Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Release Date, Story, And Everything Else We Know

As we’re less than a month away from the release of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, we’ve decided to compile everything we know about the game. So if you’re looking to educate yourself on the next entry in one of Ubisoft’s flagship series, you’ve come to the right place.

The 12th mainline game in the franchise, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla continues the story of Layla Hassan, first introduced as the new modern day protagonist of the franchise in 2017’s Assassin’s Creed Origins. We still don’t know what the modern day storyline for Valhalla is yet, only that it follows the fairly elaborate series of events that occurred during the The Fate of Atlantis DLC expansion.

In Origins, Layla relived the life of Egyptians Bayek and Aya, the latter of whom became the first Mentor of the Hidden Ones, the precursors to the Assassin Brotherhood. Layla’s story continued in 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where she relived the life of Kassandra/Alexios, a mercenary in Ancient Greece whose powerful bloodline lives on in their descendants, most notably Aya. Now, in Valhalla, Layla will relive the life of Eivor, a Viking looking for a new home.

Release Date & Preorder

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has gone gold and is scheduled to launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Google Stadia on November 10. The game will also release for PS5 on November 12.

If you haven’t already, you can preorder Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Doing so unlocks a bonus mission in the game, The Way of the Berserker. Like previous entries in the franchise, there are several editions available for preorder–in this case, five.

PC Specs

If you’re planning to play Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on PC, you’ll need to know whether your machine can run the game. Below, we’ve listed out the minimum and required PC specs. Check out the full PC spec breakdown for the 4K requirements.

Minimum: Low preset – 1080p, 30 FPS

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 1200 – 3.1 GHz/Intel i5-4460 – 3.2 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB (Dual-channel mode)
  • Video Card: AMD R9 380 – 4GB/GeForce GTX 960 – 4GB
  • Storage: 50 GB HDD (SSD Recommended)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 (64-bit only)
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 12
  • Additional note: Requires GPU with DirectX 12 (Feature Level 12_0) support

Recommended: High preset – 1080p, 30 FPS

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 1600 – 3.2 GHz/Intel i7-4790 – 3.6 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB (Dual-channel mode)
  • Video Card: AMD RX 570 – 8GB/GeForce GTX 1060 – 6GB
  • Storage: SSD (50 GB)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 (64-bit only)
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 12
  • Additional note: Requires GPU with DirectX 12 (Feature Level 12_0) support

Recommended: High preset – 1080p, 60 FPS

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 – 3.0 GHz/Intel i7-6700 – 3.4 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB (Dual-channel mode)
  • Video Card: AMD Vega 64 – 8GB/GeForce GTX 1080 – 8GB
  • Storage: SSD (50 GB)
  • Operating system: Windows 10 (64-bit only)
  • DirectX Version: DirectX 12
  • Additional note: Requires GPU with DirectX 12 (Feature Level 12_0) support


In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, you once again play as Layla, who is now reliving the life of Eivor, a Viking raider. The crux of the story takes place in Anglo-Saxon England in late 800 A.D. Eivor’s clan has left Norway in search of a new home, settling in England. As history dictates, Vikings weren’t exactly welcome in England at this time, and so Eivor will have to travel from kingdom to kingdom to make alliances with the country’s existing rulers in order to ensure their clan remains safe.

From the start, you can choose for Eivor to be male or female. Or, with the default option, Eivor will intermittently switch back and forth between male and female at random points in the game. Don’t worry, apparently there’s a good reason for that. Ubisoft has also stated that it will tell Eivor’s story with a measured hand, balancing their role as video game hero and villainous invader of someone else’s home.

It wouldn’t be an Assassin’s Creed game without the Assassin Brotherhood–or, in this case, the Hidden Ones (the group still hasn’t quite transformed into the Brotherhood we see in most of the other games). The Hidden Ones will set up a bureau in Eivor’s settlement, drawing the Viking raider into the conflict against the Order of Ancients (the precursors to the Templar Order). As opposed to one long narrative, Valhalla is divided into self-contained sagas, sort of like a slice-of-life TV show. There is a throughline that becomes more apparent the further you go in the game, but Valhalla is the first Assassin’s Creed that will be told in distinct chapters, each with its own separate story arc.


