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Nintendo Direct Recap, Princess Peach: Showtime! Preview | All Things Nintendo

All Things Nintendo

This week on All Things Nintendo, Brian is first joined by Kyle Hilliard to recap all the news out of the Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase, as well as some news items that happened outside of that livestream. Then, Kyle leaves, and Alex Van Aken joins the episode to deliver his hands-on impressions of Princess Peach: Showtime! and an eShop Gem of the Week.

If you'd like to follow Brian on social media, you can do so on his Instagram/Threads @BrianPShea or Twitter @BrianPShea. You can follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleMHilliard and BlueSky: @KyleHilliard. You can follow Alex Van Aken on Twitter @ItsVanAken.

The All Things Nintendo podcast is a weekly show where we celebrate, discuss, and break down all the latest games, news, and announcements from the industry's most recognizable name. Each week, Brian is joined by different guests to talk about what's happening in the world of Nintendo. Along the way, they'll share personal stories, uncover hidden gems in the eShop, and even look back on the classics we all grew up with. A new episode hits every Friday!

Be sure to subscribe to All Things Nintendo on your favorite podcast platform. The show is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and YouTube.

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:45 – New Reports of Switch 2 Release Window
00:06:28 – Pokémon Presents Announced
00:11:47 – New Pokémon Concierge Episodes Coming
00:12:34 – Time Magazine Pokémon Covers
00:14:05 – Spirit Airlines Super Nintendo World Plane
00:16:18 – Mother 3 Coming to Japan Nintendo Switch Online
00:21:13 – Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase Recap
00:54:37 – Listener Email About Epic Universe Theme Park
00:59:59 – Princess Peach: Showtime Preview
01:24:09 – eShop Gem of the Week: Balatro

If you'd like to get in touch with the All Things Nintendo podcast, you can email AllThingsNintendo@GameInformer.com, messaging Brian on Instagram (@BrianPShea), or by joining the official Game Informer Discord server. You can do that by linking your Discord account to your Twitch account and subscribing to the Game Informer Twitch channel. From there, find the All Things Nintendo channel under "Community Spaces."

For Game Informer's other podcast, be sure to check out The Game Informer Show with hosts Alex Van Aken, Marcus Stewart, and Kyle Hilliard, which covers the weekly happenings of the video game industry!

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask Part 5 | Super Replay

After The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time reinvented the series in 3D and became its new gold standard, Nintendo followed up with a surreal sequel in Majora's Mask. Set two months after the events of Ocarina, Link finds himself transported to an alternate version of Hyrule called Termina and must prevent a very angry moon from crashing into the Earth over the course of three constantly repeating days. Majora's Mask's unique structure and bizarre tone have earned it legions of passionate defenders and detractors, and one long-time Zelda fan is going to experience it for the first time to see where he lands on that spectrum.

Join Marcus Stewart and Kyle Hilliard today and each Friday on Twitch at 1 p.m. CT as they gradually work their way through the entire game until Termina is saved. Archived episodes will be uploaded each Saturday on our second YouTube channel Game Informer Shows, which you can watch both above and by clicking the links below. 

Part 1 - Plenty of Time
Part 2 - The Bear
Part 3 - Deku Ball Z
Part 4 - Pig Out

Watch on Twitch!

If you enjoy our livestreams but haven’t subscribed to our Twitch channel, know that doing so not only gives you notifications and access to special emotes. You’ll also be granted entry to the official Game Informer Discord channel, where our welcoming community members, moderators, and staff gather to talk games, entertainment, food, and organize hangouts! Be sure to also follow our second YouTube channel, Game Informer Shows, to watch other Replay episodes as well as Twitch archives of GI Live and more. 

Check Out New Rise Of The Ronin Gameplay In New Behind-The-Scenes Video

Rise of the Ronin Team Ninja Koei Tecmo Feudal Japan Samurai Game

Developer Team Ninja has released a new behind-the-scenes video for the upcoming PlayStation 5 exclusive, Rise of the Rōnin, and it features new gameplay showing off the game's tough and fast action combat. Unsurprisingly, the game continues to look great. 

This new look at the game's action features conversation from game producer and director Fumihiko Yasuda and animation lead Kosuke Wakamatsu discussing how Team Ninja approached the combat. They say it started with determining the different ideologies within Rōnin history, why certain individuals fought the way they did, and how that translates to a game aiming to be authentic to the Bakumatsu history. 

Check it the new Rise of the Rōnin gameplay for yourself below

Yasuda and Wakamatsu discuss the Bakamutsu period of Japan's history and how the introduction of Western weapons, like firearms, dramatically changed the way Rōnin went about battle. Instead of just katanas and up-close weaponry, firearms forced warriors to adapt to new types of ranged combat. This led to the use of firearms like pistols alongside swords, bayonets, and more. 

If the use of guns has you worried Rise of the Rōnin won't deliver the fast and difficult up-close action Team Ninja is known for, fear not. "Action remains at the core of Rise of the Rōnin [and] it is the culmination of our previous work on action games at Team Ninja," Yasuda says in the video. 

Wakamatsu adds, "Team Ninja's action is known for its high speed and difficulty, [and] we feel it's part of the players' expectations as well." 

 

Elsewhere in the video, the two developers discuss Rise of the Rōnin's bond system, which allows NPC characters to join the protagonist's journey. You can even switch to different characters for special moves. The video ends with another look at the counter system in the game's combat. 

For more about the game, check out this Rise of the Rōnin gameplay trailer from last month, and then check out Game Informer's preview thoughts on Rise of the Rōnin after talking with the team in December. 

Are you excited for Rise of the Rōnin? Let us know in the comments below!

Defending Democracy In Helldivers 2 | GI Live

Alien bugs, killer robots, and more threaten the infallible democracy of Super Earth – it's up to us to defend her! Join Marcus Stewart, Kyle Hilliard, and (eventually) Alex Van Aken as they squad up in Helldivers 2. Their freedom-fueled campaign result is a tumultuous, bamboozling, action-packed, and, ultimately, hilarious romp. For more on Helldivers 2, be sure to check out our glowing review

To watch more of our livestreams, video podcasts, and series such as Super Replay, be sure to visit and subscribe to our second YouTube channel, Game Informer Shows. Head over to our flagship Game Informer YouTube channel for more previews, reviews, and discussions of new and upcoming games. 

Death Stranding Documentary, 'Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds,' Streaming Now On Disney Plus

Hideo Kojima Connecting Worlds Documentary Death Stranding Disney plus

Death Stranding hit PlayStation 4 exclusively back in 2019 before launching on PC with a Director's Cut in 2020. As we await Death Stranding 2: On The Beach, which is due out on PlayStation 5 in 2025, Disney Plus has dropped a documentary that might tide fans over. Titled Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds, this film "explores the creative process behind Hideo Kojima launching his independent studio up to the completion of Death Stranding."

It was announced last year before debuting at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival but starting today, you can stream it on Disney Plus. 

We haven't yet watched it but given Kojima's love of movies, we're excited to see what a documentary about the man himself is like. The release of Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds follows the debut of Grounded II: The Making of the Last of Us Part II, which also provided a behind-the-scenes look at video game development. 

For more, read Game Informer's Death Stranding review and then read about why Death Stranding Director's Cut is worth another trek across America. After that, watch the latest trailer for Death Stranding 2: On The Beach, which is expectedly weird. 

Are you going to check out Hideo Kojima: Connecting Worlds this weekend? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below!

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Is The Second-Highest Rated Game In The Series On Metacritic

Final Fantasy VII 7 Rebirth Metacritic Highest Rated Series Franchise

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth hits PlayStation 5 exclusively on February 29, but reviews for Square Enix's latest entry in its Final Fantasy VII remake trilogy dropped yesterday. We enjoyed the game a lot, and you can read about why in Game Informer's Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review. It turns out, a lot of reviewers enjoyed the game too, because at the time of this writing, it's the second-highest rated game in the Final Fantasy series on Metacritic, as noted by video game sales analyst Benji-Sales on X (formerly Twitter). 

Currently sitting at a 93 on Metacritic, which aggregates various reviews into a single Metacritic score, only one other Final Fantasy game has been rated higher: Final Fantasy IX on PlayStation 1. It has a 94 on Metacritic.

As you can see above, with a 93 on Metacritic, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth joins a prestigious list of games in the series with a Metacritic score of 90 or higher, as pointed out by AndSpaceY on X. Now, it's important to note that some Final Fantasy games are not rated on Metacritic as the aggregate site was not around when they released. For example, Final Fantasy VI is one of the most beloved entries in the franchise and arguably the best – released in 1994 on the SNES, Metacritic was not around at the time so it does not have a rating on the site. 

Still, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth rating so high is another example of how Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII remake project is landing with both critics and fans alike. 

For more about the game, read Game Informer's Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review and then check out our Final Fantasy VII Rebirth cover story hub for exclusive features, videos, and more. After that, check out Game Informer's ranking of every mainline Final Fantasy game

Are you picking up Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on day one next week? Let us know in the comments below!

Tekken 8, Suicide Squad, Persona 3 Reload, And New Like A Dragon Were Top Sellers Last Month In US

Persona 3 Reload January 2024 Best Selling Games JRPG Japan Sega

Last month was filled with new releases and many of them turned out to be hits with players, according to the latest Circana U.S. Video Game Market Highlights report, which tracks video game-related spending for each month of the year. While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III took home the top spot for best-selling games of January 2024 in the U.S., various new releases cracked into the top 10. 

That includes Tekken 8, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, Persona 3 Reload, and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth.

Here's what the top 10 best-selling games of last month look like

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
  2. Tekken 8
  3. Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League
  4. Persona 3 Reload
  5. Madden NFL 24
  6. Hogwarts Legacy (this was the best-selling game of 2023)
  7. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
  8. EA Sports FC 24
  9. The Last of Us Part II
  10. Marvel's Spider-Man 2

Two other new releases last month appear later in the list if you expand it to the top 20: Ubisoft's latest platformer, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, came in at 13th and Bandai Namco's Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash took home the 19th spot. 

Broken down by individual platforms, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III was the best-selling premium game on both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S platforms. On PS5, Tekken 8 claimed the second spot, Suicide Squad the third spot, and Persona 3 Reload the fourth spot. Over on Xbox Series X/S, Madden NFL 24 came in second, with Suicide Squad in third and Tekken 8 in fourth. 

