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AI

DeepMind’s new AI model helps decipher, date, and locate ancient inscriptions

Machine learning techniques are providing new tools that could help archaeologists understand the past — particularly when it comes to deciphering ancient texts. The latest example is an AI model created by Alphabet-subsidiary DeepMind that helps not only restore text that is missing from ancient Greek inscriptions but offers suggestions for when the text was written (within a 30-year period) and its possible geographic origins.

“Inscriptions are really important because they are direct sources of evidence … written directly by ancient people themselves,” Thea Sommerschield, a historian and machine learning expert who helped created the model, told journalists in a press briefing.

Due to their age, these texts are often damaged, making restoration a rewarding challenge. And because they are often inscribed on inorganic material like stone or metal, it means methods like radiocarbon dating can’t be used to find out when they were written. “To solve these tasks, epigraphers look for textual and contextual parallels in similar inscriptions,” said Sommerschield, who was co-lead on the work alongside DeepMind staff research scientist Yannis Assael. “However, it’s really difficult for a human to harness all existing, relevant data and to discover underlying patterns.”

That’s where machine learning can help.

Ancient Greek inscriptions are often fragmented. The software Ithaca can suggest what letters are missing.
Image: DeepMind

The new software, named Ithaca, is trained on a dataset of some 78,608 ancient Greek inscriptions, each of which is labeled with metadata describing where and when it was written (to the best of historians’ knowledge). Like all machine learning systems, Ithaca looks for patterns in this information, encoding this information in complex mathematical models, and uses these inferences to suggest text, date, and origins.

In a paper published in Nature that describes Ithaca, the scientists who created the model say it is 62 percent accurate when restoring letters in damaged texts. It can attribute an inscription’s geographic origins to one of 84 regions of the ancient world with 71 percent accuracy and can date a text to within, on average, 30 years of its known year of writing.

These are promising statistics, but it’s important to remember that Ithaca is not capable of operating independently of human expertise. Its suggestions are ultimately based on data collected by traditional archaeological methods, and its creators are positioning it as simply another tool in a wider set of forensic methods, rather than a fully-automated AI historian. “Ithaca was designed as a complementary tool to aid historians,” said Sommerschield.

Ithaca is the first model to geographical and chronological attribution with textual restoration.
Image: DeepMind

Eleanor Dickey, a professor of classics from the University of Reading who specializes in ancient Greek and Latin sociolinguists, told The Verge that Ithaca was an “exciting development that may improve our knowledge of the ancient world.” But, she added that a 62 percent accuracy for restoring lost text was not reassuringly high — “when people rely on it they will need to keep in mind that it is wrong about one third of the time” — and that she was not sure how the software would fit into existing academic methodologies.

For example, DeepMind highlighted tests that showed the model helped improve the accuracy of historians restoring missing text in ancient inscriptions from 25 percent to 72 percent. But Dickey notes that those being tested were students, not professional epigraphers. She says that AI models may be broadly accessible, but that doesn’t mean they can or should replace the small cadre of specialized academics who decipher texts.

“It is not yet clear to what extent use of this tool by genuinely qualified editors would result in an improvement in the editions generally available — but it will be interesting to find out,” said Dickey. She added that she was looking for to trying the Ithaca model out for herself. The software, along with its open-source code, is available online for anyone to test.

Ithaca and its predecessor (named Pythia and released in 2019) have already been used to help recent archaeological debates — including helping date inscriptions discovered in the Acropolis of Athens. However, the true potential of the software has yet to be seen.

Sommerschield stresses that the real value of Ithaca may be in its flexibility. Although it was trained on ancient Greek inscriptions, it could be easily configured to work with other ancient scripts. “Ithaca’s architecture makes it really applicable to any ancient language, not just Latin, but Mayan, cuneiform; really any written medium — papyri, manuscripts,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunities.”

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Game

‘Diablo Immortal’ delayed indefinitely in China just before its planned release date

 was supposed to debut in China on June 23rd, but those who have been waiting for the game in the country will need to wait longer. NetEase, which co-developed the game with Blizzard, has pushed back the release date indefinitely. It that “the development team is making a number of optimization adjustments.”

However, there are other factors at play. NetEase found itself in the bad graces of China’s censors over a post on its Weibo social media service that seemingly referenced Winnie the Pooh, according to the . The cartoon character is used to mock Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the wake of a screenshot of the post (which read “why hasn’t the bear stepped down?”) gaining traction, the official Diablo Immortal Weibo account was banned from posting anything. Discussions related to the post were also wiped from the service.

Currently, Diablo Immortal does not have a release date in China, though NetEase still expects to ship the game in the country. It promised players an “exclusive thank-you package containing legendary equipment” as a makegood for the delay.

The PC and mobile title debuted in other territories this month. According to reports, it raked in in two weeks as a result of its aggressive approach to monetization. China is the biggest gaming market on the planet and not being able to release Diablo Immortal there would likely have a severe impact on the game’s expected revenues. NetEase declined to comment to the Financial Times. Engadget has contacted Blizzard for comment.

