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    Hearthstone pays homage to the world of horror in this exciting expansion.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 26, 2018

    Hearthstone's next expansion will take us deep into a haunted forest. 

    The Witchwood will kick of Hearthstone's Year of the Raven and trigger the beginning of a new card rotation. With over 300 Hearthstone cards set to leave the game's standard mode, you can expect The Witchwood to drastically shake-up the game's competitive meta and inspire a variety of new strategies. 

    As for the expansion itself, we're looking forward to seeing what the minds at Team 5 come up with when they're able to work within the pseudo-horror confines of this latest expansion. We've already seen some impressive cards as well as a first look at the expansion's new single-player adventure. What lies deeper in The Witchwood remains to be seen...

    Here's everything we know about The Witchwood:

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    Hearthstone - The Witchwood: News

    Today's Hearthstone livestream featured the introduction of 10 new cards. You can view all the new cards here

    Several of the new cards are actually quite interesting. Hagatha the Witch, the new Shaman hero Legendary, is a great card for slower Shaman decks. Glinda Crowskin, meanwhile, should lead to the creation of entirely new types of Warlock decks. We're also quite excited about the oddly named Nightmare Amalgam and its various uses. 

    You can find the full upcoming card reveal schedule here. Hearthstone players will also want to be sure to start completing daily quests from March 27 through April 9 in order to get free card packs from various expansions. You can find the full details about how that system works via this blog

    Hearthstone's Dean Ayala explains how odd and even decks will work in The Witchwood in this new video:

    To help sell the idea of only filling your deck with odd or even cost cards, the Hearthstone team revealed four new cards that all take advantage of that mechanic. For instance, Murkspark Eel is a 2 Mana 2/3 Beast that deals two damage when you play it...but only if your deck only has even cost cards. Black Cat, meanwhile, is a 3 Mana 3/3 with Spell Damage +1 (which is not bad on its own) that also draws you a card when you play it if your deck only has odd cost cards. 

    It looks like every hero will receive at least one card of this design in the upcoming expansion. Most likely, each will receive one that takes advantage of the odd numbers and one for even numbers. 

    Hearthstone - The Witchwood: Release Date

    There is currently no release date available for Hearthstone. It is expected to release sometime in April. 

    Hearthstone - The Witchwood: Reveal Information

    The next Hearthstone expansion is a horror-themed add-on called The Witchwood

    That excellent trailer certainly sets the stage, but its the other information Blizzard has revealed about the expansion which has us truly excited. First off, pre-ordering The Witchwood for $49.99 will award you with 70 packs. This is up from the usual 50 packs players previously got for that pre-order price (which was slightly below the standard rate for individual card packs). This move will no doubt please players who have stated that the typical pre-order incentive doesn't yield enough of the new card collection. Even those who don't pre-order will receive three free card packs and a random class Legendary card just by logging in. 

    Speaking of the cards, Blizzard has shared six of the cardsThe Witchwood will introduce to Hearthstone, and two of them utilize entirely new mechanics: Echo and Rush. Rush allows a card to attack the turn it is played - or summoned from hand/deck - but unlock charge, Rush cards can only attack other minions on the turn they are played. Echo cards, meanwhile, can be played multiple times in a single turn. As long as you have the mana to keep putting them on the board, you can do so to your heart's content. 

    Fans of Hearthstone's single-player modes can also look forward to a new adventure called Monster Hunt. This mode lets players choose between one of four heroes exclusively designed for this single-player adventure and embark upon a trip into the Witchwood. Along the way, they'll encounter a series of eight "ever more challenging encounters" that all lead up to a showdown with an unidentified final boss. Fortunately, every victory will award you with new gear that should make progressing deeper into the woods just a bit easier. 

    Considering that the release of this expansion will also herald the beginning of a new set rotation - which you can read more about here - there's a very good chance that The Witchwood is going to drastically shake-up the Hearthstone meta through the introduction of many new strategies and deck types. 


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  • 03/27/18--08:44: Kirby Star Allies Review
  • Kirby Star Allies is a solid debut for the character on the Nintendo Switch, but it left us wanting more. Our review...

    Kirby Star Allies definitely feels like a Kirby game. It’s bright, full of all the classic enemies you've come to love, with lots of opportunities to steal their powers. That’s its biggest strength, but also its greatest weakness. While there are a few innovative ideas in Kirby's latest adventure, the game strays little from what you would expect, and it’s somehow one of the easiest games in a series already known for its breezy difficulty.

    This is actually the first Kirby console game in the main series since 2011’s Return to Dream Land, and the first main series game in HD (the Wii U’s Rainbow Curse featured completely different gameplay, so it doesn’t really count). The transition to new hardware has been kind to the pink fluffball. Dream Land and Pop Star have never looked better or more vibrant. Be forewarned, though: while the game looks stunning in 1080p in docked mode, it loses some of its luster when playing in handheld mode. It still runs just fine on the go, but the graphics don’t stand out nearly as much. This is clearly a game meant for the big screen.

    That’s nowhere more apparent than with Kirby Star Allies’ main gimmick: full four-player co-op. Even if you’re playing alone, the AI will take control of three companions who will follow you around. These characters are instrumental in solving some light puzzles, which involve combining elemental powers or initiating “friend actions,” which can turn your foursome into a temporary wheel, train, or bridge.

    New companions are recruited by defeating bosses or from a literal friendship button. Pressing this button throws hearts at enemies, turning them into allies who fight by your side. Theoretically, this creates an almost unlimited number of strategies for completing levels. In reality, there’s usually only one way to complete any given puzzle, and the game ensures that the powers/friends you need to complete them are at most a screen or two away.

    Yes, like most Kirby games, Kirby Star Allies is often mind-numbingly easy, and playing alone only makes the game easier. Your friends will quickly demolish anything that stands in their path using an arsenal of powers that puts hardened space marines to shame. Boss fights, usually one of the highlights of Kirby games, are over almost as soon as they start. The challenge does pick up a bit toward the end of this (rather short) game, but in terms of difficulty, Kirby Star Allies has got nothing on Nintendo’s other platforming series like New Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country Returns.

    And that’s perhaps Kirby Star Allies’ biggest drawback. While the entirety of the game is technically well made and actually features some of the best music in the franchise, the game can get rather boring to play between the lack of challenge and slower pace. It’s all very bright, and there’s lots going on on-screen at any given time, but there’s not much depth to it. I found myself longing to play Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, the two most recent entries on the 3DS, which at least took Kirby in more interesting directions.

    At least the modes that are unlocked upon completing the campaign offer a little bit of variety. One has you guiding a team through certain levels without Kirby, which is a nice added challenge. The other is a more standard boss rush mode. Beyond that, there are also jigsaw pieces to pick up throughout the levels to complete pictures of Kirby and his friends, but it’s doubtful these will provide motivation for anyone but the most hardcore of completionists.

    Four player co-op often seems like a fool-proof way to rejuvenate an aging franchise (New Super Mario Bros. did just that for the Italian plumber's 2D side-scrolling adventures), but here it feels like more of a hindrance, at least with this type of execution. It’s likely that younger gamers and those who haven’t played many Kirby games will find a lot to enjoy in Kirby Star Allies, but for everyone else, there are a lot of other titles on the Switch that should take precedence over this platformer.

