Tag Archives: polygon

Disintegration hands-on: A shooter that requires a touch of patience

It was about five years ago that Marcus Lehto, one of the key developers behind the Halo series, set out to create something new. He and two engineers started working on a prototype to prove that their idea for a different kind of first-person shooter, one with an ingrained tactical element, would actually work in practice.

”It was really clunky but it was enough to get the idea across,” Lehto told me in a cramped booth at PAX West, where his studio V1 Interactive was showing the game. “We wanted to have this entity in the sky with weapons and defensive and offensive abilities that could also command this group on the ground in a way that stayed with fluid nature of first-person shooters.”

That prototype eventually turned into Disintegration, a first-person shooter/real-time strategy hybrid where you play as a human consciousness controlling a robotic hovercraft fighting for survival in a dystopian wasteland. You’ll need to engage with enemies on the battlefield directly while ordering around a squad of three class-based, AI controlled units on the ground. It’s set to launch sometime in 2020 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Lehto is known for his legacy in the shooter genre, having worked on most series entries between the original masterpiece, Halo: Combat Evolved, and its sixth follow-up, Halo: Reach. He didn’t want to make another straightforward shooter, he told Polygon; he wanted to make something based around his love for real-time strategy games.

”I love real-time strategy games, fast-paced, non-turn-based tactics games,” Lehto, who started V1 Interactive to make his own smaller projects back in 2012, said. “Myth: The Fallen Lords was a game I worked on at Bungie back in ‘95, ‘96 when I first started working with them. It helped me connect with my friends and was something I fell in love with.”

Halo: Combat Evolved actually began as a reskinned version of Myth using the same engine and many of the same mechanics. Eventually the team at Bungie decided that it was more enjoyable to drive the humvees than watch AI-controlled units hop behind the wheel. Halo turned into a third-person shooter before finding its footing as one of the most influential first- person shooters ever made.

Disintegration had a similar start. “I started this game as a real time strategy game as well, where you’re micromanaging units on the ground and that kind of thing,” Lehto added. “But we quickly morphed into something different. We turned that camera in the sky into a vehicle that you fly.”

Disintegration also returns to the sci-fi space; its story is set after disastrous climate change, overpopulation, and disease nearly wipe out humankind. In order to survive, some humans abandon their bodies and place their consciousness within one of the Disintegration’s flying robots. What started as a temporary measure during humanity’s efforts to clean up the world became a nefarious plot for some: the Rayonne — a splinter group — believe integrating is better than living in the soft shell of a human body. They’ve even found a way to remove people’s autonomy when integrating, creating a hive-mind of robot soldiers.

The story picks up as I take control of Roamer and a crew of outlaws, in a campaign that follows the war between the Rayonne and everyone else. That story also bleeds into multiplayer with each of the nine playable crews (a different hovering robot and three soldiers) being a different group of outlaws who integrated to survive.

A team of soldiers in Disintegration in a dramatic firefight. V1 Interactive/Private Division

”All of the stuff that we see in multiplayer, like those futuristic motorcycle crews, builds off what we have in the story,” he said. “They’re all grounded in the world we’ve created. So all together it creates this lore and it creates this universe that has a cohesion to it.”

The idea of combining first-person shooter action with real-time strategy depth didn’t come naturally. Lehto and his team felt that a straightforward real-time strategy game would get lost among the library of other titles in the genre.

”We really want to try to carve out some differences that would stand out,” he said. “It was a risk to take though, because while internally we were excited about the idea, it took a long time to work through mechanical gameplay issues that were generated as a result of the combination [of the two genres].”

After playing Disintegration, I think Lehto was mostly successful in solving those problems, I enjoyed both of the quick multiplayer matches I jumped into. The demo featured a capture-the-flag type mode called retrieval where teams had to either take one of two different reactors back to their base. I got to choose between one of nine crews, like the sword wielding King’s Guard or the clown-filled squad The Sideshow, that had different sets of AI-controlled units, some had snipers with range or strong tank units, which were important for team compositions.

