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Security

Lil Nas X, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift were among the Vevo YouTube channels hacked Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, YouTube channels for some of the world’s biggest stars showered fans with strange music videos. Vevo channels for artists like Lil Nas X, Eminem, Drake, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, The Weeknd, Michael Jackson, Kanye West, and many others were affected. The channels in question have subscriber counts that add up to hundreds of millions. Before the videos disappeared, viewers saw bizarre clips of Paco Sanz, a Spanish conman sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted of fraud for lying about having terminal cancer, and rapper Lil Tjay.

YouTube did not respond to requests for comment from The Verge; however, Vevo — which bills itself as “the world’s leading music video network” — did acknowledge the incident. A spokesperson responded to contact via Vevo’s public press information and requested not to be named, citing the “nature” of the incident. They said in a statement that “Some videos were directly uploaded to a small number of Vevo artist channels earlier today by an unauthorized source.”

Besides noting that the videos are gone, they also claimed, “No pre-existing content was accessible to the source. While the artist channels have been secured and the incident has been resolved, as a best practice Vevo will be conducting a review of our security systems.”

Another Vevo-related breach in 2018 saw popular music videos defaced, while the then-most-viewed YouTube video of all time, “Despacito” (it is now second, behind “Baby Shark”), was vandalized and briefly removed.

Google and YouTube have recently focused on trying to secure popular channels. Last year a report highlighted a phishing campaign targeting creators, YouTube required millions of popular channels to enable two-step verification, and Google says it gave away hardware authentication keys to over 10,000 high-risk users.

Despite those precautions, an apparent compromise somewhere along Vevo’s pipeline allowed the attacker, who pointed to their Twitter handle @lospelaosbro in the posts, to continue uploading across high-profile channels for several hours.

The artists or the people who operate their pages were likely unable to do anything about the issue. Vevo’s artist information page explains that it works by creating a separate verified Artist Channel to upload videos, and YouTube merges that content with videos on the artist’s own YouTube page. A support page states that “Vevo does not provide access directly to artists.” Instead, independent content providers or the artist’s music label will upload the content to Vevo, which sends it to YouTube and other channels.



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Game

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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Game

Weird West Gives Players Choices to Survive the West

When you find yourself in a cruel land, filled with monstrous enemies and other folks that want you dead, it’s best to have some options. Weird West, an upcoming western RPG, wants to give you as many choices as it can. The developers at Wolfeye Studios are taking what they have learned from their past as game developers to bring a new take on the simulation genre.

I sat down with some of the developers for a preview event and saw what players can expect in their playtime with Weird West. The game takes place in a stylized wild west narrative where cowboys, cultists, and unspeakable horrors meet. The focus is to give players plenty of room to explore the mechanics that they want to play with.

Pick your poison

The first thing that jumps out from the game is its unique art style. With its hard lines and almost brush-like color fill, the game has almost a comic-like feel to it. This art is intentional, as the developers wanted to give it a timeless feel where the aesthetics are not held down by the current standard of technology. The landscapes that I experienced during the playthrough were: A homestead, a town where no one wanted to kill the player, a town where everyone did, and tunnels at the bottom of a well.

One interesting thing I noticed is that the color palette is very earthy and brown. Usually, I would complain about how everything is just garbled together and how difficult it is to differentiate between a roof and dirt on the ground. However, thanks to the art direction everything was clearly presented despite a small spectrum of color on the screen.

The developers say that they want to bring what they have learned from past games to create a compelling simulation game. Many of the developers working on Weird West came from Arkane Studios, the studio that worked on Prey and Arx Fatalis. That DNA can be easily seen throughout the game, as the developers really want players to interact with the world. As soon as the game starts, players can interact with anything they can get their hands on. Moving and sitting in chairs, rummaging through barrels, and even grabbing bottles and throwing them. In the demo, the player threw a held bottle into the air and shot it like a gunslinger in an old-timey roadshow. It’s not a useful battle skill, but it was certainly novel. It showed that anything and everything can be interacted with.

Sneaking through an enemy town in Weird West.

This became evidently clear when we experienced our first combat encounter. The devs ran across a walled-off town filled with ne’er-do-wells that are aligned with sirens. Yes, actual sirens. Once a cutscene wrapped up, I saw how many options that players will have in Weird West. In broad strokes, each conflict can be resolved using combat or stealth. However, these two broad options branch out wildly for players. You can enter the town guns blazing and try to shoot your way through every single enemy. Alternately, you can maintain your range and pick them off one at a time. You can even subdue the guards and start to sneak in by hiding behind objects. Or you can locate boxes and stack them up so you can climb over the wall and avoid the starting guards completely.

That’s what makes Weird West compelling. Sure, dark magic, strange cryptids, and a leveling system are interesting in and of themselves, but those are just tools to play around in the open playground that Wolfeye presents. Every conflict scenario in this game can be approached multiple ways and the true joy is finding one or two ways that you have fun doing.