    3/5
    ReviewChris Freiberg
    Mar 27, 2018

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    Call of Duty: WWII's next DLC release, The War Machine, is its biggest yet. Here are all the details you need to know...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 27, 2018

    Call of Duty WWII's next content release comes in the form of a major update called The War Machine

    The War Machine will introduce several news maps to WWII's multiplayer mode. The headliner map - at least from the outset - is most certainly Dunkirk. Yes, This new map will take players to the same beach area featured in Christopher Nolan's acclaimed film about the real-life World War II conflict. The Dunkirk map is described as an "open and dangerous beach area flanked by tight interiors through the buildings lining the beach-front." It's referred to as a great map for snipers, but will also reward aggressive players who pursue the right angles. 

    Additional multiplayer maps featured in The War Machine include Egypt (which will be the first time in WWII that players will be visiting the battlefields of Northern Africa and the Egyptian pyramids) and V2; a rocket development site located deep within Germany. The Egypt map features a temple area that seems to have been designed with Domination matches in mind while V2 includes a launch tower in the center that allows for snipers to gain a wider sightline. 

    The War Machine will also feature a new War mode called "Operation Husky." This multiplayer mission will require players to gather intel, transfer it to a friendly HQ, and engage in a sky battle by clearing the skies for bombers to come through. Interestingly, that new mission was co-developed by the acclaimed studio, Raven Software.Finally, this update will expand the existing Nazi Zombies mode by telling the story of the Shadow Throne. This new series of missions brings our heroes into the heart of Nazi Germany in order to stop Doktor Straub's army of beasts from "liberating" Berlin of allied forces. 

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    All told, this looks like Call of Duty WWII's most generous content offering yet. We're thrilled that Sledgehammer is continuing to expand the game, even if it's not too much of a surprise when you consider that the game is reportedly a massive sales success. 

    At present, The War Machine is set to release first for PlayStation 4 on April 10. There is no word on when the DLC will be available for other platforms. 


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    Today, Microsoft's new code of conduct might affect cyberbullies. What will tomorrow bring, though?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 27, 2018

    Remember that scene in Demolition Man where Sylvester Stallone wakes up in a dystopian future and is almost immediately fined for cursing in public? Wasn’t that an incredibly funny moment based entirely on the fact that such a future would never, ever happen?

    Well, today, Microsoft announced that it's implementing new policies which will allow the company to serve penalties, suspensions, and bans against people who use "offensive language" across Xbox Live, Skype, and other Microsoft services.

    Maybe Microsoft is enforcing this code of conduct on itself because the wording of the official policy is as careful as it can be. It states: “Don’t publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity)."

    We’re not entirely sure how nudity, pornography, and bestiality are so casually lumped together - or how Microsoft intends to crack down on graphic violence when it publishes and develop several graphically violent games, such as Gears of War and State of Decay - but that’s a conversation for another day. 

    For the moment, it’s the “offensive language” warning that is drawing the attention. The biggest issue is that Microsoft makes no effort to explain what constitutes offensive language. We assume that ****, ****, and ****** are strictly out, but what about ****, *****, and ******?

    Seemingly aware of the tentative nature of this policy, Microsoft included a couple of disclaimers. First off, the company notes that it cannot "monitor the entire Services" and will make "no attempt to do so." That suggests that Microsoft is not implementing live monitoring. However, it can access stored and shared content when looking into "alleged violations." This indicates that part of this policy will work off of a user report system. 

    Microsoft also states that it can remove or refuse to publish content for “any reason” and reserves the right to block "delivery of a communication" across services attached to this content policy. Additionally, the punishments for breaking this code of conduct now include the “forfeiture of content licenses” as well as “Microsoft account balances associated with the account.” That means that the company could theoretically remove games from your console or seize money in your Microsoft account. 

    Those who are defending this policy point out that Microsoft essentially admits its ability to enforce such restrictions are limited. Furthermore, some are imagining that this will be used to implement a system of punishment for overly eager young Call of Duty players who use their microphones to suggest what they and your mother will be doing that evening. While there are noble ways this policy can be used to crack down on harassment, viewing this code of conduct in such a way requires a level of optimism that borders on foolishness. 

    Microsoft has always been within its rights to ban users for both actual crimes and code of conduct violations. As Gizmodo points out, Microsoft has always had strict rules regarding pornography, bestiality, and the like in its code of conduct. In fact, past versions of the code of conduct have restricted "profane words or phrases." Microsoft also reserved “the right to review Your Content” in the past. That hasn't changed.

    What has changed is the extent of what constitutes a policy violation as well as the punishments that Microsoft can enforce. The addition of the "offensive language" clause means that a large group of people who probably never had to think of policy violations before can no longer be quite as sure they are behaving as Microsoft seemingly intends for them to behave. The increased punishments said violations may result in also invoke fears some modern consumers possess regarding what real rights they have to their digital content. 

    The wider net this particular policy change casts seems to be similar to Craigslist’s recent decision to shut down its personals section in response to the recent FOSTA bill (a bill designed to crack down on online sex trafficking but is vague enough to possibly affect even consensual sexual arrangements made online). In other words, Microsoft wants to legally distance itself from any possibility of being associated with the actions of its users.

    We've long looked towards corporations and governments and asked what they are prepared to do about how we interact with each other. Well, we're now starting to hear their response. 

    I know, you don’t want politics in your video games and other forms of escapism. Truth be told, I don’t either. That’s the point, though. Policies like this are making it impossible to ignore the ways in which our means of communication and escape are becoming ever more open to those who would wish to monitor them for purposes both frighteningly clear and disturbingly vague.

    The inclusion of a vague term like "offensive language" in this new policy is troubling because it technically leaves the decision of what's "offensive" solely to Microsoft, which can then penalize you financially. Virtually every user curses once in a while on Xbox Live, shares a dirty word on a Word document, or maybe even says things he/she wouldn’t share with their moms to a cross-country partner over Skype. Are these now enough to get Microsoft's attention?

    Don’t be scared about this policy because of how it alters your today. Be scared of it because of the clear line it traces between today and a future in which we are openly fined credits for violations of the verbal morality statute. 


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    Endless mode is coming to Killing Floor 2, plus a new map, character, and weapons.

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Mar 28, 2018

    Killing Floor 2 is getting a brand new free content update called Infinite Onslaught, which will introduce a new map, new weapons, and a new playable character. The most notable add-on is a new Endless Mode, which introduces unlimited waves to the game's traditional horde mode. While the regular horde mode sees players surviving ten waves of Zed enemies before facing off against a boss, Endless mode doesn't have a set number of levels. Instead, players will face off against an increasingly challenging horde until all the member of the team are dead. 

    For fans of the original horde shooter and its sequel, Endless mode has been a long time coming. The mode should add a bit more depth to the shooter, as players will need to learn new ways to survive the later waves. It'll also be interesting to see how Endless mode affects resource management in the game. Teams will definitely have to be more careful about pooling their resources.

    Here's a new trailer showcasing all of the new features included in the Infinite Onslaught content update:

    Here's a complete list of what's coming to the game:

    NEW ENDLESS MODE GAME TYPE

    Challenge the relentless waves of Zeds that become increasingly crushing as more waves are defeated while The Patriarch takes over in the role as The Trader

    NEW WEAPONS

    MAC- 10 SMG: Voted back by community popularity, the MAC- 10 SMG makes its triumphant return from the original Killing Floor, featuring incendiary ammo

    Husk Cannon: Requisitioned from a Husk, it is time to bring more fire to the party

    AF2011-A1 pistol: Killing two Zeds with one stone was never easier than holding the lovingly designed two-for-one pistol

    NEW PLAYABLE CHARACTER D.A.R.

