E3 2018: Microsoft Press Conference Liveblog

Microsoft’s E3 2018 press conference takes place on Sunday, June 11, and if you can’t watch the livestream or prefer news via text, we’ll have a liveblog for you to follow along with. Come back to this page on Sunday to see a blow-by-blow breakdown of all the big news and reveals.

The Microsoft E3 2018 briefing begins at 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET. We don’t know how long it’ll run for, but it’s likely to be between 1-2 hours. Microsoft is trailing Sony when it comes to hardware sales and mindshare, so it will be interesting to see what surprises the company may have up its sleeve.

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Microsoft has said it has a lot in store for E3 2018, but we don’t know what to expect from the event itself. The Forza series rotates between Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon, so 2018 would be a Horizon year if that schedule continues. There are also rumours of a Xbox game-streaming service, while Halo fans are hoping to hear about what’s next for Master Chief’s journey. It wouldn’t be an E3 press conference if there weren’t surprises, too.

After the Xbox briefing wraps up, fans can visit the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles to play upcoming Xbox games. Microsoft will also have a presence at the Los Angeles Convention Center itself, but this will be primarily focused on Mixer.

GameSpot will be seeing and playing the upcoming Xbox games, and we’ll report back with written and video news updates and previews as the show goes on.

Microsoft’s press conferences follows EA’s on Saturday. Later on Sunday, Bethesda will host its own show starting at 6:30 PM PT / 9:30 PM ET. Ubisoft and Sony follow on Monday, and then Nintendo on Tuesday. Here is the full E3 2018 press conference schedule.

The E3 show floor is open June 12-14. Keep checking back in the days ahead for lots more on E3 2018.

Author: GameSpot

How A Pokemon Card Is Made

Creatures, Inc. is an often-overlooked arm of the Pokemon machine. The developer has worked on spin-off Pokemon games for years, starting with Pokemon Stadium in 1998 and most recently Detective Pikachu–as well as 3D Pokemon models for various games, including Super Smash Bros. But the company is also responsible for much of the Pokemon Trading Card Game, which consistently sees new series and expansions after over 20 years.

We recently had a chance to tour Creatures Inc.’s Tokyo, Japan office to learn about the process of creating Pokemon cards. During our tour, we spoke to Atsushi Nagashima, game director for the TCG, and Mitsuhiro Arita, a longtime freelance illustrator responsible for over 500 Pokemon cards–including the infamous holographic Charizard card–about how cards are conceived and then illustrated. We also talked to Satoru Inoue, the test room lead at Creatures, about how cards are playtested and how balance problems and broken cards are addressed by the team.

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There are three main parts to making a new Pokemon card: coming up with the idea for the card, commissioning art, and testing the card with the current TCG rules. This involves a team of game designers, over 70 artists, and 19 playtesters working full time to create and execute new card series and expansions.

Step One: Pick A Pokemon

According to Nagashima, the most important thing when coming up with a new set of cards is variety. There needs to be a mix of art styles and types of cards; some need to have strong competitive potential, while others need to be appealing to collectors. But the first step to creating a new set is deciding which Pokemon to use.

“Near the beginning of a new series [based on the latest video games], we really try to take care to stay true to the video games that we’re basing the card series on–for example, the Pokemon that were featured heavily in that video game or had a big role in the story, we’ll make sure they’re kind of at the center of the set we’re making,” Nagashima said. “But once we’re kind of mid-way through the series, we start focusing more on play environment overall…and decide which Pokemon to put in based on that.”

A lot of those choices come down to what the game needs to feel more balanced and what Pokemon suit those needs, Nagashima said. But the team also considers which Pokemon don’t get a lot of love in the games or anime, the ones kids might find cool, or even Pokemon they themselves like.

“One of my favorites is Darkrai, and I think you’ll notice that there’s a lot of strong Darkrai cards,” he said, laughing.

Nagashima at the Creatures office.
Nagashima at the Creatures office.

