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Updated: 1 year 35 weeks ago

3D Models Of Famous TV Show Sets

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 18:00

I had never wanted video game versions of The Office or The IT Crowd. Now that I’ve seen these 3D recreations of those (and other famous) show’s sets, though, I’m coming around. Maybe something like The Sims, or Game Dev Story, or Theme Hospital...

These models were made by Drawbotics, and in addition to the shows listed above there are also plans for sets from Parks & Rec, Suits, Mad Men, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Silicon Valley.

I’m guessing Rick & Morty must be coming. Right in time for *urgh* season *hngh* three.

Wolfenstein Parody Thoughtfully Examines The Ethics Of Violence Against Nazis

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 17:45

You round a corner, finger wrapped around the trigger like a child clinging to a safety blanket. A nazi appears. You try to fire, but a mysterious force prevents you. Nazi magic? No, something much more sinister. You hear a voice: “Is it really OK to deny fascism a platform?” “Oh no,” you whisper. Then you die.

That’s the basic setup of Dialogue 3D, a gag game made by Ramsey Nasser from the open source version of Wolfenstein. Any time you try to fight a nazi, dialogue boxes with some variation on, “Is punching nazis really alright?” pop up. If you hit “yes” or “no” in time, you shoot. If not, you die. Even if you do manage to fire your gun before dying, you’ll take a lot of damage while struggling against wishy-washy Discourse Demons.

It’s almost like the game is trying to say that when Good Liberals spend their time infighting over whether it’s OK to slug somebody who’s in favor of ethnic fucking cleansing (a historically effective tactic for preventing racist dickheads from overtaking communities), they’re standing still. Naturally, people playing by a completely different set of rules will take advantage of this, and you’ll suffer.

Dialogue 3D is not exactly subtle! Nor is it entirely novel, given the number of memes going around about characters like Captain America and Indiana Jones punching nazis. Still, it’s a funny take on an exasperating subject, and goddamn could we all use a laugh right about now.

Playing Portal In The Real World

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 17:00

Why play Portal on a 2D screen when you can play it all around you in the real world?

This Portal demo for Microsoft’s Hololens—an “augmented reality” headset that displays digital content on glasses overlaid on your outside vision—looks incredible.

It was made by developer Kenny Wang, who did something similar last year with Pokemon that was just as cool:

Three Pinballs Attempt To Steal The Death Star Plans

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 16:45

In the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story pinball table, a ragtag band of shiny silver balls attempt to simulate obtaining the plans to the Empire’s planet-killing super-weapon. Will they survive to be featured in the Star Wars Episode IV pinball table?

Rogue One is the 14th Star Wars table to the Zen Pinball 2/Pinball FX 2 platforms, and by all rights it should be the grimmest entry in the series yet. Instead it’s rather nice, once you put the plot of the movie out of your mind.

The table is laid out as sort of a stage, with the top central opening up to a number of playable scenes once the player spells out R-O-G-U-E in lights at the top. It’s got sneaky Jyn bits, spaceship battles (though I hear most of those were added in reshoots), space samurai combat and fiddling about with whichever giant walkers were featured in the beach scene.

Mind you won’t see much at all of that in my play through above. Just a valiant attempt at saving some people leading to the untimely but heroic deaths of three pinballs.

The Rogue One pinball table is available wherever Zen Studios puts its pinball games, which is basically all over the damn place.

Skyrim Warrior Unfazed by Death

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 16:18

Today on Highlight Reel we have tons of Ghost Recon clips, brave Skyrim warriors, Titanfall 2 satchel kills, gymnastics and much more!

Watch the video then talk about your favorite highlight in the comments below. Be sure to check out, like, and share the original videos via the links below. Subscribe to Kotaku on YouTube for more!

Highlight Reel is Kotaku’s regular roundup of great plays, stunts, records and other great moments from around the gaming world. If you record an amazing feat while playing a game (here’s how to record a clip), send it to us with a message confirming that the clip is yours at Or, if you see a great clip around that isn’t yours, encourage that person to send it in!

Marvel vs. Capcom Tournament Player Checks His Phone During Infinite Combo

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 15:30

The combos in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 can be so long that a player who got hit by one at the Undefeated of the Southwest tournament this past weekend did some multi-tasking and took out his phone.

It happened in a match between Louis “Readman” Millan and Abraham “Neo” Sotelo. Ahead by a score of 2-1, Readman caught Neo at the beginning of their fourth game, transitioning from an opening Magneto salvo to a lengthy Dante infinite combo. Neo got bored and picked up his smart phone to see if he had any unread messages.

He lost a character but won the game. Unfortunately, he then lost the set. His shot at redemption came later in the pool after Readman was sent to the losers bracket by eventual Undefeated champion Ryan “RyanLV” Romero, but again Neo fell short, ending his weekend tied for 17th. Readman made the finals bracket but bowed out early at 13th place.

Capcom’s high-flying Vs. series has been known for time-consuming combos since its inception with X-Men vs. Street Fighter in 1996. The free-form battle systems incorporated by these games often allow for a good deal of self-expression and experimentation, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s indefinite attack strings are simply the latest in a long line of such tactics.

Established in 2014, the Arizona-based Undefeated event series has become a bastion of Marvel play. That’s thanks to the work of organizer and competitor Armando “Angelic” Mejia, and this year’s installment continued the tradition of providing absolutely crazy moments in a game already known for its excitement.

Angelic managed to place second in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 while also acting as tournament head, defeating Evo 2016 champion Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez en route to grand finals.

The event was full of great moments.

Shortly before the combo feat mentioned above, Readman used Frank West’s wartime photography skills to counter one of Dormammu’s strongest attacks.

And fighting game legend Justin Wong made a miraculous comeback while representing Northern California in the team tournament.

As Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 battles for a spot at Evo 2017, Undefeated was a shining example of why it deserves to be included at the world’s largest fighting game tournament. But in many ways, it was also a testament to the expanding scope of the community in general, showing that competition flourishes when organizers and players come together in pursuit of celebrating their favorite titles.

Ian Walker is a fighting game expert and freelance writer. You can find him on Twitter at@iantothemax.

Your Video Game Horoscopes For The Week of February 5th

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 15:12

It’s a brand new week, and here are some brand new ways the stars are gonna dictate your gaming life. Or would, if astrology were real.

