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Game

Document thriller ‘Papers, Please’ heads to phones on August 5th

Nearly a decade after it propelled creator to , “dystopian document thriller” Papers, Please is finally coming to phones. On Saturday, Pope to announce he’s bringing the game to Android and additional iOS devices next month. “‘Papers, Please’ but small. August 5th,” he said. Before Saturday’s announcement, the game had been available on iPads since 2014.

On Twitter, Pope said he spent about eight months developing the new port. Most of the work involved updating the user interface and making minor tweaks to make the game playable on smaller screens. “No zooming,” Pope in response to one question about the UI. “My vision is terrible and I wanted the game to feel natural on a phone so the interface is built around that.”

For those hoping to play Papers, Please on PlayStation and Xbox, Pope had news to share on that topic too. “On track for a console release in 2031,” he joked. In a later tweet, Pope said the mobile version would be a , but if you already own the game on iPad, you’ll get access for .

The arrival of Papers, Please on phones will allow a new audience to experience one of the most creative games of the past decade. In Papers, Please, you play as a border control agent for a Soviet Bloc-esque country known as Arstotzka. Gameplay primarily involves you checking the documentation of immigrants who want to enter Arstotzka and looking for discrepancies among all their entry forms. At almost every stage of its story experience, Papers, Please presents the player with moral dilemmas, asking them to consider how someone maintains their humanity in a job that is so frequently heartless.

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Game

Ubisoft’s free-to-play ‘Roller Champions’ heads to PC and consoles on May 25th

After it first unveiled the game at E3 2019, Ubisoft will finally release Roller Champions on May 25th, the publisher . The free-to-play title will be available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – as well as Xbox Series X/S and PS5 through backward compatibility – to start, with availability on Nintendo Switch, Stadia and Amazon Luna to follow later. Roller Champions supports both cross-platform play and progression, so you can not only group up with your friends no matter where they download the game, but your progress will also carry over between systems.

Roller Champions pits you and two other players against a competing team of three in a variation on classic roller derby. Going into each match, your goal is to be the first team to score five points. You earn a single point or more by skating around an oval track and maintaining control of a ball before taking a shot at the goal. Complicating things is the fact that the players on the opposing team can tackle you to take possession of the ball. Each match lasts about seven minutes, and there’s an external progression system where you can earn gear for your in-game avatar. Ubisoft will sell premium passes players can complete to earn cosmetics that aren’t available through the game’s item shop.

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Game

Tomb Raider heads to Switch next year with two Lara Croft ports

The Tomb Raider franchise turns 25 years old this month, and Square Enix just made a bunch of announcements in celebration of that milestone. Arguably the biggest announcements of the day are for the Nintendo Switch, which is getting two Tomb Raider games next year. In addition, Square Enix also announced plans to give away Rise of the Tomb Raider on PC through Prime Gaming, though that promotion won’t kick-off for a few more days.

The two games coming to Nintendo Switch are Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. While not traditional Tomb Raider games, they do seem like they’d be a pretty good fit for the Switch, and they happen to be the very first Tomb Raider games on the platform. For these releases, it sounds like Feral Interactive will be handling the porting duties.

Perhaps this means we’ll see other Tomb Raider games ported to the Switch in the future? While we may not see the most recent Tomb Raider trilogy make its way to the Switch, the platform does seem like a good option for ports of the original Tomb Raider games from the ’90s. Time will tell, but for now, all that’s confirmed are the two Lara Croft games, which will be landing sometime next year.

In addition to that announcement, Square Enix has also put Tomb Raider games on sale across pretty much every digital game store. Steam, Humble, Green Man Gaming, GOG, the Square Enix Store, the Xbox Store, and the PlayStation Store are all offering discounted Tomb Raider games at the moment. A quick look at Steam shows us that the sale includes not only the modern Tomb Raider trilogy but also the classic Tomb Raider games, many of which are down to less than a dollar.

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll want to wait on buying Rise of the Tomb Raider, as that will be offered for free to Prime Gaming subscribers beginning on November 1st. The promotion will run through November 14th, giving you two weeks to claim the game from Prime Gaming and add it to your library. We’ll let you know when the two Lara Croft games get release dates for Nintendo Switch, so stay tuned for more.

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Game

Zelda-like ‘Death’s Door’ heads to PlayStation and Switch on November 23rd

Death’s Door, one of the best indie games to come out earlier this year, is heading to PlayStation consoles. During Sony’s State of Play presentation on Wednesday, Devolver Digital announced it will release the Zelda-like action-adventure game on November 23rd, allowing PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 fans to experience it. After the event, Devolver said the game would come to Nintendo Switch on the same day. 