There are also background stories and themes for each expansion, though that’s not really communicated to players. “In the [XY Breakthrough expansion], the theme we had for that was two parallel worlds. They both featured Mewtwo, so there was a Mewtwo that was in this advanced world…and there was a Mewtwo that was more old-fashioned,” Nagashima explained. “These two parallel worlds collide and then the world goes into chaos and is destroyed as a result of that.”

According to Nagashima, one of the team’s biggest challenges is maintaining the spirit of certain characters and Pokemon while putting their own spin on things. Because the card game is closely tied to the video game, it can also be tricky to translate certain game mechanics into ones that work in the TCG–like Mega Evolution, for example.

“In the trading card game, you have your basic [Pokemon]. You evolve it to Stage 1 and [then Stage 2], so there are two steps to get to your final evolution in general. If we added another step on top of that, you just wouldn’t have enough room in your 60-card deck to really make that feasible,” Nagashima said. “So we took the approach of only having Mega Evolutions for cards that were already really strong–so there was already an EX card and then that would evolve to the Mega-EX. We tried to reduce the number of steps in that way.”

Ultimately, Nagashima says, the TCG team is always trying to keep things fresh and varied while still paying attention to the competitive meta, and it’s a complex balancing act even from the beginning.

Step Two: Illustrations

Once the team has decided on the kind of card they need and who (or what) will be on it, it’s time to get the art process started. Creatures currently works with 73 different illustrators and artists to ensure sets are varied. One of the most prolific of them is Mitsuhiro Arita, who’s been working on the TCG since the beginning and has illustrated 537 cards to date.

Above: Arita at the Creatures office. Slideshow: Mewtwo-GX, Giovanni's Scheme, and the Lurantis card, all mentioned below.
Above: Arita at the Creatures office. Slideshow: Mewtwo-GX, Giovanni’s Scheme, and the Lurantis card, all mentioned below.
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Arita showed us his workspace at the Creatures office, part of a pod of desks set up for freelance artists to work on confidential designs. Each desk is configured based on the artists’ home offices, usually with tablets for digital art and coloring. He showed us step by step how he illustrated a recent Lurantis card, paying special attention to dynamic shading and bright background colors to capture the spirit of the creature.

Creatures sends the artists details about the card: what the Pokemon is, the kinds of moves it will have, and any important background information, especially when the Pokemon in question is in a game that hasn’t come out yet. This also applies to Trainer cards, and even the vaguest instructions influence the art; for example, Arita received instructions for a Giovanni card with an “imposing” feel, so he gave it a more classical painting style rather than a cartoony one. For holographic cards, Arita will usually specify which parts of his art should shimmer, though the final holo design is a collaboration with Creatures staff.

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In the Red and Green days, Arita and the other artists only had the in-game sprites and limited official artwork to work off of when creating cards. Still, he’s responsible for some of the most iconic cards from the original series, including holographic Charizard and the original fat Pikachu. In a binder filled with all his designs so far, the first few pages could have been any Pokemon-obsessed kid’s collection in the late ’90s.

“Specifically this Charizard and that Pikachu are some of the most memorable cards for I think a lot of people who played the game originally, and I always thought that I’d probably never be able to draw cards that people would like better than those two,” Arita said. But a Mewtwo-GX card he recently designed is his new favorite, and he says he’s been getting good feedback on it.

Unexpectedly, the same artist is unlikely to work on every Pokemon in an evolutionary line. In the original card series, Arita illustrated Bulbasaur and Venusaur but not Ivysaur (which was done by Pokemon artist Ken Sugimori). While there are some cases where a consistent style is called for across an evolutionary line–like these adorable Tepig family cards–they’re usually usually split up between artists, presumably for variety or time efficiency.

Efficiency especially is key, since many of the cards go into the testing phase even before the art is finished.

Step Three: Full-Time Playtesting

At Creatures, there’s a special room dedicated to testing the card game. It’s in the back of the small office, and it’s filled only with tables, chairs, and drawers upon drawers filled with years of Pokemon cards. Seven hours a day, five days a week, 19 playtesters play the TCG to see how new cards fare. (The odd number doesn’t seem to be a problem, apparently.)

