Xbox One users get a sneak peek at the Xbox Series S/X dashboard today. Microsoft has rolled out the October update that makes the UI uniform across all Xbox devices. That means your Xbox One's dash now will be the same as the Xbox Series X's dash on November 10.
It's not a big, drastic refresh. Microsoft actually detailed this back in August, explaining that the goal is a streamlined, connected ecosystem. Some design changes to tile shapes, fonts, and focus indicators are about as splashy as this update gets. It's very familiar, just a little different.
Maybe the most exciting change is the introduction of customer profile themes. Xbox will be introducing themes (presumably just like PlayStation's) that change the overall aesthetic of the dashboard. This includes themes that are based on Xbox first-party games and some animated backgrounds. Three new ones were added today that are based around Xbox Series X, Series S, and some next-gen artwork.
There are a few other refinements for quality of life things. For instance, anyone without automatic sign-in enabled will be prompted to choose a user account when booting up the Xbox. The Home page also does a better job of populating popular apps for new users. It's hardly earth-moving stuff. Lastly, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak, and Czech are newly-supported languages.
The future is now. Today's update marks the a major milestone in Microsoft's efforts to bring the same visual design to all Xbox devices. Hey, if you aren't upgrading to Xbox Series X, at least your Xbox One will feel current while you're on the Home screen.
In the West, Sega is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a slate of free games that are probably best summed up as "for the fans." There's a Yakuza 2D beat-'em-up, a canceled reboot of Golden Axe, a mash-up of Fantasy Zone and Endless Space, and a tank battle game inspired by Company of Heroes.
These wacky anniversary games will be available on Steam for a limited time, and I do mean limited.
- Armor of Heroes (October 15-19)
- Endless Zone (October 16-19)
- Streets of Kamurocho (October 17-19)
- Golden Axed (October 18-19)
"Once they're taken down from Steam, they're gone forever," according to Sega.
During this celebration, Sega is also giving out the Steam edition of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 until October 19, and – for people who share their email with Sega – Nights into Dreams until December 13, 2020.
My favorite bit, though? These retro-inspired game covers.
On the Sega 60th anniversary website, you can find Genesis, Mega Drive, Master System, Saturn, and Dreamcast cover art for dozens of modern Sega games. Some of them, like Puyo Puyo, really do fit.
Sega says the site will be "updated regularly with new content and information." Happy 6-0!
There is no shortage of evidence that the Mass Effect trilogy is getting a remaster sometime soon. Add one more scrap to the pile.
Gematsu reports that the Game Rating and Administration Committee of Korea has rated Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. (I can't get the search to work but Gematsu usually has these leaks on lock.) It's definitely real and everyone knows it.
However, EA refuses to acknowledge it. Despite the mounting evidence, EA will not spill the beans. At this point, you have to think EA's saving up for an N7 Day announcement. It'll make for the first semi-worthwhile N7 Day in years.
Here's what we think we know: Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is expected to be a remaster of the Shepard arc games. It's coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One (and notably not Switch, at least right away). EA wanted it to launch in 2020, but it seems to have been pushed back to 2021.
I look forward to the next Mass Effect post which will probably be another rumor instead of confirmation. Truly, the real treasure is all the rumor posts we wrote along the way.
It pains me to report that, no, all Metal Gear Solid V players did not cast aside their nuclear arms in pursuit of world peace. We have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok, and flat-out deceived.
Earlier this summer, the PS3 version of Metal Gear Solid V finally realized Hideo Kojima's ultimate goal as every player disarmed their nukes and world peace was achieved. It was peace on a smaller scale because PS3 doesn't have the player count of PC or PS4, but it's a start. For every nuke to be disarmed is a feat no matter the platform.
Konami had to rain on our parade. As Kotaku reports, Konami confirmed that the "All nukes destroyed" cutscene was triggered because of a trickster:
A little over a month ago, we reported on Bandai Namco's Pac-Man Geo, a new mobile spin on the classic coin-op that will use world maps to create unique mazes for Pac-Man and his pals. Well, it seems the hungry fella is getting set to gobble, as Pac-Man Geo is now available for pre-registration on iOS and Android.
Utilising mobile geographical information, Pac-Man Geo allows players to create a pill-filled maze out of almost any location they can think of, from New York's Times Square, to Paris' Arc de Triomphe, even the criss-cross streets of Tokyo's Shibuya district. Chased down by Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde, Pac-Man will munch his way through your local high street, picking up bonus items at famous landmarks while staying one bite ahead of his ghostly pursuers.
Limited-time Tour Mode events will see players challenge each other for the highest score within some of the world's most popular locations, while Map Mode will allow users to share their favourite locations with other globe-trotting players. Pac-Man Geo looks to be a neat new take on the franchise, yet another way that Pac-Man has managed to redesign its timeless gameplay for entirely new audiences and formats.
I kinda still can't believe it? Minecraft x Super Smash Bros. But it happened!
For years folks have speculated that one of the biggest games on the planet is a no-brainer for an appearance in Smash, exacerbated by the fact that Microsoft already teamed up with Nintendo for Banjo's appearance.
But the inclusion of Minecraft feels like a watershed moment for Smash, and director Masahiro Sakurai and his team didn't take the job lying down.
I am thrilled to confirm that the entirety of Monster Hunter doesn't take place in the desert. Everything we've seen about this movie -- the teasers, the production stills, the posters -- all prominently feature a sandy wasteland and nowhere else. It's so incredibly boring.
This official Monster Hunter trailer shows more. A lot of the monsters, a lot of bewildered troops, and a little vegetation. There's also a lot of artillery chucked around and a lot of retaliatory literal-firepower.
It's not going to be good, is it? Nothing about this looks quality, per se. It's definitely only Monster Hunter in name, some weapon design, and the fact that they're hunting monsters. But how do you adapt a thousand-hour action RPG to a tidy two-hour movie? By giving the Jarheads rocket launchers, I guess. Last week, Moyse politely opined that Monster Hunter "isn't a movie [he'll] be putting at the forefront of [his] watchlist," and I'd like to quadruple down on that sentiment by venturing that it'll be actively bad.
