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E3 2017: Microsoft’s Biggest Takeaways

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The dust has settled and with E3 wrapping up, now would be a good time to reflect on what the Electronic Entertainment Expo of 2017 delivered to audiences around the world. This wasn’t the year of awe-inspiring surprises, nor was it devoid of reasons to be truly excited as a gamer, instead, the 2017 showcase offered in-depth previews of titles with imminent release dates. The promises made by some of the top developers and publishers from last year are finally coming to fruition, and it’s us, the gamers, that get to reap the rewards. Microsoft was just one of these companies to partner their newest games with (hopefully) solid release dates. It can’t be easy for the Microsoft team knowing their hardware output is being outsold by the PlayStation 4 three-to-one, but, if their 2017 conference is anything to go by, they’re certainly going to do their utmost to claw back that market share. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Microsoft E3 conference of 2017.

They want their audience to feel the power

The Xbox One X will be the most powerful console on the market. It boasts 6 teraflops of processing power, true 4K gaming, a centrifugal fan, the first ever vapor chamber with advanced liquid cooling for a home console, the Hovis method incorporated to maximize console performance and 326GB/s of memory bandwidth… and breathe. For anybody in the know about these technical specifications It sounds pretty good, but it poses a potential problem: who is this console for? A retail price of £449.99 ($500) is incredible value for a machine of this calibre, but without exclusive Xbox One X titles to exhibit its capabilities and the slow adoption rate of 4K televisions it might be a hard sell for consumers who already own an original Xbox One or its smaller counterpart. Microsoft promised a feature known as super sampling will upscale non-4K titles to fulfill their potential, but is this enough?  The Forza 7 demo undoubtedly looked gorgeous running natively in 4K at 60fps, but if console gamers focused solely on specs wouldn’t they just jump ship to PC gaming?

They want you to continue playing with friends

The PlayStation 4 team presented their audience with a series of exclusive single-player, narrative-heavy titles. Even their surprise announcement of the Shadow of Colossus remake acts as a solo experience. Xbox’s biggest titles are dependent on the social experiences of their fanbase. Alongside Mario Odyssey, Rare’s Sea of Thieves looked to be the most fun game shown at E3. The opportunity to sail on a pirate ship with a crew of pirate-d friends doing pirate stuff is simply not something you should pass up. Sailing the seven seas in search of clues and maps that lead to coveted treasure seems intended as a multiplayer experience – the kind of game where failing spectacularly in a mission in which you all get gobbled up by a prowling shark is just as fun as succeeding. Likewise, State of Decay 2’s open-world, zombie action game practically relies on co-op participation as you’re tasked to work together to survive in a harsh post-apocalyptic environment. Only by combining your friends different strengths in perfect harmony will you make any progress, and it’s an enticing offer to plunge straight back into this world of zombies and nightmares. Crackdown 3 works just as well in single-player as it does in multiplayer, but we already knew that. These games make up the bulk of Xbox’s biggest exclusive titles, but…

They don’t exactly scream AAA exclusive

Xbox’s main issue stems from their inability to match their previous big AAA exclusives like Gears of War and Halo. While Sony continue to grow their brand by injecting an inspired sense of maturity into their games, Xbox failed to notice and empower their first-parties with the same sensibilities. God of War, Days Gone, Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Detroit all tackle difficult adult themes in new and refreshing ways; Xbox needs to pay attention to this trend in their bigger titles to recapture the market they want to dominate. Microsoft revealed a total of forty-two new games at their conference with twenty-two of those being Xbox exclusives, and while a large amount of them were undeniably impressive, they lacked the killer blow to truly worry the hotshots over at Sony towers. Third-party titles remain a huge part of their business strategy, but they need the exclusives to convince undecided consumers that their console is the best on the market.

They have a lot of love for Indie games 

What Microsoft lack in exclusivity they make up for in adoration for the indie crowd. Not only were games like the hotly anticipated Cuphead given a release date, but Microsoft was keen to present an indie showreel to convince players that these are games that matter. The Last Night adopted a retro-bit, Blade Runner style as we witnessed the protagonist traverse a neon-tinged dystopian future while The Artful Escape from acclaimed indie publisher Annapurna looks to portray a world of psychedelic surrealism and music. Sony may have forgotten to acknowledge the indie scene in their conference, but Microsoft were on-point and sincere in their commitment to supporting a diverse range of unique experiences.

They also have a lot of love for their history  

The announcement of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility on the Xbox One in 2015 was a big deal, so big, in fact, that Phil Spencer confirmed half the users of Xbox Live have played a 360 title on their Xbox One. It was inevitable that Microsoft would go back even further to make their first console’s output available on the Xbox One, and it’s exactly this kind of nostalgia fueled respect for their history that reinforces Xbox’s superior online services. Xbox Play is a more robust and reliable service than PlayStation Now’s mediocre streaming service, and their dedication towards ensuring players can access hundreds of titles (regardless of console iteration) is staggering. The thought of returning to games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the Original Project Gotham Racing, and even Blinx: The Time Sweeper is both gratifying and exciting.

Microsoft had a damn good conference with a constant stream of impressive and diverse titles to suit all players. The inclusion of the Xbox One X and its place in the Xbox library raises a few key questions, but overall a very solid performance from a company that knows where it stands.

 

 

 

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer

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Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”

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Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.

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One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer

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NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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The Transformers: Lessons in Warfare, Scale, and Childhood

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The Transformers are an enduring part of American pop culture. Starting with the introduction of the first toy lines in the early 1980s, the animated series went on to define a large part of ‘80s culture, reaching its apex with the release of The Transformers: The Movie in 1986. After a disappointing performance in theaters, however, the brand reached a nadir in the post-movie era, receding from the front of American pop culture until the late 1990s, when Transformers: Beast Wars brought the franchise to the forefront again.

