Contest: Win a Switch copy of Yes, Your Grace from Super Rare Games

In today's contest, you can win a Switch copy of kingdom management sim Yes, Your Grace from Super Rare Games!

Super. Rare. Games. These are all words to describe the limited-stock releases from physical media pioneers Super Rare Games. You could probably use a whole lot more, but these just seem to fit so well!

They're back at it, this time putting Yes, Your Grace on a Switch cart. If you're into playing king for a day, then this one should be right up your alley. Come win a copy, knave.

Contest: Win a Switch copy of Yes, Your Grace from Super Rare Games screenshot


Half-Life: Alyx now has three hours of commentary waiting for you

In-game commentaries are synonymous with Valve, but due to the rough year we've all been through, Half-Life: Alyx wasn't able to launch with the Developer Commentary fans have come to expect.

Almost eight months later – and just in time for game-of-the-year discussions to begin in earnest – Valve has added the commentary feature to Alyx with a free update released today on Steam.

There are caveats – as Valve admits, the team had to use "closets and blanket forts" instead of its "comfortable high-quality recording studio" due to COVID – but there are over three hours of behind-the-scenes tidbits. The commentary touches on "art, animation, rendering, sound, and more."

Basically, it's perfect for your inevitable next replay – just start a new save with Developer Commentary toggled on. According to Valve, there are subtitles for English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Russian, Polish, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.

I always appreciate sincere, meaningful commentary tracks, but there's something extra special about the hands-on nature of Valve's narrations. In this case, there are 147 "points of interest" to find.

Commentary Update [Steam]

Half-Life: Alyx now has three hours of commentary waiting for you screenshot

Phil Spencer has a Halo Craig meme t-shirt

Xbox head Phil Spencer has been making the rounds as of late. That's bound to happen when you're in the middle of launching a new generation of hardware. We've learned stuff like: He's played a good chunk of Elden Ring and is evidently impressed by it; he's not going to disclose console sales numbers anymore; and, contrary to earlier reports, Xbox isn't actively pursuing any Japanese studios.

This update is far less important than any other tidbit to come out of those chats. As part of the lengthy GameSpot interview, Spencer revealed that Xbox employees made Craig t-shirts following the July 2020 showcase. Craig is a brute in Halo Infinite who achieved meme status for all the wrong reasons. He became the literal face of the "Halo Infinite's visuals seem bad" crowd.

Spencer says "We actually have these t-shirts, I didn't wear it today, which is Craig's face. I love that the team embraced that, it was just so funny. Yeah. I think Craig will be around for many, many decades in the Halo lore. You'll find his pictures all over the place. Yeah. Probably in games somewhere."

Craig will live on in games but also emblazoned across Phil Spencer's chest. Show us the Craig shirt, Phil. Wear it to the next E3 press conference. Go Full Peter Moore and get it tattooed on your arm. If you can't laugh at yourself...

Phil Spencer On Xbox And Japan, Halo's Future, Playing Elden Ring, And More [GameSpot]

Phil Spencer has a Halo Craig meme t-shirt screenshot

Review: The Pathless

When Abzu came out in 2016, I blew through it in a day. While it had its limitations in terms of storytelling, I mean that more as a compliment, as studio Giant Squid clearly had a knack for creating beautiful worlds worth exploring.

Four years later, and The Pathless feels like an extension of all of that groundwork.

Review: The Pathless screenshot


You don't want to miss picking up The Textorcist for free this week

You can choose to look at the weekly Epic freebie as a glass half-full or half-empty situation this week. On one hand, we're only getting one free game. That's how it went last week too, when we only got Dungeons 3. Looking a gift horse in the mouth and all, we've been trained to expect two!

But, on the other hand, it's a damn good freebie. Typing-action meets bullet-hell in The Textorcist. Use your WPM to fight off your demons, use your arrow keys to keep from catching an evil spell with your face. The Textorcist is certainly unique in the way it makes you swap between typing and moving, but it probably won't do your typing technique any favors.

Epic has another niche game on deck for next week, it's just a much more expansive niche. Elite Dangerous will be free on the Epic Games Store starting on November 19. Now that the Horizons expansion is permanently part of the base game, anyone who picks this up will more or less have the complete Elite Dangerous experience. It's a smart way to expand the userbase before the Odyssey update arrives in 2021.

We're back to two games next week, as Elite Dangerous is accompanied by puzzle battle/visual novel hybrid The World Next Door.

The Textorcist [Epic Games Store]

You don't want to miss picking up The Textorcist for free this week screenshot

Review: Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Oh hey, didn't notice you there: I was too busy picking up my Sackboy: A Big Adventure co-op partner (read: my wife) and throwing her into the abyss.

How did everything go after that was all said and done? Pretty good actually!

Review: Sackboy: A Big Adventure screenshot


A whole lot of you are playing Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Just like Phil Spencer and the new Xbox, Ubisoft isn't interested in talking sales. Assassin's Creed Valhalla came out Tuesday, and Ubisoft says that it already has twice the number of players that Assassin's Creed Odyssey launched with.

Even then, we have no firm numbers. Ubisoft only confirms that Valhalla doubled Odyssey's launch day player count, but doesn't mention what that number is. It's data that's seemingly positive but impossible to draw any real conclusions from.

The reason Ubisoft isn't giving sales specifics is because a good chunk of Valhalla's players probably didn't buy the game. Assassin's Creed Valhalla is available on subscription-based streaming services Google Stadia, Ubisoft+, and Amazon Luna. We don't know how many people are playing on those platforms.

But then again, it's very feasible that Valhalla has outsold Odyssey to this point, just not two-to-one. When you factor in that Valhalla's one of the most highly-touted next-gen games during a console launch and an active pandemic that's keeping people indoors, it seems like a formula for success. 

I guess the takeaway is that Assassin's Creed Valhalla is doing fine. We won't know how fine until February when (and if) Ubisoft gives sales figures as part of its third-quarter financial report. But, given this vague and incomplete information, Valhalla's doing fine enough.

A whole lot of you are playing Assassin's Creed Valhalla screenshot

Ghost of Tsushima sold five million copies and I'm excited about its future

In case you needed more affirmations that Ghost of Tsushima was a big success for Sucker Punch Productions and Sony, here's an updated sales figure: five million copies since launch day on July 17.

As for what those sales actually mean, in a tweet today, head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios Hermen Hulst once again called Ghost of Tsushima the "fastest-selling first-party original PS4 game."

"We're thrilled and absolutely blown away by all of the support," said Sucker Punch.

