Giveaway: Take an exclusive Crusader Armor Pack for Magic: Legends

In today's giveaway you can take an exclusive Crusader Armor Pack for Magic: Legends!

So get this: Magic: Legends is in open beta, and it's totally free to play and check out. Exciting! I'd play it, but I was banned from participating in magic, and Magic, due to my particular brand of sorcery being too erotic. Different folks, different strokes, I guess.

Anywho, we've got some exclusive content you can't buy in-game, so just take one, already!

Giveaway: Take an exclusive Crusader Armor Pack for Magic: Legends screenshot


Picross S6 is coming to Switch next week

The Nintendo Switch has had no shortage of Picross options, and Jupiter's shown no signs of slowing down. Picross S6 has been announced, coming to the Switch eShop on April 22, 2021.

This marks the sixth game in the Picross S series to arrive, stretching back to the first in 2017. Picross S6 will have 300 Picross and Mega Picross puzzles, 150 Clip Picross, 30 Color Picross, and five Extra puzzles, for a total of 485 Picross puzzles to solve.

That's a whole lot of Picross, and it's true, there's a lot of it on the system. Alongside Jupiter's Picross S series, there have been some newcomers to the puzzle format, like story-driven murder-mystery Murder by Numbers. I do miss Picross 3D a bit too, and hope there's still some potential for that in the future.

But Picross is my chill game. It is what I play when I need to just relax. This trailer has actually made me a bit nostalgic; when I used to travel a bit more often for conventions pre-pandemic, the Picross S series became a go-to for light bouts of puzzle solving. It's a little sad I won't be plugging away at some Clip Picross on a plane anytime soon.

That said, Jupiter is filling the grid-shaped hole in my heart, one box at a time. There's even a new quality-of-life feature in this one, to help track box numbers on large Picross puzzles. There are a lot of games on the horizon, but I know I'll probably make some time for some logic-based box puzzles.

Picross S6 is coming to Switch next week screenshot

Capcom listened and The Mercenaries is back for Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village has the bonus mode a lot of us have been wanting, and we got our first glimpse at it during this afternoon's Resident Evil Showcase. That's right, The Mercenaries is back. If you prefer PvE to PvP when it comes to the Resident Evil series, I'm right there with you. We finally got our wish.

Like before, Village's take on The Mercenaries is an arcade-style mode that's all about clearing enemies as quickly as possible with the highest combos while, uh, making it out alive. (I always forget about that last part until it's too late.) That said, it seems like a mix of the prior Mercenaries with the newer wacky alternate modes of Resident Evil 7. There are ability pickups, and, curiously, enemies have health bars.

Between areas, you can hit up the Duke's shop to buy healing items, weapons, or upgrades. So unlike, say, Resident Evil 4's Mercenaries mode, this one has more long-term loadout planning to consider.

According to Capcom, The Mercenaries will be unlocked after you complete the main campaign.

The developer also teased that the "final stages become extremely difficult, but you'll be rewarded when you complete each stage." That incremental power fantasy is what I'm here for!

Capcom listened and The Mercenaries is back for Resident Evil Village screenshot

Sign me the hell up for Resident Evil 4 VR

Resident Evil 4 is once again being "enhanced for a modern audience." While remake talk will have to wait for another day, Capcom did announce a VR version of the endlessly replayable horror-action romp.

Resident Evil 4 VR is a collaboration between Capcom, Oculus Studios, and Armature Studio for the Oculus Quest 2. The early footage looks promising and pretty fleshed-out — Leon is shown dual-wielding a pistol and knife, he fully interacts with a typewriter one key at a time, and the inventory management screen isn't just a flat menu. I'm super hopeful about this conversion to VR.

More info about the game will be shared on April 21 during an Oculus Gaming Showcase.

Sign me the hell up for Resident Evil 4 VR screenshot

Resident Evil Village has a time-limited demo with the village and castle areas

During this afternoon's Resident Evil Showcase, Capcom shed light on the next Resident Evil Village demo — and it's a little complicated when you break down who's getting what and when.

All of Village's supported platforms (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Steam, and Stadia) are getting a "time-limited demo" with up to 60 minutes of playtime, and it includes the village and castle. As explained on the stream, you can spend your time exhaustively exploring one area or try them both.

There's also something for (no surprise) PlayStation users. PS4 and PS5 owners are getting early access to this content: a 30-minute "village demo" on April 17 and a 30-minute "castle demo" on April 24.

Capcom said that PlayStation pre-loading will open up today at 4:00 p.m. Pacific (click those links above), and the multiplatform pre-loading phase will start on April 29 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific.

Here are the exact dates and times for the convoluted demo rollout:

Resident Evil Village has a time-limited demo with the village and castle areas screenshot


Resident Evil's April showcase starts soon so let's watch it together

The first Resident Evil Showcase went over pretty well, and so long as we get the next demo soon — one that's indicative of the full game and not tied to a single platform — today's stream should be a similar story. The April showcase is airing soon, so get comfy. The show starts at 3:00 p.m. Pacific.

Officially, we can expect "a new trailer and gameplay for Resident Evil Village, and much more Resident Evil news." We don't know how long this showcase will be, but the last one was around 17 minutes.

The more I see of Village, the more I feel like I'm looking at a Resident Evil 4 successor through a modern Capcom lens. My recent revisit of RE4 on PS4 has only heightened my interest in this game and these vibes. I had a blast re-learning the routes for every character and stage in Mercenaries mode, and after messing around with the Handcannon, I'm ready to get to work with one last Professional run send-off.

I'm trying to keep my expectations in check for the rest of this year (reminder: it's the 25th anniversary of Resident Evil), but it's tough. I hope Capcom is just waiting for Village to launch before it goes all-out.

Resident Evil's April showcase starts soon so let's watch it together screenshot


Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey looks better than expected

Maybe it's just a matter of having no real expectations for a VR adaptation of Puzzle Bobble, but I've gotta say, Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey looks... surprisingly pleasant! It's coming to Oculus Quest and Quest 2 on May 20 from Survios, the studio behind Raw Data and Creed: Rise to Glory.

This new first-person bubble-bursting puzzle game seems like it's making decent use of the VR format with physical interactions — you load your launcher before firing, and can spend coins on power-ups, one of which involves turning an orb-like tool by hand to strategically adjust the bubble array.

According to the team, there are 100 levels in Story Mode, each with three-star ranks to earn. There's also a score-chasing Infinite Mode with relentless bubbles and Online Duel Mode with 1v1 bouts.

"VR allows us to deliver a new approach to bubble-popping, allowing long-time fans and new players to experience Puzzle Bobble like never before and just in time for Bubble Bobble's 35th anniversary," said Taito president Tetsu Yamada. Decades later, Bub and Bob are still doing their thing. I love that legacy.

Puzzle Bobble VR: Vacation Odyssey looks better than expected screenshot

Double Fine is getting a feature-length game jam documentary on April 29

I love a good Double Fine behind-the-scenes video, and so far, they've all been good! Over the years, 2 Player Productions' documentaries, in particular, have been entertaining and insightful looks into how multiple disciplines can come together to imagine a video game and then somehow make it real.

One of the recurring themes is a two-week internal game jam called Amnesia Fortnight, although admittedly, it's been a while; the last event, in 2017, led to prototypes like Kiln, a pottery game where you sculpt makeshift armor, and The Gods Must Be Hungry, a cooking adventure with giant ingredients.