It was into this climate that I was born. By the time I was old enough to watch TV and get toys courtesy of the North Pole and my parents, I began to take an interest in the series. After all, what five-year-old boy doesn’t like the idea of giant robots fighting each other for control of the earth and the universe?

My local video store (yes, those used to exist) had a copy of the first three episodes of the original Transformers series, Generation 1, on VHS. I remember renting this one particular copy from the store and watching it at least three times, sun-faded front cover and all. Even then, I loved the series, though I only had a few generic dollar-store “transformers,” an Armada Megatron that I had received for my fifth birthday, and a couple of hand-me-down G1 figures from my Dad.

Some of my earliest memories of Transformers came from a trip my parents and I took to visit my Dad’s former college roommate, a professed 80s culture geek. I remember watching a ton of G1 episodes, like “Dinobot Island,” as well as The Transformers: The Movie on his large projection-screen TV, an experience which inculcated within me an intense love of the series.

Optimus Prime The Transformers The Movie

Optimus Prime, bastion of bravery and an excellent role model for a maturing boy.

The first real episodic Transformers show that I watched with any sort of consistency, however, was Transformers: Armada. Now, I don’t remember much about this show — for good reason, as it’s derided by many Transformers fans for its poor animation, bad dubbing, and terrible story — but what I do remember is one particular toy that I really enjoyed: Armada Unicron.

I think it was the Christmas of 2002 when I first got Unicron. I remember having seen him in the store and (probably) telling my parents something or another about it, but I was utterly shocked when Santa brought it to me as a present. As a kid, Unicron was an impressive toy that towered over all of my other Transformers. He was such a hefty toy that I had trouble just picking him up from the ground. After having seen The Transformers: The Movie, I was just impressed by having the planet-eating destroyer of worlds himself in toy form. It was good to be a kid.

My consumption of Transformers-related content stayed relatively the same for a couple of years. Since my family didn’t get any of the channels that the shows came on, I was often left to make up what stories I could from my own memory, but we had Netflix (back when it was a DVD mail-in service), so I was able to watch some of the old series, including Beast Wars, Beast Machines, and Transformers: Energon on DVD. As usual, however, I spent most of my time in school or playing on my GameCube.  

When Michael Bay’s Transformers released in theaters in 2007, it ushered in an entirely new era of Transformers fandom across the world. With the return of G1 originals Peter Cullen and Frank Welker as the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron, respectively, the ‘80s were alive and well again. This transformation (pun fully intended), brought about the introduction of an entirely new show, Transformers Animated, which aired on Cartoon Network. Before the days of DVR, it was nearly impossible for someone like myself, who was usually involved in any myriad of school activities on any given day, to find the time to watch a show at its air time. 

Unicron Armada Transformers Toy

Just look at this toy! Even today, it’s impressive.

However, luckily enough for me, Cartoon Network aired reruns of two episodes of Animated every day at 6:30 AM. As someone who lived literally two minutes away from school, I usually didn’t leave my house until around 7:45 or 8:00, so I had plenty of time to watch the show. I remember getting up every morning, fixing myself a big bowl of cereal, and sitting down to watch Animated before anyone in the house was up. Just me, Transformers, cereal, and a lot of fun. 

Soon, as I aged and Animated was replaced by Transformers Prime, I grew into a more nuanced appreciation for the shows’ storytelling. Prime, a dark tonal contrast with Animated, found me at the perfect time in my life. I appreciated its reverence for Optimus Prime and its overarching themes of sacrifice and leadership. While some would say it was boring or over-wrought, for a burgeoning pre-teen it was an engaging combination of cool and edgy that I thoroughly enjoyed.

When I sit down to think about the impact the Transformers series has had on my life, there’s one point in particular that sticks out to me: the imagination that playing with Transformers encouraged. While the brand was doubtlessly born of a commercial desire to sell as many pieces of plastic as possible, it nonetheless developed into a series capable of some interesting, if not always deep, storytelling. 

I copied this sense of storytelling when it came time to play with my toys. I remember incorporating various weather machines, weapons of ultimate power, and energy crystals into overarching narratives that could last a whole afternoon. Narratives in which Autobots died, lost limbs, or were otherwise in peril before the power of the Matrix of Leadership or Primus himself showed up to save them in the end. While this may not seem all that unique, I credit the series with instilling in me a sense of narrative detail. In fact, I remember not mixing my G.I. Joes and Transformers together, because in my internal head canon, they weren’t to scale (everyone knows that Transformers are at least three to four times taller than humans.) 

Megatron vs. Dinosaur G1 Transformers

I can safely say that I probably played out this exact scenario at least four or five times in my childhood.

However, Unicron himself created all sorts of problems for an internal narrative. For a being the size of a planet, he was rather puny in scale when compared to the other figures. So, I would always put Unicron to the side and pretend that the smaller Transformers were mere dots on him, tiny little specks that could barely be seen, the same as they had been in The Transformers: The Movie. I feel like the toys gave me an appreciation of the tropes of narrative fiction that I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed or appreciated. 

Today, I still love the series and try to watch The Transformers: The Movie at least once a year. Newer entries, like Transformers: Rescue Bots and Rescue Bots Academy allow me to share my love of the series with my younger siblings without encountering the darker elements of some of the classic shows. It allows me to teach them all about the Cybertronians that I grew up with, and perhaps encourage them to craft stories of their own. Now, excuse me while I help the Rescue Bots put out a fire on Wayward Island…

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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