Video Gamer Blog

Street Fighter V’s Final New Character, Luke, Revealed With Akira And Oro Arriving Later This Month

During today’s Street Fighter V Summer Update stream, we got more than we expected. Not only did Capcom show off near final versions of both Oro and Akira, the final DLC character was revealed. Not launching until November is a brand new character for the series named Luke. He’ll be joining and completing the cast as its final addition.

Oro’s normal attacks and special moves were shown off in detail on the Spring stream, but as this elderly warrior is gearing up for release, we got to see a deeper dive into his V Skills and V Triggers. His V Skill I is like a projectile he had in Street Fighter III. This skill called Onibi is a bouncing orb Oro seemingly flicks from his nose which can be used to distract an enemy while approaching for an attack. Minomushi is his second V Skill. It’s a small forward hop that grants two attack choices: a punch used to start combos, and a kick which is safer, less punishable option. You can even cancel into Minomushi from certain normal attacks and choose which route to take next.

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Giving him even more options are his V Triggers. V Trigger I, Marikitan allows Oro the use of two powerful throws, one of which has the turtle hermit whipping his opponent side-to-side into the ground. Marikitan was designed to be more straight forward than most V Triggers, so those who are new to the character might want to consider starting out with it. His V Trigger II, Tengu Stone, levitates chunks of rock and other objects around Oro’s head. HE can use the debris to attack and extend combos, but doing so in more advance combos will expend your V gauge much faster.

Next, we were given a look at the other summer character release, Akira from Rival Schools. Her attacks are based on those she had in her original game. Akira’s V Skill I Kiko Rensei electrifies her gloves and gives special properties to her special move Kiko Kai which is a blast of energy emanating from her palms. Using this move in midair can stop her motion for a split second, enough to make an opponent’s anti-air whiff, and then continue to descend, causing damage on the way down. Her V Skill II is called Tsutenda, a move which kicks the opponent into the sky where Akira can continue an extended combo into the sky called an Air Burst. Air Burst is reminiscent of the kinds of combos Akira could perform in Rival Schools and is a tool no other Street Fighter V character has.

Akira’s first V Trigger is simple, yet strong. Upon activating this V Trigger, her brother Daigo drops from the sky, slamming his boots straight into an unsuspecting victim. Daigo can be used to throw players off their game or as a combo component like in a tag team fighting game. Her other V Trigger is called Haten No Kamae a command which puts Akira into a special stance that allows her to perform unique follow-up moves that each have their own abilities. Haten No Kamae can be utilized twice before expending Akira’s V Gauge, allowing for more combo opportunities, applying pressure, or faking out an opponent.

At the end of the stream, we were treated with a glimpse at the final Street Fighter V character, Luke. This is a completely new character, and one Capcom says is a look at the future of the series. Luke looks like he’s mostly a hand-to-hand fighter and dresses in sporty trunks and lightweight gloves. He uses fast punches but only a few kicks in his repertoire. Some of his punches even shoot blasts of energy across the screen at a speed we don’t normally see from Street Fighter projectiles. Luke looks to be a threat both up close and afar with his lightning-fast offense. We won’t find out more about him until a little later this year.

Luke is set to hit SFV this November, but we still have a duo of new characters dropping within two weeks with the release of Oro and Akira on August 16. Alongside the August characters are a costumes for the newcomers and a new stage called Rival Riverside, a Rival Schools inspired stage featuring characters from Akira’s home series.

Grime – New Gameplay Today

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Are you ready to swing giant clubs, slashy swords, and parry… everything? Welcome to Grime, the game where you play as a surreal organism where your head is like, a black hole or something. Now, it would be easy to label Grime a sidescrolling Souls-like, and that’s what it pretty much is, but there are other aspects about it that make it more interesting than just heading from checkpoint to checkpoint and taking on tremendous bosses. Don’t get us wrong though, taking on weird and creepy bosses is absolutely a highlight here.

The parry system in the game is called absorption, and it’s aptly named, because you actually absorb the enemies. What does this mean? Well, in addition to giving you important resources that let you heal yourself (forcing you to master parries if you want to live), the system allows you to take traits of the monsters and add them to your kit. So by absorbing the life essence of your enemies, you can unlock new and powerful skills that will help you survive. Some moves flash red, you can’t parry those, so you’ll have to dodge. Of course, you’re going to want to upgrade your core stats like health, force (stamina), strength and more in order to use better weapons.

Join us in this episode of New Gameplay today to explore just a taste of the strange settings and weird denizens that inhabit the world of Grime. Will we be successful exploring the creepy caverns? The doomed desert? Will we beat a boss? You’ll have to come hang out to find out!

Grime is currently available on PC. Are you interested in checking it out? What would you do if you had a black hole for a head that could absorb powers? Let us know in the comments (when we have comments back up and running)!

Microsoft Flight Simulator (Mostly) Sticks Its Landing On Xbox Series X/S

The latest iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator released in Summer 2020 – a particularly harrowing season in a year filled with mandated self-isolation and worldwide panic. Yet, there was no better time for an escapist game like Flight Sim to lift off the proverbial tarmac. Boasting incredible technological advancements that map and render the entire globe – real-time weather effects and flight traffic patterns also included! – players could brave the untamed skies from any runway of their choosing. The recent console port has been highly anticipated for quite some time, and the graphical and sonic fidelity, now on a television screen, continue to be unmatched as far as simulators go. But do the true-to-life mechanics translate nicely to the Xbox Series X/S? They do … mostly.

I missed out on its PC exclusivity, so when I booted up the console version of Flight Simulator for the first time last week, I immediately threw myself into training. From taxiing a Cessna 152 towards the takeoff strip while maintaining a modest RPM, to entering final approach at an average of 60-65 knots, the expansive UI and cockpit controls are a constant test of mental fortitude and analog precision. Thumbstick controls are incredibly sensitive and a large majority of the button mapping you study and utilize in early lessons disappointingly falls to the wayside when taking to the sky. I can see how negligible this might be on PC since the intuitiveness of a mouse allows for incremental adjustments, but applying pressure on a controller can lead to disastrous predicaments when you least expect them.

An abundance of assist options help remedy pesky flight issues, but I often found that disabling a variety of these sliders made for more engaging adventures. Of course, doing this increases the difficulty of successfully staying afloat or landing at prospective destinations. In any case, much like the swath of pilots that came before, you’ll spend dozens of hours working through the onboarding process. But if you can emerge from the activities playlist, wings intact, you’ll find that, especially on Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a heavy-weight title meant for next-gen gaming. The load times, for instance, are reminiscent of the Xbox One X; I’d whip out my phone and find myself glancing at an empty blue bar along the bottom of the screen on multiple occasions. This isn't too surprising considering how powerful the photogrammetry tech on display is.

Up close, however, textures remain lackluster (although, a counter argument would question why you’d be so dangerously close to any solid structure in the first place!). From above, the world is infinitely stretched out. Glimmering oceans curve along the impossibly far-off horizon, and thick cloud formations obscure your view at tremendous altitudes. Battling mother nature at her very worst is always exhilarating, specifically when violent winds threaten to send you in a downward spiral to the bustling hubbub of metropolises below. Make sure to check in on your hometown or current, real-world location as soon as possible. While I can’t guarantee that you’ll be going slow enough or low enough to spot your house/apartment, it’s still amusing to figuratively “see yourself” in a video game.

In my case, I knew that hovering above South Floral Park wouldn't really feel like a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s okay, I’ve made my peace with this. Instead, I flew out of JFK International Airport around 10 PM, the electric blue airstrip lights mixing with rows of golden streetlights. I passed over Queens towards The City That Never Sleeps, the moon barely visible above a slowly approaching thunderstorm. Moments like this are pure bliss, and the game has no shortage of breathtaking vistas. Almost instantly, I can acknowledge the appeal of buckling up for a simple flight. Sadly, the pandemic rages on as a new strain threatens to reinstitute strict lockdowns. Microsoft Flight Sim’s controller mechanics might be frustrating, but the sky-high payoff is worth the effort.

I’d recommend purchasing a yoke and stick for optimal gameplay. You can also browse this PC-oriented video playlist by YouTuber Squirrel for some great, universal tips on how to become a better flyer.

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Two More Street Fighter Characters Are Dropping Into Fortnite Soon UPDATED

[UPDATE]: 5:31 p.m. Central 8/3/2021 – During the Street Fighter V Summer Update stream, Cammy and Guile were announced to be the new Street Fighter representatives in Fortnite. These new skins will be released on August 7. 

According to a tweet from Fortnite’s account today, it looks like Street Fighter’s world warriors aren’t done with the battle royale genre just yet. The message simply reading, “Here comes two new challengers!” is accompanied by a character select screen which may give us a hint at which duo is dropping on the island during chapter 2, season 7.

While there’s plenty of interesting choices from all over the Street Fighter canon, including Oro and Akira who will joining Street Fighter V shortly, Super Street Fighter 2’s character select was chosen for this teaser for a reason. Of the total roster from that version of the game, our potential list of combatants is narrowed down from 12 to 10 since Ryu and Chun-Li already debuted in Fortnite earlier this year.

Flying above the iconic Street Fighter world map is the battle bus, and its path happens to be directly over the USA heading straight to the USSR, the home countries of Ken Masters and Zangief respectively. Could these two popular brawlers be the new challengers aiming for a Victory Royale, or is the path of the battle bus irrelevant? Honestly, any character from SF2 could get me excited to dive back into Fortnite.

It looks like we'll find the answer to this burning question later today when Capcom streams their Street Fighter V Summer Update, where in past streams other collaborations have been highlighted. Are we about to see Ken and Zangief make their Fortnite debut, or will M. Bison, Cammy, Balrog, or Blanka show up instead? We’ll be watching Capcom’s stream at 5 p.m. Central today to find out.

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The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Aftershocks Update Announced, Free Story Missions And More On The Way

That’s right, we’re here with more zombie goodness. But this time, it’s coming straight from the franchise that catapulted zombie infection stories back into the limelight: The Walking Dead. Maybe you missed out on Skydance Interactive’s popular Saints & Sinners VR game that dropped a few years ago. A free content update, called the Aftershocks, is on the way and promises a good portion of new story content, collectibles, and tools to help survive the scourge in New Orleans.

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The update will be available to players that have already completed Saints & Sinners’ main campaign mode. There’s already over 20 hours of game to enjoy, so the Aftershocks Update looks to amplify and bolster the fun and horror. You can watch the trailer above. Based on an emailed press release, Skydance Interactive still has plans to introduce more content to the VR title. Saints & Sinners earned a spot on our Best VR Games For Your Oculus Quest 2 list, so be sure to check that out for other interesting VR experiences. 