The goal of Amnesia Fortnight is to give staff a chance to pitch something wild and refuel their creative energy for longer-term and far more consequential projects. For us at home, it's fun to watch along. I rarely play the four winning entries that make it through the game-jam gauntlet, but I always tune in.

In 2019, during the making of Psychonauts 2, Double Fine hosted another Amnesia Fortnight. The whole process was captured as a full-length documentary — The Amnesia Fortnight Movie — and it'll debut on YouTube on April 29, 2021. You can even just come back to this exact spot for the premiere:

Apart from the trailer up top, there's also a hint from Xbox Wire about the featured games, all of which sound conceptually on-brand for a studio like Double Fine: "madcap puppet theater, devious journeys into the underworld, a sinister puzzle game, and grand battles on the back of giant slugs."

The key sound bite? "You take a little bit of terror every day, it's like poison: you get immune to it."

Double Fine is getting a feature-length game jam documentary on April 29 screenshot

Apex Legends hits 100 million player milestone

Tech-loving battle royale title Apex Legends has hit a mega milestone. As reported by developer Respawn Entertainment, the free-to-play shooter has reached a total of 100 million players across PS4, PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile platforms. That's a helluva lot of royalin'.

Apex Legends has been consistently popular since its initial launch back in the spring of 2019. Electronic Arts' take on the battle royale genre has had eight successful seasons, dropping new characters, weapons, and locations on a semi-regular basis. Season 9 on Apex Legends is on the way and is expected to be particularly popular, given that it will cross over with Respawn's excellent mech-shooter franchise Titanfall.

Alongside the milestone announcement, Respawn released a short video featuring a teasing date of April 19, so perhaps we'll be seeing some of the new content come Monday. In the meantime, Apex Legends' "War Games" event continues, introducing a series of unique, limited-time modes that will continue to arrive in rotation until April 27.

Apex Legends hits 100 million player milestone screenshot


The Epic Games Store is giving out three free games, and Alien: Isolation is up next

I'll be frank here: you might not want to play all three of the free games this week on the Epic Games Store. It's not that they're bad, or should be skipped over, it's just that they aren't as high-profile as we've come to expect from these giveaways, and they aren't particularly fresh, either, so you might've already tried them elsewhere. That said, if you're in the free-game-hoarding habit, claim 'em all.

Today through April 22, you can grab three freebies: The First Tree (a super pretty nature adventure game starring a fox), Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth (a 12th century England point-and-click adventure adaptation of the novel), and Deponia: The Complete Journey (a comedic adventure series).

The First Tree

The Pillars of the Earth


Of these three, I've always meant to check out The First Tree — I'm all about games that let me play as an animal, and the scenery looks fantastic — yet I'm most intrigued by The Pillars of the Earth, which I've never seen before. Even if it's a bit outside my usual interests, it's got a great look to it with full-on hand-painted backgrounds and some eye-catching character designs. The story sounds dark.

I'm sure we've got readers who have played some or all of these and can speak to them better. There's no reason not to claim the games, but are they worth investing time in? That's always the question.

Next week, from April 22 to April 29, the Epic Games Store will offer up Alien: Isolation and Hand of Fate 2 — one of the all-time most nerve-wracking horror games and a cool deck-builder with real-time third-person fights. I honestly "missed" the last few weeks of giveaways, but I'm back in.

The Epic Games Store is giving out three free games, and Alien: Isolation is up next screenshot

The evocative Sky: Children of the Light is coming to Switch in June

Eclectic developer thatgamecompany has announced that its free-to-play mobile title Sky: Children of the Light will be winging its way onto Switch in June, bringing its dreamlike realms and harmonious social nature to Nintendo's hybrid platform.

The Switch edition of the 2019 release will retain its free-to-play nature, and will also feature cross-play with its iOS and Android brethren, allowing players to meet up, connect with, and journey alongside an already established community of hundreds of thousands of players. As the titular "Children of the Light," players venture through seven distinct worlds, spreading hope, joy, and happiness in efforts to restore the desolate lands.

Winning numerous awards - particularly for its ethereal soundtrack and calming sound design - Sky: Children of the Light was critically praised for its relaxing social nature and spirit of community and camaraderie, recalling that of thatgamecompany's most celebrated release, Journey. This new Switch port will likely see thousands of new players added to the fold - and at a time where we could all use a little R'n'R, its arrival can't come a moment too soon.

You can check out CJ Andriessen's review of the mobile release right here.

The evocative Sky: Children of the Light is coming to Switch in June screenshot

Ubisoft locks in next Forward for E3 2021

A second year of digital press conferences look like they're on their way, and Ubisoft is confirming its date already. Today, Ubisoft announced that its next Forward press conference will be on June 12, 2021 at 12 p.m. PT.

This Ubisoft Forward will be part of E3 2021, which is back this year from June 12 through 15. The show already has commitments from Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games, and Koch Media, as well as Ubisoft.

Ubisoft isn't saying more about its lineup at the moment, other than it will include announcements from the company's teams around the world.

In terms of games that cold appear, there's the mysterious new Rainbow Six game that's rumored to be undergoing a name change, and any sign of life for Skull & Bones would be nice. Ubisoft also spent its summer last year addressing reports of toxic company culture, so hopefully there are some signs of positive change as well.

Following a canceled E3 2020, seeing how publishers handle a purely digital E3 this year will be interesting to see, as the ESA has insisted it won't be paywalling anything for its online event. Given last year, I'm still waiting for the summer games mess to throw some curveballs.

Ubisoft locks in next Forward for E3 2021 screenshot

Eustace arrives in Granblue Fantasy: Versus April 20 and is it hot in here or...?

CyGames has announced a release date for the next fighter headed to its stylish one-on-one slugfest Granblue Fantasy: Versus. As teased back in early March, literal lone wolf Eustace will be joining GF:V's stupidly stylish roster of fighters on April 20.

Master marksman Eustace patrols Skydom as a wandering vigilante, delivering judgment to the wicked via the business end of his ornate custom rifle "Flamek Thunder" and a handful of explosive devices. Afforded heightened senses thanks to his raw... animalistic... untamed... wolf-like nature, Eustace is a fearsome opponent, equally dangerous at both long-range and in close proximity.

As with all previous Granblue Fantasy: Versus DLC characters, Eustace comes complete with a custom lobby avatar, star character icon, and RPG quest chapter. Be sure to check out the Japanese GF:V Twitter account for a selection of short videos showing off Eustace's moveset as we see our fuzzy boy locked, cocked, and ready to unload... Ok, I'm calling this article right now.

Eustace arrives in Granblue Fantasy: Versus April 20 and is it hot in here or...? screenshot

(Update) Not only does the PS5 not favor game preservation, but certain PS3 games are unable to get patches now

[Update: The PS3 community is starting to discover that some games are getting patches back, mysteriously, as of this week. Alien: Isolation, Battlefield 4, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Dante's Inferno, Dark Void, Dead Nation, Dungeon Siege III, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Gran Turismo 5, Jet Set Radio HD, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, Just Cause 2, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LittleBigPlanet: GOTY, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Mortal Kombat, Need for Speed Shift/The Run, Resogun, SoulCalibur IV, Sports Champions 2, Street Fighter III 3rd Strike Online Edition, Tekken Tag 2, Twisted Metal, WRC FIA World Rally Championship, and Zombie Tycoon 2 have been patched.

However, since our first report, a ton of games have also been added to the list and do not have patches. 48 games (that we know about) are still impacted to some degree, including some bigger games or exclusives like White Knight Chronicles and LittleBigPlanet 2.]