But maybe it'll be fun? It's not Monster Hunter but maybe it can be Godzilla? It seems like the best-case scenario right now is that this turns out to be an entertaining popcorn flick with long, over-the-top anime-ass fights. It's pretty evident that the plot isn't going to do any heavy lifting. But the whole theater might cheer when one of these troops inevitably mounts a Diablo.
Monster Hunter still doesn't have a firm release date, as Sony is only saying it's "in theaters in December." If there's no Meowscular Chef whipping up ridiculous and delicious dishes, what was this all for?
It hasn't been a smooth morning for anyone who downloaded the 8.00 update for PlayStation 4.
In the short-term, friends lists aren't working – they'll try to load but an error message eventually pops up instead. Sony hasn't publicly acknowledged the issue yet, but it will presumably be fixed soon. [Update: The team is "currently investigating" this problem with PlayStation Network.]
You now have to form a party from a message group rather than just starting a party on its own.
"Party and Messages will be more tightly linked together and you will see changes to the UI," said Sony. "Both apps will now use the same 'Groups' of players for Party voice chats and message exchanges, instead of having different groups setup across the two apps. So now you can start a Party chat or send a message to the group you've previously chatted with across PS4, as well as PS5 when it launches."
That might sound okay, but in practice, it's a step back for a lot of players. Under the new setup, you can't start your own party, by yourself, and then easily invite people into your group chat session.
"The requirement of having groups for every party means you'll have to have tons of sub-groups for every different session that you want to include/exclude certain players," said Reddit user DeGudLordDarkRage. "And on top of that, removing 'Play Together' effectively means you're 100% dependent on each game's invite system [...] many games' invite systems literally don't let you invite offline players, meaning those players can no longer hide in peace to play with you."
"Even worse, some games like [Star Wars Battlefront II] have a weird glitchy friendslist that only shows like 20 players, regardless of if they are on Battlefront or not," they continued. "'Play Together' was the only workaround for inviting players that weren't showing up on the in-game friends list."
As suggested by ResetEra user Aurc, there's a small workaround for players who want to be in a solo party – far away from public in-game chat – with the new party-forming limitations in place: "add your own alt account to your friends list and just invite them each time you wanna be alone in a party."
This is a good time to remind everyone to protect their PlayStation account.
Sony has also removed "the ability to create private Communities under the Community app on PS4" (although you can continue to access your current private Communities) and put an end to Events.
As for what 8.00 adds, there's new avatars, a Mute all Microphones toggle in the Quick Menu, simplified Parental Controls, and the ability to use a third-party authenticator app for 2-Step Verification.
I assume some of these changes are in preparation for the PS5 and Sony wants to streamline or unify things as much as it can, but the removal of features – especially the party chat stuff – is baffling.
[Update: Sony clarified the message that PS4 users started to see today with update 8.00 that deals with party voice chats potentially being recorded by fellow players for "safety and moderation" review.
"Voice chat recording for moderation is a feature that will be available on PS5 when it launches, and will enable users to record their voice chats on PS5 and submit them for moderation review," explained Sony. "The pop up you're seeing on PS4 right now is to let you know that when you participate in a chat with a PS5 user (post-launch), they may submit those recordings from their PS5 console to SIE."]
Two options. That's all developers usually key us into before a big game's launch on PC. The minimum requirements and the recommended requirements. There's always a ton of middle ground. Sometimes, if we're lucky, we get three.
Ubisoft has gone above and beyond with Assassin's Creed Valhalla's PC specs. We get six performance targets ranging from "Okay, this thing actually runs" to "Holy shit that's pretty." Here's a handy chart, but I'll type them all out too.
Beat Saber came out of early access hibernation in 2019, but it doesn't feel like it. The game has been tearing up pretty much every VR chart there is, making a name for itself as one of the defining "must have" VR titles. It's on nearly every headset, including PlayStation VR, SteamVR and now, the Oculus Quest 2.
That new platform is also coming with a significant update: multiplayer. Now you can dive in with four other people to swing your non-copyright-infringement lightsabers together to the beat to various musical tracks. According to the developer, multiplayer took a while because they wanted to get the full groundwork for Beat Saber in first, as well as a level editor, before they moved outside of the solo experience.
What's next for Beat Saber? A BTS music pack. That should sell! The team is also committed to "keep improving" the game, so there might be no end in sight for it. Beat Games studio could be the Harmonix of the VR space one day.
Synchronized Slashing [Oculus]
Two Point Studios' management sim Two Point Hospital is preparing to swap surgery for spotlights with the reveal of its new Culture Shock DLC, which will arrive on PC October 20. A release date for consoles was not announced.
It appears that the new expansion will see the medical professionals of Two Point Hospital tasked with rebuilding the arts and culture attractions of the surrounding Two Point County. Our team will be tasked with helping to produce a hit TV medical drama and running a music festival, all while treating the county's elite from a run of silly new afflictions, such as Stunt Trouble, Writer's Block, and Concertoes.
Frankly, the press release doesn't make it abundantly clear what exactly the new DLC expansion will entail, but the accompanying trailer gives off a vibe reminiscent of Lionhead's mid-'00s release, The Movies. In addition to the new locations, Culture Shock will include 36 new illnesses, 34 new hospital items, three animated cure machines, a new DJ, and a "Fancy Dress" costume pack. Pre-order customers will also bag themselves a zombie outfit, perfect for traipsing the corridors on Halloween like its The Beyond.
In related news, Two Point Hospital players can celebrate the 60th anniversary of developer Sega with the addition of four fun items, including a classic Out Run cabinet and a Space Harrier cycloptic mammoth. The free quartet of items is available on Steam right now.
In case you missed it, Nintendo added actual physical rewards to My Nintendo.
They require Platinum Points, which are a finite resource; earned by activities like playing various Nintendo mobile titles and mucking about on the Nintendo website.
One of the more recent additions involves finding secret Pikmin to promote the Switch release of Pikmin 3. Here's how to complete all five missions and net 100 points.
