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Game

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.

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Game

Microsoft is testing a family plan for Xbox Game Pass

, Microsoft is starting to test an Game Pass Ultimate family plan in the wild. Xbox Insiders in Colombia and Ireland can try out the new offering, which allows them to to their plan, as long as they’re in the same country. Those folks will get access to all the benefits of Game Pass Ultimate, including a library of hundreds of titles for console, PC and cloud gaming.

If you’re in either country, you can buy the Xbox Game Pass – Insider Preview plan from the Microsoft Store, though enrolment is limited. If you’re already a Game Pass member, the time remaining on your subscription will be converted based on its monetary value. A month of Game Pass Ultimate is worth 18 days of the family plan. Parsing things out, that suggests the family plan would cost around $25 per month if Microsoft brings it to the US, or $5 per person.

You’ll need to wait for your membership to expire before moving to a different plan. People you want to invite onto a family plan will also need to cancel an existing Game Pass subscription or wait for it to run out. Alternatively, they can just create a new Microsoft account. It’s worth noting that folks with an plan aren’t eligible.

A family plan seems to make a lot of sense for Microsoft, which has positioned Game Pass at the heart of the Xbox business. This should help the company boost the service’s overall number of users, though it may come at the cost of losing some subscriptions in households with multiple Game Pass memberships or among groups of friends who split the price of a single plan.

Elsewhere, Nintendo has long offered a Switch Online family plan for both the standard and . Although Sony recently , it does not yet offer any multi-person plans.

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Game

‘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 , 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 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.

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Game

Microsoft helps game devs pull more performance from the Xbox Series S

Frustrated that games don’t run as well on the Xbox Series S as you’d expect given the 1440p-capable hardware? Microsoft might have a fix. The Verge has learned the company’s recently highlighted June Game Development Kit gives programmers more access to memory, freeing up “hundreds of additional megabytes” of RAM for their games. That can improve graphics performance in titles where limited memory is a problem, Microsoft said.

This move won’t put the entry-level console on par with the Xbox Series X, which uses the same CPU but packs a more powerful graphics processor. However, it might reduce bottlenecks that sometimes force developers to run games on Series S at lower resolutions and frame rates. While the Series X has 16GB of RAM (about 13.5GB of it usable), its lower-end counterpart has just 10GB — in practice, devs have just 8GB to themselves. Creators talking to Digital Foundry have complained about the limitations.

If this sounds like a familiar strategy, it should. Microsoft gave more power to Xbox One coders in 2014 when it let them disable Kinect features in games that didn’t need the motion controller. In both cases, Microsoft is tweaking available system resources in response to gripes.

It will take time for developers to optimize games, and there’s no guarantee this will affect many titles. Don’t expect patches that improve the graphics on all your favorite releases. Still, this is a welcome move that could make the Xbox Series S a more viable option if you’d rather not splurge on its pricier counterpart.

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Game

A studio of ‘Witcher 3’ developers are making an online action game set in feudal Japan

A group of former CD Projekt Red developers is working on a new online action that will take players to feudal Japan. This week, Dark Passenger co-founders Jakub Ben and Marcin Michalski announced the formation of their studio and put out a call for talent in a series of tweets spotted by . Ben and Michalski were part of the art team that worked on The Witcher 3 and later went on to do contract work on Cyberpunk 2077.

Dark Passenger’s first game doesn’t have a name yet, but the studio’s website provides some details on the project. Ben and Michalski say they want to create an online multiplayer game with support for both competitive and cooperative play. They describe a title that sounds like it will borrow elements from games like Titanfall and Absolver. “Our locomotion system will allow players to perform incredible [feats] such as running on arrows that were fired by other players, fast climbing on vertical surfaces with the use of shuko claws or using [a] yari spear like a pole to jump over obstacles,” the studio said. “Engaging [in] close-ranged combat will demand as much dexterity as tactics and close cooperation with teammates.”

