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‘Fortnite’ Chapter 3 officially debuts with a new island and revamped gameplay

It didn’t take long for Epic to confirm Fortnite Chapter 3 details. The developer has officially released a trailer that outlines what to expect both in Chapter 3 and its first season, “Flipped.” The new island is the star, with the flip from the Chapter 2 finale leading to a complete landscape overhaul that includes chaotic weather. However, the gameplay changes are arguably more important — you’ll have to rethink your tactics.

The sliding and swinging mechanics should help you move (and dodge) faster than before. Camps help your squad heal and store items that persist between matches. You can also earn XP beyond battle royale, and hold on to a Victory Crown if you keep winning. Epic is clearly hoping to both foster a non-combat metaverse and keep its top-tier players coming back.

And yes, there are new characters. Spider-Man is well-suited to the new swinging mechanic, but you can also play as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Fortnite character The Foundation, or Gears of War‘s Marcus and Kait. Think of them as the poster children for Chapter 3. They may help draw you in, but it’s the fresh gameplay that might keep you playing in the long run.

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The PS5 Is Officially the Fastest-Selling PlayStation

Even with a hardware shortage the PlayStation 5 has broken sales records for Sony. According to a post from the tech giant today, as of July 18, the PS5 sold over 10 million units globally. Having hit that mark three weeks before the PS4 had in its lifetime, the PS5 is now definitively the fastest-selling PlayStation console.

Naturally, the record-breaking sales numbers are cause for celebration at Sony. Per a post on Businesswire from the company, Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan says “I can’t express enough the deep gratitude we feel for our passionate community of Playstation fans who have embraced PS5, and the world-class development and publishing partners who bring such incredible gaming experiences to our platforms.”

Along with some record-setting hardware sales, software for the PS5 has also been selling well, at least in most cases. The Businesswire post also revealed the sales numbers for four games developed under Sony’s umbrella: Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesMLB The Show 21Returnal, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

According to Sony, Over 6.5 million copies of Spider-Man: Miles Morales have been sold since July 18, although it’s not clear what the split between sales of the game on PS4 and PS5 are. MLB The Show 21 has sold over 2 million copies across the PS4 and PS5, with at least an additional 2 million being sold on other platforms, including the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has sold just over 1 million units, and while that number may be unassuming next to the other games listed, it’s worth noting that Rift Apart is only available on PS5. With 10 million PS5s sold globally, that leaves the latest Ratchet & Clank game on one out of every 10 PS5s.

However, the most surprising number reported by Sony is for Housemarque’s Returnal, which has sold over 560,000 copies since releasing on April 30. While the niche title hasn’t sold as well as other PlayStation exclusives listed here, Sony still acquired Housemarque this past June for an undisclosed amount. The purchase, made when Returnal‘s sales numbers were even lower, shows that Sony has a great amount of faith in Housemarque and is ready to back the developer’s next title.

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Tech News

Windows 10 has only 4 years left to live (officially)

Microsoft will soon announce the next version of Windows on June 24. But before that happens, the company has already declared that it’s ending support for Windows 10 on October 14, 2025.

As noted by Thurrott, this is the first time the firm has specified an end date for the entire operating system. Windows 10 was originally unveiled in 2015, so it will have had a good run of 10 years — suits its name too.

What does it mean for you when Microsoft will end support for Windows 10? Well, for starters, you’ll stop receiving software updates, and there will be no new features added to the operating system.

[Read: Why entrepreneurship in emerging markets matters]

The company might have an extended support window where they issue bug fixes and patches, so you can run your system without worrying about security.

While home users might prefer to update to the new version of Windows within a couple of years of its release, enterprises may not make that switch quickly. That’s because they often run several pieces of custom-made software tailored to a particular OS, and those may not be updated as soon as the next version of Windows is out.

So Windows 10 is not dying out anytime soon, but we at least know the date when Microsoft will start pushing users towards the newest version of its operating system.

Don’t forget to tune in to Plugged for the launch of the next version of Windows next week.

