Posts with «sports & recreation» label

FIFA isn't thrilled with EA's dominance of soccer games

Do you lament EA's dominance of soccer (aka football) games due to its licensing advantages? So does FIFA, apparently. Eurogamernotes that FIFA has issued a statement insisting that soccer gaming and eSports should have more than one party "controlling and exploiting all rights" — a not-so-subtle reference to EA. Accordingly, FIFA is talking to developers, investors and other groups to "widen" its gaming and eSports options.

The organization added this would help "maximize all future opportunities." It also reiterated its commitment to running eSports tournaments under its FIFAe brand.

The statement comes at a crucial moment for both EA and FIFA. EA's current licensing deal expires after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and New York Timessources claim talks have stalled between the two sides. FIFA reportedly wants more than double its current cut from EA (more than $1 billion over four years) while also limiting EA's rights to keep it to video games. EA, meanwhile, is considering new names for its soccer games while supposedly exploring new concepts like arena-based tournaments, NFTs and even highlights for real-world games.

A decision is expected by the end of 2021, according to The Times, but EA is hedging its bets by registering an "EA Sports FC" trademark. EA and FIFA have declined to comment on the talks.

In that context, FIFA's statement may serve as a warning shot — see things our way or miss out on a valuable licensing agreement. While EA's existing clout might help a non-licensed game sell, there's little doubt a generic game would lose players hoping to control Mbappé or Messi in real clubs. EA won't necessarily bow to FIFA as a result. It might, however, be more aware of what's at stake if deal negotiations fall apart.

Battlefield 2042’s Hazard Zone mode is about collecting intel with your team

As is the way of things when it comes to revealing a major game's features these days, EA has been drip-feeding info about Battlefield 2042 over the last several months. To wit, it has only just pulled back the curtain on Hazard Zone, one of the game's three main modes, a month before the November 19th release date.

Hazard Zone is about getting into the arena, retrieving data drives and escaping via an extraction point before a storm overwhelms you or enemies take you out. Only two teams can make it out, as only a couple of extraction windows will pop up at random locations (though only one player needs to get out for their team to win). Matches run for up to 20 minutes and will take place across all seven of Battlefield 2042's maps.

Survival is key here. You only have one life, but one of your three teammates can resurrect you if you're killed. Once your entire team is wiped out, it's game over. Still, if you're sneaky enough, you can win a match without firing a shot. Some satellites will already be on the ground at the start of a game, and more will drop in as the round progresses, so you'll need to adjust your strategy as you go.

Before the start of a round, you and your teammates can kit yourselves out with gadgets. Players can use money earned in previous matches (primarily by making it out with data drives) to buy gear like a scanner that shows data drive locations, a healing upgrade and a Squad Redeploy Call-in. The latter lets you revive dead squad mates; otherwise, you'll need to find a Redeploy Uplink somewhere on the map to bring back your buddies.

All of the XP you earn will go toward your overall Battlefield 2042 progression, which will boost your player level and unlock weapons. Teams are made up of unique characters — players will need to find specialists and loadouts that work in harmony to increase their chances of success.

Hazard Zone isn't quite a battle royale mode, since you don't need to be the last squad standing to win. Instead, it's objective-based and actually sounds a little like the main mode of Ubisoft's recently announced (and delayed) Ghost Recon Frontline. As with the other Battlefield 2042 modes, Hazard Zone supports 64 players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. On PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC, up to 128 players will square off on larger maps.

EA Sports is deleting ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden from 'Madden NFL 22'

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden will be removed from Madden NFL 22 and replaced with a generic character, EA Sports confirmed today on Twitter. The change will occur within the next few weeks and will roll out automatically in a title update. 

Gruden resigned from his position as Raiders head coach on October 11th amid reports that he routinely and for years sent racist, misogynistic and homophobic emails to colleagues.

— Madden NFL 22 (@EAMaddenNFL) October 13, 2021

Regarding the removal, EA Sports said, "Due to the circumstances of Jon Gruden's resignation, we are taking steps to remove him from Madden NFL 22. We will replace him with a generic likeness via a title update in the coming weeks."

Madden NFL 22 is the latest iteration of the legendary American football series, and it came out on August 20th for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Stadia.

'NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition' hits Apple Arcade on October 19th

NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition is one of several games that's bound for Apple Arcade in the coming weeks. The follow-up to NBA 2K21, which is also available on Apple's game subscription service, includes a new mode called The Association. You can become the general manager or head coach of an NBA franchise and put together your own team by scouting rookies, making trades and scooping up free agents while managing the budget.

The game features current NBA rosters and modes including quick match, online multiplayer and Blacktop, a 3v3 street basketball option. In MyCAREER mode, you can create your own player with a custom look, position, jersey number and play style. You can run drills on a custom court to practice and level up your player in the MyCOURT mode. NBA 2K22 Arcade Edition will debut on the same date as the NBA's 75th season tips off: October 19th.

Elsewhere, a classic iPhone title is coming to Apple Arcade this Friday. Tiny Wings first made waves back in 2011 as a one-button game in which you control a bird that slides down hills and launches into the air. It's one of those simple-in-concept, great-in-execution games that works so well on a mobile device. It'll be a solid addition to Apple Arcade.

Looking further ahead, Apple has announced the sequel to tower defense game Kingdom Rush is on the way to the service too. You'll protect your domain from dragons, human-snaffling plants and other deadly enemies in Kingdom Rush Frontiers TD, which first hit iOS back in 2013. It's coming to Apple Arcade soon.

Riot Games disables /all chat in ‘League of Legends’

Online games are rife with toxic behavior that can ruin the experience for players who just want to have fun. In an effort to curb verbal abuse in League of Legends, Riot Games has decided to disable /all chats for publicly matchmade games — temporarily, at least. The feature gives players a way to communicate with the opposing team and can be a source of fun banter. Game director Andrei Van Roon and lead game producer Jeremy Lee wrote in their announcement, though, that at the moment, negative interactions outweigh the positives due to the rise of in-game verbal abuse this year.

Teams will still see the other's emotes and CTRL+1-2-3-4 spam, and the change doesn't affect the chat function between allies at all. Riot knows there's still verbal abuse going on within team chats, and that the move won't eliminate the behavior from the game completely. The developer deems team chats too important to disable, however, since that's what people use to strategize and coordinate their actions. 

According to Polygon, the reaction to the change has mostly been negative, with people mentioning the fun experiences they've had bonding with players from opposing teams. Some even claim that most toxic behavior happens within team chats instead. van Roon has since clarified on Twitter that the plan is to test the change for a couple of patches, starting with patch 11.21, and then ask players for feedback. Riot could choose to keep or reverse the change based on the feedback it gets, though it could also keep it in some regions where the response to it is largely positive

A few more all chat test details:
- Plan is to test for a couple of patches, then survey player opinion
- Potential responses then include keeping the change, reverting it entirely, keeping it in regions positive on it and reverting elsewhere, changing which queues it applies to

— Andrei van Roon (@RiotMeddler) October 12, 2021

Kia’s Sorento plug-in hybrid is racing in the 1,500-mile Rebelle Rally

This week, the 2021 Rebelle Rally kicked off with participants in the all-female race embarking on a 1,500-mile trek across the deserts of Nevada and California. Hyundai’s Kia is fielding two modified Sorento plug-in hybrids as part of the event. In the spirit of the rally, the automaker asked LGE-CTS Motorsports, a female-owned shop in Southern California, to make the two vehicles race-ready.

Each one features underbody armor to protect its vulnerable internal components. Additionally, the shop fitted both Sorentos with bumper guards, skid plates and 1-inch spacers to elevate them just a bit higher off the ground. They’re riding on 17-inch KMC matte black wheels fitted with Hankook Dynapro AT2 tires. For carrying equipment, LGE-CTS removed the rear seats to make room for an interior cargo mounting system and added roof racks. Notably, the shop didn’t modify the powertrain of either PHEV.

We’re starting to see more and more electric vehicles take part in endurance races like the Rebelle Rally. At the end of April, Volkswagen’s ID.4 SUV took part in the Mexican 1000 Rally. The company’s Audi division is also getting ready to race a custom-built PHEV at the Dakar Rally at the start of next year. At this rate, it feels like it's only a matter of time before they become a more common sight at endurance races.

