Tag Archives: polygon

4th of July weekend gaming deals at Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy

This 4th of July weekend, several retailers are offering discounts over the long weekend. Amazon has a bunch of video game deals, including a new 50% off deal on the Sega Genesis Mini, which we called “a best in class retro console.” Amazon is also running pre-order discounts on Cyberpunk 2077, and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga on PS4 and Xbox One.

Comixology is also running deals on a bunch of digital comics collections, including Ms. Marvel, Beastars, and old school DC comics. Finally, GameStop’s Game Days sale kicks off on Sunday with a bunch of new discounts on Nintendo Switch games, gaming accessories, collectibles, and more.

Consoles and hardware

Video games

Miscellaneous

Source: Polygon.com

Our Cyberpunk Red real play concludes its first story arc

To get hype for the release of Cyberpunk 2077, the Polygon video team has been playing the Cyberpunk Red TTRPG, and the conclusion of the first story arc, “Ring Box,” is now live.

Burger Chainz, Vang0 Bang0, and Dapper Dasha are tasked with finding the perpetrator of a petty theft at a makeup warehouse — a simple job complicated by Vang0’s personal feelings towards the potential robbers. The makeup artists and streamers of M House are all suspects, and it’s up to our three sort-of heroes to find the real thief … or at least someone believable enough to be the culprit.

With a plan in hand, the gang must convince warehouse guard Edgar that the security camera malfunction was a simple hack job and not a fundamental flaw in their technology. If that weren’t hard enough, Burger, Vang0, Dasha are called into the boss’s office; the rich and powerful higher-ups at HarpCo Security Company want to hear for themselves what the gang uncovered.

Will our heroes convince HarpCo they’re on the level, or will they bumble into the wrath of one of Night City’s largest security companies? Watch the newest episode to see the tense conclusion of “Ring Box,” or click the video below to start at the first, stand-alone-episode!

Source: Polygon.com

10 movies new to streaming you should watch this July

Movie theaters in the U.S. may be tentatively opening back up, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues to push back movie releases, streaming services remain your best bet for entertainment during the hot summer months. This July, a few films that were intended for theatrical release are dropping straight to streaming, in addition to some great films of the last several decades worth rewatching (or watching for the first time, as I did last weekend with David Fincher’s Panic Room, now streaming.)

The Assistant and Palm Springs both played at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. While wildly different in tone — the latter is a Groundhog Day-style romp starring Andy Samberg while the former tackles the #MeToo movement — both are well worth watching. And the filmed production of Hamilton, initially set for a 2021 theatrical run, drops onto Disney Plus over the July 4 weekend.

Here’s our full roster of picks — including My Cousin Vinny, one of the best courtroom procedurals ever made — for what’s worth watching this July.


The Assistant

a woman on the phone Photo: Bleecker Street

Director Kitty Green’s striking feature about an assistant working for a predatory film producer notably never shows the unnamed boss, an obvious stand-in for Harvey Weinstein. It makes his presence all the more looming, and illustrates the banality of the kind of abuse that the #MeToo movement highlighted. From our review:

Green doesn’t need to embellish Jane’s experiences to get across how soul-crushing they are, especially as it becomes clear there’s no good outcome for her. If she does nothing, the cycle of abuse will continue. If she speaks up, the only job on the line will be her own. And there’s no one she can turn to, because everyone around her has already accepted that this is just the way things are. Green’s approach to stories — finding larger truths rather than focusing on the most sensational aspects — vaults The Assistant into extraordinary territory, as it sheds light not only on the actions of abusers in power, but on the people around them, who can’t or won’t do anything to change the status quo.

The Assistant will be streaming on Hulu on July 20.


The Conjuring

Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) touches a woman covered in a sheet Photo: Warner Bros.

Directed by James Wan (Saw, Furious 7), The Conjuring is one of the best haunted house movies of the last decade. Very loosely based on Ed and Lorraine Warren, a husband-and-wife team of real-life paranormal experts (played by Vera Farmiga and horror savant Patrick Wilson), The Conjuring tells the story of a family who moves into a spooky old farmhouse. Spoiler alert: the house is haunted as heck.

The Conjuring dropped onto Hulu earlier this year, but is now headed to distributor WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

The Conjuring is streaming on HBO Max.


Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Peter (Jason Segel) watches Sarah (Kristen Bell) and Aldous (Russell Brand) on a date Photo: Universal Pictures

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is perhaps the sweetest of the Judd Apatow-produced comedies, thanks in large part to the sensibilities of writer and star Jason Segel. He plays a TV composer, Peter, whose girlfriend, the titular Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) and the star of the show he works on, abruptly dumps him. When he heads to a Hawaiian resort to try and forget her, Sarah shows up with her new boyfriend, rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). With the help of a cute receptionist (Mila Kunis) Peter eventually gets over Sarah and writes his Dracula puppet musical, and Segel would go on to write and star in The Muppets (2011.)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is streaming on Hulu.


