Big Bad Wolf Studios, the developers behind the narrative RPG The Council, has partnered with White Wolf and Paradox to create a new game set in The World Of Darkness tabletop universe. This new game, Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong will release in 2021 and will be based on Vampire’s fifth edition tabletop rules and mechanics.
In Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong, players will be able to take control of three different vampires. Using these different characters, players will have to figure out the truth behind murders, conspiracies and other vampire shenanigans.
Last year, Big Bad Wolf Studios released The Council, an episodic RPG with a big focus on narrative. It seems this new Vampire title will be a lot like The Council, according to a press release about the game.
Every Pokemon is interesting and worth talking about. I don’t play a ton of Pokemon, but I do enjoy the universe and I love learning more about the creatures in it. So, Here’s Another Pokemon! It’s Duskull!
Average Height: 2′ 07″
Average Weight: 33.1 lbs.
First Added In Generation III
Throughout history, parents have used creepy stories and monsters to scare children into being good. “Don’t steal or an evil demon will grab you when you sleep!” Stuff like that. And in the Pokemon universe, this tradition continues. But there is one big difference between the Pokemon universe and our world: Monsters are real and everywhere. And Duskull is very real and the children of the Pokemon universe should be afraid. Very afraid.
Duskull is a small ghost Pokemon creature who is said to grab up disobedient children. Parents use this story to scare their kids and make them behave. But the stories of Duskull are based on true facts. According to Pokedex entries listed on Bulbapedia, Duskull loves the sound of crying children. I’m not exaggerating. This is the actual text from multiple Pokedex entries from multiple games. It not only loves the sound of crying children, but it will even try to make children cry using their powers.
Duskull can actually turn invisible and pass through thick walls, which is useful when you are trying to hunt down children. It is said that Duskull will even phase through walls to scare children, just to hear them cry. Duskull seems like an asshole, honestly.
If you become Duskull’s target, it will hunt you all night long. Pokedex entries make this very clear. Duskull will not stop hunting their victims until either they catch their target or the sun comes up. What will Duskull do once it catches you? I’m not sure. Nothing good, I assume. Regardless, I think a bunch of kids in the Pokemon universe are going to be on their best behavior after hearing about Duskull, the ghost who loves crying kids.
Favorite Fan Art
Even though Duskull is a creepy ghost that loves making kids cry, that doesn’t mean they can’t also be cute. They have a nice little pumpkin too. Awww… I guess Duskull isn’t so bad…
Duskull is usually found in floating around, alone, in the dark woods.
For some reason, Duskull only has one eye. Which means that isn’t their skull they are wearing.
It is said that if Duskull glares at a person with its creepy red-eye, it can make that person freeze in terror.
Best Comment From Last Week
A few years ago I caught a shiny Gourgeist on Halloween night while in the emergency room wearing a pirate outfit. My friend cut her thumb and needed stitches, and I had to sit there for 5 hours. It was actually the most boring Halloween I ever experienced.
Hospitals are maybe the most boring places on Earth. If you are there for medical reasons or someone you know is in a bad condition, it might not feel boring. But just sitting around a hospital for minor reasons is like hanging out in a black hole that sucks all time and fun into it. So you sound like a great friend for staying there on Halloween night. (And you were smart to bring something to play to kill the time.)
As reported by Variety, Cho, while filming a scene in New Zealand, sustained a serious knee injury. Due to the severity of the injury, and Netflix’s unwillingness to recast his role, Cowboy Bebop’s production has been halted for his recovery, which reportedly could mean seven to nine months of delays.
It’s not clear what happened precisely to cause the injury, but it was, according to a source, not a big stunt that would have been a likely villain for such a mishap. These things happen, though. One time I hurt my knee walking into the kitchen to get pasta. Couldn’t walk for two weeks. Had a bad time.
Anyway, Cho himself seems to be in good humor about the situation, posting a Bruce Lee quote on his Instagram: “Water can flow or it can crash.” And crash indeed it did. Also props to Netflix for sticking with Cho, who is a compelling choice for Spike Spiegel, the coolest bounty hunter alive.