Released this past summer on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, Death’s Door is the latest project from Acid Nerve, the studio behind 2015’s Titan Souls. You play as a crow whose job it is to collect souls for a bureaucratic organization called the Reaping Commission Headquarters. In addition to The Legend of Zelda, it has a lot of similarities to From Software’s Dark Souls. The game has earned praise for its art direction, music and gameplay. If you pre-order Death’s Door on PlayStation before its November 23rd release date, you’ll get Titan Souls for free. 

Update 6:12PM ET: Added information on the Nintendo Switch release.

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Game

‘God of War’ heads to PC on January 14th

Nearly four years after debuting on PlayStation 4, God of War is heading to PC. Sony will release its 2018 exclusive on Steam and the Epic Games Store on January 14th, the company announced on Wednesday. 

Provided you have the necessary hardware, the PC port will allow you to play God of War at an unlocked framerate and true 4K. Additionally, the port will support both DualShock 4 and DualSense controllers natively, as well as NVIDIA’s DLSS and Reflex technologies. If you would rather play with a mouse and keyboard, the game will also allow you to fully customize your keybindings. 

In recent years, Sony has slowly started to bring its PlayStation exclusives to PC, with plans to port more titles down the line. God of War will join Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone among the list of games that have made the jump to Windows. The timing of the release should also help Sony build excitement for God of War Ragnarök, which is expected to come out sometime in 2022.

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Game

Deck-building roguelike Monster Train heads to Switch this month

Roguelikes are some of the most popular indie games around at the moment, and as the genre becomes more crowded, we’ve seen several different sub-genres sprout up. One sub-genre that’s proven to be very popular is the deck-building roguelike, the success of which was spearheaded by games like Slay the Spire. Today, we learned that one of the best deck-building roguelikes, Monster Train, is coming to Nintendo Switch.

Even better is the fact that the Switch version of Monster Train is just around the corner, with developer Shiny Shoe Games announcing a release date of August 19th today. Monster Train: First Class will run $29.99, which is five dollars more than the base game costs on Steam. It’s worth noting, however, that Monster Train: First Class comes with The Last Divinity DLC, so actually, you’re paying a little less on Switch than you would for the base game and DLC on PC.

That’s good news, as oftentimes we’ll see games get a little price hike when coming to the Switch, so it’s nice to see that’s not happening with Monster Train. In any case, Shiny Shoe Games confirmed today that the Switch version will feature cross-play between the PC and Xbox versions of the game, but unfortunately, there won’t be support for cross-saves.

In addition, Switch players will be able to play through the Community and Daily Challenges and generate and share their own challenges. Monster Train is a game about reclaiming Hell from the forces of Heaven, and you’ll do that by building decks of cards containing all different kinds of minions and monsters.

For those who enjoyed Slay the Spire, Monster Train is well worth checking out because the two titles strike similar notes while still feeling very distinct. The eShop listing for Monster Train is already live, so feel free to peruse that, but otherwise, look for the game to land on Switch on August 19th.

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Game

Cat simulator ‘Stray’ heads to PlayStation and PC in early 2022

The last time we saw Stray was in the form of a cinematic trailer Sony shared in 2020 that highlighted the game’s futuristic neon-soaked setting and adorable feline protagonist. At the time, we didn’t get to see the game in action, a fact that Annapurna Interactive has now remedied. The publisher shared a slice of gameplay footage from the title during its recent showcase and said it would release Stray sometime in early 2022.

In the opening moments of Stray, our feline protagonist finds himself injured and separated from his family. Gameplay involves using his physical abilities as a cat to navigate the environment and solve puzzles. In the time-honored tradition of duos like Ratchet and Clank, partway through the adventure, you’ll meet a drone named B-12. They will allow you to converse with the city’s other robotic inhabitants and interact with certain objects in the environment. The cat has a playful side to his personality, and you can do things like scratch furniture, interact with vending machines and rub up against the legs of the robots you meet. Good stuff.

When Stray comes out next year, it will be available on PlayStation 4, PS5 and PC. Developer BlueTwelve Studio promised to show off more of the game before then.

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Game

Fall Guys Heads To The Jungle Tomorrow With Season 5

Departing from its neon-soaked futuristic fourth season, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, the Wipeout-esque battle royale, is heading to the jungle. The game’s fifth season launches on July 20 with a heap of new themed costumes, rounds, and other events.

