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Sony Starts The PlayStation Indies Initiative

Sony has announced the PlayStation Indies program, headed by former Sony worldwide studios head Shuhei Yoshida, to “spotlight and support” indie games.

Although further details regarding the program will be announced in the future, today Yoshida announced that nine titles will be be announced over both the PS4 and PlayStation 5 through the day.

Furthermore, every month an indie title – stating with Hello Neighbor – will be added to the PlayStation Now roster.

Yoshida pointed to games like the recently announced Bugsnax as the kind of indie title Sony wants to host on its platforms.

Here are the initial nine titles:

  • Worms Rumble
  • Haven
  • Carto
  • Creaks
  • Recompile
  • F.I.S.T.
  • Maquette
  • Heavenly Bodies
  • Where the Heart Is

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Evo Online Has Been Cancelled

Evo 2020 has been cancelled following allegations of sexual misconduct made against Evo CEO Joey Cuellar, who was placed on administrative leave earlier in the day, and is now being relieved of all responsibilities with the company and tournament. Early this morning, Evo released a statement saying “The behavior in these accusations runs directly counter to Evo’s mission of building a safe, welcoming environment for all of our players and attendees.”

Over the course of the day, commentators James Chen and Maximilian Dood tweeted that they would no longer be a part of this year’s tournament. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, and other games were also pulled by the developers and publishers behind them. NetherRealm, the studio behind the Mortal Kombat games, said “We stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse. We will be pulling MK11 from EVO Online.”

Over 1,300 people signed up to compete in this year’s tournament, which would be held online due to the ongoing pandemic. Anyone who purchased a badge will be refunded. Evo is also donating the equivalent of the proceeds to Project HOPE.

You can read Evo’s latest statement on the matter below:

pic.twitter.com/eUl8rF9TkC

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West of Dead Review: Rootin’ Tootin’ Spooky Shootin’

Keeping calm in cover and carrying on while providing a barrage of bullets against your enemies is a recipe for success in West of Dead.

The World of Purgatory you find yourself stuck in is often dark and filled with dangerous, gloomy corners you must be wary of.

And as you weave your way through the different crypts and mines as dead man William Mason (voiced by Ron Perlman), you’ll find yourself jumping headfirst into gritty gunfights.

Sliding behind a sarcophagus can give you the time needed to get your aim right and eliminate those trying to put you down.

The bad news is that your foes have got some pretty mean aim, so you’ll find yourself getting brought back down into the dirt a lot.

The good news is that you will always find yourself back at the purgatory saloon, where the ever-faithful barkeep stands watch and offers occasional bits of advice and news.

It’s a rogue-lite formula that has now become very popular with gamers, providing you with the chance to build up your arsenal and skills, only to lose them all after each run.

Each run ends in the same way, but the next will offer you a different layout and a new combo of weapons to wield.

West of Dead marries it’s cover-based action with twin-stick controls, allowing you to freely fill the air with bullets from six-shooters and shotguns.

You start out with your basic equipment, facing off against slow shooting cowboys and shambling zombies.

As you make your way through limbo, new undead creatures appear, some wielding giant machetes, which can kill in a single throw.

Meanwhile, Flying creatures can cut you down to size quickly and the combinations of these threats can leave you huddled behind cover, or beating a quick retreat.

I rarely felt unfairly outgunned by the creatures that barred my way, and while frustration could settle in due to a loss, it was usually down to my own skittish behaviour.

You soon learn the different ways things attack you and how best to avoid depleting your precious health bar.

You are alerted when an enemy has a bead on your person with a red marker, giving you only a short time to get out of the firing line.

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This helps to inform your own behaviour and you soon find yourself sliding across dirt floors and smashing your foes using the different skills you have.

The perma-death mechanic means you lose all your items, but the iron and Sin you collect through your adventure can be put to good use.

Iron is picked up from each enemy you fell and helps you buy better gear from a trader that pops up on each level.

