Pokemon Go‘s big Go Beyond update is now live, which means a new generation of Pokemon are soon making their debut in the mobile game. Niantic is introducing the first wave of Gen 6 Pokemon to Go this week as part of the new Kalos Celebration event, which kicks off tomorrow, December 2, at 8 AM local time.
Throughout the week-long event, a handful of Pokemon originally from the Kalos region will appear in the wild and hatch from eggs, including the Gen 6 starters Chespin, Fennekin, and Froakie. On top of that, players will be able to encounter some Kalos Pokemon in Raids. Among them will be the Psychic type Espurr, which will be appearing throughout the event in one-star Raids.
In addition to increased Pokemon spawns, there will be event-exclusive Field Research and Timed Research tasks to complete during the event. The Kalos Celebration runs until 10 PM local time on December 8. You can read more about the event on the official Pokemon Go website.
Those aren’t the only new Pokemon debuting in Go this week. Mega Abomasnow is also arriving as a new Mega Raid boss starting December 1, replacing Mega Blastoise. If you manage to defeat Mega Abomasnow in Raids, you’ll earn some Abomasnow Mega Energy, which you’ll be able to use to Mega-Evolve your own Abomasnow once you’ve collected enough.
Niantic has a few other December events lined up for the game as well, including a two-day Community Day weekend celebration starring all the previous featured Pokemon from this year, as well as new Spotlight Hour Pokemon and more. The Legendary Kyurem is also returning to five-star Raids all December long.
Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is finally here, and one part of the military FPS that people are particularly enjoying is the campaign and its story. The Black Ops brand has always had a special flavor to it. It is less serious––and more narratively open-minded than the ripped-from-the-headlines storylines in the other historical and modern Call of Duty games.
With Black Ops Cold War, the game’s story plays with history and covers real historical events, but with a healthy amount of conspiracy theories and deniable operations baked in.
With that in mind, we connected with former Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operative David Callan (who has since become a comedian, but more on that later), who told us about his experience as a counterintelligence officer. Callan worked for the ASIO in the ’80s and ’90s, which was a stormy time for international politics and clandestine operations. Callan shared stories and insight from his time in the service, and he also discussed what he thinks Black Ops Cold War, which is set in early 1980s, gets right about its depiction of the era.
“What Black Ops Cold War captures is the gravitas of the elite operators that are the pointy end of the intelligence spear,” Callan said. “They don’t tolerate fools; they [are] not afraid to go to the extreme, even in training; and they absolutely do not quit. Pure mission focus. Black Ops Cold War absolutely nails that.”
Callan recently appeared in a video from Call of Duty ANZ where he provides instruction to professional Australian athletes Nick Kyrgios and MMA champion Alex Volkanovski on how best to manipulate their opponent during a match of Black Ops Cold War. You can check out the video above.
Regarding his own experience as a spy and a deceiver, Callan said the movies don’t get it right. Intelligence officers like him don’t wear fancy suits and watches, and they don’t drive sports cars. The whole idea is to blend in.
“Do not be fooled by the trope that spies are glamourous,” Callan said. “Your average intelligence officer is ordinary. They have to be! You don’t want to intimidate a potential source; you want to put them at ease, even make them feel they have the whip hand in the relationship. Larger-than-life people don’t blend in; they stand out, and that can be a real problem.”
To be an effective intelligence officer, the most desirable and important skills pertain to mental acuity and a capability to lie, deceive, and manipulate. And then go home to your family, Callan said.
“Outwardly, they truly are quite ordinary, but exceptionally shrewd and focused,” Callan said. “If you have that moral ambiguity and mental agility, you might just be someone ASIO is interested in, just don’t expect martinis, tuxedos and edge-of-your seat thrills. No, your average spy looks like an accountant, drives like a grandad, and lies like a politician.”
Be sure to read on to hear everything Callan had to say about his time in the ASIO and what he learned working clandestine operations. He also shares how he got his nickname, “Frosty,” and why he moved on to pursue a new career in comedy.
