Heroes of the Storm’s roster can see retirement looming

, | News

Heroes of the Storm is winding down. Blizzard is moving staff from Heroes of the Storm onto other projects. While the studio assures fans that they will continue to support the game by adding new heroes, and staging community events, the “cadence will change” from this point onward. Presumably, that operational pace will not be getting faster.

“Ultimately, we’re setting up the game for long-term sustainability.”

With the resource changes, there’s bad news for competitive players. Blizzard will not be holding the Heroes Global Championship or the Heroes of the Dorm tournaments in 2019.

Misunderstanding Terraforming Mars

, | Game reviews

Terraforming Mars is a great boardgame about an economic engine that traffics in money, metals, and energy, which are then funneled into projects to gradually turn Mars from a barren red board into a host for scientific marvels, lush forests, teeming cities, and sparkling oceans. It’s one of those lovely marriages of theme and mechanics that most boardgames aspire to.

Sadly, it’s a terrible videogame. Continue reading →

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam’s silly holiday event is better than the normal game

, | News

From now until the first week in January, you can experience Rising Storm 2: Vietnam the way a child would with the free Green Army Men Christmas Special event. The serious jungle and rubble aesthetic of the hardcore multiplayer shooter has given way to green and blue plastic army men, Christmas decorations, and a giant living room. It’s one of those goofy toy maps, but even the players are transformed into playthings. The scattered presents, model train, and furniture allows a lot more verticality than the normal realistic Rising Storm maps, and the vibrant colors and oversized props give everything a humorous flair, even when soldiers are screaming and grenades are cracking near you.

The special event Green Army Men concept comes from the team that won a Rising Storm 2 modding contest in April.

Infinity Blade swipes right out of existence

, | News

Epic Games has pulled the Infinity Blade trilogy of mobile games from the Apple App Store. All three games are no longer available to new users. If you have them in your account already, then you may download and play them again, (albeit without the in-app purchases) but you’re out of luck if you didn’t grab them before the removal. According to Epic’s post, the studio needs to concentrate on other projects like Fortnite, Spyjinx, and wooing indie developers to their new PC gaming store.

It’s not all bad news for fans of the series. Epic has put the Infinity Blade into Fortnite, so in a sense, it’s finally come to mobile platforms outside of Apple’s.

Things are getting chilly and witchery in Monster Hunter World

, | News

Capcom has announced the Iceborne expansion for Monster Hunter World. The snowy expansion adds new locations, more beasties to hunt, and a sleighful of new weapons. It will also increase the highest possible level for players. It’s what Monster Hunter vets call a “G Rank” expansion. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne is coming in autumn 2019 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the PC version launching sometime later.

If autumn 2019 is too far off for you, how about stalking Monster Hunter World’s baddies as the witchiest Witcher ever a bit earlier? You’ll be able to become Geralt of Rivia in a special collaboration between Capcom and CD Projekt Red starting in early 2019. The free update promises to blend Monster Hunter gameplay with “Witcher-inspired” quests, all while luxuriating in the smooth tones of Doug Cockle, the voice actor for Geralt in english.

The biggest news at The Game Awards was Epic’s launch of their store

, | News

The Game Awards 2018 had all the awkwardness, pomp, and marketing one would expect of a video game industry celebration. Between Christoph Waltz going to bat for keyboard and mouse, and Joel McHale not embarrassing everyone, there were premieres for lots of new games. Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds put a thumb in Bethesda’s eye. Ubisoft is actually continuing the story from Far Cry 5 with Far Cry: New Dawn. There was a hint of the next Dragon Age product. BioWare finally showed off some of the story bits from Anthem. The Stanley Parable is coming to consoles with new meta gameplay. Supergiant announced Hades. Avalanche and id’s Rage 2 now has a release window and a map filled with Ubi-stuff. It was all fine.

Buried in the middle of the show was Ashen. Now available on the Epic Games Store. The same being true of Hades and Hello Neighbor: Hide & Seek. Announced as coming first to the Epic Games Store were Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw, Journey, Maneater, and Satisfactory. Epic will also be giving away Subnautica for free starting on December 14th. In short, Epic let everyone know they mean business with their store.

As a bonus, Red Dead Redemption II did not win game of the year.

Will Fortnite be as popular without dancing?

, | News

Terrence “2 Milly” Ferguson, a popular New York rapper, is suing Epic Games over the inclusion of a dance in Fortnite. Ferguson alleges that the “Swipe It” emote in Fortnite is an unauthorized copy of the “Milly Rock” dance from his 2014 music video. Fortnite, like many games with a cosmetic element, cashes in on culture by turning memes and pop references into emotes, gestures, and skins. Ferguson is not the first person to complain about the lack of credit or compensation from Epic, but he is probably the most high-profile personality to file papers. “Scrubs” actor Donald Faison similarly accused the studio of swiping his moves as seen in this clip from the show.

Fortnite has drawn ire from many dance creators because of the massive amounts of money involved, as well as the sting of having the dances “appropriated” by the game. For example, many younger Fortnite players call this the “Fortnite Dance” due to it being one of the original emotes, despite it being more properly known as “The Floss” by its creator.

