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This Week in Gaming News: Bye Bye Boss Key, Bonjour Black Out



I told you the E3 news would start hotting up, didn’t I? As gaming’s biggest annual event draws ever closer, we as news-seekers become ever more entrenched in leaks, rumours and, perhaps most shockingly, a variety of publishers deciding to show off brand new games before the pomp and circumstance of the event has even started. It’s madness I tells ya!

The biggest of these premature announcements was perhaps the most Marmite (look it up) game ever seen. You know what I’m talking about and because it’s caused such a stir, and was given its own chuffing reveal event, I feel like I really have to mention Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in place of something I’d much rather talk about – in this case, it has to be Platinum Games’ secret new title that will apparently “turn the action genre on its head.” But five stories is your limit, and reluctantly it’s gone. After you’ve had your minute silence to pay respects to the aforementioned omission, we’ll get that CoD nonsense out the way…

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ Thinks Very Highly of Itself

Well, this is a hotbed of diverse opinion now, isn’t it? They say any publicity is good publicity (I think people who work in PR usually say that the most), so on that basis Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 did rather well for itself. Naturally, the internet is fit to burst with people hating the fact that there’s no single player, wary of the Black Out mode featuring a lot of microtransactions, and just generally being salty about the whole thing. Then there are the people who feel a company like Activision need to be defended and have their game stuck up for. It’s all very loud and very silly. Not quite as silly as a lengthy event full of grown men mispronouncing the word ‘duty’ to make it sound like they were giving a public presentation on taking a shit, but that’s neither here nor there. Actually, it’s specifically there, and not here in England where I live and we talk all proper like, but I digress.

Gaming News Black Ops 4

Typically understated self-promotion from Activision

Giving too much air time to people’s reactions is something that YouTube can carry on doing as far as I’m concerned (apart from my own, which I will happily give you an abundance of), so let’s discuss the game itself. Black Ops 4, as we already knew, does not feature a single player campaign. We discussed that information a few weeks back as sources had claimed that Treyarch simply ran out of time, but since then the developer has, of course, completely debunked that and have claimed to Eurogamer they never had a ‘traditional campaign’ planned at all. Hmmm…

Instead of a campaign, the game will come with three main modes: Standard multiplayer, a Zombies mode with three missions and seasonal events, and Black Out – which is the new battle royale mode. Treyarch co-studio head Dan Bunting, in his interview with Eurogamer, was unwilling to state how many concurrent players this mode will feature, but it will have the largest map the developer has ever produced (featuring parts of older maps), and will allow players to use “land, sea and air” vehicles. Activision was keen to relay the message to us that they play a lot of BR games and they wanted to make their own version only when it could be done “the Black Ops way”. Or when it’s most profitable and popular, whatever.

That’s really the gist of what we know right now. The reveal event was mainly a lot of bluster and bravado, and proof that nobody at Treyarch understands how Roman Numerals work (I think the game really is called Black Ops IIII). It releases on October 12th this year and, according to Twinfinite, has been confirmed by designer Matt Scronce to not be releasing on Nintendo Switch.

Can I stop now?

‘Rage 2’s Daily Drip-Feed

Remember Rage? Yeah, I don’t really remember much about it either, but don’t worry about that – it’s getting a sequel! Awesome?

Bethesda provided the quickest drip-feed campaign known to man as it released teaser images on Saturday and Sunday last week, an announce trailer on Monday, a gameplay trailer on Tuesday, and then reposted it on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Isn’t that a Craig David song? In fairness, it’s probably not the game reveal anybody expected (or maybe even wanted), but it certainly promises to be full of bombastic action and, according to an interview with Tim Willits on Gamestar, free of loot boxes.

Gaming News Rage 2

Seems like ages ago we were staring at dirty-teeth-May-14-man

According to IGN, you play a character named Walker who, much like Chuck Norris’ character, is a ranger. In fact, he’s “The last Ranger of the wasteland,” and will come up against an evil bunch of bastards called The Authority even though, as a ranger, you’d imagine he would have quite a lot of respect for authority. He probably does, just not for The Authority. Got that?

Walker will be traversing a “massive open world” with a “vast and varied landscape” and he’ll be able to use a variety of vehicles like monster trucks and gyrocopters to do so. When not driving or flying, he’ll be murdering and causing chaos with upgradable weapons, something called Nanotrite powers, and something else called Overdrive, which lets him “push weapons beyond their mechanical limits”. It all sounds very… well, videogamey, but it looks a lot of fun. The original 2011 Rage certainly looked beautiful and featured some solid id mechanics, but it was largely forgettable. Maybe time will have been kind to the franchise and we will see a more substantial and varied game at the second attempt.

Cliff Bleszinki Can’t Enter the Door Without Boss Key

My word, how the mighty have fallen. I might be getting old, but my memory still works well enough to hark back to when Cliff Bleszinski was the David Beckham of video games developers, and now look at the poor sod. In fairness to the man, Boss Key Productions was clearly a development studio with talent in making games, but evidently not one with talent in making people actually give a tiny rat’s ass about them.

Gaming News Boss Key

Turns out Lawbreakers is like Overwatch, but isn’t Overwatch. Unfortunately, Overwatch is Overwatch and Overwatch is still relevant

Lawbreakers, as we discussed a few weeks back, was beyond languishing with a player base of fewer people than required to even have a single match, and Radical Heights was a blatantly rushed-out, broken, and cynical cash-in (or not, as the case may be) on the battle royale trend currently reigned over by a little game from Cliff’s former studio – Epic Games. Perhaps most ironic of all is that Cliffy B actually presented the first ever trailer for Fortnite at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards. He probably should have slipped in something slanderous about it giving you cancer just to protect himself, but I guess he wasn’t to know he’d eventually try desperately to rip it off and then be forced to fold his new company when that rip off failed. Hindsight, eh?

