Beholder is an acclaimed indie game for PC whose dystopian themes and conflicted choices are similar in tone to Papers, Please. That makes the filmmakers behind the short adaptation of Papers, Please the perfect pair to take on Beholder.
Liliya Tkach and Nikita Ordynskiy’s film launched yesterday, on YouTube and Steam, and like last year’s Papers, Please it tells a thought-provoking story that requires the viewer to pay close attention to a lot of visual suggestions. There’s no dialogue in Beholder (the movie) but even if you haven’t played the 2016 indie hit by Warm Lamp Games, you can follow the desperate quandary of the film’s namesake.
The “Beholder,” in both film and game, is Carl, the building supervisor of an apartment in some totalitarian state, somewhat like the Inspector of Papers, Please. His job is to spy on tenants and report violations of government directives or other suspicious behavior. But, as Carl, the player must also see to the needs of his family, which forces the player either to break government orders (with attendant risk), blackmail his tenants or watch his family suffer. In this film, we get all three.
The arc here centers on a mission Beholder players will recognize: Carl’s daughter, Anna, is chronically ill and needs a medicine, “Liebespirit,” that is forbidden by the government. One of his tenants has a bottle. From there we proceed to the conflict and its nihilist resolution.
Beholder, published by Alawar Premium,launched in late 2016 and won Best in Play at GDC Play 2017, among other honors. Its sequel, Beholder 2 (also developed by Warm Lamp) arrived in early December for Windows PC and Mac and is available on Steam right now.
Several months ago, I installed Animal Crossing: Pocket Campand haven’t missed a single day since. It’s unusual because I’ve never played any Animal Crossing games before, and didn’t care for Pocket Camp when it first came out. Now it’s a daily 15 to 20 minute reprieve from my life; I greet my animal friends, we exchange gifts, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something in my day. But in the last month, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp rolled out new features that seem strangely counterintuitive to its friendly core, the very thing that attracted me to it in the first place.
The addition of a parcel delivery service along with an option to skip non-transactional dialogue were introduced as a way to streamline gameplay. This means that if you don’t feel like making your way to Breezy Hollow to see — let alone talk to — your friend, you don’t have to. If you do happen to interface with them, you can also check a box to skip their effusive gratitude when gifting them an apple or whatever they asked for.
I admit that I’ve kept the “skip” box checked lately, but the introduction of the delivery service surprised me. Why would I want to miss the Terminator-like glowing eyes on my bunny friend when she catches a fish by the pier? Or the impish smirk of a cat who wants to know if you have any good gossip?
Out of curiosity, I tried the delivery service. I pulled up the map and tapped the Pete the Pelican icon hovering above my campsite. A number of “Have Pete deliver” buttons came up, and I tapped on a request for Merry. Immediately, I was taken to the rewards page. I received a bundle of cotton and flower seeds in exchange for sending a monarch butterfly to Merry. That was it. I never saw or heard from her. Was she even there? Is she alive?
I thought of the single-diner ramen chain, Ichiran. Diners are led to single-occupancy booths with partitions on each side; within minutes, a piping hot bowl of ramen emerges wordlessly from under a bamboo curtain in front of your seat. You never have to interact with another human being. This quiet, streamlined approach is present in a lot of areas today: ordering meals, hailing a cab, shopping online, etc. And while my socially anxious self relishes the options for minimal human contact, the idea of streamlining my friendships — my one moment of reprieve — defeats the point.
I want to hear the bad puns and the food-obsessed commentary from my animal friends. I like seeing their animations when they get self-conscious or shy. I like aimlessly wandering an area just to hear snow crunching under my shoes. Seeing these cute friends is a highlight of my day.
The new features are completely optional, but using them ultimately drains the color from what makes Pocket Camp so vibrant. The tiny flourishes that Nintendo assigns to each of these personalities is what makes the game so special — missing them would be a travesty. Besides, how else will you see Terminator bunny?
Capcom has released some new stats about Resident Evil 2. Most of these stats are what you would expect, number of kills or time played. But Capcom is also tracking some weirder in-game actions, like how many players are staring at a specific dead body.
RE2 has been out for just over a week and already players are racking up some impressive numbers. On ResidentEvil.net, stats show that players have killed 214,667,754 zombies, which according to Capcom is more that the combined populations of the UK and Japan.