The Walking Dead, as you probably know, has been featured in the video games industry since the television show’s early rise to fame. Telltale games led the charge at one point with a beloved episodic series that plenty of diehard fans still play to this day. You can read about The Rise And Fall Of Telltale Games or hop into the story of voice actress Melissa Hutchinson, the talent behind main heroine Clementine.

The Aftershocks Update releases on September 23 on PlayStation VR, Oculus Quest, and PC VR heasets.

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Bungie And Ubisoft Lawsuit Against Cheat Seller Explained

Earlier this week, we reported a joint lawsuit with Bungie and Ubisoft that focuses on a notorious hacker ring that sells cheats as a subscription service for games like Destiny 2 and Rainbow Six Siege. The lawsuit is going after those profiting from "destroying the integrity of the online experience," which centers around intellectual property disputes rather than simply cheating. To learn more about the law behind the suit, Game Informer gleaned insight from a lawyer that specializes in exactly this type of case. 

Ryan Meyer is an attorney that specializes in intellectual property as part of the international law firm known as Dorsey & Whitney. His focus primarily targets IP infringement within the games industry and tells Game Informer that the recent lawsuit is just the latest in a growing trend of studios looking to lessen the scope of those that make money off of breaking their property. It is important to remember that while studios have been making strides at banning cheaters from their games, lawsuits related to this sort of online activity primarily focus on the monetization of IPs that do not belong to those behind these types of hacks. 

"The Bungie and Ubisoft lawsuit is part of a gaming industry trend of cracking down on companies and individuals that financially benefit from trafficking in circumvention products," Meyer tells us. "In a similar case, Nintendo of America Inc. v. Gary Bowser, No. 2:21-cv-00519 (W.D. Wash. filed Apr. 16, 2021), Nintendo’s civil suit ran in parallel with a federal criminal suit against the defendant for 11 felony counts relating to wire fraud, trafficking in circumvention devices, money laundering, and conspiracy. It will be interesting to see if federal prosecutors level any similar charges against Ring-1 and its operators."

With the intent to take down sellers, those that purchase software from groups like Ring-1 have good reason to be concerned. Many times, cheaters receive a slap on the wrist-type of ban from certain games. Some studios have begun implementing IP bans, as well, to prevent new account creation. That being said, for those that are purchasing this type of content, such as aimbots, unlimited ammo when in an online game, and more, legal retribution is a possibility. Meyer tells us, "For users who purchased the cheating software, a ban from playing their favorites games should be the least of their worries. Plaintiffs predicate their Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations, and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claims on users’ operation of the cheating software, which should warn those users of their own legal risk."

Bungie and Ubisoft's lawsuit against Ring-1, a renowned cheat seller that offers subscription packages to impact the online experience for others negatively, was filed on July 23 and names several involved in this operation in front of a judge. The lawsuit names Overpowered, Krypto, and Berserker as the leading offenders, with the suit itself looking to seek retribution for a system that "impairs and destroys not only the game experience but also Plaintiff's overall businesses and their reputation among their respective player communities." 

The suit also includes a strike for copyright and trademark infringement, especially for Destiny 2 and Rainbow Six Siege. "Ring-1 tempted fate and exposed itself to even more liability by prominently depicting images and logos from Destiny 2 and other games on its website without authorization," Meyer claims. He goes on to say that this high profile suit could be a signal for other companies to follow, adding, "IP owners are more likely to notice and react to such bold conduct, and it provides a basis for copyright and trademark infringement claims, false designation of origin claims, and greater damages."

He adds, "Ring-1 will likely have a hard time arguing that it did not willfully violate the plaintiff’s IP rights since it allegedly designed it to avoid detection by the game companies and even allow banned players back into the game," Meyer says. 

More and more studios are taking cheat creators and sellers to court over IP abuse, most notably in recent years is Epic Games' relentless targeting over Fortnite cheats. Meyers is correct in saying that the number of cases such as these is on the rise, which will be interesting to see play out as services like these become more emboldened and readily available. 

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Sonic 2’s Death Egg Robot Boss Playset Lets You Take Down Eggman In Real Life

One of Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s most satisfying moments comes in taking down Dr. Robotnik/Eggman’s Death Egg Robot (which is technically a mech when you really think about it but we won’t split hairs). Jakks Pacific agrees, because it has created a toy replica of the iconic boss battle so that you can take it down all over again in real life.

Nerdist first spotted the new toy, dubbed the Giant Eggman Robot Battle Set. Besides dropping the name “Death Egg” likely due to reasons of children, the impressive figure stands at 9 inches and sports bells and whistles such as articulated limbs, shooting hand missiles, and retractable jetpack flames.

Included is a 2.5-inch catapult containing a coiled and ready Sonic. By flinging Sonic into the Eggman Robot’s chest à la Sonic 2, the chest plate rotates to reveal “damage”. After taking three hits, the robot falls apart into a heap of limbs. Of course, you can reassemble the robot to relive your childhood over and over without having to dust off a cartridge to play Sonic 2 again (not that that’s bad, mind you). 

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The playset retails between $39.99 and $44.99 and you can pre-order it now at Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, Entertainment Earth, and GameStop (Disclaimer: GameStop is the parent company of Game Informer). The playset will ship within the next few weeks and has already begun to sell out, so you better nab one sooner than later if you’re interested. If you miss out on this, you can always keep an eye on that neat Sonic Lego set that was greenlit earlier this year. 

For other recent Sonic news, be sure to check out our written preview and New Gameplay Today episode of Sonic Colors: Ultimate. 

[Source: Nerdist]

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Left 4 Dead 2 Characters Invade Zombie Army 4 As Free DLC

If you’ve been following the zombie video game scene for a while, you probably dedicated a few hundred or more hours to Turtle Rock Studios’ Left 4 Dead series. The four-player co-op FPS took the world by storm over a decade ago and its sequel brilliantly continued the zombie-slaying goodness. If you’re feeling a little nostalgic in anticipation of the upcoming Back 4 Blood, then maybe you should drop into Zombie Army 4 because the main characters from Left 4 Dead 2 are now playable in a free DLC package. 

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Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle are back again, almost as if they'd never left in the first place. Zombie Army 4 employs a third-person perspective, so while it might not feel exactly like the escapades that you and your buddies went on in Left 4 Dead 2, at least you’ll get a chance to finally see the character models in all their post-apocalyptic glory. The four survivors are coming alongside the third and final chapter of Zombie Army 4’s Return to Hell campaign. You’ll solve occult mysteries in Hell itself – lava pits bubbling in the backdrop, the sky painted a foreboding blood orange and legions of zombies (and manikins?!) following your every move. Check out the trailer above for what’s in store.

In addition to the free character pack and the DLC mission that are available starting today, new weapons and cosmetics are joining the catalog too:

  • Horror Headgear Pack
  • Flare Gun Weapon Bundle
  • Van Helsing Weapon Skins
  • Horror Charm Pack 2

My only hope is that we see all eight characters across both Left 4 Dead titles in Back 4 Blood at some point in the future! Back 4 Blood, the next chapter in Turtle Rock Studios’ gameography launches on October 12 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Back 4 Blood Beta Details | What's Included And When Are Launch Times

A new Back 4 Blood beta period is on the way, this time including a little more content to dive into before the Left 4 Dead spiritual successor arrives later this year. For those itching to get into the action, here is everything you need to know before jumping into the Back 4 Blood beta. 

When is the Back 4 Blood beta? 

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For those that pre-ordered the game, the first wave of beta access commences on August 5 and will run until the 9th. The open beta will continue on following that early access period from August 12 through August 16. Interested players can go here to register for a shot at the first beta period, as well, though entry for those dates is not guaranteed. 

Both beta portions are available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 

What is included in the Back 4 Blood beta? 

Both portions of the Back 4 Blood beta will feature two maps for the Swarm PvP mode, two co-op maps to fight off Ridden with buddies, and new weapons and build decks for players to master. Back 4 Blood beta players will also be able to play as Mom for the first time as well as other characters such as Evangelo, Holly, Walker, and Hoffman. 

In Swarm, there is also the option to play as six different Ridden, including the Exploder, Hocker, Bruiser, Retch, Stinger, and Crusher. 

When not running and gunning, players will also be able to scope out the Fort Hope communal hub, as well, which is great when looking at crossplay being enabled for both beta periods. This week will be an excellent time to check out Back 4 Blood, a first-person co-op zombie shooter from the same team that gave us the Left 4 Dead franchise. Take out enemies, show off some boss moves with friends — it's a good time! 

Back 4 Blood beta launch times

No matter where you are at in the world, below are the launch times for both beta periods, set for 12:00 p.m. PT: 

Regarding the eventual release of Back 4 Blood, the latest zombie experience is set to arrive on the aforementioned platforms on October 12, 2021. Happy hunting! 

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McDonald's PlayStation 5 Controller Is A Masterwork That Will Likely Never Happen

Every once in a while, we are greeted by a work of art that steals our breath away, and on rarer occasions, makes us incredibly hungry. The controller pictured above checks both of those boxes for me.

McDonald's Australia prototyped this mouth-watering PlayStation 5 controller and intended to give away 50 of them during a week of video game live streams that served as a fun way of celebrating the company's 50th anniversary. McDonald's Australia quickly backtracked from the giveaway, and IGN learned that the controller was shown in error and was not going to be made. In a statement sent to IGN, McDonald's says, "there is no commercial relationship between McDonald's Australia and Sony PlayStation."

Press Start received additional statements from McDonald's that say that Sony hasn't authorized the use of the controller for any promotional materials with the company and that the streaming celebration has been delayed. McDonald's will now be giving away 50 channel subscriptions and Macca's 50th Birthday Hoodies when the streams return.

PlayStation 5's DualSense is one of the best controllers to date, and even this early in its lifecycle, Sony has offered a nice selection of colors for people to choose from. More options will likely be on the way in the future, but I doubt we'll ever see anything quite like the proposed controller above. As much as it makes me laugh, I have to tip my hat to the artist for making such good use of the controller's space to bring out McDonald's brand. We haven't seen what's on the back, but I have to assume a beverage is pictured there to complete the meal.

It sounds like this controller will never be made, which is a shame, as oddities like this make great collectibles. Maybe McDonald's would have better luck approaching Xbox, which once worked with Burger King to release three different games, including a stealth title called Sneak King, which pushed players to sneak up behind people to surprise them with burgers and breakfast sandwiches.

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Wreckfest Collides With Carmageddon In New Crossover Tournament

Wreckfest gets a free update today that’s fueled by nostalgia for the car combat games of old. In this case, Carmageddon is making a grand comeback in the form of a new tournament themed after the cult favorite series.

It’s a fitting marriage. Both franchises are all about smashing opponents to bits in violent high-speed races (although one has significantly more cows involved). The month-long Carmageddon Tournament kicks off today and features two big events alongside a pair of new tracks. 

