The Fortnite season 11 event has officially happened, and it appears that the original Fortnite map – the only Fortnite map – is gone. The original map appears to have blown up after a series of rockets smashed into a central point on the map, just below the frozen-in-time meteor. Now, all that’s left is a screen showing a black hole.
You can watch the entire event unfold in the video above.
Here’s what now happens when you log in to Fortnite:
One of the founders of Devolver Digital, the boutique publisher behind games like Hotline Miami and Genital Jousting, is eager to see Sony and Microsoft launch their next-generation platforms. Speaking to GameSpot at PAX Australia, Graeme Struthers said he’s excited about the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Project Scarlett in 2020 in part because those systems are expected to be attractive to all developers big and small.
This wasn’t always the case, as Struthers–who has been with the company since he co-founded it in 2009—pointed out that the PS3/Xbox 360 generation wasn’t the most inviting for indie developers.
“It’s great,” Struthers said of the upcoming release of the PS5 and next Xbox. “The previous generation, the one we’re coming to the end of, was the one for companies like ourselves–we were allowed in. Previously it was pretty hard to be on PS3 and Xbox 360. For next-gen, we’re in at the start. given the same opportunities as anybody else, which is great.”
While Struthers is indeed excited about the potential for the PS5 and next Xbox to grow the gaming category overall, the executive observed that the new consoles seem to be more iterative in nature instead of dramatically different or improved versions of their predecessors.
“I think it is ever harder to tell the differences [between new consoles] but it’s also cool that they’re both coming in with a new generation [of consoles] because it means they are going to invest more money in this space, which will create more users,” he said. “It’s good for everyone. And to have Nintendo in such good, vibrant health as well, you’ve got three console platforms and Apple Arcade to mull over and Steam and Epic.”
Devolver releases some of its games on consoles, but the company has always been and continues to be a PC-first and PC-focused publisher.
Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn’t shared much about its new Xbox. The console continues to be known only as Project Scarlett. What we do know, however, is that it will work with any Xbox One and Xbox One controllers you may already own, while the backwards compatibility support also extends to Xbox 360 and Original Xbox games. Microsoft will release Halo Infinite as a launch title for the new console.
One of Devolver’s biggest upcoming releases is the wacky, weird, and wonderful-looking sorta-battle royale game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout for PC and PS4 that’s due to launch in 2020.
GameSpot’s conversation with Struthers spanned numerous other topics, including secrecy in the video game industry, why subscription plans like Apple Arcade, Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, and others might hurt independent games, censorship in Australia, the origins of Devolver’s absurd E3 press conferences, and more. GameSpot will publish more from the interview in the time ahead, so keep checking back for more.
For more on the next generation of consoles, check out the stories linked below:
Humankind is the latest project from the minds behind the Endless franchise, a hit in the 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate) and turn-based strategy markets. Endless Legend in particular, which arguably put developer Amplitude on the map, told an entirely original tale rife with politicking and questions about the conception of freedom and humanity. The strategy-patterned chariot of the gameplay fed into those themes, with its branching narrative quests that touched on probing questions dealing with survival, religion, and the things that divide cultures and colonies.
Amplitude’s latest is ambitious in the way that it seeks to do the same thing, though the lessons it seeks to impart are less divorced from our own realities. Humankind is, quite literally, a choose-your-own-adventure look at the “glorious trajectory of human history,” according to the narrative director, Jeff Spock. The premise of the game is fairly straightforward. Featuring more of the 4X sensibilities that drove the studio’s previous titles, Humankind’s focus is no longer based in fantasy, as Endless Legend was, but on our real-world legacies.
From a demo we were shown, players start out in the Neolithic age, on the cusp between the Stone and the Bronze Age. You immediately have choices to make, as in any strategy game: Where will you roam? What will you prioritize? How will you ensure that your tale isn’t lost to time? Humankind asks you all of those questions and invites you to answer them by engaging in what can only be described as an exploration of humanity and its cultures. Your faction, usually locked by race or creed in other 4X games, is mutable. You can choose to play as an ancient Chinese dynasty one era and the Mayans the next, learning from every new culture that you choose to embrace.
The vagaries of your win conditions follow the same theme. It’s no longer a matter of being the most industrious, or being the most diplomatic out of a bunch of people who might be raving warmongers. Humankind asks you to leave your mark on the world. Whether it’s infamy or charity, you’re asked to make an impact as all of the different civilizations you get to play as have done. It feels like learning from actual human history and trying your best not to repeat its mistakes. You can choose to be more isolationist and to stay loyal to one faction for your entire playthrough, or pursue assimilation, rejection, or something in-between.