On Switch, which does not include digital sales, Super Mario Bros. Wonder was the best-selling game of last month with Hogwarts Legacy in second place. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown came in at fifth on the Switch. 

Palworld, the "Pokémon With Guns" survival game that crossed 25 million players yesterday, was, unsurprisingly, the number-one played title on Steam and the number-three played game on Xbox last month. On both Xbox Series X/S and PS5, Fortnite was the number-one most played title of January 2024. 

Circana executive director and analyst Mat Piscatella writes on X (formerly Twitter) that the PS5 was the best-selling hardware platform of the month in both units sold and dollar sales, with Switch in second place for units sold and Xbox Series X/S in second place for dollar sales. After 39 months on the market, life-to-date unit sales of PS5 are tracking 7 percent ahead of the PlayStation 4's pace, and 68 percent ahead of the PlayStation 3's. Overall, though, January video game hardware spending fell 4 percent compared to January of last year, down to $378 million. 

Video game accessory spending increased by 45 percent last month compared to January of last year, up to $246 million. The PS5's DualSense Edge was the best-selling accessory of the month. Piscatella says the recently released PlayStation Portal was shifted from the Hardware category to the Accessory category for January 2024, coming in at fifth for video game accessory spending for last month. 

Overall video game spending across all categories grew 15 percent when comparing January of this year to that of last year, reaching $5.1 billion. Piscatella notes that January 2024 was a five-week period for tracking, though, whereas January 2023 was a four-week period. 

For more, read Game Informer's reviews for Tekken 8, Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, Persona 3 Reload, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

What was your number one game of January 2024? Let us know in the comments below!

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League Fell Short Of Expectations According To Warner Bros

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League

Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, the third-person live-service multiplayer shooter from Batman: Arkham series developer Rocksteady Studios, launched earlier this month. It received middling reviews – read Game Informer's review here to find out why we gave it a 6 out of 10 – and fans have been less-than-impressed with the shooter. It seems Warner Bros. Discovery is less-than-impressed, too, as the company said in its latest financial call that Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League had "fallen short of our expectations," as reported by IGN. 

More specifically, that's Warner Bros. Discovery chief financial officer Gunnar Wiedenfels who said Rocksteady's latest effort fell short of the company's expectations. However, Wiedenfels did not mention a sales figure. According to IGN, the executive lamented that Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League's missed expectations set Warner Bros.' games division up for a tough year when it comes to year-on-year comparisons.

Wiedenfels is likely alluding to Hogwarts Legacy, the company's massive hit that launched last year and went on to become the best-selling game of 2023, beating out titles like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. The sales of Hogwarts Legacy was certainly a tough act for Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League to follow. 

For more about the game, read Game Informer's review of Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League, and then check out Game Informer's list of the best superhero games of all time. After that, read our list of upcoming superhero games to look forward to. 

[Source: IGN]

Have you been playing Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below!

Penny's Big Breakaway: Watch Someone Beat The First Level With A Single 2-Minute Combo

Penny's Big Breakaway First Level World One Single Combo Evening Star Studio

Penny's Big Breakaway, the momentum-based 3D platformer from developer Evening Star, surprise launched earlier this week after appearing in a Partner Showcase Nintendo Direct. During a livestream held by Evening Star on the game's February 21 launch, one designer completed the first level with a single, two-minute combo, and it's a feat to behold. 

If you haven't yet checked out Penny's Big Breakaway, it's a 3D platformer modeled off the strange and weird platformers of the PlayStation 1 generation, rather than Nintendo's popular platforming efforts. As such, the game features a unique moveset that feels similar to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, with a Devil May Cry combo meter to boot. 

Check out the Evening Star developer reach a massive 191-move combo in the first stage of Vanillatown, the first world in Penny's Big Breakaway, below: 

As you can see, this designer – Milena – completes the first level with one continuous combo. We're not sure we're quite up to the task but we wouldn't be surprised if fans of the game spend time outcomboing this score. Only time will tell. 

Penny's Big Breakaway is now available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and PC. 

For more about the game, check out the Penny's Big Breakaway launch trailer here and then read Game Informer's exclusive behind-the-scenes feature about the game's creation, the people making it, the music, and more. 

Are you playing Penny's Big Breakaway? Let us know what you think of it so far in the comments below!

Little Devil Inside Reemerges With A New Trailer And Cryptic Developer Update

Little Devil Inside trailer 2024

It’s been a long time since Little Devil Inside, a promising survival action RPG from indie developer Neostream, has made any noise. The game’s last substantial update came in October 2021. But after over two years of silence, Neostream has come back with a new trailer and cryptic update hinting at what’s been going on with the team.

As reported by The Indie Informer, Neostream’s Kickstarter post, published yesterday, apologizes for the lack of updates and cryptically alludes to an internal conflict within the team, potentially due to clashing visions about the game, being one of the causes. It states in part,

We became a team, then grew into a company and tried many hands to make light work. Along the way in all efforts to making a great game, many great people have come and gone. People with respectable but different purposes and pursuits. In sharing these differences and thoughts, we were sometimes touched and moved and sometimes in conflict. We are responsible for not being able to embrace the differences. And of course, sincere apologies to you all.

The rest of Neostream's update indicates the team has reduced in size but confirms that the founders and core members remain at the studio. The studio assures backers that Little Devil Inside still exists and that it is currently discussing publishing before it can give fans a more substantial update. Until then, the team has prepared a six-minute montage video showing off the game running in Unreal Engine 5.

Litt

Little Devil Inside was first revealed way back in 2015 with the launch of its Kickstarter campaign, but it gained its first mainstream recognition as part of the 2020 PlayStation 5 showcase prior to the console's launch. You play as an explorer who embarks on research mission at the behest of a university professor to explore a large world filled with beasts both real and supernatural. You'll visit different towns along the way to meet quirky citizens, defend yourself from threats with a sword, and engage in survival mechanics like camping and cooking. Despite how much time as past, we ultimately still know relatively little about Little Devil Inside but it has remained a charmer each time it resurfaces. 

Little Devil Inside has no release window but we're hoping to learn more concrete details in the near future. 

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review And Elden Ring DLC First Look | GI Show

ff7 rebirth review

In this week's episode of The Game Informer Show, the crew breaks down what has been a busy few days in the video game industry. We dive into our Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review, recap the Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree release date trailer, and share highlights from another Nintendo Direct. Additionally, we discuss our time playing Princess Peach: Showtime, Gigantic: Rampage Edition, and Balatro, a new poker roguelite (a "Pokerlite?") we can't seem to put down. 

Watch Episode 695 of The Game Informer Show:

Follow us on social media: Alex Van Aken (@itsVanAken), Kyle Hilliard (@KyleMHilliard), Brian Shea (@BrianPShea), Marcus Stewart (@MarcusStewart7), Wesley LeBlanc (@LeBlancWes)

The Game Informer Show is a weekly gaming podcast covering the latest video game news, industry topics, exclusive reveals, and reviews. Join host Alex Van Aken every Thursday to chat about your favorite games – past and present – with Game Informer staff, developers, and special guests from around the industry. Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Matt Storm, the freelance audio editor for The Game Informer Show, edited this episodeMatt is an experienced podcast host and producer who's been speaking into a microphone for over a decade. You should listen to Matt's shows like the "Fun" And Games Podcast and Reignite, a BioWare-focused podcast.  The Game Informer Show – Podcast Timestamps:

00:00:00 - Intro

00:03:03 - Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review

00:27:39 - Balatro

00:47:50 - Elden Ring's Shadow Of The Erdtree DLC Trailer

00:59:46 - Princess Peach: Showtime! Preview

01:19:16 - Nintendo Direct February 2024

01:28:36 - Gigantic: Rampage Edition Preview

01:45:26 - Housekeeping

Sony Testing PC Support For PlayStation VR2

PS VR2 PC Support 2024 2025 New Games Titles

PlayStation VR2 launched in February of last year and while its debut featured new first-party titles like Horizon Call of the Mountain, our favorites on the new platform featured previously released titles like Resident Evil Village. Since that launch, support for the platform has been sparse, to say the least, especially from PlayStation itself. However, Sony has revealed it is currently testing PC support for PS VR2, with hopes to make that support available this year. 

"[We're] pleased to share that we are currently testing the ability for PS VR2 players to access additional games on PC to offer even more game variety in addition to the PS VR2 titles available through PS5," a new PlayStation Blog post published today reads. "We hope to make this support available in 2024, so stay tuned for more updates."

The rest of the blog goes on to detail new and upcoming titles coming to PS VR2, but those are going to be playable with PlayStation 5 consoles. However, it sounds like PC support, which could open up a flood gate for new VR content, might arrive later this year. 

For more about the hardware, read Game Informer's PS VR2 review, and then read Game Informer's Horizon Call of the Mountain review. After that, read about why Resident Evil Village is the PS VR2's best exclusive, and then check out these 10 games to play using your VR headset

Are you interested in PC support for PS VR2? Let us know in the comments below!

League Of Legends Fighting Game Project L Renamed 2XKO And Gets New Trailer

Riot Games has rechristened Project L, its upcoming League of Legends fighting game, to its official name of 2XKO. While we still don’t know when it’s coming, we do get another look at it in a new trailer.

The 2D 2v2 tag-team fighter looks very promising based on today’s footage. The game takes cues from Marvel vs Capcom in its assist-focused tag team play and utilizes more simplified inputs to lower the barrier for entry while maintaining strategic depth. Based on previous updates, online play features rollback netcode. Set in the world of Runterra, 2XKO features a roster of League of Legends champions, including Darius, Ekko, Ahri, and Yasuo. As Riot states on the game’s website, it’s still “heads down” working on updates to share, so a release window may not be coming in the near future. 

2XKO was first announced as Project L in 2019 alongside other League of Legends projects, including what would later become Valorant and LoL: Wild Rift. Hopefully, it will cross the finish line sooner than later. What do you think of the game's official title and this fresh look at gameplay? Let us know in the comments. 

WWE 2K24's Full Launch Roster Revealed

WWE 2K24 full roster

WWE 2K24’s full roster has been revealed. This year offers a staggering line-up of Superstars hailing from Raw, Smackdown and NXT, as well as numerous Legends. 

Over 200 playable superstars will be available at launch, along with 8 managers. Check them out below. 