    Short for Domestic Assistant Robot, this new and improved fan favorite machine from the original Killing Floor is now freely available for Zed destroying services

    NEW MAPS

    Powercore: Designed by a community mapper, the subterranean facility is yours to defend

    DieSector: The Patriach was very original when naming his new testing arena for his latest and greatest creations

    NEW COSMETICS, CRATES, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND MORE

    The Vault has been stocked with additional cosmetics, character skins and weapon skins


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    Overwatch League's greatest Tracer player will make eSports/major league baseball history.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    One of the Overwatch League's best players is set to throw out the opening pitch at a New York Mets game. The New York Excelsior have announced that the team will be visiting Citi Field on April 2 to participate in a meet and greet with fans. The full team will be there - including star player Fl0w3r, who is still waiting to turn 18 and be eligible for league play - and there will be NYXL flag posters on hand for those who drop by the team's signing section. Included in the full announcement is a reference to a "very special surprise" that fans will want to stick around for. 

    While the team's website doesn't state what the surprise is, IGN has spotted a couple of international websites that seem to have spilled the beans. They suggest that NYXL player Jong-yeol 'Saebyeolbe' Park will be throwing out the opening pitch. This is the first time that an eSports player will have received that particular honor. 

    If you're suddenly picturing a lot of confused Mets fans trying to discern who these guys are and understand their automated urge to clap, there is a bit of logic to this announcement which might help you make sense of the crossover. See, the Mets and the NYXL are both owned by the Wilpon family. It makes sense, then, that the Wilpons would want to bring their two sports families together and maybe work in a bit of cross-promotion between the sports and the eSports crowds. 

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    It remains to be seen whether or not that will work, but this is quite the honor for Saebyeolbe, who has been having a hell of a run in Overwatch League thus far. Most recently, he helped lead the NYXL to a stage two playoff win, which netted the team a cool $100,000 bonus. Before then, he was instrumental to the NYXL earning the best overall record in OverwatchLeague. With the regular season about halfway done, there's little doubt that the NYXL will be the team to beat for the remainder of Overwatch League's inaugural season. 

    Oh, and if you've never seen Saebyeolbe in action, just know that he is the undisputed best Tracer player in Overwatch League and most likely the world. If you think that sounds like hyperbole, we'll just leave this highlight video here:


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    This is the second time that the Outlast 2 team has had to address the game's difficulty issues.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    Outlast 2is getting a more structured story mode that will supposedly make it easier for players to experience the game's narrative. According to an update on the game's Steam page, this new story mode "allows players to experience the game with minimal challenges, fewer enemy encounters, and more breathing room to fully immerse yourself in the universe." While you will still be able to die in this new game mode, enemies are weaker, slower, and less frequent than they are in the main game. Furthermore, additional changes have been made to increase the instances of exploration and decrease the number of chase sequences.

    Additionally, the team has reinstated "some of the things we had to remove from the original game in order to get an M rating." The developer notes state that Red Barrels doesn't believe this content is "drastic" and that it won't affect gameplay, but it did have to be initially removed in order to ensure that the game didn't get an Adults Only rating. In fact, Australia initially refused to classify Outlast 2. It's believed that some of the content added back into the game might be part of the reason why they initially denied it.

    This isn't the first time that the Outlast 2 team has had to alter the game's difficulty. A patch issued for the game in May of last year altered the difficulty of the game's Normal mode and made it generally easier to deal with the game's various challenges. 

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    There's a great debate out there regarding whether or not games should feature easy modes - Dark Souls being the popular example - but we're not sure if this alteration is part of that discussion. Even people who enjoyed Outlast 2 noted that the game's initial difficulty was a bit excessive and almost felt unintentional. The fact that the developers addressed those complaints through a patch seemed to suggest that might indeed have been the case.

    However, the developers at least seem to be stopping short of referring to this new story mode as the "definitive" or "recommended" way to experience the game. That has led some fans to assume that this new mode is basically the game's "Easy" mode but is simply not being referred to as such in order to avoid the negative connotation of that phrase.  

    Regardless, it appears that Outlast 2 now caters to all types of gamers who wish to experience its rich horror atmosphere. 


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    The best players in Overwatch will meet to see if anyone can beat the South Korea squad.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    Blizzard has kicked off the Overwatch World Cup by announcing how the format for this year's tournament will work

    From now until April 28 - the end of Overwatch's ninth competitive season - Blizzard will track the skill ratings of the game's top 150 players in every country. From there, Blizzard will identify the top 20 countries in the world in terms of top player skill and will invite them to participate in the Overwatch World Cup. 

    However, we already know that the United States, France, Thailand, and South Korea will be participating in the Overwatch World Cup because those countries are hosting group stage play. If those countries also qualify within the top 20 (which is almost a guarantee) then Blizzard will expand the number of invited teams to 24. Whichever nations qualify will put together a National Competition Committee. Each committee will consist of a GM chosen by Blizzard, a coach that will be voted on by the country's top 150 players, and a community lead that will be chosen by open voting. The results will be revealed on May 31st. 

    As for the actual players, tryouts will run from June 15 to July 5. While these are theoretically open to a number of participants - assuming that they are invited to try out - the fact that Overwatch League players will be able to participate in the World Cup means that many of the rosters for major countries will likely consist of some pretty familiar names. 

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    The Overwatch World Cup finals will likely take place at Blizzcon 2018, but there has been no confirmation of match dates at this time. For now, you can keep up with the overall rankings of each country via this live leaderboard

    While the Overwatch World Cup is always exciting, this year will be especially interesting due to the increased exposure of certain Overwatch League players. It will be fascinating to watch some teammates do battle against each other while the holy team trilogy of New York, London, and Seoul will likely make up the vast majority of the South Korean team roster (who are once again figured to be the heavy favorites). It should be a great event. 


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    The Incredibles is going to get the full Lego game treatment, and we couldn't be more excited.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    Warner Bros. and Disney have announced a new Lego title from TT Games based on Pixar's The Incredibles

    Lego The Incredibles is set to release in the United States on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on June 15th (the same day that The Incredibles 2debuts in theaters). Fans in the UK will have to wait until July 13 to purchase the game (which is the date that the film premieres in that region). 

    The game itself - which is detailed in an exclusive interview by IGN - will utilize an open-world hub area similar to what we've seen in recent Lego titles. As players complete various missions within the hub world, the hub will expand to include new areas that will more often than not be recognizable to Incredibles fans. Additionally, each area will feature a number of roaming "crime bosses" that players will be able to battle against as they so choose. Many of these side missions will rely on the standard TT Games Lego formula (i.e. "punch, build, solver minor puzzles, and collect hidden and non-hidden items").

    That said, there is a story in the game that was co-developed by TT Games and Pixar. The details regarding it are essentially non-existent at this time, but it sounds like the game will feature plot elements from both films. However, the majority of the media revealed for the game thus far suggests that the bulk of the story will occur sometime after the first movie when all the family members have begun to embrace their superhero status. As for the side missions, TT Games said they had a little more creative freedom there, which apparently allowed them to have a "little more fun." 

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    Speaking of fun, the game will introduce a somewhat new mechanic to the Lego formula that takes advantage of The Incredibles' super team status. On a basic level, players will be required to combine the powers of various heroes in order to solve puzzles (which should be great for co-op players). However, TT Games hinted that there may be many more uses of this mechanic throughout the game. Given that the game's cast also features an array of Supers featured in the films and created by TT, it also seems like we might be treated to some rather creative power combos throughout the game. 

    It's impossible to not trust TT Games at this point when it comes to Lego titles, and we're just as excited as they are about the idea of an Incredibles game within the Lego world. Definitely, keep an eye on this one. 