Players have also fired a lot of bullets. The total weight of all those bullets adds up to over 60,000 tons. Players aren’t just shooting enemies though, they’re also using their knives. Fans have killed nearly over 28 million zombies and other baddies using just a knife.
One of the stranger stats Capcom is tracking is how often fans are getting a cockroach surprise. At one point in the game, players can open a morgue locker and find a huge amount of giant cockroaches. This has happened over 178 million times. Another strange stat Capcom shared is how many times fans have stared at the corpse of the mayor’s daughter. 29% of RE2 players took a nice, long stare at her dead body.
You can find more interesting stats, like how over 75% of players are starting the game with Leon, at ResidentEvil.net.
“Yoshi’s Story” is an extremely smallSuper Smash Bros. stage that first appeared in Smash Bros. Melee. Now it’s in Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the organizers of Genesis 6 have decided to make it playable in one of Smash’s biggest annual tournaments this weekend, showing a healthy willingness to experiment when it comes to the game’s evolving rulesets.
Smash Bros. Ultimate includes 103 different stages for players to battle across; 305 if you include all of their Battlefield and Omega variants. Tournament organizers try to set rules that help narrow that selection down, but since the game’s only been out for eight weeks, nothing is set in stone. As a result, Yoshi’s Story will be one of 11 stages top players can fight on at Genesis 6.
Not everyone has been in favor of the addition. While some players like the idea of using a new game in the series to try and mix things up, others are opposed to anything that could introduce more bias into the equation, and note that the stage is otherwise quite similar to the standard Battlefield stage. Since it’s relatively easy to got knocked off the screen in Yoshi’s Story and the stage isn’t completely flat, some characters like Marth or Fox arguably have an advantage. Some Smash fans feel that’s unfair. Others don’t know the meaning of the word and would be happy to see pro players battle it out on nothing but chaotic nightmare stages like “WarioWare, Inc.” Only time will tell what the best balance between keeping things equitable and indulging in the game’s whimsical idiosyncrasies will be.
Genesis 6 kicked off today, with matches going until 1:00 a.m. Eastern Saturday morning before resuming later that day at 1:00 p.m. Top eight will take place on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. You can watch the main matches for Smash Bros. Ultimate streaming on VGBootCamp’s Twitch channel, with a full list of times and streams for the rest of the games and matches available on Smash.gg.
Outside of Nintendo’s platform fighter, there’s also a big Gears of War 4 tournament going on this weekend. The Mexico Open, featuring a $200,000 prize pool, will see dozens of teams, including both top sides like Optic Gaming, competing in the Gears Pro Circuit’s first event of 2019. Play began Friday and resumes on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern and the same time on Sunday. You can watch that tournament live on the Gears of War Twitch channel.
Oh, Overwatch has pianos now? Well, Fortnite scoffs at that musty 18th-century instrument, with its corporeal ivory keys and termite-vulnerable wooden body. Fortnite players can create entire worlds that are instruments.
Fortnite’s creative mode allows players to deploy and arrange music blocks, which make certain sounds when characters move past them. A recent update added new ones, and now players are taking their musical Ninja Warrior courses to the next level. Case in point: this astoundingly elaborate obstacle course that plays “Megalovania,” aka the theme of Sans from Undertale, created by math2607. Yes, this song has been done to death to the point that it, too, is a skeleton, but holy crap:
For something a little more chilled out, here’s the intro to “Billie Jean,” as created by Jonnie Cutlet:
Thermite_ recreated a pirate song more popular than any actual sea shanty—the Pirates of the Caribbean theme:
Music blocks make “Saria’s Song” from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time kinda weirdly intense, but I still dig William Bonin’s creation:
And of course—of course—here’s “All Star” by Smash Mouth, which is not a phrase I ever saw myself writing in articles twice in 24 hours, but 2019 has already been a harrowing year for us all:
SteamedSteamed is dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s PC gaming service.
If you look at a list of the Steam games with the all-time highest concurrent player counts, you’ll mostly see the usual suspects: PUBG, CSGO, Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto V, etc. An outlier, however, hovers on the outskirts of the top ten. It’s called Geneshift, and it got there because of the hard work of one man—and also a relentless army of bots.