Hamilton

hamilton and burr shaking hands Image: Disney

Broadway may be dark right now, but audiences can finally watch Hamilton without heading to New York and spending big bucks on a ticket. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s revolutionary (yes, that’s a pun) musical was originally set to be released in theaters in October 2021, but as the coronavirus pandemic has shifted around release schedules, Disney elected to drop the filmed version onto Disney Plus this July 4 weekend. Featuring the original Broadway cast and directed by the show’s original director, Thomas Kail, Hamilton is described as a leap forward in the art of ‘live capture’ which transports its audience into the world of the Broadway show in a uniquely intimate way.”

Hamilton is streaming on Disney Plus.


Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Jim Carrey as Count Olaf in a screenshot from A Series of Unfortunate Events Photo: Paramount Pictures

No offense to Neil Patrick Harris, who turns in an admiral performance as Count Olaf in Netflix’s excellent adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, but there’s just no topping Jim Carrey’s manic, sinister portrayal in the 2004 film. Spanning the first three novels, the movie adaptation is like a mashup of Tim Burton and Roald Dahl. The film takes some liberties with the plot while the Netflix series is a bit more true to the source material, but now that the movie is back on Netflix, you can decide for yourself which version you prefer.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is streaming on Netflix.


Lenny Cooke

Lenny Cooke looks through a basketball net Photo: Under the Milky Way

Directed by Uncut Gems’ Josh and Benny Safdie, this documentary about a high school basketball star who never made it to the NBA fits neatly into the brothers’ oeuvre of character studies about men who can’t get out of their own way. From our list of 21 essential films about Black Lives:

Films like this allow me to remain cognizant of the fact that all all the blessings, all the great things I have in my life right now can be stripped away in an instant. It encourages me to work harder. And it also forces me to think about the ways in black men and women — but mainly, from my perspective, black men — have been boxed into a particular mentality as a result of starvation of education and other opportunity. Biggie Smalls said on his first album, Ready To Die, “Either you’re slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.” It’s the truth, in certain ways — certain opportunities will be placed in front of you, and if you don’t have anything, you’re just going to grasp at the one thing that seems most appealing.

Lenny Cooke is streaming on The Criterion Channel.


My Cousin Vinny

Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei lean against a convertible Photo: 20th Century Fox

90’s era Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei doing Brooklyn accents. That’s it. That’s the pitch.

My Cousin Vinny is streaming on Hulu.


Palm Springs

andy samberg donning a hawaiian shirt in palm springs Image: Hulu

Polygon caught Palm Springs, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti as wedding guests caught in a Groundhog Day-style time loop, when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It sold to Hulu and Parasite distributor Neon in the largest Sundance deal to date, topping out at $17.5 million … and .69 cents (nice). In January we wrote, “The story may be familiar, at least for those who either grew up with Groundhog Day, or caught modern riffs like Edge of Tomorrow or Happy Death Day. But the execution here feels fresh and playful, with a new energy coming from Samberg and Milioti’s go-for-broke performances, and some new iterations on the formula.”

Palm Springs will be streaming on Hulu on July 10.


Panic Room

Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart huddle on a green blanket while watching a wall of screens in Panic Room. Photo: Columbia Pictures

David Fincher’s Panic Room is essentially Home Alone for grown-ups. (Forest Whitaker even references Joe Pesci’s iconic role as one of the bandits.) Jodie Foster and a tweenaged Kristen Stewart star as a mother and daughter who have to deal with armed robbers in their New York City brownstone on their first night living there. They retreat to the home’s built-in panic room, and a deadly game of cat-and-mouse ensues. Not only does this provide plenty of opportunities for the characters to say the name of the movie — always a delight — it also puts a fun twist on the home-invasion thriller, especially as it becomes clear that the robbers (Whitaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam) know all about the house’s quirks.

Panic Room is streaming on Amazon Prime.


Source: Polygon.com

The Truth, We Bare Bears, and the new movies you can now watch at home

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has once again been delayed, this time to Aug. 12. This marks the second delay for the film, which was originally scheduled to come out on July 17. Warner Bros. and Nolan seem to be optimistic about the chances that theaters will re-open and become safe again by mid-August, though it seems more likely that Tenet will have to be delayed yet again.

In the meanwhile, film production is slowly resuming. Marvel’s Shang-Chi is prepping to restart production in Australia by the end of July. Further off in the future is a new live-action adaptation of Frosty the Snowman, which will star none other than Jason Momoa in the title role. Momoa’s muscles will be hidden away, though, as Frosty will be a CGI creation.

Though parts of the world have slowly begun to get back to normal, movie theaters remain closed. But there’s still plenty to watch at home. Here are the biggest new releases this week.

The Truth

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $6.99 on Google Play

a group of people stand on a balcony Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Ethan Hawke in The Truth. Photo: IFC Films

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film focuses on a mother and daughter, and the lies families tell each other to bolster their own desires to be remembered well. Catherine Deneuve stars as Fabienne, a legendary actress whose new memoir sets off sparks between her and her daughter, Lumir (Juliette Binoche), who can’t stand the idealized history Fabienne is trying to sell the public. From our review:

Rather than focusing solely on Lumir and Fabienne, Kore-eda takes a broad scope, which gives The Truth some of his trademark warmth. The film has less of a sense of urgency than most of his other work — After Life had a weeklong time limit imposed on its characters, for instance, and disaster seemed to loom just off-screen in every frame of Shoplifters and Nobody Knows. But Fabienne isn’t on death’s doorstep, and the unease between her and her daughter has been brewing for a long time. Fabienne’s memoir does prompt arguments, but the blowouts aren’t what change Fabienne’s heart. As it does in real life, change happens slowly here, and incrementally.

