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Bungie shows off Destiny’s first healing hand cannon

Over the past nine months, Bungie’s added four different Exotic hand cannons to Destiny 2. In a new trailer the studio released today, Bungie showed off the fifth. But this new hand cannon, Lumina, is the series’ first ever support weapon.

Lumina is the first Destiny Exotic to focus mainly on healing allies — although it can deal damage to enemies as well. The trailer shows off gameplay of various teammates using the weapon’s Exotic perk, Noble Rounds.

When players defeat an enemy, they can buff their Lumina hand cannon. With the buff active, players can shoot the gun from the hip to send a healing orb to a nearby ally and increase their damage.

In its recent ViDoc, Bungie spoke about focusing on the RPG elements of Destiny. With the new Well of Radiance Warlock Super from last fall and Lumina, it appears the studio is taking the first steps toward a dedicated healing role in Strikes and Raids.

The gun looks like a rose, with golden thorns poking out between its cracks. Based on a datamine, it appears the weapon is also the reverse of the infamous, evil Thorn hand cannon. In the quest, players will cleanse the original weapon of Darkness to create this new weapon of Light.

In last week’s Bungie blog, the studio hinted that players can start their quest for Lumina in the EDZ location. The Lumina quest comes out on July 2 for Destiny 2: Forsaken Annual Pass owners.


It’s 2019 and I’m still learning new things about Breath of the Wild

Over the past year, I’ve started following more than a dozen social media accounts dedicated to one thing: finding new Breath of the Wild glitches. Most of these exploits are small, unremarkable: something where it shouldn’t be; or Link doing something odd. But every so often, Breath of the Wild glitch hunters develop incredible finds.

Take this recent beauty, for instance. Twitter user usapanda_G takes a mine cart contraption, and uses it to electrify multiple enemies at once. I had no idea this was possible.

It makes sense, though, doesn’t it? Breath of the Wild is an incredible game because it sets up simple rules (metal will surge with electricity) and takes these mechanics to their most natural conclusion (maybe you shouldn’t run around with a sword during a thunderstorm.) As players, we take pleasure in finding out all the ways an edict will play out in the world, in off-the-cuff circumstances.

In this case, usapanda_G uses an electric weapon to charge the flying vehicle, like so:

Neat, right?

I don’t share this purely because it’s cool, though it is. I’m sharing this because more and more I realize that the games that stick with me the most aren’t the ones that are merely good, or amazing. The games that I fall in love with feel like perennial experiences that you can never truly be done discovering. It’s games that, no matter how many times you play them — or how many hours of footage you view — you will never know everything about them. The people dedicated to Breath of the Wild glitches have seemingly been playing the game non-stop since release. Even for hardcore devotees who long ago technically 100-percented the game, there’s still so much left to do and see.

I think, for instance, how intimately I’ve come to know Super Mario 64. Even now, people are still playing, modding, and learning about how the game is built. I know that you can make Mario duplicate items he holds on his hands. I know that there are parallel universes that make the magic happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if I know Mario 64 better than Miyamoto at this point, as absurd as it may be to suggest. You might, too.

People already talk about Breath of the Wild as a classic that deserves placement in the video game pantheon, right alongside games like Super Mario 64. And sure, I played Breath of the Wild and thought it was fantastic. But it’s not until I look up, realize it’s 3 a.m., and I’ve spent hours looking at obscure Breath of the Wild glitches or shrine skips that I understand how deeply I’ve fallen for this game. In the same way I might memorize a lover’s body — a mole here, a scar there — the perennial game offers a quiet, understated intimacy. There are no small details here, only new reasons to fall deeper in love.


Switch’s Next Tetris 99 Tournament Is A Splatoon Crossover

Nintendo has announced the next in-game competition for Switch’s free battle royale-like Tetris game, Tetris 99. The fifth Maximus Cup kicks off next week, on July 12, and this time around, the event will be a collaboration with another first-party Switch game: Splatoon 2.

