Eiji Aonuma and his team have started development on the next Zelda game, according to a note in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Master Works, an official artbook dedicated to the game of the same name.

There aren’t many details aside from Aonuma’s note, but it’s certainly not surprising. Work on Zelda tends to be very cyclical, with Breath of the Wild starting almost immediately after Skyward Sword finished up in 2011. That said, it will likely be a long time until anything tangible is created, as Aonuma was still rethinking Breath of the Wild’s core fundamentals by the January 2013 Nintendo Direct.

In the ten months since Breath of the Wild’s release, Aonuma has stated that open world Zelda is likely here to stay, but also that the handheld Zelda team behind games like A Link Between Worlds remains separate and could stay 2D even on the Switch.

At E3 last year, we spoke with Miyamoto about Zelda, and how they plan to speed up development of future games to eliminate those four to six year gaps.

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What do you want to see in a new Zelda game? What do you hope they keep? Let us know in the comments!

 

Our Take
Breath of the Wild is an amazing game, but as good as it was, there are big and little things that can be done to improve it. If they can take the wonder and awe of exploration in that game and marry it to the dungeon and enemy design of previous Zelda games, it would be a marked improvement on an already great game.

Last month, Ubisoft added a new execution for the Valkyrie hero and has had a headache and a half removing and replacing it.

The execution, which you can see in the video below, involved the female Valkyrie plunging her spear into the enemy’s gut, who then falls forward. The enemy’s hands land on the Valkyrie’s breasts, who, despite having just had a spear run through them, begins pantomiming apology motions. The Valkyrie then kicks them in the crotch and backhands them with the shield.

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The execution was pulled immediately, which Ubisoft called a bug fix. Yesterday, the execution was finally replaced, with a similar animation that has the enemy’s hands land on the Valkyrie’s shield before she kicks them in the crotch. You can see the new animation below.

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On the For Honor subreddit, fans of the game have been dragging on the new version and decrying the removal as censorship. The most vocal opponents of the change are accusing Ubisoft of cowing to pressure from complaints. Independent verification could not find any complaints during the time the execution was available.

When reached for comment, Ubisoft told us “On November 9, an unapproved For Honor Execution for the
Valkyrie was incorrectly made available in-game and removed within an hour of
release. Any players who purchased the unapproved execution had their Steel
refunded. Our team has implemented additional stop gaps to the development
process to ensure insensitive content is not incorporated into For Honor. The
proper version of the execution was released on December 18.”

Ubisoft mentioned that feedback or complaints were not seen or taken into account before the mistaken execution was removed.

For Honor is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Ubisoft recently announced that dedicated server tests would be occurring soon.

 

Our Take
It is unclear how the execution mistakenly got into the game in the first place, but it was removed quite quickly. I don’t think it necessarily added anything to the Valkyrie to get accidentally groped and removing it certainly doesn’t qualify as censorship.

I was in the hospital waiting for my daughter to be born when a bombshell of news hit: Disney had just purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion, and the Star Wars saga would continue with Episode VII in a few years.

My mind was already a mess, hoping everything would go as planned for my wife and daughter, but now I had strong Star Wars thoughts creeping in. I was throttled by a chaotic symphony of emotions: “Oh god. I don’t know how to be a father. Luke Skywalker is probably coming back! My wife is amazing. I need to tell her that. Will Chewbacca’s hair be grey?”

I told my wife that the universe was a cruel place, and I may be a weirdo for the next couple of hours due to Star Wars. She was quick to state that she didn’t want to hear it. Roughly 15 minutes later, she entered the final stages of labor, and our daughter was born two hours after that. I somewhat jokingly told her we should name her Leia, given the news that hit, and she debated murdering me.

In those moments of becoming a father, the Star Wars thought that I didn’t let go of was, “Will I see Luke Skywalker again?” He was there through most of my childhood, and I realized he may be for my daughter’s too. I believed he would be the focus of the next film.

When I heard Mark Hamill signed on to reprise his role as Luke, that was the final confirmation I needed: He had to be the star of this new trilogy. When I sat in the theater on opening night of The Force Awakens, and the crawl began with “Luke Skywalker has vanished,” I expected to see him in a few minutes. Those minutes turned to hours. He only appeared in the final scene. I was shocked. Sad. Confused. I walked out of the theater with a huge smile on my face, but my mind kept asking, “Why the hell wasn’t this Luke’s story?”

J. J. Abrams may have played it too safe with scenes that echoed A New Hope, but he deserves credit for doing something unexpected with Luke. As much as I would have loved to see him training a new generation of Jedi, or being an all-knowing Obi-Wan-like figure, making him enigmatic was the right call. Star Wars is at its best (usually) when the unexpected happens. Think about that one for a second. My favorite moments in every film are twists. 

