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‘World of Warcraft: Dragonflight’ won’t use gendered language in its character generator

World of Warcraft: Dragonflight is joining the ranks of games with more inclusive character generators. Both Wowhead and Polygon note the expansion’s new alpha release has dropped gendered language from its character creator. Instead of the male and female options you frequently see in these tools, they’re now divided into respective “Body 1” and “Body 2” sections. While they effectively offer the same characteristics as before, you can now build a gender non-conforming adventurer without any awkward wording.

Wowhead also found code suggesting that you may get to choose he/him, she/her and they/them pronouns in a future release, which could help other players address your character accordingly. Game director Ion Hazzikostas also suggested in an interview that there might be a way to choose your character’s voice at some point, although the most recent alpha version pulled references to that potential feature.

The changes might not be as substantial as you’d like. You can’t have facial hair and breasts on the same character in the alpha, for instance. Still, this could make World of Warcraft more appealing if you’re non-binary, transgender or otherwise don’t fit neatly into conventional gender representations.

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Blizzard won’t release any more new content for ‘Heroes of the Storm’

Blizzard is ending development on Heroes of the Storm. In a brief , the studio said it plans to support the MOBA “in a manner similar” to games like . Moving forward, Blizzard said fans can expect the company to continue to release patches that address bugs and balance issues “as needed.” However, it has “no plans” to add new content to the in-game shop – which, for the time being, will continue to operate.

“To our Heroes community, we say, ‘thank you,’” Blizzard said, noting it will gift a free in-game mount to players with the game’s next patch. “You continue to be one of our most passionate communities, we’re grateful for your continued dedication and support, and as always, we look forward to seeing you in the Nexus.”

Friday’s announcement effectively caps off what’s been a slow death for the Blizzard-universe MOBA. In 2018, said the studio had made the “difficult” decision to move some of the staff that had been working on Heroes of the Storm to other projects. Since then, the cadence of new content slowed to a trickle. The game’s most recently added hero came in . Blizzard’s abrupt decision to end its support of the Heroes of the Storm esports scene also left many pros .

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No, Ubisoft won’t stop you from playing ‘Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD’ on Steam

Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD owners on Steam won’t lose access to the game on September 1st, Ubisoft clarified today after a notice on Valve’s storefront suggested the title would become unplayable later this year. “Current owners of those games will still be able to access, play or redownload them,” a spokesperson for the company told .

The confusion around Liberation HD’s playability stems from an announcement Ubisoft made earlier this month. In a move designed to free up resources for its newer and more popular titles, the company said it planned to , including Liberation HD. As a result of the decision, online features and downloadable content would become unavailable in most of the affected titles. However, the only game Ubisoft said would be completely unplayable was Spade Junkies due to it being a multiplayer-only experience.

Many thought Ubisoft planned to take things a step further when a Twitter user named Nors3 shared a screenshot on Monday of Liberation HD’s Steam page. “Please note this title will not be accessible following September 1st, 2022,” said one of the notices on the game’s storefront listing. The warning prompted many to accuse Ubisoft of dropping to a new low.

Ubisoft told Eurogamer it’s working with Valve and other platform owners to provide more accurate information on the future of the 15 games affected by its decision. “It has always been our intention to do everything in our power to allow those legacy titles to remain available in the best possible conditions for players, and this is what we are working towards,” the company said.

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‘Overwatch 2’ won’t have loot boxes

Overwatch 2 will get rid of one of the first game’s most infamous elements. Blizzard has confirmed at a reveal event that that the new team-based shooter won’t have loot boxes when it premieres October 4th. Instead, you’ll get the items you want through either a Battle Pass or a “consistently updated” in-game store. You won’t have to roll the dice wondering if you’ll get a special character skin or emote.

Blizzard also used the event to show what you can expect for the first two seasons. The developer will provide free updates every nine weeks to keep things fresh, with progression applying across game platforms. The first season will include three new heroes (Sojourn, Junker Queen and an unidentified third), six more maps, 30-plus extra skins and a new game mode. The second season, kicking off December 6th, will add a new take hero, another map and still more cosmetics. In 2023, you can expect a new “PvE experience” that advances the story.