Just recently, we were talking about how great it was that Microsoft actually valued game preservation.

The ripples of their efforts to actually allow people to play their old games have been felt for some time, especially when it comes to preserving games as old as the original Xbox platform. But on the flipside, Sony is shutting down entire marketplaces for multiple devices, and now it seems like the PSN's backend is shoddier than we thought.

According to myriad users on the forum PSN Profiles, a handful of games no longer patch at all. The games range from Dante's Inferno to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow to Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, all of which currently cannot obtain patches from the PSN. There's 35 known games in all, with a living list that grows by the day. In a few cases this process can lock folks out of DLC they've purchased without the new version to authenticate.

It all falls back to the warning signs of digital many years ago. Some companies were tying a lot of content solely to digital releases, and folks were asking constantly "physical edition when?" You've probably seen the chant before and rolled your eyes at it, but if this is the fate of the legacy PSN, it just goes to show you how important preservation really is. This is partly why people praised the idea of putting Witcher III, and all of its DLC, on one self-contained Switch cart.

You can find the full list below, compliments of DeidaraTV on PSN Profiles. We've reached out to Sony for clarification on why this may have happened.

No Patches for some PS3 games [PSN Profiles] Thanks John!

(Update) Not only does the PS5 not favor game preservation, but certain PS3 games are unable to get patches now screenshot


Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is running a beta program next month

Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is still somewhat shrouded in mystery, but the veil is being peeled back in just a month.

Sega has announced that they're running a global beta period for New Genesis: you read that right, it is not limited to Japan. It'll take place from May 14 through May 16, which will be a fairly narrow window for sure, but a way to play the game regardless. Registration starts on April 21 at 1PM ET, and you'll be able to do it on the Xbox Insider Hub app.

You can find all of the exact times below. The gist is that it's only for Windows 10 PCs via the Microsoft Store. That's going to be a deal breaker for some! Honestly, I can just wait for the "later in 2021" date to play it myself. But it'll be fun to see more open info on New Genesis in any case.

Just know that Sega says this test "will have a limited number of applicants who can register at a first come, first served basis." So once that 1PM ET April 21 registration hits, slam that opt in button!

PSO2:NGS Global Closed Beta Test [PSO2]

Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is running a beta program next month screenshot


Gothic schoolgal dungeon crawler Lost Ruins launches on PC May 13

Dangen Entertainment, in association with developer Altari Games has announced that its crowdfunded anime horror adventure, Lost Ruins, will launch on PC May 13. The studios have released a brand new trailer showing the pixelated monster-masher in action.

Gothic schoolgal dungeon crawler Lost Ruins launches on PC May 13 screenshot


Nintendo Download: Fez (What year is it?)

Well, the Nintendo Indie World showcase sure showed us!

We thought that the Switch wouldn't get too many new indies this week, but Fez is here with a surprise launch. And if you're on the fence: it absolutely still holds up and should keep you busy well throughout the weekend.

Also coming to Switch this week is the hand-drawn The Longing, alongside of There is No Game: Wrong Dimension, Saga Frontier Remastered, Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark, and Godstrike. It's a great mix of puzzlers, point and click adventure games, JRPGs, and action.

Oh, and all this stuff too! There's a lot to choose from this week.

Nintendo Download: Fez (What year is it?) screenshot


Wasteland 3 takes the battle to Steeltown in June

The Colorado of Wasteland 3 is pretty rough, and to survive it, you're going to need some steel. The Battle of SteeltownWasteland 3's first narrative expansion, is headed to the titular Steeltown to resolve an internal conflict so the flow of arms and armor can keep rolling on June 3, 2021.

After deliveries from Steeltown start going awry, the player's team of Rangers is sent in to figure out what's up. Turns out bandits have been raiding, the gates are sealed shut, and the workers are starting to revolt against Steeltown head Abigail Markham.

Alongside a new narrative with choices to make, there are also some new mechanics being introduced and expanded into the base game. Non-lethal weapons, elemental shields, stacking status effects, and telegraphed attacks are all shifting battles up, along with new weapons and armor. The Battle of Steeltown can be played solo or co-op, and it will also scale to your level depending on how far you've progressed.

Add in some more original music and post-apocalypse inspired covers from Wasteland 3's music supervisor Mary Ramos and composer Mark Morgan, and sounds like this is a big chunk of RPG for Wasteland 3 fans to dig into. The Battle of Steeltown comes to both consoles and PC on June 3, 2021.

Wasteland 3 takes the battle to Steeltown in June screenshot

No more endless Mega Man merch: the Capcom Store is closing on May 1

It's a sad day for merch. Pour one out for hats and shoes.

Capcom is a character factory. It's what it does best! And it's not afraid to lend those characters out to any number of crazy crossovers, or even make entire crossover games. Capcom arguably has one of the most respectable rosters in all of the industry, which is why they capitalize so much on it in the form of merch.

If you want merch from pretty much any Capcom franchise, you can find it. Mega Man? You can literally find any Mega Man knick-knack you want. Same with Ryu. It's just a fact of life. I Googled "Mega Man Shoes" just now and it came up with a hit. Good ol' Capcom.

However, the world has been changing this past year and some things are going away: and that includes an easy access way to get official Capcom merch. The publisher has announced this week that the Capcom Store is closing down, and the last day to place an order is May 1, 2021.

After that point pre-orders and the like will be fulfilled, but the store itself will be shutting down, possibly forever. Capcom warns that "supplies are limited" during this transition period. Goodnight, sweet prince! Buy that last bit of Mega Man shaving cream before it's gone forever.

Capcom Store USA [Twitter]

No more endless Mega Man merch: the Capcom Store is closing on May 1 screenshot

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge confirmed for Switch with new trailer

As part of yesterday's Nintendo Indie World live stream, publisher Dotemu confirmed that it would be bringing its cool-looking brawler Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge to the Switch platform. The announcement was accompanied by a new trailer giving us a quick look at our half-shell heroes in action.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge confirmed for Switch with new trailer screenshot


Days Gone will come riding onto PC May 18

Sony Bend Studio has announced that its apocalyptic, open-world adventure Days Gone is coming to PC next month. The new port of the 2019 wilderness survival adventure will hit both Steam and Epic Games Store on May 18, priced at $49.99.

Days Gone tells the story of bad-times-biker Deacon St. John, as he rides through post-apocalyptic Oregon in the wake of a global pandemic that has left much of the populace in a feral, cannibalistic state. Days Gone blends third-person action-adventure with heavy crafting mechanics as Deacon attempts to thrive, or merely survive, in a nightmarish new era.

The PC edition of Days Gone will feature the original single-player campaign alongside the alternate Survival and Challenge modes. Several new bike skins will also offer alternate looks for Deacon's trusty bike. PC options will include support for ultra-wide monitors, mouse & keyboard control options, unlocked frame rates, and various graphical sliders that will allow for increased detail, longer draw distance, and multiple field of view options.

Check out these features in the new trailer below.

Days Gone will come riding onto PC May 18 screenshot


(Update) Nintendo low key lets it slip that the next Mario Maker 2 Ninji speedrun event is the last

[Update: Well the time has come for one major element of Mario Maker 2 to die as well. After noting that the Ninji Speedrun event was coming to a close last month, that era is upon us. Nintendo confirms that the final Ninji Speedrun is Bowser's Castle themed, and is "packed with tricky gimmicks" worthy of a last event.