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    The Nintendo Switch version of Dragon Quest will take a little longer while the 3DS version isn't coming to the West at all.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age has finally received a Western release date. PlayStation 4 and PC gamers in Europe and North America will be able to play the localized version of the game on Sept. 4. While there is a Nintendo Switch version of the title in the works for the West, it will not be released at the same time as the other versions. In fact, it's not being released in 2018.

    Square Enix informed IGN that they are developing a Western version of the game for Nintendo Switch, but that "development is expected to take a long time from a technological standpoint as well, so we still have a long way to go until its release." They have not stated when the Switch version will be released, but a representative from the company noted that it will not be available before the end of the year. 

    Sadly, the 3DS version of the game won't be coming to the West at all. Square Enix explained that their decision to not release a Western version of the 3DS game is based on their desire to "grow the audience in the West." They noted that while a 3DS version of the game made sense for Japan, they feel it is better to focus on the PlayStation 4 and PC versions of the game when trying to appeal to Western markets. Speaking of which, this is the first time that a mainline Dragon Quest game will be officially released for PC. 

    As you've probably gathered, Dragon Quest XI has been out in Japan for quite some time. It was originally released in that country on July 29, 2017. If you're wondering why Japan got the game so far in advance in this modern age, it probably has something to do with the fact that the title sold two million copies during its first two days of availability in that country. Yes, the series really is that popular in Japan. 

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    While Dragon Quest - which debuted in the West as Dragon Warrior - hasn't been quite as popular in other countries, it has enough of a cult following in the West to justify the effort it takes to translate and localize a game of that size. Early reviews/reports of the Japanese version of the game suggest that it's a particularly impressive Dragon Quest game, but it doesn't sound like it strays too far from recent titles in the series. 

    We'll have to see how the West reacts to it when Dragon Quest XI releases later this year. 


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    Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is most exciting game you've probably never heard of.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    This new gameplay video for Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden suggests that this relatively obscure title might end up becoming 2018's sleeper hit of the year. 

    Developed by The Bearded Ladies - a relatively young studio that's staff has worked on games like Payday and the Hitman series - Mutant Year Zero is based on a Sweedish pen and paper role-playing series called Mutant. If you're not familiar with that particular series, don't be alarmed. The only names you really have to know to gauge your excitement towards this game are Fallout, XCOM, Mass Effect, and...err...Howard the Duck. 

    See, Mutant Year Zero is structured similarly to an RPG like Mass Effect. You control a small group of wanderers based out of a kind of apocalyptic safe haven known as the Ark. The Ark is basically a loose collection of poorly made buildings, but it serves as your party's hub and the place where they can accept quests and make certain character improvements. The area around Ark is known simply as the Zone. As you might imagine, the Zone is full of various baddies, but it's also the home of some side characters with their own stories who can join your party under certain circumstances. It's also the place where you can find resources that will then be used to visually and mechanically improve aspects of Ark. 

    So far, so RPG, but one of the ways that Mutant Year Zero distinguishes itself is through the use of an XCOM-like battle system. Unlike XCOM which drops you into a battlefield, battles in Mutant Year Zero happen organically as you explore the world. This puts a bit of a twist on the formula as it gives you much more freedom concerning things like positioning as there are fewer invisible walls locking you into a certain area. You'll even be able to run away from a battle entirely. The battle system itself shares many mechanics with XCOM (two-pronged movement systems, the ability to go into overwatch, etc.) but distinguishes itself in several neat ways. 

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    The most exciting of those differences is the ability to mutate your party members using a pool of available mutations that will give them certain advantages in combat. For instance, you can give your sniper character wings that will help them get better angles in outdoor environments. However, if you go underground or into a closed environment, they're basically useless. This means you have to carefully balance how your party's mutations work with each other. 

    There's also much more of an RPG feel about the tactical combat in this game. Enemies even have levels which means you can get into some serious trouble early on if you happen to encounter high-level enemies. That's why it's so important to consider how your party members' abilities work with each other and to utilize the game's stealth system as often as possible. 

    All of this is tied together by a fantastic vision of the apocalypse that features a wonderful sense of humor. There's more fantasy whimsy here than you'll find in a game like Fallout - just look at the very Howard the Duck-like Dux - but there's a twinge of darkness running throughout the game that leaves you constantly wondering what you just heard or saw. For instance, there's a henchman that speaks in an odd combination of various eras of slang. 

    All of these mechanics shouldn't come together as well as they do, but it's clear that the development team are incredibly passionate about this universe, the games that inspired this title's gameplay, and the opportunity to even work on this project. We can't wait to try this for ourselves when Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden releases later this year. 


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    Silent Hill's scary return isn't the good kind of scary we were hoping for.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 28, 2018

    Resetera users have spotted a recent trademark application filed by Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd related to the Silent Hill property. Unfortunately, it appears to have nothing to do with any video games related to Silent Hill name. 

    Instead, this trademark application references the use of the Silent Hill name in relation to "electronic gaming machines, namely, devices which accept a wager." It further clarifies the phrase electronic gaming machines as pertaining to devices such as slot machines and bingo machines that are "with or without output." It also lists gaming machines that might accept wagers. 

    You can check out the full text of the patent for yourself, but the gist of it is that it seems someone wants to put the Silent Hill name on some gambling devices at some point in the future. This might not otherwise be that notable were it not for the furor that Konami generated when they announced that they were commissioning the creation of Pachinko machines based on the Metal Gearseries not long after they infamously parted ways with Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima. Kojima, of course, was also in the midst of developing a Silent Hill game of his own before his controversial departure. 

    At that time, there were many jokes made about the Silent Hill series returning in the form of a slot machine. It appears those jokes might not have been far removed from a future coming to us soon. However, we have reached out to Konami for more information regarding this trademark application and its potential uses. 

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    To be clear, Konami already released a Silent Hill version of Pachinko in 2015. However, that machine never made it out of Japan and was apparently only available as part of a limited run. The fact that this patent is being filed through the United States would seem to suggest that there might be some plans in place to ship Silent Hill slot machines - or a similar device - outside of Japan. 

    In case you're suddenly wondering, the original Silent Hill trademark was registered in 1998 and is actually up for renewal in 2019. There's no doubt that Konami will hold onto the name, but there's some doubt concerning what they intend to do with the property in relation to future video game projects. 


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    A 10-second count down to carry on playing? It began in arcades, but still persists today. We look at the origins of the continue screen...

    FeatureRyan Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018

    "Insert coins to continue" - it's a phrase so common in gaming that it's often seen emblazoned across t-shirts or used as an introduction to articles like this. It's a string of words that stirs up echoes from medium's early history, when some of the most popular games appeared in dingy buildings called arcades.

    Taking their cue from the pinball machines and other mechanical amusements of the past, arcade games exchanged the promise of a few minutes' excitement for a coin or two.

    Then, as the 1980s wound on, arcade machines began to offer a new option to players after the dreaded Game Over screen appeared: if they put inserted another coin, they could carry on from where they left off. Appearing in the middle of the decade, the continue screen became almost ubiquitous by its end, and it still features - albeit in modified form - in games today.

    Sometimes regarded as a symptom of a dying industry, as the supremacy of the amusement arcade was gradually usurped by the home console, the continue screen's life didn't begin near the end of the 80s, but at the beginning - when arcade attendance was still at its height.

    The late 1970s and early 1980s ushered in what's now regarded as the golden age of the arcade - a period where players eagerly headed to dark, often rather smoky buildings to play the latest games by such companies as Atari, Taito and Williams.

