Aquaman Review: Underwater Insanity

It’s hard to describe just how insane Aquaman is. This is a movie with underwater ocean battles whose scope rivals anything seen in Star Wars, where fish people charge into the fray riding giant sharks, seahorses, and even stranger creatures than that. There are living, breathing dinosaurs in Aquaman, and they’re maybe the 15th or 20th craziest thing in the movie. The dinosaurs are mostly used as set dressing in background shots, and nobody–even Aquaman himself, who’s spent most of his life on the surface–ever comments on their existence or acknowledges them at all. There’s too much other stuff going on to devote even one second of dialogue to the fact that, hey, it turns out dinosaurs aren’t extinct after all. Neat.

It’s not that the plot doesn’t make sense, or that it’s hard to follow. Aquaman is creatively bonkers–the insanity in the movie is a choice that was made, over and over, in every aspect of the film’s creation. Atlantean battle armor looks like something the invading Martians would wear in campy mid-century science fiction, while Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry and Patrick Wilson’s King Orm battle to the death in an underwater stadium that seems to hold millions and millions of people. These are elements that would have probably been toned down and reduced to something less heightened in another superhero movie, but with Aquaman, director James Wan has declared the DCEU the place where comic books movies can just be comic book movies. Overall, that makes the film better, though it has plenty of problems as well.

Aquaman follows Arthur Curry, the titular hero, on his journey to claim his throne and save Atlantis, and maybe the whole world while he’s at it. Aquaman was first properly introduced to the DCEU in last year’s Justice League, and this is the same version of the character we got then: gruff, sarcastic, tough, self-effacing, and irreverent. To some, Momoa’s character was the best part of Justice League, and he’s equally great here. Early on, when Aquaman is saving the crew of a submarine during a scene in which one of the villains, Black Manta, is introduced, there’s a single shot of completely random slow motion. Momoa walks briefly through a cloud of hissing steam while a snarling guitar lick announces his–not his arrival, because it’s in the middle of a fight. It announces that he’s awesome? Moments like that are a recurring thing–they don’t make a lot of sense, but they get the blood pumping.

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Although we already met Aquaman in Justice League, this is definitely an origin story. It starts at the beginning: with lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) finding Nicole Kidman’s Queen Atlanna washed up on the rocks during a storm. They fall in love, have Arthur, and are separated over the course of a couple of voice-over’d minutes that set the breakneck pace for the rest of the movie: Aquaman has no time to dwell on anything besides its massive, complex action scenes. Everything else, from the many lore dumps that lay out Atlantean history to the slow motion shot of Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard) emerging from the ocean with a cover of Toto’s Africa playing in the background, is just an inconvenience that the movie hurries past as it sweeps you along in its mighty current.

The whole thing is buoyed by a couple of extremely stellar performances. Kidman is good as Queen Atlanna, but she’s in the movie only very briefly. Likewise with Morrison as Arthur’s dad–he’s fun, especially during cute scenes like him and Arthur chugging beers together with breakfast (less so when his uncanny digitally de-aged face is delivering cheesy lines like “Up here, we feel [our tears],” but that’s hardly his fault). As Arthur’s trainer and King Orm’s vizier, the always wonderful Willem Dafoe’s Vulko has an important role in the overall narrative, but not much to do in the movie’s actual plot. And Heard is surprisingly flat as Mera–she looks the part, and that clown red wig isan’t actually that bad once you get used to it, but she lacks the grandiosity and the gravitas to deliver the movie’s unendingly cheesy dialogue.

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That’s where Patrick Wilson has her beat in the role of King Orm, and it’s him–along with Momoa–who make Aquaman’s corny script sound good. Picture this scene: A CGI crab person asks King Orm if he expects to be called “king,” and Wilson has to reply, “Not king. Call me”–dramatic pause–“Ocean Master.” It’s so, so silly, but the Conjuring and Watchmen actor delivers every line with a searing intensity matched only by all the underwater lava that somehow exists in this movie. Keep in mind, this is the kind of film where waves crash dramatically and orcas tend to leap gracefully from the water, loud orchestral score crescendoing, whenever characters say something important. Don’t think too hard about it; just enjoy the spectacle.

Besides all the Aquaman-quipping, underwater politics, family drama, and massive battles, there’s a lot more going on in Aquaman. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has a fleeting but effective turn as villain Black Manta, who you’ll kind of root for even as he destroys half of Sicily trying to get to Arthur. Arthur and Mera also go on this big, Goonies-style side quest in the middle of the movie hunting down an ancient trident that has some kind of unspecified magic water powers that will supposedly help them in some way. It’s here the movie’s biggest plot breakdowns occur, such as when an artifact that supposedly dates back to when the Sahara desert was still an ocean–that’s 7 million years, minimum–leads them directly to some statue in Italy that’s at most, like, 2,000 years old.

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Or there’s the time when Arthur makes an offhand comment about Pinocchio, which Mera has naturally never heard of, and then two scenes later a little girl in a market randomly hands Mera a copy of the book Pinocchio. It’s the kind of gag a writer came up with because they thought it would be cute if Arthur could reference Pinocchio, and Mera could later make fun of him about it. And sure, it is cute–but why would a random little girl hand Mera a copy of the exact book Arthur casually made a reference to earlier that day? Why would that little girl in Sicily even have a copy of Pinocchio with her? Does it matter at all? (No.)

And then there are Aquaman’s completely nutso musical cues. Wan likes to punctuate scene transitions with songs, and while some of these are funny, others are straight up baffling. That’s doubly true when they only last a few seconds–you’re liable to get whiplash from the way this movie jumps around from scene to scene, blasting your ears with different random-sounding songs, changing tones on a dime and never looking back. They aren’t the only strange direction choice; the camera spends a ridiculous amount of time spinning dizzying circles around characters during complex flashbacks that blend seamlessly back into the present day, or zipping around them in impossible ways, because when your CGI budget is apparently infinite, why not? There’s also this incredibly weird thing where four or five different scenes throughout the movie are interrupted out of nowhere by massive explosions, the action literally blowing up quieter scenes of dialogue or exposition, as if to shriek, “No one gives a s*** how long ago Atlantis was founded, go back to the sharks and lasers and battles now!!!!”