It'll run through April 27 at 7PM PT, at which point a major online component of Mario Maker 2 will cease to exist. Like Mario Maker 1, you can expect Nintendo to shut off online support at some point too.]

Nintendo is killing Mario Maker 1 online support at the end of the month (don't forget!), but it seems like they're going to be stopping support for Mario Maker 2 soon too, in some form or another.

In this innocuous tweet, Nintendo reminds us that the "Cap Mario Master" Ninji Speedrun Course is out now, which tasks players with collecting 100 coins amid the Super Mario World theme. Fine, right?

Well, in the next tweet reply, which is a little more sly and sans a marquee accompanying image or hashtag, Nintendo also notes that another Ninji speedrun event is "planned to launch on April 14." That's fine too, right? Read the fine print: "The volume of this 20th and final Ninji Speedrun will be bigger than usual and last for 2 weeks. Please be sure to keep an eye out!"

Wait, what? Yep, if you're still enjoying those Ninji speedruns, keep in mind that they seem to be ending in roughly a month. Also, note that Nintendo is willing to drop Mario Maker support like a sack of potatoes, so it stands to reason that in a few more years, Mario Maker 2 could be shut down like its predecessor.

Especially if there's a Mario Maker 3 in the works, with 3D support. I kind of want it, but I also don't want it to be inevitably shut down. Catch-22!

Nintendo of America [Twitter]

(Update) Nintendo low key lets it slip that the next Mario Maker 2 Ninji speedrun event is the last screenshot

Returnal shows Housemarque hasn't forgotten its shmup roots

When Housemarque first announced that it simply felt it had no choice but to leave the shmup scene behind, the Finnish developer's fans were understandably a little disappointed, fearing that the developer would lose its unique style among a suffocating market of third-and-first person shooters. But with the studio's upcoming PS5 release Returnal, it seems that Housemarque is working hard to find a comfortable middle-ground.

As demonstrated in its new "Hostiles" trailer, Housemarque is attempting to blend its colorful, visually splendid aesthetic with a more conventionally popular third-person action approach, while also maintaining the twitchy, pulse-pounding bullet-hell action of the studio's former releases, such as Super Stardust HD, Resogun, and Nex Machina.

While I'd love to have seen Housemarque continue its twin-stick ways, the studio's survival simply required that it step away from its comfort zone and toward mainstream genre gaming at large. This is why it's heartening, at the very least, to see the studio work hard to maintain its unique visual signature, pushing to stand out with a recognizable style - in both visuals and gameplay - as it attempts to break into the cookie-cutter world of AAA gaming.

Returnal shows Housemarque hasn't forgotten its shmup roots screenshot


Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Anniversary Edition will be getting stabby on iOS and Android

Last year was pretty special for fans of Kazutaka Kodaka's bizarre series Danganronpa. The morbid franchise celebrated 10 full years of murder and mayhem in style, offering up new merchandise, crossover events, a brand new website, and a run of fascinating "behind-the-scenes" interview shows in the form of web series "Dangan TV".

While the anniversary festivities may have come to an end, Danganronpa's deadly party is set to continue into 2021, with the coming of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Anniversary Edition, which is currently in development for iOS and Android platforms.

Originally released in 2017 on PS4, PS Vita and PC, Killing Harmony follows Danganronpa's tried-and-tested formula of challenging players to unmask a serial killer lurking among a group of specialized students, each an expert in his or her own field. By exploring the environment, interrogating suspects, and successfully negotiating Killing Harmony's "Class Trial" segments, players will see justice done, whilst keeping their own name off of that great class register in the sky.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Anniversary Edition will be getting stabby on iOS and Android screenshot


Smoke from Rainbow Six Siege turned himself into a pickle

Recently I've been lamenting that Rainbow Six: Siege was a turning point in the way it presents itself. Gone are the days of being married to the stuffy spec-ops tactical gruffness aesthetic, and here to stay was a new age of goofy costumes and animations. For the most part, I've been on board with all they've done. I have been known to chase drones dressed as a giant slice of pizza so I'm not above some silliness. Today's news might be a bridge too far though.

Starting tomorrow, Siege players will be able to purchase skins based on Adult Swim's runaway cartoon success Rick and Morty. Sledge is getting a skin based on the Gromflomites, the antagonist to the titular Rick. Rick won't be snubbed though, because fellow SAS agent Smoke is getting a Pickle Rick costume. That's right kids, time to meme it up in voice chat about how you turned yourself into a pickle.

It's not the absolute worst thing that could happen, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Sure it's harmless and it ultimately doesn't matter to me because I sure as hell won't be buying it, but...why? Why this many years after the meme started do you spend the capital to get the licensing and whatnot? Answers for the ether I suppose.

Gun charms will also be available with both a Pickle Rick and commando Rick variant. For those inclined to buy the costumes or charms, they will be available starting tomorrow, April 15.

Give Buck back his frags.

Rainbow Six Siege [Twitter]

Smoke from Rainbow Six Siege turned himself into a pickle screenshot

What games do you relax with?

Life is stressful, which is a phrase I hate saying because it reminds me of all the stressful things in my life. We're living in crappy times, and many of us are in crappy situations. Thankfully, things are starting to improve for me, but every day is a constant battle. I'm not trying to turn this into a competition, though. You all know how it is.

Given that video games are my hobby of choice, it seems natural that I use them to relax. But not every title is fit for this purpose. For example, I wouldn't want to play Overcooked with my parents as a way to unwind. I'd probably only use that if I wanted to give myself a reason to be disappointed in them for a change. Likewise, I don't use games for escapism. Some people can get lost in World of Warcraft for days at a time, but my mind doesn't work that way. I just need something calming that sets my mind on the right track and slows my heart rate.

So, what games do I use to max and relax? That depends on what kind of stress I'm under, but here's a few examples:

What games do you relax with? screenshot


A celebration of Hidenori Matsubara's Sakura Wars art opens in Japan this month

For decades, Sega's cult JRPG franchise Sakura Wars has been typified by its beautiful character design, excellent music, silly sense of humor, and charming artwork. This latter element in particular will be celebrated in Japan this month, via a traveling art exhibit.

The Sakura Wars Art Festival 2021 consists of a trio of installations which will stop in Tokyo (April 29-May 1), Osaka (May 14-16), and Nagoya (May 28-30). The exhibition spotlights the portfolio of Hidenori Matsubara, who worked as a character designer and artist on the Sakura Wars video games, as well as their anime and TV adaptations.

The festival will showcase Matsubara's work with the franchise, and will include Q&A and signing sessions with the artist himself. Attendees will also get the opportunity to bag exclusive merchandise from the events. Matsubara has been an industry veteran for decades, having also worked on popular anime such as Ah! My Goddess and Evangelion.

I can't help but get a little jealous of Japan's close relationship with the Sakura Wars franchise, with the legendary series often adapted into anime, manga, merchandise, and even live-action stage shows. 2020's Sakura Wars made a brave effort to finally break the west, and delivered a charming and very funny adventure that was unfortunately a little lacking in the action department. Here's hoping that one of the many trademarks filed by Sega last year will pay off in the form of a localized Sakura Wars collection or similar.

Sakura Wars Art Exhibit to be held in Japan [Siliconera / Famitsu]

A celebration of Hidenori Matsubara's Sakura Wars art opens in Japan this month screenshot

Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Wrath of the Druids expansion has been delayed

Assassin's Creed Valhalla was due to get its first major expansion this month with Wrath of the Druids. Ubisoft announced today that Eivor's trip to Ireland will have to wait just a hair long, though.

