Although he may not have the movie-star status of John Cena or Dwayne Johnson, wrestler AJ Styles is joining their ranks in one important way: adorning the cover of this year’s WWE title. 

Styles is the current WWE champion and describes himself as a hardcore gamer. Exactly how hardcore he is will be put to the test next year, as he challenges the winner of WWE 2K19’s new tournament. 

Players will have the opportunity to submit proof that they beat the in-game AJ Styles, and then selected players will be whisked off to New York. They’ll challenge each other, and then the ultimate winner will have to fight the real AJ Styles to a virtual match. If the player wins, they’ll get a cool million for their troubles.

WWE 2K19 releases on October 19.

[Source: WWE2K via Cageside Seats]

The World Health Organization has officially recognized gaming disorder as a mental-health condition, as part of the group’s newly released disease-classification document. The WHO, the health-care organization within the United Nations, likens the behavior to other impulse-control disorders, such as gambling.

The clinical diagnosis is based on three manifested behaviors. First, the person in question must exhibit impaired control over gaming, such as its frequency or an decreased ability to stop. Next, the behavior has to be so pervasive that it takes priority and negatively affects other elements of daily life. Finally, gaming has to continue or escalate despite negative consequences. The guidelines say that this behavior should be evident for at least a year before a clinical diagnosis can ordinarily be made, though the duration can be shortened in particularly severe cases.

The WHO emphasizes that this is a clinical condition that it requires a professional diagnosis. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, says it’s not a common occurrence. “Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder,” he says.

The International Classification of Diseases is an attempt to create a universal, international set of guidelines for nations to record and monitor health concerns. The last version, ICD-10, was released 18 years ago.

You can read the specific entry on the disorder here, or browse the entire document over here.

[Source: World Health Organization]

Ubisoft once again showed off Beyond Good & Evil 2 at E3, and now that the show is over, the game’s director Michel Ancel has more news for fans: a playable beta is planned for the game at the end of next year.

Ancel revealed the information via his personal Instagram account where he often shares project art. However, he didn’t mention whether developer Ubisoft Montpellier anticipated that the beta would be closed or public.

[Source: Michel Ancel Instagram]

 

Our Take
I wouldn’t get too fixated on this. Not because I don’t believe Ancel or the team’s desire or ability to make it happen, but a lot has to fall into place between now and then for the timing to work out. I hope it happens, but we can’t be mad if plans change.

The E3 Nintendo Direct presentation largely focused on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it scattered in a few surprises along the way. One such surprise was Ninjala, a new family-friendly ninja game where characters compete in battles involving bubble gum and inflatable weapons. I went hands on with the colorful title and spoke with GungHo CEO Kazuki Morishita about the new title.

Ninjala gives Splatoon vibes from the very first glance. The colorful, young characters with stylish clothes and bright hair look as though they could be a part of the same universe as Nintendo’s inklings. However, despite the team’s affection for Splatoon, they wanted to make a brawler instead of a shooter.

Before you can jump into 8-player action and beat up your opponents, you must inflate your weapon. You do this by blowing a massive bubble using bubblegum and funneling that air into the weapon. Depending on which gum you choose, you get a different weapon. Weapons range from baseball bats and clubs to yo-yos. The bigger the bubble you blow, the bigger the weapon is.

Large weapons are slow, but powerful, while short weapons can be made quickly and swung fast. In addition, you can use the bubble as a projectile to stick enemies to the ground temporarily or hold it in your mouth to run up walls. If you get the drop on an enemy and charge up your swing, you can unleash a massive hit and score an Ippon – a one-hit K.O. If you don’t want to challenge other players, you can earn points by defeating drones. However, you don’t earn nearly as many points for destroying these harmless robots.

Ninjala

Battles are frantic and fun. Whether you’re running up a wall to avoid a massive bubble heading your way or whacking an opponent over the head with an inflatable club, Ninjala overflows with goofy action and absurd moments.

GungHo recently released the ultraviolent collaboration with Grasshopper Manufacture, Let It Die. Now, the studio is going in a different direction. Rather than focusing on the hyperviolence, blood, and gore of Let It Die, Ninjala is a cute game about young ninjas fighting each other with unimposing weapons.

Ninjala

“When I made Let it Die, I had a different environment, and what I felt at the time was different than when I was making this,” Morishita says. “When I was making Puzzle & Dragons, I was making a kind of peaceful puzzle game, but then I got under a lot of stress and that’s where Let It Die came from. [Laughs] Then, after that, I came back with Ninjala. So I feel good right now. [Laughs].”

Currently, GungHo is working on maps loosely based on real cities and regions around the world. I played in the New York map, but so far, the team can confirm Japan, Europe, and Egypt as regions players will visit. GungHo is also planning additional support through post-release updates, but Morishita won’t elaborate on the team’s plans.

