New Overwatch Event Makes Your Choice Of Skin Matter

Overwatch League, the official competitive scene for Blizzard’s team shooter, is pitting fans against each other to win the honor of topping the teams. The winning team gets to take over the official OWL Instagram account.

From May 27-31, equip an Overwatch League team hero skin and take part in Quick Play or Competitive matches. Each match you complete earns one point for the team you’re representing, and the winning team will be announced on June 3. It all works similar to Splatoon‘s Splatfests, which tie team colors to surveys.

The announcement notes that you must complete a match for your point to register, including overtime. It’s okay if you need to switch to a different hero, as long as you were wearing a team skin at some point during the match. It also doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the Home or Away skin. You can also contribute points on Twitter by tweeting with the #MyOWLTeam hashtag and tagging your favorite team. Blizzard promises that stage three of the event will begin on June 6, but it didn’t specify exactly what that will entail.

This is run concurrently with the middle of the Overwatch Anniversary event, which runs through June 10. As usual that has introduced a bunch of new skins, as well as other cosmetics and rotating brawls. Still, if you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Gladiators or the Philadelphia Fusion, you may want to put aside your Honeydew Mei or Gargoyle Winston temporarily and support the team.


Mortal Kombat 11, One Month Later

It’s been one month since the release of Mortal Kombat 11. One month of arguing over microtransactions. One month of nightmare-inducing violence. One month of cringing every time Sonya Blade opens her mouth. The first month of what’s sure to be years of very good fighting. Here’s what happened in that month.

  • On April 20, three days before Mortal Kombat 11‘s launch, a post on the Test Your Might fan forums detailed some early issues with the game. Problems cited included poor difficulty tuning in the game’s Towers of Time challenges and poor rewards for completing said challenges. There was also a punishing gear system requiring that players spend substantial time and in-game gold to augment equipment and randomized loot drops in the game’s Krypt, making earning character-specific skins, fatalities, and equipment more difficult.
  • The Test Your Might post was aggregated on Reddit shortly after it was posted, becoming a warning to players about Mortal Kombat 11‘s “draconian” grind walls. The post suggested the random Krypt rewards and difficult challenges were purposefully designed to steer players towards real-money microtransactions. In reality, the game’s microtransactions turned out to be pretty reasonable.
The game’s premium shop features five rotating items for sale every 24 hours.
  • Mortal Kombat 11 launched for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on April 23. Gaming sites, including this one, praised the game for its accessibility, phenomenal tutorial, and emotionally-charged story mode. Review site Metacritic was swamped with negative user reviews, many citing rampant monetization and microtransactions that, once again, do not exist. Other subjects touched on in negative user reviews include the desexualization of the game’s female characters and a perceived “SJW” agenda, illustrated by an arcade story ending in which the character Jax goes back in time to prevent slavery.
  • The Nintendo Switch and PC versions of Mortal Kombat 11 aren’t quite in sync with the Xbox One’s and PlayStation 4’s. While developer Netherrealm Studios focused on the PS4 and Xbox One, QLOC created the PC version and Shiver Entertainment handled the Switch port. This lead to inconsistencies between the versions at launch. Some moves worked differently in the PC version, and the Nintendo game launched without character-specific tutorials. Subsequent updates have brought all versions of the game more in line with one another.
  • On the day of the game’s launch, Netherrealm promised a patch to reduce the difficulty of the Towers of Time challenges and increase rewards for completing in-game goals, making unlocking new items in the Krypt easier. On April 26, publisher Warner Bros. released a road map covering upcoming patches and updates for all four versions of the game. The updates also rewarded early players for their patience, giving them a pile of in-game currency to help unlock items in the Krypt. Patches rolled out over the next couple of weeks, first to Xbox One and PS4, with Switch and PC straggling behind. The PC version got its most recent patch on May 14, reducing the requirements for completing character towers.

While it got off to a bumpy start, Mortal Kombat 11 seems to be doing just fine.