Meanwhile, Sin can be used to upgrade and unlock certain abilities and items that can make your next run easier.

These dual currencies are always spent during your game time and the remaining amount is always lost when you start a new run.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/96_P32ZH_2c

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However, they are important in both keeping you competitive against your foes and helping you in the long-term.

By unlocking a larger healing bottle, you make it possible to regain more health, which can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Combat is the main focus of West of Dead but it’s the other parts of the game that make it worth exploring multiple times.

The Cel-Shaded levels are brilliant to explore, and the subtle music and sounds of Limbo help build on the slightly unsettling atmosphere.

You can use lamps to light your way, which can also be used to startle your enemies and help you get the drop on them.

And these flashes of light help emphasize just how good West of Dead looks, even on the most challenging of runs.

The voiceover work from Perlman also helps set the scene of a Cowboy who has come back from the dead (a lot) to help set things straight in the land of the damned.

But while West of Dead is fun to explore and an exciting challenge to take on, it’s certainly not a perfect experience.

Cameras can sometimes switch around and leave you looking for your enemies, and I’m not a huge fan of having to backtrack through cleared passage ways.

This is a problem at the start of the game and is soon solved after you progress to a certain point and unlock a fast travel option.

West of Dead relies heavily on its procedural generation to make it replayable, and this can reward you in different ways.

The combinations of gear and level design usually synergise nicely, but there is sometimes only a certain amount of ways the first level can be created.

Progressing beyond the opening of West of Dead rewards you with more challenging enemies and interesting areas to slide around.

And there are plenty of new places to explore to make it worth another trip down to purgatory on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

SCORE 3.8/5

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Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition Hits PC On August 7

Horizon Zero Dawn has found both commercial and critical success since its debut on PlayStation 4, and now we have a date for its PC release.

On August 7, Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition comes to both Steam and the Epic Games Store.

This release includes The Frozen Wilds expansion and comes with a smattering of graphic enhancements, options, and customization, so get ready to slide those settings dials to ultra!

Alongside some beautiful screenshots, you can check out a spiffy new trailer that showcases some of that PC power!

 

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Update: Kobe Bryant Added As NBA 2K21's Final Cover Star

Final Update:

The late Kobe Bryant is the cover star for NBA 2K21’s Mamba Forever edition, which includes various extras through the game’s modes, including 100,000 VC, 60 MyCareer skill boosts, and more.

This version, which comes out this holiday for $99.99, is available for both the current and next-gen consoles, and buying it is the only way that fans can play on both generations (within the same console family such as PS4 and PS5) with a single purchase.

Microsoft has started its own Smart Delivery system which ensures that you only have to buy a game once no matter which generation you play the game on, but so far the list of third-party titles using this feature is selective.

For more information on this edition, head over to the official site.

Update:

Pelicans’ forward Zion Williamson has been added as NBA 2K21’s cover star for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of this year’s game.

2K says that more information on the game comes tomorrow when the release date, third and final cover star, and pre-order campaign are announced.

Original Story:

Being a cover star is a career milestone, and this year Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is adding that accolade to his already distinguished resume.

Lillard is the cover star of the current-gen version of the game out of a total of three, with the other two (next-gen and Legend edition) still to follow.

Not much has been said by developer Visual Concepts about the game itself so far, but the next-gen version was recently unveiled at Sony’s event, and it should make use of the upcoming systems with shorter load times, etc.

NBA 2K21

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Reviews

Outriders' Structure Explained In New Video

Outriders is the upcoming cooperative shooter/RPG from developer People Can Fly and publisher Square Enix, and the companies are giving eager players a new look at the game in action. The latest video dives into how Outriders’ world and quests are structured.

Highlights include some info about your base/truck, a look at some members of your crew, and an explanation about how the hub-and-spoke layout of the map accommodates different sidequests. Get those details and more by watching the footage above.

To learn even more about Outriders, check out our rapid-fire interview, along with our coverage hub full of other exclusive features.

