Blizzard is updating Warcraft 3. Patch 1.29 is being tested now, and once it’s released to the general audience, the classic real-time strategy game will finally have widescreen support for modern resolutions. Along with widescreen options, Blizzard is giving the game a blance pass, increasing the player count in lobbies to 24, and improving the game’s editor. For the Horde!
To celebrate, Blizzard is sponsoring a special tournament. The Warcraft 3 Invitational will be broadcast on Twitch on February 27th to the 28th. It will feature old-school Warcraft 3 champs as well as new esports stars clicking madly on peasants and peons.
The violence-free “edutainment” Discovery Tour feature for Assassin’s Creed Origin is out now. It opens up the whole game map for exploration, disables any conflicts like angry Roman soldiers or crocodiles, and presents 75 walking tours of virtual Egypt. But there’s a problem. Sharp-eyed porn hounds have noticed that all the game’s statuary have their naughty bits covered with seashells in this mode. Scallops everywhere! “How can you censor art boobies in a piece of software meant for classrooms?” countless nerds ask. Don’t fret. There is still brazen nudity in paintings and wall decorations. Also, there may be a rock formation in Giza that looks a bit like a wang if you squint hard enough.
I speak with Ryan Hewer from Little Red Dog Games about Space Alert, Papers Please, Serenity, and Flowers for Algernon, which all relate to Deep Sixed, his game about flying a spaceship unfit for space.
Electronic Arts has announced Burnout Paradise Remastered. It’s an all-in-one hi-def 4K version of Burnout Paradise for the newest generation of consoles. You can get all the vehicular assaults, billboard smashing, Avril Lavigne, and Guns N’ Roses you can handle from a time when a dynamic in-game online score chase in an open-world format was an amazing new idea.
Burnout Paradise Remastered will launch on March 16th.
Dark Star was John Carpenter’s 1974 riff on 2001: A Space Odyssey. Imagine 2001 without Kubrick’s visionary serenity, where the astronauts are the hippies, stoners, and surfers a USC film school student would have known in 1974. That’s screenwriter Dan O’Bannon in the foreground as Pinback. To release a planet-busting bomb, he twists his arms inward to grasp two dials or levers. It doesn’t look very comfortable. He holds it for the countdown from 10, and then for the release, he sharply rotates his hands outward. It’s the gesture a magician would do to reveal which hand the quarter is in.
Look out, legions! It’s going to be girls night out in Total War: Rome 2’s next DLC. The Desert Kingdoms Culture Pack features the Kush, Saba, Nabatea, and Masaesyli factions, each with new units and cultural traits. Teuta and Cleopatra join the game as new leaders free for everyone’s use. In fact, the free portion of the update enhances women’s roles throughout the game. There are now female generals in some factions, women can wield political influence, and marriage now has wider political ramifications. Shout out gals!
Throughout Barbie’s 59-year existence she’s been in all manner of inspirational careers. Barbie was an astronaut, a member of Congress, a McDonald’s worker, Supergirl, an airline pilot, a soldier, a CEO, riveter, welder, NASCAR driver and now, she can add raider of tombs to her resume. Tomb Raider Barbie is the latest variant of the popular doll from Mattel. She comes with a climbing pickaxe, adventure map, and one of the newer, less unrealistic body proportions that the toy company introduced in 2016. It’s less a tie-in to the game series and more about the March movie release of the Tomb Raider reboot starring Alicia Vikander in the title role. Vikander recently joked to BBC’s Graham Norton that “My breasts are not as pointy as the first Lara” referring to the original video game character.
Bethesda and Tango Gameworks have added an official first-person mode to The Evil Within 2. Originally discovered by modders as a limited sequence that was discarded from the published game, the entirety of The Evil Within 2 can now be experienced from behind the eyes of the main character.
The new mode is a free update on all platforms and is even available in the demo.
The Dragon Bones DLC and Update 17 is now live for the PC version of The Elder Scrolls online. Dragon Bones includes a quest story that culminates in a fight with a skeletal dragon along with the usual extras like a couple of dungeons, cosmetic accessories, pets, and mounts for 1500 funny money bits or about $15 in real-world cash. If bony giant lizards are your thing, then this DLC should be pleasing, although I think Zenimax Online really whiffed making an “Elder Bones” pun somewhere in here.
It’s Update 17 that should be of interest to everyone. This free base game update comes with an overhaul of combat, a home storage system, an outfit feature, and a sort of dynamic Skills Advisor to help guide players when leveling up and allocating character points. This could be huge because one of the primary obstacles for new players is the complicated skills system that asks them to choose where to allocate precious points without much in-game information. It’s been a longstanding criticism of the game, in fact, one could say it was an elder bone to pick. (Worth it!)
Dragon Bones and Update 17 will be available for the console versions of The Elder Scrolls Online on February 27th.
The boardgame renaissance began about ten years ago when humankind finally invented good boardgame design. It had taken centuries. Previously, we had a bunch of roll-and-move junk, nerdyman wargames no one cared about, and old chestnuts like chess, Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan. Things like worker placement, deck building, and traitor mechanics hadn’t been invented yet. It was a dark time.
Blanka, everyone’s favorite South American electric-powered combatant, is coming to Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Conspicuously absent since Street Fighter IV, Blanka’s return to the series marks the second installment of the Season 3 Character Pass which will also adds five other, lesser characters to the game over the next few months. Blanka is green, barrel rolls into opponents, and has amazing hair. They could rename the game Blanka Fighter and I’d be okay with that.
Blanka launches onto Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition on February 20th.
Next week: Black Panther. Also, our Make Us Watch Whatever You Want 2018 Fund Drive is officially underway! For every dollar you contribute to our PayPal account at 3×[email protected], you get a vote for the drawing to be held at midnight Pacific on March 11 to determine which movie we’re doing for the March 18 podcast.
There’s only so much you can do with characters lost in the woods stalked by a malicious supernatural presence. At some point, the presence is just going to kill them or drive them mad. Now the story is over. GG.
But Adam Neville’s novel, The Ritual, realizes this. So after subjecting its lost characters to brutality, exhaustion, and terror, it does something different and a little silly. It goes from scarily horrific to absurdly horrific. If you were to turn it into a movie, it would feel like two different movies. Maybe even a bait and switch. Which explains why the adaptation of The Ritual, just released on Netflix, is completely uninterested in the second half of Neville’s novel. What’s left is competent, but mostly unremarkable. There’s only so much you can do with characters lost in the woods stalked by a malicious presense.
The script leans a little too hard into exploring the main character’s psyche, which is problematic when he’s the least interesting character. At least Rafe Spall is pretty good at doing least interesting. And director David Bruckner visually manifests his psyche in some strange set pieces. If you look at The Ritual as a creature feature, it does what it needs to do, despite a forced attempt to live up to the title. But if you’re looking for a lively twist or an unexpected payoff, you’re just going to have to read Neville’s book. The woods in this adaptation are well trodden and entirely familiar.