Another PC Game Is Free At Humble, And It’s A Strange One

Humble Bundle has been on a roll with its free game giveaways recently, and the latest limited-time freebie is Jalopy, a simulation game about a man and his uncle on a road trip through Eastern Europe. To claim the game for free, all you have to do is sign up for Humble’s newsletter, and you’ll receive a DRM-free version of the game for Windows PC via email. If you’d prefer a Steam key, you’ll also receive a coupon to buy it for $1 between May 25 and June 1. The offer is only available to redeem for a short time, so claim it soon if you’re interested.

Get Jalopy for free at Humble »

In Jalopy, the player character and his uncle are driving to Turkey, where his uncle needs to be dropped off in Istanbul. A “jalopy” refers to a car that’s old and barely functional, so it’s fitting the game revolves around your car, a Laika 601 Deluxe that frequently breaks down and requires constant monitoring. From the amount of weight in your trunk to the state of the car’s engine, every factor affects how well your car will fare against the difficulties of the road. You can upgrade your car’s parts, but you’ll have to find the money for it first.

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“It’s a very good sign for a game when even losing is fun. Even when you find yourself on the wrong side of a bad decision, staring at a broken bridge miles from anywhere with no fuel, in the rain while the sun is setting, you can’t help but laugh,” said Danny O’Dwyer in GameSpot’s video review of Jalopy. “Like a banged-up car, [the game] is challenging, but Jalopy has a wonderful sense of charm.”

There is a story underlining the bizarre road trip taken by your character and his uncle, but it’s best to just dive in and experience what Jalopy is all about for yourself–especially since it’ll cost you nothing to do so for the next couple of days.


The fight between Fortnite star Tfue and Faze is only getting messier

Over the last few days, the video game world has been rocked by a controversy involving a top Fortnite player and an influential lifestyle brand, FaZe Clan. While on the surface the debacle seems like a fight over one player’s contract, the quarrel has huge implications for video game influencers and esports as a whole.

Turner “Tfue” Tenney is a 21-year-old video game athlete who is widely considered one of the best Fornite players around. Not only has Tenney won many Fortnite tournaments and accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money, he is currently also the most-watched Fortnite streamer on Twitch. Recent Fortnite World Cup qualifier broadcasts have Tenney reaching over 230,000 viewers, beating out stars like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Turner’s YouTube channel, meanwhile, garners millions of views with each upload. Tfue may be the most famous video game player on the planet right now.

FaZe Clan, meanwhile, is an organization that represents various esports players across multiple video game franchises, though in many ways, FaZe represents much more than competitive video games. Players brought onto FaZe Clan function personalities in addition to athletes, and much of FaZe’s presence and impact in video games can be seen on YouTube vlogs, not just well as high-level gameplay. This wrinkle in FaZe’s approach to esports is exactly what underpins the problems going on with Turner Tenney right now.

A selection of FaZe Clan’s recent YouTube videos
FaZe Clan

Tenney signed a contract with FaZe Clan in 2018, and subsequently blew up — not just as a competitive player, but as a brand. In 2019, it seems that Tenney has outgrown an organization like FaZe Clan, as he is by far the most famous person on the roster. The problem, however, is that Tenney signed a three-year deal with FaZe Clan, only to later realize that he had signed a terrible deal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Turner can only keep 20 percent of revenue from branded videos, and 50 percent of his touring and appearance fees. FaZe Clan can also claim up to 80 percent of a finder’s fee for deals it brings to the table, and can keep Tenney from pursuing promotions that are deemed a conflict of interest with the brand. This, Tenney’s lawyer claims, makes for an “oppressive” contract that breaks the law. As FaZe Clan is not licensed through the California Labor Commissioner, it cannot dictate employment opportunities for an artist.

Tenney is therefore pursuing a lawsuit — which is notable, because we don’t typically think of esports athletes as “artists.” But given that Tenney livestreams and vlogs his life, much of his brand is tied up in entertainment, not competition. To wit, Tenney has even stated that he may not continue participating in tournaments after the Fornite World Cup this summer. More importantly, however, this lawsuit could set precedent for many other influencers who are not currently protected under the Talent Agency Act, allowing organizations to exploit them under unfair and unlawful conditions.

