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Ariana Grande Got a Huge Pokemon Tattoo

Ariana Grande got a Pokemon tattoo. The 25-year-old pop sensation revealed her very large Eevee tattoo recently through her Instagram story. Additionally, tattoo artist Kane Navasard showed off the tattoo in another post on Instagram, writing that the ink was for “the best Pokemon trainer in the game, [Ariana Grande].”

It’s a nice-looking tattoo. With colour it might have looked too flashy; the black-and-white style is more classic. You can see the tattoo in the image below.

Grande is a big fan of the Pokemon series, it seems, telling a fan that she played the Nintendo Switch game Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee for 15 hours during a recent day off. “Honestly,” she said. She also cosplayed as Eevee one at least one occasion.

 

This was not Grande’s first tattoo. She also has Chihiro from the Studio Ghibi movie Spirited Away on her arm, as well as the Harry Potter spell “Lumos” written on her hand. She has many, many more, and you can do a quick Google search to see them all.

Ariana Grande is no stranger to video games. She appeared in the Final Fantasy video game Brave Exvius, and now Katy Perry will be featured in the game as well.

Source: GameSpot.com

Elder Scrolls Online Reveals Season Of The Dragon, New Annual Event Showcasing Elsweyr

Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, The Elder Scrolls Online has steadily grown into an experience that many fans of Bethesda’s RPG franchise wanted back when it debuted back in 2014. As an open world MMO, players can freely explore the many regions of Tamriel embarking quests, exploring dungeons, and acquiring rare loot. With the releases of previous expansions set in familiar areas, including Morrowind and Summerset, the scale and content of the online world has steadily seen improvement. During a livestream hosted by Twitch, the developers of ESO revealed the next major expansion set in the land of Elsweyr, along with an ambitious set of DLCs and updates releasing this year.

Set for launch on June 4, the Elsweyr expansion takes place in the homeland of the Khajit. Not only will new quests and events open up for veteran players in the region, but it will also be a new starting point for newcomers. As a part of their annual event for the Season of the Dragon, the developers plan to launch four unique DLCs throughout 2019. In the reveal trailer for Elsweyr, dragons have once again found their way to Tamriel, prompting the many adventurers in the land to face off against the new threat. In addition to being tied into the all new story quests, these dragons will also be a part of major world events.

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Prior to the reveal, GameSpot spoke with ESO creative director Rich Lambert about their plans for the game in 2019, and how the community has expanded in big way in recent years.

“Elsweyr been one of the most requested places from our fans; it’s the homeland of the Khajit,” said the creative director. “There’s bits and pieces of the land in other DLCs, such as Reaper’s March and Khenarthi’s Roost, but those are really on the outer edges of the province. So we’re really going into the heartland, showing what Khajit culture is, and how they’ve evolved over the ages.”

With the Season of the Dragon annual event, the developers plan to update many of the core pillars of the MMO with four key updates. Beginning in Q1 with Wrathstone, the first DLC will add in new dungeon content for experienced players. In the second DLC–releasing on June 4–the region of Elsweyr will open up for all players, focusing on new quests and storylines within the desert land of the Khajit. The final two DLCs releasing in the back half of 2019 will also place a heavy emphasis on on additional story and dungeon content as well.

The highlight of Season of the Dragon will no doubt be Elsweyr, which adds in a massive new zone to explore. However, there will also be numerous other updates and quality-of-life additions that will switch things up. The year-long event will also see a new class thrown into the mix, which is the Necromancer. Using their dark magic, they’ll be able to summon spirits and manipulate the dead to fight in battle. However, their dark arts will arouse all kinds of attention from NPCs throughout the land. Using the Necromancer’s abilities in towns will prompt citizens and guards to confront the player–similarly to when players used shouts in the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. These interactions also tied into the game’s Justice system, which judges your character based on in-game choices.

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Furthermore, there will also be new world events. In addition to in-world battles against the massive dragons, some regions will also catch the attention of Daedric deities, who’ve become bored of the state of the world. In order to spice things up, they’ll introduce a little chaos by spawning powerful artifacts in the world. Those who can find them can wield the ancient weapons, transforming them into a demi-god. With drastically amplified stats and unique spells and skills, you’ll need to unleash carnage on other players, or else succumb to the artifact’s insatiable hunger for chaos.

