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Closed Alpha For Hunt: Showdown Closing In This Month

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 11:55

Hunt: Showdown was one of the biggest surprises we played at E3. We loved the game's tense focus on survival, gothic atmosphere, tracking, and use of permadeath. And now, it looks like you'll have the option to find out for yourself if this hardcore multiplayer is for you.

Developer Crytek announced today that the game will enter closed alpha at the end of the month:

Starting on Jan. 31, a select group of PC gamers will be able to play Hunt: Showdown regularly as part of the game’s closed alpha testing phase via Steam. During closed alpha, the Hunt team will be testing gameplay, balancing, and backend functionality, as well as collecting feedback from the community. Closed alpha testers will be randomly chosen from the sign-up list, and those chosen will receive an email invite.

Those interested in signing up for a chance at getting an invite can do so here. For more on Hunt: Showdown, check out five reasons why editor Matt Bertz dug his time with it so much here.

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Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Is A Mobile RPG Set Before The Books

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 11:36

Portkey Games, the offshoot of Warner Brothers dedicated to publishing Harry Potter games, revealed its latest title in the Harry Potter universe today: a mobile RPG developed by Jam City. The game is called Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery and focuses on the events before the first novel and does not include Harry, Hermione, or Ron.

Instead, players get to create their own character and, according to Jam City will "experience life as a Hogwarts student." You can watch a brief snippet of this wizarding adventure here:

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Hogwarts Mystery is due out this Spring. For more on Harry Potter, you can read about the Harry Potter game coming from Niantic, the developers of Pokemon Go.

 

Our Take
I know people get skeptical and concerned about mobile games but I am super excited to play a Hogwarts game that doesn't have Harry and company along for the ride. That universe is strong enough on its own without its characters to support expansion.

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Pokémon Sun and Moon Players To Receive Legendary Pokemon Nearly Every Month Of 2018

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 11:12

The Pokémon Company just announced that 2018 is the year of legendary Pokémon. What does that mean precisely? Get ready for a lot of Pokémon.

In celebration of the amazing power of Legendary Pokémon, look forward to opportunities to obtain these magnificent Pokémon over the course of the year. Every one of the Pokémon you'll get for your Pokémon Ultra Sun, Pokémon Ultra Moon, Pokémon Sun, or Pokémon Moon game is at least level 60 and will know awesome moves to help you dominate in battle! Plus, they may be holding a valuable Gold Bottle Cap to let you maximize the individual strengths of one of your Pokémon via Hyper Training.

Have fun collecting and battling with these awesome Legendary Pokémon all year long!

It's not exactly clear how players will receive these Pokémon, but details will likely become more apparent as we draw closer to February.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

You can find the full list of receivable Pokémon here, which includes the likes of Ho-oh, Kyogre, and Entei.

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Epic Slows Down Paragon Development As Focus Moves To Fortnite

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 20:19

There's only so much space for free-to-play games in the market as a whole, and even less space for them under one studio roof. 

Paragon, a free-to-play MOBA that Epic released in early access in 2016, and opened up to beta in early 2017, never really set the world on fire. That problem has become exasperated by the competition in the market, including all the players flocking to Epic's other mega-popular game, Fortnite and its Battle Royale mode.

In a surprisingly candid thread on Paragon's subreddit, the developer admitted that development on Paragon has slowed because members of the team have jumped over to Fortnite to help maintain its unprecedented growth. From the post:

However, progress has been slower lately for two reasons: First, the team’s time is split between immediate improvements and longer-term efforts, so there’s less visible progress. Second, a number of Paragon team members jumped onto Fortnite to help sustain the game as it has grown far larger than anything in Epic’s past.

Here inside Epic, we’re talking about the future of Paragon in pretty much the same terms as you’re talking about it. The core challenge is that, of new players who try Paragon, only a small number continue to play regularly after a month. Though Paragon has evolved, no iteration has yet achieved that magical combination of ingredients that make for a sustainable game. (As an aside, the problem isn’t marketing or how to make money with Paragon. We have good ideas that would solve those problems if we can find a way to make Paragon grow.)