Cowboy Bebop will resume production sometime next year.
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Earlier today at PDXCON 2019, Paradox Interactive revealed a ton of new expansions for many of their popular games. They also announced a new sequel to Crusader Kings II and a delay for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.
Prison Architect Is Getting A New Expansion In 2020
This new expansion wasn’t given an official name or release date, but it looks to be Alcatraz themed. Our best guess: You will get to build and operate island prisons. Paradox also announced that the console exclusive Pysch Ward DLC will be coming to PC on November 21, 2019.
Stellaris Is Also Getting A New Expansion And New Aliens
Paradox is releasing a new species pack for Stellaris soon, on October 24. This new species is rock-based and will feature new gameplay and in-game portraits. And later this year, a bigger expansion will be released. Federations will add more diplomacy features and a galactic senate as well as new ways to team up with other alliances and governments.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 Has Been Delayed
Originally set to launch in early 2020, the game will now launch later than expected. It is still coming out in 2020, but no window was given. The developers released a blog post detailing their reasons for delaying the game, stating “… there’s the responsibility to avoid some of the issues that plagued the first game, which was famously launched too early.”
Surviving The Aftermath Launches Into Early Access On The Epic Game Store
The successor to the popular Surviving Mars, Surviving The Aftermath is a management sim that is all about living in a post-apocalyptic world. The game is available today in Early Access on the Epic Game Store and on Xbox One via the Game Preview program.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Revelations expansion announced
Wow, they really had a lot of expansions to announce, didn’t they? Add this one to the long list of new expansions. This is the first expansion for Age Of Wonders: Planetfall and it add a new faction, over 30 new locations, new campaign missions and more. This big expansion will be out on November 19.
A New Battletech Expansion Is Coming
Heavy Metal is a new expansion for Battletech that will add eight new mechs featuring several classic designs, a Flashpoint mini-campaign, and eight weapon systems. If you have the Season Pass, Heavy Metal is included in that. The new expansion comes out on November 21.
Crusader Kings III, then, is obviously trying to keep everything that made CKII special, while at the same time making the whole experience not just prettier, but easier to use as well. Graphical improvements are obvious in these screenshots, with nice touches like including individual character designs in their own story development screens (above), but more importantly you’ll also notice that the menu system—taking cues from Imperator—has been pared right back, with a lot of the stuff previously out there, in your face and terrifying to new players now tucked away, to be accessed only when needed.
Most interesting, though, and I’m sure of most relief to curious onlookers previously put off by CKII’s density, is the promise of a new intro framed as “Guided advice to help newcomers navigate a rich medieval world. In-game suggestions tip you off to paths you might not have considered.”
Crusader Kings III is coming next year to Steam and Xbox Game Pass.
Video games are quite fond of the work of M.C. Escher—you’ll see his influence in the mundane labyrinths of Control, the disorienting symmetry of the stealth game Echo, or in the clever puzzles of games like Monument Valley and echochrome. You can now add Manifold Garden to that list. And, like those other games, it’s pretty damn great.
Out today on Apple Arcade and the Epic Games Store, ManifoldGarden is a minimalist puzzle game played from a first-person perspective. You begin in a plain room, and after a spare tutorial teaches you the basics of movement, you’re set loose to wander through a mind-bending maze of stairs, corridors, and strange rooms full of machines made almost entirely of right angles.
Manifold Garden’s most disorienting trick is that you can flip gravity by hitting a button whenever you’re facing a flat surface. That surface is your floor now. It doesn’t take as long as you might think to wrap your head around, largely thanks to some clever design—while the rooms and corridors of Manifold Garden have a muted color palette approaching monochrome, they actually have a color assigned to them that you can’t see from afar but fades in as you get closer. So an off-white wall will move towards violet as you get closer and become full-on purple once you trigger your gravity flip and have its surface beneath you. It does a lot to keep you from losing your damn mind.