Wrath of the Druids was previously set for April 29, but will now be going live a few weeks later on May 13. Ubisoft has confirmed there's an article coming as well, to provide some transparency on the dev process behind Valhalla.

I'm still working my own way through Assassin's Creed Valhalla, so a minor delay isn't a huge concern. Though this is set to be the first of two big expansions to the game, with the second taking place in France, the need for a little more time is understandable. The strain of the pandemic has been—and will likely continue to be—felt across the industry, so delays are going to happen.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla has hit a few stumbling blocks, mostly in cleaning up its bugs post-launch. That said, a few more weeks gives me a bit more time to try and finish out the base game before I open up a new Pandora's box of quests and collectibles.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Wrath of the Druids expansion has been delayed screenshot

Call of Duty: Warzone is preparing to nuke Verdansk/Cheaters

Raven Software is getting set to hit the big red button on its multiplayer shooter Call of Duty: Warzone. After weeks - months even - of speculation, the developer is now teasing a cataclysmic event that is about to befall the explosive locale of Verdansk.

A new tweet from the developer denotes April 21, 2021 as a date when anybody not wearing two-million sunblock is gonna have a bad fucking day. It is believed that the recent undead problem - that has been slowly infesting the entire island - is about to be taken care of, Dr. Strangelove style. It's beginning to look like Gen. Ripper exceeded his authority.

What does this mean for Warzone? Well, it appears that doomsday will mark the culmination of Black Ops Cold War's integration into Warzone. Once the fallout has settled, Verdansk will re-emerge with a new/old 1980s aesthetic. It remains to be seen whether this will be the only change to the somewhat stale map. Verdansk has been Warzone's battleground since its March 2020 launch, after all, and the battle royale 'berg could use a little more than just a mullet and some day-glo legwarmers. For now, we'll just have to wait and see.

In related news, publisher Activision has already dropped a nuke on the Call of Duty community, revealing that it has banned over 475,000 accounts from Warzone since launch. As CoD players are fully aware, Warzone has been a haven for cheats. Activision has been regularly shuttering thousands of accounts in efforts to remove the battalion of hackers, modders, and cheat-sellers that are invading Verdansk. But the cheat scene is like a Hydra and Activision is perpetually outnumbered. This is one war that will never be over.

Call of Duty: Warzone is preparing to nuke Verdansk/Cheaters screenshot


Life is Strange True Colors comic book will bridge the gap between games

Life is Strange fans who are eager to dive into the shoe-gazing drama of new entry True Colors will be able to get a sneak peek at protagonist Alex Chen and the town of Haven Springs this summer, courtesy of a tie-in comic coming for Free Comic Book Day.

Published by Titan Comics and available exclusively on August 14, Life is Strange True Colors will feature several new stories featuring favorite characters and locations taken from the award-winning series of graphic adventures. Fans can look forward to a new story starring Before the Storm's Steph Gingrich, while beloved characters Max Caulfield and Chloe Price will also put in a fan-pleasing appearance.

Alex Chen's story is expected to bridge the gap between games, providing a little context to the events of the upcoming sequel, which will see Alex arrive in a new town to reunite with their brother. Of course, things will not go quite as smoothly as planned. The comic is penned and drawn by Life is Strange comic regulars Emma Vieceli, Andrea Izza, and Claudia Leonardi. Back in the gaming realm, Life is Strange True Colors launches September 10 on PlayStation, PC, Xbox, and Stadia platforms.

Life is Strange True Colors comic book will bridge the gap between games screenshot


Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection will see Dead or Alive stars return to battle

Koei Tecmo has released a new trailer for its upcoming compendium Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection. The video focuses on a bevy of babes from 3D fighter Dead or Alive, who will be lending Ryu Hayabusa a hand as he relives the challenging adventures of his past.

Up to their elbows in dead ninja bits are DoA's poster girls (and bitter rivals) Kasumi and Ayane, who bring their mastery of both martial arts and magic to the fracas. Joining them are Hayabusa's apprentice Momiji, who debuted in Nintendo DS release Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword but is perhaps best known for breaking jaws as a guest star in Dead or Alive 5 and 6. Rounding out the quartet is Ninja Gaiden veteran Rachel, who has also spent recent years making her presence felt in DoA's electrified ring.

Koei Tecmo is obviously sticking to the kunoichi theme, as there no sign of Lei-Fang, Hitomi, or any of the non-ninja DoA gals. This is a shame, as I'd love to see Tina giving a samurai a frankensteiner. Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection will contain remastered editions of Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, complete with all previously released DLC and some exclusive artwork, making it a fine package for those yet to experience these tough-as-nails hack 'n' slash classics.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection launches June 10 on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection will see Dead or Alive stars return to battle screenshot

Oculus announces potentially game-changing feature that lets the Quest 2 stream PC VR games

The Oculus Quest 2 is a fantastic little device, and with software update v28, it's getting even more impressive.

Oculus has announced that they're going to be rolling out a new feature called "Air Link," which lets you stream content from your gaming PC to the Oculus Quest 2. Why does this matter? Well the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor on the Quest 2 is powerful enough to run a lot of games confidently, it's no match for a proper gaming PC that can say, run Half-Life Alyx.

You can already do this now with the Oculus Link cable, but the whole point of the Quest line is that you're playing VR without tethers, so they're fully realizing that concept with Air Link. Oculus boasts that you can play "high-end PC titles" using the feature over Wi-Fi, and it'll be available in "experimental mode" [beta] soon before they fully polish it.

Oculus has some other features that are coming beyond Air Link, too. They're boasting an "Infinite Office" concept, which allows you to work from home with a virtual desk and utilize tools like browsers and the like. You can also pair up Logitech K830 keyboards and sync them in real life and the game. 

Plus, the Quest 2 is getting 120 HZ support, which developers can now use to essentially boost Quest 2 games to higher framerates. It's good news all around. There's still no word on eliminating the Facebook requirement, which is sadly (and understandably!) shutting a lot of people out from what might be the most influential VR device to date.

Hubris is holding back VR yet again.

Oculus Air Link [Oculus]

Oculus announces potentially game-changing feature that lets the Quest 2 stream PC VR games screenshot

Everything shown during the April Nintendo Indie World Showcase

A new Nintendo Indie World Showcase debuted this morning, and it had a little bit of everything. There were Aztec myths, sick tricks, and even FEZ, that precocious little platformer.

In roughly 20 minutes, the showcase ran down a list of games coming to Nintendo Switch as far out as next year and as soon as today. Here's a rundown of everything they showed:

  • Road 96: This road-trip roguelite got revealed last year, and it's still looking pretty rad. Also a little unsettling. It's set for Nintendo Switch later this year.
  • Oxenfree II: Lost Signals: Another Oxenfree is coming, set five years after the first but still featuring plenty of radio-wave ghosts by the look of it. The first Oxenfree was one of my big surprises of the year back in 2016, so I'm definitely excited to see what Night School has in store later this year.
  • OlliOlli World: Take one excellent 2D skate franchise, turn it into a 2.5D world with branching paths and quirky characters, and now you have OlliOlli World. It's coming to Nintendo Switch this winter, where I will once again return to the rails and bail spectacularly.
  • Hindsight / Last Stop: Annapurna Interactive, the publisher who's picked up previous indie hits like What Remains of Edith Finch and Gorogoa, had two new games to showcase today. Last Stop is the supernatural narrative adventure we've seen at a few other showcases and still looks pretty interesting. Hindsight looks pretty rad too; it's a narrative game about an older woman reminiscing about her family, with objects serving as portals into the past. That's coming this year, while Last Stop is scheduled for July.
  • The Longing: The 400-day wait for a king to awaken is coming to Nintendo Switch, which should make the excruciating wait a little more manageable. As your in-game character waits out their painful respite in real-time, you can explore, manage puzzles, and generally vibe in the cave systems. It's also out later today, so hurry up and start waiting!
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge: Not too much info was shown for this beat 'em up, but what more do you need? It's Tribute games and Dotemu, it's coming to Switch later this year, and good lord, it looks absolutely radical.
  • GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon: One of the stranger reveals, this game from GuruGuru and Konami (!!!) has a super-stylized look, mixed with a roguelite setup. It looks like there are some gorgeous monsters to hack-and-slash through, but honestly, it was wild enough seeing Konami's name pop up in the showcase. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is coming to Switch next year.