Epic seems to be willing to get behind the game, but the lack of players seems to override all else. With Epic reporting that 40 million players have jumped in to Fortnite at this point, presumably projects that aren't hitting engagement numbers are being looked at far more closely. While the post does not outright say it, the long term issue does not appear to be a choice between successful and unsuccessful, it looks like Paragon's options are limited to successful or gone.

Paragon is available on PlayStation 4 and PC, with a major patch that makes significant map changes landing this week.

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Overwatch League Hits 10 Million Viewers In First Week

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 18:58

Blizzard has bet big on the Overwatch League, the competitive Overwatch tournament, and it seems like that bet is paying off. According to GamesIndustry.Biz, Blizzard's esports event won the viewership of ten million people in its opening week.

Although Blizzard has always been moderately involved with esports, the Overwatch League is their biggest push ever, treating it as a sport equal to any other. The ten million number only includes devices tuned into to the various streams, indicating that even more people could have been actually watching.

The most popular match? Dallas Fuel vs Seoul Dynasty, which boasted an audience of 437,000 viewers on the first day, a record which has yet to be beaten.

Blizzard has scheduled the season to continue to June, with the finals in July. Just before the League began, Blizzard and Twitch announced that the streaming service would be the exclusive home of the Overwatch League, though MLG and Blizzard themselves also host streams.

[Source: GamesIndustry.Biz]

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Microsoft Promotes Minecraft Chief Matt Booty To Oversee Microsoft Studios

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 17:44

Microsoft has promoted Matt Booty to the position of corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, making him the top executive overseeing Microsoft's video game business under Phil Spencer.

Booty previously served as head of the global teams overseeing Minecraft after Microsoft's acquisition of Mojang and the Minecraft IP. His promotion fills an important seat at Microsoft Studios after previous chief Phil Spencer was promoted to executive vice president overseeing all Microsoft entertainment products on the senior leadership team.

This frees up Spencer to work on a grand strategy for games at Microsoft and tasks Booty with executing on Spencer's vision. This means that Booty oversees the development and publishing of Microsoft's games library for the Xbox and Windows 10 for the foreseeable future. Spencer also wants Booty to expand operations at studios like The Coalition, 343, Rare, Turn 10, and more.

[Source: VentureBeat]

 

Our Take
It's been a little while since Spencer's promotion, so hopefully Microsoft and Booty are ready to hit the ground running. Now that the Xbox One X has been launched, Microsoft should get new and stronger messaging about the brand's identity out there, and the best way to do that is to show games.

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Nintendo Announces Labo, A Cardboard-Software Hybrid For The Switch

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 16:25

As a sudden announcement today after teasing a new child-oriented initiative earlier in the day, Nintendo revealed Nintendo Labo, a series of cardboard shells that interact with specifically made software on the Switch.

Players assemble the cardboard pieces like age-old cardboard craft or, more recently, similar to cardboard VR goggles, and attach the Switch and joycons into it in varying permutations as the game requires. The assembled shells are named Toy-cons by Nintendo and can be made into a mini-piano, a fishing rod, motorcycle handles, or even giant robots.

At the outset, Nintendo is selling two sets for Nintendo Labo. The first one the Nintendo Variety Pack, $69.99, comes with five Toy-con projects such as the aforementioned piano, fishing rod, motorcycle handles, but also a house and two RC cars powered by the Switch joycons.

The second, the Robot Kit, comes with a backpack with controls and mechanisms designed to control a giant robot in the game software, demanding a higher price of $79.99. From the video, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the ill-fated Project Giant Robot that Nintendo had been showing off for the Wii U in 2015.

Both Labo sets are releasing on April 20.

