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  • 02/23/18--12:47: Fortnite V.3.0.0 Patch Notes
  • Here's what you can expect from the Fortnite V.3.0.0 patch.

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Feb 23, 2018

    Epic Games has dropped a new patch for its smash hit sandbox survival game Fortnite. Along with all the Season 3 Battle Pass content coming to the game, there are quite a few fixes being introduced through the V.3.0.0 patch, as well as new items and weapon adjustments. 

    Major improvements include the ability to build structures virtually anywhere in the game's world. You can even build through trees, rocks, and cars. Structural support still works the same way -- only terrain or other buildings will support your built structures, not objects you build through. If you run out of materials while building, you’ll now automatically switch to the next material with available resources.

    The Hand cannon has finally been added to the Battle Royale mode. Pump Shotgun behavior has been addressed. Firing the Pump Shotgun and quickly switching weapons will now require you to pump the shotgun before the next shot. A hoverboard is also being added to the Save the World questline.

    60 FPS mode has been added for PS4, Xbox One, PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Battle Royale now defaults to 60 FPS, but you can switch back to 30 FPS in the settings if you prefer higher quality visuals.

    Finally, a new musical score is also being added to the game. The score was created by film composer Marco Beltrami (Logan) and Pinar Toprak (Krypton). 

    You can check out the complete patch notes here.

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    In 1986, Metroid turned atmosphere into one of the most important aspects of the video game experience.

    Feature Matthew Byrd
    Feb 23, 2018

    When we talk about innovations in gaming, too often the conversation is limited to technology. It’s an understandable limitation. Not only are video games still considered to be a technological medium first and foremost by many people, but it’s far easier to cite a technological advancement as an innovation simply because we can definitely declare something to be the first of its kind through verifiable facts. This being the age of the internet, and therefore an age where nobody wants to feel like they’ve been fooled by a lack of information, such facts offer a kind of comfort.

    If you try to search 1986’s Metroid for such innovations, you may be disappointed in your findings. While Metroid represented the very best of NES technology at the time of its release, it didn’t exactly test the full limits of the system. Similarly, some of its most impressive features, such as its non-linear progression, save system, and multiple endings were not, actually, the first of their kind. The Legend of Zelda (released about six months before Metroid) beat this game to the punch in terms of a NES game that challenged the classic level by level progression methodology and even featured a more advanced save system that allowed you to store your progress directly on the cartridge as opposed to relying on a password system.

    Despite all this, Metroid is typically remembered as a title like no other for those that played it upon release, and rightfully so. This isn’t because Metroid forever changed the way we look at gaming from a technological standpoint, but rather because of the way it established atmosphere, one so dense in alien weirdness that players couldn't help but feel lost in a world not their own.

    Although the idea of atmosphere as it relates to entertainment wasn't a new concept prior to the release of Metroid, those discussions were almost entirely limited to the world of film. Many filmmakers considered the label of “atmospheric” to be one of the highest compliments their work could receive. For a movie to be called atmospheric, it needed to be able to truly engulf the viewer into the world the director created. Not invest them in the story alone, necessarily, but rather use a combination of sensory techniques intended to make the viewer feel as if they truly are in the movie. 

    Considering that most people are trained to tune their brains to the fact that entertainment is not reality, this level of immersion in films is typically limited to those creators who can master sight and sound in such a way that the viewer is hypnotized into believing that they have been transported.

    You would think that games would have had a much easier time of generating such a sensation. After all, video games are an inherently more immersive entertainment medium than films by the simple virtue of the player’s ability to actually dictate the action of the games. You might not technically be inside the world of a video game, but you are responsible for controlling an avatar that is.

    Yet, early video games did not strive for true atmosphere. You can certainly blame technology, in part, for this shortcoming, but you must also consider that the market at the time was demanding fast and easy entertainment from games and not titles that strived for a higher artistic purpose. After all, video games weren't viewed as an artistic form of storytelling, a new medium for artistic expression—a status that the industry, especially the indie sector, enjoys today. But in 1986, that was not gaming’s role, even if the creators did believe the industry was capable of accomplishing such a thing. Video games were still largely considered to be mindless entertainment.

    Metroid was the first game to challenge that belief, and it did so, brazenly enough, by making players truly feel like they were alone. What’s particularly interesting about that sensation is the way that Metroid accomplished it.

    Much as it is in films, Metroid was able to create a sense of atmosphere, in part, through sights and sounds. Yoshio Sakamoto, one of the game's developers, once shared in a blog post that he and the rest of the Metroiddevelopment team initially set out to create a game that “took place in a gloopy, alien-like world.” Right from the very start, the team’s primary focus as it concerned the design of Metroid was to create a certain type of visual style that didn’t feel as if it belonged to any other game out there. Indeed, Sakamoto criticized the early design of Metroid’s levels by stating that “the backgrounds didn’t give you the sense that they were alive.”

    Alive is certainly the best way to describe the look of Metroid, even if much of the game sees you traverse a barren environment that was, perhaps, once great. Despite some necessary repetition in the level design, Metroid is still able to create a sense of flow in its levels that no other game at that point ever had. This isn’t a series of independently designed levels loosely strung together; it’s a living world where everything feels as if it belongs. It's a visual quality that also, somewhat unfortunately, presents itself in the game's enemies, which look like the kind of organic monstrosities you might expect to see in such a habitat, whereas most games of the era were simply trying to fill the screen with as many foes as possible whether or not they felt like they belonged. They're almost too beautiful to kill or, at least, to nightmarish to fight.

    In creating this dark vision of a game that combined Super Mario platforming with the non-linear exploration of Zelda, Sakamoto says the team looked to a specific film for the visual aesthetic: Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi-horror masterpiece, Alien. (In case you didn't know, Nintendo named Samus Aran's archnemesis "Ridley" after the director.) 

    “I think the film Alien had a huge influence on the production of the first Metroidgame. All of the team members were affected by H.R. Giger’s design work, and I think they were aware that such designs would be a good match for the Metroid world we had already put in place,"Sakamoto told Retro Gamer. The team knew that the game would look much different from the rest of Nintendo's much brighter lineup. "To be honest, I’ve never really been clear on what is or isn’t the ‘Nintendo look’, but as far as we were concerned, we were just projecting another image from within Nintendo – another face of Nintendo, if you like. But yes, it’s a science-fiction game, so…”

    Of course, visuals alone do not create atmosphere. Some would argue, actually, that it is only with perfect sound design that you can truly create the illusion of being. According to Sakamoto, the Hirokazu Tanaka’s original score for Metroid was designed to “(make) you feel as though you were actually there. Ever since then, I’ve maintained a strong conviction that music has an incredible power to project certain atmospheres.”

    He is most certainly right. Nintendo games may have a proud history of fantastic soundtracks that pre-date Metroid, but no other soundtrack up until this point had been designed to create a singular feeling of dread and isolation. So effective is Metroid’s score that it often feels as if it is coming not from your television speakers, but rather that it is being screamed by the game’s levels in an effort to bleed their pain and infect your mind.

    But interestingly enough, Tanaka's score might be most notable for the sounds that aren't there. A creeping silence invades the game at times, like you're listening to the void. As music theorist and composer Andrew Schartmann points out in his book, Maestro Mario: How Nintendo Transformed Videogame Music into an Art, this again comes from the playbook of Alien, which was scored by the brilliant Jerry Goldsmith. 