Because they’re mostly testing cards that haven’t been released yet, the playtesters have to work with what they have. Work-in-progress cards are actually stickers put on old cards so they can still be played in normal decks; if the illustrations aren’t finalized, these stickers will use generic art of the Pokemon (or whatever the card subject is) with the complete moves, name of the card, and suggested effects, HP, and damage.

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The playtesters vary in skill to ensure the game is balanced for all levels of players, though all of them are expected to like Pokemon. Most don’t take notes, but they do submit reports and have meetings about the cards. Usually, feedback results in very mild tweaks to cards–slightly lower attack damage or bumping up HP by 10 or so. But in the case when a card is broken, the testers will bring that card to the game design team, who will decide how to proceed from there.

According to test room lead Satoru Inoue, those smaller adjustments happen “extremely often,” while they’ll usually see at most two or three drastic revisions before cards are finalized. Nagashima noted that competitive players will sometimes use released cards in completely unexpected ways, in which case the card has to be banned–he specifically called out Lysandre’s Trump Card, which was banned in 2015 for making games severely imbalanced.

Even with all the playtesting, competitive players regularly surprise the team. Nagashima cited Shintaro Ito’s Mega Audino deck, which won him the 2016 Pokemon World Championships in the Masters Division, as a recent example–he didn’t expect the card to be nearly as viable as it was.

Inoue, Nagashima, and Arita in the Creatures lobby.
Inoue, Nagashima, and Arita in the Creatures lobby.

Nagashima’s favorite strategy, though, is one he himself was heavily involved in designing: the infamous Night March deck, which dominated much of the competitive scene in 2016 and won the US Nationals that year.

“I was only making it with the assumption that it would maybe make it to the finals, but not take the entire thing!”

Walking back through the office at the end of the tour, nearly every desk is filled with Pokemon toys and merch. It’s very clear: From the design and art to the test room, the most important thing for Creatures’ TCG team is loving Pokemon.

Author: GameSpot

E3 2018: Watch Microsoft’s Press Conference Right Here On Sunday

What’s next for Xbox? We’ll know a lot more very soon, as the Xbox E3 2018 press conference takes place this Sunday, June 11. It kicks off at 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET, and you’ll be able to watch the entire event here on GameSpot. We’ll also have a pre-show to help get you psyched for the show and a post-show where GameSpot editors will discuss all the big reveals and what they mean.

Microsoft has said it has a lot in store for E3 2018, but we don’t know what to expect from the event itself. Given that the Forza series rotates between Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon, 2018 would be a Horizon year, so an announcement of a new entry could happen. There are also rumours of a Xbox game-streaming service, while Halo fans are hoping to hear about what’s next for Master Chief’s journey. As usual, there will likely be big surprises, too.

After the Xbox briefing wraps up, fans can visit the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles to play upcoming Xbox games. Microsoft will also have a presence at the Los Angeles Convention Center itself, but this will be primarily focused on Mixer.

Microsoft’s press conferences follows EA’s on Saturday. Later on Sunday, Bethesda will host its own show starting at 6:30 PM PT / 9:30 PM ET. Ubisoft and Sony follow on Monday, and then Nintendo on Tuesday. Here is the full E3 2018 press conference schedule.

The E3 show floor is open June 12-14. Keep checking back in the days ahead for lots more on E3 2018.

Author: GameSpot

Huge Xbox One Sale Announced Celebrating E3 2018

E3, the biggest gaming convention on the planet, will kick off soon, and Microsoft is celebrating by putting on what it’s calling “the biggest Xbox sale of the year.” At the Microsoft Store and other participating retailers, you’ll find temporary price drops on Xbox One hardware, services, and games. There’s a lot of money to be saved, so read on to find out what kind of deals you’ll be able to find when the sale begins on Thursday, June 7.