Once we began I immediately charged towards the second reactor, commanding my troops to run ahead of me as we tried to sneak in an early point by grabbing the reactor before the enemy could get there. Hovering around the map in my ship and commanding my small squad felt a bit like a MOBA, I had picked the lane for my troops to charge down and we’d be forced to engage whoever we ran into.

Enemy squads soon met me head on and everything turned to chaos. It was difficult to understand who was shooting at who; there were so many guns blazing. I had picked an enemy squad for my soldiers to engage with a quick button press and then turned my sights to the enemy ships. Drifting left, right, up, and down while releasing a slow barrage of fire was methodic and impactful.

It was clear, however, that the real-time strategy element was more important in this scenario. My team won the skirmish we ran into but lost the entire match after the enemy team snuck away to take the other reactor. No one on my team was communicating, so I had no idea where everyone was or what their overall gameplan was. Despite that issue the whole thing was chaotic fun. But I only had a quick taste as my demo ended after two brief bouts, hardly enough to judge the quality of a game.

The line between Disintegration’s first-person shooter action and real-time strategy depth was clear. Twitchy fingers won’t win fights. The gunplay is slow and methodical, meant mostly to compliment your strategy on the ground. I learn I can’t survive by shooting my way through a tough spot.

A soldier in Disintegration stands face-to-face with a looming mech. V1 Interactive/Private Division

While Lehto said that a single-player campaign that builds out a universe is important for Disintegration, multiplayer is a huge focus for V1 Interactive.

”Multiplayer is where a lot of the interest is for the growth of the game for me personally,” he said. “It’s the thing that connects with the community outside that will be playing this game for the long term. It’s also the thing that requires a lot of iteration and input to get right.”

Outside his history with Myth, Lehto and his team took inspiration from MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2. Certain maps in Disintegration are laned based with a few clear paths between each enemy side, like the one I played. It’s another element in Disentagration’s amalgamation of genre elements that Lehto is hoping will add up to an addictive final product.

Even after playing, I worry Disintegration may muddle the thing that makes both first-person shooters and real-time strategy games what they are. Lehto recognized my concern, but said that expectations need to be put aside in order to appreciate how different Disintegration is from the standard in both those genres.

”I’m really counting on the idea that this idea will draw from both crowds,” Lehto said. “It’s a slightly slower based first-person shooter on purpose, because we’re allowing the player to tactically using those ground units. The twitchy reaction time is gone and there’s an appeal to that.”

We’re still a long ways away from Disintegration’s launch date next year. But Lehto believes that he’s championing some design choices that aren’t common in shooters anymore.

”We went against the grain of what everybody does nowadays,” he said. “By going back to some of the old-school things that we firmly believe in, such as having a rich single player campaign. It’s deep and it creates lore and pushes the player to think about what’s happening outside the immediate story. That applies to multiplayer too.”

Source: Polygon.com

Esports pro tries — and fails — to play in Auto Chess and Hearthstone events at the same time

Hearthstone esports fans noticed something was off this past weekend when Linh “Seiko” Nguyen was consistently looking at something off-camera during his Hearthstone Grandmasters Europe match against Elias “Bozzzton” Sibelius. The German player looked distracted throughout most of the match, which eventually caused him to make a game-losing mistake, leaving an important card vulnerable.

You can see the moment Seiko looks up to his computer and realizes that he’s made a terrible choice, one that’s cost him the game. As it turns out, Seiko was actually simultaneously participating in qualifiers for the $1 million Auto Chess Invitational. “Wasn’t the best idea to play the chess qualifiers this weekend,” Seiko tweeted and then deleted on Sept. 14, as captured by Twitter user hs_Pasca. “But I practiced too much for this already…”

Hearthstone casters immediately noticed the mistake and called it out during the broadcast.

“Pay attention to the goddamn game you’re playing when there are hundreds and thousands of other professional players that would love to be in your position right now,” Hearthstone caster Simon Welch said during the broadcast. Welch later apologized on Twitter for being angry when making the statement, but that he otherwise stands by it. “I do strongly believe that Seiko’s actions were very insulting to the GM program,” he tweeted.

Seiko’s opponent during the match, Bozzzton, told Polygon that he noticed the mistake and thought it was “weird,” — “not like Seiko to do an obvious mistake like that.” Bozzzton added that he has “all the respect for Seiko,” and thinks he’s a “great person and player.”