If Found..., the dramatic and powerful adventure title from Annapurna Interactive, is making its way to Switch. Following on from its previous release on PC back in May, this emotional coming-of-age tale will arrive on the Nintendo platform on October 22.
While best experienced "blind," If Found... is the story of a young protagonist, Kasio, reflecting on recent several turbulent events while facing down what very well could prove to be the end of all existence. The story explores relationships - romantic, familial, and interpersonal - as Kasio comes to an understanding about their personal place in an ending universe.
The Nintendo Switch port will feature brand new "game-changing" content that was not included in the PC release. This includes extended narrative sequences, a bonus chapter, interactive epilogues, and several new pieces of artwork from the game's illustrator Liadh Young. A new theme song "If Found (Return To)" has been recorded by artist Loah, with lyrics by game director Llaura McGee.
World of Warcraft's Shadowlands expansion has been delayed, but the pre-patch is still going ahead as planned to tide players over and keep them subscribing until then.
If you aren't familiar with the concept, Blizzard typically provides "pre-patches" as lead-ins to upcoming expansions, to get people excited for new story prospects and ease in big changes to the meta-game or the fundamentals of WoW. In this case, the developers launched the new "level squish," which brings level 120 characters back down to size to 50.
As a result, leveling should feel more meaningful for both new and older characters. In the past many levels were superfluous, granting no extra powers or abilities: now, leveling should be a bit more exciting with more rewards squished in. Speaking of leveling, you can also take a new character out to Exile's Reach: the reworked new player experience zone. You can spend levels 1-10 here as you learn the ropes in a new area of the game, which even has a micro-dungeon.
For veterans, an endgame storyline in Icecrown is happening now, with story implications for Shadowlands. There's also a bunch of little extras like the ability to change your appearance for free at the barbershop. Oh and an update for the companion app is out before Shadowlands, which will add covenant functionality when the expansion arrives.
It's a lot! I'm diving back in now so I'm fully ready for Shadowlands. It was smart to push all of this stuff out of the gate first, so Blizzard has time to tweak it if need be. Right now race and faction changes, as well as character transfers are 30% off until November 15, which could be a hint as to when the expansion drops.
Shadowlands Pre-Expansion Patch [Battle.net]
Google has announced that it will be presenting three days of reveals pertaining to its cloud gaming platform, Stadia. The "Good Stuff" event will take place between October 20-22 and promises announcements, reveals, and "other surprises."
Additionally, three of the games showcased within the Good Stuff event will be made available to try right away. No other information was released or even teased, so it looks like... er... "Stadians" will have to keep their eyes peeled next week to see what the service has lined up for the fall season and beyond.
We are a little over a month away from Stadia's first anniversary. It's definitely fair to say that the service has had something of a subdued start in its freshman year, but it will be interesting to see how Google tackles the dawning new-generation, which will offer the subscription service its toughest opposition to date.
I still remember listening to "Simple and Clean" on a CD player on a school bus. Now I'm married and have a family. That's how long Kingdom Hearts has been with us, through thick and thin: through some of the thicker storylines and thinner narratives.
Those thin moments have made sequels and spinoffs a very hard sell for a lot of folks who were basically "done" with the series, but Melody of Memory — a true standalone rhythm title — could reawaken the beast.
Speaking in a candid statement on the Modus Games website, CEO Carlos Rocha Silva offered heartfelt thanks to fans who had stood by the beautiful-looking title during its lengthy development process, and for the feedback received from players in the wake of the game's recent console demos.
"We want Crisbell's adventure to be narrated in the best possible way, so we hope you take this extra time as the time we need to polish the experience we're sure you will all love and cherish," noted Silva. "What challenges will Crisbell and her teammates face? What battles will change time in the kingdom of Cristallys? Will the wrath of the Time Empress rule the world? We want you to enjoy finding all the answers that the Cris Tales universe is going to offer you."
Cris Tales, which tells the story of a young mage's quest to confront a powerful Time Empress, features exquisite hand-drawn art thematically inspired by Colombian culture and architecture. While on her epic quest, Crisbell will meet a cast of bright and expressive characters, who will join our hero as she explores the kingdom, battles foes, and rewrites fate itself.
While Cris Tales certainly looks the part, some players were left a little unenthused after trying out the aforementioned demo. Hopefully this postponed launch will give the developer the opportunity to fine-tune Cris Tales, ultimately delivering an ethereal adventure for the ages.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 did it: it managed to undo most of the ill-will from Robomodo's wonky Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD.
In addition to a loving amount of attention for the physics system, it also added in a few extras that helped folks enjoy these classics for a little longer. One of said extras is the create-a-park system, which players have been using to the fullest this past month or so.
These new creations are compliments of YouTuber IAN / Gunderstank_16, who crafted both Delfino Plaza from Mario Sunshine and Bomb-Omb Battlefield from Mario 64: with a creative spark from Super Mario 3D All-Stars, no doubt. The clips are particularly enjoyable as they're short and to the point, with classic Mario music to boot.
I mostly appreciate how some of the finer details of the stages (or hub, in the case of Delfino Plaza) were done, like the backend of Delfino and the pipes that allow your character to grind to different areas (no FLUDD here!). The Mario outfit is also a nice touch!
Electronic Arts has revealed a "Champion Edition" for Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends. The re-release, which will launch on PS4, PC, and Xbox One alongside the battle royale title's seventh season, will include all Legends to date, along with $100 worth of cosmetic content.
Apex Legends Champion Edition will feature the entire base roster, alongside post-launch DLC characters such as Wattson, Crypto, Loba, and Rampart, as well as season seven's as-yet-unannounced new Legend. In addition, the Champion Edition will come bundled with six Legendary skins, an exclusive Legendary gun charm, and a starting pot of 1,000 Apex Coins. Retailing for around $40, this release would be a perfect jumping-off point for those yet to experience the hectic warfare of the World's Edge.
In other news, the video game ratings board ESRB has now completed its certification process on the previously revealed Nintendo Switch port, which suggests that Switch fans will given the opportunity to become the last person standing very soon indeed.
