Divinity: Original Sin 2 is going to be a problem for Boo lovers

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That’s Sir Lora the Squirrel Knight. His story, and an opportunity to gain him as a companion, is a pre-order bonus for the Definitive Edition of Divinity: Original Sin 2. Folks that already have the regular game on PC will just get him and the Definitive Edition for free when it launches.

Other changes and additions to Divinity: Original Sin 2 coming with the Definitive Edition are outlined in this video from Larian Studios. The developers have adjusted 150,000 words in text and recorded 130,000 new spoken bits of dialog. A “story mode” difficulty is being added that combat-averse players should find even easier than the game’s current “explorer mode” option. A new tutorial area will greet novice players. Returning players will see a ton of balance and performance improvements. Finally, there’s Sir Lora and his Great Acorn apocalypse.

Like Divinity: Original Sin’s upgrade, this sequel’s Definitive Edition on PC will be a separate install. PC owners will have the option of playing both versions. The Definitive Edition launches in August.

Battlegrounds switches to an event pass system for unlocks

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is rolling out a time-limited season pass system for unlocks along with the addition of the Sanhok map to the public game. In a lengthy announcement, the PUBG Corp explained that the Event Pass will be progression-based and will dole out rewards to players as they complete missions and achieve level milestones. Players that do not buy immediately, can still participate and track their progress, then purchase the pass before it ends and all previously attained rewards will be unlocked at that time. A rather generous proposition for hesitant players.

Savvy battle royale players have noted the broad similarities to the way Fortnite handles its Battle Pass system, with most applauding the change. Sanhok and the Event Pass launches on June 22nd.

Best thing you’ll see all week: The Rider

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I wear glasses. I would not survive in the wild. I would be one of the last to see a predator coming. My weak eyes would be culled from the genetic pool. Humanity would be stronger for it. But that’s not how humanity works, at any level. Whether it’s the near-sighted, the simple-minded, the infirm, the sickly, or even the completely shattered, our capacity for empathy compels us to value all human life. The religious traditions that knitted this into our civilization fall away, yet we still feel it keenly. It is a fundamental part of humanity. We believe more in being alive than being strong.

Chloe Zhao’s The Rider is a laconic yet lyrical expression of this idea, found in the barren expanse of South Dakota, among people who have the audacity to sit on top of a thousand pounds of brutish flesh that don’t want to be sat on. It bears a structural similarity to Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. Mickey Rourke’s character, beset by age, injury, and exhaustion, can no longer do what he’s been doing all his life. His resolution is tragic and perhaps relatable, but facile. Might as well jump, The Wrestler eventually concludes.

The Rider knows the question of survival isn’t that simple. You can contrast the two movies by their relationship to staples. They’re the opening in The Rider and a turning point in The Wrestler, but each making a point about the limitations of the flesh. Both movies are about entertainers who wrestle brute strength into submission as a form of showmanship. But whereas The Wrestler belongs in the world of contrived stagecraft, The Rider situates itself alongside a very different world, an older world, a world that lives in the land, with a relationship to history and nature. The scene of Brady extending his hand to a panicked horse, a gesture combining empathy and dominion, puts him in a tradition going back through the Comanche, the Spaniards, the Mongols, the Macedonians, all of whom built empires on the backs of their powerful horses. But we don’t do empires anymore, at least not with cavalry. Horses, like cowboys, are a relic.

Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds, a vicious sneer at the lack of empathy among the rich, uses horses as a metaphor. Actual horses are barely in the movie. But Zhao, who obviously appreciates the seemingly indomitable power of these beasts, isn’t interested in metaphors. She’s interested in truths. Before I saw The Rider, the only thing I knew about it was that it starred Rodrigo Santoro, who I’ve seen most recently as Thandie Newton’s cowboy love interest in Westworld. Or so I thought from looking at the poster. Boy, did I feel silly. To understand Zhao’s lack of interest in metaphors, to understand her approach to the usual trappings of moviemaking, acting, and even storytelling, to understand that The Rider is about inveterate truths that define humanity, you need look no further than the cast list.