Bozzzton continued: “He put in several months of practice for both [Hearthstone] and Auto Chess. That he wanted to do both just shows what a competitor he is. I hope everyone involved learns from it and moves on. [It’s] easy for Blizzard to just add it as a rule to pay full focus to the game.”

Seiko tweeted on Sept. 15 to apologize for playing in both events at the same time. The German player claimed that “it didn’t seem like an issue” to play both in the Hearthstone and Auto Chess events at the same time, thinking he had an OK from Blizzard to do so. (Hearthstone Grandmaster players are not prohibited from competing in other games; the problem is that he was doing both at once.) “I really thought I had enough practice, that I could handle playing both games without paying too much attention to [Auto Chess],” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it took too much attention though, which didn’t end up well in [Hearthstone].”

Hearthstone esports production manager Drew Higbee addressed the situation in a statement posted to TwitLonger on Sept. 14. Higbee said that Seiko’s overlap was due to a miscommunication between Seiko and the Hearthstone esports team.

“We acknowledge and apologize that our response to Seiko obviously engendered confusion and our communication will be more clear in the future,” Higbee wrote. “Next week Seiko must be present and play his match or be subject to the rules of missing a match.”

Seiko will only receive a loss for his next game if he participates in two tournaments simultaneously again. However, Seiko said he will not participate further in the Auto Chess qualifiers to focus on Hearthstone.

Hearthstone Grandmasters is a premiere Hearthstone league that kicked off this year. It’s currently in its second season, where 48 players from three regions — the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific — participate in two eight-week seasons in their respective regions. Two players from each region, the champions of seasons one and two, will qualify for the $500,000 Hearthstone Grandmasters Global Finals. (Two players from China’s Gold Series event around out eight players that qualify for the Global Finals.)

Source: Polygon.com

Paul Rudd faces off against Paul Rudd in trailer for Living With Yourself

Looks like man-facing-against-better-version-of-himself is a trend this fall. In addition to Gemini Man, which will feature aging Will Smith pitted against young Will Smith, we’re getting Living With Yourself, which will feature grumpy Paul Rudd pitted against optimist Paul Rudd.

In the first trailer for the existential comedy from Netflix, we see a jaded, work-worn Paul Rudd seek out a spa treatment that promises to make him the “best he can be.” And it works! He awakes from the spa treatment feeling motivated and happy. Everything in his life starts to turn around. He’s approaching each new day with boundless joy — until he comes face-to-face with himself.

Turns out, happy Paul Rudd is some sort of clone, built from the original jaded Paul Rudd. The spa buried original Paul Rudd deep underground and he clawed his way out. Now, the two Paul Rudds need to figure out how to balance one life — wacky hijinks ensue! Also deep, probing questions. Also guns, axes, and blood? There is a lot going on here.

Living With Yourself comes out on Netflix on Oct. 18.

Source: Polygon.com

Kickstarter under fire from creators over labor dispute

Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter is receiving pressure from creators and backers for what some perceive as anti-union activity. The company denies accusations it is hostile toward its workers. Meanwhile, dozens of creators have signed a letter of support for the employees at Kickstarter. Their fledgling union, called Kickstarter United, is asking for patience at this time.

“All of us organizing with [Kickstarter United] are committed to the mission of Kickstarter,” the union wrote on Twitter late last week, “We are not calling on creators who rely on Kickstarter to abandon live or planned projects.”

Unionzation efforts at Kickstarter went public in March on the same day that Aziz Hasan, head of the design and product teams, assumed the role of interim CEO. They proceeded more or less quietly until this month, when the company terminated two employees, Clarissa Redwine and Taylor Moore. Both were involved in union organizing activities, and both were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to receive severance. Both say they declined.

Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, which represents the employees of Kickstarter United, has filed a formal charge with the National Labor Relations Board related to those firings. Publicly available documents cite an “unlawfully broad non-disparagement clause.”

Redwine was the first to go public with news of her termination. In a series of tweets, she says that she was forced out for “performance issues,” but that she “exceeded all performance metrics” in the most recent quarter. The implication is that her organizing activities were upsetting to management, so they moved to end her employment as efficiently as possible.