Rebellion's award-winning shooter sequel Sniper Elite 4 has finally been given a release date for its long-awaited Switch port. The stealth-based shooter will launch on the Nintendo platform on November 17.
Available in both digital and physical form, Sniper Elite 4 puts players in the uber-patient boots of a highly skilled marksman, stationed in Nazi-occupied Italy during the thick of WWII. Through a series of sabotage, stealth, and assassination missions, it will be our hero's duty to turn the tide of the war, one bullet at a time.
The Nintendo Switch edition includes the story campaign of the PS4, PC, and Xbox One release - complete with its advanced sniper mechanics, authentic WWII weaponry, and notorious X-ray killcams - but will also add options for gyroscopic aiming, HD Rumble support, and local wireless connection for co-op and other multiplayer modes.
You can check out a new trailer for the Nintendo Switch release below.
Spelunky 2 players who expected to be able to waltz right through the first area were in for a rude awakening on day one, but how is Dwelling now that we've all had time to adjust and plan accordingly?
I've probably put 80 hours into the sequel. Despite my best efforts, I still get tripped up by Horned Lizards, Arrow Traps, Cave Moles, or some unholy combination of the three. The latter, in particular, are wily little buggers. They know how to weave through the dirt and strike at inopportune moments.
I'd go so far as to say that Dwelling deals more damage to me, on the whole, than just about any other "main path" area in Spelunky 2. The zone isn't filler, and I have a real love-hate relationship with it.
In a post on Steam today, designer Derek Yu said that he has heard players' feedback for Dwelling and the team is looking into implementing changes in a patch that's coming "soon" to PC and PS4.
Posted an update on Steam to thank everyone for a great launch and also talk about the work we're doing (or are planning on doing) after release! Online, Dwelling, localization... a lot of this pertains to PS4, too, of course! #Spelunky2https://t.co/cnQ9lov0mT— Derek Yu (@mossmouth) October 13, 2020
Specifically, he said they're testing "changes to the spawn rates of enemies and traps, particularly in 1-1 and 1-2," and "tweaks to 1-4" that "should make it more interesting." In the meantime, Yu suggested a tip to help make Dwelling less frustrating: don't feel obligated to kill every foe – sometimes it's better to avoid them – and "let them kill each other or trigger traps for you." We're tryin', Derek!
Yu and BlitWorks are also investigating another common complaint, one I definitely share: "having to wait for the [dynamically flowing] lava during a certain sequence in Volcana." This is a trickier issue to address, and it might not be tweaked. "Ultimately, Spelunky is a game that is designed to have some sharp edges in it, and there's always the risk of removing fun along with the frustration," he said.
As for the ongoing lack of online co-op in the PC version of Spelunky 2, there's still no "firm" ETA.
Even though Journey's End was supposed to cap off Terraria, fans have more content to rally around today. Re-Logic released update 1.4.1 on PC, and it's been dubbed the "journey's actual end."
The free update adds "pieces that were not quite ready in time for the Journey's End launch date – along with more fixes, balance tweaks, and a few new tidbits that we decided to add along the way."
Highlights include six Vanity Design Contest winners (like the TV Head and Timeless Traveler), a credits sequence with a new song (once you slay the Moon Lord for the first time), the Princess (an NPC who spawns after killing the Queen Slime), "a handful of new items," a visual tweak for better-looking armors and vanity items, and new achievements (like obtaining the Zenith and the Terraspark Boots).
A bunch of balance changes – based on player feedback and Re-Logic's "own post-launch thoughts" – also made it into the update. "A little bit of everything has been impacted," according to the team.
Fantastic news all-around for the PC community. The console versions will get there eventually.
You're the best around! Nothing's ever gonna keep you down! That $500 price tag for the Xbox Series X isn't gonna cause you any problems because you're getting that bad boy for free.
Microsoft keeps coming up with ways to give away the Xbox Series X to the elite of the elite. A couple weeks ago, we learned about the Xbox Hall of Fame where the most dedicated players could win the new console for their dedication to Xbox over the past seven years. There's also the ongoing Taco Bell promotion where only the most hardcore T-Bell fans (okay, maybe just the luckiest) can win an Xbox Series X.
Now, Microsoft is channeling the ghost of 1 vs. 100 (kind of) with a trivia show where you can win an Xbox Series X. It's a part of the Xbox FanFest which is now an ongoing digital (and eventually maybe physical) event. The first step is to register for FanFest which comes with access to "upcoming activities and offers." It's also good for 100 Microsoft Rewards points if that's a promotion you partake in.
The very first exclusive FanFest event is a 25,000-player trivia contest on October 23. Here's how it works: There are 10 rounds, each with 7 multiple choice questions. You have 15 seconds to answer. Each question is worth a maximum of 60 points, and that decreases by 4 points for every second that lapses. So, accuracy and speed are paramount. That's how you get around people just Googling the answers.
There are 5 knockout rounds. After Round 3, it goes from 25,000 players to 5,000 players. After Round 5, it drops from 5,000 to 1,000. So on and so on until only one person wins Round 10 and is crowned the Xbox Trivia Champ.
Here's what makes up the winner's prize package:
When you consider backward compatibility, a lot of times it's just nice to know the option is there. Like "I know I'm probably never playing the Deadliest Warrior fighting game again but at least I know I can if I want to."
Rock Band is kind of different. A lot of people have generations full of paid-for songs and closets full of plastic peripherals. It's the sort of game you definitely want to bring with you into the next generation because, if you couldn't, it's good enough to keep the old systems hooked up to keep playing.
The good news is that won't be necessary. Harmonix has published a post that explains Rock Band 4 is pretty much completely compatible with PS5 and Xbox Series X. Hardware, DLC, saves -- all of it. There's a weird limitation where PS5 detects the DualSense's controller microphone as the default mic; to combat that, you'll need to change your PS5 settings at the system level before using a USB mic.
Otherwise, Harmonix says that everything should work on next-gen consoles. If it ever worked with Rock Band 4 (including electronic drum kits and legacy wireless adapters), it'll still work on PS5 and Xbox Series X. There's even a note about how the DLC transfer stuff is much cleaner this time. It was, infamously, a trainwreck redownloading all your old DLC for use in Rock Band 4.