As this news broke out, the situation between Turner and FaZe got messy. Ricky Banks, who owns FaZe Clan, took to Twitter and YouTube to dispute Tenney’s allegations. Banks maintains that FaZe Clan has only collected $60,000 in earnings from Tenney, despite the stipulations that say that the organization could collect more. The implication was that while the contract says one thing, the friendship between Banks and Tenney ensured that FaZe Clan wouldn’t profiteer off of Tenney. The problem, of course, is that someone’s word can only go so far when a contract has been signed. And with a $30 million Fortnite tournament around the corner, which Tenney has qualified for, there’s no telling if or when Faze Clan might decide to take the percentage of earnings that it is owed.

Banks, for his part, has taken the lawsuit extremely personally, and in a YouTube vlog, took twenty minutes to explain how much he had personally done to invest time and energy into making Tenney into a star. He says that he discovered Turner when he was only getting 100 viewers on Twitch, and nonetheless pushed for him to get high-profile opportunities with parties who were skeptical of his talent. He also took issue with the lawsuit’s initial description of how FaZe Clan allegedly pressured Tenney into drinking and gambling, which he notes are attempts to “destroy my brand.”

As Banks tells it, Turner owes him for all he did, stating on Twitter that “I [fucking] helped him blow up and changed that kid’s entire life. The very least I could ask for in return is he stay loyal to me and the brand that gave him his first real shot.” Regardless of those tensions, Banks and the lawsuit both say that FaZe Clan and Turner attempted to renegotiate the contract. On Twitter, Banks said Turner was offered $1 million per year, “with 0% splits across the board. The only deliverable [for Turner] was to represent FaZe Clan.” No agreement was reached, however, hence the lawsuit.

Tenney’s response to the blow-up came two days later, in a short video where he explains that he signed the contract when he didn’t know any better. “This contract basically allows FaZe at any point in three years, to just fucking take all my hard earnings, all my hard work, and just strip it.” Tenney says that in a way, his lawsuit isn’t just about him, but also about standing up for other players who may be in similar situations. Much of esports involves young kids who don’t always have the means or knowledge to know when organizations are taking advantage of them. One of the most common news headlines in this space involves esports organizations not paying their players, or competitors under extreme contracts.

“What I’m trying to do here is just serve justice to the esports community, the esports industry,” Tenney says. “These kids are getting ripped off, they’re getting taken advantage of … there’s tons of people in contracts this bad, just like me. And I’m the first person to stand up and say this is not okay.”

Tenney urged FaZe Clan to release the contract that he’s under, so that fans can see what’s at stake. So began the hashtag #releasethecontract, which has been trending on social media platforms, where even NFL stars are taking up the cause. Bank’s response was to say that FaZe did indeed plan on showing the contract to onlookers, as he has “nothing to hide” and is now admitting that the original document was “trash.” Before Banks could do so, however, a contract has started circulating on social media that allegedly shows the revenue splits. This document, while unverified, seems to align with the percentages stated by Tenney in the first place.

Right now, the two parties still seem to be at a standstill. Turner seems to want out of the contract regardless of revenue split, and FaZe Clan seems adamant about keeping Turner at all costs. Banks is still urging Turner to sit down with him and talk things through, but if screenshots shared by YouTube reporter Keemstar are legitimate, then it appears that Turner wants to start his own organization. If that’s the case, then there’s nothing that FaZe Clan could offer Turner that would be an adequate compromise.

Wherever this lawsuit ends up, it will be a landmark case for gaming as a whole. While esports continues to grow and become mainstream, the infrastructure that makes it possible has not progressed to accommodate the fact it is now a multimillion dollar business. Bank’s attitude in this context makes sense — a lot of the the industry operates under the guise of good faith and friendships which supposedly override the ugly reality of business. But, at its worst, this attitude acts as a veneer, and masks the fact that players are vulnerable when all they have to defend themselves is someone’s else’s word.


DC Universe Online is coming to Nintendo Switch

Superman, the Joker, Wonder Woman, and more than 300 comic book characters are coming to Nintendo Switch in DC Universe Online this summer, publisher Daybreak Games announced today.