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Carnage Accumulator takes place in Carmageddon’s Bleak City map. This free-roaming mode challenges racers to mow down zombies and destroy AI racers to rack up the highest score possible with a three-minute time limit. 

Death Race is a weekly event set in either Bleak City or Devil's Canyon, another classic Carmageddon track. The objective is simple: race through various checkpoints using Carmageddon: Max Damage’s Eagle R vehicle and cause as much wanton destruction as possible along the way. Players also receive the Eagle R as a free reward just for playing.

Perhaps the coolest element of the tournament is the incorporation of Carmageddon’s flat, pixelated assets with Wreckfest’s 3D world (which looks even sharper on new-gen hardware, by the way). While it’s not the most substantial update in the world, it’s a fun idea that allows THQ Nordic to flex Carmageddon in a meaningful way since it acquired the IP in 2018. Could this be a small step in a larger return for the series? There’s always a chance, especially since Wreckfest, along with titles like Destruction AllStars and Onrush, have helped carve out a new niche for more destruction-focused racing games. 

Wreckfest is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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New Xbox Series X Wireless Controller Revealed With Beautiful Aqua Shift Special Edition Design

Xbox is no stranger to offering a wide variety of controller options with unique colors and designs. That being said, the newly revealed Aqua Shift Special Edition Xbox wireless controller may just be the most beautiful peripheral revealed for this gen to date.

It's shimmery, it's a calming blue, and it's coming out soon with the newest Xbox wireless controller being added to the lineup. In addition to the Design Lab's return that allows Xbox fans to create their own unique designs, this special edition Aqua Shift design is a cool blue with notes of icier tones and smooth purples. With a similarly colored palette of triggers, joysticks, and buttons, the entire design of the latest controller may just be lovely enough to curb some of that rage quit buildup. Maybe. 

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According to the official Xbox blog post revealing the newest controller, "Aqua shift features a surreal, color-shifting blue shimmer that you need to see to believe. Playing with the way the prismatic color moves across our controller, you’ll feel like Aqua Shift comes to life in your hands. Inspired by the fantasy that gaming brings into our lives, we know this mystical beauty will add that magic your controller collection needs."

Xbox also adds that this is the first special edition Xbox Series X/S controller to feature rubberized grips with a "unique dual-color swirl." For those interested, the newest wireless controller is available to pre-order right here for $69.99. This new controller will work on both this generation of Xbox systems and the Xbox One console, which is great as supply issues are still a prominent frustration for those aiming to get a Series X/S. 

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Have Master Chief Give You Directions With Halo Infinite Update For Navigation App 'Waze'

With the recent Halo Infinite Flight test, the next step of Master Chief's journey is on a lot of our minds. To celebrate all of the Halo Infinite talk, the navigation app called Waze is offering a special Halo-themed update for its service. Yes, that means you can get directions from Master Chief himself. 

The Halo-themed update for Waze includes both Master Chief and the Banished War Chief Escharum as voice options. This is only for a limited time so if you're looking to take that Halo love to a new level, you're going to want to do so fast. 

In addition to Chief and Escharum's voice commands, the ability to change your car's icon to a Spartan super-solider or alien war chief is also available, as well as different profile "moods" to either mainstay character. According to the official blog post revealing the new promotional package, "Join the UNSC and the legendary Master Chief to help humanity tackle every obstacle thrown at them — whether it’s an interstellar alliance or rush hour traffic. Spartan-117 has dismantled the Covenant, turned the tide against the Flood, and battled the Banished — with that kind of experience in your corner, the mission of successfully making that dinner date will be no problem. Of course, having an all-terrain terror like the Warthog doesn’t hurt either."

While this isn't the crossover we imagined happening, it's pretty on-point. I don't know about you, but I've been turned around a time or two in the Warthog, so Master Chief's guidance is very much a "yes, please" for people like me. 

Regarding Halo Infinite itself, we don't have a set release date at this time, though it is expected to launch this holiday season. To learn more about what's going on in the realm of Halo Infinite, check out our dedicated game hub right here. We've got impressions, inside looks, and so much more. 

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Xbox Game Pass Adding 10 New Games, Including Hades And Skate

It's a new month, which means new games are joining the ever-growing Xbox Game Pass library. This month's additions for those that have Xbox Game Pass or Game Pass Ultimate includes two different Skate titles, the beloved Hades, and more. 

 Before diving into which new games are coming to the Microsoft subscription service, here is a brief overview of what Game Pass even is. The Xbox Game Pass library continues to change with new titles being added. From day one launches of hit games to indie treasures that deserve their stage time just as any other game, the Game Pass membership allows Xbox fans a chance to have instant access to an eclectic library without having to shell out $60 for each experience.

Now, let's get into which games are on the way: 

What's Coming To Xbox Game Pass: 

  • Curse of the Dead Gods, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 5
  • Dodgeball Academia, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 5
  • Katamari Damacy Reroll, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 5
  • Lumines Remastered, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 5
  • Skate, Console - August 5
  • Skate 3, Cloud - August 5
  • Starmancer, PC - August 5
  • Art of Rally, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 12
  • Hades, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 13
  • Microsoft Solitaire Collection: Premium Edition, PC - August 17

DLC/Game Updates: 

  • Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition - African Royales DLC - Available Now
  • Gears 5: Operation 8 - Available Now
  • Dead by Daylight Archives Tome VIII: Deliverance - Available Now
  • Rainbow Six Siege: Containment Event - Now until August 24
  • Sniper Elite 4 Series X/S Update - Available Now
  • Zombie Army 4: Left 4 Dead 2 Character Pack - Available Now

What's Leaving: 

  • Grand Theft Auto V, Cloud and Console - August 8
  • Ape Out, PC - August 15
  • Crossing Souls, PC - August 15
  • Darksiders Genesis, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 15
  • Don't Starve, Cloud, Console, and PC - August 15
  • Final Fantasy VII, Console and PC - August 15
  • Train Sim World 2020, Cloud, Console, and PC August 15

For those that may not have Game Pass yet, there are two options available: the standard membership and Ultimate. Xbox Game Pass is $9.99 per month, with Ultimate coming in at $14.99, including Xbox Live. With Microsoft making some big moves in recent years – the recent Bethesda acquisition and more on the way – the internal ecosystem at Xbox continues to grow. This means more AAA wonders and indie darlings will be yours to play at no additional cost. 

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Blizzard President J. Allen Brack Is Leaving The Company After Being Named In Activision Blizzard Lawsuit UPDATED

Late July saw the details concerning a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard by the state of California go public, sparking a global outcry from the gaming community. Allegations include instances of gender discrimination, workplace abuse, sexual harassment, and a culture that contributed to one employee ending her life. As both the industry and the gaming community call for change, the company has announced that Blizzard president J. Allen Brack is leaving the company, and Game Informer was told by a source close to Activision Blizzard that this is one of several moves in place, adding that this ousting "feels rushed" and "thoughtless." 

[UPDATE]: 4:58 p.m. Central 8/3/2021 - Game Informer has also confirmed that Jesse Meschuk, Activision Blizzard's head of global human resources (HR)  has also departed the company after being referenced in conjunction with the ongoing labor lawsuit. 

The announcement of the leadership shakeup comes via Blizzard itself. In a public statement, it was said that Brack is stepping down, effective immediately, with Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra taking over as co-leaders moving forward. Oneal joined the company back in January as executive vice president of development, providing leadership to both the Overwatch and the Diablo franchises. Ybarra comes from a background in leadership at Xbox, having joined Blizzard back in 2019. 

"Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust," says a statement prepared by a Blizzard representative. There was also a statement from Brack himself, who was one of the few named explicitly in the lawsuit for alleged facilitation of the reported toxic work culture seen within Activision Blizzard. 

According to Brack, "I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that makes Blizzard so special."

Not included in his statement is an apology for his reported role in the allegations against the company, nor does it appear that he has taken any personal accountability for his passive role in allowing such reported behaviors to continue. 

Game Informer has been in touch with numerous current and former Activision Blizzard employees over the past several weeks, though some have told us that they feel that this move was rushed and feels "more like a way for [Bobby] Kotick to have someone to blame rather than actual meaningful change." Another told us, "it feels like a warzone, we don't know what's going to happen next."

This is one of many changes that needs to happen at Activision Blizzard. The CEO of the company, Bobby Kotick, released a statement just last week, addressing the concerns but seemingly skating around the demands listed in a public letter to leadership. That letter was followed by a company-wide walkout of Blizzard employees, a walkout that was supported by an open letter from Ubisoft employees that have been faced with similar instances noted within the California lawsuit. 

To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please review our previous coverage here

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Niantic Begins Rolling Back Pokémon Go's Social-Distancing Measures, Fans Are Angry

Despite growing case numbers from Covid-19's Delta variant, Pokémon Go is slowly reverting back to pre-pandemic form, beginning with a change to gyms and Pokéstops that require players get closer to these locations. After 15 months of updates that made Pokémon Go an exceptional social-distancing experience, Niantic announced in June that changes would be on the way to bring people together again, but as the pandemic took a turn for the worse, players believed these plans would be put on hold. They weren't. The first changes hit on Sunday, and fans are not happy with the decision, which includes a petition signed by over 135,000 people.

During the pandemic, Niantic doubled the range that players could interact with gyms and stops, meaning that if the original interaction ring was roughly 40 feet in circumference, it was expanded to 80. The hope was that this change would help keep people safe, as they wouldn't be crowding together as closely, and some players could reach these locations from their homes and not have to go outside at all. Players obviously enjoyed having double the range, and seeing it reduced changes the way they interact with the game in a fairly substantial way.

On top of the distance alternate that pushes people to get closer to key locations, Niantic is encouraging its player base to move outside of their comfort zone to explore new territory through a substantial 10x experience-point bonus for visiting new Pokéstops. Getting outside and walking is also incentivized through the incense item that now carries increased effectiveness.

The Remote Raids, which are easily the most popular of the pandemic-related content, have not been altered at this time, but Niantic says it will be implementing some kind of change in the future. In an official blog post, the developer says "Remote Raids have become an important part of the game this past year and we’re going to continue evolving them. Our intention is to find the right balance between remote play and in-person play, so stay tuned for more details in the coming months. Many of these in-person raid changes will be to prepare for the eventual return of EX Raids."

Niantic hasn't offered an official statement tied to the recent rollbacks, but the player base has been vocal on social media and Reddit, with some players saying they'll stop playing and delete the game in protest of Niantic's decision.

New 2K Game To Be Revealed This Month And More From Take Two's Earnings Report

Take Two released its Q1 earnings report alongside a conference call today, which revealed there’s a new IP coming from the company. Better yet, it’s going to be announced later this month. Along with this tease, we caught a glimpse at what releases are planned for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year from Take Two’s brands and beyond.

