World Of Warcraft: Shadowlands beta starts next week – how to sign up

Blizzard has officially announced the beta for new World Of Warcraft expansion Shadowlands, as well as a collector’s edition.

The eighth expansion for World Of Warcraft still doesn’t have a release date, despite this week’s livestream, and technically neither does its beta – but it is due to start very soon.

Beta invites will be going out very soon, with more during the summer, and all you have to do to be in with a chance of getting one is make sure you’ve opted-in. To do that go to the account management page on and toggle on the option to receive beta invites.

Beyond that it’s just down to the luck of the draw, but we imagine there’ll be more invites the closer the expansion gets to release, as it is only a beta and some of it will still be work in progress.

The livestream is above but the highlights were the new Theater of War dungeon and Covenant sanctums, each of which have their own mini-games and rules.

The level cap for the beta will be 60, with the Castle Nathria raid, legendary rune crafting, Covenant campaigns, and PvP being added in over time.

Shadowlands might not have a date yet, but Blizzard are adamant that it will be out this autumn (or fall as Americans would have it), with this very definitive-sounding statement:

‘You have our commitment, we will be releasing Shadowlands this fall even if we end up shipping it from our homes.’

What they won’t be shipping from their homes though is the Limited Collector’s Edition which contains all of the following:

• Hardback Art of the Shadowlands book
• Shattered sky mousepad
• Set of 4 collector’s pins featuring the sigils of each Shadowlands covenant
• Shadowlands Collector’s Edition digital soundtrack key
• Epic Edition digital game key, which comes with 30 days of game time and all of the in-game extras from the digital Epic Edition:
• Ensorcelled Everwyrm mount
• Anima Wyrmling pet
• Eternal Traveler’s Hearthstone
• Illusion: Wraithchill cosmetic weapon effect
• Shadowlands-level character boost

There’s no indication of how much it’ll cost yet but as there’s no super expensive-looking statue, or similar, it’ll probably be on the cheaper side for these sorts of things.

Or maybe not, we’re going to be honest and say we don’t know what the going rate is for a Wyrmling pet.

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Set Oculus Link Resolution Easily With This New Option

Oculus PC software v19 adds the ability to choose between 3 render options for your Oculus Link resolutions. Alternatively you can have it automatically set based on your graphics card.

Oculus Link is the feature which lets Oculus Quest act as a PC VR headset via a USB cable. This gives Quest owners who own a gaming PC access to the Oculus Rift library and SteamVR.

Games running on Quest itself don’t have graphics options. Like a console, developers find the balance of detail to maintain solid framerate. But PC components vary in performance, so allowing different render resolutions makes sense for Oculus Link, where your PC renders the graphics.

You can find the new option in the Devices tab of the Oculus PC app. Click on ‘Quest and Touch‘ and scroll down to ‘Graphics Preference‘:

The resolutions of these options aren’t shown in the Oculus software- but we tested each option in a Unity app, logging the eye texture resolution it resulted in:

  • Prioritize Quality: 2784×3056 per eye
  • Balanced: 2448×2688 per eye
  • Prioritize Performance: 1568×1728 per eye
  • Automatic: ‘Performance’ for GTX 970, ‘Balanced’ for RTX 2070

Changing requires restarting the Oculus software, so unfortunately you can’t switch mid-game. It’s unclear if it has any effects other than resolution.

Valve’s competing SteamVR platform allows precise selection of resolution, with the ability to save per-game values. A third party tool Oculus Tool Tray brings this functionality to the Rift platform.

If you want to keep it simple, this system gives you a solution to slow performance in certain games; select ‘Prioritize Performance’ mode.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using USB 2.0 or 3.0, it seems to work in either mode.

The Oculus SDK offers a feature to dynamically set resolution to maintain framerate, based on current GPU utilization. Some Oculus Store games use this feature. We tested in Unity and found this dynamic system takes priority when enabled, ignoring the Link resolution setting – keep that in mind if you don’t notice a different in some games.