Like a lot of clever puzzle games, Manifold Garden teaches you how it world works through play. It’ll present you with colored cubes for opening doors, and then in a later room show you a keyhole that you need to flip gravity to get to. But once you do that, you learn another rule: You can only pick up cubes when standing on a surface that matches their color.
Manifold Garden’s simple, aesthetically pleasing design makes it soothing to play through, even if it is often dizzying. Its world is infinite; you are surrounded by countless copies of the structure you are navigating, suspended in an endless void. If you leap off the edge of a platform, you will fall forever, continually passing the ledge you jumped from until momentum carries you back to where you started. It’s a trip, man.
I like to think Escher was a game designer born too soon, fascinated with the strict rules of mathematics and how they can be followed into a maze of the nonsensical. That’s what games are, sometimes—bewildering towers erected from rigid code, somehow folding together to form a thing that seems to defy simple logic.
You should play Manifold Garden, but perhaps not on a smartphone. You can’t get a good look at infinity on a screen that small.
On Wednesday, controversy surrounding Fortnite golden boy Tyler “Ninja” Blevins resurfaced after a high-profile callout of his apparent avoidance of streaming with female gamers. Blevins defended himself on Twitter and, on Friday afternoon, did in fact play Fortnite with a female gamer.
Blevins was criticized 14 months ago after telling Polygon“I don’t play with female gamers.” At the time he said he didn’t want to put his wife “through that,” saying it could lead to claims of flirting and worse.
It’s unclear how much he streamed with women since then, but a series of events brought the topic back this week.
“He’s one of the most popular streamers on the internet and he doesn’t support women as he publicly announced he will never duo stream with any woman.”
Blevins replied to Caviness three hours later, saying that since the article he has “played squads with multiple women after that article over the last year and a half as well as hosted MANY female streamers.”
Looking back at the 14 months since Blevins’ controversial statement, it’s been difficult to find many female gamers he intentionally queued up with for games. There was the 13-year-old Fortnite streamer Ewok. He also streamed with the 61-year-old talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres. It’s certainly possible he has streamed with more female gamers, but not with any regularity. Some women Blevins’ fans said he’s played with, like Rachel “Asivrs” Retana, weren’t actually tapped by Blevins to be on his stream; they just queued up through the game.
Kotaku has asked Blevins’ team whether they can elaborate on his Tweet and give examples of women he has intentionally queued up for games with. They did not return the request for comment.
Today, however, he sure did it. The woman on his stream is Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, a capable and high-energy streamer for the team 100 Thieves, and the part of Blevins’ chat that’s making it through moderation seems to be enjoying her presence. Others ask: “What happened to no playing with girls?”
Caviness has been receiving a barrage of hate for pointing out Blevins’ 2018 statement. Among thousands of tweets sent to her over the past 24 hours, some have called her a “retard,” a “bitch,” a “thot” and a “feminazi.” Many of these messages defend Blevins’ decision, saying he did it “out of respect for his wife.” (Caviness, whom Kotaku has profiled, has remained relevant on Twitch since 2013 for her satire and provocative sense of humor.)
“At the time [of the Polygon article] he was the most popular Fortnite streamer, played with all of the other popular guy streamers… essentially making it a club that female Fortnite players were left out of,” said Caviness on Twitter. “Being a female in gaming, it upset me. Do I want to play with Ninja? Fuck no, appeasing sponsors and babysitting kids isn’t really my forte.”
Thanks to the ADL for sharing their research on tweets sent to Caviness after her statement.
While those of us who play Fortnite were riveted to last weekend’s black hole, the rest of the world watched us watching it in confusion and, in some cases, curiosity. Almost two days later, when the game finally came back online, many of my friends—and many of you, in the comments—asked if you should get into it. You also asked if you’d get wrecked by a 10-year-old. The answer to both questions is: yes.
Fortnite’s had a pretty massive overhaul following the hole, entering an era that developer Epic is calling Chapter 2. Players are still sussing out the best landing spots and secrets in the game’s new map and learning its new systems. These changes mean it’s a good time to get into things and learn alongside everyone. Here’s what you, a Fortnite newcomer, need to know.