    "Tanaka’s greatest contribution to game music comes, paradoxically, in the form of silence," Schartmann writer. "He was arguably the first videogame composer to emphasize the absence of sound in his music. Tanaka’s score is an embodiment of isolation and atmospheric effect—one that penetrates deeply into the emotions."

    In an interview with Gamasutra, Tanaka, who got his first gig at Nintendo designing the sounds for a 1980 arcade game called Space Firebird, said that he wanted to get away from the more upbeat scores that the video games of the time had to offer. 

    "I wasn't happy with the trend, because those melodies weren't necessarily matched with the tastes and atmospheres that the games originally had," said Tanaka. "The sound design for Metroid was, therefore, intended to be the antithesis for that trend. I had a concept that the music for Metroid should be created not as game music, but as music the players feel as if they were encountering a living creature. I wanted to create the sound without any distinctions between music and sound effects. The image I had was, 'Anything that comes out from the game is the sound that game makes.'"

    To accomplish the minimalist tone of Metroid's sound, Tanaka created a score that lacked a sustained melody throughout the experience: "As you know, the melody in Metroid is only used at the ending after you killed the Mother Brain. That's because I wanted only a winner to have a catharsis at the maximum level. For the reason, I decided that melodies would be eliminated during the gameplay. By melody here I mean something that someone can sing or hum.

    "I suppose some of the players felt it was little bit too heavy. Back then, many people said the game music for Metroid was too serious. However, I believe I succeeded in emphasizing the characteristic of Metroid by synchronizing the theme of the music with the theme of the gameplay where a player must escape from an underground maze."

    Tanaka was right, of course. Later iterations of Metroid have continued the original's unique relationship with sound. If you've never had the pleasure, pick up the Metroid Prime soundtrack and play the Chozo sections on loop. Absolutely haunting stuff.

    But sound and visuals aren't the only things that make a game. The gameplay has to deliver first and foremost. The reason we still talk about Metroid today is that all three aspects are married perfectly to create the unique experience. In fact, Metroid’s greatest gift to atmospheric gaming is the way that it used gameplay to generate true immersion in a way that no movie ever could.

    There always comes a point (several points, actually) in Metroid when the player feels hopelessly lost. Some games had experimented with this concept before (again, The Legend of Zelda is a great example), but no other title of this speed had ever really emphasized making the player feel helpless on an intellectual level quite like Metroid did. It accomplished this, in large part, by introducing backtracking to video games.

    By forcing players to really consider the entire Metroid map as fair game for progress, it also forced them to come to terms with the fact that they were playing an action-based game that wouldn't yield its rewards simply because every enemy on screen was dead. The true battle here is against the game's map, which allows you to scroll both left and right and have a look at the flow of the entire layout at once. That's something we take for granted today, but you can imagine how disorienting that could be for someone who had just finished playing Super Mario Bros.

    In another departure from other games of its era, Metroidrequired you to find specific tools to finish the game, such as the ice beam and missiles. That design method was quite the shift from an era of temporary power-ups in gaming. In order to find these weapons, though, you'd have to survive a merciless gauntlet that made earning these power-ups worthwhile, if not absolutely terrifying.

    If you're going to beat Metroid, you're going to have to plunge deeper and deeper into this hostile dungeon and simply hope that you'll be able to think you're way out when no obvious answer presents itself. Much of the game’s “appeal” was based on the fact that it would provide players with many moments that forced them to stand alone in a dark sector of the universe attempting to find salvation while a haunting melody seeped into their brains and confirmed their worst fears with glee.

    Why would players seek such an experience? Because it makes them feel. They feel not just the terror and dread that environments such as Metroid are built to inspire, but a sense of accomplishment from surviving such a hostile world that could never be equaled by even the most terrifying of singular foes. A movie like Alien drags you through its atmosphere of terror and forces you to decide if you will be carried with dignity or kicking and screaming. Metroid simply places you into its darkness without any promise that you'll find a way out, yet it gives you the slim hope that you'll be able to call yourself the master of its world.

    What a great gift that has been to the art of game design. It is thanks to Metroid that we now have games like Silent Hill and its fog-drenched world capable of making us feel more afraid than most movies ever could. It’s thanks to Metroid that a title like Dark Souls can make you feel both helpless and invincible. It’s thanks to the atmosphere of Metroid that we know a game can tell a story without saying a word.

    It's been more than 30 years since the world was introduced to Metroid, and it's still hard to adequately describe the way the game's atmosphere is able to seep into your skin and stick to your soul. That's not a technological fact; it's something much more impressive. 

    Matthew Byrd is a staff writer.

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    Lord of the onion rings.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 23, 2018

    Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada is working on a truly bizarre new game called Little Dragons Cafe

    Little Dragons Cafe follows a brother and sister who are tasked with raising a dragon in order to help their mother wake from a deep sleep. Now, that might sound like a fairly reasonable description for a fantasy experience so far, but that's only because we haven't talked about the game's restaurant management aspects. 

    Yes, this fantasy title requires players to run a small cafe that seems to have been the family business before all this tragedy. Doing so requires you to manage the menu, go out and find new ingredients, grow your own crops (how very fantasy hipster), and do a little fishing. The full extent of the game's restaurant management aspect isn't quite clear, but it sounds like its less of a Cooking Mama type game and more of a resource management type experience. 

    On top of it all, you'll also be able to socialize with some of the surrounding villagers. There's actually a practical element to all this interacting with other people as doing so can increase the popularity of your restaurant and seemingly help you access more resources. 

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    There's actually still quite a lot we don't know about this game as of yet. For instance, nobody has said exactly how the dragon raising will be incorporated in the restaurant element - if it will at all - and what the actual end game here is. Still, considering that there aren't enough food and fantasy games out there - all due respect to the great Battle Chef Brigade - there's something fundamentally appealing about the idea of participating in a grand fantasy quest while knocking out the lunch rush. 

    If you're interested in the curious concoction that Little Dragons Cafe offers, you'll be able to try the game yourself when it releases on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch sometime this summer. 

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    Former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw has just told his version of the fabled Half-Life 3 story.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 23, 2018

    In 2017, former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw broke the internet when he updated his blog with a mysterious letter that appeared to contain the plot summary for his version of Half-Life 3

    The post went up in the wee hours of the morning and immediately caught the attention of a legion of Half-Life fans who deciphered the false names and hidden messages used in the original post and determined that it revealed plot details about the Half-Life sequel that never arrived. A translation of the text that inserts all the proper character, location, and occurrence names into the summary can be found here.

    Fans have matched certain plot elements detailed in the summary to previously "leaked" concept art for an unreleased Half-Life game. Mentions of an arctic fortress and a downed helicopter in the summary have made appearances in leaked concept art in the past. 

    So what is the plot all about? Well, following the death of Eli Vance in Episode 2, Gordon Freeman, Alyx Vance, and a band of allies agree they need to trek to the Arctic in order to locate a research vessel called the Borealis. Alyx and Gordon believe that the vessel should be destroyed before it falls into the hands of the Combine. Others think it might still be used to turn the tide of battle. 

    Along the way, their helicopter is taken down by unknown forces believed to be Combine-related. Soon thereafter, they discover that the Borealis has seemingly become unstuck from time. It appears at random and the Combine have set-up facilities in this area to study where it may appear next. After agreeing to board the ship whenever they get the chance, Alyx and Gordon are captured by Dr. Breen's henchmen. Shortly after, Alyx and Gordon meet up with Judith Mossman, who convinces the group that she is not a traitor and joins forces with them. 