Like Origins and Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is an open-world action RPG. However, there are a few key differences. For one, Valhalla really leans into the RPG elements this time, utilizing the settlement to create a gameplay loop where you select a mission, head out, return home, talk to allies and upgrade equipment, select a new mission, and repeat. Additionally, the new skill tree is huge, providing you with agency in the minute developments of Eivor’s melee combat, health, defense, archery skills, special abilities, and proficiency for stealth.

Speaking of stealth, social stealth returns in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, after being absent in the last two games. Combat is getting some notable adjustments as well, with a new focus on all-out aggression. Eivor is the franchise’s first true dual-wielder, allowing you to select which weapons they hold in both their dominant and off-hand. Want to fight with two shields? You can!

The franchise’s traditional side quests are pretty much gone too. Instead, Valhalla features quick but memorable world events that pop up when you discover them, like recruiting a cat to your crew. This means there’s less chasing of waypoints and more time spent exploring the world. You can travel across England by foot or horse, or by the canals via your trusty longboat. You and your longboat crew can attack encampments as well–the new “raid” mechanic allows you to steal resources and treasure from outposts and castles to then bring back to your settlement. There are also plenty of optional activities to pursue, such as Viking rap battles or romances.

Post-Launch Content

For $40 USD, you can buy the Season Pass for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (the pass also comes included with select editions). At launch, the Season Pass gives you access to a quest titled The Legend of Beowulf. However, the main point of the pass is to get access to the two major pieces of post-launch DLC.

The first, Wrath of the Druids, is scheduled to release in Spring 2021. The expansion sees Eivor travel to Ireland to unravel the mystery surrounding a druidic cult, explore haunted forests, and earn the allegiance of Gaelic kings. The second, The Siege of Paris, is currently scheduled for Summer 2021. This second expansion takes place during the titular battle, another key moment from history that Eivor apparently took part in.

Valhalla will also get free seasonal content in-between these major expansions–everyone can access this content, regardless of whether they’ve paid for the Season Pass. Ubisoft has promised even more post-launch content beyond this, including a Discovery mode (where you’re allowed to explore the in-game world and get detailed real-world historical recaps of characters, locations, and events). So it sounds like Valhalla will be a lot like Odyssey, with the year following its release filled with DLC and extra content. This could mean that the next Assassin’s Creed may not come out until 2022.

Now Playing: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Is Going Full RPG

Tom Holland As Nathan Drake, DMC 5 Performance Modes, & Hideo Kojima’s Next Game | Save State

In this video, Persia talks about our first look at Tom Holland as Nathan Drake in the upcoming Uncharted movie. The costume design got the approval of Naughty Dog’s Kurt Margenau and Nathan Drake voice actor Nolan North. Filming just started this past July but is already almost complete. The film is expected to hit the theaters on July 16, 2021.

Persia also talks about the new DMC 5 performance modes coming to the next-gen special edition of the game. The four new modes have various combinations that vary between 4k and 1080p, ray tracing, and framerate. Ray tracing isn’t coming to the Series X version of the game on day one, but it will be patched in at a later date. DMC 5 Special Edition comes to Series X and S on November 10, and to PS5 on November 12.

Lastly, Persia talks about the confirmation of Kojima Productions starting its next game. There aren’t any details on the new game or if it ties into Death Stranding in any way. The studio is now hiring for multiple roles in game programming and design, sound design, art, writing, production, management, and localization, with fluency in Japanese being required for all roles.

This is your Save State for Thursday, October 22nd.

New On Shudder In November 2020: Exclusive Horror Movies, TV Shows, And More

The spooky-season of October may be coming to an end, but did you know that you can still watch horror movies outside of the Halloween season? In fact, we recommend watching horror movies all year long. AMC’s streaming service Shudder focusses entirely on the genre, putting out movies, TV shows, and plenty of original content each and every month. And here is what’s coming to Shudder in November.

On November 12, the Shudder Original Lingering arrives. Originally titled Hotel Lake or Hotel Leikeu, the Korean film is directed by Yoon Een-Kyoung. It follows a woman who leaves her brother with a friend at a hotel where the friend’s mother committed suicide a few years prior. Of course, there’s now a malicious ghost haunting the halls and the woman must unravel a mystery before it’s too late. Check out the trailer below.

