The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s soft pastels are so iconic that it’s hard to imagine the open-world adventure looking like anything else. So, here’s a bit of a brain-bender: Link’s latest adventure, without the graphical bells and whistles that define it.
Kinda weird, huh?
What you’re viewing is the PC “version” of the game, which is emulated and therefore open to modifications. This version, which is showcased by YouTuber Arkh Longstride, has a variety of graphical tweaks and optimizations that spiff up the performance. The reflections and smoke are better in this version, for example, and the game is running at 60 fps. But, most notably, it’s got the cel shading turned off — which makes the game look entirely different.
Personally, I’m not sure this version looks better than the original — as one commenter in the video says, it “looks like a fanmade UE4 game.” But, if nothing else, this footage is a great reminder that art direction makes a tremendous difference in the look and feel of a game. Breath of the Wild isn’t an ordinary experience; the developers have to communicate a sense of magic and wonder. You can’t do that with typical depictions of realism.
And now to wait for the world to come around to this idea when it comes to Wind Waker.
In a particularly fraught moment during the trailer for the new action movie Doom: Annihilation, actor Dominic Mafham utters a line that would normally be dire but, for fans of the video game franchise, should provide comfort: “I opened up a portal to Hell.”
Director Tony Giglio (S.W.A.T.: Under Siege) tells Polygon we should take this quite literally. Unlike the The Rock-led 2005 film Doom, the nightmarish creatures in this chapter (which is not a sequel to the first movie) actually come from Hell. Lifting more from id Software’s original 1993 game, Doom: Annihilation finds a group of space marines responding to a distress call on a Marian moon base, only to discover … monsters. Many monsters. They’ll be blown away by a Mafham, Amy Manson (Atlantis), Dominic Mafham (Ophelia), Luke Allen-Gale (Dominion) and Nina Bergman (The Car: Road to Revenge) as the troopers.
In the direct-to-video world, Universal 1440, the studio behind Doom: Annihilation, has a particularly strong track record. The contemplative war movie Jarhead probably didn’t need a sequel — now we have three of them, courtesy of Universal’s home division, and they’re sophisticated military action movies. Go figure. If Doom: Annihilation’s mission is to deliver action and hellish weirdness closer to the game, rather than a mid-2000s action movie filled with rising action stars of the moment, then there might be similar success.
“We will be using the first-person perspective but not like the first film or for long extended periods,” Giglio says. “While Doom is widely known for pioneering the first-person perspective, it’s not ‘new’ anymore. So I wanted to find a way to give a nod to it, but not have it dominate or distract or take you out of the film.”
After months of silence, Niantic and Warner Bros. have revealed some new details on their upcoming Harry Potter mobile game, Wizards Unite. The title is scheduled to launch for Android and iOS devices later this year, but some prospective wizards are able to sign up for it right now.
Pre-registration for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is now open for Android users on Google Play, giving those who are interested in the title a chance to sign-up and potentially receive early access. Pre-registration is not yet available on the App Store, but the developers tell iOS players to “stay tuned for more updates” on that front.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a Pokemon Go-like take on J.K. Rowling’s beloved series. As a member of Statute of Secrecy Task Force, players must explore the real world and locate Foundables–important people and items in the wizarding world–and dispel the Confoundable magic that’s trapping them.
While the basic premise of Wizards Unite is similar to Pokemon Go, there are numerous elements that set it apart from Niantic’s hit Pokemon game. As we learned during our recent hands-on session with the title, Wizards Unite bears many similarities to a traditional RPG. The game places a bigger emphasis on story, with voice-acted characters, and features RPG elements like skill trees and potion brewing.
Niantic and Warner Bros. still haven’t announced a release date for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The game was originally scheduled to launch in 2018 but was delayed into this year. You can read more about the title on the official Harry Potter: Wizards Unite website.
You can spend a lot of money on loot boxes these days, and it’s not always clear what you are likely to get by doing so.
I wrote about what you get when you spend $100 on Apex Legends’ loot boxes shortly after the game’s launch. That spend was enough to get a feel for how this loot system works, and it’s very similar to the one used in Overwatch. There were, however, a few complexities in the system that we weren’t able to figure out without spending more money — in some cases, much more money.