The approach to loot boxes is a relative about-face. The company has kept the random boxes in Overwatch ever since launch, and has been defensive. Blizzard even refused to release Diablo Immortal in Belgium and the Netherlands due to those countries’ laws banning loot box mechanics as a form of gambling. With Overwatch 2, the team is acknowledging the backlash.

There might not have been much choice. Overwatch has maintained a largely steady player count and even grown slightly over the years, with ActivePlayer.io data indicating an average of 7.2 million players per month as of May. However, it’s no secret that some players hate loot boxes and might be wary of playing the new game if they persist. As it stands, US agencies like the Federal Trade Commission have investigated loot box systems in the past. Whatever the motivations for scrapping the boxes, the decision could help Blizzard avoid legal trouble in its home country.

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Blizzard claims it won’t monetize ‘Diablo IV’ like ‘Diablo Immortal’

Diablo IV will feature a different set of monetization systems than those found in Diablo Immortal, according to Blizzard. “To be clear, D4 is a full-price game built for PC/PS/Xbox audiences,” said Diablo franchise general manager Rod Fergusson following the game’s latest showing during Microsoft’s Summer Game Fest presentation on Sunday. “We are committed to delivering an incredible breadth of content after launch, for years to come, anchored around optional cosmetic items and full story-driven expansions.”

Blizzard has similarly promised to support the recently released Immortal for a while but is doing so through an in-game marketplace where players can purchase optional cosmetics, an “empowered” battle pass and “eternal orbs,” a premium currency that can be exchanged for the game’s controversial “legendary” crests. The consensus among the gaming community is that Immortal features some of the most aggressive and predatory monetization systems found in a Blizzard game to date. One estimate suggests it would take someone 10 years or $110,000 to acquire enough “legendary gems” to equip their character with the best possible gear. Since the release of Immortal, Diablo fans have been worried that Blizzard would employ a similar set of monetization systems in Diablo 4 when that game comes out in 2023.

However, Fergusson’s statement suggests Diablo IV will be closer to Diablo III than Immortal. The former did not feature microtransactions – though it launched with a controversial in-game auction house – and Blizzard went on to support the title with a $40 expansion in 2014 and a $15 DLC in 2017 that added Diablo 2’s necromancer class to the game. Still, reading through Fergusson’s Twitter replies, you see a lot of fans expressing concern that even the mention of cosmetics could imply more microtransactions than Blizzard is suggesting. Neither Fergusson nor Diablo community lead Adam Fletcher mentioned a paid battle pass, but that’s one way Blizzard could make some cosmetics obtainable since many games, including Immortal, incorporate them as a completion reward.

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Activision Blizzard won’t have a role at the 2021 Game Awards

Activision Blizzard’s ongoing workplace harassment scandal may have repercussions for one of its bigger media opportunities. In the wake of a Washington Post report raising questions about Activision Blizzard’s involvement at the 2021 Game Awards, producer Geoff Keighley confirmed the publisher wouldn’t have a role at the show outside of the nominations chosen by influencers and media. There’s “no place” for abuse and harassment anywhere, Keighley said.

 He added that the industry needed to “work together” to create a more inclusive space for developing games. The focus was on celebrating games and the people who made them, according to the founder. Keighley already said Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 wouldn’t appear during the presentation.

It’s not clear if the scandal had a direct impact on Activision’s presence, but it’s a contrast from 2020. Then, the company used the Game Awards to show Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War‘s first season of battle royale material.

Questions remain, though. Most notably, the awards’ advisory panel includes Activision Blizzard president Rob Kostich. The publisher still technically holds some sway over the event, even if it didn’t dictate much of the show in practice. Keighley told the Post the show organizers had to “think very carefully” about how to move forward — much like Microsoft and other industry partners, the Game Awards team hasn’t yet decided on the long-term repercussions (if any) for Activision’s problematic workplace culture.

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Spider-Man Won’t Have Story Missions In Marvel’s Avengers

After a long wait, Marvel’s Avengers players on PlayStation are finally getting access to Spider-Man this month, just without any story missions. As revealed in IGN’s preview of Spider-Man in the Marvel-based action game, the web slinger’s debut won’t include any story missions.

