Tag Archives: game news

Animal Crossing’s escapist fantasy is getting a reality check

Even before it was released, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was widely positioned as a welcome reprieve from the stressors of real life, especially given alienating social distancing measures in 2020. But midway through the year, as police violently disrupt protests across the nation in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, it’s becoming harder for moderators to justify keeping their communities in a total bubble.

Over the weekend, the leading Animal Crossing marketplace, Nookazon, came under fire for disallowing mention of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on its Discord, which currently has over 430,000 members. Members reported having posts with keywords such as ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards) deleted from the server, causing more conscientious members to leave the site. As damage control, Nookazon proprietors released an official statement clarifying that the organization does indeed support Black Lives Matter, adding that “our intention was not to remain complicit or silence views during this political climate — our team was unprepared for a response to current events of this magnitude, which led to excessive moderation.”

As an apology, Nookazon created a dedicated Discord channel to discuss current events. The Nookazon staff also pledged to donate $500 to Black Lives Matter organizations.

But for some, the damage is done — many are urging fans to move onto different websites, such as Nook.Market, which have been more explicit in their support of BLM from the get-go. When you load the website, the top Nook.Market banner encourages people supporting various BLM organizations, in addition to being vocal about their stance on Discord.

The question of what people can discuss in this moment, and whether or not politics belongs in an idyllic game, seems to be weighing on Animal Crossing communities online right now. Groups now must decide what political content to allow, if not reconsider previous stances about banning political content altogether. Comments within these groups often devolve into bickering.

While some fans argue that politics have no place in video games period, much less one like Animal Crossing, folks in charge of these communities sometimes see platforms as a responsibility.

“We are always happy to use the platform we have to amplify causes and voices we care about, no matter how uncomfortable the people who want to ignore them become,” a Nook.Market representative told Polygon over Twitter messages. Other Animal Crossing communities have been following suit, despite controversy.

One Animal Crossing meme group on Facebook with over 500,000 members recently made an announcement post, for example, where it clarified that the group supports the BLM movement.

“All lives do not matter until [Black] ones do too,” the announcement post — which has comments turned off — reads.

“Animal Crossing is a lovely, kind, inclusive game,” it continues. “Our group is also inclusive. If you don’t want to be part of an inclusive group, or you object to the ‘politics’ (aka basic human rights) being discussed here, then this isn’t the group for you.”

At the moment, many brands are voicing similar sentiments about supporting Black voices, and there’s increasing pressure for influencers to speak to their communities about what’s going on. As the nation mobilizes its military and curfews are erected, we have arguably reached a tipping point in the struggle. Where before it was easier to compartmentalize our lives online through things like by private Instagrams or dedicated topic accounts, some people consider the current moment important enough that it’s all hands on deck, regardless of your lane. K-pop accounts are reportedly using their homemade “fancam” videos powers to bring down police apps. Silly social media timelines are “breaking character” to speak up about what’s going on right now. Anything is fair game, because lives are at stake.

One swerving account is the Animal Crossing Struggles Twitter account, which catalogues amusing Animal Crossing woes — like accidentally time traveling and spoiling all your turnips — to its audience of over 80,000 fans. At the moment, the account seems entirely dedicated to speaking about Black Lives Matter, rather than its usual lighthearted fare. “Good gimmick accounts use their platform in order to spread important information regarding systemic racism and police brutality,” the account said on Twitter.

While some people see these progressive shifts as a threat to their escapism, the Animal Crossing community had long ago established the game as a political vehicle. Hong Kong protests have unfolded across international islands, causing New Horizons to be pulled from Chinese retailers. U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used the game to make house calls for constituents. And now, the tropical paradise is home to Black Lives Matter rallies. It’s a natural progression that doesn’t betray the spirit of the game, because this is what it’s been all along.

“We 100% support the fight for Black lives, protests against the police, donations to these causes and bail funds, and demands for systemic change,” a Nook.Market representative said.

Source: Polygon.com

Modern Warfare & Warzone Season 4 and COD Mobile Season 7 delayed

Activision has announced that Season 4 for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone is being delayed. They’ve also announced that the new season of Call of Duty: Mobile is being delayed as well.

The company announced the news on social media channels.

Season 4 for Modern Warfare and Warzone was set to begin on June 3 across platforms with Mobile’s new season set to begin at the end of the week, but the company has decided to delay the release of the Seasons due to the current protests in America.

The company released the following statement across social media, saying “now is not the time.”

A new start date for the Seasons has not been announced.

Season 4 will include a new Operator, Captain Price, new Battle Pass, new MP maps, new weapons, and more for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone when it does officially release.

Stay safe and be kind to everyone.

The post Modern Warfare & Warzone Season 4 and COD Mobile Season 7 delayed appeared first on Charlie INTEL.

Source: CharlieIntel.com

Valorant launch patch adds new agent, new map, and a new game mode

Riot Games officially released Valorant on Tuesday and revealed what’s changing from the game’s beta on launch day.

Along with the usual balance updates, including buffs and nerfs to a few Agents, Riot also introduced Reyna, the game’s newest character, a new map called Ascent, a new game mode called Spike Rush, and several quality-of-life updates that should make the game better for everyone.

This patch is also the beginning of what Riot is calling Episode 1: Ignition. Episodes in Valorant are a little bit like seasons in other games like Fortnite. Each episode will include new features and new content that Riot hopes will feel like a big update to the game.

