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    Will this be the new king of digital card games? Here's what we know about Artifact.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Few people expected Valve's next game to be a collectible card title based on the Dota 2 universe, but that's exactly what we have in Artifact

    Before you roll your eyes, though, you might want to use them to take a closer look at this game. Artifact isn't like any other CCG out there. Actually, it's kind of like a version of Dota 2 that you play with cards instead of with heroes and teammates. Artifact's implementation of Dota 2staples like lanes of battle, heroes, and in-game markets is made all the more fascinating by the fact that the title also boasts some traditional - albeit hardcore - CCG elements. Of course, that last part shouldn't be a surprise given that the game was at least partially designed by Magic: The Gathering creator, Richard Garfield. It will be fascinating to see what that creative team comes up with. 

    Here's everything that we know about Artifact

    Artifact Release Date

    Valve plans on releasing Artifact for Steam sometime before the end of 2018. They're also planning to release a version of the game for mobile devices sometime in 2019. 

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    Artifact News

    PC Gamer has released a full breakdown of how Valve's Artifactcard game will work. It's a lot of information to take in, but here's what you need to know:

    Artifact has you build a deck of 40 cards that contains five heroes. The base game will include 280+ cards and 44 heroes. You can't have more than three of any type of non-hero card in your deck. 

    Gameplay sees you essentially play across three different boards designed to strategically resemble Dota 2's lanes. Each lane has its own mana pool, heroes, and a tower. Lose that tower, and a much stronger Ancient appears. If you manage to either kill an Ancient or if your opponent loses two towers, you win the game. 

    Complicating all of this is the presence of creeps in all lanes that heroes must battle as well as some truly in-depth mechanics that require you to manage the resources of all lanes using the same deck of cards. Fortunately, your resources are bolstered by the ability to earn gold whenever you destroy an opponent's cards and use that gold to buy items from the store that your heroes can equip. Heroes can never be permanently killed, but they can be taken out of action for a round. 

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    Valve seems to be aware that this multi-lane style of CCG play creates a lot of complications, but they are embracing those complications. It seems like Artifact is mostly going to appeal to veteran CCG players or those that are willing to learn an entirely different style of game. Hearthstone this is not. 

    Speaking of Hearthstone, Valve is already planning on separating Artifact from that game by reducing the amount of randomness in matches and by allowing players to trade cards via Steam's marketplace. That last one is a huge deal as it could drastically impact both gameplay and the costs of Artifact in the long run. Indeed, Valve has stated they do not want Artifact to be a pay-to-win experience. 

    It all sounds fascinating, and Artifact might end up being extremely appealing to those who demand more complexity from CCG titles. 

    Artifact Trailer

    In a dramatic turn of events, Valve announced at The International 2017 - a Dota 2 competition held in Seattle - that they are developing a new game. 

    The stunned awe those in attendance felt was soon replaced with a mix of emotions when it was revealed that the game in question is a collectible card game based on the Dota 2 universe called Artifact

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    The Switch's first Smash Bros. game is shaping up to be one of the biggest games of 2018.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Since its N64 debut, the Super Smash Bros. series has been one of Nintendo's most beloved properties. What began as a simple amusement that pitted some of Nintendo's best characters against each other in a brawler fighting game has become an institution. Everyone from casual Nintendo console owners to hardcore fighting fans has fond memories of waging war across Smash Bros. many levels. 

    Now, Smash Bros. is preparing to make its debut on the Nintendo Switch. Following the success of Super Smash Bros. Wii U - a game that grew to include one of the most incredible rosters in fighting game history - expectations are high for the next entry in the long-running franchise. If Nintendo's history with highly-anticipated Switch titles is any indication, though, then we fully expect this will be a special title that will boast a truly impressive collection of playable characters. 

    Here is everything we know about Super Smash Bros. for Switch:

    Super Smash Bros. Switch News

    New evidence suggests that the Smash Bros. for Switch will be an entirely new game and not a port of the Wii U version. 

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    For instance, a recent tweet from series creator Masahiro Sakurai states that he has been "working on this game in silence day after day." It's highly doubtful that Sakurai would personally be putting so much effort into a port of Smash Bros. Wii U, which has led many to believe that his work has been going towards a new title. 

    The biggest piece of evidence, though, was snuck into the reveal of Smash Bros. for Switch. The end of that footage credits Hal Laboratory as the game's developer. However, Bandai Namco created Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. Even if Hal were responsible for just porting the previous game, Bandai Namco would have likely been credited in some way for their creation if this was indeed a port. 

    All things considered, it looks like we are getting a proper new Smash Bros. game in 2018. 

    Super Smash Bros. Switch Release Date

    Super Smash Bros. for Switch is being released in 2018. It's currently believed that the title will be released sometime in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

    Super Smash Bros. Switch Trailer

    During the latest Nintendo Direct, Nintendo seemed to tease the first Super Smash Bros. game for the Nintendo Switch. 

    What appeared to be an update for Splatoon 2 took a bit of a turn when the Super Smash Bros. logo appeared on-screen and brought the ink-based battles to a halt. In the distance, we could see the outline of what appeared to be the Smash Bros. Switch roster. However, the video only focused on Mario and a very Breath of the Wild looking Link. Add in the featured Splatoon characters, and it looks like we've got our first confirmed fighters for the game. 

    That wasn't the big news, though. No, the big news is that Super Smash Bros. is coming sometime in 2018. That seems to answer the question "What big game is Nintendo preparing to bring to Switch in late 2018?" Other popular theories included Metroid Prime 4, which is certainly still a possibility. 

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    The Battle for Azeroth will commence later this year.

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Mar 20, 2018

    The next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, takes the game back to its roots a bit by focusing on the battle between the Horde and the Alliance. Each side will be able to explore three new zones. The Horde will have access to the islands of Zandalar while the Alliance will be able to traverse the island of Kul Tiras. These new areas will reportedly contain "allied races" which players will be able to recruit and eventually play as. 