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Yoko Taro And His Team Discuss New Mobile RPG SINoALICE's Dark Themes

The mastermind behind the Nier and Drankengard series, Yoko Taro, has a new free-to-play mobile RPG, SINoALICE, that launches today. To celebrate the occasion, he sat down alongside Square Enix producer Yoshinari Fujimoto and Pokelabo, Inc. producer Shogo Maeda to discuss what’s in store for this twisted adventure where fairytale characters must kill one another to revive their authors. Expect large real-time battles, gacha mechanics, and the traditional (or is that untraditional?) Yoko Taro-ness.

SiNoALICE launched back in 2017 in Japan. Why did you feel now was the time to reach a global audience?

Fujimoto: The folks at Pokelabo said, “We really want to release this globally.” Pokelabo always treats us well, so we thought we can’t ignore their wishes.

Maeda: Even before the Japan release, we thought this was a title that could put up a good fight globally in terms of its world-building and considering Yoko’s fan base. It’s been three years, but we still feel the same way.

How did you come up with the idea for the story, and how would you compare it to your previous work?

Yoko: I think of stories while I drink beer. Compared to other titles, I think maybe the amount of beer has increased?

What made you choose to use fairy-tale women as the main characters in this game? What about the idea that they were stories lent itself to what you wanted to do with this game?

Yoko: Supposedly we chose female characters because they’d make more money for gacha. Regarding fairy tales, I thought it would be nice because the copyrights have expired and it wouldn’t cost money.

Which one of these characters is your favorite and why?

Yoko: I like Parrah and Noya. Well, more like, they are useful. They can get away with anything.

What about the gameplay sets SiNoALICE apart in a crowded mobile game space?

Maeda: What sets SINoALICE apart is Yoko Taro’s world-building and massive guild versus guild gameplay that is simple and fun.

Are the gacha elements of obtaining weapons pretty standard for a mobile game, or are there any elements that differ or are especially exciting for this feature?

Maeda: There are cute characters with classes attached to the weapons. Users will be delighted to pull the cute characters!

What was the character creation process with Jino like? Did the character art concepts come first or did you dictate ideas for personality and appearance?

Yoko: I just submit the rough idea, and let Jino handle the rest. We’re both shy, so at first it was hard to communicate, but now we’re so close that we can throw punches at each other.

Why are so many of your stories about characters who are defined by their relationships to their creators?

Yoko: Every person depends on others. Even if you feel like you’re on your own when you grow up, we all have that childishness in our hearts, and feel like we want to be protected. The interdependent relationships between the authors and characters mirror that situation. … I just thought of this randomly, but it’s a pretty sound answer, right?

The word “bondage” is Alice’s “keyword” in SINoALICE, and it’s a concept that recurs in a lot of your works. Why do you think you are so attracted to characters who are bound to something? 

Yoko: I’m always bound to deadlines, so I always use that concept. Did you wonder when I’ll finally give a straight answer? I wonder that too.

Your games often include characters who are forced to participate in violent, absurd, or unfair systems that are imposed by absent, God-like creators… while you, yourself are in a sense the absent, God-like creator of these worlds. What are you trying to tell us about yourself?

Yoko: No, that isn’t my intent. That violent, absurd, unfair system you speak of is probably the real world. Compared to the real world, the worlds in SINoALICE and NieR are pieces of cake.

In your view, are players part of your creation, or, because they’re controlling things themselves, are they creating the violent system with you? How do you feel about summoning these fairy-tale women to die over and over?

Yoko: This is a great question. It relates to what I want to express in not only SINoALICE, but also NieR and Drakengard. So of course, the answer is “no comment.”

Your games tend to linger on the violence and death they depict such that the player can’t help but critically ruminate on them as they play. Why do you want your players to be thinking about the kinds of death they’re participating in or even experiencing in your game?