It’s not the first time a game developer has run into issues with Chinese regulators over a Winnie the Pooh reference. Publisher Indievent to sell Devotion in China, leading it to cut ties with developer Red Candle Games, which included a blatant dig at Xi in the game itself. The studio, which is based in Taiwan, later a DRM-free version of Devotion on its own storefront.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Game

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course DLC release date finally revealed

“The Delicious Last Course,” the hotly anticipated Cuphead DLC that has been in the works for years, finally has a release date. Though fans have known for a while that another DLC is in the pipeline, they’ve been left to speculate about when it may finally arrive. That changed at The Game Awards 2021 with a precise launch date.

Studio MDHR Corp.

Cuphead took the video game market by storm when it launched in 2017, introducing addictive and maddeningly difficult 2D gameplay styled after cel-animated classics from studios like Fleischer. The popularity led to an animated TV series based on the game called The Cuphead Show, which will hit Netflix next year.

Studio MDHR, the company behind Cuphead, previously announced plans to release a final DLC for its hit title called “The Delicious Last Course.” Unfortunately, the wait for this release has proven extensive, though that’s not entirely the studio’s fault. In November 2020, Studio MDHR said it had to delay The Delicious Last Course because pandemic-related changes in workflow made it “extremely challenging” to complete the DLC.

The work is nearly complete, Studio MDHR revealed as part of its The Game Awards announcement, and it is finally ready to make a release date known. Cuphead fans will be able to purchase the DLC starting on June 30, 2022, for PC, Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. The announcement was joined by a new trailer that mixes clay-like animation with the game’s familiar, classy retro style.

The DLC will arrive around five years after the game’s initial launch, which is a considerable time to wait, but all signs point toward it being worth it in the end. Though the DLC will bring Cuphead the game to an end, the Netflix series will give fans a look at the game as an actual cartoon.



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Game

Pokémon Legends Arceus Release Date, Trailer, News, and More

Every generation of main-series Pokémon games brings something new to the table — a slew of regional Pokémon to add to your team, fresh faces in the gyms and Elite Four, and sometimes innovative elements and style changes like Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s Wild Areas and Dynamaxing. But from what we’ve seen so far, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set to deviate from the standard Pokémon game mold and give players an entirely unique Pokémon training experience.

Set for an early 2022 release, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is being pitched as a “new approach for the Pokémon video game series.” Players will be returning to the Sinnoh region from the Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl games, but long before the events of those titles. Borrowing elements from Nintendo’s ultra-popular Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the game appears to be an open-world adventure with more opportunities for exploration than past Pokémon titles.

While official details for the game are limited to an announcement trailer and a few additional notes from Nintendo, there’s a lot to unpack and plenty of interesting fan speculation on what this new Pokémon adventure will look like. Here’s everything we know about Pokémon Legends: Arceus so far.

Further reading

Release date

Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released on January 28.

This will be just a couple of months after Nintendo released Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl on November 19, making for a very exciting combination of releases for Pokémon trainers.

Platforms

A Trainer speaks with his Bidoof.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released exclusively for Nintendo Switch.

Trailer

The first trailer kicks off with a narrator explaining that the events of Pokémon Legends: Arceus take place “a long, long time ago when the Sinnoh region was still only a vast wilderness.” Cut to a Breath of the Wild-style scenic view and wild Pokémon roaming the landscape uninhibited, much like they do in New Pokémon Snap.

It appears that catching wild Pokémon is going to look very different — players will be able to hunt packs of Pokémon down from a third-person perspective and throw Pokéballs at potential catches in real time as opposed to the turn-based battling sequences in other installments. It looks like battles with wild Pokémon will take place without jetting to a separate battle screen as well.

Instead of a new trio of starter Pokémon like the average game kickoff, it appears the starters in Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be a mix of starters from previous generations — Rowlet, Cyndaquil, or Oshawott will be this game’s starters.

At the end of the trailer, the book the narrator is reading from is closed. Our view is filled with smoke for a moment before revealing the mythical Pokémon Arceus. End scene.

The trailer shown off at Nintendo’s August event started with a similarly cryptic message, this time stating, “This is a tale of a time long ago when the lives of humans and Pokémon were still separate.” Finally, we know the name of the region we will explore, which is called the Hisui region and will eventually become the Sinnoh region in the future. We are then shown a variety of locations and Pokémon, including fields, snowy vistas, and moonlit forests before seeing our first real look at civilization. This town, Jubilee village, which is very much inspired by historical Japanese architecture, appears to be full of characters we will be able to interact with from the Galaxy Expedition team, composed of a Medical corp, Security corp, and Survey corp led by Cullen.

Our resident professor this time around is Professor Laventon, who studies Pokémon ecology and will provide you with your very first Pokémon. The Galaxy Expedition team is led by Kamado, who will recruit you as a member.