Raw

  • Akira Tozawa
  • Alexa Bliss
  • Becky Lynch
  • Bianca Belair
  • Big E
  • Braun Strowman
  • Bronson Reed
  • Candice LeRae
  • Carmella
  • Cedric Alexander
  • Chad Gable
  • Chelsea Green
  • Cody Rhodes
  • Damian Priest
  • Dexter Lumis
  • Dominik Mysterio
  • Drew McIntyre
  • Erik
  • Finn Balor
  • Giovanni Vinci
  • Gunther
  • Indi Hartwell
  • Ivar
  • JD McDonagh
  • Jey Uso
  • Johnny Gargano
  • Kofi Kingston
  • Liv Morgan
  • Ludwig Kaiser
  • Maxxine Dupri
  • Natalya
  • Nikki Cross
  • Otis
  • Piper Niven
  • Raquel Rodriguez
  • Rhea Ripley
  • Ricochet
  • R-Truth
  • Sami Zayn
  • Seth "Freakin" Rollins
  • Shayna Baszler
  • Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Sonya Deville
  • Tegan Nox
  • The Miz
  • Tommaso Ciampa
  • Valhalla
  • Xavier Woods
  • Zoey Stark

Smackdown

  • AJ Styles
  • Alba Fyre
  • Angelo Dawkins
  • Ashante "Thee" Adonis
  • Asuka
  • Austin Theory
  • Bayley
  • Bobby Lashley
  • Butch
  • Cameron Grimes
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Cruz Del Toro
  • Dakota Kai
  • Elton Prince
  • Grayson Waller
  • Isla Dawn
  • Iyo Sky
  • Jimmy Uso
  • Joaquin Wilde
  • Karl Anderson
  • Karrion Kross
  • Katana Chance
  • Kayden Carter
  • Kevin Owens
  • Kit Wilson
  • LA Knight
  • Logan Paul
  • Luke Gallows
  • Michin Mia Yim
  • Montez Ford
  • MVP
  • Omos
  • Randy Orton
  • Rey Mysterio
  • Ridge Holland
  • Robert Roode
  • Roman Reigns
  • Santos Escobar
  • Scarlett
  • Sheamus
  • Shotzi
  • Solo Sikoa
  • Tamina
  • Xia Li
  • Zelina Vega

NXT

  • Andre Chase
  • Angel Garza
  • Apollo Crews
  • Axiom
  • Baron Corbin
  • Blair Davenport
  • Bron Breakker
  • Brooks Jensen
  • Brutus Creed
  • Carmelo Hayes
  • Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo
  • Cora Jade
  • Damon Kemp
  • Dijak
  • Drew Gulak
  • Duke Hudson
  • Fallon Henley
  • Gigi Dolin
  • Humberto
  • Ilja Dragunov
  • Ivy Nile
  • Jacy Jayne
  • Jinder Mahal
  • Joe Coffey
  • Joe Gacy
  • Josh Briggs
  • Julius Creed
  • Nathan Frazer
  • Nikkita Lyons
  • Noam Dar
  • Roxanne Perez
  • Sanga
  • Scrypts
  • Thea Hail
  • Tiffany Stratton
  • Tony D'Angelo
  • Trick Williams
  • Tyler Bate
  • Veer Mahaan
  • Wendy Choo
  • Wes Lee
  • Wolfgang

Legends/Alumni

  • Andre The Giant
  • Bad Bunny
  • Batista
  • Beth Phoenix
  • Big Boss Man
  • Boogeyman
  • Booker T
  • Bray Wyatt
  • Bret “Hitman” Hart
  • British Bulldog
  • Bruno Sammartino
  • Cactus Jack
  • Chyna
  • Diesel
  • Doink The Clown
  • Dude Love
  • Dusty Rhodes (Part of the Nightmare Family Pack)
  • Eddie Guerrero
  • Eric Bischoff
  • Eve Torres
  • Faarooq
  • The Fiend
  • George "The Animal" Steele
  • Harley Race
  • Hollywood Hogan
  • Hulk Hogan
  • The Hurricane
  • Jake "The Snake" Roberts
  • JBL
  • Jerry "The King" Lawler
  • Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
  • John Cena
  • Kane
  • Ken Shamrock
  • Kevin Nash
  • Kurt Angle
  • Lita
  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage
  • Mankind
  • Maryse
  • Mighty Molly
  • Molly Holly
  • Muhammad Ali
  • "Ravishing" Rick Rude
  • Rick Steiner
  • Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
  • Rikishi
  • Rob Van Dam
  • The Rock
  • Ronda Rousey
  • “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
  • Scott Hall
  • Scott Steiner
  • Shane McMahon
  • Shawn Michaels
  • Stacy Keibler
  • Stephanie McMahon
  • Stardust (Part of the Nightmare Family Pack)
  • “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
  • "Superstar" Billy Graham (Part of the Nightmare Family Pack)
  • Syxx
  • Ted DiBiase
  • Triple H
  • Trish Stratus
  • Tyler Breeze
  • Ultimate Warrior
  • Umaga
  • Uncle Howdy
  • The Undertaker
  • Vader
  • Wade Barrett
  • William Regal
  • X-Pac
  • Yokozuna

Managers

  • B-Fab
  • Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
  • Cathy Kelley
  • Mick Foley
  • Miss Elizabeth
  • Paul Bearer
  • Paul Heyman
  • Theodore Long

WWE 2K24 launches on March 8 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. You can read our in-deph hands-on preview here, watch us play a few matches in this episode of New Gameplay Today, or check out our gaming-focused interview with one of 2K24's cover stars, Cody Rhodes

More Than 25 Million People Have Played Palworld On Xbox And PC In Just One Month

Palworld Pokemon With Guns Survival Game Steam Millions Players Sales

Palworld first captured the attention of gamers (and their internet sphere) when it was revealed back in 2021. While that reveal included details about the survival aspects of the game, including multiplayer, crafting, and farming, viewers honed in on the idea of it being Pokémon but with guns. You can capture Pokémon-like monsters called Pals in special balls (and you can capture humans, too), but it's smart to shoot them or hack at them with an axe first to lower their health. And then, once under your command, you can give them their own guns to use, of course. 

Following various trailers since that 2021 reveal, including this gameplay showcase and this one highlighting the different Pals you can find, we learned at Geoff Keighely's Summer Game Fest last year that Palworld would finally enter Early Access on PC via Steam and on Xbox in January of 2024. Ahead of that launch, Game Informer spoke to developer Pocketpair about the game and internet speculation that it's fake; and last week, we finally checked the game out for ourselves – watch Game Informer's gameplay here. While we enjoyed playing the game's first few hours, we never could have predicted how meteoric its first weekend would be. 

Palworld Pokemon With Guns Survival Game Steam Millions Players Sales

If you haven't kept up, more than 5 million people purchased Palworld in its first 3 days on the market, with an all-time peak of 1,581,679 players playing it concurrently on Steam at the time of this writing (notably, this peak is different from the one I just saw moments ago, meaning even more players are continuing to pour in). That peak means Palworld has achieved the third-highest all-time peak in Steam history. It is safe to say Palworld is blowing past any and all expectations, and if you were on the internet at all this weekend, there's a good chance you read about its debut, controversy, and more. 

But if not, fear not – we've got you covered. 

What Is Palworld?

If you aren't familiar , Palworld is a survival game from Pocketpair, an independent developer behind games like Craftopia and AI: Art Impostor (remember these names because they'll come up again later); Pocketpair is based in Japan, ironically 10 minutes away from The Pokémon Company, as noted by VideoGamesChronicle's Jordan Middler.

While it's easy to call the game "Pokémon with guns," if you go in expecting that, you'll likely be disappointed. While there are Pokémon-like creatures called Pals that look and behave like Nintendo's famous pocket monsters, you aren't a trainer traversing the world to collect gym badges and take on an Elite Four. You are someone attempting to survive a harsh environment with the help of Pals, guns, and various melee weapons. 

You capture Pals similarly to how you might in a Pokémon game, utilizing a special ball to add them to your party and your Paldeck list. From there, you can use captured Pals to help you capture more or as workers in your home base factory, where they produce resources, automatically craft new things for your survival, and more. You can essentially enslave them, if you choose, although you don't have to. 

On PC, you can play with up to 31 other players on a single server; it only allows up to four total on Xbox. You can fight raid-like bosses together, build a base with friends, and encounter various NPCs in the world. In these ways and more, Palworld is more like Valheim than it is Pokémon, but it's clear the "Pokémon with guns" pitch is what's initially drawing players in. 

Palworld's Meteoric Launch

Palworld officially hit Early Access last week on Thursday, January 18. It quickly ranked third on Steam in its Top Wishlists, which often provides insight into how a game might sell. Within just eight hours of launching, Palworld crossed 1 million copies sold, according to the game's official Twitter account. The Palworld servers were quickly over-encumbered by so many players, leading to issues for people trying to play the game.

"We are blown away with the response to Palworld and we're doing our best to respond to your issues," the Palworld Twitter account tweeted on January 19. "Currently, our server provider is reporting that due to the large amount of concurrent players, the servers have become unstable and you may be experiencing issues connecting to servers." 

Palworld crossed 2 million copies sold in just 24 hours, on January 20, surpassing 730,000 concurrent players on Steam, achieving the 10th highest all-time peak in doing so. Palworld then hit another achievement just 16 hours later: 3 million copies sold in 40 hours. Server issues continued, but Pocketpair announced on January 20 it had an emergency meeting with Epic Games and its Epic Online Services team to resolve connectivity issues. 

The hype surrounding Palworld continued through the weekend, selling 4 million copies in just three days. Pocketpair incorrectly announced on January 21 that Palworld achieved the highest concurrent player count of any paid game in the history of Steam, but internet sleuths were quick to point out that PUBG set this record in 2018 with 3.2 million players. In 2018, PUBG was a paid game – it went free-to-play in 2022, something Pocketpair says it was unaware of at the time of its post, which is why it thought it achieved said record. 

On Monday, January 22, Pocketpair announced that Palworld has sold more than 5 million copies in three days. For reference, it took PlayStation 5-exclusive (and first-party developed) Marvel's Spider-Man 2 11 days to hit the 5 million mark

Palworld sits in third place for all-time peaks in Steam history, behind PUBG's 3.2 million peak and Counter-Strike 2's 1.8 million concurrent player peak. 

