Tag Archives: polygon

Octane is Apex Legends’ first new character: Here’s what he can do

Apex Legends is getting a new character named Octane, developer Respawn Entertainment announced on Monday. The character — Apex Legends’ first post-launch Legend — will be released alongside the game’s season 1 “Wild Frontier” battle pass on March 19.

While Octane’s abilities aren’t yet visible on the game’s official website, Sony’s PlayStation Blog gave us a preview of what the character can do. Most of Octane’s abilities are built around his health. His tactical ability allows him to move faster than normal, but costs a percentage of his health to activate and only lasts a few seconds. To offset this, Octane’s passive ability grants him healing whenever he isn’t being shot at, allowing him to slowly gain back the health he has either lost or spent.

Octane’s ultimate ability is called Launch Pad. He can throw launch pads on the ground that allow anyone to boost into the air. You can even get an early preview of the launch pads by checking out the ones that Respawn placed just outside of the Market location late last week.

It’s unclear how players will be able to unlock Octane. Previous Legends were available for 12,000 Legend Tokens each, or around $8.50 if you’d rather use real money. However, it’s possible that Octane will be given to everyone as soon as the new season launches.

Octane will be released along with Apex Legends battle pass on the first official day of season 1, March 19.

Source: Polygon.com

Valve’s (almost) ‘anything goes’ content policy devalues Steam and harms developers

Valve’s recent brush with obscene and harmful content is the latest incident that exposes one of Steam’s key weaknesses. Abdicating its responsibility as a content host has led the market leader to alienate developers and damage its own brand.

Steam’s content policy has been a regular source of confusion, coming to a boil in mid-2018. The company issued delisting warnings to developers of visual novels aimed at an adult audience and featuring nudity.

The storefront ultimately relaxed its warnings, but had already tipped off a series of questions about its ambiguous definitions of what is acceptable on Steam. The result was a reaffirmation that Valve is willing to take money from almost any developer, provided the content isn’t deemed by Valve to be “illegal or straight up trolling.”

A few months later, Steam permitted the first uncensored adult game, leaning on filters to weed out sexual content. While PIN-protected family accounts might safeguard minors, they don’t shield developers who are caught in the blast zone when Steam lets a game like Hatred or the recently removed sexual violence fantasy Rape Day from developer Desk Plant come anywhere near its store.

It’s easy to forget that digital storefronts still adhere to retail paradigms. While there are no physical shelves upon which boxes sit, games (and developers) are still judged by the company they keep. On Steam, that comes in the form of a set of recommendations on every store page labeled “More Like This.”

Two days after Rape Day made news, Valve announced that it had decided not to allow the game on its store. During that time, a full store page was live, complete with a “More Like This” section.

That recommendation engine is driven by user tags. That’s how Curtel Games’ The Ballad Singer ended up in Rape Day’s “More Like This” section. The two games share three tags: adventure, nudity, and sexual content. The developers couldn’t be more different in their approaches to such a sensitive topic.

“The fact that the Ballad Singer is recommended under Rape Day is probably related to the fact that in the game we have indicated that there are nude scenes (not explicit),” Curtel Games project manager Riccardo Bandera told Polygon via email. “A rape choice is included in our game. But what we tried to do compared to Rape Day is completely different. We try to sensitize the player on this issue, entering the mind of those who suffer violence and trying to educate the player, despite being free to do what he wants. In my opinion it is a good thing that our game is recommended, provides a different point of view that allows players to understand the victim, trying to bring a real social value through the video game.”

While Bandera is glad that The Ballad Singer has the chance to provide a different perspective than Desk Plant’s endorsement of sexual violence, he does not condone Rape Day’s content.

“Rape is not a game but probably one of the worst violence that a person could suffer,” he says. “I think it’s an insult to all the victims to include a rape game inside Steam.”

He isn’t the only developer to have a strong reaction to Valve’s decision to keep Desk Plant’s game on its storefront even for the few days it lived there. One More Story Games CEO Jean Leggett suggests that Steam’s current content policy is alienating for some developers.

“I don’t want to put my game, which is a thoughtful and sensitive approach to PTSD and sexual violence, [on Steam],” she says. “I would be absolutely livid if that came under the ‘More Like This’ section.”

Leggett has opted to steer her company’s games toward platforms that do take a stand on safety with clear content policies.

“It’s already difficult enough to do the kind of content that I’m doing,” she explains. “That’s why it feels safer, more appropriate, and ethically responsible to put our games out on the App Store and the Play Store. They do gate against those kinds of things.”