I wrapped up Jin's journey wanting a sequel, and those feelings were only cemented by the free post-launch multiplayer Legends mode that leans into the supernatural, fun loot, and new mechanics.

Sucker Punch invested so much energy into Ghost of Tsushima that it's hard to imagine the studio will suddenly move onto something new, especially in light of the game's ongoing commercial success. The inFamous series branched out in unexpected ways, and I'm hoping history will repeat itself.

Apart from a potential sequel, I wouldn't mind seeing even more of Legends – it's that good.

@hermenhulst [Twitter]

Ghost of Tsushima sold five million copies and I'm excited about its future screenshot

Deadly samurai Kikunojo is headed to One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4

Bandai Namco has revealed the newest character headed to One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4. The beautiful and deadly samurai, Kikunojo, will be the second warrior released as part of the hack 'n' slash adventure's third character pack.

Kikunojo of the Lingering Snow - known as simply "Kiku" to most - is a Wano County samurai who serves as one of the "Nine Red Scabbards," a dangerous gathering of fighters who work for the Kozuki Family. Despite her towering height, Kiku's demure appearance lures in foes, who soon come to regret their decisions once they fall afoul of her devastating sword skills.

Deadly samurai Kikunojo is headed to One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 screenshot


Review: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

Kingdom Hearts!

I can just say that phrase, "Kingdom Hearts," and it'll whip a lot of people up into a frenzy. Let's madlibs this: Kingdom Hearts....what? I bet everyone here can come up with 1000 different words to describe this insane franchise.

Kingdom now a rhythm game? That might not have been on anyone's mind before Melody of Memory was announced.

Review: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory screenshot


Xbox Series X and PS5 will be (very briefly) back in stock at Walmart on launch day

[Update: Any luck out there? Getting a console in your cart is only half the battle in this hectic age. Walmart will restock its PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition consoles soon – try those links.]

Is it better to know precisely when to show up for a pre-order, or do you prefer having little to no notice before they go live, forcing everyone to uniformly scramble? If you've tried to get your hands on an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 over the past couple of months, I'm sure you have a stance on this topic.

Walmart will have another batch of consoles in stock on their respective launch days: November 10 (Xbox Series X) and November 12 (PS5). You'll need to try your luck online again with the internet at large, though – there aren't going to be any in-store launch-day orders due to, well, you know.

These are the specific start times. (Don't tell the bots.)

Xbox Series X ($499) and Xbox Series S ($299)

PlayStation 5 ($499) and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition ($399)

Remember when Walmart went rogue and kicked off PS5 pre-orders early? It's tough to forget!

I'm curious to see how this shopping experience compares. It's also worth reminding that the cheaper PS5 Digital Edition will probably be much trickier to secure than the model with a disc drive.

In retrospect, I almost miss waiting in lines. Almost.

Xbox Series X and PS5 will be (very briefly) back in stock at Walmart on launch day screenshot

Arkane's Deathloop goes guns blazing on May 21, 2021

The cat's out of the bag, and good thing the cat's got nine lives. Arkane's Deathloop and its endless lather, rinse, repeat cycle is set for next May. Except this isn't shampoo. It's murder and death.

Yesterday, the New Zealand PlayStation Store accidentally outed Deathloop's May 21, 2021 release date. Maybe it's because of the International Date Line or maybe it's because someone just can't read a calendar, but that date was perfectly accurate. Bethesda confirmed it today.

Six months out from Deathloop, this Groundhog-Day-but-with-assassins game is in a curious position. It's a timed PS5 console exclusive even now that Microsoft is in the process of buying Bethesda. Once that expires -- and it's reported to be a yearlong period -- it's almost certainly coming to Xbox (and Xbox Game Pass). The PC version launches on May 21, 2021 alongside the PS5 version.

It's also worth noting that Deathloop will retail for $60 instead of the inflated $70 price tag that some PS5 games have. What's the logic, you ask? Who knows. It seems like we're just going to have to live with prices being all over the place until everything balances out and something -- probably $70 if we're being realistic -- becomes the norm.

Of course, you could pay more. Deathloop has a deluxe edition that comes with all sorts of in-game bonuses like a snazzy James Bond-like tuxedo. There's also a standard edition that has throw-in items for people who pre-order. The standard edition, as previously mentioned, is $60 while the deluxe edition is $80. Pictures of all the bonuses are in the gallery below.

Deathloop Coming May 2021 [Bethesda]

Arkane's Deathloop goes guns blazing on May 21, 2021 screenshot


You can grab Bugsnax for PS5 with PlayStation Plus even if you don't have the console yet

If you're anything like me, you're looking to get weird with Bugsnax after blowing through Demon's Souls, Miles Morales, and Astro's Playroom as your first PS5 games. I've got it all mapped out.

The funky first-person adventure game has elements of Pokémon Snap and Viva Piñata that speak to me, and while I was always planning to get around to playing it eventually, Bugsnax has moved up to Spot #4 thanks to its inclusion in PlayStation Plus. You can and should grab it now at no extra cost.

Even if you don't own a PlayStation 5, you can redeem the PS5 copy of Bugsnax for your future library. The offer will last through January 4, 2021, so if you're the procrastinating type, that's your deadline.

It feels good to have a few worthwhile titles in my PS5 library already. I hope the pace continues.

You can grab Bugsnax for PS5 with PlayStation Plus even if you don't have the console yet screenshot


King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match for Steam now has rollback netcode

One of the greatest fighting games of all time just got that little bit better. Developer Code Mystics has released a new update for the Steam port of The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match, adding rollback netcode to the three-on-three tag-fighting classic.

Originally released for PlayStation in 2009, KOF02 UM can be considered a celebration of sorts for the legendary SNK franchise's halcyon days. Boasting an incredible roster of over 65 characters, KOF02 UM compiles the greatest fighters from The King of Fighters '94-'02 in one mighty battlebowl. On a personal note, it's one of my personal favorites in the franchise, and a regular "go-to" whenever I settle down for some 2D punchin'.

King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match for Steam now has rollback netcode screenshot


Minecraft Dungeons will support cross-play from November 17

Mojang has announced that its cubic fantasy adventurer Minecraft Dungeons will be adding cross-play support next week via a scheduled update. As of November 17, players on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Switch will be able to rally together for exciting escapades within the creepy caverns of the Overworld.

Released back in May, Minecraft Dungeons won over a loyal army of followers with its charming and cutesy aesthetic, as well as its stripped-down approach to the dungeon-crawling genre, making it an ideal adventure title for families and kids to enjoy together.

