Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Says Halo Infinite Is Not "Make Or Break" For The IP

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Halo has always been a staple for Team Green when looking at what the Xbox experience has to offer. The sci-fi shooter has been vital to the name of Xbox and has evolved much in the years since its birth, even changing hands from Bungie over to 343 Industries. Because of that, and the initial backlash to when Halo Infinite gameplay was first revealed in 2020, there is a lot of speculation as to whether or not Infinite will be the final "test" regarding Halo's future going forward. With Starfield, the new space IP from Bethesda, also being an Xbox-exclusive, some have even wondered if that could take the crown. According to Xboss Phil Spencer, Halo Infinite will not be a "make or break" situation, instead, it is a fresh start. 

In a recent interview with IGNSpencer sat down to talk about Halo's place in the Xbox future and he weighed in on thoughts that the success of the upcoming game could be a telltale moment of its continued existence. In an effort to "just be honest" whether it's what "you want me to say or not," Spencer told the site that he doesn't see Halo Infinite's impending launch "that way" as a proverbial nail in a hypothetical coffin. “Halo will be here 10 years from now. Is Infinite the lynchpin on whether it survives that long? Absolutely not. The game has such a rabid fanbase and such a history and lore that it’s just an IP that’s going to be with us. We don’t take that for granted, but I definitely believe in my core that that is true.”

He added that he doesn't want the teams associated with games like Halo Infinite to feel that the fate of their future, the fate of this game, depends on all 10's across the board. Instead of focusing on that, the teams are instead honing in on doing everything they can to make Infinite "a game that our Halo fans will be proud of." 

“I think that there are going to be millions of people that are going to play that game and love that game," Spencer continued. "I’m sure there will be some people that will see opportunities for us to do more, and that’s just the nature of being in the entertainment business and we accept it; that’s just the kind of what we’ve signed up to and we love being part of that.”

The most recent look at Halo Infinite during E3 2021 completely turned the perception on the upcoming game on its head. Where at first, many doubted what the newest adventure will bring, now the community is excited about the changes on the horizon. The latest story trailer and the multiplayer reveal, including everything new about Infinite's contribution to the series, has the Halo community hyped. You love to see it, we just hope that the vision hits the mark. Whether Master Chief's story continues on remains to be seen, but we're eager to learn what's next for the Xbox staple. 

The Last Of Us TV Series Casts Nico Parker As Joel's Daughter

HBO's The Last of Us TV series has just added another name to its growing cast with Nico Parker (Dumbo) slated to play Joel's daughter. Parker is the latest casting decision revealed to star alongside Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) as Joel, Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones) as Ellie, Gabriel Luna as Tommy Miller, and Merle Dandridge as Marlene. 

The confirmation of the latest casting comes via Deadline for the upcoming adaptation that is set to take place within the timeline of the first game. Kanatemir Balagov is set to direct the pilot episode for the co-production between PlayStation Productions, Sony Pictures Television, Word Games, The Mighty Mint, and Naughty Dog itself. The Last of Us TV series also two new directors with Jasmila Žbanić (Aida) and Ali Abbasi (Border), revealed back in May. The pair joins Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin as the team works alongside Naughty Dog for creative direction. 

Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann previously confirmed that the upcoming adaptation would feature original content to bolster the already-known narrative seen in the first game. The first story of The Last of Us was powerful and one that took players through a tumultuous journey into what it means to be human. A TV series has the freedom to do something similar when not locked behind a film adaptation's usual restrictions. HBO can take the time to develop this story over a full season, versus cramming it into one 90-minute experience. 

"We talked at length that season 1 of The Last of Us series is going to be the first game," Druckmann said in a previous interview when discussing the latest adaptation"As far as the superficial things, like should a character wear the same plaid shirt or the same red shirt? They might or might not appear in it; that’s way less important to us than getting the core of who these people are and the core of their journey. Things sometimes stay pretty close. It’s funny to see my dialogue there from the games in HBO scripts. And sometimes they deviate greatly to much better effect because we are dealing with a different medium."

Hopefully, with more and more progress being made towards getting a full cast and crew, we'll have something to see soon. It will be interesting to see how Pascal and the rest of the cast take to the Naughty Dog world, I'm personally excited to revisit a favorite game through a new lens. It's almost like getting to experience the first game for the first time once more. 

Thoughts on the latest casting news for HBO's The Last of Us TV series? What are you thinking so far about the cast that's been revealed up until this point? Sound off in the comments below! 

Dead By Daylight’s 5th Anniversary Event Kicks Off Today

Starting today and running to July 15, Dead by Daylight is celebrating a 5th anniversary event. If you’re trying to farm up bloodpoints to unlock perks for your favorite survivor or killer, now’s probably the best time. Not only are cakes available for big bonuses during the event, but you can also take advantage of a special Shrine of Secrets rotation with reduced prices! Of course, there are all kinds of special cosmetics and other fun things to explore as well. Check out the trailer for the event below, which shows off some of the funfetti and cheer that are obviously quite at odds with the normal motif of the horror-centric Dead by Daylight.

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In addition to all the fun stuff mentioned above, Anniversary Crowns are available to collect in matches and there are some large community meta goals to achieve to unlock special skins for David King and Wraith.

These goals also include other event-exclusive charms and cosmetics that you can show off. And as you play during the anniversary event, there are numerous other fun foibles to toy around with including confetti-launching flashlights and toolboxes. So hey, when you get bodied by a four-stack of survivors with friends that enjoy chain-blinding you as the killer, at least you get to enjoy some party favors as part of the experience!

This event also marks the return of the Raccoon Police Department as a map in the rotation, which is great to see back after its tumultuous and tragic entry where it was causing tons of issues with crashes. If you want to farm up bloodpoints, this is the time with the big 105% cake rewards found in the bloodweb. This is also an excellent time to prestige your characters if that’s of interest, as you will find cakes on your way back up the ladder to help get those fashionable prestige cosmetics.

Are you going to be playing during the event? Do you have a favorite killer or survivor? Let us know in the comments!

The Quiet Strength Of The Crow In Destiny 2: Season Of The Splicer

From Uldren to the Crow, this isn't the first time we've reflected on the reincarnation of Cayde-6's killer, and it won't be the last, but as the current season's story careens towards its close, we can't help but to reflect on something truly beautiful about this character. Back in March during Destiny 2's Season of the Chosen, I wrote a lengthy feature about how I hated Bungie for making me love this character as much as I did. I'm sad to report that my love has only grown stronger and is bordering on character study obsession. Them's the breaks, but I am happy to see that the trajectory I spoke of is relevant to The Crow's current standing. This week's mission for Season of the Splicer has only solidified him as one of the most humbly strong characters in the current Destiny 2 universe.

The Crow was a center point in Season of the Chosen - the season that proceeded what's going on now with Splicer. There is one moment during a quest in the previous season where you happen upon alternate sleeping quarters for The Crow and it becomes a quiet conversation between him and the player. The room is sparse with a cheap sleeping bag as a bed and small mementos to call his own. It's here that The Crow states that he needed this place away from Spider and that's it's not a lot, but it's his. This is also another opportunity where he acknowledges that he must remain hidden from the public view because anyone he meets despises him for the actions of Uldren. It's honestly heart-shattering, and I wasn't expecting to feel so deeply for him when I hated Uldren with everything I had. 