The Epic Games Store is currently curating its content leading up to when the company casts a wider net later in 2019. Despite founder Tim Sweeney’s vocal support of open platforms, Epic didn’t throw the door open. The company has built an enormous following of young Fortnite fans. While the company hasn’t commented, it’s hard to imagine Epic giving Rape Day anything other than a hard “No.”

This is, in part, because large companies and PR agencies make it their job to know how their content is being positioned internally and on external platforms. Brands need to be regularly tended and curated, otherwise someone else will start defining what they stand for.

”There are entire teams of people at agencies whose sole job is brand safety,” an experienced marketer told us under condition of anonymity to protect their career. “We work really hard to ensure that our content isn’t seen alongside certain content. Brands have lists of other brands or verticals that may not appear alongside their content. This is super common in advertising online. When someone tells us that our videos or other content have preroll for certain products or brands, like a tobacco company, alcohol, or sex products, we work with Google or Youtube or whomever to fix that ASAP.”

Valve’s statement about removing Rape Day continues a trend of obfuscation and confusion about what content the company finds unacceptable. Even the explanation amounts to a wishy-washy recitation of, “I’ll know it when I see it” while burying the lede.

“After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam,” Valve says. Those unknown costs and risks? Alienating developers who already see Valve’s value proposition waning and potentially drawing unwanted government attention. While the United States government and state officials might be loathe to wade into this matter, the same can’t be said for other countries. Members of U.K.’s Parliament and the Scottish Parliament have called for stronger legislation around content like Rape Day.

“One day, tech industry in general will have to learn that taking responsibility and preventing bad things from happening rather than asking for forgiveness after fucking up is the only way we’ll stop uninformed government legislation,” said Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail on Twitter in response to U.K. government officials chiming in. “The games industry doesn’t need permission from anyone. We are not and should not be beholden to any one government. But my word, do we need to do a better job of convincing the world at large that we don’t need a babysitter to tell us ‘don’t do the bad thing’ sometimes.”

Valve’s “unknown costs and risks” caveat are absent from its longer post of June 2018 in which it specifies that it will only restrict content that is “illegal or straight up trolling.” All of this perpetuates uncertainty around what material is allowed on Steam, a problem the platform has been facing since before its haphazard choices around adult visual novels last year.

That isn’t to suggest Valve made the wrong decision here. Clearly Rape Day is a flippant treatment of sexual violence that mishandles the real trauma faced by survivors. But there’s nothing to say that a game just like it won’t appear tomorrow. Valve’s reactionary process ensures that almost anything can exist on Steam, even for a few days, and wreak havoc on other developers.

“Sometimes all it can take is a single image or memory to form an association forever,” a community lead who asked to remain anonymous to protect their career and employer told Polygon. “If someone is browsing the ‘More Like This’ section because they want to avoid similar things, innocent games could be caught in the crossfire. Someone’s work, forever discarded because of a false association with a game about rape.”

That’s not just an unknown cost or risk. Valve is inviting this to happen again by refusing to be proactive. Whether developers stick around when new entrants like the Epic Games Store are providing both more money and better security is a bet Steam seems willing to make, at least for now.

Source: Polygon.com

Apex Legends battle pass comes out tomorrow alongside new character Octane

The Apex Legends battle pass is imminent, signaling the official start of the game’s first season. The battle pass includes a variety of cosmetic items for the game, and will be available to purchase for 950 Apex Coins (about $9.50) on Tuesday, March 19.

Apex Legends’ season 1 battle pass has unlocks for most of the game’s characters, including Octane, who will apparently be released along with the battle pass as part of the first season. While most of the unlocks are items like banners and poses, there are also skins for Lifeline, Wraith, and Mirage. The pass also includes skins for most of the guns in the game with over 100 unlocks in total.

The battle pass is leveled up by gaining XP in the game, which will count both toward players’ battle pass level and their overall profile.

As players unlock higher tiers of their battle pass, the rewards they gain will become more rare. For this season, the battle pass’s final reward is a rare skin for the Havoc energy rifle, the game’s first post-launch weapon.

Players will start to earn progress toward their battle pass unlocks as soon as season 1 begins, whether they have bought the pass or not. If players decide to buy the pass later on during the season, all of the progress they have earned will carry over and unlock all of the rewards they have earned up to that point.

Respawn is also offering a faster alternative to the standard leveling process on the battle pass: a version that costs 2,800 Apex Coins (about $28) and includes the first 25 levels of the pass already unlocked.

The battle pass will be available for the duration of Apex Legends season 1, which starts on March 19 and is called Wild Frontier. For more on what’s coming to the game, check out three screenshots of Octane in the gallery below.