Ninjala

In addition to team battle and free-for-all multiplayer modes, Ninjala features a single-player mode. Though no details are available for this mode currently, if it’s anything like the single-player modes in Splatoon, I’m looking forward to it.

Oozing with personality and attitude, Ninjala is a fun, accessible multiplayer brawler that seems like a perfect fit for Switch’s audience. NInjala launches in 2019 exclusively on Switch.

In the days leading up to this year’s Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, Illinois on July 14 and 15, developer Niantic is hoping to bring trainers closer together with the additions of two significant social features. Players can now become friends with other players, send gifts, and finally trade Pokémon.

Trading was one of the key features Niantic teased on the eve of Pokémon Go’s release in 2015, which was over 1,000 days ago. Niantic’s development team didn’t forget about this feature, and spent numerous years iterating on it, trying to figure out a way to add it in a way that would be safe for players and not break the balance of the game, a representative of the company told me at E3.

 

To trade Pokémon, players need to be in close proximity to one another, and be at least level 10. With the exception of Mew, players can trade every Pokémon in the game, but legendary and shiny Pokémon can only be dealt if you are “good” friends with another player.

This is where the new friends list comes into play. You can add any player you come across to your list, which has a cap of 200 people. Each player will be assigned a friend code, and can freely share it with any other trainer. This lengthy code can be copied with a press of a button, and shared via text or on social networks if you so chose.

Trading with friends, raiding with them, and sending gifts back and forth earns you experience that levels up your friendship standing with that particular player. When you reach level one you are “good” friends, level two is “great” friends, three is “ultra” friends, and four is “best” friends. Don’t worry, you can have more than one best friend in the game.

The higher your level, the lower the cost to trade. That’s right, both players will have to pay the same amount of stardust in a trade, which is based on the particular type of Pokémon involved in the transaction, and their abilities and stats. If you want to trade a Lugia for an Articuno, and your friendship level is just good, you’ll have to pay 1,000,000 stardust to complete that transaction. If you wait until you reach best friends level, the stardust fee is reduced to 40,000. “Special” trades like this one can only be conducted once a day. Special trades are for legendary and shiny Pokémon.

We don’t know how long it will take to reach best friends status, but it looks like it has a huge benefit. If you don’t spend a lot of time with some friends, you can still level up your friendship with them when you aren’t playing together. You can send them gifts by clicking their name on the friends list. Gifts can be any item you collect, along with a postcard from a stop or gym you visited. When you send this package over, they receive an alert, and may find an added bonus in their present that you didn’t include. A new 7k egg could randomly appear. This new purple and yellow-colored egg contains exclusive Alola region Pokémon. You wont be able to get these specific Alola critters anywhere but in these eggs. Completing a trade earns you friendship experience points.

As your standing with players grows, you’ll earn attack bonuses and extra balls when raiding with them. If you have multiple friends in a raid, the highest friendship level is the one that is used for the bonuses.

One of the coolest touches in this update is the ability to view your friends’ activities, including a graphic that shows the last Pokémon they caught.

Niantic says trading and the friends list are just the start for new social features that will be added to the game this year. Niantic hopes these additions will turn Pokémon Go into the most sociable game in the world. No release date other than “soon” has been given, but we do know these features will make it into the game before Pokémon Go Fest begins.

It’s Father’s Day, which means fathers around the world are getting phone calls and cards and ties that someone at JCPenny assured you that your dad would want.

Gaming has a long history of fathers and relationships between a father and a child, whether it be the journey of Kratos and Atreus, Lara Croft exploring the mysteries of her father’s legacy, or last-second reveals and discoveries of hidden parentage. 

What makes a good dad in video games? Is it a powerful father? Is it someone without a biological link to their child but takes on the mantle all the same? Is it a fierce protection of their child against danger?

Who would you say is gaming’s best father and why? Let us know below in the comments.

Last April, Sony Santa Monica unleashed God of War to the game-playing public. Now, Sony is celebrating Father’s Day with a new trailer that focuses on the relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus.

The trailer also goes into some pretty spoilery territory as well, going over one of the better dialogue exchanges between the two characters in the game. I’d personally wait until you play the game to watch it, but if you don’t care about spoilers, give it a look.

You can find our review of God of War, which Joe Juba called one of the best games of the generation, right here.

In an interview with Japanese gaming website Dengeki Online and translated by JapaneseNintendo, Octopath Traveler producer Masashi Takahashi confirmed that the game won’t have DLC. Takahashi’s reasoning is that the game as it releases “is the finished product.”

This means anyone hoping for a ninth major character or an epilogue chapter to the game shouldn’t expect more than what’s on the cart. Outside of some possible minor bugfixing patches on the table, the team intends to release the game and be done with it.

A new Octopath demo was announced at E3 and has since been released on the Switch eShop, allowing players to go through every character’s first chapter and then use that save file for the full game. You should also check out our deep dive into the new Square Enix JRPG and why you should be excited for it.

Octopath Traveler releases on July 13 exclusively for Nintendo Switch.