On Tuesday, January 23, Pocketpair announced that Palworld had sold 6 million copies and it did so in just four days. Its peak concurrent count on Steam at the time reached 1,809,781, too. That's just short of Counter-Strike 2's peak. However, later that day, Palworld did cross Counter-Strike 2's peak, claiming the second-highest all-time peak of Steam concurrent players. The following day, on January 24, Palworld crossed 7 million copies sold, doing so in just five days. 

On January 25, Pocketpair announced that it had sold more than 8 million copies of Palworld in less than six days. 

Roughly a week later, on January 31, Microsoft revealed that Palworld had the biggest third-party Xbox Game Pass launch ever, with more than 7 million players jumping in on Xbox. Pocketpair revealed alongside this news that the total player count for Palworld across Xbox and PC has exceeded 19 million, meaning 12 million people have played the game on Steam alone. 

On February 22, roughly one month after the game's Early Access launch in January, Pocketpair announced that Palworld crossed 25 million players – 15 million on Steam and 10 million on Xbox. 

If one thing is clear, players were extremely interested in Palworld. However, it's important to note it's an Early Access game, which means Pocketpair presumably still has a lot of work to go into the game and that issues will likely be more abundant than a standard release. Only time will tell if these numbers hold, but right now, Palworld shows no signs of slowing down. 

Palworld Controversy: A.I., Copyright, And More

During Palworld's massive launch, more and more players and spectators online began to throw some hefty accusations at Pocketpair. While the Pokémon comparison is clear, some have called into question both how Pals were created, claiming the use of A.I., and how similar some are to Game Freak's own Pokémon designs. 

Cecilia Fae on Twitter created a thread with dozens of Pals and the Pokémon they most resemble to give people an opportunity to see the similarities. Many seem extremely similar, leading to players and others calling into question copyright or blatant rip-offs of Pokémon, while others toe the line more than outright cross over it. Here are a few of the most similar in their thread

There are many more examples in the full thread so be sure to check it out for additional information. But as you can probably see, some of these designs are questionable, leading to speculation that they're straight-up model rips from Pokémon games. 

This led internet sleuths back to Pocketpair's 2020 survival game Craftopia. Around its 2020 release, Pocketpair was criticized for how similar to Nintendo's 2017 release, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, its latest game, Craftopia, was. With Palworld blowing up this weekend, people have looked back at Craftopia once more to point out its similarities to Breath of the Wild in light of Palworld's similarities to Pokémon, and it's, uhh, something – Craftopia definitely reminds me of Breath of the Wild in more ways than one. 

But I'm not a game developer – I don't know the lines between "inspired" and "copycat." Nintendo didn't sue Pocketpair over Craftopia so I find it hard to believe the 2020 survival game did anything illegal. However, there is a line between, "Oh nice, you attempted to make your own original spin on Breath of the Wild," and "Oh, you're not even trying to hide how much you took from Breath of the Wild." Where that line sits, I don't exactly know, but the similarities are striking and worth discussing as players analyze Palworld and Pokémon. 

Here's another example of very similar Craftopia designs

And here's an additional example of someone pointing out similarities to Nintendo games within Pocketpair's various releases

The discussion of copyright, design similarities, and rip-offs continued throughout Palworld's launch weekend – it's still happening today at the time of this writing. While some cite model rips and uninspired design, others point to something potentially far more nefarious: A.I. 

Before connecting A.I. accusations to Palworld, let's talk about one of Pocketpair's other games: AI: Art Impostor. 

"AI: Art Impostor is an AI drawing party game for 3-8 players," the Steam description for the game, which hit Early Access in November of 2022, reads. "You are a progressive artist who commands AI to generate images, and you don't need aesthetic talent to draw good artwork." 

From the jump, AI: Art Impostor says it uses A.I. to generate images for the game, something sleuths found interesting in the wider debate of whether Pocketpair utilized A.I. in Palworld. Then, people discovered that Pocketpair's CEO seems to be a supporter of generative A.I., a hotly-debated and controversial topic both in game development and throughout the tech world right now – read Game Informer's feature about the game industry's fight over A.I. here

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the internet has lost some nuance in this debate about Palworld, Pocketpair, and A.I., with many outright saying the game uses A.I. art. However, despite similarities to Pokémon – some think Pocketpair used generative A.I. art programs like Midjourney to feed it Pokémon designs and ask for something different – there's no definitive proof to back up this claim. 

VideoGamesChronicle translated a Japanese post made by Pocketpair's CEO, Takuro Mizobe, addressing accusations toward the company. Curiously, Mizobe doesn't directly address accusations of A.I. However, Mizobe says Pocketpair developers are receiving abusive comments and death threats. 

"We are currently receiving abusive and defamatory comments against our artists, in addition to tweets that appear to be death threats," Mizobe writes on Twitter, according to VideoGamesChronicle's translation. "While we have received various opinions about Palworld, it is important to note that the supervision of all materials related to Palworld is conducted by a team, including myself. I bear the responsibility for the produced materials. I would appreciate it if these comments towards artists involved in Palworld would cease." 

As you can see, Mizobe doesn't mention A.I. It remains unknown if the game uses it at the time of this writing, but Game Informer has reached out to Pocketpair for clarification and will update this story if it learns more. 

VideoGamesChronicle spoke to two experienced triple-A game artists about similarities between Pal designs and Pokémon. One artist told the publication, "You cannot, in any way, accidentally get the same proportions on multiple models from another game without ripping the models [or], at the very least, tracing them meticulously first." That artist told VideoGamesChronicle they "would stand in court to testify as an expert on this." They also point out that the silhouettes and proportions of Pals are "near-perfect matches" to certain Pokémon models, too. 

Neither Nintendo, Game Freak, nor The Pokémon Company have commented on Palworld and its Pal design similarities to Pokémon. Given Nintendo's legal track record, which includes winning a lawsuit against a ROM hacker that led to a 40-month prison sentence for the hacker, if the company feels it has a case, it will pursue that case in court. Only time will tell, though, if Nintendo will join the accusations of copyright and design plagiarism people on the internet have thrown at Palworld and Pocketpair. 

However, it's important to note that there are those who don't believe Palworld to be as nefarious in design as others accuse it of being, at least without concrete proof yet, including Arkane Lyon co-creative director Dinga Bakaba, who directed 2021's Deathloop and announced Marvel's Blade on stage at The Game Awards 2023 back in December. 

In Bakaba's Twitter thread, which begins with the tweet below, they explain the nuances of similarities in game design and development, different playstyles, parody, and more. It's a great thread and well worth a read if you've been tracking Palworld all weekend: 

And to wrap up this deep dive into Palworld's massive Early Access launch and the controversy and hype surrounding it, here's what Palworld looks like with actual Pokémon in it (by way of a new PC mod): 

Game Informer added that Pokémon mod tweet above to this story on January 22. The following day, on January 23, it learned that the video had been taken down by way of the following ominous tweet: 

For more about the game, head to Game Informer's Palworld tag to watch trailers, gameplay, and read in-depth features. 

[Editor's NoteGame Informer has edited this article to include updated sales statistics and additional information about the game.]

What are your thoughts on Palworld? Let us know in the comments below!

Mortal Kombat 1: Check Out John Cena's Peacemaker Debut In New Gameplay Trailer

Mortal Kombat 1 Peacemaker John Cena Gameplay Trailer Debut

Mortal Kombat 1 reset the fighting universe when it launched on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and PC last September. Now, it's time for a new fighter from a different universe to join the roster. John Cena's Peacemaker, the hero that first appeared in 2021's The Suicide Squad and later in his epoynomous HBO Max series, joins the game next week on February 28. 

Ahead of his release, NetherRealm Studios has released the first look at Peacemaker's gameplay in Mortal Kombat 1, and it features a lot of justice, a lot of peace, and, of course, a lot of blood. 

Check out the Peacemaker gameplay trailer for yourself below

As you can see in the trailer above, Peacemaker is voiced by Cena himself and features moves inspired by the character's live-action counterpart. That includes the fatality, which starts with Peacemaker ripping Quan-Chi in half by way of jet pack before sonic booming the rest of his body into bits. 

Peacemaker hits the Mortal Kombat 1 roster on February 28 for those who own the Premium Edition of the game or the Kombat Pack. Peacemaker goes live for individual purchase on March 6. 

Elsewhere in this trailer, we learn that Janet Cage is joining the game as a new Kameo fighter in March – she's an alternate version of Johnny Cage from a different reality. We also learn that crossplay (or Krossplay as NetherRealm calls it) will go live on February 28, allowing PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC (via Steam and the Epic Games Store) players to fight against each other in-game. 

For more about the game, read Game Informer's Mortal Kombat 1 review

Are you going to play as Peacemaker in Mortal Kombat 1 next week? Let us know in the comments below!

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review – Cracking The Planet Wide Open

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Game Informer Review

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Platform: PlayStation 5
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release:
Rating: Teen

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has quite the act to follow up – it must both live up to the sky-high expectations set by its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and synthesize and modernize perhaps the most crucial chapter in our heroes' adventure across Gaia. While my 80 hours in Rebirth didn't quite match the overall nirvana of Remake, it's a game I struggled to put down. A few stumbling blocks, like a bloated and sometimes tedious open world and intermittently uneven pacing, threaten the highs of Rebirth. But an exciting and well-told story, with an awe-inspiring finale to boot, almost made me forget the lows. The final result is a flawed but deeply reverent love letter to one of gaming's most beloved RPGs. 

Final Fantasy VII 7 Rebirth Game Informer Review

Finally out of Midgar, Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and Red XIII embark on a continent-hopping journey to stop Sephiroth from executing his plan to destroy the planet, starting with a visit to the city of Kalm. Like Midgar before, Kalm is lovingly recreated from polygonal pathways into a fully realized town. Seeing such a familiar location through the lens of 2024 for the first time is a treat, and it's a feeling carried throughout the entire game. Junon, Cosmo Canyon, Nibelheim – iconic locations burned into my brain deliver moments of awe with each visit, and the feeling never gets old. 

 

Sometimes, though, asset pop-in in larger areas and unnaturally harsh lighting changes when going from inside to outside distract from that awe. And the game's performance mode, which seems to run at a stable 60 FPS, is so blurry that I stuck with the 30 FPS graphics mode. A recent patch mitigated these issues a bit, but they still persist. 

