The weekend is for snow! Which means it’s the perfect time to make some soup and play some video games!
I am still playing Red Dead Redemption 2. Are you? I’ve pretty much given up on ever finishing and am now working on making my peace with that.
I’m also going to spend some time practicing my building in Fortnite. Recently I’ve been playing squads with strangers, which is a lot more fun than my usual habit of playing solo and getting eliminated almost instantly. But playing with others makes my complete lack of building skills frighteningly apparent, so it’s probably time to rectify that. I’ve never really practiced a video game skill before. Do you have any advice? And let me know what you’re playing this weekend!
The next fighter to join Dragon Ball FighterZ looks set to be Jiren, the incredibly powerful member of the Pride Troopers that served as the main antagonist for Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power arc. Although developer Arc System Works and publisher Bandai Namco haven’t officially announced Jiren yet, a scan from Japanese magazine Shonen Jump has appeared online showing him.
The image, which you can see below, features Super Saiyan Blue Goku clashing with Jiren, which is reminiscent of their brawls in the Dragon Ball Super anime series. The Dragon Ball FighterZ logo is featured prominently alongside them, all but officially announcing his arrival.
On January 17 it was teased that more information about DLC for the fighting game would be revealed at the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour Finals, which take place on January 26-27. “The Warrior from Universe 11 is joining the fight,” Bandai Namco said in a tweet, sparking speculation that the character in question would likely be Jiren.
Plans for Dragon Ball FighterZ DLC beyond this character haven’t been confirmed as of yet, but Jiren could be the first in a second season of content for the game. Dragon Ball FighterZ has proven itself to be popular among fighting game aficionados and was one of the big draws at 2018’s EVO fighting game tournament. This, along with a resurgence in popularity thanks to the Super series and the new Broly movie, no doubt makes ongoing support for the game more enticing for its developer and publisher.
The game was also received well by critics. GameSpot awarded it a 9/10 in our Dragon Ball FighterZ review, calling it “a Dragon Ball fighting game that can go toe-to-toe with the best of the genre.” Critic Peter Brown described it as “complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there’s no question that it’s been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball’s most dedicated fans.”
“Where past games attempted to get there through huge character rosters and deliberately predictable trips down memory lane, FighterZ has bottled the essence of what makes the series’ characters, animation, and sense of humor so beloved and reconfigured it into something new,” he added.
In addition to more Dragon Ball FighterZ DLC information, Bandai Namco is expected to talk about other Dragon Ball games at the World Tour Finals. The company has confirmed that a new Dragon Ball RPG is in development, and fans are no doubt hoping to hear and perhaps see more of that.
Less than one week ago, more than 11,800 players set out on the Distant Worlds 2 expedition, heading for the edge of the Milky Way in Elite: Dangerous. As part of the fleet, I’ve traveled more than 5,500 light years across the galaxy, fully five times farther than my little ship and I have ever flown before.
In the fiction of Elite, the Omega Nebula is now home to thousands of independent contractors at the Omega Mining Operation. Their outpost, situated inside a massive asteroid within the rings of an otherwise inhospitable planet, is effectively the only place to get a fresh cup of coffee for thousands of light years in any direction.
For players unaccustomed to traveling such long distances, it’s a great place to repair their ships before heading on. Personally, that meant patching a few holes equivalent to about 12 percent of my ship’s total integrity, damage which I attribute to a real-world calibration issue with my Logitech X52 flight stick. Over the next 17 weeks I’ll need to be a lot more careful when I go in for a landing.
I wasn’t the only commander to have an accident. The fleet has seen a decent amount of attrition thanks to one planet in particular. Known as The View, it’s an excellent place to land and take in the sights — a neutron star blazing away near a black hole just over the horizon of a small, purple-ringed world. But at 3.3 times the gravity of our Earth, the little bastard is a real pain in the ass to land on.
According to information gathered by the Elite Dangerous Star Map (EDSM), a player-managed database fed by data logs automatically generated by Elite itself, 54 players have crashed into the surface this week, ending their trip before it had even really begun.
In one clip shared to Reddit, you can see a player trying desperately to bring their Anaconda-class starship in for a landing after an initial descent that was way too fast. They manage to pull out of a dive at the last minute. They wait as long as they can to hit their boosters in a desperate attempt to gain altitude, but eventually they run out of steam. The big ship stalls out a few hundred meters above the surface, wheels over in a sickening hammerhead turn, and then belly flops into the dust below. The ensuing explosion is devastating.
