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xCloud is joining Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on 15th September

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 15:00

Microsoft's xCloud game streaming service will be made available as part of the company's Game Pass Ultimate on 15th September.

Game Pass Ultimate is Microsoft's top-tier Game Pass offering, bundling together subscription access to a sizeable range of PC and console games, as well as Xbox Live Gold, special member discounts, and perks. Come 15th September, however, that will be expanded to include over 100 games that can be streamed via xCloud to Android phones and tablets.

Additionally, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will have to access their Xbox friends list, achievements, controller settings, and saved progress once they've downloaded the official Xbox Game Pass app to their mobile devices.

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NBA 2K21 next-gen price hike reflects "quality of the experience"

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 13:00

NBA 2K21 publisher Take-Two Interactive has defended its decision to charge $10/£10 more for the game on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick told that the rise was designed to "reflect the quality of the experience" and that it was "an extremely modest price change given that prices haven't changed for a very long time".

Zelnick later added in an investor call that next-gen game pricing would still be decided on a "title-by-title basis", suggesting not every Take-Two release would see the same increase.

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Fall Guys is pure Saturday evening television

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 13:00

Forget the military mod origins and the Lost-style island lore. Deep down, Battle Royale belongs on TV at 7pm on a Saturday. In between a Simon Cowell putdown and the revelation that there's nothing in the fridge except chicken dippers of unknown provenance. Battle Royale belongs to the Expanded Cheggers Universe, and finally here is a game that knows it. Fall Guys wraps you up in foam and padding and then sends you across a bunch of soft play hellscapes (tautology?) in a fight to find the last Tic-Tac person standing. If this game was a building it would be on the edge of an industrial estate and they would give you grippy socks before you went in. And even then it would still smell of feet.

None of this is a criticism. Fall Guys made my daughter laugh so much and so quickly that it must be a kind of magic - snort-laughing, where giggles get backed up and then come out through the nose. You're dropped into a game with 59 other peanut people and you have to make it to the finish line, or stay out of the slime, or work together in groups to get a ball down an incline or something like that. Complicating things are rotor blades, see-saw platforms, huge plastic fruit tumbling towards you, or something like that.

People are knocked out of the competition after each round and by the end of it a single person, generally dressed as a pigeon or a carton of French fries, is the winner. You can spectate when you get iced, and in between games you can level up and spend in-game points on costumes and unlock stuff on a sort of Battle Pass. The shop rotates stock pretty regularly. It's all rather slick.

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Fortnite's delayed cars update finally fuels up tomorrow

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 11:51

This Fortnite season has been about two things: flood waters, and cars. Now, finally, with the map as dried out as it'll get and its new Atlantis-esque area revealed, it's time for those vehicles.

Fortnite doesn't usually name its updates, but has termed tomorrow's as "Fortnite Joyride". The introduction of drivable cars and trucks certainly feels big enough to warrant a title.

The game has had plenty of vehicles in the past, of course - hoverboards, golf karts, planes, helicopters - but has shied away from letting you get behind the wheel of the more realistic-looking cars which have sat stationary on its map.

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You can pre-download Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone's massive 36GB Season 5 update - on PS4 only

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 11:27

Another Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone season, another massive update - but this time you can pre-download... on PlayStation 4 only.

I grabbed the 36.182GB update last night, and this morning it was sat on my PS4 with a 7am 5th August install lock - that's the date Season 5 of Warzone and Modern Warfare goes live.

Pre-downloading is welcome, of course, but unfortunately you can't do it on PC and Xbox One. Why? According to Activision: "Xbox does not support the ability to pre-download. Similarly, does not currently support pre-downloads for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Warzone."

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QuakeCon sale live on GOG and Xbox stores

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 10:43

Just like everything else this year, QuakeCon has also become an online event, probably not what Bethesda would have wanted for its 25th anniversary. But the show goes on as QuakeCon at Home kicks off from 7th to 9th August with a global 60-hour Super Stream from featuring developer panels, live concerts, influencer streams and much more. Coinciding with this are huge QuakeCon sales running on both GOG and the Xbox Games Store.

Running until 17th August, the GOG QuakeCon Sale offers up DRM-free versions of some of Bethesda's best FPS games and RPGs on PC. While it's missing a few of the more recent releases, there's still a lot of great deals there especially if you want to catch up on some classics. Some of our picks include the following:

The Xbox QuakeCon Sale only runs until 11th August, but among the bargains is Doom Eternal for just £27.49 while deals apply to both Xbox One and Xbox 360, the latter naturally backwards compatible. Here's what caught our eye:

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Grindstone's horrors are perfect for a daily challenge mode

Tue, 04/08/2020 - 09:13

This weekend I've been playing Grindstone, the wonderfully bloodthirsty puzzle game from Capy that just got an update on Apple Arcade. And the update is a doozy. A daily mode! Daily Grind! Four levels each day, slice your way through them and then compete on the leaderboards. It's thrilling - a game that is perfect for the daily challenge now has one.