“I will not be signing your termination agreement containing a non-disparagement clause,” Redwine said to Kickstarter in a series of Tweets following her termination. Clarissa Redwine via Twitter

Kickstarter itself was quick to counter Redwine’s narrative on the company’s official social media channel.

“Kickstarter’s leadership is committed to protecting our staff’s right to decide if a union is the best path for them. That decision remains in their hands,” Kickstarter tweeted. “In the last 6 months, Kickstarter’s leadership has worked to foster an environment where the right to organize and the rules around that process are followed and respected. We’ll be clear: No Kickstarter employee has been or ever will be fired for union organizing.”

Polygon has reached out to both the Kickstarter Union and Kickstarter management for comment.

Meanwhile, some creators are taking a wait-and-see approach to their next crowdfunding campaign. Tabletop RPG publisher Evil Hat Productions, for instance, is delaying the launch of its 15th campaign to see how things shake out. More than 100 other creators have signed on to a letter from the editorial staff of Current Affairs.

“We call on Kickstarter to respect the unionization effort and and cease all illegal retaliation,” states the letter. “We also ask other Kickstarter project creators to express their solidarity with Kickstarter workers’ union and to condemn the company’s firings.”

Source: Polygon.com

An evil version of Spider-Man just showed up in Miles Morales’ universe

Thanks to Into the Spider-Verse, most people know that Miles Morales is the Spider-Man of another pocket of Marvel Universe, who now lives in the main Marvel Universe, Earth-616. And that might cause some of you to ask: If there was a Peter Parker in Miles’ universe, who is the Miles Morales of Earth-616?

The answer is, an older, wanted criminal, who got so fed up with the 616 that he decided to go live in Miles’ home universe instead, just before it was utterly destroyed. But now, in the pages of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10, he’s somehow back home and ready to rule Brooklyn’s criminal underworld with an iron fist.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” Let’s get started!

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10

Wilson Fisk and the Miles Morales of Earth-616 discuss his return to main Marvel continuity, in Miles Morales: Spider-Man #10, Marvel Comics (2019). Saladin Ahmed, Javier Garrón/Marvel Comics

How did he get back to Earth-616? Presumably that revelation is yet to come!

Young Justice #8

Tim Drake/Robin cradles an alternate universe Stephanie Brown/Spoiler as Bart Allen/Impulse tells him his superhero name should be Drake, in Young Justice #8, DC Comics (2019). Brian Michael Bendis, John Timms/DC Comics

Tim Drake’s claim to fame used to be that he was the youngest Robin, but that was upended with the debut of Damian Wayne, an even younger Robin. Writers have struggled to find him a new specialization, so these days, Tim is the leader of the newly reformed Young Justice team. In Young Justice #8, he meets an alternate universe version of himself whose superhero name is just goes “Drake.”

And sure, that’s a name that’s shared by the musician, Drake, but Tim’s current superhero name is Red Robin, the name of a fast food chain. So, win some, lose some.

Doctor Strange #19

Doctor Strange admires his newly healed hands, in Doctor Strange #19, Marvel Comics (2019). Mark Waid, Jesús Saiz/Marvel Comics

This week, Doctor Strange made a magical deal that could have gone horribly wrong, and it fixed his hands! He can be a surgeon again! I’m sure there will be no monkey paw repercussions!

Gogor #5

Gogor, a Hulk-like plant being, gathers water from a small waterfall in his palm to tend to an abused pack animal, as his companion, the young boy Armano sits by a campfire, in Gogor #5, Image Comics (2019). Ken Garing/Image Comics

Gogor was one of the coolest comics I read this year, and I’m so sad it’s not getting a chance to complete its ten issue run. Issue 5 will be the last for the foreseeable future, so for the love of god, pick it up in trade and maybe we’ll get more.

Silver Surfer Black #4

Galactus looms over the Silver Surfer in what looks like a roiling lake of blood, in Silver Surfer Black #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Donny Cates, Tradd Moore/Marvel Comics

As Galactus rises from an ocean of blood to dwarf the Silver Surfer, here’s another opportunity for me to say that I can’t get enough of Tradd Moore on Silver Surfer Black.