Source: Polygon.com

Splatoon 2 demo comes to Nintendo Switch, plus 20 percent game discount

Splatoon 2, the cartoonish online (ink) shooter for Nintendo Switch, is getting a free “Special Demo.” Nintendo announced Monday that the demo is available to download at the eShop now, with access to the game starting at 7 a.m. PT on Tuesday, March 19. It will last one week, ending on Monday, March 25.

The demo grants access to four game modes: four-on-four Turf War battles, the “classic” mode where teams compete to cover the largest area of the battlefield with their neon ink; Salmon Run, a co-op battle against the evil Salmonids; and competitive League and Ranked Battles. It does not appear that the single-player story mode will be available in the demo.

Since a Nintendo Switch Online account is required to participate in online ink battles, Nintendo is providing Splatoon 2 players free access to the service during the demo period, even if they’ve previously redeemed a Switch Online trial. After downloading the demo, a Switch Online code will be delivered via email. It can be redeemed immediately, but it won’t activate until the demo goes live.

Of course, Nintendo hopes that players will get hooked on the demo and then go out and buy the game. To sweeten the pot further, Splatoon 2 will be 20 percent off at the Switch eShop while the demo is active, bringing the price down to $47.99. Though that’s not the lowest price we’ve seen on Splatoon 2, it’s not too shabby for a first-party Switch game. Plus, any progress made during the demo will carry over after purchase.

Source: Polygon.com

Bethesda’s E3 2019 press conference set for June 9

Bethesda Softworks will hold its fifth annual E3 press briefing on Sunday, June 9, the publisher announced Monday.

This year’s Bethesda E3 Showcase will be highlighted by “an in-depth look at Doom Eternal,” the company said in a blog post. The show, which will take place in Los Angeles, is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. PDT. Bethesda will livestream the showcase on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Mixer, and Facebook Live.

Bethesda has not yet announced a venue, but as usual, the publisher is inviting fans to the showcase. (The tagline for this year’s event is “be together.”) The company said it will provide additional details later regarding the opportunity for fans to register for a chance to attend the show. “We are planning to invite more” fans this time around, said Bethesda.

Doom Eternal, the follow-up to 2016’s Doom, was announced during Bethesda’s E3 2018 press conference and further detailed at QuakeCon 2018. The game is in development at id Software on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. A Nintendo Switch port is in the works from Panic Button, which previously brought Doom and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus to the handheld/console hybrid platform. Bethesda has not yet announced a release window for Doom Eternal.

As for the rest of Bethesda’s E3 Showcase, the publisher is suggesting that fans “refresh Walmart Canada,” a cheeky reference to the fact that the retailer leaked the existence of Rage 2 a month before Bethesda’s planned unveiling of the game at E3 2018. The shooter from id and Avalanche Software is scheduled to be released May 14, so Bethesda may have announcements regarding post-launch content at E3. There’s likely more to come on the effort to rehabilitate Fallout 76. And the publisher may also provide updates on all the other games it announced last year, including Wolfenstein: Youngblood and the presumably far-off Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6.

Bethesda E3 Showcase 2019 save the date Bethesda Softworks

Source: Polygon.com

The best memes of 2019, so far

The fast-paced and transient nature of the internet means that memes are being churned out quicker than ever, with a new one popping up every few days before filtering out into the ether. With so many memes and so little time, it would be easy to miss the gags, tweets, riffs, and emojis gold erupting on a weekly basis. That’s why we’re collecting them all for your (re-)viewing pleasure.

For the purposes of this compendium, only memes that started or really exploded in 2019 will be counted. (Some of Y’all and Airpods, for instance, started in 2018, though they continued into 2019.) As more memes trickle in, we’ll keep this list updated with the ones worth paying attention to. Here are the very best memes of 2019.

J.K. Rowling tweeting

After the, uh, overly gratuitous Pottermore revelation that wizards in the Harry Potter world once shit their pants before embracing the Muggle technology of toilets, a Twitter user posted the first format of this meme.

People began to riff on J.K. Rowling’s tendency to offer incredibly minute details about the Harry Potter world. Some went even more ridiculous and explicit; others used it as commentary on Rowling’s tendency to retroactively add diversity to the books.

Learning to be Spider-Man

Academy Award-winning film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gave society many, many things, including one iconic meme. In the movie, Miles wants to learn how to be Spider-Man from Peter B. Parker. He listens intently as Peter describes a plan, and copies his posture.