We Bare Bears: The Movie

Where to watch it: Buy on digital, $14.99 on Amazon, Google Play, and Apple

three bears take a selfie Say cheese! Image: Cartoon Network

The popular animated series We Bare Bears gets a feature-length film, this time pitting the three main bears — Grizz (Eric Edelstein), Panda (Bobby Moynihan), and Ice Bear (Demetri Martin) — against a nature preservationist (Marc Evan Jackson) who believes the bears ought to be removed from their home in San Francisco and separated. Will the friends manage to weather this new threat, or will they be torn apart? Only one way to find out!

John Lewis: Good Trouble

Where to watch it: Rent on digital, $6.99 on Google Play

john lewis crosses his arms John Lewis in Good Trouble. Photo: Magnolia Pictures

This new documentary chronicles John Lewis’ decades of activism, stitching together archival footage and interviews to tell his story. The film also explores Lewis’ childhood, as well as his 1957 meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., his initial ambitions of becoming a minister, and his path to becoming the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district.

The Outpost

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $14.99 on Google Play and Apple

a soldier stands in front of a screen Orlando Bloom in The Outpost. Image: Screen Media Films

The Outpost is based on Jake Tapper’s book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, which focused on the Battle of Kamdesh. Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, and Caleb Landry Jones star as soldiers given a frustratingly vague mission and facing seemingly insurmountable odds. The film focuses on their heroism, as well as the poor leadership that put them in the middle of a battle where they were outnumbered three to one.

New on Netflix this weekend

  • Comedy special George Lopez: We’ll Do It For Half
  • Documentary series Unsolved Mysteries
  • Warrior Nun, a frustratingly dull fantasy series about a resurrected teenager with demon-fighting superpowers
  • A new adaptation of the beloved series The Baby-Sitters Club
  • The first TV series in one of the scariest franchises ever, JU-ON: Origins

And here’s what dropped last Friday:

Irresistible

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $19.99 on Amazon and Apple

rose byrne and steve carell in irresistible Photo: Focus Features

Jon Stewart’s new movie stars Steve Carell as a political strategist who, after seeing a viral video of a Wisconsin man (Chris Cooper) standing up for his town’s undocumented workers, decides to turn the newly minted star into the town’s mayor. However, the opposing party soon sends their own strategist (Rose Byrne) to try to foil him. It’s funny and earnest, but its take on American elections feels hopelessly out of step with this particular political moment. From our review:

Instead of aping the intensity of Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s legendary doc The War Room, or delivering the punchy breakdowns of The Big Short, Stewart concentrates on the human element. Jack’s supporters are quirky, the opposition is a caricature, and the media hyping up the showdown is the obstructive enemy. The choice makes it one big sitcom (complete with Office-ready campaign operatives played by Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne). Stewart clearly did his homework — the movie feels like it’s being propped up by the last three years of Atlantic magazine cover stories — but the message lacks any sense of bite or power.

My Spy

Where to watch it: Streaming on Amazon

chloe coleman and dave bautista in my spy Photo: Amazon Studios

It’s been clear since his turn as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy that Dave Bautista has considerable comedic chops, and My Spy sees him taking on a leading role in a comedy. Bautista stars as JJ, a newly hired CIA operative who teams up with 9-year-old Sophie (Chloe Coleman) in his pursuit of an illegal arms dealer after she catches him on the job.

House of Hummingbird

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $12 through digital cinemas

park ji-hoo in house of hummingbird Photo: Well Go Entertainment

House of Hummingbird is a slow-burn coming-of-age story, starring Park Ji-hoo as Eun-hee, a teenager trying to figure out who she is. As she wanders through 1994 Seoul, Eun-hee struggles to connect with the people around her. A spark finally arrives in the form of her remedial Chinese tutor Young-ji (Kim Sae-byuk), who seems to understand Eun-hee in a way that even her family doesn’t.

Do the Right Thing

Where to watch it: Rent on digital $3.99 on Amazon and Apple

bill nunn in do the right thing Photo: Universal Pictures

Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece stars the director himself as Mookie, a pizza delivery man. The film focuses on Mookie’s neighborhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the racial tension between its inhabitants and the local pizzeria, run by Sal (Danny Aiello) and his unabashedly racist son Pino (John Turturro), which boil over on one particularly hot, fateful day. With the film being discussed again due to widespread tensions and protests over the latest series of police killings of unarmed black Americans, it was briefly made free to stream on several platforms.

Ali

Where to watch it: Free to rent on Amazon, $3.99 to rent on Google Play and Apple

will smith as muhammad ali in ali Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Michael Mann’s Ali centers on 10 years in the life of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, portrayed in the film by Will Smith, from 1964 to 1974. The movie covers his accomplishments in boxing (winning the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, winning the Rumble in the Jungle fight against George Foreman in 1974) as well as his conversion to Islam and his criticism on the Vietnam War. It also touches on the political upheaval caused by the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Source: Polygon.com

Netflix’s Baby-Sitters Club adaptation transcends its era and its age group

Modern-day updates of childhood staples are often clunky messes, because of the ways they try to adapt the hot-button topics of their original eras for modern audiences. Setting a piece in the time period it was written, as Hulu’s Looking for Alaska adaptation does, tends to rectify some of the dated tropes and plotlines. Otherwise, you get a Stargirl, with the specifics of 2000 bogging down a 2020 story.