If you’re looking for something classic to watch, Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot arrives on November 2. Based on a story by Stephen King, the 1979 two-part movie follows a successful writer who returns to his hometown in Maine. He finds the town is infested with vampires, and of course, he has to get rid of them.

Additionally on November 2, the ’90s slasher Urban Legend arrives. The movie follows a group of college students who are getting killed off, one by one. However, what sets this apart from other slasher flicks is that the murders are all connected to urban legends, like drinking soda after eating Pop Rocks.

Finally, that’s not a typo at the end of this list. There really is a movie titled Porno coming out on November 24. Porno is about a group of teens that work in a mall movie theater that find an old film in the basement, which unleashes a succubus that wants to kill them all by having sex with them.

Below, you’ll find everything coming to Shudder in November, and for more streaming news, check out what’s coming to HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney+ for November.

New to Shudder in November 2020

November 2

  • Emelie (Director: Michael Thelin)
  • Salem’s Lot (Director: Tobe Hooper)
  • Urban Legend (Director: Jamie Blanks)

November 5

  • Blood Vessel

November 9

  • Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life And Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (Director: David Gregory)
  • Cherry Tree (Director: David Keating)

November 12

November 14

  • Saturday The 14th (Director: Howard R. Cohen)

November 16

  • Are We Not Cats? (Director: Xander Robin)
  • Blood of Wolves (Director: Kazuya Shiraishi)
  • Coherence (Director: James Ward Byrkit)
  • Let the Corpses Tan (Director: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani)

November 19

  • Leap of Faith

November 23

  • The Mario Bava Collection:
  • A Bay of Blood
  • Black Sabbath
  • The Girl Who Knew Too Much
  • Kill Baby Kill
  • Lisa and the Devil, Shock
  • The Whip and the Body

November 24

Cyberpunk 2077: YOUR Questions Answered!

Cyberpunk 2077 is launching very soon, and despite numerous Night City Wire presentations, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the game. Questions such as how big its open world is, if you can purchase different apartments around Night City, and how its vehicle and melee combat feels.

We asked our YouTube subscribers for their burning questions about the game, and there were hundreds to go through. To answer these questions, Lucy James is joined by Cyberpunk lore master Jean-Luc Seipke, and Jake Dekker, who has actually played a number of hours of the game.

They both write and host a series on the lore of Cyberpunk, which is also well worth checking out if you’re interested in the world that 2077 takes place in. Cyberpunk 2077 launches on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Stadia on November 19, and will be playable on Xbox Series X/S and PS5. Optimization patches for the next-gen versions of the game are coming in 2021.

CoD: Black Ops Cold War Beta Was The Most Downloaded In Franchise History

The Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War beta has come to a close after a short extension on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. And it seems a lot of people played it.

The Call of Duty Twitter account said Black Ops Cold War’s beta was the most downloaded in franchise history. There are no statistics to corroborate this. The statement also echoes what publisher Activision said in 2019 about Modern Warfare‘s beta being the “biggest ever in franchise history.”

Activision recently detailed Black Ops Cold War’s new 40-player game mode called Fireteam. It puts four teams of 10 against each other to complete objectives and engage in skirmishes. Upon death, players can respawn on a teammate, parachute into the map, or spawn in the seat of a teammate’s car. This makes it sound reminiscent of the Battlefield 1 mode Conquest.

In other Black Ops Cold War news, developer Treyarch confirmed that the ping system seen in Warzone will make its way to the upcoming Call of Duty game. We also learned about the Zombies mode, as well as got confirmation that it supports cross-play and cross-progression.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War launches on November 13 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X. Check out our Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War preorder guide to learn about the bonuses and editions, as well as how to get the next-gen version.

Now Playing: Call of Duty Cold War VS. Modern Warfare: The Biggest Differences

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Ghost of Tsushima: Legends Raid Requirements, New Weekly Challenges Announced

Sucker Punch Productions revealed today that the Ghost of Tsushima: Legends raid will be released on October 30 and revealed the requirements players will need to meet to take part in ‘The Tale of Iyo’. The studio also announced that starting tomorrow, and every Friday after, Ghost of Tsushima: Legends will feature a two-player story mission and four-player mission survival mission with specific weekly modifiers.

