Posts with «video games» label

SNK is making its first new Fatal Fury game in 23 years

Many classic fighting game series have a reasonably consistent stream of sequels, but not Fatal Fury — the last title (Garou: Mark of the Wolves) made its appearance on the Neo Geo in 1999. SNK is ready to make amends after 23 years, however. The developer has confirmed work on a new Fatal Fury game. The teaser trailer below reveals nothing about the gameplay, plot, platform support or release date, but the company claimed the sequel would represent a "new turning point" in fighters — don't expect much humility, then. 

The franchise played an important role in SNK's history, and by extension fighting games as a whole. The first game, 1991's Fatal Fury: King of Fighters, made a splash at a time when Street Fighter II dominated the genre. It was designed by the original Street Fighter's Takashi Nishiyama, and focused more on story and special moves than SF2's combos. It showed that there was room for multiple games in the upper pantheon of fighting games, and ultimately spawned the still-active King of Fighters series.

The challenge, of course, is persuading gamers to revisit Fatal Fury. The fighting game world has evolved considerably in the past two decades, ranging from 3D series like Tekken through to many-character extravaganzas like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It's a crowded arena, and there's no certainty that nostalgia will give SNK an edge.

‘GoldenEye 007’ fans are creating a full game mod based on ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

There's a mod in the works for Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye 007 that turns another James Bond film into a full game. Fans are building a playable version of The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore's third, and some would argue best, Bond movie.

As spotted by EuroGamer, YouTuber Graslu00 posted a playthrough video showing 11 levels of The Spy Who Loved Me 64. The mod depicts the key events and locations of the film, taking Bond from the Alps to the pyramids of Egypt and a supertanker in the Atlantic Ocean. It includes Moore's likeness, as well as characters such as Anya Amasova (aka Agent XXX) and villain Karl Stromberg. It's possible to run the mod on an emulator in 4K at 60 frames per second, though you can also play it on an N64 console.

It's a work in progress, as Graslu00 notes. The build of The Spy Who Loved Me 64 that's available on N64 Vault is a demo of the first three levels with a peek at a planned four-player multiplayer mode. It looks like there's quite a way for the fans working on the game to go, though. The stage select screen shows 20 levels including, curiously, Bond's childhood home of Skyfall — that seems to be one of the multiplayer maps.

Meanwhile, there's an official James Bond title in the works. It emerged in late 2020 that Hitman studio IO Interactive is developing a game that delves into the superspy's origins. It's expected to be the first official Bond game since 2012's 007 Legends.

'Among Us VR' beta signups are now open

Among Us is about to enter the realm of virtual reality. If you're lucky, you might even be able to try Among Us VR before it's officially released later this year. Signups are now open for the spin-off's beta.

As you might expect, Among Us VR shifts the action from a top-down perspective to a first-person view. That ups the ante a bit, since you may not be able to tell if a potential impostor is just behind you. There's also proximity voice chat and the option to accuse other players of being an imposter with literal finger pointing.

Schell Games, which is behind puzzle game series I Expect You To Die, worked with original Among Us developer Innersloth on the virtual reality version. Among Us VR will be available on Meta Quest 2, Steam VR, PlayStation VR and, when it's available, PSVR 2.

do you own a VR headset?
do you have an internet connection?
do you want to try Among Us VR early?

sign up for Beta Test tasks here and help out the beans!https://t.co/oq5zynIVTApic.twitter.com/EFbitLFKVO

— Among Us VR (@AmongUsVR) August 3, 2022

Blizzard may have canceled a 'World of Warcraft' mobile spinoff

Arclight Rumble wasn't going to be the only upcoming Warcraft mobile game, according to a report. Bloombergsources claim Blizzard and NetEase have canceled a World of Warcraft spinoff mobile title that had been in development for three years. Nicknamed Neptune, it would have been a massively multiplayer game set in a different era of the fantasy universe. It wouldn't simply have been a WoW phone port, to put it another way.

While the exact reasons for the cancelation weren't mentioned, one of the insiders said Blizzard and NetEase "disagreed over terms" and ultimately decided to scrap the unannounced game. NetEase supposedly had over 100 developers attached to the project. The two were rumored to have previously canceled another Warcraft mobile release, a Pokémon Go-style augmented reality game, after four years of effort.

Spokespeople from both companies declined to comment. If the rumor is accurate, it suggests Blizzard is struggling to adapt to the rise of mobile gaming. While Diablo Immortal appears to be a success and is joining the well-established Hearthstone, the developers will still have sunk massive resources into other games that never reached players.

There are strong incentives to take these risks, however. Mobile games can be highly lucrative, particularly in countries like China — Genshin Impact has pulled in $3 billion since release, according to Sensor Tower estimates. A hit could easily boost Blizzard's bottom line, not to mention spur demand for its existing computer- and console-bound games.

The best Nintendo Switch games for 2022

Just five years ago, Nintendo was at a crossroads. The Wii U was languishing well in third place in the console wars and, after considerable pressure, the company was making its first tentative steps into mobile gaming with Miitomo and Super Mario Run. Fast-forward to today: The Switch is likely on the way to becoming the company’s best-selling “home console” ever, and seven Switch games have outsold the Wii U console. Everything’s coming up Nintendo, then, thanks to the Switch’s unique hybrid format and an ever-growing game library with uncharacteristically strong third-party support.

However, the Switch's online store isn't the easiest to navigate, so this guide aims to help the uninitiated start their journey on the right foot. These are the games you should own — for now. We regularly revise and add to the list as appropriate. Oh, and if you've got a Switch Lite, don't worry: Every game on the list is fully supported by the portable-only console.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the best game in the series yet. It streamlines many of the clunky aspects from earlier games and gives players plenty of motivation to keep shaping their island community. As you'd expect, it also looks better than any previous entry, giving you even more motivation to fill up your virtual home and closet. The sound design reaches ASMR levels of brain-tingling comfort. And yes, it certainly helps that New Horizons is an incredibly soothing escape from reality when we're all stuck at home in the midst of a global pandemic.

Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons at Amazon - $60

Astral Chain

Nintendo

I was on the fence about Astral Chain from the day the first trailer came out until a good few hours into my playthrough. It all felt a little too generic, almost a paint-by-numbers rendition of an action game. I needn't have been so worried, as it's one of the more original titles to come from PlatinumGames, the developer behind the Bayonetta series, in recent years.

In a future where the world is under constant attack from creatures that exist on another plane of existence, you play as an officer in a special force that deals with this threat. The game's gimmick is that you can tame these creatures to become Legions that you use in combat. Encounters play out with you controlling both your character and the Legion simultaneously to deal with waves of mobs and larger, more challenging enemies. As well as for combat, you'll use your Legion(s) to solve crimes and traverse environments.

Astral Chain sticks closely to a loop of detective work, platforming puzzles and combat — a little too closely, if I'm being critical — with the game split into cases that serve as chapters. The story starts off well enough but quickly devolves into a mashup of various anime tropes, including twists and arcs ripped straight from some very famous shows and films. However, the minute-to-minute gameplay is enough to keep you engaged through the 20-hour or so main campaign and into the fairly significant end-game content.

Does Astral Chain reach the heights of Nier: Automata? No, not at all, but its combat and environments can often surpass that game, which all-told is probably my favorite of this generation. Often available for under $50 these days, it's well worth your time.

Buy Astral Chain at Amazon - $60

Celeste

MattMakesGames Inc.

Celeste is a lot of things. It's a great platformer, but it's also a puzzle game. It's extremely punishing, but it's also very accessible. It puts gameplay above everything, but it has a great story. It's a beautiful, moving and memorable contradiction of a game, created by MattMakesGames, the indie studio behind the excellent Towerfall. So, Celeste is worth picking up no matter what platform you own, but its room-based levels and clear 2D artwork make it a fantastic game to play on the Switch when on the go.

Buy Celeste at Amazon - $20

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Square Enix

Dragon Quest XI is an unashamedly traditional Japanese role-playing game. Most of the characters are established RPG tropes: mute protagonist-who’s-actually-a-legendary-hero, sister mages, mysterious rogue and the rest. Then there’s the battle system, which has rarely changed in the decades of the series. (There’s a reason that this special edition features a 16-bit styled version of the game: The mechanics and story work just as well in more... graphically constrained surroundings.) While the story hits a lot of familiar RPG beats, everything takes an interesting turn later on. And through it, the game demands completion. RPGs require compelling stories, and this has one. It just doesn’t quite kick in until later.

This eleventh iteration of the series also serves as a celebration of all things Dragon Quest. Without getting too deep into the story, the game heavily references the first game, taking place in the same narrative universe, just hundreds of years later.

The Switch edition doesn’t offer the most polished take on the game — it’s available on rival consoles — but the characters, designed by Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame, move around fluidly, in plenty of detail despite the limits of the hybrid console. And while it’s hard to explain, There’s also something just plain right about playing a traditional JRPG on a Nintendo console.

Buy Dragon Quest XI S at Amazon - $55

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Nintendo

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one hell of a game. Developer Intelligent Systems made a lot of tweaks to its formula for the series' first outing on the Nintendo Switch, and the result of those changes is a game that marries Fire Emblem's dual personalities in a meaningful and satisfying way. You'll spend half your time as a master tactician, commanding troops around varied and enjoyable battlefields. The other half? You'll be teaching students and building relationships as a professor at the finest school in the land.

Buy Fire Emblem: Three Houses at Amazon - $60

Hades

Supergiant Games

Hades was the first early access title to ever make our best PC game list, and the final game is a perfect fit for Nintendo’s Switch. It's an action-RPG developed by the team behind Bastion, Transistor and Pyre. You play Zagreus, son of Hades, who's having a little spat with his dad, and wants to escape from the underworld. To do so, Zagreus has to fight his way through the various levels of the underworld and up to the surface. Along the way, you’ll pick up “boons” from a wide range of ancient deities like Zeus, Ares and Aphrodite, which stack additional effects on your various attacks. Each level is divided into rooms full of demons, items and the occasional miniboss.

As Hades is a “roguelike” game, you start at the same place every time, with the levels rearranged. With that said, the items you collect can be used to access and upgrade new weapons and abilities that stick between sessions. Hades initially caught our attention just for its gameplay: You can jump in for 30 minutes and have a blast, or find yourself playing for hours. As the game neared its final release, the storytelling, world-building and its general character really started to take shape — there’s so much to do, so many people to meet and even some romance stuffed in there. You could play for hundreds of hours and still have fun.

Buy Hades at Amazon - $30

Hollow Knight

Team Cherry

This was a real sleeper hit, and one of very few Kickstarter games to not only live up to but exceed expectations. Hollow Knight is a 2D action-adventure game in the Metroidvania style, but it's also just a mood. Set in a vast, decrepit land, which you'll explore gradually as you unlock new movement and attack skills for your character, a Burtonesque bug-like creature. Short on both dialogue and narrative, the developers instead convey a story through environment and atmosphere, and it absolutely nails it.

You'll start out feeling fairly powerless, but Hollow Knight has a perfect difficulty curve, always allowing you to progress but never making it easy. For example, it borrows the Dark Souls mechanic where you'll need to travel back to your corpse upon death to retrieve your "Geo" (the game's stand-in for Souls), which is always a tense time. Throughout it all, though, the enemies and NPCs will never fail to delight. For a moody game, it has a nice sense of humor and levity imbued mostly through the beautifully animated and voiced folks you meet. Given its low cost and extremely high quality, there's really no reason not to get this game. Trust us, it'll win you over.