“My training and experience have been invaluable as a comedian, as comedy relies on observation and analysis much like intelligence gathering,” Callan said. “Taking seemingly unrelated bits of information to create a coherent picture of a target is the stock and trade of the average spy, and it is the same for a comedian, only you’re creating jokes rather than intelligence reports.”
The full interview follows below.
GameSpot: One of the most interesting parts of Black Ops Cold War is that it plays with history and tells us about conspiracies and stories about deniable operations and secret missions. You served as an intelligence officer for ASIO in the ’80s and ’90s, which was a turbulent time politically and internationally, so what can you tell us about what you learned about the real activities of intelligence and espionage operations?
David Callan: I worked as an intelligence officer with ASIO for more than 20 years. In the area of counterespionage, there was more watching and information gathering than Black Ops Cold War would suggest, but considering Australia’s geographic position, we were more of a terminus than a hub like Berlin or Beirut. The iconic cities of the Cold War were all either the capitals of the leading powers–Washington, Moscow, London–or cities where trade, culture, and ideologies met–Berlin, Istanbul, Hong Kong–essentially where the big players rubbed up against each other, and as such there was a lot more action in those locations.
Australia was regarded by some foreign powers–including some allies–as being something of a soft intelligence target. However, the Australian intelligence community, whilst small and seemingly isolated, was and remains incredibly effective in countering multiple attempts by adversarial powers to breach our national security.
In Black Ops Cold War we get to see the history we know but with a Black Ops lens that puts enough truth in it to make the player wonder if these things might have actually happened. The game developers can use a lot of creative license to play with this. Based on what you know of the game and spy operations in real life having served, what’s your take on it?
What Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War captures is the texture of the times. It looks magnificent and truly reflects the grim austerity that surrounded the era. There was, on the other hand, a lot less gunplay, especially for people like ASIO officers. That kind of duty was the job of what are essentially special forces–soldiers trained in intelligence work but only ever deployed in the most extreme of circumstances.
“No one is going to want to play a game where you sit at a desk, going through transcripts of telephone intercepts” — David Callan, former ASIO spy
But this is Call of Duty! No one is going to want to play a game where you sit at a desk, going through transcripts of telephone intercepts. That is the true work of an intelligence officer, while the force projection and glory is the realm of an elite few.
People often think about spies as fictional agents who only exist in movies, but they are real, and you were one of them. What did you learn in the service about how spies infiltrate the everyday lives of people?
Do not be fooled by the trope that spies are glamourous. Your average intelligence officer is ordinary. They have to be! You don’t want to intimidate a potential source; you want to put them at ease, even make them feel they have the whip hand in the relationship. Larger-than-life people don’t blend in; they stand out, and that can be a real problem. While intelligence officers are ordinary in appearance and attitude, intellectually they are as sharp as razors. It takes a very specific personality to lie, deceive, manipulate and then go home to the family…
Yes, spies do have families, and credit card bills, mortgages and all the other everyday concerns of your average citizen. Outwardly, they truly are quite ordinary, but exceptionally shrewd and focused. If you have that moral ambiguity and mental agility, you might just be someone ASIO is interested in, just don’t expect martinis, tuxedos, and edge-of-your seat thrills. No, your average spy looks like an accountant, drives like a grandad, and lies like a politician.
There is also the idea that spies wear fancy suits and watches and drive sports cars, but I’m guessing this is not the case? What other myths about spies can you dispel?
You are bang on about the cars. If you’re being tailed by a guy driving an Aston Martin or better yet, a Lotus Esprit Turbo that converts into a submarine, you are going to tend to notice them. Spies drive very ordinary cars, and they drive them at the speed limit or slower. There were no high-speed chases in mobile surveillance because the best way to shake a tail is to slow down. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but if you slow down to under the speed limit, the car following you has to slow down or overtake you. Methodical and patient driving is the key to counter surveillance in a vehicle.
“Your average spy looks like an accountant, drives like a grandad, and lies like a politician.” — David Callan, former ASIO spy
With Black Ops Cold War specifically, how did you find the game’s modern representation of espionage and wider spy culture?
In essence, what Black Ops Cold War captures is the gravitas of the elite operators that are the pointy end of the intelligence spear. They don’t tolerate fools; they [are] not afraid to go to the extreme, even in training; and they absolutely do not quit. Pure mission focus. Black Ops Cold War absolutely nails that.