With 'Ghost Recon Frontline,' Ubisoft tries to cash in on the battle royale fad (again)

Remember Hyper Scape? No? Well, apparently neither does Ubisoft. The publisher is working on a new battle royale that will take players to the Tom Clancy universe. On Tuesday, the company announced Ghost Recon Frontline. Like many of its contemporaries, the free-to-play title will pit you and two other teammates against more than one hundred other players. 

If the Call of Duty: Warzone comparisons weren't inevitable already, Frontline moves the series away from its traditional third-person perspective to a first-person one. However, where Ubisoft's Bucharest studio hopes to differentiate the game is with a tweak to the battle royale formula. In Frontline's signature Expedition mode, you and your team will need to find three pieces of intel scattered across an island map. The twist is that you later need to extract that information by calling in an airlift. Other teams can ambush you during this crucial moment and steal the data you fought so hard to obtain. The playspace also won't get smaller as a match progresses.     

The franchise’s most recent outing, 2019’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, was, to put it mildly, a disastrous release for Ubisoft. Thanks to its unfinished state, the game performed so poorly in its first week of availability that the company delayed all of its biggest 2020 releases. It then went on to spend months patching Breakpoint, but the game never quite recovered from the reputation it earned at launch. Ubisoft said it plans to continue to support Breakpoint while working on Frontline.  

Ubisoft didn't share a release date for Ghost Recon Frontline, but it said it would hold a closed PC test starting on October 14th that people in select countries across Europe can sign up to take part in by visiting the game's website.

‘Metroid Dread’ had me screaming my head off

Thanks to my parents, I was introduced to Monty Python pretty young. And the family that watches absurdist British comedy together… has a lot of in-jokes. For example, Any time we’re, say, outside when it starts raining and we all scurry for shelter, someone in my family is bound to scream in a silly voice, “Run away! Run away!” That person was me while playing Metroid Dread, not just because it’s a fun thing to say: it’s the only way to survive that game for the first hour or so.

Metroid Dread is the fifth of the 2D adventures (not counting remakes) and the first new 2D installment in 19 years, since Metroid Fusion in 2002. And yet, I probably haven’t played a Metroid game since the ‘80s or ‘90s, so I was happy to see that the basic formula hasn’t changed. It’s still an exploration game where you’re trapped in a series of underground facilities and must find your way out by destroying enemies, blowing up walls, and squeezing through tight passages. That last one has been upgraded at least; while you’ll still eventually gain Samus’ famous morph ball technique, at the start of the game you can instead do a crouch-slide through tunnels by hitting L1. It’s kind of fun, except that there’s a bit of a learning curve in figuring out which passages are for sliding and which are for rolling. As you unlock new abilities, you can, of course, revisit old locations to attain items you couldn’t reach the first time around.


The story kicks off a little while after the end of Metroid Fusion, with Samus Aran once more being called upon to track down and destroy the parasitic creatures known as “X.” Familiarity with the previous game isn’t vital to understanding Dread, except that Samus can still absorb X nuclei to recharge her energy, and she remains susceptible to cold. Both of these traits come into play rather early in the game. Early on Samus is attacked by what appears to be a super-strong Chozo, losing her old equipment and abilities in the process (as is tradition). This puts her and the player back to square one, which certainly draws out the story but may frustrate long-time players. I understand why the game does this, but I still get annoyed because it’s a huge cliché at this point. I can only hope the payoff to the mystery of who this huge, unstoppable enemy is ends up being worth it.

In fairness it doesn’t seem any of those old tools would help with the new stealth elements of the game. You see, the facility is guarded by gangly giant robots called EMMI (“Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier”) that will stab you in the neck if they catch you. It’s a pretty visceral bit of animation, even if it cuts out before anything particularly gory. You can attempt a melee attack to knock them off, but in my dozen close encounters with the robots I never got that tactic to work once.


Instead, the game debuts a few new tools as you play that will help, like a spider magnet that lets you cling to ceilings and other high surfaces. The most valuable ability we’ve seen in previews so far is a cloaking field that will hide you from an EMMI while draining your energy (and eventually, life) bar. But both of these, along with more powerful weaponry, have to be picked up later in the game.