So Fortnite’s just a video game, right? It sounds like a bigger deal than that.
Well, it kind of is. You’ve probably heard of it because of how popular it is, especially with young players. Its in-game dances and slang have filtered out into the real world; my nieces and nephews, who don’t play the game, nevertheless play a game called “Fortnite Tag” in gym class (I don’t entirely understand what it is, but it has “Fortnite” in the name.). The game and its players have also been in the news a lot, beyond just video game publications. Celebrities like musician Drake and TV host Ellen DeGeneres have played it alongside some of its most famous streamers. A lot of artists, in particular black artists, have sued developer Epic for allegedly using dances they invented without compensating them. A 16-year-old won $3 million for winning Fortnite’s World Cup this year. There’s a legal effort in Canada right now to take the game to task for allegedly being addictive. Epic has used some of the money it’s made off the game to launch the Epic Store, a marketplace for PC games that lots of people have strong opinions about. Its big in-game events, like the black hole, get a lot of attention in the press and social media, making Fortnite seem less like a game and more like a whole new world that’s corrupting your kids.
But yeah, it’s just a game.
Like anything, games can be bad when you do them too much. I’ve heard from friends about their kids getting bullied in the game or their grades dropping because they were playing too much, but Fortnite isn’t much better or worse than other games when it comes to these types of issues. It’s also a way for people to do something together or hang out when they’re far apart. It’s colorful, fun, and, even though it has guns in it, there isn’t any blood or gore. So, it’s not destroying society, but a lot of young people really like it, and that can freak adults out.
Millions of people were staring at a black screen for two days. What was with that?
Fortnite isn’t just a screensaver, though you might think that after this week. Long story short: the game is divided into seasons, which last roughly 10 weeks and usually culminate in a big in-game event. The hole was the ending event of Season 10. It started on Sunday afternoon when the game’s entire map got sucked into a black hole following a rocket launch and a big explosion. To players’ surprise, instead of the game going on as it ordinarily would, all you saw when you loaded the game was a black hole. The internet went wild trying to figure out when the game would be playable again. After about 37 hours, at 4 a.m. ET, the game came back online as Chapter 2, with a lot of changes. It was pretty wild of Epic to take the hugely popular game offline for so long, especially during a holiday weekend in Canada and much of the US, so the stunt garnered a lot of attention.
What is Fortnite when it isn’t a hole?
The best-known version of Fortnite is its battle royale mode, which is free to play on computers, Xbox, PS4, Switch, and mobile. That’s not the only Fortnite mode that exists. Back in 2017, developer Epic spun the battle royale part out from its less-popular co-op narrative game, Fortnite: Save The World. Save The World is a paid game, while Battle Royale is free.
In battle royale, 100 players in solos, duos, or teams of four jump from a flying bus onto a map. As the phrase “battle royale” connotes, everybody then tries to kill each other, until there’s just one player standing (or one team of players, depending on the mode). If you aren’t playing solos, the game will team you up with strangers, or you can play with your friends. You start with only a pickaxe and have to find whatever weapons are lying around. Weapons have different colors, which denote how rare or powerful they are. You can also find potions that give you shields, items that give you health, and throwable items like grenades. Also, over the course of a match, a storm closes in on the map. If you get caught in it, you’ll lose health and eventually die. This forces players to keep moving closer to each other.
Fortnite stands out from other battle royales, like PUBG and Apex Legends, because you can destroy stuff in the environment and build with it. Using your pickaxe, you can chop up pieces of the environment, like trees, cars, and rocks, to build useful stuff like walls, floors, and ramps. Building can be tricky to get the hang of when you’re new, but it’s a key component of the game. Someone shooting at you? Build a little hut to hide in. Need to get someplace high? Build a ramp up to it. Learning the basics of building is pretty simple, but knowing what to build, when, and how to do it quickly is a bit harder.