    Perhaps the most exciting addition this expansion brings to the table is the inclusion of a new islands system that adds an almost rogue-like element to the game. Basically, players will be able to build parties of three and explore these island areas. The catch here is that these areas change slightly every time that you visit them. You'll also be able to access new areas called Waterfronts that support 20 player fights over locations that are reportedly of strategic importance to both the Horde and the Alliance. 

    Battle for Azeroth also includes a new legendary neck piece called the Heart of Azeroth. This neck piece will allow players to unlock new abilities that are directly tied to their armor. This system sounds very similar to the one that Blizzard implemented in Legion that allowed players to build upon existing weapons via in-game artifacts. Finally, Battle for Azeroth will raise the current level cap to 120 and will include a feature that allows players to buy a boost up to level 110 should they wish to do so. We can't wait to see who hits the new cap first. 

    Here's everything else we know about the expansion:

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    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Release Date

    Blizzard has promised that Battle for Azeroth will be released on or before September 21, 2018

    Anyone who pre-orders Battle for Azeroth will be able to access the Allied Races, a tweaked version of existing races within World of Warcraft. Following a bit of a grind with these new variants, you'll be able to properly start a new character at level 20. 

    Pre-ordering Battle for Azeroth ($50) will also allow you to access a level 110 boost so you can enjoy all of Legion's late game content. Those that opt for the Deluxe Edition ($70) of the expansion will also be able to access some free goodies in other Blizzard games like Overwatch

    The full list of pre-order incentives can be found here

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Trailer

    Blizzard has revealed the next expansion for World of Warcraft. Here is the debut cinematic trailer for Battle for Azeroth:

    While that trailer lives up to Blizzard's legacy of creating cinematics worthy of the big screen, it, unfortunately, doesn't tell us much about the game itself. Fortunately, Blizzard has released another preview for the expansion that elaborates on its features a bit more:

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth PvP

    The World of Warcraft team hopes to emphasize the game's player vs. player elements once more by changing the way that PvP works. 

    Game director Ion Hazzikostas told Kotaku that the team plans on turning every one of the game's servers into PvP servers. However, everyone will need to opt-in to PvP combat if they wish to participate in battle. The catch is that players will only be able to turn PvP on or off inside of major cities. Out in the wild, you'll live with the decision you've made. 

    “Doing this gives us a foundation upon which to build,” said Hazzikostas. “I think in the past when we talked about ideas for PVP content in the world, we often ran into the question of ‘Well, what does this mean for people on PVE servers?’ Are there just millions of people who don’t get to experience this content at all, even if they want to?”

    Hazzikostas also admitted that the WoW team has fallen behind somewhat in terms of expanding the game's PvP battles. While he admits you can't make those battles perfectly balanced, he states that the team is hoping to implement some kind of level-scaling system that might help battles feel a little fairer. 

    Hazzikostas previously noted that Battle for Azeroth will incorporate elements of the Warcraft RTS games. Specifically, the expansion's Waterfront battles will play out like a WoW take on the classic strategy titles. 

    “In searching for inspiration for how that might unfold, classic RTS roots felt like the perfect place to turn,” said Hazzikostas. He later explained that your first job will be to get your team's base fully-functional which will require you to gather resources such as "lumber or gold" to upgrade town halls. You'll also need to clear supply lines of foes in order to allow "peons to do their thing."

    The next phase of battle requires teams of players to decide how existing resources will be spent on the battles ahead. This includes the building of certain weapons and other combat resources. Finally, you will actually do battles against other teams with the resources you have accumulated. 

    We're curious if the resource gathering elements will grow tedious over time and how deep the base building is, but this certainly sounds like a significant addition to the game that wonderfully touches upon Warcraft's oft-forgotten RTS roots. 

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    The cult classic Darksiders franchise is set to stage a major comeback.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Darksiders 3  will cast players into the role of a mage named Fury who uses a whip and magical abilities to fight various forms of evil. Fury is a member of the franchise's Four Horsemen and is described as "unpredictable and enigmatic." The first two Darksiders games featured two other members of the mythical Four Horsemen (War and Death), so this character description does seem to fit the design of the series. 

    The sequel is an "open-ended, living, free-form game" that will require players to use Fury's skills in order to defeat the seven deadly sins. The product description and various screenshots also make note of the game's retention of the franchise's signature art style. 

    The history of the Darksiders franchise has always been fascinating from a development perspective. It was originally conceived by THQ as a hack-and-slash action/adventure title with gothic horror elements. The second game expanded upon many of the elements the first title established but mostly served to give players more of the same. 

    Both Darksiders games received a good deal of acclaim from those who played them but were always seen as fundamentally flawed experiences that exhibited more potential than they realized. When THQ shut down, Darksiders was still seen as one of their most valuable former properties. That's hardly a surprise given just how much the franchise's fans love these games. 

    With the franchise now in the hands of THQ Nordic, it will be interesting to see if they are able to fully realize the potential of the game's formula. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Darksiders 3 Release Date

    Darksiders 3 is being developed by Gunfire Games and will be released for PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One. The game will arrive sometime in 2018.

    Darksiders 3 Trailer

    Darksiders 3 is officially coming! Here's the first trailer for the game:

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    There's more than one pirate game on the high seas.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Were you one of many gamers who played Assassin's Creed: Black Flag's ship sections and thought, "Why doesn't Ubisoft just turn this into a game?" Well, it appears that Ubisoft heard that very valid question. 

    Skull and Bones can't exactly be described as a continuation of Black Flag. While the two share many pirate aspects (we'll never tire of hearing our crew sing a shanty) Skull and Bones seems to place a far greater emphasis on multiplayer gameplay, but it's still not clear what the extent of the game's single-player offerings is. 

    The game will allow you to assemble an online crew and participate in 5 v 5 battles with rival pirates in ship-to-ship combat sections. While sinking the enemy is certainly a plus, the true goal here seems to be to collect as much sweet, sweet loot as you can while also vanquishing your foes. It's not entirely clear at this time whether or not you and other players will be able to assume multiple roles on the ship or how that system of role management will work, but it does appear that much of the action will take place on the open waters. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Skull and Bones Release Date

    Skull and Bones is expected to release sometime in the fall of 2018 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. 

