Amazon's Lord Of The Rings TV Show Finds Its First Director

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Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings show is set to be the biggest in the studio's history, and pre-production has already started in New Zealand. It has now been announced that two episodes will be directed by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's JA Bayona.

Amazon has confirmed that Bayona will helm that first episodes in Season 1, and also executively produce alongside partner Belén Atienza. As well as last year's Jurassic World sequel, Bayona is known for the Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror The Orphanage and the acclaimed drama A Monster Calls.

In a statement, Bayona said: "J.R.R. Tolkien created one of the most extraordinary and inspiring stories of all time, and as a lifelong fan it is an honor and a joy to join this amazing team. I can't wait to take audiences around the world back to Middle-earth and have them discover the wonders of the Second Age, with a never-before-seen story."

Get Marvel's Spider-Man Free With PS4 Purchase, And More Great July 4th Deals

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Amazon Prime Day is right around the corner, but lots of American retailers are offering serious summer savings already this weekend in Fourth of July sales. Best Buy, Walmart, and Microsoft in particular all have some great deals on games and consoles that we've highlighted for you below so you can spend your Independence Day doing that most American of activities: shopping.

Get Marvel's Spider-Man Free With 1TB PS4 »

Best Buy is getting patriotic with a huge Fourth of July sale running now through this Saturday. There are big savings available across the store, but most notably, buying a 1TB PlayStation 4 console will net you a free copy of the fantastic Marvel's Spider-Man. You can also get set up for multiplayer on that console with the option to save $30 when you buy two DualShock controllers, which is half off the price of the second one. Best Buy is also offering the PS Classic retro console for a record-low $25. Note that My Best Buy members also get free shipping as part of the sale.

Rooster Teeth's Vicious Circle Is A Mario Kart-like Shooter That Wants You To Screw Over Your Friends

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Rooster Teeth's Vicious Circle Is A Mario Kart-like Shooter That Wants You To Screw Over Your Friends

If you've ever played Mario Kart or Mario Party, you're probably familiar with the vicious tactics required to win. By design, those games encourage you to be ruthless to your competitors, charting a path to victory by any means possible--even if that means stabbing them in the back. This approach to design is precisely what Rooster Teeth's upcoming PC multiplayer shooter Vicious Circle thrives upon. Described as an "uncooperative shooter," it's somewhat of an unusual breed against its contemporaries. Other shooters encourage jolly cooperation or heated PvP battles, but Vicious Circle is more about playing dirty and screwing over your friends--while being as entertaining to watch as possible.

At a glance, Vicious Circle resembles an asymmetrical multiplayer shooter, pitting a team of four mercenaries against a player-controlled giant chicken monster. If the monster kills all the mercenaries, it wins. On the other hand, the mercenaries win not by killing the monster but gathering a special resource called nuggets scattered across the map. Once they've collected enough, they can call in an evac and end the match, but there's a catch: only one mercenary can escape and emerge the winner.

Xbox Game Pass Early July Lineup For PC, Xbox One Announced

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Xbox has announced its next two batches of games included with its all-you-can-eat Game Pass subscription service. The announcement covers games coming over the next two weeks, and once again it lists the games as coming to console, PC, or both.

On July 4, Undertale will be available on PC, and Middle-earth: Shadow of War and My Time at Portia will be on both console and PC. Then on July 11, Timespinner and Unavowed will come to Game Pass for PC, Lego City Undercover will hit the console version, and Dead Rising 4 and Blazing Chrome will come to both.

Xbox Game Pass is available separately on PC and console for $10 apiece, but you can also get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $15, which includes Xbox Live Gold. You can still get a good deal on the combined package if you happen to have some existing Gold or Game Pass time. Gold also includes its own rotating free games, which this month includes Inside and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Here's Why PES 2020 Changed Its Name To "EFootball"

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Here's Why PES 2020 Changed Its Name To

When Konami revealed PES 2020, many fans noticed the game had a new naming convention. Gone was the full Pro Evolution Soccer title, to be replaced by the new eFootball moniker. Now, Konami has discussed its reasons for changing the series' name.

