Death Stranding, the next game from Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, is already playable–and developer Kojima Productions is allowing outside people to play it. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who is directing the upcoming Metal Gear Solid movie, recently tweeted that he’s had a chance to play Death Stranding. In short, he was blown away, describing the game as a “miracle.”
“YOU. ARE. NOT. READY,” Vogt-Roberts said of his impressions of Death Stranding thus far.
So @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN let me play DEATH STRANDING❗️The world is next-level immaculate. It’s like freebasing pure Kojima & Shinkawa. Remember when FURY ROAD blew you away but also made you (in the best-most-thankful way) ask “wtf” how does this miracle exist? YOU. ARE. NOT. READY❗️ pic.twitter.com/RkVxtZCcbj
Vogt-Roberts isn’t the only celebrity to speak highly of Death Stranding. Speaking to Metro, The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus, who plays a character in Death Stranding, said he’s never seen anything like what Kojima is doing with the game.
“The concept is so far out into the future. Instead of eliminating everyone around you, it’s bringing everyone together,” he explained. “It’s a very positive video game, but scary and depressing at the same time. It’s kind of a new movie. I’ve never seen anything like what we’re doing.”
Overall, Reedus said Death Stranding is a “crazy complicated game.” The trailers and information about the title released thus far do not fully encapsulate what Death Stranding is, it seems.
“The trailers show you an aspect of it, but not a whole picture of what the game will be,” he said.
Death Stranding is Kojima’s first new game since his split with Konami. Very little is known about the game, and that appears to be intentional, with Kojima weaving secrets into its new trailers. In addition to Reedus, the game features other celebrities such as Mads Mikkelsen, Lea Seydoux, Lindsay Wagner, Guillermo del Toro, and Troy Baker. No release date has been set as of yet.
Fortnite‘s Week 10 challenges have gone live across all platforms, which means we’re coming to the end of the game’s seventh season. Developer Epic Games still hasn’t announced when Season 8 of Battle Royale will begin, but we do know when the current season will formally wrap up.
According to Epic’s website, Season 7 of Fortnite is scheduled to end on Thursday, February 28. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Season 8 will kick off immediately afterward; there have been instances in the past where a new season would begin a few days after the previous one ended. However, it does give us some idea of when we can expect Season 8 to start.
As for what awaits in the new season, that remains remains anyone’s guess. Epic hasn’t shared any details yet about Season 8, although some strange things have begun happening in the game. Recently, players have experienced sudden earthquakes in the middle of a match, and based on audio files gleaned from a datamine, it appears the tremors will only continue to grow in strength.
It’s unclear what these earthquakes portend for Season 8, but Epic typically ushers in new seasons of Fortnite with some sort of world-changing event. Prior to the start of Season 7, an iceberg could be seen drifting toward the island, and Season 6 began after the infamous purple cube known as Kevin plunged into Loot Lake and transformed it.
In the meantime, players still have a little more time to complete this season’s challenges. If you need help, you can find times and guides in our complete Season 7 challenges roundup. Epic has also announced a big Share the Love event for the game, which will encompass new Overtime challenges, additional rewards to unlock, and two double XP weekends.
The creators of The Division 2 have been clear that their “goal isn’t to make a political statement,” but the game’s new private beta is surely making at least a political joke, or maybe it’s a political wink? When your character walks into the empty, insurgency-wracked Oval Office, they find on the president’s desk an audio recording labeled “Border Control: POTUS discusses border policies with the president of Mexico.”
Except…this audio log is not exactly about what you are likely thinking about these days when you hear the words “president,” “Mexico” and “border” close together.
In the real world, the American president wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep a lot of people south of the border out of the U.S. In case you haven’t heard, he’s really, really into this idea, even if the drubbing his party took in the midterm elections last year suggests that the country is not.
In the game world of The Division, the United States has been hit with a biological weapons attack that first ravaged New York City but has also turned D.C. and many other cities into lawless hellholes. It’s with that context that the audio log reveals that The Division 2’s president of the United States got on the phone with Mexico’s president to complain that the latter wants to shut down border crossings in El Paso to keep infected and/or desperate Americans out. “I know you’ve got a lot of people headed south from there right now that you can’t afford to take care of. Believe me, we don’t want to outsource our problems to you.”
