Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has a big update today on PlayStation 4. Operation Absolute Zero adds a bunch of new things to Blackout, including a new armored vehicle, a fancy new yacht, and more. Dan Tack, Andrew Reiner, Ben Hanson, and I check out some of the changes (autumnal colors!) in today’s NGT.

In addition to that other stuff, players will be able to earn several critically important emotes for their characters. You like sandwiches? How about rock/paper/scissors and/or dad dance moves? Watch today’s episode for all this and much more. 

Operation Absolute Zero is available on PS4 today, and the free update will be arriving on Xbox One and PC on December 18.

The Tomb Raider Twitter page officially announced the second DLC for Shadow of the Tomb Raider called The Pillar.  The tweet encouraged players to “venture into the Path of the Huracan to discover the truth behind the legend of the Maya apocalypse.”

https://twitter.com/tombraider/status/1072536490343849984

Only fifteen minutes after the initial announcement, a second tweet gave us a four-minute long video on the making of The Pillar. The video tour was lead by associate producer Jonathan Dahan and showed off some of the DLC’s concept art, gameplay, and development. 

https://twitter.com/tombraider/status/1072540263577354240

The Pillar will be coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 18. If you missed out on the first DLC, we wrote up some early impressions of The Forge alongside the announcement trailer back in November. 

[Source: Twitter]

The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection gets 11 complete new games today, and they’re all free if you’ve already bought the game.

Today’s update for the game is split across three downloads, but you get nearly a dozen games out of the deal. They are:

  • Beast Busters
  • Bermuda Triangle
  • Chopper I
  • Fantasy
  • Much Mobile
  • Ozma Wars
  • Paddle Mania
  • SAR – Search and Rescue
  • Sasuke Vs. Commander
  • Time Soldiers
  • World Wars

You get nine games at first from the initial patch out now. However, due to ESRB guidelines and the content of Beast Busters and SAR, you’ll have to download those as DLC separately, but they’re both also free.

In addition to announcing a couple of good quality-of-life features for its card game Artifact, Valve has also stated it plans to continue improving the game “for the long haul,” despite rumblings about it not finding as large an audience as some might like.

Valve released Artifact on November 28 after a short beta period, and while the initial positive reviews (including ours) and influx of players was promising, its playerbase has tapered off some since release. As of this writing, it’s sitting at a 24-hour peak of about 13,000 players, according to Steam’s own numbers. This puts it well behind Valve’s other major multiplayer games on the service, which range from having peaks of nearly 650,000 (Counter-Strike: Global Offense) and 60,000 (Team Fortress 2). It more closely aligns it with smaller-but-still-ongoing multiplayer games like Payday 2, Terraria, and Brawlhalla.

While that lower-than-expected turnout for the game might be cause for concern about the game’s longevity, Valve has stated Artifact isn’t going anywhere soon. It recently announced a pair of quality-of-life updates for the game, including the ability to chat with your opponent mid-match and new colorblind options. It also announced there were several other updates planned for the game over the next couple of months. “We’re in this for the long haul,” the company said on its official Twitter feed.

https://twitter.com/PlayArtifact/status/1072350816332333056
I’m still playing and thinking about Artifact regularly, though I’ve been more preoccupied with other major games over the last month (I still need to get through Red Dead Redemption II). I’m a little concerned about the game’s population (the lack of a free-to-play option and the daunting proposition of a in-game economy using exclusively real-world money feel like the main culprits), but I’m still having fun with it whenever I play. I think Valve is committed to slowly growing the playerbase by making it more appealing with new content and updates, though my guess is that the company will buckle and add a free-to-play option before the end of next year.

According to a new trailer, the next zombies map included in the Black Ops 4 season pass will feature Keifer Sutherland, who voiced Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, and was also the voice of CoD multiplayer back in World at War. Playing the cigar-chewing Gunslinger, Sutherland is joined by Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance, Helena Bonham Carter of basically every Tim Burton film ever made, and well-known English actor Brian Blessed.

Set in a an ostensibly haunted mansion, The Night of the Dead map has the foursome tangling with typical zombies and apparently werewolves too.  

