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So, what are you playing?

by: Randy -
This scorpion desk/chair setup is the most terrifying thing I've ever needed in my home right now. Professional photographers wonder if video game photography is becoming a valid genre. And 29-year-old video game superstar, Ninja, is returning to where he first grew his millions of followers: Twitch.
 
So, what are you playing?
 
Sean Colleli
I've got Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass in hand so I'll be going hard at that for my review. It's currently under embargo so all I can say is that it takes place on a planet and it is, in fact, badass. When I can climb out of the herds of Kleers and Werebulls I might find time to work on the shared Stardew Valley farm my wife and I are running. We aren't married in-game yet—that takes an awful lot of money and home expansion—so for now I'm relegated to a sad, tiny shack on the property. All the more reason to get that turnip crop in the ground that I spend my last dollar on.
 
Now that I have Mario 64 DS pretty well established on my home theater PC, I might continue my trek into the scurrilous world of emulation by getting Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy running in HD. Dolphin is a truly beautiful thing.
 
Eric Hauter
While I've been super busy at my day job, I've been resisting my typical five-games-at-a-time review schedule. In the meantime, I've been resorting to video game comfort food. 
 
I recently restarted The Unfinished Swan on my Vita - rescued from the top drawer of my dresser. I don't know why I've left The Unfinished Swan unfinished - it is an absolutely delightful game. Throwing paint in all directions and exploring storybook castles? Totally what I need right now. 
 
I've also been poking at Spiritfarer on Stadia, which is also a nice, cozy game. I like the cute little characters, and the graphics are super nice looking in 4K HDR. I've only just started the game, but I can see that it is something that I could easily zone out and lose hours to.
 
I've also been regularly dipping into Marvel's Avengers endgame. Yes, it is super samey, but I'm having a good time jumping around as Hulk and smashing up stuff with my son whizzing above my head as Iron Man. My Hulk is slowly approaching the soft level cap on PS4, and my Black Widow isn't far behind on Stadia. It makes me wish they were on the same system, or that there was cross-progression. But you can't win them all. 
 
Randy Kalista
See, when I was a young'un, there was time to play all the big games coming out. They were few and far between. Today, you'd be hard pressed to keep up with any one genre, let alone all the triple-A's (and hella good B's) entering the gaming space every single week. I mean, four weeks ago, Microsoft Flight Simulator launched and that was all I could think about. Three weeks ago, the makers of No Man's Sky launched their next game and I didn't have a single minute to check it out. Two weeks ago, Crusader Kings III launched and I was a Viking legend. Last week, Star Renegades launched and I'm still desperate to carve out the time. This week I'm hoping Medieval Dynasty shows up somewhere easy for me to pick up. Great! Railway Empire is free on Epic right now. And Xbox Game Pass on PC has no chill. I started giving them $5 a month one year ago, and they've basically given me a new video game to play every day of the workweek ever since. How will I ever?
 
Video games. This way lies madness. 
 
John Yan
With the beta for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War out this weekend, I think I'll pop in for a few round of deathmatch and get pummeled because it's been so long since I played a Call of Duty game on a console. Should be fun to get back into that world again. I love the Black Ops series.
 
I'm looking at my library of VR games and I think I'll try some Pavlov VR. It's a Counter-Strike like game with a pretty good modding community. The gunplay I hear is top notch and since I'll be in a shooting mood with Call of Duty, Pavlov VR should continue that but give me some exercise as it forces me to move around.
 

In Cyberpunk 2077 you're nobody if you're not in a gang—and you don't want to be nobody

by: Randy -

At the risk of turning it into Cyberpunk 2077 Day around here, there's one more video that came out of today's Night City Wire from CD Projekt Red. This one focuses on the gangs of Night City. 

According to the NCPD, these are the biggest and baddest running the map. "Scavs hold the body count title. Or Maelstrom—depending on the season." Maelstrom look like they've gone completely ape from all the cybernetics jammed into their bodies. Cyberpunk is about exploring the question: How much humanity do you have left if you replace all your human parts with cybernetics? And the Maelstrom look like they're pushing or have gone well over that boundary.

Then there's the Valentinos. This is what the New Testament would look like if you cyberpunk'd Holy Mary Mother of God. The Valentinos have a punishment for every occasion. If you're one of those people that think Mexico isn't "sending their best," then Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be a very scary place for you, cabron. 

Then there's 6th Street gang. They're the ones eating, sleeping, and uh, pooping the American flag. Or at least the cyberpunk version of the American flag. While the United States as we know it doesn't exist, the 2nd Amendment is alive and well with these folks. 

The Voodoo Boys will prey upon everything that scares you about Black lives and Black culture. Black magic. Urban myths. Better than you at netrunning. Treating their chunk of Night City like it's Haiti 2.0. And if none of these gangs scare you, well then:

"Animals are the craziest f---ing gang in this city," we're told. They're so pumped up with steroids and cybernetic fighting equipment that they're skin is splitting unable to hold it all in. They look like Fruit of the Loom grapes ready to roll into a WWE ring. They're hired muscle and just about nothing else. 

Whoops, another one: Tyger Claws. And if you think an Asian-based gang is nothing to worry about, then you haven't noticed the whole aesthetic of this thing called cyberpunk. China is the essence of Blade Runner, and Blade Runner is the essence of Cyberpunk. 

Moxes. They look like runway models with more tattoos and baseball bats than you want to run into on the street. Remember how I just said China is the essence of Blade Runner? Well, so is sex, which puts the Moxes at the heart of what also makes Night City tick. The Mox freak show is pimps, players, and prostitutes. And if you think any of them are going to be caught out alone, you're wrong. They've got each other's backs—not yours. 

Then out in the Badlands, away from Night City, are Nomads, Raffen Shiv, corporations, and drifters, all part of a precarious ecosystem where each piece hangs in the balance. The desert is just as busy as Night City. And the Badlands aren't the only place you'll hear fellow gang members refer to each other as family, but it somehow takes on a different don't-mess-with-us tone out there. 

Okay. Cyberpunk 2077. Still coming out November 19. No more delays. We all have two months to go. The game will be on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and also on PS5 and Xbox Series X. 

Sex sells and everybody is selling something in Cyberpunk 2077

by: Randy -

Remember Ruby Rhod from The Fifth Element? Character was so over the top it nearly ruined the entire movie for me. Little did I know that 23 years later so many YouTube and Twitch influencers would be striving so hard just to recreate that character portrayed by Chris Tucker.

Cyberpunk 2077, despite being 57 years into our future, seems to have a rash of always-on characters striving to recapture the seemingly oblivious pizzazz of today's biggest streaming personalities. This video captures the cultural disconnect between the mean streets of Night City and the entertainers putting on overstated happy faces for their audiences. Not that good food, good shows, and good people can't be found in Night City, but it's no mistake that these personalities are being portrayed as clowns.

There are people out in the open with their faces strapped into VR headsets. Anti-corporate punks stuck in a world with corporate messaging surrounding them on all sides. Hypersexualized ads running up and down every building and wrapped around every block. All this while "I want my money on the double" is stuck in a dance-looped soundtrack. 

There are beer cans jammed between breasts, bottles of alcohol serving as an analog for penises, strippers in fishnets, guys getting virtual lap dances, and posters of bikini-clad women blocking views on dozens of apartments at a time. 

One of these TV personalities is cognizant enough to say, "We are f---ed, America," but also shrugs it off with an, "I don't know how we're gonna fix it." Ah well. Homelessness soaring, trash piling up in the streets and alleys, doubled-up crime rates, and cybernetic replacements for anything and everything on you that used to be physiological. And after a series of gunfights and explosions, internet darling Keanu Reeves tells you, "On your own, you're f---ed."

Looks great. Can't wait to adjust the size of my junk and head out into Night City. Just watch out for those Ruby Rhods, those Mr. Steal Your Girls. 

Cyberpunk 2077 is out November 19, 2020, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC—a date which is shortly after the launch of the Xbox Series X (launching November 10) and PlayStation 5 (November 12).

Today's Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase showed several promising upcoming titles for the Switch

by: Russell -

Today Nintendo held their Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase and they showed off several promising titles coming either next year or even as early as today. Earlier we posted about Monster Hunter Rise which is coming on March 26th, 2021, but that wasn't the only Monster Hunter announcement. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin will launch next summer. As someone who enjoyed reviewing the original Monster Hunter Stories on the 3DS, I'll be keeping an eye on this one as we get closer to it's launch next year.

If you like rhythm games, Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise might be up your alley. You'll be able to use the Joy-Cons to perform boxing movies in rhythm to the music that's currently playing. While that may not sound interesting to some, I've been a fan of rhythm games as far back as the older Dance Dance Revolution games so this has my interest. You can keep track of your stats, turn off certain boxing moves, and if you have data from the original game it will carry over. If you want to box while you work out, keep your eyes out for Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise on December 4th.

Next up is Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny which centers around Zed, a super-reincarnated zombie who gets stronger every time he dies. While the over-the-top combat returns from previous games, maximum damage can now hit into the quadrillions while a character's maximum level can hit into the millions. If you want an experience that "defies common sense, genre, and destiny", Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny will hit the Nintendo Switch next summer. In addition, you can check out a trial of Disgaea 5 Complete from Spetember 23rd through the 29th if you're a Nintendo Online member.

Next were a few rapid fire announcements including Empire of Sin (no release date give), Sniper Elite 4 (December 2020), The Long Dark (available today), PGA Tour 2K21 (physical release on September 25th), Hades (available today), Balan Wonderworld (March 26th, 2021), and Rune Factory 5 (sometime 2021). Finally, the direct ended on the announcement that Ori and the Will of the Wisps will be available on the Nintendo Switch...today! In addition a physical collector's edition is now available for pre-order at ori.iam8bit.com that includes several collectibles as well as physical copies of not only Ori and the Will of the Wisps, but also Ori and the Blind Forest. If you've been wanting to check out the Ori series, now's the perfect time to do so.

Here are the full pre-order details for Xbox Series S and Series X

by: Nathan -

Yesterday, Sony finally announced the release date and price of the Playstation 5 and told everyone pre-orders would go live today. Well thanks to impatient retailers they opened up their pre-orders immediately and it became a giant debacle with the PS5 being sold out everywhere. Scalpers also rejoiced as tons of Playstation 5s appeared on Ebay of upwards of thousands of dollars. 

Well if you were interested in getting an Xbox Series S or Series X, Microsoft has given you some time to prepare.  

Pre-orders will go live on Tuesday, September 22nd at 8AM PDT / 11AM EST

Retailers include

  • Amazon
  • Target
  • Wal Mart
  • Best Buy
  • Costco
  • Sam's Club
  • GameStop
  • NewEgg
  • and through Army and Airforce Exchange services

Series S will be available for $299.99 and Series X will cost $499.99. You can also choose the Xbox All Access package which includes the console and 24 months of Game Pass Ultimate. Xbox Series S All Access will cost $24.99 a month for 24 months and the Series X package will cost $34.99 a month for 24 months. 

 

Ragnorium looks like Rimworld but with graphics

by: Randy -

Under all the next-generation console and graphics card hype, the humble Ragnorium is in danger of going unnoticed. This isometric crafting and survival sim is perhaps willing to fly slightly under the radar since it's only entered Steam Early Access today, but I'm not having that. Not only has Ragnorium: Planet Recolonization Odyssey (it's full name) made believers out of publisher Devolver Digital, its Dune-meets-Rimworld aesthetic is making a believer out of me

With a calm, steady camera, Ragnorium's video starts with a drone-height flyover of the planetary surface. Sandy wastes push up against palm-tree-dotted coasts. Giant billboards are repurposed as head-on-a-pike warning signs. Hollowed-out tanks and long-range artillery vehicles remind you of that Albert Einstein quote that goes, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Because among the brambles and alien wormy things squiggling around, your job is to seed this planet once again with colonizers. 