Speaking of old DLC, let's wrap this up with a PSA. The license to export Rock Band 3's songs into Rock Band 4 will expire on December 1. So, the next month-and-a-half serve as last call to export those --but you need the Rock Band 3 disc. After that, they're lost to Father Time (unless you feel like hooking up your old console just to play that game).
Rock Band 4 and Next-Gen Consoles [Harmonix]
We've been diligently tracking Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin for years on Destructoid because we enjoyed Edelweiss' last game, Astebreed, and we're into the idea of an action-game-meets-rice-growing-sim. I can't say I've played one of those before, but this one looks promising, and it has for a long, long time.
That said – and I cannot stress this enough – Sakuna's November 10 release date sure isn't helping anyone. It's launching the same day as the Xbox Series X and S, and just two days before the PlayStation 5, to say nothing of the big-hitters like Cyberpunk 2077 releasing throughout November.
It wasn't originally going to be this way (Sakuna was supposed to release last year), and there will still be people who are interested in this niche game who aren't going to have a new console gobbling up all of their free time next month, but dang, it stings to see this series of unfortunate events unfold.
Xseed is taking pre-orders for the physical Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 versions of Sakuna (it's also coming to Steam), and the publisher shared a new gameplay trailer to rekindle dwindling excitement. Let this article remind us to check it out as soon as we can. (In 2021, potentially?)
Best-case scenario, I hope Sakuna snowballs its way into sleeper-hit status.
You know what they say about expectations. Set them low and you might find yourself surprisingly pleased. Set them high and you're only setting yourself up for disappointment.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout is a licensed, B-tier, bargain bin sort of third-person shooter, and it might just the injection of nostalgia you need right now. Operation Blackout lets you play as both the heroes and the villains. Duke, Snake Eyes, Cobra Commander, Destro, Roadblock, Storm Shadow are 6 of the 12 playable characters.
What's more, the story campaign features split-screen co-op. There's also a PvP multiplayer mode that might prove fun because of every character's unique abilities.
But, I don't know -- I'm just basing all of these assumptions off of the 90 seconds worth of launch trailer that I watched. It doesn't necessarily look bad though, right? It looks better than you'd expect a G.I. Joe game to look? As Jordan mentioned in our announcement post, it's a low bar to clear.
G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout launched today on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One for $40. If G.I. Joe was a big part of your childhood, this game might have the chops to bring back some good memories and provide some entertainment. If G.I. Joe isn't something you care about, well, then this decent-seeming third-person shooter is a lot riskier of a proposition.
After several months in Early Access, Echtra Games is pushing Torchlight III out the door.
As a quick refresher, in my Steam Early Access review, I called Torchlight III more of a "spinoff than a numbered sequel." I said it didn't "do enough to encourage experimentation or creativity." It's a lighter, fluffier action-RPG, one that has a place but probably won't live up to long-time fans' expectations.
Did they turn it around for the 1.0 launch? Not exactly. My overall impression has barely budged.
Rockstar Games has added UK studio Ruffian Games to its ever-expanding portfolio, rebranding its latest acquisition "Rockstar Dundee," after the Scottish developer's home city. Rockstar Dundee joins a lengthy list of studios operating under Take-Two Interactive in the UK, Canada, and North America.
Founded in 2008, Ruffian Games has mostly operated alongside other developers, working on a range of various Microsoft Studios titles and ports. The studio is best known for its sci-fi open-world sequel Crackdown 2, which launched on Xbox 360 back in 2010. The Ruffian team includes developers gathered from studios such as DMA Design and Climax.
While the acquisition by Rockstar is a relatively new announcement, it seems that the two companies have been working together for at least the past year on a selection of unspecified titles.
The purchase of Ruffian Games will help bolster Rockstar's ranks as it enters a whole new generation of gaming, one which will no doubt see the blockbuster studio embark on new entries in franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Table Tennis*.
Rockstar buys Crackdown 2 developer Ruffian Games [The Gamer]
*Perhaps not this one.
One of Microsoft's pillars of next-gen is unifying the past two decades of Xbox. This morning, Microsoft detailed exactly how Xbox Series S/X make backward compatibility better. An underlooked part of that plan is the way it's dropping barriers for accessing games you've already played.
Two generations ago, Microsoft tied cloud saves behind maintaining an active Xbox Live Gold subscription. That requirement is going away. Moving forward, everyone will be able to access their Xbox 360 cloud saves without a premium subscription. "For those of you still enjoying Xbox 360, cloud saves will soon be free to all Xbox 360 users, making transferring your favorite games to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S even easier," Microsoft states.
The concept of free cloud saves shouldn't seem novel in 2020. Xbox One's cloud saves have always been free. Sony, however, has them locked behind a PS Plus subscription for PS4 saves. That's wild. That needs to change on PS5.
Anyway, it's a nice little accessibility thing for people who are still playing Xbox 360 stuff -- even if it feels like it came several years too late. Their saves are no longer being held hostage behind a paywall. The Xbox Series X has unleashed them and lets them run free across the cloud.
[Update: Halloween Terror 2020 is live in Overwatch with eight new skins, three of which (Fantasma Sombra, Stone Brigitte, and Ragdoll Echo) can be unlocked with Weekly Challenges – you just need score nine wins each week). Check out the gallery to see Tengu Genji and everyone else.]
For a while, Overwatch kept churning out events at such a rapid pace, it was fun to see what the team could come up with. Halloween Terror co-op content? Sure, I'll take it.
But Blizzard could only keep the "brand new" feel train running for so long, and now we've settled into a comfortable cadence of returning events. Halloween Terror returns annually, usually with small twists and new skins on top of the same wave-based foundation. The same thing is happening this year.
Over the weekend, Blizzard confirmed that Halloween Terror is coming on October 13. It'll run through November 3, and as usual, skins are at the forefront of the event. Previous limited-run skins will be available to pick up again (with old ones accompanied with a discount), as well as some new ones teased in the video below (the Echo skin is perfection).