I've been wondering why a daily mode matters so much here, and I think it's down to why Grindstone is not only a very compulsive puzzle game but a fiendish and sometimes devastating one.

Very basic gist: Grindstone is a colour matching game. You have a grid filled with different baddies of a handful of different colours, and you move around slicing them down as you go. You can only chain baddies of the same colour together, though, unless you pass through a jewel which allows you to switch - pink to yellow, say; green to blue.

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Spider-Man is coming to Marvel's Avengers, but as a PlayStation exclusive

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 20:45

UPDATE: 4/8/20: In another burst of news that's sure to vex Xbox and PC players, Sony has shared details of yet more Marvel's Avengers PlayStation exclusives, including special in-game events, rewards, and 30-days early access to certain cosmetics for all heroes.

Following yesterday's news that Spider-Man will be a PlayStation exclusive when he joins the Avengers roster next year, Square Enix has revealed that PlayStation owners will also get 30-days exclusive access to a Legendary Outfit, Legendary Emote, Epic Takedown, and nameplate for every new hero upon their release. This includes all six launch day heroes.

Additionally, as outlined in a new blog post introducing the game's Community Challenges - essentially, events that require players to work together on a large scale to accomplish a goal and earn rewards - developer Crystal Dynamics has confirmed it's prepping a series of Community Challenges that will only be available to PlayStation players.

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Microsoft details Xbox's "faster, safer and easier" store redesign

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 20:10

Microsoft has offered a look at its revamped and redesigned digital store for Xbox, which will be made available to at least some of those users signed up to its Insiders testing programme starting this Wednesday, 5th August.

The redesign is being referred to as the "all-new Microsoft Store on Xbox" (that non-specificity supporting earlier reports that no radical UI overhaul is planned for the next-gen Xbox Series X), and Microsoft calls it "faster, safer and easier" in its announcement post.

On the faster front, Microsoft says the store now loads in under two seconds on consoles, and offers "greatly improved" browsing performance.

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We upgraded PS4 Pro with an 8TB SSD: can we make a better console?

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 19:09

Way back in 2013, the idea of upgrading a PlayStation 4 with solid-state storage was an option - but not a realistic one when the cost per gig was so prohibitively expensive. Today though, SATA-based SSDs are more affordable and as developers push the hard drive harder, loading times and streaming issues are more prevalent. We've been asked to revisit SSD performance for PS4 for some time - and to do so, we've deployed a nuclear option: Samsung's new 870 QVO SSD. To test PS4 SSD performance to its ultimate potential, we effectively have an eight terabyte console. Even factoring in reserved space, we should be getting an order of magnitude more storage than the 825GB PlayStation 5.

To put the drive more fully through its paces, we opted to install it in PlayStation 4 Pro where its SATA-3 interface could perhaps offer more bandwidth and where the faster 2.13GHz AMD Jaguar CPU cores should crunch through compressed data far more quickly. It's the best way possible to enhance the console - but what advantages does it actually deliver? Can we address the long load times of games like The Witcher 3? Can we mitigate the ugly pop-in issues in Final Fantasy 7 Remake? And crucially, what's the difference between running this beast as a USB add-on drive as opposed to using it to replace the internal stock hard drive? These are the questions we've been asked over the months and now we've got some answers.

You can find out more about the Samsung QVO line in prior coverage but how it achieves its remarkable level of storage is fascinating and indeed controversial. Along with other recent high capacity drives, QLC NAND is used, allowing four bits per cell (as opposed to the two to three bits in prior NAND technology). This is combined with the vertical stacking of memory modules to increase storage density. The downside to QLC NANDs is slower read and write speeds but Samsung mitigates this with a large DRAM cache - 8GB in the case of the 8TB QVO 870. Samsung promises a max read of 560MB/s and write of 530MB/s - and our tests pull respectably close to both. There are concerns about QLC NAND's longevity in terms of endurance but that's unlikely to be a concern on games console where data is written relatively infrequently.

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Microsoft reportedly binning ugly "optimised for Xbox Series X" sticker

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 17:27

Microsoft has heard your feedback on its hulking green "Optimised For Xbox Series X" stickers, which it has been slapping willy-nilly all over Xbox Series X game boxes.

The bulky logo has been quietly removed from the box art of Codemasters' Dirt 5, with other games now expected to follow suit.

Microsoft's chonky icon was meant to indicate the game will look better on Xbox Series X, despite it instantly making game boxes look worse.

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Boy in the Striped Pyjamas writer accidentally includes Zelda recipe in new novel

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 16:34

Nintendo has yet to turn the Legend of Zelda series into novels, but Irish author John Boyne appears to have gotten an accidental head start.

In his latest book, A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom, the award-winning writer of Holocaust tragedy The Boy in the Striped Pjyamas includes several descriptions of how to dye clothes red.