    Skull and Bones Trailer

    Here is the first trailer for Skull and Bones:

    And here's a gameplay trailer:

    This interview video posted by Ubisoft also hints at the game's RPG mechanics and the way that you'll be able to upgrade your ship and crew as you gain gold and infamy. 

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    The legendary designer returns to gaming with a truly strange idea...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    SimCity creator Will Wright is returning to gaming with a truly bizarre mobile title called Proxi.

    Where to start with this one? Well, Proxi is technically a city building title. The big catch is that the "city" you are building is really just a representation of abstract thoughts. Proxi requires you to manage various artificial intelligence systems modeled after themselves. In order to foster the growth of these AIs, you'll need to construct what Wright refers to as "mems." These mems are representations of various events that include everything from happy occurrences to repressed memories. 

    At this time, it's honestly not entirely clear what Proxi's gameplay will consist of. We get the basic concept of designing a landscape based on your memories, but there's still no indication of what Proxi's goal is (if there even is one). It's doesn't sound like you're just going to be selected from a menu of memories and building carefully organized urban districts across a vast dreamscape, but we are curious what the "tangible" gameplay elements that tie all these ideas together will end up being. 

    What we do know is that Will Wright has kicked off an art contest that asks people to contribute artistic representations of three personal memories via the Unity system. The winners of this contest will seemingly be asked to contribute more to the final game. The examples that Gallium Artists, Wright's studio, provided seem to showcase the kind of art style the team is looking for, but it really doesn't give us any more information about the game itself. 

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    That probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise given that Wright has always been a bit eccentric, but it's hard to recommend buying into this admittedly fascinating idea when there is so little information about the game itself currently available. We don't want to invoke the name of No Man's Sky, but the same principle does apply. 

    If nothing else, it's great to hear that Wright is getting back into gaming. It's impossible to argue against the man's successes - even initially ill-received titles like Spore became cult classics - and this certainly doesn't look quite like anything else that is currently on the market.

    As for when Proxi will hit the market, that too is currently unknown. However, it seems that the current plan is for Proxi to only be available via mobile devices. 

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    This creative 2D platformer forces you to make your own platforms.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Light Fall, a previously announced platformer from Bishop Games, is coming to Nintendo Switch. 

    In Light Fall, you will be expected to navigate a series of minimalistic 2D levels via a platformer set-up. So far, so indie. What makes Light Fall stand out, though its the way that it utilizes the platforms themselves. 

    The game's hero has access to an item known as the Shadow Core. It's a kind of magical box that can be manipulated in several ways to allow players to traverse dangerous landscapes and forge their own path to the end of the level. That isn't to say that each level doesn't include other, more traditional platforms, but rather that the Shadow Core will allow you to divert from the previously established methods of traversal. Light Fall's Switch trailer showcases how you'll be able to perform complicated vertical and horizontal movements just by building a platform from thin air. 

    While Light Fall's platforming mechanics seem to be the star of the show, early impressions of the game have also praised its lovely art style and the way it crafts a compelling story largely though environment and the presence of a helpful sidekick/narrator named Stryx. Based on the information provided thus far, it seems like the game's narrative will utilize the concept of light and dark dueling and implement it into the game's various challenging levels. 

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    We know that there is a fair share of indie platformers on the market and that sorting through them for the gems kind of wears you out on the entire concept. Still, there's something seemingly special about this little game. Its central mechanic is much cleverer than you might initially think and reportedly leads to some incredibly smoothe platforming action. The game's world also feels like the kind that is just waiting to be explored by observant gamers.

    At present, it looks like Light Fallis set to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC sometime in March of 2018. Given that we're currently in March of 2018, we're guessing the game is going to drop soon or will otherwise be delayed slightly. 

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    This love letter to games like Ninja Gaiden features a 16-Bit twist...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    If you find yourself longing for the era of tough-as-nails, NES-era action titles, then The Messenger might just be the indie game you've been looking for. 

    The Messenger casts players a ninja in a mystical realm who has been tasked with delivering an important scroll to his clan in order to save his people (that really should have been the plot to The Postman). Along the way, he encounters various baddies who will surely takedown all but the most mechanically gifted of players. 

    On the surface, The Messenger basically looks like an unofficial Ninja Gaidengame. It's clear that developer Sabotage isn't shying away from that comparison. It features chiptune songs, airtight controls, and will no doubt make you want to throw your controller out of the window at some point. Much like how Shovel Knight was a love letter to the era of NES platformers, The Messenger pays home to games like Ninja Gaiden, Batman, and Contra

    However, this is much more than a case of simple digital flattery. See, The Messenger eventually allows players to utilize a time travel system. When you hop into one of those time portals, the game changes to a 16-bit graphical style and begins to incorporate Metroidvania elements. It's not entirely clear whether or not these two styles of games will be at odds with each other or if they will somehow both be organically incorporated into a cohesive experience. What we can tell you is that the developers are promising that this aspect of the game will add a great deal of replay value to the experience. 

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    Even in its 8-bit form, though, The Messenger looks like a special experience. We really haven't gotten many genuine attempts at recreating the beloved era of NES action titles. Some games have touched upon that territory, but we haven't really been treated to many significant recreations of that style. The developers behind this particular title seem to have a very clear understanding of the mechanics and level design elements that make that particular breed of game so beloved. They've even implemented a sense of humor that pokes fun at the genre while still paying respect to it. 

    The Messenger is certainly on our radar and it should be on yours too when the game releases for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC later this year. 

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    The horrors of the rental store come to life in this Switch exclusive.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Garage, a top-down shooter designed to resemble the VHS era of filmmaking, is coming to the Nintendo Switch. 

    "Inspired by VHS Era B-Movies, Garage is a bloody topdown shooter," reads the official release from tinyBuild. "You play as Butch, an ex-drug dealer, who single-handedly slays hordes of mutants and the undead." 