Under the umbrella of the 2K brand, this new franchise will be revealed within a few weeks according to today’s prepared statements from Take Two President Karl Slatoff. After covering previously announced titles like NBA 2K22, WWE 2K22 and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Slatoff talked a little about this new project by saying, “In addition, later this month, 2K will unveil details of another exciting new franchise planned for launch during this fiscal year.” There’s been no word from the company regarding which studio is working on this title or what it may be, but we can infer its aiming to be released by March 31 of next year.

Also in the presentation was this tidbit about other games coming by the end of FY 2022: “As we continue to develop our pipeline, there has been movement in some of our planned releases, including two of our immersive core titles shifting to later in Fiscal 2022 than our prior guidance had contemplated.” While these games go unnamed as well, Take Two’s report shows three unannounced projects listed as new iterations of existing games listed alongside the new generation releases of Grand Theft Auto 5, GTA Online, and Kerbal Space Program.

While there’s still some knowledge gaps in the coming year of Take Two releases, there was also a glimpse at the coming years as well. From this year through 2024 the company is looking to release 62 games through 2K, Private Division, and its mobile publishing arm. To put it in perspective, this year’s slate of core titles like 2K’s sports titles and Wonderlands only account for four, while Take Two expects 19 more over the next two years. There are big things brewing for Take Two, and this fiscal year seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.

If you're interested in some of the upcoming games from 2K and Private Division, check out everything we know about NBA 2K22, and give Blake Hester's preview of OlliOlli World a read. 

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Ask Us Anything: Submit Your Questions For Our Next Issue

Each month, Game Informer prints questions that are submitted by readers via email and standard mail. We'd like to give our website readers the chance to make the magazine as well.

You'll need to log in to your GI account, and click "okay to print" for your letter or question to go through. We'd also love it if you included your location (city, state, or country will do). We'll look through the questions and pick a few to include in our next issue, which releases on August 31.

In each issue, we ask readers a "Question of the Month." For the Tales of Arise issue that should be hitting mailboxes now, we ask...

"Is there one game that you couldn't get enough of? If so, what was it, and how long have you played it?"

You can answer this question and/or include any other feedback you want. Thank you again for all of your support throughout the years, and we hope many of you get the chance to have your letter printed in an upcoming issue!

Amazon's Lord Of The Rings TV Series Reveals First Look And Release Date

After so much silence, we finally have our first (small) look at Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series, as well as when we can expect to watch it. The show, which has yet to reveal the official title, is slated to premiere on September 2, 2022. While we don't have a trailer to feast those eyes on, we do have an image teaser that seems to be our first look at the kingdom of Númenor. 

The break of silence happened via a short and simple tweet from the Lord of the Rings TV series Twitter account. With a teaser image and release date for the pilot, "a new journey begins" is only the start of us learning more about Amazon's take on the beloved Tolkien universe. 

According to TV Linefilming season one has officially wrapped up in New Zealand as of this week, bringing us just one step closer to seeing what the series adaptation will have to offer fans of this fantasy world. Based on Tolkien's fantasy trilogy, the TV series will take place within the Second Age. For those familiar with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, that means this series will take place thousands of years before the time of Frodo and his pals. Intending to confront "the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-Earth," which is Sauron, if that wasn't obvious, the upcoming TV adaptation aims to deliver a familiar-yet-new experience to hardcore Tolkien fans while offering an immersive fantasy journey for newcomers just now joining the fray. 

Though Amazon did not say what the image is about, nor the character seen in it, many feel that the landscape seen is none other than the kingdom of Númenor. Númenor was a kingdom of Men that emerged from the sea towards the beginning of the Second Age. An island in the Great Sea, the history of Númenor is one that saw an apex of strength and a fall that remains a mystery regarding if it's lost forever beneath the sea or if it was recovered (not unlike Beleriand) as seemingly suggested by the final musings of Galadriel to Treebeard when they parted ways at Isengard. The trees, however, make us think Valinor. 

We'll be learning more about the upcoming series in the coming months, but regarding what we do know? We know that the cast of the Lord of the Rings TV series includes the likes of Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Owain Arthur, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Charles Edwards, Robert Aramayo, Maxim Baldry, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Lloyd Owen, Dylan Smith, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Sara Zwangobani, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Tyrone Muhafidin, and Sophia Nomvete. Regarding who is leading the charge, R.D Payne and Patrick McKay are the series' showrunners alongside Christopher Newman as the producer and Charlotte Brandstrom as the director. 

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Breath Of The Wild And Ghost Of Tsushima Follow-Ups Should Expand Games’ Fantastic Emergent Experiences

“Does this do anything?” is one of my favorite questions to ask while I’m running around a video game world. A lot of the time, the answer is no. But I keep asking because every so often, I find a game that rewards my curiosity in the best ways. Recently, Acid Nerve’s Zelda-like Death’s Door earned a spot on that list of games for one small, but delightful gag where cutting a sign in half affects both the physical object you attacked and its corresponding pop-up dialogue bubble. This is such a fun detail that doesn’t need to be in Death’s Door, but it is, and the game is better for it. This fun homage got me thinking about the joke’s inspiration, The Legend of Zelda, and how great the series has been at creating these kinds of interactive moments, especially its latest entry, Breath of the Wild.

As an open-world game, Breath of the Wild is centered around exploration. That exploration isn’t limited to simply allowing players to climb every mountain in view – though to be clear I did try to climb every mountain in view – the game’s physics system gives players agency to tackle challenges in extremely unique and unprompted ways. The first taste of this Breath of the Wild-style freedom involved a boulder and a whole camp of unsuspecting Bokoblins.

There was technically no in-game messaging encouraging players to try to push a large stone off its perch above the camp, but who could ignore that nagging question, “does this do anything?” And man did it do something. RIP Bokoblins. Breath of the Wild is filled to the brim with these kinds of moments and it was, rightfully, praised for its mechanics when the game was released. With a Breath of the Wild sequel approaching, I hope we see more. Judging from what we saw of the game’s lofty setting and new abilities, like Link moving through solid stone, there are a lot of opportunities to play around with.

But Breath of the Wild isn’t the only game with new content on the horizon I want to see embrace this emergent brand of fun. One of my favorite surprises in recent memory occurred in Ghost of Tsushima, which has a Director’s Cut complete with the Iki Island expansion coming in August. The game has a selection of touchpad-based gestures, one of which, called respect, prompts the protagonist, Jin Sakai, to bow. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to do anything practical. Of course, for role-players like me that see Jin as a highly courteous ghost-in-training, the polite gesture is essential, and I use it a lot. To my utter delight and surprise, the world sometimes reacts to it.

My initial, and most impactful, memory of this happening occurred when I decided to pay my respects to the statue overlooking the Golden Temple and magical butterflies poured out into the air around me. There is no sign by the figure asking you to bow like in other locations, I just tried it on a whim. The astonishing swirl of creatures that greeted my impromptu gesture not only made for a fantastic picture but also made me feel like I could affect the world. It wasn’t a game-changing development, but it gave me a sense of wonder and a compelling reason to engage with the environment. I would love to see bowing unlock more than simple reactions in the upcoming expansion. Maybe the gesture could be the key to unlocking a secret or two. I also wouldn’t say no to additional gestures.

There are a lot of things I want to see from the Breath of the Wild sequel and Ghost of Tsushima’s Iki Island expansion. Will the next Zelda title alter its predecessor’s controversial weapon breaking? What will the new storyline reveal in the samurai adventure? Story and mechanics are important parts of a game, but tiny moments, like an unexpected ring of butterflies or a cleverly decimated enemy camp, can be even more memorable. More games should reward players for being invested in how their actions change the game around them, and the ones that already do can only improve by expanding those rewards. I’m sure there will be plenty of big things to love about both titles when they come out, but you know I’ll be off hunting for more of those emergent experiences.

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An Ode To Halo Infinite And The Homicidal Bots That Slayed Me

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This past weekend was Halo Infinite's first official technical test, and we here at Game Informer couldn't wait to dive in. This game's early access testing period was my only objective over the last several days outside of basic hygiene, and to say that I can't wait for more would be a massive understatement. That being said, can we talk about the bots in this game because holy heck, are they nothing like I was expecting. In fact, they are straight up just serial killers with a mean sadistic streak... 

When you hear bots, you think EZ win, right? Well, in Halo Infinite, they are mastermind slaughter experts. When we first jumped into a match on Friday with our GI community over on Twitch, myself, Alex Stadnik, and John Carson were blown away by the vehement aggression from the AI enemies. This aggression is actually pretty cool. We want a challenge, challenge us, bots! With that in mind, none of us were prepared for the level of venom these programmed little jerks had to offer. 

The number of times I was one-shot by a bot is more than I'd like to admit. They herded me into corners, they dropped down to knock me into next week, and they rushed me from my 12 to smack me to death. There were so many detailed instances of complex battle mechanics in play here that we even joked on the stream that we thought 343 only told us they were bots, when actually they were devs themselves in disguise. I'm not thoroughly convinced we were wrong, either, but I've got no proof. I do, however, have plenty of embarrassment about all of the ways these bots humbled me. I'm not ashamed; I'm not proud. 

Oh, and in case you think I'm exaggerating? I literally had a bot teabag me (like full-on "dip-dip, potato chip"), and I'm not the only one: 

Despite getting wrecked by the Halo Infinite bots, I can't stop thinking about my time in-game. Though the technical test was limited to only one map, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with 343's newest shooter adventure. The graphics were incredibly detailed, something I note numerous times in our New Gameplay Live segment seen at the top of the article. The grout detailing of the walls, the subtle reflection of some of the concrete to show environmental impact, the movement of our Spartans across the battlefield? It all pulled together to create a memorable online experience. 

The gameplay itself felt like an enjoyable blend of Halo 4 and Halo Reach, with smooth combat mechanics such as sliding and the ease of reloading. I'm also happy to report that the Halo Needler still very much slaps, and I can't wait to ruin friendships once more with this delightful weapon. 

To learn more about the Halo Infinite tech test, and more about the game itself, check out our game hub here to see everything going on in Master Chief's latest journey. 

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Venom: Let There Be Carnage's Latest Trailer Highlights Symbiote Feeding

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Venom's comic book identity changes as quickly as the seasons. He started as a bad guy who ate plenty of brains and battled Spider-Man, transformed into a vigilante who did some good (and some bad), and then went full-on hero to save the universe, an act that led to him gaining god-like powers and aging well beyond his years. The movies featuring this beloved character appear to be keeping things simple. Venom and his his host, Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy), just want to be left alone – and eat a few brains when possible. Other symbiotic characters complicate these efforts and they have to fight to the death. The latest foe to want a piece of Venom is Carnage, who is bonded to Cletus Kasady (brought to life by Woody Harrelson).