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    What happens next is quite fascinating. After using Mossman's support to board the Borealis, the group discovers that a study into portal-related technology appears to be to blame for the vessel's predicament. It was meant to be sent to the Arctic via a portal when the Combine invaded, but a misunderstanding of the technology meant that it ended up floating through time and space. At one point, Gordon even references being able to see Aperture Science from the ship as time changes around them. 

    The finale sees Judith and Alyx argue over whether the ship should be destroyed. Alyx shoots Judith and convinces Gordon to turn the ship into a time-traveling bomb that they'll use to make a suicide run and destroy the Combine's ability to hop between worlds. 

    Just then, the G-Man appears and seems to speak to Alyx as if they knew each other from the past. She walks away from the explosion with him. Gordon, meanwhile, is able to catch just a glimpse of the vastness of the Combine war machine - he realizes they will never have the strength to defeat them outright - before he's rescued by the Vortigaunts. He regrets the futility of his actions and hopes that the player will find what is left of the resistance and find "the appropriate course of action."

    As we've previously noted, Laidlaw admitted to having previously created a draft of the Half-Life 3 story but stated that he was unsure what remained of it at Valve. The fact he is releasing this summary seems to indicate that he may have learned further information regarding Valve's plans with the plot. That would fall in-line with reports that emerged earlier this year regarding why Valve will never make Half-Life 3

    As Laidlaw warned, this version of the story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. While he stated on Twitter that Valve might want to explore this world again in order to explain things like the relationship between the G-Man and Alyx, we still encourage you to not get your hopes up and instead take whatever comfort you can find from knowing the end of the proposed original Gordon Freeman saga.

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    Everything we know about SoulCalibur VI, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Gavin JasperMatthew Byrd
    Feb 23, 2018

    Considering how the fighting game genre has been able to make a comeback these last few years, one question that’s been brought up quite a bit is, “Where’s SoulCalibur?” Bandai Namco’s second fighting game cash cow used to be a huge deal, but it’s been years since the last installment kind of crapped the bed. Luckily, The 2017 Game Awards announced the return of the franchise!

    The Soul series began back in 1995 with the exceptional Soul Edge, renamed Soul Blade on consoles. The game’s story takes place in 1584 and centers around armed warriors from around the world fighting over the rights to a cursed sword known as Soul Edge, then wielded by a possessed pirate. This would lead to the sequel SoulCalibur, which would hold onto the branding for all the later installments. The series has continued to focus on the quest for the evil sword ever since.

    The last real installment was SoulCalibur V in 2012, which didn’t exactly set the world on fire due to how little the game had to offer, especially compared to its predecessors. Hopefully, SoulCalibur VI will return to the glory days of the Dreamcast era.

    Get your blind gimp cosplay ready because SoulCalibur VI is a go. Here's everything we know about the game:

    SoulCalibur VI News

    Two familiar fighters have joined the SoulCalibur VI roster. 

    First up is Zasalamel; the magician who debuted in SoulCalibur 3. Fans of the fighter will be happy to know that her scythe and spells look as brutal as ever. 

    Next up is series staple combatant, Ivy. She's still wearing questionably effective armor - it's certainly distracting - but looks to remain a fan favorite 

    SoulCalibur VI Release Date

    SoulCalibur VI will arrive in 2018 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. Coincidentally, the series will celebrate its 20th-anniversary next year.

    SoulCalibur VI Trailers

    Here's the extended trailer that played at PSX 2017:

    We obviously can’t parse too much from a one-minute video that shows off two mainstays, an incomplete glimpse at a new character, and flashbacks to the Soul Edge doing stuff. One thing that does stick out is the continuity. SoulCalibur IV ended with Sophitia dying and SoulCalibur V jumped ahead about 15 years to focus on her children. Not only is Sophitia alive and well here, but amidst all the random visions shown, the narrator mentions how “history hides away more than one truth.” In other words, there might be an in-story retcon of SoulCalibur V in the works, setting up VI as the beginning of a new timeline.

    Hey, it worked like gangbusters for Mortal Kombat.

    The big new gameplay addition is Reversal Edge, which is a counterpart to the Combo Breaker from Killer Instinct. Though that trailer shows Sophitia and Mitsurugi doing some kind of glowing buff thing as they attack one last time, so maybe that's something too.

    Then this trailer hit on January 26, revealing even more characters.

    With this, we get more classic characters. Kilik and Xianghua are the main heroes of the original SoulCalibur, while Nightmare is the game's badass villain. Seriously, look at how badass that horse of evil energy super is. The big twist, as shown at the end of the trailer, is that pure-hearted Kilik is now being corrupted by Soul Edge's demonic influences.

    Hey, it worked like gangbusters for Street Fighter. ...Okay, I'm done with that now.

    Also interesting is our first new character, Groh, who is some kind of medieval secret agent? He definitely seems fun and kind of has a low-tech Darth Maul quality to his swordplay. Can't wait to see more from him.

    Gavin Jasper wants Olcadan back, damn it. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

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    Point and blame.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 23, 2018

    Diablo creator David Brevik admitted to IGN that he is at least partially responsible for Blizzard's decision to cancel the graphic adventure game based on the Warcraft series that Blizzard had intended to release. 

    However, he cautions fans to not think too harshly of him over his decision to speak against the seemingly promising game. 

    "Guys, this really isn't kind of a modern game. It doesn't feel like a big evolution in Blizzard," said Brevik regarding his message to the studio heads over the development of Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans. "It doesn't feel like this is really something significant. It feels like a me-too product that doesn't really have anything that's revolutionary or anything that's different, and it's kind of a basic point-and-click adventure game. And I don't think we should do this product."

    Brevik elaborated on his sentiments by noting that he wanted Blizzard to be the Ferrari of video games and not the GM of video games. In other words, he wanted every Blizzard product to feel like a high-end product that other studios simply couldn't produce. At the end of the day, the studio agreed. Actually, you could argue that Blizzard continues to utilize that philosophy to this day.

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    For those who may not know, Warcraft Adventures was a point-and-click adventure game set in the Warcraft universe. Blizzard brought in Steve Meretzky - creator of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy adventure game - to oversee the early design of the project and seemed to be devoting quite a few resources to it. That's why people were stunned to read a 1998 press release in which Blizzard announced the cancellation of the project. At the time, budget reasons and the struggles of recent adventure games were believed to be the culprit. 

    If you're really curious about the game, though, you can play a mostly completed version of the game thanks to a recently released fan restoration of the project. Just be warned that some games are canceled for a reason. 

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    We can confirm it will either be Macho Man Randy Savage or not Macho Man Randy Savage.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 23, 2018

    The official Overwatch Twitter account may be teasing the upcoming reveal of the game's next hero.

    The message included in the tweet above recounts a mission that the Overwatch team participated in before the events of the game. Included in the mission report are references to Overwatch characters that we already know about (Reinhardt, Torbjörn, and Ana), but it also name-drops a never before seen character by the name of Emre Sarioglu. The only thing we know about Sarioglu is that they hold the rank of Private First Class. 

    It's entirely possible that Sarioglu is not Overwatch's next hero, but it does seem strange that Blizzard would choose to even reference the character if that wasn't the case. Naturally, that has fans speculating that Sarioglu will be the game's 27th playable character. 

    If that is the case, this message doesn't exactly give us much to work with in terms of deducing what kind of character they may be. However, we have received one new support, one new tank, and two new attack characters since Overwatch's release. Going off that information - and the fact Overwatch just received a new support character - many fans believe the next Overwatch hero will be a defensive character or possibly a tank. 