Those shrieks are justified–this movie knows what it is. And you have to give credit where it’s due–Aquaman’s underwater universe is incredibly visually creative. The ocean aesthetic permeates every aspect of Atlantean culture, from Mera’s ceremonial jellyfish dress to the warships shaped like squids, eels, whales, and more. Underwater fights like the duel between Arthur and Orm are choreographed in a way that would make no sense on land, taking full advantage of the unusual setting, the characters’ superhuman abilities, and crazy weaponry like magical tridents and hyper-powerful plasma lasers. At one point, we get a brief flash of an octopus absolutely wailing on a giant drum set, and as soon as you have time to process what the hell you’re seeing, it’s gone and on to the next thing. If nothing else, stuff like that will make you eager to re-watch this utterly insane movie.

James Wan has stated that he wanted to make an “action adventure fantasy movie” rather than a superhero movie, and something with a lighter tone than past DCEU films like Batman v. Superman, Man of Steel, and Justice League. In that, he completely succeeded. Much of Aquaman–more than your average superhero movie, it seems–was taken straight off the pages of comic books, for better or worse. But Aquaman isn’t simply a bunch of remixed comics elements thrown together. It’s a movie with its own over the top, tongue in cheek, inconsistent, massive, irreverent, CGI-soaked tone, aesthetic, and world. And somehow, it works well enough that you’ll be calling Arthur king by the end.

The Good The Bad
Incredibly creative visuals Some really uncanny CGI
Massive, impressive action scenes Strange tonal leaps from scene to scene
Generally funny, tongue-in-cheek tone Baffling, jarring musical cues
Stellar performances from Patrick Wilson and Jason Momoa Cheesy dialogue
Underwater scenes look surprisingly good A couple of huge plot holes
A generally insane movie (in a fun way)

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Author: GameSpot

Pokemon Go Makes It Easier To Find Meltan

While the new Mythical Pokemon Meltan can be obtained in Pokemon Go through a Special Research quest, the easiest way to get your hands on one is by linking the game up to Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee for Nintendo Switch. When you transfer a Gen 1 Pokemon over to the Switch titles, you’ll receive an item in Go called the Mystery Box, which is the key to making Meltan appear in the game. Now the Mystery Box has gotten a little upgrade.

According to the official Pokemon Go Twitter account, it’ll be much easier to find Meltan in the wild when the Mystery Box is activated. “The Mystery Box’s effect has grown stronger,” the account tweeted. “Now when you use the Mystery Box, even more Meltan will appear for you to encounter.”

Outside of the aforementioned Special Research quest, Meltan can only be found in Pokemon Go using the Mystery Box. The item will open up after you transfer a Pokemon to either Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee, causing Meltan to spawn in Pokemon Go. However, the Mystery Box will only remain open for 30 minutes, and you need to wait a full seven days before you can activate it again, giving you only a brief window of time to catch as many of the Pokemon as you can.

Niantic hasn’t specified how much Meltan spawns have been increased following this update, but it’s a welcome change nonetheless, particularly if you’re hoping to get a Melmetal. In order to evolve Meltan into one, you’ll need to feed it 400 Meltan Candies, which means you need to capture quite a few of them to achieve that feat. You can read more about the process in our Meltan guide.

2018 has been a big year for Pokemon Go, and there are still some features on the way to the game soon. Niantic recently unveiled a PvP Trainer Battle system for the title, which will give you the ability to compete directly against other players. You also still have a little more time to catch Pokemon Go’s latest Legendary, Cresselia. The Lunar Pokemon is scheduled to leave Raid Battles on December 18.

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Author: GameSpot

The 5 Best Xbox One Games Of 2018

Xbox One might not have had a perfect year in 2018 in terms of sheer exclusives, but that doesn’t mean some great games haven’t launched for the console in the last 12 months. Even ones that haven’t made our list of the five best Xbox One games in 2018–which we’ll get to in a moment–have offered some excellent experiences.

Sea of Thieves, for example, gave us a great excuse to dig out our fancy dress eye patches back in March and has expanded since then, while PUBG‘s battle royale mayhem finally left early access this year. In addition, Xbox One enjoyed a great year on the subscription services front, with Game Pass now including every first-party Xbox One exclusive on day one at no extra cost, and EA Access continuing to be a console exclusive. And that’s before you mention Microsoft managing to secure ports of some of Sony’s 2017 exclusives, such as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Nier: Automata.

But enough of all that. You’ve come here for one thing, and one thing only. Well, maybe five things. Either way, in no particular order, here are the five best Xbox One games from 2018. For more on the best games to launch this year, check out our takes on the best PS4 games and best Switch games of 2018.

Red Dead Redemption 2

[Read the review]

Rockstar’s spaghetti western series returned this year with a prequel focusing on a different antagonist to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. Throughout the game’s emotional 50-plus hour story, the audience–as Arthur Morgan–experience almost every emotion in the book.

Red Dead Redemption 2‘s Old West is possibly the greatest game world developer Rockstar has ever created: varied weather patterns, wildlife, activities, and human personalities make this a region that really does feel alive. Even within that, the tiny details–such as real-time facial hair growth and horse bowel movements–are astonishing.

More than anything else, Red Dead Redemption 2 is about amazing relationships. Throughout its campaign you form meaningful bonds with friends, enemies, and even that aforementioned horse. Yee-haw, cowboy.