Oculus Software v19 is currently available on the Public Test Channel. To opt in, navigate to the Beta tab of the Oculus PC app’s Settings. You’ll see it start to download in the Library tab.

Will you be setting Prioritize Performance to maintain a solid framerate? Or will you lock yours to Prioritize Quality to get the sharpest visuals? Let us know in the comments below!

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Ninja Streams On YouTube For First Time After Mixer's Shutdown

Popular video gamer and prominent Fortnite livestreamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is reportedly in talks with multiple livestreaming services, including YouTube. He has not yet signed a new exclusive deal since his previous home Mixer was shut down by Microsoft. But Ninja streamed Fortnite today on YouTube for the first time, accompanied by a group of other streamers–TimTheTatMan, DrLupo, and Courage–and attracting more than 100,000 concurrent viewers.

“Ninja is currently in negotiations with streaming platforms and no exclusive deal has yet been signed, including YouTube,” esports consultant Rod “Slasher” Breslau reported before Ninja’s stream started. “Today’s YouTube livestream from Ninja is all on his own. Maybe he’ll stream on Twitch too.” The stream ultimately was only broadcast on YouTube.

Earlier this week, Ninja’s wife and manager, Jessica Blevins, tweeted that this week “will be fun.” This suggested some kind of announcement may be imminent; that may relate to the YouTube stream above, which marks Ninja’s first stream in several weeks. He tweeted in excitement about the stream, but offered no indication of what he’s planning to do moving forward.

Ninja left his massive Twitch platform for an exclusive deal with Mixer last year. However, Microsoft recently announced that the livestreaming service would close up shop after July 22, netting him a massive payout and the flexibility to move to either Facebook Gaming (where Microsoft is shifting its efforts) or to regain his freedom to go elsewhere. Where Ninja will go now remains a mystery, but it was spotted earlier this week that Ninja was testing a YouTube stream on his official channel.

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Sizing Up the Valorant Esports Scene, So Far

Tactical shooter Valorant has been out for just over a month, and to no one’s surprise, professional esports teams are already cementing themselves in its burgeoning competitive scene. According to a variety of sources, the average salary for a full, five-player team can range anywhere from $15K USD to over $25K a month, depending on region. Some individual players are being paid considerably beyond that range.

The highest tournament prize pool offered to date was a modest $50K, with no leagues currently running. However, this has become a familiar pattern in esports. In the two years prior, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS and Apex Legends each saw players signed before any official tournament could be announced, and Valorant has taken the trend to a new extreme; with teams assembled while the game was still in beta.

Just like other games, players can provide additional market value through streaming and content, with many having already built a fanbase through Twitch or in other games. The most notable competitor in this regard was Jay “sinatraa” Won, the decorated 2019 MVP of the Overwatch League, who abruptly quit the game to play Valorant for Sentinels

Ultimately, one can’t decry a company for trying to establish its name in what may or may not be a major esports property in years to come. This is especially true for team organizations that built their brands on esports that have been underutilized or wholly neglected by their respective publishers.

So far, Valorant publisher Riot Games has only sanctioned (not run) any competitions, under the “Ignition Series” banner. Among the first of these events was a tournament co-hosted by team org T1 and events/production company Nerd Street Gamers — two companies with investment from Philadelphia Fusion owner Comcast Spectacor

The event consistently attracted 50K live viewers on Twitch across multiple days of competition. Those sort of viewership figures compare to cs_summit 2, a lower-tier Counter-Strike tournament which saw daily viewership in the 40K-60K live viewer range. Another example would be the North America finals for Overwatch League’s May Melee, which peaked at 88K viewers.