It makes sense that border crossings would be an issue in a game about a U.S. overcome with disease, but how cheeky of them, right? Of all the topics there could be an audio log about on the president’s desk. Hmm.
Elsewhere in the White House, there’s an audio log called “25th Amendment: White House staff members learn that POTUS has died.” This is another audio log that makes perfect sense in the context of The Division 2’s story. In the audio file we hear that President Waller has died, and that “Mendez” will become the new president. It’s very serious and fitting for a game that’s got the Tom Clancy brand, but there’s also the great way it’s set up, which is….maybe a political joke? Come on, it’s kind of funny:
Unnamed person 1: Have you heard?
Unnamed person 2: Heard what?
Person 1: About Waller.
Person 2: No. What’s the latest? Has he decided Russia’s responsible after all?
Then it goes on to reveal he’s dead. Obviously they are talking about whether he thought Russia was responsible for the viral outbreak. So be it, but let’s hear it for a president with “Wall” in his name who is skeptical about Russia’s responsibility for some heinous act.
From the tiny bit I’ve played of The Division 2, I don’t think the developers are trying to make a point about Donald Trump, but I do think there’s a chance they’re having some fun here. (As the Ubisoft game Far Cry 5 did with its mission involving the fabled Donald Trump pee tape.) Whether you think that kind of fun works or is a poor stand-in for actually saying something about politics now is the players’ and critics’ call.
Ultimately a Tom Clancy-branded game’s politics involve a broader world view about the potency of the military and the delineation between good guys and bad guys. The Division 2 may well have other, deeper messages, but they aren’t apparent from the first half hour of the beta. We’ll have more impressions of how the new game actually plays after we’ve gotten a few more hours into the beta.
It’s rare that you’ll ever feel stressed while playing Astroneer. Its colourful planets and soothing synth soundtrack make exploring its handful of varied planets a treat for the senses, but its reined-in take on survival is what makes your hours with it as serene as possible. With little to worry about in terms of actually surviving, Astroneer shifts its focus to a core resource gathering and building loop. But, disappointingly, it struggles to entice you to visit all of the land it has to see.
Astroneer’s solar system includes seven uniquely styled planets with procedurally generated terrain. They feature a familiar low-polygon styling that is made striking thanks to bold, vibrant colors and a great range of colour palettes used throughout the solar system. Your starting planet features gorgeously green fields stretching for miles on end, while another nearby feels far less inviting with harsh mustard-yellow mountain ranges and darker, more ominous clouds hanging above. The cartoonish designs that stretch from your customizable character to the structures you build blend well with the vibrant backdrops. Everything looks larger than it should realistically be, from the tires on your trusty rover to the simplistic 3D printers you make use of frequently, but it’s an aesthetic that gives Astroneer a great and distinct look.
You play as a lonesome Astroneer, or as part of a pair if you choose to play cooperatively with a friend. You’re given nothing more than a few tools and a home on a planet mostly devoid of life to start off with. You also aren’t given any objectives, either–instead you’re encouraged to explore the land around you and harvest useful resources to fuel your home expansion. Resources such as the vaguely named “compound” lie in abundance next to resin and organic matter on a planet’s surface, with the catacombs beneath it housing rare metals and strange alien elements. Your progress is defined by how you expand your home on the planet, with no direction or set path imposed on you.
You can feel aimless at first, but the initial hours of Astroneer are some of its most intriguing. With nothing but foreign land stretching out all around you, it’s tantalizing to pick a direction and set out. Your exploration is limited by oxygen, though–without a direct connection to your home or a substantially large oxygen generator, you will quickly burn through the reserves on your backpack and succumb to suffocation. You can craft and then drop oxygen tethers to extend your supply far beyond your starting point, and, in the process, leave a glowing blue trail that can easily lead you back home when you need to return. It strikes a good balance between being both a simple survival mechanic and a way to chart your explorations on a planet, letting you recklessly explore with a means to return safely.