The Switch will make the fourth current platform for the eight-year-old superhero adventure, joining PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. DC Universe Online launched in 2011 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Though the game has changed substantially over the years, it has always been about players creating a hero — or villain — from a deep set of costume and super-power options, and then sending them on adventures in DC Comics’ Gotham City, Metropolis, and elsewhere, interacting with the publisher’s greatest and most familiar super-characters. More than 300 from DC’s stable appear in the game.

“As soon as the Nintendo Switch released, the development team couldn’t help but wonder, what if …?” creative director S.J. Mueller said in a statement. “Long story short, we are so excited for players to take their DC experience wherever they go.”

The most recent updates to DCUO include the Justice League Dark episode, which launched in March; Atlantis, which launched in November; and Teen Titans: Judas Contract last July. DC Universe Online is a free-to-play game, with expansions, certain power sets and other optional content and features sold at a premium. Monthly memberships entitling buyers to everything start at $14.99 a month.


Daigo’s New Controller Causes A Stir In The Fighting Game Community

Photo: Red Bull

Daigo Umehara is arguably the most popular fighting game player of all time. As such, eyes will always be on him when it comes to high-level play. The legendary Japanese competitor caused a stir recently by announcing his plans to try out an unconventional hit box controller instead of his traditional arcade stick at future events.

Hit box controllers are named for Hit Box, the company that first made them popular almost a decade ago. Instead of using a regular joystick, hit box peripherals handle directional inputs with the same buttons that perform attacks. This gives users a better handle on their movement, thanks to the high quality microswitches found in normal arcade stick buttons as well as an easier, faster way to execute complex inputs, like the Z-shaped Dragon Punch motion that is common in many fighting games.

The Smash community has had a hard time coming to grips with these box controllers and debate still rages on as to whether they are fair or make the game too easy compared to a traditional controller. Most of the wider fighting game community has accepted these controllers as legitimate competitive tools, some more begrudgingly than others, for years. That doesn’t mean it was an easy journey, however.

When hit box controllers first started to gain prominence, they were regarded, at best, as shortcuts to pulling off fighting game moves that normally took time and practice to hone. At worst, the use of these controllers was deemed outright cheating. It didn’t help matters when games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3 were discovered to handle simultaneous opposite cardinal direction inputs—otherwise known as SOCDs—in such a way that players who used hit box controllers could block in both directions at once, essentially eliminating the dangers of mixups and crossups.

SOCD is a term that pops up a lot when you’re researching hit boxes. While these types of inputs aren’t unique to button-based controllers—the PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 controller, for instance, can perform the same technique by using the D-pad and thumbstick in conjunction—they do diverge from what’s possible on the fighting game community’s most universally accepted peripheral, the standard arcade stick. To make matters more complicated, the way SOCDs are handled vary wildly from game to game. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 infamously allowed simultaneous forward and backward inputs, while Street Fighter V defaults to forward no matter which part of the controller is being used.

Holding forward on the thumbstick and back on the d-pad (and vice versa) results in forward movement in Street Fighter V due to the way it handles SOCD inputs

In order to standardize SOCD methods, hit boxes typically include what is known as a SOCD cleaner, which organizes inputs in order to provide a consistent output. The most widely used SOCD cleaners make it so that Up+Down inputs default to Up, while Left+Right inputs cancel each other out. Other SOCD methods also exist, most notably the second input priority method, which defaults to the last directional input that was sent to the game. It’s this method that made Daigo’s hit box briefly controversial, but the story began with someone else entirely.

Yusuke “Gafro” Hoshino is a Japanese fighting game player who has found a modicum of success at Street Fighter V events since 2016. After making it out of his group with no losses at the prestigious TOPANGA invitational in October 2018, Gafro shared the layout for his custom hit box controller on Twitter, which has extra buttons for forward and backward movement. This garnered the attention of other Japanese competitors, and Gafro soon began sending out similar builds to players like Keita “Fuudo” Ai and Tatsuya Haitani before eventually opening up an online shop to sell his hit box design. One of these sales was to Daigo, who learned the ins and outs of the peripheral during his regular Twitch broadcasts and soon showcased techniques that weren’t even possible on one of Hit Box’s original hit boxes.

