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    Which team will come out on top when one of gaming's most intense tournaments has finished?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    The road to the 2018 League of Legends World Championship is a long and trying one. It begins with the Spring Split, as teams across the world compete to be named champion of their specific regions and earn competitive points. It doesn't end there, though. If a team manages to survive the Spring Split gauntlet, it still needs to find a way to survive the brutal Summer Split season. That time period sees every team in the world fight as hard as it can to punch a ticket to the playoffs. 

    Oh, and those playoffs? Absolute bedlam. A brutal round-robin tournament that demands the best players in the world to play at their absolute best. A few false steps can undo a year's worth of work and turn some of the best League of Legendscompetitors the game has ever known into simple spectators.

    Yet, as anyone who has witnessed a League of Legends final can attest to, being in the middle of the atmosphere the finals create is well worth it. The world's eyes turn to one of the biggest stages ever afforded to competitive gaming to find out who will come out on top. 

    We're joining the millions of eyes who watch with anticipation as the 2018 League of Legends season draws to its inevitable conclusion. It all starts with this year's Spring Split and the many regional competitions included as part of that series. League teams from America to Korea are competing for those valuable points and the even more valuable opportunity to snag that coveted regional championship. There is no bigger first step towards the World Championship than that big win. 

    If you're new to the League of Legends scene - or are just looking to keep up with all the action - you can check out the Spring Split schedule, standings, and format here. Otherwise, we encourage you to dive right into the action and watch the biggest Spring Split games via the stream below:

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  • 03/29/18--13:08: Overwatch League Live Stream
  • State Three of the Overwatch League has begun. Follow all of the action here...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    Blizzard's Overwatch League is arguably a developer's most ambitious attempt to organize and curate a game's competitive scene.

    Essentially, Blizzard wants to give major cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and South Korea their own Overwatch teams. The city approach conjures images of the formats used by sports organizations like the NBA and the NFL, but the Overwatch League's competitive format is actually structurally closer to the system used by the World Cup. 

    Every Overwatch team will compete in a series of pre-season and regular season matches. Every team will play 20 games within their division and 20 games outside of their division. The top team from each division will move on to the postseason. Joining them will be the four remaining teams with the best record (regardless of division). From there, the teams will compete in a multi-week series of matches for a variety of prizes. The championship team gets a cool $1 million in prize money (plus bonuses). 

    Be sure to check out our full breakdown of how the Overwatch League's format and prize money system will work.

    There are a variety of ways to watch the Overwatch League. Thanks to a new deal, Twitch fans will be able to watch the first two seasons of the Overwatch League via the popular streaming service. Games will be broadcasted in English, Korean, and French across multiple Twitch channels. 

    You can also view Overwatch League matches through, the MLG app, and the Overwatch League app. Meanwhile, ZhanQi TV, NetEase CC, and Panda TV are expected to broadcast Overwatch League matches to fans in China. 

    If you're looking to get right in on the action, you can watch the Overwatch League English Twitch channel via the player below:

    For a full schedule of upcoming matches, be sure to check out the Overwatch League website.  

    Can Blizzard's ambitious plan succeed? Will the Overwatch League be the future of eSports? How will the competitive matches shape the game's online meta? Which stars will rise from the competition and single themselves out as some of the best players in the world?

    Most importantly, which team will win it all? 

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    Watch the most thrilling CSGO matches on the planet here:

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    If you've ever casually played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you know what an unforgiving game it can be. One stray bullet, one perfect flank, or one teammate who doesn't quite seem to understand that they're not playing Quake III, and a match can completely fall apart. CSGO is infamously considered to be one of the most skill intensive competitive games out there. 

    That's what makes it one of the world's best esports competitions. 

    It's not enough to be one of the most mechanically gifted CSGO players in the world. It should be considering how difficult it is to consistently pull off some of the game's trickiest shots, but it isn't. No, professional CSGO players must also know how to work as part of an expertly trained team while somehow anticipating the few mistakes that the opposing team of expert players is going to make. There are times when it feels like CSGO matches come down to the inevitability of one side beating the other. 

    That's what makes it so easy to become a fan of professional CSGOmatches. They distill competitive gaming to its purest form and usually end up being some of the absolute greatest encounters that you will ever see in all of gaming. From circus sniper shots to one vs. five situations that end with the one triumphantly defying the odds, your average CSGO tournament features the kind of excitement that sports announcers love to claim "couldn't be scripted any better."

    We're not talking about the average CSGO tournaments, though. We're here to share the biggest CSGO tournaments of the year and help ensure that you don't miss a moment of what happens when the top players and teams in the world collide. We promise you that these competitive clashes will ensure that you'll never look at the long-running shooter the same way again.

    So kick back and enjoy the action by checking out all the action from the next CSGO tournament - the WESG 2018 World Finals, which run from March 13-18 - via the stream below:

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    Not even the Howard household gets to hear about the next Elder Scrolls game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    How secretive is the work on the next Elder Scrolls game? It's so secretive that Todd Howard has to beg his son not to ask him questions about the game. 

    "My youngest, I got him a Switch, and he really got into Zelda," said Howard during a podcast interview with Insomniac Games' Ted Price. "Then when Skyrim came out on Switch, I said, ‘Well you’ve played a lot of Zelda, I think you might like Skyrim.” And I want to do it as the father, like ‘Please, play this game, and see if you like it.’ And the short story is: he got obsessed with it."

    According to Howard, his son began asking questions about the Elder Scrolls universe. As anyone with children can tell you, they tend to ask a shocking amount of questions. Howard admits that he had to plead with his son to lay off the questions because Howard "get(s) this enough at work." As his son dove deeper and deeper into the game, though, he eventually asked the question that nearly all Elder Scrolls fans want to know, "When is Elder Scrolls VI coming?" So far as that goes, Howard had to draw a pretty clear line. 

    "I’m like, ‘Uhh, I’m not gonna talk about that right now either," said Howard. "He’s like, ‘Can I give you my ideas? Can I work on it? Come on, tell me a few things, I’m not gonna tell anybody.’ I’m like, ‘Well, you might, so I’m not gonna say anything.’"

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    Of course, Howard states that he loves that his son is so interested in one of his games - and games in general - even if he doesn't demand that his son follow in his footsteps and become a game creator. Son or not, though, Howard isn't sharing details about the next Elder Scrolls game with anyone. 

    In case you're suddenly wondering, yes, there is a new Elder Scrolls single-player game in the works. Howard confirmed that years ago when he warned fans that the next Elder Scrolls game might be a "very long way off." He even noted that the studio has some other major projects that they plan on releasing before they share details regarding the next Elder Scrolls title. 

    Such as it is, then, we put the odds of an Elder Scrolls VI announcement at E3 at about 10%. Until then, you can read our list of the best quests from the Elder Scrolls series

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    Deathgarden's 5 vs. 1 set-up will be familiar to Daylight fans, but this is a whole new monster...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    Behaviour Digital, developers of Dead by Daylight, has announced that their next game will be an asymmetrical shooter called Deathgarden.

    Deathgarden is described as a 5v1 multiplayer shooter where "powerful hunters prey on agile runners in a spectacular dystopian bloodsport." Err...neat. Given that details on the game are incredibly sparse at this time, it's not entirely clear just how this system will work. Based on the initial trailer, though, we get the impression that the one might be the hunter and that the five might be the runners. However, we will confirm that information as soon as we learn more about the game. 

    The bloodsport description is particularly interesting in that we've seen some recent Battle Royale games capitalize on the basic concept of a bloodsport type set-up, but few actually implement the idea that the sport itself is being done for entertainment or recreation. Again, we're eager to see whether or not that is the case in Deathgarden

    Deathgarden will be available at PAX East, so we should be able to bring you much more information about the game at that time. For now, though, you can sign-up for Deathgarden's closed PC alpha. There's no word on when that test will go live, but as usual, not everyone who enters it will be able to join. 

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    In lieu of additional information regarding Deathgarden, we will tell you that it's actually quite exciting to hear that the Dead by Daylight team is working on a new multiplayer title. For those unaware, Dead by Daylight is basically a multiplayer slasher film that casts one player in the role of the killer and the rest as survivors. The survivors must use traps and other evasive maneuvers to escape while the slasher does their thing in order to catch those meddling kids. 

    Sure, we'll miss that game's rich horror atmosphere, but Behaviour Digital has done a great job of growing that game from a neat, but simple, concept into a content-rich piece of multiplayer horror gaming. Assuming that they carry over some of the things they learned from their time on that title, then Deathgarden should be worth keeping an eye on. 

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    Manage your own Jurassic World alongside Jeff Goldblum's Dr. Ian Malcolm in this new game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 29, 2018

    Frontier Developments, the studio behind space epic Elite Dangerous, has confirmed that it is working on a new game based on Jurassic World called Jurassic World Evolution. Best of all, it's going to feature Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm!

    "I'm going to be with you the whole game, as Dr. Ian Malcolm - that's the character that I play in those Jurassic Park movies,"Goldblum told EW. "I highly recommend it. It gets 10 Goldblums out of a possible 10 Goldblums - that's my highest rating."

    Jurassic World Evolution is perhaps best thought of as a Jurrasic Park-themed take on SimCity. Rather than cast you as one of the park's visitors, the game allows you to oversee the operations of a park of your own design. The extent of your ability to customize the park is still unknown - we're still unsure if you will be able to design the park's basic layout from the start - but it does seem like you'll have some control over where certain buildings and attractions are placed.

    However, the real focus of the game seems to be ensuring that Jurassic Park remains a relatively safe family destination. Along with the usual array of duties that includes (making sure that souvenir stands are prevalent and bountiful), you'll also be required to handle the occasional rebellious reptile by utilizing the park's special operations squads. 

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    According to Microsoft, who revealed the game during a pre-Gamescom press conference, Jurassic World Evolution will require you to constantly make decisions as "life finds a way" to make your life a living hell. 

    Jurassic World Evolution is set to release digitally on June 12 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It will also receive a physical release on July 3 for PS4 and Xbox One. 

    If you aren't familiar with Frontier Development's Elite Dangerous, think of it as the ultimate space sim. The game that finally allows you to hop in a spaceship and live out whatever sci-fi dreams you may harbor. In fact, the game's biggest flaw is that it is maddeningly deep and incredibly realistic. Every action requires you to possess an incredible amount of knowledge regarding the game's mechanics and general philosophy.  

    It's highly doubtful that Jurassic World Evolution will be quite that deep, but we believe that Frontier Developments may be the perfect studio to bring us a modern-day Jurassic Park game worthy of your nostalgia for the series. 

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    We have seen the pop culture glory that is Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, and we're ready to dissect every nerdy nod in it!

    News David CrowMike Cecchini
    Mar 29, 2018

    This article contains more Ready Player One spoilers than a Nintendo Player’s Guide walkthrough.

    Ready Player One is out in theaters, and fans are basking in all of its easter egg glory just in time for the aptly timed three-day weekend. While Steven Spielberg was able to infuse a creative spark into the film that allowed it to stand on more than only pure nostalgia, there is no denying that the immediate hook of Ernest Cline’s novel and the subsequent Spielberg blockbuster is its cornucopia of movie references, video game easter eggs, and pop culture homages to all things ‘80s (and in the film’s case, ‘90s too). The film might be set in 2045, but it’s good to know that the future is just as obsessed with Gen-X and Millennial culture as we are today!

    In that vein, we here at Den of Geek will attempt the fool’s errand of compiling every single nod, shoutout, and joyful wink to nerd culture that has been stuffed into the very seams of this unapologetically geeky movie (*NOTE: Movie and not the book). Granted it will be almost impossible to get them all in the first pass, so if you notice that we missed anything, let us know in the comments section below, or yell at me on Twitter, and we’ll course correct.

     Without further ado, onto the reference guide! Also, just a head’s up, given the sprawling nature of the film, we are compiling the easter eggs by mediums, characters, and other arbitrary separations that will lead to some overlap, but will hopefully make this easier for you to digest (especially if you’re looking for something in particular). Now get out your chocolate bunnies, because we’re about to have an easter egg hunt!

    Ready Player One Movie References

    - In the opening montage of what you can do in the OASIS, the first actual homage appears to be Batman climbing Mount Everest. But not just any Batman… it’s Michael Keaton’s Batman from the Tim Burton classic of 1989! (For more superhero movie references after this point, please scroll down to the superhero movie reference's subsection. Your eyes will thank us later.)

    - During the opening montage, among the avatars filling up the OASIS portal terminals Z traverses is the original RoboCop from 1987.

    - When we meet Aech on Planet Doom, he* is seen blasting Freedy Krueger into space buck coins. To be specific the Freddy Krueger first played by Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

    *(We shall henceforth refer to Aech in the OASIS as “he,” and in the real world as “she,” as the character seems to want to be approached in both realities.)

    - When James Halliday and Ogden Morrow are introduced via flashback in a press conference, the film’s soundtrack plays Tears for Fear’s “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which was memorably used in the TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999), which for Apple cultists and computer lore junkies is the preferred biopic on Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Bill Gates. This is unlikely to be a coincidence as a newspaper clipping in Wade’s van asks if Halliday is “Bigger Than Jobs?”

    - More appropriately for the era this movie evokes, it was used prominently in 1985's Real Genius starring Val Kilmer.

    - Not only is Halliday’s virtual vision of his funeral in a Star Trek themed church, but his coffin is actually the exact same one (complete with torpedo markings) that Spock is jettisoned into oblivion in from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Although personally, we were sad the film did not recreate the novel’s version of this scene, in which Halliday presides over his own funeral (both as corpse and parishioner) from a digital recreation of the set of Heathers (1988). A young Winona Ryder and Christian Slater were also in attendance.

    - Halliday’s OASIS alter-ego Anorak looks vaguely wizard-y, like Merlin or Gandalf. However, the way the film animates his flowing black robes in the film seems intentionally evocative of how Don Bluth drew such robes on Nicodemus in The Secret of NIMH (1982). It should be noted Bluth and Spielberg later partnered for An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988).

    - Parzival’s vehicle of choice is obviously Marty McFly’s DeLorean from Back to the Future, albeit it has been retrofitted to include the red-light grill scanner from Knight Rider (1982). In the book, it also has the Ghostbusters (1984) symbol spray-painted on the door, but alas Sony must not have wanted to contribute. This is also the sole BTTF reference in this section (just so you know we aren't crazy!). For the rest, please scroll down to the Back to the Future subsection.

    - As if you needed to be told, that is the queen Tyrannosaurus Rex from Spielberg’s very own Jurassic Park tearing up the track.

    - King Kong is also doing massive damage to the track, but while we appreciate this Spielbergian addition to one of his heroes, Merian C. Cooper (the half-crazed adventurer who produced the 1933 masterpiece), the Kong design walks on his knuckles and most resembles Peter Jackson’s Kong from the 2005 remake. Spielberg teamed with Jackson for 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin.

    - Also during the race, we glean that the OASIS’ New York movie theater is screening Jack Slater III, which is the action movie franchise-within-an-action-movie found inside Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Action Hero (1993). Think of it like a misunderstood A Purple Rose of Cairo for teen boys and meatheads alike.

    - When we are introduced to Aech’s workshop, we are given a geeky overload of references. And the movie stuff, alone, includes the Iron Giant (obviously); a weapon from Alien (we missed which, please let us know if you caught it!); the Eagle 5 space RV from Spaceballs (1987); an ED-209 from RoboCop; the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986); and the Extravehicular Activity Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

    - The XI suit commercials haunting Wade Watts in the Stacks feels like a subtler echo of the oppressive commercialization of Coke and Eastern marketing in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982).

    - Not really a reference, but Ralph Ineson is his very own easter egg for anyone who saw 2016’s masterful The Witch. Seriously, Hollywood hire this man more, and if you’ve seen The Witch, see it again!

    - In Halliday’s digital recreation of a memory about himself and Og, he leaves a massive hint about going “backward as fast as you can, really put the pedal to the medal like Bill and Ted.” This is obviously a most gnarly reference to the timey-wimey Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989).

    - Upon discovering the Copper Key, Anorak/Halliday refers to Z as “padawan.” This is a nod to how Jedi refer to apprentices in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. See George, at least Steven isn’t ignoring them!

    - The Holy Hand Grenade is first seeded for its amazing third act return when Z and Aech go shopping. This is obviously the weapon of choice for the most pious (and rabbit-infested) of knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

    - The first avatar to fawn over “rock star” Parzival is someone dressed as Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice circa 1988. Check out the video game section to discover some of the others.

    - Art3mis* became the geek crush of everyone (of every gender) when she terrifies Z by having a chestburster from Alien (1979) destroy her Goro suit. She also must be a fan of that franchise, given her weapon of choice that is revealed later…

    *(From this point on we’ll mostly refer to “Art3mis” as “Artemis,” because that number is ridiculous. And to be fair, Arty agrees in the Ready Player One novel.)

    - The love of Halliday and Og’s lives, Karen Underwood, goes by Kira when she meets Halliday. This is her homage to a character in The Dark Crystal (1982).

    - Z refers to Kira as Halliday’s “rosebud.” This is a reference a little outside the wheelhouse of Ernest Cline’s bowling alley arcade novel, but right in keeping with Spielberg who is calling back to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941).

    - Aech also has a poster from the original Mel Gibson-starring Mad Max (1979) in his garage as Z gets ready for his big date.

    - Aech also has a sign that says “Cocktail & Dreams” in neon, just like the one in the horrible Tom Cruise movie, Cocktail (1988).

    - Parzival's outfit of choice is that of Peter Weller's title character from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, a totally bonkers 1984 film that also starred Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, and Christopher Lloyd. If you haven't seen it, do so. Depending on who you ask, it's part of a shared universe with John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China.

    - During Z and Arty’s sweet (and visually stunning) dance, Wade goes the full movie geek and selects the song “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever (1977). And he completes the beautiful lameness of it with the rainbow disco dance floor that John Travolta once huffed across.

    - Once IOI crashes the party, Arty reveals her weapon of choice that she uses throughout the film, an M41A Pulse Rifle that Sigourney Weaver made so badass in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986).

    - Nolan Sorrento’s first pot-sweetener to bring Wade Watts to IOI is the promise he’d get to fly Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon.

    - Nolan next pledges to turn all the schools on Ludus (the OASIS’ educational planet that plays a major role in the book) into replicas of the high schools from John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club (1985) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. However, Z tries to slip Nolan up by naming the high school from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and the college in Animal House (1978).

    - When looking at the films James Halliday might’ve put on to “seduce” Kira, wrong choices include The Fly (1986) and Say Anything (1989). So presumably these were VHS tapes in the ‘90s given the differing years?

    - The right choice is of course, amazingly, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). See Ready Player One and The Shining subsection below for a complete deconstruction of this sequence in the film.

    - The Overlook Theater inside the OASIS also has a Return of the Jedi (1983) poster, so it’s not all Kubrickian down there…

    - During the final third of the film, we discover the fate of the OASIS depends on your dexterity with an Atari 2600. If you pick the wrong game, into the ice you go, which feels like it could be a nod to the “banishment” seen in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as Spielberg is a vocal admirer of Christopher Nolan and those Batman movies. In that vein…

    - While IOI fools are taking repeated chilly splashes, Parzival and Daito hold Nolan hostage in a simulation-within-a-simulation. And Daito’s all-black suit and silencer-adorned gun seems intentionally reminiscent of the dream-within-a-dream iconography of Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010).

    - Similarly, when Wade leaves Sorrento’s faux-office, he rips off his face to reveal he’s really Parzival in a visual intentionally evocative of Mission: Impossible (1996) and its many sequels.

    - Faux-Daito also seems to give a clue he is not really, well real, given a glowing amber sheen in his eyes, which seems like a sly nod to the telltale sign of replicants in the original Blade Runner.

    - Upon the entire OASIS turning on Sorrento, the scene-stealing I-R0k quotes It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) at the exact wrong time to someone who is clearly a Mr. Potter type: “No man is a failure who has friends.”

    - During the third act uber-video game battle the entire movie is stolen by “IT’S FUCKING CHUCKY!” And if you need me to explain that evil, ginger-haired bastard doll is from Child’s Play (1988), like what are you even doing here?

    - Movie shoutouts during that battle include the return of Arty’s pulse rifle; Aech going the full Iron Giant (who has a much bigger role in the movie than the book); the Caterpillar P-5000 Work Loader from Aliens; some ED-209s; and the movie designs from the recent Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Alas 1990’s TMNT live-action designs would have been way cooler and more fitting). We’ve also heard Spielberg lament a Gremlin got into a frame courtesy of ILM, so we imagine they’re in here somewhere. Check out the Games and Misc. section for more cameos.

    - Someone also at the end here is rocking a Glaive from Krull (1983), a five-sided star that also acts like a boomarang upon occasion.

    - Nolan Sorrento pulls the ultimate dick move and turns into Mechagodzilla from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). Even cooler, it features Akira Ifukube’s “Godzilla March” theme from Godzilla (1954).

    - Daito answers by going Gundam in return (see Misc. for more), but his arrival is heralded by the amazing cameo of Mal Reynolds’ Serenity, a Firefly-class vessel from Joss Whedon’s all-too brief Firefly (2002) TV series and later 2005 film, Serenity.

    - When Iron Giant goes down, he dies like a champ, a la Arnie’s T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).

    - Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade does its God-given duty!

    - Halliday’s contractual fake-out with Parzival feels, unintentionally or not, like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Spielberg’s third Indy adventure where you had to choose wisely between real grails and fake ones.

    - The treasure and faux-egg atop its pedestal in this fakeout room is also reminiscent of the treasure trove in the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin (1992), complete with a ruby-shaped egg that beckons the monkey Abu to his almost-doom. But as Disney didn’t seem to play ball with WB on this, it is vague.

    - Among baby Halliday’s decorations are statues of Godzilla and Robby the Robot, the latter being from the influential Forbidden Planet (1956), which is a film that had a profound effect on Spielberg.

    - I believe young Halliday’s computer is an IMSAI 8080, which is the computer Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy use to almost start a thermonuclear war in the underrated WarGames (1983), a movie which played a much larger role in the book.

    Ready Player One and The Shining References

    Yes, this gets its own subsection. And if you want more detail about the importance of The Shining and Kubrick to Spielberg (as well as why King hates the movie), you can click over here to read it for yourself.

    -Before they even enter the Overlook Hotel, our dear High Five is made to dread the horrors to come thanks to Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind’s unforgettably eerie score.

    - Spielberg meticulously recreates the set of the Overlook Hotel’s grand lobby, complete with a typewriter that repeats verbatim, “All Work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” However, it takes on the shape of a key, a Jade Key to be specific, as opposed to the odd shapes in the film.

    - Aech is lured to his seeming doom by a bouncing ball, which belongs to the Grady twins, ghostly girls that beckon foolish children to come play with them.

    - This also leads Aech to almost be enveloped in the river of blood that pours from the elevator, as Shelly Duvall also discovered the hard way in The Shining’s climax.

    - The portrait that Aech tears of the Overlook Hotel with Halliday and Kira at the center is the ghostly photo that is the final shot of The Shining, which despite its inexplicable then-modern setting of 1980, it still features Jack Nicholson’s protagonist partying with the dead in 1921 (where Halliday and Kira are standing).

    - Room 237 features a ghost that attacked young Danny Torrance, and like with Aech, it also seduces his father as a comely young woman before turning into a haggard old woman (although she does not try to kill him with an axe). Also credit for the film noting that Aech likes women, as most mass-marketed blockbusters shy away from LGBTQ characters.

    - Aech is attacked by an axe to the door, but before he gets a “Here’s Johnny” (or Jack Nicholson), he is then dropped inside the snowy maze that Jack Torrance dies chasing Danny in. He escapes through the freezer that is also where Danny and Wendy tie up a deranged Jack earlier in the film.

    - When Aech comes out of the freezer, you can also see Danny’s iconic tricycle in the background.

    Ready Player One and Back to the Future References

    As previously mentioned, there is so much love for this Robert Zemeckis film, which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg, that we felt it worthy of its own subsection.

    - Again Parzival's vehicle of choice is the DeLorean from Back to the Future with a KITT upgrade. It also comes complete with a non-functioning flux capacitor.

    - As Parzival and Aech are discussing Halliday, I believe I spotted an avatar dressed as futuristic Doc Brown from the final scene of Back to the Future (1985).

    - Before Wade Watts first enters the OASIS onscreen, we witness some questionable product placement of a drone delivering Pizza Hut to a Stacks neighbor. As shameless as this is, we also suspect it could be a sly nod to similar sci-fi commercialism in Back to the Future Part II (1989), in which Marty McFly’s family in the far-flung future of 2015 dines on small packets of grow-able Pizza Hut pies.

    - Before Artemis signs out of Aech's garage during her first meeting with Z, she calls our hero “McFly” in reference to his sweet, timey-wimey ride. It's an adorable sign of affection and deserved condescension all at once.

    - In the same shopping scene, the “Zemeckis Cube” captures Parzival’s eye, which is a nod to Spielberg’s buddy, Robert Zemeckis, the director of Back to the Future (Spielberg produced it). Combined with the Rubik’s Cube this artifact has an awesome feature Doc Brown would approve of.

    - When Parzival uses the Zemeckis Cube to reverse OASIS time by 60 seconds, composer Alan Silvestri is able to break out some of his timeless Back to the Future theme.

    - When Z puts down the pen, Halliday takes him to his past in a recreation of his childhood bedroom, which is given a musical stinger by Silvestri, who uses his synthesizer echo from Back to the Future.

    - As Parzival is getting ready for his date with Artemis, he’s chilling in Aech’s digital den, which comes with an awesome poster of “Re-elect Mayor ‘Goldie’ Wilson” from Back to the Future. Hell yeah, we smiled at this one!

    Ready Player One Video Game References

    Still with us? Good. Because we’re just getting to the meat and potatoes of a movie about a giant interactive video game world…

    - The first branded IP we see in the film, beyond Pizza Hut, we believe is an entire OASIS world dedicated to recreating Minecraft the game that has taken Generation Z by storm.

    - On the racetrack for the first key, the Street Fighter character Ryu makes the first of several cameos.

    - When Artemis quizzes Z about what Halliday’s favorite shooter was, he is quick to name-check GoldenEye, the 1997 Nintendo 64 video game that is the staple of many a Millennial’s childhood. Also special points to both avatars for knowing his favorite multiplayer character was Oddjob while playing in “Slaps Only” mode (no weapons).

    - Parzival also reveals that Halliday’s favorite racing game was Turbo, a 1981 arcade entry by Sega.

    - In the first digital flashback to Halliday and Og, Halliday is wearing his patented Space Invaders t-shirt, a nod to the legendary 1978 arcade game.

    - Halliday also tells Og in this scene that one thing that is perfect is Asteroids, a 1981 arcade game.

    - There is a poster of arcade game Galaga (1979) in Halliday and Og’s breakroom.

    - Among the “accessories” at the OASIS shop that Z and Aech peruse is a Street Fighter store where Ryu turns up again.

    - There is also a Halo add-on that lets you become Master Chief from the classic 2001 video game.

    - After the “Beetlejuice” avatar spots Parzival in his rock star moment, Jill Valentine in her ridiculous tube top outfit from 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (perfect for fighting virus-carrying zombies) shows up to also gawk.

    - Luckily, Z is saved by Arty, albeit in that exact moment she appears to be Goro, the four-armed warrior from Mortal Kombat (1992). And Goro seems to be having a case of indigestion.

    - When Nolan is trying to seduce Wade, among other things he claims he likes to play Robotron, a multidirectional-shooter for Atari 2600 from 1982.

    - Among the Atari 2600 games name-dropped by IOI as incompatible with Halliday’s final challenge are Centipede, Pitfall, and “all three” Swordquests. Other key ones include Berzerk, notable for its innovative maze design and the home of gaming's most notorious sentient smiley face, Evil Otto, and Defender, which had one of the coolest spaceship designs in early gaming.

    - In real-life, Daito’s OASIS rig comes with a Mortal Kombat pin.

    - Among the cameoing avatars in the final battle, we also spotted iconic game characters like Big Daddy from BioShock (2007), Chun-Li from Street Fighter II (1991), characters from the new popular next-gen first-person shooter, Overwatch (2016), and a squadron of Halo ass-kickers.

    - At one point it looks like not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but the Battletoads are leading a charge. Battletoads sure may seem like a TMNT ripoff, but they were mainly known as the protagonists of an extraordinarily difficult 1991 NES game. We wrote more about them here.

    - During Parzival and Nolan Sorrento’s epic throwdown, Z totally drops a “hadouken” on him. Ryu would be proud.

    - Before Sorrento blasts I-R0k’s ten years of upgrades to hell, he calls using the cataclyst “a camper move.” Which in gamer terminology is akin to saying, “bad sport,” since it refers to newbies who play online shooters and just camp out in a hard-to-reach spot near respawning ammo or weapons.

    - During the final chase, Aech jokes she is “practicing my Mario Kart” when IOI scum begin trying to run her van off the road. This is a reference, to well, the true greatest racer franchise of all-time, no?

    - As the movie highlights to a sentimental degree, the first video game easter egg was in Adventure (1979), an Atari 2600 entry designed by Warren Robinett, who included a literal egg far away from the game’s central quest. If you discovered it though, you’d be greeted by Warren Robinett’s actual name, (which the Atari publisher refused to credit in the game at the time).

    - Young James Halliday appears to be playing a Colecovision system in his room. Anyone know what game he's playing, though?

    - Halliday’s final words to Wade of “thank you for playing my game” are a valued tradition among game-makers. It was most popularized by Super Mario 64 (1996) when Mario himself says, “Thank you a-so much for playing my game” at the end of the closing credits. Too bad Halliday didn’t offer Z some cake!

    - In the final scene with a rich and happy Wade and Samantha, you can see a Revenge from Mars (1999) pinball game behind them. Why they would include Revenge from Mars and not its infinitely superior 1995 predecessor, Attack From Mars, will have to remain a mystery.

    Ready Player One Superhero and Comic Book References

    - As aforementioned the first avatar we see as a pre-existing IP is Batman… Michael Keaton’s Batman from 1989 to be specific.

    - That is also Adam West’s classic Lincoln Futura (1955) as the Batmobile convertible during the film’s opening race. He drove it in the late 1960s camp classic TV series and 1966's Batman: The Movie.

    - When Artemis and Parzival are testing each other on geeky Halliday trivia knowledge, Z drops that the late Halliday’s favorite quote was from Superman: The Movie (1978). And to be fair, it is an amazing nugget of comic wisdom, compliments of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor: “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story; others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.”

    - Wade Watts reveals his father gave him an alliterative name to mimic superheroes like Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Bruce Banner (the Hulk). Fun fact: actor Tye Sheridan also plays Scott Summers, aka the mutant superhero Cyclops, in the current X-Men movies.

    - When Arty gives Z Clark Kent glasses, they’re not just any generic Superman reference, but one specifically taken from Christopher Reeve’s frames in Superman: The Movie. As are the questionable plaid, ‘70s suit clothes options she offers for him to peruse, and that particular slicked down hairstyle.

    - At the Distracted Globe dance party, a couple’s avatars are cloyingly modeled after the Joker and Harley Quinn.

    - In the real world, 11-year-old Shoto is sporting a varsity jacket that looks a lot like the ones found in Smallville in Superman III (1983).

    - Somewhere in the Stacks, there is a tagger who is a big fan of Teen Titans since one of the urban artworks is of the DC character Raven.

    - During the epic final act throwdown, Spawn is definitely present for the fireworks.

    - Someone came ready for the war by dressing as Batgirl too, albeit we only see her briefly before the flash of the cataclyst incinerates everyone in sight.

    -The IOI researcher offices include back issues of DC Comics Presents.

    Ready Player One Misc. References

    - The film defiantly begins to the sounds of Van Halen's “Jump” before the cold open even fades onto an image.

    - At the beginning of the film, near the time we see RoboCop, another avatar runs by dressed as Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes.

    - Aech is introduced getting points by being a badass on Planet Doom, which is a reference to a dead rock in the Drule Empire on the Voltron cartoon series (1984-1985).

    - It feels like much of James Halliday is also somewhat based on Dana Carvey's Garth from iconic early '90s SNL sketch and unlikely blockbuster, Wayne's World. You know, by way of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (with a sprinkling of Willy Wonka).

    - Halliday is often seen wearing a Simon pin. Simon was a Milton Bradley electronic memory game, a multi-colored, lights-and-sounds "Simon says" that was a surprising amount of fun, and as much an icon of the 1980s as the Rubik's Cube.

    - The blue Bigfoot truck that Aech drives is the original monster truck, and one that was replicated on countless pieces of 1980s merchandise at the height of that bizarre craze.

    - Among the race cars is again the Mach Five from the Japanese anime Speed Racer (1966-1968).

    - Parzival’s DeLorean has KITT’s red-eyed grill scanner from the David Hasselhoff cheese-classic, Knight Rider(1982-1986).

    - In the lead-up to the race Joan Jett's “I Hate Myself for Loving You” rocks on. 

    - When Z and Arty are testing each other on geeky Halliday knowledge, Parzival says Halliday's favorite song was the Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star” (there's no accounting for taste, eh?) and his favorite music video was aha's “Take On Me.” And in the latter's case, he has a point...

    - Aech’s garage includes laser guns and spaceships from Battlestar: Galactica (1978-1979). There is more of that in Aech’s own subsection.  

    - It appears that all of the Doritos bags in the movie use the vintage 1980s logo and bag design.

    - I-R0k attempts to “compliment” Nolan Sorrento by saying “he never licks,” but just bites down to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Like that commercial. You know THAT commercial…

    - As Aech taunts Z for daydreaming about Arty, the Temptation's “Just My Imagination” softly plays in the background. 

    - I-R0k is introduced doing a “Poor Yorick” routine with a Steam Punk Pirate’s skull, which is a slightly more high-brow reference to Act V of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

    - Speaking of Hamlet, the nightclub that Arty invites Z to is called “the Distracted Globe,” a subtler nod to the first act of the Bard’s masterwork. This is the term the eponymous Danish prince uses to sneer at his court and surroundings, implying they are distracted with crass entertainment while matters of importance, like justice for his father’s murdered ghost, go ignored.

    - While getting ready to party at the Distracted Globe, Parzival tries on a series of costumes that he and Aech rightly reject, like Michael Jackson’s red “Thriller” outfit, a generic-looking punk Mohawk, and a white Duran Duran get-up that someone else will have to precisely identify.

    - As Z enters the Distracted Globe New Order's “Blue Monday” adds some disaffected style. Later, when we meet Arty in the real world, she's wearing a Joy Division shirt. Joy Division is the band that eventually morphed into New Order.

    - Nolan’s deal with the Devil offer includes the claim he enjoys drinking Tab. Just right there, Z should’ve known Nolan wasn’t on the level, because Tab is disgusting.

    - When Aech has his/her fancy tickled by a ghostly girl, she asks “am I being punked?” This reference the awful Ashton Kutcher/MTV series, Punk’d (2003-2007).

    - Among IOI’s research materials is a copy of the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978).

    - Nolan Sorrento’s private rig includes the complete Nancy Drew mystery book series. Don’t judge.

    - Z's final call to arms is Twisted Sister's “We're Not Gonna Take It.” Hell yeah! 

    - To battle Mechagodzilla, Daito assumes the mobile suited body of an RX-78-2 Gundam from the iconic Japanese anime Mobile Suit Gundam (1979). However, I personally would have recommended he’d selected Heero Yuy’s Wing Zero from Gundam Wing (1996) if he wanted to truly wreck Mechagodzilla.

    - Both Aech in real-life and a poster in Halliday’s digital childhood bedroom includes Rush’s 2112 album cover. 2112 side one is a bizarre, futuristic/dystopian sci-fi rock epic. You can see why these characters are fans.

    - Clearly visible in young James' room is a vintage Dungeons & Dragons poster. That, along with the Rush 2112 poster, were standard issue for edgy '80s nerds.

    - We hear of "the gold mines of Gygax." Gary Gygax was the inventor of Dungeons & Dragons.

    - There's a killer Masters of the Universe tin lunchbox in Wade's hideout, too.

    - While we're on the subject of toys, Aech keeps lots of them in his lair. There are models of the original Battlestar Galactica, the Nostromo from Alien, Cygnus (from Disney’s The Black Hole) and they mention (but we do not see) the Harkonnen Drop Ship a toy that was advertised by LJN as part of their bizarre Dune line, but which never actually came out.

    Art3mis References

    We also thought it might be worthy deconstructing each character and what they bring to the table, in case the above references can seem dizzying or daunting.

    - Again, “Art3mis” should be called “Artemis” because, at least per the book where Samantha only conceded putting the numeral “3” in her avatar's name, because “Artemis” was already taken when she created her avatar.

    - Artemis as a name is in reference to Greek mythology where Artemis is Goddess of the Hunt. Further, fans of Wonder Woman might like to know that Artemis was conflated with “Diana” as one goddess in Roman mythology.

    - Arty’s weapon of choice throughout the film is an M41A Pulse Rifle from James Cameron’s Aliens (1986).

    - In the real world, Samantha’s visor has a Batman sticker on it.

    - There's some graffiti in Samantha's HQ that looks like a nod to seminal 1980s graffiti artist, Keith Haring.

    Parzival References

    - A perfectly good place is to start with Parzival himself. As we’ll detail more later, his name is obviously a play on Percival, the member of King Arthur’s round tabled knights who, according to some versions of the myth, is the one who found the Holy Grail. However, this version is most popularized in nerd culture by John Boorman’s 1981, heavy metal cult classic, Excalibur. Which for the record has a design for its titular sword that looks identical to the blade embroidered into the back of Z’s clothes in the OASIS.

    -His empty gun holster also looks suspiciously like what Han Solo wore in the original Star Wars trilogy.

    - Z’s entire aesthetic is typical mid-‘80s, heavy metal fan.

    - There is a Thundercats symbol on Z’s belt buckle, while his gun holster/belt combo are reminiscent of Han Solo.

    Aech References

    - In the real world, she’s Helen, but she prefers to be just a “he” and Aech while logged into the OASIS.

    - In the real-world, Aech has a lot of different vintage pins on her jacket. We could not catch them all, but among the ones we spotted were a classic Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) pin and a vintage '70s Wonder Woman badge of honor.

    - And now, all in one place, everything we spotted in Aech’s garage and den:

    The Iron Giant; laser blaster from the original Battlestar: Galactica; a weapon from Alien (again let us know if you caught which it is!); the Eagle 5 space RV from Spaceballs; the Colonial Viper spaceship from Battlestar: Galactica; an ED-209 from RoboCop; the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; the Extravehicular Activity Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey; an exo-skeleton robot from the animated series Exosquad; a Thunderfighter from the TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; and a Swordfish II spaceship from the anime Cowboy Beebop (1998-1999); the Cocktails & Dreams sign from Cocktail; a Mad Max poster; and an awesome “Re-Elect Mayor ‘Goldie’ Wilson” poster from Back to the Future.

    Numb from your sugar overload yet? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Let us know what we missed or chew me out on Twitter here.

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    A much-loved film in the 1980s, The Last Starfighter never received an arcade spinoff. It did come close, though...

    Feature Ryan Lambie
    Mar 30, 2018

    This story originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.

    It sounded like a recipe for sure-fire success: a space opera in the vein of Star Wars, but for the '80s video game generation. The Last Starfighter told the story of an ordinary teenager whose shooting game prowess saw him whisked away by aliens to fight an interstellar war on the other side of the galaxy.

    With some of its effects sequences using the latest in cutting edge computer graphics, The Last Starfighter was positioned as the big summer movie of 1984. Except things didn’t quite work out that way; while The Last Starfighter made money, it wasn’t quite the George Lucas-level blockbuster its producers had expected. As a result, the arcade game promised in the film’s end credits failed to emerge - even though Atari had almost finished it by the time of The Last Starfighters release. So what happened?

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    In the early part of the '80s, Atari dominated just about every facet of the videogame scene. Its Atari 2600 console had been a phenomenon for years, its range of 8-bit computers were selling relatively well, and thanks to the innovative ideas flowing out of Atari’s arcade division, games such as Asteroids, Missile Commandand Centipede were also a familiar sight in bars and arcades.

    From both a technical and commercial standpoint, Atari’s most effective games were its 3D vector machines, which included Battlezone, Star Wars, and its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. At the time, they offered a sense of speed and immersion that was unparalleled; Battlezone placed the player at the helm of a tank, with a first-person view of the battlefield. Star Wars went one further and placed a generation of young arcade-goers in the cockpit of an X-wing. The action may have been depicted with little more than a few lines,but thanks to their innovative cabinet designs and booming speakers, they really made you feel as though you were in the midst of an exciting pitched battle. 

    Atari’s Last Starfighter game was envisioned as a successor to the 3D shooting experiences of the company’s earlier Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back cabinets. Like those games, The Last Star Fighter was a shooting game where the player moved an aiming reticule around and shot alien craft out of a star-filled void. The difference this time, however, was that the enemy ships were built out of solid, shaded polygons, giving them a solid presence Atari’s earlier games could only hint at.

    The shooting action was made a little more strategic, too, with the player’s controller armed with two laser buttons. Firing both at the same time unleashed a third, even deadlier bolt of energy; the disadvantage of this being that the guns would soon overheat. The best tactic, therefore, was to alternate between light blasts of each laser gun, and only firing both at the same time for larger, better-armoured enemy craft.

    Although relatively little footage of Atari’s The Last Starfighter game exists today, what little that remains hints at an unusually fast and smooth piece of programming. It’s certainly much smoother than I, Robot, Atari’s groundbreaking (but little played) arcade game released in 1984, though that had far more polygons to handle on screen at any one time.

    To bring all these graphics to life, The Last Starfighter used a Motorola 68000 processor - a piece of hardware that would become ubiquitous later in the decade (it powered such machines as the Commodore Amiga and the Sega Mega Drive), but was still expensive nearer the start of the '80s. According to, it was the expense, as well as The Last Starfighter movie’s faltering box-office, that ultimately led to the game’s downfall. With the price of the completed cabinet estimated at $10,000, an unusually high figure for the time, Atari’s higher-ups deemed it too expensive for most arcade owners of the era to stomach.

    And so it was that, with The Last Starfighterarcade game around 75 percent finished, the plug was abruptly pulled. Interestingly, the arcade machine wasn’t the only videogame tie-in affected by the movie’s sub-par performance. Atari’s 8-bit home computer was originally set to get a Last Starfighter game, but it was reworked and released as Star Raiders II in 1986.

    While The Last Starfighter movie wasn’t a huge hit at the time, its cult success has continued to grow since its release in the summer of 1984, and it’s now regarded as a cult classic. At one point, there was even talk of a TV spin-off, The Starfighter Chronicles.

    Nor has Atari’s ill-fated arcade machine quite gone away. While the original never emerged, a studio called Rogue Synapse has created a faithful remake of The Last Starfighter’s laser-blazing action - and best of all, you can download it for free. Unfortunately, you’ll have to build your own futuristic-looking arcade cabinet.

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    As a bouncer in a post-Brexit Britain, Not Tonight asks you to determine who gets in and who gets out.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 30, 2018

    Not Tonight, an upcoming game from developer PanicBam and publisher No More Robots, is a post-Brexit management RPG with an incredibly clever premise.

    InNot Tonight, you play a "bouncer" in an alternative (possibly) version of post-Brexit Britain where a maniacal government has come into power. In what is described as a "gig-based" economy, you travel between various, pubs, clubs, and festivals in order to help determine who is allowed in. As a bouncer, you'll be responsible for checking IDs and following any other rules the location has regarding who is let in and who is not. 

    Do well enough, and you'll be able to upgrade your apartment, your equipment, and even yourself. What's the catch? Well...achieving personal success might just come at the expense of others who you must deny and potentially report. 

    The set-up might sound familiar to anyone who played the all-time indie classic, Papers, Please. Just as in that game, checking forms of identification becomes a kind of puzzle onto itself as you must be sure to adhere to any admission requirements. All the while, there is the lingering cloud hanging above your head that suggests that what you are doing for yourself is coming at the expense of others. 

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    Unlike Papers, Please which took place in a fictional Eastern European country, Not Tonight tells an all-too-familiar story of what happens when those in power make a sweeping ruling on who is allowed in and who is not. Personifying that idea via the role of a bouncer is...well, it's quite brilliant. 

    What remains to be seen is whether or not Not Tonight has the gameplay legs needed to carry it beyond the promise of its concept. If it can expand upon the basic Papers, Pleaseconcept and deliver something both clever and enjoyable, then you might just want to pick this title up when it releases in the summer of 2018 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

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  • 03/30/18--12:42: Sea of Thieves Review
  • Sea of Thieves is beautiful on the surface, but quite shallow as a sandbox experience. Our review of Rare's latest...

    It’s pure magic staring out at the undulating, immaculately rendered ocean waves in Rare’s online pirate playground, Sea of Thieves. Sitting high atop the crow’s nest of your creaky ship and admiring the view as the colors of sunset dance and flicker just underneath the water’s surface isn’t just a thing of beauty, it’s an experience.

    It’s another kind of experience entirely, though, to drop your gaze from the horizon to the deck below and see your crewmates, scoundrels, pillagers, and miscreants clinking tankards brimming with grog, as they puke their guts out to the rhythms of spirit-lifting shanties, your shared vessel of death and debauchery barrelling toward whatever new adventure awaits.

    At its best, the game is a terrific place to hang out with your friends, having a chat while doing nothing particularly remarkable. Taking in the sights and sounds of the high seas with your crew as you learn how to navigate the violent waters as a well-coordinated team can be a lot of fun, and if the simple pleasure of social interaction is your thing, the game provides ample opportunity to simply get lost at sea with your buddies and have a laugh.

    But if you’re expecting a robust sandbox experience with endless hours of adventures and stories to sink your teeth into, you’re out of luck. Content-wise, Sea of Thieves is anemic at best. With little to no guidance, you and your crew (or you alone, should you so choose) are dropped into a vast ocean dotted with islands, sunken ships, and other curiosities, and you’ll to go on quests big and small to amass special items and mounds of gold while crossing swords and cannons with other groups of players from time to time.

    The quests are straightforward and unvaried. You’ll hunt for treasure chests, exterminate hoards of sword-wielding skeletons, and capture and escort animals. When you’re done with that, you’ll...dig up more chests, fight off more skeletons, and babysit more animals. It’s really befuddling that Rare didn’t have time to add any more variety to the quest structure.

    There are some random encounters with Krakens that break things up every few hours or so (why not make these more frequent?), and there are raids that involve you and other crews battling with armies of skeletons and each other over treasure, but at the end of the day, you’re still hacking, slashing, and shooting at the same old enemies and carrying out the same old tasks.

    The repetition is maddening, and what’s worse, the gold you earn from carrying out each quest can only be spent on cosmetic accessories and costumes. All player stats are fixed, which keeps a level playing field across the game but allows for no sense of character progression. You can raise your “reputation,” which gives you access to bigger quests, but again, the fruits of your labor are only skin deep and don’t change the actual gameplay experience.

    This inherent shallowness is a huge disappointment, especially for a game that ostensibly appears to be so ambitious and grand in scale. Also, this is a game all about pirates, which naturally means that it’s really all about treasure. Why would you make all of the treasure essentially inert and meaningless? Sure, you can gussy up your character in myriad ways, but in a first-person game in which you almost never see yourself, what’s the point?

    PvP gameplay feels similarly pointless. Because all players’ abilities are the same, the combat feels quite rudimentary and rigid, which is a shame considering PvP should be ripe with opportunity to spice up the larger gameplay loop. Firing cannons is exciting (at least the first couple of times), and you can even fire yourself onto enemy ships. But because everything is so even-steven gameplay-wise, truly interesting scenarios never actually arise. The game’s got a major issue with staying power as it is, and PvP feeling so flaccid doesn’t help matters one bit.

    Still, the game isn’t without its virtues. Working together with friends to maneuver your ship feels terrific, perhaps better (or at least more unique) than in any other game in recent memory. At once, you’ll have one person steering, another unfurling the sails, one raising the anchor, and another friend using his/her compass and map to navigate. Getting the timing right and reaching your destination smoothly (or even better yet, taking down a rival ship), is an unmitigated thrill and offers a genuine sense of shared accomplishment.

    While there’s no real leveling-up to do in the game, you’ll certainly develop applicable skills that can mean the difference between your crew sleeping with the fishes or sailing to victory in a naval battle. Sure, it only takes a few hours for you and your team to get the hang of the game’s basic strategies, but those first few hours are insanely fun.

    The game’s other saving grace is the visual style, which is so wondrous and jaw-dropping that it’ll occasionally, mercifully, distract you from the monotony of the questing. From the sleek character models to the ungodly water effects, the presentation is top-notch, and the stylized visuals ensure that, whether you’re playing on the Xbox One or PC, you’re going to be thoroughly blown away.

    The game’s color palette is a high point, with deep greens and blues contrasted with fiery sunset hues that are sometimes so pretty that you’ll stare and stare and forget what you’re doing, almost causing your ship to crash into a wall of jagged rocks, drawing the ire of your perturbed shipmates. No matter, though - the view was worth it.

    The tireless work of Rare’s artists and engineers amounts to more than just eye candy, though. There’s something to be said for a game’s visuals making you feel a sense of place, and the development team does just that here, using enveloping weather effects and sound design to make Sea of Thieves a true escapist experience, as all games of this nature should be. Hearing the wood of your ship crackle and creak around you as the wind whips by your ears and the waves crash into each other sounds almost freakily realistic, and while the visuals are cartoonish, there’s a weight to them that makes the game world feel absolutely cohesive.

    There are sure to be gamers out there who feel more than content to get a group of friends together in Sea of Thieves and simply sail across Rare’s beautiful game world, hunt for multi-colored pigs and chickens, and laugh hysterically as they watch their friends get their characters drunk and stumble overboard. This game is for them - it’s leisurely, approachable, and unchallenging, and is largely inoffensive in every facet. But for the rest of us gamers seeking substantive, rich, engaging online experiences - especially when shelling out $60 - our time and money would be better spent elsewhere.

    ReviewBernard Boo
    Mar 30, 2018

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    Explore the mysteries of a world of absolute horror in The Sinking City.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 30, 2018

    Ever wondered what L.A. Noire would be like if you replaced '40s Los Angeles with a Lovecraftian version a modern American city? The Sinking City dares to deliver on that incredible premise. 

    The Sinking City takes place in the fictional city of Oakmont, Massachusetts during the 1920s. Some Lovecraftian deities have wrecked havoc on the entire area and have left the town of Oakmont largely underwater. Despite the inconvenience - and the sudden presence of fish people who roam the area - some human citizen remain in the city trying to make the best of a bad situation. You play a private investigator who soon finds himself caught up in a web of conspiracy. 

    The Lovecraftian elements of Sinking City are obvious and entirely unabashed. While few Lovecraftian creatures have been name-dropped thus far, the game's creatures are most certainly inspired by both Lovecraft and the creations of H.R. Giger. Additionally, there seems to be an insanity mechanic in place which can affect how the player's character sees the world. Anyone familiar with the GameCube classic Eternal Darkness should have an idea of how sanity can affect the game's world. 

    While the Lovecraft elements of the game are deeply embedded into its every dark corner, Sinking City is actually more of a defective title in the style of L.A. Noire. That means that players will often receive requests and assignments that require them to investigate, interview, and ultimately solve the case. Unlike L.A. Noire, there are very few objective markers in the game and other clear points of direction. Instead, you'll be required to pick up on context clues and certain pieces of dialog in order to understand where you should go next in the process of your investigation. 

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    Put it all together, and you've got a taut mystery thriller bolstered by certain horror elements that compliment the underlying noire elements quite well. If that sounds too much like we're describing a particularly fine wine, just imagine a scarier version of L.A. Noire with theoretically tighter gameplay, and you'll know why we're so excited about this one. 

    There's no release date available for The Sinking City, but it should be available for PC when it launches. 

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    The court of appeals rules that Grand Theft Auto V's girl in a red bikini could be any blonde actress.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 30, 2018

    Years ago, actress Lindsay Lohan tried to sue Rockstar Games for supposedly using her for one of the Grand Theft Auto V's featured promotional imagines. Here's a comparison of the promotional image and the picture of Lohan in question (courtesy of Kotaku):

    Back in 2016, a panel of judges ruled that Lohan's - and Mob Wives star Karen Gravano who was also filing a suit against Rockstar - lawsuit was "without merit" because her name and image weren't directly used in the game. Yesterday, the New York Court of Appeals agreed with that original ruling and rejected Lohan's right to an appeal. They stated that the character in question was a generic representation of a twenty-something woman whose physical features bore no striking resemblance to Lohan's. That seemingly brings an end to this entire affair. 

    Why does any of this matter? Well, it doesn't. At least not in a global sense. However, the entire suit is more interesting than you might initially think it would be simply because Lohan's claim has a weird kind of merit to it when you really look at the particulars of the situation. 

    See, the crux of Lohan's argument was the GTA character's use of the peace sign. Apparently, Lohan used that quite a bit in several photos over a short period of time. There was also the matter of the character herself, Lacey Jonas, who was described as an actress and singer who is most famous for her work in high school movies. That, combined with her look and pose, does sound quite a bit like Lindsay Lohan if you stop and think about it. 

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    Ultimately, though, what this whole thing came down to is that famous disclaimer pertaining to how "any resemblance coincidental." If Rockstar had designed a mission or plotline involving Lacey Jonas going through some very Lohan-specific type scenarios, then Lohan might have been able to argue that the resemblance goes beyond coincidence. The same could be said if Lohan's name - or some kind of obvious version of it - was used in the game. 

    As that's not the case, Lohan finds herself in the familiar position of being just a bit too generic to make any kind of meaningful money for herself. Sorry Lindsay, looks like you won't get a slice of the billion dollar GTA pie. 

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  • 03/30/18--14:13: Detective Pikachu Review
  • Detective Pikachu on 3DS delivers one of the better Pokemon spin-off experiences in recent years. Our review...

    I wasn't very excited for Detective Pikachu when it was first announced. Sure, the mainline Pokemongames just keep getting better, but calling many of the spin-offs in the long-running series “mediocre” is generous. Fortunately, just a few minutes with Detective Pikachu had me hooked on its mysteries and charming characters. This is the best Pokemon spin-off in years, with an exciting new take on the franchise.

    Detective Pikachu doesn’t stray far from the traditional adventure game formula. Each of the game’s nine chapters is divided into multiple scenes with several puzzles. As the teenage investigator Tim Goodman and his talking, coffee guzzling Pikachu, you examine items in each area and talk to other characters (and Pokemon) to solve cases. Occasional simple quick-time events mix up the gameplay a little bit.

    But the heart of any adventure game is the story, which is where Detective Pikachu excels. The story revolves around Tim’s search for his missing father, an accomplished detective, while investigating bizarre Pokemon behavior around Ryme City. Joining him is a talking Pikachu that used to belong to his father. Detective Pikachu is always entertaining, with his slightly sarcastic comments and love of coffee and sweets. Having a Pokemon that the main character can understand lends itself to a lot of interesting new situations. I somehow never got tired of Pikachu translating what other Pokemon were saying, or the confusion of other characters as Tim talked to Pikachu in front of them.

    The investigation leads to a host of different environments around the city and opportunities to meet with numerous charming characters and Pokemon. The conversations with Detective Pikachu also gave some insight into how these characters think. This is a game that digs deep into the Pokemon mythos with often hilarious results.

    Either figuring out what Pokemon want or how to use their powers is often instrumental in completing the game’s puzzles, and I never got tired of seeing how some of the more obscure monsters would fit into a scene. Pikachu may be featured on the cover, but developer Creatures wasn’t afraid of digging deep into the series’ 807-strong cast of Pokemon to fit into the story. It’s nice to see a Pokemon spin-off that doesn’t just involve starters or other popular characters.

    Each and every character looks fantastic, too. Creatures actually goes for a style similar to a Pixar movie. The proportions of human characters are slightly exaggerated, and the world around them is bright and vibrant. It’s easy to pick up contextual clues while investigating each scene.

    The game doesn’t display in 3D though, which I found slightly disappointing. It’s somewhat confusing as well. While the graphics are excellent, other games that look just as good have used the 3D effect. Then again, Nintendo has strayed away from this feature over the last few years.

    There are some bigger issues, though. The voice acting is top-notch, and the usual Pokemon noises are done well, but the music is pretty forgettable.

    While the game’s mysteries are enjoyable, the puzzles aren’t exactly difficult to solve. Even if you do run into trouble, examining everything in a scene again will quickly get you where you need to go, and there’s no penalty for wrong guesses when trying to solve a case.

    Finally, while the game clocks in at a respectable eight hours, when it’s over, there’s not much reason to go back. Ultimately though, the game is so much fun that it’s easy to overlook these problems. Detective Pikachu is an excellent adventure title for gamers of all ages, and a great reason to pick up the aging 3DS again even as Nintendo’s focus moves to the Switch.

    ReviewChris Freiberg
    Mar 30, 2018

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    The cancelled sequel to Prey was apparently much further along than we were led to believe...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 30, 2018

    While 2017's Prey was a pretty neat Action/RPG from the makers of Dishonored, it wasn't actually a sequel to 2006's Prey. However, there was a time when Prey developer Human Head Studios were working on a direct sequel to their cult classic shooter. Until now, details regarding that shooter have been scattered and fairly unsubstantial. 

    Now, though, we actually have video evidence of what that sequel would have looked like. 

    This footage comes to us courtesy of Andrew Borman; a digital games curator at the Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. He shared the video via the tweet above which he says was sent to him by Human Head Studios. He even suggests that he might have more such footage to share sometime in the future. 

    For now, though, we'll just have to make due with this short clip. That's fine, though, because it actually reveals quite a lot of what this potential project would have looked like. As you can see from the footage this sequel would have been a far more traditional first-person shooter than the Prey we got from Arkane Studios. Just as in 2006's Prey, the title would have featured some interesting sci-fi weapons, quite a few intelligent enemies to shoot at, and some alien environments. Unlike that game, it seems that Prey's sequel would have been a bit more intense. It's hard to gauge the game's atmosphere and story from just this piece of footage, but it certainly appears that action was more of a priority in this now-canceled sequel.

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    In fact, this footage is impressive enough to probably make you wonder why Prey 2 was canceled in the first place. Well, Bethesda suggested that the game just wasn't shaping up to meet their expectations and they felt that there wasn't a "clear path" to get the game to where it needed to be. Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines told GameSpot that it wasn't really a hostile situation between Bethesda and Human Head and that Bethesda notified the developers that they were going to make a different title based on the Prey name. 

    Still, we can't help but be a little curios regarding Human Head's thoughts on the matter considering that they shared this footage and that it looks quite good. 

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    Clementine's incredible story in Telltale's The Walking Dead will come to a close in 2018.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 30, 2018

    The final season of Telltale's The Walking Dead will be on display at PAX East. 

    Telltale confirmed that they'll be showing more footage from the final season at PAX via this Facebook post. They also shared a sweet new poster for the game which you can check out above. Additionally, you can watch Telltale's PAX East panel on April 6 at 12:30 pm ET. 

    In case you missed the initial announcement, you can jump to 4:32 in the following video to get your first look at Telltale's The Walking Dead: Season 4:

    While much of this latest preview is devoted to Telltale recounting everything that has come before, the studio did reveal that they intend for this to be The Walking Dead's final season as well as an end to Clementine's story.

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    Regardless, Melissa Hutchinson will return to voice Clementine in this upcoming season that figures to showcase exactly what kind of person Clementine has become. At present, Telltale's The Walking Dead: Season 4 is expected to release sometime in 2018. 

    It's hard to believe that it's been five years since the first season of Telltale's The Walking Dead helped the studio achieve notoriety as the premier name in modern adventure game design. It's even harder to believe that Clementine's story is actually coming to a close given everything that the character has been through over the course of these games. 

    That said, it will be interesting to see just how deeply this final season digs into the previous ones in terms of which choices carry over. As this is, supposedly, the end of Clementine's adventures, you can expect Telltale to not hold back in terms of really showcasing the consequences of every major decision that has been made or will be made. 

    We'll bring you more information about this game as it becomes available.

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    It turns out there's a very real dark side to being too ambitious. Assassin's Creed Unity is proof of it.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 30, 2018

    It turns out that Ubisoft also thinks that Assassin's Creed Unity was a bit of a bust, but the studio believes it understands exactly what went wrong with the title. 

    "We fell again into this trap of working a lot on the tech, and not allowing enough [time for] the teams to create the content to create something new," said Assassin's Creed creative director Jean Guesdon at GDC 2018. "In the end, that's the way I see it. We created the perfect conditions for the perfect storm. We had a game that was wonderful in terms of art, but that was not renewing enough of the experience."

    Guesdon expanded on that sentiment by saying that the team perhaps "flew too close to the sun" when creating the graphics engine for Unity. While the team was thrilled with how the game looked - Guesdon says its still one of the better-looking games out there - the enhanced visuals led to a series of technical and design issues. While many gamers will no doubt remember some of Unity's infamous - and horrifying - visual bugs that would do things like remove character's faces, Guesdon says that the issues the visuals created went far beyond those glitches. For instance, the new scaling of the buildings in the game made it hard for the team to properly recreate the fluid navigation from previous titles. 

    "The game suffered from all this," said Guesdon of the game's various problems. "Even if you played it today with the fixes, it's still a very beautiful and very good game. But in short, we probably flew too close to the sun and we were a bit overcome."

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    It's not all bad news, though. Guesdon credits the mistakes of Unity for helping the team realize that it was time to step back and re-examine the franchise. While he was specifically referring to the improvements made by Assassin's Creed Syndicate, he also noted that the recent Assassin's Creed Origins did a great job of focusing on key gameplay aspects like open-world creation, finding a balance between story and gameplay, and contributing to the game's grander universe. 

    "It was a cultural shift for the developers as much as a technological one - we should focus on the experience and not the scripting and coding. Players don't care about the code, just their experience," said Guesdon. 

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    Netflix's Castlevania is rising from the grave for a second season. Here's everything you need to know about the series...

    News Matthew Byrd
    Mar 31, 2018

    Those who have already learned to love Netflix's Castlevania will be thrilled to learn that the streaming service has greenlit the show's second season. 

    Showrunner Adi Shankar had previously hinted that the show's second season was a done deal in a now-deleted Facebook post, but Netflix officially confirmed the show's renewal in a brief statement that included the very welcome news that Castlevania's second season will be eight episodes long. While that's hardly the length of a network program - or even an HBO show - it's a nice upgrade from the first season's meager four episode offering. 

    In case you haven't yet read our review of the show, we thought quite highly of Castlevania's first season and look forward to seeing what the show's incredibly talented team can do when they have a full-length season to work with. 

    Here's everything else we know about the show:

    Castlevania Season 2 Release Date

    A Summer 2018 release date for Castlevania's second season was confirmed on Twitter by writer Warren Ellis in late 2017...

    Castlevania Season 2 Cast and Crew

    All the principle participants of the show's first season appear to be onboard for Castlevania season two, which means that showrunner Adi Shankar, writer Warren Ellis, and voice actors Graham McTavish, Richard Armitage, James Callis, and Alejandra Reynoso will all reprise their respective voice roles. 

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    The canceled Star Wars: Battlefront 4 would have featured alternate versions of Luke, Maul, Obi-Wan, Leia, and much more!

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Mar 31, 2018

    More than five years after its death, we continue to mourn the game development branch of LucasArts, the company responsible for many of the best Star Wars games of the '90s and '00s. What's so tragic about the end of LucasArts (it still exists as a licensor) is that there were a couple of projects still in the pipeline in its twilight years, before Disney shut down operations for good in 2013.

    These projects included an action-adventure game starring a young Boba Fett called Star Wars 1313, as well as a Darth Maul game and Battlefront III - all promising, all reminders that Star Wars games weren't just about "live services" and microtransactions back in the day.

    Add to that list: Battlefront IV. According to Eurogamer, developer Free Radical was already in the process of planning the next installment in the Star Wars shooter series when LucasArts decided to cancel Battlefront III in 2006. While it's a shame that the very far along Battlefront III never saw the light of day, the fact that we never got Battlefront IV is an even bigger tragedy if a new collection of concept art for the game is any indication. 

    Based on the concept art, Battlefront IV would have featured alternate versions of many fan-favorite heroes and villains, including dark side versions of Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Leia, and even evil Chewbacca. On the other hand, Count Dooku, Maul, and Asajj Ventress would have been Jedi. There is even concept art for an Emperor Vader!

    Check out all the concept art below:

    Star Wars Battlefront IV Concept Art (FRD

    What Free Radical was planning was very different from anything we'd ever seen in the games before. The game would have remixed the storyline of the first six films, having Anakin kill both Yoda and Padme, causing Obi-Wan and Luke to fall to the dark side (for reasons). Palpatine would have never even been a senator and Chewbacca would have spent his life as a slave. The approach seems most akin to Dark Horse's Infinities series, which featured alternate takes on the film saga, such as when Leia became a Jedi after Luke was killed on Hoth.

    Alas, we'll probably never get to play a Star Wars game like this, at least not an experience that takes this many liberties with the story and characters of the film saga. And if we ever do get the chance to play as Dark Side Luke, we'll probably have to buy quite a few loot boxes first.

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    There are plenty of great games coming out in 2018! Here are the top 25 games you have to play this year...

    The Lists Matthew Byrd
    Apr 1, 2018

    While it's far too early to say that 2018 will be as great as 2017 in terms quality video game releases, it is already shaping up to be a fascinating year for the video game industry. While Sony and Microsoft battle for control of a rapidly approaching 4K future, Nintendo is hoping to prove that the Switch's early success will carry over into year two.

    Meanwhile, the PC market continues to benefit from the growing VR industry and a constant influx of indie titles. 

    Of course, the true star of 2018 will ultimately be the games. So far as that goes, there are already quite a few promising titles on the horizon.

    We've taken a look at all of the games that are confirmed for next year, at least as a release window, and have chosen the ones we think you need to an eye on.

    Here are the best looking games of 2018 so far:

    A Way Out

    March 23 | Hazelight Studios | XBO, PS4, PC

    Nobody outside of EA and Hazelight Studios had ever heard of A Way Out prior to E3 2017, but it ended up being one of the most noteworthy games featured during this year's show. A Way Out is a co-op action title displayed entirely through the lens of a split-screen. While the game’s early sections will focus on completing an elaborate prison break, later levels will seemingly cast both players as fugitives.

    We’ve played co-op games for years, but few have ever taken advantage of the concept from a presentation and storytelling standpoint quite the way that A Way Out does. The game’s split-screen style allows for both players to always influence the events of the story even when one is watching a cutscene or is otherwise indisposed. It’s a remarkably fresh take on the co-op concept that may prove to be the shot in the arm the cinematic action genre desperately needs.

    Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

    TBA | Inti Creates, ArtPlay, DICO Co. Ltd | XBO, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita

    Koji Igarashi is the man you should thank for translating the Metroid style of gameplay to Castlevania and helping create the fabled "Metroidvania" genre. He was the driving creative force behind Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the producer of many Castlevania titles released since 1996. Bloodstained represents his long-awaited return to the genre. 

    As we recently explored, Bloodstained is a Metroidvania-style Castlevania game in every way but its name. It is Igarashi's attempt to develop the kind of Castlevaniagames that he wanted to make before policy changes at Konami made the development of such titles an uncertain prospect. Castlevania fans have been supporting this game since its debut on Kickstarter, and we can't wait to see whether or not Igarashi can deliver the Castlevania spiritual successor that gaming desperately needs. 

    Code Vein

    TBA | Bandai Namco Studios | XBO, PS4, PC

    While many developers of Dark Souls-like games have attempted to avoid that comparison whenever possible, Code Vein director Hiroshi Yoshimura has welcomed the comparison. He knows that Dark Souls changed the action RPG genre, and he hasn't tried to hide the fact that Code Vein was heavily inspired by that classic franchise. 

    However, Code Vein is much more than a flattering tribute to Dark Souls. With its anime style and outlandish storyline involving a world of vampires, Code Vein is clearly not interested in replicating Dark Souls' somber tones and vague narrative. Instead, Code Vein figures to be a fast-paced and genuinely wild take on this genre that should still be rooted in the kind of deep and satisfying combat system that this genre is known for. 

    Buy Code Vein

    Crackdown 3

    TBA | Reagent Games, Sumo Digital, Ruffian Games, Cloudgine | XBO, PC

    It's been almost eight years since we last heard from the Crackdown series. There was a time when Microsoft's hidden gem open-world title provided a breath of fresh air to the subgenre. Its outlandish, superhero-like gameplay afforded players the chance to just go wild in a metro setting. Since those days, though, the open-world genre - and the world at large - has changed quite a bit. 

    In order for Crackdown 3 to make the same impact that Crackdown protagonists make when they jump off the city's highest buildings and crash onto the streets below, it's going to have to invoke the casual gameplay of the first two Crackdown games while finding a way to advance the game's style just enough to make us feel that old joy of galivanting around a superhero sandbox.

    Buy Crackdown 3

    Detroit: Become Human

    May 25 | Quantic Dream | PS4

    Much like director M. Night Shamalayn, game designer David Cage's projects tend to either be brilliant (Heavy Rain) or bewilderingly misguided (Beyond Two Souls). His next game, Detroit: Become Human, can honestly go either way.

    Become Human is a neo-noir sci-fi thriller that tells the story of a group of androids who are trying to rebel against an abusive society and the people assigned to hunting them down. It's hard not to think of Blade Runner from that description, but Detroit: Become Human figures to distinguish itself from its inspirations through a branching narrative and its more thorough look at both sides of this conflict. It remains to be seen whether or not Cage's sometimes bewildering brand of brilliance will make this a truly special title. 

    Buy Detroit: Become Human

    Dragon Ball FighterZ

    January 26 | Arc System Works | XBO, PS4, PC

    Hearing that another studio is making a new Dragon Ball Z fighting game is a lot like finding out you’re out of toilet paper. It's a potentially disastrous situation that you quite honestly should have seen coming. However, Dragon Ball FighterZ is not just another Dragon Ball fighting game, and that’s because it’s not being made by just another studio.

    No, Dragon Ball FighterZis a high-octane, beautifully rendered, pure 2D fighting game from the makers of the Guilty Gear series. With its impressive roster of memorable characters and 3 vs. 3 team system, Dragon Ball FighterZ is shaping up to be a fascinating alternative to the Marvel vs. Capcom series for those looking for a pure fighting title that emphasizes the insanity of epic encounters.

    Buy Dragon Ball FighterZ

    Far Cry 5

    March 27 | Ubisoft Montreal | XBO, PS4, PC

    Far Cry 5 is a difficult game to read. On the surface, this looks like just another Far Cry game. What that means - at least since Far Cry 3 - is a large world, co-op madness, a psychotic villain, and a variety of weapons and vehicles. Given that Far Cry 4 was admonished for adhering too closely to this system, it’s strange to see how much Far Cry 5 looks like more of the same in many ways

    However, Far Cry 5’s fascinating rural setting and emphasis on narrative may just prove to be the X-factors that elevate this title above its predecessors. While the world of Far Cry 5 is no doubt controversial, the game’s creative look at a cult whose warped sense of morals have corrupted a small town and the rebellion that results in response to their actions is the kind of new twist that makes an old ride worth taking again.

    Buy Far Cry 5

    God of War

    April 20 | Santa Monica Studio | PS4

    Much like Days Gone, God of War has been one of the centerpieces of Sony’s E3 press conference the past two years, yet we still know relatively little about the game. What we can tell you is that God of War looks like a hard reboot of the franchise in terms of gameplay. The demos showcased thus far suggest that this new title will ditch the original God of War trilogy’s combo-based high octane gameplay in favor of a more methodical combat system, with a much bigger emphasis on narrative.

    The jury is still out on that approach, but what really gets us excited about this game is the way that it incorporates rarely explored aspects of Norse mythology and seemingly casts Kratos into the role of protective father. In fact, God of War feels like a brand new IP due to the number of changes made to the formula.

    Buy God of War

    Kingdom Hearts III

    TBA | Square Enix Co., Ltd. | PS4

    It hasn't exactly been a long time since we last played a new Kingdom Hearts game - the series is kind of infamous for its oddly named sequels, prequels spin-offs, and re-releases - but it has been about 13 years since the release of Kingdom Hearts II. Suffice to say, that time has only made the game's passionate fanbase even more rabid.

    Fortunately, Kingdom Hearts III is shaping up to be the Kingdom Hearts game that we've all been waiting for. This strikingly beautiful title will not only finally bring classic Disney classics like Toy Story into the fold, but it figures to improve the franchise's already great gameplay through the implementation of a better camera and a refined combat system. Dare we say that this game might just live up to the hype?

    Buy Kingdom Hearts III

    Kirby Star Allies

    March 16 | Nintendo | Switch

    While the next Kirby game certainly wasn’t the star of Nintendo’s E3 2017 showcase - how you doin' Samus? - it was one of those games that many found themselves taking a second look at when the festivities were over. Those that did may have noticed that this looks like a return to some of Kirby’s platforming roots, albeit with a very welcome upgrade in visuals.

    What really gets us excited about Kirby, however, is the way that it seems to be designed as a four-player co-op experience. Recent Nintendo multiplayer platformers - most notably Super Mario 3D World - rank among the most purely enjoyable gaming experiences of this generation, and Kirby looks to deliver more of that timeless fun.

    Buy Kirby for Switch

    Marvel’s Spider-Man

    TBA | Insomniac Games | PS4

    When we heard that Insomniac Games was making a Spider-Man game, we wiped our monocles with our monogrammed handkerchiefs and declared it “acceptable” with an exhale of dignified air. When Sony actually showcased said Spider-Man game at E3 2017, we were forced to drop our cautious pretense and simply embrace the sheer fanboyish joy of what looks like a truly fantastic Spider-Man experience.

    While there have been a few great Spider-Man games over the years, Insomniac’s take on the character is already shaping up to be the character’s greatest gaming adventure. Thanks to the innovations of the Arkham series and Insomniac’s own experience with silky smooth movement controls, this upcoming Spider-Man game may just be the one Spider-Man title that actually captures everything interesting about the character rather than simply mastering a lone iconic aspect of one of Marvel’s greatest heroes.

    Buy Marvel's Spider-Man

    Mega Man 11

    TBA | Capcom | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

    The most recent numerical Mega Man games were actually just retro - NES - Mega Man titles improved by some modern design sensibilities. While those games were amazing, they're not quite what we wanted. No, what we really crave is a Mega Man game that retains the spirit of those classic titles, but ultimately feels like a new experience. 

    Mega Man 11 looks to deliver something eerily similar to that ideal experience. Its re-imagined art style triggers bad memories of Mighty No. 9, but the footage of the game revealed thus far suggests that Capcom is serious about bringing classic Mega Man gameplay into the modern age. There's always going to be room on our digital shelves for a well-made 2D action title, and Mega Man 11 figures to be just that. 

    Metro: Exodus

    Fall | 4A Games | PS4, XBO, PC

    If you haven't yet dived into the Metro franchise, then you've been missing out on some of the best first-person shooter experiences in years. Metro 2033 was a post-apocalyptic masterpiece that brilliantly portrayed a dark and demented end of the world scenario. Metro: Last Light was the even better sequel to that classic shooter/RPG experience. 

    We don't know much about Metro: Exodus, but we do know that developer 4A Games has fought hard to ensure that their vision for this much-anticipated sequel lives to see the light of the surface world. If they deliver an experience that is even close to what they've already achieved with this franchise, then Metro: Exodus may just end up stealing 2018 from some considerable competition. 

    Buy Metro: Exodus

    Monster Hunter: World

    January 26 | Capcom | PS4, XBO, PC

    While the Monster Hunter franchise is most certainly popular - particularly in Japan - it has arguably been some time since the series has expanded the size of its dedicated fanbase. That's largely because Capcom hasn't found much reason to tweak the franchise's formula in recent years. That has been enough to please current fans but hasn't given those who aren't already spending their time besting a variety of towering behemoths reason to do so. 

    Monster Hunter: World represents the developer's clearest attempt at creating a Monster Hunter game that will turn nonbelievers into devotees. The core gameplay remains the same as ever - hunt down a variety of monsters using a series of incredible weapons - but World figures to be the largest Monster Hunter game yet as well as the most ambitious from a sheer technological perspective. 

    Buy Monster Hunter: World

    Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

    April 3 | Obsidian Entertainment | PC

    Obsidian Entertainment has long been known as one of gaming's best sources for deep and intelligent RPGs. With Pillars of Eternity, Obsidian returned to the glory days of the isometric RPG experience and delivered one of the best genre experiences in recent memory. Now, they are back to improve upon their considerable previous efforts.

    With Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, it's already clear that Obsidian is ready to fix the few design flaws that prevented Pillars of Eternity from being everything that it could be. Its controls will be smoother, its story will deeper, and its world will be a rich and lively tapestry of cultures and personalities. This may be the first time that Obsidian has had the pleasure to develop a sequel to one of their own games, but it's clear that the studio knows exactly what they want to accomplish with this title. 

    Red Dead Redemption 2

    October 26 | Rockstar | XBO, PS4

    What do we want? Red Dead Redemption 2! When do we want it? In a time frame that will reasonably allow developer Rockstar to find a way to somehow top the greatest western video game ever made and quite possibly the studio’s finest hour.

    Ok, that chant needs a little work, but the point is that we don’t fault Rockstar for deciding to delay Red Dead Redemption 2 to 2018, nor do we blame them for telling us relatively little about the game thus far. Red Dead Redemption was an almost perfect video game experience. In fact, Rockstar accomplished so much with that game that we doubt it even technically needs a sequel. If they’re going to give us one, though, we want to know they are able to deliver the kind of experience that makes us feel just like we felt the first time we rode into Mexico with a gut string melody lingering in the air.

    Buy Red Dead Redemption 2

    Sea of Thieves

    March 20 | Rare | XBO, PC

    At the risk of toppling the “It’s been awhile since Rare has delivered a truly great game worthy of their legacy” bandwagon, it really has been awhile since Rare has delivered a truly great game worthy of their legacy. At first, Sea of Thieves didn’t look like that game. However, its impressive E3 2017 showing has left us singing a different shanty.

    Sea of Thieves' greatest asset is Rare’s complete abandonment of “realistic” pirate culture. Instead, Sea of Thieves embraces the romanticized concepts that propelled these seafaring outlaws into the pop culture stratosphere. The highest compliment we can pay Sea of Thieves is that it looks like it will perfectly recreate the imaginary adventures we enjoyed on the playground so many years ago when the jungle gym was a ship mast.

    Buy Sea of Thieves

    Shadow of the Colossus

    February 6 | Bluepoint | PS4

    We’d be lying if we said that we haven’t thought much about Shadow of the Colossus since its 2005 debut - memories of the grand epic stand as a measuring stick for all other gaming experiences - but we never thought that we’d see a Shadow of the Colossus remake. Generally speaking, games casually, yet accurately, described as timeless aren’t candidates for remakes.

    However, the moment we laid eyes on the new Shadow of the Colossus’ stunning visual design, we immediately felt the need to jump back into this world and replay a game that could be considered the truest testament to the “Games are art” argument. If you've not played the original or need an excuse to play this game again, 2018’s Shadow of the Colossus is going to be a must-have.

    Buy Shadow of the Colossus

    Shenmue III

    TBA | YS Net, Neilo | PS4, PC

    When we first heard that Shenmue was finally receiving the third installment that most gamers figured would never happen...well, there may have been some entirely unprofessional giddy cheers. In the days, weeks, and months that have followed that reveal, we've unfortunately not been treated to many official updates regarding the game's story, gameplay features, or final visual style. 

    Still, we're talking about a sequel to a franchise that was not only revolutionary but has remained in the hearts of the many who played its first two installments. With any luck, Shenmue III will be the epic tale of kung-fu revenge and bizarre minigames that we've been waiting for. 

    SoulCalibur VI

    TBA | Project Soul | PS4, Xbox One, PC

    It's "only" been about six years since the release of the last major SoulCalibur game, but it somehow feels like the wait has been even longer than that. Perhaps that's because it's been a little while since we last received a SoulCalibur game that feels like it captured the spirit of the fighter at its best. Recent SoulCalibur titles have been fine, but the magic hasn't quite been there. 

    This latest entrant into the franchise looks to restore that magic by returning to the series' staples. Frantic weapon-based gameplay, a diverse cast of memorable characters, and a variety of modes all figure to make a glorious return in this fighter that may very well inspire fans old and new to pick up their favorite instruments of death and to battle once more. 

    State of Decay 2

    May 22 | Undead Labs | XBO, PC

    The original State of Decay was a fascinating example of how true ambition can conquer all. Developer Undead Labs didn’t have much to work with when they began working on State of Decay, but they did have a vision. Their vision was an epic open-world zombie apocalypse title that focused more on survival than action or horror. State of Decay was about building something strong in a defeated world. Its blend of base building, resource management, and role-playing was intoxicating.

    While the biggest on-paper change coming to State of Decay 2 is the inclusion of co-op play, the reason we’re especially excited for this game is that Undead Labs finally has the resources and experience they need to deliver the game that they attempted to deliver the first time around.

    Buy State of Decay 2

    Super Smash Bros. Switch

    TBA | Nintendo | Switch

    Holy jumping Mario, Nintendo is already working on the Nintendo Switch's Super Smash Bros. title and are planning to release it in 2018! That announcement caught many fans off-guard as Smash Bros. figured that Nintendo might stick with Super Smash Bros. Wii U for a little while or even just port that game to the Switch. Instead, it looks like the console is getting a Smash Bros. title to call its own. 

    We have no doubt that this Smash Bros. will be a great game - most Smash Bros. titles are - but we're really excited to see how this game will take advantage of the Switch's many features. Of course, most Smash fans are probably just eagerly awaiting the reveal of the game's full roster. Smash Bros. Wii U happened to boast one of the wildest and largest rosters we've ever seen from a fighting title, so Nintendo will certainly have their work cut out from them if they want to top it. 

    The Swords of Ditto

    April 24 | onebitbeyond | PS4, PC

    Never heard of The Swords of Ditto? We’re not surprised. Every E3, there is at least one game which can’t quite match the budget or graphical prowess of major titles, but ultimately ends up being one of the best games revealed at the show. Based on everything we’ve seen thus far, The Swords of Ditto may very well prove to be that game.

    The Swords of Ditto’s core mechanic involves the legacy of the game’s playable heroes. Much like Rogue Legacy, every successful and unsuccessful run through this game will leave a mark on the world. You can even quest to find the epic weapons that the previous hero left behind. What really makes The Swords of Ditto stand out, however, is its Adventure Time-esque visuals and creative co-op combat options. This is just one of those games that takes the best of what came before and binds it all together with irresistible charm.

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

    TBA | Blizzard | PC

    2016's World of Warcraft: Legion arguably did more to revitalize the 13-year-old MMO than the last few expansions combined. Through a combination of fan-requested features and innovative new concepts, Blizzard used Legion as proof that World of Warcraft still has plenty of life left in it. Now, they look to top their considerable efforts with the release of the game's next expansion, Battle for Azeroth.

    Battle for Azeroth looks to take World of Warcraft back to its Horde vs. Alliance roots. That means a greater emphasis on PvP battles, new worlds specific to both factions, and a brand-new conflict system that incorporates elements of classic Warcraft RTS games gone by. On top of all that, you get the usual additions of fresh raids, new gear, and an even higher level cap to grind towards. This could just be the best WoW expansion yet. 


    TBA | Good-Feel | Switch

    Much like Kirby, the list of things we don’t know about Yoshi is slightly longer than what we do know about the game. What we can tell you, though, is that Yoshi’s Woolly World was one of the Wii U’s most underrated titles and one of Yoshi’s greatest adventures. The reason that matters is that this upcoming Yoshi title looks like it intends to replicate many of the qualities that made Wooly World as great as it was.

    This time around, however, the Woolly World formula is bolstered by the introduction of a new mechanic that allows players to “flip” a stage and open up new paths. It sounds simple, but if the game’s first trailer is any indication, this mechanic will force players to completely reconsider the way that they view the typical 2D platformer level. For those who lament how far Mario has walked away from his platformer roots, Yoshi may just be the classic Nintendo experience you’re looking for. 

    Buy Yoshi for Switch

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    Nintendo could use Banjo and Kazooie for the new Super Smash Bros. game on Switch if it wants to, according to Microsoft's Phil Spencer.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 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 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 its desire to think beyond the Xbox when promoting its 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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