The Elder Scrolls Online is in for a big year, and the new forms of content look to bring some interesting opportunities for players to explore more of the world. In the years since ESO’s debut, the developers spent a lot of time listening to what the fans wanted, which they they credit the game’s current success.

“We spent a lot of time reflecting on what the fans wanted, in trying to bring that Elder Scrolls feel into the game,” said Lambert. “That’s where One Tamriel came from, Thieves Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and that’s where the Justice System came out as well. It really changed the feel of ESO, and players have enjoyed it since. The game has never been stronger, which is awesome.”

For more info on Elder Scrolls Online, including what’s to come with Elsweyr and the Season of the Dragon, be sure to check back with GameSpot.

Source: GameSpot.com

Black Ops 4 1.11 Update and 115 Day!

Our 1.11 update begins rolling out today, kicking off at 10AM PT today on consoles and coming to PC later this week. All three modes get even bigger in this update with the debut of Gauntlets and new Elixirs in Zombies on PS4, a new week of Featured Playlists and the addition of Elevation and Madagascar to map rotation for Black Ops Pass owners in MP, our new-and-improved console looting interface in Blackout, and much more.

We’re also celebrating 115 Day with our Zombies community with Zombies 2XP, Zombies 2X Weapon XP, and 2X Nebulium Plasma today through 10AM PT Jan. 18 on all platforms! Zombies gets plenty of love this week with our new “Unsinkable” Gauntlet and new Elixirs (Perk Up, Refresh Mint, and Conflagration Liquidation), Elixir balance updates, adjustments to PhD Slider and those pesky Crimson Nosferatu, tons of improvements to gameplay and stability, and more. The list of updates is long, so check out the patch notes below and hit up our Jan. 11 community update for the lowdown on Gauntlets if you aren’t already caught up.

Be on the lookout for our 115 Day Treyarch Blog today as well, including details on this week’s updates, a look at what to expect in the near future with our 1.12 update, and a preview of the new features and content coming to Black Ops 4 Zombies over the coming months. We have big plans for Zombies in 2019, and we’re excited to share more when Zombies Director Jason Blundell stops by later today on Twitter

Today’s new looting interface update on consoles in Blackout is also a big next step in our battle royale experience. This multi-row grid approach makes it much easier for players to loot their enemies and get back into the fight, and we’re eager to hear your feedback on the new system. We’ve also reduced the number of Concussion grenades in an inventory stack to 1 to help reduce the frequency of Concussions in the field, so drop into a match, loot away, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

We also have the first of our newest limited-time modes going live in Blackout later this week with “Down But Not Out“, a hectic new playlist where the rest of your squad redeploys each time the circle collapses, as long as at least one of you survives. Keep an eye out for more info later this week!

Here’s everything new in Black Ops 4:

  • Multiplayer

    • Chaos Control added as MP Featured Playlist.

    • TDM 100, Team Tactical Moshpit, Mercenary Hardcore Moshpit, and Mercenary Deathmatch Moshpit added to MP Featured category.

    • Elevation and Madagascar added to normal map rotation for Black Ops Pass holders.

    • Updates to various game modes, Specialists, Perks, Scorestreaks, Gear, and Challenges.

    • Fix for Killathon Reactive Camo requirements.

    • Various gameplay and stability improvements.

  • Zombies

    • 115 Day Celebration Event: Zombies 2XP, Zombies 2X Weapon XP, and 2X Nebulium Plasma live 10AM PT Jan. 15-18.

    • “Unsinkable” Gauntlet in Voyage of Despair (PS4).

    • Three new Epic Elixirs (PS4).

    • Balance updates for six existing Elixirs.

    • Adjustments to PhD Slider Perk.

    • Reduced Crimson Nosferatu damage and spawn rates in Dead of the Night.

    • Various gameplay and stability improvements.

  • Blackout

    • Stash interface updated to grid layout for faster looting on consoles.