To commemorate Splatoon 2’s final Splatfest event, which takes place later this month, the next Maximus Cup will be themed after the colorful shooter. The event runs until 11:59 PM PT on July 15. Players who amass at least 100 event points during that time will unlock a special in-game Splatoon theme in Tetris 99.

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Tetris 99 is free to download and play for everyone who has a Nintendo Switch Online membership. Subscriptions for the service are available for $4 USD per month, $8 USD for three months, and $20 USD for 12 months. Nintendo recently released a $10 Big Block DLC that adds two offline modes, so non-members can also play Tetris 99 (provided they purchase the DLC). However, you’ll still need a membership to take part in the game’s Maximus Cup events and to play against other players online.

Splatoon 2’s final Splatfest, meanwhile, kicks off the following week, on July 18. Fittingly, the final event features an apocalyptic theme, pitting Team Order vs. Team Chaos. The Splatfest will also last much longer than normal, running for 72 hours. During the first 48, each Shifty Station stage from previous Splatfests will return to the rotation, with a brand-new stage appearing during the final 24 hours. Following the Splatfest, Splatoon 2 will receive a 5.0 update in late July.

Tetris 99 surprise launched this past February and garnered attention for its novel battle royale-inspired take on the puzzle series, but it won’t be the only Tetris game of this kind for much longer. A 100-player Tetris game called Tetris Royale is in development for mobile devices. The game is slated to launch in beta form in “select territories” later this year and will feature leaderboards, as well as daily challenges and a solo Marathon mode.


The Coolest-Looking Fighter In Samurai Shodown Is Unfortunately Shit

Screenshot: SNK

Since its inception in 1993, the Samurai Shodown franchise has had its share of standout characters, like a child-eating demon, a quick-draw swordsman with tuberculosis, and a weird little dude named Nicotine Caffeine. For me, the coolest guy in the series is Kyoshiro Senryo, and although he managed to make the cut in last week’s release, this beautiful fighter has already earned the distinction of being the worst character in the game.

Kyoshiro Senryo has been part of the Samurai Shodown franchise since the very beginning, putting him in the company of iconic franchise mainstays like Haohmaru and Nakoruru. While he doesn’t typically play a huge role in the series’ overarching narrative, Kyoshiro’s background in kabuki theater helps him stand out among the stern-faced warriors that make up much of the Samurai Shodown cast. He incorporates the graceful movements of his art form into a fighting style that also features a deadly spear, fire-breathing, and the ability to summon a giant toad. These aspects of his design have only become more striking in the franchise’s recent PlayStation 4 facelift, but when it comes to competition, knowledgeable players have come to the conclusion that he sucks.

Longtime fighting game player Mike “Olaf Redland” Spragg has studied the latest Samurai Shodown since it was first revealed back in September 2018 and has been putting together extensive guides and sharing his thoughts online. He recently collaborated on a preliminary character ranking with fellow competitor Cory Bell (who went on to place second during last weekend’s side tournament at CEO 2019), detailing the pair’s early thoughts on how the game’s cast shakes out power-wise. It’s a pretty typical list, with various tiers marked A through D to designate each character’s relative strength compared to the rest of the roster. Kyoshiro, however, was given a ranking of his very own at the very bottom: TRASH.

“[Kyoshiro] has to take far too many risks for his reward,” Spragg explained to Kotaku via direct messages. “Often times, his reward is low or average, but with moves that have far more startup or recovery than other characters, making them easy to react to or punish. Crouching Medium Slash has as much startup as some Heavy attacks, his projectile doesn’t recover until it has traveled its full distance, and his uppercut attack (which lacks any invincibility and misses crouching opponents entirely) can be chased and punished easier than many other characters.”

