Among the many cool things we saw about Cyberpunk 2077 is its character creation tool, which allows you customize your character’s look and stats, even allowing you to modify their street cred. However, the demo we saw this week showed only two cosmetic renditions of the character, one male and one female with different skill builds. CD Projekt Red has confirmed the creation tool will be much more diverse than this in the final version of the game, especially when it comes to physical appearance and gender.

For context, while Cyberpunk 2077 was being shown off at E3, a controversy regarding a risque in-game ad depicting a transgender emerged with some taking offense to how the ad fetishized or dehumanized trans people. 

Speaking with Polygon, CDPR art director Kasia Redesiuk said the ad is meant to be dystopian satire, and the company’s goal is a create more acceptance for trans people and those with non-binary genders.

Then, speaking with Gamasutra, quest director Mataeusz Tomaszkiewicz confirmed the character creation tool within Cyberpunk 2077 would reflect this attitude. “One of the things we want to do in the final game (which we couldn’t show in the demo yet, because as you mentioned it’s a work in progress) is to give the players as many options of customization in the beginning of the game as we can,” he said. “For example, we want to do this thing where, as you create your character, after you choose the body type, you can, for example, use physical traits as you build your face that could be assigned to a man or a woman.”

Tomaszkiewicz then confirmed this would include non-binary options as well. “The idea is to mix all of those [options] up, to give them to the players, as they would like to build it,” he explained. “Same goes for the voice. We wanted to separate this out, so the players can choose it freely.” He also mentioned this attitude would also extend to how characters are depicted in the game itself. “We are paying a lot of attention to it, we do not want anyone to feel like we are neglecting this, or treating it wrongly.”

For more on Cyberpunk 2077, check out our feature on what makes the game a true RPG.

While Nintendo has released two well-made miniature consoles to celebrate its NES and SNES libraries, its former rival Sega has faltered. Opting for a hands-off approach, Sega-licensed third-party Genesis mini consoles have consisted of mediocre-to-bad quality. However, with the new Genesis Mini console, Sega is working closer on the development, and based on what I played at E3, the quality jump is noticeable.

In addition to being a faithful replica of the original Genesis, the Genesis Mini is able to precisely emulate its entire library of 40 games. This is thanks to the project being created by M2, a developer with its history in emulation, including bringing many classic Genesis titles to Switch in the form of the excellent Sega Ages line.

The difference in quality is immediately evident, as I fire up titles like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Ecco the Dolphin, and Vectorman. The colors look fantastic in every game I tried. While pixel perfection is certainly the mission here, you can experiment a little with how the games look through adding a CRT filter, or stretching to fit a modern widescreen TV. 

Most importantly, the gameplay feels spot on. Running through Emerald Hill Zone in Sonic 2 feels just how I remember it when I first fired up my childhood Genesis in 1992, and swimming around in Ecco the Dolphin is smooth and fluid. For games you could never get through as a kid, such as something like Contra: Hard Corps, you have a bit more help this time around, as the Genesis Mini offers save state slots for each game.

With such a massive library of games, being able to sort the way you want is important. Thankfully, you can sort alphabetically, by release date, or by number of players. While custom sorting isn’t an option, it is great to be able to arrange the tiles in the manner you want, and it’s helpful to immediately pick out the multiplayer titles. As a fun fact, no matter what sorting option you choose, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle is always listed first.

The controller cable is longer than the cables on the NES and SNES Mini.

The two biggest criticisms of Nintendo’s Classic consoles is that they don’t take into account player comfort. Short cables make it difficult to play the NES and SNES Classics from the couch, and if you want to reset the game or go back to the main menu, you need to actually stand up and use the buttons on the console itself. The Genesis Mini addresses these complaints by not only giving players a cable that should be long enough for many living rooms, but also the ability to reset using the controller.

As someone who owned and obsessed over both the SNES and Genesis as a kid, I can’t wait to add a Genesis Mini that’s worthy of sitting next to the SNES Classic to my TV stand. If my hands-on time with the Genesis Mini is any indication, I’ll have that opportunity when this releases on September 19 for $79.99.

Check out how the Genesis Mini physically stacks up to an actual Genesis in the gallery below.

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Rockstar has announced a 13-track album called The Music of Red Dead Redemption 2 (Original Soundtrack), which collects some of the original music written for the game.

Out July 12, the soundtrack is produced by Daniel Lanois and includes vocal work from D’Angelo, Willie Nelson, Carolina Chocolate Drops’ Rhiannon Giddens, and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. There’s also a track written, produced, and performed by country-music producer David R. Ferguson.

The full song list is as follows:

  • Unshaken – D’Angelo
  • Moonlight – Daniel Lanois, Daryl Johnson, Joseph Maize, Darryl Hatcher & Rhiannon Giddens
  • That’s the Way It Is – Daniel Lanois
  • Mountain Finale – Daniel Lanois
  • Crash of Worlds – Rocco DeLuca
  • Cruel World – Willie Nelson
  • Red – Daniel Lanois
  • Mountain Hymn – Rhiannon Giddens
  • Mountain Banjo – Rhiannon Giddens
  • Table Top – Daniel Lanois
  • Love Come Back – Daniel Lanois
  • Oh My Lovely – Daniel Lanois
  • Cruel World – Josh Homme

You can  listen to “Crash of Worlds” and “Table Top” right now on Spotify or iTunes. For those interested in a more comprehensive album of music from the game, the Original Score for the game will release as a separate album later this summer.