Over the next two years, I frequently engaged in conversations about where this story could go next. What is going on with Luke? That was the big question I kept coming back to. What is Snoke up to? Will Kylo Ren turn to the light? Will Rey turn to the dark? Who are her parents? What’s up with Maz?

Abrams has a long history of filling his stories with intriguing questions, and a long history of angering his fan base by not delivering satisfying answers (or even answers at all). With the writing and directing baton being passed to Rian Johnson, I was hopeful we would get answers. I didn’t expect Johnson to answer most of them in his Star Wars debut, but he did.

The Last Jedi bombards theatergoers with resolve just as frequently as it keeps them off-kilter – a wonderful mixture of storytelling that ends up taking the Star Wars mythos to places I didn’t expect. The Force is mysterious and new again. Luke Skywalker bounces between the goofy young farm boy we met on Tatooine to the darker version we feared he would turn into when he met the Emperor. Kylo Ren is a powder keg of emotion that continually erupts in unexpected and dangerous ways. Supreme Leader Snoke somehow keeps him on a leash, and shows us just how manipulative he can be as his master. General Leia is an intelligent and skillful leader who is sadly dealing with a flawed deck of cards that she’s desperately trying to keep in order. Rey is recklessly trying to find her place in the universe, only to learn the pull of the darkness cannot be ignored. Poe continues his assault on the First Order, yet doesn’t have the foresight to see just how reckless he is.

These story lines are beautifully sewn together, and again, deliver the answers I wanted or take the characters to exciting and dangerous new places. Suspense hangs over almost every second of Rey and Kylo’s dance with the light and dark. Given just how powerful they are, neither of these characters are where they need to be emotionally. Johnson toys with their instability throughout the entire film – one second filling us with dread, the next a sigh of relief. I didn’t have an idea where their story was going next or even a hint of where it could end. When two characters can overshadow a fascinating new version of Luke…wow….just wow. That’s masterful storytelling, especially considering Luke’s story is damn good. One of the most powerful scenes is Rey figuring out who she is. She sees herself in a variety of ways, a visual Johnson knocks out of the park.

This is the longest Star Wars movie to date, yet it doesn’t feel like it. The story moves quickly, sometimes bouncing chaotically between sequences to keep theatergoers on edge. Finn’s story is the one point where there’s somewhat of a calm, even with the stakes being of the do-or-die variety. He’s racing against the clock to save the Resistance, and he’s joined with a newcomer to the series named Rose, a Resistance mechanic who hatches a risky plan to save the fleet. Their journey takes them to Canto Bight, a place where the universe’s wealthy mingle and gamble. I know this is the side story that most people have issues with. I agree it’s the weakest link in this movie, but I also think Canto is one of the most intriguing places we’ve seen in a Star Wars film in quite some time. It shows us an ugly side of the universe that makes every other location more intriguing – whether it’s the slave labor on Tatooine or the royalty in the palaces on Naboo. It made me think about the political and societal structures of the universe, and it didn’t slow the narrative to get those points across. 

The action that unfolds on Canto come dangerously close to being prequel-quality bad, but thankfully doesn’t last long in a film that otherwise dazzles with its visuals. The color red is flexed in a wonderful way in Snoke’s throne room – the setting for a battle that is easily one of Star Wars’ best. We never saw the Emperor’s Royal Guards do anything other than stand idle, but Snoke’s Praetorian Guard equivalent get a good workout in this film, and they’re immensely entertaining to see in action. They engage in a fight that continually pumps out “did that just happen?” moments that come on the heels of a shocking twist that I still can’t believe happened.

I was hit by that sensation a lot during The Last Jedi. That was a twist I loved. Others I didn’t like seeing mostly because I’m been a lifelong fan. Johnson did some things I don’t agree with, but like Abrams before him, will probably end up being the right call.

Now let’s address the things I didn’t like. The humor was too much at times. Many of the jokes are clever and fun, but were used to frequently to defuse a tense moment or remind people that this particular character is witty. I loved the opening banter between Poe and General Hux, but felt many of the jokes were better suited for a lighthearted Marvel movie than Star Wars. Having said that, I will take a quick one-liner or shot of an iron over seeing C-3PO in a droid factory again.

Another thing that bugged me: Constantly questioning the science, tech, and flow of the space battle – even though I enjoyed the chase, which reminded of some of my favorite Battlestar Galactica episodes. Star Wars’ best battles are filled with explosions, harrowing moments, and tons of laser fire. In this film, our eyes are on the fuel gauge. What happens if it runs out is a fine plot point, but, well, it made me question what the hell the First Order was doing. I get that the fighters were short-range and the star destroyers were too far out, but they just watched them go and didn’t try anything else. The final blow of the battle is also concerning from a science standpoint. Why not do that all of the time? Would it have worked on the Death Star? Big questions hang over that stunning and beautiful moment.