Yoko: I always reflect real life in the characters that appear in the world of SINoALICE. We’re covered in greed and have the dirtiest thoughts in our minds that we could never share, but pretend to be good people – I think that’s so interesting, and that’s how the stories turned out to be dark and violent.

Network integration and shared experiences are often a major aspect of your work. What kinds of experiences are you hoping your players will be able to have by interacting with each other online in the game?

Yoko: The customers are the ones who decide how they want to experience it. I’d be delighted if users enjoy the game in an entirely different direction from the intent of the creators.

Maeda: Mobile games bring user communication closer together compared to other platforms. There are many users who have met new friends or even lovers through SINoALICE. We’d love for players to expand their world through SINoALICE, beyond the game.

Inquiring minds want to know: What’s next for Yoko Taro?

Yoko: A diet is next.

SINoALICE is now available for iOS and Android. 

You can read more of our interview in the most recent Game Informer issue, which you can read now if you’re a digital subscriber. Also, be sure to check out our previous interview with Yoko Taro where we dove deep into his creative process. 







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Report: Microsoft Announcing Xbox Series S In August

It has long been rumored that Microsoft is preparing a second next-gen system codenamed Lockhart which is cheaper and less high-powered than the announced Xbox Series X. Eurogamer reports that this version – also known as the Xbox Series S – is going to debut in August.

The Series S – named similar to the cheaper Xbox One S – was originally going to debut in June at E3, but Microsoft had to change those plans when the industry event was canceled.

Microsoft has yet to announce the official date and price for the Series X, but it will be out this holiday season. Whether the Series S releases alongside the Series X also remains to be seen. Perhaps all will be revealed in August.

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Tech

Best Buy July 4th Sale Discounts Video Games, Arcade Cabinets, And Apple Products

Independence Day is here, but this year’s Fourth of July might look a little different. With the pandemic, most people will likely want to stay inside. That can be a bit of a bummer, but safety is important, and thankfully, a lot of retailers have great July 4th sales running right now, including GameStop and Amazon. Best Buy has discounted a ton of video games, PC gaming monitors, and even Arcade1Up cabinets for the big day. There is also a variety of Apple products on sale, including a MacBook Pro, several iPad Pros, and all versions of AirPods.

Quick look: Best Buy’s best July 4th deals

6479270 – Best Buy July 4th – Video Games

Select games on sale

The recently released 40th Anniversary Edition of Pac-Man from Arcade1Up is a gorgeous machine, complete with that classic wood-panel look. It also features a 17-inch screen, a full-size joystick and set of buttons, and a matching stool. It completes the package with seven games, including Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Pac & Pal, Pac-Mania, Super Pac-Man, Pac-Land, and Galaga. It also includes a light-up deck protector. This cannot be found at Walmart, which also doesn’t include the stool in its package.

Arcade1Up Golden Tee cabinet

$300 ($400)

Golden Tee is a pub favourite, and this Arcade1Up cabinet lets you bring it home. It comes with four Golden Tee classics–Golden Tee, Golden Tee 2K, Golden Tee ’98, and Golden Tee ’99–and art that evokes the original game. Like the Pac-Man machine, it comes with a riser that makes it more comfortable to play while standing.

Arcade1Up Galaga cabinet

$340 ($380)

The classic Galaga cabinet looks gorgeous, and Arcade1Up has captured it deftly in its 3/4-scale version. Despite its smaller size, it features full-sized controls and the same great panel art. It comes with a riser as well as both Galaga and Galaxian.

Acer 27-inch 1080p, FreeSync monitor

$220 ($300)

Best Buy’s July 4th sale also discounts a number of great budget monitors. This Acer monitor comes in with a 27-inch, 1080p display, boasting a refresh rate of 144Hz. This makes gameplay ultra-smooth, allowing you to react to enemies on screen at a significantly quicker pace. It’s excellent for competitive gaming, especially shooters like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends.