You can check out the trailer below, as well as visit Nintendo's Labo site for more details.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

 

Our Take
As a Nintendo game, I am not sure I am that interested in Labo. As someone that wants to play with a new toy, I could see myself checking this out. A lot of it is going to depend on whether the software is cool, and how durable the cardboard is. That said, those prices are pretty expensive, so an impulse buy for families gets harder the higher it goes above $60. 

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Dragon Ball FighterZ Beta Returns To Life For One More Day

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 15:27

Did you try to play the Dragon Ball FighterZ beta this past weekend? You might have noticed some server problems made even getting into a lobby difficult, because Bandai Namco definitely noticed. As an apology, they are extending the beta one more day, starting today.

The official kickoff is 9:00 PM PST today and lasts a full 24 hours until 9:00 PM the following day. It is the exact same beta as the one that took place this past weekend, with the same build and characters, so any hopes of testing the newly playable Android 21 can be put away until the retail game launches.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is scheduled for release on January 26 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This last day of the beta is the final chance to try the game out before its release, so if you're iffy, it might be worth it to give the tutorials at least a shot.

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Housemarque Developing Unannounced PC Game

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 14:59

Housemarque, developers of games like Resogun and Nex Machina, have revealed that they are working on an unannounced PC game.

The developers abruptly posted a call for testers on the Steam community forum for their next unannounced game. They stressed that the title is still extremely early in development, but that they are going to need testers as they start to roll forward and progress. Testers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so it is unlikely anyone will be leaking details of the project anytime soon.

The independent developer recently announced that they are no longer going to pursue the arcade shooter genre, which fans most closely associated them with. After Nex Machina's sales failed to impress, the studio decided to change direction, which will presumably be demonstrated in their new title.

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Capcom Reveals The Results Of Street Fighter Popularity Poll

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 13:39

A few months back, Capcom wanted to know who the most popular Street Fighter character was according to fan consensus. The poll was held on the Capcom Fighter Network site and included not only obvious mainstays like Ryu and Chun-Li, but obscure choices like Captain Sawada, whose first and only appearance was the video game adaptation of Street Fighter: The Movie. Capcom has finally released the results of the 109-character poll, compiled by fighting game website Eventhubs.

The very bottom of the list, Khyber, is an assault soldier from Street Fighter: The Movie, also appearing in the arcade game. The very top of the list is Sakura, which likely explains why Capcom has made her free for a limited time in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition as she headlines the new season of DLC.

Most interestingly, Street Fighter EX fan favorite Skullomania ranks #16 on the list, well ahead of veteran characters like Guile and Claw. This makes Skullomania the highest ranking character that technically is not a Street Fighter or Final Fight character, being owned by Arika and featuring prominently in their new fighting game, Fighting EX Layer.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition released January 16 for PlayStation 4 and PC. It serves as a free update for owners of Street Fighter V or as a new disc containing season 1 and 2's characters.

 

Our Take
I am genuinely surprised to see characters like Q and Juri above Chun-Li, but I suppose those fans are also a lot more fervent. I do wonder how this poll will inform Capcom's DLC choices in the future.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux Releasing In America May 15

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 13:00

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, the remake of 2010 Nintendo DS game, will be arriving on American shores on May 15, Atlus confirmed today.

The 3DS game, as mentioned, is a remake of the original DS title, completely overhauling the dungeon graphics and adding new content to the story. Strange Journey Redux released in late 2017 in Japan, so the turnaround time on this game is fairly quick.

One change for the American localization is that one of the characters on the Japanese box art was wielding a gun. In the U.S. box art, she no longer is, instead holding out an outstretched hand.

It's a curious change, which a spokesperson at Atlus U.S.A. explained to us when we asked for comment. “There are different guidelines in the U.S. on packaging. Therefore, we cannot show a gun pointing at the audience.” 

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux will be released exclusively on the 3DS on May 15. Shin Megami Tensei V is heading to the Switch at an indefinite point in the future, but has been confirmed by Atlus for a U.S. release.