Rather than immediately set up a franchised or closed ecosystem like League of Legends, the Ignition series format combines invited pro teams with qualified amateurs. “Investing in this type of amateur ecosystem development is what gives esports longevity,” John Fazio, CEO of Nerd Street Gamers told The Esports Observer

There is no set time after which a competitive video game definitely becomes an esport. Even those that have been on the market for years, and are still played in tournaments today, can’t all claim to have a self-sustaining ecosystem that would endure if publishers and organizers pulled the plug tomorrow.

Valorant has its nuances. It is the first new IP from Riot Games since the company’s inception. Aside from League of Legends, Riot has only teased competitive scenes for its spinoff games e.g. Teamfight Tactics

Furthermore, this game isn’t running on a wholly untested formula. Valorant unabashedly uses the format and gameplay of Counter-Strike, but with class-based elements similar to Overwatch. The former has endured for decades thanks to a tension-building, round based setup, while the latter built on the legacy of Team Fortress 2 with a variety of characters and different playstyles. 

Fazio said Nerd Street Gamers brought in broadcast and production talent from both titles. Riot then offered significant marketing and logistics support. “Observer tools are the big focus for us and Riot has been incredibly inquisitive, receptive, and collaborative when it comes to feedback from the tournament operators,” he said.

The lion’s share of the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown prize pool was taken by Team SoloMid (TSM), which began in 2008 as a League of Legends team. 

Valorant’s mechanics are more similar to Counter-Strike than any other FPS game,” TSM’s head of talent Mike Scales told The Esports Observer. “When recruiting talent for a new game you have to account for everything [i.e. games played, accomplishments, mistakes] to estimate their potential trajectory.”

Rather than a blanket attacking and defending team, Valorant players have a (current) choice of 11 “agents,” each with an ability set that could wall off sections of the map, detect enemy movement, or revive a dead teammate. 

“We feel that the agents released so far have been balanced well and that the necessary parameters for winning come from teamplay,” said TSM coach Taylor “Tailored” Broomall. “I don’t think ‘meta’ is the correct word to use when describing comps right now, as any team could run any combination and win games, they just need to adjust their playstyle to it.” 

On the question of a prospective Valorant league, Broomall personally feels that league formats feel like “drawn-out tournaments” that soak up practice time. “That’s my experience coming from Counter-Strike, a game with an unclean and disorderly competitive past. 

“As long as the leagues do not stifle the smaller, promising young teams and it is structured in a healthy manner for the players, then I’m all for it.”

So far, the other Ignition Series events have been held largely by esports team organizations, including G2 Esports and Team Vitality. As the months progress and the likelihood of live esports events is determined, we’ll see how esports’ larger competition operators (i.e. ESL, DreamHack, FACEIT, BLAST) take on this new title. 

Riot’s decision to hold its own events also remains a question of when, and not if.

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Animal Crossing Pirate Gulliver Guide – All Pirate Items In New Horizons

Part one of Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ summer update has arrived, and it’s brought a brand-new special visitor: Gullivarrr! Although it’s just Gulliver doing pirate cosplay, he offers a different set of prizes than when he visits as regular Gulliver–and while Gullivarrr also requires your help getting back to his (pirate) ship, helping him works differently, too. It’s less confusing than it sounds!

Gullivarrr is a separate visitor from Gulliver, and according to dataminer Ninji, you can get both of them in the same week–just not on consecutive days. Gullivarrr’s appearance is random, but you do need to have purchased a wet suit (from Nook’s Cranny or via Nook Shopping) before he’ll visit. You’ll know it’s Gullivarrr instead of regular Gulliver right away, as he wears a pirate outfit and talks like any good pirate would.

When And Where Does Gullivarrr Show Up?

Gullivarrr is one of the random visitors in New Horizons, which means he can show up on any given weekday. You can see our Animal Crossing special visitors guide for more details about visiting NPCs and their prerequisites.

If Gullivarrr is around, he’ll be somewhere on your beach, and you’ll need to wake him up (by talking to him with A). He’ll be around all day long, so there’s no huge rush. Once you’ve talked to him, he’ll ask for your help finding his communicator so he can get back to his ship.