If you were born today, on February 6th, you share a birthday with Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, Threes and Bientot L’ete. Like these games, you’re intuitive and fascinating, but if left unchecked, but sometimes you just come off as self indulgent. This year you’ll be especially creative, and also quite good at selling those interesting ideas. It’s a year for growth, both personal and professional. Make the most of it!

Today, Jupiter is in retrograde and will be that way until June 9th—if you’ve been particularly lucky for a while, expect that to slow down. That isn’t all bad, however. If you can’t rely on luck, you’ll need to sit down and listen to your peers, and maybe learn the skills you need to make things swing your way anyhow.

There couldn’t be a better time for this, because Friday will bring a lunar eclipse in Leo. Leo’s not known for its subtlety, and lunar eclipses are known to expose drama, so get ready for a lot of listening, learning and understanding (and maybe eating a little crow).

Aries (March 21st - April 19th)

The lunar eclipse is gonna hit your fifth house, the one associated with love and romance. Good thing Fire Emblem Heroes just came out. Hey, if you wanna spend a little money to get Tharja, the stars are on your side.

Taurus (April 20th - May 20th)

Jupiter in retrograde will means your hectic professional life will take a breather, and the lunar eclipse is gonna make domesticity seem easy peasy. What personal project have you been neglecting? Is there a game you want to 100%? A PC left unbuilt? The world is your oyster.

Gemini (May 21st - June 20th)

The lunar eclipse is gonna boost your friendships, so Friday’s the perfect night for a game night. Doesn’t matter if you prefer tabletop RPGs, couch co-op or board games—the moon is going to make it easier to reinvest in old friendships, and to make new friends.

Cancer (June 21st - July 22nd)

Friday’s eclipse is also a full moon, and for Cancers it’s landing in the house that rules over income. Keep an eye out for good deals—it’s a day to take risks, but not ones that will bankrupt you.

Leo (July 23rd - August 22)

Leo: it’s time to chill. Jupiter’s in retrograde, and that nervous energy is not gonna get you anywhere. Instead of reaching for a twitchy FPS, get lost in the world of Yakuza 0. And take your time with it—there’s no rush.

Virgo (August 23rd - September 22nd)

Jupiter running backwards in your financial house means you need to slow down on buying new things. However, Friday’s lunar eclipse in your house of endings means something will naturally draw to a close in your life. Perhaps instead of searching for something new to fill up your time, you should finally, finally finish that one game that’s always bugged you. Being able to close a door on something that’s bothering you should give you a little peace.

Libra (September 23rd - October 22nd)

The lunar eclipse will make teamworks easier for you. Whether you play Overwatch or wanna try Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, you’ll find it’s easier to work with people on Friday. So don’t hole up alone—make an effort to take advantage of what the moon has to offer.

Scorpio (October 23rd - November 21st)

A retrograde Jupiter means you’ll be on a metaphysical journey for a couple of months, but Friday’s lunar eclipse is in your 10th house of ambition, which means you still gotta stay focused when it comes to work. Find a game that really means something to you—maybe something you played when you were young—to be your touchstone as your personal and professional lives take you for a ride.

Sagittarius (November 22nd - December 21st)

Friday’s lunar eclipse is gonna make you keep it real—but just remember, keeping it real can go wrong. You’re gonna have a hard time restraining your side eye, but if you can find a few mobile games, you can pretend you’re mad at them and not the drama in your life that you sure as hell don’t need. Why not try Picky Pop or Ninja Spinki Challenges?

Capricorn (December 22nd - January 19th)

Jupiter goes retrograde in the house that focuses on career, so things might feel more stressful at work. Have a good de-stressor at home, ready and waiting. That might not mean playing a game—watching a Let’s Play can be a good, low pressure way to unwind.

Aquarius (January 20th - February 18th)

Jupiter was leading you to really scramble to make some progress in your life, but now that it’s in retrograde, you can chill the heck out. Been neglecting your backlog for real life responsibilities? Now’s the time to jump back into it.

Pisces (February 18th - March 20th)

Jupiter sits in your house for intimacy, so however your love life’s been going, it’s gonna turn the opposite way starting today. Good thing games can really bring people together. Finding a game to share with someone can either deepen an already extant bond, or bridge a new gap. Look for something collaborative rather than competitive—maybe try some Overcooked?

League of Legends Pro Faker Signs Up For Twitch, Immediately Breaks Streaming Record

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 14:45
Image courtesy of SegmentNext.

If you have even a cursory awareness of esports, you’ve almost certainly heard of Lee Sang-hyeok, aka Faker. Blending sublime skill and unpredictability, he’s perhaps the best League of Legends player on earth, and definitely among the most exciting. Today, he finally started streaming on Twitch, quickly shattering viewership records despite a stream that was, uh, rough.

Faker’s stream peaked at over 245,000 concurrent viewers, making it the most-watched stream hosted by an individual in Twitch history, according to PVP Live. It was a long time coming. Faker used to have a deal with Korean streaming platform Azubu that granted them exclusive rights to his matches. At one point another streamer found a loophole and started streaming Faker’s solo-queue matches without anybody’s permission, which royally pissed off Azubu, Riot, and SK Telecom (the team Faker’s on), so needless to say, Faker’s streams have been a point of contention over the years.

That, in part, explains why his first-ever Twitch stream attracted such a colossal horde of viewers. Faker is a huge name, and people have been waiting for this day. Disciples showed up in droves because their “god” is finally free.

The stream itself, however, was awkward. It was plagued by lag and volume issues, and even elements of it that seemed promising—for instance, a live translator so English-speaking viewers could also understand what Faker was saying—didn’t really pan out. The translator went MIA, and Faker, true to his notoriously stoic demeanor, didn’t say much at all over the course of more than two hours.

When Faker streamed on Azubu, he generally didn’t use a mic. He played in silence, leading all except the most ardent skill junkies to declare his streams “boring.” Early on in today’s stream, Faker addressed that. “It’s been a long time since the last time I streamed,” he said (via translator). “At the time I didn’t communicate that much. I’m trying to communicate with the fans from now on.”

Despite that, he said very little, and some fans came away disappointed. “It won’t last,” said a LoL subreddit user named Jedclark. “His Azubu streams were so boring. It’s literally him sitting there silently playing. The novelty will soon fade. The majority of people watch streams to be entertained, which explains why relatively shit players can get 20-30k consistent viewers, while really good Challenger players get like 10-20 viewers.”

However, others countered that it’s, well, Faker. In a game about legends, he stands taller than the rest. “Equally important to him being the best is the duration of him being the best,” said a user named Ngjeoooo. “He has been number 1 the last 4+ years, and through many different metas. That’s the main reason on why he’s being worshiped, and that won’t fade no matter how boring his stream may seem with conventional standards.”