Samurai Shodown is all about calculated risks. With mechanics like Rage in play, very few attacks are completely safe, and much of the game boils down to reading your opponent’s next move. Adding an extra layer of risk to an already stressful game effectively stifles Kyoshiro’s ability to compete on the same level as the rest of the cast. It hasn’t always been like this—by all accounts, Kyoshiro was pretty damn good in Samurai Shodown V Special, the franchise’s most relevant outing—but somewhere along the way, the graceful kabuki dancer seems to have made enemies on the development team.

That isn’t to say Kyoshiro doesn’t still have his fans, even among top players. Julien “Wolfgang” Ingram, who has a history of playing unconventional characters like Sean in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and Blanka in Street Fighter V, is part of a growing Kyoshiro defense force. He has very publicly stated that Kyoshiro is not trash, as many believe, and he even went as far as to change his Twitter name to “KYOSHIRO IS NOT TRASH” at one point to share this opinion with the world. Ingram admitted to Kotaku that Kyoshiro has a lot more risk associated with his moveset than the rest of the roster, but he doesn’t think that this hampers him as much as others would have you believe. In Ingram’s mind, Kyoshiro is a highly defensive zoning character and needs to be played in a very specific way in order to succeed.

“Apart from the rest of the cast, he’s one of the few characters I believe will survive in the meta based on how you like approaching certain situations with his unique moveset,” Ingram explained over email. “While not having many cancelable normals, it’s to be warranted that he’s generally not an up-close fighter without risk of exploiting a few setups that can fool even the most seasoned of Samurai Shodown vets. He should be played very methodically and unorthodox, taking advantage of players asleep behind the wheel.”

Fighting game developers now have the luxury of patching post-release, meaning Kyoshiro need not remain a bottom tier character for the rest of Samurai Shodown’s lifespan. Spragg believes the character would benefit greatly from applying a short window of invulnerability to his uppercut to improve its usefulness as an anti-air, as well as some added damage or improved startup on his frog command grab. Meanwhile, Ingram would like to see Kyoshiro receive a fake fireball akin to Haohmaru’s, which could be used to bait opponents into jumping over a projectile that isn’t actually coming.

“It feels to me that they were worried about Kyoshiro being too strong out of the gate, probably for fear that he would annoy new players, so they preemptively nerfed him,” said Cory Bell, who partnered with Spragg in creating the aforementioned tier list, via email. “It just doesn’t make sense to me, though, because almost all the tools they removed from him, other characters got to keep their similar (if not better) tools. Samurai Shodown is still an amazing game and I love it, but it definitely feels like some of the lower tiers could use improvements.”

Fighting game tier lists are often built over the course of years, with thousands of matchups between various top players serving as the foundational research. As such, it might seem too early for anyone to have these opinions of Kyoshiro, since this is all based on just a week of time with the game. Still, Spragg justified that it’s a little easier to suss out the competitive viability of legacy characters. Kyoshiro lost in the same areas a lot of other characters gained, making the differences in each of the fighters’ power levels more readily apparent for players who are already intimately familiar with the Samurai Shodown franchise. The 2019 release is a completely different game, sure, but there are enough similarities to make an educated opinion possible very early into its life.

As far as Ingram is concerned, he plans to stick with Kyoshiro for the foreseeable future. He’s already found a modicum of success at his local events, and his history with characters who are widely considered weak has given him the dedication to soldier onward.

“If I can get top 8 with Kyoshiro at my local’s first Samurai Shodown weekly versus other solid players when everyone doubted him, you can play anyone you want and do fine,” Ingram added, summarizing his thoughts as a Kyoshiro fan. “It just takes hard work that you have to be willing to put in, regardless of what anyone says. As a friend once told me: In the end, the game is about player skill, and being able to read your opponent as opposed to their character. If you have that talent, it doesn’t matter. Cross-eyed gang unite!”

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


Guide: NBA 2K20 Pre-Order Bonuses, Legend Edition, Release Date

NBA 2K20, the latest in 2K’s ongoing annual basketball franchise, will arrive on September 6 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. It will also be available on Google Stadia when the tech giant’s game streaming service launches later this year. A new trailer also heralds the integration of WNBA players into the game for the first time in the series, although the extent of that integration is not yet clear.