"The full product name moving forward will be "eFootball: PES," the franchise's European brand manager, Lennart Bobzien, told GameSpot. "For this year we've announced eFootball PES 2020. We want to put a bigger focus on esports moving forward. In the past we've already shown [this] by having competitions such as PES League and eFootball Pro, the professional club competition. Moving forward, there will be bigger esports competitions coming up. We simply thought that by including it in the product naming, we're making a statement and showing our community of fans, but also the wider audience, that esports will play a very big part moving forward.

"Talking about Pro Evolution Soccer--in Europe, it was always a tricky one, and when we discussed this repositioning we thought, let's call it football, it's a European market [so] we want to have football. We still keep PES in the product name since we feel that's still part of the heritage and we want to keep it in there. Therefore, the combination will be eFootball: PES."

Platinum Games Boss On PS5 And Next-Gen Xbox Scarlett: "It's More Of The Same"

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New game consoles from Microsoft and Sony are in development, but the head of Bayonetta developer Platinum Games is not all that excited by them, apparently. Studio head Atsushi Inaba told Video Game Chronicle that the new systems, the PlayStation 5 and Project Scarlett, are "more of the same."

"It's OK. And by that I mean, I'm sure that things will move faster, graphics will be better and maybe it will be easier with less wait times… that's good for the consumer," Inaba said. "But it's more of the same, quite frankly, compared to previous generations. It's nothing that's disruptive or super innovative, if you ask me."

Inaba went on to say that in the past, game consoles formerly featured "custom chips" that were not possible on PC. But today? "Now you look at it and they're just grabbing stuff that already exists," Inaba said.

NHL 20 Revealed With First Details: Battle Royale, New Commentary Team, Signature Shots, And More

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NHL 20 Revealed With First Details: Battle Royale, New Commentary Team, Signature Shots, And More

During the NHL Awards tonight in Las Vegas, EA Sports officially announced NHL 20, and the developer is promising some big changes for this year's instalment across gameplay, presentation, modes, and more. It appears to be one of the biggest and most substantial changes to the NHL series in years. EA released a lot of details about NHL 20, and to help make sense of it all we've broken it down by section into the key categories of things you need to know.

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs--a three-time All-Star and 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick--graces the cover of 2019's game. He had a monster debut season, scoring 40 goals and taking home the Calder Memorial Trophy for best rookie. In February 2019, the Leafs invested heavily in Matthews' future on the team when they signed him to a five-year, $58 million deal.

Moving to new gameplay features, EA Sports updated its Real Player Motion (RPM) technology with new "Signature Shots." This brings the unique shots of NHL superstars into the game, including Matthews' toe-drag wrist shot and PK Subban's heavy and powerful slapshot. Alexander Ovechkin's smooth-as-butter one-timer has also been brought into the game for NHL 20. Overall, EA Sports is promising "hundreds" of new shot animations.

Cyberpunk 2077 Dev Teases Witcher 3-Style Expansions

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Cyberpunk 2077 is finally releasing in April 2020, and it appears launch will be just the beginning for The Witcher developer's next big RPG. The game's UI coordinator, Alvin Liu, told Prima Games that he expects the game to receive expansions after launch, just like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

"We want to make sure everything's complete, but we also want to build open worlds," he said. "I know when I was playing The Witcher 3 and I finished everything, I still want to know what everyone was up to. I think we're going to have opportunities like that as well for Cyberpunk 2077."

Throughout Cyberpunk 2077, players will encounter characters and see them develop over time. The ending to the main game will be "rewarding," Liu said, though there may still be room for additional storytelling just like The Witcher 3.

Epic, EA Executives Appear At UK Government To Defend Loot Boxes And Microtransactions

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Executives from Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, and mega-publisher Electronic Arts, appeared in a United Kingdom government committee meeting today where they got grilled by lawmakers over loot boxes and microtransactions in their games.

The game executives, which included EA vice president of legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins and EA UK Country Manager Shaun Campbell, as well as Epic executives Matthew Weissinger (director of marketing) and Canon Pence (general counsel) spend more than two hours answering all manner of questions about their games and how they handle loot boxes and microtransactions.

EA's VP of legal and government affairs refuses to use the term 'lootboxes' in favor of 'surprise mechanics', compares them to Kinder Eggs, says they are not gambling and 'quite ethical'