    Starting with Space Invaders in 1978, the era was marked out by a particular type of game: one which could be easily understood yet provided a stern challenge. The introduction of innovations like the highscore table encouraged competition among players, and soon, a lively culture had built up in arcades. Games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong became a significant part of '80s pop culture, and for several years, the arcade industry's profits soared. 

    While all this was going on, a company called Shin Nihon Kikaku - better known by its shorter title, SNK - put out a game called Fantasy. Leaping to much greater attention with the Neo Geo console and games like Metal Slug and King Of Fighters in the 1990s, SNK was relatively unknown in the west at the start of the previous decade.

    Viewed today, Fantasy's an unremarkable - if slightly eccentric - action game. It sees you take control of a plucky hero in a blue hat, whose goal is to rescue his girlfriend Cheri from a pirate and, subsequently, a selection of other weird villains.

    Taking place over a series of varied stages, Fantasy features flying sections where you ride in a hot air balloon as gorillas throw coconuts at you from below, and Donkey Kong-like segments where you run along platforms and avoid deadly squirrels. (Like we said, it's an eccentric game.)

    Although far from a classic, Fantasy reached European arcades in 1981 - shortly after its appearance in Japan - and launched in America the following year courtesy of the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation. But this unassuming game had one key innovation: lose all your lives, and a few lines of text would appear on the screen.

    "To extend play," the blurb went, "insert coin and press start button within 10 seconds. If credit remains, press start once again."

    It wasn't exactly succinct, but the classic phrase "Insert coins to continue" has its origin here.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, other companies weren't particularly quick to copy SNK's idea. But towards the middle of the 1980s, attendances at arcades began to dwindle. The resurgence of consoles, spearheaded by the Nintendo Entertainment System, led to a gradual decline in arcade profits as players began to play games in the comfort of their own homes. An industry that had been valued at $7bn in 1982 had dropped to $4bn in 1986.

    During the decline, Atari released Gauntlet in 1985 - an action dungeon crawler which, despite the general slow-down arcade owners were experiencing at the time, was a huge hit. Designed by Ed Logg, Gauntletwas greatly influenced by an earlier fantasy game, Dandy - something Logg openly admitted - yet its four-player multiplayer mode was unlike anything that had appeared in arcades before.

    Gauntlet also allowed players to continue from where they left off by inserting more coins. In their book Rules Of Play, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman argue that this approach was entirely different from most other arcade games which came before it - where earlier games, like Space Invaders or Pac-Man, were about players challenging themselves to better their score or get a little further on a single credit, Gauntlet allowed them to simply carry on for as long as they were willing to keep spending money.

    "This can turn Gauntlet into a completely different kind of conflict," the authors continue, "one in which players compete to demonstrate their tolerance for putting money into the game, a form of conspicuous consumption much like high stakes gambling." 

    Nevertheless, Gauntlet was a hit both with players and arcade owners alike. And within a single year, the option to continue proliferated among other games - BubbleBobble, a popular platform game released in 1986, let customers continuously add coins to carry on playing. The fighting game Double Dragon, released the following year, was one of the biggest arcade hits of the late 80s, ushering in a wave of similar bruising games, each with their own variation on the continue screen.

    The continue screen quickly became so common that developers began adding their own twists to their design. Instead of presenting the player with a black screen, they added dramatic scenarios which, when combined with the tension of a clock ticking down from 10 to one, were designed to have players clamouring to find another coin; Capcom's Final Fight, for example, saw its hero Mike Haggar tied up and frantically trying to blow out a stick of fizzing dynamite.

    Regarded by some as an increasing sign of greed on the part of game designers, continue screens are often remembered with a certain amount of nostalgia today. Indeed, they still feature,  albeit without the hectoring countdown,  in many current console games. They're an affectionate nod, perhaps, to the bygone age of the arcade.


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    Ahead of Ready Player One, we look at director Steven Spielberg's long-time fascination with video games...

    Feature Ryan Lambie
    Mar 29, 2018

    In 1982, Steven Spielberg was at the height of his filmmaking powers. He'd changed the Hollywood landscape with Jaws; enjoyed huge success with Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and he was about to release his biggest film to date with E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

    A photo taken at the time shows a 30-something Spielberg slouched in his office, surrounded by some of the trappings of his success: framed posters of Jaws and Close Encounters, and signed copies of E.T. draped over a table. But the photo also reveals something else about Spielberg - something that a lot of cinema-goers probably didn't know at the time: he was really into video games. The evidence is right there over the director's shoulder: a full-sized Donkey Kong cabinet, a hit arcade game that had only appeared in America a few months earlier.

    Given the expense of such a machine, it's fair to say that it didn't end up in Spielberg's office by accident - and neither is it the only time the director had shown off his collection of arcade games to photographers. Years earlier, he donned a pair of shades and posed for a photo next to his Missile Command cabinet; another photo shows Spielberg - now bearded and wearing Chinos and a leather jacket - at the helm of his Space Invaders machine.

    Spielberg's '80s passion for gaming went further than just playing them in his spare time, however. As Slashfilm pointed out a few years ago, Spielberg wrote the introduction for Martin Amis' unusual (and now very rare) book about his addiction to space invaders. And then, of course, there was E.T: the videogame.

    Not only was E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial one of the biggest films of the 1980s, but it also indirectly sparked one of gaming’s first urban legends. Atari's spin-off game, hastily put together in time for Christmas 1982, was so poorly received - and produced in such huge quantities - that its creators ended up with thousands of unsold copies. And as the market suffered a nasty slump in North America, word got around that those unsold E.T. games were quietly being buried in the New Mexico desert. 

    It almost sounded too wild to be true, yet the legend was revealed to have more than a grain of truth behind it: in 2015, the documentary Atari: Game Over covered a kind of archaeological dig at the rumored burial place of those E.T. games, and sure enough, a number of copies were recovered, along with other unsold Atari 2600 cartridges that were discarded in the wake of the early-80s crash.

    Although he wouldn’t exactly rush to bring the subject up in interviews, E.T. director Steven Spielberg had at least a small hand in that ill-fated videogame. While the design and programming of E.T. was handled by Howard Scott Renshaw, who produced the thing in a dervish of all-night coding, Spielberg himself had reportedly pushed for a videogame. When Renshaw agreed to make the game, he met with Spielberg on a private jet to pitch his idea: a 2D adventure game that takes place in a complex world of interlocking screens. Spielberg had reportedly expected a Pac-Man clone; nevertheless, he was clearly convinced by what Renshaw proposed - the programmer even stipulated that Spielberg play the game and sign off on it before its release.

    Around the time of E.T's release, Spielberg appeared on television and briefly praised the game based on his hit movie. "I was amazed at how difficult it was and at the same time how much fun it was to play," Spielberg said. The general public, certainly at the time, didn't exactly agree. 

    Despite E.T.'s gloomy fate, the game's story is almost as ingrained in 80s popular culture as Spielberg's movies. Whether he directed them, like E.T. or the Indiana Jones movies, or served as producer, like the Back To The Future trilogy or The Goonies, he had a hand in some of the most quoted and referenced bits of pop entertainment of that era. It’s doubtful, in fact, that Spielberg himself could have predicted just how enduring all of these movies would prove to be; what once might have looked like an ephemeral children’s adventure - The Goonies - is still popular even in the 21st century. It’s telling, too, that all of the films mentioned so far have received videogame spin-offs - some dreadful, like E.T., and some very good, like The Goonies on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

    Affection for Spielberg’s movies runs deep in Ernest Cline’s best-selling book, Ready Player One, which is all about a virtual world steeped in '80s culture. It’s fitting, then, that Spielberg should end up as the director of its adaptation; it’s the post-modern serpent nibbling on its own tail. More than a chance to reference his own classic movies, Ready Player One may also give Spielberg the belated opportunity to speak to his affection for videogames - an affection that endured long after the E.T. videogame in the early '80s.

