Overwatch Lunar New Event is Live With New Cosmetics and Bounty Hunter Mode

Overwatch - Year of the Ox

Overwatch's Lunar New Event, celebrating the Year of the Ox, is now live. As with previous years, it brings several new Legendary skins with Echo, Bastion and Ashe being the spotlight. It also adds a brand new mode called Bounty Hunter in addition to Capture the Flag and CTF Blitz. Check it out below.

Bounty Hunter sees players designated as Bounty Hunters fighting to kill another designated as the Target. Killing the Target nets points but the one who earns the final blow becomes the next Target. As a Free-For-All mode on new map Kanezaka, it looks pretty fun.

Three new Weekly Challenges will also run during the event's duration. Winning three matches nets a Player Icon while six wins grants a new Spray. Win nine matches and receive a free Epic skin. This week is all about Baptiste with McCree coming in the second week and Reaper in the third. The Year of the Ox runs from February 4th to 25th.

Apex Legends – Anniversary Collection Event Returns

Apex Legends - Anniversary Collection Event

When Respawn Entertainment's Apex Legends debuted two years ago, no one expected it to blow up in such a fashion. Now, after multiple seasons and numerous new Legends added, it's grown into one of the best battle royale shooters out there. To celebrate, the Anniversary Collection Event has made a return and will run from February 9th to February 23rd.

A snazzy new trailer with Mirage and Crypto hypes the return of fan-favorite cosmetics, recolored in red and gold. Locked and Loaded also returns as a playlist Takeover. In terms of rewards, there are 22 items to earn with two Event Packs and 10 Apex Packs included.

For those seeking a Heirloom, receiving all items from the event will provide 150 Heirloom Shards. This can be used to unlock any Heirloom item, granting more choice. All items have also had their crafting cost reduced by 50 percent for the event's duration. Apex Legends is currently available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC with Season 8: Mayhem recently kicking off. It's coming to Nintendo Switch on March 9th.

Overwatch 2, Diablo 4 Not Launching in 2021 – Activision Blizzard

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In an investors call following its financial report on the quarter ending December 31st, Activision Blizzard said that Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 are not part of its financials for 2021. Blizzard is slated to release some new projects in 2022 (which may not necessarily be either or both of these games). Regardless, it's going to be a long wait.

Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 were both announced at BlizzCon 2019 to great fanfare. Neither had received a release date or window – rumors even stated that development was progressing fairly slow on Overwatch 2. It's been particularly excruciating for fans of the current game with no new heroes launching in almost a year.

As for Diablo 4, Blizzard has been releasing quarterly updates detailing different systems and so on but hasn't offered up much new gameplay lately. This could change at BlizzConline 2021 which takes place on February 19th to 20th. Overwatch 2 will also be present so perhaps we'll hear more about its new heroes. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition's Visual Upgrades Look Impressive in New Comparison Video

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition might not be the remake of the original trilogy that some of you may have been waiting for, but as far as remasters go, it's looking rather ambitious. BioWare have promised some major visual and gameplay improvements, especially for the first Mass Effect, and we've already got a glimpse of the visual boost the trilogy will be receiving thanks to some screenshots comparison.

Now, YouTube user rampage TV has taken the bits and pieces of footage that BioWare have released for Mass Effect: Legendary Edition so far, and put together a video comparing it with those same scenes from the original releases of the trilogy. In nearly every case, the graphical upgrades are clear to see, and everything from character models to environments to the lighting seems to have received a major facelift. Check it out below.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition will be bringing together nearly every single piece of the original Mass Effect trilogy content that was released, though BioWare has confirmed that a couple of things won't be making the cut, including Mass Effect 1's Pinnacle Station DLC and Mass Effect 3's multiplayer mode.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition launches for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on May 7. Meanwhile, a Switch port down the line hasn't been ruled out either. If you plan on playing it on PC, check out the system requirements through here.

Also make sure to head on over here to get all the details on how the remastered trilogy improves upon the original games.

Xbox Series X/S Worldwide Shipments Reportedly at 3.5 Million Units

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Microsoft and Sony have both got off to excellent starts with the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 respectively – especially where sales are concerned – with the Xbox Series X/S having sold more at launch than any other previous Xbox console, and the PS5 having shipped 4.5 million units worldwide as of the end of December.

Given the fact that Microsoft hasn't been providing sales figures for its Xbox hardware for a few years now, we don't have an exact idea for how the new pair of Xbox consoles is doing, though thanks to Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad, we might have a rough idea.

Ahmad recently took to Twitter and suggested that the Xbox Series X/S' worldwide shipments so far are trailing the PS5 by about 1 million units, which would put the new Xbox consoles at around 3.5 million units in global sell-in numbers. These are far from exact numbers, but in the absence of official sales figures being provided by Microsoft, exact numbers are probably going to be hard to comeby.

Meanwhile, it looks like supply constraints are going to continue for both PS5 and Xbox Series X/S for the foreseeable future. Microsoft has said stock shortages will likely continue until at least June of this year, while Sony, too, is predicting manufacturing constraints due to a shortage of components.

Kowloon Nights Announces Funding for 23 Indie Studios, Including Sabotage Studio, Mimimi Games, and More

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Video games fund has been making active efforts in its financing of indie developers and games for a while now, and recently, they announced a massive injection of funds for a total of 23 studios and their respective upcoming projects (via MCV UK).

These studios include the likes of Desperados 3 developer Mimimi Games, The Messenger developer Sabotage Studio, Spiritfarer developer Thunder Lotus, OlliOlli developer Roll7, Oxenfree developer Night School Studio, Star Renegades developer Massive Damage, Trine developer Frozenbyte, and many more.