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Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope officially revealed following eShop leak

Today’s Ubisoft Forward sort of served as the kick off for E3 2021, and though the company spent most of the show covering games that have already been announced – or, in the case of Rainbow Six: Siege and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, games that are already out – the show did have a couple of new announcements. One such announcement came at tail end of the show, with Ubisoft officially confirming Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope.

Unfortunately for Ubisoft, the surprise was spoiled just hours before the event, as a listing for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope was leaked on the Switch eShop earlier this morning. Even with that early leak, this new Mario + Rabbids reveal is likely to be a highlight of the show for Switch owners due to the fact that Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was surprisingly great.

Judging from the reveal trailer, it looks like Sparks of Hope will use the Super Mario Galaxy setting, as we’ll be shuttled off into space in this installment. The titular Sparks are crosses between Rabbids and Mario Galaxy‘s Lumas, and we’ll see a Rabbid version of Rosalina join the roster this time around as well. There’s also a new villain named Cursa, who is using the Sparks as energy to power their efforts to take over the galaxy.

Ubisoft has confirmed that we’ll be bouncing between planets in this entry, so the homage to the Super Mario Galaxy games is clear. Combat will be getting a shake up in Sparks of Hope that will combine the turn-based tactics from the first game with real-time action segments. Ubisoft says that there are dozens of Sparks to collect throughout the game, and that each one will offer “a distinct power and ability” that can be used in battle.

You can learn more about Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope in the three videos we’ve embedded above. The first is the cinematic reveal trailer, the second is a gameplay sneak peek, and the third is a discussion with three members of the Sparks of Hope team: Creative Director Davide Soliani, Lead Producer Xavier Manzanares, and Associate Producer Cristina Nava. Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope is launching for Nintendo Switch in 2022.

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Microsoft is officially making Xbox video game streaming sticks

Just days before Microsoft’s big ol’ E3 livestream, executives from the company sat down to talk — er, read remarks prepared by the communications team — about the future of Xbox. In a pre-recorded media briefing, Xbox head Phil Spencer, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and others bragged about how well Game Pass and Azure are performing, and also dropped some news about the company’s cloud gaming and subscription strategies.

First, Xbox is working with global TV manufacturers to get Game Pass on smart televisions. Considering a Game Pass Ultimate subscription unlocks cloud capabilities, this feature will allow folks to play Xbox titles with just a controller, no console required. Additionally, Microsoft is officially building a video game streaming stick, as Spencer teased late last year.

“We’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience,” CVP of gaming experiences and platforms Liz Hamren said. There’s no word on when to expect the smart TV app or streaming hardware to hit the market, but neither seems too far off.

Xbox E3 2021

Xbox

Spencer and friends broke down a handful of additional news nuggets, as follows:

In the next few weeks, all Game Pass Ultimate subscribers — of which there are at least 18 million — will have access to browser-based cloud gaming, supporting Chrome, Edge and Safari. This feature launched in beta in April, and it also unlocks cloud gaming on iOS via a progressive web app. 

Also in the coming weeks, cloud players will see improvements in load times, framerates and optimized games as Microsoft completes a next-gen upgrade across its data centers. Until now, Xbox Cloud gaming has been powered by blade servers based on Xbox One S consoles, but with the move to new-gen and the ambition to support streaming on larger screen devices, Microsoft has replaced many of these units with blades based on the Series consoles.

Later this year, cloud gaming will be available through a Game Pass Ultimate subscription in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. Additionally, Microsoft will integrate cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC, and launch cloud features on Xbox consoles, such as “try before you download.”

Xbox is toying with new Game Pass tiers designed to be more accessible to players around the globe. Plus, the company plans to expand the Xbox All Access program, which allows folks to buy a new Xbox Series console and a Game Pass Ultimate subscription for $25 a month over two years. 

As for the massive cache of talented studios that Xbox currently owns — including Bethesda, id Software and Arkane — the company plans to release at least one new, first-party title into the Game Pass library each quarter. 

