It’s time for loot boxes to appear in Ghost Recon: Wildlands

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Ubisoft’s freewheeling open world shooter is getting loot boxes. Battle Crates, coming with the next Ghost Recon: Wildlands title update, will bring all the vanity item gambling the game was missing. Spec Ops Crates will contain items usable by players in the game’s campaign mode, and Ghost War Crates will have items meant for the player vs player modes. Ghost War Crate items will only be cosmetic, while the Spec Ops items can include exclusive weapons, vehicles, and consumable items.

Just like any good pusher, Ubisoft will give all customers a free hit to start. Everyone will get a Spec Ops and Ghost War crate as a sample when the feature goes live. Additional crates will, of course, be offered for sale.

New Microsoft games will launch on Xbox Game Pass

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Microsoft will release new first-party Xbox games on Xbox Game Pass on their global retail launch dates. Subscribers to Microsoft’s buffet game service will play Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, the next Forza, the next Halo, and anything else Microsoft Game Studios publishes on the same day everyone else gets to buy them. Going forward, Xbox Game Pass won’t just be a service for older games, significantly increasing its value to people unwilling to pay for access to titles that may have already gone on deep discount or even been offered as freebies in the Games for Gold program.

Xbox Game Pass launched in June 2017. It costs $9.99 per month to subscribe.

This is how you sell Fortnite in Korea

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Everything about this commercial is precious. This advertisement may mark the official launch of Epic’s Fornite in South Korea or it might be hawking bubblegum disco ramen. It’s tough to tell. All I know is that at about 25 seconds in, the main actor does a great job replicating the in-game “floss” dance move.

Rust is leaving early access for later access

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Rust is finally leaving early access on February 8th. Don’t get too excited. According to developer Garry Newman, this isn’t a milestone for fanfare and fuss. Development will proceed essentially unchanged, except for a price increase from $19.99 to $34.99. What’s the big deal then?

Think of it more like we’re leaving Prototyping and entering Alpha.

It’s a bit “have your cake and eat it too” for a game that’s been in early access for four years, but Facepunch Studios points out that they’ve come a long way since their 2013 launch. They went from a zombie apocalypse survival crafter to a genital apocalypse survival crafter.

The surprising return of Yume Nikki

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You probably haven’t heard of Yume Nikki from an unknown designer going by the moniker Kikiyama. Even if you’d heard of it since its debut in 2004 on a popular Japanese forum, it’s likely you haven’t played it. Translation issues aside, a surreal and unguided journey through a woman’s nightmares isn’t the kind of thing that appeals to the general audience. Based on the sometimes confounding and inscrutible gameplay, dark subject matter, and the mystery of the identity of Kikiyama, it became something of a cult experience. Slowly, the game attracted fans, but most understood that Yume Nikki would always be an obscure footnote in gaming.

Imagine their surprise when Yume Nikki popped up on Steam a few days ago for free. Not only that, it launched with a countdown (now at six days) to a new Yume Nikki experience! Publisher AGM Playsim, working with Kadokawa, confirms that the upcoming Yume Nikki title is being done with the help of the mysterious Kikiyama. As you might expect, fans of the game have erupted into a tizzy over the announcement. Whatever is coming is sure to set the Yume Nikki fandom working on new enigmas.

It’s tough to be optimistic about Paragon

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Paragon, Epic Games’ other free-to-play game, may be in trouble. In a frank post on Reddit, Epic’s Edgar Diaz admitted that development has slowed as internal discussions turn to the issues surrounding the game. Paragon just isn’t retaining players at a sustainable rate. According to Epic’s data, the majority of new players do not continue to play past the first month; a significant problem for a multiplayer team experience. Further complicating things is the runaway success of Epic’s own Fortnite, specifically the Battle Royale mode, which is proving to be so popular that Epic has shifted Paragon team members over to help support that game.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be figuring out if and how we can evolve Paragon to achieve growth and success, and trying some things internally. In the meantime, Paragon’s release cadence will be slower.

Paragon launched in March 2016 as a pay-to-play early access title, but opened up as a public free-to-play game in February 2017.

Do you know the way to VRChat?

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VRChat, a free 3D virtual social media playspace, has over 1.5 million installs, making it one of the most widely used VR applications. Spurred mostly by streamers spamming questionable meme humor based on the Ugandan action movie Who Killed Captain Alex? combined with a badly modeled Knuckles from the Sonic games, VRChat has exploded in popularity. Helping its growth is the fact that a VR rig is not needed to partake in the festivities, which includes lots of janky user-made content. Free and memes? That’s YouTube gold!

