Rumors have been circulating for a few months about Microsoft introducing a new version of the Xbox Elite Controller, their premium controller with swappable parts. Now, a tweet from The Verge senior editor Tom Warren indicates an announcement may come sooner rather than later.

The tweet today refers to the codename, Washburn, which was been associated with the rumors about the Elite V2 for a month or two. Warren dropped a price point of $149 and says that it will release in October.

The new version of the Xbox One Elite, if it’s real, has not been a particularly well-guarded secret. For months, rumors have suggested that the new Elite will have USB-C support, adjustable analog sticks, overall way more durable and better-quality parts, and more. 

If an announcement is coming and the October date is real, then Gamescom seems like a logical place to announce the controller. Last year, Microsoft’s Gamescom stream revealed the Project Scorpio edition of the Xbox One X along with launch details. The Inside Xbox stream for the show starts on August 21 at 7:30 a.m. PDT.

 

I never got an Elite because I had heard some bad things about the build quality, but having a controller that is easier on the hands is useful if you play a lot of video games. On the other hand, for $150, I would be too worried to ever use it.

Insurgency, a shooter with roots as far back as the days of Half-Life 2 mods, is free for a limited time on Steam. If you download and play the game now, which costs you nothing, you own it forever.

The game was released in 2014 by New World Interactive, acting as a sequel to standalone HL2 mod Insurgency: Modern Infantry Combat. The game is likely going free to help advertise Insurgency: Sandstorm, which is coming out next month.

You can only download Insurgency for free for 48 hours, so get to it quick. You have to make sure to launch the game at least once to keep it, which means downloading it first.

When Yakuza was first released in Japan under the title of Ryu ga Gotoku in 2005, the gaming industry was a very different place. The PlayStation 2 was so far ahead in terms of install base that nothing else could really compete, but technology allowed publishers to put their game basically anywhere if there was a will and support. While its identity is now primarily tied to the PlayStation, having been long exclusive to Sony systems until a recent PC release and a disastrous Wii U HD remaster, Yakuza was almost a multi-platform series.

In an interview with U.K.-based gaming magazine EDGE, Sega chief creative office Toshihiro Nagoshi talked about the genesis of the title. When Nagoshi first pitched the game to Sega executives, who were ailing after the Dreamcast and were cornered into a merger with arcade company Sammy, Sega said no to the idea. Nagoshi put aside proper channels and tried to talk to his bosses’ bosses at Sammy, who told him to go ahead with it. 

Nagoshi now says that doing this was both irregular and wrong and he kind of understands why Sega refused the idea in the fist place.

“…I abandoned the idea of selling worldwide,” Nagoshi told EDGE. “Next, I decided I wouldn’t mind if female players didn’t like the game; then that no children were allowed. When I decided all that, the only target left was the Japanese male.”

That narrow scope also lead to Nintendo and Microsoft shaking their heads when the game was brought to them, both companies deciding not to allow Yakuza to be published on their platforms. Sony, however, happily agreed, and the series went on to become a major seller in Japan. It’s also become a critical darling in the west after more than a few missteps getting there, with Yakuza 0 and Yakuza 6 being praised for their storytelling and action.

Sony’s willingness to take a chance on the game when no one else would endeared Nagoshi to the company, which is why he has primarily kept the series to PlayStation systems. Former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata negotiated a port of the first two Yakuza games to the Wii U, but it sold so badly that the Yakuza studio does not believe the series could ever succeed on Nintendo systems. They are open to considering the Xbox in the future.

Yakuza Kiwami 2, however, releases exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on August 28.

[Source: EDGE via Resetera]

 

The story had been video game legend for a long time, like the infamous Resident Evil 4 Microsoft meeting, so it’s actually really interesting to see it put down on paper. As the series is getting big in the west, I imagine Nagoshi’s loyalty is probably starting to give way to bigger opportunities, as evidenced by the PC ports of Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami.

Beat Saber, the Early Access VR rhythm game about slicing through colored blocks with lightsabers, has quickly grown a huge modding community that is making custom tracks for the game. Most of these tracks are exactly what you would expect: playable versions of popular songs that the dev has not yet licensed. Next to those songs, however, is a collection of bizarre playable audio files, like the GameCube startup noise or Obi-Wan Kenobi yelling “I have the high ground.” But arguably the crowning achievement of this weird subset of tracks is this week’s new release: Shrek. And when I say “Shrek,” I don’t mean the film’s soundtrack, I mean Shrek, the full movie. Dialogue, music, moments of silence, that scene where Shrek makes a joke about Lord Farquaad compensating for something – someone tracked the full film’s audio into one 83-minute long, 10,000+ note playable track.