The bots, to be clear, did not belong to Geneshift creator Ben Johnson, who’s spent nine years on his top-down GTA2-inspired multiplayer game, which came out in early access in May 2017. The bots were made by people who use them to idle in games that drop Steam trading cards, which bot users then sell on the Steam marketplace to turn a cash profit. It’s a known issue that Valve has tried to curtail, but with only marginal success.
The first time the bot swarm turned its heaving mass of electric eyes on Geneshift was due to a confluence of events. On December 16 of last year, Johnson made his game free-to-keep for 24 hours as part of a promotion to build a player base for a new battle royale mode. It’s not uncommon for bots to idle on games that lop off their price tags, but Johnson posted about his promotion on Reddit. The thread was massively successful, gaining 66.5k upvotes.
This turned Geneshift into a lightning rod, according to a follow-up post by Johnson, that sent more than 200,000 bots in the game’s direction. There were so many bots that Valve temporarily disabled its trading cards altogether. Prior to that day, Geneshift was peaking at player counts of less than 10. Overnight, itbecame one of the most concurrently-played Steam games ever, entering the top ten with a peak of 213,183.
At the time, Johnson was more surprised than anything.
“[This] somehow placed Geneshift on the top 10 leaderboard for the most played games on Steam… OF ALL TIME!” he wrote in a post on Steam last December. “This is totally ridiculous and again, these are not real players, but as a single dev this just blows my mind.”
Since then, Geneshift has fallen out of the top ten, albeit only narrowly, landing just one spot behind For Honor’s 216,499. However, the bots have returned on multiple occasions. To the befuddlement of Johnson and Geneshift’s player base, the game’s trading cards weren’t re-enabled until January 14, at which point—even without any Reddit thread or other attention to speak of—its player count shot through the roof again. This time, it jumped from 20-50 concurrents to a peak of 114,920. It was less than before, but still a boatload by most measures of both boats and loads.
Since then, the bot swarm has dissipated—for the most part. In the past few days, the game’s seen more unusual activity. Before January 29, Geneshift’s player count had been hovering around 350 concurrents. Since then, it’s jumped up to 1,100-1,600. It’s likely that bots are still involved—just hundreds of them, instead of hundreds of thousands.
At this point, Johnson is mostly happy to peacefully coexist with the remaining bots, though he does have some concerns. On the upside, his December promotion and the furor that followed brought in thousands of new real players, and he told Kotaku over email that the community is now “more active than ever before.” Steam’s algorithm, is a temperamental beast, so he’s worried the bots might leave a lasting impact on how it perceives his game.
“The algorithm will provide exposure and recommend games based on a number of factors, such as rating, refunds, and average play-time,” Johnson said. “The play-time one is the one I’m concerned about, as the median play-time now will forever be locked at exactly 5.1 hours due to the sheer volume of bots who idled the game for exactly that amount of time. Whether this is a good thing or not, I’m not sure.”
At this point, there’s not really much Johnson can do about it. Having Valve disable trading cards again, he said, would only upset his customers, and while it feels “messy” to him having all these bots just chilling in his game, them’s the breaks. “Ideally Valve could somehow distinguish between real players and only disable the cards for the bots,” he said. “But I’m assuming they can’t do this or they’d have done it already.”
On the whole, Johnson thinks this episode has done more good than bad for Geneshift. He’s gotten an influx of new players and plenty of useful feedback that he’ll be able to use to improve the game over the next few months. He’s also great fun at parties now.
“The bot swarm also gives me a fun pub story,” he said. “I can jokingly claim to have had more ‘players’ than PUBG at one point in time.”
These days, most video games get a regular stream of updates full of bug fixes, balance tweaks, and new content. Even Nintendo has made a habit of patching all of the games it publishes. There’s just one glaring exception: Super Mario Party, which is still on version 1.0.
Few major first-party Nintendo games have felt like they’ve needed downloadable content as badly as Super Mario Party. The game only has four boards, a weak showing even by the standards of the series. It would also benefit from new characters and mini-games, as well as some sort of additional online mode. Currently, you can only play standard matches offline.