The biggest changes in this patch come with the addition of Reyna and Ascent. These are the first new character and map to be added to Valorant since the public has had the chance to see and play the game. Reyna is an Agent designed for constant fighting, but if she’s not getting kills she won’t have much utility to help her team. Meanwhile, Ascent is a map set in a Venice-like city with certain areas of the map that can be opened and closed during rounds.

The patch also adds a new game mode called Spike Rush. Spike Rush keeps many of the same mechanics from the standard Valorant mode including the shooting, abilities, and Agents, but the objective is a little different. The intention of the mode, according to Riot, is give players a faster more casual mode that doesn’t take nearly an hour per match, like Valorant’s main game mode.

This patch also brought major changes to several characters. Sage got several more nerfs, continuing a trend for Riot. Sage’s Healing Orb now has a longer cooldown and her Barrier Orb is weaker than it was before. Meanwhile Jett got a few buffs including a longer lasting smoke duration for her Cloud Burst ability. Riot also update Split, Valorant’s least liked map during the beta, to have a more open middle area to make attacking a little easier.

One thing that isn’t in the game at launch is Valorant’s ranked mode. Players who participated in the closed beta had several weeks to test out ranked play, but Riot is holding off on the full release. The ranked mode will be out sometime shortly after launch to give Riot time to make sure the servers are holding up well and that there are no glaring bugs.

Valorant will go live in North America at 7 a.m. PT and 10 a.m. ET. For a full list of all the changes that arrived with Valorant’s launch you can find the full patch notes below.


Valorant patch 1.0 notes

Gameplay and Balance

Agent Updates

Sage

  • Healing Orb cooldown increased 35 >>> 45 seconds

We like how much Sage is able to heal in a single heal, but felt she was able to use it too frequently during a round.

  • Barrier Orb segment health reduced 1000 >>> 800
  • Barrier Orb duration reduced 40 >>> 30 seconds
  • Friendly Barrier Orb walls now show on the minimap

Previous changes to Sage’s Barrier Orb helped give it more counterplay options in pistol/early round but it’s still having too much impact in any given round. Our hope is that the wall stays a powerful stalling tool, but asks you to think more about when in the round you want to use it.

Raze

  • Blast Pack maximum damage radius reduced 2 >>> 1 meters

The Blast Pack has proven to be quite strong, especially when chained back-to-back. By reducing the inner maximum damage radius, we hope to reduce the average damage output of this ability while still keeping it powerful.

Jett

  • Cloud Burst smoke duration increased 4 >>> 7 seconds

We feel like Jett has a strong, irreplaceable value in terms of her ability to deny trades. But we think her team-oriented output is a little too low. This should give her and her team a little more time to work off of her smokes.

  • Tailwind automatically breaks Cypher’s Trapwires after being briefly revealed

Tailwind force is powerful enough that Jett should easily be able to break free of any leash. This should allow her a little more freedom to make that aggressive, but risky play that creates space for her team.

Phoenix

  • Blaze duration increased 6 >>> 8 seconds

We felt like the short wall duration, combined with the long cast time and short range, was forcing Phoenix to play a little too predictably around his wall. We’re bumping this up slightly to give him some more time to work with.

  • Blaze damage: 15 every 0.25s >>> 1 every 0.033 seconds
  • Blaze healing: 3 every 0.25s >>> 1 every 0.16 seconds

These Damage over Time/Healing over Time models are updated to match the recent changes to our other DoT abilities. Additionally, we’ve matched the damage/healing values to be half as effective as Hot Hands, primarily so that the total healing output of these two abilities is at parity (50 health each). We’re also doing this so that Blaze doesn’t become the de-facto “healing” ability compared to Hot Hands.

  • Hot Hands healing: 3 every 0.25s >>> 1 every 0.08s.

Updated the HoT model to match recent changes to the DoT abilities.

  • Curveball max flash duration increased 0.8 >>> 1.1 second

The flash duration is short given how quickly he can get his curveball out on an enemy caught out of position. Even still, it was a hair too short, especially to justify the new 200 credit price point.

  • Run it Back automatically reloads all weapons on respawn

This is closer to a quality of life improvement. Phoenix’s ult often puts him in a position to empty his clips right before getting sent back. It was very jarring for a Phoenix player to wait several seconds to respawn, only to then have to spend another second reloading—potentially under pressure. We think the several second respawn time is enough time to justify an automatic reload.

Omen

  • Paranoia is now equipped instead of quickcast, and hit detection improved, especially at close range

Changed the cast paradigm to reward more proactive use of Paranoia over its previous reactive use case. Enemies will receive a warning when the projectile is fired rather than being in the direct path of it. This should make it hit enemies more reliably.’

  • Dark Cover, Omen now enters a “phaser” world where he can see through walls to place his smokes and pressing RELOAD toggles between phased and normal targeting.

We wanted to provide Omen with a more precise way to place his smokes, especially when verticality is at play. We’ve provided a toggle back to the old view mode as well to make sure we still support the quick, close range smoke playstyle many Omen players have honed.

  • Dark Cover controls have been updated where Omen can now increase smoke distance with PRIMARY FIRE, decrease it with SECONDARY FIRE, and throw smoke with the ABILITY KEY.

Yeah, this might be a difficult control shift for players who main Omen, but in the long run—and for new players—we think it’s more intuitive for the distance to be controlled by one hand on the mouse by default.