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FoxNext Acquires Cold Iron Studios For Shooter Based In Alien Cinematic Universe

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 11:40

Twentieth Century Fox's video game and theme park division FoxNext has announced its acquisition of Cold Iron Studios. The newly acquired studio's first project is a shooter based in the Alien cinematic universe.

The San Francisco-based developer is comprised of industry veterans who have worked on games like Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, Borderlands, Doom, BioShock: Infinite, and more. The developer specializes in massively online games, and according to Cold Iron Studios CEO Craig Zinkievich, this project will play into the studio's strengths. "Our background in building online worlds and taking established franchises to the next level in interactive entertainment is a precise fit with our product roadmap ahead," he said in a press release.

Outside of president of studios at FoxNext Aaron Loeb saying the game will feature "an action-packed persistent world, steeped in the mysteries of this beloved Alien universe," no details are available regarding the actual direction at this time. The upcoming game will launch on PC and consoles.

 

Our Take
The Alien universe is always fun to explore, but games have proved tricky to keep interesting as the same handful of enemies throw themselves at players over and over. Hopefully Cold Iron Studios can deliver a fun experience that stays fresh, particularly if this is going to be an online shooter built on bringing players back on a regular basis.

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Android 21 Confirmed As Playable Fighter For Dragon Ball FighterZ

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 10:26

Android 21, the only original character in Dragon Ball FighterZ, has been confirmed as a playable fighter for the game.

The news comes the latest issue of V-Jump magazine in Japan which reveals she has a Majin form that she uses in combat. She basically has the same characters model, but changes her outfit, gains a tail, and her skin is Majin-pink. Up until now, Bandai Namco has been coy about her, confirming her inclusion in the story, but not that she is a fighter.

As part of our month of coverage from when Dragon Ball FighterZ was on our cover, we put together a feature detailing everything we knew about her at the time. You can read that here. We also spoke with the game's producer and director about game's the story and talked about 21 with them. You can find that video here, or by watching the embed below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more from our month of Dragon Ball coverage, including new details for FighterZ, click the banner below.

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Fortnite Battle Royale Map Update Adds New Areas, Other Tweaks

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 10:02

Fortnite's Battle Royale mode is getting a map update this Thursday (January 18) as part of the game's overall 2.2.0 patch.

The map update includes new areas, like the underground mines of Shifty Shafts, as well as tweaks to existing areas.

For more on the update and patch notes, click here.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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Report: Microsoft Resurrecting Fable

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 08:54

Eurogamer reports that Microsoft is bringing back the Fable franchise according to multiple sources "close to the project," with Forza Horizon developer Playground Games at the helm.

The game is still in the early phases of development and shouldn't be expected any time soon. However, the report says the project is planned as an open-world action/RPG.

To accommodate this important task, Playground is putting 200 people on the project in a newly established office.

Original Fable developer Lionhead closed in 2016 after being acquired by Microsoft in 2006. The series' last game – Fable Legends – was a free-to-play title whose multiplayer focus was a far cry from what the series had become known for.

[Source: Eurogamer] 

 

Our Take 
The project's long lead time could mean that it's being prepped as a launch game for Microsoft's next home console. I'll be interesting to see if Microsoft tinkers with the game's direction over that time – just one of the things that doomed Fable Legends. In the meantime, this report signals a very welcome return for one of Microsoft's great franchises.

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Blizzard Promotes Heroes Of The Storm Skins With Pretty Sick Anime Video

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:45

In what can only be described as the best possible way to show off mecha skins, Blizzard has released a video promoting Heroes of the Storms skin in a very 1990s style.

The video, which theoretically is designed to tell you that skins for Diablo's Tyrael, Warcraft's Rehgar, and Starcraft's Abathur are available for purchase, hits all the staples of classic mecha: the overly-long stare-down, the unending guitar, the dramatic team up, it's kind of a delight even as the sum of its parts.

Check it out below. The skins themselves are available on January 29.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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Tactical Card Game Hero Academy 2 Surprise Launches On Mobile Today

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:26

Hero Academy 2, naturally the sequel to 2012's Hero Academy, surprise launched on iOS and Android earlier today.