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox

All of this underscores Microsoft’s ninth-generation strategy, which diverges drastically from that of its longtime rival, Sony. While the PlayStation 5 is following a traditional console-upgrade path with an emphasis on high-powered guts and exclusive software, the Xbox Series X and S are vessels for Game Pass subscriptions and streaming, leveraging the massive Azure network — something Sony can’t do (at least not without paying Microsoft first). 

This is the pivot that Microsoft has been ready to make since the launch of the Xbox One in 2013. Eight years ago, Spencer pitched a console that would be always online and constantly listening, designed with digital game downloads and media streaming in mind. Only back then, neither players nor broadband networks were ready to make the leap away from physical disks. Today, it’s a completely different story.

The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase kicks off on Sunday, June 13th at 1PM ET, and it’s set to include 90 minutes of software news and fresh trailers from third- and first-party studios. This is arguably the largest live stream of E3 2021, though Nintendo’s Switch show on June 15th might give it a run for its money. Check out our full E3 2021 schedule right here, and stay tuned for live streams on the Engadget YouTube channel throughout the week.

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Xbox Cloud Gaming TV stick and smart TV apps officially in the works

The Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase is undoubtedly one of the biggest shows happening at E3 this year, but before that goes down on Sunday, Microsoft has given us an update on all things Xbox Game Pass. Xbox Game Pass was a major focus for Microsoft in the latter half of the previous generation and continues to be a big focus as we head deeper into the new generation. It seems that it’s about to come to a lot more devices and screens as well.

In a post to Xbox Wire today, Microsoft detailed some new initiatives for Xbox Game Pass that will help it become more ubiquitous. Microsoft started off with a rather big reveal, saying that it’s working with TV manufacturers around the world to “embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions with no extra hardware required except a controller.” So, it sounds like a Game Pass TV app is on the way, and it’ll tap into cloud gaming just like Android devices currently do.

In addition, Microsoft says that it’s building “its own streaming devices for cloud gaming,” with the goal being to let anyone play games through Game Pass regardless of what kind of TV or monitor they have and without the need for a console. Microsoft has hinted in the past that these devices could take the form of a streaming stick, so don’t be surprised if that’s among the lineup when Microsoft reveals its slate of cloud gaming hardware.

These efforts go further than working with TV manufacturers to develop a smart TV app and rolling out streaming devices, as Microsoft also says that it will be exploring different subscriptions for Xbox Game Pass so that players can “experience the most immersive and fun games across devices, geographies, and financial realities.”

Of course, for these plans to take off, Microsoft needs to roll out cloud gaming in more regions around the world, and it’s doing just that, announcing that cloud gaming will be available through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate later this year in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan. It sounds like we can expect some big things for Xbox Game Pass in the near future, so we’ll keep you updated as these plans start to come to fruition.

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Rainbow Six Quarantine Officially Renamed to Extraction

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine now has a new name, as revealed by Ubisoft. It is now called Rainbow Six Extraction, and will be shown during the E3 Ubisoft Forward event later this month.

This news comes by way of the game’s official Twitter account, which featured a short video revealing the game’s new name and what to expect from its showcase during E3. The team at Ubisoft was careful not to spoil anything about the game ahead of the Ubisoft Forward event, but the game’s producer, Antoine Vimal du Monteil, did note that it has “grown a lot” since its announcement in 2019.

Join our team in introducing the next chapter in the Rainbow Six franchise, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction.

Tune in to Ubisoft Forward on June 12 at 12pm PT to watch the worldwide reveal⏰ pic.twitter.com/mb2TJVPQNQ

— Rainbow Six Extraction (@R6Extraction) June 7, 2021

The game was initially revealed as Rainbow Six Quarantine, but was likely changed due to the events of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally supposed to launch much sooner, but Ubisoft delayed it at the end of 2020, citing the pandemic as one of the major factors for postponing its release.

Ubisoft explained the game’s title, Extraction, by confirming that players will need to extract people from missions, with an emphasis on making sure no one gets left behind.