One of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s early standout characters is one that never says a single line of dialogue throughout the course of Cal Kestis’ adventure. BD-1 is a small bipedal droid that assists Cal in his journey in a number of ways. He can hack into electronics and control them, scan elements of the environment and defeated enemies to build out an encyclopedia of knowledge, display holographic maps, and dispense health canisters when Cal needs them. We spoke with the art and sound team at Respawn about what it takes to add a new, unique droid to Star Wars’ canon and find out what it’s like to work with legendary sound designer, Ben Burtt.

In our cover story, we touched briefly on BD-1 and how his original inspiration came from Snoopy and Woodstock. His code name was even “Bird Dog” before he became “Buddy Droid,” but that was just the starting line. “Originally, we had the idea that Cal was a tinkerer, so maybe he kit-bashed this little droid together and originally the little droid was going to work like a backpack to hearken back to Yoda on the back of Luke,” lead concept artist Jordan Lamarre-Wan says. The idea of Cal building BD-1 was abandoned, but the element of him traveling on Cal’s back remained. “A lot of mechs and droids in Star Wars are a very simple silhouette. Very simple shape, but then there are a lot of details within the silhouette to make them very readable,” Lamarre-Wan says.

R2 is a cylinder with a dome, for example, so many of BD-1’s early designs followed those ideas. “Some of our original sketches were actually following those same recipes, so we actually landed on a place that was really close to BB8. And then we saw the trailer revealing BB8, so that was kind of a no-go,” Lamarre-Wan says. Other early ideas gave BD-1 boosters so he could fly around, but the team eventually landed on the bipedal design we see today because BD-1 is meant to help with exploration, both from a gameplay perspective, and within the fiction.

BD-1 is a droid meant to assist explorers and archaeologists, which was a result of the gameplay functions the team wanted for BD. “He didn’t start from a strictly visual, or narrative standpoint,” art director Chris Sutton says. The team knew how they wanted BD to assist Cal and they worked backwards from there. BD-1 has two big eyes, an atypical asset for a droid his size, because he needs to be able to scan things, and he needs to be able to make 3D projections for Cal, and he has legs because he needs to be able to crawl around and explore tight spaces. “BD-1’s not one of a kind – but he’s not common,” writer Megan Fausti says. The general idea behind BD is that the company that manufactured him went under, so you will never see new droids like him, but there are a few out there in the universe. Once the gameplay functions and fiction were in place, his character design began to take shape.

“We try to make BD-1 very human and very personable and like a best friend for Cal,” Fausti says. Along with gameplay and archaeological functions, Respawn also imagined that buddy droids, like BD-1, would be used by lonely explorers. “Part of the function of the [BD] droid is to help [explorers] not get lonely and not get sad, so he can be cheerful or encouraging and express a lot of emotion as a core function to help the person not lose their connection to society,” says narrative designer Aaron Contreras.

“Some of the inspirations visually… we were talking about the manufacturing process of like where the droids come from fictionally, and some of the lines you see on BD will evoke things like a snow speeder, like the way there are diagonal lines on the visor.” Lamarre-Wan says. “The graphic patterns, even the heat sinks on the back. It also evokes the binoculars that Luke uses.”

BD-1 is also very cute, which plays into all these ideas. “Cute wasn’t the pillar, but it helps,” Contreras says with a laugh. “I would say his defining trait would be bravery, but he is cute just by virtue of who he is and what he is to Cal and to the player,” Fausti says. He has a pair of antennas on his head which animator Laure Retif says she tries to use like dog ears. “He’s got a big head, like a bird, and two legs, like a bird, but the emotion of a dog.” Lamarre-Wan says. Retif has to lean on body movement in general since BD-1 is a droid and doesn’t have facial features that can be used to express familiar emotion. He may not be able to move his eyebrows or change the shape of his eyes to get across his personality, but he does have a voice, which is being created by Ben Burtt.

Burtt created just about every iconic Star Wars alien or robotic voice and sound effect that we take for granted, and he also provided the voice for Wall-E. Early in the process, Burtt gave Respawn about five different voices to choose from that ranged from R2-D2 and Wall-E, to voices that sounded close to human speech with layers and layers of processing on top of them. Respawn told Burtt what they liked, and he began the recording process.

Burtt recorded complete cutscenes, but he also recorded all kinds of “dialogue” for various moments outside of specific narrative moments. Early in the process, Burtt received actual dialogue to be translated into BD-1 speech, but over time, the team found more success in just making specific emotional requests of Burtt.

