If you want to give Black Ops 4 more money, you’ll be able to do that soon

, | News

The in-game store is now open for business in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The Black Market, Call of Duty’s reward system, is live on PlayStation 4. Players can unlock new cosmetic items on Sony’s console first, while players on other platforms will have to wait a week for the privilege.

The Black Market’s “Contraband Stream” is the event pass system for Black Ops 4. Taking part in seasonal or special events will move you along a loot path. As you progress, you’ll unlock various event rewards including skins, gestures, special weapons, and new characters. For now, these events seem to be free for all to participate in, but Activision does note that they’ll be turning on the ability to purchase items with real money in November.

Sean Bean preens for his meme scene in Hitman 2

, | News

Sean Bean plays the role of Mark Faba in Hitman 2’s first elusive target mission, The Undying. It’s Sean Bean, so we know how this one will turn out, especially with Agent 47 involved. Faba’s somewhat of an inventor according to the video. You even get to vote on which one of his weapons the developers should unlock. (Of course, the right answer is the pen.) Players will be able to hunt Bean’s digital alter ego starting on November 20th, and he’ll only be available as a target for ten days.

Hitman 2 launches on November 13th.

Qt3 Movie Podcast: Bad Times at the El Royale

, | Movie podcasts

Due to Bad Times at the Qt3 Movie Podcast Recording Software, we had to use a back-up in which Christien Mulanski’s voice is way quieter than anyone else’s. You’ll have to keep your hand on the volume knob and surf our various volume levels, which will make it our most interactive episode ever.

Next: Halloween

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Let the rhythm move your body in Cultist Simulator’s newest DLC

, | News

Welcome to the Ecdysis Club. Ecdysis is the process of shedding old skin. Like a snake. Or a cultist sloughing off their mistaken conception of how the universe works. Cultist Simulator’s latest offering, The Dancer, gives players new ways to blast their sanity and delve into forbidden knowledge while managing the ever-rolling tide of time.

Some dances can only be performed in far places, and some cannot be performed in human shape.

Like everything else in Cultist Simulator, there’s a price to paid for getting what you want.

You can catch up on Destiny 2 in one go starting tomorrow

, | News

Beginning on October 16th, owners of Destiny 2’s latest expansion, Forsaken, will get all the content from the expansion pass. That’s everything from the Curse of Osiris and Warmind packs. According to Bungie’s post, the content is being rolled together to streamline the process of bringing on new players. It makes sense because many popular MMOs and “games as a service” experiences do the same thing. Easing the barrier to entry can better entice fresh players and keep the community going.

Every player of Destiny 2 who has yet to touch down on the Tangled Shore will need only the Forsaken upgrade.

If you jumped on Forsaken already, you’ll get a bunch of in-game items as an acknowledgement of your loyalty. There’s nothing quite like wearing a cosmetic doodad to tell everyone you paid full price for something.

Strange Brigade is a rip-roaring thrill ride, but isn’t equipped to soldier on

, | Game reviews

I’m not sure there’s anything particularly new or even special about Strange Brigade. You could call out its commitment to serial pulp adventures set in the 40s. Or, as it’s known these days, Indiana Jones. These characters and their weapons are the trappings of an era when a pilot was called an aviator and pith helmets weren’t ironic. Steamer trucks full of weapons and nary an assault rifle in sight. Zeppelins, tents and short wave radios at excavation sites of ancient Egyptian ruins, an incredibly annoying announcer trying his darndest to sound like announcers of yore. You gotta give developer Rebellion credit for their commitment to the aesthetic.

But really, Strange Brigade is the simple act of shooting powerful guns at monsters. And lobbing the occasional grenade. And even more occasionally popping off some magic power because, well, that might as well be in there if we’re going to have zombies and skeletons. For the most part it works splendidly. Simple, gratifying, quick, accessible, with a unique sense of character, to boot. So why have I stopped playing?

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When you revisit Assassin’s Creed 3, don’t forget to go home

, | News

If you purchase the Season Pass for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, you have copies of Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered and Assassin’s Creed Liberation Remastered coming. According to the newly updated support page, these are the full games with all story DLC and upgraded graphics. All the buzzwords are here. There’s 4K, HDR, new light rendering, denser crowd tech, and various other improvements.