For Marvel’s Avengers, that’s a big departure from the norm for new character rollouts. Each character that has been introduced to the game, from Hawkeye to Black Panther, has come with a group of story missions that introduces them and gives players a bit of a backstory. Spider-Man, who PlayStation players have been looking forward to for over a year, will arrive unceremoniously, with no story missions to speak of. At least that means we don’t have to see Uncle Ben die again.

In lieu of any proper story missions, Spidey’s backstory will be told in-game through audio logs and illustrated cutscenes. Speaking to IGN about the decision, Marvel’s Avengers gameplay director Philippe Therien explained that the team didn’t want anything to get into the way of the game’s upcoming raid. “We want to spend our efforts on content that everyone can enjoy,” Therien explained, “so we chose to spend a lot of our energy on the Klaw raid that’s coming up at the same time.”

Unfortunately for PlayStation players, it seems like Marvel’s Avengers version of Spider-Man is the new best example of why console-exclusive content in games aren’t always a great deal. Developers aren’t as likely to put their all into something that only a small portion of players will actually access, ultimately leaving fans with something that may not live up to the hype.

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Pokemon GO wont work on your old iPhone soon

An announcement was made by Niantic in mid-November 2021 that Pokemon GO would soon end support for older versions of iOS. Your iPhone running a version of iOS released before September of 2019. If you have an iPhone with software that old, now is the time to get an update from Apple. Also, who are you, and would you mind answering a few questions for us?

In September of 2019, Apple released the operating system known as iOS 13. If you have an iPhone running software older than this, Pokemon GO will cease to function in the very near future. To see which version of iOS your device is running, open Settings – General – About.

Niantic suggested that their “next release” will be the one that’ll make this change. They’ve recommended that all iOS users make sure they’re updated beyond iOS 12 as soon as possible so as to “continue to play without interruption.”

No changes will be made to the devices that are supported by Pokemon GO. This means that if you have a very old iPhone, but your very old iPhone is able to run iOS 13, you’ll still be golden. Niantic suggested this week that their eldest iPhone model support remains the same – iPhone 6s and newer.

Pokemon GO release version 225 will be the first that will cut off access to features from devices running iOS 12 or older. Any version 12.x counts in this – you’ll need at least iOS 13 to continue forward in Pokemon GO once version 225 is released.

If you have an Android device, you will not be affected by this update. Android users already have a minimum version number Android 6, AKA Android Marshmallow. That operating system was first released all the way back in October of 2015. The span of time Niantic covers in version releases of operating systems is based on the percentage of users that play on any given operating system.

Once Niantic has a requisite amount of players appearing using the newest version of iOS, and a small enough number of players playing on older versions of iOS, they move forward. Each time a new version of the Pokemon GO app is made, each time they need an update, they must make certain it’ll all work with every different operating system Niantic officially supports. Reducing the number of operating system versions Pokemon GO needs to be tested on allows Niantic’s developers to focus on more important things – like plopping Shiny Pokemon in the game for special events!

This should give you some idea of how spread out the version numbers are in active Android players, and how up-to-date most iOS users are at any given time. Niantic sees that most iOS users are on iOS 13 or higher, so they’ll drop support for iOS 12 soon. Once enough Android users update from… Marshmallow?! What on earth? They’ll drop that too!

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Steam Deck won’t flop like Steam Machines

PC gamers might have felt a tad disappointed at the news that Valve is delaying its Steam Deck portable PC gaming machine to sometime in 2022. Of course, that wasn’t exactly surprising given how other consumer electronics, especially computers and mobile devices, are facing production and shipment delays, but it still douses some cold water over the enthusiasm that has been building up towards the upcoming shopping and gaming seasons. Almost ironically, that can also serve to get gamers excited even more, especially after Valve continues to reveal some details that inspire confidence that the Steam Deck will not be a repeat of the ill-fated Steam Machine.

Handheld gaming is a thing (again)

Handheld gaming devices have been around for ages, though few can probably be considered to have garnered enough success to be worthy of being included in the annals of gaming history. The console side of the fence is filled with noteworthy examples like the original Nintendo Game Boy, the PlayStation Portable and the PS Vita, and, more recently, the Nintendo Switch. Handheld PCs have recently grown in number, but they are still relatively obscure compared to one that would bear the names of “Valve” and “Steam”.