Dead Cells

[Read the review]

This surprising indie game is a prime example of the phrase “more than the sum of its parts.” At first, the mishmash of influences and homages seem to contradict one another. It’s a Metroidvania game–a genre known for its character progression–but this is also a roguelike, meaning it’s built specifically around dying and resetting from near-zero. Though Dead Cells does have a handful of permanent abilities tucked away in obscure corners, for the most part you’re no more powerful on your 20th run than your first. What truly makes the difference is how you shape the game’s economy and weapon selection organically as you progress through each run.

Purchasing a new weapon or secondary gadget from the vendor will also add it to the pool of items you can find in the world during a run. By steering your choices toward the weapons that fit your playstyle, you can increase the chances of finding the right set to progress further than you have before. It’s this constant push and pull on the game’s economy that creates a meta-strategy running throughout the experience. Do you reserve your hard-earned cash for only a handful of weapons to increase their odds, or do you collect everything you can in an effort to find what works? Over time Dead Cells becomes an experience of tinkering with the game’s systems, and then fine-tuning the smaller variables nested inside it, with each passing run.

Hitman 2

[Read the review]

Hitman 2 also gets rid of the controversial episodic release structure its predecessor launched with. Some fans criticized the release schedule, as it forced them to wait for more levels and environments to become available. This sequel therefore launches complete from day one, though more environments, missions, and limited-time events are in the pipeline as both free updates and paid DLC. Sign us up.

Monster Hunter World

[Read the review]

Monster Hunter World launched way back in January, yet it still stands out as one of Xbox One’s best experiences this year. With this latest entry in the long-running series, developer Capcom successfully made the game more accessible for new players while keeping its heart and soul intact. Unlike the hearts and souls of the impressive monsters you track down, of course. Once you do track those creatures down, killing them has never been this fun, either, thanks to World’s mechanical improvements making its combat a pleasure to engage in.

A blast to play both alone and with friends, World is the most refined game in the franchise–and quite possibly the best one, too.

Forza Horizon 4

[Read the review]

Forza has never looked so gray. Or so snowy. Or so sunny. Or so… leafy? With Horizon 4, Forza fans get to experience what 60 million Brits have known all their life: you can never predict England’s weather.

Fortunately, that makes for an entertainingly diverse racing game, with each of Horizon 4’s four seasons presenting different gameplay challenges and changing–but always beautiful–visuals. Playground’s condensed version of the British countryside is a joy to explore, constantly offering up new challenges and different race types, as well as public events to take advantage of its multiplayer portions. You can also choose which contests to focus on–goodbye, time trials; hello, hovercraft races!–meaning the world really is your oyster. Top show, old chap!

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Author: GameSpot

The 5 Best VR Games Of 2018

We’re a few years into the rebirth of virtual reality gaming, and while hardware manufacturers continue to iterate on headsets that will one day (hopefully) bring us closer to the promise of untethered, uncompromised VR, game developers are hard at work pouring their creativity into what’s possible with today’s technology. The best VR games of 2018 represent a variety of different genres, proving that the popularized image of VR being all about realism and physical immersion isn’t the sole end goal, but one of many potential avenues with which to take the medium.

In no particular order, the list that follows is a rundown of what we at GameSpot think are the five best VR games to come out in 2018. When you’re done reading, be sure to check out our comprehensive look back at the VR landscape as a whole in 2018. And for more roundups focusing on the best games of 2018, be sure to visit our Best of 2018 page for all of our content reflecting on the year that was, and ahead to what we’re looking forward to most in 2019.

Beat Saber

[Read the review]

Beat Saber is a demanding rhythm game that pushes your reaction times and physical perseverance–prepare to sweat! With a VR controller in each hand, you wield virtual lightsabers and cut through incoming colored blocks that arrive in time with the music. It’s a simple concept that doesn’t need a lot of explaining, but getting good requires a lot of practice, poise, and precision. Beat Saber originally released on PC in early access, and that version may one day see an exclusive, custom track creator, but the PSVR release snuck in before the end of the year with exclusive content all its own. Despite some potential for tracking discrepancies compared to the PC version, the extra content makes the PSVR version the one to get today if you have the option (and a pair of PlayStation Move controllers).

Tetris Effect

[Read the review]

Tetris may be timeless, but it doesn’t immediately look like a natural fit for VR. Now that Tetris Effect is out on PS4, you might think twice before assuming what a good VR game looks like at first glance. Designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team at Enhance Games took the standard Tetris formula and molded rhythm-game elements around it. It’s still the puzzle game you probably know and love, but it’s also a captivating blend of sight and song. Color and rhythm are used to instill a range of emotions, and the connected sound effects that come from rotating a tetromino, dropping it, and clearing a line, help form a connection between your puzzle-solving duties and the tone of a particular stage. It all makes for an engrossing experience outside of VR, but isolating yourself in a headset is the best way to understand everything Tetris Effect has to offer.

Though Tetris Effect lacks any kind of competitive multiplayer, it does feature a rewarding asynchronous co-op mode. Players can participate in a cumulative effort during special event weekends where high-scores from across the globe are tallied up towards a milestone set by Enhance Games. So far, the community’s success has resulted in new stages and songs, such as the one themed after the wildly popular Game Boy version of Tetris, pale greens and all. Tetris Effect’s main stages are enough of a treat, but this arrangement ensures that you will have new reason to revisit one of the surprise hits of the year on a regular basis, and hopefully enjoy a new set of challenges and rewards along the way.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

When Sony launched PSVR in 2016 it also handed us the keys to The Playroom. This pack of mini VR games featured scenes filled with expressive little robots. They would jaunt about and play as if that’s all they’ve ever known, and it was their infectious joy that made the rather simple interactive tech demos feel as fun as they did. That said, nobody could have guessed at the time that a full-fledged follow-up game would arrive in 2018, and that Astro Bot Rescue Mission would make for one of the best VR games of the year.