    • Reduced Concussion grenade stack count to 1.

The following updates are going live today on PS4, Xbox One, and PC:

Multiplayer

  • Featured Playlists

    • Chaos Control added as Featured Playlist.

      • Teams have unlimited lives.

      • Capture time increased to 2 minutes per zone.

      • Round time limit increased to 3.5 minutes.

      • TDM 100, Team Tactical Moshpit, Mercenary Hardcore Moshpit, and Mercenary Deathmatch Moshpit added to Featured category.

Zombies

  • 115 Day Celebration Event

    • Zombies 2XP, Zombies 2X Weapon XP, and 2X Nebulium Plasma live 10AM PT Jan. 15-18.

The following updates are going live today first on PS4:

Zombies

  • Gauntlets

    • Unsinkable” Gauntlet live in Voyage of Despair.

    • 30 rounds of challenges with unique rules for each round.

    • Players earn medals and tiered rewards for completing rounds 10, 20, and 30, as well as an additional reward for completing round 30 without failing a round.

    • Players are issued a Strike by failing a round, with the game ending after three Strikes.

    • All matches are timed for competitive speed-run support.

  • New Elixirs

    • Perk Up (Epic): Gain 4 additional random Perks that are not in your loadout.

    • Refresh Mint (Epic): Refreshes the cooldowns for Equipment, Perks, and Special Weapons for your entire team.

    • Conflagration Liquidation (Epic): Spawn a Bonfire Sale power-up.

The following updates are going live today on consoles, with PC to follow later this week with additional PC-specific updates:

Multiplayer

  • Maps

    • Elevation and Madagascar added to normal map rotation (Core and Hardcore) for all Black Ops Pass holders.

  • Game Modes

    • Heist

      • Added SWAT RFT assault rifle, Daemon 3XB SMG, Combat Axe, and EMP Disruptor to Heist.

      • Resolved an issue where the player would not be granted proper Tier progression in some cases.

      • If the last living player disconnects, all downed friendlies will now bleed out, ending the round.

    • Hardpoint

      • Added an overtime win condition for Hardpoint. In the event of a tie at the end of the time limit, the team to score the next point will win the match.

      • This setting has been enabled for CWL Hardpoint in Custom Games.

    • Search & Destroy

      • Resolved an issue that allowed the defenders to defuse and win the game after the bomb detonated.

    • Free For All

      • Assault Pack can now be interacted with after it was hacked in Free For All.

  • Specialists

    • Zero

      • Hacking an enemy no longer prevents Specialist Weapon or Equipment usage.

      • A hacked Assault Pack will now no longer be destroyed if the original owner leaves the match.

      • A hacked Barricade will now no longer be destroyed if the original owner leaves the match.

    • Ruin

      • Resolved an issue that allowed Ruin’s Grav Slam to kill players through walls and floors.

    • Firebreak

      • Resolved an issue that prevented Firebreak’s Purifier from damaging friendly players in game modes with friendly fire enabled.

    • Crash

      • TAK-5 will no longer remove the hacked status from players.

  • Perks

    • Improved Cold Blooded’s enemy Scorestreak targeting delay from 5 to 7 seconds.

    • Improved Team Link’s circular vision radius by 9%.

    • Updated Tactical Mask description to include increased resistance against EMP Disruptor.

    • Tracker’s detection icon will now clear correctly if the player switches to a class without the Tracker perk.

  • Scorestreaks

    • Care Package should now properly kill a player when landing on top of them.

    • Added a notification for when a player calls in a Thresher.

    • Resolved an issue where a Care Package or Mantis smoke marker’s FX would show for all players.

    • Resolved an issue where the sound of the Care Package hitting the ground was delayed.

    • Resolved an issue where the Dart would not be usable again if it failed to be deployed the first time.

    • Resolved an issue where the player’s view angles would change while controlling a vehicle.

    • Resolved an issue with the hacked vehicle effect remaining on a player’s screen if dying to a hacked vehicle.

  • Gear

    • Resolved an issue where the Acoustic Sensor would stop functioning when switching classes during the grace period at the start of a round.