Perhaps partly thanks to the Nintendo Switch and partly due to the lucrative mobile games market, the idea of gaming on the go has gotten more mass appeal lately. PCs, however, have never really been portable except in the form of laptops, making the idea of handheld PC gaming more enticing these days. Especially when it’s made by a reputable company with specs and featured geared towards gaming specifically.

Of course, this isn’t Valve’s first foray into PC gaming hardware, but it’s probably one that is finally more relevant. Steam Machines and Steam OS failed on multiple fronts, but the biggest reason was that the proposition didn’t offer anything truly unique and special. Almost any desktop gaming PC could be connected to a TV and a controller, and it would offer the same experience and even outperform some of the early Steam Machines. While there are a number of handheld gaming PCs from the likes of GPD, One Netbook, and even Chuwi, they don’t carry the same weight as Valve’s name, nor can they offer a tempting $400 starting price tag.

Valve is in control

The Steam Deck’s specs might disappoint some, especially when you compare it to the likes of the GPD WIN 3, for example. The key difference, however, is that Valve is almost in control of every aspect of the Steam Deck experience, or at the very least, has enough clout to influence its development. We aren’t talking about off-the-shelf PC components that any manufacturer can get their hands on but hardware that’s been designed and tested to deliver a very specific handheld Steam experience.

Valve recently held a live stream that goes into more detail about the device’s hardware, specifically the AMD chip that’s specially designed for it. For example, everything about the hardware is fine-tuned to deliver consistent 720p gaming, whether the Steam Deck is plugged in or connected to a TV. The latter is where AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution upscaling is utilized to output higher resolution graphics without actually going beyond 720p on the hardware level.

Almost ironically but very appropriately, the Steam Deck is still as open as any PC, with the ability to install Windows on it after the fact. The latter, in turn, could open the doors to other gaming platforms, like Microsoft xCloud, Google Stadia, and NVIDIA GeForce NOW, among other things. That said, heavy Steam users won’t have to look to those rival platforms since they will have access to almost all the games that Valve’s library has to offer.

Steam Proton

Part of the Steam Machine’s failure was blamed on Steam OS. Valve has long been a staunch supporter of Linux and for good reason, but it might have been too early for the company to put its eggs in that basket. Since then, however, Valve has worked tirelessly to bring Linux up to snuff in supporting Windows games available on Steam, which is where the newish Proton compatibility framework comes in.

It’s still not perfect, of course, but Proton opened up a whole new world of games on Linux, games that previously wouldn’t run even with the latest version of WINE (“WINE Is Not an Emulator”). There are still some compatibility issues as well, but Proton puts the burden in Valve’s and the open source community’s hands, freeing game publishers from having to specifically target Linux support.

The Catch: Controller versus Keyboard

The one probably small catch to this otherwise enchanting dream for PC gamers is the matter of input control. While many games are now available on both PCs and consoles, some are still defined by how they’re controlled, with PCs better known for their keyboard and mouse controls. The Steam Deck’s form factor makes that impossible, at least not without having to sit down and connect peripherals, immediately leaving a number of titles out in the cold.

Granted, some of those games might not exactly be good to play on the go, anyway. And, being a true PC, the possibility of accessories and addons to address those limitations is left wide open. Hopefully, Valve will be able to deliver on the promise of the Steam Deck and sell enough of it to warrant supporting the device in the years to come or maybe even have a Steam Deck 2.

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‘Battlefield 2042’ won’t have voice chat when it debuts on November 19th

When  comes out in about a week on , it won’t ship with built-in voice chat. Series developer DICE told the feature won’t be available until sometime after launch. The studio didn’t provide a reason for the decision. Whatever the case, the absence of voice chat will likely be keenly felt by Battlefield fans, especially on PC, Xbox Series X and S, and PlayStation 5 where matches will include as many as 128 players.

For what it’s worth, you can still use Discord or the party chat feature on your console to communicate with friends, but that won’t help you when you’re trying to play with strangers. In those instances, you’ll need to rely on the ping system, which is apparently on the cumbersome side. According to Polygon, you have to navigate through multiple menus before you can get to the right ping. All told, it sounds like Battlefield’s already chaotic matches will be a tad more unpredictable in the first few weeks that 2042 is available.

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