And I played it.

Shrek Forever After (Xbox 360)

I’ve put dozens of hours into Beat Saber over the past several months, but this undertaking was something different. Usually, I’d queue up several of my favorite songs – Mr. Blue Sky by ELO, Stronger by Daft Punk – and play them individually, trying to better my personal high score. But when I was an hour into Shrek with no end in sight, I couldn’t help but think of Jeff Goldblum’s famous Jurassic Park quote: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Within weeks of Beat Saber’s release, fans of the game set up websites and mods to allow anyone to easily download custom tracks from the web. They’re easy to download and play, but actually making songs takes a huge amount of effort. Elliott Tate, a mod of bsaber.com (the source of most custom songs) estimates the good ones take about 10-20 hours for a 5-minute song. There’s no automation – every note must be placed by hand. For this reason, it came as an absolute shock to the community when mapper “KingPeuche,” announced he had completed work on Shrek’s entire 83-minute runtime.

The movie has an iconic soundtrack. From “Bad Reputation” to “Hallelujah,” most of the story’s climactic moments are accompanied by excellent songs. Would the band Smash Mouth be where they are today if not for their anthem “All Star” featured in Shrek’s opening credits?

But this mapping goes far beyond the soundtrack. Every piece of dialogue, sound effect, and even physical gestures, is mapped into the VR world. When Robin Hood beckons for his Merry Men, a series of notes led my arm to do the same. Because the game also includes virtual walls that have to be avoided, Lord Farquad’s proposal, in which he jerks Fiona down to his (diminutive) level, basically flattened me against the floor. The most challenging parts of the track was Donkey’s dialogue; anytime the motormouthed Eddie Murphy started talking, the notes in my path increased to a blistering pace.

Of course, the first question I had about this project is simple: Why? Why would anyone subject themselves to this task? KingPeuche sees himself as a trailblazer of sorts.

“Not only is it for Shrek, it’s for the history books,” he explained in an interview with bsaber.com. “I’ve yet to see any rhythm game have an entire film be mapped.”

However, this landmark moment in custom tracks didn’t come easily. KingPeuche estimates it took him more than 120 hours to finish the movie, a commitment he balanced with both school and a girlfriend. Despite the commitment, he doesn’t feel burnt out on Beat Saber yet.

“This was my pleasure, it was a hobby,” he said in the same interview. “I thought this would tire me out, but it in fact did the contrary.”

Shrek Forever After (Xbox 360)

Shrek Forever After (Xbox 360)

His results are inarguably impressive. Little moments, like Shrek wringing his hands while explaining ogres and onions, contrast effectively with the bombast of the movie’s setpiece moments. Escaping from the dragon is a genuinely thrilling sequence, with a steadily increasing tempo and red walls of “flame” that I had to jump to avoid.

It even made me appreciate the movie’s script more. Shrek is funny. Not just as an endless source of memes, but as both as a self-aware take on the tropes of fantasy and simply as a sincere fairy tale. Donkey has routinely hilarious monologues that occasionally got lost in the visual flair of the movie; here, they’re placed front and center.

Perhaps most importantly though, the track is absolutely exhausting. Beat Saber requires constant movement. Every note requires a specific swing of the arm, and Shrek has 11,675 notes. For my hour and a half of effort, I was rewarded a “B” rank, not putting me anywhere near the top ten. Moreover, VR simply isn’t comfortable for such long periods. My coworkers dragged me out to lunch after finishing the “song” and I winced while adjusting to images that weren’t projected on a screen an inch from my eyeballs.

Playing Beat Saber with its best songs is some of the most fun I’ve ever had with a game. Finishing all 83 minutes of Shrek was an absolute gauntlet of one-liners and 2001’s best needle drops. It’s an experience I enjoyed, but I don’t think I will ever do it again. That is, until KingPeuche’s next project is released; he’s already working on Shrek 2.

Phantom Doctrine, fittingly enough, really snuck up on us. The turn-based strategy game has complex stealth systems, base management, and a good helping of cold war flair. In a recent New Gameplay Today, we did our best to play the game while simultaneously explaining its mechanics – a task that proved very difficult

Thankfully, developer CreativeForge games just released a launch trailer that does all those things quite efficiently. It features the game’s fashion options, sneaky knock-outs, and international intrigue, all set to stylish music.

The game is out now on PS4 and PC, with an Xbox One release on August 24. 