Vimal du Monteil says players will be tasked with learning about the game’s “parasite, how to overcome it, and protecting each other every step of the way.” This is in line with its initial announcement, wherein cooperative play is a major priority. It’s unclear how this extraction process will tie into the game, but we’ll likely see more during its gameplay reveal during the Ubisoft Forward.

The company’s Ubisoft Forward event will air at noon PT/3 p.m. ET on June 12 , when we’ll find out more about Rainbow Six Extraction.

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Game

Nintendo Games Officially Becoming High School Esports

Nintendo and youth esports organization PlayVS have announced a collaboration to bring competitive Nintendo games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 to high school gaming leagues this fall season. This marks the first time that these two titles are being deemed official high school athletics activities. They are officially sponsored by Nintendo.

PlayVS mentioned the usage of different league formats, as well as team play, but nothing has been fully revealed yet other then the season beginning on September 20. The league’s competition will take place through online matches as well as seasonal leagues, allowing teams across the country to compete against one another.

It also confirmed that thanks to the partnership with Nintendo, it will provide Nintendo Switch systems to select qualifying schools. In addition to that, 3,000 select schools will receive “either a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Splatoon 2 game and a Nintendo Switch Online 12-month individual membership.”

While this may be the first time Nintendo games are coming under the PlayVS high school varsity umbrella, the company isn’t new to the competitive scene. PlayVS brought youth esports leagues to high schools and colleges everywhere with games like FortniteSmiteLeague of LegendsRocket League, and more.

This new league is a big step toward the future of esports and a surprising one considering Nintendo’s past of shutting down competitive Super Smash Bros esports events. For students and school faculty members that want to get in on the action, PlayVS suggests joining its waitlist to attempt to secure a spot.

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Tech News

Clubhouse has officially launched its Android app (starting with the US)

It was just a few days ago that Clubhouse, the audio-first social network, announced it was testing an Android version of its rapidly-growing app with a small number of users in a closed beta. It turns out we didn’t have to wait long for a wider rollout: a beta version of the app is now rolling out widely right in the Google Play Store, although it’s currently limited to users in the US.

To be clear, you’ll still need an invite to participate in conversations, but you weren’t able to use it at all without an iOS device previously. If you haven’t been invited yet, you can also use the app to reserve your username in the meantime.

The timing perhaps shouldn’t be so surprising: a litany of competing options have shown up in Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, not to mention smaller lookalikes. If the app wants to maintain its status as the leader in this emerging social media format, it had to expand to Android users as soon as possible.

Clubhouse says the rollout will be gradual, starting “with the U.S. today, followed by other English-speaking countries and then the rest of the world.”

As the app is still in beta, the company plans to collect feedback and fix issues as it expands more widely; it notes that it’s maintaining the waitlist and invite system as it works to scale its backend to support the large influx of users. The company is also planning to expand language support and add accessibility features over the summer as well.

People in the US can download Clubhouse here, while those in other regions can sign up to be alerted about availability at the same link.

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E3 2021 Will Officially Be a Free, All-Digital Show

The ESA finally revealed the first official details about E3 2021 after months of rumors. The show will be all-digital in 2021 and feature many major gaming studios — and some notable absences.

E3 2021 will take place from June 12 to June 15 as originally scheduled. While the ESA danced around whether or not the show would be in-person, today it officially confirmed a full digital pivot. The ESA previously said that the event would be a “reimagined” version of the show.

According to ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis, this year’s edition will be business as usual for the show despite the format change. It’s expected to feature game announcements and reveals as it has in previous years.

“We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event,” says Pierre-Louis in a press release, “but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games.”

While few details were revealed, the ESA did share a list of partners who will be involved in the show. Nintendo, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Konami, Warner Bros., and more are among the list of publishers who will showcase games at the event.

Notably absent from the list are Sony and EA. Both companies had ditched E3 entirely in recent years prior to the show’s cancellation in 2020. At the moment, it appears that neither company will return for the digital show.

The ESA emphasizes that the event will be free. That comes after recent speculation that the show would feature some form of a paid tier for fans to get exclusive access to demos. The E3 Twitter account denied those claims. No further details about how the show will be structured were revealed.

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