Halloween Terror, without fail, gets me to play even a little bit more Overwatch each year. Recently, the Switch version has been calling to me!
Axiom Verge 2 is no longer a 2020 release – it's aiming for a first-half-of-2021 launch. In a blog post today, creator Tom Happ highlighted a few reasons why the sequel is taking longer than expected.
He says Axiom Verge 2's art style is "far more complex" since it's set on "a more earth-like planet with natural inclines and dips." Beyond that, the enemies have more advanced behaviors – some of them will scan the room for you and "give chase" – and there's a new feature to replace the Address Disruptor that "serves a similar function but in a way that gives the player more control over the outcome."
The original release window, fall 2020, was "based my prediction on the remaining features on my project list and how long those tasks took when I was making Axiom Verge," he explained.
Looking at Nintendo Switch exclusives and first-party games in particular for the rest of this year, the console's autumn lineup could be stronger – and I say that as someone who's getting Pikmin 3 Deluxe this month and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity next month. Axiom Verge 2 would've slotted in nicely.
Happ said he's "extremely grateful" that Axiom Verge fans have been hitting him up about the delay and expressing interest after all this time. "I had my concerns about whether people would even care at all about a sequel coming five years after the release of the original," he wrote. "Although it's taking longer than I originally hoped, I am going to do my best to make sure it's worth the wait."
Next year will be fine. In the end, I'm sure the sequel will be all the better for it.
The Legacy of 2020 Continues [Axiom Verge 2]
Feral Interactive has announced that excellent sci-fi sequel XCOM 2 Collection will be making its debut on iOS in November 2020. The iOS port of the 2018 Firaxis strategy release will include the War of the Chosen expansion and multiple add-on packs.
XCOM 2 Collection will support the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 Plus, and all models released following the iPhone X. For iPad users, you can enjoy turn-based alien warfare on all post-2017 iPad Pros, and all standard iPads released after 2019. You can download the title from the App Store from November 5, priced at around $25.
Of course, for regular PC and console folk, XCOM 2 Collection is already available on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Capcom has revealed that Street Fighter V's hoity-toity warrior Karin is set to receive a new costume in the near future. This one is something a little special, as it will see the upper-class madam kit herself out in the style of Hokuto, one of the lead characters from Arika's Fighting EX Layer.
As fighting game fans will be aware, this crossover is something of a "return to roots" deal for both franchises. Fighting EX Layer is a title spawned out of the characters that appeared in Arika's Street Fighter EX series in the mid-'90s, which re-imagined the classic 2D fighting title in 3D form.
We've seen a lot of memorable replicas of various Zelda: Breath of the Wild paraphernalia over the past three years or so, but sometimes a unique work still catches my eye.
This particular one is from Redditor thehyliann, showcasing their Great Flameblade life-size replica. While the actual quality of the sword is impressive enough, in the below video they show off how it can actually light up, just like how it glows in the game.
As a reminder, Great Flamblades are incredibly useful weapons that can get you out of a jam in Breath of the Wild: allowing you to burn enemy wooden shields or solve puzzles more easily when they require a flaming touch and you're out of elemental arrows. The pedestal that thehyliann puts the sword on is reminiscent of the ones that Link uses in his Hateno Village home: which is conveniently on the monitor in the video.
As far how long it took to make, thehyliann says it was around a week's worth of work. They used wood to make the handle and guard: a process they say that they will probably use again for potential future Frost and Thunder blades. The light is a cathode anode at low voltage; which is triggered by placing the sword on the pedestal.
The first version already sold on their Etsy store!
Back in May of this year, Capcom held a Twitter poll to gauge the most popular monsters in Monster Hunter World. Some of you may recall that Safi'jiiva won, with Yian Garuga coming in dead last. With Iceborne in the mix though, things have been shaken up quite a bit.
With four options in the new poll: now, Zinogre is in the lead as the most popular and most-hunted creature of Iceborne. Safi'jiiva is now rocking second place, with Velkhana in third and Fiercewater Nargacuga as the fourth-most popular.
As far as the least-popular monsters go, Brute Tigrex came in dead last on a separate poll as fifth place in the loser's bracket. Third place is Shara Ishvalda, second place is Scarred Yian Garuga and first place is Viper Tobi-Kadachi. For reference, the polls ran through 17:00 JST today, and just concluded around the time of publication.
If you're interested in comparing and contrasting the poll options for yourself, just head here and copy/paste the Japanese script into your search bar on this page. This handy database lists monster names in both languages!
While Zinogre is a fine creature to win the poll, I'm still partial to Safi'jiiva.
Monster Hunter JP [Twitter] Thanks John!
Devolver Digital has released a wacky teaser trailer for a brand new entry in strategy gaming series Reigns. Reigns: Beyond, once again developed by indie outfit Nerial, is currently in the works for release on Apple Arcade.
The excitable trailer does not feature any gameplay footage, but does see the series eschew its usual medieval aesthetic for a sci-fi setting. According to the blurb, Reigns: Beyond will see players take charge of an intergalactic rock band, managing their resources, equipment, and band-mates as they travel from gig to gig across the Milky Way and beyond.
Reigns: Beyond will include over 60 quirky characters, a whopping 1400 decision cards, and a stellar soundtrack composed by Grindstone's Sam Webster. No release date was announced but interested space rockers can pre-order the game over on the App Store.
Hi-Rez Studios is seemingly putting all of their money-making power into Smite, locking up deals for some fairly huge IPs to appear in the game. They just recently hosted Avatar: The Last Airbender and now they're going down the nostalgia hole (and further into their partnership with Nickelodeon) with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are all appearing in their turtle glory, as part of the upcoming November "TMNT Battle Pass." As usual, these wacky characters are reskins of existing Gods. So Leonardo will double as Osiris, Donatello is predictably Sun Wukong, Raphael is Loki (ha, he would be) and Michelangelo is Mercury. You can also opt for "radical" versions of their skins, which emulate their '90s look.
As a reminder, Hi-Rez also runs Paladins, Realm Royale and most recently: Rogue Company. They're fairly busy for a private company!
Borderlands fans planning on making the leap to next-gen platforms will be super stoked to hear that next-gen upgrades of Borderlands 3 will be ready to roll day-and-date alongside the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X hardware.
The next-gen ports of Borderlands 3 will feature 4K resolution and will run at 60 FPS. New options will allow for three-and-four player split-screen gameplay for local multiplayer modes. Pandora explorers upgrading to the PS5 and Xbox Series X port will be able to carry over their current accounts, complete will all gear, weapons, loot, and levels. Rad stuff. (It should be noted that all current Borderlands 3 physical disc owners will require a disc-enabled next-gen console to access some of the aforementioned features.)
Of course, those new to Borderlands 3 will be able to purchase the new edition of the game outright from the PlayStation or Microsoft store respectively. The next-gen edition of Borderlands 3 will launch November 10 on Xbox Series X and November 12/19 on PS5.
In one final piece of news, 2K Games will present a special edition of "The Borderlands Show" on October 29, offering the latest news pertaining to the franchise's future. The action will kick off at 09:00 PT / 12:00 ET / 17:00 BST on the official Borderlands Twitch channel.
Masahiro Sakurai is a madman when it comes to detail.
The extended look at Minecraft's Steve in Smash Ultimate is insane, especially the bit where Sakurai explains that every level had to be retooled to work with the character. Naturally, Steve's accompanying stage will be pretty detail-oriented as well.
Shared on the official Smash Bros. Twitter account, it has come to light that players will be able to hold certain button combinations to access specific biomes. As a reminder, biomes are separate areas in Minecraft that are randomly generated across a giant map; and host different resources and creatures.
To initiate the cheat-like functionality, you just hold down the button combinations above and select the stage. I'm going to be going with the Snowy Tundra fairly often! It's one of my favorite Minecraft biomes and Smash could use some more winter-themed stages.
As a reminder, Steve is out later today in Smash Ultimate.
Smash Bros. JP [Twitter]
When the next generation arrives, there's going to be a huge emphasis on older games.
That's just how Microsoft is rolling this year with a lack of some hard-hitting first-party exclusives: but it makes perfect sense. Microsoft has been committed to backward compatibility for some time now, striving to make a ton of super old games work on newer hardware, dating all the way back to the original Xbox. Today, they shared a bit more on how all of that is going to work.
Microsoft says that "backward compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X and S, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD." You don't need to toggle a special boost mode, it'll just work, with "higher and more steady framerates," with "maximum resolution and visual quality." The publisher also touts "significant reductions in load times," in part due to the SSD and the Velocity Architecture initiative.
They're also boasting "Auto HDR," which allows the Xbox Series S and X to automatically enhance games with HDR that didn't previously have access to it. Microsoft says developers don't even need to implement it manually, and games as far back as Fuzion Frenzy can take advantage of it.
Amazingly, Microsoft is saying that some games will have "double the framerate," using Fallout 4 as an example: going from 30 FPS to 60 FPS. This will be for "select titles," and "not applicable for many [games]," so keep that in mind. Given what we found out about Sekiro hitting 60 FPS, it might be limited to semi-recent offerings; despite being a different case. Other bonuses include improved textures and better resolution.
As for what you need to do? Nothing, basically. Once you hook up your Series X you can re-download old stuff or put in a compatible disc. That's the plan anyway, and it sounds pretty great.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity's marketing is really heating up, as Nintendo is starting to show off some of its unique bits.
While at first it seemed like just another Warriors game, Nintendo is leaning hard into the tie-in with Breath of the Wild. We just recently saw that there will be some heavy lore implications with the action-centric prequel, and now it looks like we're going to be getting a deeper look at the Yiga Clan.
While the Yiga were mostly a footnote in Breath of the Wild, featured in one major questline and a few sidequests, they're going to be front and center in Age of Calamity, if this new clip is anything to go by. We get to see the infamous Master Kohga, who will potentially play a greater role, as well as an "ominous figure" aiding the clan. I'm getting Agahnim vibes.
At the end of the video, two Yiga footmen are seen kneeling in front of a character with a tattered cloak and what might be a magical sextant. Talk about a tease!
As we move ever closer to the "next generation," Microsoft is gently reminding us that the transition will be a little smoother if you're an Xbox Game Pass subscriber.
This month you get a little bit of everything: strategy, action, JRPG, retro, puzzler and....sports? The first run, which kicks off on October 15, involves Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, which is a brand new game that's actually out on that same day (reminder: Microsoft is pushing brand new first-party releases as a part of the Game Pass program).
October 15 will also host Heave Ho, Katana Zero, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition and The Swords of Ditto. A week later, on October 21-22, ScourgeBringer, Cricket 19 and Supraland are out.
This drop might not seem exciting, but it's a sleeping giant of sorts. Tales of Vesperia is worth playing if you haven't experienced it before, and it feels right at home on the Xbox 360: a former bastion of JRPGs and the one to welcome Vesperia into the world originally. Katana Zero is also a great way to get sucked into an afternoon if you enjoyed Hotline Miami.
There's a lot to choose from! It's the calm before the November 10 Xbox Series X storm.
Coming Soon to Xbox Game Pass for Console and PC [Xbox Wire]
Almost a full year after release, Infinity Ward has finally added mode-specific install options to the PC edition of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The new feature will let players pick and choose which elements of the game they wish to have installed at any given time, in an effort to drive down the military shooter's unfathomable 225GB file size.
Once the patch goes live, PC users will be able to select the individual addition or removal of huge "Data Packs," including the single-player campaign, Spec Ops, multiplayer, and the standalone battle royale title, Warzone. This will allow CoD players to free up precious HDD space for other games and applications... Perhaps Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War?
On a personal note, while this multi-install feature has been available on the PS4 edition for some time, I have run into multiple problems when it comes to reinstalling Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The title will often ask for missing data packs, then flatly refuse to download them when requested, even after a full reinstall. A quick Google search sees that I'm not alone in running into this frustrating issue, so here's hoping the PC edition will not suffer the same pitfalls.