  • Shrouded Step, Omen can now see his teleport location on the map and receives an in-world indicator of where he’s targeting when his vision of the point is obstructed.

We want to help Omen understand where he is targeting his teleport, especially when he’s teleporting from out of his smoke.

  • From the Shadow, Omen can now cancel his teleport while in Shade form by pressing the ABILITY KEY again—Omen still loses all of his ult points if he cancels.

We want Omen to attempt plays and create fear for his opponents with his ultimate. Previously, the punishment for using the ult was almost certain death if caught by an enemy, and it pushed the ability into more niche use. Allowing Omen to cancel his ult if he’s in danger at the cost of his ult points will hopefully open more possibilities and value, while still pushing him to try and pick the best teleport spots possible.

Sound Visualization (Audio Attenuation)

  • We’ve brought in more sounds made by Agents under the category of sounds that display their audio distance on the mini-map via the white circle. This includes ability sounds, reloads, spike interactions and more.

Why? We wanted to provide players with the ability to understand when their noise can be heard by enemies and give them an idea of how far the sounds can be heard.

Map Updates

Introducing Ascent

  • Ascent is a map set in Italy that features a large, open middle area that both teams can skirmish over. Mid is a playground for diverse ability use and successfully controlling the area opens additional routes for Attackers to both Spike sites.
  • As our new map for launch, Ascent will be slightly more common in our Matchmaking rotation for the first few days so that you can get more opportunities to play on the map.

Split

  • Restructured mid chokepoint

We felt like Defenders were able to effectively plug up the main choke point in mid for a large percentage of the round. The new layout hopes to alleviate this issue. These changes open up the space quite a bit and provides an additional path to get around stalling abilities on the stairs. It also gives Attackers a few different angles to help siege B Tower and Vents.

  • The train station maintenance crew was able to replace the burned out speaker system
  • A certain frog’s head is now a little warmer

Haven/Bind/Split/Ascent

  • Expanded our new system that combats map exploits to all other maps—this will eradicate anyone trying to escape the playspace
  • Continued to fix level collision in order to enhance the smoothness of the gameplay space
  • Completed draw call optimizations
  • Also continued to block spots for Cypher’s Spycam that prevented counter-play; as always, huge thanks to everyone who helps us find these!

Competitive Mode Update

  • Competitive mode will not be on at launch
  • Similar to our closed beta launch, our initial focus is making sure our service is stable before activating competitive matchmaking. This is also a way to give new players the same courtesy that closed beta players had to learn the game ahead of turning on Competitive. We’ll also make some adjustments to Competitive based on remaining closed beta player feedback. Our plan is to turn on Competitive a few patches into our launch.

Performance Updates

Combat Performance: Addressed multiple causes of framerate dips in combat. These improvements should help the game feel smoother, especially in combat situations on higher-end PCs.

  • Effect pooling added for impacts, gunshots and footsteps. This should reduce frame drops when these events occur.
  • Disabled bullet casings from calculating physics + audio bounces. We’re looking to bring a more optimized version of this feature back in a future patch.
  • Reduce cost of z-pings and death pings by 10x
  • Fixed bug causing 90 raycasts per second when pinging
  • Fixed a bug where NOT opening the options menu every game would cause framerate to drop on a regular cadence

+FPS for mid to high specs: Sped up calculations on the CPU for game and render threads. These improvements will be felt the most on machines with powerful GPUs bottlenecked by their CPU speeds.

  • Optimized minimap for visible elements
  • Fixed bug where minimap would calculate twice per frame
  • Fixed bounding boxes on a variety of VFX, reducing the number of VFX updating at any given time
  • Reduce cost of updating transform on render thread
  • Reworked a variety of HUD elements that were previously built on a particularly slow component

+FPS for low to mid specs: Content improvements that will primarily help low to mid tier specs when rendering the world.

  • Reduced draw calls on all maps
  • Removed non-gameplay impacting map particles on Low and Medium Detail Quality
  • Optimized First Person Shadows to no longer consider lights that do not impact final shadows
  • Removed unintentionally large textures across gun buddies, scopes, silencers
  • Optimized VFX for Characters
  • Omen : ALL ABILITIES
  • Sage : ALL ABILITIES
  • Viper: ALL ABILITIES
  • Closed exploit where Nvidia Inspector could be used to see through Viper and Phoenix wall abilities
  • Added a setting for speaker configuration
  • Additional tooltip clarity around what graphics quality settings actually do
  • GPU Time stat now correctly excludes idle time

Quality of Life

  • Dying to a non-enemy player will no longer grant ultimate points. This includes dying to the spike, fall damage, a teammate’s ability, or your own ability.

Context: This should eliminate some of the weird optimization around farming ultimate points when a death doesn’t have enough economic impact (e.g., self-killing at the end of the pistol round, or team kill at the start of a save round. We’ll continue to monitor to see if we need to further dissuade these “save round self-kills.”