This flurry of new deals with these indie studios provides an injection for a number of upcoming promising indie titles, including the likes of old-school RPG Sea of Stars by Sabotage Studio, Mimimi Games' upcoming real-time tactics title, Frozenbyte's upcoming sci-fi MMO Starbase, and a Persona and Devil May Cry-inspired genre-bending debut title by Fkkcloud.

All these developers will retain rights of their IP and their futures, and have full creative control over their projects.

You can check out the full list of developers (and their respective games) that have received funding from Kowloon Nights below.

  • Alpha Channel – TANKHEAD
  • Batterystaple – 30XX
  • Brimstone – Unannounced Title
  • Dreamlit – Towers
  • Fireplace – Unannounced Title
  • Fkkcloud – Project Kafka
  • Frozenbyte – Starbase
  • Gathering Tree – TFM: The First Men
  • Goblinz Studio – Legend of Keepers
  • Kaizen Game Works – Unannounced Title
  • Massive Damage – Unannounced Title
  • Metric Empire – Unannounced Title
  • Mimimi Games – Codename Süßkartoffel
  • Night School Studio – Unannounced Title
  • Plethora Project – Common'hood
  • Rogue Snail – Unannounced Title
  • Roll7 – Unannounced Title
  • Rose City Games / Picogram – Garden Story
  • Sabotage Studio – Sea of Stars
  • SIGONO – OPUS: Echo of Starsong
  • Sloclap  – Unannounced Title
  • Studio Zevere – She Dreams Elsewhere
  • Thunder Lotus – Unannounced Title

Baldur's Gate 3 May be the Biggest RPG of 2021 – Here's 15 Reasons Why

There's been a lot of talk about role-playing games as of late – which ones will be the biggest, most epic and feature-packed. With the launch of Baldur's Gate 3 into early access last year and its progress ever since, it's becoming more and more obvious that Larian Studios has something incredible to offer. But what makes the eagerly-anticipated follow-up so special? How might it be the biggest RPG of the year (assuming everything goes as planned and it releases this year)? Let's take a look at 15 main reasons.

Divinity 4.0 Engine

Baldur's Gate 3 utilizes the Divinity 4.0 engine, which has been designed "from the ground up" for the game. The goal is to allow one to play "exactly how you'd like to play," with "many possibilities for good, and evil — note also, everything in between." The new engine and larger development team pushes this notion "Much further than Divinity: Original Sin 2." Given that it takes place 100 years after Baldur's Gate 2, there will be plenty of opportunities for heroics and evil deeds alike.

Triple A Budget and Staff

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This is the biggest project that Larian Studios has worked on till date. with a triple-A budget and staff of over 250 developers and 100 outsourced employees.

Performance Capture for Cutscenes

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Another big change from Larian's previous game is the addition of motion capture for its cinematics. Dialogue interactions now take place in a closer perspective, showcasing the character's expressions and gestures as they react to you. The development team's cinematic producer and director hail from Telltale Games and while the current product launched in a very "raw" form, there have been tons of improvements. Some cinematics have even been "re-shot" and look even better than before.

Origin Characters

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Much like Divinity: Original Sin 2, players will have a choice of different Origin characters. These are characters that have their own unique stories and goals alongside the main story. These include Astarion, a High Elf Rogue who's also a Vampire Spawn; Gale, a Human Wizard who seeks greatness but also has a literal ticking time bomb in his body; Shadowheart, a High Half-Elf Trickster tasked with recovering a powerful item; and so on. There are currently five Origin characters available in the early access version with even more to be added overtime, and even if you're not keen on playing as them, they can be recruited to your party. Those seeking a set "protagonist" with their own quirky personality, skills and story can take one of the Origin characters for a spin and learn the ropes.

In-Depth Character Creator

Baldur's Gate 3

But that's just the beginning. A robust character creator is a must for any Dungeons and Dragons RPG. To that end, Baldur's Gate 3 offers 150 unique heads for its various races and sub-races (with more on the way), numerous backgrounds that offer proficiency in different skills, a range of skin and eye color choices, several hair-styles and colors, tattoo styles, makeup styles, the works. While some features could be made more robust – like the number of voices available – there are tons of options to create your fantasy character of choice.

Races and Classes

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There are currently eight races in the game, several having 2 to 3 sub-races. These include Dwarf (with the Gold Dwarf and Shield Dwarf sub-races); Elf (with High Elf and Wood Elf sub-races); Tiefling (with Asmodeus, Mephistopheles and Zariel sub-races); and so on. Each race has its own unique traits, like the Wood Elf's Fleet of Foot for faster base walking speed or the Strongheart Halfling's Strongheart Resilience for advantage on saving throws against poison. They also have different bonus points in stats like Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence etc with separate proficiency in armor.

But wait, there's more. There are also six classes, each with different primary abilities and saving throw proficiency along with their own sub-classes for a whopping 13 choices at present. Want to play an Arcane Trickster Rogue? How about a Warlock bound to The Great Old One or a Wizard versed in the Evocation School? Keep in mind that these are the choices currently available in early access. Classes like Paladin, Sorcerer, Druid, Bard, Barbarian, etc will be in the full game while the current classes will receive even more sub-class options.

Turn-Based, D&D Combat

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Perhaps the biggest departure from previous games is the turn-based nature of combat instead of real-time-with-pause. Party members take turns spending action points to attack or move, and there's an attack order for allies and foes alike. Otherwise, everything you've come to expect from D&D is here – attack rolls, which can be influenced by ability and proficiency modifiers; saving throws to avoid negative side-effects; advantage and disadvantage on attacks that depend on terrain, visibility and range; the list goes on. The nature of dice rolls means more unpredictability in combat, which is further reinforced by interacting with the environment. Dip a weapon in fire for extra fire damage, collapse certain structures on foes or simply shove targets away, sometimes off of roofs or into other things.