Did these moments ruin the film? Hell no. Not even a little. The character development takes center stage and is constant, even during the less engaging moments. The Last Jedi laughed in the face of all of my theories and hopes, and beat me senseless with unexpected delights and intriguing new developments. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I got to see Luke again, and appreciate him for entirely different reason than I have in the past. Johnson may have upended the tidy table that Abrams set, but didn’t make a mess of it. The pieces landed in a way that should make for a hell of a final chapter in Rey and Kylo’s saga. Episode IX can’t get here soon enough.

Ever since we revealed in our recent cover story that Dragon Ball FighterZ would let players collect the Dragon Balls midmatch to be granted a wish, fans have been speculating about what they might be able to wish for. After a few leaks and scant details emerged in the months sense, Bandai Namco has officially revealed how the magical spheres affect the match.

According to a recent tweet from the company, after seven combos with a specific hit count (10 hits for the one-star ball, 30 hits for the three-star ball, etc.) are performed during the match, Shenron will appear to grant one player one of four wishes. The next player to land a combo (the tweet does not mention specifics, though an image in the tweet suggests it’s no more than seven hits, may need to end with a heavy attack, and may require a full seven bars of Ki meter to activate) will get the wish.

That player can then choose to have their current character’s health bar fully restored, revive one of their allies with half health, gain an additional Sparking Burst charge, or become immortal, restoring half their health and gaining auto-restoration for their energy gauge.

Dragon Ball FighterZ launches on January 26, 2018. Bandai Namco also announced the dates for its upcoming open beta, which begins January 14.

[Source: Bandai Namco Twitter page]

 

Our Take
This is an interesting change-up to what was, until now, a fairly traditional three-on-three fighter in terms of gameplay. It’s a fun goal to shoot for if you’re playing casually, but I’m curious as to how this will affect high-level play. Will going for these bonuses mean players have to play differently, or will the meta evolve in such a way that they’re a rare occurrence as players simply try to defeat each other with no regard for the Dragon Balls? Bandai Namco didn’t say the option could be turned off, so for now, we have to imagine it’s something players of all skill levels will have to consider. Either way my biggest issue with FighterZ right now is that matches can run a little long at times, and a system to further prolongs matches leaves me a bit skeptical. Also, I don’t think gaining 50 percent of your health and firing infinite kamehamehas is what I’d consider “immortal.”

Destiny 2’s Dawning Event, which was announced several weeks ago and detailed a few days ago, is now live.

This year, the event runs from today until January 9 and includes snowballs you can throw at friends in the Tower and Farm, and at enemies during Strikes to deal damage. Mayhem (which reduces the cooldowns of all abilities) is back in the crucible for the first time in Destiny 2’s multiplayer. Participating in these events will earn you Dawning Engrams, which you can use to gain new armor, ships, and more. The soccer ball in the Tower has been replaced by a hockey puck, too.

The Escapists 2, Team 17’s prison break simulator, is coming to the Switch on January 11.

The game is a top-down sprite-based playground for players to figure their way out of prison with disguises, ropes, and hopefully at least one Racquelle Welch poster. The Switch version also allows local co-op using the system’s two joycons.

You can check out the Switch announcement trailer below to get a feel for the game and check out our review of the PlayStation 4 version here. The Escapists 2 was originally released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in August.

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Bungie says it will address an issue with the newly-implemented “Three of Coins” item in Destiny with a patch coming early next year.

As part of its major patch released a week after the launch of the Curse of Osiris expansion, Three Of Coins increased a player’s chances of earning exotic gear. Players weren’t sure how much higher their chances were, however, because of a vague item description.

In a forum post, Bungie has clarified what the item does. It increases the chances a player will earn an Exotic engram after completing any PvP or PvE activity by 50 percent. However, because the chances of gaining an exotic are very low, a 50 percent increases still doesn’t make it incredibly likely.

Additionally, Bungie has revealed that the new Heroic Strikes don’t work with the item, and Exotic drop rates remain the same even after the item is used. Bungie says it is working on a fix it hopes to implement in “early 2018.” Finally, Bungie promises to offer more details about what other issues it hopes to address “in the near future.”

 

Our Take
I get that there are likely a lot of things getting in the way of fixing the issue right now, but it seems to me that “item players trade hard-earned currency for not working for a major new activity” would be something that should get fixed sooner rather than next year, no?

For many indie developers, bringing their game to Japan presents several new headaches and challenges. Dangen wants to change that.