To be fair, Faker’s quiet confidence has always been part of his appeal. In a game where others trash talk (and some pros get suspended for toxic chat during the biggest damn event of the year), Faker stands apart. But will that aid him here, or has he finally met his match in the form of the most dreaded foe any introvert can face: public speaking?

 Madden Totally Ruined My Son For The Super Bowl

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 14:30

“What does NE stand for?” my five-year-old son asked as we watched last night’s Super Bowl LI. I told him it stood for the New England Patriots. “No! Change it!” he shouted, lunging for the Xbox One controller. “It should be Atlanta versus Atlanta!” Oh right, Madden 17.

Minutes into Super Bowl LI it was clear that Seamus was not happy with the game. While Archer happily played his iPad in the direction of the television, his brother was fidgety and anxious.

They look just as confused as I was.

At first I figured he was just excited to see his team play. This is the first year that Seamus has been really aware of the Super Bowl—normally we get a sitter and go over to my parents’ place to watch the game or just skip it entirely. But we live in Atlanta, and the Falcons making it to the Super Bowl is an enormous deal here. Seamus’ school held a spirit day, to which he insisted he wear all black and red (we managed all but the shoes). Saturday night, before putting the boys to bed, I asked if they were excited to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow. Seamus answered an enthusiastic yes, while Archer hid under the covers with the iPad he wasn’t supposed to have at bedtime.

What was causing last night’s unease was an issue I hadn’t taken into account. Everything Seamus knows about football, he learned from playing Madden NFL on the Xbox One. While he and his brother mainly watch as I played Madden 16, I often find Seamus sitting in the living room with Madden 17 on the screen, pressing the buttons that make the polygonal players move.

Seamus’ most recent game didn’t get very far, but Atlanta was clearly in the lead.

Now, as I’ve mentioned previously on Kotaku, Seamus and Archer are on the autism scale, and share a particular love of letters and numbers. It’s one of the reasons they enjoy sports games. They all have numbers in the name.

Seamus likes his letters and numbers to be in order. When I play Rock Band for them I have to play the songs in alphabetical order, which has led me to reinstalling the game and buying all the songs I enjoy that begin with numbers or the letter A.

So when Seamus is given a choice of NFL teams to play, he chooses the Atlanta Falcons. Why not the Arizona Cardinals? Not sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that he pronounces “Atlanta” as “Alanta.” And when he is given the option to choose an opponent, he also chooses the Atlanta Falcons.

And so I spent the first half of Super Bowl LI dealing with a very angry little monkey who could not understand why Atlanta wasn’t playing against Atlanta. I tried.

“There’s only one Seamus, right? So Seamus couldn’t play against Seamus?”


“Then how can Atlanta play against Atlanta?”

“Change it!”

“Believe me, I would if I could.”

This went on for a good hour, interrupted by the occasional angry storming out of and then back into the living room. I would try to explain that this was a real football game and we had no control over it, he would insist in a loud, unpleasant kid screech that yes we did. Not a fun way to watch a major sporting event.

Eventually Seamus calmed down, and the soothing music and explosions of Lady Gaga’s halftime show lulled him gently to sleep. Poor kid missed getting to see the part of the game where Atlanta played against itself for real.

Pretty sure the Patriots are going to win this one as well.

How I Convinced Myself To Buy My First Gaming PC

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 14:05
My desk, complete with my new gaming PC and several toys.

Nothing tests your resolve to identify a certain way like a big, bank-breaking purchase. In December, after five years of back-and-forth, I took the dive and bought a gaming PC. Until I was standing in the Micro Center checkout aisle with a big, stately “PowerSpec” box in my cart, I kicked and screamed the whole way there. “Buying in” is a scary thing, especially when your lifestyle is still possible, but significantly compromised, without doing so.

Prior to pulling out of the Micro Center parking lot, I played Overwatch or Final Fantasy XIV every day on a powerful laptop that needed some deft jerry-rigging to run new games and, for most other things, loaded up my Xbox One. I didn’t want to drop a month’s rent on hardware. And I didn’t want one of those glowing, green gaming PCs equipped with fangs and pincers. For me, there was also the damningly impossible question of “How much PC gaming is enough to justify a gaming PC?” In the end, it was a simple calculation: an unequipped laptop vs. the royal treatment, minus $1,000.

Getting here took five years, in part, because of a conversation I had every year with a Best Buy employee. It goes like this: I’m wandering around their PC section, checking out their wares or shopping for a new laptop, and I’d encounter some Alien vs. Predator-style gaming rig, with toothy grating, promising to “push optical limits” or “maximize gaming performance,” the copywriting equivalent of steroids. Always, at that moment, a salesperson would initiate this conversation:

“Hi, can I help you?”

“I’m just checking out some computers,” I’d explain.

“Ah, okay. What will you do on the computer?” they ask.

“Well, I write and report, so processing speed is important. I stream television. I also play video games, often online.”

“Oh, so do you want a gaming PC?” they reply. “It sounds like you need a gaming PC. What kind of graphics are you looking for? How much memory? Solid state or-.”

Here, I always shortcircuited. It seems like a simple enough computation—play video games, purchase gaming PC. It’s the last thing I mention, and yet, it’s the most important factor determining which tool I will choose to go about my increasingly online life. It’s not just a matter of “next-gen tech” and “powerful gameplay.” It feels, in a way, like this bored, run-of-the-mill Best Buy employee stands before the gate that leads to some gilded tower of PC gamers. It felt like I wasn’t serious unless I was serious about framerate. I wasn’t a player until my walls reflected the soft glow of a blue LED fan. Buying a gaming PC is just as much an investment in who you are as it is in how you’re gaming.

Me, with my new friend.

But after being hired by Kotaku, how I related to a gaming PC started to change. What seemed like an identity calculation that only transpired in the aisles of Best Buy became part of how I do my job. It’s a sort of insurance for running future games with less difficulty, for being able to get more out of games I already play by having beefier hardware.

That’s only half the truth, though. I bought a gaming PC, in part, because I like winning in Overwatch. Since it’s team-based, your teammates know if you’re lagging on your rush out of the spawn point. Also, Overwatch isn’t one of those games where it’s fine for your computer to overheat in the middle of a competitive match. That’s the beast I was wrestling.