Besides the main 100-player mode, there are other things you can do in Fortnite. There’s a playground mode where you or people you choose can explore the map and practice shooting or building without the pressures of a fight. There’s a creative mode where you can design your own areas and challenges. There are limited-time modes with special rules, like only using certain weapons or flying planes. One of them, called Team Rumble, is now permanent, and it pits two teams of 50 against each other to race to a certain number of kills. There’s also a competitive ranked mode, if you want to be hardcore, but we’ll get to that later.
You said Fortnite was free, but my kids are always asking me for money for it. Are they scamming me?
You might be raising Oliver Twist, but your kids probably want money for the optional items you can get in the game using the in-game currency, V-Bucks. Some of those items come from a system called a battle pass, which gives you in-game stuff as you unlock its levels. Each season has a new battle pass. One version of the battle pass is free and everyone gets it, while another has more rewards and costs about $10. The paid battle pass also has extra in-game challenges you can complete for more experience. V-Bucks can be earned in game, but mostly you buy them with real-world money.
In the current iteration of the game, you level up both battle passes by amassing certain numbers of experience points. You get points for basically everything you do in-game: killing enemies, winning matches, outliving opponents, searching chests, and more. Level rewards include items like different characters, called “skins”; dances and other moves your character can do; “wraps” that make your weapons look different; loading screens; and music tracks. Occasionally, the battle pass doles out some V-Bucks. It’s possible to purchase the next season’s battle pass solely through V-Bucks you earn by playing, but it takes a lot of work.
With the battle pass, you’ll always know what reward you’ll get before you do the task required, which is good. The popularity and transparency of Fortnite’s battle pass has encouraged lots of games to switch to this system as opposed to doling out randomized rewards, which can encourage unhealthy behavior and spending.
There are also outfits and other cosmetics for sale in the in-game store. They’re only available for purchase, and they rotate out regularly. Everything is bought with V-Bucks.
You don’t need to spend any money to play or win, but customizing your character and getting the latest skin or dance is a big part of the game’s appeal. You’ll get plenty of fun stuff with the free pass, but I can see why someone might want to drop some cash on V-Bucks for the paid pass or stuff in the store. Personally, I don’t really buy stuff in the store, though I do pay for the battle pass. I’ve definitely played longer than I intended to so I could get a certain battle pass reward. It isn’t the healthiest choice, but it’s my call as an adult. Set healthy limits for yourself or for your kids, and it should be fine.
I Googled “Fortnite” and now I keep getting offers for free V-Bucks. Have I discovered a loophole?
There are a lot of scams out there that claim to offer free V-Bucks but really just want to steal your passwords or personal information. Make sure you’re buying legit V-Bucks from Epic.
I want to be part of the zeitgeist. Am I too old?
Fortnite’s brand is very kid-friendly and kid-facing, but anyone can play. If you’re worried about voice-chatting with minors, you can mute voice and never have to hear someone talk. As an added bonus, in my experience playing Fortnite makes you seem really cool to kids, as well as to their parents, because you can answer all of the parents’ questions.
Do I have to know the story?
No. Fortnite tells its story weird: Each season has a plot, but it’s mostly told through changes to the game’s landscape, descriptions of character skins, through hidden messages in its loading screens, and through player speculation. This background story culminates in each season’s big ending event, which sets the tone for the next season. One season had a cube that moved around the map and created runes. Season 10’s black hole was precipitated by time rifts caused by a background character from a previous season and an in-game rocket and…a whole lot of other stuff. An end-of-season event, like the black hole, might not make sense to you if you don’t care to decipher the story for yourself throughout a season (which might involve reading subreddits and wikis). Still, the larger scaffolding of these stories will probably still be dramatic and enjoyable, even if you don’t understand all the particulars.
Part of the fun of the game, for me, is trying to figure out what’s going on. Fans are especially active online in discovering hidden secrets and creating theories. Sometimes those stories filter into the game. If you weren’t following the saga of the cube, for example, you might not know that players nicknamed it “Kevin,” and that could be confusing. However, the new map makes some of the previous stories moot, so if you’re into fan lore and wild guessing, you’d be getting in on the ground floor if you start playing now.