When you’ve just arrived on the planet, however, the biggest survival tactic in your arsenal will be running. Lots and lots of running and jumping and getting the hell out of there. The game will sort of warn you when one of the robots is nearby, and you can attempt to stay just out of range. A blue field means it’s just sort of around, yellow means it’s aware of your presence, and on red you better run like hell. Your best bet is to stay unnoticed, a task somewhat made somewhat trickier by the fact that this stealth game lacks a lot of stealth game mechanics. Crouching behind boxes does nothing, and you can’t slide up against the wall to go unnoticed. Nor do the EMMI subscribe to the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy: They will follow you into another room and, if you slip into an area where they cannot follow, they will try to find a way in.


The EMMI are quite fast, which makes the game itself quite ruthless. A few of my untimely deaths were due to being chased by one of the robots and not knowing where to go next. This game can be very unforgiving when you’ve just started exploring.

Still, despite being a Metroid newbie I found it engaging. Even as I got stabbed in the neck repeatedly I was always scanning the environment before the game blacked out, looking for the point where I screwed up and could do better. I only had 90 or so minutes with the game, so I didn’t have the luxury of slamming my head up against the wall to figure it all out. But when Metroid Dread comes out on October 8th, I am looking forward to having all the time to scream my head off and… run, run, run.

NFL reportedly wants Apple to be the next home for Sunday Ticket

The NFL's long-standing Sunday Ticket partnership with DirecTV is coming to an end, following an eight-year agreement the two reached in 2014. The viewing package is probably on the move and the league has reportedly picked its preferred new home for Sunday Ticket: Apple.

It doesn't seem likely that DirecTV, which has been one of the NFL's main TV partners for nearly three decades, will renew its deal. The NFL is looking for north of $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket rights, according to The Athletic, which is at least $500 million more than the satellite company is currently paying the league.

DirecTV has long been losing money on the package. It needs 5 million Sunday Ticket subscribers to cover the current fees, though CNBC reported the figure has been closer to 2 million on average. Combined with a sense that the NFL is diluting Sunday Ticket's value by shifting more games to other days, that doesn't exactly make reupping the deal an attractive proposition for DirecTV and parent company AT&T.

As such, potential suitors with deeper pockets appear to be stepping up. Apple, Disney/ESPN and Amazon, which will start streaming Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video next season, are among those who have reportedly shown interest.

It'll likely be several months before the Sunday Ticket bidding process is over, but Apple looks like the frontrunner. The Athletic reports that Apple is considering offering games on a more ad-hoc basis. It could let fans buy their own team's out-of-market games or even shell out for standalone games.

One factor in Amazon's favor is it has more experience than Apple when it comes to live sports. The company has streamed New York Yankees, Seattle Sounders, WNBA and some NFL games, as well as ATP tennis events.

'Pokémon Unite' has arrived on Android and iOS

Pokémon Unite is now available for download and is ready to play on Android and iOS. It's the same free-to-start MOBA with the same maps and monsters the launched on the Nintendo Switch in July, though the Pokémon Unite team recently rolled out a new update in preparation for its mobile debut. In a post on the game's official website, producer Masaaki Hoshino detailed the new features, starting with full cross-platform support and account linking capability across mobile devices and Nintendo Switch.

The game has also introduced Unite Squads, which allow Trainers to team up with squadmates. According to The Pokémon Company, Trainers can create their own squads with this feature or search for existing ones. Teams will be able to use "tags" to describe themselves to give people with the same interests a way to find them. The update brings a second battle pass with all-new cosmetic items, new in-game events, new held items and support for more languages, as well. 

Hoshino has also mentioned in the post that the team is currently developing a new mode designed "to level the playing field for all Trainers, regardless of their held items’ grades." While Hoshino didn't expound on the new mode, it could give people who don't spend a lot of money (if at all) to buy held items on the game a bigger chance to win against others who do.

Get ready, Trainers! Tomorrow, the battle continues as #PokemonUNITE arrives on mobile devices!

A new battle pass, new adventures, and a new way to play!

— Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) September 21, 2021