    While Garage may trigger thoughts of Hotline Miami or even the 2017 sleeper hit, Darkwood, those comparisons don't quite convey what the game seems to be going for. Instead, Garage seems to be spiritually closer to a top-down version of a game like Serious Sam. Enemies in the game are numerous and extremely dangerous. Defeating the waves of foes that descend upon you will require you to utilize a series of weapons and some lightning fast reflexes. This appears to be a pure shooter that occasionally utilizes scavenge/exploration elements largely for the purposes of gathering and storytelling. You'll also find a few secret areas spread throughout each level.

    As stated above, the game's calling card seems to be its almost grindhouse style. The game's latest trailer showcases everything from slasher-style horror movie rentals to psychedelic neon atmospheres that look like a special effects attempt gone horribly wrong. There's even a few frames of a kind of Running Man-esque arena atmosphere that players will seemingly be dropped in at some point. 

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    Perhaps its old-fashioned at this point, but we're still always a little surprised to see games this openly grotesque appear on a Nintendo system. While Nintendo isn't quite as opposed to "mature" content as they used to be, Switch owners looking for something a little more visceral will no doubt be happy to turn to this fast-paced piece of retro brutality. 

    Garage is currently listed as a Nintendo Switch exclusive title that is set to release on May 10th. Whether the game will eventually be ported to other platforms remains to be seen. 

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    The best puzzle game this side of Tetris is ready to hit the dance floor again.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    One of the best puzzle games ever made, Lumines, is getting a long-awaited remaster. 

    While the game was revealed during the recent Nintendo Switch "Nindies" showcase about indie games, it appears that this remastered version of Lumines will be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and the Nintendo Switch. Across all platforms, this remaster will feature HD graphics, an enhanced soundtrack, and - reportedly - every song from the original game. It is being developed by Resonair and is expected to be released sometime in May. 

    We don't currently know if this remaster will feature any significant pieces of new content. While it stands to reason that there might be a few new songs, backgrounds, modes, or even content from the Lumines sequels, this could simply be a case of a game that is so anticipated that the simple presence of a remastered version of the base title might just prove to be popular enough. 

    Not familiar with Lumines? Don't be surprised. While the game is beloved by just about everyone who played it, the problem is that relatively few people got the chance to play it in its original portable form. The original Lumines debuted on PlayStation Portable in 2004 (2005 for Western gamers). It was critically well-received and is believed to have sold reasonably well, but the questionable popularity of the PSP vs. the Nintendo DS meant that it didn't reach the number of gamers it probably should have. The game was ported to Xbox 360 and other platforms, but the PSP version was still considered to be the best. 

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    As for the game itself, Lumines is best described as a rhythm puzzle title. Mechanically, it's very similar to Tetris in that you just drop blocks on a grid map and match colors to clear spaces. There are a few twists on the formula here and there, but it's a very simple title to understand. 

    What separates Lumines, though, is its incorporation of music. Every level features a timeline that moves horizontally across the screen. When it touches completed blocks, it removes them from the board. This means that different songs can utilize different beats that change the timing of combo plays. 

    Lumines is a great title that we highly recommend to anyone who has never been able to play it. 

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    A Micorsoft published game on Nintendo Switch? Is this a sign of bigger things to come?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 20, 2018

    Mark of the Ninja is being remastered for its debut on the Nintendo Switch. 

    This version of Mark of the Ninja is being billed as a remaster, but the extent of its changes isn't quite clear. It seems reasonable to expect some visual and audio enhancements, but it might be too soon to predict any substantial gameplay alternations. Of course, anything is possible. 

    That doesn't really matter, though, as the fact that Mark of the Ninja is being remastered and released on a non-Microsoft platform is big enough news on its own. The original Mark of the Ninja was released in 2012 for the Xbox 360. Alongside titles like Limbo, Braid, Geometry Wars, and Castle Crashers, it helped establish Microsoft's digital indie delivery service as a revolutionary way for smaller studios to release games that might have otherwise gone overlooked.

    Of course, its success via that format - and the fact it was published by Microsoft Studios - meant that Mark of the Ninja was never released on any other platforms besides Xbox 360 and PC. It's incredibly surprising to hear that its return will be for the Nintendo Switch. What makes that announcement all the more shocking is the recent revelation that Microsoft is beginning to look beyond the Xbox when trying to get its games to more consumers. Does this mean we can expect more Microsoft titles to come to the Nintendo Switch? We've already seen the pair team up on some Minecraftcontent, so it's certainly a possibility. We'll know more when Mark of the Ninjalaunches for Nintendo Switch sometime later this year.

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    As for Mark of the Ninja...well, it's just an incredible game. It tells the tale of a young ninja whose clan has been attacked by a high-tech group of soldiers. The game's hero - that's you - is a lone ninja who has been marked with "cursed" tattoos that offer him enhanced abilities but may just end up sealing his fate. Before that happens, though, he must embark on a mission of revenge and justice. 

    Mark of the Ninja asks players to stick to the shadows as they attempt to take out a variety of enemies across 2D landscapes. The game's sneak and assassinate system requires you to be aware of light, sound, positioning, and to try to come up with the most creative kills possible that won't end in your death. At the time of its releases, Mark of the Ninja was considered to be one of the best stealth games in years, and it retains that status to this day. 

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    Square Enix's next RPG will combine the best of modern and retro gaming.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    The developers of the hit 3DS JRPG Bravely Default are teaming up once more to create a new JRPG for the Nintendo Switch called Octopath Traveler.

    First off, that...unique name is a reference to the game's eight main characters and eight explorable worlds. For the moment, though, it is being referred to as a working title. Given that Nintendo showcased the game via a four-minute trailer, however, we're guessing that this game is fairly far along in development. 

    In terms of narrative and certain gameplay conventions, Octopath Traveler is very much a classic Square Enix-style JRPG. There are colorful characters, grand evils, and turn-based combat as far as the eye can see. This is a game with nostalgia in its heart. 