Freedom of Choice

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The greatest appeal of the game, as it was in Divinity: Original Sin 1 and 2, is the sheer freedom of choice. Utilizing different tactics in battle is one thing, whether you rush head-on or make use of stealth to carefully maneuver past foes, surprise attacking when the opportunity arises. But you can also talk things out and avoid combat entirely, open up new avenues for exploration and just go wherever you please. Maybe you want to use the Speak With Dead spell to talk to every single corpse and learn something new. If you want to just finish the current early access content within seven minutes, then go for it. Lone Wolf and difficulty options are also planned, though not currently present in early access.

Lots of Side Content

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The story is already off to a good start but in the long run, it's the side content that will draw you in. You can choose to rescue certain individuals (who may become Companions), explore different ruins, unearth secrets and partake in quests involving your Companions. Early access currently consists of the Prologue and Act 1, offering roughly 25 hours of total content, and your choices in different side quests will affect how the overall story plays out.

Choices Matter

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This leads to a rather obvious fact but one that bears repeating – choices matter and always have consequences. How will you venture to the Underdark? Will you deal with the Goblins in the camp through force, cunning or weirdness? How will you cooperate with your companions? Do you kill them outright or tolerate their quirks for as long as they're useful? Do you adopt that cute Owlbear Cub after killing its mother? Much heavier choices crop up throughout and the full game promises to cater to all sorts of characters.

Characters and Dialogue

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The overall amount of dialogue and characters is also a big step up from Divinity: Original Sin 2 when comparing their respective early access launches. While Original Sin 2 had 142 characters and 17,600 lines of dialogue, Baldur's Gate 3 has 596 characters and 45,980 lines. The full script for the latter has over 1.5 million lines of dialogue and when you factor in all of the different permutations that can arise based on one's character, there's a whole lot to see and do.

Detailed Companions

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As noted previously, the Origin characters can become your Companions, traveling with your party and having their goals intersect with yours. They're much more nuanced than those in Larian's previous games, and as a result, different kinds of scenarios can emerge. Over the campfire, your Companions will react to everything that occurred during the day. Alternatively, you could have scenarios like Astarion, the aforementioned Vampire Spawn, feeding on a companion, potentially killing them if he goes overboard. Progressing through the story will see your relationships change in unique ways.

Attitude and Crime Systems

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There may be times where your party members don't agree with you though. Depending on the choices made, the factions that you fight with or against, and your overall race and class, it's even possible that your Companions may leave you. There's also a Crime System which governs your reputation so making any particularly damning decisions could be bad in the long run.

Multiplayer Support

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Though Baldur's Gate 3 is very much a single-player experience, the true fun in a Dungeons and Dragons scenario comes from playing with friends. Up to four players will be able to team together, interjecting in each other's conversations – going as far as killing the person you're talking to. Each party member could even run around independently and cause all sorts of havoc, the repercussions of which will only hit you later.

100 Hours of Playtime

Baldur's Gate 3 (3)

Larian is currently looking at over 100 hours of total playtime with the final release. Act 1 is still being refined and polished while Act 2 and 3 are currently in the works. Though the development team anticipates the game launching out of early access this year, it has plainly stated that "It'll be ready when it's ready." Once again, judging by the progress and transparency of early access, things are looking very good indeed en route to the 1.0 launch.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Interview – Combat, Next-Gen, Xbox Exclusivity, and More

Fatshark's Warhammer: Vermintide 2 was one of 2018's best hidden gems, and now, the developer is ready to bring more of that co-op first person action to players, but this time in Warhammer 40K's Old World Setting. Warhammer 40,000: Darktide looks like an exciting prospect, and to learn more about the game and its development, we recently reached out to Fatshark with some of our questions. The questions below were answered by Fatshark CEO Martin Wahlund, Technical Director Mikael Hansson, game director Anders De Geer.

Warhammer 40K Darktide

"We have (and still are) put a lot of effort into creating an accurate and believable depiction of the Hive city and are working closely with Games Workshop to make sure that it is as accurate as possible."

You've mentioned that Darktide will be less melee-focused than Vermintide 2 What prompted the decision to emphasize ranged combat more?

Darktide will actually be focused on our hybrid combat, but with the new setting and ranged enemy types we felt that we needed to expand on our ranged combat mechanics more than the melee mechanics. That said melee is still a huge part of the feature set.

For fans of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, particularly the Old World setting, what can you tell them about what this game will encompass? What story or lore elements can they look forward to in Darktide?

Darktide introduces the players to a previously unexplored part of the Warhammer 40,000 The game deep dives inside the chaos infested hive city of Tertium and gives players a glimpse of what a life in the hive looks like. We have (and still are) put a lot of effort into creating an accurate and believable depiction of the Hive city and are working closely with Games Workshop to make sure that it is as accurate as possible.

You've announced a release for this year; how confident would you say you are in terms of meeting it? Has COVID disrupted the game's development cycle at all?

We have worked from home since March 2020 to stay safe and flattening the curve. It looks like we will continue to do so for quite a while this year too. Although missing chatting when getting coffee or over burgers from Mormors (local burger joint). The developers are great at doing their part with both following guidelines, and also at delivering for the game.

warhammer 40k darktide

"There are a lot of fun and different weapons in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and it's hard to pick a favorite. But I have to say that the power weapons are really fun, such as the power sword and Thunderhammer."

How would you say developing for Xbox Series is different than developing for Xbox One and PS4 was?