Netflix’s new series The Baby-Sitters Club, adapted from the long-running Ann M. Martin book series published from the late 1980s to 2000, pulls off the tricky feat of setting the series in 2020, but updating small details of the bigger plotlines to more effectively capture the present day. It keeps the essence of the characters, but little touches — like the rival league The Baby-Sitters Agency launching a social-media campaign — help keep the stories engaging.

[Ed. note: This review contains mild spoilers for The Baby-Sitters Club.]

The story setup is still the same: 13-year-old tomboy Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) decides to start a baby-sitters club with her friends, quiet Mary Anne Spier (Malia Baker), artsy Claudia Kishi (Momona Tanada), and fashionable new girl Stacey McGill (Shay Rudolph). Eventually, they’re joined by hippie Dawn (Xochitl Gomez). They take on clients in their small town, while grappling with the struggles of growing up. Showrunner Rachle Shukert understands that things like a parent remarrying, an overprotective father, and childhood diabetes are evergreen storylines that will be applicable across generations. Each episode follows a different book, and the tentpoles of the plotlines are roughly the same. The updates come through the specificities on how each story manifests, with more nuance added to simplistic plotlines when appropriate.

One of the babysitters gives a colorful mood-board presentation to a group of adults in Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club. Photo: Liane Hentscher / Netflix

For instance, in the fourth episode of the series, “Mary Anne Saves the Day,” (based on the book of the same name) timid Mary Anne calls the hospital when the kid she is taking care of becomes ill. In the book, the act of bravery is making the phone call and going to the hospital, but the show updates it: Mary Anne stands up to the hospital staff, who are misgendering the young girl. Mary Anne’s arc of standing up for herself remains the same, but with a more modern touch.

Die-hard fans of the books don’t need to worry: the sitters still use a landline to schedule appointments. It’s a little detail established earlier on, with just a bit of explanation: Kristy insists an old-fashioned method works best, because her mom misses simpler days. And it just so happens that Claudia has a clear plastic ’90s phone she bought off Etsy. Anyone who feels modern technology guts any attempted plotlines about communication issues needs to take notes from The Baby-Sitters Club, which effectively uses phones, either by taking them away for believable reasons, or by integrating them into the plotline. It’s a testament to how contextualizing older or newer elements can be done smoothly, without losing beloved elements of the original story.

Like their book counterparts, all the girls in The Baby-Sitters Club are more in-depth than their one-word trope descriptor (tomboy, goody two-shoes, artsy kid, prep, hippie) implies, thanks in part to the skillful performances from the young actresses. As spunky, outspoken Kristy, Sophie Grace adds nuance to her bossy, bratty attitude, grounding what could be an over-the-top performance with some tender moments. Momona Tamada, of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before fame, captures Claudia’s quirkiness and energy, but not without pangs of isolation because she feels her family will never understand her.

One of the babysitters worries over a sick kid in Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club. Photo: Kailey Schwerman / Netflix

The girls are all endearing, but the adult cast is just as interesting and compelling. The parents have their own plotlines, woven realistically into their daughters’ lives. They’re never just one-note authority figures, even would-be tropey ones like Mary Anne’s overprotective father (Marc Evan Jackson) and Dawn’s free-spirited mother. Kristy’s relationship with her mother (Alicia Silverstone) helps characterize Kristy’s sometimes-grating behavior. Her mother is remarrying, and as Kristy already feels abandoned by her father, she’s also frustrated by the possibility of a new father figure, and the question of where she fits into a new family.

Much as with the books, each episode of The Baby-Sitters Club revolves around a particular character. Even if Stacey is narrating, the rest of the girls aren’t forgotten. But handing off the viewpoints lets each character get screen time, fleshing out their individual characters and their relationships. The books were praised for tackling big themes like death and divorce, but it’s important to remember that the little problems — crushes on older boys, fights with friends, or redecorating childhood bedrooms — can be just as weighty, especially for 13-year-olds. The Netflix adaptation makes every episode and plot point feel important, and lets the characters’ details and desires feel valid. That makes this the kind of kids’ show that transcends audience age.

The Baby-Sitters Club is available to stream on Netflix on July 3.

Source: Polygon.com

Fortnite will host a discussion of race in America, broadcasting all day on July 4

On Saturday, Epic Games will host a discussion about race in America inside the popular video game, Fortnite. In partnership with marketing firm Opus United, the event will be hosted by author and commentator Van Jones. Guests will include Jemele Hill, Elaine Welteroth, and Killer Mike. The event will be rebroadcast in-game for 24 hours throughout July 4.

According to a news release issued today, the event is titled We The People. It will feature “a series of conversations that advance the dialogue around race in America with prominent BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) voices in business, sports, media, music, and entertainment.” It will be available inside the Party Royale mode, which held a debut concert in May.