    That said, it wouldn't be fair to call this project a throwback. For instance, Octopath Traveler will allow players to utilize characters special abilities outside of combat. This means that your warrior will be able to challenge most NPCs to a duel which may allow him to complete sidequests or access previously inaccessible areas. A dancer hero, meanwhile, can allure friendly and enemy characters. That last example is particularly hilarious as it means you'll be able to lead certain foes to cleverly placed traps and avoid combat altogether.

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    Elsewhere, Octopath Traveler's visuals benefit from a style the developers are referring to as "HD 2D." The benefits of this new approach are immediately apparent. Octopath Traveler brilliantly maintains the basic visual style of classic JRPGs but greatly benefits from a noticeable increase in environmental details and lighting effects. It's a stunning visual design approach that we already want to see more of. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Octopath Traveler Release Date

    Octopath Traveler is coming on July 13. It will arrive exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

    Octopath Traveler Trailer

    Here's the first trailer for Octopath Traveler:

    And here's almost an hour of gameplay:

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    Here's everything we know about the most anticipated Kickstarter game of all-time.

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Mar 21, 2018

    Star Citizen could very well be the space simulator to end all space simulators - if it ever actually comes out. The game has been in development at Cloud Imperium Games, founded by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, since it was successfully crowdfunded in 2012. Boasting an enormous massive multiplayer universe, elements of space trading, first-person shooter combat, Star Citizen is one of the most ambitious video games ever put into development. 

    Several delays and an engine change later, the game is still in early Alpha state with no solid release date. Still, we've seen plenty of the game through trailers and gameplay videos.

    There is still hope, though. Star Citizen continues to be developed by a large staff of talented creators who seem determined to produce the game that was promised at some point in the future. When, exactly, that future may come is just a matter of debate. 

    Here's the latest from Star Citizen:

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    Star Citizen News

    Slowly but surely, Cloud Imperium is revealing more about Star Citizen's single-player campaign. This new look at Squadron 42 takes us to a dangerous gas cloud called "The Coil." Check out the video below:

    Star Citizen Release Date

    While Star Citizen's roughly playable builds regularly receive some kind of update, there's no word on when the game will be released. It's quite possible that Star Citizen's development team will release an Early Access model for the game that will continuously be updated for the foreseeable future. In any case, we'll be sure to update you as information regarding the game's fully-playable builds becomes available.

    Star Citizen Trailer

    Two new trailers have arrived for Star Citizen's single-player campaign, titled "Squadron 42." This first one features a new look at Mark Hamill in the game:

    And here's over an hour of gameplay:

    During the CitizenCon 2947 livestream broadcast, Star Citizen designer Chris Roberts took the stage to present a video that shows off the massive size of the game's worlds. 

    The footage specifically focuses on the ArcCorp planet which has been shown before, but never quite like this. Roberts described the planet's vast cityscape as "Blade Runner esque," which certainly does help capture the spirit suggested by the city's spewing flame towers and jam-packed structures. Impressively, Roberts also suggests that everything in the city can be interacted with by the player in some way. There aren't any instances of painted features designed to make the cities look larger than they are. 

    Roberts described that particular planet as being similar to Star Wars' Coruscant, but also showcased another planet that seems to have been decimated at one point or at least hasn't been fully terraformed as of yet. 

    The team certainly seems to be aiming for a shocking amount of variety in regards to the design of every major planet. That isn't to say that there won't be largely barren planets, but rather that they hope to make each new planet feel like a discovery. 

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    Thanks to this gameplay video update on Star Citizen's development, we do know that the game's first-person combat is coming along nicely. 

    The purpose of this video, besides showing off the kind of stunning visuals millions and millions of crowdfunded dollars will buy you, is to showcase the progress that Star Citizen's Vision Stabilization engine has made. In short, this improved engine allows for developer Cloud Imperium Games to implement tighter and less visually jarring first-person combat. Previously, some of the game's early users had reported that the character motions dictated by these mechanics were far too loose and had a tendency to generate a floaty sensation. 

    Currently on version 3.0, the most recent build of Star Citizen arguably stole the show at Gamescom with this nearly 52-minute long gameplay video that takes on the daunting task of trying to explain the almost incomprehensible scale of the game. 

    Not to beat the No Man's Sky horse to death, but one of the most impressive things about this demo in comparison to other titles in this genre is how substantial the universe feels. While certain elements of the experience don't feel nearly as important as the presenter hopes they might come across as ("The elevators in this game really move! *clap,clap,clap*), Star Citizen's developers seems to understand that pretty environments and theoretically infinite content will not get you far if there is not a solid core of gameplay at the center of it all. Watching the demo players navigate a character to a new planet, accept a mission, and carry it out isn't mind-blowing on paper. But, in the context of the full scope of this creation, it does show that there's a promising traditional game at the heart of the title. 

    We still eagerly await the day that all questions about Star Citizen will be answered by the retail release of the game itself, but, until then, it's nice to know that it's still capable of wowing people. 

    Star Citizen Update

    For just $50 (a.k.a., the price of a game that actually exists) you can now buy your own little piece of land in the Star Citizen universe. 

    The latest Star Citizen update includes the ability to purchase a 4km square parcel of United Empire of Earth controlled land. Said land can either be on a moon, planet, or asteroid. 

    Once you've purchased a few space acres to call your own, you can use the area for a variety of purposes. The Star Citizen team has suggested that you can use it for things like setting up your own space store or building some kind of space home. 

    The developers also want to assure...well, we almost used the word "players" there, but that would require a game that can actually be played outside of some tech demos. Instead, we'll say that they've assured investors that there will be enough space land for everyone. 

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    Bayonetta is back. Here's what you need to know:

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    Platinum Games are developing Bayonetta 3 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. The reveal trailer showcased during the 2017 Game Awards didn't show much more than same vague visual cues and the reveal of the official logo. As such, drawing any substantial information from it - such as its release date or plot details - is especially difficult and somewhat irresponsible at this early date. 