Buy Hollow Knight at Amazon - $15

Into The Breach

Subset Games

When is a turn-based strategy game not a turn-based strategy game? Into the Breach, an indie roguelike game where you control mechs to stem an alien attack, defies conventions, and is all the better for it. While its core mechanics are very much in the XCOM (or Fire Emblem, for that matter) mold, it's what it does with those mechanics that's so interesting. A traditional turn-based strategy game plays out like a game of chess — you plan a move, while predicting what your opponent will do in return, and thinking ahead to what you'll do next, and so on, with the eventual goal of forcing them into a corner and winning. At the start of every Into the Breach turn, the game politely tells you exactly what each enemy character is going to do, down the exact square they'll end on and how much damage they'll inflict. There are no hit percentages, no random events, no luck; each turn is a puzzle, with definitive answers to how exactly you're going to come out on top.

Into the Breach battles are short, and being a roguelike, designed to be very replayable. Once you've mastered the basics and reached the end, there are numerous different mechs with new attack and defense mechanics to learn and master as you mix-and-match to build your favorite team. If you're a fan of either puzzle or turn-based strategy games, this is a must-have.

Buy Into The Breach at Amazon - $15

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild signals the biggest shift in the series since the Nintendo 64's Ocarina of Time, and it might well be one of the best games of the past decade. It pulls the long-running series into modern gaming, with a perfectly pitched difficulty curve and an incredible open world to play with. There's crafting, weapons that degrade, almost too much to collect and do and a gentle story hidden away for players to discover for themselves. Even without the entertaining DLC add-ons, there's simply so much to do here and challenges for every level of gamer.

Buy Breath of the Wild at Amazon - $40

Disco Elysium Final Cut

ZA/UM

Disco Elysium is a special game. The first release from Estonian studio ZA/UM, it's a sprawling science-fiction RPG that takes more inspiration from D&D and Baldur's Gate than modern combat-focused games. In fact, there is no combat to speak of, instead, you'll be creating your character, choosing what their strengths and weaknesses are, and then passing D&D-style skill checks to make your way through the story. You'll, of course, be leveling up your abilities and boosting stats with items, but really the game's systems fall away in place of a truly engaging story, featuring some of the finest writing to ever grace a video game.

With the Final Cut, released 18 months after the original, this extremely dialogue-heavy game now has full voice acting, which brings the unique world more to life than ever before. After debuting on PC, PS5 and Stadia, Final Cut is now available for all extant home consoles – including Nintendo’s Switch. Loading times are a little slower than on other systems, so it might not be the absolute best platform to play it on, but Disco Elysium is an experience unlike the rest of the Switch library, which is why it makes it on this list.

Buy Disco Elysium Final Cut at Amazon - $40

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Nintendo

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's vibrancy and attention to detail prove it's a valid upgrade to the Wii U original. Characters are animated and endearing as they race around, and Nintendo's made bigger, wider tracks to accommodate up to 12 racers. This edition of Mario Kart included gravity-defying hover tires and automatic gliders for when you soar off ramps, making races even more visually thrilling, but at its core, it's Mario Kart — simple, pure gaming fun. It's also a great showcase for the multitude of playing modes that the Switch is capable of: Two-player split-screen anywhere is possible, as are online races or Switch-on-Switch chaos. For now, this is the definitive edition.

Buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at Amazon - $50

OlliOlli World

Roll7

OlliOlli and its sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, were notoriously difficult to master. They were infuriating, but also extremely satisfying when you pulled off just the right combo of tricks and grinds needed for a big score.

I was worried that OlliOlli World’s colorful and welcoming new direction for the series was going to dispense with that level of challenge, but I shouldn’t have been concerned. Developer Roll7 made a game that’s significantly more approachable than the original titles — but one that keeps the twitch-response gameplay and score-chasing highs intact for those who crave them.

It’s hard to sum up exactly what makes OlliOlli World so compelling, but the game mixes serious challenges with moments that let you really get into that elusive flow state, where you’re just pulling off tricks, riding rails and generally tearing through a course without thinking too much about what you’re doing. The music, sound effects, art style, level design and variety of moves you can pull off all contribute to this vibe — and even though the game looks entirely different from its predecessors, the end result is the same: skateboarding bliss.

Buy OlliOlli World at Amazon - $30

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

Nintendo

Super Mario 3D World was unfairly slept on when it originally launched in 2013, mostly due to the fact very few people had a Wii U. It's a superb translation of old-school Mario mechanics into 3D (Mario 64 is a masterpiece, yes, but unless you're a speed-runner it doesn't quite have the pace of the NES and SNES games). It's also a great multiplayer game, as you can play simultaneously with three other players and race through levels — the winner of each level gets to wear a crown in the next.

With the move to the Switch, and Nintendo finally starting to figure out online gaming, you can now do that remotely, which is a huge plus. The bigger addition is Bowser's Fury, an all-new game of sorts that plays more like a blend of Super Mario Odyssey and 3D World. There are some really creative challenges that feel right out of Odyssey, blended with the lightness and speed of the Wii U game. (It should be noted that Bowser's Fury is also only good for one or two players, unlike the main game.) We'd recommend 3D World just on its own, but as a package with Bowser's Fury, it becomes a much better deal.

Buy Super Mario 3D World at Amazon - $60

Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo

Super Mario Odyssey might not represent the major change that Breath of the Wild was for the Zelda series, but it’s a great Mario game that's been refined across the last two decades. Yes, we got some important modern improvements, like maps and fast travel, and the power-stealing Cappy is a truly fun addition to Mario's usual tricks. But that core joy of Mario, figuring out the puzzles, racing to collect items and exploring landmarks, is here in abundance.

Buy Super Mario Odyssey at Amazon - $60

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo

This is the ultimate distillation of Nintendo's multiplayer fighting game. The series' debut on Switch brings even more characters from beyond Nintendo's stable. If you're sick of Mario, Pikachu and Metroid's Samus, perhaps Final Fantasy VII's Cloud, Solid Snake or Bayonetta will be your new go-to character. There are about 80 characters to test out here (although 10 of them are locked behind DLC).