You’ll never be as happy as these Farming Simulator 19 fans

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John Deere equipment is finally coming to Farming Simulator. While you were drooling over E3 fodder like Ellie’s kiss in The Last of Us 2, Smash getting Ridley, or Fallout 76 dropping nukes in West Virginia, fans of the Giants Software Farming Simulator games were going nuts for a green and yellow tractor. John Deere’s iconic line of tractors will be in Farming Simulator 19, marking the first time the brand has officially joined the stable (pun intended) of machines in the series.

Farming Simulator 19 is still on track for a late 2018 release.

For Honor’s next big update has a lot of personality

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For Honor’s free update releasing concurrently with the recently announced Catching Fire expansion contains a significant makeover. The changes include an overhaul to the characters turning them into full hero personalities with stories and dialog. It won’t be “knight with a sword” after the update. It might become “Rokknar the Killonator” who has mommy issues and wants to retire to the countryside once the fighting is done. Perhaps For Honor can get the kind of fan-fiction Overwatch has all the time?

Is a Dead or Alive 6 without embarrassment a Dead or Alive game?

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Dead or Alive 6 will include less sexy fanservice. Game director Yohei Shimbori doesn’t want to lose the essence of the Dead or Alive fighting game series, but the developer acknowledged that the upcoming game will tone down the sexualization of its female fighters. Costumes will be designed to more closely ape modern superhero outfits, and the infamous “boob physics” have been scaled back. Shimbori told Eurogamer that the new attitude represents their commitment to being a serious competitive game.

“This is a fighting game. We felt people were not looking at this as a pure fighting game. They were looking into something that was the wrong direction. So we wanted to make sure this is a fighting game first.”

Presumably, fans will still be able to depend on the Dead or Alive Xtreme series for their jiggle excitement.

The pyramids of Montana are now available in Far Cry 5

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The latest update for Far Cry 5 is now available. Title Update 7 tweaks some missions in the base game, fixes some bugs in the Hours of Darkness DLC, and generally pops a band-aid on some issues. The real news is that assets from Assassin’s Creed Origins have been added to the game’s editor and the male or female Origins costume is now in the player’s wardrobe. This means that if you’re proficient with the Far Cry 5 editor, you can create that first-person Assassin’s Creed experience you’ve always been looking for in other games.

Black Ops 4 bucks the trend and sticks with a season pass for multiplayer maps

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a season pass. The Black Ops Pass includes a bonus zombies mode mission that will be available at launch, four additional zombies missions available later, twelve standard multiplayer maps spread throughout the duration of the season, and four special characters for the Blackout battle royale mode. In a kick in the face to fans, content in the pass will not be available separately according to the game’s support page, an unwelcome change from the way previous Call of Duty games have operated.

Q: Will I be able to buy parts of Black Ops Pass content individually, like DLC Map Packs from previous Call of Duty games?

A: No. The contents included in Black Ops Pass may only be purchased as a bundle.

In attempt to quell backlash over the pass news, a developer representative on Reddit cited the long record of support for Black Ops 3.

With Black Ops 3, we’re three years after release, and we continue to support it with new content and continuous updates – and we’re not even done yet. Our commitment to the game has maintained engagement…and Black Ops 4 has far more post-release updates planned for the entire community. In fact, it’s a game that was built for expansion. Launch day is just the beginning of a long journey.

It’s a disappointing decision from Activision and Treyarch that goes against the current trend in the industry. Map packs may have been the accepted standard for getting more revenue from multiplayer gamers for the past few years, but popular games like Overwatch, Fortnite, Rainbow Six: Siege, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds have chosen to give maps away for free while enticing players to spend on money on cosmetics or early access to other content. Even EA’s tentpole shooters are doing away with map packs.

While no separate pricing is available for now, the Black Ops Pass can be pre-purchased with the “deluxe” versions of the game. The season pass for Call of Duty: WWII is $50 by itself.