Luckily, the online community, and a few big spenders, have been able to step in and pick up some of the slack. And what I’ve learned from their spending has been fascinating.
The questions about Apex Legends’ loot boxes
The Heirloom item set is a very rare loot box for Wraith that contains a unique banner pose, a unique voice line, and a skin for her melee weapon that allows her to wield a kunai knife. I didn’t get it in my hundred boxes, but there’s now better information about just how rare the set is, and what you can reasonably expect to pay if you want it. That’s helpful information for hardcore players.
I also wanted to know what the lack of duplicates in the Apex Legends’ loot boxes actually means for the player. You get no duplicate items until you have all the items on a rarity tier in Overwatch, after which duplicates are immediately cashed in for credits by the game itself. So what do you get in your Apex boxes once you collect all of the game’s Common and Rare items? Do loot boxes just turn into endless parades of Epic and Legendary items?
The answer is no, sadly. But I can now explain what will happen if you manage to collect all the game’s lower-tier loot.
The final question — the one that kept showing up in the comments and emails after my previous piece on the Apex economy — is how much crafting metals you get from opening a large number of boxes, and how viable crafting is as a source of Legendary loot in this game.
My initial assessment of the crafting economy was not positive; I didn’t get enough crafting currency to craft a single Legendary skin after opening 100 boxes. However, after seeing the results of these large spends, I have some good news about how this system works. Or at least it’s good news for the big spenders out there.
“When a player opens an Apex Pack, there is a <1% probability of an Heirloom Set dropping,” and “a player cannot open more than 500 Apex Packs without receiving an Heirloom set.”
The mechanism through which a player is guaranteed to get a Rare item by opening a certain number of loot boxes is called a “pity timer,” with the implication being that pure luck might be too punishing. If you open enough boxes, the company is guaranteeing you that item.
But saying that there is less than a 1 percent probability you’ll unlock this gear could mean that this particular event occurs almost once every hundred packs, or once every thousand packs, or once every million packs. We don’t know how much less than 1 percent the chance of getting the Heirloom set is.
But lots of people have opened lots of packs at this point, and the community seems to believe that the odds of getting the Heirloom set are far below 1 percent. I agree with them, based on the available information and anecdotal reports of the set being found.
If the odds of getting the Heirloom from a random pack are less than one in 500, then the mechanism by which you’re most likely to get the Heirloom items is the 500 box pity timer. Most people who found the item did so after opening hundreds of packs, and people online are reporting hitting the pity timer when trying to get the knife.
“TL;DR: I spent $500 opening 500 Apex Crates In search of the Wraith Heirlooms,” one player wrote. “I got them on my 500th crate. Don’t be like me.”
DrLupo gets the Heirlooms after opening about 430 of his 500 packs, and Gaming Curios finds his after opening 334 packs. But neither of these videos begin from fresh accounts. DrLupo has 340 crafting metals banked and Gaming Curios has over 2,000 — nearly twice as much as I had after opening 100 boxes.
Why is that important?
Both players having that much crafting metals means they had opened some boxes prior to these video, and those boxes count against their Heirloom pity timer. Both of these players certainly opened nearly 500 boxes to get the knife, and it is likely that both of them got it through the pity mechanism.
I want to lay this out in detail because some players may look at the official “less than 1 percent probability” disclosure and assume that they have a pretty good shot at the knife if they open 100 boxes. This does not seem to be the case.
Even discussions which assume the odds of finding the set as being one in 500 may lead people to spend $50 thinking they have a 1-in-10 shot at the knife. That kind of thinking is a trap; we have no idea how rare the Heirloom box is, and significant reason to fear that the 500-pack pity timer is the most likely way to find it.
If the Heirloom set is important to you, make sure you go into the process of buying it with your eyes open. Be prepared to spend over $400 and perhaps as much as $500 to bling out Wraith with the knife. Good luck.
For the rest of us with reasonable gaming budgets? The Heirloom set is bait for players who don’t understand probability.