What’s important is the remaster may get people to play Assassin’s Creed 3 that missed it the first time around. It might even entice some players that abandoned it halfway through to come back. If you’re one of those folks, ignore the hullabaloo over the main character’s supposed blandness or the criticism for the odd extended prologue. Instead, make sure to play the optional homestead missions. They’re a delightful set of quests that task the player with building a small slice of colonial America. They’re a great mix of gameplay, and the story gives the normally dour Conner a chance to show off some humor. Most importantly, the founding and nurturing of the homestead perfectly captures the essence of the setting.

Pinball FX3’s bewildering new identity crisis

, | Games

The first four of hopefully lots more Williams tables for Pinball FX3 just came out this week. Williams Pinball: Volume 1 is $10 DLC that adds Fish Tales, The Getaway, Junk Yard, and Medieval Madness, which all feel dated…in a good way. They’re among the physical tables from the days of yore, from actual stand-up pinball machines that exist in the real world, now ported into Pinball FX3 thanks to Zen Studios’ licensing deal with Williams. They introduce an odd dilemma for those of us who’ve been playing Zen’s tables all these years.

Pinball FX’s physics have been criticized as “floaty” or “soft”, and it’s not an unfair observation. Their tables are made to play by their own rules, with their own feel for where the ball should go and how. They never claimed to model actual steel balls rolling down actual inclines, bouncing off actual bumpers, and flipped by actual flippers. You could say their physics are stylized, which has freed Zen Studios to do some truly strange things with their tables. That’s just part of the identity of Pinball FX. There are other videogame pinball options for people who put a priority on real world physics. But with these four new tables, when you play a standalone round independent of the unlockable bonuses and wizard powers, you have the option to choose a “difficulty” setting. The choices are Arcade Mode or Tournament Mode. Arcade Mode is Zen Pinball as it’s always been. “Floaty” and “soft”, if you will. But Tournament Mode is their brand new physics model, presumably built to bring a sense of fidelity to these classic tables. And boy, does it feel different.

It feels so different that it doesn’t feel like Pinball FX anymore. It feels faster, and less forgiving, which is probably why Zen calls it a “difficulty” setting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s like playing a whole new game. Who could object to getting a whole new game? And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to play it. But if you do like it — which I really do — now you have four tables that play this cool new way, and 78 tables that don’t. Now you might find yourself wishing the 78 other tables would get their own Tournament Mode. Now you might find yourself understanding why people bitched all these years about “floaty” and “soft” physics. Really, it just means I have to make hard choices as I mess around with these new tables. Get used to the new physics? Or pretend they aren’t in there? There are separate leaderboards for each mode, and although part of me winces at leaderboards splitting off in so many different directions, it does give me more options to beat my pesky friends who play Pinball FX3.

But what’s most puzzling to me is that now I like these tables that I didn’t think I would like, and not necessarily because I actually, you know, like the tables themselves. I like how they play. I like Tournament Mode physics. I’m coming around to the actual tables. I’m sold on Getaway, which is fast and flashy and open and growls like a muscle car. It wants to move. The pinball whipping madly around the crazy racetrack at the top of the table will never get old. It also means I’ll never have to play V12 again. Have you tried that table lately? Ugh. Junk Yard and Fish Tales are kind of junky and weird, but it feels nice to play these old fashioned designs for a change. Medieval Madness, however, just feels superfluous, given that Zen already has a jokey generic fantasy table called Epic Quest. But you can’t play Epic Quest in Tournament Mode, so Medieval Madness has that going for it. This will all be a non-issue as soon as Zen releases more Williams tables, especially the real classics like Pin-bot or Bride of Pin-bot, which give that much more weight to the new physics. But please hurry, Zen! It’s a very confusing time for some of us fans.

Creepy babies love Founders Breakfast Stout. But what do Qt3 Movie Podcasters think?

, | Features

Founders Breakfast Stout won a drawing for my Patreon review requests. Since I wouldn’t have any idea how to write about beer or what to even write — it’s bubbly, it tastes like beer, there’s words and hopefully a picture on the bottle, three stars! — I cheated and enlisted the help of actual beer connoisseur and Qt3 Movie Podcast co-host Christien Murawski. Together we review the beer in video form while we drink it! It’s a Let’s Drink, complete with a rating at the end.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider brings Lara Croft full circle

, | Game reviews

“I’ve only got one chance at this,” Lara says urgently.

I’m lining her up to make a jump I know she’ll easily make. Why did Square Enix decide to make her say “I’ve got one chance at this”? First of all, it’s not true. I have literally unlimited chances. But this isn’t even a particularly tense moment. Yet someone at Square Enix’ Montreal studio wrote that line, someone told actress Camilla Luddington to say those words in the sound booth, and someone decided to put that audio bit in front of this jump, which is just another of the dozens upon dozens of unremarkable jumps in this insipid retread.