The latest trailer, and possibly the last, shows off a lot more of the gameplay we’ll experience in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. However, it also introduces us to several Wardens that will apparently protect special Pokémon. Mai is the first, who is partnered with a Munchlax that she describes as being almost like a sibling. Iscan appears to be a more casual and perhaps lazy Warden, and Lian is having trouble getting close to a rampaging Kleavor. Arezu seems to be fond of fashion but is also eager to learn more from your trainer.

Jubilife Village is going to be what your main hometown is called and is where you’ll be able to change your character’s appearance, shop, and craft, plus take pictures.

Pokémon nobles were also introduced in this trailer. These are “frenzied” Pokémon with unique names that look to serve as boss encounters of sorts. The one shown off was Lord of the Woods Kleavor, as an example. This is a brand new evolution of Scyther.

Gameplay

With previous Pokémon installments, we’ve been able to successfully assume what the plot will look like — you start off in a small town and build your Pokémon squad as you take on the gym leader challenge and eventually the Elite Four while fighting some sort of criminal organization, your rival, and plenty of trainers in between. There are even new Noble Pokémon to capture.

We know that the game will revolve around creating the region’s first Pokédex, a task likely given to you by a yet-to-be-named Pokémon professor. Will there be any sort of gym challenge? We’re not sure.

From previously established Pokémon lore, we know that Arceus is thought to have created the Sinnoh region and possibly the entire Pokémon world; the lake guardians Uxie, Azelf, and Mesprit; and the creation trio Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. It is thought to be one of the oldest Pokémon around. Where we fit into Arceus’ timeline in this game is completely unclear, but we’re very excited to find out.

We initially got the impression that this would be a fully open-world game, however it has been clarified that it will be more hub-based. The team even directly compared it to how the Monster Hunter games worked, where you will go to a specific hub to complete different excursions you accept. Once done, you will need to go back to turn in the task and take on another.

The basics of Pokémon games have also been upended in this game. We see our trainer sneaking up on Pokémon through tall grass and capturing them with Poké Balls from a distance without doing battle. Some may flee when they spot you, others attack, and some simply can’t be caught without a fight. However, battles still certainly exist, as throwing a Poké Ball near an enemy Pokémon will trigger a traditional turn-based fight on the field where you will have the chance to capture your target.

While the turn-based style remains, a few new battle features have been added, such as a turn order on the right side of the screen. Instead of taking turns, some Pokémon are faster and can get multiple turns before others, so pay close attention to the action order. You can influence the order by choosing to use any move in either strong style, which is stronger but slower, or agile style, which is weaker but faster.

A Pokémon trainer flies under a bird Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Aside from running and rolling across the land, you will also be able to fly with the help of your Pokémon. Using a hang glider apparatus, your trainer can be carried through the air or ride through oceans and rivers and even along the ground itself, with the help of different ridable Pokémon. Considering the scale of the world we’ve been shown, this will likely be a major feature for getting around.

Base camps will be where you can stock up on supplies, such as Poké Balls, while out in the field, or even craft your own with materials you gather in the world. Resting at a base camp will also heal your party of Pokémon who have taken damage in battle.

Jubilife Village is your hub and where you can do a lot of preparatory tasks. Aside from a huge range of customization options for your character, including hair styles and dozens of outfits ranging from sophisticated suits to traditional Japanese outfits, you can also use different materials and ingredients to craft items like potions.

There will also be a photography studio of sorts where you can strike different poses with any of your Pokémon, hopefully with the ability to save and share them with friends.

Alpha and noble Pokémon will also be new and unique encounters in the wild. These are two different types of very dangerous Pokémon. Alphas are described as being far bigger than typical Pokémon, with red eyes, and are extremely aggressive. Noble Pokémon, on the other hand, are said to be granted some sort of “mysterious blessing” that grant them unique skills. They aren’t necessarily dangerous, though, as some may aid you, but others, like the one seen in the trailer, could be in a frenzy and attack on sight. Frenzied noble Pokémon appear to be one of the types of excursions you will be tasked with taking down.

Multiplayer

A trainer battles a wild Pokemon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

There are no clear glimpses of multiplayer action in the announcement trailer, but every single main series Pokémon game so far has had the option for battling and trading with friends. We’re going to assume that Pokémon Legends: Arceus will include multiplayer action.

Usually, there are two versions of a game in every generation,  and trading Pokémon with other players was essential to filling out your Pokédex.

While there wasn’t anything included in the trailer that looks like the Wild Area from Pokémon Sword and Shield where players could mix, mingle, trade, and battle with ease, we’re hoping that there are similar elements built into this new game.

DLC

An Ursaring with red eyes in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

There’s no word on DLC content yet since the game isn’t close to being released. Of course, Pokémon Sword and Shield saw two DLC expansions in The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra. These introduced players to new areas within the region, gave them access to new wild Pokémon, and unlocked cool multiplayer options.