What do you get if you don’t get duplicates?
Apex Legends promises that you won’t get duplicates in your loot boxes, but most of the game’s items are Common or Rare quality. Each character has dozens of voice lines and stat trackers, and each gun has a bunch of boring palette-swap skins nobody wants to use. But you should be able to collect all this junk if you spend enough money, and the primary benefit of doing so would be that the junk no longer shows up in your loot boxes.
So what replaces the lower-tier items in your loot boxes if you manage to collect all the Common goods? You get crafting materials instead, it turns out.
I recorded opening 100 loot boxes on a fresh account, and you’ll notice that I got mostly Common and Rare items, with only the occasional crafting metals. Gaming Curios, on the other hand, collected all the Commons, Rares, and Epic items after opening 1,000 loot boxes. Most of his boxes contained nothing but crafting materials by the end of his video.
It looks like the ratio of crafting metals to loot rises as the number of boxes you’ve opened increases, even before you’ve collected all the Commons and Rares. DrLupo gets many more crafting metals after around 350 boxes, even though he’s still getting Common and Rare drops.
I suspect that the game is drawing from the full loot table, and that, when an item that would be a duplicate comes up, it gives you crafting metals instead.
But don’t get disappointed by this news! There’s an upside to this approach for heavy spenders.
Here’s why that’s a good thing
It would be nice if the game gave big spenders packs of Legendaries so they could rapidly unlock everything once they’d dumped enough money into the game to collect all the Common and Rare crap. It would also be nice if there wasn’t so much Common and Rare crap.
But, despite the many criticisms I’ve leveled at Apex Legends’ loot boxes, it turns out that the game’s way of handling crafting currency is better than Overwatch’s.
Overwatch gives you duplicates which are instantly cashed in for credits when you’ve collected all the Commons, Rares, and Epics. You get five credits for a duplicate Common, 15 for a Rare, 50 for an Epic, and 200 for a Legendary, although you will not receive duplicate Legendaries in Overwatch unless you have all the Legendary skins on the loot table you’re drawing from.
You can also get chests of credits of varying amounts: Rare chests contain 50 credits, Epic chests contain 150 or 200 credits, and Legendary chests contain 500. Legendary skins off Overwatch’s regular loot table cost 1,000 credits, and event Legendaries cost 3,000.
Crafting metals can drop in differing amounts corresponding to each of the game’s rarities in Apex Legends, and there is no distinction between the crafting metal drops you get as loot and the crafting metal drops that would replace duplicates. You get 15 for a Common crafting metal drop, 30 for a Rare, 200 for an Epic and 600 for a Legendary. A Legendary item costs 1,200 metals to craft.
If you own all the Commons and Rares in Overwatch, and you get a box containing three Commons and one Rare, you’ll get 15 credits for the Rare and five each for the Commons, for a total of 30 credits.
You’d get 60 metals total if you have an Apex account with all the Commons and Rares unlocked and you get a loot box containing two Commons and Rare crafting metal drop. The difference favors Apex even more as the quality of the box improves. Overwatch would give you 75 credits for a loot box with two Common duplicates, a Rare duplicate, and an Epic duplicate. Apex would give you 260 metals for a box with Common, Rare, and an Epic crafting metal drop.
If you’re one of the poor chumps who opened 500 boxes chasing the Heirloom knife, the silver lining to that cloud is that you will get enough currency to craft a Legendary item of your choice every marginal 15 boxes or so in addition to your random Legendary drops after opening this many boxes. This doesn’t mean that Apex Legends’ loot system is good, mind you; it is still a loot box system and subject to all the familiar objections to loot boxes. But its crafting system is less stingy than Overwatch, at least.
Apex Legends’ Heirloom box is a trap to lure you into spending more money than you would otherwise spend on loot boxes. Expect to spend over $400 if you’re chasing it; moreover, I don’t recommend doing so even if you have that kind of cash to burn. Loot systems tend to get better over time, so you may get more for your money just by waiting a few months. This isn’t a new opinion for me.