The new update to the pass also introduces two new maps, Madagascar and Elevation and reintroduces the lethal robot, Reaper to the Blackout battle royale mode.

Fans can purchase the pass now for $49.99 which comes with all the content currently included in the season pass. The Night of the Dead map and other new content is available today exclusively for PlayStation 4 owners, with other platforms receiving the update at a later time. To see our review of the seminal shooter, glide on over here to see how the game fares.  

The deadline for Game Informer’s “best of the year” voting draws near, and I’m doing everything I can to play as many of 2018’s games as I can. I recently watched the credits roll for Darksiders III, which I adored way more than any other GI staffer, and I’m now working my way through Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. While I don’t think it will make my personal top 10 list and may not get the votes to make it onto Game Informer’s big Top 50 list, this is one science-fiction game you don’t want to sleep on. You just have to ask yourself “Do you like XCOM?” If the answer is “yes,” drop everything and give it a whirl.

Turn-based combat is the heart and soul of Mutant Year Zero. Most conflicts unfold with the a squad splitting up, and strategically hunkering down behind cover to pick away at enemies that are doing the same thing. It’s straight up XCOM, and developer The Bearded Ladies Consulting openly embraces the comparison, and even has “the turn-based combat of XCOM” bolded on its website. What makes Mutant Year Zero unique – other than playing as a talking duck, boar, and fox – is the calm before battle. Unlike most games of this ilk, you are not dropped immediately into a fight. You discover enemies as you explore small sections of the wilderness. As you sneak through the woods, you also find weapons, armors, crafting materials, and above all else, will be able to approach combat from a desired vector. This element of the game is nicely designed and worth investing time into, especially since supplies are hard to come by and end up being incredibly valuable.

Again, I may like Mutant Year Zero more than any GI editor, but I think we all agree it’s a game worth looking at. Jeff Marchiafava has played way more of it than me, and gave it a respectable review of 7.5 of 10. He says it falls apart in the end. “From a gameplay perspective, Mutant Year Zero is a bold but brief experiment in the turn-based genre that largely pays off. Despite my complaints, I still enjoyed it, and I’d love to see more from the franchise. If you can stomach a huge letdown of an ending, the cleverly orchestrated combat and unique world are worth checking out.”

If that isn’t your cup of tea, I’d like to point out that Subnautica’s big 1.0 update is finally live on Xbox One. Subnautica is a brilliantly designed underwater survival experience, set on an alien world with an ocean filled with exotic life. I urge you all to check this game out. It’s one of those games that you just can’t seem to put down once you get the hang of exploring the seas. Elise Favis gave it an 8.75 out of 10, and called it “gorgeous and enthralling.” You’ll definitely see this one on my top 10 list.

The trailer above is for one of my most anticipated films of 2019. James Gunn’s name is all over it, but that’s a bit of false advertising. He’s producing the film. It’s actually directed by David Yarovesky, and written by Brian Gunn, and Mark Gunn. How many damn Gunns are there? As  long as they continue pumping out interesting films, the answer is “who cares?”

In short, Brightburn looks to be a new take on Superman’s origin story, with horror and craziness leading the way. The trailer teases the child learning of his powers, and, well, using them to do harm. Brightburn releases on May 24.

In other film news, if you were thinking 2019 would be the year of Thanos or the Avengers, you’re only slightly wrong. It will likely be the year of Nick Fury. At a comic convention in Brazil, Captain Marvel‘s Brie Larson revealed the movie isn’t just about her character. “It’s actually a Nick Fury origin story as well,” she said. “He doesn’t have the eye patch. That’s a very interesting element, isn’t it? [Fury and Marvel] become buddies, and I think seeing that dynamic, it’s a more playful side of Fury.”

Fury is also front and center in the official synopsis for Spider-Man Far From Home, which is short and to the point: “Peter Parker and his friends go on summer holidays to Europe. However, the friends will hardly be able to rest – Peter will have to agree to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of creatures that cause natural disaster and destruction throughout the continent.”