The second trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage shows the conflict between these two cosmic beings, often holding a shot to show just how cool they both look. This is one of those trailers that keeps going and gets to the point that it feels like we're seeing a good chunk of the movie. This look establishes Carnage's origin, the conflict at hand, and shows off a number of set pieces and battles. The one thing we don't see – and all hope happens eventually – is an appearance by Spider-Man.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is slated to release in theaters on September 24. The posters and trailer both say that this movie will be exclusive to theaters, but given the ever-changing state of the pandemic, there's a chance this could change at any point. Comic fans have plenty of movies to look forward to between now and the end of the year, including Spider-Man: No Way Home on December 17, a film that could open the door for Venom and Spidey being together on the silver screen.

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Bungie And Ubisoft Team Up To Take Destiny 2 And Rainbow Six Siege Cheat Creators To Court

Companies teaming up for in-court goals is nothing new, but the latest case is seeing Bungie and Ubisoft joining forces to take those that are selling cheats to court. The aim is not necessarily to go after those using them (though that has been the case in the past), but to go after those making these cheating programs and selling them for profit. 

For both Rainbow Six Siege and Destiny 2, PC players especially have been purchasing aimbots, ESP tools to cheat health and radar systems, infinite ammo hacks, and more to gain the advantage in a match versus just actually learning how to be good in the game. For those not interested in having actual skill in a match, these cheats come in handy, but using them can get you permanently banned, while creating them can land you in court. 

Bungie and Ubisoft's lawsuit against Ring-1, a cheat seller that offers subscription packages to impact the online experience for others negatively, was filed on July 23 and names several involved in this operation in front of a judge. The lawsuit names Overpowered, Krypto, and Berserker as the leading offenders, with the lawsuit itself looking to seek retribution for a system that "impairs and destroys not only the game experience but also Plaintiff's overall businesses and their reputation among their respective player communities." 

Both communities have an alarming amount of cheaters, but Destiny 2's Trials of Osiris sticks out the most. So much so that this enhanced PvP experience has been pulled from the game more times than they can count, but now it looks like both companies are ready to go after a major source behind these hacks. 

Also including in the suit is a strike for copyright and trademark infringement. As noted by PC Gamer"The purchase page for the Destiny 2 Cheats and R6S Cheats includes key art from Plaintiffs' games, along with links to share the customer's purchase of the cheat with others on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn."

There is no monetary amount listed at this time for reparations, though it could easily stretch into the millions following analysis of the impacted player experience

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Former Blizzard Dev And Undead Labs Founder Calls For Gaming Industry To Unionize Following Activision Lawsuit

Following the most recent lawsuit against Activision Blizzard that cites sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and reported abuse, Jeff Strain says "enough is enough" and calls for the gaming industry to unionize. Strain used to work for Blizzard before co-founding both ArenaNet (Guild Wars) and Undead Labs (State of Decay). Now, he's looking to the future of gaming and what that future looks like for those that work within this industry. 

Strain recently reflected on the ongoing Activision Blizzard lawsuit and said while he was "disgusted and repulsed," he wasn't surprised in the least. Because of that, however, he's lending his voice to the many already calling for unionization. Not just for one company, either, but an industry-wide sweep. 

A letter Strain sent to his employees has gone public (via IGN) and states his call to arms for those currently operating within the gaming space. "My time at Blizzard left an indelible mark on my life and career that continues to this day," he mentioned in his letter. "Most importantly, it showed me how abusive cultures could propagate and self-amplify over time; how 'hardcore gamers only' is a smokescreen for 'bro culture'; how fostering a sense of exceptionalism inhibits people from speaking up because they should just deal with it if they love the company and its games; and how passive leadership that turns a blind eye can ultimately be the most abusive thing of all."

That mark has caused him to reflect on how he leads his team and how he wants to facilitate a "healthier, more decent" studio environment within this space. "I’ve become increasingly careful in my hiring and selective in my choice of financial and publishing partners to give these healthier environments the greatest chance to flourish," he added. "At the end of the day, though, my studios employ at most a few hundred people. As we have seen through the disclosures this week, independent studios, even with the best intentions, cannot set the standards for the industry. The tone and tenor of the entire industry are set by the giants, the places with the largest number of entry-level jobs, and the places with the largest, most profitable titles."

He mentioned that his 25 years working in this industry had taught him a lot while also allowing him to work with some of the most talented names in this industry. But that time has also been tinged with hearing "profounding disturbing stories" about the experience many face when working within their field. 

It's because of this that he's adding his voice to the unionization collective, saying, "Unions were started in this country to protect workers from abusive, cruel, abhorrent, unacceptable, and illegal treatment from companies. That’s their entire purpose. If this week does not show us that our industry colleagues — even the most entry-level QA tester — need true support and baseline protection, I can’t imagine how much worse it will have to get."

He added that he welcomes his own employees unionizing, offering his "full endorsement" and support for the industry as a whole to adopt this model. 

Unionization is a topic that often comes up in gaming and for a good reason. With mass layoffs at no notice and more and more stories breaking cornering the hidden toxicity within certain studio environments, the objective to protect those in this space is high. Following the allegations cited in the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, which you can learn more about here, the employees impacted have since staged a walkout. They have also garnered support from Ubisoft devs, another studio that has been hit with similar allegations about the work environment. 

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Fan-Made Half-Life 2 Remastered Collection Is On The Way With Valve's Consent

Half-Life is an iconic franchise by Valve that changed the face of gaming for the better when it was first released. Because of that, this series has seen many fan iterations and continuations in the past, but it looks like a Half-Life 2 Remastered Collection is in the works. Before you get too excited, this is a fan-made project and not an official remaster, but Valve is reportedly totally cool with it. 

The remastered collection was spotted by PCGN over on SteamDB and shows a collection in the works from modder Filip Victor. While the collection itself says "not Valve-related," it is reported that the company has given consent for the fan project to push forward with development. The report that Valve has given the green light for this project comes by way of Tyler McVicker, a person known for reporting on Valve news. 

Filip Victor, the person behind this creative endeavor, is no stranger to furthering the Half-Life legacy. From his past work as part of the Half-Life 2 Update team, which provided substantial improvements to the second game, it's clear that the passion is there to keep this sci-fi world alive. With previous work with the IP, it will be interesting to see the extent of Half-Life improvements seen with the Remastered Collection. 

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The Wayward Realms Is A New Open-World RPG From Lead Elder Scrolls Devs

You can't really go wrong with an open-world fantasy RPG experience, and developers Ted Peterson and Julian LeFay know a thing or two about crafting an enjoyable exploratory experience. The pair of devs have worked on games like Elder Scrolls Daggerfall and Arena in the past, and now they are working on a new adventure with Once Lost Games for more consequences, more player choice, and a new role-player experience that is designed to be realistic and enthralling. 

Dubbed a new class of role-playing called The Grand RPG, The Wayward Realms aims to offer an experience like none other with designs meant to be as immersive as possible. With an ever-evolving story that is coerced by a virtual Game Master, players will need to survive in a massive open world that is "way bigger than most other games you can think of." Sprawling cities, cascading mountains, dangerous marshlands - The Wayward Realms aims to offer it all. 

The Wayward Realms experience will also offer "real role-playing," tasking players with adventuring through this humongous world with a character class completely designed by the player. Players will also be able to tailor their abilities and spells and are encouraged to "think outside of the box" in terms of creationary goals. 

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If you're like me and love some solid lore, The Wayward Realms also offers exactly that. "On the surface, things may have that familiar, medieval fantasy look, but dig a bit deeper, and there's a lot to learn," says the studio. From numerous moons to various cultures to learn about, the Elder Scrolls duo is bringing that lore craftmanship over into this new experience, and it sounds promising. 

To learn more, you can check out the official Steam page for The Wayward Realms right here

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Dead Space Remake Is Being Directed By Former Assassin's Creed Director

There have been several rumors previously about former Assassin's Creed director Eric Baptizat and his role in the then-rumored Dead Space Remake. Still, a nice little LinkedIn update has proven those rumors true. Baptizat left his 16 year-tenure at Ubisoft behind to work at EA Motive, and now we know what drew him to the EA side of gaming. 

For those that may be unfamiliar, Baptizat was the game director for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, but his ties to the stealth series expand beyond that. He has previously taken a lead designer role on other Assassin's Creed titles such as Origins, Black Flag, and Unity. Baptizat is pooling his expertise with other Ubisoft veterans, including Watch Dog Legion's Philippe Ducharme and For Honor's Roman Campos-Oriola. A few BioWare vets are also joining the horror remake's efforts and a few members from the original Dead Space team. 

In a recent interview, both Cucharme and Campos-Oriola talked about what the remake will have to offer, including how the team is rebuilding certain aspects of the space-faring adventure. “We started with the original level design of the original Dead Space," said Campos-Oriola when talking about referencing original assets, including those that never made launch. "What's funny is that you can see some of the iterations that were made prior to ship by the team. In the first chapter, you can see some corridors that they wanted to do first in a certain way, and then you can understand why they changed it for technical constraints or [some other reason].

“Then, in terms of visuals, sound, gameplay, everything, we are rebuilding all of these assets. We are not porting them; it's not uprezzing the texture or adding more polygons to the model. It's really rebuilding all these elements, shooting all the animations, et cetera.”

The pair also talked about how the team has noticed a few plotholes, especially when going from Dead Space 1 to Dead Space 2 and then from 2 to 3. Because this remaster is tackling the first game with insight into what happens next with future entries, the team will be working to fill in a few of the areas overlooked the first time around. 

To learn more about the upcoming Dead Space Remake, check out our previous coverage here

Comments may be showing up disabled, that is a site update happening on our side, but we hope to have them back up and running soon! 

[Source: LinkedIn via PC Gamer]

Sonic Colors: Ultimate Preview – Another Run At Glory

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Blind Squirrel Games
Rating: Everyone
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

When it launched in 2010, Sonic Colors was considered one of the best Sonic the Hedgehog games in years. By providing fun, well-designed levels, tighter controls than any 3D Sonic game to that point, and new powers from alien creatures called Wisps, Sonic Colors delivered a solid experience and laid the groundwork for future 3D Sonic titles. However, thanks to its Wii exclusivity, the game has been stranded on the obsolete platform and many players have missed out on the experience. That changes next month, however, as Sega, Sonic Team, and developer Blind Squirrel Games are bringing a remastered version of the title to modern platforms through Sonic Colors: Ultimate.

With this release, Sega hopes those who missed out on the game the first time around will obtain more context for where the series went in subsequent games. For example, the Wisps have appeared in multiplatform follow ups, including Sonic Generations, Sonic Forces, and Team Sonic Racing. Sonic Colors essentially serves as not only an introduction to these creatures, but an origin story for how they came into Sonic's world. Not only that, but because Sonic Colors influenced the direction of Sonic games going forward, Sega thought it was a great title to remaster for modern systems. 