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features a divisive new single-player mode where you augment characters with stickers, battling through special conditions to unlock more characters and, yes, more stickers. At its core, Smash Bros. games combine fast-paced, chaotic fights with an incredibly beginner-friendly learning curve. Yes, some items are confusing or overpowered, but your special moves are only a two-button combination away. Turning the tables is built into the DNA of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, ensuring thrilling battles (once you've sorted handicaps) for everyone involved.

Buy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at Amazon - $60

Amazon Luna arrives on Samsung's latest smart TVs

Earlier this year, the Samsung Gaming Hub brought Xbox Game Pass, NVIDIA GeForce Now, Google Stadia and other gaming services to Samsung smart TVs and smart monitors, promising to add new services like Amazon Luna "soon." Soon, it turns out, is today: Amazon's cloud gaming service is now available on 2022 Samsung smart TVs.

Samsung says that with Luna, the gaming hub now has more than 1000 games available to play. Most of these games will require an extra subscription fee, though if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, you already have access to a small library of games. Very small. Right now Prime users can play four games (Steel Assault, MYST, Control: Ultimate Edition and Garfield Kart: Furious Racing) included with their subscription.

The selection of free with Prime games changes every month, but users can subscribe to additional channels to expand their library. Luna Plus, for instance, includes games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Mega Man 11, Ghostrunner and Resident Evil VII. Luna's Retro Channel has a collection of classic games, from Centipede to Street Fighter II. Users can also subscribe to channels featuring Ubisoft and Jackbox game packs, all priced between $4.99 and $17.99 a month. If you do subscribe, your games won't be locked to your TV: Luna games are playable on PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones.

How well all these games work, however, depends on your connection speed. Amazon Luna and Xbox Game Pass both recommended minimum internet speeds of 10Mbps to 20Mbps on a 5GHz WiFi connection — and of course, you'll also need the aforementioned 2022 Samsung Smart TV and a Bluetooth gamepad. If you have all that, Luna's Free with Prime games are a great way try game streaming on your TV.

The best PlayStation 5 games for 2022

Welcome to our first update to Engadget’s best games list for PlayStation 5. As always, we have looked for games that generally offer meaningful improvements over their last-gen counterparts when played on PS5, or are exclusive to the system. Our 2022 update sees two third-party titles – Deathloop and Final Fantasy VII Remake – join the overwhelmingly Sony fray. We'll be updating this periodically, so, if a game's just been released and you don't see it, chances are that the reason for its absence is that we haven't played through it yet. Either that or we hate it.

Astro’s Playroom

Sony

It’s odd to start a best games list with a title that comes free with the console, but if you’re anything like my son, who swiftly deleted Astro’s Playroom to make space for various Call of Duty titles, I’m here to tell you to give the pack-in title another shot. Astro’s Playroom is a love letter to both 3D platformers and the PlayStation itself. It’s also, to date, the title that makes the best use of Sony’s DualSense controller, with incredible haptic feedback and clever usage of the pad’s adaptive triggers. (Although, eight years on, I’m still not convinced anyone has found a compelling reason for that touch pad.) It’s a game that even completionists can finish within six hours or so, but those six hours were among the most fun I’ve had with the PS5 so far.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade

Square Enix

We thought it would never happen. Final Fantasy VII was an iconic JRPG that’s credited with opening up the genre to the west. It peppered the Top 10 lists of the best games of all-time and introduced the long-running Japanese RPG series to polygons, 3D maps, and countless other innovations of 32-bit consoles. 23 years later, and three PlayStation iterations later, Square Enix dared to remake, not remaster, the game. It would be, contentiously, episodic, expanding out the story of Midgar and the opening part of the game into a single game.

It’s all very different. It’s also gorgeous, with a modern battle system that no longer focuses on static characters and menu choices. Somehow, and we were ready to be underwhelmed, the battle system works. FF7R’s fights are slicker and more enjoyable than those in Final Fantasy XV, the latest entry in the series. Each character, from iconic mercenary Cloud through to eco-terrorist Barret and flower girl Aerith, play in entirely different ways, using the space between themselves and enemies in very different ways. Some sub-missions and distractions feel like they’re there solely to eke some more hours out of your playthrough, but the world of the original has been thoughtfully reimagined, so it’s a minor complaint.

For anyone that bought the PS4 iteration, the upgrade to PS5 is free. However, it costs money to gain access to the PS5-exclusive DLC chapter featuring ninja Yuffie. Offering another battle style to experiment with and master, two new extra chapters run alongside the events of the first installment of this remake. Moments of the game feel like they were built to tease how capable the newest PlayStation is, with Yuffie zipping down poles through vertiginous levels, wall-running and mixing up long-range and short-range attacks in a completely different way to Cloud, Aerith and the rest. It suffers a little from trying to tie in FF7 lore from old spin-off titles, but it’s a satisfying distraction as we wait for the second part – Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – to arrive in 2023.

Buy Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade at Amazon - $70

Demon's Souls

Sony

Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake won’t be for everyone — no Souls game is. The original Demon’s Souls was a sleeper hit in 2009 on the PS3, establishing the basic formula that would later be cemented with Dark Souls, and then aped by an entire industry to the point where we now essentially have a “Soulslike'' genre. Today, that means challenging difficulty, grinding enemies for souls to level up, the retrieval of your corpse to collect said souls, a labyrinthine map to explore and, if you’re doing Soulslike right, some show-stopping boss fights to contend with. As a progenitor to the genre, Demon’s Souls has most of those in abundance. But rather than a huge sprawling map, it uses a portal system, with mini labyrinths to work through. Its bosses are also not quite on the level of impressiveness or difficulty of a more modern Dark Souls game.

