Nick Diamon

If you hated the puzzles in The Witness, you might love The Looker. Or maybe not.

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Parody games don’t have a great track record. Most of them are cash-grab garbage that fail to successfully mimic the game they are spoofing. Like parody movies, the best ones are good genre products on their own merits while they poke fun of other titles. Here then is The Looker from Subcreation Studio, a largely one-man outfit consisting of Bradley Lovell.

The Looker’s inspiration is immediately obvious, but there’s a lot more going on. The Witness doesn’t just get targeted. Other games like Layers of Fear take their licks too. It’s a free game, so there’s not much to risk but time and your sense of humor. Keep in mind that it’s all a joke. Hardcore puzzle aficionados need not apply.

Battlefield 2042’s first season comes 200 days after it launched

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EA and DICE are launching Zero Hour, the first new season of content since the game released eight months ago. There have been small bits of cosmetic content as well as some substantial patching prior to this, but this marks the first time Battlefield 2042 will ask players to pay for additional content if they hadn’t purchased one of the higher launch tiers of product. Zero Hour offers a new map, a new Specialist, new stealthy helicopters, and the requisite Battle Pass of goodies to grind.

Will it be enough to attract new players and bring back those folks that have scattered after the anemic launch and subsequent delays? You can expect the game to get at least a small bump of activity from people curious to try out the new stuff, but it’s going to be tough to win back Battlefield fans put off by the Specialists, the lack of decent maps, the goofy progression systems, and the general jank that persists. With another Call of Duty right around the corner, it may be impossible.

Just Dance 2014 through 2018 are now the loneliest dances

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Ubisoft has turned off online multiplayer and online services for 90 games. The list of impacted titles includes almost an even dozen Just Dance installments, a handful of Splinter Cells, older Assassin’s Creeds, and many other legacy games. The games will still be playable offline and, for console titles, couch co-op will continue to work if it was a feature before, but any online functions will be disabled going forward including leaderboards and cosmetic unlocks.

Unlockable content (ULC) such as maps and skins will also be disabled, meaning that you will no longer be able to unlock them.

On PC, ULC will no longer be available even if it has been redeemed previously. On console, the ULC will continue to be available unless you reset your saved game files.

While some of the games on the list had their online multiplayer disabled previously, this latest change removes all features that require online communication, making them truly offline.

House Flipper has a friendly challenge for April Fools’ Day

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It’s April Fools’ Day which means you get a tidal wave of dumb jokes and pranks all day on the internet. Game developers like to get in on the action by teasing fake updates to their games. Sometimes these jokes become so popular that they end up in games eventually. The best game “pranks” are when the studio just goes all out and actually makes the comedy update playable right from jump.

Frozen District has updated House Flipper with two new places to renovate that might be familiar to fans of a certain 90’s TV show. They’re downtown Manhattan apartments that a group of young pals somehow afford. These aren’t just throwaway environments. They’re as good as the levels that come with the game in the first place. It’s “the one with the sitcom levels.”

You wanted a pure shooter in Fortnite? Now, you’ve got it.

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Epic Games has introduced a permanent gameplay mode for Fortnite with no building. All you old-school shooter vets that complained about the twitchy “juvenile” need to out-build enemies to succeed in Fortnite Battle Royale can finally put up or shut up. Fortnite Zero Build boils the game down to its shooter elements.

“Without building, all players have the recharging Overshield as your first line of defense in Zero Build. Zip up Ascenders to access Blimps or use Mantling to get the high-ground over your opponents. Don’t forget to Sprint between cover on your way to a Victory Royale!”

No more infinite staircase fights.

Batman getting excited by Final Fantasy VII is the most adorable thing you’ll see today

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Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz are doing press interviews for the launch of the new Batman movie. During their interview with French program Clique X, Pattinson recalled his love for Final Fantasy VII and more specifically a certain relationship triangle and the spoilerific outcome. He even touches on the game’s translation quirks, outing himself as a true fan.

