Limbs are safe in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

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If Star Wars fans know one thing, it’s that lightsabers are for cutting off arms. Limbs are always getting lopped off in the films. Threaten a Jedi with a gun and you’ll likely earn a quick visit to the bacta tank and get a robo-hand grafted on for your trouble. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the upcoming game from Respawn and Electronic Arts, bucks that trend. Speaking to IGN, senior designer Justin Perez revealed that Disney and Lucasfilm have rules against dismemberment for their licencees. It’s fine for robots and animals, but people and humanoid aliens cannot be de-limbed, at least, not by the player. Oddly, decapitation is allowed in certain dramatic instances, but you can’t show the cut or blood. Think back to the scene of Jango Fett’s end in Episode II and you’ll get the idea. Point your gun at Jedi with impunity – as long as you’re not in an actual movie.

Your car in Cyberpunk 2077 will act like your horse in The Witcher 3

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Settle down, people. We know you’re all excited that Keanu Reeves is playing Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077, but the real E3 story is how you’ll call your transportation in the game. Speaking to VG247, lead quest designer Pawel Sasko revealed that in the world of Cyberpunk, the artificial intelligence in your neon car or neon motorcycle responds to your call like Roach in The Witcher 3.

“You can see as your motorcycle arrives, you can see as your car arrives. So you can just leave it wherever you want, it can go somewhere, just call it, and AI makes it like ‘bzzt!’, he drives by and waits for you.”

Will your chrome and samurai-armored sedan climb up on the roof of a cottage, like the ever awkward Roach was sometimes known to do? Will your bladed crotch rocket trample your enemies, or buck you off on a whim? These are questions Keanu Reeves has probably not had to consider.

Best Thing You’ll See All Week: I Am Mother

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It’s nice to see there are still angles to explore in the “rogue AI” genre. As well as the “people in a bunker” genre. I Am Mother straddles both by suggesting a maternal robot — that may or may not be a rogue AI — programmed to repopulate post-apocalyptic humanity by cultivating thousands of embryos stored in a sealed bunker. It will start with one little girl. With Rose Byrne’s voice, a nifty production design for a robot that smiles, and a promising newcomer as the daughter, I Am Mother has all it needs down here.

The movie begins with an infant. As older children were swapped in during the expected growing-up montage, I was worried we were headed for Alicia Vickander. But just as the children started looking like Vikander, I Am Mother stopped short with a capable young actress named Clara Rugaard. She carries most of the movie on her own, which is no mean feat. Her job is a lot like Sophie Thatcher’s in Prospect, but harder because she doesn’t have Pedro Pascal tagging along. It’s just her and Rose Byrne’s carefully modulated voice piped in over a lumbering robot that looks barely a generation past what Boston Dynamics has been doing.

As the movie proceeds, it’s confident you’re smart enough to see the twists. It knows you know math, it knows you understand casting decisions are never random, and it knows you know how AIs work. In fact, it’s so confident you see the twists that it doesn’t even play them as reveals. So if you’re awfully proud of yourself for guessing what’s going on, you’re watching the wrong movie. A lesser movie would be about these reveals. I Am Mother is instead about the motivations and decisions behind them.

In fact, the final shot is a bit much. It’s almost as if the movie is asking you if we’re done here. “You’ve figured it out, right?” it asks. “Right?” Sometimes being maternal involves a little finger wagging. Yes, I Am Mother, I understand today’s lesson. Sheesh, Saturn 3 was never this strict.

I Am Mother is currently available on Netflix.

Google has been giving away a game to build games since November

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Google’s Area 120, an idea incubator that’s had some hits and misses, has released Game Builder for free. It’s a simple, easy-to-use game that teaches basic logic and code concepts, while giving players the tools to build their own 3D games. It uses a card-based visual language to ease players into programming behaviors and actions, but more ambitious tinkerers can dive into the JavaScript functionality to make their own virtual code cards.

Game Builder has been out on Steam early access as something of a stealth release since November. Area 120 only publicized the game today.

Watch Dogs Legion will allow more than assassin grannies

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Going by the E3 gameplay reveal, you could be forgiven for thinking Watch Dogs Legion largely eschews the non-lethal combat options the previous game encouraged. While there is something to be said for a retired assassin grandmother shooting enemies in the face like John Wick, it appeared like Legion was trying to up the ante on hyperstylized violence. According to creative director Clint Hocking, that impression is wrong.

“We really wanted to make sure that non-lethal was an option in any combat encounter.”