We The People begins at 8:46 a.m. CT on Saturday. The timing is symbolic of the killing of George Floyd, as it is a reference to the amount of time Floyd was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police. His death, which multiple autopsies have ruled a homicide, kicked off an international wave of protests against racism and police brutality.

This is not the first time that players have been invited into Fortnite for something other than a battle royale game. The massively popular free to play game has become a major social hub, with concerts, film screenings, and promotional events.

Source: Polygon.com

Destiny 2 Trials of Osiris rewards, July 3-7

Trials of Osiris is back in Destiny 2. Saint-14 is the new Trials vendor and announcer, and players can find him and his wares in the Tower Hangar every Friday at reset.

Each week, the Trials of Osiris map changes, as do the rewards for winning a certain number of matches. The rewards are consistent across all players, although each player’s weapon roll will differ.

Here are the guaranteed Trials of Osiris rewards this week:

Map: The Dead Cliffs

  • 3 wins — Grips, Gloves, Gauntlets of the Exile (Hunter, Warlock, Titan arms)
  • 5 wins — Exile’s Curse, Arc fusion rifle
  • 7 wins — Vest, Robe, Plate of the Exile (Hunter, Warlock, Titan chest)
  • Flawless — Hood, Cover, Helm of the Exile (Hunter, Warlock, Titan helmet)

Note: As of Season of Arrivals, players can complete the End Game weekly bounty — which just needs Trials match completions (wins give more progress) — to earn the three win reward.

Players who manage to reach seven wins without a single loss can go to the Lighthouse social space — this is called a Flawless run. The Lighthouse offers additional rewards for players, some of which are unique, like a special emblem. Players who reach the Lighthouse also earn a special armor glow for any of their Trials of Osiris armor, which lasts for the remainder of the weekend.


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

Source: Polygon.com

Destiny 2 Xur location and items, July 3-7

The weekly Exotic item merchant, Xur, hangs out in random locations around the world of Destiny. In Destiny 2, he can appear all over the map, as well as inside the Tower. This week, you can find Xur in the Tower, hanging out on the back stairs of the Tower Hangar.

a screenshot of Destiny 2’s map showing the location of Xur in the Tower Hangar Image: Bungie via Polygon

Xur’s inventory this week consists of the following:

  • The Huckleberry, kinetic submachine gun: 29 Legendary Shards
  • Lucky Pants, Hunter legs: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Mask of the Quiet One, Titan helmet: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Lunafaction Boots, Warlock boots: 23 Legendary Shards
  • Exotic Engram: 97 Legendary Shards (you can now purchase a second with an Exotic Cipher)

Xur’s inventory caps out at 1050.

The Huckleberry

The Huckleberry is an exotic from Warmind. Its intrinsic perk is Ride the Bull, which causes the gun to fire faster and have increased recoil the longer you hold the trigger. Kills with the gun partially reload the magazine. The Huckleberry’s secondary perk is rampage, which causes each kill to increase your damage for a short time.

The Huckleberry is a very fun gun to use. Its perks combine to offer you a little minigame of trying to fire for as long as you possibly can without having to reload. Pick up The Huckleberry if you can afford it.

Lucky Pants

Lucky Pants are fairly worthless in most situations. They’re also one of the exotics that Sloane offers you during the campaign. Their exotic perk, Illegally Modded Holster, allows you to ready hand cannons very quickly as well as increase accuracy for your first shot. Additionally, precision hits partially reload any stowed hand cannons. If you absolutely must use hand cannons in both your energy and kinetic slot, these pants are for you. Otherwise, skip Lucky Pants.

Xur’s roll this week comes with 61 total stats.

Mask of the Quiet One

Mask of the Quiet One is a mediocre Titan Exotic in both PvP and PvE. Its exotic perk, Dreaded Visage, grants energy for your grenade, melee, and class ability each time you take damage. Kills with Void abilities instantly trigger your health regeneration. While this helmet is best used with Sentinel, you’ll get the extra energy on damage regardless of your subclass. If you’re going to be taking a lot of damage, this is a decent Exotic to throw on.

Xur’s roll this week comes with 62 total stats.

Lunafaction Boots

Lunafaction Boots are very powerful Warlock Exotic boots, and have been since the original Destiny 2. Their Exotic perk is Alchemical Etchings. This perk grants a reload speed increase while standing in a Lunafaction-empowered Rift. This Exotic got hit hard in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, but it’s still worth using. You need these.

Xur’s roll this week comes with 64 total stats.


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

Source: Polygon.com

The psychology of Soulsbornes, and the importance of Apex Legends’ movement

Just when we thought we were done talking about From Software games, we once again talked about From Software Games.

After a brief hiatus, Speedrun returned this week with a new format: three episodes a week focused on thematic deep dives and journalistic storytelling. Think of it like This American Life meets The Daily meets video games.

And on a show about video games, what better theme to return with than “fun?” More specifically, the “unexpected fun” we find in our favorite titles. We talked to Respawn about the studio’s knack for magical movement. We interviewed a prominent streamer about the thrilling fear of horror games. And yes, we brought in a psychologist to dissect the masochistic joy of Nioh 2. To paraphrase Pat Gill: we talked about Soulsbornes, and you couldn’t stop us.