Unfortunately, these descriptions are recipes from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, apparently sourced from video game guides on Google.

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Someone's taken apart Lego Mario and the results are terrifying

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 15:59

In a cross between a tech breakdown and an autopsy video, someone has filmed the new Super Mario Lego unit being taken to pieces.

What inspired this kind of digital dissection, I am not sure. And while Beyond the Brick's Boone Langston claims the unit in his teardown is faulty, there's something unnerving about seeing its eyes spring to life when batteries are put in.

The Lego Super Mario unit is, unsurprisingly, well built, as most Lego is, which means there comes a point in the video where Langston needs to start snapping bits off to get inside. As a fan of Lego and Mario, it's upsetting, frankly.

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PlayStation's next State of Play broadcast arrives Thursday

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 15:09

PlayStation's next Nintendo Direct-style State of Play broadcast takes place this Thursday, 6th June at 9pm UK time.

As detailed by PlayStation on Twitter, you should expect "no big PS5 announcements" during the stream.

What will you get? Well, the focus for now will be on PS4 and PSVR titles, along with a few third-party and indie PS5 games which have previously been announced.

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PS4 Dualshock won't work with PS5 games

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 14:31

PlayStation has detailed which PS4 peripherals you'll be able to use with PS5 - and there's bad news for the DualShock 4.

While you will be able to use the PS4's pad to play some PS4 games on PS5, you won't be able to use it as a PS5 game controller.

Every PS5 will come with its new DualSense controller, of course, but this rules out using your DualShock as a second PS5 game pad.

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Ubisoft exec Tommy François leaves company

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 12:13

Another senior Ubisoft staff member has left the company amid its ongoing investigations into sexual harassment and abuse.

This time, it's Tommy François, who was placed on leave in June after facing multiple claims of misconduct.

Business Insider's Samuel Horti broke the news via Twitter yesterday, after seeing an internal memo announcing François' departure penned by Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot.

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Save on the Yakuza games from Fanatical

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 12:07

If you haven't yet set foot on the streets of Kamurocho, then now's the time as you can save a lot on the Yakuza games on PC.

I for one am gutted that I had to cancel my trip to Japan this year, while the Tokyo Olympics also got postponed. But if you ever wanted a virtual tour through one of the most special (and seedy) parts of Tokyo, then the Yakuza games are a great place to start. Over on Fanatical, you can pick up the Yakuza bundle, which includes Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2, for just £20.99.

If you're not sure about going for them all at once, you can also buy them separately, and Yakuza 0 is an absolute steal for just £3.44. It's also arguably the best of the bunch - after all, there's a disco-dancing mini game and you can recruit a chicken to help you build your real estate empire.

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Save 10% off Horizon Zero Dawn on PC from Green Man Gaming

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 10:39

The former PS4 exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn finally makes its ways to PC this Friday, and you can save 10% off when you pre-purchase from Green Man Gaming.

This is the complete edition, which includes the Frozen Wilds expansion as well as a host of extra in-game gear and a digital art book. The game may have been out on PS4 for over three years now but this is the definitive version of the game (provided you've got the PC hardware to match), with ultra-widescreen support, unlocked framerates and other visual improvements like dynamic foliage and improved reflections.

While you're over at Green Man Gaming, don't forget they're also having their Summer Sale with discounts for over 2000 titles, and today is the last day to take advantage of the offers.

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If you really want to learn from Good Sudoku I reckon Arcade mode is the way to go

Mon, 03/08/2020 - 10:07

Sudoku is the game where you have to be certain about things. Your job is to put the numbers from 1-9 into each and every row, column, and 3x3 "house" of a 9x9 grid, and you do this by using the scattering of numbers that are already there. You only write a number down when you are absolutely certain it's right, and you trust the game to parcel out this certainty so there is always progress to be made.

For years I have been stuck at the very base of the great Sudoku tree. I know how to slice and dice, but this only sees me through the very basic puzzles. Now Zach Gage and Jack Schlesigner have created Good Sudoku. It's another Sudoku app for smartphones, of which there are many, but this one is different. It wants to teach you how to get better at Sudoku. It's a sort of Sudoku academy.

I have been playing this for the last few weeks, and it's taken a while for it to click. A central idea here is that you can get hints when you're stuck: the program that made each Sudoku can point out where you should turn your attention to next when you can't see the way ahead. This is neat stuff, but along with auto-noting - the ability to automatically keep track of the possible number options for each square - and a neat thing that lets you highlight a number and see all possible spaces where that number might go, Good Sudoku seemed... well, it seemed to automate a little too much. How could I learn Sudoku from this game that seemed to be able to play Sudoku so well without me? And these handy helpers seemed to enforce their own bad habits - their own reliances - which made me feel that the lessons I learned in the app would not really come across to Sudoku on paper.

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