 

In their unceasing march towards total backwards compatibility, Microsoft announced today that both Tomb Raider Legend and Tomb Raider Anniversary are now playable on Xbox One. 

Tomb Raider Legend was a reboot of sorts for the series, giving Lara a different origin story and modernized controls. Anniversary used those same controls and engine to remake the original title, giving the 1996 game new life. 

Although these titles are now one reboot cycle behind the current Tomb Raider franchise, backwards compatibility is a great chance to revisit the semi-modern, semi-classic games. 

Like any good murder mystery, people watch as investigators make connections they hadn’t considered, but seem to make total sense as soon as our minds make the connection. Since Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was shown off at E3, the newcomers have left a pile of bodies in their wake in each new CG trailer. Metroid villain Ridley killed both Mario and Mega Man, Castlevania’s Death shuffled Luigi from this mortal coil, and King K. Rool made King DeDeDe pay for impersonating him.

During last week’s Smash Bros. Direct, director Masahiro Sakurai placed a mosaic censor over a mode in the game’s main menu, saying he would explain the mode in due time. Shortly after the stream, however, twitter user @noctulescent noticed that the mosaic blur was overlayed over the video footage and not hardcoded onto the image. That means that, when the menu is zooming in or out, the blur is not keeping up with it pixel-to-pixel. According to noctulescent, this means you can make out the word “Spirits” from the menu button.

After that revelation, other users have been able to figure out a bit more. Using a frame-by-frame analysis, another twitter user named @than_kyou was able to draw what he could make out of the emblem above the text.

The image looks like a Japanese wisp, also known as an Onibi. It’s a little spirit that resembles a flame, which is used in a lot of Yokai Watch designs to indicate a ghostly presence. If it is indeed that, it might explain why all the Smash Bros. Ultimate trailers so far have focused on villains taking out heroes, to the point where Luigi is shown in a spirit form at the end of the Simon and Richter Belmont trailer.

We talk a little bit about what the hidden mode could be in last week’s episode of The GI Show, as well. Whether everyone is wrong about the spirits thing or not will be known by the time Super Smash Bros. Ultimate releases on December 7.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is poised to be one of this holiday season’s biggest releases. When the Switch entry in the long-running franchise was unveiled at E3 2018, fans were shocked to learn about the scope of the new title; not only was the Smash team adding a few new characters and stages, but also including every character and a huge percentage of the stages that have ever appeared in the series in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

With more than 70 characters and 100 stages currently announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we decided to gather them all in one place and organize them by franchise. In addition, we’ve scoured footage from the several times Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been shown to compile a list of Pokémon appearing both in Poké Balls and the Pokémon-themed stages.


Characters

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate not only includes every playable character from the series’ past entries, but also a handful of new characters. If you’re curious as to whether your favorite gaming icon is confirmed for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. title for Switch, check out our list, organized by franchise of origin, below.

Animal Crossing

  • Villager

Bayonetta

  • Bayonetta

Castlevania

  • Richter
  • Simon

Donkey Kong

  • Diddy Kong
  • Donkey Kong
  • King K. Rool

Duck Hunt

  • Duck Hunt

EarthBound

  • Lucas
  • Ness

F-Zero

  • Captain Falcon

Final Fantasy

  • Cloud

Fire Emblem

  • Chrom
  • Corrin
  • Ike
  • Lucina
  • Marth
  • Robin
  • Roy

Game & Watch

  • Mr. Game & Watch

Ice Climber

  • Ice Climbers
  • Kid Icarus
  • Dark Pit
  • Pit
  • Palutena

Kirby

  • King Dedede
  • Kirby
  • Meta Knight

The Legend of Zelda

  • Ganondorf
  • Link
  • Sheik
  • Toon Link
  • Young Link
  • Zelda

Mario

  • Bowser
  • Bowser Jr.
  • Daisy
  • Dr. Mario
  • Luigi
  • Mario
  • Peach
  • Rosalina
  • Yoshi

Mega Man

  • Mega Man

Metal Gear Solid

  • Snake

Metroid

  • Dark Samus
  • Ridley
  • Samus
  • Zero Suit Samus

Mii

  • Mii Fighter (Brawler, Gunner, Swordfighter)

Pac-Man

  • Pac-Man

Pikmin

  • Olimar

Pokémon

  • Greninja
  • Jigglypuff
  • Lucario
  • Mewtwo
  • Pichu
  • Pikachu
  • Pokémon Trainer (Charizard, Ivysaur, Squirtle)

Punch-Out!!

  • Little Mac

R.O.B.

  • R.O.B.