Surrounding each of these locations is a sprawling open area dotted with side quests, combat challenges, card game matches, treasure caches, intel towers, scavenger hunts, and more. While exciting at first, realizing that each open-world area in Rebirth consists of the same objectives grew more disappointing as time passed. Much of it is good fun, carried by excellent combat and strong connections to the world and lore of Final Fantasy VII, but more variety would have gone a long way to sprucing up my time outside of story content. 

 

Pockets of greatness, like the fantastic Queen's Blood card game or special Summon Shrines that lead to new powerful materia, are still great even when repeated throughout the world map. And where the standard area objectives rarely stray from the formula established early on, the side quests, which range from fine and forgettable to great, sprinkled throughout each region, provide levity and a nice touch of weirdness to the world of Cloud and his friends. One even had me laughing out loud at my screen, reeling from a reality check delivered right to Red XIII. Traversing these lands can be tedious at times, especially in areas where specific Chocobo mechanics, like mushroom-hopping and wind gliding, are required, and my frustrations with Rebirth's overfilled open world peaked in these moments. 

But old and new story beats, like Bugenhagen's explanation of the lifestream and the return of familiar faces from Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, pulled me out of those dumps. Some of my favorite original Final Fantasy VII moments are given new life with beautiful visuals and expanded exposition. Fighting new foes and classic bosses with Rebirth's combat, which further builds on Remake's real-time action-strategy system, is exhilarating. Additional party members, like Red XIII, Yuffie, and Cait Sith, inject new layers of defensiveness, speed, and whimsy, respectively, to the mix, and Rebirth smartly uses the weapon proficiency bonus system and story moments to ensure none are left sitting on the bench for too long. 

 

Square Enix nails almost every story beat, expanding on the lore in ways I didn't know I wanted while remaining faithful to the original narrative, but falters a few times with needlessly overstuffed chapters. One, in particular, begins with the endorphin rush of the Gold Saucer and then dumps you into a literal dustbowl with a laundry list of boring quests to complete before allowing you to continue forward, bringing the fun to an excruciating halt.

If Remake is about showing how the capitalist, villainous Shinra Electric Power Company is destroying Midgar, Rebirth is about how this company is destroying the world. Square Enix uses the game's various regions to demonstrate Shinra's effects on the planet and its people up close and personal. The Gold Saucer shines bright at night, with nearly a dozen minigames – just a fraction of the total game's shocking amount –  and collectible treasures for its patrons (and Cloud) to delight in. But the surrounding Corel region is in ruins, now a desert thanks to miniature reactors converting the region's lifestream into the energy needed to power the nightlife resort. 

 

Cloud's fight to catch and stop Sephiroth takes a backseat to this commentary throughout, giving them time to work through their emotions together as most are venturing beyond where they've ever been in this world. Those discussions and growing bonds weave in and out of combat, where new Synergy Abilities provide meaningful boosts to Rebirth's action in various ways, like one that splits two Active Time Battle bars into three or another that massively increases an enemy's stagger. These abilities and other skills directly improve Cloud's standing with his party, opening opportunities for additional insight and raising a special relationship meter.

Sephiroth's sparse screentime makes each appearance by the One-Winged Angel all the more terrifying, culminating in a final act that broke my mind in the best way, both as a test of my combat abilities and my understanding of Final Fantasy VII. Square Enix already made clear to players where this game comes to a close, but the finale, which best serves fans rather than first-time players, isn't any less wondrous because of that. Rebirth's score matches the heights of this closing act and the rest of the game, with gorgeous tear-inducing arrangements, jazz-fusion bops, and an eclectic mix of new songs and old favorites.  

 

This sequel went wide, and while that comes with benefits, like new ways to explore this beloved world and its various sights, it also comes with drawbacks. They aren't unlike anything fans of the genre have experienced before, and playing as cherished characters certainly eases the pain, but the tedium and bloat of the open-world checklist can sometimes get in the way of where Rebirth truly shines. The best of Remake exists in Rebirth, but the various open-world areas surrounding it – the parts that make Rebirth unique from its predecessor – sometimes miss the mark.

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Score: 8.5

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The Borderlands Movie's First Trailer Looks As Ridiculous As The Games

Borderlands movie trailer

It's been a long time coming, but the first trailer for Borderlands has finally arrived after the first images of the movie emerged this week. First announced in 2015, the live-action film brings Gearbox’s popular co-op loot shooter to life with some big-name stars, bigger explosions, and (hopefully) even bigger laughs. 

Directed by Eli Roth, the film stars Cate Blanchett (Lilith), Kevin Hart (Roland), Jack Black (Claptrap), Edgar Ramírez (Atlas), Ariana Greenblatt (Tiny Tina), Florian Munteanu (Krieg), Gina Gershon (Moxxi), and Jamie Lee Curtis (Tannis). Like the games, the film follows our group of Vault Hunters as they search for a valuable relic on the desert planet of Pandora. They also stumble upon a missing girl with a powerful secret that could endanger the universe. 

Borderlands hits theaters on August 9.

Sea Of Thieves Sets Sail For PlayStation 5 This April

Sea of Thieves PlayStation 5

Sea of Thieves is the last Xbox first-party game officially confirmed for a new platform. Rare’s shared-world sea-faring pirate game is heading to PlayStation 5 on April 30.

Sea of Thieves joins Hi-Fi Rush, Grounded, and Pentiment as the four Xbox titles going multiplatform, each confirmed today. The PlayStation 5 version supports crossplay with Xbox and PC. “Something we’ve always been passionate about is that idea that we should remove barriers that prevent players from playing together,” says game director Mike Chapman in an announcement video below. 

As associate design director Shelly Preston points out in the video, this marks the first time in Rare’s nearly 40-year history that it’s released a game on PlayStation, which is a wild milestone. Since first launching to a tepid reaction in 2018, various updates and expansions have improved Sea of Thieves and fostered a dedicated community of players. PlayStation 5 players have the benefit of jumping into a now-content-rich game from the get-go. 

Skull and Bones Review - Middle High Sea

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia, PC
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Singapore
Release:
Rating: Mature

Like a ship that has changed tack countless times and delayed its arrival at port, Skull and Bones has launched far later than expected and faced trouble along the way. Even so, this pirate adventure surprised me with the breadth of its world, the richness of its commerce simulation, and an approachable and rewarding naval combat system. As a living game built around seasonal content and a growing universe, it has a ways to go to be at its best, but the bones of a quality experience are here.

You are a treasure-hungry pirate eager for infamy as you set out across the Indian Ocean, tracking down treasure chests, plundering seaside towns, and, most prominently, battling other ships on the high seas. On-foot activity is reserved for social spaces and the most minimal of story development – the entirety of action unfolds on the water, where you develop an impressive array of ships and weaponry through your ill-gotten gains.

Launching where the maritime voyages of the Assassin’s Creed games left off, I enjoyed the deliberate pacing of sea exploration and movement, punctuated by the regular interruption of cannon fire and mortars. Especially in the early hours, I was often transfixed by the sights and sounds of moving across the water, listening to my crew’s sea shanties, watching for breaching whales, and using my spyglass to spot distant shipwrecks. It’s a big and beautifully crafted world of island-rich open waters and tricky narrow riverways.

Combat has just enough complexity to remain entertaining as you balance turning speed, facing, and aiming to maximize damage output while dodging or bracing against the worst attacks of your opponents. The real fun comes from building and tweaking your boat as an engine of destruction; the variety of ship builds and approaches to fighting kept me consistently interested in chasing that next upgrade. I appreciated the approach to tracking specific items and upgrades, with clear markings on the map for where to find what you want. Because of that, it becomes about whether you have enough money to buy something or a powerful enough ship to take it.

The bulk of play is PvE encounters against privateers, merchants, and corporation ships, played either solo or cooperatively. Even if the open servers allow for both structured and informal PvP, my anecdotal experience was that most players were focused on their own adventures. If they joined a battle, it was often to help out. Your mileage may vary, but I liked the mix of mostly campaign-style progression with the option to connect with other players when I wanted.

Beyond ramming and blowing up other ships, Skull and Bones’ other core pillar is commerce. Ubisoft has built a robust trading system, the most lucrative of which involves illicit rum and opium shipments. I appreciated how the game allows players to choose how much they want to engage here. The selling of commodities gathered from sunken ships is the most superficial layer, but you can also run your own manufacturing and delivery contracts for higher sums. And as you round the corner into the endgame, an entire kingpin empire opens up, letting you take over lumberyards and other factories to generate income passively.

The pirate life eventually wears out its welcome; many of the game’s most significant problems only arise after many hours of play. While it's fun in the early hours getting your bearings in an unfamiliar sea, later side and main missions become painfully repetitive. Long ocean voyages start to lose their charm, and a fast travel system that only works from port feels increasingly restrictive since you’re often eager to return to a mission giver to keep the action moving.

The freeform progression that was so welcome in the early hours also causes problems over time, as it’s too easy to be over- or under-leveled for certain content you might wish to confront, robbing many encounters of tension since the winning party is so evident from the outset.

The storytelling is incredibly sparse, led by very few core contacts, all of whose arcs are pretty one-note. And while it’s nice that you can customize the look of your pirate captain, their voiceless absence of personality feels especially ill-suited to the big personalities you expect in a classic pirate tale. 

Nonetheless, the combination of building a commerce empire, sea monster hunts, engaging in late-game PvE and PvP events, and the chance to continue tweaking and building your ideal pirate ship has appeal even after the core story missions wrap up, giving me hope that longterm endgame could be entertaining. And while it’s early days, I saw potential in the larger ship team-up activities I tried out, where each ship takes on specific roles like you might see in an MMO.

Despite its long and circuitous course to arrive at port, Skull and Bones is the type of game that may change significantly in the coming months. But to evaluate it as it stands, fellow pirate enthusiasts may discover what I did – a flawed but beautifully presented historical fantasy in which one can take to the water and make a fortune, even if absolutely everything about the pirate life isn’t always pretty.

 

Score: 7.5

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Hi-Fi Rush Arriving On PS5 In March

Hi-Fi Rush

Following today's Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase, many were surprised the heavily rumored Hi-Fi Rush was absent. However, shortly after that presentation, which confirmed Pentiment and Grounded are both arriving on Switch, we learned that the next of the four previous Xbox exclusives Phil Spencer said last week are coming to additional platforms. Hi-Fi Rush, a rhythm-action title from the studio behind The Evil Within and Ghostwire: Tokyo, is joining the PlayStation 5 library, as confirmed by Xbox Wire.

