Burch was known for the web comedy series Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’ before landing the Tiny Tina role in 2012’s Borderlands 2. Her brother, Anthony Burch, was hired by Gearbox as a writer for that game, and apparently created the character with his sister in mind. She still had to audition for the part, and did, and got the job.
Tiny Tina is a manic, chatty, 13-year-old demolitions expert who popped up as an NPC in Borderlands 2 and was enough of a fan favorite to star in the game’s fourth DLC extension, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep.
Following Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! Burch landed roles in Team Fortress 2 (as Miss Pauling), Life Is Strange(as Chloe Price) and as the hero of Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy, for which she was nominated at the 2017 Game Awards.
Burch may be coming back to her part, but Troy Baker is not, even though his character, Rhys, will appear in Borderlands 3. Rhys originated in Telltale Games’ Tales from the Borderlands, as a player-character protagonist, and has not otherwise appeared in any main Borderlands games, though. Baker expressed disapproval with casting someone else in the role, to which Pitchford said he’d been told Baker turned down the part.
Borderlands 3, announced at PAX East three weeks ago, will launch Sept. 13 2019 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and for Windows PC exclusively on the Epic Games Store for the first six months.
Disney and LucasFilm finally unveiled the first teaser for The Mandalorian. The short video was shown live to an eager audience at this year’s Star Wars Celebration fan convention. But it was blacked out from a live stream of the event, and hasn’t been made public yet.
The Mandalorian will be Disney’s first live-action Star Wars television show. It will also headline the media company’s new streaming service, Disney Plus, which will be the show’s exclusive home when it premieres later this year.
Jon Favreau, known for his work on the Iron Man movies, will be teaming up with Dave Filoni among others as executive producers. Filoni also worked on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels cartoons. He’s also set to direct the first episode.
The Mandalorian will be played by Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones). In the short clip, Pascal was shown walking in full armor along a narrow causeway while waves crashed around him. An oculus-like door opened, revealing what looks to be a rugged cantina inside.
Other cast members include Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6), Werner Herzog, Emily Swallow (The Mentalist), Carl Weathers (Rocky), Omid Abtahi (Mockingjay Pt. 2) Nick Nolte (Affliction) and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad).
Favreau had previously revealed that the show would focus on a new Mandalorian warrior, and tell a story heavily inspired by the legendary Boba Fett and his father, Jango. Importantly, the program will fill a significant gap in the new Star Wars canon. It will take place three years after the events of Return of the Jedi, after the fall of the Empire but before the rise of the First Order.
The Mandalorian isn’t the only live-action series in the works. In November Disney announced it had signed on actor Diego Luna to reprise his role as Cassian Andor in a spin-off series based on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Update: Surprising everyone in the audience, The Mandalorian’s Jon Favreau showed an extended clip from the first episode of the show. It opens with Pascal as the eponymous bounty hunter seated with Carl Weathers, negotiating for a new bounty.
The scene played out in a murky cantina, filled with more than a dozen alien species, many which are new to the Star Wars canon. On the street outside street vendors were roasting Kowakian monkey-lizards, a creature that previously appeared in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as Jabba the Hutt’s pet Salacious B. Crumb.
The scene concluded inside an office at the end of a dimly-lit alley. Inside was Werner Herzog, wearing the mantle of an Imperial administrator. He was guarded by four filthy stormtroopers. The group was clearly in hiding following the fall of the Empire.
There, the two men brokered a deal to return an anonymous, 50-year-old subject to Herzog. In return, he offered The Mandalorian billets of beskar, a special form of indestructible iron used to make his iconic armor.
Both Favreau and other staff at the event stressed that no one in the stadium, which seats thousands, was allowed to record the segment. Nonetheless, expect many recordings to pop up on YouTube.
Star Wars Celebration 2019 today gave us more info about The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series coming to Disney Plus this November. The series is helmed by Iron Man director Jon Favreau and tells the story of a lone gunfighter on the outskirts of the galaxy.
The Mandalorian takes place between the events of Return of the Jedi and the rise of the First Order, exploring a time of Star Wars history with lots of potential.
While we’ve gotten casting info before, aside from Pedro Pascal playing the Mandalorian in question, we haven’t had any idea who was playing whom — or any real information about the characters.