    In the mid-90s, for example, Spielberg joined forces with LucasArts to create a point-and-click adventure game, The Dig. The previous decade, the concept had begun life as an episode in Spielberg's anthology TV series, Amazing Stories; about a group of scientists who investigate the evidence of an alien civilisation on an asteroid orbiting Earth, it was deemed too expensive to make as a television show, or even a movie. Instead, Spielberg reworked the idea into a game with sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. The Dig wasn't quite as warmly received as some of LucasArts' other hit adventure games, but it was still recognisably a Spielberg story: its sense of fear and wonder in the face of the unknown has a clear link to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

    While The Digwasn't a hit, it was still a more satisfying experience than Steven Spielberg's Director's Chair - a kind of filmmaking simulator released in 1996. Featuring full-motion video clips of celebrities like Quentin Tarantino and Jennifer Aniston (back when such a thing was still a novelty), it tasked the player with guiding a fictional movie from its script stage, through post-production and onto release. In real terms, this simply meant splicing together a bunch of pre-recorded clips. A classic it was not.

    The mid-90s also saw Spielberg get involved in another videogaming venture: Sega GameWorks, a kind of Planet Hollywood for videogames. Spielberg reportedly offered a certain amount of creative input in GameWorks ("I'm an addicted game addict, I always have been, and that's the reason for my involvement in Sega GameWorks," he said at the time), though he and his company DreamWorks eventually withdrew from the project in 2001.  

    All of this might imply that Spielberg's involvement in the games industry failed to generate much creative heat - but then, we haven't gotten to the first-person shooter phase of his career yet. Not long after he directed the acclaimed WWII film Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg and his team at DreamWorks Interactive began thinking about porting the realism of that movie into a videogame. Saving Private Ryan's celebrated opening sequence brought a quasi documentary feel to the Allied assault on the beaches of Normandy; what if that intensity could be recreated on a computer or console? The result was Medal Of Honor; published by Electronic Arts, it was a hit shooter that went on to redefine the whole genre. Spawning a series of spin-offs and sequels, the series' influence spread further when several of its creators went off and made a rival game, Call Of Duty. Spielberg therefore unwittingly helped to create one of the biggest videogame franchises of all time. 

    Nor was this Spielberg's only collaboration with EA. In 2005, the director signed a contract with the publisher to make three videogames - a high-profile deal that saw Spielberg get an office in EA's headquarters. First came Boom Blox, a Jenga-like action puzzler for the Nintendo Wii; designed by Spielberg himself, the game was well received but, on a console crowded with sub-par shovelware, the nifty little title was somewhat lost in the mix (it did, however, get a sequel - the even more obscure Boom Blox Party).

    Spielberg’s other project at EA was far more ambitious: codenamed LMNO, it was billed as a triple-A action adventure with a story that contained vague echoes of E.T. It concerned an ethereal, apparently female alien named Eve, who manages to escape from an Area 51-like secure facility in the desert. A male protagonist, Lincoln, has a chance meeting with the visitor in a diner, whereupon the place is set upon by heavily-armed government agents. This would form the basis of a single-player action game where the player cooperates with a computer-controlled side-kick; not unlike the Japanese cult game Ico, LMNO pivoted on creating the illusion of a flesh-and-blood character that was alternatively vulnerable and powerful - the alien’s telekinesis would serve as a useful tool at decisive moments in the story, if only the player can coax her into using them. Spielberg had planned to create a compelling emotional journey for the player, too: he famously hinted in an earlier interview that he wanted the game to elicit tears from its audience.

    Sadly, LMNO would never get far beyond the prototyping stage, and despite its initial promise, Spielberg’s tear-jerker quietly withered on the vine.

    A direct hand in game design aside, Spielberg has long incorporated cutting-edge computer tech in his movies. In the pre-digital days of optical effects, he worked with the VFX genius Douglas Trumbull to create Close Encounters Of The Third Kinds spectacular finale; it was the kind of go-for-broke visual fireworks display that, had it failed to pass muster with audiences, would have brought the entire film tumbling down. Instead, Trumbull’s sequences of UFOs descending on Wyoming were a triumph, and the film was a colossal hit.

    Jurassic Park, meanwhile, was among the 90s films that ushered in a new era of CGI; its sequences of computer-generated dinosaurs were brief, but melded with the animatronic effects almost seamlessly. Even as Spielberg’s entered the later stages of his filmmaking career, he’s remained undaunted by technological advances. Minority Reports CG-heavy future world of virtual interfaces and ubiquitous advertising were heavily copied elsewhere; Spielberg even managed to fit in an all-CGI Tintin movie alongside War Horse in 2011. 

    All of which brings us back round to Ready Player One - a project that we might have imagined would go to a younger director more steeped in hectic action sequences (at one point, Chris Nolan was courted for the role).

    Then again, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Spielberg would go for a movie about VR and all-enveloping pop culture. With the likes of Jaws and Raiders Of The Lost Ark, he and George Lucas pretty much wrote the rule book for modern blockbusters. But while his success in the world of interactive entertainment has been mixed, the liked of the infamous E.T., and the huge impact of Medal Of Honor mean that Spielberg's helped shape the videogame landscape, too.


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    No Man's Sky has only gotten better since it was released. Will this upcoming version of the game be the best it's ever been?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    No Man's Sky is coming to Xbox One alongside a massive update to the base game itself. 

    The update, called No Man's Sky Next, is being referred to as the biggest update to the game yet. According to No Man's Skycreator Sean Murray, the team decided to call this update Next because "it’s an important next step on a longer journey for us and the community." He goes on to say that the team has been "working their socks off" on this update and that it will be free to No Man's Sky owners. However, he stops short of actually sharing any significant details regarding the content of the update. 

    What we do know is that Xbox One gamers will finally be able to explore No Man's Sky. The Xbox One version of the game will feature HDR and 4K support as well as every major content update released for the game thus far (which includes the Foundation, Pathfinder, and Atlas Rises updates). That version of the game should also feature the Next update, but since neither piece of content has a release date at this time (beyond a vague late 2018 window) it's a little difficult to say for sure whether that update will be available at the time of the game's launch. 

    “We’ve learned a lot over the last few years, faster than we would have liked!" said Murray. "I’d love to avoid talking completely and just make things people can play, but we knew this was going to leak anyway, and I think it’s news that should make a lot of folks happy."

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    That statement - as well as some statements in the official press release - seem to be the team's way of referencing the controversial launch of No Man's Sky. As you might remember, the game was blasted by many for its overall lack of content and for not living up to some of the ambitious promises that preceded its highly-anticipated release. There was a time when the game looked to be dead and buried. 

    However, a series of regular updates to the game have brought No Man's Sky closer to becoming the experience that it probably should have been at the start. We're eager to see whether or not this next update will bring the game even closer to being a title worth coming back to even if it burned you initially. 


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    Red Faction Guerilla's glorious levels of destruction enter the 4K era.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    THQ Nordic has announced the released of Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered edition. 

    As you might have gathered from that punny name, this release will be a remastered version of the 2009 action title, Red Faction Guerrilla. Along with all the content from the original game - including all original DLC - this remastered edition will feature "fully reworked graphics" (which will apparently include reworked textures, better shadow rendering, and improved lighting), Native 4K support, and "shader & postprocessing rework."