    If you still haven't had the honor of being a first-time Bayonetta player, you should first know that Platinum Games' franchise is arguably the best action experience of its kind since the glory days of the Devil May Cry series. The second game in the series was released exclusively for Wii U in 2014. It was one of the most critically acclaimed games of the year and is widely considered to be among the finest action titles ever made. 

    Can Platinum do it again? Well, based on their history of meeting and surpassing expectations, we have a pretty good feeling that they'll find a way. 

    Here's everything we know about Bayonetta 3:

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    Bayonetta 3 Release Date

    Bayonetta 3 doesn't have a release date at this time. The game is coming exclusively to the Nintendo Switch.

    Bayonetta 3 Trailer

    Here's the first trailer for Bayonetta 2:

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    We're really starting to enjoy this growing Nintendo/Microsoft bromance...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    With the official reveal of Super Smash Bros. for Switch, Nintendo fans across the world have begun theorycrafting their dream Smash Bros. roster. As the last Smash Bros. title taught us, you should never completely write-off a cameo from some of gaming's most famous characters no matter how far off the possibility may seem. 

    For instance, Microsoft seems perfectly willing to let Nintendo add Banjo and Kazooie to the Smash Bros. roster. 

    On Twitter, Microsoft's Phil Spencer responded to a question from a Banjo Kazooie fan who wondered if the Xbox team would let Nintendo use the characters in the next Smash Bros. game even though Microsoft owns developer Rare (creators of the Banjo Kazooie franchise). Spencer simply replied: "Yep." 

    This isn't the first time that Phil Spencer has expressed his personal desire to see Banjo and Kazooie join Smash Bros. In 2015, he tweeted out that he thought it would be "cool" if Banjo was added to the Wii U Super Smash Bros. game as DLC. He noted that Microsoft has had no problems working with Nintendo on Rare IPs in the past, and seemed to think that there was a possibility the two sides could work something out. 

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    Usually, we would completely dismiss this as nothing more than Phil Spencer being a Smash Bros. fan who so happens to hold a position of notable power within the gaming industry. In case you didn't know, it takes a lot of legal legwork for two rival companies the size of Microsoft and Nintendo to agree to do something as seemingly simple as allowing characters from one company to appear in the other company's game. 

    However, this situation is a little different. We recently mentioned that Microsoft has expressed their desire to think beyond the Xbox when promoting their games and properties. That statement became much more interesting when it was revealed that Microsoft's Mark of the Ninja was going to make an appearance on the Nintendo Switch (the first time it has been made available for a non-Microsoft platform). 

    All things considered, the possibility of Microsoft and Nintendo working together on a Smash Bros.cameo isn't nearly as outlandish as it used to be. Whether or not the two sides are able to actually strike a deal, though, remains to be seen. 

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    The revolutionary Battle Royale title is fully-playable on mobile devices.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    The mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has officially launched in the United States. 

    This is a bit shocking considering that we've really only heard about the Chinese versions of PUBG mobile up until this point. While it was suspected that other regions would receive their own versions of the app at some point, nobody was quite sure when that would happen. However, the game is available to download right now for both iOS and Android. The app is available for free, but it might require a newer model of mobile device if you're trying to play on iOS. The Android version seems to be a little more generous in that respect. 

    So how does it play? Well, initial reports suggest that it's pretty much the PUBG experience that you get on PC. Granted, you're going to notice not being able to utilize a mouse and keyboard, but the app's touchscreen controls do a pretty admirable job of recreating the real deal. There are even optimizations that make aiming, driving, and picking up items easier. Technically speaking, it's all pretty impressive. 

    However, there are a few things about the mobile game that are giving players cause to pause. The most notable of those complaints are the mobile version's apparent surplus of bots. 

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    Yes, early PUBG mobile players are reporting that the game might currently be populated with an unusual amount of bots. Unlike some of the bots featured in PUBG's PC version, though, these programmed opponents aren't playing particularly well. They'll do things like wander the open fields, come out of cover too early, and take suspiciously bad shots. While this could just be a matter of people trying to figure the mobile version out, some believe these bots may have been added to the game to ease mobile players into the experience. 

    Regardless, this mobile version of PUBG is actually fairly impressive considering that it was seemingly developed in a fairly quick amount of time and debuted not long after the successful launch of Fortnite mobile. We'll see which title comes out on top. 

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    Some classic Nickelodeon titles are set to stage a comeback.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    THQ Nordic and Nickelodeon are teaming up to revive several video games based on popular Nickelodeon properties. 

    "This one hits close to home," says Adrienne Lauer, VP Digital Sales & Business Development Americas at THQ Nordic. “We believe the combination of strong licenses and solid, crisp gameplay was one of THQ Inc’s trademark strategies, and we intend to continue this tradition... It is a perfect fit for our “asset care” strategy: bringing back fan-favorites, continuing to support legacy games and make them available on current and even next-gen platforms.”

    Jon Roman, Senior Vice President, Toys, Nickelodeon, added to that sentiment by stating that “These titles were popular when they were first released and we can’t wait for fans around the world to rediscover their favorites.”

    As excited as both parties appear to be, we have to admit that it's still not clear at this time what exactly this announcement means. We can tell you that THQ Nordic will be releasing games based on Nickelodeon properties, but it's not entirely clear whether they will be new games, remakes of old titles, or a combination of both. Given that Nickelodeon reference the games "when they were first released," that makes us think it's going to be remakes and remasters of older Nickelodeon titles. 

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    What we can tell you is that the "on-shelf availability" of these games will be confirmed in the coming months. As for the games themselves, they will include the following properties:

    Avatar: The Last Airbender
    Back At The Barnyard
    Danny Phantom
    El Tigre
    Invader Zim
    Jimmy Neutron
    My Life As A Teenage Robot
    Rocket Power
    Rocko's Modern Life
    SpongeBob SquarePants
    Tak And The Power Of JUJU
    The Fairly OddParents (US only)
    The Ren & Stimpy Show
    The Wild Thornberrys

    There are a few names out there that will immediately jump out to gamers. For instance, SpongeBob SquarePants has actually been featured in a few notable video games over the years - like 2003's Battle for Bikini Bottom - and Rocko's Modern Life, which hasn't received a video game adaptation since the SNES era. Other names are popular in their own right - Rugrats and Invader Zim - but aren't commonly associated with any particular video game. 