There are a lot of schools of thought when it comes to microphone tech, but I've been a Blue (da ba dee da ba daa) man for many years now.
The now-Logitech-owned company has a penchant for simplistic designs that are not only effective from a recording standpoint, but also aesthetically pleasing: if you've watched a video podcast or stream, you've probably seen a Blue microphone at some point.
The Yeti X has been one of Blue's top pieces of hardware for a while now: and that family is about to expand later this month with the very weird, yet very interesting "World of Warcraft Edition" Yeti X.
Over the weekend, modder Lance McDonald showed Bloodborne running at 60 frames per second on a PlayStation 4 Pro – the culmination of lots and lots of tinkering. It's as beautiful as we all imagined.
Before you get any funny ideas, McDonald says that "out of respect," he won't release his unofficial high-frame-rate patch until after the PS5 is out in November and Sony has "made it clear whether or not Bloodborne will be enhanced on that system in any way." If an official patch never comes, "you'll need a way to run unsigned code on a PlayStation console to use the utility once it's released."
As for how any of this is possible, well, his 15-minute video is a great showcase.
This modification was far from a simple flip of a switch with debug tools to uncap the 30FPS limit. "A vast array of features such as cloth physics, particle and special effects, environmental wind, enemy patrol pathing, motion blur, sampling rate, and elevator movement speed" needed "manual patching."
McDonald was able to fine-tune everything by studying From Software's PS4 Pro patch for Dark Souls III and applying his own "performance-focused optimizations" that weren't in that game or Sekiro.
As a trade-off, the rendering resolution was dropped from a native 1080p to 720p. "The engine still scales this to 1080p for the final video output" but it has an impact on "the in-game visuals and UI."
For a full technical rundown, check out Digital Foundry's analysis from May. "A lot of you might have already seen me discussing this with Digital Foundry some time ago," he said this weekend on Reddit, "but I finally spent time to test the entire game a few times through and filmed a ton of footage."
The 60FPS footage was captured in a bunch of areas. According to McDonald, the frame rate holds up consistently "across the majority of the game's campaign, including The Old Hunters expansion."
Pressed for time, I'd suggest skipping to the 5:30 mark to see a boss montage (with major spoilers) that really highlights the patch's dramatic improvement. These scenes – combined with the best-in-class soundtrack – make me want to drop what I'm doing and start a Bloodborne replay right this second.
I truly hope we can get an official PS5 patch. This game-of-a-generation deserves it.
Lance McDonald [Twitter]
Everything, at all times, is dangerous in a battle royale. Everyone has the explicit goal of killing you, and that doesn't make for a lot of downtime and easy breathing. Rarely, though, is the environment trying to kill you too.
PUBG's Season 9 introduces a very unstable battleground. A new map called Páramo is being added. Páramo takes place in the Andes mountains on an active volcano. Battle Royale meets Dante's Inferno.
Páramo is the first dynamic map in PUBG. The developer hasn't really indicated exactly what "dynamic" means in this context. It's presumed that the volcano may or may not blow, and the lava it spews will create unique environmental hazards. However it works, it's touted that every game will be different.
Sonic, despite being a destroyer of chili dogs, keeps a pretty trim figure. He gets the cardio in, putting in enough Miles to warrant as many cheat days as he needs.
That's why it's moderately disturbing to see Sonic within the framework of a rotund Bean. Gaze upon this weirdness:
Fighting game rosters are always fascinating to me. For an industry where fans are always demanding "new, new, new," it's the one genre where old is good. Old characters, old stages, people just want to see everything they're already familiar with plus a couple of new additions to separate the new entry from the old one.
Not every character can be in every entry, and as we've seen in the past with multiple fighting games, those missing favorites can cause an uproar amongst the fanbase. And with social media, that uproar is louder and more annoying than ever. But I get it. Milenna is a great kharacter with a great backstory and mouth so big it makes Steven Tyler's lips look like Betty Boop's.
That's just one of the topics on this episode of Podtoid. CJ, Dan, Charlotte, and Chris come together to talk John Rambo, FIFA 21, Watch Dogs 2, the Monster Hunter movie, Resident Evil reboot, beaches full of drugs, and home baking. All that, plus Michelle Rodriguez's pleather pants, on Podtoid Episode 462.
I really enjoy the Star Wars universe. Not to the point where I know anything about the extended universe, but I like all the movies in their own way. Yes, even the prequels and The Last Jedi. So I'm not the expert that is going to either gush or nitpick when Squadrons throws some new lore my way, but I will admit that I got rather excited when Admiral Ackbar was giving me directions. "I know that guy!" I yelled to no one in particular.
What I also really enjoy is tight, small experiences that do one thing and do it well. This basically summarizes most of the indie scene, but Squadrons also fits the bill. At $40, and with this much polish, it's easy to find an enjoyable experience here.
The first time was the charm and the second time was also the charm, so there's no need to go back to the well a third time. At least not yet.
Moon Studios, who's best-known for Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, isn't doing the 2D metroidvania thing again for its third game. Late last year, we learned through a job listing that Moon's next game will be a next-gen 3D action RPG that's inspired by the likes of Zelda and Diablo. Now, the developer is starting to talk about it just a little bit.
In an interview with The Gamer, Ori lead artist Daniel van Leeuwen says "The new project we're working on is a very different project to what Ori is. So for sure we'll be able to use a lot of things that we weren't able to use in Ori, just because it's a 3D environment. And we're aiming for a few years out so yes, we are looking at a lot of these next-gen techniques."
He continued "I think at Moon we just want to make something that stands out from the crowd, to really drive a strong artistic feeling, and for that we'll have to utilize a lot of techniques that we haven't before."
That probably signals the end of the road for Ori, at least for now. Moon's next game is also breaking free from Xbox exclusivity, as Private Division is publishing it. Microsoft owns the rights to Ori, so there's no chance this action RPG is the evolution of the little woodland creature -- unless Moon has enough cash to buy the property.
The metroidvania platformer market was crowded but Ori came along and towered over most everyone else. The action RPG market is in a similar place. There's no reason to think Moon can't do it again.