December will also see the launch of third DLC expansion Howling Peaks, bringing new dungeons, enemies, gear, and missions to the title. The continued drip-feed of continued, coupled with the cross-play update, should help consolidate the Minecraft Dungeons playerbase and thus extend the title's life-span for the foreseeable future.

Minecraft Dungeons will support cross-play from November 17 screenshot


World of Warcraft Shadowlands' pre-launch event is live, and it's pretty fun

World of Warcraft's pre-launch event for the Shadowlands expansion has arrived, and it's running through November 23, the day the new storyline launches.

In case you haven't been following along with WoW's age-old storyline (which is entirely possible!), Sylvanas has unleashed undead hell on earth (Azeroth), and it's your job, on both sides of Alliance or Horde coin, to stop it.

So long as you're level 50 you can join the fight against the undead scourge, earning rewards in the process. Or, you can become a mindless member of the undead army (well, even more mindless if you already are part of the undead race) for fun: naturally, it isn't permanent.


World of Warcraft Shadowlands' pre-launch event is live, and it's pretty fun screenshot


Phil Spencer casts doubt on report that Xbox is looking to buy Japanese studio

Xbox vice-president of gaming, Phil Spencer, has suggested that there is no truth to the recent reports that Xbox is in the market to purchase a Japanese development studio. In a recent interview with GameSpot, Spencer noted that while the company is looking to expand its relationships with a wider variety of game developers, an outright purchase is not on the cards.

"We're usually not out there... I say I don't think so, I mean, I'm not in every meeting that every team has. I'll say not from me," said Spencer. "Most of the opportunities that we've had to date have been for a long-lasting relationship. So I don't think we're out there with our business cards throwing them out on the corner trying to find people."

"I've talked about my affinity for Japanese studios and the thinking back in the day when we had more games in Japan created as part of our first-party. I'm excited when the deal closes to spend more time with Tango (Gameworks) and the work that they're doing. So it's an area I'm interested in, but no, I don't think. That's not accurate."

Last week saw the launch of new hardware Xbox Series X/S, thrusting the long-time developer/publisher into a brand new generation of gaming. Having played second fiddle to other brands during the previous generation, Xbox will be looking to go all-out to re-capture its glory days in the coming months and years, and expanding its portfolio of partner studios will certainly help the green-and-black brand's efforts to achieve this.

Xbox boss denies report of Japanese studio acquisition talks [Eurogamer]

Phil Spencer casts doubt on report that Xbox is looking to buy Japanese studio screenshot

Here's how World Tendency works in the Demon's Souls remake

"World Tendency" is one of the most esoteric aspects of Demon's Souls: perhaps one of the earliest examples of the "it takes a village" mentality when it came to community-driven education in the Souls series.

While World Tendency is back in the PS5 remake, there's one big change: you can plainly see it on a menu!

Here's how World Tendency works in the Demon's Souls remake screenshot


Hitman franchise celebrates 20th anniversary, which entry is your favorite?

This month marks an incredible two decades since Agent 47 first strode into our lives - poorly disguised - before leaving us for dead in a convenient laundry hamper. Yes, the Hitman franchise turns 20-years-old this month. That's 20 years of silent assassinations, unfortunate accidents, perfectly-fitting discarded clothes and, of course, rubber duckies.

IO Interactive first introduced us to The ICA and its top operative, 47, way back in PC release Hitman: Codename 47 (2000) - a title now so utterly quaint in its clunkiness that modern eyes might wonder how the franchise found the success it enjoys today. In the ensuing decades, Hitman has remained relevant thanks to its ability to adapt with the changing face of video games, adopting a successful episodic approach with popular reboot Hitman (2016) which began the still ongoing World of Assassination arc.

Hitman franchise celebrates 20th anniversary, which entry is your favorite? screenshot


Nintendo Download: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

This week the shining star of the Switch eShop is easily Kingdom Hearts; Melody of Memory, the new rhythm game in a recent line of rhythm romps from Square Enix. Amazingly, the Switch edition is actually getting an extra feature: You can play local multiplayer with multiple pieces of hardware. That doesn't happen too often.

Just Dance 2021 is also back, and thankfully we didn't have to see a weird stage demonstration from Ubisoft at E3 this year to welcome it. It's almost like that portion of the show is a summoning circle so that whatever Faustian bargain was struck for the song licensing deals can be completed.

Outside of that, it's business as usual for the Switch eShop. There's some ports, a few re-releases, you know: stuff before the storm that is a first-party Nintendo release. Age of Calamity is just over a week away.

Nintendo Download: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory screenshot


Lead on, adventurer: Demon's Souls launches today on PS5

Today is a pretty big day for video games in general and the new generation in particular. Today not only sees the launch of Sony's brand new gaming platform, PlayStation 5, (at least in some territories), but also the highly anticipated remake of FromSoft's 2009 adventure, Demon's Souls.

As one of the few console exclusives to have launched in this busy fortnight, Demon's Souls is set to be one of the strongest next-gen releases right out of the gate. Bluepoint Games' remake sees the hard-as-nails dungeon crawler re-imagined for the powerful PS5 hardware, rebuilt from the ground up with stunning 4K visuals, super-smooth load times, enhanced controls, and immersive Tempest 3D audio.

Demon's Souls promises to deliver an incredible and atmospheric experience to both series veterans and those entering the kingdom of Boletaria for the first time. No doubt Sony is hoping that this long-wishlisted release will offer an early example of what the PS5 is capable of and, naturally, help shift some high-tech hardware units from day one.

You can check out a brand new trailer below.

Lead on, adventurer: Demon's Souls launches today on PS5 screenshot


(Update) Pokemon Go to Pokemon Home transferring is out and it's completely a bummer

[Update: Niantic has lessened the requirements for transferring, as trainers at level 33 or above can now access the feature.]

Mobile gaming has gotten out of control in the past 10 years or so. While there are plenty of premium experiences, some studios have chosen to monetize every aspect of their game while creating a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), among other tricks to get people to spend money. Pokemon Go just added Pokemon Home functionality, but as expected, it's bad.

Let's start with the basics first. So, as of today, Go-to-Home transfer is in. Right now it's only available for level 40 and above trainers, but it will be rolling out eventually for everyone. The gist is that you can move over creatures to Home (and thus, Sword and Shield) via the mobile edition, but the process is governed by a very stingy "transporter energy" meter.

As discovered by webmaster Joe Merrick, it will take roughly seven days to charge your transporter after it has been consumed. If you don't want to wait that long, pay up! It costs 1000 coins (about $10, the way microtransactions are priced) to fully recharge the meter. The meter is drastically lowered if you transfer shinies or high-value Pokemon. One user estimated that with 500 shinies, it would take 100 weeks (about two years) to bring over their collection without paying up.