“It’s a love triangle, where Aeris, or Aerith, depending on what version of the game you have, (as it’s sometimes mistranslated) she’s like the really kind girl that has superpowers to heal everyone, and Tifa’s like this sexy little thing and you have to decide.”

Although Kravitz says she’s “not judging” it’s obvious she had no love for the franchise and just wants to move on from the subject, but Pattinson is so deep into nerd mode that he seems to either not notice her discomfort or he’s amused by the disconnect with his co-star. The full interview can be found here. Pattinson’s Final Fantasy discussion starts at about the 20-minute mark.

Love knows no bounds in The Sims 4’s My Weddings Stories except all of Russia

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The Sims 4 My Wedding Stories DLC pack will not be sold in Russia due to the country’s federal laws against so-called “propaganda” that restricts the depiction of “non-traditional sexual relationships” in media available to minors. EA announced the regional restriction, but neglected to specify the issue.

“The ability to tell stories – any story – is at the core of what we do at The Sims. Holding back Cam and Dom’s story meant compromising the values we live by. We are committed to the freedom to be who you are, to love who you love and tell the stories you want to tell.”

The Sims 4 is already rated 18+ in Russia due to the game’s allowance of gay relationships and marriage, but the My Wedding Stories game pack would likely violate Russian laws due to the marketing and cover art (seen above) which puts the same-sex couple Dominique and Camille front and center. Rather than alter the marketing for the region, EA has opted to skip Russia entirely, a decision that has been applauded by Sims fans.

Congratulations gamers. You made Anno 1800’s cosmetic DLC a success.

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I hope you’re all happy. This is where we are. We’ve gotten to the point that Ubisoft Mainz is crowing about the “success and the extremely positive reception” of the cosmetic DLC they sold last year for Anno 1800. They’re going to repeat the pattern this year and publish three packs of DLC that decorate your virtual towns in different ways. There’s even going to be a community vote on one of the themes they’ll make. The first of this year’s installments, the “Seasonal Decorations Pack” will launch on February 15th.

I suppose we should be happy that Anno 1800 doesn’t yet have NFTs.

Eat your heart out Gwent. The Elder Scrolls Online is getting a collectible card game.

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Bethesda Softworks has announced Tales of Tribute, a collectible card game that will be playable from within The Elder Scrolls Online. It’s coming with the High Isle expansion for the MMO, although it’s unclear if ownership of the expansion will be required to play the CCG. According to Bethesda, Tales of Tribute will feature leaderboards, tons of cards, a campaign story, and you’ll be able to challenge other live players and NPCs to a game while out and about in Tamriel. Rich Lambert, Creative Director for ESO, said Tales of Tribute is a deck-building game with the goal of out-producing your opponent as opposed to being focused on direct card combat. As if collecting pets, mounts, and furniture wasn’t enough.

High Isle’s first chapter, Ascending Tide, launches on March 14 for PC and March 29 for consoles.

You bought horse armor. You bought loot crates. You’ll buy in-game NFTs.

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The gold rush for gaming Non-fungible Tokens (NFT) is on! Ubisoft is the first big-name publisher dipping into the “investment” fad by introducing Ubisoft Quartz. Think of it as a way to make your digital in-game doodads, (now called “Digits” because everything needs a brand name) artificially scarce by adding unique serial numbers to them. Ghost Recon Breakpoint will be the first to get them and players can get the first three for free by logging into their Ubisoft Connect accounts and connecting a compatible Crypto Wallet now.

The announcement video is light on details, but the point that Ubisoft is pushing as the upside to this glorious future is the ability to resell your Digits to other players, as long as you’re willing to share the chain of ownership.

“Each Digit will also be tied to the player names of all its previous and current owners… bringing you fame for years to come!”

I look forward to the day when others can buy my in-game Rabbids underwear for their Assassin’s Creed character and forever know that I wore it before them.