  • Challenges

    • Clean Sweep

      • Now correctly tracks Hardcore game modes.

    • Conquest

      • Now correctly tracks Hardcore game modes.

  • Weapon Customization

    • Killathon Reactive Camo

      • Killathon Reactive Camo now properly unwraps if it was unwrapped before the requirements changed in a recent update.

      • Updated the unwrap requirement text to correctly reference the new requirements of getting 50 kills, instead of 5 kills without dying.

    • Added support for camo and reticle customization in offline Custom Games.

  • Custom Games

    • Resolved an issue where CODCaster spectating would disable a player’s Perks and second Equipment charge.

    • Resolved an issue where the second Equipment charge bar would not show in Custom Games.

    • Bots playing as Zero will now use the Ice Pick in Custom Games with bots.

  • Stability – Fixed crashes that could occur:

    • When a player owning a Mesh Mine disconnected from the match.

    • When deploying a Strike Team marker.

    • When hacking a Barricade that expired or was destroyed.

  • Black Market

    • “Friendly Fire” reticle owners now have access to green and blue versions of the reticle to match the version displayed in the Black Market.

  • Miscellaneous

    • Added a notification in the Death Cam for friendly players when a Tac-Deploy is available.

    • Resolved an issue where player names would no longer show in Multiplayer game modes after playing Heist or Blackout.

    • Resolved an issue that caused on-fire effects to remain on a player’s screen for the duration of the wound.

    • Resolved an issue that prevented some alternative voiceover lines from playing to the player.

Zombies

  • Gameplay

    • Elixir Updates

      • Join The Party: Now revives downed players in addition to respawning dead party members, but will not restore lost Perks.

      • Sword Flay: Melee attacks now instantly kill Basic and Vermin enemies for the duration, and deal 5X damage to all other enemies.

      • CTRL-Z: Increased the duration of turned zombies from 15 seconds to 30 seconds.

      • Cache Back: Reduced rarity from Epic to Legendary to increase the chance of concocting Cache Back more frequently.

      • Phantom Reload: Doubled the previous percentage chance to get free ammo.

      • Blood Debt: Duration reduced from 3 minutes to 1 minute, and Blood Debt now simply ends when points are reduced to zero, rather than killing the player.

    • Perks

      • PhD Slider now fully prevents self-inflicted explosive damage.

      • PhD Slider damage reduction for enemy explosive attacks has been changed from 80% to 50%.

    • Dead of the Night

      • Reduced the damage dealt by the Crimson Nosferatu bite attack.

      • Reduced the maximum number of Nosferatu and Crimson Nosferatu that spawn during normal round progression.

    • Power-ups

      • Power-ups are now more evenly distributed to appear throughout each round, as opposed to near the start of the round.

  • Stability

    • Global – Fixed crashes that could occur:

      • After waiting for a long period of time in the lobby after exiting a match.

      • In certain cases when using Deadshot Dealer.

      • In rare cases when joining a Custom Game in progress.

      • In rare cases when a player spectated a Zombies match.

      • In rare cases when the alternate ammo type from a Pack-a-Punched weapon affected an enemy.

    • Blood of the Dead

      • Fixed a crash that could occur during the ending cinematic.

      • Fixed a rare crash that could occur while using the Hellfire in Eagle Plaza outside of the Warden’s House on Round 73.

    • Voyage of Despair

      • Fixed a crash that could occur after finishing the portals for the Catalysts in the Main Quest.

  • Challenges

    • Charmed

      • Now properly requires players to use 50 Talismans.

  • Miscellaneous

    • Global

      • Best Time now properly displays when selecting maps at the Zombies mode screen.

      • Resolved an issue where players were still damaged by zombies during the Nuke whiteout screen and shortly afterward.

      • Resolved an issue where players could go past Prestige Master rank 1000 through natural play.

      • Resolved an issue where FX may sometimes disappear, including on Wonder Weapons, Perks, Pack-a-Punched weapons, and Silver Bullets.

      • Resolved an issue where a host went missing after 30 seconds while waiting in the lobby with 3 players in a private match.