It's frankly, absurd. The idea is that you're transferring characters into Sword and Shield, ultimately, which is a premium game that you already spent money on. Then, users are expected to pay a fee for the premium version of Home. Now you're manipulated into spending cash to transfer everything in a reasonable amount of time in Go; after you've spent years acquiring an army of creatures.

This whole debacle is extremely 2020.

(Update) Pokemon Go to Pokemon Home transferring is out and it's completely a bummer screenshot


Xbox is done divulging console sales numbers

We'll be able to estimate but never truly know how many units the Xbox Series X or the Xbox Series S moved. It could be one, it could be one hundred billion. It could be somewhere in the middle.

Microsoft's done disclosing how many consoles it sells simply because that's not a relevant metric for Xbox anymore. More is better -- yes, obviously -- but Xbox head Phil Spencer says that's not the game division's primary focus anymore.

In an interview with The Guardian, Spencer commented "I know it seems manipulative and I'll apologize for that, but I don't want my team's focus on [overall console sales]. The primary outcome of all the work that we do is how many players we see, and how often they play. That is what drives Xbox."

Instead, Spencer will put the spotlight on active players and subscribers. Considering that Xbox's strategy is for people to be able to play as much as possible on any platform, which is something that Xbox Game Pass greatly enables, it makes sense that Spencer isn't interested in talking hardware count. It's why Microsoft has started divulging Game Pass subscriber totals in recent financial reports.

It also probably doesn't behoove Microsoft to talk sales numbers. The goal for Microsoft is to get people in the Xbox ecosystem, whether that be on console, PC, or mobile. Xbox actively gives people options that discourage buying new hardware. Sony, on the other hand, has plenty of games that you need a PS5 to play. The companies have different goals and those diverging directions almost certainly means that PS5 will outsell Xbox Series X.

However, Spencer guarantees that he won't have a change of heart if Xbox does actually start to outperform PlayStation. "I can promise you I won't do that," Spencer says regarding divulging sales figures in this hypothetical scenario. He remains firm that player counts paint a better picture for how Xbox is doing. Given the way that Xbox has spent the last few years positioning itself, his logic checks out.

Xbox's Phil Spencer: 'We're not driven by how many consoles we sell' [The Guardian]

Xbox is done divulging console sales numbers screenshot

Rocket League's toughest seasonal challenges just got a lot less ridiculous

Anyone who found them fretting over Rocket League's revamped challenge system can breathe a lot easier. Psyonix effectively nerfed some of the toughest challenges of the season so that they're much more attainable.

Alongside Rocket League going free-to-play, Psyonix overhauled and expanded how challenges work. Now, there's a set of seasonal challenges that accompany the usual weekly challenges. The season challenges are divided into four tiers, and Psyonix has been unlocking new tiers on a schedule. There are also free and premium challenges based on whether you bought the current Rocket Pass (which is Rocket League's battle pass). All of this goes toward earning XP and getting item drops.

There's incentive to knock out all the season's challenges because Psyonix has promised a reward to anyone who completes them all. Two of them have had some players a bit overwhelmed, though: Reach the quarterfinals of four tournaments, and accumulate 200 assists (in approximately a month). Getting to the quarterfinals requires winning the first two rounds in a Psyonix-scheduled tournament.

Today, Psyonix has changed those requirements. Now, you only need to simply participate in four tournaments and net 50 assists. The former ensures that there's less of a skill barrier (especially for people who don't play 3s), and the latter makes the late-season stuff less of a grind. Truly, 200 is a lot to rack up in a month unless you play a ton.

As Rocket League navigates and matures through free-to-play, Psyonix will get a better feel for how this should all work. Chalk these too-tough challenges up to growing pains. Now, they're a lot more reasonable.

Happening Now: Changes to Season 1 Challenges + Tournaments Feedback [reddit]

Rocket League's toughest seasonal challenges just got a lot less ridiculous screenshot

Review in Progress: Godfall

When Godfall was first announced, it had a few telltale signs of an apocryphal "games as a service" crash: Gearbox and a loot-based focus were enough to raise some eyebrows.

As it turns out, there are no microtransactions in the game (that's good!). But, it is one of the few $70 next-gen titles (that's bad!). Let's see how it fares.

Review in Progress: Godfall screenshot


The next time you play Bloodstained, make a new save to play as Bloodless

Every now and then, I catch a passing glimpse of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and I think "Yeah, I could obsessively play that again." The moment hasn't come yet, but one of these days, it will.

Some of you might be at that point with the arrival of Bloodless, a boss-turned-bonus-playable-character. You can play as her with a new save file named "BLOODLESS." (Classic!) As for the lady in red's stat progression, be on the lookout for crystal globes to earn "new skills and improve her attributes."

This update is live on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and – you know how this goes – it's coming to Nintendo Switch in December. The developers also worked in bug fixes for Bloodstained's Randomizer Mode.

It's worth mentioning that Bloodless is bonus content that's separate from the "previous development roadmap." With that in mind, the game is still getting a new "unnamed playable character."

Realistically, I'm probably going to hold off until then.

The next time you play Bloodstained, make a new save to play as Bloodless screenshot

Review: Destiny 2: Beyond Light

Amid some connection issues, I've been blasting my way through Destiny 2's Beyond Light expansion.

How are things going? Well, about the same as they have been for a while.

Review: Destiny 2: Beyond Light screenshot


Halo TV show gets the Cortana actress from the games

Showtime's Halo television series was poised to make a grave mistake. It was going to cast Cortana as someone other than the voice we've heard in our ears across every mainline Halo game. What a catastrophe that'd have been.

Because of COVID-19, the near-error has been righted. IGN reveals that the Halo TV show has recast the role of Cortana with the role's original voice actress. Originally, Natascha McElhone was set to play both Dr. Catherine Halsey and Cortana. However, the pandemic imposed scheduling problems that forced McElhone to back out of the Cortana role.

Now, Jen Taylor is taking over. Taylor is the most recognizable Cortana, as she has served as the voice actress in every major Halo game. She's also the voice of Cortana as the virtual assistant on Windows devices.

This iteration of the Halo TV show was announced more than two years ago as a 10-episode season that'd be produced as a collaborative effort between Amblin Entertainment and 343 Industries. There's no real indication as to how far along into production the project is, meaning we have no idea when it'll actually premiere.