What’s more, we added a new member to the Speedrun crew: Mari Takahashi, better known as AtomicMari, joined the team as our West Coast correspondent, and the show is instantly better for it. Her backgrounds in improv and role-playing have already allowed us to embed with a group of cannibals in Fallout 76 (more on that next week) and her fascination with in-game communities meshes seamlessly with our own. We have no shortage of assignments for her going forward.

Following in that vein, allow me to tease Monday’s episode, which is by far one of my personal favorites since we launched the show two months (seven years) ago. Our very own Simone de Rochefort caught up with Termacious Trickocity, a group whose knowledge of the Halo series has allowed them to break into more hidden rooms and forgotten alcoves than most of us see in a year’s worth of AAA games. It’s a stunning testament to the amount of development work that ends up on the cutting room floor.

We’ll be back Monday, and I’ll be back next Friday. Talk to you then.

Source: Polygon.com

Hamilton on film is a very different experience than Hamilton on stage

Time may not be kind to Hamilton as historical fiction. Five years after the show’s Broadway debut, a filmed version of the play is hitting Disney Plus on July 3rd, a full 15 months ahead of its original scheduled theatrical release date. It’s the first time Hamilton has been widely available in any form other than its cast album. But it arrives in a world markedly different from the one where it was conceived. I saw the stage show twice myself, both times before the 2016 election, and the difference between watching it then and watching it now is palpable.

The presentation of this filmed version is occasionally rickety, but not nearly enough to stifle such a stellar production. Featuring the original Broadway cast, this recording was captured in June 2016 while the show was still a fiery sensation tearing up the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 46th Street, before it began touring and expanding to other cities.

But five years after its debut, Hamilton’s tone and portrayals clash with the current moment of mass cultural reappraisal stemming from Black Lives Matter protests. It’s a historical play about the kind of American figures whose public monuments are currently being questioned and removed from the public eye, sometimes by force.

The show’s more idealistic elements feel illusory in hindsight. It was made for a different America, and today, it’s easy to wonder whether that America ever existed at all. On its surface, the show re-casting America’s founding fathers as people of color is a fun twist aimed at re-centering who gets to tell this story. But for a show that doesn’t give the era’s slave trade more than a passing mention, the use of hip-hop as lingua franca, repackaged and sold to a mostly white and wealthy Broadway audience, feels like a gnawing paradox. That said, paradoxes are part and parcel of the show’s overarching narrative.

As a character piece, told through music and impeccable staging, Hamilton remains incredibly propulsive, and incredibly powerful. The music, lyrics, and book were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who takes center stage in the title role. (He’s a charming actor, though he’s hardly the best singer in the cast.) It’s certainly an unconventional adaptation of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography, though given Chernow’s wealth of research into Hamilton’s letters and essays, the show’s foundation is distinctly personal.

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton Photo: Disney Plus

And Miranda’s interpretation of the story is about a great many things. Hamilton’s rivalries with Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) and Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.) are one major thread. Another has him torn between two women who bring out the best in his head and his heart, the same way he’s torn between the warring pragmatism and idealism inherent to founding a new nation. But the core outlook that defines this fictitious Hamilton is much more intimate: his fear of death is the musical’s primary obsession.

The show’s opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” has various characters introducing the “10-dollar founding father” in the past tense — including Burr, who famously shot and killed him in a duel. Its third track, “My Shot,” vocalizes Hamilton’s own fatalistic outlook: “I imagine death so much, it feels more like a memory.” Even as he tends to America’s future, Hamilton is plagued by ghosts of friends and fallen soldiers. The narrative often breaks for news-like interludes about how many have died on the battlefield — or in the water, as in “Right Hand Man,” during which the stage is awash in shimmering blue light, almost drowning, as characters sing solemnly about the 32,000 British troops approaching New York Harbor.

“As a kid in the Caribbean, I wished for a war,” Hamilton says, introducing us to yet another paradox. In one breath, he speaks of the death of his mother, his cousin, and many others around him in a hurricane before he moved to the mainland. In the next, he sings about how he saw war as purpose, an opportunity to rise through the ranks and prove himself. It’s as though facing death is the only way he knows how to live.

That shouldn’t deter viewers looking for a good time. There’s more than enough fun and spectacle in the show’s 160 minutes, even if the version on Disney Plus isn’t always adept at capturing its grandeur. (Or its profanity — a few swear words have been censored along the way.) You’d be hard-pressed to find a more energetic set of songs and vocal performances, even on a Disney platform, and the live audience laughing and applauding along is the next best thing in a time where live events are mostly shut down.

Most of the show is filmed at the actors’ eye level, often tracking sideways and floating in an in-between space. Except for the occasional low angle, on an entrance or post-number pose, it’s rare for the filmed Hamilton to capture actors from the audience’s vantage, whether it’s from the exorbitantly priced orchestra below, or the slightly less-exorbitant rear seats in the balcony, some 40 rows deep. During the first act, there aren’t nearly enough cuts to wide shots, which might better show off the interplay between the ensemble and the stage. (Not to mention the rest of the actors onstage at any given time.) Curiously, the wides are often chosen in moments where the focus needs to remain on singular characters, to the chagrin of anyone watching on anything smaller than a 90-inch screen.