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“This is the culmination of the story in Ghost of Tsushima: Legends, bringing the fight directly to Iyo’s realm,” the announcement blog post reads. “This Raid is divided into three chapters and requires a full team of four Ghosts, as well as excellent coordination and communication.”

The Tale of Iyo raid will not support matchmaking, according to Sucker Punch, so players wishing to participate will need to arrange their raid team ahead of time. It’s also recommended that everyone’s gear be at KI level 100 as an “absolute minimum.”

Sucker Punch recommends completing all story missions and replaying story and survival missions on higher difficulties to obtain higher gear before the raid. If players complete all of the new weekly challenges and all bonus objectives, they’ll receive max-level gear perfect for the raid. Doing so won’t be easy because the weekly challenge missions will be Nightmare difficulty, “intended to put you and your team to the test.”

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An exact launch time for the raid will be announced closer to its launch on October 30, but weekly challenges will go live every Friday at 8 a.m. PT.

If you haven’t yet jumped into this multiplayer mode,  watch the first 18 minutes of Ghost of Tsushima: Legends and then read how about how multiplayer has always been a pillar of Sucker Punch’s plan.

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Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes

Phasmophobia Guide: General Ghost Hunting Tips

Phasmophobia is one of the latest breakout games on Twitch and for good reason. This thrilling early access horror game puts you and up to three other players in the role of paranormal investigators, equipping you with an arsenal of ghost-hunting items and letting you loose in a haunted location. Your goal is to monitor supernatural activity and gather up essential evidence to aid in identifying the ghost before it kills everyone.

But that’s easier said than done.. While understanding what each tool in your ghost hunting arsenal does is important, you’ll also have to consider other key factors and behaviors to follow as you explore and try to work out the ghost’s identity. Below, we’ve detailed some essential ghost-hunting tips to help you survive a job.

Keeping In Communication

First, we highly recommend using in-game voice chat once you and your team have found your footing. Discord is nice when you’re first starting, but it can make things a bit too easy and far less terrifying. The game does some fun stuff with audio implementation that makes the experience more immersive and tense.

For in-game communication, use V for proximity chat and B for global chat, courtesy of your handy walkie-talkie. Keep in mind that your walkie-talkie isn’t always super reliable, though. During high activity, your signal could get scrambled, and if you aren’t near your crew, you’ll have no idea what could be happening to them.

Keep An Eye On Ghost Activity Levels

You can alway check the ghost activity levels from the monitor in your van. Usually, it’s good to let your team know if there are any spikes. Low amounts of activity could mean flickering lights or moving objects, moderate spikes could mean direct contact with the ghost, and level 10 spikes often means the ghost is hunting.

It's always good to let your team know if there are any spikes in ghost activity.
It’s always good to let your team know if there are any spikes in ghost activity.

What You Need To Know About Level 10 Spikes And What To Do

If you’re in the van and see a level 10 spike, global communication will cut off, and your team will be on their own. At this point, the best thing you can do for them is to pray. If a level 10 spike just occurred and a question mark replaces someone’s sanity percentage, it means they’re dead. If you are using the in-game chat, deceased team members can’t communicate with you.

If you are in the house during a level 10 spike, your flashlight will start to flicker, the front door will lock, and you may see the ghost appear and disappear. If the ghost is weak to crucifixes, you can stop them from hunting by throwing it on the ground. If not, hide in another room, turn off the lights, and stay quiet. Closets work nicely for this.

If you’re dealing with a shy ghost, you can try using their name. Typically ghosts will get annoyed the more you say it. Before you head into the house, check the whiteboard in the van to see the ghost’s name and if they respond to everyone or just those who are alone.

Always Monitor Your Sanity

With each paranormal occurrence you witness, your sanity will drop. You can monitor your sanity in the truck. The lower it goes, the easier it is for a ghost to target you. You can regain sanity by using sanity pills, which are available to purchase before a job.