    Regardless, it will be nice to see some Nickelodeon games back on the market. Now, we just hope that the two find a way to make some kind of competitive online version of Legends of the Hidden Temple

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    Someone on the Target social media team was a little too helpful...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    It looks like Target might have accidentally confirmed that there is a collection of Spyro games in development. While that's pretty common - see Modern Warfare 2 - the way in which target spilled the beans is pretty funny. 

    Yes, some Spyro fan just felt like asking one of Target's Twitter accounts when that new Spyro game is coming out. Shockingly, someone actually responded that there is a "Spyro Treasure Trilogy" game in the works. Sadly, they don't seem to have any information on when this game will be released or when it will be available to pre-order. As noted in the replies below, Target also doesn't know when Metroid Prime 4 is going to be released. Nice try, Twitter. 

    As with most retail "confirmations," you should take this a grain of salt. This is not an official confirmation and Activision are remaining silent on the subject of a Spyrotrilogy remaster. As such, we can't officially celebrate the impending release of a Spyro the Dragon trilogy remaster. 

    With that disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about the impending release of a Spyro the Dragon remaster. Taken on its own, we might be able to overlook this slip-up - even though the fact they name-dropped a specific title is somewhat fascinating - but this is hardly the first time that we've heard rumors of a Spyro the Dragon remaster in the works. Activision has previously stated that they were very interested in remastering some of their older properties following the success of the Crash Bandicootremasters, and there have been rumors regarding the possibility of a Spyro return long before that. At this point, we'd be stunned if a remaster of that trilogy doesn't eventually get released. 

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    If you've never actually played a Spyro game and are wondering what the big deal is, then allow us to provide a bit of context. The first Spyro the Dragon title was released for PlayStation in 1998. By that time, N64 gamers had already been treated to the revolutionary Mario 64, and PlayStation gamers were craving a true 3D platformer to call their own. While Spyro the Dragon wasn't quite on the same level as Mario 64, it was an incredibly well-received game that pushed the PlayStation to its limits. 

    Subsequent Spyro games weren't necessarily as revolutionary, but they were generally seen as better games. While such titles are always best enjoyed with a spoonful of nostalgia on the side, we think that a remaster of the Spyro trilogy done properly might be worth your time even if you don't have fond personal memories of the series. 

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    Explore the home of the high elves in this sizeable expansion.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 21, 2018

    The Elder Scrolls Online's next major expansion will take players to the home of the Altmer, Summerset Isles. 

    The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset will release on June 5 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC/Mac. It begins with Queen Ayrenn declaring that Summerset Isle is open for travel to all foreigners. From there, players will be able to enjoy a sizeable new area - it's even larger than the one added by ESO: Morrowind - that is described as being "uniquely beautiful." While Elder Scrolls fans have seen this world before in 1994's Elder Scrolls: Arena, we have no doubt that Elder Scrolls Online will do greater justice to its reported beauty.

    Story details are vague at this time, but it seems that the expansion's plot will deal with an impending Daedric attack that might have something to do with the Queen's decision to open up the isles once more. The story is described as a continuation of the plot that began in the 2015 DLC for Elder Scrolls Online, Orsinium

    The biggest addition this expansion brings, though, is the presence of the Psijic Order. The Psijic Order, an ancient order of mages from which the Mage's Guild was formed, have been mentioned during previous Elder Scrollsgames, but players have never been invited to join the mysterious order of magic masters. Now, you'll not only have the chance to join the order, but you'll be able to learn an entirely new line of skills tied to the order of the knowledge. You'll also get a close look at their mysterious home of Artaeum. 

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    Additional new features introduced by Summerset include the ability to craft jewelry and associated powerful gear, a new set of PvE challenges, a new 12-player Trial, new Delves and Bosses, some unspecified new creatures. Those who have already been playing ESO will be able to upgrade their game to Summerset and either take their existing character to the new world or just start there with a fresh build. If you're new to the game, then you'll have the option to build a new character and jump right into Summerset if you wish to do so. 

    If you are new to the game, you might want to tack advantage of the free ESO trial that will run from today until March 27th. If you decide to purchase the expansion, you'll have the option to pre-order several different versions and receive a few different bonuses. 

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    From Sith apprentice to Old Master, Darth Maul is the Star Wars villain everyone loves to hate. Here's what you need to know about Maul!

    The Lists Megan Crouse
    Mar 22, 2018

    This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

    From the Prequel Trilogy to Star Wars Rebels, Darth Maul just won't quit. The short-lived villain from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace became a standout fan favorite because of his appearance and acrobatic lightsaber moves, and after his return in season four of The Clone Wars, he moved into other mediums - like the four-part Son of Dathomir comic series. 

    His surprise resurgence in Rebels brought the villain to a whole new era of Star Wars, as Maul clashed with the heroes of the early Rebellion. His particular interest in young Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger made for quite a few interesting appearances. In his final episode, Maul faced off against his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, under the twin suns of Tatooine. Maul was finally defeated, but that doesn't mean we'll never see him again. If the villain has proved anything, it's that he's not one to stay down. 

    Here are some important facts you may not have known about the former Sith villain, either behind the scenes or in the galaxy far, far away:

    His design was created by Iain McCaig

    Ian McCaig is the same designer whose art would eventually inspire the witches of Dathomir in The Clone Wars. Early concept art for the character showed a villainous-looking woman with hair falling in strands across her face. McCaig experimented with ink-blot “Rorschach” designs as well as flayed-looking faces before finding the right look for Darth Maul. The tattoos on his face follow the muscle structure beneath.

    A canonical connection between the Dathomiri witches and the Sith would only be established later on in The Clone Wars, and now continues into the new canon, but the connection was always there in the art. Iain McCaig also designed many of Padme’s outfits in Episode I.

    Darth Maul wears an earring in the film - but this wasn’t planned. 