Astro Bot is a 3D platformer where you control a bot, but also a representation of your controller that acts as a Swiss-army knife of useful gadgets. Your Bot friend may be cute, but it’s not very capable, so you’ll need to help it solve puzzles, free it from danger, and provide a home for the other bots you rescue along the way–who adorably scurry into your controller’s virtual representation by way of the hatch-door touchpad. This would all make for a fine game outside of VR, but a big part of its allure is feeling like you’re along for the ride with your charming companion in a bustling cartoon world. Astro Bot feels like the product of creators who recognized both the potential of the character at their fingertips and the unique strengths of VR, and the result is a lovely game that remains a delight to play from beginning to end.

Moss

[Read the review]

Moss can be viewed in the same vein as Astro Bot, but with a different set of qualities that make its third-person, 3D adventure stand on its own four furry legs. The star of Moss is Quill, a mouse packing a sword and shield to defend itself in a fantasy world that immediately brings Brian Jacques’ Redwall series of books to mind. You directly guide her during moments of platforming and combat, but you also serve as a deity with the power to manipulate the environment as a means to solve puzzles or open new paths ahead.

Most importantly, you can also interact directly with Quill, giving her high-fives and head scratches for a job well done. And like a true partner, she’ll help guide you towards puzzle solutions when it’s clear that you’re unsure of what to do next. This sometimes involves getting a closer look and peering around environments for hidden items or pathways, giving you a glimpse at life through Quill’s eyes. Moss is a great VR game that brings its lead character to life, and in turn leaves you with lasting memories of a friend you only wish you could find in the real world.

Wipeout VR (Omega Collection)

[Read the review]

Wipeout is the breakneck racing series that helped kick off the PlayStation’s popularity way back in the mid ’90s. The simple mix of high-speed racing, weaponry, and adrenaline-pumping music remains effective today, over 20 years later. The Wipeout Omega Collection in 2017 offered a massive collection of the game’s recent outings under one roof that by and large played and felt great. But with the VR mode update that came in 2018, the experience of steering a speeding-bullet-like racecraft around tight turns amidst incoming enemy fire felt more riveting than ever.

If Tetris Effect is the surprise hit for VR, Wipeout is the no-brainer. Sitting in the driver’s seat means that you don’t need to worry about pairing your physical movement in the real world to that of a virtual character, and because Wipeout iterates on a winning formula that’s worked for decades, you know almost exactly what you’re going to get. You may not be prepared, however, for the increased demands of racing at such speeds from the view of a cockpit, but that just means your eventual mastery will be all the more satisfying. Wipeout in VR feels like the realization of a dream that began with the PlayStation brand, and it’s a definite selling point when considering PSVR as a whole.

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Author: GameSpot

The 5 Best PC Games Of 2018

Your PC has the ability to be as powerful as you want it to be, and the flexibility to allow you to use it in the way you want to, which has always made it a great place to play video games. If you wanted to play a multiplatform blockbuster in 2018 and were concerned with making sure it looked and performed the absolute best it could–giant monsters rendered stunningly in 4K resolutions, dense environments filled with hundreds of characters running at a smooth 60 frames-per-second–the PC was still the place to do that.

But it’s not all about graphics, of course–the PC’s open nature makes it a natural spawning ground for refreshing innovations and never-before-seen ideas. This year, we were reminded that truly great games can be born and refined in early access programs with the participation of players and an open dialogue with developers. The PC also reminded us that sometimes the most cohesive, risky, and brilliant experiences can be executed superbly by just one or two people. The PC had fantastic games both big and small in 2018. Now, in ascending order of development team size, here are our picks for the best PC games of 2018.

Return Of The Obra Dinn

[Read the review]

Lucas Pope, the creator of Papers, Please, continued his trend of building gripping narrative experiences around menial administrative jobs in 2018. Return of the Obra Dinn sees you in the role of an insurance adjuster, and it’s your job to board the titular ship Obra Dinn and investigate the fates each and every one of its 60 crew members. Your tools are limited to an incomplete in-game notebook, your own powers of mental deduction, and a magical pocket watch that shows you the last moment of a deceased person’s life.

Return of the Obra Dinn gives you only the briefest glimpses into what happened over the course of the game’s narrative, and its potency lies in the trust it puts into you to piece things together using your head. The game gives you broad strokes, but you need to fill in the details by deducing identities and causes of deaths based on faces, accents, movements, probable cause, and more. Obra Dinn excels at making you feel like a real detective, and the thrilling eureka moments you get when you successfully solve even the smallest part of the overall mystery feels nothing of extraordinary.

Return of the Obra Dinn is restrained, yet rich in narrative and characterization, with a cohesion between its haunting visual aesthetic, stirring sound design, and pointed mechanics that must be experienced. It is one of the definitive PC games of 2018.

Into The Breach

[Read the review]

Justin Ma and Matthew Davis, the creators of 2012’s FTL, knocked it out of the park again this year with their elegant isometric turn-based tactics game, Into The Breach. As a time-traveling mech squad, it’s your job to counter an ever-growing infestation of giant bugs with your unique skills–but it’ll be hard to make sure everything comes out unscathed.

Into The Breach is a masterful piece of game design, thanks in part to its concise, no-frills design and the transparency of its systems–the effects of every enemy action is made visible to you before they happen. Its ingenuity lies in the process of working out the most effective way to mitigate the damage to a number of critical objectives before it happens with the use of your limited toolset. But a lot of the time, not everything can be stopped, meaning each turn is a satisfying conundrum of prioritized compromises that are revolved in a wonderfully choreographed ballet of kinetic push and pull, redirected attacks, near misses, and controlled collateral damage.

A large variety of distinctive squads showcases the breadth of the game’s unique and obtuse ideas, and the minimally evocative writing and music from Chris Avellone and Ben Prunty, respectively, tie perfectly into the game’s focused aesthetics and design. In a year filled with exceptional PC strategy games, Into The Breach is the one to keep jumping back into again and again and again.