Note that at more than 140 meters in length the Anaconda is one of the largest ships in Elite. The closest real-world analog to this digital disaster would be crashing one of the United States Navy’s brand-new littoral combat ships (LCS) into the surface of Earth’s moon.
The administrator of EDSM tells Polygon that the number of crashes on The View is unprecedented. They only have record of 11 accidents previously in their database, which goes back to October 2017.
As dangerous as the journey has been so far, it’s been an awful lot of fun for two role-playing groups who have come along for the ride.
The newly formed Hull Seals is a small band of fleet repair vessels stood up just weeks before the fleet launched. Representatives tell Polygon that they’ve performed more than 120 repairs of player ships so far. According to data tracked by its members, roughly half of their missions have been in the vicinity of The View.
One particularly long-range repair required seven Hull Seals to jump a total of 7,000 light years. The client was a player who smacked into a high-gravity world much like The View. Instead of losing the ship, however, they were able to land safely and take off again, but not before reducing their ship to just 16 percent of its initial strength.
Without the Hull Seals they’d have likely burned up trying to get refueled in the corona of a star before making it back to safe harbor.
Additionally, Elite’s famous Fuel Rats have made 10 deliveries to players stuck in star systems with empty tanks. Fuel in the spacefaring MMO is either purchased at a base or scooped directly from the corona of a star. Jump into a star system where the stars are too hot to scoop, however, and it’s easy to get stuck without enough fuel to jump out.
Without the help of the Fuel Rats, those 10 players would have had to self destruct their ships and restart their journeys from scratch.
They should have sent a poet
When I first committed myself to following the Distant Worlds 2 expedition early last year I expected to put in a lot of time in order to keep up with the fleet. Preparing for the journey was, frankly, the worst part. I spent the better part of two weeks sniffing exhaust fumes around busy starports and turning the game on and off again in order to glitch rare resources into existence so I could upgrade my ship.
But, now that the expedition has started in earnest, I’m having the time of my life.
Most of that joy is thanks to expedition leader Commander Erimus Kamzel’s itinerary, which is guiding me and thousands of other players from waypoint to waypoint. Not only has Erimus been to the edge of the Milky Way and back a few times already, he’s taken that knowledge and used it to create a kind of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Combined with annotations from EDSM, his notes not only warn participants to possible dangers, but serve as a way to interpret what you’re likely to see along the way.
My journey so far has taken me to HR 6164, home of The View but also to a unique tourist destination. The massive man-made structure sits in high orbit around a flickering neutron star, its arms flung out into space and spinning wildly to create a small amount of gravity for its well-heeled guests. In order to approach the facility safely I had to steer around the black hole that lingers in orbit just three light seconds away.
From there I sailed my ship, the Evelynne Christine, to within 350,000 kilometers of another massive black hole called Thor’s Eye. In Elite, getting that close to a black hole isn’t terribly dangerous, but the closer you get the harder it is to keep your bearings. When flying in virtual reality the experience is even more intense.
It was like flying along the edge of an oily soap bubble only to break through the surface and get stuck inside.
The colossal forces at work inside the black hole actually distorted the bright light from millions of distant stars in the galactic core. Pinpoints that had at first been fixed in space began to swim deliriously around my cockpit. To make my way out I had to focus on my instrumentation, keep the black hole behind me, and accelerate to safety.
From there, I traveled through the Lagoon Nebula and the Cinnabar Moth Nebula. Beyond was a field of young stars in the PW2010 Supercluster. According to EDSM, the region is home to more than 800 young, hot stars as well as several black holes and neutron stars.
Traveling into the supercluster from a few hundred light years out felt like falling headlong into a forest of brightly glowing trees. Once I was inside of them the structure itself vanished, but I’m sure I’ll see the forest once more on my way out next week.
Tonight, after I log out of work, I’ll make dinner and then I’ll put the kids to bed. Once the house is quiet, I’ll launch my spaceship from deep within the bowels of a hollowed-out asteroid and ease my ship into space once more.
On my second monitor, I’ll log into the fleet’s official Discord channel so that I can check in with the other players making the trek in real time. In another window I’ll flip on the expedition’s pirate radio station, staffed by other players volunteering their time and talents to spin records and do short in-fiction advertisements and skits. Perhaps I’ll request a few songs from the commander/disc jockey working the overnight.
But, after I’ve said my hellos, it’ll be off into the black to do some exploration.
