Video game conventions are happening again

about X hours ago from
Video game conventions are happening again

Convention host ReedPop announced Tuesday that PAX West will return in September — the first major gaming event to be held in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic put large, group gatherings on hold last year. The convention will be held in Seattle on Sept. 3-6 at the Washington State Convention Center.

Tickers for the event will be on sale over the next two weeks, ReedPop said.

Left 4 Dead’s original crew is back (in a different zombie game)

about X hours ago from
Left 4 Dead’s original crew is back (in a different zombie game)

Zombie Army 4: Dead War is a game where players battle the zombie armies of Hitler as they pour forth from a Hellmouth. It’s a terrible world where Europe is overrun by the walking dead, and it takes a lot of firepower to clean it up. Well, reinforcements have arrived.

The original cast of Left 4 Dead: Zoey, Francis, Louis, and Bill, are all playable characters in the game’s latest season, Rebellion Entertainment announced on Tuesday. Zombie Army 4’s latest update also adds a new map and mission. Players can delve into the Abaddon Asylum in the second mission of the “Return to Hell” campaign, where players must hunt down the deadly Baron Umbra.

Leos Carax’s Annette will stream on Amazon Prime on August 20

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Leos Carax’s Annette will stream on Amazon Prime on August 20

Leos Carax, the director known for his eccentric 2012 fantasy film Holy Motors, has not released a feature film in nearly a decade. That’s about to change with Annette, an avant-garde musical drama starring Adam Driver (Paterson) and Marion Cotillard (Inception). A new trailer announces the film’s upcoming theatrical premiere, Aug. 6, as well as its streaming release, Aug. 20 on Amazon Prime Video.

Set in modern day Los Angeles, Annette focuses on the story of Henry (Driver), a stand-up comedian with “a fierce sense of humor” and Ann (Cotillard), a world-renowned opera singer. The pair fall in love with each other and have a child, Annette, a mysterious girl with an “exceptional destiny.”

Epic Games offers multiplayer tools free to developers

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Epic Games offers multiplayer tools free to developers

Voice chat and anti-cheat support are now among the free services Epic Games is offering to game developers, the publisher announced on Tuesday. The services are touted as the same ones supporting huge online hits like Fortnite and Rocket League.

“Operating voice communications and anti-cheat in a popular online game can cost millions of dollars,” Epic said in a news release. The company said it’s offering its services free in hopes that “more developers [will] build cross-platform games.”

Luigi makes the Lego Super Mario set fun for kids and their parents

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Luigi makes the Lego Super Mario set fun for kids and their parents

After first announcing the introduction of Mario’s tall, timid brother Luigi into the Lego universe in April, Lego finally shared just how the brothers Mario will sync up for a new take on two-player cooperative (or competitive) Lego play. It also revealed four new Expansion Sets, two Power-Up Packs (Frog and Bee), and ten new random bagged Character Packs, all timed for an August 1 release on the first anniversary of the Nintendo and Lego collaboration. I had a chance to play with some of the new sets and came away impressed both with the new functionality and with how intuitive the play mechanics were ... not for me, but for my 7-year-old boss, who immediately understood just how to have fun for the both of us.

It probably goes without saying, but I’m old. While I love building a Lego set, it’s been a long time since I’ve played with a Lego set. Even the initial Lego Super Mario sets we purchased last summer (thank you for that timing, Lego, we needed it) were a ton of fun for me to watch my son play with. But with the new two-player gameplay introduced with the Luigi set, I found myself actively participating in the synchronized jumping and collaborative coin collecting built into the game’s new “dual play” mechanics.

Pokémon Go is changing again in response to the pandemic

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Pokémon Go is changing again in response to the pandemic

Over the past year, developer Niantic rolled out a series of gameplay tweaks to Pokémon Go designed to make the mobile game more playable under quarantine conditions. Many of those changes were a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, letting players enjoy the gotta-catch-’em-all game from home. On Monday, Niantic said in a blog post that it plans to remove or change some of those bonuses, while also adding new gameplay tweaks and retaining others.

The changes will roll out first in the United States and New Zealand, where new cases of the coronavirus are on the decline and practically nonexistent, respectively. (New Zealand has had less than 3,000 reported cases.) Niantic said players in the U.S. and New Zealand will start seeing changes at the end of July, after this year’s Pokémon Go Fest wraps, and that it will roll out those updates to other territories when it’s safe to do so.

Legends of Runeterra’s next expansion adds Ekko, Pyke, and Rek’sai

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Legends of Runeterra’s next expansion adds Ekko, Pyke, and Rek’sai

Legends of Runeterra, the card game set in the greater League of Legends universe, will feel quite different soon. On June 30, Riot will release Rise of the Underworlds, a new expansion with 40 cards. The patch also aims to make tons of balance changes to shake up the meta-game.

Rise of the Underworlds come with three new champions: the undead pirate Pyke, time-traveler punk Ekko, and monster queen Rek’sai. These playable characters in League of Legends make for powerful cards in Legends of Runeterra, and they are often the central point of several possible deck combinations.

Don’t sleep on Citizen Sleeper

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Don’t sleep on Citizen Sleeper

A lot of flashy and exciting games got announced during E3 earlier this month. A second trailer (and release date) for Elden Ring! Bethesda’s Starfield! Arkane’s Redfall! But of all the games shown during this year’s biggest gaming news event, the game that’s stuck in my mind the most is a little indie title whose trailer was tucked into the back half of the PC Gaming Show: Citizen Sleeper.

Developed by Gareth Damian Martin, aka Jump Over The Age, Citizen Sleeper is a slice-of-life narrative RPG inspired by tabletop roleplaying games. Set on a derelict space station named Erlin’s Eye, Citizen Sleeper’s cast consists of a ragtag group of outcasts, hackers, mercenaries, and everyday folks trying their best to escape from out of the long pernicious shadow of interplanetary capitalism and build a world where something better might be possible.

Twitch bans popular streamers Amouranth and Indiefoxx after yoga ASMR streams

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Twitch bans popular streamers Amouranth and Indiefoxx after yoga ASMR streams

Late Friday evening, Twitch banned content creators Kaitlyn “Amouranth” Siragusa and Jenelle “Indiefoxx” Dagres, two major streamers on the platform. The ban is another example of Twitch’s ongoing process to moderate what it deems as “sexually suggestive content.” Siragusa and Dagres had roughly 3.15 million and 934,610 followers on the platform respectively, per Streamscharts.

Both channels are still down at time the time of press.

Xbox Game Studios exec says the focus is diversity — in games, studios, and players

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Xbox Game Studios exec says the focus is diversity — in games, studios, and players

In Microsoft’s E3 2021 presentation last week, the Xbox maker finally revealed the fruits of its five-year plan to forge an empire. The company’s higher-ups have spent years building to this future, quietly toiling away at acquisitions and refining the Xbox platform while competitor Sony flashed its major cinematic games, like God of War and Spider-Man. Now, Microsoft has something to show for those seemingly slow years.

Based on the Xbox and Bethesda E3 showcase, there appears to be no one “type” of gamer that the company is targeting, with games both big and small in the mix. Then there’s the temptation of a good deal with Xbox Game Pass, and ease of access via Xbox Cloud Gaming. But the company’s focus on inclusivity goes deeper than that, Xbox Game Studios publishing head Peter Wyse told Polygon. Inclusivity is a core tenet for the company, beyond its games.