Launched in April and comprised of industry veterans with years of experience across marketing, translation, and game publishing, Dangen Entertainment was created with the intent to aid indie developers looking to expand their games’ audiences with a Japanese release. While there are micropublishers available in Japan to make this possible, it is often difficult and costly to find one willing to take a chance on new or unproven titles. 

Even when an indie title is accepted, how the game is marketed by these micropublishers can be its own gamble. Some smaller titles are released with little to no marketing, crippling potential sales.

Ben Judd, one of the founders of Dangen and a veteran of Capcom’s localization department, saw the potential for indie games and the challenges they face in localization while attending BitSummit 2015. Determined to do something, he gathered a team of seasoned game industry veterans to create a new, more dedicated micropublisher for fledgling independent developers. 

“We wanted to provide more options to those indies who really didn’t have as much as you’d think were out there,” Judd says. “When we’re working with an independent developer, they’re getting 100 percent honesty, 100 percent of our focus.” 


From left to right: Nayan Ramachandran, Chad Porter, John Davis, Ben Judd, Dan Stern and Dan Luffey.

Using their experience and connections from across the industry, Dangen offers indie publishers access to resources they otherwise wouldn’t have: Assistance in applying to the Japanese ratings board, marketing the game through streaming and advertising, and even acquiring dev kits, which can be difficult to obtain in countries like Greece or India.

“Often times, many of these developers are working inside something like Unity or Game Maker, so they’re using engines that are pretty scalable and are able to go to other platforms. They just don’t have the connections,” says Nayan Ramachandran, who scouts developers and content for the company to publish. “It’s an opportunity for them to get to those other platforms in a pretty easy way.”

The company also provides new opportunities for developers to get in touch with famous developers or team members who worked on games which inspired their projects. Through former lines of contact, the team has connected indie developers with the creators of series that inspired them. Koji Igarashi, creator of Castlevania, agreed to do let’s plays and promote the Castlevania-inspired Brave Earth: Prologue upon its release in 2018, after seeing it for himself at Dangen’s request.

Likewise, a collaborative effort is in place for Antonis Pelikanos’ The Takeover. Inspired by the art and gameplay of classic games like Streets of Rage, the games proved a perfect chance to collaborate with members of the original titles’ teams.

“Yuzo Koshiro, who did the music for Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage, and Act Raiser, he’s going to do a song for that game,” Judd says. “It’s a small thing, but it’s still totally motivated the creator.”

Internally, the company strives to offer fairer business practices to those working in localization.

“Even today, lots of companies – both big-name companies and translation companies themselves – do not credit translators for their work,” says Dan Luffey, the founding member who oversees localization. “We give them very fair pay for their work. We also give them a revenue share, so once the game sells a certain amount, they’ll start getting a percentage of the profit for the game.”

The company has already found success in its first few months, with one successful release and six more titles still in development. While there are still risks that they run as a new company supporting new ideas and creators, they’re happy to take them on for the benefits they bring to all parties involved.

“We’re taking [the risk] with them,” says Judd. “Because of that, they’re like ‘Hey, publish worldwide,’ and ‘We trust you guys.’ We’re able to help out a team in a way that other publishers wouldn’t be able to.”

Interested in checking out some other indie titles in the works? Check out our preview of InnerSpace, as well as footage from Igarashi’s own indie project Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

Taito, the company behind Space Invaders, has thrown up simple website teasing that “The invasion is coming to Steam.”

2018 marks the 40th anniversary for the series, which could offer a hint as to what the announcement could be. Currently, there are no Taito-published games on the PC storefront, let alone Space Invaders games. Whether this is announcement is a new game or simply all the older games (including Extreme, Infinity Gene, and Groove Coaster) making their way to the platform is unclear.

[Source: Taito teaser website]

 

Our Take
I want Groove Coaster on as many platforms as I can get it, so hopefully this is a compilation of several Space Invaders games and a new title. Hoping against hope here!

Steam’s community features, like forums, guides, chats, badges, groups, etc., have apparently gone dark in China, according to Steam community news site ValveTime.

The store has been left open, but everything else has seemingly been removed from public access in China. Some users on reddit are reporting that the chat and friend list features still work for them, but it is unknown if that is only temporary. 

It is unclear why China has decided to ban Steam community features all of a sudden, but it is not particularly unexpected, either. China recently reportedly banned all South Korean-made games as a political statement and tends to exert control over foreign services such as Steam.

[Source: ValveTime]

 

Our Take
While the store is at least open, the community features have been pretty useful, and it is a shame if anyone is blocked out of using them. I doubt Valve is happy about this, but I am not sure there is anything they can do in this situation.