House of Whispers #13

A woman in a headwrap finds a baby chick with burning red eyes, that is improbably alive at the center of the egg she just cracked, in House of Whispers #13, DC Comics (2019). Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters, Matthew Dow Smith/DC Comics

House of Whispers is entering a third arc that looks to be very different than its first two, centering on the magical creature unleashed by a brow-beaten woman who finally embraces her anger. I’m in.

The Wonder Twins #7

Superman explains that it’s easy to be a hero when everyone believes in you, and its hard to stand up for your beliefs when you’re alone, in The Wonder Twins #7, DC Comics (2019). Mark Russell, Stephen Byrne/DC Comics

If you like Mark Russell books, The Wonder Twins is a very Mark Russell book, which is to say it’s deeply cynical until suddenly it’s not.

Batman Universe #3

A winged Thanagarian police officer mistakes Batman’s cape for wings. When corrected, he says “I’m sorry. I assumed it was for a purpose,” in Batman Universe #3, DC Comics (2019). Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Derington/DC Comics

Hello, Commissioner Gordon? I’d like to report a murder.

Powers of X #4

Mister Sinister expresses desire for a cape, and then orders the execution of an advisor — who is also a clone of Mister Sinister — for not advising him to get a cape, in Powers of X #4, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva/Marvel Comics

I. Love. These. Panels.

Loki #3

The Children of Eternity show Loki the a library of every tale in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine’s shelf is very big, in Loki #3, Marvel Comics (2019). Daniel Kibblesmith, Oscar Bazaldua/Marvel Comics

Not only is a metaphysical library full of all the stories and potential stories of Marvel Heroes a fantastic way to acknowledge continuity without quite breaking the fourth wall — this is also a very good dig at Wolverine.

Source: Polygon.com

Dragon Quest 1, 2, and 3 are coming to Nintendo Switch

The first three Dragon Quest games are hitting the Nintendo Switch eShop on Sept. 27.

Dragon Quest 1, 2, and 3 complete the Erdrick trilogy, following the iconic heroes as they go on adventures in order to slay big, bad monsters. For those who’ve been newly interested in the Dragon Quest series, perhaps after seeing the Hero in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or falling in loves with slimes in Dragon Quest Builders 2, these are a good place to start.

These aren’t just ports of the original games in all their retro, pixely goodness. These are ports using the graphics from previously-released mobile ports, meaning that some of the art has been updated to be less pixelated.

Dragon Quest will cost $4.99, Dragon Quest 2: Luminaries of the Legendary Line will cost $6.49, and Dragon Quest 3: The Seeds of Salvation will cost $12.49. Dragon Quest 11 S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition also launches for Nintendo Switch on Sept. 27.

Source: Polygon.com

Nauticrawl stumped me with its sole screen, and I loved it

The first in-game message Nauticrawl: 20,000 Atmospheres sent me ended with one line: Don’t give up.

That’s an appropriate warning, considering my first few runs of Nauticrawl were entirely fruitless. First, I struggled with figuring out how to turn on my ship’s engine. I spent a few minutes sitting in the dark, underwater, pulling various levers and toggling various switches. Finally, I managed to get power running to the ship. That was a victory in and of itself, but I had to follow it up by turning on the engine. With the engine running, I began to advance: up, up, up … CLUNK.

I had collided with something massive, and my hull took critical damage. Before long, I was back in the dark, surrounded by the hiss of broken systems and escaping steam. My first attempt at escape hadn’t gone so well, and I frantically started hitting buttons to see if there was a way I could repair things. There was a switch, a hum, and my radar flickered on.

Oh. Yes, well, that would have been useful to know earlier. I took a few minutes to stretch, think about my early attempts, and then get back into the driver’s seat.

This defines my experience with Nauticrawl, a game so dense and complex that my review copy came with both a numbered, step-by-step guide, and a warning not to use it. Every step was hard fought as I figured out what to press, how to activate key features of my ship, and realized that I had somehow accidentally doomed myself. I didn’t feel frustrated when I lost; I felt excited. I could always go back to step one and try again.