The first instance of the Spider-Man meme popped up in early January on a subreddit designed to pump out mass-produced memes. The original setup was that the younger figure was copying or ripping off the older one, which made for some hilarious comparisons.

Reddit via u/RoseBladePhantom

But as the meme proliferated off of Reddit to Twitter and Tumblr, it took a more positive approach, with the younger figure intently listening or admiring the older one — which seems more in line with the way it played out in the movie.

AOC dancing

One of the many efforts to undermine Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s political momentum involved unearthing a video of her dancing in college. Tickled by the fact that a dancing college kid could possibly be a big political scandal, many admirers remixed the video with other songs. The possibilities were endless: “Africa” by Toto, “Rock Lobster” by the B-52’s, and “What Dreams Are Made Of” from The Lizzie McGuire Movie.

A whole account dedicated to creating and retweeting these remixes popped up, posting an impressive amount of them in one single day.

Even Ocasio-Cortez herself got in on the meme action, recreating the video while in her Washington office.

Sasuke (from Naruto)

No year is complete without a Naruto meme. The screencap of Sasuke being choked originally appeared in the 2004 episode “Hate Among the Uchihas: The Last of the Clan!” in which Sasuke’s brother, Itachi, pins him against the wall and calls him weak because he lacks hatred.

In January, this 15-year-old screencap got a second life when Twitter user mazaernai posted a juxtaposition of Sasuke and a cat.

Variations of the meme exploded over the next few days, featuring real-life celebrities, other fictional characters, and our co-workers.

Powerful Shaggy

The culmination of a long gestation period, Powerful Shaggy roared to life at full force in late January. For those not in the know, it came out of nowhere, but the Shaggy meme actually had roots far longer than most were aware. Across Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter, the Powerful Shaggy memes exploded, even getting Shaggy’s actor Matthew Lillard involved. He was resistant at first, but eventually came around.

Shen Yun

If you exist in some capacity in the United States, you’ve probably seen ads for Shen Yun papered around public spaces. The dance troupe (which is put on by an opposition party to the Chinese government, a whole other can of worms you can read about in The Guardian) is overzealous in its marketing, and everywhere you look there will be a Shen Yun poster. This is especially true of bigger cities, but Shen Yun posters also pop up in smaller towns, so their reach knows few, if any, boundaries.

The seeming universality of Shen Yun started to generate memes, mostly about how the advertising is just everywhere. Which, in turn, just provided more advertising for the company, making it even more ubiquitous. Though the Shen Yun memes started in January, they continue to trickle through.

Let Me In

This 2016 clip of comedian Eric Andre trying to bust into the Democratic National Convention has been used as a reaction GIF/video from late moments of 2018 to early 2019, but we’re counting it as a 2019 meme because the actual screencaps coupled with text that became so popular originated this February, specifically in response to 21 Savage’s detainment for an overstayed visa.

The format caught on, especially given the success of previous Eric Andre memes that continue to be used to this day. The meme trickled off of Reddit and onto Tumblr and Twitter. Eric Andre just has a presence that screams meme star.

Buff ASCII bunny bodyguard

ASCII rabbits go way back, and the actual buff bunny dates to 2013. But the version of a little tiny bunny poking his head out from behind the big, buff protector rolled out in February. A version of the “don’t talk to me or my son ever again,” the meme adds a level of friendship and comradery in the form of a lil’ bunny. Really, we’re all the lil’ bunny in one way shape or form.

Me: 🙂

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how this meme started, and it doesn’t really have a specific name. Maybe it’s inspired by a massively popular tweet by artist Jonny Sun, in which he conveyed his happiness at watching his plants grow via emojis, coupled with the same sort of energy of last year’s Unicode sparkle meme.

The format is simple. Me starts off sad, something small and glittery exists, the Me is reminded to be happy — a sprinkling of soft, aesthetic positivity in dark times.

Pokémon Galar U.K.

The reveal of the upcoming Pokémon games meant not only new Pokémon, but a new region called Galar. The region’s farmland combined with an industrial aesthetic, as well as certain landmarks, had many fans theorizing that Galar is the Pokémon equivalent of the United Kingdom.

Since many U.K.-specific memes already exist (Scottish Twitter and Cheeky Nando’s, for instance), combining them with the newly revealed region was only natural.

Summoning Circles

Emoji memes continue to be ever popular. The summoning circle memes are easy to create and while the first iterations continued the format, others experimented with it. These memes show the current state of meme culture: It goes beyond the recreation and distribution of memes. Often, the best versions play with the pre-established format.

Source: Polygon.com

Sabrina shows off her full power in the first trailer for season 2

The first look at the second season of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reveals just how powerful of a witch Sabrina has become.