As you start hoarding and building more, your options start expanding. After gathering resources on foot, you can craft a tractor which can carry a train of trailers, allowing you to gather more resources during a single expedition. Refiners let you turn basic resources into the building blocks of more helpful structures. These can range from simple large storage units to lighten the load of your backpack to massive research chambers and soil refiners that reward you with research points and basic resources respectively.
Without a narrative reason to push your exploration, watching your barebones homestead expand over time is the strongest driving force behind your extensive exploration. Specialised structures require unique resources that can’t be synthesized through constructed tools alone, which encourages you to explore beyond your starting biome. Yet despite the prospect of adding new structures to your home base, extended exploration on other planets isn’t that alluring. It takes a lot of investment to build up your main base on your starting planet, and there’s no way for you to move this from one planet to the next. Without established sources of oxygen and power, survival on each new planet is tricky, and it feels like you’re starting from scratch. It’s far easier to make short trips to other planets in the solar system and gather the exact resources you need as quickly as you can, almost completely ignoring their unique designs and possible secrets in the process.
When you aren’t managing oxygen on the go, you’re overseeing power distribution between new structures around your base. Each operation–such as refining raw materials, researching mysterious ores, and printing new tools–requires power to operate efficiently. Operations will slow down or speed up relative to how much power they’re supplied, encouraging you to route power intelligently throughout your base. Instead of managing this in a series of menus, you have to physically connect each module and structure with large red power plugs. The constant redirection of power can become tedious to manage individually; it’s not complicated to understand where power is coming from, but the larger your base becomes, the messier the tangled web of power wires becomes, too.
Astroneer’s overall inventory management also struggles at scale. You aren’t inundated with meters and bars to watch on your journeys; all the information you need is conveyed mostly by your large backpack. Your inventory, for example, is always visible, with stacks of resources occupying single slots on your backpack and mining tool. You can zoom in on this and swap out items without having to dive into a menu, or drag and drop items out of personal storage and into a structure nearby with the flick of the mouse. It initially seems clever, but problems arise again when there’s just too much to manage. Trying to place a stack of organic matter on a specific small generator becomes challenging when your zoomed-in backpack view takes up half the screen in an already chaotic home base, for example, and finer movements with your mouse are undone by an overly aggressive automatic snapping that makes trying to place an object cumbersome and frustrating.
Inventory management initially seems clever, but problems arise when there’s just too much to manage.
There are some technical hiccups that unbalance this serene setting on occasion, but none that are severe enough to really hamper your progress. Performance on PC (which in this case featured a RTX 2080Ti and 6th generation Core i7) can inexplicably plummet when you’re surrounded by numerous oxygen tethers, and I had two separate instances where I clipped through the ground and was forced to reload a previous save. Astroneer is generous with when it saves, though, so progress loss is infrequent.
Astroneer succeeds when it’s enraptured you with its beautiful visuals and the irresistible call to explore the planet you find yourself on. Although it lacks a central through line to give you guidance, the variety of structures you can build helps point you towards new resources to hunt for. It struggles to incentivise you to sufficiently explore other planets within its single solar system, however, while also forcing you to work with an inventory system that is often unwieldy. These are frequent frustrations that Astroneer never fully overcomes either, but they’re worth putting up with to experience its serene sense of planetary exploration.
Now that Week 10’s challenges have arrived on all platforms, Season 7 of Fortnite is finally winding down, although developer Epic Games still has a few more surprises in store for players before Season 8 begins. The studio has announced the Valentine’s-themed Share the Love event, which kicks off on February 8 and will encompass new challenges, rewards, and more.
Once the event is underway, players who support a Creator or enter a Creator Code will receive the Cuddle Hearts wrap for free. The wrap will be available following next week’s 7.40 update and sports a very Bret Hart-esque pink and black design, as you can see below.