  • Added VALORANT Community Code pop-up for new players
  • Added chat and voice restrictions for repeat offenders of our Community Code
  • Chat and Voice restrictions last 72 hours
  • Getting a restriction will require you to log out. Please take a moment to cool down and reflect before logging back in to play VALORANT 🙂
  • Chat restrictions will be enforced for ‘all’ and ‘team’ chat, but your ‘party’ chat will still be available.
  • Voice restrictions will be enforced for ‘team’ chat, but your ‘party’ voice will still be available.
  • Reporting categories updated to cover a wider range of Community Code violations
  • Transition screens added before Character Select and In Game
  • The button to upgrade a gun skin now indicates what type of improvement (variant, animation, etc.) will be granted by the upgrade
  • Visual updates to collection and contract pages
  • Adjusted ping calculation to be more accurate
  • Added a setting to disable the spectator count widget on the HUD
  • Updated the death camera to avoid obscuring the screen immediately after death
  • Added a build version watermark
  • Observer Updates
  • Added team-specific 1st-person fresnel highlighting for observers
  • Adjusted consistent coloring for Attackers/Defenders on the HUD
  • Attackers and Defenders don’t swap in HUD on side swap rounds
  • Keybinds are consistent from round to round for swapping between players
  • Fixed scoreboard not showing the correct score
  • Removed the ‘freeze time’ that would trigger when waiting for a player to reconnect at the start of the buy phase
  • Updated shop icons

HUD and UI

  • Added VFX to abilities, killfeed, and ceremonies (e.g., Ace or Clutch)
  • Updated Spike visuals in the inventory
  • Updated Armor icons in the shop
  • Updated character portraits
  • Added chat message regulation so that only send one chat message is sent when multiples of the same ping or VO command are used in rapid succession

Bug Fixes: In-Game

  • “Fixed a bug with “rewinding” for Hit Registration that could cause the client to slightly disagree with the server on where a target was when you pulled the trigger. This affected all players slightly, but scaled up in severity at lower FPS.
  • Fixed an issue where client-side tracers desynced when yaw switching
  • The server and client would sometimes disagree on where shots were landing when firing extended bursts.
  • Fixed a bug that let you shred the gnar at supersonic speeds using Viper’s Toxic Screen as a projectile boost
  • Fixed the ability to activate Viper’s Poison Cloud mid air if it has been picked up.
  • Removed slow from Viper’s Snakebite tooltip.
  • Cypher’s Spycam now shows the direction it is looking right when it is possessed.
  • Fixed more unintended Cypher Spycam locations
  • Fixed Sova’s arrows sometimes unpredictable bouncing
  • Fixed Sova arrows from revealing through some walls
  • Fixed a bug with Jett’s lower body popping out of place during her glide—thanks physical therapy!
  • Fixed an issue where blood was disabled
  • Fixed an Observer bug where dead players appeared as Phoenix on the HUD when an entire team was dead
  • Fixed a spectator issue where Cypher’s tracers would appear inaccurate if the spectator swapped to him after he had entered/exited his camera
  • Fixed an issue where a team could all disconnect on side swap rounds to surrender, but they would receive a win instead of a loss
  • Fixed a bug that allowed Bucky’s right click to penetrate through world geography
  • Fixed a bug for the comms halo above a player’s head, it should now activate with both Party chat and Team chat
  • Fixed an issue where credits on the HUD appeared to be much higher than the 800 you receive on side swap rounds
  • Fixed an issue with the scoreboard that would show enemy team above the credit cap
  • Fixed a bug where players were fully movement inaccurate after being resurrected or respawning
  • Fixed overruns on interactable objects like orbs or the Spike
  • Fixed an issue where ally loadouts appeared to show damaged allies at full health
  • Fixed issues with HUD prompts that would be cut off if the key to activate the prompt was bound to a key with more than one letter
  • Fixed a bug where the buy phase announcement would always say to press B to buy, even if the key to open the Armory was bound to a different key
  • Fixed an issue where reconnect messages would spam every round start
  • Fixed an observer bug where text would overlap in the buy phase announcement
  • Fixed an observer bug where some abilities were not appearing on the minimap properly
  • Fixed a bug where the ping wheel on the megamap would not grey out when ping limited
  • Fixed a bug in the Armory where weapon details would vanish after purchasing a weapon
  • Fixed a bug where the Equip Last Equipped Weapon hotkey was not functioning properly after using an ability
  • Fixed overlaps with instability indicators (i.e. High Ping) and the Spectator widget
  • Fixed overlaps and overruns in the Combat Report
  • Fixed an issue with dead player models occasionally flickering
  • Fixed an issue with animations when aiming with the Odin for spectators
  • Fixed flickering mouse cursor in a few places
  • The tooltip pointing at Contracts can now be dismissed FOREVER
  • Fixed a bug where half the Arsenal page would fade in when clicking on the Collection tab
  • Fixed a bug where the personalized Store offers would blink before fading in
  • Fixed a bug where various menus could overlap the lobby screen after a queue dodge

Bug Fixes: Game Client

  • Fixed some visual bugs in the settings menus
  • Fixed a bug with windowed mode where the VALORANT window would not save its location properly

Known Issues

  • In very rare cases where a player has a lot of incoming packet loss, an enemy model may appear to be crouching when they’re actually standing (or vice versa). The connection has dropped the packet that says “this player un-crouched”, and there can be a short delay before it’s resent. We have a fix for this coming asap.

We’re also looking into ways to improve the visual clarity of our hit impact effects (especially sparks). In many of the clips that we reviewed, readability issues caused shoulder shots to read like headshots, further contributing to the feeling of hit reg being off.