Sonic the Hedgehog

  • Sonic

Splatoon

  • Inkling

Star Fox

  • Falco
  • Fox
  • Wolf

Street Fighter

  • Ryu

WarioWare

  • Wario

Wii Fit

  • Wii Fit Trainer

Xenoblade

  • Shulk

[Source: Super Smash Bros. Official Website]


Stages

In addition to every character in Smash Bros. history, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also features a huge collection of stages: 103, to be exact. Each stage can accommodate eight players at a time and features neutral Battlefield and Omega forms in addition to their native versions. Check out our organized list of stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate below.

Animal Crossing

  • Smashville
  • Tortimer Island
  • Town and City

Balloon Fight

  • Balloon Fight

Bayonetta

  • Umbra Clock Tower

Castlevania

  • Dracula’s Castle

Donkey Kong

  • 75m
  • Jungle Japes
  • Kongo Falls
  • Kongo Jungle

Duck Hunt

  • Duck Hunt
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

EarthBound

  • Fourside
  • Magicant
  • New Pork City
  • Onett

Electroplankton

  • Hanenbow

F-Zero

  • Big Blue
  • Mute City SNES
  • Port Town Aero Drive

Final Fantasy

  • Midgar

Fire Emblem

  • Arena Ferox
  • Castle Siege
  • Coliseum
  • Palutena’s Temple

Game & Watch

  • Flat Zone X

Kid Icarus

  • Reset Bomb Forest
  • Skyworld

Kirby

  • Dream Land
  • Dream Land GB
  • Fountain of Dreams
  • The Great Cave Offensive
  • Green Greens
  • Halberd

Ice Climber

  • Summit

The Legend of Zelda

  • Bridge of Eldin
  • Gerudo Valley
  • Great Bay
  • Great Plateau Tower
  • Hyrule Castle
  • Pirate Ship
  • Skyloft
  • Spirit Train
  • Temple

Mario

  • 3D Land
  • Delfino Plaza
  • Figure-8 Circuit
  • Golden Plains
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mario Circuit
  • Mario Galaxy
  • Mushroom Kingdom
  • Mushroom Kingdom II
  • Mushroom Kingdom U
  • Mushroomy Kingdom
  • New Donk City Hall
  • Paper Mario
  • Peach’s Castle
  • Princess Peach’s Castle
  • Rainbow Cruise
  • Super Mario Maker

Mega Man

  • Wily Castle

Metal Gear Solid

  • Shadow Moses Island

Metroid

  • Brinstar
  • Brinstar Depths
  • Frigate Orpheon
  • Norfair

Nintendogs

  • Living Room

Pac-Man

  • Pac-Land

Pictochat

  • Pictochat 2

Pikmin

  • Distant Planet
  • Garden of Hope

Pilotwings

  • Pilotwings

Pokémon

  • Kalos Pokémon League
  • Pokémon Stadium
  • Pokémon Stadium 2
  • Prism Tower
  • Saffron City
  • Spear Pillar
  • Unova Pokémon League

Punch-Out!!

  • Boxing Ring

Sonic the Hedgehog

  • Green Hill Zone
  • Windy Hill Zone

Splatoon

  • Moray Towers

Star Fox

  • Corneria
  • Lylat Cruise
  • Venom

Street Fighter

  • Suzaku Castle

StreetPass

  • Find Mii

Super Smash Bros.

  • Battlefield
  • Big Battlefield
  • Final Destination

Tomodachi Life

  • Tomodachi Life

WarioWare

  • Gamer
  • WarioWare, Inc.

Wii Fit

  • Wii Fit Studio
  • Wuhu Island

Wrecking Crew

  • Wrecking Crew

Xenoblade

  • Gaur Plain

Yoshi

  • Super Happy Tree
  • Yoshi’s Island
  • Yoshi’s Island (Melee)
  • Yoshi’s Story

[Source: Super Smash Bros. Official Website]


Pokémon

Unlike characters and stages, figuring out which Pokémon are in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a bit trickier. Nintendo has released a small list of new Pokémon set to appear in Poké Balls, while others were found through watching videos put out by Nintendo. Other details were confirmed through community-compiled lists on prominent Wiki sites devoted to the series. Regardless, many Pokémon are likely yet to be confirmed in the Poké Ball list, so do not take this as a finalized list.

For Pokémon appearing in the stages themselves, we were able to confirm two stages by watching the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Invitational from E3 2018. The other Pokémon stages haven’t been shown publicly, but we noticed a strong correlation between the Pokémon that appear in stages in Ultimate and the Pokémon that appeared in those same stages previously. Because of this, we can surmise that those Pokémon have a strong likelihood to appear in the Ultimate versions of those stages. We’ve noted which ones are assumptions in the stage names.