The game follows in many of the same footsteps as the first time, letting players build decks of heroes, powers, and spells and face against other players in one-on-one duels. It is developed by Robot Entertainment, who has developed, aside from the first Hero Academy, games like the Orcs Must Die series.

New to the sequel is a full-featured single player campaign, real-time duels, and crossplatform play between all platforms.

The game launched today on the App Store and Google Play Store and is scheduled to come to PC and Mac in the near future. You can catch the launch trailer for the game below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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Overwatch Map Blizzard World Coming January 23

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:00

Announced at Blizzcon, the Overwatch map Blizzard World has been long awaited by fans. Thankfully, no one will have to wait long, as the map will see wide release on January 23.

The map is a Blizzard love letter, something warranted by a company that boasts fans happily obsessive enough to sustain an annual convention. The map is full of Blizzard's history, both modern and ancient, and will be a delight for fans to explore. More than that, though, reports from the PTR are that the hybrid map is itself quite fun to play, and its Assault and Payload halves are both well balanced.

Jeff Kaplan recently outlined the team's plans for the new year, including new maps and new heroes that are being internally tested right now, though there's no word on when those might be revealed.

Overwatch is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

[Source: Overwatch Twitter]

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Canadian Man Faces Charges After Spree Of Excessive And Offensive Twitch Chat Flooding

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 19:01

A Canadian man is facing charges in British Columbia after engaging in repetitive flooding of Twitch chat with racist and vulgar messages, according to CBC News.

The federal charges against the 20 year-old Brandon Apple were filed yesterday, utilizing an uncommon charge of "mischief in relation to computer data."  Apple is accused of spamming 150,000 chat messages to over 1000 channels over the course of two months in 2017. Apple utilized a chat flooding program called ChatSurge, which boasts of its ability to "flood, destroy or simply demolish any Twitch.tv chatroom," while under the username Ob Noxious.

After Twitch discovered the attack, Twitch sought a court order to determine Apple's identity. The order lists a few of Apple's comments used in the chatbot, such as "Get the black guy outta here! What a ***," and "Death to all jews Death to all jews." Reportedly, the chatbot also linked to sexual content involving children. Twitch alleges in the report that Apple's chatbot was sending 700 messages a minute at its zenith.

Twitch was unable to get the information on Apple's identity through his internet service provider, but leaning on services like Cloudflare and Whois, which Apple used to spam Twitch, eventually got them his name. In court, Twitch has claimed that employees have spent over 300 hours trying to identify Apple. 

Apple has not entered a plea in regards to the charges and has not officially been entered in court, the first appearance coming in February. If found guilty, he could face up to ten years in jail.

[Source: CBCNews]

 

Our Take
This is a pretty unprecedented case, but it is also fascinating to see how the law is choosing to catch up to technology. Even just a few years ago, the idea of flooding stream chats being an actionable offense was crazy because anonymity was the singular ruling force. It is interesting to see how that is changing.

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Assassin's Creed: Origins Expansions Detailed, First Coming January 23

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 17:31

The new Assassin's Creed: Origins expansion titled The Hidden Ones is arriving on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on January 23.

Ubisoft updated the game earlier this month to coordinate better with the expansion, including a quest that introduces the new area and the Roman threat within. The early days of the assassins are examined in new regions Sinai and Valley of the Kings and the accompanying update raises Bayek's level cap up.

The publisher also clarified that Discovery mode, the non-combat educational exploration mode will release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on February 20. The update is free to Origins owners on every platform, but can also be purchased as a standalone mode on the PC.

A less educational expansion, The Curse of the Pharaohs, launches on March 6. This expansion takes Bayek to Thebes, where he fights mythical monsters in order to solve the mystery of why long-dead pharaohs have come back to life. This expansion raises Bayek's level cap to 55, which might be the final ceiling for everyone's favorite Medjay.

Assassin's Creed: Origins is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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