In Nauticrawl, I am trying to escape a horrific, oppressive civilization from under the sea. I get a glimpse of the world, and it seems visually impressive, with towering spires that are more Dalaran City than BioShock’s Rapture. But the society itself is rotten, and I’ve gotta get out of there if I have any hope of making a better life for myself. I’ve acquired a ship, and now I’m making a break for the surface.

There’s just one problem: this isn’t a sleek sci-fi vessel, but a hulking and slow craft with serious limitations. Sure, I have a cloaking device, but I also have a battery that will rapidly drain if I cloak and try to stealth my way out of the ocean. Everything about my ship is slow, and operating its control panel feels extremely tactile. I pull levers to release steam, check my radar, and flip switches up and down to figure out how to pilot the thing as safely as I can.

There are the bones of a roguelike here, in that there were times where I would attempt, fail, and retry. But Nauticrawl ultimately feels closer to an escape room or a puzzle box, where I’m given a limited environment in which to try solutions using whatever tools I have at hand.

I usually only have some hints from the ship’s UI and what I can see out my window to tell me how I’m doing and where I am. It’s a clever way to present the information, and it strikes a balance between claustrophobia and the freedom to explore and advance. Nothing about being a pilot in this world feels natural, and I’m trying to figure everything out from scratch.

Sometimes I know what I’m doing, and I’m making clever use of the tools that I’ve figured out. Those moments make me feel like a genius, or at least a resourceful and clever survivor. More often, I’m fumbling in the dark, hitting random switches out of desperation and then something clicks, or I die and start over. I slowly advance towards my final destination, switching between feeling clever and feeling lost. It’s a potent combination.

Something that strikes me about Nauticrawl is the fact that despite the fact that this is a difficult game, it’s not a punishing one. Nauticrawl doesn’t have the same “get good” attitude as some of its peers, where a loss feels crushing and I feel as though the game itself is taking joy in my failures. Instead, Nauticrawl feels kind.

Things can go wrong, but there’s no blaring lights, no screams or scenes of torment. Instead, failure tends to be expressed through status messages, the soft hiss of steam, or darkness and flashing lights. I don’t feel punished for losing with some sort of horrific consequence; I just go back and start again. There’s a zen quality to it. When starting over, there’s even a message reminding me that this is just part of the process.

Yes, I fail, but it feels fair, and the game just keeps urging me onwards through both text prompts that remind me that failure is part of the game, and non-punishing restart mechanics. This attempt will be the one where I figure things out, I decide before every run.

Nauticrawl is a small game; there are only three chapters for players to explore. The player focuses on their vehicle’s screen, and most of the actual action takes place in my imagination.

But this is also a product made by a single developer, and it successfully captures the tension of a big experience like Star Trek: Bridge Crew, which is quite the trick. It’s like savoring a small, delicious snack over a big buffet, which makes it a perfect palette cleanser for players going through longer campaigns in other games.

Overall, this puzzle game is short, sweet, and delightful … despite occasionally crushing my dreams. And I’m always up for another try.

Nauticrawl: 20,000 Leagues is out now on PC. The game was reviewed using a final “retail” download code provided by Armor Games. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Source: Polygon.com

Ash’s old voice actress gives inspiring advice following the Pokémon League victory

Following Ash Ketchum’s first-ever Pokémon League victory in the Pokémon the Series: Sun and Moon anime, Ash’s original English dub voice actress, Veronica Taylor, posted an inspiring video to Twitter.

Ash has never won a title before this, consistently coming short and placing normally within the top 10 in each tournament. The latest episode of the anime showed him finishing out the Manalo Conference, Alola’s Pokémon League. After taking down Gladion, one of his rivals, he becomes the first Alolan Pokémon League champion.

Taylor uses an old Ash figure to talk in her iconic Ash voice. While the video is a little jarring, as it has spooky-looking lip syncing on the figure, the message is still nonetheless inspiring. He talks about how part of the journey is being open to new experiences, and how constantly challenging yourself is important.

Taylor voiced Ash for the first eight seasons of the Pokémon dub, as well as May and miscellaneous Pokémon. After the series was recast in 2006, she was replaced by Sara Natochenny.