In its recent earnings report, Nintendo announced that Super Mario Party for the Switch has sold 5.3 million copies since it was released on October 5, 2018. That puts it at number seven on the current list of the console’s top 10 best-selling games, well ahead of 1-2-Switch (2.86 million), Mario Tennis Aces (2.53 million), and Kirby Star Allies (2.42 million). Unlike those games, however, Super Mario Party has never received any updates and Nintendo hasn’t announced any downloadable content.
Part of the reason this seems so strange is that Nintendo has put a much greater emphasis on the life of its games after release in the Switch era. Nintendo added motorcycles to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and balloon races to Super Mario Odyssey. Even Snipperclippers, one of the Switch’s smaller launch titles, received new worlds and puzzles several months after release. Mario Tennis Aces which came out last June, has received a fair number of balance patches and new characters in the months since then, the latest of which came out today and adds Boom Boom, one of Bowser’s minions, as a playable character. Kirby Star Allies, a somewhat mediocre game at launch, has also benefited from post-release content, including three mini-expansions throughout 2018 that added new characters and challenge levels.
So why are Kirby fans being treated like royalty while Mario Party players are being left behind? Back when Super Mario Party launched, Kotaku reached out to Nintendo to ask about the company’s post-release plans for the game but never heard back. Nintendo did not comment again this week when asked about the matter following the release of its earnings report.
Last week, I stumbled upon Overwatch porn. I wasn’t looking for it—I know as much about Overwatch as I do about sports, cars, or how to talk to my parents about what I write—but it’s not hard to stumble across porn when browsing the gigantic nudity repository that is the internet.
NSFW Warning: This post is so incredibly NSFW, even though I tried really hard to crop the images for minimum genitalia. FOLLOW THE LINKS AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
The first time I saw Overwatch, I assumed it was a Pixar trailer. Widowmaker and Reaper sparred with Winston, a cartoonish gorilla scientist, while Tracer zapped around in the background, giggling like a cockney kid in a candy store. It was goofy, not sexy—the butts that would, over time, become polished and pert like glistening hams were just functional posteriors back then. Times were simpler. I am less innocent now.
There were a few things that stood out to me while I browsed through the surprisingly broad selection of Overwatch porn.
Firstly, to absolutely no one’s surprise, the people doing the penetration in almost every video are headless, which is to say that they have the implication of a head, but they’re all cropped off. Evidently, no one’s interested in the person who managed to get into Mercy’s panties, as long as they’re packing something big enough to put a permanent look of lusty worry on her face—you know, the one that says “oh dear, I think I can feel you brushing up against my lungs.”
Secondly, everyone in Overwatch is incredibly flexible. Legs over heads, backs arched like someone in dire need of a chiropractor, and the ever-popular tits-and-ass angle that movie posters love so much. It’s hardly surprising that fictional CGI characters in porn are able to bend their bodies like sweaty fuckpretzels, but it makes me feel 90 years old. One particular clip featured Pharah being double penetrated, and I just couldn’t stop worrying about perineal tearing.
But thirdly—and most importantly—the quality is so very, very high. My knowledge of video game-related porn extends about as far as that live-action Pokémon porn with the haunted Pikachu-Pennywise creature that doesn’t so much scream “sexy” as it does just regular screaming. But Overwatch porn is a genre all of its own: created by a small number of Patreon-funded animators who are able to recreate, in loving detail, what Mercy might look like if she was getting a sudsy dicking in the shower.
Overwatch porn—which is no means the only type of video game porn of this quality that I found—is fully animated, usually about 10-30 seconds long, usually voice acted, with impressive audio design that captures all the gross body noises that might happen during sex. Sure, the boobs might be overly jiggly, and some of the gasps of pleasure are a little too close to sobs, but the animation is amazing—subtle movements of flesh and hair, detailed fabric simulations, lifelike surfaces, realistic lighting—some of these animators are making almost $6,000 a month on Patreon for their work, and I’m not surprised. Even if someone needs to tell them that buttholes aren’t usually that spacious.
I realize that many of you have probably heard of, or seen, Overwatch porn, and therefore to you this post might read like a toddler patiently explaining the nuances of using the Big Boy toilet to his parents. But, as someone who wasn’t really aware that 3D animated porn existed in such quality, quantity and specificity, I’m impressed—even if you, dear reader, are over it.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and daisies in Overwatch porn-land. It has a lot of the same issues as the porn industry as a whole. Pharah always seems to be portrayed as far whiter than she is, Brigitte is heavily slimmed down, and there’s no sign of Zarya and very few videos involving Mei. It’s clear that the people making these videos are into a very specific, predominantly white, and almost always skinny version of women.