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

As with most remasters, Sonic Colors: Ultimate adds a nice, new coat of paint to the aged graphics. Because the transition was from the Nintendo Wii, which outputs in 480p, the leap forward is substantial. This new version not only improves the lighting and adds additional polygons, but Ultimate also supports 4K resolution and 60 frames-per-second performance. "Back in 2010, this was on screens that were less pixels than your smartphone, so making that step up [...] was a huge undertaking," Sega associate producer Calvin Vu says. "We definitely want to make sure this game looks good, up to the standards of today."

I had a chance to play Sonic Colors: Ultimate for just over 30 minutes, and while the demo was virtual, meaning the visual quality and controls weren't quite as sharp as they would be locally, I still came away impressed, particularly by how the game does look compared to the original 2010 version. The graphics, environments, and character models don't look nearly as good as those you would find in a recent game like Sonic Forces, but for a 2010 Wii title, Sonic Colors: Ultimate looks stellar in motion.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

Additionally, the development team remixed the audio, including the soundtrack. The sound effects now sound crisper, and the music features new versions of songs you already know if you played the original. Many of these visual or audio upgrades were possible on the far-less-powerful Wii, but thanks to the modern platforms, Sega was able to add them into this remaster. 

Another thing that wasn't possible on the Wii thanks to technical limitations is character customization. Now, players can unlock new cosmetics for Sonic, including things like new shoes, gloves, boosts, and auras for Sonic. For example, you can now surround Sonic in flames with an ice boost, while he sports cheetah-print gloves and different color shoes – it may not be the prettiest or most iconic look Sonic has ever sported, but it's the look you choose for him. These customizations are earned through Park Tokens, which you find playing the game.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

A large part of Sega and Blind Squirrel's efforts have been centered on making Colors more approachable for new players. To help accomplish this, Ultimate adds in a new Tails Save mechanic, where if Sonic falls, rather than losing a life, if the player has a Tails token, Sonic's two-tailed friend will pull him back up on the ledge. During my hands-on demo, I appreciated this mechanic, as pits come up quick in Sonic games, and it's never fun to lose progress in a level just because you were taking advantage of the game's main selling point: speed.

The Tails Save mechanic is just one example of the quality-of-life improvements Blind Squirrel and Sega have implemented in this title. From improving the wall-jump controls to allowing for players to completely remap their controllers, Ultimate is hoping to present the clear best version of the game. "There's been tweaks and adjustments here and there just to make it more and more accessible," Sega producer Aaron Roseman says. "That way it's less punishing, less grueling for them and more exciting to play. At the end of the game, our goal was to maintain the fun of the original title while introducing these new features."

Sonic Colors: Ultimate

From a gameplay perspective, players can expect a new Wisp: the Jade Ghost. This new power was first introduced in 2019's Team Sonic Racing, and now retroactively joins the story of Sonic Colors through Ultimate. This new Wisp grants Sonic the ability to pass through obstacles, giving him access to areas that were previously inaccessible. Players can also look forward to a new Rival Rush mode, where you race head-to-head against Metal Sonic to earn rewards. 

Sonic Colors: Ultimate launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on September 7. To see the game in action, check out our episode of New Gameplay Today.

Sonic Colors: Ultimate – New Gameplay Today (4K)

Click to watch embedded media

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Blind Squirrel Games
Rating: Everyone
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

The Blue Blur seems to be relishing the spotlight these days. From a successful debut on the silver screen to a popular return to the world of 2D platforming, Sega's iconic mascot has been thriving over the last few years, and 2021 seems to be continuing that trend.

While the Japanese publisher has promised some exciting entries in the series over the next few years, gamers don't have long to wait to revisit a fan-favorite in Sonic Colors: Ultimate. The remaster is set to bring an exciting Sonic adventure from the confines of the Wii to a contemporary age of consoles when Colors: Ultimate launches on September 7 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. By why wait that long to revisit the game?

On this fresh episode of New Gameplay Today, one of Sonic's biggest fans, the one and only Brian Shea, is here with Alex Stadnik to discuss all the game's updates and his time actually getting to play the remaster. We're taking a look at the Tropical Resort level, the game's customization options, and so much more! On top of that, all of today's hot new gameplay will be shown in glowing 4k.

Want more Sonic? Be sure to watch our earlier episode of New Gameplay Today, where we give you an exclusive look at one of the game's updated levels. Brian Shea is the gift that keeps on giving and also wrote up a wonderful preview of his time with Sonic Colors: Ultimate that shouldn't be missed if you're excited to dive back into the game.

 If you're a fan of getting an early look at some of 2021's biggest titles (and who isn't really?) head on over to our YouTube page where we're giving you a glimpse of Psychonauts 2, Aliens: Fireteam Elite, and Halo Infinite.

Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Is Getting Review-Bombed On Metacritic Over Platform Release

Another day, another review-bombing. Final Fantasy fans are review-bombing Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Series over the platform of choice for the game's release. On Steam, however, the review scores maintain a positive reception, especially with changes Valve has made in recent years to prevent review bombing from occurring

Ignoring the odd font choices for this game, the Pixel Remaster series saw a user rating over a measly 0.7 just last night. This morning, that score was able to mosey on up to a 3.5 at the time this article was written. Critic reviews are sitting at a healthy 80 on Metacritic, with our own Dan Tack previously talking about how much this remaster is worth your time

One petulant user writes, "Get the console version, and I'll change my assessment," after scoring the game a 0. "Square Enix long ago said that all installments listed would be available on consoles; we fans demand this minimum." Another poor scorer said, "We want to be able to play these games on consoles. Classic games such as Final Fantasy should not be gated behind mobile phones and computers." 

Review bombing is an act of protest that gamers have adapted through the years, though the actual practice has become much more common in recent months. Many games have fallen victim to this practice, whether it be a clash in ideals, news surrounding studio culture, or sometimes something as simple as the creative choice that a studio takes being perceived as "social justice." 

Regardless, it looks like some positive user reviews are starting to flow in talking about the OST and the gameplay experience as a whole. As more and more review the title, including those that actually play the game, this score should go even more throughout the day. In the meantime, you can learn more about the remaster with our previous coverage here

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Ariana Grande Headlines Fortnite Rift Tour To Kick Off In-Game Weekend Music Festival

Epic Games is hosting an in-game music festival later this weekend called the Fortnite Rift Tour and to kick off, the company has announced that pop star Ariana Grande will be headlining the upcoming event. The Grammy-winning artist will be joining millions of battle royale fans worldwide for a musical experiences Epic promises players won't be able to forget. 

The Rift Tour will run from August 6 through August 8 and will feature popular tracks mixed with elements of the game, not unlike previous Fortnite-centered concerts in the past. With the pop star's musical contribution also comes a few themed cosmetics, such as the Ariana Grande outfit and the Piggy Smalls Backbling.

“Working with Epic and the Fortnite team to bring my music to life inside the game has been so fun and such an honor,” says Grande about her upcoming digital performance. “I can’t wait to join my fans and see all of your reactions to such an unforgettable, magical journey to new realities.”

Players will be able to enjoy what the Rift Tour will have to offer for free on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Android. iOS users will not be able to participate due to the ongoing Epic Games vs. Apple lawsuit

“Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible. With the Rift Tour, we’re bringing a musical journey to life that players can experience, feel, and join alongside their friends,” says Phil Rampulla, Head of Brand at Epic Games. “We’re so grateful to have an iconic superstar like Ariana Grande and her team join us for a musical experience at metaverse scale, and for players and fans alike to experience the Rift Tour!”

The Rift playlist will begin 30 minutes before the show goes livelater this weekend, though Epic Games promises more info about the upcoming Fortnite event later this week. 

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Exclusive New Shin Megami Tensei V Screenshots Show Off The Characters And Demons

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Atlus
Platform: Switch

In the lead up to Shin Megami Tensei V's launch in November, we've been rolling out exclusive previews on the highly anticipated RPG from Atlus. In past articles, we've taken a look at the protagonist and the characters, but now we're shining a light on the other side of the fence: the demons.

As we've covered previously, Shin Megami Tensei V casts you in the role of a normal, everyday third-year student in a high school in Tokyo, Japan. However, after an incident at one of the city's train stations causes him to get trapped in a tunnel collapse, he finds himself in a desert full of demons. As the protagonist fears for his life, a mysterious man named Aogami offers his assistance, and the two fuse to become a condemned being known as a Nahobino. Now, with the power to fight and even negotiate with these demons, the protagonist ventures out alongside his friends to try and stop a demonic invasion of Tokyo.

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In Shin Megami Tensei V, players will encounter a wide range of more than 200 demons. The stable of creatures includes a collection of classics, as well as several new characters from character designer Masayuki Doi. You can see some new art and screenshots of some of the demons from SMT V in the gallery above.

In addition, Atlus sent us over some new screenshots of the characters you interact with in Shin Megami Tensei V. Whether you're talking the cheerful Ichiro Dazai or the responsible and upright Yuzuru Atsuta, you can see more of the cast of characters in the gallery below.

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Shin Megami Tensei V launches on Nintendo Switch on November 12. Stay tuned for more exclusive details about the hotly anticipated Atlus RPG later this month. 

Neo: The World Ends With You Review – A Catchy But Familiar Refrain

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release: (PlayStation 4, Switch), 2021 (PC)
Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: Switch
Also on: PlayStation 4, PC

14 years ago, The World Ends With You hit the Nintendo DS and was praised for its style and innovation. It had an electrifying soundtrack, an exciting battle system that utilized the DS’ touchscreen, and the undeniable hook of exploring Shibuya, Tokyo. There was nothing like it on the market. Neo: The World Ends With You doesn’t make the same grand entrance; instead, it’s content to embrace the first game's strengths and even some of its faults. What that leaves is an experience that’s still engaging and intriguing, but it doesn’t create a lasting impression like the original.

Neo: The World Ends With You brings in a brand-new cast and the start of a new Reapers’ Game, where players must fight to win or face erasure from the world. Protagonist Rindo gets randomly caught up in the competition when a psychic battle breaks out in front of him and his buddy Fret in the middle of Shibuya. From here, they learn they’ve been transported into the deadly game and must face its stakes: compete against other teams in various challenges around the city if they ever want to return home to the real world or die trying.

This time around, the narrative focuses more on how the places we come to love are shaped by the people with whom we experience them. It’s not quite as dark as the original, and I didn’t experience the same emotional pull, but I still liked the overall message and found the characters endearing. While the narrative is a slow-burn, the plot has compelling revelations and twists, especially how it connects to the first game's events. If you haven’t played the original, you aren’t likely to feel the impact of reuniting with beloved characters and seeing loose threads tied up. Those aspects are where I felt the most payoff and enjoyment, especially in the finale.