Also arriving with the 7.40 update will be a new set of Overtime challenges, which will be available through the end of the season. Completing the challenges will unlock five new rewards, such as the Valentine wrap and Vines contrail. Battle Pass holders will also be to unlock new styles of the Trog, Powder, and Onesie skins.
On top of the new challenges, Epic will hold two double XP weekends in Fortnite, on February 15-17 and February 22-24, giving players one final chance to level their Battle Pass up before Season 7 ends. The developer has also announced a Share the Love Competitive Series, with placement matches set to take place on February 9 and 10.
Finally, Fortnite Creative is getting a Featured Island Frenzy event. Epic will rotate a new set of featured islands in the mode each day between February 12 and 22. You can read more details about the Share the Love event on Epic’s website.
Season 7 of Fortnite is scheduled to end on February 28, so you only have a little more time to complete any outstanding challenges. You can find tips to help expedite the process in our complete Season 7 challenges guide.
Unfortunately, until the problem gets solved, there’s not a lot that can be done. The issues seem to be intermittent and only for specific players, so the best advice we can offer is to wait it out with Origin open, and your status may pop back online. Once it does, you should be able to play with friends, assuming they’re not suffering from the same error.
Earlier this week, top World of Warcraft guild Method defeated the Mythic difficulty version of the game’s newest raid boss, Jaina Proudmoore, who became available to fight on January 29. Yes, the Jaina Proudmoore, an Alliance leader you’re probably familiar with even if you haven’t touched Warcraft since it became an MMO. It took Method 347 tries. And then they did it again.
As typically happens with new raids, Method raced against a plethora of other top guilds to be the first to solve, slay, and loot the gilded socks off the new boss. First, they had to take down the Battle for Dazar’alor raid’s other bosses. Guilds “Big Dumb Guild” and “Wildcard” saw early success with the Champion of the Light and his much less grandiosely-named counterpart Grong, respectively, but Method’s longtime rival guild, Limit, proceeded to world-first the next five bosses, putting them in prime position to win the fantasy character murder race.
All of this happened within about 24 hours of the Mythic version of the raid going live. Then the guilds slammed face-first into Jaina. Jaina’s multiphase fight challenges players with ice spells that stop them dead in their tracks unless they’re near a certain amount of other players when those attacks hit. Jaina also casts other ice-based debuffs that can trip players up and leave them susceptible to additional damage from subsequent attacks.
Interestingly, to partially counteract this, Method ended up switching their characters’ races—which costs $25 per character—to trolls in order to get a racial ability that reduces the duration of movement-impairing effects by 20 percent.
Here’s the moment Method finally won on February 5:
You might be wondering why these top guilds—especially Limit, who spent money to switch over to the Alliance faction in order to exploit factional imbalances in preparation for this raid—are fighting Jaina Proudmoore, longtime Alliance hero of all things good and frosty. After all, she spent most of her early years, starting with Warcraft III, trying to compromise with the Horde and then-Warchief Thrall, figuring they had bigger problems on their hands (and/or claws, hooves, etc.) in the form of the demonic Legion battering down their entire dimension’s front door.
Jaina’s relationship with the Horde soured over the years, shattering entirely when Garrosh Hellscream assumed power and—among other heinous acts—bombed Jaina’s home isle of Theramore into oblivion. Since then, she’s oscillated between skepticism and outright hostility toward the Horde, and the recent atrocities committed by Horde mega-heel Sylvanas Windrunner haven’t exactly helped. The Battle for Dazar’alor raid, then, sees Horde players facing off with Jaina after an Alliance assault on the troll city of Dazar’alor. Alliance players are transformed into Horde characters for the purposes of making the whole thing make sense.
Even upon defeat, however, Jaina did not die. She only waded into battle to slow the Horde’s pursuit, and after winning 346 times and losing once—you know, like you do when you’re a lore hero confined to the eternal state of living death that is being a raid boss—she teleported away so she could live to fight another day.
The private beta of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 kicks off today for those who have preordered the game. While high-level content doesn’t unlock until tomorrow, there’s still plenty to share about our first few hours with the game. It’s clear that The Division 2 has a look and feel that’s very different from its predecessor. Meanwhile, we’re still not sure what to make of the storyline so far.