Dead Cells

[Read the review]

Chances are good that you’ve already heard a lot about how great Motion Twin’s Dead Cells is. The 2D roguelike takes some of the most enticing fundamentals of the Metroid and Castlevania strain of platformers and twists it into its own refreshing package that’s difficult to stop playing. There are countless different methods in which to tackle the labyrinth, and with each new randomized run, each life, and each death, you’ll come across new surprises and challenges that will test your wits and reflexes. It weaponizes a continual feeling of incremental triumph, progression, and improvement that echoes the most morbidly seductive aspects of Dark Souls and Spelunky. It’s a compulsive feeling that causes Dead Cells to stay with you for a long time.

Dead Cells has been particularly good on PC throughout 2018, because of the game’s availability in Steam Early Access from mid-2017 right up until its official launch in August 2018. The transparent relationship and dialogue between Motion Twin and the Dead Cells community during this period accomplished implementations of feature requests, bug fixes, and general feedback. In a way, Dead Cells as we have it today is born from the PC platform, but no matter where you decide to play it, there’s no denying that Dead Cells is one of 2018’s paragons.

Hitman 2

[Read the review]

IO Interactive might have had to brave some rocky roads during Hitman 2’s development (it transitioned publishers from Square Enix to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2017) but the game as it launched in 2018 was an excellent showing regardless. The game built upon the already strong systems IO had established in their Hitman reboot, but more significantly, Hitman 2 was a brilliant showcase of the team’s talent for creating interesting, dense, and multi-layered sandbox levels full of possibilities.

Entertaining mission stories highlighted the environments, their characters, and the big opportunities available to you, but each stage still held dozens of obscure opportunities that invited you to embrace their allowances for flexibility, to break from the mold, experiment and try and achieve things in the most elegant or ludicrous way possible. Regardless of whether you succeed or fail, pushing against the limits of levels, systems, and your own creativity are what Hitman 2 is all about, and the content updates that have occurred since launch have continued to convince us that IO know exactly what makes this game great. Hitman 2 is one of the best PC games of 2018, but expect the magic to continue into 2019.

Monster Hunter World

[Read the review]

2018 was the year that Capcom would bring its enormously popular Monster Hunter series to PC for the first time. Monster Hunter World released in January to great acclaim–this was the most accessible the series had ever been, though most of its endearing complexities remained. The result is that a whole new audience was able to discover the thrills of what made this series so beloved to begin with: getting together with friends, tracking down giant beasts, and working furiously to exploit their weaknesses and bring them down with a ridiculous arsenal of enormous weapons.

Monster Hunter World came to PC in August 2018, with improved matchmaking, faster mission onboarding, capable keyboard and mouse controls, and the potential for an even more spectacular visual presentation, making it a platform favorite. On top of being a meaningful and robust evolution for the Monster Hunter series, World is one of 2018’s most defining multiplayer experiences that has remained strong since the beginning of the year.

GameSpot will be unveiling our picks for the best games and entertainment of 2018 throughout December. Head to our Best of 2018 hub to see all the winners so far.

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Author: GameSpot

Ultimate Holiday Game Sale At Newegg: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, And PC Deals

Sure, ’tis the season to be jolly. But ’tis also the season when retailers have their winter sales, dropping prices on video games of all kinds. Newegg is the latest online store to launch a seasonal sale, which means you can save money on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC games. A number of the deals end on December 15, so don’t wait too long to make your purchases or you might miss out.

Some of the biggest games from recent months have gotten the discount treatment, which is good news to anyone who held out through the launch hype. Among those is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, a game that comes with three robust online modes: multiplayer, Zombies, and a new battle royale mode called Blackout. It’s on sale for $40 across all platforms. Now is also a great time to jump into Destiny 2: Forsaken – Legendary Collection, because not only is it packed with endgame content, but it’s on sale for $25 on PS4 and Xbox One.

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And if you own a Nintendo Switch, you can pick up Diablo III: Eternal Collection for $40, a good deal on one of the best dungeon crawlers ever made. It comes with all the content Blizzard has put out for the game. Switch owners who enjoy polygonal platformers can also pick up Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for $30.

Speaking of retro platformers, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is down to $30 on PS4 and Xbox One. Sports fans can pick up NBA 2K19 or WWE 2K19 for $30 each, or UFC 3 for $20. Lastly, a handful of digital Xbox One games are on sale, but you have to enter a promo code to get the discounts. You can find the details below to save on games like Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves.

PS4

Xbox One

Nintendo Switch

PC

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Author: GameSpot

Fortnite Patch Notes (Update 7.01): Infinity Blade Sword And More

As promised, Epic has released a new update for Fortnite. Patch 7.01 is now live across PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile, bringing the recently teased sword weapon and a new limited-time mode to Battle Royale, as well as a ton of tweaks and new features to Creative mode and a handful of bug fixes for Save the World.

Headlining this week’s update is the aforementioned sword: the Infinity Blade, a callback to Epic’s now delisted mobile series of the same name. According to the patch notes on the developer’s website, the Infinity Blade is a Mythic melee weapon, making it the first of its kind in Fortnite. Only one of these swords will appear in a match, and it can be found in a pedestal atop Polar Peak.

Fittingly, the Infinity Blade is a powerful weapon that “deals big damage and destroys structures.” The player who wields the sword will also be granted additional abilities, including increased max health and shields, increased movement speed, and more. However, if you pick up the Infinity Blade, you’ll drop all your other inventory items with the exception of building materials.

Along with the Infinity Blade, the 7.01 update brings back the Close Encounters LTM to Battle Royale. As its name suggests, this mode is all about close-quarters combat. The only weapons available here are shotgun variants and jetpacks. The latter can be found along with Heavy Shotguns in chests and supply drops, while other shotguns can be picked up as floor loot. Partway through the match, the storm will also close in more quickly than it does in a standard round.