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Game

‘Horizon Forbidden West’ is reportedly delayed to 2022

PlayStation fans will have to wait until 2022 to play Horizon Forbidden West, according to Bloomberg. The outlet reports the company has delayed its next big PS5 and PS4 exclusive to next year, pushing it back from its current 2021 holiday season release timeframe.

Ahead of today’s news, Sony hinted at a potential delay last month when the company published an interview with PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst. “For Horizon, we think we are on track to release this holiday season,” Hulst said at the time. “But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can.” At the moment, it’s not clear what’s behind the delay.

If Sony does in fact delay Forbidden West, it won’t be the only first-party exclusive to miss its previously announced 2021 release date. Earlier in the year, the company delayed both Gran Turismo 7 and the next God of War entry to 2022. Just last week, Bethesda also delayed Ghostwire: Tokyo, its upcoming PlayStation 5 and PC horror game from Tango Gameworks, to early 2022.    

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Game

PAX West Requiring COVID Vaccine, Negative Test to Get In

PAX West, the Seattle-based gaming convention run by Penny Arcade and ReedPop, has reversed its lax stance on COVID safety. Anyone attending the event will now need either proof that they’ve been vaccinated or a recent, negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test.

PAX West 2020 was canceled, like many other events, due to the coronavirus pandemic last year. The event and its organizers quickly drew criticism earlier this year for announcing that the event would take place in person without any vaccination requirements. Along with a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, attendees of PAX West will need to provide a “valid, government-issued ID.”

In an email, ReedPop global gaming event director Kyle Marsden-Kish wrote “We are pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at PAX West.”

We're pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at #PAXWest. Read the full update at: https://t.co/1ZtYPOCQeI pic.twitter.com/hZJkFeRngR

— PAX (@pax) July 27, 2021

The driving force behind this change in position may be the Delta variant of COVID-19. This version of the virus, first spotted in Washington State this past April, is “more transmissible compared with other variants” according to the Washington State Department of Health. Washington State recently rescinded a majority of its COVID restrictions, but the virus is still present in the state.

Notably, in King County, which includes Seattle, positive cases of COVID-19 have been increasing steadily since the start of July. That being said, the positive case rate is still far below where it was during the virus’ peak last year. PAX West 2021 is currently set to begin on September 3.

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Game

Horizon Forbidden West Borrows Zelda’s Best Mechanic

Sony showed off 14 minutes of gameplay for the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West during a State of Play event today, and the protagonist, Aloy, has a lot of new gadgets up her sleeve. Surprisingly, Sony and Guerrilla Games did not reveal the release date for the game, which was originally planned for a 2021 launch.

The surprising omission leads to speculation that it has been delayed to next year possibly. Since we’re halfway through the year, it would have made sense for the game to get a release window if it’s still intended to launch before the end of 2021.

In this new entry, the main character has access to a grappling hook, a diving mask to allow her to swim underwater, and a glider similar to the one in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The first entry, Horizon Zero Dawn, launched right around the same time as Breath of the Wild and because of that, many critics and fans couldn’t help but compare the two. After all, both are open-world action games with an emphasis on combat, exploration, and inventory management. One thing fans adored in Breath of the Wild was its gliding mechanic, which allows players to safely and quickly traverse the map from tall structures. Now, Horizon Forbidden West will utilize its own version of the glider.

The only thing Sony did reiterate is that Horizon Forbidden West is a PlayStation exclusive, coming to the PS4 and PS5. Guerrilla Games did say that more details would be revealed at a later time, so it’s possible we’ll get another update later this year.

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Tech News

USGS brings earthquake mobile alerts to the full US West Coast

If you live in any of the states along the US West Coast, you’re now covered by the US Geological Survey’s ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system. The USGS announced the expansion today, explaining that the three states in the US most prone to earthquakes — Washington, Oregon, and California — can now deliver mobile alerts when an earthquake is about to strike.

The USGS has been steadily rolling out its earthquake early warning system across the US West Coast; it started with California in 2019 and arrived in Oregon in March. In its latest announcement, the agency says it has also expanded the system to cover Washington, officially covering the full western coast of the United States.

The early warning system uses the FEMA Wireless Emergency Alert system to deliver mobile alerts to residents in impacted areas, according to the USGS, which notes that some third-party apps can also receive and deliver the earthquake warnings. The detection takes place using USGS ANSS sensor data, which includes sensor information from participating monitoring networks.

These sensitive sensor-based monitoring networks are able to pick up on the subtle movements that indicate an earthquake is about to happen, giving officials enough time to alert the people who live in the region. This early alert provides residents with enough time to take cover and get out of risky environments, helping reduce the number of injuries that may result and, potentially, save lives.

Likewise, the detection system has supported automatic actions for the past few years, meaning the detection of an earthquake can trigger the automatic slowing of trains, close gas and water system valves, open firehouse doors, and similar activities that will help keep everyone safe during the event.

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Game

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Comes West This Summer

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is coming to PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch worldwide on July 27, 2021, as confirmed by Capcom. This collection bundles The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and its sequel The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve, previously which were only available in Japan.