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According to Spock, Humankind is a labor of love for Amplitude. They were clear that this is the game they have always wanted to make: a title to interrogate history, diversity, and politics in today’s political and social climate. Those are challenging things to attempt, and we haven’t seen enough of the game to see where it falls on the spectrum between on-the-nose and ambitious.
Still, Spock believes that it’s “important to have a game asking those questions and to answer them if one wants to be a responsible game developer.” Seeing end-game footage of brutalist Western architecture perched alongside Qing-era pagodas in a sprawling megapolis made the studio’s idea real, even just for a few minutes. Amplitude maintains that there’s a lot of affection for humankind in Humankind, and we’re curious to see where it takes us, complete with the triumphs and foibles of our own history.
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers was released in mid-2019 to an almost unanimous standing ovation from the community and critics alike. One of the strengths of this expansion is its reverence for the stories that have been told in installments past. However, it tells these tales not through the sweeping statements about morality and the nature of war that veteran players might be used to, but rather through a focus on well-known characters within the game as well as their relationships to the world around them and each other.
Natsuko Ishikawa, the lead main scenario writer for Shadowbringers, and Takeo Suzuki, art team lead, are some of the minds who were responsible for reframing established character narratives and refining familiar systems in order to carry out the above. The design philosophies adopted by their respective departments have been instrumental in allowing this expansion to have delivered what is arguably the game’s most engaging content to date. GameSpot spoke to both Suzuki and Ishikawa to gain some insight into their process.
Natsuko Ishikawa (center) and Takeo Suzuki (right) during the Shadowbringers Post-mortem at PAX West 2019. (credit: PAX)
The latest installment in Final Fantasy XIV’s already-impressive canon has been praised for the way that it managed to weave in years of old lore whilst still managing to serve up a story that is potentially the biggest and the best that Square Enix’s flagship MMO has ever told. Stormblood, its predecessor, felt a little more like a clean slate in terms of expansion design when it took the Warrior of Light to a whole new continent and to a whole new conflict that really had only parts of it hinted at in previous quests.
By comparison, one might wonder whether or not the team at Square Enix felt constrained at all by the sheer amount of callbacks in the lore and threads of plotlines from A Realm Reborn that made up such a significant part of Shadowbringers. However, Ishikawa adopted the same core philosophy towards writing the Main Scenario for this expansion that she had when she was in charge of writing scenario content for Stormblood. “With Shadowbringers, it feels like it’s just a similar approach but on a larger scale. You’re pulling from other elements that have existed and kind of connecting the dots from there, creating one big story from there,” maintained Ishikawa. “We can’t say that there wasn’t any sort of limitation at all, but it was still a really fun experience for me, that I’m able to carry on the narrative that existed for a while and to expand upon it and building another story.”
This ability to draw on the wealth of established lore with Final Fantasy XIV is something that the design team at Square Enix sees as a strength. Suzuki, who has been working with the company since the Chrono Cross days, agrees with Ishikawa that what they’ve done with Shadowbringers is one of the great advantages of the game and that referencing its storied past is a boon.
This philosophy that focuses on the building blocks and small moments drawn from familiar reference points is perhaps best illustrated by the design process behind the cities of Eulmore and Amaurot: two new environments for you to explore in Shadowbringers that conveyed very poignant tales whilst also clearly being quest hubs. This meant that their primary mechanical focus was to place players convincingly within the central conflict of the game’s world. Eulmore, in particular, was a symbol of the corruption and the antagonism that seethed below the surface of Norvrandt for a large portion of the expansion.
Eulmore is a lavish upper-class utopia with a very ugly side.
In order to accurately convey the unsettling nature of Eulmore and its surroundings, Suzuki’s team had to consider not only the aesthetic of the location but also to put themselves in the shoes of the NPCs inhabiting the world in that particular area. After the art design team received information about the basics of each town, step one for Suzuki was to think about the type of people who would live in Eulmore.
“We do have the poorer people living at the base of that area, and so the background design team would try to imagine ‘What kind of life do these characters live?’ in that slum area. They then start to think about what elements we want to place in that world,” he elaborated. “From there, it’s very interesting, because it goes back to the game planning team and the game design team. They see certain elements like ‘Oh, they utilize pieces from broken ships’ or ‘There’s a flower they planted there’ and go ‘Oh, that’d be cool if they tied into a quest we wanted to place in that area’”.
This collaborative process is reflective of the emphasis that Square Enix has placed on interconnecting elements in Shadowbringers, ranging from the approach to developing new in-game lore to ensuring character continuity and growth for fan-favorites like the Scions (who have been around since A Realm Reborn). When quizzed on how familiar faces in the new expansion have grown and changed in an empathetic way, both Suzuki and Ishikawa identified characters that they had a soft spot for.