Rounding out the 7.01 update are a slew of additions to the new sandbox-style Creative mode, including a fifth island to build on and an Island Code system that allows players to load others’ creations–although Epic says this feature will initially be limited to certain players. Finally, the developer is bringing back the Ralphie’s Revenge gun to Save the World. You can find the full patch notes for update 7.01 below.

Fortnite v7.01 Patch Notes

General

UI

  • Players are no longer brought to the Battle Royale lobby when clicking “Creative” in the game mode select screen.

Battle Royale

Limited-Time Mode: Close Encounters

  • The only weapons in this mode are Shotgun variants.
    • Jetpacks & Heavy Shotguns can be found in chests & Supply Drops.
    • Other Shotgun variants are spawned as floor loot.
  • The Storm moves in more quickly than normal at mid to late game.
    • Typical match length is about 15 minutes.
  • Stats are enabled for this mode.

Weapons & Items

Infinity Blade

  • This Mythic melee weapon can be found on Polar Peak.
  • Primary Fire delivers a powerful sword slash. It deals big damage to enemies and destroys structures in one blow (75 damage to players).
  • Alternate Fire allows the player to leap great distances, destroying objects in its path. Upon landing, it delivers damage and a knock-up to nearby players (25 damage).
  • The wielder of the sword is also granted additional abilities:
    • An increased pool of max Health and Shields (200 Health/200 Shields).
    • Regeneration of effective Health over time up to max Health and Shields (1 HP per second).
    • An instant burst of effective Health upon elimination of an enemy (50 HP).
    • Increased movement speed (130%).
  • The first player to pull the Infinity Blade from its pedestal will be instantly healed to full Health and Shields.
  • If a player picks up the Infinity Blade, all other inventory items aside from building materials will be dropped.
  • When the wielder of the Infinity Blade picks up an item (aside from building materials), the Infinity Blade will be dropped.
  • The Infinity Blade will be dropped when the wielder is knocked out or eliminated.
  • Only one Infinity Blade will appear per match.

Gameplay

X-4 Stormwing

  • When a plane is shot down, the driver and all passengers of that plane will now take 25 damage from the explosion.

Bug Fixes

  • Speculative fix for players moving after being eliminated.
  • Fixed players being ejected from vehicles if they lost the icy feet effect.

Creative

Islands

  • The Block
    • New 5th Island to build on. Provides the exact block that appears in Battle Royale where your creation could appear.
  • Featured Islands
    • Added 4 featured island Rifts. Featured islands will be changed over time as we feature the communities creations. Featured maps can be played the rules are set by the creator. Also, use the featured rifts to enter codes from other creators.
  • Island Codes system
    • Use codes to load creations that have been shared with the Island Code system.
    • Initially, only a limited number of players in the Support a Creator program will have access to this feature.
    • Over time we will expand the number of players that can publish islands as we polish this feature.
    • To use a code, go to a Feature Rift and select “Enter Code” and follow the instructions.
    • Post your creations to Reddit, Youtube, Twitch, or any of our other social channels! We may reach out and provide you the ability to publish your creation.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue where respawning on Creative Hub could cause your player to leave the Island.
  • Fixed various problems with Island Rifts not functioning correctly.
  • Fixed Island Rifts not showing the correct Island name and player count in some cases.
  • Fixed an issue that prevented player inventory from being reset when returning to Creative Hub.
  • Fixed players appearing to fall through the ground in Replays when teleporting between islands.
  • Fixed bug where the same friend’s server could appear multiple times in Creative server select.
  • Fixed an issue that prevented players from placing building tiles on certain islands.
  • Fixed an issue where players would not be able to spawn on your island when building tiles or props were in the way.

Prefabs

  • 6 New Lucky Landing Prefabs
  • Obstacle Course
    • The Obstacle Course gallery was split into four separate gallery Prefabs: Floors, Walls, Roofs & Stairs and Parts.
    • New props were added to the Parts gallery.
  • Indestructible Gallery
    • This gallery contains props that cannot be destroyed by weapons.
    • New indestructible props and building tiles were added to this gallery Prefab.
  • A few other Prefabs were updated with new building tiles and props.

Devices

  • New: Item Spawner – Drop any item on this device to have it spawn one item at a time during games.
  • New: Player Checkpoint Plate – Run across the checkpoint during a game and the next time you die you’ll respawn there.
  • Player Spawn device can now be customized to spawn only players on a specific team number. The team number is displayed on the plate (except when in the game is in progress.)
  • Player Spawn device can now be set to be an Island Start instead of a game start. This can be used to set where players arrive when they visit your island when not in Play mode.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed issues with multiple devices able to be placed on top of one another.
  • Fixed Damage Rails being able to be placed on top of themselves.
  • Fixed vehicles not being removed when their Vehicle Spawner is deleted.
  • Fixed a problem that could cause devices to malfunction after being saved and loaded.
  • Fixed certain devices becoming indestructible after loading your Island on a new server.

Gameplay

  • New settings in “My Island” menu:
    • “Starting Health” can now be set to “Invincible.”
      • This prevents players from taking any damage on your island.
    • “Building Damage in Game”
      • This can be disabled to prevent island structures from being damaged in game.
      • Has no effect on structures built by players during the game.
  • When stopping a game, players are now returned to where they were before the game started.

Bug Fixes

  • Player inventory is now reset when a game is started and also after it finishes.
  • Fixed games being called “Minigames” in the UI in some places.
  • Fixed eliminated players respawning on the same spawn pad in some cases.
  • Fixed the “Down But Not Out” game setting not functioning correctly.
  • Fixed players not being able to damage structures in game after editing privileges were revoked by the island owner.
  • Fixed a bug where disabling falling damage would not be remembered when loading your island.