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    If we had to guess - which we don't...but will - we'd say that this will likely be a new tank. From a video game logic standpoint, Blizzard has already announced that they are preparing to tweak some of Overwatch's most notable defensive characters - Hanzo, Mei, and possibly Widow - which seems to suggest they'd rather work with what they have rather than introduce something entirely new. 

    From a lore perspective, it's quite possible that this Sarioglu was so impressed with Reinhardt's supposed heroics that day that he decided to emulate his hero and savior by becoming a soldier in his mold. In other words, a tank. 

    Of course, we have a feeling that we're going to have to wait at least a few weeks before we find out anything for sure. 

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  • 02/25/18--15:32: Metal Gear Survive Review
  • Survive is not a Metal Gear game designed by Hideo Kojima, but does that mean it's not worth playing? Here is our review...

    Release Date: February 20, 2018
    Platform: PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
    Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment
    Publisher: Konami
    Genre: Survival

    I recently heard someone say that it pains them to see the hatred that Alden Ehrenreich has received over his decision to play Han Solo even though he supposedly doesn’t even look like a young Harrison Ford. As that person put it, who - if given the opportunity - wouldn’t love to play Han Solo?

    I feel the same way about the staff assigned to develop Metal Gear Survive.

    When Konami revealed their intentions to carry on the Metal Gear series following the infamous departure of franchise creator Hideo Kojima, fans feared the worst. As more details regarding the game emerged, those fears were not quelled. A Metal Gear game without Kojima featuring zombies, tower defense, and a seemingly threadbare plot? It was easy to imagine that they viewed the project as little more than a cash-in on the proud Metal Gear name.

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    The moment you begin playing Survive, though, you’re left with little doubt that those who worked on this game are Metal Gear fans who embraced the opportunity to contribute something to this series. Survive even opens with a surprisingly involved and oddly compelling cutscene that explains just how it fits into the Metal Gear canon. Given that the game’s beta seemed to suggest that Survive’s developers had little interest in explaining why the events in the game’s weird little world were happening, it’s great to see that isn’t the case.

    Even better, Survive boasts an oddly compelling narrative. Without giving too much away, you play a custom-built soldier - the game’s character creation option is fairly good - who was in the service of Big Boss sometime during the events of MGS V. Following a large-scale assault on Mother Base and the mysterious appearance of a wormhole, your created hero finds himself in a mysterious world known only as Dite. Your only contact is a man who refers to himself as Goodluck who informs you that you’re going to have to do him some favors if you want to return home.

    Due to both the departure of Kojima and Survive’s comparatively smaller budget, this game lacks the grandiose nature of previous Metal Gear plots. There are few epic scenes which leave you trying to figure out just what it was you witnessed, but it's clear there isn't a creative mad scientist holding the reins. Still, there is enough plot here to ensure that you’re at least a little curious to see how things unfold.

    But what does Survive have the player do between these plot points? Quite a lot, actually. In fact, you may have noticed that those who have played the game sometimes struggle to relay what doing so entails.

    Your main goal in Survive is to escape Dite. Doing so entails growing the little base you’ve established by setting-up a staff, defenses, supply stashes, workbenches, and the other such tactical niceties. Acquiring all those things requires you to venture across the world of Dite and collect everything from screws to blueprints for new items. Basically, anything of use that was sent to this world from our own and others we’ve yet to see.

    A couple of hurdles stand in your way from building a fortress to the sky that will take you back home. The first is your character’s hunger, thirst, and general health. In order to stay alive in this world, you’ll have to hunt down animals, collect water, and heal your wounds. Because food is hard to come by and water is often tainted, it’s no small feat to stay alive in Dite. You’re constantly searching for life-giving resources.

    Hunger isn’t necessarily your greatest concern, though. That honor is reserved for the wanderers who roam this land and look to kill all those who come near. These are the game’s equivalent of zombies and - much like the traditional undead - they are most capable when they’ve gathered in a horde. Even the simplest of weapons can take down a wanderer or two, but a group of these foes out in the wild require you to utilize advanced tactics and weaponry. Of course, you could just utilize your stealth abilities and sneak around them.

    However, there is a good reason to kill the wanderers you meet. Each of them possesses Kuban energy crystals which serve a variety of very helpful purposes (most notably, they’re the resource you use to level up your character). As the game plays out and the available unlockables become more advanced, you’ll soon find that there’s quite a bit of incentive to collect as much Kuban as you can.

    Unfortunately for you, doing so often means venturing into the dust. Just as it sounds, the dust is a lingering cloud of particles that not only houses the most wanderers but the most valuable resources as well. To even survive in this sea of dust, you’ll need to wear an oxygen mask and keep your tank full. Even then, the wanderers may just kill you long before you ever run out of air.

    It’s the dust that makes Metal Gear Survive such an effective horror experience. Wandering through these low visibility areas with only a few lingering lights as your guide is a truly terrifying experience made that much worse by the fact that you need to mind your character's health. Anyone familiar with the movie The Mist will instantly recognize that it was an obvious influence on the way the dust functions. Survive even features a few Eldritch monsters that wander the deepest parts of this hostile region.

    Trips through the dust are unavoidable, though, as is defending your base from attacking hordes of wanderers. The latter threat requires you to utilize the game’s surprisingly complex base building and base defense mechanics to mount a capable resistance against Survive’s increasingly dangerous foes. Once these assaults start, Survive's gameplay begins to resemble your basic horde mode with some tower defense mechanics thrown in.

    Actually, those assaults are the basis for the game’s co-op multiplayer. There, you and three other players must gather supplies and defend an establishment against waves of enemies while embarking upon missions. Successful - or even unsuccessful - completion of these missions will afford you resources that you can use to build better defenses for subsequent attempts.

    You can play the co-op missions with randomly matched companions, but you’re better off playing with friends. The amount of mechanics the game utilizes requires a level of communication that is typically reserved for players that know each other. That’s not to say it’s impossible to achieve success with randomly matched allies, but the mode does seem to offer more enjoyment for those who do so. In any case, the co-op missions offer more than enough gameplay for those who have managed to beat the game’s lengthy campaign.

    If you’re looking for a simpler explanation for why you’d want to bother with Metal Gear Survive's gameplay package, then just think of Survive as a kind of stealth/horror take on Stardew Valley. That's probably not the comparison you were expecting, but both games are built upon the simple pleasure of developing a grind-fuelled routine. There’s always something to do in this game and the incentive to earn that next upgrade or make your base just a little more hospitable is usually enough to keep you grinding away for hours. When you’re locked into Survive, you’ll find that a lot of time can pass without knowledge or worry.

    Add to that the game’s aforementioned entertaining story, pleasantly familiar stealth elements, and genuinely terrifying moments of pure horror, and you might start thinking that Survive has managed to accomplish the impossible by carrying the baggage of the Metal Gear name and ascending towards greatness.

    Sadly, that’s not the case.

    In order for a game to invoke a zen-like state of immersion via repetition, it must allow the player to easily establish a gameplay rhythm. Metal Gear Survive fails at that necessary task by forcing players to navigate one of the absolute worst menu systems you'll ever see in such a menu-heavy game. 

    Almost everything you do in Survive requires you to navigate a series of menus and submenus. Many times, the menu you need also requires you to access the menu associated with a particular workbench or special item. This often leads to players completing several unnecessary steps. Keep in mind that your food and water levels are constantly ticking down while you're navigating through all this clutter. Performing seemingly simple tasks like swapping out weapons or ammo types soon becomes a nightmare greater than any contained within the game’s dust.