The change for us in developing for the Xbox Series consoles is mostly one of being able to rely on a higher level of base performance in disk and CPU performance. We don't expect the Xbox Series consoles to be our minspec target for the Darktide development the same way that the last gen consoles were for Vermintide 2. For Vermintide 2 we made significant game design changes to work around the fact that we were limited in CPU performance on last gen consoles. We look forward to not having those same limitations when developing.

We of course know the Chainsword is going to be in the game, but what other weapons are you including? Which ones excited you personally the most?

There are a lot of fun and different weapons in the Warhammer 40,000 universe and it's hard to pick a favorite. But I have to say that the power weapons are really fun, such as the power sword and Thunderhammer.

Your last few projects in the Warhammer universe have all been multiplayer. Would you say there's any chance of your studio working on a single player title set in the series' settings?

We are still having a lot of fun making coop games, but never say never… future will tell.

Darktide is launching as an Xbox Series X/S console exclusive, but do you have any plans to eventually bring the game to PS5?

At this time we are only talking Xbox Series X/S and Windows PC platforms. We will discuss other platforms and their availability at a future date.

warhammer 40,000 darktide

"At this time we are only talking Xbox Series X/S and Windows PC platforms. We will discuss other platforms and their availability at a future date."

What was the reason behind launching as a Xbox console exclusive?

We have worked with Microsoft for many years, and they are a great partner. We are very happy with what we've been doing together with them with Vermintide 2, so now we're building on that and will be doing more exciting things with them in the future. Also, it's no secret, releasing on multiple platforms takes time, and we are ensuring that we can do a simultaneous release to PC and Xbox this way.

Can you talk about the resolutions and frame rates Darktide is targeting on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S?

For Xbox Series X we are targeting 60fps at 4k and for Series S we are targeting 60fps at a lower than 4k resolution.

The Xbox Series X has a ton of GPU horsepower and fast SSD. How do you think this will help developers as they develop games for the next 7-8 years?

The faster SSD will have the most significant impact on the way we build games. It will allow game developers to more efficiently stream content directly from disk to more efficiently use our available runtime memory. The fact that we can guarantee that all players will have a fast SSD in their systems will also allow us to slim down our content packages significantly. By not requiring us to optimize our packages for faster loading times by duplicating content we will be able to deliver more content to players in a smaller footprint. As for the GPU horsepower, short term it will of course allow us to render the Warhammer 40k world in more vivid detail and at a faster frame rate than ever before to deliver more immersive experiences to our players. As mentioned before with the current performance profile of our games we are in fact much more excited about the increase in CPU performance for this generation that sits much closer to the current PC counterparts than the increase in GPU performance which we will easily consume by just turning up the quality settings nobs, resolution and framerate targets.

warhammer 40k darktide

"For Xbox Series X we are targeting 60fps at 4k and for Series S we are targeting 60fps at a lower than 4k resolution."

Do you think Series S will limit games development given that its technically inferior machine compared to Series X and PS5?

While the Series S will be yet another platform to contend with that will take some time in testing and quality assurance, many developers nowadays are used to a much more dynamic ecosystem of hardware. Even in the console space we have had different tiers of the same consoles for many years. The way Series S differs from Series X (Memory amount and GPU horsepower mostly) is for us much easier to adapt to than to for example the wide variety of PCs out in the wild or the way that the previous generation of consoles differed. Less memory and slower GPU are things that most game developers can dynamically scale for by scaling resolutions and graphics effects, while different storage solutions or widely varying CPU performance are much harder to adapt to. All in all we don't think that the Series S will significantly limit the game development progress as a whole in any way.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood Review – Underbaked

After some impressive showcases at E3, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood seemed to have some real momentum behind it. The Werewolf: The Apocalypse series comes from the larger World of Darkness franchise, which includes other notable names like Vampire: The Masquerade, and Cyanide Studio's Earthblood is one of the entire franchise's first forays into action video games. Its E3 demos impressed because they highlighted a seemingly impressive gameplay loop in which you can switch between human and werewolf at will to fight your enemies. As a full package, though, Earthblood offers very little more than these showcases highlighted. What was intriguing for a short demo becomes stale and repetitive over the course of an 8-hour experience, and the surrounding presentation lets down the few good ideas lying in the gameplay. For everything that makes Werewolf: The Apocalypse an interesting idea, both in its tabletop RPGs and its pre-release content, there are too many other problems in Earthblood to make it an essential addition to the World of Darkness franchise.

At its core, Earthblood stays true to its source material. You take control of Cahal, who is part of a clan of Garou, beings who can switch between the default human, the quieter and quicker wolf, and the larger and stronger werewolf, which is only available when Cahal gives into his Incredible Hulk-style rage. The overarching villain is the energy megacorporation Endron, which has some cartoonishly evil schemes that Cahal and the entire clan want to stop by infiltrating their facilities and taking down their operations.

werewolf the apocalypse earthblood

"For everything that makes Werewolf: The Apocalypse an interesting idea, both in its tabletop RPGs and its pre-release content, there are too many other problems in Earthblood to make it an essential addition to the World of Darkness franchise."

In gameplay, the possibility to switch back and forth between forms allows for different theoretical paths through every encounter. Each encounter is effectively split into individual rooms of enemies, and most can be completed with either stealth or action. Stealth is a relatively industry-standard affair, though adding the wolf element makes it mildly more interesting. You try to pick off enemies one-by-one until the room is clear, and certain guard patterns often make it evident as to which order is most efficient to avoid being spotted. Unfortunately, there are very few options to assist with your stealth, apart from hiding behind barriers and using the wolf to fit into some very conveniently placed ventilation ducts. You can only take down one enemy at a time; there aren't any distraction techniques; and there are commonly pairs of guards looking in opposite directions to make staying hidden almost impossible. You have a crossbow with severely limited ammo, but even using this can unexpectedly alert nearby enemies anyway.