Why is that bad, if that’s what these creators and their audiences are into Well, if the porn industry—and the game industry—showcases conventionally attractive, thin white women over all other body types, races, gender presentations, and so on, that’s going to become the default for desirability. That default, in turn, affects the self-esteem of people who don’t look like that, as well as the general consensus on what’s considered “hot,” which is to say, “acceptable.”
There’s also a fair bit of really nasty homophobia and transphobia that I found amongst some of the creators of Overwatch videos. Apart from how bigoted and wrong it is to be like that in the modern day, it’s always dismaying to see porn dominated by assholes in more than one way. Straight men aren’t your only audience, you know.
There is, of course, a conversation to be had about the sinister nature of photorealistic CGI porn. In an age where we can recreate Grand Moff Tarkin and get rid of Henry Cavill’s moustache, it doesn’t take a genius to know the road we’re heading down—and we may already be there with the rise of deepfakes. Let’s just hope people stick to fantasy characters for as long as possible.
Like many loot-based games, Anthemhas six different item rarities that determine the quality of the gear you find. Items can all come with “inscriptions” that impact various attributes like flight time, carried ammo, and more.
The higher the rarity, the more inscriptions show up on a piece of gear:
Common – 1 inscription
Uncommon – 1 inscription
Rare – 2 inscriptions
Epic – 3 inscriptions
Masterwork – 4 inscriptions
Legendary – 4 inscriptions (unconfirmed, could be higher)
Masterwork and Legendary gear pieces are the most interesting Anthem has to offer, with unique perks and abilities built into them. However, the difference between them is subtle. Masterworks and Legendaries come with the same perks, but Legendaries are far more rare and have better stats and inscriptions. If you’ve played Diablo 3, the Ancient items system is similar.
Players can combine these gear pieces to create varied builds where gear pieces work together to complete specific tasks. For example, focusing on big single-target damage or clearing large groups of low-level enemies. Lead producer Ben Irving confirmed on Reddit last month that there will only be one Masterwork per gear type at launch. However, more will be added post-launch.
In a stream from December, Irving and producer Darrin McPherson showed off several different Masterwork pieces for a Ranger. Other gear pieces have been discovered through Twitter at events around the world and even some datamining from the VIP demo.
Here is a complete list of Masterwork and Legendary items we’ve seen so far, along with the unique perks and abilities they grant. As more are revealed or discovered in game, we’ll update our list. Note:Components are effectively armor pieces that grant passive perks. The other Masterworks and Legendaries are tied to javelin abilities and weapons.
Not all Masterwork items have unique perks, some are just higher level versions of existing weapons.
Airborne Advantage: Gear recharges 50 percent faster while hovering
Combined Arms: Defeating an enemy with your assault launcher gear increases grenade damage by 50 percent for three seconds
Defensive Bulwark: Getting three kills or more in a small window of time instantly regenerates the Javelin’s shields
Tip of the Spear: Unleashing the Ranger’s Ultimate increases all gear damage by 50 percent for five seconds
Vanguard’s Badge: Melee kills instantly restore shields by 20 percent
Ranger-Exclusive Assault Launchers
Argo’s Mace (Blast Missile): An electric explosion occurs after an enemy is defeated by any means
Avenger’s Boon (Pulse Blast): Melee damage is increased by 110% for 20 seconds after striking an enemy
Recurring Vengeance (Seeker Missile): Ability cooldown is refreshed when defeating an enemy — can only happen every 7.5 seconds
Last Argument (Frag Grenade): Getting two kills or more reduces the Ultimate cooldown
Explosive Blaze (Inferno Grenade): When afflicting two or more enemies with fire, creates a flame explosion
Ranger-Exclusive Support Gear
No Masterwork or Legendary support gear is currently known.