Ash has done a lot in the Sun and Moon anime. He’s a student. He’s an Ultra Beast hunter, complete with a squad of allies and a skin-tight uniform. And now he’s a Pokémon League champion, after 22 years.

Source: Polygon.com

A new Jurassic World 3 prequel film sets up a world overrun with dinos

The final installment of the Jurassic World trilogy won’t hit theaters until 2021, but there’s some good news for those who need a dinosaur fix: A new short film by Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow and writer Emily Carmichael (Pacific Rim: Uprising) that premiered on FX on Sunday is now free to watch.

The ending of last year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom made a huge promise to fans of the franchise, and the bite-sized sequel, Battle at Big Rock, begins to pay it off. Though humans don’t seem too aware, the post-Fallen Kingdom world has entered a Neo-Jurassic era, with homo sapiens and dinosaurs living alongside one another. The short film takes place one year after the events of the last movie in Big Rock National Park, where a family of divorce convenes to strengthen its bonds with a camping trip. An encounter with dinosaurs turns very quickly into a fight for survival — it’s the Jurassic Park franchise, so what do you expect, really?

Starring André Holland, Natalie Martinez, Melody Hurd, Pierson Salvador, and a little baby who is not too happy about the arrival of an allosaurus, Battle at Big Rock plays out like a set piece from a feature-length Jurassic movie. There are peaceful dinos grazing in the modern world, the ungodly power of a 40-foot carnivore’s jaws tearing through a camper, and some schmaltzy metaphors about the power of family and love. Triceratopses, they’re just like us!

Oh, and make sure to sit through the credits of the short: the Big Rock family aren’t the only ones having close encounters of the dino kind.

Jurassic World 3 is scheduled to film in 2020, and like Battle at Big Rock, will explore just what a life alongside the formerly extinct means for humans. Trevorrow returns to direct the film, after producing Fallen Kingdom and departing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2017.

Source: Polygon.com

Will Smith grills his younger self in exclusive Gemini Man scene

As far as the new blockbuster Gemini Man is concerned, the technical innovations necessary to pit 2019 Will Smith against Fresh Prince-era Will Smith sound as much like science fiction as the cloning processes that bring near-future assassin Henry Brogan’s twenty-something self back to life with a mission to kill. Asking Smith to deliver double the charisma was the easy part.

Gemini Man, helmed by the cutting edge director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi), did not employ a de-aging technique like audiences saw in Captain Marvel earlier this year. Instead, Weta (the Lord of the Rings trilogy) built the movie’s clone costar from the ground up out of reference footage from Fresh Prince and Bad Boys. Smith basically shot the entire movie twice — once on set, once on a performance-capture stage — to breathe life into the effect.

“The term ‘de-aging’ usually refers to shooting the actor on set using makeup and then there’s a post-[production] process on top of that to smooth out wrinkles, thin the face, possibly graft in a couple of photographed skin pieces from a double,” visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer told the LA Times in August. “Whereas we are creating from whole cloth a fully digital human. In our nerdy world, the latter is a lot more difficult.”

The payoff sounds like a dream for the Independence Day and Men in Black star, who, in Polygon’s exclusive clip from the film (above), smacks down his double with patented Smith banter. Why was unleashing a clone the most efficient way to kill the DNA provider?

“I’m the best,” says young Henry.

“You’re obviously not the best,” present-day Henry snaps back.

While trailers for Gemini Man sell the visual effect on the back of Will-vs.-Will shootouts, this week’s new clip juxtaposes our mortal hero and his digital clone with room to breathe. Knowing the cat-and-mouse thriller comes from Lee, who’s jumped from tentpole spectacles to character-first dramas like The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility, and Brokeback Mountain — the movie that won him his first directing Academy Award — the chance to see Smith take a talkier moment to interrogate himself is as big a promise for the finished product as any motorcycle chase.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, and Benedict Wong round out the cast alongside Smith and his clone. Gemini Man opens in theaters Oct. 11. For an expansive look at movies coming out over 2019’s final stretch, read Polygon’s fall entertainment guide.

Source: Polygon.com