    It’s true that you can eventually learn to master the game’s unintuitive menu system, but even after hours and hours with the game, I never learned to enjoy doing so. Besides, the very moment that the game introduces some new mechanic - which, as you can tell, there are quite a lot of - you’re left having to figure out some new series of inputs which will allow you to just jump back into the core gameplay. For a game that requires so much resource management, Survive makes few efforts to ease the burden of the player.

    That burden extends to the game’s survival elements. The amount of food and water your avatar requires is oddly hedonistic for a soldier. It’s going to be quite a long time before you’re able to survive a respectable period of time without having to eat or drink something. It doesn’t help that food is almost always scarce and that water is often dirty and leads to infection. Actually, you acquire the ability to generate a wormhole before you’re able to boil dirty water.

    Survive must also bear the burdens of the game it’s built upon. While that statement speaks to the fallout of the Kojima fiasco, it has more to do with the fact that Surviveborrows many gameplay elements from MGS V which don't translate to this type of experience. For instance, Survive makes few changes to Phantom Pain’s combat system which is a bit of an issue when you consider that combat in this game plays a much larger role than it did in MGS V. Mowing wanderers down with weapons is rarely enjoyable and dully exploiting their questionable intelligence with melee attacks isn’t much better. Because they are unarmed, it's also far too easy to just run around - or through - them if you decide to do so. 

    Then there's the issue of the game’s microtransactions. You’ve probably heard that it costs about $10 to even open up a second save slot in Survive - assuming you want to access one right from the start - but that’s just the headline atrocity which may blind you from the fact that one of Survive’s biggest problem is that it often feels like a free-to-play game that costs $40 to play.

    The simplest of tasks - such as growing potatoes - take an extreme amount of real-world time to complete. Every time the game annoyingly reminds you that you’re low on food, water, or oxygen - which is quite often - you feel like it’s really telling you to spend a little more cash and make things easier on yourself. It’s the kind of scenario we’re used to seeing in mobile titles, but certainly not in a nearly full-priced release and certainly not in one that bears this name.

    There it is again...the legacy of Metal Gear and the burden it bestows. In a perfect world, it wouldn't impact Survive or your ability to enjoy it. After all, it is clear that many of those who put the work into this game do love Metal Gear as much as its fans do. It’s impossible for any decent Metal Gear fan to not empathize with the situation they were put in.

    Yet, empathy only goes so far. I wondered how great Survivewould have to be in order to somehow convince the furious Metal Gear fanbase that its mere existence is worthwhile, and it pains me to see that the great game Survive needed to be to achieve that seemingly impossible goal does exist somewhere beneath and amongst the layers of poor decisions which drag this game down faster than its famous name ever could.

    ReviewMatthew Byrd
    Feb 25, 2018

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    Want to create an extra character save slot in Metal Gear Survive? Then be prepared to pay $10 for the privilege...

    NewsRyan Lambie
    Feb 26, 2018

    Despite the ongoing controversy, it doesn't look as though microtransactions are going to vanish from the gaming landscape anytime soon. 

    Case in point: Konami's Metal Gear Survive, the company's first game in the series since Hideo Kojima left the fold a couple of years ago. The survival shooter has received fairly lukewarm reviews so far, but more troubling still, word's gradually emerging of the various ways Konami's trying to pry extra chunks of cash from its customers.

    According to Polygon, Metal Gear Survive only comes with one open character save slot as standard. If you want to create another one - so you can experiment with a different approach to the game, say - then you'll have to pay for it. The cost for opening an extra slot isn't cheap, either: it'll set you back 1,000 SV Coins, an in-game currency that translates to $10 in real-world money.

    At present, there doesn't appear to be a way of earning those coins by simply playing the game - so in other words, you can't grind your way out of whacking $10 on your credit card to buy a new save slot.

    None of this would be too irksome, necessarily, if Metal Gear Survive were a free-to-play title. Most of us realize that developers and publishers have to make a profit somehow. But given that it's being sold for around $39.99, the decision to charge players for creature comforts that should really be a regular part of the experience seems cheeky, to say the least.

    More on this as we get it.

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    They say CSGO is the world's most exciting eSport. Here's what you need to know about the game's growing competitive scene.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 26, 2018

    Those that love Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's competitive scene say that it might just be the perfect eSport. It's not hard to see why. 

    There are no respawns in CSGO. There are no health packs, special abilities, meta-dependent hero choices, or minions to kill. A CSGO match consists of two teams trying to use precision coordination and expert aim to either disarm/plant a bomb or simply wipe out the opposing squad. Victory in CSGO is rewarded to those teams and players who exemplify an uncommon mastery of some of the purest gaming mechanics in all of eSports. 

    It's an easy game to follow, an incredibly difficult game to master, and a hard game not to love once you begin watching it played at the highest levels. 

    Fortunately, CSGO's competitive scene is thriving. Recent tournaments have proven that the overall pool of talent who compete in the largest CSGO tournaments has never been deeper. Top teams and players from across the world are finding new ways to shock viewers with their expert play. Victory demands a level of perfection and peak performance that typically results in some of the most amazing matches you'll ever witness. 

    Here's your guide to the exciting world of competitive CSGO

    CSGO eSports Schedule

    Here's the list of the largest CSGO tournaments set for the current competitive season. In addition to these events are a host of smaller tournaments spread throughout the year. 

    Feb 27-March 4: IEM Katowice 2018
    March 12-18: WESG 2018 World Finals
    March 28-April 1: Copenhagen Games 2018
    May 14-20: ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals
    May 19-21: DreamHack Open Tours 2018
    June 16-18: DreamHack Open Summer 2018
    July 3-8 ESL: One Cologne 2018
    July 12-14: DreamHack Open Valencia 2018
    Aug 29-Sept: 2 DreamHack Masters Stockholm
    Sept 18-Nov 22: ESL Pro League Season 8 NA/EU
    Nov 16-18: DreamHack Open Atlanta
    Nov 30-Dec 2: DreamHack Open Winter 2018
    Dec 10-16: ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals

    CSGO eSports Results

    Here are the results from some recent major tournaments:

    ESL Pro League Season 6 - Finals

    Winner: SK Gaming

    Runner-Up: FaZe Clan

    Esports Championship Series Season 4 - Finals

    Winner: FaZe Clan

    Runner-Up: Mousesports

    ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018

    Winner: Cloud9

    Runner-Up: FaZe Clan

    Full results from all known global tournaments can be found here.

    CSGO eSports Format

    CSGO's competitive format has the strange distinction of being fairly simple and sometimes frustratingly complicated.

    In lieu of a formal league, many of CSGO's largest competitions are divided into individual tournaments. These tournaments are typically broken down into Majors and Minors. The big difference between the two is that Majors offer larger ($100,000 plus, typically) prize pools. However, many tournaments employ an open format that allows major and minor teams to compete on roughly the same playing field. Of course, the largest teams may receive formal invites from the tournament's organizers. 

    However, there are a few Majors throughout the year that are endorsed by Valve. These tournaments often offer $1,000,000+ prize pools and typically feature only the top teams in the world as determined by Valve and the tournament's organizers. Said teams typically consist of previous Majors and Minors competitors/winners as well as teams that qualify through online and offline play. 