What’s behind your nickname, Frosty?
According to the ASIO House Security Rules, whenever there was a visitor in the building, we weren’t meant to use each other’s names; we were instructed to use the number of our house security passes. Well, who wants to do that?! As such, we all quickly started creating nicknames for each other. There was Slugger, Dazzlin’, Cammo, HATS… HATS was a great nickname. It was an acronym for ‘Hundreds and Thousands Sandwiches.’ because that’s what HATS insisted we serve him at his birthday morning tea each year. Oh yeah, we may have been protecting the country from espionage, sabotage and terrorism, but we still had time for a bit of cake on your birthday.
My nickname was Frosty because I was so cool… literally, not figuratively. When I first started with the Organisation I wanted to get fit and save money, so I decided to ride my bicycle to work each day. Bad, bad idea.
Canberra winters are brutal and after I arrived one morning blue and shivering from the cold, someone in the office shouted: “Someone’s looking a little Frosty!” Boom! Prestige nickname acquired.
Since leaving ASIO you’ve gotten into comedy; can you talk about what drove that change in direction and how you apply your spy skills to the comedy scene?
My training and experience have been invaluable as a comedian, as comedy relies on observation and analysis much like intelligence gathering. Taking seemingly unrelated bits of information to create a coherent picture of a target is the stock and trade of the average spy, and it is the same for a comedian, only you’re creating jokes rather than intelligence reports.
ASIO was also great training as an actor. Seriously, when you consider acting is just lying with flair, what better place to learn how to do that than in a building full of spies?
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War marked a return to the incredibly popular Zombies mode after it wasn’t included in Modern Warfare. The mode, which is a big part of the Treyarch-developed Call of Duty games, is the reason many players purchase every edition of the yearly franchise.
The new Zombies mode only has one map, though. Treyarch has said that more maps and other additions to the mode are coming, but players already want more. If it’s just more content they want, they’ll find a wealth of options–and a very active community–in the five-year-old Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, which now features hundreds of player-made maps, skins, and other content.
Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Modern Warfare, and subsequent games all the way up to Black Ops Cold War have only been released on Battle.net, Activision’s launcher. They don’t have any modding tools, in-depth level editors, or access to the suite of features in Steam’s Workshop. It’s easy to see why Black Ops 3 players have decided to stick around and enjoy a constant stream of player-made levels and in-game improvements.
Raven Software, one of Activision’s many studios that work on the Call of Duty franchise, has primarily dealt with Call of Duty: Warzone since it launched. However, the publisher has continued to release a new game every year. Players have to learn new mechanics, get used to new progression systems, and adapt to other changes on a yearly basis. Many players wish the publisher would stick to one game (and one Zombies mode) and update it regularly over time.
A handful of dedicated players have done just that, delivering a steady flow of new content to Black Ops 3’s Zombies mode. Some have even recreated their favorite maps from previous games, including the story beats that came in their Zombie modes. Der Riese: Declassified, a recreation from Call of Duty: World at War, is an example of one of those maps. Players argue that it’s just as good as some of the official maps released by Treyarch.
“What a classic map,” said Scornfulsix in a comment comparing the map to the original that was launched in 2008. “I couldn’t help but feel like I was 14 playing Der Riese before school.”
Players have started Discord servers to get together to discuss levels and organize matches in order to keep their favorite game alive. New levels are still coming out almost every day too. While Black Ops Cold War’s Zombie mode may be great, these fans have no plans to leave their work behind to play a different Call of Duty.
Most of us are still stuck indoors for this long winter, and Sega is putting together some amusing videos in the style of a college lecture that teach you the history behind the former console giant. In the first talk, Sega producer Hiroyuki Miyazaki showed a prototype for the handheld Sega Nomad for the first time publicly.
As Miyazaki reveals in his lengthy lesson, Sega referred to many of its hardware projects by planet codenames, a trend that was first established by the release of the Sega Saturn in 1994. When Sega was working on the Nomad–which is a portable version of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive that you could take on the go–it was called the Sega Venus, and its prototype looked a bit different than the final product. This video series is promoting the Sega Test, an event that celebrates the 60th anniversary of Sega, which will challenge fans on their knowledge of the long-running gaming company.