If you do decide to spend hundreds of dollars on Apex Legends boxes, the silver lining is that accounts with most of the low-tier items unlocked get more crafting currency from marginal boxes in Apex Legends than swagged-out accounts get in games with similar systems like those in Overwatch and Destiny.
But my advice remains the same: Hold onto your money until you see how this game handles events and season passes.
Niantic has fully unveiled Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, its next licensed game following the Pokémon Go phenom. A co-production with Harry Potter-centric publisher Portkey Games, the mobile game will allow players to venture the real world as wizards and witches, casting spells and entering special challenges to protect the world from Muggle eyes.
Here’s how Niantic describes the underlying storyline for Wizards Unite, in which players are a member of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force — a group that works to protect the Ministry of Magic’s law that wizards cannot tell Muggles (aka non-magical humans) that magic exists.
A calamity has befallen the wizarding world, causing artefacts, creatures, people, and even memories to mysteriously appear in the Muggle world. Witches and wizards from across the globe must come together to solve the mystery of The Calamity, overcome the confounding chaotic magic that surrounds these “Foundables,” and return them to their rightful place, keeping them safe from Muggle eyes.
Your journey begins as a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, established by the Ministry of Magic and the International Confederation of Wizards for the purpose of investigating and containing The Calamity.
In order to contain the Calamity, players must go around the world to find traces of magic and magical items called “Foundables.” These can be located at myriad “Muggle locations” around the world, sort of like PokéStops in Pokémon Go. Collecting items at these locations will help to refill Spell Energy so that wizards and witches can continue to do their thing to protect the important Foundables.
It won’t just be all Muggle mainstays like Starbucks and that bank outside your office, though; players will have the chance to experience AR versions of actual Harry Potter locations like Ollivander’s Wand Shop. (No word yet on Hogwarts appearing.)
The game will also launch with multiplayer Wizarding Challenges that allow friends to group up and take on Death Eaters, Dementors, and other magical villains. It’s like trainer battles, in a sense, although friends will work together, not against each other. (Everyone will also be able to choose a magical profession on top of their Task Force duties to aid them in these challenges.)
Pre-registration is open on the Google Play store for Android devices. A release date has still not been announced.
After a teaser trailer late last year, Pokemon Go developer Niantic has revealed more about its next AR game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Co-developed by WB Games under the Portkey Games label, Wizards Unite takes Pokemon Go’s foundation and puts a wizarding world spin on it. But where Pokemon Go is largely about collecting, Wizards Unite is focused on immersing you in its world, from a voice-acted story to involved RPG-like skill trees.
We recently went to Niantic’s San Francisco office to learn more about Wizards Unite, which included a hands-on demo of the game. The Pokemon Go parallels are front and center; instead of PokeStops, for example, Wizards Unite has greenhouses and inns where you can get various items. The map works the same way, but to fit the theme, crooked buildings dot the map as owls fly overhead. It also includes some of the quality-of-life features that Pokemon Go got over time: AR Plus, a photo mode, and at least the promise of better battery life optimization.
Because this is Harry Potter, though, there’s a hefty story behind all of this, and that’s where the differences begin. Wizards Unite is set in the present day, many years after the events of The Deathly Hallows, and centers around a “calamity” that has put the wizarding world at risk. In short, everything important to the wizarding world has been scattered, and–in accordance with the International Statute of Secrecy, a law designed to protect the wizarding world from Muggles–you are recruited to the Statute of Secrecy Task Force to keep the secrets of magic contained.
In practice, this means going out and finding traces of magic in order to contain them. In true Harry Potter fashion, they have cute names: Foundables are the scattered items, and Confoundables are whatever is trapping a Foundable and putting it in danger. You tap the traces like you would a Pokemon and enter an AR-optional encounter; we saw Harry Potter (the Foundable) being targeted by a dementor (the Confoundable), Harry’s Nimbus trapped in ice, and Buckbeak the hippogriff in chains, for example. In order to free them, you have to trace a glyph on the screen to cast the appropriate spell.