Creative Tools & Phone

  • Added Collision option
    • Collision can now be turned on and off when moving props.
    • Toggle collision using V (Hold) on a desktop, or D-Pad Left (Hold) on a controller.
    • When collision is off, props can be freely moved through any other object (but not under terrain!)
  • Grid Snap
    • Snap now uses better settings for each individual prop. This allows props to align better to the Fortnite world grid.
  • Renamed help text for certain actions to be more clear
    • “Pick up” is now “Cut”
    • While holding something, “Copy” is now “Paste”
  • Your phone’s settings are now remembered as you move between islands, respawn, or play games on islands.
  • Vehicles can no longer be deleted while players are using them.
  • Added some additional sound effects when toggling options on the phone.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed props and building tiles being able to be placed outside of the island’s saveable area.
  • Fixed props sometimes not placing exactly where the hologram preview shows it will when the Drops option was enabled.
  • Fixed an issue with grid snap where props would not actually align to the grid when placing them down quickly.
  • Fixed various problems when interacting with mirrored building tiles.
  • Fixed some issues with placement of props being denied unexpectedly.
  • Fixed an issue where props could vanish after you pick them up.
  • Fixed some props that were not able to be moved using the Phone.
  • Fixed hologram animations not playing on certain props when you pick them up.

Fly

  • You can now switch to Fly while your Glider is deployed by double-tapping the Jump button.
  • Holding down the Jump button on will now consistently fly upwards, even on a keyboard.
  • Improved Fly animations, especially when using items or interacting.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed Bouncers being destroyed when flying on top of them.
  • Fixed certain Devices not affecting respawned players who were eliminated while flying.

Teams

  • Players will now be on the same team (and voice channel) when entering a server.
  • Players who join a session in progress will now always be added to Team 1.
  • Players are now spread evenly between available team spawns when possible.
  • Players on the same team will now see team identifiers during a game.
  • Removed redundant Team Spawn Pads option.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed players not all starting on the same team when first entering an Island.
  • Fixed players not being on correct teams when starting a game.
  • Fixed players being able to switch teams while in the middle of a game.
  • Fixed players not being able to switch to specific teams in some cases.

Weapons & Items

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed not being able to stack Port-a-Fortress grenades in Creative.

UI & Social

  • Added a new tutorial pop-up to inform users about changing island permissions when another player joins the session.
  • Players can no longer join your session in progress when your party is set to private.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed wrong Creative server being selected in some cases when choosing a server using a controller.
  • Interacting with chests and Supply Llamas now takes the intended amount of time.
  • Fixed the Creative Inventory not being displayed while skydiving or gliding.
  • Fixed the wrong number of players showing next to names in the friend list.
  • Fixed friends’ servers showing on Creative server select after they become empty.
  • Fixed various issues with friend status in Creative and player counts.
  • Fixed being able to access Creative Inventory when in the Creative Hub in certain cases.
  • Fixed various problems with in-game tutorial pop-ups.

Performance

  • Improved the load times of island content when first starting a server.
  • To improve server performance, the maximum number of Vehicle Spawners on an island has been limited to 32.
  • Reduced memory usage when switching between Islands on the same server.
  • Improved performance of particle systems with large numbers of placed traps.

Mobile

  • Added a new button that toggles Collision on the Phone.
  • Added new states to some creative buttons to make their actions more clear.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed the “Memory Used” bar being covered up by other mobile UI.

Save the World

Missions & Systems

Bug Fixes

  • Storm Shield Defenses no longer grant reduced primary rewards if the 80% health bonus objective is failed.

Weapons & Items

Ralphie’s Revenge is returning and will be available in the Weekly Store

  • Accurate and slow firing air rifle that has a massive headshot bonus. Remember to always wear your eye protection!
  • Available from December 12 at 7 PM ET until December 19th 7 PM ET.

Source
Author: GameSpot

How Pokemon Go Recaptured Players’ Attention In 2018

In the ever-shifting landscape of the video game industry, few franchises have managed to remain as consistently popular over the years as Pokemon. More than two decades after its humble debut on the Game Boy, the series is still one of Nintendo’s most beloved and lucrative properties, and that popularity only reached new heights with the release of Pokemon Go. When the game first hit mobile devices in the summer of 2016, it seemed the whole world was once again overtaken by Pokemon fever. Stories of expectant fathers capturing Pokemon while their wives gave birth and athletes referencing the game during competitions dominated news headlines in the weeks and months following its release, and the title itself quickly became one of the most successful mobile applications of all time.

Of course, no game can maintain that remarkable level of popularity forever, and before long, Pokemon Go’s began to wane. Thanks in part to the slow rollout of new content and some controversial design changes, the game’s active user base declined. It still enjoyed a healthy number of active users in 2017. In June of that year, the game had roughly 60 million monthly players–much fewer than the 100 million it had the previous August, but an impressive number in its own right. Still, it was clear the sway it once held over the public had diminished, and gone were the days when you’d see crowds of people stopping traffic just to capture a nearby Vaporeon.

That wasn’t the extent of the problems the game faced in 2017. Its first major live event, Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago, was an unmitigated disaster. The ostensible goal of the event was to encourage players to meet up and capture Pokemon together, but persistent technical issues rendered the game unplayable at the venue. Some attendees even filed a lawsuit against developer Niantic seeking reimbursement for their travel expenses. The entire ordeal prompted the company to postpone several live events that were scheduled to take place across Europe later that summer. Fortunately, future events would go off much more smoothly than the ill-fated Pokemon Go Fest, but it was nonetheless a portentous start for Niantic’s plans.