How To Find Gullivarrr’s Communicator

  • Requires: 1 x wet suit

While regular Gulliver will have you combing the beach for five different communicator parts, pirate Gulliver will ask you to look for his communicator in one piece–the catch is that it’s somewhere in the ocean. You’ll need a wet suit in order to find and return his communicator; see our guide on how to swim in New Horizons if you aren’t sure how to use it.

You can find the communicator the way you would any sea creature: Swim until you find bubbles floating to the surface, then dive to retrieve what’s below. The communicator has a small-sized shadow and shouldn’t take you more than a few tries to find. When you have it, make sure you return it to Gullivarrr, who will send you a gift in the mail the next day.

All Pirate Items (Gullivarrr Rewards)

Below is a list of all the pirate-themed furniture and clothing items you can receive from Gullivarrr as a reward for helping him (via GameFAQs’ Animal Crossing: New Horizons catalog). Items marked with an asterisk (*) have multiple color variants.

  • Pirate barrel
  • Sideways pirate barrel
  • Pirate-ship cannon
  • Pirate-ship helm
  • Pirate-treasure chest
  • Pirate-treasure crown
  • Pirate-treasure robe
  • Pirate’s hat
  • Pirate bandanna*
  • Pirate eye patch
  • Pirate beard
  • Pirate dress*
  • Pirate outfit*
  • Pirate pants
  • Pirate boots
  • Pirate wall
  • Pirate flooring
  • Pirate rug

What About Rusted Parts?

Rusted parts are an ultra-rare crafting material. So far, there seems to be only one DIY recipe that requires rusted parts: the Robot Hero, a large Gundam-inspired furniture item. You can purchase the Robot Hero recipe for 5,000 Nook Miles once Resident Services has upgraded to a full building.

You can only get rusted parts when Gulliver visits. Luckily, this applies to pirate Gulliver, or Gullivarrr, as well! Just like with regular Gulliver, make sure to check the recycling bin in Resident Services the day after he visits. There will be one rusted part there waiting for you!

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Smash Bros. Ultimate Is Adding More Square Enix Spirits

Nintendo is holding another Spirit Board event in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this week. The event kicks off July 9 at 11 PM PT and features new Spirits based on Square Enix’s retro-inspired RPG, Octopath Traveler.

Throughout the event, four new Spirits representing Octopath Traveler’s main cast–Olberic & Primrose, Tressa & Cyrus, Alfyn & Therion, and H’aanit & Ophelia–will appear periodically on the Spirit Board. If you defeat the new Spirits, you’ll add them to your collection and earn more SP than usual.

The Octopath Traveler Spirit Board event runs until 11 PM PT, July 14. You can read more on Nintendo’s website.

If you missed your chance to unlock the Cuphead and Warframe Spirits during their respective events earlier this year, you’re in luck; those are once again available in the game. You’ll be able to encounter them randomly on the Spirit Board or in Smash Bros. Ultimate’s in-game shop.

Smash Bros. Ultimate’s latest DLC character, Min Min, comes with her own entourage of Arms Spirits to unlock. The new fighter arrived last month alongside the game’s 8.0 update, which made balance adjustments to numerous characters and introduced a new wave of Mii Fighter costumes, including one based on Fallout’s Vault Boy.

In other Smash Bros. news, Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can grab a new freebie for the game. Nintendo is offering another free Spirit Board Challenge Pack, which comes with a handful of helpful items for Spirit Board mode. Nintendo also confirmed that Amiibo figures of Joker and Dragon Quest’s Hero are releasing this fall.

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Nintendo Switch Gets Ys Origin Physical Edition, Up For Pre-Order Now

Another classic game is making its way to Nintendo Switch later this year: Publisher Dotemu announced Ys Origin will release on the Switch sometime in 2020. In addition to its Eshop launch, Ys Origin is getting a Collector’s edition distributed by Limited Run Games, and it’s pleasantly affordable.