    So basically, it's all about the Majors and especially the Valve-endorsed Majors tournaments. However, Minors are a great way for pros to earn extra money and for smaller teams to boost their reputation. 

    CSGO eSports Prize Pool

    Prize pools can vary pretty wildly in CSGO as there isn't much of a formal league play structure. Smaller events may offer $25,000 dan a little reputation. Majors, though, can offer anywhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 depending on their size and affiliation. 

    CSGO eSports Top Teams

    Because CSGO works off a tournament by tournament format, there isn't really an officially recognized "ranking" of the top teams. However, some of the generally recognized best teams in the world at the moment include:

    - Cloud9

    - Astralis

    - FaZe

    - Fnatic

    - Gambit 

    - SK Gaming

    - Virtus.Pro

    Again, though, part of the fun of CSGO tournaments is the very real possibility that any team can win any event at any time. 

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    The other big boss of the Metal Gear franchise is thanked in rather stealthy ways.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 26, 2018

    It appears that the Metal Gear Survive development team hid some messages in the game that reference the series' original creators. 

    At the start of Metal Gear Survive, you are required to pick a name for your character. Your name first appears on a list of fallen soldiers who all have classic MGS-style monikors. At first, you might think that they're not worth more than a laugh, but some of the folks over on Reddit have discovered that these names might contain a quiet homage to Kojima Productions. 

    Apparently, if you look at the first letter of the second name of every soldier on that list after the first two names - yes, it's a bit elaborate - then you'll discover the message "KJP Forever." KJP appears to be a reference to the aforementioned Kojima Productions; Kojima's development studio that developed the Metal Gear series up until the release of Survive. The list also contains references to Survive's director and producer. Here's a screenshot of that list with all the relevant letters and names highlighted:

    That's not the only reference to Kojima and the KJP crew found within Metal Gear Survive thus far. The game's end credits include a "Special Thanks" to "Metal Gear Solid V All Staff." Naturally, that includes Hideo Kojima. It's not quite flowers and chocolates, but give how far apart Konami and Kojima were at one point, any acknowledgment of his existence in a game is at least something. 

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    With any luck, these messages might help restore a bit of the already thin goodwill that Survive has lost since its launch. Given the whole Kojima situation and the revelation that Survive technically charges a premium for save slots, the game hasn't exactly been attracting a lot of good press lately. 

    We shared our own thoughts on Survive recently and found it to be an inventive survival-horror take on the Metal Gear franchise that is strangely addictive. Unfortunately, the game also suffers from some rather unfortunate design decisions and the fact that it features quite a few more free-to-play elements than we typically like to see in a $40 game that was already associated with greed. 

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    The makers of FTL return with this retro-inspired strategy game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 26, 2018

    Into the Breach, the next game from the developers of the revolutionary roguelike, FTL, releases on February 27th. To celebrate the occasion, developer Subset Games have released a launch trailer for the strategy title that does a pretty great job of conveying why you should be so excited about this PC strategy game. 

    While the "From the makers of FTL" tag is eye-catching, Into the Breach doesn't share many similarities with that incredibly successful sci-fi roguelike. Instead, it's a turn-based strategy game that requires you to defend what remains of human civilization from aliens that are looking to pull an Independence Day (as we're pretty sure such things are officially known). The very good news is that your advanced technology allows you to see every enemy movement and attack before they happen. In theory, that means that you can always greet your foes with the perfect defense.

    Sadly, things rarely work out that way. Knowing what your enemies are going to do and preventing them from doing so are two very different things. Your foes are much tougher than you are and defeating them will require you to master a complex series of strategy mechanics that incorporate everything from the special abilities of your mechs to certain environmental features. For instance, you'll receive a notice of seismic anomalies which may open up the ground and swallow any units that are standing in the affected area. 

    Even though Into the Breach leans more toward the turn-based strategy genre, it does feature quite a few roguelike elements. Many maps are procedurally generated and there's a unique permadeath system that involves multiple timelines. Failing a mission means that you get to choose one of your pilots and send them back in time to the beginning of the game. You'll lose the progress you've made, but you will retain the pilot's earned abilities. 

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    On top of all this, you get some rather nifty 16-bit visuals and a killer soundtrack. Indeed, Into the Breach will no doubt remind some of the Advanced Wars series, even though Into the Breach appears to be aiming for a slightly more complicated brand of strategy. 

    Into the Breach will only be available for PC at launch, but Subset Games have expressed interest in bringing the game to multiple systems at some point. 

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    There's a lot of work to do, but this mod is undeniably impressive.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    Fallout fans are attempting to remake Fallout 3 within Fallout 4's graphical engine. 

    The "Capital Wasteland project" has actually been in development for quite some time now, but progress has been quite slow. Not only is the project itself incredibly ambitious, but most of the people who are working on it are doing so in their spare time with no financial compensation. While updates regarding the progress of the project haven't been abundant as of late, this latest trailer for Capital Wasteland suggests that the mod is inching towards completion. 

    The video above makes it clear that the team has quite a bit of work to do before Fallout 3 is Fallout 4's technological and design equal. However, the similarities are quite remarkable. Fallout 4's dialog camerawork, basic interface, gameplay changes, and graphical niceties have all been expertly utilized to recreate one of Fallout 3's most famous sequences. Actually, it's entirely possible the final project could achieve "best of both worlds" status. Fallout 3's quests, dialog writing, and character building with Fallout 4's visuals, interface, and general gameplay fluidity? Don't mind if we do. 

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    Before you get too excited, though, you should know that the team estimates that only about 40% of Fallout 3 has been recreated thus far. Furthermore, major overhauls such as this have a tendency to stall sometime before the finish line. Perhaps you're familiar with the long, long development cycle of a mod that promises to recreate Morrowind in Skyrim's engine. Plus, the team warns that a mod of this kind will only be possible on PC as Bethesda's console modification options just can't support something of this size. 

    Still, it's impossible not to root for these projects whenever we hear about them. Too often, older games suffer from the weight of the new and become discarded like so many favorite childhood toys (you know the one we're talking about). With Fallout 3 turning 10 this year, we'd love an excuse to revisit it from a fresh perspective. 

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    Everything you need to know about Final Fantasy XV DLC, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    Almost two years after Square Enix's highly anticipated Final Fantasy XV hit stores, the game is still getting new DLC and story expansions. In fact, the publisher plans to release four more DLC packs through 2019, joining the game's already impressive list of story expansions released up to this point. 

    The first of the remaining expansions is Episode Ardyn. Below you can find more details on that DLC.

    According to Famitsu (via Gematsu), "After that, there may even be an 'Episode Luna,' as [FFXV director Hajime] Tabata mentioned during the 'Active Time Report' official news broadcast."

    It sounds like we'll learn more details on the next few expansions coming to Final Fantasy XV in due time. 

    Here's what we know about the upcoming expansions:

    Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn Details 

    Square Enix has announced that they plan on releasing at least three DLC episode add-ons for Final Fantasy XV in 2018. These episodes will each focus on different characters or specific aspects of the game's world just as previous major expansions for the game have done. 

    While Square Enix is choosing to remain quiet about most of the episodes until closer to their release, they did confirm that one of them will focus on Final Fantasy XVvillain, Ardyn. It seems that Square Enix plans on using this DLC as a chance to expand upon Ardyn as a character and really explore his motivations. The designers have also indicated that they'd like to focus on fellow villain Luna, but did not confirm if that story will be a separate DLC release. 

    There is no specific release date available for Episode Ardyn at this time.