To play Overwatch on my HP Envy laptop, with its Nvidia GeForce 930M graphics card and its i7-6500U microprocessor, I had to construct a somewhat elaborate superstructure that involved two to three fans and, occasionally, a dictionary. My Envy is not a bad laptop by any means, but four or five matches in, it would get hot and angry and hiss. Most of the time, it would shut down without warning—just a small sigh. Its Overwatch aversion was a little confusing, since it ran all my other PC games just fine—Final Fantasy XIV, most importantly.

To appease it, I purchased a cooling pad with a fan inside and a mini fan that sat on my desk and blew into its fan. Sometimes, I put a dictionary under it to get just the right angle or leaned it against some books just so. When none of that worked, I dragged my 4-foot floor fan next to my desk and directed its wind into the desk fan which, in turn, blew into the laptop fan.

After a while, my laptop just stopped having it. My bosses eyed me as I made my bi-weekly pilgrimage to Staples, insisting it was time. Staples’ technicians warned me that it was only going to get worse unless I got a rig more suitable for gaming.

PowerSpec friend.

My first impulse was to build one. I would go on, and, with requisite research, piece together a custom build. It wasn’t particularly intimidating—as Kotaku managing editor Riley MacLeod said, “Building a gaming PC is just like grown-up Legos.” I reasoned that by building my own PC, I would familiarize myself with its internal organs and, if something broke, I could identify the problem myself. It would be an exciting challenge and teach me a new, useful knowledge set. That was my plan, and if you ask my friends, I wouldn’t shut up about it.

But on December 26th, while I was home over the holidays, I took my parents’ car to a Virginia Micro Center to purchase a more powerful cooling fan for my laptop, hoping it would hold me over until I mustered the courage to order parts. Micro Center is a vestige of early computing, one of the few brick and mortar computer stores where, in my experience, salespeople always seem knowledgeable, but so are the customers. When I entered, I saw the sign hanging over their desktop section and made a beeline there, forgetting my original task. All of the employees seemed busy, so I could wander around without anybody quizzing me on my gaming habits or dream specs.

As I looked over the glowing green towers and jagged, monster-ish rigs, a few larger but more innocuous desktops caught my eye. There was a table with about five two-foot-tall towers, each with at least two ventilation grates and top-notch graphics cards, all under about $1,100—not an insignificant sum, by any means. One in particular, a PowerSpec G313 custom build, had many of the features I wanted out of my own build. I wanted a 1070 graphics card, since a 1080 was definitely out of my price range. It had 16GB of RAM and an i5-6600K unlocked processor. It could handle VR. It had a 480GB solid state boot drive. It was $999.

A customer, not a salesperson, approached me. “Hey, I don’t mean to bother you,” he began, “but I have that PC. It’s amazing.” I immediately shot him a dozen questions and, enthusiastically, he explained that, yes, it handles Blizzard games with maxed-out settings and, absolutely, he does not regret buying a pre-built gaming PC. A salesperson joined the conversation, noting that the graphics card alone would cost $500, only $300 less than my DIY price limit. Purchasing each of its parts separately, the PC would have cost about $1,300. Considering the specs, it was a steal. Also, it has space for another graphics card, so if in five years my 1070 wasn’t doing the trick, I could just add another.

From Micro Center

Perhaps it was impulsive, but I bought it. I took it back to New York and hooked up a discounted, but new, 21” Samsung monitor. I crammed the enormous 18 by 7-inch tower under my desk. The keyboard was a hand-me-down from my dad, who accidentally purchased a Corsair mechanical keyboard for himself off the internet and was deterred by the clanking. My mouse, honestly, I could care less about. I found it in a box in my room.

After installing Windows and running a LAN cable through the apartment, the first thing I did was download Battlenet and play Overwatch. As a Roadhog main, my hook percentage is at least five percent higher now that the game runs better. I’ve picked up some offensive heroes who require cutting reflexes now that I have a rig that can handle it. And, galvanized by this sudden boost in performance, I solo-queue in competitive mode nearly every night now. I’ll add that, in the past, I was hesitant to speak up in voice chat because I am a woman. Now, I am vocal. I have a new confidence stemming from boosted gameplay and, frankly, “buying in.”

Perhaps it’s all a mindgame. And, undeniably, I was a victim of some very good marketing from the PC gaming industry. I think back before I felt comfortable making this sort of big, meaningful purchase and wonder what was stopping me aside from price—impromptu quizzes at Best Buy, the super-fanatical culture of PC gaming? There are mental barriers-to-entry and traversing them are scary, even aside of money, and especially when they’re reinforced by others who already made the financial leap and constantly seek to justify it. But it’s a sad truth—“buying in” is a way of feeling at home.

Wait, Did You Realize Lady Gaga's Rooftop Bit Was Prerecorded? 

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 14:03
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Yeah yeah, you knew all along. Whatever, I’ll self-own with this post, I’ve already taken nothing but Ls over the last year.

The first segment of last night’s Super Bowl halftime show featured Lady Gaga singing and speaking the Pledge of Allegiance from atop the stadium roof, before “jumping” 265 feet to be lowered to the stage. It was a cool moment!

What it was not, was live. Videos taken from the stands show her already suspended on wires and being lowered to the field when the video cut off on the Jumbotron and the lights went up. She did not leap from the roof, and wasn’t even up there on Sunday.

So, yes, of course they taped the intro. Not just for ease of production, but because no one involved wants to risk Lady Gaga pulling an Owen Hart in front of the single largest TV audience ever. It wasn’t a huge secret, either—an article explaining how they got all those remote-control helicopters to hover in formation noted, with no more detail, that “it taped the show earlier this week.”

This was one of those things that was obvious if you took a moment to think about it, but I did not take the moment to think about it. A quick Twitter poll indicates that 71 percent of voters did not realize the segment was pretaped, so don’t feel dumb if you got taken. I don’t! (A caveat on the poll: Our readers are really dumb.)

A still-unsolved mystery: Where did Lady Gaga go after finishing her performance by leaping from the stage and catching a football? Maybe she’s falling still... (Update: Or she landed in a foam dumpster.)

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Now You Can Farm WoW Gold For Overwatch Loot Boxes And Hearthstone Cards

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 14:00

Thanks to a change in the way Blizzard’s WoW tokens work, players can now farm World of Warcraft gold and apply it towards credit for Overwatch loot boxes, Heroes of the Storm character unlocks and Hearthstone cards.