It's possible that I may be too sensitive, but I remember those moments in high school or social events where some people already decided that they hated me without knowing me. Whether it was because of hearsay or just clique goodness is a little irrelevant, I just remember feeling that desolation and deep-rooted sadness over having my entire character, as a person, wiped away because of misconceptions. Projecting my own issues onto video game characters is nothing new for me; I love getting so immersed in a story where that becomes my reality for a few hours, so seeing this projection with The Crow wasn't surprising to me. But his voice actor did a phenomenal job at portraying quiet acceptance over his new reality, acceptance over past deeds that he can't even remember, and acceptance regarding the future ahead. 

In Season of the Splicer, he has far fewer voice lines than in Chosen, but I would argue an even bigger impact. It is with this season that I'm starting to realize the quiet strength that Crow has, a strength that is helping me to love this character and love parts within myself. I want to make things better. In gaming, the world, but I'm not loud like many are, and loud - sometimes - is good. I'm quiet when I need to be, a brute other times when necessary, but I'm always watching, always weighing how I can make even the smallest impact to make things better. Whether that's in friendships, in the industry I work in, the world as we know it? Even as simple as just making someone smile that I can see is struggling. A lot of that stems from just my own struggles. I disassociate more than not because every day I struggle with just ... being here. Being alive, being functioning. Moving, walking, talking. A lot of times, that dissociation can come off as cold, or callous. Or, it can cause me to throw myself into projects to keep my mind focused on just the next breath, which - of course - backfires spectacularly by pushing those around me away. But, the show goes on. You still have to get up, pay the bills, do what's expected. And there's a strength in that, I feel, despite the overt struggles and standardized weakness. 

With Crow, he doesn't remember the actions of Uldren, but he accepts the consequences of the actions done by him. He knows the place that society around him has put him in and he respects that place. He does. But he also knows when he has something of value to contribute. During an early weekly story quest, Crow can be heard on a transmission talking to Saint-14 about the raid on the Eliksni camp. He expresses, quietly, his desire to help and even peppers in the language of the Fallen because "I thought you should know." His voice was muted, but underlying that quiet nature is a fierceness, a desire to do good for no other reason than the fact that it's the right thing to do. He doesn't care about the glory or about the world seeing his deeds, he wants to do good because that's our humanity: our empathy, our compassion, our innate childlike desire to learn and grow. 

It was in that moment that it really hit me how powerful Crow is. He's kind, but not weak. He's quiet, but not silent. That humble strength is inspiring and something I aim to strive for every day. And serious kudos to Bungie, because walking that knife's edge of humble and strong is a rough one to walk and it's a testament to both the writing team and the character's voice actor - Brandon O'Neil - that they've done it so well. 

Uldren's arc was interesting in and of itself with his descent into world-altering rage and sadness but his ascension into a person free of expectations, free of familial bonds, free of a life drenched in lies and subterfuge is equally appealing. While I knew that I was going to be interested in how Bungie was going to pivot this character in the eyes of so many that loved Cayde, both in-game and out, I didn't expect the creeping love to develop regarding who he could be. I have to hand it to Bungie; killing Cayde was a risky move and one that many, at the time, heralded as the "final nail in the coffin" for the sequel. Seeing this feedback and doing it anyway, Bungie made a gamble that has paid off tenfold. Where we go next from here is anyone's guess. With Crow hearing the song, many expect him to become the Dark Horse, a herald of doom and gloom, but I think this quiet strength being shared with the community could mean the opposite. He's stronger than we are giving him credit for; than the people in the Tower are giving him credit for. He could be the light we need, both in the story, and re-learning what it means to be human in a digital age where loudness and getting a hot take out first becomes the priority. 

Or maybe I'm just off my rocker, that's always possible too. I don't know, what do you think? Am I oversimplifying his character? Reading too much into it? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer Says Studio Acquisitions Are A Good Thing

Acquisitions aren’t necessarily a new trend in the video games industry, but recently many studios have been parented by large conglomerates. For instance, EA recently forged a partnership with Dirt developers Codemasters, Sony has added Housemarque (and potentially Bluepoint) to their expansive list of in-house studios, and Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar purchase of Bethesda still has the community reeling, especially with the announcement of Starfield as an Xbox exclusive. Of course, some consumers have voiced concern over the surge of acquisitions, calling consolidation a negative aspect of the industry. Phil Spencer, however, feels otherwise; he thinks acquisitions are a good thing.

In an interview with IGN, Spencer talked about the highs and lows of the industry’s recent shift to expanding their brands. Spencer notes the difficulty that comes with starting small businesses and turnover. When hardships do occur, Spencer stated that simply not selling can be short-sighted:

“It doesn’t mean every team has to end up selling their studio but I think it a natural and healthy part of our industry that certain teams will start a studio—many of them will fail, we know most small businesses fail, whether it’s video games or anything else—but those that make it through and at such a kind of risk-filled journey for them, to get to the point to create real value, I’m always going to congratulate when teams get to the point where they realize that value through acquisition or just massive independent success if that’s the path they also start to on.”

How do you feel about Spencer’s words? Do you agree that acquisitions have been normalized and are healthy, or are you legitimately concerned about the trajectory of the industry with larger companies expanding their umbrellas?

[Source: IGN via Gaming Bolt]

Free PS Plus July 2021 Free Games Revealed, Including A Plague Tale For PS5

Microsoft just revealed its Xbox Games With Gold lineup for July, and now it's time for PlayStation to show off what it's got. Where Xbox is leaning into that Conker love, PlayStation is going in a different direction with WWE, some Call of Duty action, and rats. Lots of rats. 

Just like every month, the new lineup is yours to keep as long as a PlayStation Plus membership is active. 

Free PS Plus July 2021 Free Games 

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  • WWE 2K Battlegrounds

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is about what you'd expect from a Call of Duty experience with the exception that the Zombies portion is so much more immersive. It also includes Blackout, which is the battle royale portion of the shooter. 

WWE 2K Battlegrounds is arcade-inspired, blending Superstars and Legends together into an experience filled with interactive environments alongside a new story mode. Kick your friends' butts, become the Superstar you were always meant to be, and get that belt. 

Personally, A Plague Tale is where it's at. Our own Marcus Steward can't sing this game's praises enough, and for good reason. If you're looking for an adventure that has a solid tale to tell and an adventure that you won't forget, scoop this bad boy up and try it out for free. 

For those looking to jump in on this month's action, it's definitely not too late to go nab June's free games, which you can find here. That being said, it is important to remember that an active PS Plus membership is required for all of the aforementioned titles. Sony's online services membership includes free games each month, exclusive sales on select titles, and more. The free games downloaded due to the PS Plus service remain yours to keep unless you cancel your membership. 