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    That's nice and all, but we'd rather he tell us the easiest way to get a duck feather.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone took to Twitter to confirm that he is working on a secret new project. 

    We'd love to remind Barone that it's not really a secret if you go telling everyone about it, but we're willing to forgive his willingness to spill the beans as it means that we can begin to speculate on what he's currently working on. As he states in the tweet, he's almost ready to debut Stardew Valley's multiplayer mode, which is by far one of the game's most requested features. While it doesn't sound like that will be Barone's final contribution to Stardew Valley, it does appear that he's gradually shifting his attention towards a new project. 

    The nature of that project remains a fascinating mystery. You may recall that Stardew Valley was a pure passion project for Barone. The intrepid developer designed nearly every aspect of the title single-handedly, which is quite impressive when you consider how much depth there is to Stardew Valley and how nearly every aspect of the game has been praised by almost everyone who has played it. He's certainly quite the talent, but it's difficult to imagine how he'll possibly be able to capture lightning in a bottle twice. 

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    As for whether or not Barone would ever work on another Stardew Valley-esque game, the chances of that are slim. Publisher Chucklefish has already announced that they intend to produce a kind of school of magic take on Stardew Valley, which we don't believe they would do if Barone had indicated that he intended to develop something relatively similar. 

    Barone has already warned people not to overhype themselves as he doesn't have a timetable in place for the release of his next game and doesn't wish to work under the pressure that so much advance speculation can sometimes create. 

    Of course, when you single-handedly develop one of the most beloved games of a generation...well, hype is going to follow you around. 

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    It looks like your letters and petitions finally paid off.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    If you promise to contain your excitement and not start fainting and screaming like the teens in those old videos of The Beatles on tour, then we'll happily tell you that Atari is working on a new Night Driver game for mobile devices. 

    Yes, Night Driver. No, we didn't remember which one Night Driver was either when we first heard this news. 

    After a little journalistic research, though, we recalled that Night Driver was first released in arcades in 1976. This revolutionary racing game required you to participate in night races - colors were tricky back then - and is considered to be one of the earliest examples of a first-person racing game as well as one of the first instances of a game featuring real-time first-person graphics. While absolutely primitive by today's standards, Night Driver was pretty mind-blowing back in its day and certainly helped shape the racing genre. 

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    It's only natural, then, that it's modern-day equivalent be a fairly generic looking racing title. 

    The first screenshot of the mobile Night Driver game makes it look like every other mobile racing game in existence. It does take place at night - kudos to the developers for absolutely nailing that aspect - but we can't help but be a little put-off by the fact that it doesn't appear to even be a first-person racing title. 

    The official description of the game also does little to inspire. According to that summary, Night Driver"offers a range of different slick and powerful vehicles that players can race down the illuminated highway in an exhilarating wild ride under the night sky." You'll also apparently be able to upgrade your car and participate in multiplayer matches. Be still thy clogged heart. 

    In all seriousness, though, we're sure that Night Driver will be a perfectly acceptable mobile racer. It's just that it's hard to really think the best of Atari these days when they've announced things like the still-mysterious Ataribox and an Atari brand of cryptocurrency

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    What we know about Cyberpunk 2077, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Feb 27, 2018

    Cyberpunk 2077 will be CD Projekt Red's first game outside The Witcher universe, and its first foray into science fiction. Based on the Cyberpunk series of tabletop games, it is, as its name suggests, inspired by the pioneers of the cyberpunk subgenre - namely William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. We can therefore expect plenty of cyborgs, AI, benighted cities, and scary corporations.

    While Cyberpunk 2077's very different in setting from The Witcher, we'll see the same mature themes and unforgiving difficulty level in this new outing.

    "The Witcher helped Cyberpunk quite a bit, because the game got so big and so complex that it really taught us,” visual effects artist Jose Teixeira told MCV. “If anything, working on The Witcher 3 was a really good and often brutal learning experience. Cyberpunk is going to benefit greatly from it. I can almost guarantee it."

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Cyberpunk 2077 News

    CD Projekt Red spoke briefly about the scope of the upcoming sci-fi RPG at a seminar (via PCGamer). As the developer has said before, Cyberpunk 2077 will be much bigger than The Witcher 3, which is itself a HUGE fantasy RPG.

    "Cyberpunk is our new Witcher 3, but even more ambitious," CD Projekt CEO Adam Kicinski said. "Our goal is to establish a new blockbuster franchise from the beginning. We work [in a] new universe, futuristic universe. We believe it's very appealing to players, not only RPG players — but this is [a] true RPG, like Witcher, like Witcher 3, for mature audiences. It's handcrafted, detailed, of course open-world, with open-ended gameplay."

    Expectations are already high for CD Projekt Red's next title, and Kicinski's latest words are only building more hype. The studio will make an appearance at E3 2018, which could mean we'll hear more about Cyberpunk 2077 then. 

    Cyberpunk 2077 Release Date

    Cyberpunk 2077 doesn't have a release date at the moment. The game is coming to XBO, PS4, PC.

    Cyberpunk 2077 Trailer

    It's been three years since developer CD Projekt Red debuted the trailer for their upcoming adaptation of Cyberpunk 2077, and you'd have a hard time using what we've learned about the game in the meantime as breadcrumbs to trace your way back to that reveal. Considering that CD Projekt Red was still hard at work putting the finishing touches on The Witcher 3 during much of that time, many gamers didn't think much of their radio silence. Now that The Witcher 3 is well and truly done, however, some are starting to worry that the game isn't as far along as they may have hoped. 

    Here's the first teaser trailer from 2013:

    Cyberpunk 2077 Details

    Rumors have emerged which suggest that Cyberpunk 2077 might take place in a "living city" that functions on its own accord regardless of whether or not the player is actively involved in a certain area or not. The actions of this city will apparently be governed by a complex series of AI rules that will allow for developer CD Projekt Red to maintain the illusion of a truly dynamic world.  

    Furthermore, Cyberpunk 2077 may very well feature a complex multiplayer mode that involves the use of several technological tools and grants the developers have apparently applied for. When PC Gamer reached out to the developers for comment, they were told that CD Projekt Red have been applying for such tools but are not able to elaborate on their functionality at this time. 

    In a post on CD Projekt Red's forums, the developers not only assured fans that the game is still being worked on, but revealed a rather shocking figure concerning the resources they are pouring into it. 

    According to the forum post made by the development team, there are "more game developers working on Cyberpunk 2077 than on The Witcher 3 in its most intensive month." While the developer didn't reveal the exact number of developers currently working on the game, previously revealed figures regarding the development of The Witcher 3 suggest that the game was worked on by over 240 staff developers and over 1,500 people in general. 

    Interestingly enough, the careers page of CD Projekt Red's website suggests that they are still looking to fill somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 positions devoted exclusively to the development of Cyberpunk 2077.

    While it's clear that the developer's work on the upcoming standalone Gwent game isn't hindering their focus as it concerns completing Cyberpunk 2077, there is a bit of bad news that accompanies this information. We still don't know exactly when Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be released, and its absence from last year's E3 suggests that it's not likely to debut until sometime after E3 2018 at the very earliest.

    Either way, it's still very likely that you've got enough uncompleted side missions in The Witcher 3 to keep you occupied until the game debuts.

    Cyberpunk is far bigger than anything else that CD Projekt Red has done before,” visual effects artist Jose Teixeira told MCV. “Far, far bigger. We're really stepping into the unknown in terms of complexity and size and problems we encounter.”