If you are ultimately spotted, which you will inevitably be in the vast majority of encounters, you automatically turn into your werewolf form, where you are much more powerful and are thrust into the center of combat. Taking control of the werewolf is easily the game's most impressive and enjoyable feature, simply because of how powerful it makes you feel. You can take down the average security guard in a single blow, and you can traverse entire rooms in an instant. Naturally, the game won't let you fight only those weak guards, so there are some big robots and guards with shields that make you do a little more work to bring them down, including some late-game enemies that feel almost unfairly spongey for their size. What gives you a leg up in combat is your Rage, a meter that builds up as you take down enemies and allows you to perform stronger special attacks and heal yourself. You also build up a Frenzy meter, which, when filled, lets you go into a much more powerful, almost invincible state that effectively serves as a get out of jail free card. Even in boss fights, filling the Frenzy meter was more often than not a death sentence for the boss, regardless of how much health they had left.

These moments of pure strength make up Earthblood's most satisfying gameplay moments, but the gameplay is otherwise diluted, making these moments fleeting. While the werewolf combat is great in spurts and has its strengths, it becomes altogether too repetitive to stand up on its own. For a game with this werewolf combat, it would make sense that it wants you to get into action more than stealth and would make the stealth more difficult, but it's puzzling why it feels like it punishes you for being spotted. When you get into combat, you're almost inevitably going to face multiple waves of enemies through reinforcements, and, while you can technically disable some reinforcements by locking their doors, it never felt like there were ever any fewer, even if I had disabled every door.

"While the werewolf combat is great in spurts and has its strengths, it becomes altogether too repetitive to stand up on its own."

Moreover, there are only a handful of distinct enemy types outside of bosses, and this game falls into the trap of making the game more difficult simply by adding more enemies, which is both frustrating and overwhelming, especially when you're multiple waves deep in an encounter. This all creates a combat environment that feels punishing without much reward or diversity. By the end, I wasn't having much fun taking down enemies because it felt like the game was trying to work against me with too many waves of enemies or an unending sequence of encounters with no respite. Even boss battles, which are some of the more interesting combat encounters, felt more like brief interludes between the repetitive combat than special combat encounters that tested my skills.

There are a few other gameplay interludes that break up the combat sections. The game is semi-open world, as you can explore the environments on your own time or return to your base, where you can talk to other members of your clan. But I never felt a reason to do this. The environments are drab and lifeless outside of the main mission areas, and there's little to find. The collectibles you can find around the world add little to either the gameplay or the story, and mission markers almost always lead you directly down the linear path you need to take to progress the story.

Even the few side missions are generally contained as minor offshoots of linear sequences, and they're very insubstantial, as are the dialogue trees, which have no real purpose here. Some dialogue choices allow you to give into rage and fight the person you're talking to, but again, this choice feels unimportant and has few repercussions. If you do move around the environments, you'll likely be using Lupus, Cahal's wolf form, which is a more enjoyable way to move around because he can run faster and jump higher, and when you're not in combat, there's overall little reason to ever switch away from Lupus. The game forces you back to Cahal's human form when he talks or interacts with something, but this feels more restrictive than necessary, especially when he continues talking when you want to switch back to Lupus for stealth.

Werewolf The Apocalypse - Earthblood

"The game forces you back to Cahal's human form when he talks or interacts with something, but this feels more restrictive than necessary, especially when he continues talking when you want to switch back to Lupus for stealth."

The story feels half-baked as well. The game takes place five years after Cahal leaves his clan of Garou for failing to save his wife from death. Cahal returns to the clan to help them in their plot to tear down Endron, the reasons for which are unusually both unclear and overbearing. At first, it seems to be assumed that Endron is bad because they are an energy megacorporation, without much explanation as to why. You are tasked with entering the facilities and killing hundreds of workers, some of which are civilian employees, which they justify at one point by saying that anyone who works for Endron is complicit with their schemes and deserves to die.

Later on, there is an almost cartoonishly evil plot by Endron to utilize a new biofuel, the eponymous Earthblood, in their subjects, but the motivations for doing so are never really explained. It feels like Endron is just there as a binary evil who you're expected to hate without much explanation or justification, but for a game that thematically explores controlling your rage and anger, it's not particularly apt to unilaterally hate a company without any grey area. As the game progresses, too, there is a sharp turn in the story that comes almost out of nowhere and feels like an entirely new game. Cahal's motivations here are admittedly more direct, but much of it still goes unexplained and the ending doesn't do much to wrap up many of the game's questions.

The game's writing doesn't help the story's issues either. Dialogue is very hit-or-miss, and the voice performances are often emotionally misguided. Characters rarely react to things in a natural way, which isn't helped by the character models and animations, which can feel janky and stiff, especially in dialogue. It's not the most graphically compelling game, though there are some intriguing places in each environment, and even in combat enemies animate in distractingly unnatural ways. As a silver lining, while it doesn't push the next-generation hardware to its limits, it had few bugs and ran smoothly for my entire playthrough, even with a large number of enemies on screen at once.

werewolf the apocalypse earthblood

"Later on, there is an almost cartoonishly evil plot by Endron to utilize a new biofuel, the eponymous Earthblood, in their subjects, but the motivations for doing so are never really explained."

What makes werewolves an interesting gameplay concept is their ability to change in an instant to the most powerful being in the room. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood tries to expand on that gameplay concept but never really ascends above its floor. The gameplay itself becomes stale over the course of just a few hours, and the presentation and story make the motivations and themes both more confusing and less intriguing. Apart from intermittent moments of sheer power, Earthblood never realizes its potential in almost any area, and what seems like a great idea on paper turns into an underrealized mess.