On the hardware side of things, you can save $10 off Xbox One controllers and $50 off any Xbox One console. Here’s the breakdown for the sale prices on the various models of Xbox One.

  • 500GB Xbox One S console — $199
  • 1TB Xbox One S bundles — $249
  • Xbox One X console — $449

You’ll also be able to get discounts on Xbox One services. One month of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass will be available for just $1 each. Remember, Xbox Game Pass gives you access to all Microsoft Studios games at launch, meaning you can play the full versions of games like State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves all month for just a buck. Not a bad deal.

In terms of games, Microsoft will offer discounts on over 300 titles, including Battlefield 1, FIFA 18, NBA 2K18, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Forza Motorsport 7, Destiny 2, Super Lucky’s Tale, Monster Hunter: World, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Sea of Thieves. You’ll also be able to save money on game add-ons and expansions–though which ones, exactly, have yet to be announced.

We’ll have more details like specific sale prices on games once the sale goes live on June 7.

Author: GameSpot

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Release Date / Pre-Order Guide

If you thought Lara Croft was the Tomb Raider in the two previous games in the series, you were apparently mistaken. When Shadow of the Tomb Raider releases on September 14 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, the developer says, we will finally experience the “defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider.” This rebooted series has been terrific, though, so let’s hope Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fitting end to the beginning of Lara Croft’s story.

Let’s say you’re ready to pre-order Shadow of the Tomb Raider. You’ll probably want to know about the pre-order bonuses, special editions, where you can buy it, and how much it will cost. Below, you’ll find all the information you need to make an educated purchasing decision.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Pre-Order Bonuses

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You’ll get a few bonuses if you pre-order Shadow of the Tomb Raider. For one, you get access to the game two days early if you order any version except the standard edition. If you pre-order a physical copy of the standard edition at most retailers, you’ll receive a limited-edition steelbook version that comes with three art cards. If you pre-order a digital version of the game, you’ll get a skills booster pack that unlocks one skill in each of the three skill tree paths. Aside from those bonuses, many retailers are offering exclusive pre-order bonuses.

  • Amazon: Prima Digital Mini Guide
  • Best Buy: $10 rewards certificate
  • GameStop: Tomb Raider flashlight
  • Microsoft Store: Xbox Live avatar outfit
  • PlayStation Store: Shadow of the Tomb Raider PS4 theme
  • Steam: Exclusive Steam wallpaper

Now onto the various editions and where you can pre-order them.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Standard Edition

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In addition to the core game, this edition comes with the pre-order bonuses listed above. Unless you’re an Amazon Prime member, Newegg is offering the best pre-order deal on this edition.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Digital Deluxe Edition

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The digital deluxe edition of Shadow of the Tomb Raider comes with the game, plus an additional weapon and outfit, and the game soundtrack. Note that Newegg has the lowest pre-order price for this edition.

  • Amazon — $70 — Xbox One | PC
  • GameStop — $70 — PS4 | Xbox One | PC
  • Microsoft Store — $70 — Xbox One
  • Newegg — $58 — PC
  • PlayStation Store — $70 — PS4
  • Square Enix Store — $70 — PC
  • Steam — $70 — PC

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Croft Edition

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If you’re sure you’ll enjoy Shadow of the Tomb Raider enough to buy the season pass, the Croft Edition is for you. It comes with the game, the season pass, three additional weapons and outfits, plus the soundtrack. Once again, Newegg’s aggressive pricing make it the cheapest place to pre-order the Croft Edition.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Ultimate Edition

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This edition is exclusive to the Square Enix Store, and the best you can do is put yourself on a waiting list to buy it. But if you do manage to snag a copy, you’ll get the game, a statue, bottle opener, flashlight, plus a bunch of digital goodies.

Author: GameSpot

Sony’s First Pre-E3 PS4 Game Reveal: Tetris Effect

Sony has just premiered its first pre-E3 game announcement video with one clear message: Tetris is back, and bigger than ever. Tetris Effect is coming to PS4 and PSVR this fall and it’s being designed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, known for award-winning games like Rez Infinite and Lumines.