Pre-order

Pokémon Legends: Arceus starters Rowlet, Cyndaquil, and Oshawott

You can pre-order Pokémon Legends: Arceus from several retailers. There hasn’t been any sort of bonus content announced for pre-ordering the game, but that could change as the release date draws near.

Pre-order from Amazon 

Pre-order from Best Buy

Pre-order from Gamestop

Pre-order from Nintendo

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Fortnite Season 8 The End date and countdown leading to Chapter 3

After months of working through the various Seasons in Fortnite Chapter 2, it looks like everything is about to come to an end. Epic Games has confirmed that Season 8 will be the last one for Chapter 2, so when that ends, so too will the whole Chapter. Presumably, we’re going to see a massive change to Fortnite‘s map in the transition to Chapter 3, but what those changes haven’t been revealed yet.

One-time in-game event slated for December

Just as the rumors foretold, December will indeed be a big month for Fortnite. As Epic announced today on the Fortnite website, there will be an in-game event called “The End” going down on December 4th at 4 PM EST that will wrap up Fortnite Chapter 2 and presumably bring us into Fortnite Chapter 3. Epic says that it will only run this event once, so if you want to revisit it at a later date, you should record it and save the video.

Epic is also opening up the floodgates in terms of max party size, saying that players will be able to queue into The End event with up to 16 players in their party. So, if you have a big circle of friends that plays Fortnite, you’ll be able to check out this event together and in the same party (assuming, of course, that your circle of Fortnite-playing friends is no larger than 16 people).

There are some things to keep in mind about this Chapter 2 finale, aside from the fact that it will only be run once. Epic says that the playlist will go live 30 minutes before the event is set to begin, so you and your friends will be able to get into the game starting at 3:30 PM EST on the 4th. You also won’t be able to change your video settings after joining, so be sure to make any tweaks you may want before queuing for The End.

What to do before The End

Epic also detailed what players should finish up in Season 8 before The End takes place on December 4th. Players are told to complete the Cube Queen’s page 1 and 2 quests, collect any remaining color bottles and rainbow ink to unlock new Toona Fish styles, and exchange any Battle Stars they might have for rewards.

Once Season 8 ends, Epic says that Battle Stars will “be automatically redeemed for the earliest available rewards.” You’ll need to acquire the Toona Fish styles you want manually, though, as there will be no automatic redemption of rainbow ink and color bottles.

In addition to all of this, Epic will be hosting a Power Leveling Weekend this week. It kicks off on November 26th at 7 PM EST and runs through November 29th at 7 AM EST. Players who log in between now and the end of Season 8 will also get a bulk 225,000 XP reward, so that and the double XP weekend should help you complete those lingering quests.

What can we expect in the aftermath of The End? No one really knows for sure, but according to Fortnite Intel on Twitter, there’s some suggestion that it could have something to do with Steamy Stacks. The map underwent a pretty dramatic transformation in the switch from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2, so we’re expecting a similarly big event leading up to Chapter 3. We’ll find out soon enough, as The End is slated to go down on December 4th.



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Game

Analogue Pocket release date revealed at last (for pre-orders anyway)

It’s been a rough road to launch for the Analogue Pocket. First announced way back in October 2019, the Pocket – an FPGA-based handheld console – didn’t go up for pre-order until August 2020 because of challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though pre-orders sold out quickly, the shipment date for those pre-orders was then pushed back several times. Now we finally have a ship date for those initial pre-orders, and that’s good news for everyone interested in picking up a Pocket.

Pocket pre-orders begin shipping out in December

With the latest delay, Analogue said that Pocket pre-orders placed in 2020 would begin shipping out in December 2021. At the time, we weren’t given a specific date, but now we have one: on its website today, Analogue announced that those initial orders would begin shipping on December 13th. The company says that emails are being sent out to those who pre-ordered today.

Because of “unprecedented shipping congestion,” Analogue says that Pocket pre-orders shipping on that date will arrive sometime between December 14th and the 30th, giving us roughly a two-week window for delivery. This, of course, is not great news for those who were planning to travel for the holidays, but Analogue has a solution for that as well.

If you won’t be around to accept your delivery and you don’t want it sitting outside your house or apartment until you get back, you can contact Analogue and have it put a hold on your order until the new year or ask it to change your delivery address. That can be done by replying to the email you received or emailing support@analogue.co with your request. Analogue says that the last day customers can change their orders is November 28th, so keep that in mind if you need an address change or a hold.

Good news for everyone – not just those who pre-ordered

The fact that these initial Pocket pre-orders will soon begin shipping is good news for everyone interested in the Pocket, even if you can’t order one at the moment. When Analogue announced this delay back in September, it also noted that Pocket and its accessories would be restocked following the holidays, and orders would open up once more.

So far, there’s only been one round of Pocket pre-orders, so if you didn’t order back in August 2020, you haven’t had another chance yet. That will presumably change shortly after 2022 begins, but Pocket hasn’t given us the specific date that it will open up orders again.