That being said, the new cast quickly won me over. As a cautious and compassionate leader, Rindo is a likable protagonist. It’s refreshing to see someone who genuinely puts others before themselves, even when they disagree with them. His buddy Fret starts out very happy-go-lucky, but then his character develops wonderfully beyond just being Rindo’s lighthearted friend, and we learn why he avoids serious conversations. I also really enjoyed the awkward-yet-perceptive Nagi, who takes her video game fandom very seriously. Many characters come in and out of the story, almost to a fault, so be prepared to have a lot of faces to keep track of throughout the journey. At times, I found this overwhelming and felt it didn’t allow me to form strong attachments to non-party characters, but I also liked the feeling of a large group coming together for the good of Shibuya. 

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Like the first game, you can expect fast-paced combat that rewards you for chaining combos with team members to eventually “drop the beat” for devastating specials. The game still centers on “pins” to customize your abilities in battles. You can equip these on every character for their main battle ability; each pin has a specific ability on a cooldown tied to a particular button input. Not relying on a touchscreen like the first game, this works better than I expected, but I still found it challenging to keep track of all the chaos on-screen at times. Trying to play characters’ abilities using multiple buttons at a time, the combat demands you multitask, making it easy to slip up.

I loved the variety of the different pins and enjoyed experimenting to see which ones worked best together. I had abilities that unleashed giant volcanoes, let me put down minefields, and hurl vehicles at enemies. Finding a new pin and seeing how it changes your play style is a thrill. I constantly shuffled mine up and appreciated how they made me feel my growing power and helped keep combat fresh. When you’re firing on all cylinders and watching your groove rise due to your intelligent pin combinations, the battle system is extremely rewarding. 

A big focus is finding abilities that complement each other, which requires some trial and error. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out, like having a tripwire ability so you can ensure an enemy can’t escape a bomb explosion. Other times, changing one pin can mean life or death in a boss battle, and you won’t know this until you’ve played - and failed - the lengthy encounter. The bosses themselves are fantastic and a highlight of the experience. Every big bad has a cool enemy design and keeps you on your toes in different ways, like having you dodge multiple lasers or finding weak points to break through. 

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Unfortunately, some of the enjoyment I had with the combat was brought down by another issue: subpar difficulty balancing. For a good chunk of my adventure, things would often be ridiculously easy, and then I’d hit a huge difficulty spike out of nowhere where I’d barely survive. You can adjust the difficulty at any time, but I shouldn’t have to shuffle difficulty to make a fight feel satisfying. 

Another area that falters is the game’s repetitive nature. Like its predecessor, Neo is structured around the Reapers’ Game, which is a blessing and a curse. I love the chaos and frenzy of having to complete the game’s challenges, like defeating a certain number of enemies or solving riddles, but they start to feel like a laundry list of things to do. The game plays out in days, and with each day comes new tasks to reach the top of the game rankings. During this time, you can eat at various restaurants for stat boosts or buy new clothes for your equipment. 

The game has a comfortable rhythm which hooked me at the onset, but the repetitive structure and lack of variety in the tasks really grated. I was excited when the new turf wars, called Scramble Slams, were introduced, until I realized they played out in the most uninteresting way. You’re just killing a certain amount of enemies in each area then a boss to take it over. These can be lengthy affairs and show up on multiple occasions during the game. 

It doesn’t help that the characters’ special abilities to use within the world also feed into this repetition. For instance, Rindo can turn back time once a day, which functions as part of the overall story. I hated this, as it felt tedious and like it just prolonged every day by making you revisit the same scenes and places while sometimes fighting the same enemies again. Nagi has a “dive” ability, which lets her get to the root of people’s complicated emotions; this overused power means you’re battling more enemies to smack some sense into people. Fret can make people recall memories by tilting the left and right sticks in to complete a picture. Unfortunately, I liked Fret’s ability the least, as it requires more precision than I expected. I played on Switch, and using the Pro Controller fared better for me than the Joy-Cons. Unfortunately, the Switch version proved unstable; the game crashed several times. Even after downloading the day-one patch, the issue persisted. 

In some ways, it’s disheartening that Neo: The World Ends With You doesn’t evolve much from its predecessor. It may even feel like a step back, but there’s still a fun game here that I had trouble putting down. The world draws you in, the boss battles provide a worthy challenge, and I loved watching the relationships between characters grow. There’s also some excellent payoff for fans of the first game. Exploring Shibuya and dropping the beat is still a delight, and the music captivates you in the best way. 

Score: 8

Summary: Neo: The World Ends With You faithfully mirrors its predecessor – for better or worse.

Concept: Bring back the Reapers’ Game, where players must fight for their lives, with new characters and events that tie into the original game

Graphics: The comic-inspired dialogue sequences look great, as do the detailed cutscenes, but the environments aren’t all that impressive

Sound: Composer Takeharu Ishimoto is back and delights with catchy tunes that capture the city’s style and essence. The beats are so infectious they stay in your head long after powering the game down

Playability: The mechanics are easy to grasp but can take some time to master. The controls have you focusing on a lot of button inputs in the heat of battle, which can be difficult to keep track of

Entertainment: Neo: The World Ends With You faithfully mirrors its predecessor, offering entertaining combat, endearing characters, and a fabulous world to explore

Replay: Moderate

Click to Purchase

Here’s A Real-Life Version Of Pokémon Red And Blue’s Bicycle

One of the best moments of Pokémon Red and Blue is finally obtaining the bicycle. Quickly speeding across the world you spent hours trudging across on foot feels liberating and you appreciate it as much as any of your pocket monsters. Well, what if I told you that The Pokémon Company is giving away a real-life version of that bike? That's right it could be yours … as long as you live in Japan.

As spotted by Kotaku, The Pokémon Company is celebrating reaching one million Twitter followers by creating a replica of Generation 1’s bicycle. While garnering a million fans is a big deal, that number has dual significance. It directly references the in-game price tag of the bike, which fans likely remember stood at 1,000,000 Poké-monies (or whatever Pokémon currency is called). Since players’ wallets were capped at 999,999, it was literally impossible to purchase and could only be obtained by trading a bike voucher earned earlier in the game.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



Before you get too excited about recreating your Kanto adventure in real life, you can't actually ride this bike. You’ll notice it lacks a bike chain and is purely meant to be displayed. The bike also isn’t for sale and will be given away to one lucky fan that follows the @poke_times Twitter account and retweets ポケモンの100万円じてんしゃ which translates to “# Pokémon's 1 million yen bicycle”. Anyone can enter but The Pokémon Company states that the bike will only be shipped domestically in Japan. 

The giveaway begins today and runs until August 3. If you reside in Japan or at least have an address there the bike can be sent to, may the odds be ever in your favor. If you’re like those of us who are not in Japan, we’ll continue to jealously admire the craftsmanship and fun attention to detail in the photos. 

For a Pokémon thing you can more easily access, check out our review of Pokémon Unite

[Source: The Pokémon Company via Kotaku]

So, any of you living in Japan planning to enter the giveaway? Let us know in the comments!

The Forgotten City Review – A Narrative Masterpiece

Publisher: Dear Villagers
Developer: Modern Storyteller
Release: (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC), 2021 (Switch)
Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: PC
Also on: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch

A Roman city resides within a large mountain, hidden from light and prying eyes. Only 23 people call this secret society home, and they appear to live harmoniously together, but looks can be deceiving. Time has taken its toll on each soul, but they can never leave, and more pressing yet, cannot sin, for even the most minor white lie or act of theft will steal the life from everyone. An angry god lords over this cave, and any misgiving will trigger a curse called “The Golden Rule.” The offenses of previous generations can be seen across this city – grim reminders not to sin, no matter where you are or what you are doing. These people need your help, and they somehow summon you from 2,000 years into the future.

Equipped with technologies they’ve never seen before (like a flashlight), you are now a part of their world – a newcomer that these people don’t seem to fear or question. But why? The Forgotten City skillfully plays up this mystery through a beautifully penned story loaded with meaningful player choice, making you feel like you are genuinely sculpting your path as the plot unfolds.

The name “The Forgotten City” may seem familiar to Skyrim players, as it’s the title of one of that game’s most popular mods, downloaded more than 3 million times, and so successful in its storytelling that it won an Australian Writer’s Guild award. The creator of that mod is Nick Pearce, and he’s taking a second spin with his time-traveling concepts in this excellent standalone game of the same name. While shedding Skyrim’s dark fantasy setting for a brighter aesthetic, it still clings tightly to the Elder Scrolls formula. That’s perfectly fine, as Pearce and his development team at Modern Storyteller play it like a beloved fiddle to bring the characters, their world, and your exploration within it to life in fascinating ways, even if the tech behind it all feels a little dated.

When you step foot in this hidden Roman world, you’ll see it has everything the people need: gardens, water, extravagant homes, yet no way to leave. You arrive via a wormhole and quickly find that your first motivation is to get to know all residents. This task unfolds through extensive conversations that almost always give you numerous questions to ask. Most of The Forgotten City’s gameplay consists of conversations. Thanks to the excellent writing, you walk away from most of these chats with a better understanding of the characters, their motivations, and what they may be up to – not to mention being intrigued by the large narrative that unfolds around it. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot or mystery at hand, but many conversations initiate quests (both critical path and optional) that you can activate and pursue. Most are of the simple variety of locating someone, questioning someone else, or perhaps even setting a trap, but most add up in significant ways when it comes to gaining leads.

The Golden Rule these people are governed by also applies to you, and you may be tempted to break it from time to time in conversations or as you explore the city. A lie could get you an answer, or you could steal a potion you need to heal someone’s illness, but these acts may doom everyone in the process. Doing these things may seem foolish, but here’s where things get interesting: As the people lose their lives, you need to race back to the wormhole to reset time. If you make it, you retain the knowledge you’ve gained and any items you grabbed, but the society resets to square one. You now have information that will help you solve the riddles faster. You can also use the information you learned about people against them, as they are taken aback by the knowledge you are weaponizing.

Time travel is used in awesome ways, and much like the film Groundhog Day, you make parts of the same day different each time you reset it. Modern Storyteller knows people won’t like redoing the same things over and over and found a few solutions to speed up events that you should be repeating. Depending on how you play your hand, you can reach four different endings. A few come up quickly, but the true ending takes about 10 to 15 hours to reach. I managed to see two of these endings (and a timeline shows where the others I missed take place in the larger narrative). Both of my conclusions were somewhat shocking in their setup but satisfying in how they closed the door for the society and my time traveler.