You can copyright “pantomimes and choreographic works” but it’s unclear if the Milly Rock, The Shoot Dance, or any of the other moves used by Epic would qualify under these rules due to the length of the routines.

When videogames turn annoying

, | Features

Why is it doing this? It’s not stopping. Sure, a couple clacks would make sense because something mechanical has happened and that’s a sound mechanical happenings make. Clack. But why is it continuing to happen? Why is it an ongoing thing?

clackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclack

This is utterly insufferable. It’s drowning out everything else. Why won’t it shut up?

clackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclackclack Continue reading →

The best warlord in Total War: Three Kingdoms may be a bandit queen

, | News

Meet Zheng Jiang. Fierce warrior, rebel, and bandit leader. She’s one of eleven playable warlords in Creative Assembly’s upcoming Total War: Three Kingdoms. According to her character profile, victory with her depends on playing a relentlessly offensive strategy. She needs infamy to succeed, and she gains infamy by capturing territory and winning battles. Infamy slowly trickles away with inactivity, so resting on her laurels is not an option. “Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.”

Best Judy Greer movie you’ll see all year: Adventures in Public School

, | Movie reviews

Judy Greer’s initial appeal was her girl-next-door beauty, straight out of Central Casting into the fantasy waitress role in Adaptation. But as she’s segued from girl-next-door to soccer-mom-next-door, her real appeal has emerged as something else. A quirky but earnest zeal. Sweetness and light, offset by just the right amount of crazy behind the eyes. When she smiles, it’s equal parts maternally beatific and ex-girlfriend lunatic. “You’ll never see these again!” she screeches as she rips open her blouse on Arrested Development.

So far, 2018 has dropped her into a handful of thankless roles. The mom in 12:17 to Paris, the mom in Ant Man and the Wasp, the mom in Halloween. I’m sensing a pattern here, along with a waste of her unique appeal. Fortunately, there is also this year’s Adventures in Public School, a lightly profane but affably Canadian coming of age comedy that gets Greer better than any of the expensive Hollywood nonsense that cast her just because she’s pretty.

The movie opens with a voiceover about the cosmos. Ugh. It seems our protagonist will be a gratingly self-aware precocious teenager written by a gratingly self-aware screenplay writer. Fortunately, our protagonist is played by the immensely likable Daniel Doheny who scrubs any grating self-awareness from the script and replaces it with sincerity. He plays a homeschooled teenager who longs to experience public education, much to the chagrin of Greer as his fiercely helicopter mother. The two of them are wrapped in a mother/son bubble of socially awkward obliviousness. They would be creepy if they weren’t so cute. When she realizes he’s on the verge of a sexual awakening, and probably about to lose his virginity, she steals into his room one night. “Let’s do it now, together, and get it out of your system in a safe and responsible way,” she tells him while they lie in bed, face to face.

“Do what together?” he asks. It doesn’t occur to him what occurs to us because their world revolves around their bond, where nothing is inappropriate because everything is well-intentioned.

“Rebel,” she says. For the next day’s homeschooling lesson, they will practice swearing. Greer will later produce a joint for the two of them to smoke together. “A supervised first try,” she calls it, taking the first hit. “Ooh, it’s burny,” she says. Then, giggling, “It’s Bernie Sanders.” It fits her so well that I can’t tell if it’s improvised. Director Kyle Rideout and his script are in love with Greer’s zeal. His movie is built around it. It thrives on it. It is fueled by it. Although it fancies itself a denizen of Napoleon Dynamite territory, Wes Anderson adjacent, Greer gives it something more. And because Doheny adroitly matches her quirky zeal, their relationship relocates it into the same territory as Eighth Grade. Adventures in Public School doesn’t have the heart, insight, or celebratory joy of Eighth Grade — what movie does? — but they’re still of a piece, exploring the interaction between a child finding his way and a parent trying her best to find the impossible sweet spot between helping and letting go. This is where Judy Greer belongs. Take note, Hollywood. Moms can be more than pretty actresses delivering their lines.

Cowboy Bebop: you don’t even have my curiosity

, | TV reviews

I don’t know much about anime, but I think Cowboy Bebop is one of the fundamentals. The only animes I can name are this, Sailor Moon, and Hello Kitty, so I figure they’re all equally famous. A friend of mine who’s not even into anime is unashamed to wear a Cowboy Bebop T-shirt. He told me it’s good. I believe that he believes that, but I don’t have much interest in finding out for myself. Like sports, James Joyce, and reality TV, it’s a gap in my cultural literacy I can live with.

But I’m about to change that. Continue reading →

Is this what the hipster version of Red Dead Redemption 2 looks like?

, | News

Clothing makes the man, as they say. You want to feel like a cowpoke? You had better dress for the part. You could buy a wide-brimmed Stetson, some Levis, a bandanna, shirt, and a pair of boots for a reasonable sum, but how do you let everyone know that you specifically want to be part of the Van der Linde Gang? Put on some official Barking Irons Red Dead Redemption 2 clothing, and no one will doubt your pretend desperado bona fides. That Gunslinger Jacket (Field Tan) is only $250 and comes with “A. Morgan” printed on the collar, just like an honest-to-gosh rough rider. Barking Irons started in 2003 in New York City, so you know they know cowboys. New York City!