Everything shown during the April Nintendo Indie World Showcase screenshot


The House of the Dead: Remake is out this year and here's how it looks on Nintendo Switch

It's been long enough since Forever Entertainment announced it was remaking The House of the Dead 1 and 2 that I was caught totally off-guard when I saw the first remake pop up in a montage during this morning's Nintendo Indie World Showcase. Now that the dust has settled, here's the full-length trailer.

I'm glad The House of the Dead: Remake exists, and I'd be happy to see more rail shooter revivals whenever and wherever that makes sense. That said, I'm trying to reserve judgment on this one until there are concrete details — bullet points like "modern graphics and controls," "true to the original gameplay," and "multiple endings" can't do all of the heavy lifting. There are screenshots, at least.

On Twitter, the HOTDRemake account has been dodging questions about other platforms and whether or not there will be motion controls; the go-to response is "more info coming soon." MegaPixel did confirm a red/green blood toggle, and reiterated that The House of the Dead 2: Remake is happening.

I'm firmly in wait-and-see mode, especially until we know the price. Panzer Dragoon: Remake was $25.

The House of the Dead: Remake is out this year and here's how it looks on Nintendo Switch screenshot

This Zelda: Breath of the Wild demake looks like something I'd play

The draw of demakes is undeniable.

As someone who has played pretty much every retro classic to date, the joy of jumping into a fan-crafted demake just to see how they interpret things differently is a mesmerizing feeling. It's especially transcendent when you take a 3D or otherwise completely different game and transpose it onto the 2D format.

That's absolutely what this creator did here with their Zelda: Breath of the Wild demake in the style of Zelda games of old like Link's Awakening. Ohana Studio (who launched their first game on Steam not too long ago) notes that this is "not a full game," and that it's "just a prototype" made out of love for the original Game Boy line Zelda games. If it gets enough support, they might "make a full non-Zelda survival style Game Boy Color style game" out of the concept, substituting in non-Nintendo assets.

This Zelda: Breath of the Wild demake looks like something I'd play screenshot


OlliOlli World shows how far Roll7 has come since the first game

It took a bit for today's Nintendo Indie World Showcase to get going, but I immediately latched onto OlliOlli World the moment it showed up. The next skateboarding game from Roll7 looks fantastic — and it's more ambitious than I would've expected. You've got to see these out-there character designs.

According to the studio, we'll be able to customize our skater's looks, tricks, and style while also carving our own path in the wacky world of Radland — literally. The levels have branching paths. That's one way to ease players into the end goal of reaching a hyper-focused zen state with mad combos.

Game director Tom Hegarty says that like the prior games, OlliOlli World boils down to "flow."

The trailer pretty much shows what it needed to at this point. I'm in! One extra note: there will be a separate sandbox mode with procedural levels that players can share using a "Zip code system."

OlliOlli World is coming to Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S from Roll7 and publisher Private Division in winter 2021.

OlliOlli World shows how far Roll7 has come since the first game screenshot

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is coming this year, and set five years after the first

Looks like it's time to returned to the haunted beaches of Oxenfree. Today, during the Nintendo Indie World Showcase, Night School Studio announced a sequel to its debut game, titled Oxenfree II: Lost Signals.

Set five years after the events of Oxenfree, Lost Signals follows a character named Riley, who returns to her hometown Camena to investigate some mysterious radio signals. As you might expect, she finds something a bit stranger than weird airwaves.

Not much more has been revealed, but Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is set to launch sometime this year, for both Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. 

Coincidentally, it's also been five years since the launch of the first Oxenfree. If you've yet to check out that excellent narrative adventure, well, now's a great time to do so. Just be sure to grab some tissues for the tears, and maybe keep the lights on for the scares.

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is coming this year, and set five years after the first screenshot

Fez is back with a Nintendo Switch version out today

Has it been long enough that you could go through Fez again with fresh eyes? I'm at that point and then some — it's been years! The perspective-shifting platforming adventure is coming to Nintendo Switch... today! I love when they're able to pull that off during Nintendo Directs and Indie World Showcases.

The Nintendo Switch version costs $14.99 and it takes up 1.3GB. It's up on the eShop now, if you're so inclined. During the launch window, there's a 10 percent discount knocking the price down to $13.49.

More than the world and puzzles (which I dig), I'm tempted to play Fez again just to sink into Disasterpeace's immaculate soundtrack. It's some of my favorite chill-out video game music ever.

Fez is back with a Nintendo Switch version out today screenshot

(Update) A new Nintendo Indie World Showcase is coming tomorrow

[Update: The show's about to start!]

May is approaching and the summer months of games soon after, but before we get there, there's always some time for indies.

Nintendo announced today that it's hosting another Indie World Showcase tomorrow, April 14, at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT. The live stream can be watched on Nintendo's website or through streaming services like YouTube, embedded below:

The showcase is expected to feature roughly 20 minutes, focused on "fresh and new indie games" coming to Nintendo Switch. And remember, this is an Indie World Showcase; if you go into this hoping for news about Breath of the Wild 2 or Metroid Prime 4, well, I don't know what to tell you, other than you clearly ache for disappointment.

Of course, this will no doubt spur up more anticipation for the long-awaited Hollow Knight: Silksong. There are some other eagerly sought-after indies, like Axiom Verge 2, that would be neat to see again.

I like surprises, though. Usually these showcases are a way to expose Switch owners to games they wouldn't normally seek out or hear about, and sometimes a two-minute spot on a showcase makes the difference. Big reveals are always nice, but with the summer and some version of E3 looming in the distance, I'm happy just to add some charming new experiences to my wishlist.

(Update) A new Nintendo Indie World Showcase is coming tomorrow screenshot

First Kratos, now Aloy is joining Fortnite

The last few seasons of Fortnite have been extremely video game oriented.

Kratos and Master Chief were two headliners from the last go-around, and Lara Croft kicked off this new season of the game. Now, Aloy from the Horizon Zero Dawn series is joining the fray. It makes sense, given the "primal" theme of the season, and that bows are a big focus of the weaponry shuffle.

As announced on the Fortnite blog, Aloy will be a part of the game on April 15, and will arrive with the lore-heavy blaze canister back bling, a spear pickaxe, a Glinthawk glider, a Shield-Weaver wrap, a Heart-rizon emote (which creates a wireframe heart in the same vein as some of the narrative briefings) and a bundle-only loading screen.