Thoughts on the free PS Plus July 2021 games lineup? What do you hope gets added into the freebie lineup next? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

Konami Teams Up With Layers Of Fear Dev For Alleged 'Silent Hill-Related' Project

The "will they, won't they" concerning Konami and the future of Silent Hill is not even close to a new conversation, so much so it's almost a bore at this point. Still, with the Abandoned game inciting Hideo Kojima-related conspiracy theories and rumors of a new Silent Hill game having run rampant for years now, it looks like there might actually be some substance to the latest report. Konami and Bloober Team, the studio behind Layers of Fear and The Medium, issued a new press release to media talking about a fresh partnership between the two companies.

Bloober knows a thing or two about horror and the Polish studio has not been shy in the past about a love for all things Silent Hill. The press release noted a "strategic partnership," a partnership that many insiders are steadfastly saying is "Silent Hill-related." Before we dive into that, a quick refresher course on Bloober and its own run-in with Silent Hill rumors of gaming past. Earlier this year, the CEO of Bloober, Piotr Babieno, talked about how they are working with a "famous publisher" to work on a horror game. He was careful not to say it was a new IP, which led many to believe that it was something already established. One could argue that Konami is pretty darn famous, which led to a sturdy pillar being placed for the house that is Silent Hill Rumors. 

According to Video Game Chronicleswhich is no stranger to tossing Silent Hill reports out there into the ether, "people with knowledge of Bloober's plans" report that the "strategic partnership" between the Polish studio and Konami is, indeed, Silent Hill-related. The site added that Konami has outsourced "at least one other" Silent Hill project to an external Japanese studio, though that doesn't mean just one project has been outsourced. 

Regarding what we do know, Bloober's Babieno had nothing but high praise for the new partnership, saying, "It is a historic day for me and the culmination of several years of our work. The fact that such a renowned company as KONAMI has decided to strategically cooperate with the Bloober Team means that we also joined the world leaders in gaming and became an equal partner for the leading players in this market."

Konami's representative director, Hideki Hayakawa, added, "We have been providing unique entertainment content and ways to enjoy it through the use of information technology. In the digital entertainment industry, significant changes in the business environment are expected in the future. We look forward to combining Bloober Team’s and our respective characteristics and strengths to create high-quality contents."

Could this Silent Hill report be the one that has merit? It's very possible. We know that Konami has shared interest in revisiting Silent Hill in the past, we also know that bringing back a staple like this is exactly the sort of publicity the studio needs following the latest Metal Gear entry with Survive and the continuing backlash surrounding the nature of Kojima's departure. We also know that the studio has been keeping the Silent Hill IP alive in other, less effective ways, such as with casino slot machines. Is it time to make that Silent Hill connection a little more meaningful? Could the company bring back the magic that this franchise offered through a new team, or is it finally time to let an iconic series rest to make way for new adventures on the horizon? You decide in the comments below. 

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles – New Gameplay Today

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The Ace Attorney series is about as zany as you can imagine. Part visual novel, part puzzle game that sees players gather evidence and present court cases to an equally wild cast of characters. Though the North American fanbase has seen its fair share of entries featuring Phoenix Wright and the rest of his lawyers at large, two games have always eluded them. 

The Great Ace Attorney Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve were released in 2013 and 2017, respectively, on Nintendo 3DS and mobile, but only for a Japanese audience. That all changes on July 27 as Phoenix Wright's ancestor, Ryunosuke Naruhodo, and the bumbling legendary detective Herlock Sholmes make their way west as Capcom is releasing these two titles as The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles collection for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC! But what can North American fans expect from this new set of games?

The titles pick up a hundred years ago at the turn of the 20th century and have Naruhodo scouring both the British and Japanese countrysides to defend clients, uncover new pieces of evidence, and take down other nefarious attorneys. If you're familiar with Phoenix Wright and the previous games in the series, you'll be right at home here as many of the fan-favorite game mechanics also inhabit The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. 

Sound intriguing but want to know more? We have you covered as master sleuths Kim Wallace, Dan "Moriarty" Tack, and Alex Stadnik are here to discuss all this and more in this piping hot episode of New Gameplay Today.

For more on The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, be sure to check out detective Wallace's roundup on the game from the original announcement earlier this year. If you're a fan of new gameplay (and frankly, who isn't?) we have you covered with new looks at exciting titles, including Pokémon Unite, Mario Golf: Super Rush, and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Remedy Reveals New Control Multiplayer Spin-off With Project Condor, New 505 Games Deal Revealed

Remedy Entertainment is keeping busy following the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of Control. Announced in a blog post written by Control Director Mikael Kasurinen, Remedy has inked a new deal with 505 Games to expand the Control franchise into places it hasn’t gone before including a spin-off focused on multiplayer and a new high-budget Control down the road.

Kasurinen establishes why the team is bringing Control into a multiplayer experience: “Control is first and foremost a world, a place for multitudes of stories, events, and characters. A place where unexpected, strange, and extraordinary things occur. We kicked it off with Jesse’s entry into the Oldest House, but there is more to this world. Oh, so much more.”

“Project Condor” is the code name for this new multiplayer title set within the Control universe, though there’s not many details on what the game actually is yet. Mikael's blog only has one image hinting at what Condor might be. The picture depicts a group of four people decked out in various kinds of armor and gear crammed on a bench in a waiting room with a body bag at their feet. A battle-ready squad facing bureaucratic mundanity fits Control like a glove.

Remedy may be known for single-player experiences, but multiplayer gaming is something the studio also cares about. “There are worlds and experiences that you can access collectively, with your friends, and they can shine as brightly as any single-player experience does,” Mikael explains. He continues, “We get that there is going to be skepticism about multiplayer. But I believe we can create shared experiences without compromising the unique DNA of who we are, or the stories we want to tell. Yes, we need to re-think our angles, our techniques, our mindset, but we see it as an exciting challenge: What would a Remedy multiplayer game look like?”

That’s a great question which doesn’t get an answer in the blog post. Remedy games are known for atmosphere, mystery, the supernatural, and downright cool action, all of which would be in play for a new experience set in the Control world.

Speaking of new experiences, the lede buried deep in this announcement reveals 505 Games and Remedy “have outlined high-level collaboration terms to further expand the Control franchise with a bigger-budget Control-game.” There’s even less information on this game than Project Condor, but assume there will be even more adventures in or around the Oldest House coming.

Check out the Game Informer review of Control, or what Remedy might be up to with Alan Wake, another series connected to the Oldest House.

Magic: Legends Is Shutting Down

Magic: Legends, the free-to-play ARPG set in the Magic: The Gathering universe, is shutting down for good on October 31, 2021. If this seems really fast to you, you’re right - the game technically never even left the beta phase for an official launch, nor did it ever get its scheduled console launches on Xbox or Playstation. On the plus side, if you did play it at all on the Epic Games Store or Arc launcher, you’re getting a full refund for any purchases made.

We can theorize endlessly about the many factors that undoubtedly shaped this decision for a shutdown before launch, but certainly, there was a lot of promise and potential in the core philosophy of taking Magic: The Gathering into an ARPG format. I was fascinated by many components of the game, including its use of an AI director to craft intensifying action, during our cover story trip. You can check out our cover story and features here.