Asus 23.8-inch 1080p, FreeSync monitor

$200 ($250)

If you’re looking for a smaller monitor, then Asus has a great FreeSync option that boasts a 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate. Like the Acer monitor, it’s also great for shooters. The FreeSync technology also allows you to eliminate screen-tearing without enabling V-Sync in your games, which can cause performance hits.

Lenovo Legion 27-inch 1440p, FreeSync monitor

$500 ($550)

The Lenovo Legion is a more premium monitor, equipped with a 1440p display and 165Hz refresh rate. If you’re looking for an incredible PC gaming experience, then the Legion is an excellent choice–just make sure you have a strong enough PC to run games at 1440p and high frame rates.

MacBook Pro 15.4-inch

$2,800 ($3,500)

The MacBook Pro is a fantastic laptop for video production, photo editing, and other artistic endeavors, and this particular model is rocking some serious specs. If you’re looking for a workstation that you can take anywhere, then this MacBook Pro won’t disappoint with its 1TB SSD, i9 processor, 32GB RAM, and Radeon Pro Vega 20 GPU.

iPad Pro

Up to $100 off all models

The iPad Pro is a great alternative to your typical laptop, and while it doesn’t quite pack the power of a MacBook Pro, it can still get a lot of work done, thanks to iPadOS. This bridges the gap between a tablet and a laptop, making for a much more productive workstation than your standard iPads and iPad Airs. All of Best Buy’s iPad Pro tablets are on sale, from the 1st-Generation models to the most recent.

AirPods

Up to $50 off all models

Apple AirPods make for easy-to-use wireless earbuds, especially if you’re an Apple fanatic. All versions of the AirPods are on sale at Best Buy right now, including the new AirPods Pro, which come with more comfortable ear ergonomics to ensure a comfortable fit.

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GameStop July 4th Game Sale Ends Today: Includes B2G1 Free On Pre-Owned PS4 And Xbox One Games

Following a day of deals exclusively for PowerUp Rewards Pro members, GameStop’s Independence Day Sale is now open to everyone. The sale isn’t huge, but it does have a pretty enticing promotion: buy two, get one free on all pre-owned PS4 and Xbox One games (sorry, Nintendo Switch owners). GameStop’s Independence Day Sale runs through July 4. That’s today, so you’ll need to be quick to secure your games. (Plus, see our roundup of the best July 4th sales happening this weekend, including a big sale from Best Buy.)

For some strange reason, GameStop’s sale flyer shows old games like NBA 2K19 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. While older titles are included in the B2G1 free promotion, the sale is especially good if you’re looking for more recent, higher-priced games. Since every pre-owned PS4 and Xbox One game is up for grabs, it’s a matter of searching for what you want and seeing if it’s in stock. For instance, you’re not going to find pre-owned copies of The Last of Us 2, but you will find other big-name titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Persona 5 Royal. As always, the cheapest of the three games you pick will be free, so make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck. There is plenty of content there to keep you busy for weeks or months.

6479217 — B2G1 Free promotion — GameStop Independence Day Sale

B2G1 free promotion


PS4 and Xbox One controllers are typically fairly pricey. Right now, you can grab pre-owned DualShock 4 and Xbox One wireless controllers for $40 each. While it’s not as good as the $30 deal GameStop offered on July 1 to Pro members, it’s still a decent value.

6479217 – DualShock 4/Xbox One controller — GameStop Independence Day Sale

DualShock 4


Xbox One controller


More than 600 clearance collectibles based on Marvel, Star Wars, and My Hero Academia are on sale for 20% off. Additionally, you can get snag clearance T-shirts for five bucks each. Select Funko Pops, including Tyrael from Diablo, Mr. Mime, and Geralt of Rivia, are on sale for 50% off. Additionally, a separate collectibles promotion gives you 15% off $75 orders and 25% off $125 orders.

6479217 – Collectibles – GameStop Independence Day Sale

Collectibles sale


Best Deals This Week

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