Batman gets new duds in Arkham Knight

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Rocksteady Games has released two in-game costume skins for Batman: Arkham Knight. Yes, the 2015 game has just been updated for free. The update adds Zur-En-Arrh Batman and Anime Batman for all players. The latter is self-explanatory, but the garish Zur-En-Arrh skin is a deep cut from a 1958 issue of DC Comics’ Batman #113 in which Bruce Wayne is transported to an alien planet and given actual superpowers because that’s the kind of thing that happened in the Silver Age of funny books.

Both Batman skins were previously available only to players that linked their WB Games forum accounts to the game, but the latest version of these costumes come with no such restrictions. They’re just in Batman’s Bat-wardrobe for the Bat-wearing. The free update also removes Denuvo from the Steam version of the game. The Batmobile remains unchanged for better or worse.

Science may figure out why weirdos play with inverted controls

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Scientists are studying gamers that play with inverted controls. Back in February, The Guardian published an article about the phenomenon and the debate was hot enough to attract the attention of Dr. Jennifer Corbett and Dr. Jaap Munneke of Brunel University’s Visual Perception and Attention Lab. In the follow-up article, the researchers say that their study will measure the speed and accuracy of gamers with inverted and normal controls to better understand how the two kinds of people work differently and how best to cater to the wrong and right folks with their controller needs.

“In a broader context, understanding these sorts of individual differences can help us better predict where to place important information and where to double-check for easily missed information in everything from VR gaming to safety-critical tasks like detecting weapons in baggage scans or tumours in X-rays.”

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, (sorry old-timers) and play videogames, the researchers could use you to help with their study. Nothing will help you dirty claw-grippers though.

What kind of game is Dirt 5? Glad you asked!

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Dirt 5 is the kind of game where your award after a race is paid in Dirt Dollars.  Not US dollars, not Euros, not krugerrands, not bearer bonds, but Dirt Dollars.  It’s the sort of game where you unlock stickers you can buy with your Dirt Dollars and then stick them on your car.  Do you like stickers?  Dirt 5 thinks you like stickers.

It’s the kind of game where voice actors adopt a forced casual mien to pretend to do a podcast that you have to listen to between races.  Yes, a podcast.  Idle chatter and bad jokes.  They’re worse than DJ Atomica, and there are multiple of them.  I’m trying to pick a race or buy a car and they won’t shut up with their podcast chatter.  It’s worse than bad music, which I already turned off.

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Sherman Leader kicks back and lets the dice drive

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One of my favorite solitaire boardgames is Dan Verssen’s Hornet Leader, which is the original game in the Leader series when it was published by GMT in 1991, and also the pinnacle of the Leader series when it was revised and reprinted by Dan Verssen Games in 2010.  The Leader series has gone in various directions during its 30-year history, and it’s mostly gone off the rails in the last ten years.  Speaking of, I recently broke out Sherman Leader, which takes the action from jets to tanks.  It’s an iteration of Tiger Leader from 2015, but as you might infer from the title of Sherman Leader, you play as the good guys.  As near as I can tell, the two games are identical aside from the changed names and artwork.  Basically, Sherman Leader is a de-Godwinned reskin of Tiger Leader.

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Despite Odyssey’s long shadow, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla holds its own

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In Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, you have to play as a Viking named Eivor, which is pronounced “AY-vore”.  Eivor is a flaccidly drawn Mary Sue of badassery whose flimsy characterization consists of machismo and shit poetry.  The male voice sounds uninterested.  The female voice is hoarse and forced.  Take your pick.  You can even swap freely as you play.  It matters that little.

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Join the Fortnite Crew to give Epic recurring revenue

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Epic Games has announced a subscription service for Fortnite. For $12 a month, the Fortnite Crew offer will give players access to each new battle pass for as long as they keep their subscription going. Along with that pass, members will net 1,000 units of in-game funny money and an exclusive outfit so everyone knows you’re one of the cool (rich) kids.

Epic had previously surveyed players a few weeks ago about whether or not they wanted such an offer, and it seems the responses were positive. At the very least, the survey results must not have put Epic off their track. Although the battle pass model is sometimes seen as a “soft” version of a subscription, an actual recurring credit charge is more coveted by most businesses.

The Fortnite Crew begins on December 2nd.

The Pro Bowl will be a Madden NFL 21 event

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The NFL announced that the annual Pro Bowl will not take place in an empty stadium like every other official football game this season. Instead, the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl will take place in the gaming world. Taking a page from NASCAR’s recent foray into the gaming space to maintain an audience during Covid-19 crowd bans, the gridiron showdown will be hosted in a video game. In this case, Madden NFL 21. Thanks to a partnership with EA Sports and Verizon, a gaggle of real life football players, celebrities, popular streamers, and anyone else the NFL believes will hook the kids will play in matchups during a week-long series on ABC and ESPN.

“Even amidst unparalleled change across the sports industry, we are excited to transition many of the signature components of the Pro Bowl.”

Fans can go now to the official site to vote for their favorite players.

This one easy trick could have saved Watch Dogs: Legion!