      • Resolved an issue where the Cartoon mode effect could still persist for the player if a second player in a splitscreen party turned on Cartoon mode, and the first player left the match and went into a solo match afterward.

      • Resolved a visual issue where the level 3 Chakram Whirlwind FX could be seen spinning around the player along with low-resolution dust FX.

      • Resolved an issue where the Maddox with Dual Zoom attachment could carry far more ammo than usual when Pack-a-Punched.

      • Resolved an issue where the After Action Report tabs could overlap each other.

      • Resolved an issue where players with a Minor or Major Virtuoso’s Charm Talisman still had a chance of the Mystery Box moving to another location on their next box opening.

      • Resolved issues where the Welling Clan Tag was misaligned on the Welling and clipping into the player’s hand, and where the Kill Counter did not appear at all.

      • Resolved an issue on Xbox One when a guest profile attempting to access the Laboratory could encounter multiple issues, including a UI error and lost cursor functionality.

      • Closed an exploit where players could enter a live game with custom rules.

    • Dead of the Night

      • Implemented visual improvements for the Pack-a-Punch camo on multiple weapon attachments.

      • Resolved an issue related to Nosferatu Bile pickups slowly accumulating if it was not collected by the player.

      • Resolved a bug that caused the player’s weapon to switch to the Welling for the duration of a Crimson Nosferatu bite attack.

      • Resolved an issue that could cause Nosferatu to spawn under the map when summoned by the Crimson Nosferatu.

      • Resolved an issue that allowed enemies killed by the Wonder Weapon to sometimes spawn power-ups outside of the playable space.

      • Resolved an issue that caused inconsistent visibility during the Wonder Weapon quest while in splitscreen.

      • Resolved a timing-specific issue that could lead to the incorrect player being sacrificed during the Main Quest.

      • Resolved an issue where Silver Bullet weapons canceled the Deadshot Dealer Perk modifier headshot streak.

      • Resolved a collision issue that allowed the Theater camera from leaving the playable space in the Gardens.

      • Resolved an issue that caused poor visualization of the trees in the Gardens area.

      • Resolved an issue that caused a prompt on the clock for the Pack-a-Punch to remain indefinitely after the sequence completed.

      • Resolved a rare progression issue related to enemies spawning in a non-playable location.

    • IX

      • Addressed a rare progression break that occurred when a special round started as players teleported to the Chaos Tower.

      • Addressed a rare case where players could become immune to fire traps.

    • Blood of the Dead

      • Resolved an issue where no fog would appear during Hellhound rounds.

      • Closed an exploitable area that players could reach in the Citadel Tunnels using the Path of Sorrows.

      • Closed an exploitable area on the catwalk that players could reach using the Ragnarok DG-5.

    • Classified

      • Resolved an issue where the blur effect from killing Nova 6 Crawlers persisted for spectating players.

      • Resolved an issue where a player using Nowhere but There would teleport to the War Room instead of the Laboratories when another player was downed in the elevator while it was on the Laboratories floor.

Blackout

  • Looting Interface

    • Looting interface on consoles is now a grid layout with multiple pages for all Stash types.

    • Identical items will now stack inside a Stash instead of being displayed individually.

    • Remaining Armor is now displayed on Armor items in a Stash.

  • Gameplay

    • Reduced Concussion grenade stack count to 1.

-Treyarch

Source: BlackOps4 Reddit

Hotline Miami Reimagined As A PS1 Game

Top-down bloodbath Hotline Miami is defined by its perspective, but horror dev Puppet Combo decided to flip that anyway and remake the game’s first level as a third-person PS1-like experience.

If you dig that, you should check out Puppet Combo’s other 80s horror movie-inspired games on their Patreon, which are all very much this kind of thing.

Source: Kotaku.com

PS4 Console Exclusives Confirmed For 2019

Sony has enjoyed its share of exclusives and a few are already confirmed to release this year for the console. Here is a fun montage of all the console exclusive games we know that are coming to PS4 in 2019!

Source: GameSpot.com

Black Ops 4 Zombies Update And Event Now Live

Treyarch has rolled out a new update for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. As the developer previously detailed, all three of the game’s modes have gotten some attention with this week’s patch, but the most was saved for Zombies, which has received a new in-game event and other content.

