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E3 Hands-On: ‘Star Wars Battlefront II’ Taking Us Back to the Front, Back to Basics

Despite being the sequel to Dice’s gorgeous but deeply divisive Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Battlefront II feels more akin to…well, Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II from the original Xbox and PS2 era.



Despite being the sequel to Dice’s gorgeous but deeply divisive Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Battlefront II feels more akin to…well, Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II from the original Xbox and PS2 era.  Don’t get me wrong, Dice’s Battlefront was an impressive, incredibly immersive experience, but one that needed a little refinement.  Battlefront II promises to provide that needed refinement, but in more than one way borrows from the original Battlefront series. So much so that, while impressing upon the player that this is a direct sequel and improvement to the 2015 AAA title, the game simultaneously feels almost like the Star Wars: Battlefront III we never got or a truer relaunch of the original Battlefront series.

On the surface, Star Wars Battlefront II is offering the same immersive experience, placing players in iconic Star Wars battles and allowing them to fight on the front line, fulfilling that same fanboy fantasy, while offering more.  Unlike the 2015 title, which focused squarely on the original trilogy, Battlefront II spans all three trilogies, providing more Star Wars for players to participate in.  With that comes a more diverse set of heroes from all eras who, if the E3 demo I played is anything to go by, won’t be limited to their respective eras while soldiers will change in appearance only depending on the settings time period.  In the demo I played, set in the prequel trilogy, it was Battle Droids against Clones with the Droids assisted by the likes of Darth Maul and Boba Fett and the Clones supported by Rey and Han Solo.

By opening the door to new episodes but not restricting heroes, players will get to experience a richer variety of settings and atmospheres while ultimately still being allowed to play however they’d like, and without jeopardizing balance with alternate character types.  That’s on top of new modes, including a more full-fledged starfighter mode developed by Criterion (Burnout), in-game quests and challenges, as well as in-game events hosted by EA, as well as seasons.  Dice is also making every effort to not separate the player base, so all new content will be offered for free and there won’t be a season pass.

Instead of a specific game mode being demoed, EA brought Assault on Theed, which will presumably be included as part of a specific game mode upon actual release under some typical, dramatic sounding, shooter type banner like “Assault,” or “Infiltration,” or “Shooty Shooty Bang Bang McBlow ‘Em Up.”  Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get what I mean.  It was a balanced, multi-part mode, exactly what one might expect from Dice by this point, in which the Battle Droids were initially tasked with defending a carrier as they stormed Naboo’s capital, Theed, and the Clone troops were responsible for taking the carrier out.  Then the roles were reversed as the Clones defended Theed’s palace while the Droids used everything in their arsenal to try and clear and claim it.  The design and atmosphere perfectly captured the setting of the movies.

Despite my bemoaning the addition of anything to do with the prequels before playing Battlefront II, Battle Droids in particular, completely separate from the prequel trilogy’s script, terrible acting, and mind numbing plot, I actually really enjoyed the setting and use of the time period.  It transported me back to an era of gaming when everything incorporated the prequels because that was what was new.  The Star Wars universe was suddenly expanded and everyone wanted to explore it and experience it.  Now, nearly twenty years later, we are in much the same position and I can only hope that Dice can capture The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi half as well as they have encapsulated the engaging world design (admittedly one of its redeeming qualities) of the prequel trilogy.

Not unlike the original game series, Battlefront II features a class system.  At the start of a match, four class types are available for players to choose from: Assault, Heavy, Officer, and Specialist.  Each feature a varying arsenal, perks assigned to the left and right bumpers, and different benefits.  The Assault class seems tailored for dexterity and mid-ranged combat and featured grenade abilities. The Heavy class, my favorite in my time with the game, was slower with a powerful heavy machine gun and an ability that sacrificed mobility in favor of a strong, personal shield that absorbed incoming fire from the front.  The Officer unit had close range weapons and an auto-tracking turret not unlike those from the last game, while the Specialist had a sniper and mines ideal for setting traps and covering blind spots.

Each class also has a super or ultimate ability which is slower to recharge than standard abilities and activated by pressing both bumpers simultaneously.  The Assault class, for instance, gains a shotgun for a limited time, making them more dangerous at closer range than usual while the Heavy has a chain gun which won’t allow players to shield while activated, grows faster and more lethal with time, and works at greater distance.  Beyond being a callback to the original Battlefront series, the new class system greatly benefits the game by adding variety to the game, adding important limitations (not giving every player a sniper, for instance), and ultimately bring a stronger sense of balance to the force…I mean game.

Unlike the original series, each class has a set of interchangeable abilities.  Similar to the last Battlefront, this game allows players to customize troopers with different Star Cards, or rechargeable abilities.  Instead of the previous purchase and upgrade system, Star Cards, earned through play, come in four different rarities: Common (white), Uncommon (green), Rare (blue), and Epic (purple).  Completing quests and challenges, participating events, and new Crates (speculatively things that can be earned but will also be purchasable through microtransactions) can all grant Star Cards of varying rarity.  Heroes and starfighters can also be customized in this way, allowing players to play to their strengths and how they see fit.  From what I gather based on my short time with the game, Star Card’s recharge rate improves with rarity while also extending duration, though I’m not entirely sure.

Also in the vein of 2005’s Battlefront II, different troops, heroes, and, in the case of the new Battlefront II, vehicles can be earned in each match. Gone are the days of random upgrades, heroes, and abilities being scattered across the map to whichever lucky player happened upon them.  Now, by contributing to the match in a multitude of different ways, players earn Battle Points in match.  Then, at the respawn screen, where players can change trooper type and swap abilities, players can spend their Battle Points on rewards including enhanced units, starfighters, land vehicles, and, of course, heroes.  The better the reward, the more Battle Points it’ll cost, making for a unique meta game of when to save and when to spend.

A hero, the most expensive reward, costs 5,000 BPs, while a Super Battle Droid only costs 2,000, giving players an intriguing choice between spending points on something that may benefit the team more immediately and help the player rack up points more quickly or saving for something more effective down the road.  The system seems intelligently balanced.  Heroes, for example, don’t earn Battle Points while on the field, meaning a player can’t play Maul until they can buy Maul again when they inevitably fall.  At no point during the match did either team completely run away with the match due to their collective success and constant BP rewards.  Instead, heroes and enhanced troops seem much more balanced and manageable, still capable of making a positive impact, but a much smaller cameo when compared to the heroes of the last game. Ultimately, the system seems very rewarding, allowing both those who are doing well and those who are struggling to turn the tides with rewards.

2015’s Battlefront, with its amazing visuals, engaging, quick paced gameplay, and outstanding attention to the small details made for an enjoyable game, but one that always had untapped potential glistening beyond the surface, more like Death Star blueprints than the Death Star itself.  With Star Wars Battlefront II finessing its multiplayer and returning it to something more akin to the original series, on top of a highly desired campaign, Battlefront II stands not only to be the Battlefront we always wanted, but maybe even the most immersive Star Wars video game ever made.  Here’s to hoping this is when Battlefront strikes back!

Tim is not the droids you are looking for. He resides quietly in the Emerald City where he can often be found writing, reading, watching movies, or playing video games. He is the Xbox editor for Goomba Stomp and the site's official Pokémon Master.

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Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More




This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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




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.”




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.




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




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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