Be Careful Using Fancy New Gear

As you complete jobs, earn money, and level up, you will unlock new maps and new gear to test out. Additional equipment purchased and taken out into the field will be lost if you die, so be extra careful if you want to hold onto gadgets like thermometers, strong flashlights, and motion sensors. You do get an insurance payout, though, so it’s not a complete loss.

Additional equipment purchased and taken out into the field will be lost if you die, so be extra careful if you want to hold onto them.
Additional equipment purchased and taken out into the field will be lost if you die, so be extra careful if you want to hold onto them.

Split Up When Playing The Bigger Maps

The bigger maps, such as the high school and asylum, may also force you to change your tactics. The best way to go about these jobs is to split into groups and clear out rooms methodically. Study the map in the van before you leave, come up with a game plan, and designate a regroup point for your team. If someone gets lost, you can check their location via the van’s map and guide them to safety using the walkie-talkie. Sanity pills are typically a must on these maps as they usually take much longer than most jobs. When you find the affected room, leave a glowstick outside of the door or have someone make a mental note of it on the map in the van.

When All Seems Lost, Check The Journal For Clues

There might be cases where it feels like you can’t find the third piece of evidence no matter how hard you try. If you’re struggling, you can check the ghost descriptions in your journal. This isn’t always the most accurate way to solve a case, but if you’re low on supplies and completely stumped, there’s no harm in checking the journal to see if there are any familiar patterns.

Apex Legends Fight Or Fright: Every New Halloween-Themed Skin

The Apex Legends Fight or Fright event is back. The Halloween-themed event brings back the Shadow Games (Revenant’s twisted version of the Apex Games), but instead of Shadowfall, this year’s limited-time event is Shadow Royale. Fight or Fright also adds a few rare, epic, and legendary skins–some that you can only buy and others that you can earn.

If you missed out on securing the Fight or Fright skins from last year, a few have come back. For a limited time, you can spend Apex Coins to get Bloodhound’s legendary Protector of the Patch, Crypto’s legendary Deadly Byte, Caustic’s legendary The Last Laugh, Mirage’s legendary Old Town, and Lifeline’s epic Green Widow.

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There are some new skins too. With Apex Coins, you can buy recolored variants of Bloodhound, Crypto, and Caustic’s legendary skins–respectively named Wicked Harvest, Midnight Cipher, and Sweet Dreams. Loba is also getting a Halloween-themed skin this year, the epic Banshee Queen.

It’s not all about the legends, either. Flatline’s epic Hallows Eve, Longbow DMR’s epic Pumpkin Parlor, Prowler’s legendary Wild Ride, Wingman’s legendary Loudmouth, and Mastiff’s legendary Boom Stick all return.

Not looking to spend any Apex Coins this Halloween? Fight or Fright has a few rewards you can earn as well. Playing games, dealing damage, and placing in the top 10 will earn you points towards unlocking rewards–exclusive stat trackers for Gibraltar, the Long John Nessy weapon charm, Pathfinder’s rare Wrapped Up skin, the Sentinel’s epic Swamp Creature skin, and XP boosts. Plus, just logging in during the event will unlock the new Shadow Royale music pack.

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There are also four exclusive badges that you can unlock by playing in the Shadow Royale mode. In Shadow Royale, death isn’t the end–you respawn as a shadow as long as one of your teammates is still alive. Like in Shadowfall, shadows can’t use weapons or equip armor, but they can run faster, climb higher, and melee hit harder. Additionally, this time around, shadows can wallrun, like Pilots in Titanfall and Titanfall 2. The final squad to have at least one living teammate is the winner. Completing certain tasks in Shadow Royale allows you to unlock three different badges. If you nab all three, you’ll earn a special fourth badge that advertises how much you kicked ass in Shadow Royale.

Fight or Fright runs from October 22 to November 3, which may be Season 6: Boosted’s new end date. The final week of the battle pass has been removed, so the final day to complete challenges and get your battle pass rewards is now November 3, not November 10. Season 7 and the introduction of new playable character Horizon may be happening a lot sooner than we thought. And if you’ve been completing all of the “A Wee Experiment” challenges to unlock the Season 7 and Horizon teasers, then you better jump back into Apex Legends because there’s now a few more.