Beginning January 15, Treyarch is holding a 115 Day Celebration in Zombies–a reference to the element used to create the undead monsters in Black Ops lore. During the event, players will receive twice the normal amount of XP, weapon XP, and Nebulium Plasma. The 115 Day Celebration is live on all platforms and is scheduled to end at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 6 PM GMT on January 18.

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Additionally, PS4 players can now take on Gauntlets in Zombies mode. Treyarch describes these as “30-round challenges with unique rules governing gameplay in each round.” Players will earn medals and rewards depending on how many rounds they’re able to complete, as well as a “unique reward” for their Emblem if they manage to clear round 30 without failing.

Finally, Treyarch has introduced three new Elixirs that players can craft in Zombies. These are currently available on PS4; they are all Epic rarity and confer the following buffs on players according to Treyarch’s blog:

  • Perk Up: Gain 4 additional random Perks that are not in your loadout.
  • Refresh Mint: Refreshes the cooldowns for Equipment, Perks, and Special Weapons for your entire team.
  • Conflagration Liquidation: Spawn a Bonfire Sale power-up.

Treyarch has more content on the way for Zombies mode, including a new Perk, Mastery Camos, and classic weapons. These are slated to arrive in the “coming weeks.” The developer also has other new Zombies features and updates planned for this year, such as new Gauntlets and Faction Callings, which are “designed to feature a full season of 12 unique challenge events across all Zombies maps and game modes that reward players with never-before-seen character customization loot.”

Source: GameSpot.com

EA Cancels Open-World Star Wars Game

Concept art from Visceral’s canceled Star Wars game, Ragtag.

Electronic Arts has canceled its open-world Star Wars game, according to three people familiar with goings-on at the company. The game, announced alongside the shutdown of Visceral Games back in 2017, had been in development at EA’s large office in Vancouver.

EA Vancouver, a large studio that mostly handles support for a variety of the publisher’s games including FIFA and Battlefront, had been working on this open-world Star Wars game since October 2017, when EA closed Visceral Games. Until then, Visceral—best known for its popular Dead Space horror series—was developing its own Star Wars game. That project, code-named Ragtag, was a linear action-adventure game directed by Uncharted director Amy Hennig. EA Vancouver had been assisting on the project, and when EA closed Visceral Games on October 17, 2017, the Vancouver studio took it over.

But it wouldn’t be accurate to say that EA Vancouver’s Star Wars was the same game as Ragtag. When EA Vancouver took over, it rebooted this Star Wars project entirely, keeping some of the art assets but transforming it into an open-world game.

Now, that project is canceled, too. (EA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

EA had not shown any of EA Vancouver’s open-world Star Wars game publicly, but the publisher talked about it when it announced Visceral’s demise. “It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” the company said at the time. “A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development of this game, led by a team from EA Vancouver that has already been working on the project.”

In June 2018, EA announced that it had expanded its Motive studio—previously a single office in Montreal led by industry veteran Jade Raymond—to a Vancouver location as well. That one would also be located in the publisher’s large office in Burnaby, British Columbia, as a division of EA Vancouver.

On October 22, 2018, EA announced that it had installed executive Samantha Ryan to oversee Motive. Subsequently, Raymond left the company.

It’s not clear what EA Vancouver’s next new game will be. We’ve heard it might be a different Star Wars project. Respawn, the Los Angeles-based studio responsible for Titanfall, is also making a Star Wars game, called Jedi: Fallen Order. That game is currently scheduled for fall 2019.

UPDATE (10:17pm): Since the publication of this article, I’ve talked to several more people familiar with EA Vancouver’s now-cancelled open-world Star Wars game. This project, which was code-named Orca, was very early in development but would involve playing as a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.

When EA’s top decision-makers looked at their road map for the next few years, they decided that they needed something earlier than the planned release date for Orca, according to two people familiar with what happened. So they cancelled Orca in favor of a smaller-scale Star Wars project that’s now aimed for much sooner—likely, late 2020, which also happens to be around the time that I’ve heard next-gen consoles will launch. (Might be a bit earlier; might be a bit later. From what I’ve heard, next-gen plans are definitely still in flux.)