Bluepoint has been faithful to the original, then, but graphically Demon’s Souls is a true showcase of what the PS5 can do, with gorgeous high-resolution visuals, smooth frame rates and swift loading. While the graphics certainly catch your eye, it’s the smoothness and loading times that are the most impactful. The original ran at 720p, and… depending on what you were doing 25 to 30 fps, while the remake lets you pick between a locked 30 or 60 fps at 4K or 1440p. And in a game that will likely kill you hundreds of times, waiting two seconds to respawn instead of thirty is transformative.

Buy Demon's Souls at Amazon - $70

God of War

Sony

Sony's God of War series had laid dormant for half a decade when its latest incarnation hit stores in early 2018, and for good reason. Antiquated gameplay and troubling themes had made it an ill-fit for the modern gaming landscape. No more. SIE Santa Monica Studio's God of War manages to successfully reboot the series while turning the previous games' narrative weaknesses into its strengths. Kratos is now a dad, the camera is now essentially strapped to his shoulder and Sony has what is sure to become a new series on its hands.

The first outright PS4 game on this collection, God of War has at least been patched for better performance on PS5, allowing it to output at 4K/60. For those subscribed to PS Plus, this one’s available for free as part of the PlayStation Plus Collection on PS5.

Buy God of War at Amazon - $20

Ghost of Tsushima: The Director's Cut

Sony

This tale of samurai vengeance is like Japanese cinema come to life. There are multiple betrayals, the sad deaths of several close allies, tense sword fights, villages and castles under siege, and even a ‘Kurosawa mode’ black-and-white filter you employ for the entire game. The world of feudal Japan, with some creative liberties, is gorgeous, with fields of grass and bullrushes to race through on your faithful steed, temple ‘puzzles’ to navigate around and fortresses to assess and attack.

As you make your way through the main story quest, and more than enough side quests and challenges, you unlock more powerful sword techniques and stances, as well as new weapons and forbidden techniques that are neatly woven in the story of a samurai pushed to the edge. It still suffers from one too many fetch quests, artifacts scattered across Japan’s prefectures, but the sheer beauty of Ghost of Tsushima tricks you into believing this is the greatest open-world game on PlayStation. Don’t get me wrong — it’s up there.

With the new Director’s Cut edition on the PS5, you also get dynamic frame-rates up to 60 FPS, ensuring the game looks and feels even more like a tribute to Japanese cinematic auteurs of the past. There are also DualSense tricks, like a bow that tangibly tightens as you pull on trigger buttons, and subtle rumble as you ride across the lands of Tsushima, Director’s Cut adds a new, surprisingly compelling DLC chapter. As you explore the Iki isle, the game adds a few more tricks to Jin’s arsenal, and deepens the relationship and history between the game’s hero and his father.

Without spoiling what happens, the game smartly threads the original story into the DLC, ensuring it feels solidly connected to the main game, despite DLC status.

Buy Ghost of Tsushima: The Director's Cut at Amazon - $79

Deathloop

Arkane Studios/Bethesda

Deathloop, from the studio that brought you the Dishonored series, is easy enough to explain: You’re trapped in a day that repeats itself. If you die, then you go back to the morning, to repeat the day again. If you last until the end of the day, you still repeat it again. Colt must “break the loop” by efficiently murdering seven main characters, who are inconveniently are never in the same place at the same time. It’s also stylish, accessible and fun.

While you try to figure out your escape from this time anomaly, you’ll also be hunted down by Julianna, another island resident who, like you, is able to remember everything that happens in each loop. She’ll also lock you out of escaping an area, and generally interfere with your plans to escape the time loop. (The online multiplayer is also addictive, flipping the roles around. You play as Julianna, hunting down Colt and foiling his plans for murder. )

As you play through the areas again (and again) you’ll equip yourself with slabs that add supernatural powers, as well as more potent weapons and trinkets to embed into both guns and yourself. It’s through this that you’re able to customize your playstyle or equip yourself in the best way to survive Julianna and nail that assassination. Each time period and area rewards repeat exploration, with secret guns, hidden conversations with NPCs and lots of world-building lore to discover for yourself.

Buy Deathloop at Amazon - $25

Marvel’s Spider-Man Ultimate Edition

Sony

Finally, you don't have to pick up Spider-Man 2 on the GameCube to get your web-slinging fix anymore. For almost 15 years, that game was held as the gold standard for a Spider-Man game, and I'll let you into a secret: It wasn't actually that good. Marvel's Spider-Man, on the other hand, is a tour de force. Featuring the best representation of what it's like to swing through New York City, well, ever, Insomniac's PlayStation exclusive also borrows liberally from the Batman: Arkham series' combat and throws in a story that, although it takes a while to get going, ends up in a jaw-dropping place.

With the launch of the PS5, Insomniac released a Miles Morales spin-off game, which follows the eponymous character as he attempts to protect NYC in Peter Parker’s absence. Both parts are available packaged together as Spider-Man Ultimate Edition— it has a longer name than that but let's not — and benefit from improved framerates, resolution and ray tracing (although not necessarily all at the same time!) With the full graphical package enabled, you’ll be playing at 30 frames per second in 4K, or you can pick between a pair of performance options: 4K/60 with no ray tracing, or 1080p/60 with ray-tracing. Whatever mode you pick, you’ll benefit from loading times that finally make the game’s fast travel system… fast.

Buy Marvel’s Spider-Man Ultimate Edition at Amazon - $60

Resident Evil Village

Capcom

Resident Evil Village is delightful. It’s a gothic fairy tale masquerading as a survival-horror game, and while this represents a fresh vibe for the franchise, it’s not an unwelcome evolution. The characters and enemies in Village are full of life — even when they’re decidedly undead — and Capcom has put a delicious twist on the idea of vampires, werewolves, sea creatures, giants and creepy dolls. The game retains its horror, puzzle and action roots, and it has Umbrella Corporation’s fingerprints all over it. On PS5, the game is gorgeous and it plays nicely with the DualSense controller, adding haptic feedback to weapons and terrifying situations alike. It simply feels like developers had fun with this one, and so will you.