As part of the fleet, there’s plenty of work to be done. Unlike the dozens of times before when I’ve gone out on my own in Elite, this time I’ll be sharing the same goals as nearly 13,000 other like-minded players.
In a few weeks’ time the plan is to try and build a new starbase at the center of the Milky Way. Once completed, it will be the furthest outpost of human civilization ever constructed in the game. Throughout the next seven days, players in the Distant Worlds 2 fleet have been asked to fling themselves from star to star looking for specific resources that will allow that starbase to be built.
If a sizable deposit gets been located, either in the dense rings around a gas giant or in an asteroid cluster closer to a system’s central stars, the plan is to send back coordinates to expedition organizers on Discord. Once all the scouting report have been analyzed, leaders will assign follow-on flights of specialized mining ships to extract as much ore as they can carry before returning to the Omega Nebula to unload.
If I’m lucky, perhaps this weekend I’ll stumble across a motherlode of cobalt, indite, or praseodymium for other players to exploit. It won’t earn me any points with a particular in-game faction, and it probably won’t earn me all that much money either. But it would mean a lot to the community as a whole, and even more to the handful of players who would have the pleasure of cracking into those space rocks with futuristic tools from the year 3305.
Here’s hoping I don’t wander too close to a black hole in the process.
Two former Bandai employees have been arrested on suspicion of swindling the company out of 200 million yen ($1.8 million) between July 2013 and November 2016.
According to The Tokyo Reporter and ANN News, the ex-employees, 44-year-old Takashi Udatsu and 66-year-old Takao Kurokawa, have been accused of faking documents. Specifically, Nifty News adds that in 2013 they allegedly inflated the budget for Tokyo’s giant Gundam for things like LED lighting to the tune of approximately 100 million yen ($914,000).
Bandai discovered the alleged crimes during an internal investigation in October 2017. Udatsu has confessed, while Kurokawa is quoted as saying he had nothing to do with the alleged crimes.
The final sequences of Travis Strikes Again have some interesting twists for fans of Grasshopper Manufacture’s games who might want to know what’s coming next from Goichi Suda’s studio. If you want to experience them for yourself, read no further! If you’d rather get spoiled, this is for you.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, out today for Nintendo Switch, consists of levels presented as individual “virtual reality” games that are played by acquiring items known as Death Balls. Travis finds new Death Balls during sequences that play out like old-school computer adventure games.
The penultimate Death Ball is acquired from a “real asshole” named Damon Riccitiello. He’s the CEO of “Utopinia,” a Silicon Valley tech company with a sprawling campus including a “full cafeteria” and a soccer field, which Travis dismisses as “just for show.”
Any comparison one might draw to one John Riccitiello, who is now the CEO of game engine company Unity and was the CEO of Electronic Arts when the company published Grasshopper’s 2011 game Shadows of the Damned, is, I am sure, totally coincidental.
Travis gets the Death Ball from Riccitiello, which is said to contain an RPG called “Serious Moonlight.” But once he starts playing it, it turns out to actually contain a game called “Damned: Dark Knight,” which, yes, is a pseudo-sequel to Shadows of the Damned, a real-life Grasshopper Manufacture game that apparently also exists in the fictional world of No More Heroes.
Throughout this level, Travis gets to meet up with Shadows protagonist Garcia Hotspur and his talking gun Johnson. The sequence also seems to break the fourth wall a bit by hinting that a new port of the game might be on the way, or that we may even see the future adventures of Garcia at some point.
After “Damned,” there’s one final level between you and the game’s ending. I won’t spoil what gets revealed in it, even though we’re deep into spoiler territory here, because it doesn’t contain anything I’d consider newsworthy. But there’s also a post-credits stinger that—again, if we’re taking the game’s fourth-wall breaking as an indicator of real-life happenings—teases No More Heroes 3.
Once the credits finish rolling, we see (and can control) Travis inside a gray-box development environment. Here’s how the brief sequence goes down:
The scene closes on the No More Heroes logo.
So, what’s real, and what’s fiction?
“TSA is a game commemorating Grasshopper Manufacture’s 20th anniversary, so it contains a handful of cameos from previous Grasshopper characters, some of which are featured largely as with Shadows of the Damned,” said Suda in a statement emailed to Kotaku.
“Please think of it as a sort of allusion to the next 20 years and beyond in the future of Grasshopper, as well as a passionate message regarding our strong desire to make NM3.”