, | Game reviews

Watch Dogs Legion is exactly what I want in my open-world games, and I know this because State of Decay was exactly what I wanted in my open-world games.  I don’t need someone writing a story about a character doing character things, because good writing in open-world games is rare and meaningful writing is almost non-existent.  So load me up with a team of dynamically generated characters and let me let them make my own story.  This is what Watch Dogs: Legion intends.

Sadly, it’s not what Watch Dogs: Legion actually does.

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Here’s why you won’t get any achievements in the PC version of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

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Ubisoft may be dropping achievements from its PC games. Astute cheevo-hunters noticed that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is missing achievements in the PC version. According to Ubisoft, this is an intended feature of the game. Instead of achievements, Ubisoft is shifting their focus to the challenges integrated into their recently launched Ubisoft Connect platform (the rebranded version of Uplay) that gives players XP and other rewards exclusive to Ubisoft’s system. Console players still get achievements and trophies.

“We know that this is a big change for a lot of you, and we appreciate your understanding in the matter.”

As you may imagine, there has thus far been a boisterous lack of understanding regarding the change. Achievement unlocked!

There’s a lot more to hear in Half-Life: Alyx now

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Valve has updated Half-Life: Alyx with three hours of in-game developer commentary. This is a free update for all owners of the game. Players can have all the disembodied hand VR gameplay they had before, but they can now take little time-outs to enjoy the developers’ insights on the creation of the game.

Enabling commentary mode will allow 147 points of interest to appear in the game. Just grab the floating radio headset and place it on your in-game head to listen to the track. Valve warns that it was all recorded during quarantine, so participants had to make do with their home setups. Some of it is not consistently crisp sounding due to these circumstances, but if you listened to the commentary in previous Valve games like Portal 2, you’ll know that the quality of the content is what matters.

You can visit Four Seasons Total Landscaping too thanks to VRChat

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One of the craziest bits of news that came out of the U.S. presidential election last week was the debacle that happened at Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Not the luxury hotel. Four Seasons Total Landscaping got to host an official press event about the outcome of the vote. Of course, everyone involved now claims that the venue was purposefully chosen, but did they really decide to hold this meeting in the parking lot of a landscaping company, right next door to a porn shop? Really? They didn’t just accidentally mistake this place for the considerably more upscale Four Seasons Hotel? Whatever the reason, VRChat, that meme-generating gaming hangout, has the Four Seasons lot now available for your virtual shenanigans. May we suggest holding your own event there and giving it all the pomp and circumstance the venue deserves?

One of the people in Watch Dogs: Legion is going away ironically thanks to social media

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One of the rare bits of humorous content in Watch Dogs: Legion that actually sticks the landing are the in-game podcasts and radio shows featuring dry British hosts commenting on the state of dystopian London. Unfortunately for Helen Lewis, a real-life writer for The Atlantic who lends her voice talent to a couple of those in-game audio files, her statements on gender are prompting Ubisoft to remove her from the game. In 2017, Lewis wrote an opinion piece for The Times that was criticized for being transphobic, and her subsequent posts on The New Statesman and Twitter continued in that vein, all of which created a dust-up on social media at the time and when it was learned that she would be in the latest Watch Dogs. Ubisoft claims that they were unaware of the writer’s controversial history.

“The development team worked with an external producer to select speaker profiles for these podcasts and were not aware of the controversy at the time of booking or recording. While the in-game podcasters are following a pre-approved script and are not speaking in their own name or with their own opinions, we understand this collaboration itself may be seen as offensive and we deeply regret any hurt this has caused.”

Helen Lewis performs in two installments of Watch Dogs: Legion’s BuccanEar podcast, which will be removed from the game shortly.

You’ve got until the end of the year to avenge me in Shadow of Mordor

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the 2014 game from Monolith and Warner Bros. Games, is losing a few features on December 31st. The Nemesis Forge, Vendetta missions, and WBPlay stuff is going away, according to the publisher’s notice on the main Steam page. Nemesis Forge was the system that let players bring their named enemies from Shadow of Mordor into the 2017 sequel, Shadow of War. Vendetta missions gave players the chance to avenge online friends’ deaths by putting the baddies that killed them into other people’s games. WBPlay account linking offered players a couple of special runes, but the publisher will just give those to everyone in an update to make up for it.

None of the bits being removed are essential to enjoying the game. It’s likely most people would never notice anything missing if not for the official warning, so get out there and kill Snazgul Rathammer before time runs out.

Battle Royale is exactly what Age of Empires II has always needed

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The one-year anniversary update for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition includes a Battle Royale mode. No, really. The update will include some UI and balance changes and a quickplay option to get you into a game faster, but you don’t care about any of that nonsense! You want to know about Battle Royale because no multiplayer game can escape the gravitational pull of chicken dinners.

Eight players start in random locations with a small cluster of troops that can capture buildings and resources to add to their armies. They must then crush all enemies before the slowly dwindling circle of fog kills them. The only things missing are cast iron skillets and dance emotes.

The anniversary update for Age of Empires II: DE is coming this November.