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat will grace the cover of the game’s standard, Digital Deluxe, and Legend editions. Davis was previously one of three cover athletes featured in NBA 2K16.

Check out the contents of each version and where you can get it below:

NBA 2K20 pre-order bonuses

Pre-ordering any version of NBA 2K20 includes a collection of in-game items and currency, depending on whether you purchased the Standard, Digital Deluxe, or Legend editions. What is included for pre-ordering each version is listed below.

Pre-Order NBA 2K20 Standard Edition

In addition to the base game, both physical and digital Standard edition pre-orders of NBA 2K20 include:

  • 5,000 Virtual Currency
  • 5,000 MyTEAM Points
  • 5 MyCAREER Skill Boosts
  • MyPLAYER Clothing Capsule
  • 10 MyTEAM League Packs (doled out one per week)
  • 5 MyTEAM Heat Check Packs (doled out one per week at the start of the NBA season)

NBA 2K20 Standard Edition for PS4 — $60

NBA 2K20 Standard Edition for Xbox One — $60

NBA 2K20 Standard Edition for Switch — $60

Pre-Order NBA 2K20 Digital Deluxe edition

At time of publishing, the Digital Deluxe Edition is much less widely-available than either of the other two versions. In addition to the base game, pre-ordering the digital deluxe edition will also include:

  • 35,000 Virtual Currency
  • 10,000 MyTEAM Points
  • 10 MyCAREER Skill Boosts
  • MyPLAYER Clothing Capsule
  • 10 MyTEAM League Packs (doled out one per week)
  • 10 MyTEAM Heat Check Packs (doled out one per week at the start of the NBA season)
  • 1 Sapphire MyTEAM Cover Athlete Card

NBA 2K20 Digital Deluxe edition for Xbox One — $80

NBA 2K20 Digital Deluxe edition for Switch — $80

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Pre-Order NBA 2K20 Legend edition

In addition to the base game, pre-orders of both physical and digital Legend editions will include:

  • 100,000 Virtual Currency
  • 50,000 MyTEAM Points
  • 20 MyCAREER Skill Boosts
  • MyPLAYER Clothing Capsule
  • MyPLAYER Apparel Collection
  • MyPLAYER Shoe Collection
  • 20 MyTEAM League Packs (doled out one per week)
  • 20 MyTEAM Heat Check Packs (doled out one per week at the start of the NBA season)
  • 5 MyTEAM Theme Packs (one per theme across the next five releases)
  • 2 Sapphire MyTEAM Cover Athlete Card

NBA 2K20 Legend edition for PS4 — $100

NBA 2K20 Legend edition for Xbox One — $100

NBA 2K20 Legend edition for Switch — $100


The Best Speedruns From SGDQ 2019

You have not truly lived until you’ve watched speedrunner MitchFlowerPower play through Grand Poo World 2, one of the most brilliant and devious takes on Super Mario World I’ve ever seen. Mitch’s genius platforming was just one highlight of this year’s excellent Summer Games Done Quick marathon.

Summer Games Done Quick 2019, a week-long speedrunning extravaganza, ended yesterday after raising $3 million for charity. As usual, it was chock full of top-notch video game playing (and breaking). Here are some of the highlights.

Grand Poo World 2 by MitchFlowerPower

This is just an astonishing speedrun, made remarkable by the precise level design, MitchFlowerPower’s incredible skill, and commentary from the game’s developer, Barb, who’s sitting on the couch the whole time. If you can watch only one speedrun from SGDQ 2019, make it this one.

Invictus by Dode

Ever think you’d see a Super Mario World ROM hack with wall-dashing and double jumps? Just like Grand Poo World 2, this run is a combination of tricky platforming, great design, and couch commentary from the developer.