Generally, these bundles tend to go for 2,200 V-Bucks (a little over $15). Just like Kratos, if you play the game on PS5, you'll unlock an extra style (Ice Hunter Aloy) for the skin for free If you're keen, you can also play as Aloy and Lara Croft in a team-up mode, which debuts on April 16 at 9AM ET and runs through April 18 at 9AM ET. Aloy will be kitted out with a bow and Lara will sport her dual pistols.

So when is Nintendo getting in on the action? There's some "primal" characters they could choose from. Also, don't forget that there's a perfect crossover in the form of Monster Hunter.

Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn [Epic Games]

First Kratos, now Aloy is joining Fortnite screenshot

Code Name: X is a Persona 5 spin-off headed to mobile in China

Chinese developer Perfect World Games has announced a new mobile title, Code Name: X, with all signs pointing toward the mysterious new game being a spin-off of Atlus' mega-popular JRPG Persona, specifically its 2016 entry, Persona 5.

At first, Perfect World was keeping everything on the hush-hush, releasing an announcement trailer alongside several screenshots. But given the art style, jazzy score, and unmistakable aesthetic, it's not all that tough to figure out what franchise the mysterious new game is part of... Oh also, the artwork files are literally titled "P5." The collaboration was later confirmed by industry analyst Daniel Ahmad.

Details about the game itself are thin on the ground, but the trailer shows a busy and sprawling metropolis, wherein a hooded figure (Joker?) dashes from rooftop to rooftop while an attractive, grey-haired woman (but not Sae Niijima) tracks his every move. While gameplay cannot be ascertained from this clip, the woman's use of GPS to track our hero suggests that Code Name: X is an AR title.

No release date or western localization has been announced for the new game. Code Name: X will be the latest in a line of spin-offs set in the Persona 5 universe, following titles such as Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, Persona 5 Dancing, and the recent musou-lite, Persona 5 Strikers.

Code Name: X is a Persona 5 spin-off headed to mobile in China screenshot


The hits keep coming: Square Enix is taking down the Balan Wonderworld demo

Man, Balan Wonderworld.

I mean, once the demo hit a lot of people weren't super enthusiastic about its success. Even when Square Enix announced that there would be changes based on demo feedback,  folks weren't hopeful that they'd essentially be able to overhaul the entire game. Cue the Ron Howard voice: "they didn't."

It's a shame, because that lack of polish reflected in both the reviews for the game and in the sales figures, when Balan failed to chart in pretty much every console's top-seller list. Now, Square Enix is pulling the demo, presumably to put all of this behind them. Announced on the game's official Twitter account, the demo will be pulled from consoles at 23:59 JST today, with the Steam version of the demo scheduled for execution on April 15 at 2AM JST.

If you recall, there was actually a small bonus included for demo players, which is going to be detached from the trial going forward. The account confirms that the "trial benefits" will be distributed "at a later date," presumably as free DLC.

Again, it's a shame it all turned out like this. We need more mascot platformers in the industry, and one coming up short like Balan Wonderworld can deter others from creating more. At the end of the day though the quality spoke for itself.

Balan Wonderworld [Twitter] Thanks John!

The hits keep coming: Square Enix is taking down the Balan Wonderworld demo screenshot

Naughty Dog 'wishes' it was working on a new Jak & Daxter, but it isn't

Naughty Dog, a studio seemingly locked into making Uncharted and The Last of Us releases until the end of time, has closed down internet hopes that it is secretly working on a new entry in fantasy franchise Jak & Daxter.

The fevered fan requests were addressed by Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells in an Academy of Interactive Arts & Science's Game Maker interview, conducted by Insomniac Games' Ted Price and transcribed by news outlet VGC.

"We've had a couple of Twitter campaigns where people have been tweeting us every single day... 'I want a new Jak & Daxter, I want a new Jak & Daxter.' And they aren't just simple 280-character tweets, they have Photoshopped memes and everything they're including on a daily basis, and the effort has got to be significant."

"I hate to break it to them," continues Wells. "We do not have Jak & Daxter here in development right now. We still love the characters and I see what you guys [Insomniac] are doing [with Ratchet & Clank] and that makes me wish that we did, and we would have one in development because there's still a lot of love for Jak & Daxter in the studio."

It's tough news to take for fans of the quirky platforming franchise, given that the last (non-compendium) Jak & Daxter release was way back in 2009, with PSP entry Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier. Still, it will be interesting to see if any impact from Insomniac's upcoming Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart can help catch Sony's eyes and ears. But given the publisher's current focus on mainstream blockbusters over all else, any potential J&D return will apparently remain a pipe dream for the time being.

Naughty Dog 'wishes' it was working on a new Jak & Daxter, but it isn't screenshot

Abandoning Cyberpunk 2077 'not an option' says CDPR, latest patch now live on all platforms

[Update: The newest patch for Cyberpunk 2077 - Version 1.21 - dropped this morning on PC and consoles. You can read the patch notes right here.]

CD Projekt RED has reiterated that it is fully committed to fixing, improving, and growing its ambitious RPG Cyberpunk 2077 over the coming years, adamantly stating that the idea of shelving the troubled title and moving on is not even on the table.

"I don't see an option to shelve Cyberpunk 2077," CDPR executive Adam Kicinski said in a recent dialogue with Reuters. "We are convinced that we can bring the game to such a state that we can be proud of it and therefore successfully sell it for years to come."

After years of hype and development, Cyberpunk 2077 finally launched in disastrous fashion in December 2020. In increasingly volatile launch weeks, the PS4 and Xbox One editions of the futuristic adventure were plagued with technical issues - slaughtering the title's reputation, birthing an array of mocking memes, and raising the ire of players, shareholders, and publishers alike. Cyberpunk 2077 would see itself be pulled from various digital stores, as platform holders such as PlayStation refused to be part of the incendiary backlash toward the release.

With PS5 and Xbox Series X editions currently in the works, years worth of plans for DLC and expansions, and millions of dollars of development investment, CDPR has no choice but to regain full control of this situation - repairing Cyberpunk 2077, polishing the next-gen ports, and hoping that a pseudo-relaunch will go some way toward fixing the reputation of both the brand and its developer.

It's completely doable - there have been numerous major releases that finally found their feet after a poor launch. For CDPR, a studio with a near-pristine reputation for developing excellent titles, Cyberpunk 2077 was expected to be its magnum opus - a release that truly launched a new generation of gaming. There's no denying that moment has long passed. But it doesn't mean that CDPR can't ensure that future iterations of Cyberpunk 2077 do deliver on audience expectations of its audience, which might go some way to salvaging the franchise lest it becomes completely lost in time... Like tears in rain.

CD Projekt has no plans to shelve Cyberpunk 2077 []

Abandoning Cyberpunk 2077 'not an option' says CDPR, latest patch now live on all platforms screenshot

Monster Hunter has become the only game I buy at launch

[In this community blog, Destructoid user Moths delves into why the Monster Hunter series still has so much goodwill after 15-plus years, and why players keep coming back for more without burning out. The hunt can't stop. -Jordan.]

We live in an era of effectively infinite games. Whatever your tastes, it has never been easier to find a game you'll enjoy and to play it. It's true that there could always be more: more variety, more quality, better preservation of old titles. But ultimately the fact of playing games in this day and age is that there is already more than you need in your entire lifetime. And yet they just keep coming.

That can be overwhelming. Presented with such a vast territory, there's an impulse to come up with ways of dividing and traversing it. We create or are presented with niches for ourselves: loyalties, habits, aversions, etc. Shortcuts. Maybe you don't play racing games, maybe you often play whatever happens to be on PlayStation Plus. The zeitgeist is a big one. There's always a handful of games that have enormously more cultural traction than the rest... until they don't. But that's the crux of it: an external force that is able to answer the question "what should I play next?" whenever it is called upon to do so.