With the added attention of Daigo’s platform, Gafro’s hit box was quickly met with skepticism. Why did it function so differently from what was already known about hit boxes? In response to the outcry, Kevin “Saunic” Souvanheuane, a French competitor living in Hong Kong, explained earlier this week that the hit box Daigo purchased from Gafro used the second input priority SOCD method, which is called the “last win” method in certain circles. Due to this method, Daigo can, for example, perform a Sonic Boom command with Guile (charge back for a few frames and then press forward and a punch button) without ever releasing the backwards input, allowing him to return to charging for a follow-up Sonic Boom immediately.

It’s important to understand that Gafro’s hit box isn’t superior to normal hit boxes, but rather capitalizes on different strengths while forgoing others. Sure, techniques to quickly charge Guile’s special attacks and supers are a breeze, but having simultaneous left and right inputs default to neutral, like in the original hit box controller, helps with things like the high-execution movement techniques of the Tekken series. It’s all a matter of what a competitor prioritizes in their gameplay; in fact, there already exist some hit box controllers that can switch between the two SOCD methods with a physical toggle depending on the player’s needs.

Although Capcom hasn’t responded to a request for comment from Kotaku, I’ve independently confirmed that Daigo will be able to use his Gafro hit box during Street Fighter V competition at Combo Breaker this weekend thanks to a legality ruling by the developer. Since Gafro himself has used his custom hit box at various official events before it became a minor controversy, it’s possible Capcom has had enough opportunity to research its benefits and deem it legal.

Hit boxes—both the official Hit Box product and home-made customs—have walked a difficult road in gaining legitimacy within the fighting game community. When the peripherals first got popular, it wasn’t uncommon for players to demand they be banned from high-level play. But over time, the scene has largely learned to accept and even embrace them. As a longtime fighting game player, it is a little bittersweet to see the traditional arcade stick supplanted, but there’s no arguing the positives of the hit box, from competitive execution to ergonomic function. However, it might be wise for the fighting came community to advocate that fighting game developers adhere to one SOCD method before the community moves further into this increasingly murky gray area.

Ian Walker loves fighting games and loves writing about them even more. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.


X-Men get some love in the new Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 trailer

Marvel’s mutants, the X-Men, their rival Magneto, and his Brotherhood of Mutants, will play a prominent role in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, based on a new trailer for the Nintendo Switch-exclusive game.

While a handful of X-Men were already confirmed for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 — Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Storm — new gameplay footage from the game also shows Professor X students Psylocke and Beast in action against teams of Sentinels. Cyclops and Colossus also appear, but not in playable form (yet). It seems Magneto will join the fight against Thanos’ Black Order, but it’s not clear if he, Mystique, and Juggernaut will also be playable characters.

The inclusion of X-Men is positive news for Marvel fans who like mutants in their video games. Mutant heroes and villains have taken a back seat to characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man) in many recent Marvel games. Notably, 2017 fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite excluded X-Men entirely, despite their history with the franchise.

Now that the film rights to X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Marvel characters are back in the hands of Marvel owner Disney, Marvel video game fans will get to see all (well, almost all) of their favorite superheroes duking it out in future games.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is coming to Switch on July 19.


Gearbox takes a step back in legal fight with former exec

Gearbox Software’s legal fight with its former general counsel Wade Callender has taken a curious turn. The company recently filed a new petition against Callender, minus several claims from its previous petition. Additionally, Gearbox appears not to have followed through on a threat to file an official grievance against Callender.

Gearbox is best known for the Borderlands series, including the forthcoming Borderlands 3. The company is headed up by co-founder and CEO Randy Pitchford, a controversial figure who has been in the news of late, for outbursts on Twitter and for an alleged assault on former employee and Claptrap voice actor David Eddings.