Super Mario World blind ROM hack relay race – One Tile Men vs. Lunar Magicians

If you’re not sick of watching custom Kaizo Mario speedruns just yet (and how could anyone ever be?), this blind relay race is another must-watch. The only thing more precise than the platforming is the runners playing musical chairs as they go.

Chrono Trigger – puwexil

Puwexil is one of the best RPG speedrunners on the internet, and if you watch him play through all of Chrono Trigger you’ll see why.

Half-Minute Hero by dowolf

I think it’s fair to say that Half-Minute Hero was designed for speedrunners.

Super Mario Bros. 2 by coolkid

When I was a kid, I could barely even make it past the first world of Super Mario Bros. 2, so watching someone beat the entire thing in less than half an hour is pretty damn mindblowing, not going to lie.

Rockman 4 Minus Infinity by Kuumba

I’ve gone through the entirety of this Mega Man ROM hack speedrun and I still don’t fully understand what’s going on, but I do know that it was a whole lot of fun to watch.

Minecraft by illumina1337

Speedrunning Minecraft might seem like a fool’s errand given the level of randomness involved, but illumina1337 makes it look like a blast, random number generators be damned.

Link to the Past + Super Metroid Randomizer by Andy and Ivan

If you haven’t yet had the experience of watching the fiendish crossover of Link to the Past and Super Metroid, with all item locations completely randomized, give this one a watch. It can feel a little grueling—just imagine playing it!—but runners Andy and Ivan are entertaining enough to make this a great run.

For the rest of the speedruns, check out GDQ’s YouTube channel.


Fortnite Week 8 Secret Fortbyte #97 Location Guide (Season 9 Utopia Challenge)

We may be nearing the end of Season 9 of Fortnite, but Epic’s hit battle royale game shows no signs of slowing down. Not only is the 14 Days of Summer event underway (which has its own set of challenges to complete and rewards to unlock), Week 8’s challenges are now live on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices, giving you another opportunity to earn Battle Stars and level your Season 9 Battle Pass up.

If you can finish all seven tasks from a given week, you’ll also complete one of this season’s Utopia challenges. The reward for doing so is a special loading screen that leads to a free item hidden somewhere around the game’s map. Each odd-numbered Utopia challenge you complete will lead you to a free Battle Star, which levels your Battle Pass up by one full tier. Even-numbered Utopia challenges, on the other hand, will point you to a Fortbyte–a new type of collectible introduced in Season 9.

Unlike the aforementioned Battle Stars, you don’t need to actually complete the Utopia challenges in order to find the Fortbytes; you can pick them up as long as you have a Season 9 Battle Pass and know where to go, but they won’t actually appear in the game until that week’s challenges have gone live. That’s the case with Fortbyte #97, which is now live (albeit a little later than anticipated).

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As is the case with previous Fortbytes, the clue for #97 isn’t hidden within the Week 8 loading screen itself, but rather its description, which reads: “Peely and Jonesy first met at Bao Bros. and instantly knew they would be friends forever.” This is your clue to head to the dumpling shop in Lucky Landing. The shop itself is easy to spot; you can tell it apart by the giant angry dumpling head spinning on its roof. Head inside, then make your way downstairs to the gym and the Fortbyte will appear.

There are a few weeks left in Season 9, so you still have some time to catch up on any outstanding challenges from this season. If you need help completing them, you can find tips and guides for all the trickier ones in our full Fortnite Season 9 challenges roundup. We also have guides for the 14 Days of Summer challenges to help you clear those. If you manage to complete all 14 by the time the event ends, you’ll unlock a special smoothie back bling.


Platinum Games On Making A New Kind Action Experience With Astral Chain

Platinum Games has enjoyed a close relationship with Nintendo of late. The partnership has already resulted in the release of a Wii U-exclusive sequel to Bayonetta, while Bayonetta 3 is also in development for Switch. But the studio’s next game, Astral Chain, is its first brand-new property created for Nintendo’s console-handheld hybrid. As such, it aims to do things a little differently.