This game was reviewed on the Xbox Series X.

Haven is Out Now for PS4, Switch and Epic Game Store


After launching first for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5 and PC via numerous storefronts, The Game Bakers' Haven finally makes its way to the rest. It's available now for PS4, Switch and PC via the Epic Games Store. Check out the launch trailer below and, once again, marvel in the relationship between Yu and Kay.

Billed as an RPG, the story sees the couple leaving their previous lives and venturing to a strange planet. Survival is paramount though so on top of gathering supplies and repairing their ship, they must also deal with various threats. This involves controlling both characters at once.

Otherwise, players will spend time blissfully gliding around the planet when they're not making dialogue choices in many of the conversations between Yu and Kay. Haven can be played solo but also supports co-op. For more details, check out our official review here. It's also available on Xbox Game Pass for PC and consoles.

Iori Yagami Is in, Who's Next for King of Fighters 15

King of Fighters 15 Iori Yagami, SNK

King of Fighters 15 is set to launch later this year. The team at SNK has been slowly doling out new character trailers over the last few weeks, and last night we got our first look at Iori Yagami. Fans will remember Yagami from his original run back in King of Fighters '95. He's been been a mainstay of the series ever since. So, while most fans probably expected him to come to KoF 15, it's still nice to finally the Flame of the End make his grand debut. Check it out below.

So far, King of Fighters 15 has Iori Yagami, Mai Shiranui, K, Leona Heidern, Kyo Kusanagi, Shun'ei, Meitenkun, and Benimaru Nikaido. Considering there were 58 characters back in King of Fighters 14, we can assume this list is going to grow dramatically over the coming weeks and months. So, who might we expect to show up next? Well, here are a few potential options.

Ryuji Yamazaki

Ryuji was only a DLC character in KoF 14, but he's been in several KoF games previously. He remains a fan favorite amongst the community and someone that will almost certainly show up at some point during King of Fighters 15's run-up to release.

Terry Bogard

Sure, Terry's showing up in Super Smash Bros. these days, but that doesn't mean KoF is going to not have one of their most popular characters in the new game. I've heard Terry described as an "anime John Cena", and I don't think I've heard anything more apt. If he's not involved, I'll be incredibly surprised.

Geese Howard

They have to have Geese in King of Fighters 15. I mean, his name is Geese and he's an exceptional villain. If he's not in the game, is it really a KoF game? Again, his name is Geese. We don't need a better reason for him to be in the game.

Chang Koehan

Okay, stick with me. This guy carries a gigantic wrecking ball on a chain that he uses to murder people. Also, most fighting game characters always have ridiculous body proportions. Chang, on the other hand, has a physique that I could see myself attaining. He's got that powerlifter belly that is something I'm personally striving for.

Of course, that's just a smattering of potential characters coming to King of Fighters 15. I didn't even mention characters like King of Dinosaurs, Joe Higashi, or any other fan favorites. So, if you have a character you'd like to see, let us know in the comments below.

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Stellaris Nemesis Expansion Lets Players Destroy The Galaxy

Stellaris Nemesis Expansion

Stellaris is one of those slow-burning RTS titles. It's a 4X game, developed by Paradox Interactive, that has matches that can stretch on for days, if not weeks. However, an upcoming piece of DLC for the game is looking to speed up that process. The Nemesis expansion for Stellaris will give each player and faction a new set of abilities and powers that can shape the fate of the galaxy.

It's not entirely clear what tools this new expansion will introduce. Even the press release regarding the Nemesis expansion for Stellaris was vague. However, it appears that these new tools will let players break stalemates and end wars, although both of those goals are difficult to achieve peacefully.

Part of this expansion will also push players towards more of the game's social aspects. They will be encouraged to lie and be deceitful to other galactic players in order to pit enemies against one another. Once again, it's not clear how the game is planning on pushing these features, although they aren't anything new. Playing a 4X game against other human players always requires a few lies here or there to achieve your goals.

A trailer released announcing the Stellaris Nemesis expansion was also incredibly vague. Instead of showing gameplay, the trailer was more cinematic. It shows an alien sitting in a listening post as a weapon fires into a nearby star, making it explode. If these are the kinds of tools Paradox is planning to unveil with this expansion, I'm excited to see what else they have in store. Blowing up stars in Stellaris already has massive implications. Players could destroy entire empires in a single strike, or at least cripple their supply chains. If players are able to manipulate other heavenly bodies, such as black holes, we'll be getting into some real destruction.

So far, the Stellaris Nemesis expansion doesn't have a release date, although it will be coming soon.

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Hitman 3 Initiation Protocol Teased in New February Update

Hitman 3 from IO Interactive

While Hitman 3 has only been out for a few weeks, the latest release from IO Interactive has already started off strong. The game opened to positive critical reception and sales that have hit franchise highs. As we head into February, the studio has begun outlining what post-launch support will look like with the game's first content roadmap, the Initiation Protocol.

Developer IO Interactive has revealed the roadmap for the February update in Hitman 3. The studio gave a look at all of the new additions and features coming to the game throughout February, with new content arriving every week this month. You can take a look below at what's coming from the new update each week:

As outlined by IO, the big new additions include Featured Contracts by MinnMax and Kinda Funny, alongside new Escalations and a new Elusive Target. Additionally, the studio noted that a patch will arrive later this month with updates and performance tweaks.