The news of the founding comes after former CDPR executive Konrad Tomaszkiewicz announced at the start of the year he was . He said his team would release its first project, a dark fantasy role-playing game built in Unreal Engine 5, sometime in 2025. After directing the critically acclaimed and contributing to Cyberpunk 2077, Tomaszkiewicz left CDPR in May 2021 . Before his departure, it came out that work on Cyberpunk involved a for many of its developers.

As PC Gamer points out, Dark Passenger’s careers page alludes to some of the criticisms of CDPR. “We create a prejudice-free environment based on tolerance, support and understanding. We treat individual needs as seriously as the group’s expectations,” the page states. “We provide all amenities, private medical care and paid overtime. With an emphasis on work-life balance, we offer flexible working hours and holidays.” As for when you can expect to play the studio’s first game, Dark Passenger has not shared a release date.

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Game

EA’s last FIFA game is finally making women’s soccer a priority

After revealing Chelsea star Sam Kerr on its cover earlier this week, EA has unveiled the first trailer for FIFA 23 showing that women’s soccer will finally be a key part of the game. It will include women’s club teams from the top leagues in England and France, along with both the women’s and men’s competitions in both the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 Australia/New Zealand World Cup. 

International women’s teams have been available in EA FIFA games since 2016, but this will be the first edition with club teams. The women’s game has climbed in popularity thanks in part to the Olympics and other international competitions, and the 2022 World Cup will provide another huge boost. Two leagues is far short from the dozens available for men’s soccer, but it looks like EA plans to add more via future updates. “We’re committed to building an equitable experience and aspire to help grow women’s football,” said FIFA 23‘s Matt Lafreniere.

FIFA 23 also introduces cross-play functionality and more “realistic” gameplay via its latest evolution of HyperMotion2 technology, EA said. That feature applies machine learning to motion capture data to create smoother player movements during gameplay.

FIFA 23 will be EA’s last version of the game with the FIFA name, as it failed to come to terms with FIFA over financial and exclusivity issues. However, EA still holds licenses for more than 300 soccer partners and has exclusive agreements with the likes of the Premier League, MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A. The series will be rebranded as EA Sports FC in its future versions.

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Game

LeBron James, Rick and Morty are coming to fighting game ‘MultiVersus’

Warner Bros. Games’ MultiVersus is a fun take on platform fighters like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Brawlhalla. It’s soon going into open beta with a roster packed with characters from across a wide range of WB franchises. Developer Player First Games is about to add one more to the mix: Space Jam: A New Legacy star LeBron James.

The NBA icon will join the lineup when the open beta starts on July 26th. Unsurprisingly, his offense centers around the use of a basketball. He can throw a ball at opponents or dribble one around his feet to damage enemies. James is also able to block projectiles by building a fence. Surprisingly (or not, depending on how much you appreciated his thespian skills in Space Jam), James isn’t voicing himself in the game. Actor John Bentley will play him.

WB also announced that a couple of other fan-favorite characters will join the lineup soon, as Rick and Morty are on the way. Many of Rick’s abilities are based around his portal gun. He’ll be available when season one starts on August 9th. Morty, who will arrive later in the season, can whip himself at opponents and use grenades. 

The trio will be added to an ever-expanding and fairly peculiar roster. Big names like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Bugs Bunny are all in the mix, as are Arya Stark from Game of Thrones and Shaggy and Velma from Scooby Doo. Tom and Jerry play as a single character, rather than trying to throttle one another.

The Iron Giant, the most recent addition, is portrayed as a gentle-hearted being in the film of the same name who only fights when it’s completely necessary. In MultiVersus, he’s beating up opponents like the rest of the cast, which the developers justified by saying the game takes place in an alternate universe.

If that’s not odd enough, leaks have suggested Ted Lasso, Gizmo from Gremlins (you know, the cute one) and the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz are coming to the roster as well. For what it’s worth, those leaks are from the same person who revealed the game’s existence in the first place and who said LeBron, Rick and Morty were MultiVersus-bound too.