    Actor Ray Park put on a small, silver earring before sitting down to do the Darth Maul makeup, and only noticed it later. But George Lucas said he liked it, so the earring stayed. Park has said that he sees the earring as an aspect of himself, not of the character - and in an Expanded Universe where every doodad and costume piece usually has a story, there has never been a canon explanation to give this particular detail a role in Maul’s history.

    Ray Park also had a hand in developing Maul’s fighting style, and asked that the hilt of Maul’s double lightsaber be lengthened so that he could use it more efficiently.

    He’s had two different mothers.

    In Son of Dathomir, Talzin says that she’s Maul’s blood mother. This is different from his history in Legends, but only slightly.

    Maul’s original mother, from the young adult novel, The Wrath of Darth Maul, was a human Nightsister named Kycina, from a region called Blue Desert City. It’s still possible that Talzin is lying, but The Clone Wars gave Maul an entire family.

    We’re not precisely sure how the brothers Feral and Savage are related, but they could all be blood-related from this same family. Who is the father? We don’t know yet.

    Maul, like many other villains, earned his cyborg parts.

    In Star Wars, cybernetic implants are like battle scars. This isn’t unique to antagonists, but Darth Vader and General Grievous had extensive cybernetic reconstruction. Darth Maul goes through this in The Clone Wars, too, although it isn’t overtly obvious in Son of Dathomir. Maul’s original artificial legs are of a similar design to Grievous’, and were built out of Nightsister magic and scrap parts by Mother Talzin.

    A similar design for Darth Maul appeared many years earlier in Old Wounds, a non-canon comic (even in the Legends timeline) that told the story of Maul's rematch with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. The Clone Wars featured an entirely new design for Maul: an eight-legged body made out of scrap metal. By the time Maul appeared in Rebels, he had acquired more refined parts. His metal legs were almost human-like.

    He sought his master's approval even while trying to destroy him.

    Sure, Darth Maul was a bit of a pushover for getting cut in half by a teenage Padawan. But in Son of Dathomir, he and his combined forces of Mandalorians and criminals capture both Count Dooku and General Grievous without lengthy battles. Once they're in his clutches, Maul parades his success in front of Darth Sidious in one of the most telling parts of the comic.

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    Maul displays Grievous and Dooku to Sidious so that the Sith Lord can see their failure. For someone who opposed Sidious for years on The Clone Wars, Maul is very quick to show off to him - which makes for a bitter, twisted moment in Maul and Sidious’ long-standing Master-apprentice relationship.

    In that way, the Son of Dathomir comic doesn’t just make Maul more powerful, it also tells a lot about how Maul seeks both revenge on and approval from his master - and that’s a story thread that started all the way back in The Phantom Menace.

    Some of Maul’s Clone Wars stories are still unwritten.

    The novel Ahsoka opens with a short scene showing some of what Maul was up to around the time of Revenge of the Sith. We don’t know the exact timeline of how he got to Mandalore where he faced her. However, it is one puzzle piece in the picture of what might have happened in The Clone Wars had it continued past six seasons. 

    The verbal barb Maul throws at Ahsoka — “One last attempt at glory to impress a master who has no further use for you” — is telling. He showed that very same weakness throughout the Clone Wars when he tried to return to Darth Sidious, so it seems natural that this particular effort would be on his mind when he faces Ahsoka. 

    Ahsoka saved Maul’s life.

    Without Ahsoka’s appearance in Rebels, Maul’s fate might have been very different. Executive Producer Dave Filoni originally planned for Maul to die at Darth Vader’s hands during the season two finale. However, Ahsoka’s history with Vader was deemed more appropriate for the big season two finale.

    A duel between Maul and Vader would have satisfied fans’ desire to see a fight scene between these two heavy-hitters, but Ahsoka’s story had more emotional weight, Filoni said. Without enough time in the episode to do both, Filoni decided to send Ahsoka to fight Vader, and, therefore, keep Maul alive. 

    Maul never really finds himself.

    Star Warsfeatures many stories of young people growing up and finding their true destinies. Luke Skywalker set the example, but Ezra Bridger and Rey followed suit. Maul, on the other hand, is a perpetual apprentice, never able to move past the manipulative relationship Darth Sidious trapped him in. The partnership between Maul and Ezra in Rebels is as much about Maul finding a direction as it is about him giving orders to Ezra. 

    Filoni said, “Maul is waiting for someone so that he can be his own Sith Lord. Everything he does is a reflection of Palpatine. He hasn’t really done anything that’s representative of who he is.”

    Maul's search for himself leads directly to the culmination of his story...

    Maul believed in the Chosen One prophecy.

    Remember that Old Wounds comic? Rebels took Maul's final chapter in a similar direction. The specifics of the face-off between Maul and Kenobi were very different from what happened in Old Wounds: the episode "Twin Suns" is less focused on their battle and more on the long bond of enmity between Maul and Obi-Wan.

    In the poetic and melancholy “Twin Sons,” Maul expresses a dying wish to know whether Obi-Wan was on the planet to guard the Chosen One. Obi-Wan says yes, and Maul dies believing that there is still hope for the Sith to rise when the Chosen One brings “balance.” In the end, Luke Skywalker brings hope to everyone — even his master’s old enemy. 

    Game developers keep trying to make a Maul story. 

    Maul’s dramatic visual design and simple motivation have made him a popular choice Star Wars video games as well as other media. Revenge drives him, so he provides an immediate hook for a video game that could pit him against Jedi and other dark siders.

    A game that would have been a collaboration between LucasArts and Red Fly Studio was poised to tell a dark tale about Maul after Return of the Jedi, but was never completed. Concept art for Battlefront IV also features Maul, albeit a light side version who trained as a Jedi (and, since he wasn’t canonically Dathomirian at the time, didn’t have his tattoos.) 

    Now that Maul has finally died in canon, it seems like his story might have ultimately wrapped up on a message of hope. Even Maul, a tragic villain, was granted hope by a Jedi.

    Megan Crouse is a staff writer.


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