Tetris Effect is a new take on the classic game. The core of the game remains true; players arrange blocks to form lines and solve puzzles, but the action has been dialed up more than a few notches. Get a look at Tetris Effect in the video above.

Tetris Effect is designed to be totally immersive. Music, backgrounds, sounds, and special effects all shimmer, pulse, and even explode, surrounding the player with three-dimensional worlds that react to your gameplay decisions. There are more than 30 stages to play, and the game offers multiple display options, with support for 4K resolution on a PS4 Pro and VR capabilities with the PSVR.

There’s a variety of new game modes, too. A new “Zone” mechanic allows you to stop time and blocks from falling, allowing you to get the upper hand in getting out of a sticky situation that could end in game over (or simply giving you the chance to score even more line clears). Sony is promising there will be other new additions to the game too, but loyal Tetris fans will see fan favorites such as Marathon, Sprint, and Ultra modes returning. There will also be a player grading and levelling system, as well as various difficulties to to add to replayability.

Of course, given Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s involvement, music and sound play a key role in creating the atmosphere of the game. We’re sure to see more details on Tetris Effect revealed coming up, so follow GameSpot’s E3 2018 coverage for the latest news and updates.

Author: GameSpot

Rage 2 Pre-Order Guide For The US

With an assist from Walmart, the news is out: Rage 2 is official. We don’t know a ton about the game yet, but we do know it’s coming to PS4, PC, and Xbox One sometime in 2019. It’s being co-developed by Id Software and Avalanche Studios, and published by Bethesda.

As for what kind of game it is, Rage 2 is an open-world shooter set in a Mad Max-like post-apocalypse. A comet has crashed into Earth, killing off 80% of the population. For the few who are left, anarchy reigns, bullets fly, and explosions are as common as a cold. The game also features a healthy dose of vehicular combat, which comes as no surprise, seeing as Avalanche Studios’ last game was Mad Max. There’s even a gyrocopter for anyone who wants to take to the air.

If you’ve already decided you’re all-in on Rage 2, you’re probably wondering what kind of extra freebies you can get for locking in your pre-order. We have all the info you need below, along with which retailers are currently offering Rage 2 for pre-order.

Rage 2 pre-order bonuses

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You’ll get a handful of freebies for pre-ordering Rage 2.

  • Exclusive mission “Cult of the Death God”
  • Settler’s Pistol
  • Nicolas Raine Armor
  • Monster Truck

It sounds like you’ll have to complete the pre-order exclusive mission to get the gear. According to GameStop’s description, the Cult of the Death God mission is “a wild ride that sends [the protagonist] Walker after a cult of crazed mutants who have taken to worshipping the image of Nicholas Raine–the hero of the original RAGE. Survive the sewers and fight through hordes of mutants–including the massive and monstrous Abadon Warlock–to receive Raine’s legendary armor along with the fan-favorite Settler Pistol and the new Mutant Monster Truck.”

Where to pre-order Rage 2

Here’s where you can secure a pre-order. Note that, unless you’re an Amazon Prime member, the cheapest price is through Newegg, where it retails for $10 off the list price.

That’s it for now. We’ll update this article as more retailers make Rage 2 available for pre-order.

Some links to supporting retailers are automatically made into affiliate links, and GameSpot may receive a small share of those sales.

Author: GameSpot

Madden NFL 19 Pre-Order / Release Date Guide

It may not be a surprise, but it’s official: Madden NFL 19 is coming to PS4 and Xbox One on August 10. This year’s installment features improvements to the graphics and animation, thanks to Real Player Motion Technology. Players will also have better tools for building their roster and new ways to train and develop the players. You can find more details here.

Whether you buy the new edition each year or you’re looking to get into the franchise for the first time in 2018, you might be wondering what editions are available, how much they cost, and where to pre-order Madden NFL 19. We have you covered below.