Halo TV Series Recasts Cortana With Original Voice Actress [IGN]

Halo TV show gets the Cortana actress from the games screenshot

Review in Progress: Sackboy: A Big Adventure

LittleBigPlanet has a really special place in my heart for many reasons, but chiefly, it was one of the first games that my wife and I were excited for as a couple. When we were dating we'd introduce each other to all sorts of oddities and new experiences, but when that first LBP preview hit in a magazine we picked up, it was something we could share together.

Over the last 12 years, somehow this underdog is still alive after being bounced around multiple developers and subject to several spinoffs. Now it's back, in adventure form: and we're playing it together once again.

Review in Progress: Sackboy: A Big Adventure screenshot


Grounded is worth checking out again, especially if you just got an Xbox Series X/S

I knew this update was coming, but I'm still kind of shocked now that it's here: Grounded has a massive koi fish watching over the unnerving pond biome, and it's giving me nervous Sekiro flashbacks.

Rather than just setting the scaly fiend loose and calling it a day, the large-scale update includes more in-depth swimming mechanics (with recipes for items like the Gill Tube rebreather and Fluid Flippers) and new overgrown foes to stare down including pudgy tadpoles and nightmarish diving bell spiders.

In a letter shared by the team, Obsidian said it has "a bunch of quality-of-life fixes" and "improvements to base building" on its plate, to say nothing of flying threats, which are "a high-priority feature." The developers are still pumping out smaller updates, but they're "focusing on larger content releases."

The Koi Pond zone isn't finished yet – underwater caves and "a revamp of the lab in the depths" are on the docket – but looking ahead, Obsidian will shift to the Haze biome "and then the Sandbox."

"Once we feel all the content is in a good place, the next step is a story, quest, and content pass over all the existing labs," said Obsidian. "The goal is to unify the experience by adding quest connective tissue and a satisfying payoff for completing each lab. In an upcoming story update, you will be able to complete this quest, which will tie into what we are calling the first story chapter of Grounded."

Grounded has surpassed five million players thanks in large part to its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass. If you're struggling to find something to play in the library (analysis paralysis is very real!), I'd give it a nod for sure – especially the 60FPS version for Xbox Series X/S. This world is so much fun to explore.

I have no doubt that when everything is said and done, Grounded will be one of my survival favorites.

Grounded is worth checking out again, especially if you just got an Xbox Series X/S screenshot

Sam and Max are coming to wreck VR in This Time It's Virtual

It's been a pretty wild week for fans of Steve Purcell's iconic comic-book characters Sam and Max. Not only did we receive news of a series of upcoming remasters for the duo's Telltale adventures, but now the freelance police are getting set to take their crime-fightin' ways to the untapped realm of virtual reality.

As revealed by developer HappyGiant, Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual will see the player recruited to work alongside our favorite dog and rabbity-type thing investigation team. After being put through a series of training courses to ascertain that they have said skills to pay the bills, the player will be dispatched to Sam and Max's neighborhood, on a mission to root out evil and loose change.

Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual's development team is made up of a party of franchise veterans, including team members from both the Telltale Games series, as well as the classic 1993 Lucasarts adventure Sam and Max Hit the Road. Steve Purcell is, of course, on-hand as a story, design, and writing consultant, ensuring that the duo's personal brand of verbal abuse is in check. You can check out new gameplay footage in the trailer below.

Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual will launch on unspecified VR platforms in early 2021.

Sam and Max are coming to wreck VR in This Time It's Virtual screenshot


Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is a photo-snapping chill time from the makers of Monument Valley

I've really dropped the ball covering games for Apple Arcade this year, even though its selection of titles has only improved in recent weeks and months. It's really living up to its expectations, bringing subscribers fun, ad-and-microtransaction-free experiences that are all too rare in the mobile arena. There have been a lot of fun games to hit the platform recently, but the best may be yet to come.

Developer ustwo Games today dropped a gameplay trailer for its upcoming title Alba: A Wildlife Adventure. The game features young, precocious child Alba who's on vacation visiting her grandparents on an island in the Mediterranean. As an animal lover, she wants to document all of the island's fauna with her smartphone, but when she sees critters in distress, she'll have to reach out to the town folk to help save them.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is a photo-snapping chill time from the makers of Monument Valley screenshot


New Mortal Kombat 11 Mileena trailer gives you plenty to sink your teeth into

Y'all looking forward to the return of Mileena? I know I am. The deadly clone of Princess Kitana will be arriving in Mortal Kombat 11 in a little under a week from now, alongside fellow kombatants Rain and - Sly Stallone himself - John Rambo.

NetherRealm Studios has released a second trailer, giving Mileena's fans another look at their usurped Empress. The video not only showcases ol' fang-face's acrobaticfighting style, but also gives us our first look at some of her Brutalities, which include her classic "nail-spitter" fatality from 1995's Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. We also get to see some of her alternate looks, including a wide variety of ornate sai daggers and sinister face-masks.

Also on display is a neat "side-shave" haircut, which suits the psycho-sibling quite well.

Mileena, Rambo, and Rain will all be available to purchase on November 17 as part of Kombat Pack 2. The same day will also see the launch of Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, containing the base game, the Aftermath expansion, and both Kombat Packs, on current and next-gen platforms. In addition, players who already own MK 11 on PS4 and Xbox One will be able to upgrade to a visually enhanced edition of the fighter on the respective next-gen platform free of charge.

New Mortal Kombat 11 Mileena trailer gives you plenty to sink your teeth into screenshot


This Smash Ultimate event poster features Kirby at his most masochistic

Just look at this poster. I mean, really look at it.

What might seem like an innocent ad for an upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate event is a tad more insidious the more you stare at it. All of them are completely possessed, eating meat products that may or may not consist of other combatants. Yoshi eats steak? I thought he was a vegetarian with all of the fruit from Super Mario World.

Bowser, Dedede and Wario? Yeah that checks out, though I can see Wario being secretly vegan when he's not with his friends. But Kirby? He's arguably the creepiest of them all, ready to eat the actual plates the food is on.

Rant aside, you probably want some info about this actual in-game thing, right? "All Mouth" starts on November 13 and will run through the weekend; allowing players to take control of fighters "whose deadliest weapon might be their mouth." The levels are also "chock-full of consumables."

It's a neat idea! But that Kirby will probably haunt your dreams tonight. Here's another look!

Nintendo of Europe [Twitter]

This Smash Ultimate event poster features Kirby at his most masochistic screenshot


Feel the colorful retro vibe of Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate

Are you amped for the return of Shiren the Wanderer? If so, then you'll be equally amped for this new trailer, providing an overview for what will be the fifth entry in the long-running RPG franchise, headed to PC and Nintendo Switch next month.

Blossoming out of the Mystery Dungeon franchise way back in the mid-1990s, Shiren the Wanderer is a roguelike adventure series which sees the titular hero brave dank caverns and danker dungeons on a series of fantasy adventures, often involving the saving of a nation/planet/galaxy (delete as applicable.)

Feel the colorful retro vibe of Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate screenshot


Destiny 2's PVP component will be 120 FPS on new consoles

Destiny 2's "next-gen upgrade" is shaping up to be pretty boss. It doesn't come until December 8 (nearly a month after the latest expansion), but it's great on paper regardless.

Next-gen console owners can expect 4K resolution, as well as 60FPS, a field of view slider (secretly the best bonus), faster load times (also good), cross-generational play (read: inside the same console family) and free version upgrades, even on PS5. But those sneaky folks at Bungie managed to add something else into the overall rundown this week: 120hz Crucible support for both Series X and PS5 users.

In case you don't follow Destiny 2, Crucible is the main PVP mode of Destiny, allowing folks to play through modes like capture the flag, deathmatch/team deathmatch, Call of Duty's kill confirmed, and more. There are some people who are just Crucible hounds and that's all they play, but it's also a great way to rack up some rewards, even if you're mostly a PVE person.

120hz is a big upgrade indeed, but Bungie reminds us that not every TV will support it. If you can run it, Destiny 2 will "switch to 120hz" just for Crucible play, but with a "lowered resolution and some lowered advanced graphics settings." "All other modes remain at 4K/60FPS, Bungie warns.

Although I've never really been a fan of how Bungie handles PVP overall, 120hz ensures that I'll be messing around with it here and there.

The Next Generation of Destiny []

Destiny 2's PVP component will be 120 FPS on new consoles screenshot

Xbox boss says he's 'played quite a bit of Elden Ring,' calls it Miyazaki's 'most ambitious game'

Oh yea, Elden Ring!

I don't think anyone is as excited for Elden Ring as me. I've been there day one (or before) for nearly every From Software game since...Armored Core 2, which is about when I learned that they existed in earnest, and King's Field games weren't magically grown on an RPG tree somewhere. They're a special studio, in part due to president Hidetaka Miyazaki's leadership and beautiful mind style approach to game design. As it turns out, Xbox boss Phil Spencer thinks so too.

Speaking to GameSpot, Spencer reveals out of nowhere that he's "played quite a bit" of Elden Ring, From Software's new project that was mysteriously revealed ages ago and went radio silent. Spencer calls this "the most ambitious game [Miyazaki] has done," which is high praise given that his games are full of subtle lore hints from top to bottom: all of which require a ton of groundwork. Not to mention the strong action-RPG framework on top of all of that.

Spencer says that Miyazaki is a "good friend," and notes that he "loves seeing him challenging himself." When Spencer tests Elden Ring, Miyazaki allegedly leaves the room, then comes back and discusses the game as a team. It's an adorable concept and now I need a buddy comedy with them in it.

Either way, Spencer is being vague here regarding cold hard details on Elden Ring, but he's told us enough. It's absolutely his job to hype up a game that's appearing on Xbox from a Japanese studio, but it also means two things. Spencer is cozy with From Software, which could impact a potential decision to acquire a Japanese studio.

Also, Elden Ring is not a myth. It exists, and it is playable. Which means it can stay as the number one game on my "most anticipated" list.

Phil Spencer On Xbox And Japan, Halo's Future, Playing Elden Ring, And More [GameSpot]

Xbox boss says he's 'played quite a bit of Elden Ring,' calls it Miyazaki's 'most ambitious game' screenshot

Danganronpa series is currently on sale on Steam

If you've ever been curious about diving into the murder and mayhem of the Danganronpa franchise, then now might be the perfect time, as multiple titles from Kazutaka Kodaka's grisly 'n' gripping adventure series are currently discounted on PC via Steam.

As of today, wannabe sleuths can bag several Danganronpa titles at around 60% cheaper than their regular retail prices. Original entry Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and its sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair are both in the mix, alongside the critically acclaimed Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony and spin-off entry Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

And if Danganronpa isn't your bag, baby, then several other Spike Chunsoft titles are also enjoying price reductions, including excellent sandbox wrestling title Fire Pro-Wrestling World, the Zero Escape series, and a run of Steins;Gate visual novels. The sale ends on November 16, so act fast!

Spike Chunsoft Publisher Sale [Steam]

Danganronpa series is currently on sale on Steam screenshot

Fallout 76's next big expansion launches on December 1

In this crazy world of ours, there is but one constant: Fallout 76 will continue to be updated.

And in some ways, salvaged, from the disaster of a state it launched with in 2018. But while the team over at Bethesda tackles constant quality of life upgrades and bug fixes on a regular basis, we do get massive free expansions from time to time. The next one drops on December 1.

We've been waiting for Steel Dawn for what feels like ages, but now a new trailer for the update has finally given us the aforementioned release date. It's too close to the target to be delayed (knock on wood), so folks out there who still play Fallout 76 will have some extra content to look forward to before the final holiday rush of releases.

This is directly after the update that adds in underground customizable shelters, and the advent of the next battle (season) pass, which heralds in allies. Bethesda has been adamant about saving this game in more ways than one, but it's also aggressively monetizing it, with the "Fallout 1st" subscription service still standing even amid the season pass structure.

Is it a house of cards, waiting to fall down one day as Bethesda halts development? For now, everything is going full speed ahead. Hopefully we learn about what's coming next now that the last known major expansion is done and dusted.

Fallout 76's next big expansion launches on December 1 screenshot


Mythical Pokemon Zarude will be distributed outside of Japan

It's been around nine months since Zarude was announced for Pokemon Sword and Shield, but getting him has been troublesome. No doubt the current state of the world put the kibosh on distribution events: including the very event that it was supposed to debut at.

Yep, the "Rogue Monkey" was originally going to be a bonus for the next Pokemon film, but that event was further delayed. The good news is that Europe is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, which means that North America can't be too far behind. has uncovered the next distribution event for Sword and Shield, which involves Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This time around you'll need a TCG code from the Vivid Voltage set: a promotion that is going on from November 13 to December 13. Hmmm, "going to GameStop," or dealing with TCG code distribution? What's more ideal?

I got it! Just make it a mystery gift that everyone can pick up in the safety of their own home and end this madness.

Pokemon Sword and Shield []

Mythical Pokemon Zarude will be distributed outside of Japan screenshot

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, an expansion, is rising in Capcom's top-10 seller list

Whenever I hear the phrase "Capcom," my mind goes to a lot of different places.