Personally, I'm a little uncomfortable with that. For one thing, the games of the moment are usually new, and the industry is such that a game at launch is typically both more expensive and worse than that same game two years later. Coming late to the party has become a smart move if you're more interested in the contents of your glass than you are in the ability to clink it.

I also just don't like the idea of letting somebody else tell me what to play. And I really don't like the idea of letting the sum of everybody else do it. I've ended up designing a little system designed to give me a balanced gaming diet while alleviating the burden of choice. This is completely neurotic behavior, but fuck it. It works. I enjoy games more with my nonsense than I did without it.

Anyway, Monster Hunter Rise is the only thing I've played since it came out.

Monster Hunter has become the only game I buy at launch screenshot


Alexa can start up Xbox Game Pass downloads now

Smart speakers can do a lot: control your music, maintain a grocery list, and wake you up in the morning. Now, you can also tell them to start downloading some Halo to your Xbox.

Today, Amazon and Microsoft announced a new Alexa skill that will allow the smart speaker to download Xbox Game Pass games to connected Xbox consoles. It doesn't require any special invocations either—according to a press release, you can just ask Alexa to initiate the download by saying "Alexa, download (whatever game) from Xbox Game Pass" and then link their accounts through the Alexa app.

Alexa can also read off what's popular, what's new or leaving the lineup, and the user can also enquire if specific games are available. I tried it just now with my Echo Dot, and it definitely works.

I don't have an Xbox Series X or S, but if I do ever pick up Microsoft's console, it's novel to me that I'll be able to remotely start downloading Game Pass games by just asking Alexa. In the course of a generation, we've gone from dedicated storefronts to apps and now smart speakers—it's pretty impressive.

More importantly, if you own an Echo device, an Xbox, and have a Game Pass, you can just say "Alexa, download Yakuza 0 from Xbox Game Pass" aloud right now and instantly make your day better.

Alexa can start up Xbox Game Pass downloads now screenshot

Former Dragon Age 2 dev reflects on what they would change, a decade later

Dragon Age 2 has had a swerving legacy. It launched to poor critical reception, yet its stories and characters endured in the fandom, and the sequel garnered its own following.

It was also a famously troubled project, with the team having an extremely small development window to work in and an expansion leading into Dragon Age: Inquisition left on the table. It's hard not to wonder what could have been if the studio had been given more time.

Today, just over a decade since Dragon Age 2 launched, several developers who worked on the project are now reminiscing on it and wondering what-if. It largely kicked off with David Gaider, lead writer on Dragon Age 2 and current Creative Director at Summerfall Studios, answering a simple question: "If you could Zack Snyder [Dragon Age 2], what would you change?"

Former Dragon Age 2 dev reflects on what they would change, a decade later screenshot


Gord is a fantasy town-builder with 'adventure strategy' questing

We're never going to run out of city-builders and management games, but what about something like Gord? It immediately stands out with its roots in Slavic folklore, a survival-oriented premise, and the ability to head out on quests. This isn't a game to peacefully chill out with, that's for dang sure.

As your settlement grows, you'll have to tangle with threats on multiple fronts: other tribes, freaky beasts, hunger and illness, crumbling sanity, and even monstrous gods, who can grant your people incantations. (I'm willing to do potentially unspeakable acts to earn powerful spells.) Taken as a whole, Gord seems like it'll be in a similar headspace as games like Frostpunk, RimWorld, and Darkest Dungeon.

About those quests — Gord uses an "AI-driven" system, according to "Main objectives will guide your gameplay, while versatile side quests and random encounters will send you off into the wilderness to hunt down a legendary creature or fight off a nasty scourge that has infected the region."

I also like the sound of custom scenarios in which "almost anything can be adjusted." That sentiment stems from a keeping-things-fresh-over-time perspective, and also the desire to eventually win with the annoying stuff scaled back; Don't Starve comes to mind. In Gord, we'll be able to change elements like "the level size, the intensity of raids, the environment you'll play in, the types of enemies you'll face, starting resources, and even the severity of weather. Of course, don't forget the Horrors."

The studio, founded by CD Projekt Red and 11 bit studios producer Stan Just, is expecting a 2022 PC launch for Gord on Steam. We'll be keeping tabs, for sure. There's a lot to like just in this first showing.

Go ahead and wishlist the game on Steam as needed (or just wishlist it in your heart).

Gord is a fantasy town-builder with 'adventure strategy' questing screenshot

Janina Gavankar joins Borderlands movie as new character Commander Knoxx

Lionsgate is not done casting for its upcoming Borderlands big-screen adaptation. As reported by Deadline, the multi-talented Janina Gavanakar has been added to the movie's star-studded cast, which already includes Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Hart, Edgar Ramirez, and Jack Black, among others.

The American-Indian actor is renown for a body of work on both big and small screens, having appeared on TV shows True Blood, The L Word, Arrow, and The Morning Show, as well movies such as 2018's Blindspotting and 2020's The Way Back. Away from the cameras, Gavankar is a noted musician, having recorded many songs for film and television. Despite her stocked resume, video game fans might best recognize Gavankar from her role as Iden Versio, the protagonist of EA's Star Wars Battlefront II.

In Borderlands, Gavankar will be portraying all-new character Commander Knoxx, the daughter of Borderlands villain General Knoxx. Like her father, it does not appear that the Commander is going to be lending our would-be heroes a hand, and will no doubt be raising hell for Lillith and co. in the wastelands of Pandora. It sounds like a role that will suit Gavankar to a tee, and I'm excited to see her in action alongside the rest of Borderlands' rag-tag team of reprobates.

Janina Gavankar joins Borderlands movie as new character Commander Knoxx screenshot

BioWare breaks down Mass Effect: Legendary Edition's visual overhaul

The Mass Effect remasters are coming up pretty soon, and there are some changes in store for Commander Shepard and their intrepid crew.

Last week, BioWare discussed the gameplay changes coming to the trilogy, especially for the first Mass Effect. (Guess some of y'all weren't fans of the Mako?) This week, it's all about the graphics.

The BioWare dev blog details three phases of visual reconstruction: boosting up textures and upgrading the Unreal Engine 3 under the hood; improving assets to reflect the passage of time—Liara, for example—and improving particles and little details, like skin, hair, and eye shaders; re-rendered cutscenes at 4K where possible; and broader improvements to levels.

Some of these are clear tune-ups, like the revised portrayals of series mainstays like Liara, Garrus, and Tali. Others are pretty significant, as locales like Feros look pretty substantially different, and Noveria's lighting has clearly been reworked.

I'm of a few minds about these changes. On the one hand, the updated character models look genuinely fantastic. Ashley and Tali stood out right away, and even though we've seen some touch-ups like Thane's they're still pretty to look at.

On the other hand, some of the lighting changes are taking some time to get used to. Mass Effect has a very distinct visual style, especially the first game. Whether that was intentional or a product of the time, I'm missing some of the more dramatic lighting situations (the scene with Anderson in the drop ship, around 1:27 in the video above, is a good example of what I'm talking about). 

We'll see soon enough how it all comes together, though. The Mass Effect Legendary Edition is due out on May 14 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with forward compatibility for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

BioWare breaks down Mass Effect: Legendary Edition's visual overhaul screenshot