    Following a statement by developer CD Projekt Red regarding Cyberpunk's online elements and their "games as a service" approach, the studio has stepped forward to clarify that they do not currently intend to add microtransactions to the game. 

    "Worry not," reads a post on the studio's Twitter account. "When thinking CP2077, think nothing less than TW3 [The Witcher 3] — huge single player, open world, story-driven RPG. No hidden catch, you get what you pay for — no bullshit, just honest gaming like with Wild Hunt. We leave greed to others."

    It's still unclear what the games as service comment applies to, but it could just be a comment related to the possibility that Cyberpunk may feature expanded online modes. That makes sense given that the game is based on modern and futuristic technology as opposed to The Witcher 3's fantasy setting. 

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    The label will be applied to all games that feature in-game purchases...including story DLC.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    The ESRB will add a label to any games that offer microtransactions and other in-game purchases. 

    The company outlined their plans in a recent tweet that explained why it has taken them so long to respond to the calls for such a label and what they intend to do about this moving forward. Based on their message, it appears that any games that offer in-game purchases will receive the label "In-Game Purchases" somewhere on the box or next to the rating on digital stores. It's not entirely clear whether or not this label will be separate from the content warnings that already appear on video game boxes, but it doesn't sound like it will impact the overall age rating of the game. 

    What's most interesting about this label is how much content it covers. Not only will games with performance-boosting microtransactions receive the additional warning, but it will be affixed to any game that features "the ability to purchase digital goods or premiums with real-world currency." That applies to games that offer things like character skins and loot boxes, but it also seems to apply to titles that offer traditional DLC content and expansions as well. Basically, if you can spend money on the game after the initial purchase in any way, it gets the in-game purchases label. 

    The ESRB is also launching a new website - - which they believe will help "raise awareness of the helpful tools that parents can use to manage the amount of time or money those crafty kids spend playing games." Yes, they used the word crafty. The ESRB also stated they will continue to discuss how to enhance and improve their rating system. 

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    With all that out of the way, this really does feel like a case of "the least we could do." Without getting into a debate over the effectiveness of the ESRB's content labels, grouping all games that feature some form of in-game purchases together feels like it doesn't quite address the issue of titles that exploit the microtransaction system and use it to award advantages - or significant pieces of content - to those who spend a little more on their games. 

    To put it another way, both The Last of Us and Candy Crush would receive the "In-Game Purchases" label, according to the wording of this announcement. We just hope that the ESRB is serious when they say that this is only an introductory step towards a better rating/warning system. 

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    A brief look at what the next year of Hearthstone content will offer.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    Hearthstone's Year of the Mammoth is drawing to a close, and Blizzard has dropped some of the first details regarding what we can expect from the upcoming Year of the Raven. 

    The Year of the Raven will begin whenever the next Hearthstone expansion releases. At that time, all cards released as part of the Whispers of the Old Gods, One Night in Kharazan, and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan will rotate out of the Standard format and into the game's Wild mode. They will be joined by the recently revealed Hall of Fame cards. Just as before, you'll still be able to purchase card packs and adventures related to sets that are rotating out of Standard. 

    Because the first expansion released each year also removes a significant amount of cards from the game, some players feel that it has an advantage over subsequent expansions in terms of the way that it impacts the game. In a recent interview, Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode addressed this potential issue. 

    "I'm not even sure that they [the other expansions] suffer from that," said Brode. "We saw more engagement with our last two sets released last year than ever before, so I don't know if they're less exciting sets. The other major option is to rotate with each set. Set rotation is very impactful because it forces people to reconfigure all of their decks, and that's something that we're not necessarily prepared to force people to do three times a year. That's where we're at right now, but I don't know if that's where we'll always be."

    We don't know when we'll see the next Hearthstone expansion, but we can share this promotional image that teases the release of the three expansions we'll see in 2018 as part of the Year of the Raven:

    Brode fully expects people to try to figure out what the theme of each expansion will be based solely on these images but cited the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion as an example of players being in the ballpark with their guesses while not quite anticipating what is coming. As for the Year of the Raven name, he said that he's not ready to share the full reason that Blizzard decided on the Raven name, but did say that after the Year of the Kraken (water) and the Year of the Mammoth (land) the team felt that an air animal was appropriate. 

    The Year of the Raven will also bring with it the first new Druid hero skin. After winning 10 Standard games in the Year of the Raven, players will unlock Lunara; a famous dryad and the first daughter of Cenarius. Here's a look at her in-game hero portrait:

    In response to a question regarding whether or not Lunara was made easier to obtain due to the blowback over how difficult it was to unlock the latest Hearthstonealternate hero, Nemsy Necrofizzle, Brode stated that Lunara's unlock method was designed to be similar to Maiev Shadowsong - who was made available near the start of the Year of the Mammoth - and that the team plans on utilizing a variety of unlock methods for future alternate heroes.

    The Year of the Raven will also eventually feature the debut of Hearthstone's first in-game tournament mode, but Blizzard has not revealed when they intend to open that beta. 

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    Hearthstone will finally receive a beta for in-game tournaments later this year.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 27, 2018

    After years of anticipation, Hearthstone is finally receiving an in-game tournament option. 

    Sometime later this year - there is no definitive date set yet - Blizzard will launch a beta for Hearthstone's in-game tournament mode. According to an official press release, this tournament mode will "help players run a Hearthstone tournament form their own home or Fireside Gathering." It will allow players to manage their own tournament brackets and manage things like who will play who as well as review decklists to ensure they comply with any requests. Over time, Blizzard plans to add additional features to tournament mode that will afford organizers a greater deal of control. 

    Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode spoke a little more about how tournament mode will work when the beta launches. 

    "[Tournament organizers] will create a start time for the tournament and note how many players will be participating in the tournament," said Brode. "Tournaments are run Swiss-style. The sign-up window will last until the time the tournament begins. Players will have that long to accept the invite and lock-in their decks." He also stated that organizers will be able to set some basic parameters such as whether or not wildcards are allowed and whether the tournament will operate under last hero standing or conquest format. The organizer will also have the option to invite friends directly from the Blizzard client or to send a custom tournament code out to a group of people.

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    However, there are a few things that tournament organizers will not be able to do when the beta launches. For instance, Blizzard does not currently plan to allow tournament organizers to ban certain cards within the client. Brode mentioned that they're aware of this request, but didn't specify any plans to incorporate it. Furthermore, tournament organizers will have to manage any rewards they intend to give out to participants. That seems to mean things like in-game gold will not be available as rewards when the tournament client is launched.

    As innovative and welcome as this client is, Brode noted that Blizzard intends for the initial release of this tournament client to be used more by local organizers and less by organizers of official esports tournaments. 

    "We are working on providing additional support for our esports tournaments that will help make those run more smoothly, but this is not intended to be for that audience," said Brode. "This is intended to be for a broader audience and anyone that wants that tournament experience."

    That being said, the initial version of the tournament client will incorporate some features designed to keep games professional. For instance, players may suffer a time penalty if they're intentionally dragging out the timer on turns and Blizzard will implement some kind of time limit to prevent players from exploiting potential "infinite" decks. Players who do not show up to a tournament or leave before they are finished will also be worked around with the matchmaking system. 

    All in all, it doesn't sound like Hearthstone players should expect the initial version of the tournament client to be Blizzard's complete vision of how in-game Hearthstone tournaments will eventually work. However, it should offer players a far easier way to manage local tournaments - or small-scale online tournaments - within Hearthstone. 

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