As with any activity in meme culture, unsavory elements have crept into the scene to the point that the developers have had to write an open letter to the community asking them to be cool. While they welcome the large player pool, they want to encourage healthy and less offensive interactions. To that end, the team is implementing a moderation sytem and user blocking. Enjoy your offensive memes while you can.

Say hello to Stardew Valley’s newest residents

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Stardew Valley’s Eric Barone tweeted the above image showing his weekend multiplayer test session. Just a reminder that multiplayer is coming to the farm village simulator soon. According to Barone, the network code is “solid” and he’s focused on bringing the update to the public.

Yes. That’s a flamingo in the middle of the image. It’s likely a new addition to the game that we’ll see added with cooperative play.

Prepare to die again and again in Dark Souls on Switch

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Praise the sun! From Software announced Dark Souls: Remastered is coming for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC in May. Like the previously released Prepare to Die Edition, Remastered will include the Artorias of the Abyss DLC. On Switch, Remastered will play at 30 frames per second in 1080p when docked, and 720p when in handheld mode. On Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Remastered will run at 60fps at 1080p upscaled to 4K resolution. The PC version will correct the shortcomings of Prepare to Die by running in native 4K at 60fps. All versions of Remastered will feature multiplayer invasions with up to six players, an improvement from the original game’s max of four players.

While this news may be a double, or even triple, dip plea for “git gud” veterans, Dark Souls: Remastered does mark the first appearance for the series on a Nintendo system. Mario fans can finally experience the wonders of Blighttown.

Loot crates may become a console-wide thing on Xbox

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A report from Windows Central asserts that the upcoming revamp of the Xbox Avatar feature will include a “career” system with levels, quests, and even cosmetic loot crate rewards. The Avatar reboot, first previewed back at E3 2017, showcased the company’s commitment to adding more diversity and options to the virtual characters, but contained few details on any meta-game changes. The new report cautions that any or all of the information on loot crates and ranks could be test runs of the system, but code was gleaned from preview builds that matched what Windows Central had gathered from other sources. In an interview last August, Corporate Vice President Mike Ybarra stated that the Xbox Achievement and Avatar features were being looked at with an eye towards better reflecting an Xbox player’s accomplishments rather than just boiling it all down to a raw score. What better way to celebrate that than a random drop of virtual cosmetic junk?

The new Xbox Avatar system is expected to release this year.

18 million people tried to use Steam at the same time

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On January 8th, Steam hit 18 million concurrent users, a new record for Valve’s PC gaming service. (18,363,471 to be exact at around six in the morning Pacific Time.) That’s up about 4 million from a year ago. About 3 of the 18 million souls were trying to get into PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, making it the most popular game on the client. In second place, Dota 2 with approximately 765,000 players, has a long way to go to catch up. If Valve doesn’t watch it, this Steam idea may catch on.

This Civilization V mod is a product of the University of Cambridge

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The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, an academic research think-tank in the University of Cambridge, has published a Superintelligence mod for Civilization V. The mod features the possibility of “superintelligent” artificial intelligence, that if left unchecked, can go rogue, destroy humanity, and result in a game over for the player. In game terms, the mod replaces the normal science victory condition that involves building an interstellar craft to leave Earth, with an AI technology track that can either evolve into an extinction-level AI like Skynet or a benevolent one like… Well, there really aren’t any I can think of. Deep Thought is about as nice as they get in movies.

Paladins’ new Battlegrounds mode puts chicken dinners and heroes together

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Hi-Rez Studios has announced the addition of a Battle Royale style Battlegrounds mode for Paladins: Champions of the Realm. Just like the uber-popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the Paladins version will drop 100 players onto a large, but ever-shrinking, map to kill each other until only one team stands alone. Hi-Rez calls it the “first-ever hero shooter battle royale” because it blends elements of its ongoing MOBA with the upstart phenomenon. There has to be room for more Battlegrounds, right?

How many times would you watch a Battlegrounds movie in the theater?

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The CEO of PUBG Corporation, would like to see PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds made into a movie someday. Not only that, Chang Han Kim told Inven Global that he can imagine a whole cross-media universe of Battlegrounds.

“We want to take part in diverse industries including Esports, movies, drama, cartoons, animation, and more. In fact, we received a couple of love calls from a number of developers in Hollywood and Netflix.”

It may sound silly to think about a movie or multiple-part series based on the basically plot-free Battlegrounds, but that never stopped Hollywood when enough money is on the line. If they can turn Battleship or emojis into movies, why not a rip off of Battle Royale?