Here’s five things we learned on the first day of The Division 2’s private beta.
The tactics have changed
The changes to combat in The Division 2 go deep, and they begin with subtle changes to the look of the game.
Environments appear to have much less contrast than in the original, especially at night or in dark environments. Once engaged, there’s no longer a guarantee that enemies will have a persistent icon floating over their heads. Those two differences combine to make it very hard to know how many enemies you’re fighting against at any given time, or where they even are on the map.
Things may change in the mid or late game as more passive skills unlock, but in the opening few hours these factors combine to change the flow of combat quite a bit.
In the original The Division it was pretty easy for me to post up on one side of an environment and push through to the other, making lateral moves from cover to cover as I went. This time around the enemies have found ways to sneak around and flank me on a regular basis. As a consequence, I’m forcing myself to maneuver faster and more purposefully than ever before.
One feature that I’ve been playing with today is called “parkour mode.” It cuts down on the stickiness of cover by making your character automatically vault over low obstacles if they’re running. It’s going to take a bit of time to change my muscle memory, but so far I can see the potential for much more fluid advances and retreats.
Weapon choice matters
Weapons feel much more defined this time around. In The Division, there wasn’t all that much separating an assault rifle from a scout rifle. Both worked well at either medium or long range. In The Division 2 — at least on PlayStation 4, where I’ve spent the majority of my time — aiming feels a lot less sticky. That means scout rifles are really only effective for poking at stationary targets behind cover.
Meanwhile, shotguns have been dramatically improved. A semi-automatic model, so long as it’s at an appropriate level, is hands down the best way to deal with enemies up close. Where that leaves submachine guns, which were effectively uber-weapons in the previous game, I’m simply not sure.
Another big question in my mind is the role of light machine guns. In The Division, they were practically worthless. So far in The Division 2 I’ve been happy with their ability to suppress enemies. Once you’ve got them zeroed in, it just takes a few short bursts to fix someone in place, pinning them down and showing the word “suppressed” in bright white letters over their head. But actually doing damage with them has proven extremely difficult.
The role of tech has expanded
After the opening few levels in The Division, Strategic Homeland Division (SHD or “shade”) tech sort of faded into the background. Seeker mines were just as good as a grenade in most circumstances and stationary health kits were simply a timed area of effect buff. This time around, tech seems to play a much bigger role.
Take turrets for example. The beta includes two different styles, an assault and a sniper variant. They’ll happily plug away at enemies once you deploy them, but you can also assign them to a specific target on the fly with the press of a button. As a solo player, it’s the equivalent of having a teammate who actually listens to you. In a small group, it allows a single player to hold a flank much better than ever before. High-level players will find all kinds of clever uses for the feature, I’m sure.
There are also synergies to be found between different types of tech, which are mounted to your character as skills and in pairs. The healing drone, if left to its own devices, will repair your armor. But you can also assign it to repair your turret, which seriously improves its resilience against incoming fire.
Even more surprising, I quickly found that the enemies had access to some of the same tech that I do. Some enemies lobbed seeker mines in my direction very early on, while others drove flamethrower-wielding RC cars with deadly effects. I’m curious to see what other surprises lay in store with boss encounters down the line.
It’s easy to play together
The launch of The Division in 2016 was rife with technical errors. It was practically impossible to participate in cooperative missions when the game came out, and persistent matchmaking bugs plagued the game well into its second year. The same can’t be said for The Division 2.
Multiplayer just works.
I had very little difficulty joining in with other players on the fly. Better still, it was easy to form parties while outside of the base and actually run the missions that I wanted to run. While playing solo, the game also encouraged me to ask for help from the other players by sending out calls for aid. On more than one occasion other players actually showed up, helping me to push through a difficult encounter.
The result is a game that feels simultaneously like a solo and a multiplayer experience. That should pay dividends early on by helping to galvanize the community.