The Sega Nomad was arguably one of the best portable systems of its day thanks to the fantasy library of games on the Genesis, though it did have one fatal flaw: It required six AA batteries to play, and the console would eat them up in two to three hours. That’s a lot of juice for not a lot of game. (The Nomad did have a rechargeable battery pack that you could purchase, and some intrepid fans have even modded their Nomads to install more modern battery cells.)
In the video, Miyazaki says that he was not able to find any evidence of a Sega Pluto project in the company’s records. However, this is seemingly contradicted by the existence of at least two Sega Pluto prototypes in the wild. According to their owners, the Sega Pluto was going to be a version of the Sega Saturn with networking capabilities built in.
Halo’s community director has responded to a new rumor about Halo Infinite, and he’s shut it down. Recently, a rumor appeared that claimed one part of Microsoft’s long-term vision for Halo Infinite would be to add a battle royale mode in 2021.
Brian Jarrard, the community director at 343 Industries, responded to this scuttlebutt with a tweet. “Nothing gets a post-holiday Monday going like fresh unfounded Halo Infinite rumors,” he said.
Jarrard doesn’t mention battle royale by name, but it’s clear that his tweet is in response to the latest conjecture about the long-in-development game. In a follow-up tweet, Jarrard said he understands that fans are eager for more information about Halo Infinite. To that end, 343 is planning to release a “year-end update” that will have some new details.
Nothing gets a post-holiday Monday going like fresh unfounded Halo Infinite rumors 🤘
Back in 2019, Microsoft addressed reports about Halo Infinite introducing a battle royale mode. Franchise director Frank O’Connor said the multiplayer modes for Halo Infinite at launch were not defined yet and could be subject to change until late in the process.
While Halo Infinite may not have a traditional battle royale experience, O’Connor teased, “Are we interested in big social modes with loads of organic shenanigans? Yes. Specifically A blimp full of survivors heading to an Island after a (metaphorical) lecture from Beat Takeshi? No. We are NOT doing this as of now–and no plans to.”
O’Connor went on to point out that if you really want a Halo battle royale game, you can make it for yourself in Halo 5 or Halo: MCC with the Forge map-making tools.
Halo Infinite was originally set to release as a launch title for the Xbox Series X|S, but due in part to complications related to COVID-19, Microsoft pushed the game out to 2021.
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The Xbox Series X / Series S finally launched earlier this month to much fanfare, and Microsoft is already rolling out a major update for both these new consoles and the Xbox One. The November Xbox system update will bring some features that fans have requested, including more backgrounds, an auto HDR indicator, and the ability to pre-load games from Xbox Game Pass. The update is already available for some Xbox Series X owners, and it clocks in at 701 MB.
These dynamic backgrounds allow you to personalize your home screen with different colors or animations. The update will bring six new options, including several that are based on previous generations of Xbox consoles for that nostalgic rush. More backgrounds will be added in the future. The update also adds a new tag that lets users know when a game is using the console’s Auto HDR feature. Auto HDR uses a specially-tuned algorithm that attempts to add HDR to older games that don’t already have it. It’s displayed in the upper right of the screen when you bring up the Guide menu, and not every game can harness it.
The system update introduces an “Optimized for Series X/S” badge to games that have been updated to take advantage of the platform’s additional resources. Other minor additions include a Game Activity tab that tracks achievements–replacing the old Achievements tab–the ability to add family member accounts during setup, and the ability to pre-load games that are coming to Xbox Game Pass. Not all games are available for pre-install, but those that aren’t can be queued to install first thing on day one using the Xbox Game Pass mobile app.
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Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla players have found a way to skirt the system in Ubisoft’s latest open-world adventure. Using a script editor, they’ve managed to add any cosmetic item they want to their inventory, including those you’d normally have to pay real-world money for. They’ve even managed to unlock as-of-yet unreleased premium items.