WoW Tokens are items introduced to World of Warcraft to give players a way to buy subscription time for in-game gold while giving others a legitimate alternative to purchasing gold from third-party websites. The player in need of World of Warcraft currency can buy a WoW Token for $20 in cash, then sell it for a fixed amount of gold in the game’s auction house (current asking price on North American servers is 62,393 gold). Players buying these tokens at the auction house would then redeem them for 30 days of game time.

Starting today, players can trade those tokens for $15 of credit instead of game time (amounts may vary by region). Here’s a video explanation of how that works.

Depending on your World of Warcraft gold farming acumen, this could be a nice way to turn that lazy grinding time into extra in-game items or even full digital Blizzard games. Check out the WoW Token feature page for more info.

Fire Emblem Heroes Is A Horny Casino

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 13:00

I’ve been playing Nintendo’s latest free mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes, for the last few days, and I’m struck by how subtly sexual it is.

Take Niles the archer, for example. His description alone is fucky:

If you rub Niles, he’ll say stuff like “Yours until I break, master,” and “Now now, be gentle.” It’s all stuff that fits his character from Fire Emblem Conquest, but it’s funny that even in a stripped-down version of the franchise, developer Intelligent Systems chose to keep this aspect intact, rather than some more hardcore strategy mechanics.

For years now, there’s been a rift within the Fire Emblem community, as the turn-based series embraces fan service to give players more of a connection to individual characters. In the main games, you can marry characters, you can rub them for affection, you can have children, and in Japan, the character voices are recorded in binaural audio, so that all whispers of love make your spine tingle. Fire Emblem’s modern identity means that new fans are more likely to talk about what character they want to fuck, rather than optimal strategies for winning a battlefield. (I have no problem with this.)

Fire Emblem Heroes takes that reality and runs with it. The focus is entirely on what beloved characters you can add to your collection, what characters you have daydreams about. The entire gacha set-up banks on the idea you’ll want these characters so badly, you might spend money just for a random terrible chance at acquiring them. The terrifying thing is that it works, even though everyone can see how exploitative the entire thing is (I’ve already spent maybe 20 dollars, shamefully.)

Once you have your beloved units, you can admire them through lavish new artwork on the Allies menu. It’s total fan service, but what makes it especially notable is that it seems like equal opportunity fan service. Men and women alike are just as likely to have ridiculous revealing poses, and that’s especially true of the artwork that appears when characters are hurt during battles. Here’s a taste:

This might be the first time I’ve seen this “classic” pose on a dude, not a lady.

Fire Emblem Heroes isn’t a particularly complex strategy title—for that, you’ll want the main handheld games. But that’s not really why we’re here, is it?

A Month Before Nintendo Switch Launches, We Really Should Know More About It

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:40

The Nintendo Switch is dropping on March 3, less than a month from now, and it feels like we still don’t know some key features about the console. But how does that compare to other console launches? Is this lack of information unprecedented or par for the course?

So what don’t we know about the Switch? Although we know it will have a paid online service, we don’t know how it will work or what it will look like (though we know Miiverse won’t be part of it). We don’t know if it will have an achievement system. We also don’t have any concrete information on the Virtual Console, Nintendo’s service for selling digital versions of their classic games, which has been a huge feature on Wii, Wii U, and 3DS.

To see how other consoles compare, we looked back at three different launches: the Wii U, the PS4, and the Xbox One.

It’s worth recognizing that online services just aren’t as big a part of Nintendo consoles as they are on Sony and Microsoft ones. Until now, Nintendo’s online services have been free, and also kinda janky. In any case, we did know about the Miiverse by mid-June 2012—the Wii U would drop on November 18 of that year. By September 14, we also knew that Miiverse would feel more like a social network than a matchmaking service.

As for Virtual Console, we knew that the Wii U’s version of the classic game service would allow you to transfer your old Wii VC purchases by June, 2012. With the Wii U release in November, that means we had we had concrete information on this key feature five months prior.

Regarding the Virtual Console on the Switch, Reggie Fils-Aime has said that more information will come “at a later date,” and also that the introduction of the Nintendo Account has the potential to tie purchases to a particular user. Compared to what we knew about Virtual Console for the Wii U this close to its release, that’s pretty lacking in substance.

Information about the Playstation 4's paid online service and achievement system were revealed at Sony’s E3 press conference in 2013. Some information was clarified closer to release, specifically that the PS4’s online service wouldn’t stick streaming video sites like Netflix behind a paywall, but for the most part, once E3 was over this information was in the wild. Backwards compatibility was slightly more vague. Backwards compatibility was mentioned at E3, and by September 2013, we knew that Sony intended to make the PS3 library playable via Gaikai streaming the following year. The console was set to drop November 13, 2013—again, most of the above information was in the wild five months in advance.

Similarly, Microsoft dropped most of the vital information about the Xbox One at their June 2013 E3 press conference, including information about Xbox Live and changes to the achievements system. Unlike Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft did not emphasize any kind of backwards compatibility—the console wouldn’t be able to play 360 games until June 2015—but Microsoft did claim it would continue to invest in the 360 to push it into new markets. The console released November 22, 2013.

Looking at this information in aggregate is kind of worrying—it seems like five months before release, we knew a lot more about the Wii U, the PS4 and the Xbox One. But what’s especially worrying is the lack of information on Virtual Console, which is a key feature specifically for Nintendo consoles, and could make the Switch a must buy. If you just want a Zelda machine, you already know everything you need to know for now. But compared to previous consoles, the Switch appears to be built on a foundation of hype more than anything else.

How a Video Game Chat Client Became the Web’s New Cesspool of Abuse

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:36
Illustration: Elena Scotti

Over 25 million users have flocked to Discord, a text and voice platform for gamers, since its launch in May of 2015. Despite the company raising at least 30 million in venture capital funding, the company has only five “customer experience” personnel and no moderators on its staff. From what I’ve seen, users who wish to engage in harassment, raid servers, or bombard chats and users with child pornography suffer no lasting repercussions for doing so. That seemingly any server can become the victim of organized attacks represents the strained and failing infrastructure of moderation—of Discord, and of virtually any community on the internet.

Though it positioned itself as a scrappy alternative to gamer-friendly VoIP software like TeamSpeak and Skype, Discord’s robust text chat features have made it a hub for a variety online communities. The largest still remain pegged to specific games like Overwatch and Pokemon, but many have nothing at all to do with gaming. Many forums, subreddits, and imageboards are using Discord as a way to connect in real time. “Many of the largest Reddits use it,” Discord CEO Jason Citron told Gizmodo in an email. “These bigger communities may appear to be a large part of Discord, [but] only a very small number of people actually participate in them relative to the entire Discord population.” We’ll have to trust Citron that the lion’s share of users are on Discord for its intended purpose—chatting while gaming—but the number who aren’t is certainly growing: of the estimated 12,000 servers, three of the biggest are directly associated with a subreddit, according to unofficial index discordservers.