Spells also come into play in combat, which really sets Wizards Unite apart from Pokemon Go. Combat isn’t complicated, but it is involved. Attacks are turn-based but on timers, so you need to trace your offensive or defensive spells quickly and accurately to do the most damage and keep yourself healthy. You can find traces around the world that lead to these fights, but there are also dungeon-like “fortresses” where groups of up to five can take on harder combat challenges against all manner of dark wizards or creatures for various rewards (though what those rewards are isn’t set in stone yet).
Spells and combat are really just scratching the surface. In many ways, Wizards Unite is more like a typical RPG than like Pokemon Go. You brew potions using ingredients you find as you walk around, which vary based on location, weather, time of day, and even lunar phase. You listen to voice-acted characters–both existing and new, though the existing ones are voiced by soundalikes–give you story details and tips. You collect parts of a much larger, long-term story as you play. You swap between professions, like Auror or Professor, and level up within each one’s lengthy skill tree to improve things like your spellcasting ability. You place Portkeys to turn wherever you are into a wizarding world location for a short amount of time, using the AR features to view places like Ollivanders in 360 degrees.
Everything that Wizards Unite has going on is overwhelming to list out on paper, but in practice it was actually not too hard to follow. In the short demo we played, we managed to see bits and pieces of everything. For Harry Potter fans, at least, it isn’t too difficult to understand what’s happening, despite how much is going on. But whether this makes Wizards Unite the kind of game you open up every time you walk somewhere–to the point that you walk more so you can play–remains to be seen.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite launches later in 2019.
Halo Infinite appears primed to get its big debut at E3 2019, but it may be a very different kind of game. Comments from Kiki Wolfkill, the head of Halo trans-media at 343, has added more reason to believe that the studio is imagining this as an ongoing game or live service.
“We have to be able to change content quickly,” Wolfkill said at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Design conference. “We can’t afford to wait three years every time we drop a new product and have it be a black box because the games kids are playing are changing every week.”
The reference to a three-year development cycle as outdated, paired with the title of Halo Infinite itself, would seem to suggest that Microsoft and 343 are planning this entry as an ongoing game of some sort. That would also make sense alongside her reference of games that kids are playing currently. It sounds like a reference to games like Fortnite, which issues regular challenge updates and new equipment between its large seasonal updates.
Wolfkill also referenced “having a set of rules that people can engage with and buy into for years to come.”
As the head of of trans-media, Wolfkill’s focus is how to tell different kinds of Halo stories across a variety of media. That means she may not be directly involved in game development, but she probably is planning other media and storytelling that takes advantage of the story established in Halo Infinite. That could mean we see stories regularly updating in the game and continuing through other media, or criss-crossing through both.
This news comes as Halo head of franchise development Frank O’Connor has recently confirmed that Halo Infinite will hit PC and Xbox One, rather than wait for the next generation of consoles. And given the popularity of battle royale, we’ve seen a good deal of speculation about Halo adopting the play format–though 343 is staying mum on the subject.
As a dungeon crawler, really the only thing Warhammer: Chaosbane doesn’t do well is tell you all that you can do. This isn’t to say the game is difficult, or not enjoyable, but it did take a bit of blundering around before I saw the depth of gameplay that it offers.
Fortunately, the closed beta that is underway was a nice testbed for me to get my bearings before Chaosbane, from Eko Software and publishers Bigben Interactive and Games Workshop, launches in June. Player characters have a robust toolkit to solo wave after horde of baddies and bosses; loot is plentiful, if a little repetitive (which I’ll chalk up to it being the beta) and while I am not familiar with the lore of Warhammer or the story threading through this game, the missions are paced well enough to keep me plunging ahead, one more time.
But the most indispensible tool in my combat kit I sort of found by accident. Playing as the Imperial Soldier (Konrad Vollen), an all-rounder fighter type, I instinctively fiddled with the right stick to adjust the camera (Chaosbane has a standard fixed isometric view). It sent out a defensive wave of force instead. It has a brief (and repeatable) stun quality, and no cooldown. It’s vital to cutting away at a thick clot of snarling, slobbering baddies, or whittling down a boss who always seems to deploy a slow-down attack.