Is it hard to learn to play?
Fortnite is now much more accessible for newcomers. The black hole stunt got a lot of attention to the game, which Epic seems to have planned for with Chapter 2. So, a lot of things have been streamlined or made easier. Battle stars, which you used to use to level up your battle pass, are gone now; you do everything through XP. XP is earned just through playing the game. With the new medal system, you get even more XP for doing things you’d regularly be doing. At least in the early stages, I feel like I’m making progress quickly.
Last season, Epic also changed how the game decides who else is in a round with you. Now, you should be matched up with players who are more on your skill level. This reduces the likelihood of you getting thrown into a match with experts who will immediately decimate you, which for many newcomers is the biggest stumbling block in many battle royale games.
Epic also seems to have added computer-controlled characters this season. The developer said these bots would be coming to the game but hasn’t released patch notes, so we can’t know 100% that they’re in, but they seem to be. Many other players and I have encountered characters who don’t move or act like human players do. While this might feel like it cheapens the experience, it’s also been a great way for me to practice keeping my cool when I run into an enemy. Killing bots makes me feel like I’m doing well, even if it’s a false sense of satisfaction, which means the game feels more rewarding to play.
Basically, Fortnite feels less intimidating these days, which is good if you’re new. If you haven’t played in a while, the basics are still the same, and there’s tons of new stuff to explore.
What if I’m not good enough?
There are lots of ways to have fun in Fortnite if you aren’t a World Cup contender, and there are also lots of ways to get better. You can find lots of tips for fighting and building on YouTube and Reddit. Team Rumble is a great mode to practice in because you rejoin the game whenever you die, and the chaos means there are lots of players to fight. You can also go into playground mode alone or with friends and pick an area to land. There, you can explore the map or practice your building, which you’ll need to get comfortable with to really succeed in the battle royale mode of the game.
You can also just play the game with your friends and have a good time. While you don’t want to detract from the game by trolling others, it’s completely okay to play the game as a way to unwind or do goofy stunts instead of being hell-bent on a win.
I’m too good.
I’ve never had this problem, but congrats! If the regular games are feeling too easy for you, you can play in the ranked mode, Arena. It’s for competitive players and doesn’t feature bots. You’ll play against others of your skill level, and Epic regularly runs tournaments in which players compete for money. July’s Fortnite World Cup was one such tournament, with a hefty $30 million prize pool. There are plenty of competitive opportunities for you out there.
Can I or my kid get rich playing Fortnite?
Maybe! Esports is a viable career, and there are plenty of teams who might be willing to scoop you up if you’re good enough. While World Cup Solos winner Bugha got a lot of notoriety for his big money win, that didn’t come out of nowhere, and it took a lot of hard work. So, you probably won’t get rich quick.
You might also be thinking of famous streamers like Ninja, who made their careers on the game. While I can’t say the life of a streamer or esports pro is the life for me, it could be for you. Make a Twitch channel and see what happens! Don’t count on instant riches, though, or many riches at all.
I’m a celebrity/politician/CEO. Will playing Fortnite make me more famous?
Maybe, but it will also make you gross for capitalizing on a trend for your personal gain. Unless you truly want to play Fortnite for the fun of it. That’s fine. Do that.
You’ve convinced me.
I’ve got a whole weekend ahead of me, and I’m ready to play. Any final words of wisdom?
Be a good team player: be respectful to your teammates and other players, mute your mic when you’re not talking, and be a good winner or loser. Very few of my friends play the game, but I’d recommend finding some other newcomers to team up with. Fortnite’s way more fun with friends.
There’s always something to do in Neighborville, the suburban wonderland that serves as the setting for the latest game in Popcap’s Plants Vs. Zombies third-person shooter spinoff. No matter which side of the conflict I choose, or what sort of competitive, co-op, or solo battle I dive into, the game never fails to put a smile on my face.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville is out now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One following a four-week preview period for purchasers of the “founder’s pack.” It’s the third family-friendly third-person shooter from EA and developer Popcap Games. Neighborville abandons the punny “Garden Warfare” name of its two predecessors, which is good, as this is no Call of Duty parody. It’s a cartoony shooter with a focus on community and good-natured fun. The social hub, where plant and zombie players can fight and fool around between battles, is a literal carnival, with rides and everything. At the moment it’s Halloween themed. Who decorated it? I try not to think about it.
The competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes are standard shooter fare with lush, vibrant Plants Vs. Zombies flair. I can fight for my life against other players. I can capture points and escort the payload. I can join a team of plants or zombies and fight against waves of computer-controlled enemies. It’s stuff I can do in other shooters, only instead of dark and gritty, it’s bright and fluffy. The silly setting and colorful combatants transform traditional third-person battles into ridiculous spectacles. Googly-eyed undead are pelted by corn kernels, peas, and seeds. Vibrant plant soldiers are mowed down by crackling electricity, hastily cobbled-together turrets, and other weapons of weird science.
There’s a solid third-person shooter under these layers of absurdity. Firing weapons is tactile and satisfying. Each of the ten characters on either side of the conflict has their own unique playstyle based on their special abilities and classification—attack, defend, or support. When the Sunflower is healing, the tank-like Citron is defending, and a couple of Peashooters are laying down heavy fire during a major multiplayer confrontation, it’s a beautiful, ridiculous thing. Plus it’s hard to get angry when your foes are so goofy.
The colorful cartoon maps are the ultimate 3D realization of the PVZ style established back in 2009 with the original 2D tower defense game. Each stage oozes goofy character, hand-waving (or frond-waving) that distracts from the grim idea that the plants and zombies are fighting on battlefields abandoned by humans following some sort of undead apocalypse.
I love this wacky animated fantasy world, which is why my favorite modes in Battle for Neighborville are the ones that let me relax and explore at my own pace. The social region, Giddy Park, is a place where players can meet up, spend in-game coins on cosmetic rewards, promote their characters when they reach new levels, or jump into the park proper for informal skirmishes with the enemy team. It would be the perfect place to advertise microtransactions, what with the giant “Mr. Reward-O-Tron 9000” gachapon machine front-and-center, but Battle for Neighborville doesn’t have any microtransactions. It’s not that kind of game. Rewards are bought with in-game currency, which can only be earned in-game. Sorry, big spenders.
It is the kind of online shooter that also makes sure solo players have plenty to do. Both factions have two adventure zones, where solo players can play through a quest-based storyline or explore freely. Enemy encounters randomly occur as players explore, keeping the tension mildly high, but as every character in Neighborville enjoys unlimited sprinting, escape is always only a button away.
These adventure zones are where I go to chill. More importantly, they are where I send my children when they get the urge to play. My eight-year-old son Archer can wander about the Western-themed Mount Steep for hours, dying and respawning, jumping off cliffs and giggling. Basically all the things he does when he logs into my Overwatch account on the Xbox One, only without doing horrible things like ruining my profile by goofing around or playing as Hanzo.
Even better, should we ever have two Xbox One controllers not under the couch at the same time, the entire game can be played in local or online splitscreen on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. What the world needs now is sweet, sweet couch co-op.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Welcome to Neighborville is literally fun for my entire family. I love to play. My kids love to play. My wife loves to … well, watch us play because she gets motion sickness from third and first-person shooters. She at least thinks the plants and zombies are super-cute, as do I. It’s the sort of game that makes me happy every time I boot it up.
Today, United States Senators Ron Wyden and Marco Rubio signed a bi-partisan letter with support from Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski addressed to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, over the recent suspension of professional Hearthstone player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai.
“We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard’s decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong,” the letter reads. “This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government’s growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.”
Co-signed by Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Gallagher, and Malinowski, the letter urges Kotick to “reconsider your decision to with respect to Mr. Chung.”
This is despite Blizzard president Jay Allen Brack’s statement last week that walked back some of the penalties referenced in the Congressional letter. The statement had reduced Chung’s suspension to six months and awarding him the prize money Blizzard had originally withheld.