Nintendo gave everyone twenty-five minutes of Smash for E3 2018

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Are you looking forward to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Nintendo Switch? How much do you want it? Do you love it enough to watch almost a half-hour of a detailed fighter parade, move demonstration, and an exhausting reel of changes from previous games? Good news! The Nintendo E3 2018 presentation was basically the Smash show.

In the other third of the presentation, Nintendo premiered the trailers for Daemon X Machina, Super Mario Party, Fire Emblem Three Houses, and Overcooked 2. Games getting another look included Fortnite Battle Royale, (available now on the Nintendo eShop) Hollow Knight, Octopath Traveler, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna The Golden Country, Killer Queen Black, and the Octo expansion for Splatoon 2.

Sony moved the crowd, followed a samurai, and made Reedus carry a baby for E3 2018

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Sony’s E3 2018 show was a bit odd. Not Ubisoft quirky, but just plain weird. First they put everyone in a makeshift church tent, and played some banjo for everyone. Then Naughty Dog premiered some gameplay from The Last of Us Part II. Once Ellie was done getting her Lara Croft murder spree on, Sony had the audience move out of the tent and into the regular auditorium for the rest of the show. While that was going on, an awkward panel of hosts at an ESPN-style desk showed off Call of Duty: Black Ops multiplayer maps remade in Black Ops 3 to promote Black Ops 4. There was an underwhelming trailer for Days Gone. Then, a gaggle of PlayStation VR stuff was played. At the end, Destiny 2: Forsaken got a vague teaser.

When the lights came up in the main auditorium, a puzzled crowd watched someone play a bamboo flute in front of a large screen showing videogame grass blowing in the wind. Thankfully, this was the prep for the Ghost of Tsushima gameplay trailer showcasing some violent samurai antics. We got a new Pirates of the Caribbean trailer for Kingdom Hearts III. Remedy Entertainment announced Control, which looks like the best parts of Quantum Break and Alan Wake combined. A rat discovered the remake of Resident Evil 2. Hideo Kojima’s super odd Death Stranding confused everyone with Norman Reedus acting like the walkabout delivery service, then CG young Lindsay Wagner busted in and really perplexed viewers. Finally, Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games returned us to the normal world of AAA action videogames.

It was a nice try from Sony, but they’ll have to get some drum major pandas and dancing cartoon girls next year to outdo Ubisoft.

Ubisoft pitched celebrities, sequels, and music for E3 2018

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Ubisoft gonna Ubisoft at E3. It’s always interesting to see how Ubisoft’s quirky sensibilities translate to E3. You have the normal big budget stuff like The Crew 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and The Division 2, but then you have frankly strange stuff like a four minute live performance of music from Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure.

That wasn’t the weirdest thing. There was the intro from Just Dance 2019 with a truck dock as a backdrop. Joseph Gordon-Levitt pimped his media company Hit Record (pronounced like the verb “to record” and not the noun) that’s working with Ubisoft on Beyond Good & Evil 2. Elijah Wood then hyped his media company Spectrevision that’s partnering with Ubisoft on Transference. Starlink: Battle for Atlas is still a toys-to-life game, but on Nintendo Switch you can play with the Arwing from Star Fox. The cherry on top was when Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot brought Shigeru Miyamoto on stage to present a nifty model of the Arwing to him.

For Honor’s starter edition is completely free on PC through Uplay now, and Chinese combatants are coming in the Marching Fire expansion. Ubisoft also announced a new Trials game. Trials Rising is kicking off a beta soon. Finally, Skull & Bones, the multiplayer ship-to-ship pirate combat game got a neat cinematic trailer.

Bethesda’s E3 2018 show told a Skyrim joke that’s not a joke

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Skyrim is on everything! That’s the joke. Everyone has said it at least once since the third or fourth version of the game was announced. Skyrim VR, Skyrim Special Edition, Skyrim for Nintendo Switch, Skyrim, Skyrim, Skyrim. Bethesda joined the fun in their E3 show with the above video. Skyrim is on pagers, refrigerators, and Alexa now. Get it? But wait! Skyrim on Amazon Alexa is not just make believe. It’s real.

Then, Todd Howard trolled everyone with a teaser for The Elder Scrolls VI.