The storyline feels apolitical, but that could change
I listened hard and read a lot throughout my roughly four hours with the game today, but so far I can’t really get a handle on what The Division 2 wants to say about our modern politics at all.
To many, that probably sounds like a good thing. But refusing to have a perspective in a game about the life and death struggle for our nation’s capital in 2019 could just as easily be a liability for Ubisoft.
In the fiction of this world, the SHD is a sleeper cell of highly trained commandos embedded in all walks of life. When the call comes from the executive branch, SHD agents answer by unswervingly bringing their version of law and order to the streets. In the original game, that meant uncomfortable encounters with armed minorities, some of which were all to happy to point out that the player might not be on the side of liberty and freedom after all.
Lurking in the background of the story in The Division 2 is a president, the commander in chief who activated the SHD in the first place. Suffice it to say, I’m very eager to learn more about his motivations… or lack thereof.
Apex Legends, the free-to-play battle royale game from Titanfall developer Respawn, continues to have a strong opening week. The game has now crossed 10 million players, with a record of more than 1 million concurrent players, Respawn announced in a blog post.
“This has been a truly incredible journey. We tested and tweaked. We argued and agreed. We got to a point where we felt some magic. We knew it would be risky to take the franchise in this direction, to go free to play, and do a surprise launch,” Respawn founder Vince Zampella said. “But we fell in love with Apex Legends and wanted, needed, other people to play it too.”
He added that the massive success of Apex Legends so far has exceeded the company’s “wildest dreams.” Zampella went on to say that launch is “just the beginning” for Apex Legends. As announced previously, the title will offer a Fortnite-style battle pass that will deliver seasons’ worth of new content over time.
In fact, Respawn said it hopes the game can live on until 2027 or longer. Players can expect “exciting changes and gameplay evolutions” for the game as it progresses.
By comparison, the latest statistics from Epic Games show that Fortnite has 200 million players and a peak concurrent record of 8.3 million players. But Fortnite is a sensation unlike almost anything else.
Apex Legends was announced and released earlier this week on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It was a quick success, as it picked up 1 million players in eight hours, going on to reach 2.5 million players not much longer and a peak concurrent user record of 600,000 players. As today’s numbers demonstrate, the game is enjoying a nice growth trajectory, and it’ll be interesting to see how much bigger the game becomes over time.
Apex Legends is far from the first competitor to Fortnite and PUBG, but it’s different in that it comes from a massive, established publisher in Electronic Arts.
In addition to Apex Legends, Respawn is working on something new in the Titanfall universe to release later this year, though whether or not it is the much-requested Titanfall 3 remains to be seen. Additionally, Respawn is developing a Star Wars game called Jedi: Fallen Order, and it is also slated to launch in 2019.
I love Sims challenges, but I never finish them. I’ve resolved to change that. I’m trying out the Sims 4 Black Widow Challenge, and I’ll be streaming it in hopes that an audience will keep me honest.
The Black Widow Challenge was created by the simmer Simalot, and the rules are simple. You make a Sim with the Snob, Materialistic, and Romantic traits, find them a would-be husband, marry that guy, and then kill them. Then you do it again, and again, until you’ve killed ten husbands. There are a few other rules and a complex scoring system, but that’s the gist.
The Sim I made, Scarlet Emery, is gorgeous, and during my first stream with Tim Rogers, I got her to ensnare her first husband.
I’m not usually a Sim killer; I usually prefer to play out large, successful families. This challenge caught my eye after I watched Lilsimsie’s Let’s Play series on it, in which she accidentally murdered the love of her black widow’s life, after which point she made it her mission to make ambrosia and bring him back from the dead (yes, you can do that in The Sims 4). There’s so much room for comedy, even with all the murder involved.
I’ve already kinda fucked up my first attempt. I met two eligible bachelors out at the bar, and one of them was a rich professional chef. Your black widow isn’t allowed to get a job, so marrying money is key. I ended up proposing to the wrong guy. Oops. He’s doomed anyway.
Every week on Thursdays I’ll be returning to this challenge until I rack up my ten kills. I can only hope for more misadventures along the way.