  • All impact effects (spark and blood) are pinned in world space where the hit was registered on the server. These show up after hearing back from the server, at which point the victim or attacker may have slightly shifted positions. Often, we’ve seen the target crouch into or move their head to where the hit impact renders.
  • It’s difficult to read the exact hit location (center point) from the spark effect when compared to blood.

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Source: Polygon.com

The Last of Us Part 2 co-writer: ‘There are no heroes or villains’

The Last of Us Part 2 is a violent game, and this violence cannot be easily avoided. Ellie must fight against other people who are just trying to survive, like she is. Hidden in the darkness, she watches and waits for the right moment to strike. She leaps forward to stab someone in the guts with her machete. Or she’ll line up a precise, silent headshot with her bow and arrow. And I guide her through every moment of it, wondering if I’m doing the right thing.

I spoke to The Last of Us Part 2’s co-writer Halley Gross about the preview section that press are allowed to discuss, which is about halfway through the game’s story. We also talked about the game’s persistent theme of guilt and remorse, especially the decision to humanize Ellie’s opponents. Every enemy has an in-game name, and their cohorts will shout it out in horror when Ellie deals a deadly blow. It’s hard for me to hear over and over.

“This game is entirely about making hard choices, and the consequences of those hard choices,” Gross told me in our video interview. “Even in gameplay, we want you to feel the micro-hard choices that these characters have to go through. So, are you going to confront the woman with the dog, or are you gonna stealth around and take that risk? We want you to feel them in every decision you make. So guilt is very much a consequence, a repercussion of a choice — and not always, but often, it can be also a sign of learning and growing.”

In this section of the game, Ellie must either sneak or murder her way through an area full of Seraphites, members of a mysterious cult-like group that has emerged as one of the roving factions in the post-apocalyptic hellscape that Ellie traverses (technically, it’s Seattle — or, it used to be). The WLF is the other antagonistic faction in this game; my colleague Russ Frushtick went up against them in some prior preview footage. They’re militarist preppers, some of whom have trained combat dogs that you’ll have to either avoid or, to my chagrin, kill.

When asked about real-life inspirations for the two factions in the game, Gross pointed out that co-writer Neil Druckmann “is actually from the West Bank, and he is obviously very much interested in talking about that sort of entrenched conflict. So a lot of the themes came from him wanting to tell that story. […] Naughty Dog is meticulous in their research and in trying to make this game feel as grounded and authentic as possible, as much as we’re living in a hyperbolic world.”

Positioned on a roof in The Last Of Us Part II, Ellie watches people down below, a rifle in her hands. Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Ellie, meanwhile, has her own personal aims, and those aims end up throwing her into the crosshairs of these two warring factions.

“For us, or for her too, they are an obstacle to get through, or to get around, or to get past,” said Gross. “But we want in those moments to feel the humanizing aspects coming in, bleeding in. And as you progress through the game, those factions will become more and more expounded on, until hopefully they all feel fully realized.”

“We’re always going back to this conversation about the cycle of violence and empathy,” Gross continued. “So what we wanted was to have that in every aspect of this game. So you pick up a note and it’s going to be a conversation about [how] the cycle of violence is escalation. We wanted Seattle to very much represent that escalating and almost impossible-to-stop freight train of vengeance. So you’ve got these two factions who very much believe they’re doing what’s right.”

Ellie believes that what she’s doing is also right. She has her found family to protect back in Jackson, after all. “What we care about and what we really wanted to elucidate in this game, is that there are no heroes or villains,” said Gross. “There is no black or white. So even as Ellie is going through Seattle and she sees these enemies, they’re much more complicated than her superficial interactions with them would necessarily elucidate.”

Unlike the first The Last of Us, which focused primarily on Joel’s journey as a father who lost his daughter and then formed an unlikely bond with the teenage Ellie, The Last of Us Part 2 predominantly focuses on Ellie’s perspective. Now she is the one making hard choices, the one to whom the player needs to be able to relate. I asked Gross if the team had any concerns about this game focusing less on Joel and more on Ellie.

“Hopefully, even if you are not a 19-year-old lesbian, you are still seeing parts of Ellie and parts of her decision-making that resonate with you,” said Gross. “What we’re trying to do is that, as you’re with Ellie in these moment-to-moment decisions, watching these cinematics and discovering all the weight on her, that even if you don’t empathize with her decisions, even if you don’t agree with them, you understand why she feels she has to do it or feels like she can’t stop herself from doing something.”

In The Last Of Us Part II, Ellie swims across a flooded roadway in what remains of downtown Seattle. Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Interactive Entertainment

As players who have completed the first The Last of Us know, the game concludes with Joel telling a lie to Ellie. It’s a lie that forces the player, and perhaps also Joel, to question whether the violence that just transpired was necessary or right. It makes sense, then, that guilt hangs over every moment of The Last of Us Part 2. It’s baked into the combat design, as Ellie decides moment to moment whether to hide or to engage in combat. But, in the grand scheme, there is no choice for Ellie. She’s pulled into a larger-than-life conflict simply because of who she is, a scrappy queer teen who just so happens to be immune to the virus that has destroyed society.

It’s impossible, in playing The Last of Us Part 2, not to think about the real-life pandemic, let alone the real-life state violence and racist policing that has inspired protests from activists all over the United States and elsewhere in the world. I can’t play a violent game about a pandemic, about warring factions, and about the times when violence turns out to be necessary, and not think about the world outside my door. I asked Gross about how it felt to release a game like this, during this time period — something Naughty Dog could never have foreseen.