Fired off from a mothership in low orbit, three pods shoot off and hit the surface. You're on the burning ground, chopping wood, building encampments, salvaging structures, and, all goes well, thriving in this planet recolonization odyssey. From the little gameplay I've seen, my Rimworld comparisons are hopefully apt. You're basically starting off naked and afraid, and reforming the local area into something once again inhabitable for human life. The Angelo Badalamenti-style soundtrack—all eerie, alien synths—is pitch perfect, too.

Again, Ragnorium is in Steam Early Access now, September 17, from developer Vitali Kirpu and publisher Devolver Digital.

Hades officially launches today to tens of thousands of overwhelmingly positive reviews

by: Randy -

Hades has had a historically good early access run. This "god-like rogue-like" dungeon crawler from Supergiant Games (Bastion, Transistor, Pyre), as you can see from those links, already stood on the shoulders of its own supergiants. And now? They might've just made their best game yet.

After going early access day and date with the Epic Games Store's opening, if I remember correctly, and after nine more fruitful months gestating in Steam Early Access, today is Hades' 1.0 launch date. Epic still doesn't have customer reviews, but 24,000 Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam should tell you all you need to know about how stellar this roguelike ended up.

Hades officially launched today, September 17, on Switch, Steam, and Epic.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War multiplayer Alpha is now available for preload on the PlayStation 4

by: John -

As announced yesterday, PlayStation 4 owners can participate in a multiplayer alpha for Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The Alpha is about 18GB in size and you'll be able to pre-load it now  for this weekend.

If you own Warzone or Modern Warfare, you can just go into the menu option and jump straight into the Alpha.

For those wanting to participate, the alpha runs September 18th at 10AM PDT through the 20th at 10AM PDT. There will be team Deathmatch, Domination, and Kill Confirmed in a 6v6 configuration. Three maps will be available for this Alpha for you to fight in.

Enjoy what will be one of the most highly anticipated games of the Holiday season.

Capcom brings the weirdness with Monster Hunter Rise announcement

by: Eric -

The fun thing about Capcom's Monster Hunter franchise is just how goofy and weird it is willing to get. With its over-the-top plot lines, the presence of your cat buddy "Palico", or the strangeness on display in the game's town hubs, Monster Hunter is a serious game that doesn't take itself too seriously. 

Announced today for a March 26, 2021 release on Nintendo Switch, Monster Hunter Rise looks like it is going to carry on that tradition. The trailer itself takes several sudden turns, as the film stock changes and the mood shifts unexpectedly. 

If you are a Monster Hunter fan, I would recommend a visit to Rise's official site, which reveals all sorts of juicy tidbits about the game (and its pretty fun to scroll through - they clearly put a lot of work into it). Details about the new buddy type - the rideable dog-like "Palamute" - as well as the scoop on the "Wirebug", the Spider-man-like swinging mechanism that seems to add a ton of verticality Rise's world.

Promising a ton of new monsters (and the return of fan favorites), Monster Hunter Rise looks like the next big game in a franchise known for making dramatic changes. How much of Monster Hunter World's quality of life features will appear in this new game? We'll share more information as it becomes available!

Latest look at Black Ops Cold War with fan favorite Woods in play

by: John -

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War looks to do what the last Call of Duty game did with their respective story line, reboot and improve upon it. Black Ops has been my favorite of the Call of Duty series so I'm pretty excited about Cold War.

Activision yesterday released a new trailer showing off a small part of one of the missions you'll be partaking. As in usual Call of Duty fashion, things don't go as smoothly as you would like and there's a lot of action that takes place.

It's goodo see Woods again and updated to today's graphics. I'm looking forward to seeing how the story shapes out and what surprises they have in store for you this time around.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will be out on November 13th.