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Game

With a Samsung TV and Game Pass Ultimate, I don’t need to buy an Xbox

It took a bit of time, but you can now stream Xbox games from your TV without a Microsoft console in sight. As long as you have a Samsung TV. The Xbox app is now available on Samsung’s latest smart TVs and monitors, alongside apps for rival gaming services like Stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now. It’s bigger news, however, when a console maker — and its huge catalog of games on Game Pass Ultimate – offers game streaming straight from your TV.

I had an extended play session during a launch showcase at Samsung’s London event space, and it made me, a PlayStation gamer, an offer I can’t refuse: Play Xbox games from the cloud with no additional hardware, aside from a Bluetooth-connected controller. I can even use my DualSense controller because I’m that kind of person.

This will be familiar news to anyone that’s already streamed games with Xbox Cloud or Google’s Stadia, but, all the games I tried were smooth, with incredibly swift load speeds. Some early previews of Samsung’s Gaming Hub kept gaming media to familiar hits, but with Xbox rolling out the entire Game Pass experience, I got to test its limits with Flight Simulator, a game that benefits from speedier load times and avoiding those pesky huge patch files.

On a big TV, even while standing up, playing Flight Simulator turns into a meditative experience. Type in your destination for an exploration flight (or, easier on a controller, set your cursor on the world map), and just fly and fly and fly. That’s what I did, and I started to hate that I’ll never be able to do this on my PS5. I’m sold on the idea already – I just don’t have a 2022 Samsung TV. Damn you, Microsoft.

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It’s not perfect, of course. Don’t expect 4K or variable refresh rates beyond 60 fps – this is still cloud gaming, although we get 4K streams on Stadia… The bigger question is whether Xbox’s games can stream on Samsung’s Game Hub, stably, for several hours on end, and that’s something that can only be answered after extensive testing. What if your connection hiccups and you lose that major progress made in Red Dead Redemption 2?

For now, the hub is limited to Samsung’s 2022 TVs and monitors, and it’s unclear exactly how Microsoft will deliver Xbox Cloud to other big screens not connected to its consoles. For Samsung’s part, its spokesperson said the company hoped to “extend the device coverage in the near future”.

Microsoft’s own streaming stick, similar to a Chromecast, seemed like the obvious solution, but the company said earlier this year that it was taking a ‘new approach’ with its game streaming devices, so that’s not happening for a while at least. It hasn’t elaborated further, besides teasing “a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.”

That could mean a dedicated device, or it could be exactly what I’m testing today, the TV app, coming to more TVs. Hopefully some that already exist. Hopefully mine? Buying a new TV to avoid paying $300 for a new console seems more than a little circuitous. For now, I’m left waiting for a way to stream Xbox Cloud to my TV without a console. Barring some particularly laborious workarounds, it seems I’ll be waiting a little longer.

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Security

This researcher just beat ransomware gangs at their own game

A security researcher has discovered key flaws pertaining to popular ransomware and malware — a state of affairs that could lead to their creators entirely rethinking the approach to infiltrate potential victims.

Currently, among the most active ransomware-based groups are the likes of Conti, REvil, Black Basta, LockBit, and AvosLocker. However, as reported by Bleeping Computer, the malware developed by these cyber gangs has been found to come with crucial security vulnerabilities.

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These defects could very well prove to be a damaging revelation for the aforementioned groups — ultimately, such security holes can be targeted in order to prevent what the majority of ransomware is created for; the encryption of files contained within a system.

A security researcher, hyp3rlinx, who specializes in malware vulnerability research, examined the malware strains belonging to the leading ransomware groups. Interestingly, he said the samples were exposed to dynamic link library (DLL) hijacking, which is a method traditionally used by attackers themselves that targets programs via malicious code.