Our own Kris Cornelisse review Hitman 3 last month and came away from it impressed. While it will mostly appeal to Hitman fans, the series third installment still leaves room for creative executions. In the review, Kris mentioned:

Overall, I can identify the sheer quality of Hitman 3, even if it's not the kind of game I'll be going back to a lot. This is also not exactly a great place to start for newcomers, and I'd recommend checking out the earlier games/levels first. For those who are already fans though, this should be just what the unusual doctor with the barcode tattoo ordered.

Hitman 3 is available now on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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Sony, From Software Owner Enter "Capital Alliance"

Sony Elden Ring Pre-Order PS4 Amazon TGS 2020 Preorder From Software FromSoftware

Sony is finally one step closer to playing a bigger role in the future of From Software. The Japanese media giant has been given nearly two percent ownership in the Kadokawa Corporation, which owns From Software.

While the name likely won't be recognizable anywhere else in the world, in Japan, Kadokawa is a household name. The massive media conglomerate is the producer behind multiple anime and manga. Besides owning From Software, the Kadokawa Corporation also owns Spike Chunsoft. The two percent, or specifically, 1.93 percent given to Sony, is part of a "capital alliance" being formed between the two companies.

The cooperation between Sony and the From Software owner was revealed in a financial report from the Kadokawa Corporation, which was translated by Gematsu. While the small stake doesn't mean Sony can take over Kadokawa's operations or affect any of its IPs, Kadokawa is looking to benefit. According to the financial report, the deal will let the company utilize Sony's "global expansion power of animation and consumer games."

Beyond that, Kadokawa is clearly looking to capitalize on the gaming market. This capital alliance will also let the company fund new game IPs, as well as support its existing franchises.

Hopefully, some of that support from Sony heads straight to From Software. The Dark Souls developer is hard at work on its next game, Elden Ring. Since being revealed at Microsoft's E3 2019 press conference, the game has remained largely in the dark. Fans that have eagerly been awaiting the title, a collaboration between From Software and Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin, are essentially starved for news at this point.

It's also not clear what this means for console exclusivity of From Software's games going forward. While Sony doesn't have a large percentage of ownership in the company, the future may bring the two even closer.

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Metro: Last Light Redux and For the King are Epic Game Store's Latest Free Games

For users on the Epic Games Store, one of the store's biggest perks are its ongoing rotation of free games. This time around, the Epic Games Store's latest free titles will offer a good variety for players to enjoy with a post-apocalyptic shooter and a roguelike strategy game.

The Epic Games Store has revealed its latest free titles that are up for grabs this week. Starting today, Metro: Last Light Redux and For the King are available to pick up free on the storefront for a limited time, until they are out of the rotation in the coming week.

Having played Metro: Last Light Redux myself, if you're in the mood for an atmospheric shooter with horror elements, then you'll likely have a good time with it. For the King has also gotten a lot of praise for its unique blend of roguelike and strategy game elements, and since it's free, it's likely worth a shot to play.

The Epic Games Store recently hit a big milestone with over 160 million users as of January 2021. Epic Games also noted that the PC games platform had offered 103 free games throughout 2020, which have accumulated over 749 million claims from players. Though EGS is still growing, it's not hard to see that its weekly free games have been an important part of its growing player base over time.

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Deep Rock Galactic Update 33 — New Biomes, Enemies, and More

Deep Rock Galactic, PC, Xbox One, Ghost Ship Games

Deep Rock Galactic Update 33 is now live. The first update of 2021 brings tons of new stuff to the game, making it a great time for both new and old players to hop in. If you're looking for a new multiplayer title to get into, this is one worth giving a second glance. Check out all the new stuff added in today below.

Two New Biomes: Azure Weald and Hollow Bough

Azure Weald is the first of the new biomes. The dazzling lichen clusters really make the area stand out from some of the other biomes already in the game. However, it's important to remember that this is an otherworldly jungle. Expect to find quite a few baddies as you venture in.

Hollow Bough is equally interesting. You're going into gigantic, hollowed-out trees; however, they're being invaded by vine-like plants. Of course, they aren't just coming for the trees. You'll have to deal with them as well. Both biomes also come with their own set of Milestones for players to complete.

Mission Overhauls

Three different missions are getting overhauled. Elimination is getting two new Dreadnought variants that are going to change things up considerably. The team at Ghost Ship Games has also done some work to both Salvage and Point Extraction.

Salvage has a few of the bigger issues fixed. Namely, they've tweaked how locating mine m.u.l.e. legs work and done some updates to the fuel cells. In Point Extraction, they've updated the old model for Minehead to bring it up-to-date with everything else in the game.

New Enemies

Because we're getting new biomes, we're also getting new enemies. There are four different enemies in Deep Rock Galactic Update 33. They include the Mactera Tri-Jaw, Mactera Brundle, Deeptora Bough Wasp, and Stabber Vine. As you'd probably expect, they all sound super deadly, so make sure to watch yourself once you head down to explore.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to see the full patch notes, be sure to check them out on the official site. But if you're just wanting to hop in, Deep Rock Galactic Update 33 is available now on PC. The Xbox version hits on February 11.

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Robert Altman, ZeniMax Founder Has Passed Away, Survived by Lynda Carter

Robert Altman Lynda Carter

Robert A. Altman, the founder and CEO of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax, has passed away. News of Altman's passing was shared on Twitter via the official Bethesda account. Robert Altman was 74 years old and is survived by his wife Lynda Carter and their two children.

The message shared by Bethesda on Twitter reflected on the career of the ZeniMax founder. "He was a true visionary, friend, and believer in the spirit of people and the power of what they could accomplish together. He was an extraordinary leader, and an even better human being." During the pandemic, Altman would send out an email to ZeniMax staff every week to keep in touch. In remembrance, Bethesda decided to share one of those messages.