However, at the end of the day, we can speculate that lack of player retention, monetization models, lack of endgame content, gear system choices, and low activity diversity all contributed in some way, but we’ll never really know. Since the game never actually made it to a launch, there’s room for additional speculation too, but I’d rather keep things in the realm of reality and say it was a really cool idea with a passionate team behind it that didn’t “ignite the spark” due to a variety of factors once it was unleashed into reality. I do wish we would have seen a launch and what could have been with some course correction, but turning a ship around once it’s left port is an incredibly challenging (and often impossible) task in games.

Feel free to take a look at several hours of gameplay when the beta was in its infancy right here on our YouTube channel. You can also read the entire statement and shutdown FAQ over on the official site.

Did you play any Magic: Legends? Were you planning to check it out on console? Let us know in the comments!

Former BioWare Boss Casey Hudson Reveals His New Game Studio With Humanoid Studios

Casey Hudson announced that he was leaving BioWare once more back in December 2020, and now we're finally getting a look at what he's been up to since then. The former BioWare boss took to Twitter to share an inside look at his new gaming company called Humanoid Studios that has a mission statement we can stand behind, "unleash the creative freedom of developers." 

Hudson shared our first look at Humanoid Studios on June 29, with a sneak peek at what this new journey looks like. "I've been working with some colleagues on something awesome," he started. "And I wish I could tell you all about it! For now, though, I can say that [today] we are announcing a new independent videogame company built to unleash the creative freedom of developers - bringing innovation and artistry to players through an all-new IP." 

Hudson founded Humanoid, but a team isn't a team without some good folks helping push the vision forward. According to the newly unveiled studio website, Humanoid looks to employ "talented developers from around the world" as it embodies the creative blend of the "excellence in the arts with advanced sciences to deliver the future of interactive entertainment." This may be my inner BioWare fan reaching a bit, but it sure does sound like this new studio will be keeping true to those choice-driven RPG roots that Hudson is already intimately familiar with through his prior work history. 

As part of the new studio's growth, Humanoid is currently hiring for various positions, including designers, creative directors, level designers, and more. To get up to speed on what Humanoid is all about and to keep track of news as it comes, feel free to mosey on over to the newly revealed site right here

We wish Hudson and the team the best of luck in their new ventures!

What are your thoughts on Hudson's new studio and creative vision? What do you hope to see from this team's efforts in the future? Sound off with those spicy takes in the comment section below! 

The Elder Scrolls 6 Will Use Creation Engine 2, Like Starfield, But It's Still A Long Ways Off

Bethesda confirmed back in October of last year that Starfield would be using an overhauled engine for the studio with Creation Engine 2. This news excited fans for obvious reasons. While Bethesda knows how to tell a solid tale, that doesn't mean that franchises like Fallout and Elder Scrolls have really done a good job at keeping up with the times in terms of tech and aesthetics. Now, following the Xbox-Bethesda E3 2021 showcase, Todd Howard is talking a little more openly about The Elder Scrolls 6, including confirming that it will utilize the same engine as Starfield. 

When sitting down with The TelegraphHoward talked about a plethora of topics, including his original 2009 Indiana Jones game pitch. He also confirmed the engine news about both upcoming games, though Howard was careful to once again reiterate that The Elder Scrolls 6 is still a long way off. In fact, it's still in the "design phase." 

“It’s good to think of The Elder Scrolls 6 as still being in a design [phase]… but we’re checking the tech," said Howard. He continued on saying that the team is thinking in terms of ‘Is this going to handle the things we want to do in that game?’ whilst pushing forward with developmental progress.  He added, "Every game will have some new suites of technology, so Elder Scrolls 6 will have some additions on to Creation Engine 2 that that game is going to require.”

Both Howard and Bethesda's SVP Pete Hines have repeatedly stated why the studio chose to reveal The Elder Scrolls 6 so early. The main reason was that its announcement hinged during a time when players were concerned that Bethesda was abandoning its promise to dedicate a space for single-player games due to Fallout 76 on the heels of Electronic Arts stating that its own push towards live-service is because "nobody wants single-player games anymore." This was Bethesda's way of saying, "Look, we know you guys are excited for this. Trust us; it's still coming." The downside of that assurance is that it was massively premature, making fans of the fantasy adventure hungry to learn more. 

The pair have both made it clear that Starfield has taken a priority. The good news is that we now have a release date for Starfield, which means an end is in sight, and the dedicated team to Elder Scrolls can be head down on the sixth entry. 

What are your hopes regarding The Elder Scrolls 6? Are you excited to see what the overhauled engine will bring to the table? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

The Witcher Books Reading Order

Now that Netflix’s The Witcher has arrived, this wild world of wonder and weirdness is being introduced to a whole new audience. However, executive producer and showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich’s adaptation of this beloved fantasy world isn’t tied to the massively successful Witcher game franchise developed by CD Projekt Red and which established its significance in the zeitgeist. Instead, the Netflix show is based on the books by author Andrzej Sapkowski. And maybe, just maybe, fans of the show are interested in giving the books a try as well now. Well, let us help you with that!

Sapkowski has published eight Witcher books since he started writing the series back in the mid-’80s when the illustrious Polish author first submitted Wiedzmín — “The Witcher” — to fantasy magazine Fantastyka.

The Witcher Books In Order

The books covered in this Witcher Books Order article are (a.k.a. the TL;DR version): [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="slug=netflixs-the-witcher-cast-vs-video-game-characters&captions=true"]However, Geralt of Rivia didn’t make an appearance in the world of the Witcher until the publication of Sapkowski’s 1990 short story collection, also called Wiedzmín. This text is out of print now, so it’s not one of the eight books you’ll need to read to bring you up to speed on the literary counterpart of the games so many fans have grown to love. In fact, every story in this collection bar one — “The Road to No Return,” about Geralt’s mother — was included in 1993’s The Last Wish collection.

The Last Wish / Sword of Destiny

The Last Wish is your starting point in The Witcher, which is important to note because it was published a year after 1992’s Sword of Destiny. The Last Wish takes almost every single story from Wiedzmín and adds more, all of which feature events that occur before the previously published Sword of Destiny. It’s basically a prequel collection written to prep you for Sword of Destiny.

Once you’ve read The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, you’re ready to move on to the saga. This is comprised of five novels, all of which tell the stories of Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, Triss, Dandelion, and others. They also introduce a range of characters that don’t appear in CD Projekt Red’s adaptations, most of whom are great.

If you’re solely interested in covering what’s likely to be featured early on in the TV series, the Last Wish and Sword of Destiny short story collections should be fine. However, if you want to know the ins and outs of the world and ensure that you’re a true Witcher connoisseur, you’ll want to dive deeper into the saga, which is set roughly 10 years before the games and focuses largely on the relationship between Geralt and Ciri. This is where the bulk of Geralt’s stories unfold, and makes up the main constituent of The Witcher universe at large — at least in terms of Sapkowski’s conception of it. Here are the five novels in order:

Blood of Elves

The first book in the saga, Blood of Elves, takes place after the short story collections The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. It introduces Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis’ pursuit of Ciri, Geralt’s adopted daughter, in order to marry her and attain power over Cintra, the land that is hers by birthright. In an effort to thwart Emhyr’s plans, the Northern monarchs meet and decide to assassinate Ciri, but Geralt of Rivia watches over her in Kaer Morhen, the remote keep inhabited by Wolf School witchers. Meanwhile, a mysterious sorcerer is also trying to locate Ciri.