Some of these servers, especially the Discord chat spun out of 4chan’s far-right stomping ground /pol/, use their room to coordinate “raids” on other servers with ease and impunity. Trolls acquire invite links to other servers and post them in a room called “Raids” (formerly “Raids Defense”), encouraging the chat’s 1000+ members to descend en masse on vulnerable or unsuspecting communities, bringing with them a tidal wave of abuse. Other servers have rooms for doxxing—the posting of personally identifying information like addresses and phone numbers of victims. Such behavior is a clear violation of Discord’s Terms of Service, though it seems those rules cannot be presently enforced.

Screenshot: /pol/ server. Rule 7 codifies raiding for members.

We spoke with 12 current admins and moderators of a variety of servers over Discord or email. Their servers ranged from a few dozen users to over 1,000, organized around topics ranging from religion and language learning to sexuality and politics. All of them had experienced multiple raids—some on a daily basis—and most saw the behavior as increasing in frequency and severity. With only one “customer experience” staffer for every 5 million users, these admins have developed their own countermeasures.

No Consequences

“Everyday there are raids of alt-right people,” Seven, an admin of a popular server for the discussion of Islam, told Gizmodo. The server focuses mainly on the discussion of scripture as well as news in the Muslim world, and has rooms in six different languages. An invite to popped up last weekend in the /pol/ raids room, prompting a flood of harassment which has sadly become commonplace for marginalized groups online. The raids typically consist of abusive messages characterizing all Muslims as terrorists and insulting their beliefs. Though Seven and his co-admin Iskandar have managed to attract a stable base of over 1,000 users, 1,288 others have been banned for abuse. “The discord server feels like a besieged city,” Seven said in a private Discord message. In the course of reporting this story, I also received an unsolicited message from an unknown user containing child pornography.

“The discord server feels like a besieged city.”

While anti-Muslim sentiment has certainly grown worldwide, religious chats appear to be a popular target for raiders and trolls regardless of their preferred scripture. Stupiddroid, the owner of Christian discussion server Christcord, said he experiences two to three raids a week. Like, Christcord is a place to discuss religion, but also blow off steam with fellow believers. “When [trolls] join, most immediately begin spamming offensive images and slurs,” he said. Politically, the far right are most commonly associated with this sort of behavior, which makes the largely Trump-supporting server a strange target. “I believe in free speech and am against censorship,” Stupiddroid wrote while making an obvious distinction: “calling someone a ‘nig*er’ should be ban-worthy.” Though banning still acts as a first line of defense, it can be easily evaded by using a VPN or simply creating a new account. 200 users have been banned from Christcord, a server with only 300 regular users.

Screenshot: Christcord’s “about” room.

LGBT groups are also frequently raided. Even Gaymers, which has less than 100 members, is hit around once a week according to Seneth, the server’s admin. “Our server is designated LGBTQ+ so as you might imagine we are subject to regular attempts at raids and other trolls,” Pengu wrote. “I know most raids come from 4chan or r/the_donald if a link gets there. It happens when someone ignorant feels the need to make themselves feel better by harassing others.” He pasted an example of raid spam which had recently been posted to his server by a user: “kill all fags” in all-caps, 71 consecutive times.

Even servers organized around totally innocuous subject matter get raided. The moderator team of a Discord offshoot of a language-learning subreddit told Gizmodo they’d experienced a raid over the weekend and that “we were raided once before by some nazis who all spammed the same message with swastikas.” One of them quickly polled a hidden server for admins of similar language-learning chats. Of the 25 servers represented, most had experienced raids recently.

How a Server Defends Itself

The prospect of centralized moderation for 12,000 realtime chat rooms is beyond daunting. Discord isn’t even remotely staffed to attempt such a feat. “We don’t moderate each server,” Tali Fischer, Discord’s Director of PR and Events admitted in a chat with Gizmodo. As such, server admins have developed their own means to limit the damage from disruptive users.

“When I joined the server was being constantly raided and there was no order,” Pengu, the admin of The Furry Room told Gizmodo. Since then, he got the former admin to turn the server over to him and he “employed a manual verification process, where new users can only talk in two rooms which the majority of the server have muted… The verification I employ is to link as many social media accounts as possible, and to prove ownership. If the account was created very recently, I ask them kindly to come back in two weeks.” While this is considerably stricter and more time-consuming than how most targeted servers handle raids, “containment rooms” have become commonplace. “There are 23 text channels. When someone joins they can only see #welcome and #about. Everything else is restricted,” Seneth told Gizmodo.

Screenshot: r/GameGrumps on Reddit. The Discord invite is linked in the sidebar below the subreddit rules.

Welcome rooms that act as processing centers keep lazier bands of trolls from easily harassing communities on Discord. Even Centipede Central, Discord’s pro-Trump chat, forces new arrivals to type a set phrase for full permissions. But as Chozo, the admin of a server spun out of r/GameGrumps (the official fan community of YouTube Let’s Play channel Game Grumps) notes, trolls don’t always need numbers to be effective. “Usually it’s just a few guys running scripts to spam the channels with walls of text or shock porn,” he told Gizmodo over email. Scripts allow a small number of raiders to post at robotic speeds that even the most diligent admin can’t keep up with.

Many servers employ bots—built by the Discord community at large, or specially made by savvy moderators themselves—to beat back massive raids and script spam. “We also have a bot in our server that will enable a ‘slow mode’ in case things get too rowdy, which will make it so that messages in a channel can only be displayed at a very slow rate,” Chozo wrote. Similar bots engage a “raid mode” or “lockdown” which can prevent newly-joined users from posting for a set period—a sort of chat-room time out—while the moderation team performs the tedious work of kicking or banning troublemakers.

“If we put better protection we will annoy people who want to join.”

Automated and infrastructural countermeasures go a long way to lessening the burdens on a targeted server’s moderation team, but ultimately the best tool to keep bored or hateful losers from shitting up a chat room is vigilance. Running a server can very quickly become a full-time job. Even the /pol/ Discord—the source of a great many raids—has experienced tremendous mod turnover in recent weeks, partly because of internal drama, but also because many of the admins simply wish to get back to their daily lives post-election.