Buy Resident Evil Village at Amazon - $60

Returnal

Sony

Returnal is a third-person action game, a roguelite, a bullet-hell shooter and very hard, perhaps not in that order. The setup is basically that you’re stuck in a death loop, but you’re aware of it, and must learn the patterns and weaknesses of enemies — and master your own — in order to progress. As Devindra Hardwar explains, it leans heavily on the dark sci-fi of Alien, Edge of Tomorrow and Event Horizon but makes something new and unique in the process.

It’s made by the team behind Resogun, Nex Machina and Super Stardust HD, and you can tell, for better or worse. As you’d expect from a team that’s spent the past decades making shooters, the movement, gunplay and enemy attack patterns are incredibly well tuned. But on the flipside, from a studio used to smaller productions, the complexity and ambition of Returnal leads to a lack of polish that some may find unacceptable in a $70 game. If you can look past that, there’s a hell of a game waiting for you here.

Buy Returnal at Amazon - $70

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Activision

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn't just another Dark Souls game. FromSoftware's samurai adventure is a departure from that well-established formula, replacing slow, weighty combat and gothic despair for stealth, grappling hooks and swift swordplay. Oh, and while it's still a difficult game, it's a lot more accessible than Souls games — you can even pause it! The result of all these changes is something that's still instantly recognizable as a FromSoftware title, but it's its own thing, and it's very good. While the game has yet to receive a proper PS5 upgrade, the extra grunt of Sony’s next-gen console does allow the game to finally run at a locked 60fps — something the PS4 Pro couldn’t handle.

Buy Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at Amazon - $60

The Morning After: Did Microsoft just neg Blizzard Activision?

In a recent filing, Microsoft told New Zealand’s Commerce Commission that Blizzard Activision produces no “must-have” games. Weird thing to say when the company plans to spend $68.7 billion to buy the gaming giant behind Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft and plenty more.

In the document, Microsoft said: “There is nothing unique about the video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard that is a ‘must have’ for rival PC and console video game distributors that give rise to a foreclosure concern.”

Attempting to downplay the importance of Call of Duty is just one of the ways Microsoft has tried to placate regulators. In February, the company pledged it would continue to make the franchise available on PlayStation consoles beyond any existing agreements between Sony and Activision.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

An e-bike sharing company co-founded by Usain Bolt appears to have shut down

It left its equipment in the streets in some cities.

An e-bike- and scooter-sharing startup co-founded by Olympian Usain Bolt appears to have stopped operations. Bolt Mobility offered bikes in five cities, including Portland, Burlington, Vermont and Richmond in California, and others. "We learned a couple of weeks ago (from them) that Bolt is ceasing operations," a transportation planner in Chittenden County, Vermont, told TechCrunch. "They’ve vanished, leaving equipment behind and emails and calls unanswered.”

Continue reading.

Apple's App Store homepage will soon feature ads

You'll also see them on individual app pages.

Apple famously bragged it’ll never invade your privacy to serve ads, but it does have an ad business on its App Store and elsewhere. The company is now expanding that business by adding a new ad slot to its Today homepage tab and on individual app pages. The company says these new ad slots will adhere to Apple's policies on privacy and transparency, by not offering personalized ads to users under 18, never using sensitive data and avoiding hyper-targeting.

Continue reading.

The best Xbox games for 2022

Whether you have Series X, Series S, One X or One S, there's something here for you.

Engadget

Microsoft’s console strategy is unique. Someone with a nine-year-old Xbox One has access to an almost-identical library of games as the owner of a brand-new Xbox Series X. That makes it difficult to maintain meaningfully different lists for its various consoles — at least for now. But while next-gen exclusives may be few and far between, there are a lot of gamers who simply haven’t experienced much of what Microsoft has had to offer since the mid-'10s.

It’s in that frame of mind that we approach this list, now updated: What games would we recommend to someone picking up an Xbox today? Expect more updated guides to the best games throughout the week.

Continue reading.

Twitter investor sues Elon Musk in a bid to force through $44 billion takeover

The proposed class action suit accuses Musk of breaching his fiduciary duty to Twitter shareholders.

Reuters

It's not only Twitter trying to force Elon Musk to buy the company for $44 billion. An investor filed a proposed class action lawsuit to try stopping Musk from backing out of the deal. Luigi Crispo's suit accuses Musk of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty to Twitter's shareholders. Musk last month claimed the company made “false and misleading representations,” and that it misrepresented the number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. Crispo concurred with Twitter's claims that Musk is using false claims about bots and spam to wriggle out of the deal without a valid legal standing.

Continue reading.

Spotify's latest fancy feature for Premium users is a play button

Premium features.

It’s 2022 and Spotify is adding the most basic of functions to its iOS and Android apps: dedicated play and shuffle buttons on playlists and album pages. Until now, tapping the button on most playlists started playback, shuffled. This vanilla playback ‘feature,’ however, will only be available to Spotify Premium subscribers.

Continue reading.

TikTok might be working on a music service

There’s already a "TikTok Music" trademark application filed.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has filed a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for "TikTok Music." The service would let users "purchase, play, share, download music, songs, albums, lyrics... live stream audio and video... edit and upload photographs as the cover of playlists... [and] comment on music, songs and albums."

Continue reading.

Microsoft negs Activision Blizzard to push through $68.7 billion acquisition

Microsoft is taking an interesting approach to secure regulatory approval for its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In a recent filing spotted by Rock Paper Shotgun, the company told New Zealand’s Commerce Commission the troubled publisher produces no “must have” games. Yes, you read that right.