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As the story unfolds, some quests focus intently on a blend of combat and environmental navigation. The combat and jumping mechanics are a little rough (feeling just like Skyrim). Still, these sections remain fun, spin the larger mystery on its head, and above all else, give you a nice break from the conversations at the right times to keep the experience from getting too repetitive.

The Forgotten City does a great job making you feel like a skillful sleuth, pushing you to run across town with sizzling leads. The only downfall to this excitement is some of the more significant moments come up short in visualization. If characters are doing anything other than talking, they often move in strange ways, and the environmental events (like falling debris) are quite janky. You also won’t learn much from facial expressions or body language, as characters are all primarily expressionless, yet are thankfully saved by exceptional voice work and writing.

Regardless of the visual shortcomings, The Forgotten City stands tall as a unique game that pulls you in with its world and words. I got a huge kick using time travel as a detective tool and found many of the characters to be delightful to chat with (even if they hold many dark secrets). If you are in the market for a different type of game that pushes you to stitch together a story in different ways than you would expect, don’t sleep on this inventive experience. It’s one that you won’t soon forget.

Score: 9

Summary: Extensive player choice fuels a mystery that pays off in big ways.

Concept: Time travel and player choice are put to excellent use in a thrilling story

Graphics: The Forgotten City’s roots stretch back to Skyrim, and it still holds those old-school visual traits in the character animations. The world is beautifully conceived and easy to navigate

Sound: The voice cast makes up for the robotic character movements and delivers the emotion you need to make determinations. The score fits the mood nicely

Playability: The writing is so good you look forward to the long conversations

Entertainment: One of the better choice-driven games in recent memory that makes you feel like you have ownership over your actions and the narrative flow

Replay: High

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The Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters Are Awesome

It’s been a few days since the first three Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters hit Steam and mobile devices, and I’ve had a chance to play through the first title – and I’m absolutely going to be hitting the others. Yes, even 2. While they’re not perfect, they are vastly superior to most of the options that players had to go back and play these classics, and they may eventually be regarded as the definitive editions. Yes, the font is a little off-putting at first, but that can be swapped out in about three seconds, and I also found that I just got used to it after a few hours.

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In the case of Final Fantasy 1, it’s quite faithful to the original game with some alterations here and there. Sure, you can get ethers so if you want to play a magic-centric party you won’t find yourself out of spells when you hit a critical boss or you’re tackling an extended dungeon crawl. Yeah, the big bad at the end is definitely not the NES version. And there are various tweaks and foibles throughout, but at the end of the day, it feels adherent to the original experience I had on a crummy TV decades ago, while at the same time serving up some minor quality of life upgrades. Perhaps the best thing about this entire series of remasters so far is the absolutely incredible music.

Nobuo Uematsu’s remastered and rearranged musical tracks from these games are worth the ticket of admission alone, in my opinion. While these tunes were always iconic, they absolutely slam with incredible instrumentals now, from the basic battle theme to the banging sounds of the Chaos Shrine. If there is any singular element that makes these games worth going back to and exploring today, these tracks are breathtaking and astonishing in their modern incarnations. You very well may find yourself stepping back from the controller and taking them in. I know I have.

Other small elements include an auto-battle function to help grind out those extra levels for taking on tough bosses with fun party compositions like 4 monks or 4 white mages. There’s also a super handy minimap, sprinting, and a bestiary, but it’s also kind of sad that the bonus content featured in some of the other remasters isn’t around. Still, it’s a wonderful return to some more simplistic games that laid the foundation for one of the most important RPG series of all time.

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While these first three titles are important, the next three are far more so. Final Fantasy 6 is often regarded as the best title in the entire franchise. 4 is my personal favorite, and 5 is actually quite brilliant as you see the job systems come into their full potential. The promise for these already highly-regarded titles with the remaster treatment is incredible, and I can’t wait to head to the moon and beyond again.

Obviously, one of the major concerns right now is that there has been no console announcement for these remasters. It seems a little strange that these new games would be limited to mobile and PC, so I’m hoping that we’ll hear about a bundled package for consoles after all the titles have been completed and released.

Final Fantasy still rocks, so many years later. Grab a fighter, a thief, a white mage, and a black mage and go explore the world. Or ya know, 4 black mages. Whatever you feel like!

Halo Infinite Gameplay Flight Test Footage – Game Informer Live

It's Halo time, baby! The first Halo Infinite Flight Test is now live, and we've got that Spartan spirit! We are ready to rock out with our new Pulse Carbines out. To kick off the testing period for Master Chief's latest adventure, we here at Game Informer are diving all in to make the Halo community proud. Join us, won't you, for a special two-hour stream while we dive right into some multiplayer action. 

The Halo Infinite Flight Test is the first of several early access periods 343 is hosting before the game's launch later this year. This particular testing period offers a first look at multiplayer with just one map. Unfortunately, it's against bots, which would make us losing all the more embarrassing. Which, really, if you think about it, just gives you more reason to watch! Make fun of us, cheer us on, dealer's choice. 

Join Alex Stadnik, John Carson, and Liana Ruppert as they check out Halo Infinite for the first time. You can find us on our YouTube and Twitch channels to join in on the fun live starting at 2 p.m. CT. Join in on the conversation, talk about your favorite Master Chief moments, where you want to see the franchise go next, and show Craig the Brute some mad love. Just remember: this is a multiplayer-only Flight Test, so we won't be streaming any of the story, but we will be talking about the unique weapons that the new game brings, so if you're interested - all are welcome! 

Also included in the Flight Test is the ability to play around with the Battle Pass a little bit. The Battle Pass is optional and will, like most, include cosmetic options. That being said, 343 has confirmed that it will only offer cosmetic options and nothing that could be interpreted as supporting a pay-to-win model. Unlike most, however, it won't be a time-sensitive feature. For example, like Destiny 2's, others are only available for a limited-time-only, which means the cosmetic options available disappear in the void; Infinite's never expires. Players can take as much time as they want on each Battle Pass, even purchasing older ones if they come into the game early. While you can only progress through one Battle Pass at a time, there is not a time limit placed upon them. 

To learn more about the upcoming 343 Industries shooter, check out our dedicated Halo Infinite hub here. We've got gameplay, updates, and incredible inside looks from the studio itself. 

Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview – New Gameplay Today

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Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Release: 2021
Rating: Teen
Platform: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

Halo Infinite has been in the crosshairs of the gaming community since it was announced at E3 2018. Originally set to release last November alongside the launch of the Xbox Series X and S, growing concerns about the game following an extended look at the campaign caused 343 Industries and Microsoft to reconsider when Infinite was ready for prime time.

Now, almost exactly a year since gameplay was first shown, we’re finally getting hands-on time with Halo Infinite in a technical multiplayer beta. Join Alex Stadnik, Liana Ruppert, and John Carson as they share their first impressions of the game and give a look at Halo Infinite multiplayer in action. How does it look? What’s new and different compared to previous entries? Does it live up to the grandiose reputation of Microsoft’s first-person juggernaut? We cover those questions and more in this episode of New Gameplay Today.

This technical flight for Halo Infinite is currently limited to folks who signed up for, and were chosen through, the Halo Waypoint website. Multiplayer is one of two modes found within this test, alongside the Academy, a series of gun-specific challenges which lets the player loose at a firing range to rack up high scores. Currently, the multiplayer matches are 4v4 Slayer matches on the new map called Live Fire. It’s a condensed battleground that keeps the action fast and consistent, while retaining many paths for getting around the map. Matches during this test consist of matchmade human teams warring against AI driven bots. While we’d prefer to go head-to-head against real people and really put these Spartans through their paces, that experience will have to wait for another time.

Halo Infinite is set to release on an undisclosed date later this year for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. How do you think Infinite is shaping up? Which weapons are you looking to know more about in this technical flight?

Marvel's Avengers’ War For Wakanda Begins In August

War for Wakanda is easily the most exciting expansion to hit Marvel’s Avengers, and we finally know when it’s coming. On August 17, players will get to take control of Black Panther to explore a brand new story serving as the game’s largest content update yet. 

In addition to adding a Christopher Judge-voiced T’Challa to the roster of heroes, the free expansion (yes expansion and not an Operation like with Kate Bishop and Hawkeye) introduces new enemy types and two supervillains, one of which is Klaw. Black Panther’s long-time nemesis has teamed up with AIM to invade Wakanda to steal its precious vibranium. 

Wakanda, with its futuristic Royal Palace and surrounding jungles, offer a vibrant new biome to explore that contains the Birnin Zana Outpost, the laboratory of T’Challa’s brilliant sister, Shuri, and other locations. There's also a new drop zone for solo or team play. In addition to the story quests, players can engage in new threat sector missions and other superheroic activities. Of course, you can also expect plenty of new hero outfits as well as a power level increase. 

Marvel's Avengers

For a deep dive into what War for Wakanda entails, Crystal Dynamics will stream an Avengers War Table on its Twitch channel on August 16 at 10 a.m PT. The presentation will share additional details and show off new footage of the expansion in action.

If you love you some Black Panther but are on the fence about Marvel’s Avengers as a whole, you can play the entire game for free thanks to an all-access period running now until August 1 for the PlayStation, PC, and Stadia versions of the game. During this time Marvel’s Avengers is available at a 40% discount should you decide to buy, and your progress will carry over as well. There's also a 400% XP gain in effect and 50% off sale for the in-game store. The Tachyon Anomaly event also makes a return. For Xbox players, Crystal Dynamics promises a similar all-access period will come to those platforms in the coming months. 

Marvel's Avengers is currently available for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC. 

Report: Horizon Forbidden West Delayed To 2022

Earlier this year, Sony shared an extensive look at Aloy's continued story with Horizon Forbidden West, but the lack of a release window had many wondering if we would see the sequel this year. Following the rumors that followed said speculation, Horizon Forbidden West has officially been delayed to 2022. 

According to a new report from Bloombergthe open-world story of Aloy is set to continue some time in the first quarter of 2022, though an exact date has not been revealed at this time. The news broke via a "person familiar with the matter," according to the site following PlayStation's Hermen Hulst's previous statements that the game was still on track for a holiday release back in June. While Hulst sounded hopeful that the release progress would remain on course, he did mention that nothing was "quite certain" yet, leaving wiggle room in case a delay was inevitable. 

Game Informer has reached out to Sony, though no comment has been made at the time this article was written. 

When Horizon Zero Dawn was first released on PlayStation 4, it was an instant hit with the PS community. The franchise's dual-nature setting with futuristic technology in a more tribal society made the parallels between the two worlds a unique one for the game's narrative. With Forbidden West promising even more adventures, a larger world to get lost in, and new ways to master combat and hone Aloy's skills, the upcoming journey from Guerrilla Games aims to take what so many loved from the first adventure and make it even better. 

To learn more about the game thus far, including more footage, behind-the-scenes looks, and special interviews with the team at Guerilla Games, check out our dedicated game hub here