While the core of Astral Chain looks unmistakably Platinum, it’s not specifically in the mold of the studio’s traditional action games. This time, it seems Platinum wants to make a game that features more RPG elements and, in doing so, it could perhaps attract a different audience.

We spoke to director Takahisa Taura, who previously worked on the critically acclaimed Nier: Automata, about how the studio came up with Astral Chain, how it represents the DNA of Platinum Games as a studio, and some of the newer elements it’s introducing to its tried-and-true action gameplay.

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GameSpot: Platinum has a lot of wild ideas for games; where did the idea for Astral Chain come from?

Taura: The biggest [thing for me], as far as the concept is concerned, was to control two characters at the same time, with our main character [and] the Legion. With Platinum Games what we’ve made up until now has generally been games where you control one character at any given time, so I thought maybe if you increase the number of characters the player is controlling, it’ll become more fun.

Platinum’s games are about precision and having tight windows to execute moves. How does having a second character impact that?

The Legion that you call into battle generally fights on its own. So while it’s fighting you could do things like work together with it, right alongside it, or you can run around and let it handle the fighting. So it may not be as complicated to play as it looks.

But, having said that, there’s also a way to control the Legion directly at the same time. So you can get the feeling while you’re playing that you are controlling two characters at once if you want to.

So is it a simpler mode where you just control one character, and then for those who have a history with Platinum Games or are inclined towards those types of action games there’s a trickier version, and that’s where the depth is?

Well, they’re kind of two sides of the same coin as far as controlling one or the other. Essentially you can control one and have the Legion do the fighting for you or you can control both at the same time.

As far as a separate mode for players who aren’t as experienced with this kind of genre is concerned, there is a mode where the Legion [is] more active in helping the player out, and that’s made so that players who aren’t as experienced can make it to the end of the game.

There’s always a symbiosis between how a Platinum game plays and the story around it. Something like Vanquish, for example, is a sci-fi story, but it is built around this ability to slide around everywhere. And the fiction of Bayonetta feels like it’s designed just so we can have a character that can manipulate time and be a witch. How do you come up with your stories and what comes first, the story or the mechanic?

First, you have the mechanics of the game. And you establish something like, there are five types of Legions, which there are in this game. And then you have other ideas within the game world, that there’s a good Legion called the Arm Legion, and the Arm Legion has the ability to move objects, and the Beast Legion has the ability to be mounted. And so you create parts of the world that respond to those.

And there are other abilities that you can do as well. Like you can send your Legion out and have them pull you over to different things. And so you think of all these systems and that’s fun to do. And having these things available in the real world that the game takes place in is kind of hard to do, so for that we created something called the Astral World, which is a key part of this game. Essentially that came into being as a place where you can do all these fun Legion abilities and then it was added to the [story] of the game from there.

And it’s not like we just leave things as they are. At that point, we make sure, having established the system and scenario, that you interweave the two of them and that’s exactly how we did it for Vanquish. That’s also the way we did it for Bayonetta.

Because [in Astral Chain] the player plays as a police officer you can gain points by doing things like picking up empty cans on the streets and throwing them away or helping the people in the town. So, those kinds of systems were things we were able to do because of the scenario and setting, as well.

What pushes you to create this mad game where you’re this space anime cop and at the same time there’s a mechanic where the player is doing menial tasks like picking up cans?

We just wanted to create a world where you can have lots of different play styles. And it’s not like you’re forced to pick up these cans or anything, but we just wanted to give players the option to do that within this world. And if you don’t want to pick them up, you can just run at them and kick them.

It just reminds me of when I was younger and I would be watching Dragon Ball Z and there’d be a massive fight for the fate of the universe, but every now and then Chi-Chi would appear and be like, “You need to take care of Gohan and make sure he’s studying,” and the entire time I was thinking, “But he’s trying to fight for the universe, why would you be worried about something so meaningless in the grander scheme of things?”