To EA’s credit, those people said, the publisher did not lay anyone off as part of this transition. This news comes at a time of cost-cutting across the industry, at major publishers including both EA and Activision, as we’ve reported. Some at the studio also hope that Orca might be restarted after this new project is finished.

Source: Kotaku.com

Xbox One Console Exclusives Confirmed For 2019

Xbox One has a lot of games ready for the horizon and a few are already confirmed to release this year. Here’s a fun montage of all the console exclusive games we know that are coming to Xbox One in 2019! What games do you hope to see added in the future?

Source: GameSpot.com

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Latest DLC Has A Romantic Ending You Can’t Change

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s first expansion, Legacy of the First Blade, started strong, introducing players to the first Assassin and offering a self-aware take on the series’ mythos. The second episode in Legacy of the First Blade, Shadow Heritage, aims to continue the experience. It provides a strong villain and exciting ship combat. But it is ultimately most notable for forcing the player’s hand in a major way—one that I found disappointing.

Legacy of the First Blade focuses on Kassandra’s (or Alexios’s) adventures with the first Assassin, Darius. He and his son Natakas are on the run from the dangerous Order of the Ancients. In the first chapter, players help them fend off a dangerous assassination squad, getting close with the pair. It mixes exploration, cultist assassinations, and a welcome bit of introspection. The second chapter, Shadow Heritage, focuses mostly on naval combat. After an Order lieutenant called “the Tempest” blockades a portion of Greece, Kassandra must help Darius and Natakas defeat the Order and escape the country.

What follows is a string of missions that mix difficult combat on land and sea. Slowly dismantling the Tempest’s security and drawing her out requires rescuing civilians from forts and destroying part of her fleet. Eventually, you even steal an experimental weapon: a flamethrower that is attached to the front of your ship. The story is a bit more pulpy than the first episode but builds to a conclusion that treats its villain with a lot of care.

The first episode, Hunted, opted for uncomplicated villains. They were butchers and manipulators, a vanguard for the Order of the Ancients trained specifically to kill “tainted ones” like Kassandra, or anyone else who bore the blood of the extra-terrestrial Isu. They were effective villains but not very sympathetic. Shadow Heritage goes down a different path. The Tempest is one of the most dangerous naval commanders in the world. But she is conflicted, having been forced into the cultist life against her will. She still has family ties in Greece and much of this secondepisode is spent deciding if you want to redeem her. When I failed to save her, I felt a genuine sense of loss. If I had been more careful, she might have been a great ally.

Legacy of the First Blade has spent time allowing Kassandra to explore her feelings about being a misthios, teasing at choices in which she yearns for a calmer life. Some of those hints involved Darius’s son, Natakas, and one major scene in the first episode involved hunting with him and talking by a fire. There were hints of a romance, but little else to suggest the forced path that Shadow Heritage would ultimately venture down.

Shadow Heritage, unlike the rest of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s quests, doesn’t give you the choice to avoid romance. No matter what decisions you make over the course of this new expansion, your Kassandra will wind up with Natakas. (If you play as Alexios, then Darius will instead have a daughter, Neema, and you’ll wind up with her instead.)

After getting word this morning that this might be the case, I decided to rebuke Darius and Natakas’ companionship whenever possible throughout my playthrough. I was a misthios, after all. A lone mercenary who wasn’t ready to settle down. After defeating the Tempest and parting with the pair, I returned to an abandoned home from earlier in the story only to see Natakas and Darius come back. A montage played out of the trio refurnishing the home and I played out a sequence where I grabbed groceries from the market. We were running out of food thanks to a new addition to our family: Kassandra’s son Elpidios. Shadow Heritage forced me to abandon my mercenary ways and have a baby, regardless of the decisions I had made.