Hi-Fi Rush surprise launched on Xbox Series X/S and PC in January 2023, quickly becoming a critical darling and fan favorite. While many were shocked the colorful game was created by the horror developers at Tango Gameworks, fans quickly fell in love with the stylish combat, beautiful presentation, and fun integration of music.

Hi-Fi Rush arrives on PS5 on March 19. According to reporting by The Verge, the final previously exclusive game jumping across the aisle is Sea of Thieves. Hi-Fi Rush took home Game Informer's 2023 "Best Microsoft Exclusive" award and, as of this writing, has a spot on our Top 10 Xbox Series X Games list. For more on Hi-Fi Rush, check out our review here.

Everything Announced At Today’s Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase

Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase annoucements 2024

Today's Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase has come and gone, and the presentation revealed a number of third-party announcements and several release dates for previously known games coming to Switch. If you don't feel like sitting through the 25-minute presentation, here's a quick summary of the event's notable updates.

Grounded And Pentiment Come To Switch

Two of the four mysterious Xbox titles coming to other consoles were revealed, both from Obsidian Entertainment. Grounded comes to Switch on April 16, while Pentiment arrives tomorrow, February 22. 

Ender Magnolia: Bloom in the Mist - Summer 2024

Set within the world of Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knight, the game sees characters defeating and teaming with deadly homunculi to rescue a devastated world.

Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure - Summer 2024

Set in an interconnected puzzle world, you’ll navigate on a grid where everything moves when you move. You’ll take down monsters, help townfolk, and, of course, solve puzzles.

Unicorn Overlord Gets A Demo Today

We’ve seen a lot of VanillaWare’s beautiful turn-based strategy game, but now we can finally play it ahead of its March 8 release. 

Monster Hunter Stories - Summer 2024

The 2017 Nintendo 3DS RPG spin-off of Monster Hunter is heading to Switch (as well as PlayStation 4 and Steam). In addition to HD visuals, this port includes new voiceovers, a museum mode, and additional content previously only available in Japan. 

Disney Epic Mickey: Rebrushed - 2024

2011’s Epic Mickey is getting touched up for a comeback on Switch. The enhanced remake includes updated graphics, new skills for Mickey, and other improvements. You can learn more here

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance - June 21

This definitive version of SMT V includes the base adventure along with a new storyline featuring new locations and demons. 

Star Wars: Battlefront Classic Collection - March 14

The original Battlefront games have been remastered and updated with features such as new playable characters Kit Fisto  and Asajj Ventress and bonus maps Jabba’s Palace, Bespin: Cloud City, and Yavin 4: Arena. 

Sword Art Online Fractured Daydream - 2024

Either alone or with a friend in co-op, you’ll tackle a distorted version of Sword Art Online that includes battling in 20-player raids against powerful enemies. 

Gundam Breaker 4 - 2024

Build your own Gundam, blow up other mechs, take their parts for your own ,and repeat. For Gunpla fans, the real thrill is assembling your own suits with parts from 250 base kits to take into battle or show off to others. 

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble - June 25

Sega revealed a brand-new Super Monkey Ball game featuring 200 fresh courses, 16-player multiplayer, and new moves for AiAi and friends. You can learn more here

World of Goo 2 - May 23 console exclusive

The long-awaited sequel comes to Switch first as a console exclusive this May

Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time - October 10

The Fantasy Life series gets a new chapter in which you can assume 14 different roles called Lives to build a town in the present and explore an island in the past to solve mysteries. You can also play in four-player co-op. 

Another Crab’s Treasure - April 25

As a hermit crab who’s lost its shell, you’re on an adventure to reclaim it. This involves using any piece of trash in a polluted ocean as a temporary shell, each with different abilities, to defend or attack underwater threats.

Penny’s Big Breakaway - Out today!

This throwback 3D platformer from the makers of Sonic Mania is out now! You can learn more here

Suika Game Multiplayer Mode Expansion

The adorable (and hard to put down) fruit-matching game gets paid DLC that adds a local 2-player battle mode, and the eventual addition of online multiplayer. Time Limit and Attack modes join the base game’s offerings. 

Pepper Grinder - March 28, Demo Out Today

The drill-centric platformer looks great and, if you checked out its recent Steam Next Fest demo, plays just as good. It’s got a release date and a free demo for Switch players to enjoy. 

Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! - Out On Switch Today

The formerly iOS-exclusive sequel to Pocket Card Jockey is coming back home to a Nintendo console

Contra: Operation Galuga - March 12, Demo Out Now

This modern reimagining of the original NES Contra, which features six playable characters, now has a release date. 

Rare games on Switch Online

A bundle of classic Rare games come to Nintendo Switch Online: Snake Rattle 'N' Roll, R.C. Pro-Am, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, Killer Instinct, and Blast Corps. Learn more here.

Endless Ocean Luminous - May 2

This new Endless Ocean title plunges players into an everchanging open ocean. You can dive alone or alongside up to 30 players online, where you’ll encounter 500 species of marine life, including extinct creatures. 

Additionally, here are some quick hits:

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley - March 7

Demon Slayer - Kimestsu no Yaiba - Sweep the Board! - April 26

Kingdom Come: Deliverance - Royal Edition - March 15

Pentiment Arrives On Switch Tomorrow

During today's Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase, we learned Grounded is coming to Switch this April, but that's not the only Obsidian-developed title fans can expect. Blending the adventure genre with a gorgeous storybook aesthetic, Pentiment was a critical darling when it launched on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC in 2022. Now, a new stable of players will have the chance to experience the title, as it is coming to Switch tomorrow.

Pentiment puts you in control of Andreas Maler, a 16th-century artist from Nuremberg who finds himself in the middle of several murder mysteries. Taking place over the course of 25 years, you must investigate the murders, collect physical proof, interview townsfolk, and accuse who you think committed the crime based on the evidence you gather. 

When it launched on Xbox in PC, Pentiment earned an 86 on reviews aggregate sites Metacritic and OpenCritic. Game Informer's Charles Harte felt similarly, awarding it an 8.5 out of 10, saying Pentiment is "a perfect example of this, telling a deep, complex story about religion, truth, and history in the form of a book, which the player experiences as it’s being written. Despite a few sections with inconsistent pacing, it’s a must-play for fans of adventure games."

Pentiment arrives on Nintendo Switch tomorrow, February 22. For more on the title, be sure to check out our review here. Pentiment joins Grounded as previous Xbox exclusives to come to Switch. According to Xbox's Phil Spencer, there are four games in total that will arrive on additional platforms in the near future. The other two are reportedly Sea of Thieves and Hi-Fi Rush, but neither was featured on today's Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase.

Sega Announces Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble For Switch

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble

Sega has revealed an all-new entry in the Super Monkey Ball franchise. Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble has the highest player count in series history, allowing up to 16 players to compete in various online game modes. 

Banana Rumble also features an Adventure mode, letting you roll through 200 new stages with up to four players online or locally. Characters are also highly customizable and have the ability to use the new Spin Dash move to compete in Race, Banana Hunt, Robot Smash, and more.

Super Monkey Ball Banana Rumble arrives on Switch June 25. Players who want to go bananas can pre-order the physical Legendary Banana Edition for $50, which includes the standard edition of the game, a slipcover for the box, a 40-page art book, and a reversible cover. If digital is more your thing, the Digital Deluxe Edition is $70 and includes the Sega Pass DLC Pack, which adds six iconic Sega characters to the roster, as well as bonus Sega-themed customization items. 

Penny's Big Breakaway Surprise Launches Today

Penny's Big Breakaway, a throwback 3D platformer by Evening Star (a team consisting of Sonic Mania developers), has surprised launched today. The news was revealed during this morning's Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase.

As Penny, you're joined by a sentient yo-yo companion to battle Eddie the Emperor and his army of penguins. You'll use your yo-yo buddy to swing and zip across 11 collectible-laden worlds. See it in action in the game's launch trailer below. The game is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and PC. 

You can watch us play Penny's Big Breakaway in this episode of New Gameplay Today for our hands-on impressions or read our in-depth feature breaking down the game's creation here

Elden Ring's Shadow Of The Erdtree DLC Trailer Promises A June Release Date

After a long wait, we finally have details about Elden Ring's upcoming DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree. Publisher Bandai Namco and developer From Software released the add-on's first official trailer this morning which revealed it is launching June 21. Bandai Namco is also releasing a physical version of the game, the Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Collector's Edition, which includes a statue and other goodies.

You can check out the trailer below.

The trailer begins by focusing on a setting where an optional boss appeared in the main game and where you can find Miquella's egg. The trailer shows new monsters and bosses, like a lion creature with a rotating head and another made entirely of flames. There are also new abilities, items, and weapons, one of which appears to be a roaring bear's head. There is also some kind a porcupine alligator creature and the player character sprouted angel wings in one fight. Those are just a few of the standout reveals.

 

The game's official product page does confirm a few additional details, like the name of the main boss seems to be Mesmer the Impaler. Shadow of the Erdtree is also not standalone despite carrying a $39.99 price tag. The page refers to it as an expansion and it will require the base game. Here's the official description.

The Shadow of the Erdtree expansion features an all-new story set in the Land of Shadow imbued with mystery, perilous dungeons, and new enemies, weapons and equipment.

Discover uncharted territories, face formidable adversaries, and revel in the satisfying triumph of victory. Dive into the riveting interplay of characters, where drama and intrigue intertwine, that create an immersive experience to savor and enjoy.

Follow the link to read Game Informer's Elden Ring review.

Nintendo Switch Online Is Getting A Number Of Classic Rare Games Today

It's not quite Rare Replay, but the Nintendo Switch is getting an influx of classic Rare games today. You can find the full list below.

  • Snake Rattle 'N' Roll for NES
  • R.C. Pro-Am for NES
  • Battletoads in Battlemaniacs for SNES
  • Killer Instinct for SNES
  • Blast Corps for N64

These games have been available with Rare Replay on Xbox consoles for some time, but it's nice to see them become available on the Nintendo Switch.