Ishikawa noted that Urianger had come a long way since his introduction in the base game. “When he was first introduced in A Realm Reborn you kind of had this Shakespearean feel; you had no clue what he’s saying,” she noted. “But by the time Shadowbringers hit, he’s choosing his words more carefully, and you actually see that he’s trying to choose words that people can “get.” I think the people that he traveled with have impacted him and he’s started to become more considerate about how he’s relaying and conveying what he feels.”
While Urianger’s manner of speech and his behavior have long been a source of amusement for fans, the way that the writing team incorporated those subtle changes to his demeanor whilst also crafting an entirely new personal arc for the Elezen gave both meaning and nuance to what was previously seen as a hammy, over-the-top affectation.
We can’t say that there wasn’t any sort of limitation at all, but it was still a really fun experience for me, that I’m able to carry on the narrative that existed for a while and to expand upon it and building another story. – Natsuko Ishikawa
It’s finding those little pockets of storytelling and capitalizing on them which helps balance Shadowbringers on that knife’s edge between characters being so different that they lose their relatability, and characters being so firmly entrenched in old lore that they don’t grow with the world around them. The most famous legacy character referenced in the latest expansion, Ardbert, could very easily have fallen into the latter category especially considering Suzuki’s fun fact that the team had actually repurposed his art assets for the expansion.
“When Ardbert was first introduced, he was the Warrior of Darkness that was responsible for the First falling under the influence under the flood of Light,” said Suzuki, who was of the opinion that Ardbert’s story didn’t initially conclude very well. “But through Shadowbringers, you talk with him and it feels like he gets a sort of resolution to his regrets and what he felt he was not able to accomplish, so that was very memorable for me.”
Small moments of storytelling were put into the Trust system; Alisaie keeps her composure during tragic events.
Suzuki and Ishikawa’s observations on the care that went into fleshing out the supporting cast of characters only reaffirms that Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion isn’t another re-do of the Chosen One trope but rather a story that places immense value on the power of friendship in the face of adversity. This is especially true of the Trust system, which Ishikawa recalls fondly even though she admitted to struggling with how to depict the various NPCs and their reactions to dungeons to account for player variability. “I also had to consider where I draw the line in depicting these NPCs and their reactions,” said Ishikawa. “To what point do we want to have these NPCs react to their environment and still make it enjoyable either way, whether you take them to the dungeon or not?”
This focus on adaptability and worldbuilding is one of the hallmarks of Shadowbringers. Through main scenario writing that focuses on those two elements and the game’s companions, players are given the chance to feel the impact of in-game decisions made as far back as A Realm Reborn. This was especially true for Ardbert, who is just one of many examples where lore has been refined over the course of a title in a humanizing way that is both relatable and meaningful, and ties into forward-looking content created specifically for the expansion like Eulmore and Amaurot. “It’s something that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish with a single standalone game,” says Ishikawa of the creative process behind this expansion, and she’s right. Shadowbringers is not shy about embracing all the lore that came before; it has evolved the precepts that made old content and characters so enjoyable, and it tells the most compelling tale in Final Fantasy XIV’s history because of it.
HBO has given the greenlight to a TV series reboot of the 80s/90s cult horror franchise Maniac Cop, about a killer ex-police officer who returns from the dead, seeking revenge on the people who wronged him.
As Deadline reports, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn is executive producing the project along with John Hyams (Z Nation, Black Summer) as part of Nefn’s new byNWR Originals studio.
Refn’s desire to revamp and remake Maniac Cop has been a passion project of his for a while, originally intending, back in 2016, for it to be new movie trilogy (to be directed by Hyams).
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Back in Stock: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade1Up Arcade Cabinet With Riser for $399.99
After a long hiatus, the TMNT arcade cabinet is back in stock. Not only do you get 4-player TMNT action, it also comes with a riser to make it a better fit for standing and defeating the Foot with your friends. Without the riser, Arcade1up cabinets are perfect for sitting and having a playthrough, but the riser really helps make it feel like an old-school arcade experience (just at 3/4 scale). You get the 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arcade game as well as the 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time.
This review contains mild plot details for the My Hero Academia Season 4 premiere, aka episode 64, “The Scoop on U.A. Class 1-A.” If you’re wondering where to watch MHA Season 4, you can watch via Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu.
The first episode of My Hero Academia Season 4 is here! And it’s… a recap episode? Well, yes, but it’s a really good one. Before throwing us into the main story arc of Season 4, My Hero Academia offers us the chance to reconnect with our favorite characters from U.A. Class 1-A, and introduces us to an honestly charming new character: reporter Tokuda Taneo. So, what’s the verdict on Season 4, episode 1?