In the message, Altman shared some of his discoveries as he adjusted to work from home life. He went on to encourage everyone at the company to make time for themselves "knowing this will pass." Altman's message to ZeniMax ends with him saying that he was "Looking forward to being back together."

Prior to founding ZeniMax in 1999 with Bethesda founder Christopher Weaver, Altman was a lawyer in Washington D.C. He also served on the advisory board of the George Washington University Law School. In 1984, Robert Altman married former WonderWoman actress Lynda Carter.

It's unclear where Altman's passing will leave ZeniMax Media. The company, which was recently purchased by Microsoft, has multiple studios under its umbrella. Besides Bethesda, Arkane Studios, ID Software, and Machine Games are all under ZeniMax.

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FIFA 21 Future Stars Predictions — Ryan Gravenberch, Buyako Saka, and More Youngsters Who Might Make the Squad

FIFA 21 Future Stars Loading Screen, EA Sports

FIFA 21 Future Stars kicks off tomorrow. The event sees EA Sports giving some of the best and brightest youngsters in world football boosted cards that show what they could look like if they meet their potential. EA Sports has been teasing the team for the last few days, but we're starting to get a better idea of who will be in the squad. So, while we're still shooting in the dark with predictions a little bit, we are starting to get a better idea of who's coming. Just check out the latest poll EA is running around the event.

Who is That British Striker Going to Be?

If you've checked the poll above, you'll note that the SBC player is going to come from England and play striker. We don't know what his rating will be, but we can do a little guessing. Based on what we know of Future Stars past, I think the two most likely candidates are PSV's Noni Madueke or Sheffield United's Rhian Brewster. Both players fit the position and have a high potential in FIFA's career mode, making them excellent candidates.

Another potential option here could be Bukayo Saka. In FIFA, he plays LM, but he could make the position change over for the event. That said, I think they'll hold him for packs as he's one of the marquee young players they could target.

What About the Dutch Player on the Loading Screen?

If you've logged into FIFA 21 today, you'll likely notice the loading screen has been updated to show off a new Dutch player. Without a position, this one is a little harder to lock down. That said, I think we have two very likely candidates.

Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax is probably the most likely player, as his potential comes at in 89. However, we could also see Mohamed Ihattaren from PSV here. Strictly speaking, Gravenberch already has a special card in the game, so he might be slightly less likely. That said, this is EA Sports. They're going to put in players who sell packs regardless of what's happened before.

Any Other Predictions?

I could go on and on about who could be in the team. But without any clues, it's hard to predict with any certainty. I mean, I hope Americans like Sergino Dest and Giovani Reyna make it, but I have nothing to go on there. That said, there is one last clue we can talk about.

Recently, EA added Amad Diallo, Jamal Musiala, and Xavi Simons to the FUT database. Does that mean they're getting FIFA 21 Future Stars cards? Maybe, but we can't know for sure. Either way, it's sure to be an exciting day tomorrow when the event kicks off.

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Silent Hill Composer Potentially Teases New Entry in the Series

PT Silent Hill Hills Konami New Game News Horror PS4 PS5 Xbox One Series X PC Dead by Daylight Twitter

The Silent Hill series is one of gaming's most popular. The disappointment when Konami cancelled the highly anticipated Silent Hills after its mindblowing playable trailer, P.T., was palpable across the gaming landscape. Since its cancellation and very public separation from Hideo Kojima, the thought of a new Silent Hill was all but dead. That is, until today. In an interview with ALHub's BoJrayed, Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka revealed that he had a big announcement to make, but just can't do it yet.

When asked about his upcoming projects, Yamaoka said, "Keeping it in general terms, I think you'll probably hear something this summer, to be announced. I think it's the one that you're kind of hoping to hear about," he added, "But we're keeping it very general."

While he clearly didn't confirm that he was working on a Silent Hill game, it's hard to imagine what else he might be talking about. The interview was mainly focused on his recent work for Bloober Team's The Medium which released last week, but this new information doesn't feel in line with that. Bloober Team announced yesterday that it has already begun work on its next horror project, but has said nothing on if Yamaoka will be returning for its score.

At this point, all we can do is wait for more clues to be dropped by potenial developers for the rumored game. After its disappointing end, fans of the series are certainly hungry for more. If Yamaoka's next project is what we're "hoping to hear about" then you have to imagine it's something big.

For more on upcoming Silent Hill games and The Medium, make sure to check out our review of The Medium right here, and this article on the Silent Hill creator's new horror game set for 2023.

Thanks for the tip Ragid Hallak! You can find his work on VGA4A right here.

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Rust Update February 2021 — Softcore Mode Proves Divisive

The Rust Update for February 2021 is on its way. As part of the update, the team is introducing a new softcore game mode. This "highly experimental" mode is basically going to pull the game back toward its original, vanilla form. Softcore will, essentially, make the game much more palatable for both new players and less dedicated active players. If you're interested to see everything coming, check out the update from Facepunch Studios dev Alistair McFarlane.

While we don't know the full story until the update actually releases and players get their hands on it, so far the community seems split. Of course, given how hardcore many players are, this makes sense. After all, they play and love the game in its current state, so they'll always be resistant to change. Not only that, but some players in the comments are taking the opportunity to talk about other ways the game could be improved for new players.

Regardless, it's important to note that this is an experiment. Softcore mode will undoubtedly change over the course of the next few months. And, of course, it's not like the hardcore players have to play on softcore servers. So, in all likelihood, this is a fair amount of bluster without much purpose. Unless Facepunch just completely messes this up with bad decisions, it's hard to see this not being a net positive for the company and community.

Rust is available now on PC. Now seems like a good time to hop in as the Rust Update for February 2021 is launching later today.

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