Back in January, Callender filed a lawsuit against his former employer, alleging that Pitchford improperly siphoned $12 million from that company for personal gain. Callender — the former general counsel and vice president of legal affairs at Gearbox — additionally alleged that Pitchford left a USB drive containing “‘underage’ pornography” behind at a company event. Pitchford denies these allegations, and Gearbox called Callender’s suit “meritless.”

Callender’s suit came a month after Gearbox filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that he had failed to repay a loan made to him by the company, and that he had made improper use of company credit cards. In January, Gearbox filed an amended petition that include an extra section in which the company claimed that Callender had revealed company secrets in a “breach of fiduciary duty.”

In a new filing made a week ago in a District Court in Texas, Gearbox dropped that section, which alleged that Callender had breached an “ongoing obligation to preserve confidential information” about the company’s activities. In essence, the section claimed that Callender broke trust with the company by filing a lawsuit, in which company secrets were revealed.

A Gearbox spokesperson declined to comment on the decision. Gearbox’s lawyer did not reply to Polygon’s attempt to contact him.

So far as we can tell, the company has also yet to file a promised grievance against Callender with the State Bar of Texas. A grievance is filed by a client against a lawyer it feels has committed professional misconduct, echoing some of the points made in the lawsuit’s dropped section. According to online legal guide Avvo: “Filing a complaint against an attorney is a serious matter, and should be limited to significant problems.”

In January, Gearbox stated that Callender’s lawsuit was “lies,” and that a “lawyer’s rules of professional conduct expressly prohibit the filing of documents that are knowingly false.” The company declined to confirm whether or not it has filed a grievance. Callender’s page at the State Bar of Texas website shows no indication of ongoing disciplinary action or inquiry.

A spokesperson for the State Bar of Texas told Polygon that it was prohibited by statute from “disclosing disciplinary information unless it results in a public sanction.”

The spokesperson said that a grievance filing would entail holding an initial investigatory hearing and talking to witnesses. It would then entail discovery, depositions, and pre-trial motions.

We’ll keep you updated as these lawsuits work their way through the system.


Pokémon T-Shirt Contest Winner Disqualified, Design Pulled From Upcoming Game

Screenshot: The Pokemon Company (Uniqlo)

Earlier this week, Japanese clothing company Uniqlo announced Chinese artist Li Wen Pei had won its UT Grand Prix contest for designing Pokémon T-shirts. He was set to win $10,000 and have his design featured in Pokémon Sword and Shield, set to come to Switch later this year. Uniqlo now says Wen Pei has been disqualified for failing to adhere to the contest’s rules.

“Uniqlo, the Japenase global apparel retailer, today announces that is has disqualified the Grand Prize winner and another finalist in its Pokémon-themed UT Grand Prix 2019 design contest after learning that the designs in question were not in accordance with the terms of that competition,” the company said in a statement. “Uniqlo will not award the Grand Prize to another entrant or sell merchandise feature the designs.”

Wen Pei’s design included a stylized rendering of a Gyarados sitting above a trio of Magikarp. “Magikarp is the faith in a fan’s mind. Also, the evolution from weakness to mightiness is like a miracle,” he told Uniqlo in his description of the work.

One possible reason the design was disqualified may be that this wasn’t the first time Wen Pei had used the design for commercial purposes, which is against the rules of the competition. According to a translation of a now deleted post on the Chinese social media website Sina Weibo by website Nintendo Soup, Wen Pei had previously sold some phone cases with the artwork on it, and the design then ended up on t-shirts. Wen Pei claimed that its subsequent appearance on T-shirts was due to people pirating his work. In a follow-up post, Wen Pei said that he had explained the matter to Uniqlo.

“Uniqlo may withdraw prizes and/or terminate merchandising of t-shirts with Winning Artworks without prior notice to an entrant, irrespective of the originality of the Artwork submitted by the entrant, if similar artwork is already publicly available from outside Uniqlo stores,” the rules for the contest state.

When asked for comment, Uniqlo would not confirm the reason why Wen Pei was disqualified from the contest.