Though some servers that meet the platform’s Partnership Program standard are eligible to “get paid hard skrilla $$$,” only one of the chats Gizmodo spoke to was enrolled and, likely on account of its low membership, had not been approached to receive compensation.

There Has to Be a Way In

Limiting access takes other forms too, and many servers have turned off chat functions such as the ability to notify all users with “@everyone.” But barriers to entry have just as much of an effect on well-intentioned new users as they do on abusive ones. Ultimately, the only safe server is one completely closed off to everyone, and in the interest of growing their communities, it’s a step none of the admins we spoke to were willing to take.

“Some time ago, the owner of the server put out a few invite links on Reddit, and as such, the search term ‘furry discord’ brings up the Reddit post containing said link as one of the top results,” Pengu told Gizmodo, describing the push and pull of security versus opportunity. “The simplest way to stop these raids is to revoke said link, however doing so cuts off the main source of legitimate people wishing to join.”

Image: /pol/ Discord raids room. Server invites can be made to “expire.” Some raids are against specific people, in this case a former admin.

The admins of see openness as an opportunity, and raids as an inevitable side effect. “We posted the discord server on a lot of pages on purpose, we knew this would happen,” Seven wrote. “If we put better protection we will annoy people who want to join.”

“We also feel this connection from the people who troll us, [who]... waste their time [with] such activity against us,” was how Iskandar, a native French speaker, framed it, as only the patient or the pious can. “It is because we feel the same feeling of marginalization, that we won’t close ours arms towards them if they want to finally drops the weapons and take a tea with us.”

No One to Turn to

Belying this bargain for visibility is also the feeling that, aside from those in the Partner Program with direct access to Discord’s developers, there are no reinforcements to call on. Discord’s Fischer told Gizmodo that, “the standard average is 22 hour response time and Discord averages under 1 hour.” If true, the platform’s speed is laudable, though it may instead be a result of user not knowing how to make problems known to the company.

Snow, the admin of leftist political server and 8chan offshoot /leftypol/ told Gizmodo, “I was unaware that there was a medium to report to Discord HQ. If there is, they should make it more easily accessible.” Although CEO Jason Citron referred us to, there is no ‘report’ function baked into Discord’s UI, and a help search for “report user” doesn’t bring up a single link which lists that email. Seven wrote, regarding the frequent raids, “I don’t think they can really help us more.” Uncertain recourses in the face of flagrant hate speech leads to a sense of inevitability that raids and abuse will always continue, or, as Seneth wrote, the feeling that, “Ignorant people will always find a way.”

“If content on a server is found to be illegal or in violation of our Terms of Service, we shut the server down and we will ban users who are found to be complicit in illegal activities,” Discord CEO Jason Citron told Gizmodo in an email, though the increasing prevalence of abusive raids tell another story, as do admin’s experiences. Few had heard of users receiving global bans or servers being shut down completely. Chozo of the Game Grumps chat was the only admin we spoke to who had heard of Discord shutting down servers. He said that “as far as I know it’s only done in a few very fringe cases. The Discord dev team are pretty clear on their policies, and you have to act VERY specifically to violate them.” Discord would not disclose specific examples of users of servers being banned.

“Ignorant people will always find a way.”

Worryingly, Citron noted that “the rate of complaints has actually not changed relative to the size of the platform.” As moderation staffers of absolutely any other platform are likely thinking, such a statement is an almost comically obvious red flag.

Those Terms of Service Citron mentioned are almost unenforceably broad, though they certainly cover the sort of hate speech and abuse not only employed by raiders, but commonplace on the servers they embark from. They include users agreeing not to “defame, libel, ridicule, mock, stalk, threaten, harass, intimidate or abuse anyone.”

What’s Next?

So far Discord’s growth has been nothing short of meteoric, and the platform is on track to conceivably eclipse its larger, uglier, and less user-friendly competitor Skype in the near future. But early problems have a way of compounding themselves. Take, Reddit—the site which has arguably led to the greatest amount of non-gaming community growth on Discord—for example. Issues of what constituted good or bad user actions were left unaddressed for a decade, through multiple staff turnovers, such that CEO Steve Huffman told Recode as recently as December that, “There’s not a crystal-clear line of what behavior is acceptable and not.”

Though still relatively young, Discord has a chance to set an example now. The sort of strict top-down moderation present on Facebook is not only impossible to implement for real-time chat, but is undesirable for many of the users we spoke to. The solution isn’t to adopt a Facebook-type moderation system; it’s to better equip their users to have their grievances addressed. Discord needs to make it easier and more obvious for users to be able to report and protect themselves, and it needs to invest some of its considerable resources into a moderation team that can enforce its Terms of Service. Without consequences, toxic servers—like the /pol/ or the unabashedly fascist Blood and Soil—will continue to proliferate, making the platform more volatile and less appealing to potential users.

“I have seen raids become more prevalent not only on Discord but on imageboards, on social media, everywhere in general. As the world destabilizes and what tomorrow will be like looks less and less appetizing to some people, the angrier and angrier people get,” Snow, the admin of /leftypol/ wrote. It’s hard to disagree: Twitter is a constant source of threats and insults, Facebook is overrun by hyperpartisan falsehoods, infighting has turned sites and moderators against one another, and Discord—a new but rising challenger—is already succumbing to the actions of its worst users. “What we are seeing now in the 21st century is the basest of human politics.”

Happy Birthday, Mewtwo

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:15

“We named the newborn Mewtwo” concludes the diary entry from the original Pokemon games, though it might just be a clever ploy by a highly intelligent clone in order to score annual cake. I’m not arguing with him.

(Originally published 2/6/16)

Some Quick Thoughts On The Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:00

Last weekend Ubisoft ran a closed beta for their upcoming open-world tangos ’n tactics game Ghost Recon Wildlands. I spent a few hours playing and am here to tell you what I thought.

Wildlands is the first proper game in the Ghost Recon series since 2012’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which I actually reviewed, not that I entirely remember writing that review. (Life comes at you fast, man.) It’s another in Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s” line of real-world military tactics/fetish games that include Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six and most recently, The Division.

It’s an open-world game set in Bolivia, and it can be played solo or in co-op with up to three of your friends. You play as elite U.S. operatives dispatched on an off-the-books clandestine campaign against a notorious collection of South American drug cartels.

Let’s get into it.

The beta region is one of like, six thousand in the main game. Just kidding, there are actually 21.