Here’s the character lineup, as told by the actors at Star Wars Celebration. (Note, spellings of some of these Star Wars-y names is uncertain as of publication time and may be corrected later.)
Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) will play The Mandalorian, real name undisclosed. “The Mandalorian is a mysterious, lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy,” Pascal told today’s panel. “Some might say he has questionable moral character, which is in line with some of our best westerns, some good samurai. All the good stuff. And he’s a badass!”
Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6) will play Kara Dunne (above). “She’s a former Rebel shock trooper,” Carano said. “I’m a bit of a loner, and I’m having a bit of trouble re-integrating myself into society.”
Carl Weathers (Rocky) will play Grief Marga (above). “He’s the head of this guild of bounty hunters,” Weathers said. “He’s looking for someone to go after a product to bring to a client, that’s very valuable.”
Other actors will include Emily Swallow (The Mentalist), Omid Abtahi (Mockingjay Pt. 2), Nick Nolte (Affliction), and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad).
“These are new characters and new stories,” Favreau said, “so it’s a great way to invite people in onto the merry-go-round. But if you’ve been a fan for a long time, a lot of care has gone in, we think you’ll enjoy it.”
Marvel’s modern Star Wars comics will be trading hands this summer. Eisner-award winning writer Kieron Gillenand artist Angel Unzueta will be replaced by writer Greg Pak and Eisner-nominated artist Phil Noto. The announcement was made during a panel at this year’s Star Wars Celebration.
Gillen announced he would be leaving the series in his newsletter in January. Both he and Unzueta, who took a while to ease into the Star Wars style in my opinion, have been on a streak lately. Their time with the franchise will culminate with The Scourging of Shu-Torun arc, which will conclude with issue #67. Pak and Noto will pick up with issue #68 in July.
During the panel Marvel showed off many new covers, including art for the first few issues of Pak and Noto’s cycle. Noto’s work in particular elicited gasps from the crowd. His art has been a highlight of many covers in the Star Wars line since it made the transition to Marvel. His new pages display a softer style than Unzuetas, and take iconic characters like Luke, Han, and Leia in new and interesting emotional directions.
The latest salvo in the Internet’s puerile lunchroom drama over video games difficulty and cheating has been fired by XCOM’s official Twitter account. Given the obnoxiously grave tone of the “You cheated not only the game,” copypasta and meme, it simply begs to be read out in the foreboding voice of the shadowy Council Spokesman. Yesterday, Firaxis Games obliged.
Take a listen:
If you’re not clear what this is all about, here’s a recap: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a hard game. Evidently, being bad at it, or just unwilling to play something that tough, discredits you as a true or knowledgeable video games enthusiast, player, writer or whatever.
Last week, someone published a mod that allows users to slow Sekiro down, and allow them to get past the game’s unrelentingly tough bosses. A writer for PC Gamer used it to beat the game’s final boss and gloated about it.
PC Gamer’s earlier posts about Sekiro, in which one writer said they’d never beat the game and didn’t care, and another asked if it was too hard, had already sent video gaming’s git-gud clubhouse into Rumplestiltskenian fits of anger on social media. So the April 5 post about cheating summoned one hell of a teeth-sucking lecture from a Twitter user, and it went on to become a full fledged meme. (The Verge has another great roundup of tweets belittling the “you gained nothing” scolding.)
Sonic the Hedgehog even got in on the parody, but now Council Man has dropped the mic. Save-scum cheating is woven into the XCOM experience, if not relied upon by its many fans. It’s why XCOM and XCOM 2 have Ironman modes (and hard-won achievements for it) for those who like to spend their time playing their video games instead of complaining about someone else’s.
Forgive us, we missed this when it happened two months ago. But given this is a world record that concerns a game celebrating its 30th anniversary, it still seems timely to me. Not only was a new level reached in Tetrisfor the NES back on Feb. 15, the Tetrissavant who accomplished it made it past what is considered the game’s kill screen.
After Level 29 (240 lines cleared) the game begins glitching — the level counter shows him at “Level 00,” then “Level 0A,” then Level 14, and finally “Level 1E” with 270 lines cleared. That is effectively Level 33, upland territory where no one has gone before.