Actually, I should admit that we are kind of going for that kind of, I don’t know if you should call it a gag or kind of a surreal quality in what we’ve made here. In addition to picking up the cans in the street, there are also other elements like you find lost cats, and you take care of them as well.

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Are you tracking that stuff? Is there a leaderboard that shows players that are most helpful in those smaller tasks?

There’s no leaderboard or anything like that but you [will] feel better about yourself.

Platinum’s always going over the top. Have you ever thought about going in the opposite direction and making a straight-laced experience that’s grounded in more realism?

Until now [our games] generally have the player fighting and fighting and fighting and that just keeps going on, but in this game we wanted to have aspects that were not that kind of thing, where they resembled more of an adventure mode type of thing, where it calms down and the player can ask questions. We wanted people who generally aren’t used to Platinum Games to be able to see that side of it as well.

You mentioned it briefly earlier but in that spirit of trying to bring in people who may not be super into or very knowledgeable about this style of action game, are you planning to include a one-button-style control option again?

There is a simpler system like that for people playing this game who aren’t used to Platinum Games titles. But we are going to announce more details about that system at a later date, so please look forward to it.


The Challenge of Making and Marketing Spider-Man: Far From Home, When No One Could Know What It Was About

Wait, what just happened? That should be the face for everything in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Photo: Sony

Spider-Man being dead wasn’t a huge problem. One would think killing the main character of a movie about year before its release would be exactly that but, for the team behind Spider-Man: Far From Home, it was not. Instead, it was just the first part of a long-in-place plan to raise the stakes for not just one movie, but at least three.

“I was one of the lucky few people who knew what was going to happen in Infinity War and Endgame a long time ago,” Far From Home director Jon Watts told io9. “So this movie was developed knowing that we would be dealing with the immediate fallout of the events of those films. It was always a part of the story but it is a little stressful knowing those kinds of spoilers and not being able to tell anyone for a really long time.”

To recap, in May 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Peter Parker disappears from existence when Thanos uses the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of the galaxy. A year later, in May 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Peter would be brought back, only for him to witness the death of his mentor, Tony Stark. All of those events were crucial building blocks for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which was being released mere weeks after Endgame.

“Because Infinity War and Endgame had been developed over so many years and had been shooting earlier, it was pretty much set,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told io9. “So the notion of the sacrifices, of Tony, the blip, all of that was pretty well set for a long time. So we brought Amy [Pascal, producer] and Jon Watts and our writers Chris [McKenna] and Erik [Sommers] up to speed on it to start developing the movie.”

Spider-Man swinging with a few of his friends in Avengers: Endgame.
Photo: Disney

In Watts’ first Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker leaned heavily on the mentorship of Iron Man, Tony Stark. That relationship then carried over into both Avengers movies. Now though, with Tony dead, it was crucial for Far From Home to use those emotions to guide Peter, but not become too beholden to them.

“We had to deal with the events of Endgame and especially how the loss of Tony Stark is going to affect Peter,” Watts said. “But we had to also maintain the fun, high school tone we had established in Homecoming. So that was part of the challenge. But loss is such a big part of what makes Spider-Man who he is in the comics. So there was definitely a way to embrace those iconic stories from the comics and find a way to bring them to life, just in a slightly different way by using Tony’s death instead of Uncle Ben.”

So that’s how the story was conceived on the creative side, but there was also a whole other problem.

“It was always like, how are we going to market this movie?” Watts said. “How do you make the first trailer when the character is still dead?”

New suit, who dis?
Photo: Sony

The answer, according to Watts, was, “Very carefully.”

The task fell to the team at Sony, a studio Far From Home producer Amy Pascal used to run. And Pascal told io9 that, again, though you may assume it was a huge problem to market a movie with a dead main character based on an ultra-secretive mega-franchise, it wasn’t that at all. (The spoiler-free first trailer is below.)