I’m a big fan of Samuel L. Jackson’s interpretation of Nick Fury, and can’t wait to see him get more time in the spotlight. I was hoping he would have a bigger role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but this works too.

And if you want to feel a little heartbreak, Marvel fans, Chris Hemsworth tweeted out the first image of Men In Black International. As you can see, he’s joined by Tessa Thompson, who absolutely killed it in Thor Ragnarok. I’m all for more Men in Black, but I don’t know if I’ll ever shake the thought of “it’s Thor and Valkyrie” when seeing them together.

That’s it for this week, gang. As we wind down the year, our columns will likely disappear until 2019, but I’ll do my best to spit them out when I can. Cheers!

Organizers of the Game Developers Choice Awards have announced they will be honoring Amy Hennig’s life’s work at the San Francisco-based ceremony this March. Hennig was the creative director and writer of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted game series, writer and director of the Legacy of Kain and Soul Reaver series at Crystal Dynamics, and contributed to Jak and Daxter. Katie Stern, general manager of the Game Developers Conference, called her “a powerful figure in the game world,” and “one of the most influential developers in the games industry.” 

Amy Hennig is the last of a distinguished line of GDC Lifetime Award recipients including Tim Schafer, Tim Sweeney, Shigeru Miyamoto, Warren Spector, John Carmack, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier, Ken Kutaragi, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Peter Molyneux. If you have a GDC 2019 Pass, you can catch the Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 6:30pm at the San Francisco Moscone Center. They haven’t officially announced 2019’s nommines, you can check out 2018’s big winners here

Overwatch’s annual holiday event, Winter Wonderland, is back for another round of festive fun.

 This year’s version of the event, includes two modes from previous Wonderlands: The five-on-one Yeti Hunter brawl, and the Mei’s Snowball Offensive, which has six versions of its titular character battling it out with snowballs.

Although there isn’t a new mode this year, there are plenty of things to look forward to. The Blizzard World map gets its first holiday makeover, and there are new skins for the following characters to hope for (or buy outright) in lootboxes. You can see them below.

 

There’s also a new highlight reel for Wrecking Ball, as well as some new emotes for Tor and Genji, which you can find here.

In Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm DLC, players can forge the destiny of the vast northern realm of Canada, helmed by the country’s seventh prime minister, Wilfrid Laurier.

With Canada, players will be able to farm on icy tundra tiles, purchase snowy plots at reduced rates, and construct ice hockey rinks to increase appeal and culture. The Great White North is a largely peaceful land, and as such its special ability is the Four Faces of Peace. Essentially, Canada cannot declare surprise wars, but likewise cannot be the target of one. The country also receives extra favor for tourism and diplomatic missions and is a solid choice for a diplomatic or cultural victory. Playing as Canada also grants players control over the famous red-shirted Canadian cavalry unit, the Mounties, which also have the unique ability to create national parks.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm releases February 14. To get a glimpse of the Maori civilization, hop on over here.

It happens to everyone, even the most cautious gamer: you are playing a game with friends and things get a little too loud. When it happened to Jovante A. Williams and his friends during a game of Super Smash Bros., the cops got involved and showed up at the door alongside Williams. The officers were responding to a noise complaint from nearby neighbors, but stuck around to join the fight.

After the cops confirmed that there were didn’t seem to be an excessive amount of noise, they were getting ready to leave before they inquired to Williams what they were playing.

“I’m like, ‘Y’all wanna play Smash?!’” Williams told YahooLifestyle. “And two of them literally raised their hand and walked up. They’re like, ‘How do you jump?’ They were acting; one of them was playing Pikachu!” He noted that they seemed to actually be pretty experienced in the game.

When the officers first arrived at the scene, Williams was pretty concerned. “Of course, you’d bring more cops,” he thought when he first arrived. “It was concerning. You see so many videos of terrible results…I’m not trying to end up in jail or hurt, or have my friends harmed, or to start a commotion. But you know what? I heard the police asking ‘What’s Smash Brothers?’ Instead of something negative…it was something wholesome.”

[Source: YahooLifestyle]