“DLL hijacking works on Windows systems only and exploits the way applications search for and load in memory the Dynamic Link Library (DLL) files they need,” Bleeping Computer explains. “A program with insufficient checks can load a DLL from a path outside its directory, elevating privileges or executing unwanted code.”

The exploits associated with the ransomware samples that were inspected by hyp3rlinx — all of which are derived from Conti, REvil, LockBit, Black Basta, LockiLocker, and AvosLocker — authorize code that can essentially “control and terminate the malware pre-encryption.”

Due to the discovery of these flaws, hyp3rlinx was able to design exploit code that is assembled into a DLL. From here, that code is assigned a certain name, thereby effectively tricking the malicious code into detecting it as its own. The final process involves loading said code so that it commences the process of encrypting the data.

Conveniently, the security researcher uploaded a video that shows how a DLL hijacking vulnerability is used (by ransomware group REvil) to put an end to the malware attack before it can even begin.

The significance of the discovery of these exploits

As highlighted by Bleeping Computer, a typical area of a computer targeted by ransomware is a network location that can house sensitive data. Therefore, hyp3rlinx asserts that after the DLL exploit is loaded by placing that DLL in certain folders, the ransomware process should theoretically be stopped before it can inflict damage.

Malware is capable of evading security mitigation processes, but hyp3rlinx stresses that malicious code is completely ineffective when it faces DLLs.

That said, whether the researcher’s investigation results in long-lasting changes in preventing or at least reducing the impact of ransomware and malware attacks is another question entirely.

“If the samples are new, it is likely that the exploit will work only for a short time because ransomware gangs are quick to fix bugs, especially when they hit the public space,” Bleeping Computer said. “Even if these findings prove to be viable for a while longer, companies targeted by ransomware gangs still run the risk of having important files stolen and leaked, as exfiltration to pressure the victim into paying a ransom is part of this threat actor’s modus operandi.”

Still, the cybersecurity website added that hyp3rlinx’s exploits “could prove useful at least to prevent operational disruption, which can cause significant damage.”

As such, although it’s likely to be patched soon by ransomware groups in the immediate future, finding these exploits is an encouraging first step toward impacting the development and distribution of dangerous code. It may also lead to more advanced mitigation methods to prevent attacks.

Ransomware groups do not consist of your average hackers. Creating and spreading effective malware is a sophisticated task in and of itself, and the financial windfall from a successful attack can generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the perpetrators. A considerable portion of those ill-gotten gains is extracted from innocent individuals.

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Game

EA’s new ‘Skate’ is a free-to-play live service game

It’s been just over two years since we learned that the first entry in the Skate series since 2010’s Skate 3. Although the publisher isn’t quite ready to announce the release window, it revealed some more details, including the fact the game is just called .

It’s a free-to-play live service title with microtransactions, though there will not be any pay-to-win elements or . You won’t need to fork over cash to unlock areas of the map (the action is set in a new location called San Vansterdam) and there are no paid gameplay advantages. “We are taking inspiration from games like Apex Legends or other popular titles that are free to play, where spending money is totally optional, and it’s mostly about cosmetics and convenience,” Isabelle Mocquard, head of product management at EA, said

EA plans to support Skate for years to come with additional gameplay features, balance changes, more content and seasonal events. “We’re in this for the long haul. That means we’re not an iterative title,” creative director Chris “Cuz” Parry said. “There won’t be a Skate 5 through 10. We won’t be pumping them out all the time.”

The publisher invited fans to playtest “pre-, pre-, pre-alpha software” and provide feedback to help make the game as good as it possibly can be. It will soon welcome more players to try early versions of the game .

EA opened a new studio in Vancouver to take the reins on Skate, though it’s a mostly remote team with developers based all over North America. Some veterans of the Skate franchise are on board too, including Parry.

Skate will be available on PlayStation and Xbox (including the last-gen consoles), and the series will . Full Circle is also working on a mobile version, which is in the early stages of development. There will be cross-play and cross-progression across all platforms as well.

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