It’s remarkable, then, just how much Pokemon Go has been able to rebound in the past year. While it would certainly be an exaggeration to say the game was ever running the risk of becoming a flop–even with its decline in active users, Pokemon Go still had millions of players worldwide and was generating millions of dollars in revenue every month–it was no longer the cultural phenomenon that it was the first few weeks after it debuted. Thanks to a regular stream of new content, features, and events, however, Pokemon Go has enjoyed the most success it’s had since launch. This past May, the game had its most active users since summer 2016, and just last month alone, it grossed an estimated $80 million worldwide.

This impressive resurgence can be attributed to the generous slate of updates and new content Niantic has released for the game in 2018. Throughout the year, the developer rolled out new features and hosted numerous events to entice players back to the game. In January, Niantic held the inaugural Pokemon Go Community Day–the first in what would become a series of monthly events that offer players an opportunity to earn in-game bonuses and capture rare Pokemon. Unlike Pokemon Go Fest, Community Days aren’t hosted at a particular location, but rather during a specific window of time, meaning players around the world can go to any nearby park or other gathering place during the designated times and participate. Not only is it easier to take part in Community Days than other live events, each also offers players a chance to encounter a highly sought-after shiny Pokemon and even learn a special event-exclusive move that typically can’t be obtained by other means, providing a compelling incentive to return to the game each time an event rolls around.

In addition to Community Days, Niantic has been introducing new Pokemon to Go much more frequently this year. The first wave of Gen 2 Pokemon–those that originated in Pokemon Gold and Silver–didn’t arrive until February 2017, some seven months after the game launched, while Legendary Pokemon wouldn’t be introduced until later that summer. Since then, however, Niantic has been steadily rolling out Gen 3 and, more recently, Gen 4 Pokemon in Go. This year also saw the arrival of Alolan forms–tropical variants of certain monsters from Pokemon Sun and Moon. On top of that, the developer has been releasing new Legendaries on a near-monthly basis, ensuring there’s always a reason to fire up the app and see what’s new.

Complementing the regular stream of events and Pokemon has been a slew of compelling new features, beginning with a quest system. Now when players spin a Photo Disc at Gyms and PokeStops, they’ll collect Field Research tasks along with the usual assortment of items they’d receive. These tasks can range from catching a certain number or type of Pokemon to making a number of Great throws. Not only do these give players structured goals to aim for as they play Pokemon Go, but completing enough will reward them with a chance to capture a rare or Legendary Pokemon. Alongside Field Research tasks, Niantic also added Special Research to the game this year; these are story-based missions assigned by Professor Willow, and they typically culminate in an encounter with a Mythical Pokemon such as Mew or Celebi.

This year also saw the arrival of some features fans have been clamoring for ever since Pokemon Go first launched. This past summer, Niantic finally implemented friends lists and trading in the game. While there are some restrictions in place for the latter–as of this writing, you can only trade Pokemon with friends in-person–it is still a welcome addition. Most recently, the developer revealed that a PvP system is on the way to the game. Before, players were only able to team up and battle against Raid Bosses at Gyms, but the new Trainer Battle system will allow them to finally compete directly against other players–an option the game has been sorely lacking to this point.

Niantic’s continual improvements to Pokemon Go have helped it stand out as one of the year’s best evolving multiplayer games. But it is its integration into the Pokemon series’ latest mainline installments, Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee for Nintendo Switch, that has truly solidified its importance to the franchise. For the first time, players are able to transfer Pokemon over from Go and use them in a proper Pokemon RPG. Moreover, connecting the two games is the key to unlocking a brand-new Mythical Pokemon named Meltan, which was revealed in Pokemon Go following September’s Community Day, making it the first Pokemon to debut in the mobile title rather than a main game. Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee themselves also take some cues from Go, most notably incorporating its capture mechanics, opening the gameplay up to players who may have been introduced to the series through the mobile game.

Between the release of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee for Switch and the generous Year of Legendary Pokemon campaign, which saw The Pokemon Company give away a different Legendary Pokemon for Pokemon Sun, Moon, and their Ultra counterparts nearly every month, the past year has been a strong one for Pokemon. But it’s Pokemon Go’s impressive string of updates that have defined 2018 for the franchise. With other new features, such as a PokeStop nomination system, on the way to the game and more generations of Pokemon to be added, it doesn’t appear Pokemon Go will slow down any time soon. Meanwhile, a “core” Pokemon RPG is on the way to Switch next year, ensuring that 2019 will be another big year for the perennial franchise.

Source
Author: GameSpot

The Best Xbox One Game Deals On Xbox Live This Week

If you’re like us and are always on the lookout for great deals on Xbox One games, it’s time to head to Xbox Live. This week’s Spotlight Sale and Deals with Gold promotion are now live, dropping prices on a selection of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. You’ll need a Gold subscription to take advantage of most of this week’s deals, but some are available to everyone. Let’s look at the highlights of the sales running between now and December 17.

The headliner this week is Monster Hunter World, on sale for $25. Not only is this one of the best games of 2018, but Capcom isn’t done with it yet. A massive expansion called Iceborne is planned for release next year, and everyone’s favorite gruff-voiced witcher will also make an appearance in the game. All of which makes now a great time to pick it up on sale to see what the fuss is about.

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While Xbox One owners missed out on the PS4-exclusive Castlevania Requiem, you can pick up Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon on sale for $7 right now. It’s a retro Castlevania-style game made by some of the creative team behind many entries in the classic series. Speaking of retro games, Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 & 2 Combo Pack and Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 are on sale for $15 and $30 respectively.

If you enjoy shooters, you can get Battlefield 4 or Battlefield Hardline Ultimate Edition for under $10 each. Anyone with an itch to play an action-RPG can grab Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition or The Technomancer for $10 apiece. Racing fans can rev up with MotoGP 17 for $12 or Valentino Rossi The Game for just $5.

You can find more of our picks below, or check out all the games on sale on Xbox.com. The discounts are live between now and December 17, so make your purchases by then.

Source
Author: GameSpot