Animal Crossing For Switch: What We Want At E3 2019

It was long expected, but Nintendo finally made it official last fall: A new Animal Crossing game is in the works for Switch. The company announced the news during a Nintendo Direct presentation back in September, after it was revealed that Isabelle would be joining the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster as a playable fighter. And while we didn’t get any more details about the game beyond a vague “2019” release window, the assurance that a new entry was indeed in development was enough to sate Animal Crossing fans, who had been starved for any kind of updates on the status of the franchise.

Animal Crossing for Switch will mark the series’ first new mainline installment since New Leaf, which launched for 3DS back in 2013, six full years ago. Given this long wait for a follow-up, anticipation for the game is understandably high, and with its release still slated for this year, many are expecting Nintendo to pull back the curtain on the title during its E3 2019 presentation next month. With that still a few weeks away, let’s take this time to look back on everything we know so far about the new Animal Crossing game for Switch, and what we can expect to hear about it at E3.

What We Know So Far

Outside of confirming its existence, Nintendo has shared very few details about Animal Crossing for Switch. We know the game is launching sometime in 2019, presumably during the holiday season. The company also described the title in a press release as a “mainline” installment, not another off-shoot in the vein of Happy Home Designer or Amiibo Festival, which suggests it will feature the series’ beloved mix of town management and life sim gameplay elements. It also seems safe to say that everyone’s favorite capitalist, Tom Nook, will return; not only has he been a mainstay of the series since its inception, he was the sole character featured in Animal Crossing Switch’s teaser trailer. In that video, Nook mentions he needs to “make sure everyone has a nice, new place to come home to,” suggesting he’ll once again be the one who provides you with your lodgings in the upcoming title.

What Is Confirmed For E3?

Nintendo typically doesn’t divulge too many details about its E3 lineup ahead of the event, and that certainly holds true heading into this year’s show. All the company has said thus far about its E3 2019 presentation is that it will take place during its traditional time slot–the Tuesday the expo begins at 9 AM PT / 12 PM ET–and focus on “Nintendo Switch titles for 2019.” Still, while no games have been singled out specifically, Nintendo has a number of big releases lined up for this year, including Animal Crossing for Switch. While it hasn’t been outright confirmed, it seems likely that Nintendo will use its E3 presentation to officially reveal the first details and footage of the new Animal Crossing game.

What We Hope To See At E3 2019

Given that we currently know next to nothing about the new Animal Crossing game, we’re hoping Nintendo devotes a portion of its E3 Direct to finally giving us a glimpse at the title. Since the game is being billed as a “mainline” installment, it’s safe to say it will feature the usual assortment of activities–fishing, bug catching, fossil collecting, home decorating, et cetera–and life sim elements that have served as the foundation of the series since the beginning. Even with this knowledge, however, there are many unanswered questions about the game. Will it once again place players in the role of mayor, as in New Leaf? What new features will it introduce? And will it incorporate any elements from Happy Home Designer, or even the series’ mobile game, Pocket Camp? Hopefully E3 will give us some answers.

Another big question is what “hook” Animal Crossing for Switch will boast. Each game in the series thus far has introduced some distinctive element to help set it apart from previous installments; in City Folk for Wii, for instance, players could travel to a city area where a variety of shops were located, while the aforementioned New Leaf put players behind the mayor’s desk and let them build public works projects, enact ordinances, and have a greater degree of control over the experience. The upcoming Switch game will undoubtedly have some hook of its own, and Nintendo will make a big deal of it when it does finally unveil the title, be that at E3 or during a different presentation.

Beyond that, we will likely also learn some details about the game’s online features. Multiplayer has been an integral component of the series from the start, and Nintendo will want to use Animal Crossing as a vehicle to further drive Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions. Being able to visit another player’s town is all but guaranteed, but what other activities you’ll be able to do together remains to be seen. In New Leaf, players could gather at a tropical island to take part in tours and minigames–will something similar be featured in Animal Crossing for Switch? And will the game give you new online options, such as the ability to set up a secondary home in another player’s town? One thing is for sure–with Animal Crossing coming this year, it won’t be long until we get a look at the game.


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