Gaming News Cliffy B

Boss Key Productions: The Obituary

In a statement released on Twitter, Bleszinski stated that Boss Key Productions was “effectively no more,” and that he needed to take some time away from video games to be with his family and care for his sick dog. He also stated that he still hopes to make something in the video games medium again “someday,” and that Radical Heights’ servers would “remain up for the near future.”

The news is really pretty sad, and I’m not just talking about that poor dog, as Bleszinski has been a key figure in bringing the gaming world a real sense of attitude and style, as well as one of the most iconic franchises of the last decade in Gears of War. As well as that, he just seems like a bloody good bloke, and I genuinely hope we’ve not seen the last of him.

?????, ‘Superhot JP’!

Superhot is brilliant. Fact. Therefore, I was positively tingly with excitement at the announcement that the brilliant slow-mo shooter will return in Japanese form! Adapting the formula created by the Superhot Team, developer GameTomo aims to “[maintain] the same intoxicating rhythm of slow motion combat, [and present] a brand new adventure with a distinctive Japanese flavor.”

Thanks to the FAQ section on the game’s official website, further details have been revealed. It is described as “a new game in the Superhot universe, using Japanese environments, from samurai castles and hot springs to karaoke bars and bullet trains,” and will have gameplay additions of “new weapons, see through shoji screens, and some other surprises.”

Gaming News Superhot JP

The core concept of Superhot is so good that simply releasing more of it in a new setting is enough for me

According to GameTomo, the standalone game will be “priced very reasonably,” and will feature 15-18 regular levels and 3-4 endless levels. This all sounds bloody lovely, with the only caveat being that Superhot JP (a working title, apparently) will be released on PC and PS4 “in Japan first and then possibly other countries worldwide.” Possibly? Are you kidding me? Provided this is only cautious pessimism and we do eventually see the game release in the west, I can’t wait. Although, as it’s likely just a digital release, I’ll just make a Japanese PS4 account and download it anyway. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

Nintendo’s E3 Presentation Was Leaked. Or Was It?

This is probably faker than the claims that the moon landing was fake, but considering we don’t have the hindsight to prove it’s fake, I’m going to use this final news story to briefly analyze and fantasize over an apparently leaked Nintendo E3 schedule from this last week. Because, let’s be honest, if you’re a Nintendo fan, the truth is usually much less exciting than the fiction, so we might as well use our ignorance for a little bliss right now, eh?

First things first, let’s take a look at what this ‘schedule’ (unaltered from the source) involves:

  • Intro trailer showing Dragon Ball FighterZ, FIFA 19, NBA 2K19, Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, Octopath Traveller and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • Super Smash Bros. – Developed by Bandai Namco
  • Punch Out!! Become the Champion – Developed by Next Level Games
  • Metroid Prime: Renegade – Developed by Bandai Namco
  • Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion
  • Fire Emblem Memories – Developed by Intelligent Systems
  • Fallout 3 Anniversary – Developed by Bethesda
  • Yoshi’s Flipping Island – Developed by Good-Feel
  • Pokemon Lets GO! Pikachu and Eevee Editions – Developed by Game Freak
  • F-Zero SX – Developed by Platinum Games
  • Fortnite – Developed by Epic Games
  • Star Fox Lylat System – Developed by Retro Studios

That’s quite a lot to digest, isn’t it? Obviously, some of these are pretty much guaranteed to happen. I’d wager that the ‘intro trailer’ is nailed on because we basically know that all those games are coming to Switch other than Dragon Ball Fighterz. Start off with a safe bet – clever boys. It’d also be pretty insane of Nintendo not to show something of Smash Bros. on the Switch, and whether Metroid Prime 4 is to be subtitled Renegade or not, it’ll still likely make an appearance a year after it was first announced. We also know that Fire Emblem has been confirmed for Switch and the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion has been known about for months.

Gaming News Nintendo E3

Subtitle confirmed

That covers the things I think are likely, which leaves us with the pie-in-the-sky beauties that I would sell my own grandmother for if it could make them be true. I suppose the most unrealistic thing about the rest of these reveals is that, were they true, Nintendo would be both listening to their fans AND announcing basically all their major IPs at once. That isn’t necessarily a bad tactic, but something tells me that reveals of a new F-Zero, Star Fox, and Punch Out! showing up on the same E3 presentation as a new Metroid, Smash Bros. and Fire Emblem is way too heart attack-inducing to be real. But just imagine it…

The loudest criticism of this ‘leak’ is that it assumes we would all believe a game called Yoshi’s Flipping Island could ever exist. While this is a pretty salient criticism, the previous title was called Yoshi’s Woolly World, so it’s not like those games have been marketing themselves on understated seriousness thus far, is it? Lastly (ignoring the Pokémon thing because I don’t even know what that’s supposed to be), a Fallout 3 Anniversary on Switch (it is 10 years old in October this year) is potentially the best reason to spend an hour taking a shit this side of a vindaloo, so if that were to come true, my Mrs will know where to find me of an evening. Oh, and Fortnite is on the list too, because of course it is. So there’s that as well.

Gaming News Fallout Anniversary Switch

Come oooooooon, be real!

With that lovely visage of me roaming the Capital Wasteland from the seat of my toilet safely in your heads, I will bid you adieu for another week. Did I miss anything important? Did I get anything wrong? Have you ever played a game on the toilet for longer than an hour? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next week.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.


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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The Transformers: Lessons in Warfare, Scale, and Childhood

Toys We Love Spotlight



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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