The DuckTales NES game. Micky Mousecapade. Goof Troop. Okay, so I might have played every single Capcom Disney game under the sun, but on occasion, it also goes to Resident Evil and Monster Hunter. Those two franchises are probably on Capcom executive's minds, too, if these new financial results are any indication.

Capcom has once again updated its "Platinum Titles" list, which shows which games have reached the one million units sold mark. While Monster Hunter: World continues to show its dominance with a commanding 16.4 million lead (a full eight million and change over the next-closest contender of Resident Evil 7), it's double-dominant when you consider that Iceborne has just reached the 6.6 million mark. Note that Iceborne is an expansion for World. That's kind of a big deal.

In other Capcom sales news, Resident Evil titles continue to dominate the charts overall as the most successful series, with spots two through five consisting of 7, 5, 6, and 2 (remake) respectively. After that Street Fighter shows some love, followed by more Resident Evil and Monster Hunter Freedom 3, which caps off the top 10 list. The full rundown of every game is listed here, so you can see how your favorite series is doing in 2020.

I think we can plainly see why Monster Hunter Rise was greenlit so quickly.

Platinum Titles [Capcom]

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, an expansion, is rising in Capcom's top-10 seller list screenshot


Mortal Kombat movie delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic

It appears that the upcoming live-action movie based on NetherRealm Studios' violent franchise Mortal Kombat will not meet its previously announced January 2021 release date, the latest in a long line of movies to have its production efforts blocked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A tweet from the film's co-producer, Todd Garner, suggests that the pandemic has affected the cast and crew's abilities to complete several necessary re-shoots required for wrapping. Garner also suggests that Warner Bros. is not likely to release a debut trailer or a rescheduled date for the martial-arts adventure "until theaters re-open."

Directed by Simon McQuoid, the Mortal Kombat movie gathers together a cast of professional martial-arts actors and stuntmen for what is promising to be a bone-snapping, R-rated experience that will live up to the gory reputation of the video game series. While no official plot synopsis has been revealed as of yet, veteran characters such as Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Jax, Raiden, Mileena, Shang Tsung, Sonya, and Kano all feature in the movie's narrative.

Mortal Kombat is currently in post-production at Warner Bros. Studios.

Mortal Kombat movie delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic screenshot


PlayStation Store dates Deathloop for May 21, 2021

A new update on the New Zealand branch of PlayStation Store has revealed a possible release date for super-cool, time-bending adventure Deathloop. According to the PSN landing page, Arkane Studios' tale of clocks and glocks will launch on PS5 on May 21, 2021. A PC version is also expected within the same release window.

As a quick refresher, Deathloop is the story of an expert assassin, Colt, who wakes up on the shores of Blackreef, a mysterious island doomed to persistently restart the same day every time the clock hits midnight. Seven island inhabitants have decided to make the most of their strange fate, rocking a perpetual party day-in, day-out.

For reasons as yet unknown, Colt is tasked with eliminating all eight marks before the day is out, or is fated to return to the wet shores from which he awoke, destined to repeat the day over and over again. If that wasn't enough, Colt himself is in the sights of a fellow assassin, Julianna, and must keep himself alive while he scouts, tracks, and ultimately eliminates his prey. Neat concept.

Along with the standard edition, the PSN page also hosts a Digital Deluxe Edition, which includes a copy of the game along with several exclusive weapons, equippable buffs, and alternate character skins for both Colt and Julianna. Pre-order customers will also bag themselves the PS5 exclusive "Royal Protector" machete, and "Storm Rider" skin for our boy Colt.

Deathloop launches May 21, 2021 [Gematsu]

PlayStation Store dates Deathloop for May 21, 2021 screenshot


Even though Pokemon Unite has Switch-to-mobile cross-play, Nintendo boss says not to expect it

There's still a lot we don't know about Pokemon Unite, which was revealed back in June.

We do know that it's a MOBA that's basically designed around League of Legends' now-defunct Dominion mode, and that TiMi Studios (not Game Freak) is developing it, in conjunction with Tencent as its publisher. Basically, this feels like Game Freak and The Pokemon Company licensing Pokemon in name only for a MOBA project that Tencent wanted to make. We know how the general public at large will react to it, but for now, it's been quietly beta tested.

When it does hit though, it will feature cross-play between the Switch and mobile platforms: which is not typical of a game featured around what is ostensibly a Nintendo property. Is this a gateway into more first-party Switch-to-mobile titles? Not really, says current Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa. Speaking on a recent financial briefing to investors, Furukawa stated that this was an "advanced discussion," which is basically another way of saying it was a special case (and alludes to the complicated relationship between all of the parties involved). 

He clarifies by stating: "It was decided that given the genre of the game and the anticipated player population, a cross-platform format was appropriate." Furukawa goes on to put the nail in the coffin, noting, "that said, we have no plans for cross-platform [mobile] play for Nintendo titles."

"Business as usual" is the Nintendo mantra, though things have been changing a bit with the advent of gacha-fueled mobile titles.

Q&A Summary [Nintendo]

Even though Pokemon Unite has Switch-to-mobile cross-play, Nintendo boss says not to expect it screenshot

Metroid: Samus Returns possibly coming to the Switch makes a whole lot of sense

Now that the Switch has become the prime directive for Nintendo: any legacy content from the Wii U or the 3DS is fair game for ports.

I mean, we've seen it with the Switch even in just the past three years, as Nintendo has begun the process of moving over every major first-party title from the Wii U graveyard (RIP) to their next generation. It's honestly kind of staggering that in the end, the Wii U could have very little, if any exclusives (you'll pry Nintendo Land from my cold, dead hands).

In the meantime, internet sleuths have found a possible hint at a potential upcoming port that just makes a whole lot of sense. Over on the official Nintendo site, an image pertaining to a "Super Metroid Skin & Screen Protector Set" that shows someone playing a Metroid title on a Switch has been spotted.

Metroid: Samus Returns, the 2017 title from 3DS, could be in play. Or, of course, this could be a marketing mistake. We've reached out to Nintendo for comment, but don't expect a reply.

Either way, I think it's an interesting prospect and worth looking at. Samus Returns would pretty much port over nicely (amiibo support and all) and give it new life. Plus, it would segue nicely into the next Metroid project. I'm keeping an eye out for this one.