“Right now, I think more than ever, we crave examples of resiliency,” she said. “And hopefully with this game, you’re seeing these characters who get knocked down by the world, who make mistakes, who make hard choices and continue to pick themselves back up and pick themselves back up. And they are obviously evolved and changed from those choices and from those experiences.”


PlayStation 4 Pro

The PlayStation 4 Pro is 4K-ready, and several of the PS4’s best games are enhanced to take advantage of the more powerful console’s improved visuals and frame rates.

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Amazon / $357.00 Buy

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Source: Polygon.com

Bungie leaks Destiny 2’s fall reveal date via Instagram

In its usual Thursday blog, Bungie revealed when players can learn more about the future of Destiny 2.

According to Bungie, players will learn about season 11 of Destiny 2 “at the same time that we talk about the next chapter in the story that has been unfolding all year long.” While cryptic, this likely means Bungie will announce Destiny 2’s fall expansion alongside details of the currently unnamed season 11.

With season 11 launching on June 9 (there’s a countdown in-game) — and Bungie’s habit of revealing a season before it’s actually out — there’s a short window of time when this livestream could take place. Toward the middle of the blog, production director Justin Truman mentions that Bungie will share what its been working on with players in 12 days … June 9.

This suggests the reveal event could be the day the season launches, or Truman could just be referring to players getting their hands on the new season. Either way, this early-June timeline fits with Bungie’s usual announce time for Destiny 2’s fall expansion — like Forsaken’s reveal on June 5, 2018, and Shadowkeep’s on June 6, 2019.

Players currently have no idea what Bungie has in store. The studio does hint that the Darkness — an enemy players have waited seven years to face — is in our solar system, via some ominous blinking lights on Season of the Worthy’s Seraph Bunker walls. Based on their proximity to several playable areas in Destiny, it seems players could finally encounter the foes in season 11 or the fall expansion.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bungie will reveal the game’s new content over the internet, rather than an in-studio livestream. It’s unclear if players will get the studio’s usual “ViDoc” video documentaries, showcasing developers and gameplay, as the pandemic has forced developers to work from home.

We’ll update this post when Bungie narrows the window for its fall reveal, and announces a date and time.

Update (May 29): On Friday morning, the Destiny Twitter account dropped a mysterious sound wave. The one-minute-and-14-second clip has some ambient noise, and shows a waveform in the shape of a triangle — very similar to the Pyramid ships seen during the Shadowkeep campaign and the ending of the Destiny 2.

While Destiny fans aren’t exactly sure what this means, it seems to be further proof that players will finally face The Darkness this fall in the next season of Destiny 2.

Update (June 1): On Monday, June 1, the official Destiny account on Instagram posted and deleted a new trailer (noticed by a fan and tweeted to a group of journalists and content creators), which you can watch below. This is presumably teasing the reveal of Destiny 2’s unannounced fall expansion.

The trailer shows Eris Morn, a Guardian specializing in the Darkness, wandering an ice planet alone. Astute players will notice what looks to be Jupiter in the background, which suggests this new icy location could be Jupiter’s moon, Europa — a long-rumored Destiny location.

The post says “the next chapter of Destiny 2 is almost here” and teases an unveiling event for 6 p.m. CEST/9 a.m. PT on June 9, just before Destiny 2’s 11th season goes live. It’s unclear if players will learn about season 11 on June 9, or if Bungie has another post planned before the fall reveal.


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Source: Polygon.com

Animal Crossing’s wedding season is not going exactly as planned

It’s June, and that means it’s wedding season. From June 1-30, Animal Crossing: New Horizons players can play wedding photographer for the month, helping a cute llama couple celebrate their anniversary.

It’s all very pure. This couple is so in love that they booked a photo studio, and each day they want me (or you) to create a new setup to celebrate their relationship. It’s been going very well; I’ve seen plenty of extremely cute and colorful setups posted to social media sites. A couple hours into the event, though, and I’ve started to see wedding season get a bit more chaotic — and arguably, even better.

The way the event works is that players have a single room on Harv’s creepy photo island to create the set — if you’ve got something in your catalog, you can add it to the set. Sure, there are a lot of appropriately themed items in New Horizons, but why add those when Godzilla and a turtle can bear witness to your love?

Feeling bitter about your postponed wedding? You can express that:

Or maybe flowers aren’t your vibe. There’s a setup for you, too.

And then there’s the all-out chaos. Someone stealing Cyrus from Reese. Divorce. A funeral. The depths of hell.

If Harv’s good for one thing, it’s that he’s got this terrible photography island where we can create mayhem. I guess you get more points for following the theme, but what’s the fun in that?


Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com

Everything coming to Disney Plus in June

Disney Plus launched last year with most of Disney’s back catalog, but the platform hasn’t reached maximum capacity just yet. In addition to original content, like the upcoming episodes of Marvel’s Hero Project, there are a whole host of movies and shows wrapped up under other streaming services and licenses. Each month, a few new titles will trickle onto Disney Plus.

This month brings the behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Frozen 2, along with Artemis Fowl’s streaming debut. Also coming to the platform are some stragglers from Disney’s animation catalog, like Tarzan. There is also the live action Percy Jackson movie, but we don’t talk about that.