But despite that lack of sensible cuts to wider coverage, there are far too many cuts overall, so rapid that they leave little opportunity for audiences to look around and focus on the details, or absorb the bigger picture, as they would in the theater. The few times the show cuts to an overhead angle, it doesn’t hold nearly as long as it ought to. In the center of the stage are two concentric circles which rotate during key moments — sometimes in tandem, sometimes one without the other — and in person, the choreography is kaleidoscopic. But the filmed version only offers hints of that.

A group of cast members stands around Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton. Photo: Disney Plus

The mechanical spinning feels like a clock face moving ever forward, but it slows down and even reverses direction during vital scenes. Lovers pass each other like ships in the night. The trajectory of a bullet (embodied frenetically by ensemble member Ariana DeBose) becomes an extended moment of contemplation and regret as it floats through the circle, flanked by actors standing still, frozen in time. The confessional ballad “Satisfied” — sung by Hamilton’s sister-in-law Angelica Schuyler (Renée Elise Goldsberry) — rewinds the show and takes us back through the preceding scene, re-telling it from different vantages as the characters spin around, and Angelica expands on the harrowing subtext of minor interactions we’ve just seen.

Something viewers might miss in the theater is these interpersonal subtleties, like tiny worlds created between two characters, even those who only interact for a moment. The actors all certainly project for the back row, but the screen has the distinct advantage of the close-up, capturing the nuances of moments both big and small.

It’s no wonder, given the subtleties on display here, that so many cast members made the leap to film and television so seamlessly. The caricatured King George (Jonathan Groff of Mindhunter fame) is a particular delight, completing the theatrical experience with enunciated spittle, and seeming even goofier when it hangs from his chin. His closeups work the best because he’s usually the only one onstage during his three farcical solos, so the camera doesn’t often leave his gaze. That isn’t always the case for the rest of the cast.

Thomas Kail, who directed both the Broadway production and its filmed version, is clearly adept at blocking his actors, but capturing them on camera afterward proves challenging. When the stage is more crowded, he doesn’t seem to know who or what to frame, and even when he selects his targets, he doesn’t always know exactly how to frame them. Within seconds, the show cuts between two or three different angles where the simple tenets of stage left, right, and center are lost, because each camera places the performers in different parts of the frame. The effect is disorienting. It requires an extra moment of visual adjustment between cuts, and the darkened backdrop in the first half also causes all sense of physical space to be lost, until the edit returns to a wider angle. Kail might as well be cutting between rogue HD cellphone shots.

The effect worsens when characters turn to face one another, because while you’d be able to see them clearly from the seats, the cameras are often placed diagonally. On more than one occasion, they obscure their own faces when they gesticulate. The filmed presentation comes off as fairly amateur — it feels like sound and exposure levels are being adjusted on the fly, with characters initially sounding too soft or looking too washed-out when they first appear. But these problems mostly subside by the second half. After the intermission (with a helpful one-minute countdown!), the show most often centers one or two characters at a time, and the backdrop is more brightly lit, so losing the sense of space isn’t really a problem.

Daveed Diggs jumps at the center of the stage in Hamilton. Photo: Disney Plus

The characters are all older and more grounded in Act II — the show spans several decades — so they don’t bounce around as wildly or wave their arms nearly as much. It’s easier to catch everything the actors do in the second half. The relationship between Hamilton and George Washington (Christopher Jackson) in particular benefits from Kail’s approach. To the orphaned Hamilton, Washington is something of a stern father figure, so his eventual departure from politics seems to reopen Hamilton’s wounds of abandonment. Their conversations play out cinematically, often in stable two-shots and over-the-shoulders, with the camera holding on both men’s close-ups.

Jackson exudes gravitas, carrying himself with grace even as his brow furrows more and more with each passing scene. But in spite of Jackson’s grounded performance, which attempts to reconcile the man and his legacy, his Washington is the only historical figure the show tries to deify. While slavery is subtly mentioned, Washington’s role in it isn’t. Thanks to the narrative framing, he’s more mythology than man, a symbol of blinkered American self-image. Much has been said about how casting mostly Black men in these parts — Washington, Jefferson, Burr, and James Madison especially — re-orients the narrative’s power dynamic, but the show is also a statement about the many ways we canonize our own history. Burr laments actions which lead him to be remembered as a villain, while Hamilton’s wife Eliza (Phillipa Soo) nurtures her husband’s posthumous legacy, which can’t help but call into question the show’s own failings in this regard.

For instance, much to-do is made about Hercules Mulligan (Okieriete Onaodowan, who also plays Madison) spying on the British government, but Mulligan’s slave Cato, who was vital to his intelligence-gathering, doesn’t so much as warrant a mention. John Laurens (Anthony Ramos) attempting to free his battalion of 3,000 enslaved soldiers comes up in context, but the fact that he died before he succeeded isn’t treated as a tragedy.

Instead, it’s an opportunity for Hamilton to get back to work, after which the battalion is never mentioned. Black and brown actors inhabit the roles of these white men and women, but there isn’t a single Black character in the show, historically speaking, so its attempts at re-centering American history on the non-white can’t help but feel half-baked — to say nothing of deifying the founding of America itself without the context of its Native inhabitants.