The map is big as hell. The beta comprised one region of the full map, and it was large. Based on that, the full map for this game is going to be absurdly huge. I’m not sure if they’re going to be able to come up with meaningful things to do across an area that big, but it will certainly be big.

It’s an ur-Ubisoft game. Wildlands is the closest thing yet to a culmination of Ubisoft’s open-world design rules, for good and for ill. It’s basically an amalgam of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Far Cry 4 and The Division. You and a squad explore a massive and immaculately rendered map based on a real-world location like in The Division. You engage in careful tactical assaults on enemy compounds using drones, night vision and squad tactics like in Ghost Recon. And you drive cars, avoid wildlife, and attract patrolling enemy soldiers like in Far Cry.

It’s got all the Ubisoft trappings—the map is covered in collectables for you to tag and pick up, and your character has a billion skills and abilities to slowly upgrade and unlock. You unlock cages full of colorfully-dressed resistance soldiers and can level up their abilities if you want to call them in as reinforcements. There are optional challenges galore, though I’m already questioning how much depth any of it will add. The sheer amount of #content in the beta had me feeling exhausted, and I boggle at the thought of how much will be stuffed into the full map.

It’s generally a third-person game, but by default it snaps to iron sights when you aim.

It plays like I wish The Division had played. I enjoyed playing Ghost Recon Wildlands. I actually think it’ll provide the sort of gameplay that a lot of people were hoping for from The Division. It’s standard tactical stuff, where a single well-placed bullet will take down a bad guy and you can coordinate meaningful tactics with your teammates.

One player can go up on a ridge with a sniper rifle and cover another while she sneaks into an enemy base and tags a transport truck. Four players can set up their shots and wipe out an enemy patrol before they have time to react. You can set a mine on the road and ambush a moving convoy, or two of you can hop into a helicopter and provide fire support for the other two. It’s a far cry (sorry) from The Division’s odd bullet-sponge enemies, Destiny-like damage numbers and randomized loot, and I found it refreshingly straightforward.

The unsettling satisfaction of coordinating a tandem kill with your buddy.

It’s much more fun with a friend. You can play the entire game solo or with up to three friends, and from my experience with the beta, co-op is definitely going to be the way to go. If you play solo, you’re given a team of three AI-controlled dudes who you can give orders to via a radial menu like in past Ghost Recon games. They will never be as easy or enjoyable to work with as an actual human friend. It’s just more fun to come up with elaborate strategies with other humans. I played for an hour or two with a friend of mine over the weekend and we had a great time cruising around and doing random side objectives. It might actually get too chaotic with a full squad of four, but it was great with just us two.

It suffers from Tom Clancy-itis. Wildlands draws inspiration from Clear and Present Danger, the 1994 Harrison Ford film based on a Clancy novel of the same name. In that film, a team of American spec-ops elites are sent on a barely sanctioned cartel-busting mission to Colombia, where they engage in all manner of covert badassery before being sold out by feckless politicians and mostly killed.

Wildlands hits many of the same beats in terms of atmosphere and tone, though at least in the beta, I did not feel it likely that my team would wind up being sold out and gunned down by a cartel ambush. Like The Division, however, Wildlands suffers from a familiar po-faced Clancyverse affectation where everyone is a serious, sexless professional who bleeds red white and blue and ain’t afraid to strong-arm civilians to get what they need. It’s tonally ugly despite its beautiful backdrop.

“The chicken is in the pot, over.” “...Cook it.”

Wildlands has been in development for years, but the game lands gracelessly in the current international milieu. You’re playing as an elite American soldier who heads south of the border on a black bag operation to murder hundreds of bad hombres in pursuit of justice. Regardless of where the story ultimately ends up, it is on a basic level an awkward thing to glorify, given that our president reportedly said he was ready to make this scenario a reality while on a recent phone call with the President of Mexico.

Even in the beta, Wildlands’ self-serious tone often clashed with the goofy, larger than life open-world shenanigans that the game allows for. It would all go down more smoothly if this weren’t a “Ghost Recon” game, if it weren’t saddled with the Clancy brand, and if it took place in a more heightened, fictional location (a la Far Cry) rather than a real place in the real world. Like with The Division, your ability to have fun with Wildlands will likely hinge in part on how much you care (or can stop caring) about how it echoes and distorts the real world.

It looks great and runs decently on PC. The game ran okay for me on PC despite being in beta, and certainly looked very nice. I’m hopeful that the team is working on optimizations to get it running more smoothly when driving or engaging in a high-speed firefight, but so far it seems like the PC port won’t be as troubled as some other games’ have been. Fingers crossed.

I am in love with the way the PC graphics menu demonstrates subspace scattering.

I’m not sure it really requires stealthy play. Ideally, Wildlands would be a co-op stealth game where every mission encourages you to engage in immaculate, undetected tactical engagements. But as the saying goes, the best-laid plans often turn to dog shit. Most of the missions I undertook ended in a huge firefight, and it made me question whether stealth is actually going to be an integral part of this game.

Our characters had unlocked a tiny fraction of our potential upgrades and on normal difficulty, we cut through dozens of enemies with no problem at all. Enemy AI didn’t seem all that bright, and most alerted soldiers were happy to storm out of their fortresses and into the open where we could easily gun them down. I had fun playing, but I never really felt all that challenged, particularly not with a friend at my side. With a full squad, we would’ve been nearly unstoppable.

With that said, I didn’t have time to see half of what was in the beta, nor did I try the game on the highest difficulty. All of that will have to wait for the full release next month.

I liked what I played of Wildlands, even if I can already tell I’ll be hard-pressed to find time for the finished game amid the deluge of promising stuff on the horizon. If you played the beta over the weekend, what did you think?

Yakuza 0 Demonstrates How To Answer The Phone

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:01

The following gif from Yakuza 0 explains why I am purchasing a corded phone and demonstrates how I will be answering it for the rest of my life.

I have nothing more to add.

Sombra Player Proves Haters Wrong About Competitive Overwatch

Mon, 02/06/2017 - 10:30

“We don’t expect Sombra to ever be a vicious assassin,” Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan once said. Players seem to agree: Sombra is not typically understood to be a competitively ‘viable’ character. One player took that notion as a challenge, and the result is beautiful.

Watch as Bunsen gets bullied and harassed for picking Sombra in competitive, only to play so well that everyone who talked shit against Sombra end up giving props instead. Below, you’ll find a video diary of their journey from gold to diamond, and it is delicious: