Tag Archives: gaming news

How Games Became Obsessed With Nuclear Weapons

Whether it’s video games, movies, or TV shows, entertainment is filled with iconic tools of warfare, and much of the stories we love are defined by them; the Pulse Rifle is synonymous with the Aliens franchise; the Man With No Name’s mystique and effortless cool is heightened by the revolver he whips out in the squint of an eye; and the sound of a bullet from the Intervention hitting an enemy immediately conjures up Call of Duty-flavoured nostalgia.

These weapons are the focus of Loadout, a new show that will identify some of pop culture’s most influential armaments and explore them in-depth. Each week, host Dave Jewitt will tackle a different weapon, delve into its origins, examine how it has been used, and lay out the impact it has had on pop culture.

In Episode 1, Loadout takes hold of the revolver, a legendary weapon that has been present from the earliest days of cinema to the current era of video games. Why is it so popular? For Episode 2, Dave takes a look at The Intervention, a weapon that Call of Duty players will be intimately familiar with and, given its status as arguably the most meme-able video game weapon, you may know it even if you haven’t played the shooter series. For Episode 3, Dave delves into the world of Warhammer 40k to explore the history of an iconic sci-fi weapon.

Episode four delves into the history of the rocket launcher, a staple weapon for video games. Its use spans everything from first-person shooters like Quake and Doom, to fighting games like Smash Bros., courtesy of Metal Gear’s Solid Snake. But the origins of the rocket launcher might surprise you. Episode five is all about the Pulse Rifle, which fans of Aliens will no doubt be very familiar with. The Pulse Rifle is almost as recognisable as the Xenomorph itself and went on to be featured in games, as well as influence other science fiction material.

For Episode 6, Dave takes a closer look–or lends a sharper ear–to silencers, one of the most popular tools used in video games and movies for stealth. Whether it’s the James Bond franchise, Mission Impossible, Metal Gear Solid, or Splinter Cell, our entertainment loves to depict people quietly killing their way through bad guys using guns that make barely a whistle as the bullet exits its chamber. In reality, though, the silencer is anything but silent.

Finally, in the season finale of Loadout, nuclear weapons go under the microscope. Why is our pop culture so obsessed with stories that take place in a world ravaged by one of the most terrifying weapons known to humankind, and why do we give player control over them in video games?

New episodes of Loadout will air every Saturday and you can find them on GameSpot’s YouTube channel–make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Episode 7: Nuclear Weapons

Episode 6: Silencers

Episode 5: The Pulse Rifle

Episode 4: The Rocket Launcher

Episode 3: The Bolter

Episode 2: The Intervention

Episode 1: The Revolver

Source: GameSpot.com

The ESA creates an esports scholarship for college competitors

The Entertainment Software Association is now offering sports scholarships. Esports scholarships.

The ESA, the trade organization representing United States video game publishers, announced on Thursday that it is expanding its 20-year-old scholarship program to include esports competitors in college.

The ESA Foundation’s esports scholarship is intended to elevate the participation of women and minorities, who account for a very small percentage of recipients of the esports scholarships awarded by other organizations.

The ESA Foundation’s overall goal is to advance opportunities for women and minorities in college, and their pathways into the video games industry. Established in 2000, it has raised more than $23 million in the two decades since.

The National Association of Collegiate Esports estimated last year that $16 million in esports scholarships have been awarded since 2016. The NACE comprises more than 170 member institutions across the United States, with more than 5,000 esports competitors enrolled at them.

The ESA Foundation’s esports scholarship joins two others the foundation annually awards: the Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship, and a scholarship awarded in conjunction with Gay Gaming Professionals for service to LGBTQ+ communities.

Applications are open now, and will close March 2, 2020.

Source: Polygon.com

Animated Mortal Kombat movie ‘Scorpion’s Revenge’ launching by June

There’s a Mortal Kombat animated film on the way, and Warner Bros. expects it to release before the end of June, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

The film is called Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge. The voice cast stars Patrick Seitz as Scorpion. Seitz voiced Scorpion in Mortal Kombat X and is Tygra and Mumm-Ra in Cartoon Network’s upcoming Thundercats Roar.

Other cast include Joel McHale (Community, and co-host of 2013’s VGX) as Johnny Cage; Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) as Sonya Blade; Jordan Rodrigues as Lui Kang; Steve Blum as Sub-Zero and David B. Mitchell as Raiden.

Two producers with animated Batman experience are helming the project: Rick Morales (Batman vs. Two-Face) and Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight). NetherRealm Studios’ Ed Boon is aboard as kreative konsultant.

A live action, feature-length Mortal Kombat reboot, from New Line Cinema, is planned to release March 5, 2021.

Mortal Kombat 11 is the series’ current title; it’s about to deliver the fifth of six promised premium DLC fighters for its season pass, namely, The Joker.

Source: Polygon.com

Games Gone Missing 2020: Where Are These Games?

New games get announced all the time, but amid the news and excitement, many quickly drop off the radar. After all, there are quite a few games that we haven’t heard from in some time, while others have only been hinted at with no official word. Heck, some haven’t been canceled outright, either, leaving their fates uncertain.

Below you can find a list of games that we haven’t seen or heard from in a long time. Some are games we’re likely to learn more about soon with the upcoming next-generation consoles, while others seem more like white whales we may never get to see again.

Which games on this list do you think we might finally hear about in 2020? Let us know your opinions in the comments below.

EA’s Other Star Wars Game

While Star Wars fans have been blessed with the release of Respawn’s fantastic Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the franchise’s other big project still remains a mystery due to a turbulent development that’s changed hands between EA’s studios. Initially teased in 2014, the game–code named “Ragtag”–was to be made by veteran developer Amy Hennig and the team at Visceral Games. However, EA shuttered the studio back in 2017, which resulted in Hennig’s departure. Following this, the game was shifted over to EA Vancouver, and after some time retooling it into an open-world Star Wars game, it was quietly cancelled in early 2019.

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That seemed to be the end of this project, but in 2019, it was reported that EA Motive, co-developer of Star Wars: Battlefront II along with DICE, are working on a new game in the sci-fi franchise. In an interesting twist, EA Motive studio head Patrick Klaus stated that it would use some material leftover from Visceral’s Ragtag, and that it would be “a very unique Star Wars experience.” We’ve heard little about the project ever since, but EA remains adamant that more Star Wars games are on the way. And with the positive reception around Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and the improved quality of Star Wars Battlefront II, EA is in a better position to finally show what this other Star Wars project has become.

Shadow of the Eternals

Shadow of the Eternals is the spiritual successor to cult-favorite horror game Eternal Darkness. Veterans from the original game’s developer, Silicon Knights, formed a new studio called Precursor Games to work on the survival horror adventure, including former president Denis Dyack. However, the crowdfunding project failed to meet its goal. The lack of funding forced the game’s development to be put on hold.

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In October 2014, Dyack opened up a new studio called Quantum Entanglement Entertainment to resume development on the project. The studio was quietly shut down in January 2018, and the production of Shadow of the Eternals was put on hold again. Dyack moved on to form a new studio called Apocalypse Studios, which has since been actively working on a Legacy of Kain-inspired free-to-play RPG called Deadhaus Sonata. A quick update about the state of Shadow of the Eternals on the project’s Facebook page stated that while it’s not canceled, it’s not going to be in active development for a while. Given these events, it’s more than likely that Shadow of the Eternals may not be released for quite some time, if ever.

Spyjinx

Spyjinx is a collaboration between developer Chair (Infinity Blade, Shadow Complex) along with filmmaker J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and his off-shoot games studio Bad Robot Interactive. It was first announced in 2015 with a release date of 2016 for PC and mobile, but we’ve heard little since then. There are no details about what the game will be about or how it’ll play. However, Chair creative director and Epic Games CCO Donald Mustard has reaffirmed throughout the years that the game remains in active development. To this day, you can still sign up for the game’s future closed beta via its official website. While it remains to be seen whether the project will come to fruition, Mustard and Abrams still seem involved with one another, seeing as the two recently collaborated for a Star Wars promotional event in Fortnite.

Bethesda’s Open-World RPGs: Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI

Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard surprised fans during E3 2018 when it announced Starfield–the developer’s first new IP in 25 years–and The Elder Scrolls VI, which are two projects that are each huge in their own right. So it came as a shock that we heard about both at the same time. Still, Howard prefaced that it would be a long time until we’d see either in detail, and he was right. It has been a while, and aside from Howard’s rare updates around their development and the likelihood of them coming to next-generation consoles, we’ve been given little idea what these games will play or look like.

With both PS5 and Xbox Series X launching this holiday, there’s a possibility we just might hear more about Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI soon but don’t get your hopes up about the latter. Howard confirmed that Starfield would be released before The Elder Scrolls VI, so you’ll likely have to wait longer to catch a new glimpse of Bethesda Game Studios’ next-generation journey back to Tamriel.

Hellraid

Announced in 2013, Hellraid is an upcoming project from developer Techland. It was initially intended as a mod for Dead Island before transitioning into a standalone game. Techland described Hellraid as a mix between Dead Island and The Elder Scrolls series. The game was scheduled to be released in 2013 on PS3 and Xbox 360 but then was delayed to 2014 with development transitioning to PS4 and Xbox One. However, the development of Hellraid was put on hold in 2015 as the game failed to meet the company’s expectations, and because Techland wanted to focus on expanding the universe of its other big project of the time, Dying Light.

Pikmin 4

Back in 2015, Pikmin 4 was announced and apparently “very close to completion.” After almost a year with no news, Miyamoto himself assured Pikmin fans in 2016 that the sequel was still happening–and that was it. Though the spin-off Hey Pikmin came out on 3DS in 2017, it’s still not at all clear what’s happening with Pikmin 4 besides the fact that it’s, well, happening. It’s a new year, though, and Nintendo seems all the more focused on its properties than ever before, so who knows what surprises it has in store!

Tekken x Street Fighter

Tekken x Street Fighter was announced in 2010 for PS3 and Xbox 360, and it’s been kind of a mystery ever since. Producer Katsuhiro Harada assured fans in 2014 and reiterated in 2015 that the crossover fighting game wasn’t canceled. However, in April 2016, Harada revealed that Tekken x Street Fighter was “no longer in active development” and that publisher Bandai Namco was waiting for “the right time” to release it.

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GameSpot reached out for comment in 2016, and at the time, Bandai Namco said the team was focusing on Tekken 7, which came out in 2017. Bandai Namco told us then that the Tekken team was concentrated on Tekken 7 DLC. Harada later confirmed during a 2018 year-end party livestream that the game was about 30% complete before being put on hold. But in a VGC interview in 2019, the developer questioned the validity of the crossover project given the post-launch content successes of both Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 5. Still, it appears Tekken x Street Fighter is very much on Harada’s mind, seeing as, during the most recent Game Awards, he posted a Twitter poll to weigh current interest in the game.

Battlecry

Battlecry, a MOBA-like with historical inspirations and a focus on melee combat, was announced in 2014. It had a trailer and even sign-ups for a global beta in 2015, but publisher Bethesda expressed concerns about its quality. It’s been three years, and we haven’t heard anything–good or bad–about the game.

The developer, which was initially branded as BattleCry Studios LLC, was created with the express purpose of making a multiplayer arena game, was rebranded Bethesda Game Studios Austin in March 2018. It recently worked alongside Bethesda Game Studios on Fallout 76.

Skull & Bones

Of the few Ubisoft games that received delays, Skull & Bones is one we’ve heard little about in the time since its original debut. Announced at E3 2017, this upcoming open-world action game is committed to evolving the naval combat component seen in the Assassin’s Creed franchise–specifically, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. While we’ve seen brief displays of its multiplayer and single-player ship-on-ship combat, Ubisoft has seemed wary about showing any more of the game since E3 2018–much less committing to a definitive release date. The game has been delayed a couple of times, more recently to sometime after April 2020, and it even skipped E3 2019.

Fortunately, the teams at Ubisoft look to be hard at work on the project even still, so there’s hope that we’ll get this adventure back into piracy sooner than later. And interestingly enough, Ubisoft announced in 2019 that it’s collaborating with production company Atlas Entertainment to create a TV adaptation of Skull & Bones, which further increases the odds of its eventual release. Still, we can only speculate when this spiritual successor to one of the best Assassin’s Creed entries will come out of hiding from the briny deep.

Wild

We know as much about Wild as we did four years ago, which is not a lot. The PS4-exclusive survival adventure game was revealed at Gamescom 2014, and we saw some gameplay during Paris Games Week in October 2015. Director Michel Ancel took to Instagram in January 2017 to confirm the game was still in production. But given that he’s occupied developing Beyond Good and Evil 2, it seems like Wild has been put on hold. In terms of its premise, we know that Wild is an open-world adventure that casts you as a shaman who can possess animals.

Deep Down

Now in its fifth year on our missing games list, PS4 Souls-like Deep Down was revealed in 2013. It didn’t disappear right away; we got details and trailers up through TGS 2014, and it was supposed to have a public beta in early 2015.

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The beta never happened, and in a February 2015 interview, producer Yoshinori Ono said that the game wasn’t canceled but might be reworked. In 2016, Capcom told us that a Western release was never even confirmed for Deep Down, but the publisher filed a new patent for the game in the US in early 2017. In June 2018, Capcom extended the trademark for the game, and in the following year, a Eurogamer interview with Ono confirmed that it’d not been abandoned. With Capcom’s major successes recently, Deep Down could certainly still be a possibility. Time will tell.

Half-Life 3

While the release of Half-Life series VR-exclusive spin-off Half-Life: Alyx draws near, we pretty much have to mention the long-awaited third game, even long after it hit peak meme status and transcended to the realm of “never going to happen.” Half-Life 2: Episode 3 was announced back in 2006 but never materialized; it also wasn’t canceled, either. In a Reddit AMA in early 2017, Valve boss Gabe Newell said there was still a possibility of more games in the Half-Life/Portal universe, so that’s something. And there’s also the leaked story summary from former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw, which confirms nothing but is still a wild read.

With Half-Life back on people’s radars thanks to Half-Life: Alyx, the franchise could have a new future. Whether that means Half-Life 3 is that much closer to becoming a reality, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Dead Island 2

Zombie survival game Dead Island 2 came out of the gate with a very memorable trailer at E3 2014–and memorable is good since we’ve seen so little throughout the years. The game’s original spring 2015 release window was later delayed to 2016, and then it lost its developer, Yager, in July 2015. Still, publisher Deep Silver assured us it wasn’t canceled.

It was announced in March 2016 that LittleBigPlanet 3 developer Sumo Digital had taken over the game’s development. In 2018, the project shifted hands after the Dead Island property was acquired by THQ Nordic after the publisher purchased Koch Media, which owns Deep Silver and fellow games publisher Ravenscourt. Dead Island 2’s development went silent again until THQ Nordic confirmed in 2019 that Dambuster Studios (Homefront: The Revolution) was taking the reins.

While Dead Island 2’s development certainly sounds tumultuous, Koch Media CEO Klemens Kundratitz remains confident and committed to supporting Dambuster Studios’ work on the project. “It’s a great story to tell everyone that it’s on its third studio, but we like to be judged on the end result, and we’re really confident that when it comes out it’s going to be a kick-ass zombie game,” Kundratitz said in a GamesIndustry.biz interview. “We’ll certainly give it all our power.”

Agent

It wouldn’t be a missing games list without Agent! The Cold War-era espionage game was teased way, way back in 2007 and announced in 2009 as a PS3 exclusive from Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar North. Since then, the game hasn’t been officially canceled, but it’s barely more than a murmur.

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The first images from Agent were released in 2011 when Rockstar parent Take-Two confirmed the game was still in development. Two full years later, Take-Two renewed trademarks for Agent. It renewed the trademarks again in 2014, just before E3. New images emerged in 2015, and at the end of 2016, Take-Two refiled the Agent trademarks yet again. But in November 2018, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declared the “Agent” trademark as abandoned. It’s likely now more than ever, especially after the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, that Agent is no longer a project that Rockstar is pursuing. But who knows what Rockstar will do; the studio is always full of surprises.

Ken Levine’s New Game

BioShock creator Ken Levine appeared on NPR at the end of 2015 and discussed general design goals for his next game– it’s supposed to be highly replayable. Levine also described it as a “small-scale open-world game” with a sci-fi theme. An update on the game’s development surfaced recently in the form of a job listing at his studio Ghost Story Games, which described the project as “a creatively ambitious project in the immersive sim genre.” So as far as anyone knows, the mystery game is still happening.

Phantom Dust

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Phantom Dust has entered its fifth year running on our missing games list, and there’s still no sign of news. The reboot of the 2005 Xbox game of the same name was first announced at E3 2014, but its original developer, Darkside Game Studios, closed down the following February. We saw some leaked gameplay footage in 2015 and got confirmation that the game wasn’t dead. Microsoft Game Studios president Phil Spencer stated that it was put on hold until it could find the right studio to handle development. With the company acquiring so many different studios recently, there just might be hope for a Phantom Dust reboot. Regardless, we haven’t heard anything in a while, so you’ll need to continue waiting. But if you’re still eager to engage with this cult-classic, a separate Phantom Dust re-release with slight improvements did release back in May 2017.

Source: GameSpot.com

Cyberpunk 2077 still needs crunch time to complete, CEO says

If anyone thought that delaying Cyberpunk 2077 by five months to September would give its developers a little more breathing room, well, guess again. In a call with investors on Thursday, CD Projekt’s chief executive admitted that development crunch will still be necessary as CD Projekt Red brings this project to term.

Adam Kicinski, answering “Is the development team required to put in crunch hours?” answered, “To some degree, yes, to be honest.”

Kicinski went on to say that “We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately.”

It somewhat fades the idea that this is another five months to polish up an otherwise finished game, and instead means developers need five extra months of full-on development to deliver something worth a launch.

What CD Projekt Red has on hand now is “playable; the whole game,” Kicinski said, adding that “it’s been like that for a couple of months.” Still, asked to describe what the trouble was causing the delay, he attributed it to “technical bug-fixing and polishing.” That said, the game is so detailed that “polishing is just a complex task. It’s about the number of things we have to take care of rather than some fundamental problem.”

Kicinski nonetheless said the development team considers the delay “a good decision, and that having an extra five months will enable us to deliver a perfect game.”

Another investor noted that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was also delayed, but only by three months, from a February 2015 launch date to May 2015. Kicinski confirmed that the reason Cyberpunk 2077 was given a five month delay is to launch it in September, waiting past a summer quarter that is much slower for major releases.

Investors also pressed Kicinski for CD Projekt’s plans for Cyberpunk 2077 and the next generation of consoles, but he wouldn’t budge. “We have nothing to share here and now in relation to that,” he said.

Cyberpunk 2077 was originally scheduled for an April 16, 2020 release; on Thursday, CD Projekt Red assigned it a Sept. 17 launch, with a note saying that developers “need more time to finish play-testing, fixing and polishing.”

“We want Cyberpunk 2077 to be our crowning achievement for this generation and postponing launch will give us the precious months we need to make the game perfect,” the studio said.

Cyberpunk 2077 will launch on Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.

Source: Polygon.com

The 8 trailers that have us hyped this week

A million movie trailers drop online every week, which can make it hard to keep track of what’s actually coming up in theaters and on home screens. To help parse through the endless stream of upcoming movie and TV releases, we’ve assembled a list of the most exciting (and in some cases, weirdest) trailers that came out this week, along with a hype level rating, tracking whether these particular trailers actually excited us about the upcoming product. Afraid you might have missed something? Fear no more.

This week is heavy on superhero action and nostalgia, though a few less straightforward selections bode well for moving into the future.


Here are just a few of the questions prompted by the Morbius trailer: Who is Morbius? Is Jared Leto allowed to play another superhero? Why is Michael Keaton in this? How twisted is this going to be? So he’s not a vampire? Is that the Doctor from Doctor Who? Who is excited for this movie? As it turns out, Morbius is a Marvel character; afflicted with a rare blood disease, Michael Morbius uses bat DNA to attempt a cure, only to become a “living vampire.”

Movie release date: July 31 in theaters

Hype level: 4. Three points for Michael Keaton, one point for Jared Harris.

This movie would have been cool if it came out in 2012, back when the MCU fandom actually cared about Black Widow. But she’s dead in canon now, and no amount of backstory will make up for the fact that her death kinda sucked. What’s the point in finally fleshing out the original sole female Avenger, after she died just to make Clint Barton sad?

Movie release date: May 1 in theaters

Hype level: 3, but only for Florence Pugh as Natasha Romanoff’s sister figure, Yelena Belova.

Stargirl

Wow, our 2008 dreams of seeing Jerry Spinelli’s 2000 YA book onscreen are coming true, except this trailer makes the adaptation look like Manic Pixie Dream Girl: The Movie without the heartbreaking deconstruction of the book. Boring high-school student Leo would rather blend in — till he meets quirky, free-spirited Stargirl, who would rather stand out. She’s so magical! And fun! And the trailer doesn’t remotely hint at the complicated heartbreak to follow. What will happen? Guess we’ll find out.

Movie release date: March 13 on Disney Plus

Hype level: 5, though this would be higher if this trailer didn’t feel like the film is going to reveal someone dying of cancer in the middle of it.

In Guns Akimbo (the source of those endless “Daniel Radcliffe with two guns” memes), Radcliffe plays an internet troll who crosses the wrong people. So they bolt guns to his hands and order him to kill Samara Weaving, the number one player in a deranged live-action video game where people murder each other on a livestream for an enthused audience. It’s just as wild as it sounds, and it kinda rules.

Movie release date: February 28 in theaters

Hype level: 7, bumped up to a 8 during the scene of Daniel Radcliffe trying to open a door with his GUN HANDS.

Olympic Dreams

This soft, romantic story looks particularly endearing, but why does it sound like the volume has been cranked down to the lowest possible volume? It stars real-life Olympian Alexi Pappas and is reportedly the first film ever shot in the real-life Olympic Village, so points for authenticity.

Movie release date: February 14 in theaters

Hype level: A soft 6, just as soft as everyone’s voices.

The Lovebirds

Kumail Nanjiani is making a career out of movies where he accidentally gets pulled into a crime. Stuber was fine, but the fact that The Lovebirds has Issa Rae piques our interest. This brief trailer is funny and intriguing. We’re optimistic about this one.

Movie release date: April 3 in theaters

Hype level: 7. This looks funny! Love a rom-com that turns to crime.

Dispatches from Elsewhere

AMC has quietly been producing some of the best and strangest shows currently on TV (Better Call Saul, The Terror, R.I.P. Lodge 49), and it seems like they’ve got another gem on their hands with Dispatches from Elsewhere. Created by and starring Jason Segel, the series has an exciting cast — Sally Field, Richard E. Grant, André 3000, and Eve Lindley — and a strange premise. Grant seems to be the head of the “Jejune Institute,” a company promoting nonchalance and apparently running some kind of ARG.

Series release date: March 1 on AMC

Hype level: 10. Richard E. Grant! André 3000!!! What’s not to like?

Little Fires Everywhere

Based on Celeste Ng’s bestselling book of the same name, Little Fires Everywhere pits two very different families against each other in a sleepy suburban town. The trailer for the Hulu original is tense, and as model suburban mother Elena Richardson, Reese Witherspoon delivers some very May I Speak to the Manager vibes.

Series release date: March 18 on Hulu

Hype level: 8 — the book rules, and we’re entering a Reeseasiance!

Source: Polygon.com

The Stages Of A Live Game: How Communities Gravitate To Struggling Games And Find Fun

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

An online game, created by a well-respected developer, and/or as part of a beloved franchise, and/or that is breathlessly anticipated, launches with major technical issues and receives a raft of negative reviews. From there, things get worse. Maybe some features that were promised aren’t in the game. Maybe the game is unplayably buggy. Maybe fans can spot the difference between canvas and nylon.

Whatever the reason, the game becomes a punching bag. Articles keep coming out. Fans keep complaining online. Players who bought the game on Day 1 expecting a polished product are outraged. People who didn’t buy the game are amused. And a highly anticipated, very expensive game now has a reputation for being a Dumpster fire.

All eyes are on the developer. Can they possibly turn this thing around?

That question has been asked and answered quite a few times in the past decade. Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny, No Man’s Sky: these games, and many more, have proven that no launch is too disastrous to recover from. Yet, with the explosion of the indie scene over the last decade and the democratization of game development through accessible platforms like Steam and itch.io, there has never been more great stuff to play at all times.

So what makes players stick with games that launch buggy or broken? What motivates players to return to a game daily even when connectivity issues mean they sometimes can’t even actually play it? Why do players spend time talking about games on message boards and social media when the rest of the gaming world has already moved on, dismissing these titles as “dead games”?

To answer that question, we took to Reddit and Twitter looking for players that are passionate about the games that make a bad first impression. Some have witnessed their game of choice find redemption. No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV players have been through the worst of it and now get to enjoy playing some of the best live service games available. Others–like the folks posting in r/GhostReconBreakpoint, r/AnthemTheGame, and r/fo76–are still waiting for their comeback. All in all, we spoke with roughly 40 players who believe that games can, and often do, get better over time.

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The Rocky Launch

As recently as September 2019, the cycle began again.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the latest entry in Ubisoft’s long-running stealth-action series, is the most recent service game to launch to negative reviews and disappointing sales. We gave it a 4 back in September, praising its infiltration mechanics and satisfying headshots, but feeling that, overall, it was a mish-mash of half-hearted ideas. The negative press and low sales were loud enough that Ubisoft pushed multiple big games into the next fiscal year. Much of the broader Ghost Recon community has avoided Ghost Recon Breakpoint, instead opting to stick with its still-active predecessor, Ghost Recon: Wildlands.

Breakpoint hasn’t really moved beyond this phase. Though Ubisoft put out a patch In November that made more than 100 changes, the loot-shooter still has a long way to go, and still has yet to prove, for many players, that there’s a reason that it needs to exist at all, in a world where The Division 2 and Ghost Recon: Wildlands–games that came from the same publisher and feature many similar mechanics–still have active communities.

“I felt a genuine wave of relief when I heard the rotors of the AH-6 overhead and knew my buddies had come to rescue me.”

Even so, some players have found plenty to enjoy (and post about). Breakpoint player Mizu, an active member of the r/GhostReconBreakpoint subreddit, told GameSpot about the time her team’s transport ended up on the business end of a surface-to-air missile launcher.

“The pilot knew he couldn’t out-maneuver it in the great big transport he was flying, so he called for everyone to bail out,” she said. “All four of us managed to successfully evacuate before the missile struck, but we were scattered across the mountains. The others landed pretty close to each other, but I got lost in the mist and ended up boots down on a mountain several kilometers away.