A user detailed how to pull the digital heist off over on Nexus Mods, as originally reported by Eurogamer. The method has players use memory scanning software to access cosmetics like the Berserker, Valkyrie, Draugr, and Huldufolk packs on PC.
Premium packs are normally purchased with an in-game currency called Helix Credits. Players will need to spend at least $20 to get enough credit to unlock one of Valhalla’s premium cosmetic packs. Some players have used this unofficial method to get around that cost.
Be wary if you decide to take this route, though. Downloading tools like this one can cause unintended harm to your game and Ubisoft could punish those who use the software with Valhalla. You also potentially open up your PC to hackers.
For those looking to spend more money on Ubisoft’s viking simulator, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s dice game, Orlog, is becoming a real-world dice game as well. Ubisoft announced that a physical version of the game would come sometime in 2021.
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Black Friday had one of the best gaming keyboard deals we’ve seen in quite a while, with an $85 discount on Razer’s BlackWidow Elite. And while that has since expired, Cyber Monday is bringing some more great keyboard deals. One of the best Cyber Monday deals features the Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2 gaming keyboard for $100, down from its regular price of $160. This deal is only available today, November 30. If you want a great gaming keyboard, the Corsair K70 is a great choice, but supplies likely won’t last long, so you’ll want to act quickly.
The Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2 gaming keyboard comes with light and tactile Cherry MX Brown switches, textured keycaps for FPS and MOBA players, and dedicated media controls. It also boasts three profiles that you can store customizations on–including for macros and lighting–through Corsair’s iCUE software.
Some of the K70’s other features include a Windows key lock mode to prevent you from tabbing out of games accidentally, a detachable soft-touch pad that helps with wrist support, and a USB passthrough port that you can plug USB 2.0 devices into, such as gaming headsets, mice, and more.
If you’re looking to watch the Arizona Cardinals face off against the San Francisco 49ers on December 26, you are going to need access to Amazon Prime or Twitch. Though the early and late games that day–the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins vs the Las Vegas Raiders, respectively–will still be broadcasted on TV the usual way, that middle game is Amazon and Twitch only. It’s a bit confusing though, since viewers should also be able to catch the game via other NFL, Yahoo Sports, 49ers, and Cardinals platforms.
Though it sounds a bit funky, this definitely is not the first time the NFL has played around with giving different platforms streaming and broadcasting rights. Previous games have streamed on Twitter and Yahoo, sometimes exclusively. Additionally, the NFL previously announced a Wild Card playoff game in January will give streaming rights to NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock, with NBCU’s Telemundo gaining control of the broadcasting rights.
Amazon has already been a streaming partner of the NFL for Thursday Night Football, with a multi-year contract allowing it to stream games concurrently with Fox’s linear television broadcasts. According to , initial data has shown that these football streams have not done huge numbers, but since many viewers are cutting the cord and moving towards streaming this seems to be a future-proofing move on the NFL’s part.
There are multiple major rights deals with league broadcast partners coming up for renewal in 2022 and the landscape for traditional broadcasters that use linear ratings is changing rapidly with the rise of giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon in the industry. Despite the strides these companies have been taking in the world of sports streaming and broadcasting, most analysts expect that current rights holders will retain those rights, though their valuations will probably increase.
George Lucas’ 1988 fantasy movie Willow is set to get a new TV sequel, which is being produced by original director Ron Howard and is being made for Disney+. Three of the main stars of the show have now been announced.
As reported by Variety, Ellie Bamber, Cailee Spaeny, and Erin Kellyman are all in talks to play lead roles in the Willow show. Bamber previously appeared in Nocturnal Animals and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Spaeny recently starred in Devs and the horror sequel The Craft: Legacy, and Kellyman played the mercenary Enfys Nest in Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story.
No details have been revealed about their characters so far, and we know nothing about the plot of the show, other than the fact it’s a sequel set many years after the movie. However, it’s been confirmed that Warwick Davis will reprise his role as the movie’s heroic main character, Willow Ufgood.
The showrunners for the Willow series will be Jonathan Kasdan, who co-wrote Solo, and Wendy Mericle, who was co-showrunner on The CW’s Arrow. Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu will helm the pilot.