Technically, Level 29 is not a kill screen because the game is still playable past that point. But the game has run out of levels to count, and it also cannot speed up the tetrominoes any more. Elite Tetris players, for whatever reason, have not gone past Level 30 before, much less reached Level 33. Who knows how far Saelee could go. As he points out, players are entirely at the mercy of the random number generator, and some very fortunate drops at the end of Level 27 almost zeroed out his whole board.
Also, watch Saelee’s hands. He’s multitasking with his right, rotating the tetrominoes with his ring and pinky finger while also moving the piece with his right thumb, in concert with his left. That kind of hyper-tapping is essential to these deep, elite Tetris runs, but even it has its limitations.
In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, players will find themselves in the role of an all-new Force-using hero, on an all-new Star Wars world, on the run from an evil Empire sending new villains to wipe out him and his brethren when the game launches Nov. 15, 2019 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One.
Respawn Entertainment outlined its vision for the hotly anticipated game in a panel at today’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. The protagonist is a Padawan named Cal Kestis (portrayed by Cameron Monaghan, the Joker/Jeremiah Valeska on Gotham) who is on a journey to complete his Jedi training and master the elegant art of lightsaber combat.
Cal begins his story in a scrap yard on the planet Bracca, where he cuts apart decommissioned Star Destroyers. A worksite accident causes him to use his Force powers to save a friend, exposing him as a Jedi-in-training and therefore subject to Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66 — the extermination campaign against the Jedi. That sets Imperial inquisitors after him, including the Second Sister who leads them (pictured in the trailer keyframe at top).
The Inquistors and Purge Troopers she leads have actually been shown before — in issue #19 of the Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith comic book published last August.
“This is an action-melee game,” Stig Asmussen, the game’s creative director, said during the panel. “You play as a Jedi on the run, in training with a lightsaber and Force powers. We made sure that the combat is something that is easy to pick up but also, if you put a lot of time in, you can master it. We call the combat in the game ‘thoughtful combat.’ You have to size up your enemies and exploit their weaknesses.”
On Friday, Respawn founder Vince Zampella declared that Jedi: Fallen Order is a single-player only, narrative video game (with “no microtransactions,” either), something of a throwback against the current AAA trend of open-ended games with elaborate multiplayer components.
“This is a Jedi fantasy story,” Zampella said at today’s panel. “I think we’re known for being multiplayer shooter guys, that’s not what this is about.”
“When Respawn approached us with the idea for this game, we were immediately supportive,” Steve Blank, Lucasfilm’s director for Star Wars’ franchise strategy, said in a statement released after the panel. “A single player, story-driven title in the Star Warsuniverse was exactly what we were looking for, and we know the fans have been eager for one, as well. Focusing on Cal stepping back into the shoes of a Jedi post Order 66 opens up a lot of gameplay opportunities and rich story threads to develop for this new character and his backstory.”
A notation at the end of the trailer above said it was rendered with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, and not Electronic Arts’ proprietary (and much-maligned) Frostbite, which has worked well for shooters made by EA DICE but less so in games made by BioWare (such as Mass Effect Andromeda and, more recently, Anthem).
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will launch for PC via Electronic Arts’ Origin service. Pre-orders for all platforms are being taken now, with extra cosmetic content being offered as an incentive.
Disney’s new Star Wars-themed parks will include a unique augmented reality experience powered by an in-park mobile app. New details on the app integration were announced today at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention in Chicago. The app will reportedly transform Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Anaheim, California and Orlando, Florida into interactive, immersive digital experiences.
The app, called Play Disney Parks, has been available for some time for both iOS and Android devices. It was originally pitched as something for guests to do while waiting in line for rides or character meet and greets, with hooks like player progression and collectibles.
Once inside Galaxy’s Edge, however, the app will have more functionality than ever before.
Team members from Walt Disney Imagineering and LucasFilm, including Doug Chang, vice president and executive creative director, were on hand to add detail to the highly secretive land. Asa Kalama, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, took the lead in describing the app’s new functionality in detail for the first time.
Previously described by Entertainment Weekly, the app will allow guests to “hack,” “scan,” “translate,” and “tune” at certain locations throughout Galaxy’s Edge. Guests will be able to connect with droids and other physical features all around the park, collecting bits of backstory as they go.