“Our routine faction mission grind was interrupted by an impromptu rescue operation while the others scrambled to regroup and commandeer an AH-6 to pick me up. Meanwhile, I’d been spotted by an Azreal (a surveillance drone) while I was falling down the mountain and was forced to find an impromptu defensive position in an abandoned cabin. I think that was one of the moments I felt most immersed. Trying to beat back the Wolves who were hunting me, and the Sentinel patrols that had been alerted by the sounds of our firefight. I felt a genuine wave of relief when I heard the rotors of the AH-6 overhead and knew my buddies had come to rescue me. It’s the things you didn’t expect or plan for that shine the most. You can only have those kinds of experiences in an open-world like this.”

In a reactive game like Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, bugs can even become part of the charm. Interesting stories often result as unwieldy jank pairs with functioning systems. If the joy of Breakpoint is in “things you didn’t expect or plan,” moments of bugginess can contribute to the fun.

“My buddy and I were trying to capture a Sentinel Captain a little while ago. We needed him alive so I shot him in the leg,” Mizu remembered. “He exploded.”

More often, however, bugs–“spectacular” though they may be–are just bugs, and communities persist in spite of them.

Fallout 76 stumbled at launch as players struggled to overcome bugs, followed by Bethesda’s offer of a subscription version of the game.

More Mistakes

In a time of frequent, turbulent Internet outrage, a game’s very real, critique-worthy flaws are often both amplified and obscured by the vitriolic hatred, abuse, and harassment that angry fans hurl at developers. That is, of course, true for live games as well. But while puddles shrinking in Marvel’s Spider-Man or the National Dex being removed from Pokémon Sword and Shield stirred the ire of small portions of each game’s fanbase, a disastrous launch for a massive AAA live game invites the ridicule of the entire game-playing Internet.

And under that level of increased scrutiny, mistakes seem to snowball. For example, Fallout 76 was critically panned upon release. It was hampered at the start by a lack of NPCs, an empty-feeling world, and severe technical issues. Bethesda worked hard to address those troubles–one patch in January included fixes for 150 bugs–but often ended up playing Whack-a-Mole with the game’s problems. When Bethesda fixed one bug, it broke the game in new ways. This was exacerbated by missteps outside the confines of the game’s virtual Appalachia. Bethesda sent some fans who paid for the $200 Power Armor Edition nylon bags instead of the promised canvas ones, sparking outrage. Then the company leaked the personal information of numerous customers.

One year after release, Fallout 76 is no longer on fire. But that doesn’t mean that the game has turned around completely. In October, Bethesda began selling Fallout 1st–a $12.99-a-month subscription service that granted paying players access to private servers and a private scrapbox–on the same day that rave reviews hit for Obsidian’s Fallout spiritual successor, The Outer Worlds. The decision to add a subscription service to the struggling game was roundly mocked on the Internet, despite the real utility it offered for fans.

Even in a situation like this, during which the community is divided on Fallout 1st, avid players highlight the reasons that, for many, Fallout 76 is worth sticking with. A group of more than 300 Fallout 76 players used their Fallout 1st subscriptions as a jumping-off point for roleplay, forming the Apocalyptic Aristocracy. They leaned into the accusations of elitism that accompanied a subscription, posing for posh group pictures and, tongue firmly in-cheek, referring to players who didn’t shell out for the subscription as “peasants.” Like Fallout’s vault dwellers, these players made the best of a bad situation. And that’s what Fallout 76 roleplayers have been doing since launch–carving out their own unique, flashy identities in the wasteland.

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“I have a memory of a guy wearing a full Power Armor set sporting a minigun showing up in my camp demanding I ‘pay my taxes’ or he will destroy my base. This was before they removed camp damage from the game,” said itscmillertime, a Reddit user who has been playing Fallout 76 since a week after launch. “I found the whole thing pretty hilarious until his minigun started to wind up. I logged out before he could damage more than a wall. I give him credit for creativity at least.”

Fallout 76, building on the foundation of 20 years of role-playing games, naturally attracts players who are interested in fully embodying their characters. Anthem, while a major departure from the single-player, choice-focused RPGs BioWare had developed in the past, similarly draws in players who want to show off. While it’s difficult to roleplay a character in Anthem, customization options make it fairly easy to design an extremely cool Javelin (the in-game Iron Man-esque exo-suit). Both games provide an outlet for self-expression.

“One would think, ‘How could anyone like a game that’s so repetitive with its missions?’ Indeed it is, but for me it’s not about that,” said Sam “JetstreamSAM-I-M” Safi, a frequent poster on the Anthem-centric subreddit r/FashionLancers. “This game, to me, feels more like showing off what you have. There are people who share the legendary items they achieve in the game and there are other people commenting about how much they are looking for that. And when the time comes when they do achieve it [they feel satisfied].”

“Although there are no mics and you travel the cosmos solo, you feel the comradery.”

But sometimes communities are just plain nice, and the No Man’s Sky fandom is famously kind. The game launched with a dearth of content that turned off many players expecting a space-faring adventure across a huge, endlessly interesting universe. But in response to those criticisms, Hello Games released several free updates over years, eventually completely reshaping their game.

In 2019, a group of generous fans, led by Reddit user Cameron G, raised thousands of dollars to purchase a billboard reading, “Thank You, Hello Games,” outside the developer’s Guildford office. After the crowdfunding campaign closed, the group used the extra money to buy lunch and beer for the development team and then donated the remaining cash to the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation.

In-game, players are often similarly big-hearted.