Grounded Arrives On Switch In April

Grounded

Following last week's Xbox podcast, where Phil Spencer said that four previous Xbox exclusives would be coming to additional platforms in the near future, today's Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase revealed the first of the four. Grounded, a four-player survival game where players assume the roles of children shrunken down to the size of bugs, is coming to Switch this April.

Grounded originally launched on Xbox One and PC in Early Access in June 2020, where it stayed until September 2022. This is in line with Spencer's comments that the Xbox games coming to other platforms will have been exclusive on Xbox for at least a year. The other rumored Xbox titles to come to other platforms are Tango Gameworks' Hi-Fi Rush, Rare's Sea of Thieves, and another Obsidian game, Pentiment. 

Grounded arrives on Switch on April 16 with cross-platform co-op, but you can also take on the miniaturized backyard challenges solo. For more on Grounded, check out our coverage hub right here.

Epic Mickey Is Coming To Nintendo Switch

Titled Disney Epic Mickey: Rebrushed, the Wii platformer is getting ported and somewhat upgraded for Switch. The game is apparently a "faithful" port of the game as the trailer didn't highlight much in terms of new content or upgrades. But the game does look undeniably sharper.

If you're unfamilair, Epic Mickey for Wii was a Wii game where a classic, mischievous Mickey finds a magic brush that lets him manipulate the world. Its legacy, however, is it marked the return of Walt Disney's original creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's return to Disney canon.

Disney Epic Mickey: Rebrushed arrives this year.

Princess Peach: Showtime! Preview - Landing The Part

Princess Peach Showtime

Platform: Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release:

What starts as a lovely evening visit to the Mushroom Kingdom’s Sparkle Theater turns into a hectic performance in Princess Peach: Showtime, in which Nintendo’s leading lady must help reclaim the playhouse from Grape and The Sour Bunch, a group of villains hellbent on stealing the spotlight. Peach must visit the theater’s many stages to assist the resident actors in getting the show back on track by transforming into special outfits to complete fun activities like cake decorating, ice skating, and sword fighting. 

My hands-on demo begins on the Sparkle Theater’s first floor, where I can enter four doorways in any order, each leading to a uniquely themed stage. Along the first path, I find a group of Theets, the bashful stewards of the playhouse, lamenting the theft of their baked sweets. With the help of a guardian named Stella, who gifts Peach a magic ribbon, I use my new ability to transform the Theets into sous-chefs who then draft a plan to prepare fresh pastries. 

Princess Peach Showtime

I run an errand to a nearby farming set to collect necessary confection-making ingredients, however, I discover the head baker has disappeared when I return to the kitchen, and Peach must take their place. Using Stella’s ribbon, Peach transforms into a patisserie outfit and begins a series of enjoyable Mario Party-like mini-games. In one, you must repeatedly tap the action button to leaven dough to make the fluffiest bread possible, but you can ruin the dish if you overmix it. The next mini-game is my favorite: Peach must decorate a batch of cakes according to increasingly complex designs before time runs out. The delicacy transforms into a beautiful display if you follow the instructions correctly, making for a satisfying conclusion.

After getting the play back on track, Peach visits other theaters that offer a familiar loop: rescue Theets from The Sour Bunch, help rebuild stage decorations, and unlock new transformations before confronting boss fights and other third-act encounters. Princess Peach: Showtime particularly excels in the variety it offers through these aforementioned transformations. Cowboy Peach is a blast to control, lassoing and throwing barrels at bosses while dodging incoming projectiles. Swordfighter Peach feels less inventive compared to off-the-wall variations like Figure Skater Peach, who competes in an ice skating competition against mind-controlled athletes. Lastly, Ninja Peach must evade watchtowers and patrolling guards with camouflage and wall-running abilities, which is novel when set against the backdrop of the Mushroom Kingdom. 

Princess Peach Showtime

As aesthetically appealing as they are, the Sparkle Theater’s sets are sometimes a pain to navigate –  mostly during small platforming segments wherein the 2D camera is at odds with the player’s ability to move Peach in a 3D space. While it’s frustrating to miss the occasional jump, it’s even more frustrating when the fixed camera perspective causes you to miss out on a collectible, some of which require you to replay the level if you miss them. 

I’m eager to try out more transformations like Dashing Thief Peach or Mighty Peach, the latter resembling Proto Man from the Mega Man series, but I’m still curious how much time we’ll get with each. Overall, Princess Peach: Showtime seems to fit well within Nintendo’s catalog of mascot action games, seemingly blending gameplay from Kirby and The Forgotten Land and Mario Party’s mini-games to make for a rousing return to the spotlight for Princess Peach.

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Kingmakers Brings Medieval Combat With An Amazing Twist

Kingmakers announcement trailer

Some may look at an early clip of Kingmakers and think they already know what to expect: tactical battles in which you command medieval armies across sweeping battlefields. And that’s partially true. But this new title by Redemption Road Games features an unexpected and absolutely absurd twist.

We’ll let the trailer speak for itself.

In Kingmakers, you control a soldier from a dying world in the future. To save your present, you must travel 500 years in the past to medieval England to change the course of a war to prevent a later apocalypse.

Since the protagonist evidently has no regard for blending in, he arrives fully strapped with modern weaponry such as assault rifles, shotguns, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and even helicopters to blow these knights back to Camelot. You’ll command your own medieval army, with gameplay seamlessly switching between zoomed-out RTS-style view to issue commands to various units and more action-focused third-person shooting.  

Redemption Road Games states Kingmaker’s armies are fully simulated by a next-generation multithreaded A.I. This allows them to execute advanced pathfinding, decision-making, and even a loyalty system, with a procedurally generated animation system helping bring the mobs to life. Kingmakers also feature co-op with up to three other players. Each ally commands their own army to work together to topple enemy fortresses or defend friendly strongholds. 

Redemption Road Games states in an X post that it has been working on Kingmakers for the last five years. It looks wild and is certainly a refreshing concept. Hopefully, it’s as fun as it looks, and we'll find out when it launches to PC via Steam sometime this year. 

Lady Gaga Is Coming To Fortnite

We've reached a point as a society where it feels like it's only a matter of time before your favorite celebrity gets added to Fortnite. When I see Patrick Mahomes, Lewis Hamilton, and Eminem all dueling it out in Battle Royale mode, I have to wonder – who is even left to add? Today, we got an answer: Lady Gaga, who will be coming to the game in some kind of collaboration this Thursday, February 22. Notably, the image released specifically says "Fortnite Festival," implying the crossover might be linked to the game's musical mode, likely in the form of instrument skins and songs.

The funniest part about this announcement is the manner in which it was announced. In 2019, Lady Gaga tweeted, "what is fortnight," either misspelling the popular video game or talking about something else entirely. Now, over four years later, she's corrected that spelling mistake with an asterisk while simultaneously announcing her appearance in the game.

Fortnite is the biggest game in the world, and it's getting even bigger in the future, thanks to a 1.5 billion-dollar investment from Disney. To learn more about its musical mode specifically, check out our interview with the head of Harmonix, the team behind Fortnite Festival.

Gearbox Is Reviving An Underrated MOBA-Hero Shooter In Gigantic: Rampage Edition

gigantic rampage edition

Developer Abstraction Games aims to resurrect Gigantic, the 5v5 MOBA-hero-shooter hybrid that went offline in 2018 – only a year after its full release. I recently played the upcoming revival, called Gigantic: Rampage Edition, and wished my session didn’t have to end. As an ardent fan of the original, jumping back into Gigantic is invigorating. Explosive fights erupt across the map’s many paths and objectives as each team races to expose and defeat the opposing squad’s Guardian with stylish spells and ultimate abilities. Notably, Gearbox Publishing is leaving the original’s free-to-play structure in the rearview, ditching microtransactions altogether for a $19.99 premium version featuring two new heroes, additional maps, console and PC cross-play, and updated gameplay systems.

Watch The Gigantic: Rampage Edition Announcement Trailer:

Notably, Game Informer's original Gigantic review wasn't as positive as I personally felt about the game. Did you play the original version? If so, what was your opinion? Do you think Gearbox can successfully find an audience this time around?

Check Out The First Images From The Live-Action Borderlands Movie

We're in a bit of a live-action video game adaptation golden age right now. Not every project is a hit, but there have been enough success stories that learning about a new film or TV show in the works doesn't instantly fill fans with dread. The latest example of that growing trend is the live-action Borderlands movie, which we just got our first official looks at, thanks to People.

Click to enlarge

This image shows the main line-up of the movie. Going clockwise, starting from the top left, Ariana Greenblatt is Tiny Tina, Florian Munteanu is Krieg, Jamie Lee Curtis is Tannis, Jack Black is the voice of Claptrap, Kevin Hart is Roland, and Cate Blanchett takes the lead role as Lilith. You can see a head-on image of her character below.

Click to enlarge

This film has been in the works for a while now, but outside of these images, there's not much new information. If you haven't seen it yet (or just need a refresher, since it's been over two years), here's the official synopsis from a 2021 press release:

Lilith (Blanchett), an infamous outlaw with a mysterious past, reluctantly returns to her home planet of Pandora to find the missing daughter of the universe’s most powerful S.O.B., Atlas (Ramirez). Lilith forms an alliance with an unexpected team – Roland (Hart), a former elite mercenary, now desperate for redemption; Tiny Tina (Greenblatt), a feral pre-teen demolitionist; Krieg (Munteanu), Tina’s musclebound, rhetorically challenged protector; Tannis (Curtis), the scientist with a tenuous grip on sanity; and Claptrap (Black), a persistently wiseass robot. These unlikely heroes must battle alien monsters and dangerous bandits to find and protect the missing girl, who may hold the key to unimaginable power. The fate of the universe could be in their hands – but they’ll be fighting for something more: each other.

IGN also shared the movie's first official poster.

Borderlands, directed by actor/director Eli Roth, hits theaters August 9.

What do you think of these new images? Are you excited for the movie? Let us know in the comments!

Send Us Your Questions And Rants For A Chance To Win A Game Informer Gold Copy Of The Apex Legends Issue

For every issue of Game Informer magazine, we print a handful of Game Informer Gold editions. These versions sometimes feature alternate art, have a gold embossed logo on the front, are individually numbered, and feature higher quality paper. They're very nice, and we reserve them for special occasions like charity auctions or, as is the case here, giveaways.