    It appears, then, that this remaster's update will largely focus on improving the original game's visuals. THQ Nordic haven't confirmed that they intend to include any significant content alterations or updates to the base game at this time. However, it's entirely possible that the increased visuals will naturally enhance the base game's level destruction elements by offering more detailed destruction possibilities. 

    At present, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One sometime during the second quarter of 2018. Those who own the original game on Steam will be automatically upgraded to the new version. There is no word regarding a possible Nintendo Switch version of the game. 

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    If you've never played Red Faction Guerrilla, you're missing out on one of the more enjoyable open-world action experiences in recent memory. Guerrilla's calling card was the sheer amount of level destruction possibilities that it offered. While level destruction has always been a feature in Red Faction games, Guerrilla took it to a new level by allowing players to absolutely demolish open-world settings. It was basically an unofficial Incredible Hulk game.

    That's not to say the game was mindless, though. It did a great job of allowing players to use the destruction system to devise new strategic tactics. Said tactics were deadly useful during the game's campaign mode which was quite as great as some previous Red Faction titles, but it did offer an oddly compelling sci-fi story and plenty of creative scenarios. 

    Add to that the inclusion of Guerrilla's original multiplayer mode, and Re-Mars-tered should offer plenty of incentive to get your ass to Mars. 


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    The world's richest eSports competition has begun. Here's your guide to the action.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    Dota 2 has long been one of competitive gaming's most fascinating scenes. In some ways, its success in the realm of competitive gaming felt like the game's birthright. As the successor to the popular Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients, Dota 2 launched with a fanbase eager to get in on the competitive action. In order to satiate their desires, Valve invited some of the best Defense of the Ancients teams in the world to compete in a 2011 Dota 2 tournament that offered a $1 million prize pool. 

    From there, the Dota 2 competitive scene has only continued to grow. What began as an invite-only tournament has blossomed into a competitive season that demands the best from some truly talented teams across the world. They're competing for glory, honor, and the right to be called the best, but they're also competing for a silly amount of money. Dota 2's 2017 International tournament boasted a prize pool of $24,687,919 - the largest of its kind in eSports history. 

    Look beyond the cash prizes and the sold-out stadiums of fans that the game's biggest matches attract and you'll find that Dota 2 is ultimately a great MOBA that demands perfect teamwork, a flawless strategy, and incredible individual play. There's a reason this game was launched with a legacy of top-tier competitive gaming to live up to. 

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    Here's what you need to know about Dota 2's 2018 competitive scene:

    Dota 2 International 8 Format

    The major change to Dota 2's 2018 competitive season is Valve's decision to abandon the single-tournament format in favor of several tournaments throughout the year that will award competitive points. Those points will then be used to determine who is invited to the championship tournament, The International 8. 

    The way this works is quite simple. Throughout the course of the 2017-2018 competitive season, there will be 16 Minors tournaments and 10 Majors tournaments. Minors will award 300 competitive points across the top four teams. Majors will reward an astounding 1,500 points across the same size of winners. First place teams get 50% of the points, second place gets 30%, and third and fourth place walk away with 10%. Tournaments that differentiate between third and fourth place will see the third-place team get 15% and the fourth place team gets 5%.

    The eight teams invited to The International 8 will be determined by which teams have the most points among their top three players. Other teams can then make it to the big tournament via regional qualifier competitions. 

    Dota 2 International 8 Prize Pool

    Considering that Dota 2's International prize pool is determined by community contributions and official donations from Valve and other organizers, we don't currently know just how rich this year's prize will be. However, The International's final prize pool has only grown since 2014. That mean's this year's total earnings could very well exceed $25 million. 

    Dota 2 International 8 Live Stream

    You can watch the most important matches of the Dota 2 competitive season by checking out our live stream post.

    Dota 2 International 8 Tickets & Venue

    Valve has announced that The International 8 will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia at the Rogers Arena. This is the first International to be held in Canada. 

    "Tickets sales begin on Friday, March 23 at 10:00 AM and 10:00 PM PDT, with two ticket types available," reads a post on the Dota 2 website. "The Midweek ticket—available for $125 CAD—will grant attendance to the first four days of the event, August 20th – 23rd. The Finals ticket—available for $250 CAD—will grant access to the last two days, August 24th and 25th."

    Tickets will be sold via Ticketmaster at the aforementioned times. 

    Dota 2 International 8 Tournament Schedule

    Here are the remaining tournaments for the 2017-2018 competitive season:

    Minors Tournaments

    GESC E-Series - Jakarta: March 16-18

    DreamLeague Season 9: March 20-25

    StarLadder: April 11-15

    Perfect World: April 17-24

    GESC E-Series: Bangkok: May 11-13

    Majors Tournaments

    The Bucharest Major: March 8-11

    Dota 2 Asia Championships: March 30-April 7

    EPICENTER: April 27-May 7

    Mars Media; name TBD: May 14-20

    ESL; name TBD: May 25-27

    PGL; name TBD: June 4-10

    Dota 2 International 8 Standings

    1 Virtus.pro - 7197 
    2 Team Liquid - 4734 
    3 Team Secret - 4710 
    4 Newbee - 2220 
    5 Vici Gaming - 2160 
    6 VGJ.Thunder - 1665 
    7 Evil Geniuses - 1335 
    8 Natus Vincere - 1199 


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    One of the world's largest eSports tournaments has begun. Here's what you need to know:

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    There's nothing quite like League of Legends eSports scene. The fact that League is one of the most popular games on the planet is never more evident than when you're watching the best players in the world utilize a combination of perfect teamwork and inhuman individual skills in front of a rowdy audience. This MOBA has become a bonafide phenomenon with a professional competition that attracts millions of viewers. 

    Now, League's 2018 competitive season has begun.

    What begins as a world's worth of top teams vying for the top spots of the Spring and Summer Split seasons will soon transition into the tense tournament known as the League of Legends World Championship. League's Championship finals are famous for being some of the most unpredictable and compelling series of games in the world. It's a spectacle you do not want to miss. 

    Whether you've been following LoL since the beginning or you're looking to understand why this game has captured the world's imagination, we're here to keep you updated on the comings and goings of the 2018 competitive season. 

    Here's a guide to League of LegendseSports in 2018:

    League of Legends eSports Live Stream

    You can watch every League of Legends eSports match across every region by checking out our live stream!

    League of Legends World Championship Format

    It's a long road to the League of Legends World Championship, but here's a rough breakdown of how you get there. 

    The first thing you need to know is that there are actually several competitive LoL leagues spread throughout the world. However, the biggest leagues are the NA LCS, EU LCS, League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), League of Legends Pro League (LPL, China), and League of LegendsMaster Series (LMS, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau). These leagues are complemented by several smaller organizations in other regions. 

    Each competitive season is divided into the Spring and Summer splits. Teams from major regions are competing for championship points throughout the season in order to improve their standings and perhaps earn a playoff berth. However, the best way for teams to earn a World Championship playoff berth is to win the Summer split playoffs. Regardless of what region a team plays in, that will automatically secure its spot. Teams from larger regions can also make it to the World Championship playoffs via their play in regional qualifiers or by having the most championship points at the end of Summer playoffs. 

    The format of the World Championship and preceding playoffs may change slightly every year, but in 2017, 24 teams across all regions made it to the League of LegendsWorld Championship. They competed in a Round Robin series that eventually ended with the Main Event (Championship matches). The team that wins that final series of best of one matches is named the League of Legends World Champion.