I shouldn’t have been thinking about a dumb line at that point in the game. The climax was in high gear. Serious action was supposedly happening. The fate of the world was hanging in the balance, or something. I should have been caught up in the game. The line should have tapped into my sense of urgency at getting Lara where she needed to be. But by this point, I had been hate-playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider for some time, the same way I hate-watched Walking Dead or Lost. I’ve come this far. Might as well see it through.

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Is Lovecraft too racist for gaming?

, | News

Eurogamer with a screaming hot take on H.P. Lovecraft’s racism. The foundation of the piece, that Lovecraft had some extremely racist opinions even for his time, is not new. What is new is that Eurogamer’s contributor, Sam Greer, proposes that his racism so tainted his work that it should not be used in any context in gaming. In Sam Greer’s view, games recreate the xenophobia and racism inherent in Lovecraft’s writing, but through the sanitization of gameplay, and making it appeal to a general audience, offers no criticism or self-reflection. Additionally, Greer accuses the Mythos of being boring and overused.

It’s time to let go of Lovecraft. No more tentacled multi-eyed monstrosities, no foggy fishing towns or ancient aliens posing as gods. These are jokes and the remnants of a poisonous world view. Let’s move on.

SOMA, Greer writes, is a good example of a game that trades on themes of existential terror and loneliness without invoking Lovecraft. Clanking around the deserted science fiction facility while being chased by mechanical terrors offered a fresh take on cosmic horror, according to Greer. Lovecraft not needed at all.

Where does that put coming titles like Cyanide Studio’s Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game or Frogwares’ The Sinking City? Are players cleared to separate the art from the artist, or is the act of gaming in Lovecraft’s universe an implicit approval of his xenophobia?

Is gaming ready for its version of Lovecraft Country?

Microsoft wants you to not own any games

, | News

On-demand game streaming is the hot thing to talk about. Like Google’s recent Project Stream announcement, Microsoft is taking the cover off their own game streaming service. Project xCloud will leverage Microsoft’s Xbox experience and architecture to deliver gaming on the go someday. Unlike Google’s effort, Project xCloud isn’t open for select player tests, but Microsoft has the advantage of currently having millions of customers already willing to pay a subscription fee for Xbox Live Gold and Gamepass. Freedom from consumer ownership is right around the corner!

This is how Chilller got those first two terribly bloody stages

, | News

Chiller, the 1986 light-gun game from Exidy, is one of those bizarre relics of the end of the arcade boom. It’s small-time infamous for having two initial stages set in a dungeon in which the player is challenged to kill prisoners in as short a time as possible. Savvy players would use the various torture devices to quickly dispatch victims, such as shooting the guillotine blade to decapitate the condemned. More bloodthirsty players could shoot the prisoners directly resulting in torn limbs, bloody spurts, and a longer time to death. The other half of the game featured more traditional pop-out monster light-gun levels, but the first two levels with their (for the time) excessive gore and sadism stood out even compared to contemporaries that attracted more negative media attention. How did this come to pass? Luke Winkie, writing for Kotaku, asked one of the original programmers. Despite its salacious subject matter, the answer is as pedestrian as can be.

“If you don’t hook the audience in the first 15 seconds or 30 seconds, it doesn’t matter what’s going in the rest of the thing,” he said. “We knew most people like blood and guts, especially if they’re in an arcade full of wacko teenagers. We knew if we could just hook them with some gore – which itself isn’t much of a game other than how accurate you are, and not shooting the same body part over and over again – if you could get past that they’d be in.”

It always comes down to knowing your audience.

Dungeons & Dragons Online made its save versus entropy

, | News

Dungeons & Dragons Online has released its 40th update. There’s no anniversary or special holiday connected to the Cloaked in Darkness update. It’s a perfectly fine MMO content patch. It features the return of an annual festival event, balances some player abilities, adds cosmetic cloaks, and launches the Wood Elves race which can be purchased by players if they don’t already pay for VIP access. If none of that sounds exciting to you, then you’ve probably been playing games with cloaks and wood elves for the past decade. For longtime Dungeons & Dragons Online folks, Update 40 is a time to celebrate.

It’s a good reminder that MMO’s that you don’t hear much about still have communities of players, dedicated support staff, and a measure of success despite not having headline-grabbing news. The game’s been banging around since 2006, so bravo to players that stuck with it since its Stormreach days.