This is not the first time that Assassin’s Creed has revealed lineages over the course of play. Assassin’s Creed 2 contained a sequence in which the player, as Altair, had a romantic rendezvous with the Templar Maria that led to a child. There are two key differences with Odyssey. One is that the series has moved away from the need for its modern day characters to have a blood relation to the past characters, as they did in games before Assassin’s Creed Origins. The other is that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a role-playing game.

Whereas Conor and Ezio were characters with their own personalities, Kassandra is one that we define.Dialog choices help define her personality and, more importantly, her sexuality. Looking back on the main story, I cannot recall having sex with any male characters. My Kassandra was strictly lesbian. And yet here, after countless hours where my dialog selections defined her character, Kassandra is forced down a path that I wouldn’t have chosen. Hell, I’d tried to avoid it. It can feel like a slap in the face, particularly if you were playing Kassandra as gay, to have her embrace domesticity, a heterosexual relationship, and motherhood.

Today, when Shadow Heritage went live, players started to notice the incongruity. On social sites like Reddit, there are multiple threads full of players who feel betrayed by the decision.

“I’m a lesbian,” one Redditor says in a large post. “ I was happy to be able to play a character like myself the same way guys or straight women who play games do. Ubisoft made a big fucking deal of being able to choose your character’s sexual orientation. It was part of their marketing campaign. They used what is clearly a lie to sell the game.”

The reference to a “big fucking deal” about choosing seuxual orientation seems to come from an Entertainment Weekly article that quotes creative director Jonathan Dumont on the topic of sexuality and queer relationships within the game.

“Since the story is choice-driven, we never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with,” Dumont says. “Players decide if they want to engage with characters romantically. I think this allows everybody to build the relationships they want, which I feel respects everybody’s roleplay style and desires.”

And yet, Shadow Heritage’s ending seems to push back against that notion. There doesn’t appear to be any option to avoid that final sequence. There is a third and final episode in the series coming in March, which will presumably continue after Shadow Heritage’s ending, but Kassandra (or Alexios) is now settled down, and the Order of Ancients continues to ominously gather its forces.

When asked by Kotaku about this development, Ubisoft sent over an e-mailed statement. “We strive to give players choice whenever possible in Odyssey and apologize to those surprised by the events in this episode,” the statement said. “Without spoiling it, you will engage in an important relationship as part of a set story. The motivation behind this relationship is yours to explore in game and will be reflected in your character’s story arc. There is one episode left in Legacy of the First Blade which will tie your character’s actions together.”

Source: Kotaku.com

2K And NBA Agree To Huge New Deal Estimated At More Than $1 Billion

2K Sports and the NBA have announced a major extension on their licensing deal for the NBA 2K series in a move that’s said to be worth north of $1 billion.

The official line is that this is a “significant, multiyear global partnership extension.” Terms were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reports that Take-Two, which owns 2K, is set to pay as much as $1.1 billion over seven years to the NBA and its players’ union. That information is credited to a source who is said to have knowledge of the deal.

According to the report, the $1.1 billion over seven years is “more than double” what Take-Two paid the NBA for its previous licensing deal that was announced in 2011. The figure is said to be based on a percentage of sales of NBA 2K games.

One of the reasons why the licensing fee might be so much bigger this time around is because the NBA 2K series is believed to be an even bigger revenue juggernaut now that the franchise includes microtransactions. This has been a company-wide push, as Take-Two has said it aims to put microtransactions in all of its franchises going forward. NBA 2K’s use of microtransactions, which started in 2013, has been controversial, but they are still in the game and will no doubt continue to be used in future titles.

The latest NBA 2K game, NBA 2K19, was a smash hit. It sold more than 10 million units, and it drove even more money from its microtransactions. In total the NBA 2K series has shipped more than 86 million units since it first launch 20 years ago.

Take-Two chief Strauss Zelnick said he’s excited to work together with the NBA to “find new and innovative ways to captivate and engage basketball fans, and expand further the success of the NBA 2K brand.”

The NBA also has a licensing deal with Electronic Arts for the NBA Live series. However, it’s not immediately clear if the NBA has reached a new deal with EA as well.

In addition to the NBA 2K series, 2K Sports published last year’s NBA Playgrounds 2, which is an arcade-style title.

Source: GameSpot.com