If The Washington Post says Halo Infinite’s progression is bad, you know it’s bad

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Halo Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer released as a “surprise” early beta drop on November 15th, and in the days since almost everyone agrees that the shooting and movement is great, but the title’s progression system is awful. Like many other free-to-play multiplayer games, Halo Infinite features a battle pass with both free and paid tracks that unlock cosmetic doodads like armor bits and gun skins. Unlike most other games, the only way to progress in the tracks is by fulfilling a rotating set of challenges like “win two capture-the-flag matches” or “get five melee kills without dying in one match.” The kills themselves or advancing objectives do not contribute to your progression unless they happen to be part of an active challenge. As The Washington Post notes, this leads to some frustrating play.

Many of these challenges distract from the objective of winning matches, like when players are asked to use certain weapons or vehicles to get a kill. And since the current playlist system means you can’t choose what game type you’ll play, oftentimes you’ll see people running around using less-than-viable guns instead of, say, capturing the flag in a game of Capture the Flag.

To add to that frustration, the current game only allows a Quick Play option with no way to choose a match type. If you have a challenge tasking you to win three rounds of Oddball, it is extremely annoying to get placed into a second slayer deathmatch in a row.

Despite 343 Industries’ repeated assurances that they’re listening to feedback and their pre-Thanksgiving attempts to adjust some of the system, the addition of a special time-limited Fracture: Tenrai event featuring another confusing and frustrating progression layer inspired some heated discussion online. It’s a situation that’s now onerous enough to garner attention from The Washington Post, of all outlets. What’s next? Master Chief subpoenaed to appear before Congress?

Nazis, please stay away from Warhammer

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Games Workshop has published a warning that real-world hate groups are not welcome. It’s been a thorny issue for decades. Racists, xenophobes, and extremists have always been attracted to the fictional racism, xenophobia, and extremism in the Warhammer universe. Like real organizations founded on hate, the Warhammer 40,000 Imperium of Man apes the symbols and vocabulary of ancient Rome. Then it coats it all with authoritarian nihilism and some thin sci-fi trappings. In the fiction of the game universe, the Imperium is a home for cowards, opportunists, and the insane. Even the vaunted Space Marines are genetically manipulated freak warriors that are little more than brainwashed tools of the insane emperor. It’s a brutal and merciless future, and according to Games Workshop, it’s not meant to be aspirational. Please take your swastikas and go away.

The Imperium of Man stands as a cautionary tale of what could happen should the very worst of Humanity’s lust for power and extreme, unyielding xenophobia set in. Like so many aspects of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man is satirical.

In fact, Games Workshop is making their stance quite clear. If you come onto a Games Workshop property, like one of their retail stores, or show up to one of their gaming events while espousing or wearing the symbols of a real-world hate group, they’ll ask you to leave. They just don’t want you around if you’re one of those jerks.

We won’t let you participate. We don’t want your money. We don’t want you in the Warhammer community.

Maybe find another hobby? Something a little less on-the-nose for Nazism. How about vegetarian cooking? There was a certain Nazi leader that was big into being a vegetarian, after all.

Skyrim Anniversary Edition adds fishing and probably a ton of new bugs

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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition is coming. That probably brings the different versions of Skyrim up to infinity plus one when you factor in all the platforms it’s on. It’s ten years old, so it may as well be on everything since its influence has been felt in almost every open-world game since it came out.

The most important thing you need to know is that there will be a free update to Skyrim Special Edition that will add fishing to the game. Some people will be jazzed about the free new survival mode, or the new armors, weapons, or crafting bits, or the addition of a new quest storyline that’s supposed to be a big deal, but they’re nuts. It’s all about the fishing with 20 unique new fish to catch, cook, display as trophies, or keep as pets in aquariums!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition, which will also be available as a paid upgrade bundle, will add all previous Creator’s Club content to the game. Additional new Creator’s Club DLC will also be available as separate purchases.