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Pokemon Go November 2020 Events: New Legendary Raids, Togetic Breakthrough Reward, And More

November is only a few days away, and Pokemon Go developer Niantic has outlined a number of events for the popular mobile game next month. The studio is hosting a variety of activities over the next few weeks, from new Pokemon Spotlight Hours to a new Limited Research event and more. You can catch up on all the biggest Pokemon Go events happening in November 2020 below.

November Research Breakthrough Encounter: Togetic

As usual, Niantic is rolling out a new batch of Field Research tasks and rewards on the first of the month, and they coincide with a new Research Breakthrough encounter. Each time players achieve a Research Breakthrough in November 2020, they’ll earn a chance to catch the Fairy Pokemon Togetic.

Legendary Raids

A few more Legendary Pokemon will also return to Raids throughout November 2020. Following Darkrai’s departure on November 5, Niantic teases that “a familiar Pokemon” will reappear as a Raid boss, and subsequent weeks will bring back Terrakion, Cobalion, Virizion, and more. You can see the full Legendary Raid schedule for November 2020 below:

  • October 23 – November 5: Darkrai
  • November 5 – 16: A “familiar Pokemon”
  • November 16 – 24: Terrakion, Cobalion, and Virizion
  • November 24 – 30: TBA

Pokemon Spotlight Hours

Every Tuesday evening in November, Niantic will spotlight one specific Pokemon and bonus for one hour. These spotlight events will all run from 6-7 PM local time. You can see the full schedule below:

Date Spotlight Pokemon Special Bonus
November 3 Cubone 2x catch Stardust
November 10 Jigglypuff 2x catch XP
November 17 Meowth 2x catch Candy
November 24 Barboach 2x transfer Candy

GrubHub Special Weekend

Niantic and GrubHub are partnering to host an exclusive Special Weekend event for GrubHub+ members on November 2, from 11 AM to 2 PM local time. Throughout the event, players will be able to complete exclusive Timed Research tasks that reward various items, including three Incense, a Star Piece, and 100 Charizard Mega Energy. Incense will also remain active for an hour when used during the event and will lure out the following Pokemon:

  • Bulbasaur
  • Charizard
  • Squirtle
  • Pikachu
  • Unown G
  • Unown H
  • Sableye
  • Patrat
  • Minccino
  • Ferroseed
  • Shiny Ferroseed

Verizon Special Weekend

In addition to its partnership with GrubHub, Niantic is teaming up with Verizon for another exclusive Special Weekend event. The Verizon Special Weekend takes place on November 7, and it likewise features exclusive Timed Research tasks that give out various rewards, including Charizard Mega Energy and encounters with certain Pokemon such as Chansey, Absol, Bronzor, and Gible. The following Pokemon will also appear when an Incense is used during the event:

  • Bulbasaur
  • Charizard
  • Squirtle
  • Pikachu
  • Unown V
  • Unown Z
  • Sableye
  • Patrat
  • Minccino
  • Ferroseed
  • Shiny Ferroseed

Limited Research

Niantic is holding another Limited Research event on November 28. No further details have been announced yet, but we’ll update this roundup with more information as it’s shared.

Now Playing: Pokemon Sword & Shield DLC, EA Play On Game Pass, & Torchlight 3 Release Date | Save State

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The Boys Season 2 Review

This review of The Boys Season 2 is mostly spoiler-free, though we do discuss certain elements of the story throughout. For more on The Boys Season 2 finale and what’s ahead for The Boys Season 3, check out our ending explained interview with showrunner Eric Kripke, find out what Stormfront said in German in the Season 2 finale, and the news that Amazon’s already developing a The Boys spinoff show.

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Everything that made The Boys Season 1 such an excellent new show when it premiered in 2019 is dialed up even further for Season 2, with an even more ambitious story from showrunner Eric Kripke. This second run of the dark superhero satire is filled with memorable, nuanced characters and plenty of that stylized and irreverent drama we’ve come to expect. While there’s plenty of shock and awe sprinkled throughout, including but not limited to unexpected head explosions and aerial sexcapades, Kripke and his talented team of writers never forget to take time to develop their characters on a more relatable level. And even though some storylines aren’t as impactful as others and the series struggles to keep its frenetic action-packed pace following the three-episode premiere arc, Season 2 is an overall roaring success that concludes with tantalizing possibilities for Season 3.