“There is nothing unique about the video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard that is a ‘must have’ for rival PC and console video game distributors that give rise to a foreclosure concern,” the company says in the document. Put another way, Microsoft believes owning the rights to best-selling Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty won’t prevent rivals like Sony from competing against it.

At first glance, that would seem to be a nonsensical argument to make about a company Microsoft plans to spend $68.7 billion to acquire. All the same, it’s a claim the tech giant is making in response to its rivals. In a filing with Brazilian regulators, Sony called Call of Duty “an essential game” and an AAA title “that has no rival.” It argues the franchise is so popular that it influences the consoles people buy. Sony is likely speaking from experience. In 2015, the company announced an agreement with Activision that saw some Call of Duty content arrive on PlayStation consoles first.

Downplaying the importance of Call of Duty is just one of the ways Microsoft has tried to placate regulators. In February, the company pledged it would continue to make the franchise available on PlayStation consoles beyond the end of any agreements Sony and Activision had in place before the acquisition was announced. More recently, the company announced a labor neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America, which has been organizing video game workers across the industry.

The best Xbox games for 2022

A series of missteps put Microsoft in second place before the Xbox One even came out. With the launch of the Xbox Series X and S, though, Microsoft is in a great position to compete. Both are well-priced, well-specced consoles with a huge library of games spanning two decades.

Microsoft’s console strategy is unique. Someone with a 7-year old Xbox One has access to an almost-identical library of games as the owner of a brand-new Xbox Series X. That makes it difficult to maintain meaningfully different lists for its various consoles — at least for now. But while “next-gen” exclusives may be few and far between, with PS4 outselling Xbox One by a reported two-to-one, there are a lot of gamers who simply haven’t experienced much of what Microsoft has had to offer since the mid ‘10s.

It’s with that frame of mind that we approach this list: What games would we recommend to someone picking up an Xbox today — whether it’s a Series X, a Series S, One X or One S — after an extended break from Microsoft’s consoles?

This list then, is a mixture of games exclusive to Microsoft’s consoles and cross-platform showstoppers that play best on Xbox. We’ve done our best to explain the benefits Microsoft’s systems bring to the table where appropriate. Oh, and while we understand some may have an aversion to subscription services, it’s definitely worth considering Game Pass Ultimate, which will allow you to play many of the games on this list for a monthly fee.

Control

505 Games

Take the weird Twin Peaks narrative of Alan Wake, smash it together with Quantum Break's frenetic powers and gunplay, and you've got Control. Playing as a woman searching for her missing brother, you quickly learn there's a thin line between reality and the fantastical. It's catnip for anyone who grew up loving The X-Files and the supernatural. It's also a prime example of a studio working at their creative heights, both refining and evolving the open-world formula that's dominated games for the past decade.

Control on the last-gen Xbox is a mixed affair, with the One S struggling a little, but the One X being head-and-shoulders above the PS4 Pro when it comes to fidelity and smoothness. With the launch of the next-gen consoles, an ‘Ultimate Edition’ emerged which brought the ray-tracing and higher frame rates that PC gamers enjoyed to console players. Although you’ll only get those benefits as a next-gen owner, it also includes all the released DLC and is the edition we recommend buying, even if you’re not planning to immediately upgrade.

Buy Control at Amazon - $30

Halo Infinite

343 Industries / Microsoft

Master Chief's latest adventure may not make much sense narratively, but it sure is fun to play. After the middle efforts from 343 Industries over the last decade, Halo Infinite manages to breathe new life into Microsoft's flagship franchise, while also staying true to elements fans love. The main campaign is more open than ever, while also giving you a new freedom of movement with the trusty grappling hook. And the multiplayer mode is wonderfully addictive (though 343 still needs to speed up experience progression), with a bevy of maps and game modes to keep things from getting too stale. The only thing keeping it from greatness is its baffling and disjointed story, but it's not like Xbox fans have many options when it comes to huge exclusives right now.

Buy Halo Infinite at Amazon - $60

Forza Horizon 5

Playground Games/Xbox Game Studios

Forza Horizon 5 deftly walks a fine line by being an extremely deep and complex racing game that almost anyone can just pick up and play. The game has hundreds of cars that you can tweak endlessly to fit your driving style, and dozens of courses spread all over a gorgeous fictional corner of Mexico. If you crank up the difficulty, one mistake will sink your entire race, and the competition online can be just as fierce.

But if you’re new to racing games, Forza Horizon 5 does an excellent job at getting you up and running. The introduction to the game quickly gives you a taste at the four main race types you’ll come across (street racing, cross-country, etc.), and features like the rewind button mean that you can quickly erase mistakes if you try and take a turn too fast without having to restart your run. Quite simply, Forza Horizon 5 is a beautiful and fun game that works for just about any skill level. It’s easy to pick up and play a few races and move on with your day, or you can sink hours into it trying to become the best driver you can possibly be.

Buy Forza Horizon 5 at Amazon - $60

Gears 5

Microsoft

Gears 5 tries to be a lot of things, and doesn't succeed at them all. If you're a Gears of War fan, though, there's a lot to love here. The cover-shooter gameplay the series helped pioneer feels great, and the campaign, while not narratively ambitious, is well-paced and full of bombastic set pieces to keep you interested. As they stand, the various multiplayer modes are not great, but Gears 5 is worth it for the campaign alone.

It’s also a true graphical showcase, among the best-looking console games around. Microsoft did a great job optimizing for all platforms and use-cases, with high-resolution and ultra-high (up to 120fps on series consoles) frame rates.

Buy Gears 5 at Amazon - $30

Nier: Automata

Square Enix

It took more than a while to get here, but Nier: Automata finally arrived on Xbox One in the summer of 2018. And boy, was it worth the almost-18-month wait. Nier takes the razor-sharp combat of a Platinum Games title and puts it in a world crafted by everyone's favorite weirdo, Yoko Taro. Don't worry, you can mostly just run, gun and slash your way through the game, but as you finish, and finish and finish this one, you'll find yourself pulled into a truly special narrative, one that's never been done before and will probably never be done again. It’s an unmissable experience, and one that feels all the more unique on Xbox, which has never had the best levels of support from Japanese developers.