The Time of Contempt

The Time of Contempt picks up where the previous novel finishes. The Northern Kings are still conspiring with one another in an effort to lure Nilfgaard into war, while Ciri is due to be enrolled at Aretuza in order to study magic. Ciri comes into contact with some of the most powerful sorceresses on The Continent. As war becomes inevitable, she finds herself on the run with a bandit group known simply as The Rats.

Baptism of Fire

Geralt spends time in Brokilon forest recovering from events in the previous book, which is where he and Dandelion encounter an elven archer named Milva, who decides to join their group. People who have played the games will be glad to know that the dwarf Zoltan Chivay temporarily joins Geralt’s ragtag group too, as well as the vampire Regis. A Nilfgaardian knight named Cahir also tags along because he feels indebted to Ciri. Geralt officially receives his “of Rivia” title after an epic battle while Ciri begins to feel at home with The Rats.

The Tower of Swallows

Ciri is gravely injured after an encounter with Nilfgaardian bounty hunter Leo Bonhart, who was hired by the coroner Stefan Skellen to kill her. A kind old man nurses her back to health while Geralt’s party continues their search for Ciri and Geralt renounces his status as a witcher. The Lodge of Sorceresses attempt to gain control of a country called Kovir while Triss Merigold seeks information on Yennefer of Vengerberg. (Known as The Tower of Swallows in the U.S.)

The Lady of the Lake

Ciri encounters Arthurian knight Sir Galahad who believes she is the eponymous lady of the lake. The story cuts to a dream in which Geralt overhears Skellen and sets out to rescue Yennefer from a faraway castle. Ciri, meanwhile, tells Galahad about her time in the elven world of Aen Elle, home of the Wild Hunt. She begins to jump between worlds in order to escape them, but Eredin Breacc Glas persistently chases her, as she heads towards a final meeting with her surrogate parents Geralt and Yennefer.

Now we’re up to seven out of eight books. The last text is also a novel, but it’s a bit difficult to place and depends on personal preference...

Season of Storms

If you’re somebody who likes to know everything that happens as it happens, then you might want to read Season of Storms immediately after The Last Wish. Originally published in 2013 — 14 years after Sapkowski wrapped the saga — Season of Storms contains stories that take place between the stories in The Last Wish, which aren’t necessarily in strict proximity to one another. However, it’s also written after the saga was completed by Sapkowski and contains slight hints about what’s to come, if not outright spoilers. If you’re dying to read the series in strictly chronological terms, it could be worth reading it right after The Last Wish. If you’re the type of person who worries about spoilers though, save it for the end and enjoy it as a retrospective piece.

Those are the eight books in The Witcher series — in English, at least. There are two anthologies consisting of Witcher stories penned by guest authors in Sapkowski’s world that were published in 2013 and 2017, but they’re in Polish. If you can read them, go ahead, but they aren’t considered canon and likely won’t have anything to do with Netflix’s show or the games.

Interestingly, “The Road to No Return” short (about Geralt’s mother), which is the only Wiedzmín story missing from the Last Wish short story collection, appears in the 2000 collection Something Ends, Something Begins, which is a name some gamers might recognize from the similarly titled quest at the end of The Witcher 3. A story called “Something Ends, Something Begins” also appears in this collection too, which was written as a wedding gift for two of Sapkowski’s friends and describes Geralt and Yennefer’s wedding.[ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=]

However, this collection is also in Polish. You can check out a fan translation of the “Something Ends, Something Begins” story that’s apparently pretty accurate here, but “The Road to No Return” is a little harder to find. Also, it’s important to recognize that “Something Ends, Something Begins,” like the anthologies by the guest authors, isn’t considered canon, so it’s not indicative of any plot direction in the series at large. The rest of the stories in Something Ends, Something Begins have nothing to do with The Witcher series.

With all of that said, you should also check out The Witcher games if you haven’t yet. The series may not have anything to do with them, but some of the characters you meet also exist in the books, so the games could indirectly serve as a primer for encountering or hearing about some of those in the show. They’re also fantastic, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, holding up remarkably well — even by 2019’s standards. Henry Cavill, who portrays Geralt in Netflix's series, told IGN even he has played through The Witcher 3 multiple times.

If you’re excited about The Witcher, the above is the best possible order to read the books in, with an optional placement of Season of Storms depending on personal preference. After that, dive into the games and acquaint yourself with the wider world of The Witcher too![ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=]


Giveaway: Mortal Kombat Digital Movie

From the Studio: MMA fighter Cole Young must train to unlock his true power and stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies of Outworld in a high-stakes battle for the universe.

Click to see more!

While it is available for purchase on digital now, we have 10 Mortal Kombat digital movies to give away, all you need to do is enter below by 7/12/2021 for your chance to win one. You can enter once per day via some methods below. Winners will be selected by random drawing from all eligible entries on or after 7/12/2021 and digital codes will be sent via email. Mortal Kombat is rated R. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be a legal resident of the U.S. age 17 or older to redeem movie code. Full rules available with each entry method below. Good Luck!

MUST REDEEM DIGITAL MOVIE OFFER BY 12/31/2021. Consumer must reside in the U.S. and register for a digital service provider account (go to for a list of digital service providers (e.g., Movies Anywhere). May only include HD Main Feature. NOT COMPATIBLE WITH ALL DEVICES. SOME DISPLAY RESOLUTIONS MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR STREAMING OR DOWNLOAD ON ALL DEVICES FROM ALL DIGITAL SERVICES. Consult your digital service provider for compatible devices, available display resolutions, streaming and download capability and Terms of Service. Ultimate display resolution on playback is dependent upon connection and device characteristics, including screen resolution. High-speed Internet connection required. Go to for additional details, requirements and technical support. Neither Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. nor any affiliate is responsible for maintaining any digital service. THIS DIGITAL MOVIE OFFER MAY NOT BE RESOLD OR OTHERWISE TRANSFERRED


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Doom Eternal Next-Gen Update For PS5 And Xbox Series X/S Is Now Available

The next-gen update for Doom Eternal was first announced during the Xbox Games Showcase at E3. Today, the optimized game finally arrives on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (on Game Pass as well). A post on the official Bethesda website details the performance and graphical settings that’ll be available for next-gen console owners. For Consoles, there are three different modes that can be enabled while playing: Performance Mode which focuses on frames and smoothness, Balanced Mode which is a happy medium, and Ray Tracing Mode which, unfortunately, is not available on the Series S. 

Next-Gen Breakdown

Xbox Series X

  • Performance Mode: 1800p – 120 FPS
  • Balanced Mode: 2160p – 60 FPS
  • Ray Tracing Mode: 1800p – 60 FPS

Xbox Series S

  • Performance Mode: 1080p – 120 FPS
  • Balanced Mode: 1440p – 60 FPS
  • Ray Tracing Mode: Not Available

PlayStation 5

  • Performance Mode: 1584p – 120 FPS
  • Balanced Mode: 2160p – 60 FPS
  • Ray Tracing Mode: 1800p – 60 FPS


  • Ray Tracing Mode; reliant upon the power of the monitor that you own. FYI: The full effects of this next-gen update are also only made for consoles. 