Most notable about this series is that it does not star the famous Phoenix Wright, but rather his ancestor Ryunosuke Naruhodo, with events that take place around 100 years prior to the original Ace Attorney trilogy. Along the way, Naruhodo will encounter a series of characters including Kazuma Asogi, Susato Mikotoba, and of course, Herlock Sholmes (we aren’t kidding). One of this collection’s main differences is that it takes place in England, as opposed to Japan.

Although the setting and time period differ from what players might be used to, the sleuthing gameplay remains the same. Players will still need to evaluate crime scenes, cross-examine witnesses, and find holes in their stories to uncover the truth. Since this collection will be headed Westward, it will feature English subtitles, which is great for a non-Japanese speaking audience.

In contrast to the familiar Ace Attorney games of the past, players will need to work with the jury to persuade them one way or another in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. This collection also features a Story Mode, which allows users to simply watch the events of the narrative without having to investigate or press witnesses.

It’s worth mentioning that the worldwide release of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles was previously leaked as part of last year’s ransomware attack on Capcom.

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Tech News

Fallout 76’s wasteland West Virginia is for lovers

Date night, for my fiancée and I, is all about closeness and intimacy. Sometimes that looks like cooking our favorite meal together, having a few cocktails after dinner, and talking the night away. Other times, however, it looks like us playing a video game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where she’s a laser-gun-wielding punk rock goddess and I’m a machete-toting psychopath who collects teddy bears.

Variety, they say, is the spice of life.

It’s ironic then, that when I wrote the first edition of this series my plan was to publish a new piece each week. Unfortunately, the first article was about Stellaris and my fiancée and I haven’t played anything else in the 11 weeks since it was published. To say we really enjoy it would be putting it mildly.

But, tonight that all ends because we’ve got a date to play Fallout 76 and I can’t wait to get off work so we can dive back in.

For those unfamiliar, Fallout 76 is Bethesda’s MMO set in the Fallout world. It plays very similar to the critically-acclaimed single player RPGs – especially Fallout 4. But, as it’s an MMO, the experience is tailored toward multiplayer.

As I wrote in a previous article, I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of a Fallout MMO. My favorite things about the franchise have always been the immersion and play-at-your-own-pace feel. And the MMO component kind of kills both of those for me.

Don’t get me wrong, the ’76 community is fine and the game’s actually a lot of fun to solo if you’re not into playing with a group. But, my perfect Fallout is one where the only human player characters in the game are me and the people I explicitly allow in my world.

Enter Fallout 1st

You buy the game (it usually retails for $39.99 on Steam, or you can download and play it as part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC or console) and it’s free to play after that. However, if you so choose, for about $13 a month you can get a subscription to Fallout 1st.

Most of what the sub gets you is cosmetics. Fallout 76, much like Fallout 4, leans heavily on the construction and customization aspects of the game. If you enjoy building and decorating your own spaces in a sand box environment, you’ll probably enjoy the wasteland. But, if you don’t care about how your pad, gear, and clothing looks and you just want to shoot baddies and gain EXP, you might not care so much about the bells and whistles that come with the subscription.

What really matters here is the private worlds option.

Fallout 76 on private servers is the quarantine gaming experience I deserve

Simply put, if you’re a Fallout 1st subscriber, once you create your character and play through the opening sequence, you can then back out to the main menu and log back into your own private server for you and up to seven more people you invite. The game is essentially the same as the public version, only you have complete control over who’s allowed to play with you.

The date night experience

Last night we created characters, synced up in our private world, and began our journey into West Virginia for the first time. We’d both come from the same vault and had the same goals in mind: find some better clothes, get some decent weapons, and carve out our own little slice of Appalachia to live happily ever after in.

Within ten minutes she shoots a guy in the face for threatening me and, before his body can hit the floor, I’m hacking at him with a cheap machete.

About two hours later she’s drowning in a shallow pond under the weight of a stolen monster egg as the giant, mutant creature who laid it dives in after her. I’m standing on the bank about 30 meters away trying to remember which one of my guns still has ammo in it shouting “swim swim!” while she frantically struggles to lower her encumbrance without giving up the precious egg.

During the time between we met a NPC couple outside enjoying a barbecue on their anniversary, built our own campsites right next to each other’s, and started an adorable teddy bear collection.

Fallout 76 doesn’t make these experiences happen, it lets them happen. And that’s why it’s incredibly suited for playing with your romantic partners: you’re telling your story with every step you take together.

Final thoughts

Most MMOs make good playgrounds for romantic partners, as long as you like the game, but Fallout 76 sets itself apart with the ability to play in your own private universe. Sure, it costs more than a basic Netflix subscription, but you can always cancel it after a month and turn it back on later if you’re Mercurial about gaming subs.

It’s one thing to blaze a trail among the masses with your friends and loved ones as you work together to climb leader boards or obtain infamy, but we’re not inclined to hang out with randos when we’re trying to get our date night on.

Having the option to go private makes all the difference in the world.

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