For the recent Apex Legends issue, we have two Game Informer Gold editions we are prepared to send to readers. For a chance at winning one of these collectible issues, we want to hear from you about what's on your mind about gaming and Game Informer. Send a message to our Replies section for a chance to be featured in our monthly magazine letters column.

If you fill out the form below before March 18, 2024, you will be entered to win one of two Game Informer Gold copies of our Apex Legends issue. In terms of the kind of feedback we're looking for, we want thoughtful responses to our content, general thoughts on the video game industry, your criticisms of previously released or upcoming games, or anything else that will make the magazine better. We're flexible! We want to know what's on your mind, and potentially share your thoughts and questions with the rest of Game Informer's readers.

We're looking forward to your responses and we hope you are looking forward to seeing your responses in the magazine. Good luck! And please enjoy a little necessary legalese before you fill out and submit the form below.

Giveaway valid for U.S. addresses only. Responses must reach a baseline level of quality and originality to be considered valid. Winners will be notified through the email address linked to their GameInformer.com account. If response is not received within 5 business days, winners may forfeit their prize.

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Pokémon Presents Returns Next Week To Celebrate Pokémon Day

Pokemon Presents Day Showcase 2023 Black White Remakes Legends Nintendo Switch

It's almost Pokémon Day, which means it's almost time for another Pokémon Presents. The Pokémon Company has announced that the annual showcase for the franchise will return next week on February 27. As for what to expect, no details were shared but if it's like previous Pokémon Day celebration showcases, it could be an exciting day for trainers. 

This news was revealed today on the official Pokémon X (formerly Twitter) account with a quick video showing a 3D Pikachu rushing onto the screen to pose in front of the Pokémon Presents logo while a retro rendition of a classic song plays. Now, instincts might tell you to read into this model and song but experience learned from previous announcements says it's not a tease – The Pokémon Company always does this kind of stuff and there's almost no relation to the big announcements of the showcase. 

Check out the announcement for yourself below

While there are no details about what to expect, a look back at previous Pokémon Day-specific Pokémon Presents showcases might provide some insight. During the 2022 Pokémon Day showcase, developer Game Freak announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, the Daybreak update for Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a mystery gift for the at-the-time-recent Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes, and a few other things. 

During last year's Pokémon Day showcase, Game Freak announced The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, the long-awaited release date for Pokémon Sleep, updates to Pokémon GO, and more. 

If I had to guess, this year's showcase will feature remakes of Pokémon Black and White, the fifth generation of the series released in 2011 on Nintendo DS in the U.S. If not those, then perhaps a new Pokémon Legends game; maybe both. If it's like the final months of 2021 and first few months of 2022, perhaps we'll get the remakes of Black and White at the end of this year and a Pokémon Legends: Kyurem or something like that at the top of 2025. 

Only time will tell but fortunately, we don't have to wait too long because Pokémon Presents returns Tuesday, February 27. 

What do you hope to see in this Pokémon Presents? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Nintendo Direct: Partner Showcase Airs This Wednesday Morning

Nintendo Partner Direct 2024

Nintendo will air a Partner Showcase of its Direct videos this week on Wednesday, February 21. Unlike a traditional Direct, Partner Showcases are presentations that highlight upcoming third-party games for Switch.

The Direct will air at 6 a.m. Pacific/9 a.m. Eastern on YouTube and will run for 25 minutes. Nintendo states in a press release that it will showcase “Nintendo Switch games coming in the first half of 2024 from our publishing and development partners.”

Ignoring the faint voice in my head whispering, “Hollow Knight: Silksong”, these are some noteworthy games with actual confirmed release dates within that window that could appear:

Numerous third-party games slated for 2024 lack release dates, so there’s always a chance some of those could get launch windows or new trailers, at least. Some big ones include Contra: Operation Galuga, Decapolice, the long-awaited Switch port of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Little Nightmares III, Neva, Pepper Grinder, Star Wars: Hunters, Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution, and The Plucky Squire.

Or we could also find out which of those four mysterious first-party Xbox games now going multiplatform is heading to Switch. Just a thought. 

Of course, there’s likely to be at least a few brand-new game announcements. Hopefully, it will be a fruitful Direct, and we luckily don’t have too much longer to wait and find out. What do you hope to see in the Partner Direct? Let us know in the comments!

Warframe Leaps To iOS Tomorrow

Warframe iOS

Warframe is making the jump to mobile devices, namely iOS, tomorrow, February 20. Now, fans of the popular sci-fi action MMO can continue playing anywhere.

The iOS version features 10 years' worth of content and supports cross-play and cross-progression, meaning players can bring their characters anywhere they go. Additionally, players who log in between February 20 and 27 receive a free day 1 award, including 3 Day Affinity Booster and Bombyx Syandana. Warframe is compatible with iPhones and iPads with the A12 bionic chip or later (12th generation iPhones/8th generation iPads and up). 

An Android version is also planned, but its release is currently unknown. You can, however, pre-register for that version on Warframe’s website

Will you be playing Warframe on iOS? Let us know in the comments! Be sure also to check out developer Digital Extreme’s upcoming fantasy game, Soulframe.

Helldivers 2 Review - Bullet Heaven

Helldivers II

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Platform: PlayStation 5, PC
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Release:
Rating: Mature

Nearly 10 years on from 2015's Helldivers, Helldivers 2 carefully adapts the simple yet exciting formula of bug-blasting with buddies for a modern audience. Arrowhead Game Studios has swapped the top-down perspective for third-person while maintaining the frenetic, ballistic loop of crash-landing on hostile planets, completing difficult missions, and extracting against all odds.

In a galaxy torn apart by war, you and your friends are Helldivers, the brainwashed protectors of Super Earth, invigorated by humorous trite aphorisms espousing patriotism and the importance of so-called democracy. Invading forces of menacing Automatons and craggy, organic Terminids threaten your way of life and have made their home on precious interstellar real estate. After earning the shining cape of “freedom” in the game's boot camp tutorial, you are set loose to tackle an impressive variety of punchy missions. Your objectives range from simple hive exterminations to complicated launch code recovery missions.

However, the exciting unpredictability of Helldivers 2 is secretly the game's best feature. Whether it's challenging terrain, wounded limbs, inclement weather, or a miscommunicated orbital strike that brutalizes your entire squad, your best-laid plans are destined to fall apart in devastating, hilarious fashion.

Combat in Helldivers 2 is all meat, no gristle. The movement feels fluid and reactive, whether you're sprinting to safety or comically leaping into prone to dodge the chainsaw arm of a lurching terminator. This means while you encounter similar biomes and objectives, the journey to meet your goals is always fraught with wonderful chaos. One great benefit to this system is Stratagems – abilities that can be accessed in combat by quickly inputting a sequence of D-pad button presses, like a Mortal Kombat Fatality.

After playing finger DDR, you're given a marker grenade to revive your teammates, resupply and call down offensive airstrikes, top-tier weaponry, minefields, and more. Getting the inputs wrong as bugs nip at your health induces a feverish cocktail of adrenaline and fear. However, when you do smash it in successfully and summon a shower of hellfire, saving your gunned-down compatriots, the heroism is intoxicating. Few games provide such powerful opportunities to play the hero as Helldivers 2.

The efficacy of each snappy run is dependent on who makes it off the planet and how many optional objectives you complete. Subsequently, this determines the XP, Requisition, Samples, and Medals you take home, an uncomplicated suite of resources used to develop your ship and purchase new weaponry, armor, and Stratagems. Helldivers 2 also offers free and premium battle passes and a Superstore where players can use a premium currency called 'Super Credits.' Thankfully, the paid content isn't overly intrusive and can easily be avoided as you progress through the campaign.

 

Helldivers 2's customizable kit makes it easy to specialize within teams; are you the ammo-carrying support act or the pyromaniac frontman dousing the battlefield in flames?  Despite my efforts, I was my team's problem child, flush with airstrikes and mines that negotiated as many spectacular escapes as they did squad wipes. There's nothing quite as humbling (or humorous) as stumbling into your own minefield during a desperate sprint to the shuttle.

Beyond its refreshingly straightforward feedback loop, even more enthralling is how your personal success impacts the overall narrative. Helldivers 2 operates on a live map, with players around the world slowly liberating quadrants of planets, their actions influenced by Major Orders passed down by central control. In an already collaborative game, this compounds the sense of community, making you feel like you're part of something bigger than even the heady emotional beats of your squad's missions.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle Helldivers 2 has to face is its own success; servers have been overrun since launch, leading to lengthy wait times and faltering progression systems. Yet, for me, the indoctrination is just too strong. I'm still compelled to wait my turn to get another taste of sweet victory in this live-service diamond in the rough.

GI Must Play

Score: 9

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Cameron Monaghan Would Reprise Jedi Survivor Role In Live-Action, If It Makes Sense

Respawn's work creating the Star Wars Jedi series is a hit among gamers and Star Wars fans alike, so it's no wonder people have wondered whether the characters in the game might ascend from cutscenes to the silver screens. The question has been asked in the past, but it was most recently brought up at a panel at FanExpo Vancouver 2024, according to The Direct.

The question was posed to Cameron Monaghan, known for his roles on Gotham and Shameless as well as his starring role as Cal Kestis in the Star Wars Jedi series. For Monaghan, it's not a question of whether he's willing to reprise his role as the character, but a question of the circumstances in which that character would appear.

"It would have to be right. By that I mean, it has to continue the story or the character in some way." Monaghan answered, according to The Direct. "I don't want him to just kind of show up to stand around and be there. I want him to mean something and for there to be a significance for the character itself. So, it would have to make sense. But in the right context then, yeah, absolutely."

With this answer, it sounds like a quick cameo is out of the question – Monaghan wants his presence to be significant to the character and the story, which is not unreasonable for an actor to ask. This matches up with a quote he gave Game Informer in a 2023 interview, where he said, "It's always been important with me with our stories that the drama, the stakes, the characters, should be clear regardless of whether or not you have any understanding of anything outside of it."

Of course, we're more eager to see him reprise his role in a new entry in Respawn's action-adventure series, though there's yet to be any official confirmation of another sequel. There are, however, reports that the studio is working on a first-person Mandalorian game set during the height of the Galactic Empire, so maybe Kestis will appear there instead. For more Respawn, check out our hub of exclusive coverage of the newest season of Apex Legends, along with our most recent cover story, which has been posted online for free.

[Source: The Direct]

Do you want to see a live-action Cal Kestis? Let us know in the comments!