Speaking to Twinfinite, Hocking assured fans of the last installment’s stun guns and monkey fist knockouts that Legion can be played in a relatively non-lethal way. While Hocking was unable to confirm the possibility of a 100% kill-free play-through, he did say that half of the game’s current arsenal for the player is non-lethal. Grannies can still shoot to kill, of course, and the player’s enemies will pull out guns if you do or if you violate a high-security area.

Empire of Sin is going to make you its John Romero

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Romero Games, the company founded by John and Brenda Romero, announced Empire of Sin. It’s a turn-based strategy game published by Paradox Interactive. Empire of Sin is set in Prohibition-era Chicago and puts players in the strategic pin-striped suit of one of 14 mob bosses. Fight your rivals using your crew of hard-boiled button men and take over territory speakeasy by speakeasy.

Empire of Sin launches on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in the spring of 2020. Use that time to brush up on your mob patter.

Fallout 76 is going to be a Fallout game when it grows up

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Fallout 76 is getting there. After its rough launch, Bethesda’s developers have kept their noses to the grindstone and continued to work on improving the game. Here, then, is the biggest news for Fallout 76 that came out of Bethesda’s E3 2019 briefing. People – actual human NPCs – are coming to the game. The Wastelander update launching later this year will add those bipedal dialog boxes that have been missing all this time.

In related news, Bethesda has added a battle royale mode to Fallout 76. You can check it out right now while the game is free for everyone to try for the week.

Ubisoft clarifies its position on politics with muddy water

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The current rage in the game industry seems to be coming out with a strong message denying any political stance at all. Have a game about heavily armed special police forces fighting terrorists and criminals? It doesn’t mean anything. Made a game about a doomsday religious cult taking over Montana just before World War 3? Don’t read into it. Publishing a game about the modern surveillance state and privacy violations along with some slick commentary about Bay Area gentrification? Hey, that’s your opinion, man. And if anyone gets the wrong idea, you’d better publish a statement correcting that notion. You’re not apolitical, you’re just presenting a rich smorgasbord of viewpoints and systems and letting the player decide.

“We are scared sometimes as we are world-building. That was the case for Far Cry 5. It is a great game, but it just wasn’t possible to present all points of view and perspectives. We believe that ultimately, in the future, players should be able to go in the game world, have as many different experiences as they want, experience as many different political views as they want, as many religions as they want … as many different fantasies as they want.”

We get it Ubisoft. You don’t want to condemn or advocate any opinion that might offend some sector of your fans. You’re completely neutral.

Battlefield V makes a political statement by denying a political statement

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Wilhelm Franke, besides being a generic-sounding German name, was a real-life resistance fighter in Dresden during World War 2. Franke held antifascist meetings in the cigar store he owned, spoke openly about defying Nazism, and was a serious enough distraction that he was arrested by the Gestapo and died in February 1945. Unfortunately, Electronic Arts created an “elite” German avatar for Battlefield V with the same name. As shown in the image above, he’s the Hugo Boss uniformed gent with the Luger and the Phantom of the Opera mask shooting people in a church. The cosmetic skin having the same moniker as an anti-Nazi agitator is likely a coincidence. While Franke has a street named after him in Dresden, he’s not a well-known figure outside of Germany. Still, people noticed and informed EA that maybe they should pick a different name for their made-up villain.

Here’s where things go sideways thanks to how modern marketing messaging interacts with sensitive topics like Nazis. EA agreed that the name of the skin needs to be changed, but they denied their theatrical villain is a Nazi. In a statement to Vice, EA emphasized the character’s non-Nazi status. In fact, they doubled down and called out how not political their WW2 game is overall.

“The aforementioned Elite, Wilhelm Franke, whose name we’re changing is not a Nazi, but a German solider similar to ones we already have in the game. In Battlefield V, we’re not making any political statements in relation to the real life events of WW2 and there are no swastikas in the game.”

To claim your WW2 game is apolitical takes some brass. To further hold up a lack of swastikas as evidence of that neutrality is some hardcore public relations doublespeak.

Ikea wants to help you level-up your game

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Say “Ikea” and most people think of reasonably priced flat-packed furniture with goofy names. Stuff like Ektorp sofas, Skubb storage boxes, and Malm dressers may be ubiquitous in young peoples’ apartments, but thus far the Swedish company hasn’t delved into Razer’s gamer space. Ikea wants some of that sweet gamer gear market now. They’ve partnered with 3D printing company Unyq, to make custom-fit gear like wrist braces, textured key caps, and a mouse cord organizer. The Uppkoppla line of accessories will eventually have more items (prototypes of chairs and desks are being tested) and the items will be available starting in 2020.