Super Metroid Skin & Screen Protector Set [Nintendo via Nintendo Life]

Metroid: Samus Returns possibly coming to the Switch makes a whole lot of sense screenshot

AEW announces new video game division, reveals first three titles

There's a new player in the stagnant world of pro-wrestling video games, as All-Elite Wrestling (AEW) has announced the founding of a brand new gaming division - AEW Games. Revealed during a live stream that featured AEW Executive VPs Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes, referee Aubrey Edwards, and pro-wrestler Dr. Britt Baker, AEW Games also took the opportunity to announce its first three releases.

For consoles, AEW is currently working with Japanese developer Yuke's on an as-yet-titled pro-wrestling game. As long-time fans will be aware, Yuke's has a storied history with the genre, having been responsible for classics such as the Shin Nippon Touken Retsuden series, as well as multiple titles in the WWE Smackdown! franchise.

Notably, AEW has also brought on board director Hideyuki "Geta" Iwashita, who was responsible for both Def Jam Vendetta and WWF No Mercy, the latter of which is thought by many as one of - if not the - finest wrestling games of all-time. No platforms nor a release window for the new AEW project was specified, but you can check out some early footage in the video below.

AEW announces new video game division, reveals first three titles screenshot


Giveaway: Win Breathedge, Stoneshard, Desolate, Wild Eight, or Police Stories for Hypertrain's Fifth Anniversary

[It's the final stretch! Enter now for a FREE GAME!]

In today's contest you can win one of Hypertrain Digital's games on Steam!

Hypertrain Digital has been cranking out games for five years now -- can you believe it? They're celebrating their huge milestone by running a sale for all of their games on Steam. But what's better than a cheap game? A free one, of course!

For the next four days, we're giving away 500 copies of their games daily, including Breathedge, Stoneshard, Desolate, The Wild Eight, and Police Stories. I said, there are 500 winners per day! Make sure you tell your friends. If I had any, I sure would!

Giveaway: Win Breathedge, Stoneshard, Desolate, Wild Eight, or Police Stories for Hypertrain's Fifth Anniversary screenshot


Giveaway: XIII (Steam)

They remade XIII. Craziness. Awesome craziness, but craziness none the less. I've always had a soft spot for this fps conspiracy fest. Maybe it's Adam West, or ole Smouldering Mulder. Maybe it was the cel shading, which blew me away at the time (and made me miss Shogo). Doesn't matter what it was, because PlayMagic and Microids went and did it, and it's out today! That's we are here, with four copies of the Steam version to giveaway to you lovely folks. What is XIII you ask? Let's hit the blurb: 

Giveaway: XIII (Steam) screenshot


The new multiplayer modes in Tetris Effect: Connected are fun even as a (mostly) solo player

Whether you're a first-time Tetris Effect player or you're showing up for the new timed-exclusive multiplayer modes, Tetris Effect: Connected is worth checking out – especially with Xbox Game Pass.

Aside from the original Tetris Effect story campaign and the objective-based Effect modes that I've been raving about for two years now, with Connected, you're also getting a multiplayer suite. The new package is $40 on Windows 10 and Xbox consoles (including Xbox Series X/S), and Enhance has committed to a free update in "summer 2021" for Tetris Effect owners on PS4, PC, and Oculus Quest.

So, what are the modes? There are three head-to-head modes – Zone Battle, Score Attack, and Classic Score Attack – along with the namesake Connected mode, a three-player-vs.-one-AI-boss mode.

Out of those versus modes, Zone Battle feels the freshest – it's all about clearing lines to build up attacks and then either strategically defending against or negating your foe's attacks as much as possible by knowing when to enter the Zone to clear out junk. Score Attack is a one-on-one high-score battle, and once a player taps out, the other player has two extra minutes to cement their score.

Classic Score Attack works much the same way, albeit with a retro visual style, "stiffer" controls/rules, and a more back-to-basics approach to Tetris. You can't do Hard Drops and there isn't a Hold Queue.

I'm not so sure I'll stick with any of these long-term – I'm not that cut out for them – but I am very invested in Connected mode. In short, you'll fight a series of (progressively harder) AI-controlled Zodiac Bosses with an assist from two other (human or AI) players. At first, your team's play fields are totally separate, but as you clear lines and build up your shared meter, the three fields will temporarily merge into one. At that point, it's an all-out race. You'll take turns rapidly dropping pieces one after another in hopes of clearing as many lines as possible to send an avalanche hurtling toward the boss.

Connected mode is definitely chaotic and even stressful at first, but with practice, I started to feel more comfortable with the flow. (The music cues help.) In an attempt to make co-op Tetris fun and not maddening, you'll get occasional purple pieces that can push down and "correct" bad placements.

It wasn't live for testing yet, but there's also a Connected Vs. mode in which a human player can stand in for the AI boss. That'll be playable during 24-hour "Full Moon" events during weekends.

The multiplayer modes have their own fancy-looking space hub that feels right at home in Tetris Effect (take a minute to fly around and explore it) and player progression uses a tier system "based on an aggregate of your skill rating in all the different modes" as it rises and falls with each win or loss.

Curiously, the game hints that "as you move up tiers, you'll also move ever closer to the mysterious obelisk radiating from the center of the galaxy: the Tetrimidion." As for me? I just wanna unlock avatars.

If you're super competitive, there's a Ranked match option; otherwise, you can stick with Friend matches or Local matches against the AI. That goes for all multiplayer modes, too. You can set the AI's competency, so if you're struggling against the tougher Zodiac fights, you can crank up the AI partners.

I don't necessarily think the new Connected content exceeds anything that was already in Tetris Effect, but after a couple of hours (with the Windows 10 version), the multiplayer modes do live up to expectations. This is an all-around excellent package for new players, and it'll be a fantastic free update for returning PS4 and Steam Tetris Effect players next summer. We're all together in this life.

[These impressions are based on a retail build of the game played via Xbox Game Pass on PC.]

The new multiplayer modes in Tetris Effect: Connected are fun even as a (mostly) solo player screenshot


Rocket League's next-gen features are much better on Xbox than PS5

As consoles move into the future, so does the beloved soccer-but-with-cars game that's somehow already five years old. Although Rocket League is old enough to be a kindergartener, it's still a completely relevant game. In fact, it's more relevant than ever now that Epic has made it free-to-play. It actually surpassed CS:GO's concurrent player record back in September, peaking at somewhere around 1.3 million people online at once.

Psyonix has revealed its next-gen plans for Rocket League. One platform represents an advancement, the other does not.

Players on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X will have the option to play Rocket League at 120fps, which is a significant improvement over the 60fps mode on Xbox One X and the 30fps cap on the Xbox One S. Here's the breakdown of next-gen enhancements:

Rocket League's next-gen features are much better on Xbox than PS5 screenshot