There’s seemingly a lot to love about Pocket if you’re a fan of handheld gaming, too. Built on two FPGAs, the Pocket will come with out-of-the-box support for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance cartridges, with adapters available for many other retro handhelds. The Pocket will also have an optional dock that can be used to play those retro handheld games on a big screen, Super Game Boy-style.

So, if you’re a fan of Analogue’s FPGA consoles and you’ve been waiting for a chance to order a Pocket, it sounds like that chance is coming. You can read more about the Pocket, including full specs, over on Analogue’s website, but otherwise, we’ll let you know when Analogue gives us a specific date for Pocket’s 2022 restock.

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Game

Halo Infinite multiplayer release date surprise: Xbox and PC very soon

For Halo fans, this past weekend had a lot of ups and downs, as we heard rumors which claimed that Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer would get a surprise early launch at the end of today’s Xbox 20th Anniversary livestream. Those rumors were followed by other reports claiming quite the opposite, saying that while Microsoft had initially intended to launch Infinite multiplayer early, that was no longer on the table. Thankfully, at the end of today’s livestream, we learned the truth, and it’s a good outcome for the Halo fans of the world.

Halo Infinite multiplayer beta live now

At the tail end of today’s presentation, we received a brief video message featuring the entire team at 343 Industries. In it, the studio announced that Halo Infinite multiplayer is going live today in beta across Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. It’ll be live until Halo Infinite‘s full launch on December 8th, which is when the campaign will be available.

Not only is Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer live, but season 1 is beginning today. The first season is called Heroes of Reach, and as the name suggests, the battle pass will be themed around the characters we met in Halo: Reach. In a lengthy blog post to Halo Waypoint, 343 Industries reveals that leveling up season 1’s premium battle pass will unlock all of the armor kits belonging to the ill-fated Noble Team.

Microsoft and 343 say this is a beta, but it appears to be more like “early access.” The beta will run until Halo Infinite‘s full release on December 8th, and there are no restrictions to the modes that can be played. According to Microsoft, what we’re getting today is the full multiplayer experience. Still, since it has “beta” attached to it, we probably shouldn’t be surprised to encounter some bugs as we play.

Halo Infinite playlists and PC specs

Since this is the full Halo Infinite multiplayer experience, there are a variety of playlists to jump into. In that same blog post linked above, 343 Industries says several playlists are available today: Big Team Battle, Quick Play, Bot Bootcamp, and Ranked Arena. Big Team Battle’s 12v12 matches need little introduction for Halo veterans, but it’s worth noting that the Quick Play playlist will include the Capture the Flag, One Flag CTF, Oddball, Slayer, and Strongholds game modes.

On the other hand, Bot Bootcamp is a way for Halo fans to get their feet wet without diving in completely, as it’ll pit a team of four human players against a team of four bots. Various game modes are available in this playlist as well, including CTF, Oddball, Slayer, and Strongholds. In addition, ranked Arena will include solo and duo queues dedicated to different control types – controller and KBM – along with a cross-input playlist that supports up to a full party.

The first event playlist for Halo Infinite, Fracture: Tenrai, will be going live on November 23rd and will allow players to unlock Samurai armor by playing. While the Fracture: Tenrai playlist will only be available for a week, it will be re-run numerous times throughout season 1, so you’ll still have a chance to earn the Samurai armor even if you don’t play the event next week.

Finally, 343 Industries shared several recommended spec lists for Halo Infinite today, which you can see in the image embedded above. The minimum specifications for Halo Infinite require either a Ryzen 5 1600 or a Core i5-4400 for the CPU, and either an RX 570 or GTX 1050 Ti for the GPU. Compare that to the ultra spec, which calls for a Ryzen 6 5900X/Core i9-11900K and an RX 6800 XT/RTX 3080, and it seems Halo Infinite can run on a wide array of systems.

Halo Infinite multiplayer is available to download now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows 10, including the Microsoft Store and Steam. Microsoft says that it will be available through Xbox Cloud Gaming later today, so Game Pass Ultimate subscribers should keep an eye out for that imminent drop as well.

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Marvel’s Midnight Suns: Release Date, Trailer, News, More

Marvel has never been bigger than it is now. Between the wildly successful MCU films, TV spinoffs, and some of their games, Marvel seems to be able to fit into just about any mold. Games have obviously had some rough patches between cheap movie tie-ins and the controversial games-as-a-service attempt with Marvel’s Avengers, but there’s no denying that there is just so much potential within that world for games of all kinds to be made. One rumor that began circulating, though, was somewhat unique, and yet it has now been revealed to be true … mostly.

