have games you can play on a subscription service, you’re going to have ones you can download on your phone, you’re going to have ones you can play and they’re maybe ad-supported. I think that’s really, really healthy for the industry; obviously the players who want to consume it, but [also] the developers who say ‘I just want to make an adventure game for this budget.’ There’s an audience for that. My worry before was hey, will all of that go away?”

Howard further backed up his point by mentioning that traditional linear TV was generally overrun with lousy reality TV shows before streaming networks like Netflix and others came along and demonstrated that there could be a much bigger diversity in terms of the breadth and depth of content. Basically, something for everyone exists today in TVs and movies, and the same is now, finally, happening for games, Howard said.

Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are not coming to E3 2019, but Bethesda still has a press conference scheduled for less than a week from now on June 9 where it will talk about other things.

As mentioned, Sony has already started talking about the PlayStation 5, while Microsoft is expected to formally announce one or two next-generation Xbox consoles during its own E3 2019 briefing.

In other news, Howard recently discussed how Bethesda always thought Fallout 76 would have a tough launch and receive lower review scores.


Watch Dogs Legion leaks: set in post-Brexit London, lets you play as any NPC

Watch Dogs Legion will be the third entry in the Ubisoft open-world franchise built around hacker culture, according to a listing on Amazon U.K. The posting was first spotted by The product’s description says the game will be set in a “post-Brexit world in which society, politics and technology have changed and altered London’s fortunes.”

The listing states that players will be able to play as any character in the game’s open world. “Every individual you meet in the open world, has a full set of animations, voice over, character traits and visuals that are generated & guided by gameplay systems.”

The product description notes London “has one of the highest surveillce [sic] levels in the world making this the perfect playground.” Though there is no official count of security cameras in the U.K., the number has been estimated to be in the millions.

Kotaku reporter Jason Schreier confirms he’s heard about the game’s location and its features. “In fact,” he writes, “from what I’ve heard, this system is so ambitious that it’s been causing the developers a lot of headaches (and may have led to at least one delay).” On video game forum ResetEra, senior analyst at Niko Partners Daniel Ahmad also claims to have heard of the same title and description ahead of the leak.

We will likely learn more about Watch Dogs Legion next week at E3 2019. In the meantime, we’ve contacted Ubisoft for comment.