At no additional cost, you can enjoy Doom Eternal’s high-speed carnage with eye-popping visuals and fluid physics. This update applies to both digital and physical copies of the game. The DLC (and any other additional content, for that matter) will also transfer over with the next-gen update. However, PlayStation 4 and 5 owners should know that their campaign saves aren’t transferable. 

Andrew Reiner reviewed Doom Eternal back when it was released last year, “From a combat standpoint, you couldn’t ask for much more from Doom Eternal. It roars with excitement and just keeps getting bigger and better as it goes. Yes, it stumbles a little in puzzles, but players are frequently rewarded handsomely for making the efforts to crack them. Id Software made Doom relevant again with the 2016 game, and now the developer is clearly having fun showing players how wild this vision can get.”

Are you going to hop into the game right away? Let us know which of the three modes you’re planning to run and gun within the comments section below!

This Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Cosplayer Shares Stunning Urbosa Cosplay

With our latest look at The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 during this year's E3 2021 Nintendo showcase, it's easy to see why so many have this particular universe on the brain. The first open-world adventure for the Breath series was expansive, beautiful, and a joy to traverse. While we wait to see what the sequel has to offer, one Breath of the Wild cosplayer brings her Urbosa cosplay to life in stunning detail. Which, of course, sent me down the rabbit hole of looking at her previous cosplays, and now I'm just sitting here thinking about how I can't even sew a button on correctly and basking in the talent that the cosplay community continues to share. 

The cosplayer in question goes by CutiePieSensei on socials, and her cosplay portfolio includes everything from Metroid to Apex Legends - even Marvel. But we're here to talk about her Urbosa take because, let's be real: it's pretty awesome. 

For those that may not know, Urbosa is a Gerudo champion who is the master of the Divine Beast Vah Naboris. She's incredibly skilled with her ability to control and craft lightning with Urbosa's Fury, and her strength of character could be felt from a mile away while in Breath of the Wild. Known for her sisterly love for Zelda and her heroic efforts at protecting those around her, Urbosa is definitely one of those characters we hope to see more from in the future. She has also invaded other games along the Nintendo vertical, including Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

CutiePie absolutely nailed the look. From the chest piece to the adorning jewelry seen on her neck and hairline, the attention to detail is impressive, especially for a character design that looks deceptively simple. And can we also talk about that wig styling? Because as someone that has tried my hand at it for my own cosplay, that control over the wig to match the character is pretty dang awesome.

If you like the cosplayer seen above, consider supporting her and her craft with her creative hub here. Feel free also to shout out your thoughts on her cosplay take in the comment section below!

Xbox Games With Gold July 2021 Free Games Revealed

June is coming to a close, which means it's time to see what Xbox Games With Gold's July 2021 free games lineup has to offer. A little more niche than previous months, including June's which currently includes Injustice Gods Among Us and The King's Bird, July's offerings includes an arcade collection and a return to the Conker universe. 

Just like every month, Microsoft offers a select few games to give away for free, both for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. Whether you want to beat the tar out of a previous high score or you're looking to explore a vast world in Planet Alpha , here's what you have to look forward to on Xbox next month. 

Xbox Games With Gold July 2021 Free Games

  • Planet Alpha: Available July 1 to 31
  • Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break: Available July 16 to August 15
  • Conker: Live & Reloaded: Available July 1 to 15
  • Midway Arcade Origins: Available July 16 to 31

The older titles are still playable on current-gen systems, thanks to the Xbox Backwards Compatibility feature. I personally can't recommend Planet Alpha enough. You can explore a beautifully strange alien world while trying to survive untold dangers. The gameplay is magnificent but it's the art style that truly sells this particular adventure. 

Or, you can go the old school route and rock out with Conker: Live & Reloaded to relive the glory days. 

Xbox Game Pass is a solid deal, one that has been a hot topic for the gaming community since its inception, and Ultimate members can enjoy the games above at no additional cost. Since it first burst onto the scene, the library has continued to evolve and show value, especially with grabs like MLB The Show 21. With day one access to many launch day titles, including the expansive Bethesda library that will only continue to grow, and access to additional libraries like with EA Play, it's easy to see why many Xbox players are joining the subscription service. 

For those interested, there are two versions available: Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Xbox Game Pass is $9.99 a month and provides an ever-evolving rotation of free games to enjoy. Ultimate takes that membership a step further by including Xbox Live, a service that provides the free games listed above and special sales daily on some of the biggest games in gaming. 

Just like how Sony does it with PS Plus, the games for the Xbox Games With Gold membership are yours to keep as long as the membership remains active. Once that membership runs out, the access to the downloaded games also goes away. 

Thoughts on Xbox Games With Gold July 2021's free games lineup? What would you have preferred to see instead? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

Bethesda's Todd Howard Says He First Pitched Its Indiana Jones Game Back In 2009

Bethesda revealed its new Indiana Jones game back in January of this year, and fans were immediately interested in what Machine Games would bring to the fandom table. Now, Bethesda's Todd Howard is opening up a little bit on the road to here with the adventurous new game, sharing that he's actually been campaigning for this since 2009. 

Sitting down with The TelegraphHoward revealed that the Indiana Jones game is something he and his team are very excited about and that he's been pitching this project since 2009. Back in 2009, he first shared the idea for Indiana Jones with George Lucas, and he's been "trying to find a way to make that" since that point. Luckily, that vision is seeing fruition thanks to the efforts by MachineGames, efforts that are "phenomenal" when looking at narrative craftsmanship and game design as a whole. 

"I think the work MachineGames have done, they're just phenomenal developers and storytellers," Howard gushed. "And when I started talking to them about it, it was a good fit. And we got the opportunity to talk to Lucas and Disney about it, and they were super excited." 

He added, " I really like Indiana Jones but never thought I’d have the opportunity to make a game. And you’ll hear about more of that in the future. But the team at MachineGames are the best team in the world to pull this game off, and they’re doing a phenomenal job.”

MachineGames was first founded in 2009, with founding members from Starbreeze Studios making up its bulk. This studio was acquired by ZeniMax Media back in 2010, and from there, the team has focused on story-driven games, including  Wolfenstein: The New Order. Personally, I'm excited to see where the team takes the Indiana Jones name. It looks like it could have the perfect elements for success, but only time will tell. In the meantime, in the wise words of Howard himself: "It just works."

What do you hope to see from the upcoming Indiana Jones game? Thoughts on MachineGames and Todd Howard's commentary? Shout out with those hottest of hot takes in the comment section below! 

PlayStation Website Removes Parties, Friends, Trophy Info, And More From MyPlayStation

Sony has been making quite a few changes to its PlayStation website over the past few years, slowly removing features to consolidate down to the mobile app and console interface. In the latest update, Team Blue confirmed that a few more features are being slashed from the PlayStation site, including removing access to your game library, friend information, Trophies, and more.

[Update]: June 29, 2021 - The removal of the web-based functionality of the below features has now gone live. The original article was written on June 2, 2021. Original story is as follows: 

In a new blog update from Sony, the company confirmed that MyPlayStation will no longer be supported, which limits the following features: 

  • Games library
  • Parties
  • Friends
  • Trophies
  • Profile information

The above features will still be accessible via PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles, as well as the PS App that continues to see more modernized updates. I would love to see the app offer a way to see your screenshots like the Xbox app does. It would be great for those who, like me, love to use those in-game captures as fancy wallpapers and such. 

The removal of MyPlayStation will be finalized on June 28, alongside the removal of the PS Vita messaging service. Back in April, Sony also removed PlayStation Communities from PS4 systems, though you can still access it through the app, as well. 

You can read the full list of features being removed, as well as what has already been taken away, right here direct from Sony's website.

PlayStation fans have been pretty vocal about their disappointment regarding feature removal decisions made by Sony. Many have expressed frustration on forums such as Reddit and Resetera about how the push for the mobile app seems almost aggressive. There are sound reasonings as to why certain features are being removed, especially for outdated systems like the PS Vita, but can that be said for everything getting the app dependency? You decide in the comment section below. 

No New Witcher Game To Be Revealed During WitcherCon 2021

With WitcherCon right around the corner, many fans are gearing up to learn more about the various shows going on surrounding the witchers and their tales. This includes Netflix's The Witcher season 2 and the anime adaptation. What it won't have to offer, as confirmed by the fully-released schedule, is a new Witcher game announcement.

This bit of clarity is needed because the rumor mill began to swirl immediately upon the revelation of the first-ever WitcherCon, and for good reason. CD Projekt RED has already confirmed that a new Witcher experience is currently in the works alongside more work being done on Cyberpunk 2077. With members of the studio in attendance at WitcherCon for some of the panels, speculation was high about if the Polish studio would have anything official to reveal. Time to reign in those expectations a little bit, because the full schedule can be seen below: 

WitcherCon will have a plethora of ways fans can enjoy the fantasy series that we love so much, including interactive panels during the showcase that highlights the various teams that have brought The Witcher to life. This includes teams from Netflix, the games, and more to share deeper insight into the franchise. WitcherCon will offer deep dives into the anime film and the expanded lore like the comic adaptations while also exploring more about the lore that drives it all. 

The first stream kicks off on July 9 at 1 p.m. Eastern time, with the second kicking off on the same day at 9 p.m. Eastern. Interested fans can tune in both on YouTube and Twitch at their respective links. You can also learn more about the upcoming stream event right here

What do you hope to see from the upcoming WitcherCon? A release date for Netflix's The Witcher season 2? A closer look at the upcoming anime? Disappointed in the no new game reveal confirmation? Don't let those dreams be dreams; shout out those hopes in the comment section below! 

Sony Acquires Returnal Studio Housemarque, Evidence Suggests Bluepoint Also Acquired

Both Sony and Microsoft are making power moves in recent years regarding studio acquisitions for the PlayStation and Xbox camps. Following E3 2021's Xbox showcase that celebrated the acquisition of Bethesda and other ZeniMax studios, Sony has just announced that it has purchased Housemarque, the studio that gave us Returnal. More than that, evidence suggests that Sony has also acquired Bluepoint. But first, let's start with what's confirmed.

PlayStation's Hermen Hulst took to the PlayStation Blog to talk about the latest acquisition. In the post, Hulst celebrates Housemarque's most recent successes with Returnal while reflecting upon the studio's past. "I have been a fan of Housemarque since the studio's early days when they introduced Super Stardust HD to PlayStation fans," he said. Adding Housemarque to PlayStation's growing creative team is a smart move and one that the studio's co-founder couldn't wait to celebrate, as well. 

"Today is a big day for Housemarque, and it has been over 26 years in the making," said Ilari Kuittinen, the co-founder and managing director of Housemarque. "Our strong partnership with Sony Interactive Entertainment started with Super Stardust HD on PS3, and since then, we have made arcade-inspired games for all of the PlayStation platforms. With Returnal for PS5, our most recent release, our biggest foray into third-person action gaming solidified our voice and brand in the industry as delivering unique and quality player experiences."

They continued saying how excited they are for the move and being a part of the expanding PlayStation Studios family. But what does this mean for Housemarque's future? Kuittinen closes their celebratory statement by adding, "We at Housemarque are gamers, and we have grown from the need to perfect and tinker with facets of games that we have found most fascinating. We are also not known for shying away from running our own course and trying out new combinations. With the backing of SIE and its family of studios supporting us, we can truly grow into our place in the industry and show what Housemarque can create with no limitations. We can’t wait to show everyone what will be in store in the upcoming years, and we hope to usher in more lasting memories and exhilarating titles for the next quarter-century and beyond."

Keen-eyed @Nibel also spotted something else in the most recent acquisition announcement. It turns out that PlayStation Studios Japan accidentally used the wrong image in its now-deleted tweet. Still, the internet is forever, and because of that, we've got our first look at Bluepoint, also being a studio acquired by Sony. This get would also be a good one to celebrate, given Bluepoint's talent at crafting and recrafting excellent experiences, especially in the realm of remakes such as Shadow of the Colossus. 

The moves being made by Xbox and PlayStation means good things for gamers. Both companies are doing what they can to grow the respective ecosystems and driving to enrich the gaming experience. It will be interesting to see what moves are being made currently and what will be revealed as the year ticks by. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Marvel Future Revolution Preview – A Deep Dive Into Marvel's New Mobile Action/RPG

Marvel Future Revolution

Publisher: Netmarble
Developer: Netmarble
Platform: iOS, Android

Whether you're talking Insomniac's beloved Spider-Man games or the recently announced Guardians of the Galaxy title from Eidos-Montréal, there's never been a better time to be a gaming Marvel fan. On top of the handful of recent and upcoming triple-A console and PC titles available, those who want more quick-hit experiences can dive into the world of mobile gaming. With titles like turn-based hero collector Marvel Strike Force and ever-expanding fighting game Marvel Contest of Champions, mobile players have several options as well. Those options are expanding by one later this year, as Netmarble, the team behind action/RPG Marvel Future Fight, is back to one-up itself with an all-new open-world action/RPG for mobile devices called Marvel Future Revolution.

Click here to watch embedded media

Initially revealed at PAX East 2020, Marvel Future Revolution takes the multiverse concept to new levels, with multiple Earths from different realities converging to create one "Primary Earth." The story, which is penned by Marvel Comics writer Marc Sumerak, kicks off with Vision sacrificing himself using the Convergence Engine to prevent the newly unified worlds from being destroyed. This locks the worlds together, bringing together disparate pockets of reality.

Marvel Future Revolution

Heroes and Villains

While this event brings together all kinds of heroes from different realities, it also brings together a massive alliance of villains. Now, the new heroes must work together as Omega Flight to stop the villains who are trying to rise up and take advantage of the situation. At launch, players will have the ability to select from eight different heroes as they battle the forces of evil. When the game is available, the roster will include Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, Storm, and Star-Lord. When you fire up Marvel Future Revolution for the first time, all eight of those heroes are available to you to select and play as, with no unlock requirements.