    League of Legends World Championship Prize Pool

    The exact prize pool for the League of Legends 2018 World Championship has not yet been determined. However, the 2017 World Championship featured a prize pool of $4,946,969.00. It's believed that this year's Championship will feature a similarly high prize pool. 

    League of Legends Permanent Spring Split 2018 Format 

    The current Spring Split season will be contested under a best of one format. This is a change from recent years, which featured a best of three format. This year will also see the NA LCS abandon Friday games in favor of games that only take place on Saturday and Sunday. 

    League of Legends Spring Split 2018 Schedule

    Want to know the match schedule for a specific region of League of Legends eSports? You can find each schedule at the links below:

    NA LCS Spring Split 2018 Schedule

    EU LCS Spring Split Schedule 

    LCK Spring Split Schedule

    LPL Spring Split Schedule

    LMS Spring Split Schedule

    League of Legends Spring Split Standings

    NA LCS

    *Final Regular Season Standings

    1 100 Thieves 13W-6L
    2 Echo Fox 12W-7L
    3 TSM 13W-7L
    4 Team Liquid 12W-8L
    5 Cloud9 12W-8L
    6 Clutch Gaming 11W-9L
    7 Counter Logic Gaming 7W-11L
    8 FlyQuest 6W-12L
    9 OpTic Gaming 5W-13L
    10 Golden Guardians 4W-14L

    EU LCS

    *Final Regular Season Standings

    1 Fnatic 14W-4L
    2 G2 Esports 12W-7L
    3 Splyce 11W-8L
    4 Team Vitality 10W-8L
    5 H2K 8W-10L
    5 ROCCAT 8W-10L
    5 Misfits Gaming 8W-10L
    8 FC Schalke 04 7W-11L
    8 Giants 7W-11L
    10 Unicorns of Love 6W-12L

    LCK

    1 KING-ZONE DragonX 16W-2L
    2 Afreeca Freecs 13W-5L
    3 kt Rolster 13W-5L
    4 SK telecom T1 9W-9L
    5 KSV 9W-9L
    6 ROX Tigers 9W-9L
    7 Jin Air GreenWings 7W-11L
    8 bbq OLIVERS 6W-12L
    9 MVP 6W-12L
    10 KONGDOO MONSTER 2W-16L

    LPL

    GROUP A

    1 Edward Gaming 11W-5L
    1 Snake Esports 11W-5L
    3 Bilibili Gaming 8W-7L
    3 Team WE 8W-7L
    5 FunPlus Phoenix 7W-8L
    6 Oh My God 3W-13L
    7 Vici Gaming 2W-14L

    GROUP B

    1 Invictus Gaming 15W-1L
    2 Rogue Warriors 13W-3L
    3 Royal Never Give Up 10W-6L
    4 Suning Gaming 9W-8L
    5 JD Gaming 8W-8L
    6 LGD Gaming 4W-11L
    7 Topsports Gaming 2W-15L

    LMS

    1 G-Rex 11W-2L
    1 Flash Wolves 11W-1L
    3 Machi Esports 7W-5L
    4 J Team 6W-6L
    5 MAD Team 5W-8L
    6 ahq e-Sports Club 4W-8L
    7 Team Afro 3W-10L
    7 Hong Kong Attitude 3W-10L


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    Catch up on everything that's going on with the first season of Overwatch League! Here are the results...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    The Overwatch League starts on January 10, 2018. From there, matches between the league's 12 teams are expected to occur four times a week, Wednesday through Saturday. This inaugural season will divide teams into two divisions.

    Overwatch's playoff season will run from July 11 to July 28. It's not clear what the playoff structure will be, but it will likely adopt a best of five formats for the initial games before moving to a possible best of seven for the Championship.

    Overwatch League Stage Tw Playoff Results

    The New York Excelsior won the Overwatch League stage one playoffs after defeating the Philidelphia Fusion 3-2. They took home $100,000 for their win while Philidelphia snagged $25,000 for their second-place finish. 

    Overwatch League Stage Two Schedule

    The full Overwatch League stage two schedule can be found here. Play begins on February 21st. Like stage one, it will conclude with a three-team playoff that rewards prize money, but will not affect the league standings. 

    Overwatch League Overall Standings

    New York Excelsior: 18-2

    London Spitfire: 15-5

    3 Seoul Dynasty: 14-6

    Philadelphia Fusion: 13-7

    Houston Outlaws: 12-8

    6 Boston Uprising: 12-8

    7 Los Angeles Valiant: 11-9

    8 Los Angeles Gladiators: 10-10

    9 San Francisco Shock: 6-14

    10 Dallas Fuel: 5-115

    11 Florida Mayhem: 4-16

    12 Shanghai Dragons: 0-20

    A full breakdown of map win scores and overall map differential can be found here

    Overwatch League Stage Two Changes

    Overwatch League stage two will feature the recent changes Mercy and Junkrat. While the Junkrat nerfs should have a minimal impact, the changes to Mercy figure to completely alter the way that professional Overwatch teams approach strategy. It could drastically shake-up the standings. 

    Overwatch League Teams

    The Atlantic Division includes the Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, and Philadelphia Fusion.

    The Pacific Division includes the Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, and Shanghai Dragons. 

    Overwatch League Format

    The current plan is for each team to play 20 division matches per season and 20 non-division matches. The highest-ranked team in each division at the end of the season will receive an automatic playoff berth and a first-round playoff bye.

    The remaining four playoff teams will be determined by who has the best overall record. That's in contrast to leagues like the NBA and NFL that require a certain amount of representatives from each division. 

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    In order to ensure that teams remain competitive, the OverwatchLeague will also feature mini-tournaments throughout the season featuring the best performing teams from the past five weeks. This way, teams with overall bad records can still theoretically win five-week bonuses. 

    Overwatch League Prize Money

    The winners of the Overwatch League will earn a $1,000,000 team bonus and the Overwatch League championship trophy. The runner-ups will receive $400,000, third and fourth place teams will take home $100,000, and fifth and sixth place squads will walk away with $50,000. 

    There are also bonuses for regular season records which tops out with a $300,000 bonus to the team with the best overall record. All told, $3 million in bonuses will be awarded throughout the year. On top of that, players will receive a salary and benefits. 


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    Who will make it to The International tournament? Follow all the action here:

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    For professional Dota 2 players, all roads lead to The International 8. 

    The International is an esports tournament unlike any other. It's a competition that sees invited teams who have proved their worth during the Dota 2 competitive season share space with qualified teams who made it to the big stage by virtue of their performances in qualifier tournaments. All of these squads are competing to make it out of group play and eventually play in the final match. 

    That's where things get really interesting. Along with the right to call themselves the best in the world, the final two teams are competing for the bulk of one of the richest prize pools in all of esports. Last year's International winners - Team Liquid - walked away with an astonishing $10,862,683 in prize money. As you can see, then, Dota 2 pros have plenty of incentive to be among the best in the world. 

    Before they get there, though, they have to survive one of the toughest competitive seasons in all of esports. Across several majors tournaments and a host of minor tournaments, Dota 2teams from across the world will do battle against and amongst the absolute best. Along with prize money, they are vying for competitive points, a boost in the rankings, and perhaps even a chance to secure a coveted invite to The International.

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    If you are one of the millions who follow the Dota 2 competitive scene - or you are looking to start watching one of the world's largest esports competitions - then we're here to help you keep up with all the madness. Be sure to check out our guide on how Dota 2's competitive season is structured, when the biggest tournaments will take place, what the current international standings are, and much more. 

    As for the matches themselves, you can follow those right here by tuning into the video player below:


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