From Poké Balls or Master Balls

  • Abomasnow
  • Abra
  • Bellossom
  • Bewear
  • Chespin
  • Darkrai
  • Deoxys
  • Ditto
  • Eevee
  • Electrode
  • Entei
  • Exeggutor (Alolan)
  • Giratina
  • Goldeen
  • Kyogre
  • Latias
  • Latios
  • Lugia
  • Lunala
  • Marshadow
  • Meowth
  • Metagross
  • Mimikyu
  • Munchlax
  • Palkia
  • Porygon2
  • Pyukumuku
  • Raichu (Alolan)
  • Scizor
  • Snorlax
  • Solgaleo
  • Staryu
  • Suicune
  • Togedemaru
  • Vulpix
  • Vulpix (Alolan)
  • Xerneas
  • Zoroark

[Source: Super Smash Bros. Official Website, Nintendo on YouTube, SmashWiki]

In Stages

Kalos Pokémon League (Likely to Appear Based on Past Games)

  • Axew
  • Blastoise
  • Blaziken
  • Clawitzer
  • Dragonite
  • Garchomp
  • Ho-oh
  • Honedge
  • Hydreigon
  • Infernape
  • Klinklang
  • Manaphy
  • Piplup
  • Pyroar
  • Rayquaza
  • Registeel
  • Scizor
  • Steelix
  • Tepig
  • Wailord

[Source: SmashWiki]

Pokémon Stadium 2 (Likely to Appear Based on Past Games)

  • Cubone
  • Drifloon
  • Dugtrio
  • Electivire
  • Hoppip
  • Magnezone
  • Skarmory
  • Snorunt
  • Snover

[Source: SmashWiki]

Prism Tower

  • Emolga
  • Helioptile
  • Magnemite
  • Yveltal
  • Zapdos

[Source: Nintendo on YouTube]

Saffron City

  • Chansey
  • Charmander
  • Electrode
  • Porygon
  • Venusaur

[Source: Nintendo on YouTube]

Spear Pillar (Likely to Appear Based on Past Games)

  • Azelf
  • Cresselia
  • Dialga
  • Mesprit
  • Palkia
  • Uxie

[Source: SmashWiki]

Unova Pokémon League (Likely to Appear Based on Past Games)

  • Reshiram
  • Zekrom

[Source: SmashWiki]

Capcom hasn’t said much about Devil May Cry 5 since its announcement at E3, preferring instead to focus on the sooner-releasing Resident Evil 2, but it seems like we won’t have to wait too much longer for hands-on impressions.

Devil May Cry series producer Hideaki Itsuno revealed on Twitter that they’ve finished the demo for Gamescom, showing that the title will be playable for the first time next week in Germany. The tweet comes with an off-screen shot of DMC5’s vibrant demo splash screen.

We learned a scant few details about the game a few weeks ago, but the Gamescom appearance will be the first time people can really get a feel for the newest title in the lauded action series. In the meantime, check out the E3 trailer for the game to get a feel for the tone and action.

Devil May Cry 5 is set for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC with an intended target release of this financial year, so before March. Gamescom will take place in Cologne, Germany starting August 21.

Total War: Three Kingdoms’ new trailer showcases Sun Jian throwing down on his enemies and features the new campaign map as well as some battle footage. The whole trailer is in-engine and looks as gorgeous as ever, with the campaign map in particular showcasing the change in scenery China will bring compared to past entries in the series. 

Total War: Three Kingdoms mixes the historical focus of past entries, alongside the larger-than-life heroes of Total War: Warhammer. The game features a number of new systems, including more dynamic generals who will become friends or bicker during battles, affecting their performance and abilities. In our preview, we said “it has a lot of potential for adding an engaging level of unpredictability in the campaign”.

Total War: Three Kingdoms was originally delayed and will not be making its debut until Spring 2019, but until then there is plenty of Total War to go around. Creative Assembly has kept fans busy, between the more bite-sized Thrones of Britannia, the recent expansion to 2014’s Total War: Rome II, and Total War: Warhammer 2’s Norsca add-on. 

Total War is an all-time favorite series of mine, having put at least hundreds of hours into each entry. I still play them regularly, especially Warhammer 2. Creative Assembly has been knocking it out of the park with great support for games, even updating and adding expansions to older entries. Three Kingdoms is looking fantastic and is definitely an awesome direction for the franchise.