Madden NFL 19 Standard Edition

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Suggested retail price: $60

This is the standard version of the game. Pre-ordering it from Best Buy gets you a $10 reward certificate, but Newegg has it for $10 off. The cover athlete hasn’t been revealed at the time of this writing.

Where to buy the Standard Edition:

Madden NFL 19 Hall of Fame Edition

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Suggested retail price: $80

The Hall of Fame Edition has 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, wide receiver, Terrell Owens on the cover. It costs $20 more than the standard edition, but it gets you the core game, plus a number of extras. It also lets you choose between Owens or four other NFL legends (Brian Urlacher, Rod Woodson, Dan Marino, and Terrell Davis) to add to your team. Additionally, you get 12 Gold Team Fantasy Packs, one Elite Madden 19 cover athlete (TBA), and two All-Madden Uniforms.

As above, pre-ordering from Best Buy gets you a $10 reward certificate redeemable at Best Buy, but Newegg gives you $10 off the price from the start. And if you pre-order it anywhere, you get access to the game three days early (August 7).

Where to buy the Hall of Fame Edition:

Author: GameSpot

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Final Season Dated

The last season of Telltale’s acclaimed Walking Dead series kicks off this summer. The developer announced that the first episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season drops on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 14, with a Nintendo Switch release set to follow sometime later this year.

The Final Season marks the culmination of Clementine’s story, who Telltale says has grown into a “fierce and capable survivor.” In addition to a new over-the-shoulder camera system, The Final Season features a new “Graphic Black” art style and scenes with unscripted combat. The developer also teases that players will need to wrestle with “new types of choices” as they guide Clementine’s story to its conclusion. Here’s Telltale’s synopsis of the season:

“After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be her chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. Clem must build a life and become a leader while still watching over AJ, an orphaned boy and the closest thing to family she has left. In this gripping, emotional final season, you will define your relationships, fight the undead, and determine how Clementine’s story ends.”

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Ahead of its release, players can pre-order The Final Season on PS4, Xbox One, and PC beginning June 8. Pre-orders run for $20 and grant players access to all four episodes of the season as they become available. Those who reserve the game on consoles will also receive The Walking Dead Collection, a compilation of all previous 19 episodes in the series.

In addition to the final season of The Walking Dead, Telltale is currently working on a new season of The Wolf Among Us. That was originally slated to launch later this year, but it has now been pushed back into 2019. According to the developer, the delay comes partly “as the result of a few fundamental changes here at Telltale since we first announced the game last summer”–presumably referring to the major layoffs that hit the studio late last year.

Author: GameSpot

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – Spidey Meets Spidey In Stunning New Trailer

Spider-Man might currently be making his live-action appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Sony still owns the right to the character and continue to make the most of his popularity. The Spidey spin-off Venom is due in October, and it will be followed a couple of months later by the much-anticipated animated movie Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.

The first full trailer for Into The Spider-Verse has now been released. The movie focuses on Miles Morales, who ends up being mentored on how to use his newfound Spider-powers by none other than Peter Parker. The trailer is fast-moving and funny, the animation looks amazing–and if you watch to the end youll see a surprise guest appearance from a third Spider-person. Check it out above .

Into The Spider-Verse has an impressive voice cast, which includes Shameik Moore (The Get Down) as Miles, Jake Johnson (Jurassic World) as Peter, Hailee Steinfeld (Bumblebee) as Gwen Stacy, and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) as the villainous Kingpin, plus Mahershala Ali (Luke Cage), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), and Lily Tomlin (The West Wing).

The film is produced by The Lego Movie‘s Phil Lord and Chris Miller, with a screenplay by Lord. In a recent interview, Miller spoke about the movie’s distinctive visuals. “This is a new, unique experience, and we are pushing the medium,” he said, via Indiewire. “We’re getting away with so much with this movie. It’s a pretty wild style.”

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse hits theaters on December 14. In related news, a new trailer for Venom was released in April.

Author: GameSpot