Firaxis is known for their incredible revival of the XCOM series with last generation’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2, as well as their expansions. These tactics games set the standard for the genre and paved the way for a small revival that we’re still seeing today with the likes of Gears: Tactics and even Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Now this team has its sights set on Marvel with Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which will be taking a more tactical approach to gameplay and utilizing some characters not often given the spotlight. If you’re a little confused as to how a tactical superhero game will end up looking, here’s all the information we have so far on Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

Further reading

Release date

Revealed during 2021’s Gamescom presentation, a release window for Marvel’s Midnight Suns was set for March of 2022. However, it was recently announced that the game had been delayed. The creative director, Jake Solomon, made the announcement via the game’s official Twitter account. In it, he states that they “made the very tough decision to move our launch window to the second half of 2022. We know many fans were looking forward to playing the game originally next spring, and this decision did not come lightly. We decided to push our launch because we need more time to make this the best game possible.”

This delay means we won’t see Marvel’s Midnight Suns until July of 2022 at the earliest, though we anticipate it being more likely to hit in the fall.

Platforms

Wolverine in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

Firaxis was also able to tell us all the platforms the game will come to via the ending of the announcement trailer. Basically, if you have a console or PC of any kind, you will be able to play Marvel’s Midnight Suns when it launches for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. What differences there will be between versions, specifically last- and current-gen consoles, is still unknown, as well as how it will impact any multiplayer or crossplay potential.

Trailer

As of now, the reveal trailer is all that we have as far as footage for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and while it has next to nothing in terms of gameplay, we can still learn a lot about what this game will be.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns will be a more supernatural-focused take on the superhero genre, and is something like a more magical-focused version of the Avengers, although we obviously see some of the big names from that team here as well, including Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Captain America. The plotline will be notably darker than other Marvel media, with the main antagonistic force being the spawn of the underworld. Hydra has awoken the Mother of Demons, Lilith, from her long slumber, and she has begun her own quest to summon an even greater evil known as Chthon.

The Avengers turn to the titular team known as the Midnight Suns, made up of heroes with their own supernatural talents, to combat this occult threat. Their first act is to bring out a secret weapon of their own, Lilith’s own child known as the Hunter, who is the only one to have ever managed to defeat Lilith in the past. It looks, at least from the small bits we’ve seen, to be a fresh perspective for this franchise, and we’re excited to see if it can stick the landing.

Creative director Jake Solomon said in an interview, “From the very beginning, when we started working with Marvel, we knew that was the story we wanted to tell. We wanted to go to a corner of the Marvel Universe where we felt nobody else was at that moment, and it gave us our little space that we could tell our own story.”

We know that the Hunter will be our main character, as well as the fact that there will be 13 total members of the Midnight Suns, but only nine have been revealed so far in addition to the Hunter. These members include:

  • Captain Marvel
  • Captain America
  • Iron Man
  • Dr. Strange
  • Ghost Rider
  • Blade
  • Wolverine
  • Magik
  • Nico Minoru

The Hunter will be the primary character that you are able to fully customize. The trailer shows her off in what we assume is a default appearance that can be altered; however, it is unclear if you will be able to change her gender as well. This also is who you will take control of when exploring your base, The Abbey, in between missions. Here you will take control of the Hunter in a third-person perspective to interact with the other characters and build your bond.

Gameplay

Iron Man in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

The announcement had no actual gameplay in it, but did share that the gameplay debut trailer would be coming later. Until then, we do have some more in-depth information from the people at Firaxis, who cleared up some initial assumptions about what this game would be. First, and most importantly, this is not just an XCOM game with a Marvel skin put on top of it. While it is classified as a tactical RPG, the same genre as XCOM, the developers have been quick to clarify that it is not going to play the same.

Jake Solomon, in another interview, stated, “There are zero mechanics shared between XCOM and the Midnight Suns. You’re doing these very large moves, these epic moves, and so the mechanics are just completely different, which results in you still scratching the same itch because it is turn-based tactics combat where you’re controlling the team. But the fantasy is very different. And that means the mechanics are 100% different.”

While we feel that saying the game’s mechanics will be “100% different” is a bit of a stretch considering it will still be a tactical, turn-based, squad-focused game, the differences are important to set player expectations correctly. Teams will be led by the Hunter, who brings along three other heroes on each mission.

One big change to XCOM that we also learned of was the fact that the game will not have any permadeath function, which makes sense on several levels. One, because the cast is so limited that losing anyone would be a major blow mechanically, as well as in terms of story. It wouldn’t really fit well with a superhero game, and making you feel like you were in control of a team of them, if you were worried about Iron Man being killed off forever during a mission. Solomon added that “the bad guys are terrified of you” rather than how XCOM works where, more often than not, you’re the one who should be scared.

Each mission will allow you to pick three different heroes to join your character, and all the characters’ abilities are slotted in or out in the form of cards. The game will focus less on building up a strong team over time, and instead be more about strategizing what combinations of heroes and cards will work best for the mission at hand.

Between missions, players will spend time in a hub area called the Abbey. Here, you as the Hunter can go around and build relationships (not that kind) with all the different heroes through dialogue and even a system where you give them gifts. Apparently, not all the characters in Marvel’s Midnight Suns will initially get along, giving you the chance to build bonds with other heroes as well.

Multiplayer

The cast of Marvel Midnight Suns stands in a line-up.