Available June 5

Alaska’s Grizzly Gauntlet (S1)
America’s Greatest Animals
Chasing the Equinox
Howie Mandel’s Animals Doing Things (S1-2)
Secrets of Wild India (S1)
The Greeks (s1)
Weird but True! (S1-2)
Wild Hawaii (S1)
Women of Impact: Changing the World

Be Our Chef Season Finale Episode 111 “The Spectacular”

From Disney: In The Spectacular Finale of Be Our Chef two of our families face-off in the final rematch! The families must draw inspiration from their favorite Disney film to create a spectacular treat that could be served in the Disney Parks. But they won’t be making just one – they will need to make 24! One family takes inspiration from Beauty and the Beast to create a colorful dessert. Another family creates a treat inspired by a suggestion from Genie in Aladdin. Mickey Mouse joins in the fun of the Garden Game to show the families how to flip pancakes. They’ll have to catch on quickly if they want to win the Magic Spoon and use the kitchen advantage. The Disney Cruise Line Vacation is on the line and these families will have to impress a lot of people to win the grand prize. They will be judged by some of Disney’s finest chefs – Chef Amanda, Chef Daniel, Chef Douglas, Chef Gregg, and Chef Jean-Marie. It all comes down to this. Who will be the very first winner of Be Our Chef?

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian Episode 106 ”Visualization”

From Disney: Much like the original trilogy, The Mandalorian drew influences from both Western and Samurai films. We delve deeper into those influences and discuss how emulating those genres inspired the show.

Disney Family Sundays Episode 131 “101 Dalmatians: Onesie”

From Disney: The Gubaney family and Amber take get to work on a “101 Dalmatians-inspired project.”

One Day At Disney Episode 127 “George Montano: Plasterer”

From Disney: Disneyland Resort Plasterer George Montano provides a first-hand historical look into the construction of Disney Park’s top attractions. Having spent over 50 years at Disney, George continues his father’s legacy of creating and preserving a magical experience for Park guests of all ages.

It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer Episode 104 “Disaster Rescue Dogs & A Dog Mayor”

From Disney: Bill meets dogs who rescue people in disasters. Then, he visits a dog who is the Mayor of his town.

Disney Insider Episode 106 “Artemis Adventure, Taste of Disney, Runaway Railway”

From Disney: Artemis Fowl author, Eoin Colfer, takes Disney Insider on a tour through the Irish countryside. Walt Disney World chefs open the doors to the Flavor Lab for a look at how they created Epcot’s Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue. Walt Disney Imagineers peel back the curtain on how they built Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Available June 12

Mighty Med (S1-2)
The Liberty Story
The Story of the Animated Drawing
Walt & El Grupo

Artemis Fowl

Ferdia Shaw is Artemis Fowl in Disney’s ARTEMIS FOWL, walking with his cool sunglasses Photo: Nicola Dove/Walt Disney Pictures

From Disney: Disney’s Artemis Fowl, based on the beloved book by Eoin Colfer, is a fantastical, spellbinding adventure that follows the journey of 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he desperately tries to save his father who has been kidnapped. In order to pay his ransom, Artemis must infiltrate an ancient, underground civilization—the amazingly advanced world of fairies—and bring the kidnapper the Aculos, the fairies’ most powerful and coveted magical device. To locate the elusive object, cunning Artemis concocts a dangerous plan—so dangerous that he ultimately finds himself in a perilous war of wits with the all-powerful fairies.

It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer Episode 105 “The Surfing Corgi & Bee Dogs”

From Disney: Bill hits the beach to meet a surfing Corgi. Then, he visits dogs whose noses help bees survive.

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian Episode 107 “Score”

From Disney: We meet Ludwig Göransson inside his studio where he details how The Mandalorian’s musical themes were written. We then journey to the scoring stage to witness the live orchestra recording session.

Disney Family Sundays Episode 132 “Winnie the Pooh: Bag Toss”

From Disney: Amber and the Crownholm family create a game inspired by Winnie the Pooh and his friends.”

One Day At Disney Episode 128 “Scot Drake: Imagineering Creative”

From Disney: Scot Drake, Creative Executive of the Marvel Global Portfolio for Walt Disney Imagineering, helps create immersive Super Hero experiences in Disney parks and resorts around the world. From state-of-the-art attractions to groundbreaking character interactions, Scot strives to create once in a lifetime moments for parkgoers that allow these stories to reach audiences in new and thrilling ways.

Available June 19

101 Dalmatians (1997) (S1)
Big Sur: Wild California
Muppet Babies Play Date (S1)
Schoolhouse Rock (S1)
Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian Finale Episode 108 “Connections”

From Disney: Jon and Dave look back at some of the Star Wars characters and props that made their way into The Mandalorian. We also take a moment to showcase the 501st legion.

It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer Episode 106 “Stunt Dogs & Water Rescue Dogs”

From Disney: Bill meets a troupe of performing stunt dogs. Then, he visits a team of water rescue dogs.

Disney Family Sundays Episode 133 “Monsters, Inc. Water Bottles”

From Disney: The Ruvalcaba family make a craft inspired by Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” and “Monsters University.”

One Day At Disney Episode 129 “Candice Valdez: Radio Disney Host”

From Disney: Radio Disney’s Candice Valdez fulfills her dream of being an on-air radio personality. In addition to interviewing some of today’s top musicians, she also has the unique opportunity to help music’s next stars launch their careers. From Miley Cyrus to Ariana Grande, Candice spends her day playing today’s hottest tracks and interacting with listeners.