In the tutorial, or whatever passes for a tutorial level, anyway, I don’t remember this being called out, or at least presented in such a way as to remind me USE THIS, REALLY, YOU NEED TO. To be honest, the rest of the skills matrix doesn’t really sell itself either. That’s a shame, because there’s some useful stuff in there, such as Konrad’s “cutting-edge breakthrough,” which likewise isn’t well explained. Basically, by holding the attack button (every skill, even a basic slash, is remappable) my guy can move as he attacks. There are as many as six actions mappable to the face and right bumper/trigger buttons, but the only way I could equip all of them was by taking them at their lowest ranks.
That’s because these special skills are managed with a pool of skill points, which keeps the user from leveling up every trait to super-character status. It fosters a loadout approach, too. The Imperial Soldier has a super-charge attack that covers a lot of distance and deals a lot of damage, but has a rather meaty cooldown. Because skills are swappable any time from a paused menu, I equip a spread of several lower-cost attacks for my basic loadout, then when I come upon an obvious boss setting, swap in the shield rush. It really helps me against these fat, belching tentacle monsters, in ways that my normal right-stick repulsor did not.
This is really good stuff. Chaosbane onlygrazed the edge of repetition in my time with it; Hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers can really go hard in that direction if, not only is there not enough variety in the combat, there isn’t enough of a motive to explore it or alter tactics. Chaosbane provided both, provided I knew where to find it. It’s a multiplayer game, too, but even against huge ambushes I had just enough in my attacks to get through, without it being pure button-spamming.
Three minutes of fighting in the Nuln sewers, facing two nasty bosses.
Warhammer: Chaosbane offers three other characters, in a division of labor similar to Gauntlet. There’s a ranged type (Elessa, a Wood Elf Scout), a Dwarven head-basher for close quarters fighting (Bragi Axebiter, the Slayer) and a mage (a High Elf named Elontir) to provide control and combat support. A stash chest that unlocks after level 10 allows a player to share loot items from one character among all characters (the items being level gated, of course).
Not everything in Warhammer: Chaosbane is mission-based. Though they were not unlocked, it looks like players will be able to venture into the sewers under Nuln’s keep for three other modes outside of the campaign (Boss Rush, Relic Hunt and Expedition). The story itself is advanced through short, captioned dialogues, some voiced and less-important scenes text only.
I may not be familiar with Warhammer but I am familiar with the appeal of a good dungeon crawler and Chaosbane fulfilled those obligations with ease. I felt powerful, charging headlong into a fight with continually improving gear buffed by a well blended skill set. Even something as simple as dialing up a fast attack while I was still in a power attack animation delivered a crowd-clearing combo slap full of green damage numbers. I could feel myself picking up good fundamentals as I played more. I just wish I had a little more of a coach at the outset.
With Blizzard uninterested in making a Diablo on platforms where people want it, and the genre looking dry for the time being, there seems to be plenty in Chaosbane to slake thirsty hack-and-slash loot fans. The private beta (players get in by pre-ordering the game) will return in April; count me in for that, and when Chaosbane launches in full on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One on June 4, 2019.
A new Fortnite update is set to introduce a new vehicle to the game–and it looks pretty wild. It’s named The Baller, and it looks like the sort of thing a hamster would ride around in.
The vehicle will come to PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile “soon,” though we don’t precisely know when; based on past teases, though, we can likely expect it as part of this week’s patch. Details about The Baller are scarce at present–we don’t know what kind of weaponry it will possess, for example, though it does appear to have a cannon of some description.
It seems the vehicle itself might be a weapon, based on the short description shared through Fortnite’s in-game News feed. It states, “Roll through the competition with the newest vehicle, The Baller!”
After years of development, Sony Bend has completed production of the new PS4 exclusive zombie game Days Gone. In a post on Twitter, Sony Bend confirmed that the game had reached “gold” status, meaning the team has finished development of the project.
With the game completed, it can now be sent to manufacturers for mass production. In the middle of the shot you can see a developer holding what could be the “gold” master disc.
Days Gone puts you into the boots of a biker named Deacon St. John, a bounty hunter who travels around the apocalypse on his bike. He fights against zombie-like creatures known as Freakers, among other enemies.