Nothing has been said about whether this game will feature multiplayer, and from the looks of it, we doubt it will. Co-op wouldn’t make much sense in this style of game, and while XCOM was able to implement a competitive mode, we don’t see how it would work with this set cast of characters thematically. There could be some form of asynchronous multiplayer of some kind, maybe, but we don’t expect anything substantial in terms of playing with friends in Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

DLC

Lilith, Mother of Demons, in the Marvel's Midnight Suns trailer.

The XCOM games got some of the best DLC of their generation, so we know Firaxis knows how to expand upon their games. But, depending on the style this game takes, it may not make as much sense for Marvel’s Midnight Suns. If the game is more story-focused, then DLC would have to be a lot more considered from that perspective. Even just adding in new heroes may be a major effort if they are able to impact the story.

If DLC does come for this game, odds are it would be something of a stand-alone type, either completely separate from the main story, or perhaps taking place afterward, but that’s just speculation on our part. Firaxis hasn’t laid out any plans for post-launch content, and likely won’t until the game actually comes out. For now, we just have to wait and see.

Pre-order

The announcement gave us a release window, March of 2022, but no specific date or pre-order details. There are plenty more opportunities, such as the gameplay reveal and any future trailers, for that date to come. Pre-orders usually go live once a specific date is set, so once that happens we will update this article to fill you in on any of the pre-order editions there are, and where you can go to place that pre-order.

However, you can get yourself a special Nightstalker skin when the game launches if you sign up for their newsletters.

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Game

Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster release date revealed for Steam and mobile

Throughout the latter half of this year, Square Enix has been releasing Pixel Remasters for the first six Final Fantasy games. Square Enix started things off with a bang, releasing the Pixel Remasters for Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II, and Final Fantasy III all at the same time this past summer. Final Fantasy IV followed several weeks after, and now we know when Final Fantasy V will be launching.

Square Enix announced today that the Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster will be going live on Steam and mobile devices on Wednesday, November 10th – two weeks from today. As with all of the other Pixel Remasters, Final Fantasy V is up for pre-purchase at a 20% discount at the moment, bringing its price from $17.99 down to $14.39.

That discount will be available until November 30th – 20 days after the game releases – so you don’t need to pre-order just to get the discount. If you’d rather wait and see what the early reaction is before picking up Final Fantasy V, you’ll have time to do that while still being able to pick up the game on sale.

The Steam listing for Final Fantasy V has been updated with a lengthy subscription and screenshots. Like the Pixel Remasters that came before it, Square Enix says that this will include “universally updated 2D pixel graphics” and a “beautifully rearranged soundtrack” that was overseen by Nobuo Uematsu, the original Final Fantasy composer.

Once Final Fantasy V is out, Square Enix will only have one more game to go before its Pixel Remasters are complete: Final Fantasy VI. Arguably the best of the classic Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy VI will definitely have high expectations riding behind it. We’ll let you know when the released date for that is revealed, but otherwise, look for Final Fantasy V to drop on November 10th.

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Horizon Forbidden West: Release Date, Trailer, Gameplay

Sony and Guerrilla Games finally announced Horizon Forbidden West, the highly anticipated sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn. Players will once again be jumping into the shoes of Aloy as she grapples with gigantic mechanical beasts and tries to uncover the secrets of her mysterious world. But with only one trailer under its belt, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the upcoming title for both PS4 and PS5.

We’ve pieced together clues found in the trailer, hints from the previous game, plus the recent State of Play event focused purely on the game, and even speculation from around the web to give you all the information we currently have about Horizon Forbidden West.

Further reading

Release date

Horizon Forbidden West is set to launch on February 18, 2022.

Platforms

Horizon Forbidden West was announced as a cross-generational game, meaning that it will be available on both the PS4 and PS5. The exclusivity is no surprise considering the developers are completely owned by Sony, but some are hesitant about the game being made for the current and previous generation of hardware. Naturally, we can expect some differences between these versions, but the extent of which remains to be seen. The original Horizon Zero Dawn also came to PC, though many years later. It is possible that the same could be true for this sequel, but if so we wouldn’t expect to even hear about plans to port the game over for several years.

Horizon Forbidden West trailer

Here’s an in-depth breakdown of the announcement trailer.

Story

Unfortunately, the trailer doesn’t reveal much about the story of Forbidden West. Aloy’s voice can be heard stating that it has been “1,000 years since the Old Ones fell,” but since the entire timeline of the Horizon series is a bit murky, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this new title is taking place. Aloy doesn’t look much older than she did in the first installment, so we’ll go out on a limb and say Forbidden West takes place shortly after Zero Dawn.

There also seems to be some strange red plant that’s causing the death of nearby wildlife. Aloy examines the deadly new flora near the body of a dying fox in the trailer. Numerous other animals are infected with this plague, hinting that it could play a big part in the upcoming title.

An official statement on the PlayStation Blog says that this new chapter will continue “Aloy’s story as she moves west to a far-future America to brave a majestic, but dangerous frontier where she’ll face awe-inspiring machines and mysterious new threats.” It’s not much help when determining the story, but it does hint at the game’s new location.