These aren’t simply Easter eggs, however. According to Disney, the app will contribute to a light alternate-reality game played throughout the park. Guests’ actions will flip elements of the park between the control of the Resistance and the First Order over a period of time before a winner is declared and the game starts over again.
This isn’t the first time that Disney has attempted to embed a high-tech interactive experience into its theme parks. One previous attempt was Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Trading Card Game, a collectible card game that can be played for free, but only works inside the parks.
Players use a physical map to discover secret portals scattered all over the Magic Kingdom. Once activated, hidden cameras are able to read data encoded onto trading cards, allowing players to cast spells.
Twitch Sings, a karaoke game that is the first video game developed in part by Twitch itself, is now available as a free-to-play title on Windows PC. Emmett Shear, co-founder and CEO of Twitch, announced the release during his keynote address on Saturday at TwitchCon Europe in Berlin.
Shear originally announced Twitch Sings back at TwitchCon 2018 in October, introducing it as a game that Twitch was developing in conjunction with Harmonix Music Systems. It seems like a natural fit for both companies: Harmonix has more than two decades of experience making music games, and Twitch, as a livestreaming platform, puts the focus on the activity of streaming as the attraction in and of itself.
“It’s both a game and a streamer tool,” Twitch Sings executive producer Joel Wade told Polygon in an interview on Monday, adding that it “allows people to very easily generate content on their Twitch channel.” It’s a smart play for Twitch — a way to capitalize on, formalize, and encourage something that many Twitch users are already doing. And the game’s design fits with the community-oriented nature of the platform.
Twitch Sings hooks into a user’s Twitch account directly, so they can stream straight to Twitch as if they were playing on a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One — no fancy streaming setups required. (Experienced streamers can continue to use equipment like capture cards and apps like OBS; the game supports any input that’s considered a camera feed.)
Livestream viewers can interact with the singer by cheering with Twitch emotes and Bits, giving ovations (which the game tallies as a measure of performance), and voting on which song the person should sing next. Thanks to a deep integration with the platform, the audience can follow and even subscribe to a streamer from within Twitch Sings — and the game will make a big deal out of those moments when they occur. Plus, when a viewer supports the streamer with a cheer, follow, or subscription, their own avatar may appear on the livestream as a member of the virtual audience. Streamers and fans can also goof off together through in-game challenges, through which viewers ask singers to do something silly such as sing like a cat.
The team’s goal with Twitch Sings, said Wade, was “trying to capture the energy of what it’s like to perform live.” Of course, plenty of people have no interest in singing live on the internet. Twitch Sings is an always-online game — it streams the songs from the cloud, so you have to be connected to the internet in order to play — but it does not require users to broadcast their singing. And you don’t need a webcam, either; camera-shy folks can simply appear as an avatar.
If you do want to put yourself out there, you can do so after the fact: The game records your performance (video and/or audio), and displays the clip afterward, allowing you to tweak the A/V sync and audio volume before publishing the video online. And one of the cooler elements of Twitch Sings is the ability to perform duets — although not simultaneously. That’s on purpose: The point of the feature is to allow for asynchronous multiplayer singing.
For the songs that support duets, such as “A Whole New World” from Disney’s Aladdin, a player records themselves singing one part and then uploads the performance to Twitch. Then, another person sings the second part over the recording. (Since duets involve filling in the other part of a prerecorded performance, you can also do a duet with yourself.)
As for the songs themselves, none of them — out of the nearly 2,000 that the game is launching with — are originals. Unlike in Sony’s SingStar series, every tune in Twitch Sings is an “in the style of” cover. Wade said the company partnered with “one of the top karaoke stem producers in the world,” and most of the sound-alikes get the job done. (If anything, the vocals don’t always sound very close to the real deal, but that doesn’t matter much since you won’t really be hearing them.) The catalog covers a wide variety of artists, genres, and time periods, with the list including Elton John, Ke$ha, Garth Brooks, Run-DMC, Pearl Jam, Bruno Mars, Etta James, OutKast, Pat Benatar, Sia, and nearly 60 Beatles songs.
Wade told Polygon that the library will evolve based on what people like to sing. He noted that the team chose some songs specifically because of their importance to the Twitch community, explaining that “Take On Me” by A-ha is “a thing on Twitch.”