“It wasn’t a balance at all because we knew what the story we were going to tell was from the beginning,” Pascal told io9. “Tom [Rothman, current studio head], everyone at Sony and everyone at Disney, it was something that we all did together. Obviously, it was really important to protect Endgame and not come out with anything before that movie came out. But I think it worked out great for both movies because, obviously, Endgame was great for Spidey…It worked out for everyone.”

It certainly did. There’s little doubt the shocking cliffhanger of Avengers: Infinity War helped drive Avengers: Endgame to become one of the highest grossing movies ever. And the momentum from that is almost certainly going to roll into Far From Home, which will be the first place the aftermath of that heroic victory will be seen and felt.

Jon Watts and Tom Holland on the set of Far From Home.
Photo: Sony

On the other hand, this movie isn’t called “Avengers: Far From Home.” While the impact of Endgame is crucial for a bunch of reasons, it couldn’t be the whole movie. It’s a movie about Spider-Man. Feige gives full credit to Watts for figuring out the perfect way to link everything in a short, sweet, Spidey way.

Some minor spoilers from the film, which opens tomorrow, follow.

“[It was] the genius of Jon Watts tapping into the great ‘A Film by Peter Parker’ at the opening of Homecoming, which brings you up to speed after [Captain America:] Civil War,” Feige said. “He was like ‘Well, this is a ton of stuff. Let’s just do the school news at the beginning that gets it out in a fun and engaging fashion but tells the audience what they need to know based on Endgame.’ And it seemed like a gift to be able to have that conceit he had established in Homecoming come in very handy post-Endgame. And, obviously, Peter Parker dealing with the loss of his mentor and he needs to step out of the shadow of that and become his own hero became the backbone of the story.”

Which leads us to Spider-Man’s new mentor, Mysterio, but that’s a story for another time.

Spider-Man Far From Home opens July 2.

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Hearthstone’s Next Expansion, Saviors of Uldum, Launches In August

Hearthstone will be rolling out its next expansion in August, titled Saviors of Uldum. This marks the middle chapter in a three-part series of expansions that are all thematically linked. Just like the last expansion, Rise of Shadows, this next one brings back some familiar characters, along with some new mechanics. It will launch on August 6.

Saviors of Uldum takes place immediately after Shadows, after the villain Rafaam and his League of EVIL have made off with the floating city of Dalaran. They’ve sailed it over to the desert area Uldum, where the League of Explorers are ready to stop their schemes. The foursome includes Reno Jackson, Elise Starseeker, Sir Finley, and Brann Bronzebeard. (They were first introduced in the League of Explorers expansion in 2015 as a foil to Rafaam.)

As usual, the expansion will introduce a handful of new mechanics. This one will include a new keyword, Reborn, which will bring minions back to life with one remaining health the first time they’re destroyed. Powerful Plague spells for Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Warlock, and Rogue will impact the entire battlefield equally.

Finally, Saviors of Uldum will bring back Quests for the first time since the Journey to Un’Goro expansion. These one-cost Legendary spells will always start in your hand, and give you a goal to pursue as you play. If you achieve the goal, you get a big reward. This time, though, the quest reward will trigger automatically, rather than generating a card into your hand. Blizzard promises more familiar mechanics will be returning as well.

The expansion will once again introduce 135 new cards, and pre-purchases will net you some bonuses. The standard bundle ($50) will include 50 packs, an Elise Starseeker card back, and a random Golden Legendary. The mega bundle ($80) will include 80 packs, card back, random Golden Legendary, and an Elise Starseeker Druid hero portrait. You can also log in within the first 90 days of the expansion’s launch to get a free random Quest card.

The single-player portion of the expansion is planned to launch in September. Upon Uldum’s launch, the Arena will rotate to include Basic, Classic, Saviors of Uldum, Rastakhan’s Rumble, Journey to Un’Goro, Kobolds & Catacombs, and League of Explorers. You can attend a pre-release Fireside Gathering between August 2-5 to open your packs early.