But while Hamilton’s relationship to history is jagged, the way the show wields its mix of fact and fiction has a raw, undeniable power. The Revolutionary War is won about a third of the way through — during the uptempo arrangement “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” a personal favourite — leaving nearly two hours during which the characters struggle with both the creation of a functioning government and their own legacies. Whatever Hamilton’s place as historical document is, its drama hits precisely.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Phillipa Soo in Hamilton. Photo: Disney Plus

Hamilton learns of Laurens’ death through a letter from his father, during which the slain revolutionary appears as a specter to remind Hamilton how much work still needs to be done. (“Tomorrow there’ll be more of us.”) The warm wash on Hamilton and the cold spotlight on Laurens separate the worlds of the living and the dead, but the way they’re staged (and the oblique angle capturing them in the filmed version) blurs the line between them. What’s more, Laurens, who died at age 27, is played by Anthony Ramos, the same actor who plays Hamilton’s son Phillip in the second half. The double role is no doubt efficient, but it makes even the most pleasant household scenes feel burdened, portending not only Phillip’s early death — a soul-wrenching sequence where the edit, thankfully, doesn’t cut away — but Hamilton’s as well.

Even after the war, death permeates the show’s very fabric.

In spite of the characters’ fatalism, though, their outlook on the future is defined by a pragmatic mix of hope and insecurity. While the musical’s public debates over the Constitution skew far too close to Epic Rap Battles of History, Burr and Hamilton’s view of America as a concept is grounded in much more personal musings about the world they’re leaving behind for their children (“Dear Theodosia”). Seated side by side, each man is afforded lengthy, unbroken takes, as they each address their children, and the audience. “If we lay a strong enough foundation,” they sing, tapping into a mix of fear and pride, “We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away… Someday.” Hamilton occasionally idealizes history, but even though it was born of a pre-2016 era, in which idealism felt like a natural comfort for many, the show has no delusions about its present being perfect. In his dying moments, Hamilton even calls America a “great, unfinished symphony.”

Hamilton is part of that symphony — not as an answer to pressing problems, but as a question in itself: “Who Tells Your Story?” Or rather: “How is your story told?” The story America tells itself about itself is in more flux than it’s ever been, and it’s not unthinkable to see Hamilton’s occasionally rosy version of history as part of the problem. But the character dynamics it uses to tell that story are so potent that they’re emotionally overpowering. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least suggest letting yourself get swept up in its sentiment before processing the history underscoring it.

To have this version of Hamilton, with its original cast, at viewers’ fingertips is an opportunity to hop back in time to a moment when things seemed a little less politically dire, and introspection didn’t seem like a constant necessity. This isn’t a call to nostalgia — frankly, fuck nostalgia — but it’s an opportunity to confront nostalgia at its rawest, and to figure out why that particular moment in time felt the way it did, even though history remains the same. Watching the show in 2020, it swept me up as it did years ago. But so much has changed in the intervening years: the political climate, my relationship to America as an immigrant, my own personal beliefs. Watching the show now puts me at war with emotions I once took for granted.

Where I once felt like I had no reason to scrutinize America’s past, I may now have more reason than ever. Picking apart your relationship to this rosy version of events might seem easy on paper, but being fully enraptured by history — not as academia, but as sentiment — could prove vital to locating and plucking one’s long-held cultural beliefs at their very root.

Pragmatic reasons aside, however, I still recommend Hamilton’s tremendous display of artistry. Miranda’s multisyllabic rhymes often echo and sample hip-hop greats like The Notorious B.I.G. Daveed Diggs is a firecracker as both Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette. Renée Elise Goldsberry has incredible poise as Angelica, even though the character is bursting at the seams with unrequited adoration. Phillipa Soo brings devastating anguish to the role of Eliza, whose very historical erasure is re-contextualized in the show. She chooses to take herself out of the narrative, rather than being humiliated by a cheating husband who’s wrapped up in his own reputation. Through her silence alone, she salts the Earth on which he walks.

Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Photo: Disney Plus

And of course, no Hamilton conversation is complete without mentioning Leslie Odom Jr., who steals every scene he’s in. As the opportunistic Burr, he veers between sly and wounded, en route to a truly great villain performance. His solo “The Room Where it Happens” is an absolute showstopper. He engulfs the stage with his energy, engaging in a musical tug of war between pragmatic desires for fairer governance, and his own ambition to be the one to run things correctly. His conflict culminates in a political tête-à-tête with Hamilton — and a personal betrayal.

The filmed version of Hamilton doesn’t capture all its greatest facets, but it captures enough of them. It also captures just enough of the wooden backdrop at all times to echo the show’s many central contradictions. Adorned with ropes and staircases, the set evokes both a gallows and a shipping yard. It’s a constant reminder of the bloody history America is now contending with. But it’s also a reminder of the country’s industry and its possibilities, and it evokes how America once praised itself as a safe haven for immigrants and opportunites. The show’s most powerful moment comes not from what it captures on-camera, but from the audience in attendance, in the mid-song applause for the line “Immigrants, we get the job done.” If nothing else, that moment is a hopeful reassurance for how America might someday try to finish its symphony.

Hamilton is streaming on Disney Plus now.

Source: Polygon.com