The Ys Origin Collector’s edition for Nintendo Switch went up for pre-order today, and it’s selling for $70. The Collector’s edition gets you a physical copy of the game for Switch, a CD with the soundtrack, a steelbook case, a Collector’s edition perfect bound art book, and an 18″ by 24″ reversible poster. This is a limited-time open pre-order period, and you have until Sunday, September 6 to place your order for the Ys Origin Collector’s edition. Products ship two to four months after the initial sale.

Ys Origin first released worldwide on Steam in 2012 and later released on PS4, PS Vita, and Xbox One. The game takes place in a land called Ys and features three playable characters: a knight called Yunica Tovah, a mage named Hugo Fact, and a mysterious fighter known as “The Claw.” In Ys Origin, the world is on the brink of destruction, and a search party sets off to find the protective goddesses who have disappeared into the night. Playing as each character unlocks more of the story and allows you to experience their distinct combat style and skillset.

If you’re curious to try out the original before shelling out for the Collector’s edition, Ys Origin is on sale on Steam as part of the Steam Summer Sale–you can currently grab it for just 5 bucks.

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Blink 182's Mark Hoppus Covered "Dammit" In The Last Of Us 2

Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II features a neat, and fairly sophisticated, mini-game of sorts that lets you play music on an acoustic guitar. Numerous different chords and strumming patterns are possible, and this has led to some wonderful videos of covers of famous songs popping up online.

Now, Blink 182’s own Mark Hoppus has gotten involved. During a recent Twitch livestream on his account, Hoppus covered his own song, “Dammit,” using the Last of Us 2’s in-game guitar. It’s a four-chord song, so it translates quite well in the game as an acoustic version of one of the band’s most famous tunes. It’s a delight to watch Hoppus in this video, even if he forgets the words at one point.

You can buy a replica of the guitar from The Last of Us 2, but at $2,300 it’s not cheap. Sony partnered with guitar company Taylor for the custom acoustic guitar based on Ellie’s guitar from the game.

In other news about The Last of Us 2 and guitars, you can watch this cool video of Australian singer-guitarist Tash Sultana performing a cover of “Through the Valley” from the game’s soundtrack.

The game has a strong connection to music, as Pearl Jam’s “Future Days” is used in the post-apocalyptic game with dramatic effect. Naughty Dog had to push hard to convince Pearl Jam to allow the studio to use the song. Also, writer-director Neil Druckmann recently explained why Joel was aware of “Future Days,” despite it never being officially released when the game takes place.

The Last of Us Part II is a huge sales success, with more than 4 million copies sold in its first three days. The game will be among the thousands of PS4 titles that will work on PlayStation 5 when it’s released later this year.

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Deadly Premonition 2 Reviews Roundup

Deadly Premonition is an unexpected game to have recieved a sequel. The cult classic 2010 survival-horror was beloved in spite of some notable blemishes, so the sequel announcement came as a surprise. Now Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is coming very soon, but the reaction among critics seems mixed–even for those who loved the first game.

In general, the consensus appears to be that some of the original game’s charming weirdness has worn off or not made the transition to a new game. Meanwhile, technical shortcomings detract from the experience, and the lack of charm makes them that much harder to overlook. GameSpot’s Deadly Premonition 2 review said it “feels diluted and missing many of the flavor notes” of its predecessor.

Many critics agree. We’ve rounded up some of the Deadly Premonition 2 reviews from around the industry below. For more, be sure to check out GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic for an even broader look at the critical response.

  • Game: Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Toybox Games
  • Release date: July 10
  • Price: $50 / £40 / $50 AUD

GameSpot – 5/10

“If you can get past its performance, there are glimpses of a good story here, and moments that make it a worthy installment in the Francis Zach Morgan saga. But, ultimately, Deadly Premonition 2 lacks the emotional resonance found in the first game. It’s a different brew of coffee from your favorite roaster, but one that’s more bitter than you probably hoped for.” – Kurt Indovina [Full Review]

Destructoid – 8/10

“It’s a weird game to review because so many people are going to expect drastically different things. How many games force you to shave and send your clothes up for dry cleaning? How many times can you say that you hexed an old widow so that you could go bowling in the past…oh say decade or so? Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is another trip. You’ve been warned.” – Chris Carter [Full Review]

Hardcore Gamer – 3/5

“Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is an entertaining game. How one derives entertainment from it is up to each individual, mind you, but despite technical hiccups and awkward moments, the gleefully bizarre characters, twisted and intriguing story, quirky dialogue and loads of fun content to fiddle around with in Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise provides an experience worth checking out, albeit one you may find yourself questioning at certain points.” – Kyle LeClair [Full Review]

IGN – 5/10

“Deadly Premonition 2 isn’t good, nor is it so bad that it’s good (like it’s predecessor). It’s something much, much worse: it’s mediocre. And that’s too bad. I’m certainly grateful for the chance to spend some more time with the eccentric and ever enthusiastic Francis York Morgan, because he remains one of the funniest and most unique lead characters in all of gaming. But I found myself less tolerant of Deadly Premonition 2’s technical issues and half-baked combat this time around, and its central mystery is ridiculous without ever going far enough off the rails to be truly surprising or memorable.” – Tristan Ogilvie [Full Review]

Game Informer – 5/10

“It’s a weird paradox overall – a game that is simultaneously too short and too padded out, but here we are. It’s bound to be another polarizing title, which ultimately shouldn’t come as a big surprise. I just wish I could have counted myself among its defenders this time.” – Jeff Cork [Full Review]

USGamer – 1/5

“Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise is hard to love, even by the standards set by its predecessor. In leaving Greenvale behind for a style of prequel and sequel storytelling split across Louisiana and Boston, Deadly Premonition 2 jettisons the much of what made the original charming (along with some interesting mechanics and variety) in favor of an empty town and a story that serves up tropes and bits of lore that do little to enhance or build upon what made the original fascinating. All the while, terrible performance makes it more of a slog than its uninspired ideas and pacing do on their own.” – Mathew Olson [Full Review]

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'Ready Player One' Book Sequel Coming November 24th – Road to VR

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Ernest Cline’s breakout novel Ready Player One is getting a sequel on November 24th, which is slated to delve back into the massive multiplayer VR world of the OASIS.

Aptly named Ready Player Two, the upcoming book is being published by Penguin Random House subsidiary Ballantine Books.

It’s already available for order on and available for pre-order on Amazon, both in Kindle and hardcover format.

Released in 2011, Ready Player One casts a dim vision of the year 2044. Like much of humanity, Wade Watts lives most of his life connecting to the massive multiplayer ‘OASIS’, which acts as a VR escape amid famine and social unrest. It’s a tale of ’80s nostalgia which flows recursively back into fashion thanks to the very Willy Wonka-esque prize hunt the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, left behind him after his death. That’s the bare bones, no spoiler version of it anyway.

RPO has celebrated its fair share of success; it spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was adapted into a film, produced by Steven Spielberg.

Another big endorsement: Palmer Luckey, Oculus founder and inventor of the Oculus Rift, liked the novel so much that in the early days all Oculus employees received a copy of the book. Of course, not everyone appreciated it.

Besides the book’s page count (384) and ISBN, there isn’t any further info on Ready Player Two just yet. The cover shows a single Pitfall (1982) style character lunging for what appears to be a diamond—so definitely some amount of ’80s references to play off of here.

Love it or hate it, it’s going to be interesting to see whether Cline has changed his views on virtual reality since writing the first in the series, which came two years before the original 2012 Oculus Kickstarter campaign and resultant relaunching of VR headsets into the consumer market.

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