Unsurprisingly, that roster will only grow as time goes on (Netmarble's other Marvel game, Marvel Future Fight, currently features more than 200 characters, while the roster of Scopely's Marvel Strike Force is rapidly approaching that milestone). In fact, by the end of the year, a new playable character will join the Marvel Future Revolution roster.

Marvel Future Revolution

While each character has an iconic look, they are also fully customizable with tons of different costume combinations. You can swap out individual costume components for each character's body, hands, feet, and head. With this ability to mix and match, Netmarble hopes to deliver more than 400 million different costume combination possibilities per hero. In addition to costumes inspired by known moments in the comic books, players can also look forward to costumes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as original costumes inspired by the various world regions in the game (more on those later).

Of course, there's no need for a massive team of heroes if there isn't a coalition of powerful villains to thwart. In the footage I saw, iconic villains like Thanos, Red Skull, Maestro, Ultron, Kingpin, MODOK, Yellowjacket, and Loki were facing off against the legions of heroes. These heroes and villains collide and clash across various regions of this new Primary Earth, delivering unique areas from the pantheon of Marvel comics.

Marvel Future Revolution New Stark City

The Arenas of the Revolution

Now that we know all about the characters that'll be flashing across our screens, what about the places you can visit? After all, this isn't some ordinary version of Earth these battles are taking place on. In fact, Marvel and Netmarble were able to dig deep and flex their creative muscles with the settings available in the game. 

Marvel Future Revolution Xandearth

"We sat down when we first met and we just started writing locations and characters and things that a Marvel fan would dream of having access to," Marvel Games VP of creative Bill Rosemann says. "Usually in stories, you could travel to Xandar or travel to Sakaar or go through a time-warp to experience Hydra America. That was a dream of, how can we bring these locations that are all based on popular characters, popular stories, really cool villains, and bring them all together so that you can go from one to another. If you're a new Marvel fan, it looks cool and it's fun to explore this fantasy world. But if you're a longtime Marvel fan, let me tell you, the amount of – I won't even call them Easter eggs – it's just Marvel ingredients that fill every nook and cranny."

Marvel Future Revolution Sakaar

At launch, players can do battle across five regions, each with its own striking visual style. Hydra Empire poses the question, "What if Hydra took over and reigned after World War II?" This puts players into that scenario as they battle through a Hydra-controlled portion of the United States. Next, Midgardia is where survivors of Asgard have built an Asgardian city on Earth. Next up is New Stark City, which is a technologically advanced metropolis built by Tony Stark. New Stark City houses Omega Flight as well as many of world's most brilliant scientific minds. In the Earth version of Sakaar, you fight through a desert wasteland full of arenas, ruled by Maestro. Finally, Xandearth arrives on Primary Earth from a reality where Xandar was destroyed by Thanos and the survivors moved to Earth and created a new capital city.

Marvel Future Revolution Hydra Empire

"We thought about each character – Star-Lord, Storm, Spider-Man, Captain America – could there be environments that are drawn from their history, so it might mean more to them?" Rosemann says. "So in the story, they might have a more personal connection like, you can imagine when Captain America goes into the Hydra Empire, game on! He's taking down Skull. We just kind of did a greatest hits; we just started writing down great stories, great characters, great locations, and we knew that we could pick and choose. There is nothing holding us back, because in this story, all the worlds – and not only different worlds, but different realities – are all coming together. It just opened up the entire Marvel toy box to us."

Marvel Future Revolution Midgardia

Within these regions, the battles play out across various game modes, giving players additional ways to engage with the content, but also more rewards.

Click here to watch embedded media

Mobile Heroics

While the hero and region lists are always intriguing to keep up with, the most important aspect is in how the game plays. Since this is a more action-based game than something turn-based or passive like Marvel Strike Force, Netmarble is using the virtual d-pad convention, where no matter where your finger is on the left side of the screen, you'll be able to guide your character by sliding your finger or thumb in the direction you want. Then, you can select which skill you want your hero to use with an ability wheel. 

"How it plays out depends on how skillful you are with the combo of the active skills that are given to you," Netmarble executive producer Joe Lee says. "The cherry on top for this game would be that we are including a lot of superheroes that fly around, so the flying element that allows the player to actually attack from air to ground and ground to air, all of that is going to be included and it's going to be a unique selling point of this game."

As you play more, you level up your heroes via various progression systems. In addition to conventional leveling, players can also add gear, while some costumes are more than cosmetic, providing additional functionality and efficiency in combat. Through the various modes, you can loot gear and material to acquire that gear for the heroes. 

Marvel Future Revolution

In addition to a single-player story campaign, players can expect several different modes at launch. Blitz and Raids offer four-player co-op PvE scenarios where they battle against bosses and supervillains like Thanos and Ultron. Special Operations offer another four-player co-op experience, but every character has balanced stats and specs to provide an even playing field. In Special Operations, you have objective-based missions like wave-based defenses or a goal to save civilians being held in the battle zone.

Omega War mixes up the experience, offering PvP between two teams of 10 players. This can last anywhere between 4 to 10 minutes in a mode that looks chaotic as can be – until Netmarble told me about Dark Zones. In Dark Zones, players enter a 50-player, free-for-all. Dark Zone offers some of the best loot to players, but you're competing with up to 49 other players, participating in both PvE and PvP combat. You can enter solo, with friends, or with your guild as you take on other players, enemies, bosses, and monsters to secure some of the best loot Marvel Future Revolution has to offer.

Marvel Future Revolution

Spending Money to Save the Day?

Of course, being a free-to-play mobile game often brings with it the apprehension of egregious or exploitative microtransactions. While that is something that players are rightfully fearful of, Netmarble feels it is striking a healthy balance with its monetization. "Unlocking characters is going to be free, and that's going to stay free in the future too," Lee says. "When you say 'free-to-play' kind of game, a lot of people have different ideas about it. We always know from our experience that at least 97 or 98 percent of the total players that we get stay free. And we still want those players to also enjoy the game as much as possible."

"In general, let's just say it will be fair," Marvel Games director of production Danny Koo says. "We are not looking into a free-to-play players versus pay-to-win players kind of competition. The goal of the game is to even the playing field for both sides of the players."

While that is certainly nice to hear from the developer, players are right to be skeptical of microtransactions in a free-to-play game given how so many mobile games work. With so many PvP modes and elements in Marvel Future Revolution, Netmarble has a tall task in front of it, but the company is confident in how its gameplay works.

"We don't want to go too deep into [microtransactions adding stat boosts to characters]," Lee says. "The gameplay that we're providing is actually going to involve a lot of players knowing the right kind of combos at the right time when it comes to boss fights and stuff like that. Even when you're fully geared with lots of dollars invested into the game, unless you know how to play the game properly, you're not going to win the day. That's the basic philosophy that we wanted to have this founded on."

Marvel Future Revolution

Seeing The Future

Marvel Future Revolution seems to have a strong foundation in place for its upcoming launch, but as with most mobile games, the experience will continue to evolve. Not only will players be able to play through the various modes with new heroes, but new villains will present themselves as well. Those new characters also come with new content, new regions, new scenarios, and special events tied to what's going on in other parts of Marvel's massive entertainment empire. Marvel Future Revolution launches on iOS and Android sometime later this year. Pre-registration opens starting on June 29.

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