“One day while in the Nexus, my wife needed my help, [so] I left my character AFK and when I returned someone has gifted me 250 million units worth of items,” said Reddit user IrascibleClown. “It made the game a little less stressful since, I play in survival, and now I pass things on to newer players. Although there are no mics and you travel the cosmos solo, you feel the comradery.”

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Righting the Ship

Every rocky launch holds the potential for eventual redemption. Reddit user SirGuinnesshad, talking about Anthem, put it succinctly: “I’ve seen enough games turn a rough launch around that I still have hope.”

For Final Fantasy XIV players who have stuck around since the initial launch in 2010, that kind of hope has been richly rewarded.

“It felt incredible to be on the ground floor,” said Ryan “Nova” Litteral, who has been playing FFXIV since its 1.0 release. “It truly felt like the developers appreciated us and tried to recognize our dedication with the Legacy subscriptions and tattoos; some of the very few things in-game that are still truly exclusive.”

“It’s like being in a secret club and recognizing other members while you’re out and about,” he said. “Even after [A Realm Reborn] launched and the various expansions have been released, the game has still continued to grow and evolve and that same feeling is here. With every expansion launch, I’m reminded of how good it feels to be there for Day 1 with so many people around the world. Not to mention the fact that the game itself actually introduced me to my fiancée. We met each other raiding the Omega Savage series during Stormblood, clear across the country from each other. Now we’ve moved in together, it’s years later, and we’re set to be married in Hawaii in September 2020. So many great things in my life that came to be because of Final Fantasy–a game that absolutely flopped in the beginning but rose from the ashes and became something great.”

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Not everyone finds their soulmate because of a game, of course. But every live game has the potential to grow and change and exceed expectations. Communities pop up in unexpected places and the fans who flock to service games are admirably resilient.

We will almost never move past rocky launches, entirely. As Kotaku’s Jason Schreier tweeted regarding Bungie’s rough launch for Destiny 2: Shadowkeep (in response to a request for an expose on why all live games seem to have some degree of issues at launch): “On day one the game might have 4x as many players as it will on every subsequent day. It’s cheaper to have a rough launch day than it is to maintain more servers than you actually need. (Also this shit is really hard).”

Live games are massive undertakings. Artists and engineers from a variety of disciplines come together to try to create something from nothing, then attempt to build and maintain an infrastructure that will allow them to share that something with millions of people at once. It will never be easy. But there will always be players who manage to see the beauty through the cracks.

Source: GameSpot.com

Leaked Rise of Skywalker art hints at what might have been

An art book detailing the making of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s appears to have concept paintings drawn from the rumored early script draft written by Colin Trevorrow.

The book, “Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” is due to release on March 31. A fan on Twitter posted images of several of its pages on Thursday. Many of the concepts seem to reference ideas from Trevorrow’s script, which leaked out earlier in the week and whose details have since been independently verified by several outlets.

Two of the pages show Kylo Ren, evidently on Mustafar, discovering a Sith Holocron that Palpatine had left for Vader. Another tweet shows Kylo Ren standing before a hideous, multiple-armed monster on another world; apparently this is Tor Valum, the Sith master who trained Palpatine and will train Ren.

Other pages show concept art that seems to directly reference events actually shown in The Rise of Skywalker, such as Rey and Kylo Ren’s duel amongst the Death Star debris on the churning seas of Exegol.

Trevorrow and Derek Connolly were both given writing credits for The Rise of Skywalker even though their script was not used. Trevorrow is best known for writing Jurassic World, but Lucasfilm executive producer Kathleen Kennedy was said to be unhappy with what he turned in back in 2018. An official statement at the time said only that Trevorrow/Connolly and Lucasfilm had mutually agreed to go their separate ways.

Source: Polygon.com

A ‘Games Under $20’ sale at the PlayStation Store leads MLK Day weekend’s best gaming deals

Long weekends aren’t only good for shortening your work week. Most retailers also take advantage of the extra day off by running sales tied to the holiday. Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn’t one of the biggest Monday holidays in terms of discounts, but there are a few nice gaming deals to be found.

The PlayStation Store is having a “Games Under $20” sale, with discounted PS4 games all under $19.99. Some quality indie games as well as older classics are on sale, including our favorite game of 2019, Outer Wilds.

If you haven’t yet played Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you may have felt like you played the whole Masahiro Sakurai during Thursday’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character reveal. Spoilers or no, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is well worth playing (it was one of our top 100 games of the decade.) It’s on sale right now at Amazon for $49.94, which is about $10 off retail price.

Finally, Microsoft’s redesigned Elite controller adds Bluetooth and a rechargeable battery, as well as some tweaks to the thumbsticks, bumpers, and grips. The new model was just released in November, but Amazon Prime members can already save $20.

Consoles and hardware

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Source: Polygon.com

Frog Detective Is The Hero We Need In 2020

After a busy year of video games, the slower pace of January is a great time for us to go back and play some of the cool, smaller titles that we might have passed over while trying to keep up with the big blockbusters of the end of the year. In this article, we take a look at the wonderfully charming Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard, as well as two fiendish puzzle games for those who like a little more (well, a lot more) challenge: Superliminal and Kine.

In retrospect, 2019 was actually pretty rich for the indie scene, and it’s nice to see some of the games we’d previously mentioned in this column making it to a few best-of lists around the internet–if you missed them, you can go back and check out our takes on Eliza, A Short Hike, and Anodyne 2, as well as Mutazione, Wilmot’s Warehouse, and Fit For A King. Don’t sleep on these super cool games!


Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard

I feel like we could do with a bit more wholesomeness right about now. The second and, if the unexpected post-credits scene is accurate, evidently not the last in the Frog Detective Investigations series offers a welcome respite from the bleak realities of raging bushfires, corporate greed, and bellicose presidents. It’s a world without crime, after all, despite the confusingly-named Frog Detective Crime Solving Agency.

It’s also a world where the kind folk of Warlock Woods come together to throw a welcome parade to their devastatingly shy new neighbour, and reluctantly call in the services of the titular frog detective when they discover the parade preparations have been trashed. Everyone in Warlock Woods is just so damn nice… well, except for Victor perhaps, but he’s only a little grumpy because he’s so hungry. Still, they’re a friendly lot, a close-knit community of talking animals who have refreshingly progressive views on how to receive a complete stranger into their small town.

Actual detective work is light on the ground. You cannot leave your office to travel to the town without first collecting your trusty magnifying glass, but it’s a red herring really, and utterly useless for the task at hand. Instead, you’re best served by chatting with the townsfolk and making gentle enquiries as to their whereabouts on the night in question. There are some trifling puzzles to overcome to push the story forward, but for the most part, you’re here to enjoy the witty dialogue and revel in the whimsical nature of it all.

Be warned: this is a short game, as the Steam page makes very clear. In a sense, it’s almost a perfectly formed one, and best played in one sitting over the course of about an hour. The writing is sharp, the banter between the animals silly yet crammed full of genuinely smart and laugh out loud exchanges. It’s goofy without slipping into wackiness, and facetious without sliding into sarcasm. Hitting on a tone that’s just the right mix of playful and good-natured, Frog Detective 2 delivers a delightfully mischievous mystery to solve.

It’s like: LA Noire spent a Night in the Woods in the Animal Crossing village

Get Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard on Steam and Itch.io


Kine

A musical trio featuring drums, accordion, and trombone may not suggest ear-catching potential, but when the three are asked to jam in this pop-jazz puzzler it’s hard to resist toe-tapping along to the beat.

Kine presents a series of discrete spatial puzzles that sprawl out across a kind of big band infused cityscape. Aesthetically it screams–well, rather shuffles and struts–early 20th century New York, all bright lights and big beats and Broadway. Each puzzle takes place on a small grid and you must maneuver your musical instrument, whether it’s drum, trombone, or accordion, across the grid to a goal square.

The catch is that the block-shaped instruments can only be moved by rolling them on their side, a task that’s made trickier through the devious gaps in the floor and pillars that block the obvious path. Each instrument has different dimensions and movement mechanics to consider too–the accordion, for example, can extend either vertically or horizontally, changing its shape on the fly and thus the squares of the grid its now eligible to roll onto. The L-shaped trombone is even more complex. It can be reconfigured along two axes and is prone to find its movement impeded by the increasing number of obstructions around the grid.

The difficulty ramps up gently as you’re introduced to the three instruments in turn. Later levels become fiendishly fraught when the trio finally comes together and you’re required to switch between them to solve the puzzle. Moving the drums just so to create a new platform for the accordion to land on which in turn will open up a route for the trombone, and so on. These later levels encourage you to visualise the shape of the board several moves in advance, which is exhausting in the moment but thrilling to solve.

I had to take breaks after every few levels when my head was too cluttered with geometry. The compulsive, looping jazz soundtrack kept me returning, though, driving me forward onto the next puzzle grid of musical gymnastics with its percussive momentum.

It’s like: Stephen’s Sausage Roll by way of Cadence of Hyrule and Jazzpunk

Get Kine on the Epic Game Store and digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.


Superliminal

Superliminal is a puzzle game about how we see the world, and how much your perspective on the world matters. And it really wants you to understand that its core mechanic is also a metaphor for the infinite ways we collectively see the world. We’ve all got our own perspective, but wouldn’t it be good if we could see things from another vantage point? Maybe a change of perspective might, you know, change some perspectives.

That core mechanic initially sees you able to pick up certain objects and alter their size depending on how they’re set back down into the environment. Walk real close to a tiny ball so it appears large, then pick it up and suddenly it’ll be enormous when you look up and drop it in the middle of a room. Conversely, grab something large from a distance and it’ll shrink in your hands, letting you set down a miniature version. It’s a startling effect the first time you see it, and that sense of wonder–that feeling you’re performing some kind of illicit dark magic every time you pick something up–only dissipates slightly over the course of the game.

Other mechanics are added to your puzzle-solving repertoire, letting you utilise negative space to your advantage or allowing the seemingly infinite replication of interactable objects, among others. Some of these additions are more successful than others, and while they do extend the palette of puzzle types, it’s that core “is it big or is it small?” conceit that conjures the most satisfying conundrums to crack, especially the second-to-last series of challenges that take the core idea and twist it back in on itself in an unexpectedly giddying manner.

The denouement to this Portal-esque series of puzzle chambers is a little anticlimactic in terms of its difficulty, though it never fails to throw up fascinating new environments that you’ll want to thoroughly explore. And it’s here where the “how about a new perspective?” narrative metaphor becomes laboured to a point verging on parody, though the earnestness of its all-too-obvious message did make me feel bad for rolling my eyes.

Don’t let the clumsy theme deter you, Superliminal remains an inventive and eye-opening puzzle game throughout.

It’s like: Portal enrolled at the Stanley Parable and brought a bag of Photoshop tricks.

Get Superliminal on the Epic Game Store.

Source: GameSpot.com