In the first season, Sabrina balanced her mortal life and her magic one. Though she sought to be a good witch and maintain her righteousness above all, Sabrina ended the season by signing her name over to the Dark Lord’s book once and for all. This granted her full use of her powers — and a new platinum blonde look.

Season 2 looks to explore this decision further, as Sabrina’s friends and family notice something off about her. The trailer opens with Sabrina spreading gasoline across the floor of her old mortal high school, and kicks into full gear with loads of death, magic, and cute warlock boys.

Starring Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina, along with Michelle Gomez as Madam Satan, season 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premieres on Netflix on April 5.

Source: Polygon.com

Devil May Cry 5 is adding a stylishly messy survival mode

Devil May Cry 5 will get a new mode in a free update on April 1, Capcom announced — noting, of course, that this is not an April Fool’s gag. It’s called “Bloody Palace,” and it’s a timed survival game.

In Bloody Palace, players will face waves of increasingly tough enemies and bosses against a timer. Players will have the option to play as Dante, Nero or V in the mode. Six screenshots (at bottom) accompanied the news and show off the action.

Devil May Cry 5 launched on March 8 and it’s a bona fide hit. Our review praised its indulgently stylish combat and called it a load of badass fun. The strongly positive reviews overall led Capcom USA chief executive Kiichiro Urata to flash a victory sign and declare “Capcom is back” last week.

If you’re new to the 18-year-old series, here’s a beginner’s a guide for getting started. And for veterans, here’s a guide on how to play as each of the three characters.

Source: Polygon.com

Team Sonic Racing shows off customizations and panel says next game is underway

Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog panel from SXSW in Austin today showcased customization options for Team Sonic Racing and said, in very broad terms, that the Blue Blur’s next game is underway.

The 90-second trailer (above) highlights the performance modifications (and in so doing, gives another look at the characters and vehicle fleet, all of which appear to be staples for the Sonic Racing franchise). Horns are a different vanity option this go-around with a ton of options ranging from signature tones to wackier ditties. Paint jobs and vinyls add to the colorful cart racer.

The customization options are part vanity details and part performance, carrying over from 2012’s Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, the most recent title in the franchise. The panel also introduced a tune from the game’s original soundtrack — a remixed “Bingo Party” from 2003’s Sonic Heroes, by chiptune artist Toriena and Jun Senoue.

Team Sonic Racing, which launches May 21 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One, will be accompanied by a tie-in animated series called Team Sonic Racing Overdrive. That’s in addition to the comic book series announced at San Diego Comic Con last year. The panel tossed out the surprise announcement with this trailer:

As for the next full-size Sonic game, Sonic Team boss Takashi Iizuka said that work has already begun, but that Sega has nothing else to share about it. Obviously all the attention for now is on May’s launch of TSR. No other details were forthcoming.

Source: Polygon.com

Blood PC restoration delivers another batch of throwback screenshots

Blood, the 22-year-old FPS from that genre’s bloody mid-1990s heyday, gets another 16 screenshots today showing what Nightdive Studios has in mind for the game’s forthcoming remaster.

The batch of screens from Nightdive shows the latest build of the game (1.6.10, for what it’s worth) and the effect developers are going for. The nature of the HUD and visuals show this is a restoration with enhancements, rather than a remaster. But fans of grisly action and pumping lead into occult beasts — and on PC, who the hell wasn’t in 1997 — should feel right at home.

Nightdive is the shop best known for the care and feedig of 1990s classics like Turok, another well remembered 1997 game that just launched on the Nintendo Switch’s eShop this week. Nightdive is also at work on a crowd-funded System Shock reboot. That project is eyeballing a launch in late 2019 or next year.

The first Blood (heh) was made by Monolith Productions, the gang behind the FEAR and Middle-earth: Shadow franchises for Warner Bros. It raises an interesting point about ownership — Monolith (and therefore Warner, since it owns Monolith) own the rights to any new Blood game. But because GT Interactive Published the original game, and that ended up in the hands of Atari (don’t ask how, exactly), that means outsourcing the restoration to Nightdive is totally legit. It’s also probably why this is a restoration and not a remake, as that may be considered new enough to be something Atari does not own.

No launch dates yet for Blood. It will be available on Windows PC through digital storefronts when it does. “Blood stood up extremely well over time and we are taking care to preserve all the qualities that made the game so special,” producer Daniel Grayshon said back in November when the restoration was announced. “It really only needs minor updates to provide a better user experience for contemporaray audiences.”

Source: Polygon.com