Location

That cryptic blog post isn’t the only thing that hints at a new location — the game’s name practically gives it away. Horizon Forbidden West will likely take place near modern-day San Francisco. A beautiful coastline is featured during the opening moments of the trailer, and we even get a glimpse of what appears to be the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s also the usual variety of mountains and plains that have become mandatory in open-world games — it seems that much has changed with San Francisco and its surroundings over the years.

The September issue of PlayStation Official Magazine – U.K. revealed some more specific locations. The game will take place between Utah and the Pacific Ocean, and both San Francisco and the Yosemite Valley are going to be playable locations. The Golden Gate Bridge will indeed make an appearance, even though it’s mostly been submerged.

Game director Mathijs De Jonge said, “With the additional power of the PS5, we can make the world even more detailed, more vibrant, more immersive.”

Gameplay

We anticipate that Horizon Forbidden West will follow the same basic gameplay structure found in the first game, only expanded upon in a few ways we already have seen thanks to the State of Play event. The game is still an open-world, third-person action title with an emphasis on bow-based combat against giant robotic foes. In addition to the main quest, we can also look forward to many more side quests and activities around the world to spice up the experience and add variety, plus unlock new weapons, currency, and loot.

Underwater gameplay

Horizon Forbidden West is heading into uncharted territory with underwater gameplay. One interesting segment displays Aloy sneaking through an aquatic forest before stumbling upon a couple of mechanical alligators, possibly Snapmaws from the original. Considering these beasts were a pain to fight when they were out of water, we can’t imagine how terrifying they’ll be in their natural habitat.

Enemies

Various creatures approaching in Horizon Forbidden West.

It should come as no surprise, but Aloy will be up against a whole new cast of enemies in this western location. The brief trailer showed a monstrous mechanical turtle, a strange mammoth-like creature, and a bunch of others soaring off in the distance.

There were a few familiar faces as well, such as the aforementioned Snapmaw, but we also laid eyes on a Charger and Scrappers.

Then, there was Sylens. We won’t say much, as we don’t want to spoil the fun for those who haven’t finished the original, but it looks like they’ll be making another appearance — and we’d bet they have a very significant role to play.

Gear

Aloy is still rocking the Focus she picked up from the first game, meaning players will likely have access to many of the same abilities they had in Zero Dawn. Expect to see its use expanded in some form — after all, there’s bound to be incredible technology in the ruins of Silicon Valley.

Other than the Focus, Aloy is still sporting a bow and arrow and can still mount Chargers for quick traversal, but she has a few new exciting tools for movement. As if the game didn’t need another comparison point to Breath of the Wild, Aloy also now has a glider to safely descend from high elevations. The most exciting traversal mechanic, at least to us, is the grappling ability where Aloy throws out a rope to a point and is pulled toward it. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for new ways to get around, though.

After seeing the Pullcaster, or grapple, and Shieldwing, the name of the glider, we also have now seen how the two can be used in tandem for Aloy to propel herself into the air and deploy the glider back and forth, somewhat similar to Just Cause 2. Mounting machines will be a returning traversal mechanic, but expanded to include even more types to ride.

While not fully climbable like Breath of the Wild, far more of the environment will be climbable than before. Instead of essentially linear sections Aloy could grab onto, there’s much more freedom in what and where you can climb.

A new combat mechanic Aloy will be able to use is called Valor Surges. These are special attacks that require you to charge up by attacking enemies. There will apparently be 12 types of Valor Surge that can be charged up to three levels, each of which will function differently and be useful for different purposes. Upgrading weapons and armor will also now be possible via a workbench, which also can be used to get new perks and slots for mods.

We also got a glimpse at a few other tools, like a smoke bomb, to help in combat. Many arrow types will still be crafted and used for different purposes, plus the mechanic of breaking weapons off of enemies makes a return.

Multiplayer

Aloy uses a bow and arrow in Horizon Forbidden West.

With no word on any type of multiplayer component being added yet, we have little reason to think it will be added in Horizon Forbidden West. The first game was a strictly solo experience, as are most of Sony’s first-party, big-budget games. That isn’t to say it isn’t possible, and if it were we could only imagine some sort of cooperative experience of fitting the gameplay style, but it doesn’t seem likely. Then again, who suspected that Ghost of Tsushima would not only get a co-op multiplayer mode, but have it actually be a really polished and fun experience? That just proves we won’t know for sure until the game is out and any DLC is laid out.

DLC

It’s still too early to know anything for sure, but just based on the first game, there is a decent chance that we’ll get some DLC expansion in Horizon Forbidden West. The first game’s DLC, The Frozen Wilds, added a new region to the map, along with its own questline, side activities, new enemies, and more. If this game were to get DLC later on, this is the most probable direction it would go.

Pre-order

Pre-orders are live via PlayStation and all major retailers.

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