Catalytic Overdrive: Gain 40 percent additional ability damage for 20 seconds when detonating a combo
Emblem of Destruction: Ultimate multi-kills of five or more increases Ultimate recharge rate by 3,300 percent
Grand Entrance: When hard-landing on the ground (likely crashing or landing from high up without slowing down), an explosion erupts around the Colossus
Colossus-Exclusive Heavy Assault Launchers
Best Defense (Siege Artillery): Armor is restored by 35 percent when striking an enemy with a rocket
Fist of the Crucible (Flamethrower): Stacking up to five times, flamethrower damage is increased by 40 percent for 10 seconds after defeating an enemy
Colossus-Exclusive Ordnance Launchers, Support Gear and Heavy Weapons
No Masterwork or Legendary Colossus-exclusive gear for these slots is currently known.
Token of the Master: Damaging an enemy with a Focus Seal increases the damage of the Blast Seal by 60 percent for five seconds
Mark of Wrath: While the focus seal is on cooldown, the blast seal’s ability damage is increased by 50 percent
Amulet of Winter: Afflicting an enemy with ice will increase weapon damage for 20 seconds by 20 percent
Tome of Precision: Electric damage is increased by 60 percent for five seconds after killing an enemy with a sniper rifle weak point shot
Storm-Exclusive Focus Seals
Chaotic Rime (Frost Shards): Freezing an enemy grants the Blast Seal 125 percent increased damage for 20 seconds
Ten Thousand Suns (Burning Orb): Stacking up to 20 times, gain 5 percent additional damage for five seconds whenever an enemy is hit
Storm-Exclusive Blast Seals, Focus Seals, Support Gear
No Masterwork or Legendary Storm-exclusive gear for these slots is currently known.
Elusive Talisman: Using triple dash reloads the equipped weapon
Talisman of Power: Hitting enemies with Strike System gear will increase the damage of Assault System gear by 50 percent for five seconds
Interceptor-Exclusive Strike Systems
Sudden Death (Tempest Strike): A flame explosion occurs when striking an enemy
Sanadeen’s Respite (Plasma Star): Restores 5 percent shields when striking an enemy in their weak point
Interceptor-Exclusive Assault Systems, Support Gear
No Masterwork or Legendary Interceptor-exclusive gear for these slots is currently known.
Death From Above: Striking an enemy weak point while hovering increases damage by 65 percent
Ralner’s Blaze: Lights enemies on fire after multiple shots
No Masterwork or Legendary universal gear is currently known.
Here are a few examples of possible inscriptions on any of these gear pieces. Irving stated there are around 100 different inscriptions that can roll on gear pieces.
Heat damage (all fire damage)
Weak point damage
Assault rifle ammo
Thruster life (hover duration)
Gear recharge time
Marksman rifle ammo
Ammo drop chance
Health per pickup
It’s worth mentioning that damage bonuses and inscriptions stack. For example, 10 percent flight time on one piece and 25 percent flight time on another would combine to be 35 percent.
As of this writing, Anthem has yet to be released. All of these items could change between now and the game’s official release. There are also some details that are unclear. For example, it seems that components can only have two inscriptions at once, even at higher rarities.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ new map, Vikendi, has been on live servers for a little over a month now. While players already seem to be having a good time on the snow-covered map, it seems that PUBG Corp. isn’t quite done adding to it yet. In that latest patch, which came out on Jan. 31, a secret cave full of loot was added to the map.
The cave is hidden away in the northeastern part of the map, in a small unassuming field.
There are three separate entrances to the cave, at these three spots, but each one is crowded with rocks.
The only way to uncover these hidden entrances is to drive a vehicle or throw a grenade into the pile of rocks at any of these three entrances. After the rocks are blown away, a small tunnel will be revealed. Keep in mind it will still be difficult to see, as it’s carefully camouflaged by the side of the mountain.
Once inside, there are piles of loot, including guns and armor sitting loose on barrels and on the floor. Finally, at the center of all three tunnels is a giant cave with several of the game’s signature red crates. Normally reserved only for air drops, they’re simply sitting around, full of loot, waiting for someone to find them.
While reaching this loot cave is complicated by any measure, getting there with other players around is even tougher. While the impulse to try to get to the cave first in a game can be tempting, it’s sometimes better to come along later, after others have opened it up and just try steal the loot from whoever got there first. Either way, whoever comes out of the cave alive will have some of the best loot in all of Vikendi.