Fall Guys developer Playtonic hasn’t given out any details of what players can expect in the game’s upcoming season, but PlayStation gave a solid idea of what to expect on Twitter. Along with a new trailer for Fall Guys Season 5, the tweet says that players can expect “six new rounds, events, and more.” The names of the new events and rounds coming to the game have not been revealed yet.

While Playtonic has played coy with any information on Fall Guys‘ upcoming season, the trailer released today also gave some looks at the new content players can look forward to. First and foremost, the clip is full of new costumes that players can dress their running jelly beans up as. Alongside the required jungle explorer costume, it seems like players will also be able to pick up costumes that dress their characters as cowboys, pirates, pack llamas, and even mummies.

As for the game’s new rounds, today’s trailer was filled with hints, although they’re a bit vague. Naturally, all the maps players will be running through as part of the Season 5 update will be jungle-themed, but some will retain the usual Fall Guys style, such as one round shown that apparently has players fall down through a massive Pachinko board. Players can also expect to be chased by a rhinoceros at some point, and climb up an ancient temple to snag a crown.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is currently available on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, and PC.

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AI

Nvidia’s Vid2Vid Cameo brings ‘talking heads’ to videoconferences

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Nvidia today took the wraps off of Vid2Vid Cameo, an AI model that uses generative adversarial networks (GANs) to create realistic “talking-head” videos using a single photo of a person. The company claims that Vid2Vid Cameo, which will soon be available in the Nvidia Video Codec SDK and Nvidia Maxine SDK as “AI Face Codec,” achieves state-of-the-art performance thanks in part to a training dataset of 180,000 “high-quality” videos.

“Many people have limited internet bandwidth, but still want to have a smooth video call with friends and family,” Nvidia researcher Ming-Yu Liu said in a press release. “In addition to helping them, the underlying technology could also be used to assist the work of animators, photo editors, and game developers.”

Vid2Vid Cameo, which was first demonstrated last October, was designed for videoconferencing applications, and it requires only a single picture of a person and a video stream dictating how the picture should be animated. The system identifies 20 key points that encode the location of features including the eyes, mouth, and nose and automatically extracts these points from the reference picture. The extracted points can be sent to other video conference participants ahead of time or reused from previous meetings. On the receiver’s side, the GAN taps this information to generate a video that mimics the appearance of the original picture.

Maxine and GANs

Vid2Vid Cameo is an outgrowth of Nvidia’s work on Maxine, a platform that provides developers with a suite of GPU-accelerated AI conferencing software to enhance video quality.  Nvidia says Maxine “dramatically” reduces how much bandwidth is required for videoconferencing calls by employing GANs including Vid2Vid Cameo. Instead of streaming an entire screen of pixels, the platform analyzes the facial points of each person on a call and then algorithmically reanimates the face in the video on the other side.

Maxine’s other spotlight feature is face alignment, which enables faces to be automatically adjusted so participants appear to be facing each other during a call. Gaze correction helps simulate eye contact, even if the camera isn’t aligned with the user’s screen. Auto-frame allows the video feed to follow a speaker as they move away from the screen. And developers can let call participants choose their own avatars, with animations automatically driven by their voice and tone.

GANs — two-part models consisting of a generator that creates samples and a discriminator that attempts to differentiate between these samples and real-world samples — have demonstrated impressive feats of media synthesis. Top-performing GANs can create realistic portraits of people who don’t exist, for instance, or snapshots of fictional apartment buildings.

But while GANs have applications in entertainment and videoconferencing, they’ve also been coopted for disinformation and fake accounts. Historically, they’ve also demonstrated bias against certain groups of people, particularly those with dark skin. On this last point, Nvidia told VentureBeat in a previous statement that its research team “paid close attention” to “racial, gender, age, and cultural diversity” while developing the AI features in Maxine for videoconferencing applications.

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Game

Co-op shooter ‘Aliens: Fireteam Elite’ heads to consoles and PC on August 24th

After nearly six years in development, Aliens: Fireteam finally has a release date. Now known as Aliens: Fireteam Elite, it’s coming out on August 24th on Steam, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. 20th Century Games will sell the game for $40, though you can pay extra for the deluxe edition to get various in-game items.  

If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s essentially the Aliens to . Fireteam Elite downplays the horror elements of the franchise in favor of crafting a tight team-based shooter. Like in Valve’s , you’ll embark on a variety of repeatable missions where you’ll need to use teamwork and communication to take on the challenges before you. In all, there’ll be 20 different Xenomorphs, Weyland-Yutani synthetics and other enemies, each with their own AI systems, for you and your friends to take on. Each time you jump into a mission, two other Colonial Marines will support you, and they can be played by both humans and AI bots.

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