It did seem a bit strange to us that there are no difficulty settings in Twitch Sings. The game evaluates how well you’re hitting the notes on a scale of zero to three stars, and the better you perform, the more coins and XP you earn. (Coins unlock customization items for your avatar, and XP levels up your in-game profile.) At the same time, this isn’t really meant to be a solo, offline experience, even if it supports that form of play.
“People use it very differently than we thought they were going to,” said Wade, adding that some people in the closed beta have done marathon singing streams as long as 14 hours.
Twitch as a platform is all about performing online, and singing is one of the most enduring and popular forms of public performance. As with everything on Twitch, Twitch Sings will be what the community makes of it.
At this year’s Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, the Oculus team is showing off its latest collaboration. Called Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series, it’s a cutting edge virtual reality game that allows players to live out the fantasy of fighting with a lightsaber. After spending some time with it during a short demo, I walked away extremely impressed.
What makes Vader Immortal so interesting is the blend of haptics and sound design, both of which will see an upgrade with the new Oculus Quest and Rift S when they are released this spring.
One of the intractable issues with melee-focused VR games is the matter of feedback. When swords clash in games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR, for instance, it feels fake and floaty. The controllers have very little heft to them, and there’s nothing pushing back when a blade connects.
The same is true of the new motion controllers bundled with the Oculus Quest, of course. They are little plastic things barely larger than a pistol grip, but with one key exception. Each one has built-in vibration. Igniting the saber, I was greeted with a constant thrum in my right hand. Then, when I instinctively went to take a two-handed grip, that vibration extended to my left. When I went to swing the blade around, like I’d done thousands of times as a child, I could hear its solid arc of energy humming and whistling as it passed by my ear.
While the in-game enemies didn’t push back at me, the blade itself felt alive. And that was enough to suspend my disbelief and leave me delighted.
Colum Slevin, head of media, AR/VR experiences at Facebook, said he was just as surprised as anyone at how immersive the experience can be. He gives much of that credit to his collaborators on the project, LucasFilm’s ILMxLAB, a specialized team of engineers and storytellers focused on the AR and VR space.
“One of the most exciting things we get to see is the alchemy that happens when you put hardware and developers and storytellers together,” Slevin told me, during our interview at Celebration. “The specifications of the device on paper or in silicon are one thing. And they tell you a certain story. ‘Here’s what we think it’s going to be able to do.’ And then these guys take it and they do things that you just don’t expect.”
The Oculus Quest was designed to be a stand-alone device, one entirely without the need for a gaming computer or even a handheld device to serve as its screen. When it releases later this year, Facebook hopes it will extend the install base for VR much wider than it is right now. Experiences like Vader Immortal, which will ship with an “endless” lightsaber dojo experience, are sure to help.
“With the Quest, we had a thesis that [it] would allow a degree of unconstrained movements because of the lack of tethers that would be very much sort of simpatico with the physical motion of lightsaber combat and moving around,” Slevin said. “The visuals that we’ve seen [ILMxLAB] produce and we’ve seen manifest in what you just saw in the demo are astounding and frankly astonish us.”
But Vader Immortal also brings a degree of risk for LucasFilm. Darth Vader is a keystone in the Star Wars franchise, and recent explorations of his character have shown him to be a thrilling and dynamic character, ever more than 40 years after he first appeared on screen.
Most recently, audiences cheered as the dark lord of the Sith eviscerated a dozen or more Rebel troops at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Now, Oculus and ILMxLAB will put players in the same room with him, and arm them both.
Luckily, the’ve found the right man for the job in Mohen Leo. The LucasFilm employee served as the visual effects supervisor on Rogue One. For Vader Immortal, he’s handling the game’s narrative design.
“I was actually on set when we shot the final scenes of Rogue One,” Leo told me. “The origin of this project happened while we were also working on Rogue One. While I was on set and seeing the sets of Vader’s castle, people in San Francisco started talking about, ‘Oh, we should do a VR experience.’
“A lot of what Vader Immortal became was inspired by those first glimpses of Vader’s castle,” Leo continued. “I think, certainly, one thing that Rogue One did with that final scene is an expectation to see Vader be awesome, and so we have to deliver on that as well.”
Vader Immortal will have three narrative episodes, each roughly one hour long, in addition to the lightsaber dojo. No release date has been set.