On Xbox One X and Series X, you effectively have the best version of Nier: Automata available, short of a fan-patched PC game. On Series S and One S... not so much, but you do at least get consistent framerates on the Series S and a passable experience on the One S. 

Buy Nier: Automata at Amazon - $40

Ori and the Blind Forest

Microsoft

Arriving at a time when "Gears Halo Forza" seemed to be the beginning, middle and end of Microsoft's publishing plans, Ori and the Blind Forest was a triumph. It's a confident mash of the pixel-perfect platforming popularized by Super Meat Boy, and the rich, unfolding worlds of Metroidvania games. You'll die hundreds of times exploring the titular forest, unlocking skills that allow you to reach new areas. It looks and sounds great — like, Disney great — and its story, while fairly secondary to the experience, is interesting. Ori might not do much to push the boundaries of its genres, but everything it does, it does so right. Its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is very much “more of everything,” so if you like Blind Forest, it’s well worth checking out too.

Buy Ori and the Blind Forest at Amazon - $40

Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar Games

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the kind of game no one but Rockstar, the team behind the GTA series, could make. Only when a studio is this successful can it pour millions of dollars and development hours into a game. Rockstar's simulation of a crumbling frontier world is enthralling and serves as a perfect backdrop to an uncharacteristically measured story. While the studio's gameplay may not have moved massively forward, the writing and characters of RDR2 will stay with you.

While Rockstar hasn’t deemed fit to properly upgrade Red Dead Redemption 2 for the next-gen yet, Series X owners will at least benefit from the best last-gen (Xbox One X) experience with the addition of improved loading times. The Series S, on the other hand, gets the One S version, but with an improved 30 fps lock and swifter loading.

Buy Red Dead Redemption 2 at Amazon - $27

Resident Evil Village

Capcom

Resident Evil Village is delightful. It’s a gothic fairy tale masquerading as a survival-horror game, and while this represents a fresh vibe for the franchise, it’s not an unwelcome evolution. The characters and enemies in Village are full of life — even when they’re decidedly undead — and Capcom has put a delicious twist on the idea of vampires, werewolves, sea creatures, giants and creepy dolls. The game retains its horror, puzzle and action roots, and it has Umbrella Corporation’s fingerprints all over it. It simply feels like developers had fun with this one, and so will you.

A word of caution before you run to buy it, though: This game doesn’t play great on every Xbox. On Series X, things are great: There's the option to turn on ray-tracing with the occasional frame rate issue, or to keep it off and have perfect 4K/60 presentation. With the Series S, while there is a ray-tracing mode, it’s almost unplayable. With ray-tracing off, the Series S does a decent job, though. The One X’s 1080p/60 mode is also fantastic, although its quality mode feels very juddery. If you own a base Xbox One or One S, though, there’s really no mode that actually feels enjoyable to play.

Buy Resident Evil Village at Amazon - $31

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Activision

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn't just another Dark Souls game. FromSoftware's samurai adventure is a departure from that well-established formula, replacing slow, weighty combat and gothic despair for stealth, grappling hooks and swift swordplay. Oh, and while it's still a difficult game, it's a lot more accessible than Souls games — you can even pause it! The result of all these changes is something that's still instantly recognizable as a FromSoftware title, but it's its own thing, and it's very good.

This is one game that’s really not had a lot of love from its developer or publisher, as, despite the fact next-gen consoles should be easily able to run this game at 60 fps, the Series S is locked to an inconsistently paced 30 fps, while the Series X doesn’t quite hold to 60 either. With that said, it’s more than playable.

Buy Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at Amazon - $43

Lost Judgement

Microsoft

This is private eye Takayuki Yagami’s second adventure; a spin-off of Sega’s popular, pulpy and convoluted Yakuza saga. He lives in the same Kamurocho area, the same yakuza gangs roam the streets, and there’s the very occasional crossover of side-story characters and, well, weirdos. But instead of punching punks in the face in the name of justice or honor, which was the style of Yakuza protagonist Kazuya Kiryu, Yagami fights with the power of his lawyer badge, drone evidence and… sometimes (read: often) he kicks the bad guys in the face.

The sequel skates even closer to some sort of serialized TV drama, punctuated by fights, chases and melodrama. For anyone that’s played the series before, it treads familiar ground, but with a more serious (realistic) story that centers on bullying and suicide problems in Japanese high schools, which is tied into myriad plots encompassing the legal system, politics and organized crime.

Yagami has multiple fighting styles to master, while there are love interests, batting cages, mahjong, skate parks and more activities to sink even more hours into. On the PS5, Lost Judgment looks great. Fights are fluid and the recreated areas in Tokyo and Yokohama are usually full of pedestrians, stores and points of interest. While Yakuza Like a Dragon takes the franchise in a new (turn-based, more ridiculous) direction, Lost Judgment retains the brawling playstyle of the Yakuza series, with a new hero who has, eventually, charmed us.

Buy Lost Judgement at Amazon - $60

Game Pass Ultimate

Engadget

We already mentioned this one but it's difficult to overemphasize how good a deal Game Pass is for Xbox owners. For $15 a month you get access to a shifting and growing library of games. The company does a good job explaining what games are coming and going in advance, so you won't get caught out by a game disappearing from the subscription service just as you're reaching a final boss. There are 11 games mentioned in this guide, and seven of them are currently available with Game Pass. The full library is broad, and, while still Microsoft's cloud service is still just in beta, you'll have access to many of the games on your tablet, phone or browser through xCloud at no extra fee.

Subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate at MicrosoftBuy Game Pass Ultimate gift card at Amazon starting at $15