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Of the many high points from Season 2, perhaps none is more memorable than the debut of Aya Cash’s Stormfront as the series’ devious new social media-literate member of The Seven. Cash’s charisma shines through in every scene, especially when she’s paired with Homelander – first as a manipulative rival and then as a partner in crime and messed-up love interest. Antony Starr also gives a riveting performance alongside her as the two actors shared uncanny chemistry throughout. One of their best scenes had to be their awkward but also hilarious encounter that gave “eyeing her chest” bizarre new meaning.

Plus, after watching Homelander bully pretty much every other member of The Seven around (minus Black Noir, of course), Season 2 offered a welcomed change of pace as we begin to witness his already fragile mental state deteriorate even further as he first seeks to recreate and then rejects his relationship with the late Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue).

Sure, Kripke likes to give the fans a bit of gratuitous drama, like watching Homelander’s “I can do whatever the f*** I want” moment; however, from a character development perspective, it all makes total sense. The throughline of Homelander’s disturbing hyper-dependence on strong female figures in his life is a strong indicator of how unstable he really is and hints that Homelander will become an even more dangerous character moving forward. And though Stormfront’s final fate was left uncertain the last time we saw her, Homelander’s comments during the finale hopefully mean that we’ll get more of this dynamic pair when Season 3 arrives in 2021.

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While Homelander and Stormfront’s story soared for most of Season 2, some members of The Seven were given less memorable adventures. Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), for example, was mostly relegated to Homelander’s emotional punching bag as he attempted to sabotage her relationship. Watching him push her to the breaking point eventually resulted in Maeve going into full “I don’t give a s*** mode,” but it quickly became tiresome, and Maeve didn’t get her time to shine until the finale. And even though McElligott delivers a redeeming performance in those final moments, her eventual heroics come a bit too late in the story to land their desired punch.

Chace Crawford’s The Deep and Jessie T. Usher’s A-Train fall into a similar camp, as their dealings with the Scientology-like Church of the Collective to help them get back into The Seven never felt truly substantive. To be fair, The Deep gave us some great comedic moments, including his search for a Church-approved wife and his lamentations over the death of a beloved aquatic friend. Known for playing the cocky pretty boy in shows like Gossip Girl, it was fun to see the Texas-born actor play such a frequently humiliated character. Even so, it felt as though The Deep and A-Train’s storyline was part of another show and had very little bearing on what was happening with the rest of the ensemble.

In terms of The Boys themselves, Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher stole most of the show. Urban has proven over the years that he can successfully portray hardened individuals in Dredd, Lord of the Rings, and even Star Trek, but one of the most unexpected aspects of Season 2 is the powerful character-building moments sprinkled throughout as he reunited with his wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten), who’d been presumed dead until last season’s finale. One of Butcher’s best scenes happens when he confronts his estranged father (expertly portrayed by Lord of the Rings and Fringe alum John Noble). Here, we get a glimpse at the source of Butcher’s anger, and even though the scene lasts just a few minutes, it carries a lasting impact on Butcher’s character moving forward. His big-brother/little-brother dynamic with Hughie is another endearing plot thread in Season 2, as well as his newfound responsibility to Becca’s son, Ryan.

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Silent but deadly, Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) gets an intriguing arc of her own in Season 2 after a tragic event sends her into a fit of vengeful rage. Even without the ability to speak, Fukuhara is able to successfully communicate what her character is feeling with emotive expressions and body language. Her overprotective companion, Frenchie (Tomer Capon), also gets some needed character development as well. Like Butcher, Frenchie’s past is also explored in Season 2, and those scenes offer context for his relationship with Kimiko. Frenchie and Kimiko’s evolving friendship is complicated, but also endearing as the two learn to face overwhelming odds as a team instead of going off alone on suicide missions.

Looking ahead to Season 3, Kripke has set up a few fascinating stories that are begging to be explored down the road. Chief among them is the mind-blowing reveal at the end. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how the pairing of Victoria Neuman and Hughie plays out in Season 3, or what will become of the numerous new supes that were set loose.