Available June 26

Man in Space
Mars and Beyond
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Raven’s Home (S3)

disney tarzan hangs from a vine while jane stands behind him gasping Image: Disney

Tarzan
Tarzan II

Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 Series Premiere – All Six Episodes Available

From Disney: With the clock ticking and less than a year until the world premiere of Frozen 2, the filmmakers, artists, songwriters and cast open their doors to cameras for a six-part documentary series to reveal the hard work, heart, and collaboration it takes to create one of the most highly-anticipated films in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ near-century of moviemaking. For the first time, cameras were there to capture an eye-opening – and at times jaw-dropping – view of the challenges and the breakthroughs, the artistry, creativity and the complexity of creating the #1 animated feature of all time.

It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer Episode 107 “Detective Dogs & Truffle Hunting Dogs”

From Disney: Bill meets dogs who find lost pets. Then, he visits a truffle-hunting dog.

Disney Family Sundays Episode 134 “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

From Disney: The Green family and Amber team up for a project inspired by Snow White’s seven dwarves.

One Day At Disney Episode 130 “Marc Smith: Story Artist”

From Disney: Marc Smith, Director of Story, Frozen 2 at Walt Disney Animation Studios, shows how a drawing can become the key to a moving, emotional story. As he sketches characters, Smith emotionally engages with his work to create a bond between himself and the character. Marc blurs the line between fiction and reality, resulting in a lifelike portrayal on the screen.


Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Source: Polygon.com

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gets a pre-order discount at Amazon

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the upcoming Viking-themed entry in Ubisoft’s popular action franchise, is already getting a pre-order discount. On Monday, the game dropped to $49.94 at Amazon, $10.05 off standard retail price.

Ubisoft announced the new game in April, releasing a cinematic trailer that sets the stage for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Then in May, the company revealed the first Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gameplay footage during an Inside Xbox presentation. The trailer and gameplay footage introduce the Viking raider Eivor (customizable as male or female) who leads their clan “across the icy North Sea to the rich lands of England’s broken kingdoms….[to] carve out a new future,” according to Ubisoft’s official story breakdown.

Pre-orders for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla also include a bonus mission, “The Way of the Berserker.”

While Ubisoft has not yet set a release date, the “holiday 2020” timeframe means that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be one of the first games available for the upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. However, it will also be released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as Google Stadia and Windows PC.

Amazon’s listing for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla currently only offers Xbox One and PS4 pre-orders. It’s likely that the discount will be applied to PS5 and Xbox Series X versions as they’re made available, but that has not been confirmed.

Amazon pre-orders come with a price match guarantee, which means if the price changes between your pre-order and the release date, you’ll be charged the lowest price when your order ships.

Source: Polygon.com

Sony postpones PlayStation 5 reveal event

Sony has delayed the PlayStation 5 reveal event that was previously scheduled for Thursday, June 4, saying that the company “[does] not feel that right now is a time for celebration and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.” Sony has not announced a rescheduled date.

The company had planned to offer a first look at PS5 games in an hourlong presentation on Thursday ahead of the next-gen system’s launch this holiday season.

Sony’s decision comes after a week of anger, unrest, and protest over the killing of George Floyd, the man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25. Since Floyd’s death, thousands of protestors have taken to the streets of major cities and to destinations online to denounce violent policing tactics and to shine a light on the racism and systemic inequality that disadvantages and cuts short black lives in the United States.

On Monday, Sony Interactive Entertainment also issued a statement in support of black people, saying on Twitter, “We denounce system racism and violence against the Black community. We will continue to work toward a future marked by empathy and inclusion and stand with our Black creators, players, employees, families, and friends. #BlackLivesMatter”

The statement followed a broader corporate statement from Sony, which read, “Being silent about the violence and racism Black people experience is being complicit. We stand in solidarity today and every day with the Black community. #BlackLivesMatter”

Sony’s decision to delay its event follows a similar move from publisher Electronic Arts. On Sunday, EA announced it was postponing a reveal of Madden NFL 21 planned for Monday, saying on Twitter, “We stand with our African American / Black community of friends, players, colleagues and partners. Our immediate attention is on actions we can take to drive change against the unjust treatment and systemic bias that is plaguing the nation and our world. We’ll find another time to talk football with you. Because this is bigger than a game, bigger than sports, and needs all of us to stand together and commit to change.”

Source: Polygon.com

I tried increasing my stamina with video game techniques

The past few months have made me feel astoundingly lethargic. I’ve had trouble adjusting to the new lifestyle of leaving my apartment once every two weeks to do laundry, and it’s left me with the stamina level of a cartoon basset hound.

But as is the case with many Unraveleds, I figured I could find an answer to my problem within the vast wisdom of video games.

Games give you plenty of ways to increase stamina. Death Stranding makes you drink Monster Energy. Monster Hunter: World allows you to cook steaks that will slow your stamina depletion. Dark Souls lets you equip items that boost your stamina regeneration.

I hypothesized that if I used one of these stamina boosting techniques, I’d have more energy to take care of the things I need to do.

But if you, too, are feeling helpless and unproductive, please don’t try using energy drinks or tin foil masks to feel better. There are far better ways to lend a hand and make a difference.

Source: Polygon.com