In terms of how it works, like whether or not Burtt is actually making bleeps and bloops into a microphone with his mouth and then tweaking those noises in post-production, Respawn’s sound designers admit they don’t actually know. “I can only really guess at that,” audio director Nick Laviers says. “Yeah, he doesn’t reveal his secrets,” audio director Rhonda Cox says. Laviers and Cox spent time with Burtt at Skywalker Sound touring his studio and even looking at his Star Wars props, like his original Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope script, and they connect with him regularly, but for the most part, they just let him work his magic. “I do think he likes to speak the part,” Laviers says regarding whether or not Burtt speaks actual lines of dialogue. “I think when there aren’t any, Ben kind of makes them up, because he likes to kind of get into the character. My theory is he will perform it in his words first, then he will take a synthesizer and try to kind of create the intonations… but that’s just a theory.”

EA commissioned a robotic puppet version of BD-1 to take to E3, and it’s easy to understand why it went through the marketing expense. “He’s not just a robot. In Star Wars, droids are characters,” Lamarre-Wan says. Respawn wants BD-1 to be just as much of a character as any human, Wookiee, or other alien in the game, and our time with the game shows he has a lot of promise, both from his gameplay applications and his personality.


For more on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, you can head here to read the full cover story, and click the banner below to check in on all of our exclusive coverage throughout the month.

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In this excerpt above from The Game Informer Show podcast, Ben Hanson, Kimberley Wallace, Joe Juba, and Imran Khan share the highlights from the behind-closed-doors gameplay from CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. If you prefer to listen to the discussion above, subscribe to The Game Informer Show podcast and check it out. To learn more about the gameplay demo, check out Joe Juba’s full preview here.

In its latest “This Week at Bungie” blog post, the Destiny 2 developer posted a short FAQ answering a number of questions players had about the game’s move from Battle.net to Steam, the game coming Stadia, and the new cross-save feature, clarifying some key points about what players can expect on September 17 when these features hit alongside the newly-announced Shadowkeep expansion.

For many, the most important question answered is how the new Stadia version of the game will (or in this case, won’t) work with other platforms. Bungie has confirmed the Stadia version of the game will have its own playerbase and will not share players with the PC. To be clear, the Stadia version will still support cross-save, which means players will still be able to log into the Stadia version with your now-universal Destiny 2 account and earn more gear and power for your character. But though many expected the Stadia and PC versions of the game to have the same playerbase, Stadia and PC players won’t be able to play with each other.

Another important thing to consider: expansions. The new free-to-play version of Destiny 2, New Light, will let players explore every current locale the game has to offer, hop into all the matchmade multiplayer playlists, and access some of the regular updates to the game for free. However, the Forsaken campaign, exotic quests, and post year-one raids will have to be purchased. What’s more, expansion content will have to purchased individually for each version, which is a bummer for cross-players and raises at least one question: Once you get an exotic quest, will you be able to complete it on a platform on which you don’t have the expansion content?

You won’t be able to merge accounts on different platforms, either, so if you’ve played the game on multiple platforms, you may have to choose one account to play on going forward. However, for those moving from Battle.net to Steam, there will a one-time transfer option to take everything with you as you start playing on Steam.

There are still more questions to answer, and Bungie will continue updating this new FAQ throughout the next few months. If you have questions about what’s going on this fall, check out the full FAQ.

This was my third consecutive year of attending Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, and it was the first year to go off without a hitch. In the first year, the game was nearly unplayable, leading to frustrated players, lawsuits, and hardly any Pokémon caught. In the second year, the game was playable, but rainfall made it difficult to stay out on the walking paths for too long. This year’s festival was held in 70-degree weather with the sun shining. The game seemed to appreciate the perfect weather. Outside of a few crashes – which would likely still have occurred outside of the festival grounds – I was able to catch hundreds of Pokémon within a few hours.

If a player purchased a ticket for the festival, they didn’t need to hand it off or scan it to start playing. Thanks to the pre-event registration, Niantic had the players’ data plugged into the game, and as soon as one of these players stepped into the festival’s grounds, they were given a new quest, and a sea of Pokéstops appeared on their screen.

The festival grounds were much larger than in the first two years, and ended up taking up all of Chicago’s beautiful Grant Park. To give trainers the feeling they were traveling across an entire world, the park was broken up into five regions: Sandy Desert, Fairy Garden, Spooky Woods, Winter Forest, and Buckingham Fountain (which was basically the water area). Niantic tried a similar thing last year, but the zones were laughably small, consisting of just a few themed props to try to sell the vision of that area. This year, Niantic did a nice job of bringing each habitat to life without taking away from the beauty of the park itself. The extended play space for each region also meant players weren’t herding together, which could bog down both the cellular networks and the game’s servers.

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Each of the five places were put to good use in a new five-part quest from Professor Willow. He once again received news of a mysterious Pokémon in the region, and the player had to figure out what it was. Over 70 different Pokémon species were in Grant Park this year, including Unown (with variations spelling out WAKE UP), as was the regional exclusive Pachirisu.

Shiny Pokémon were also spawning more often than normal. I managed to add six more to my collection, snagging a Caterpie, Misdreavus, Houndour, Poochyena, Snubbull, and Bronzor. The big prize of the event came at the end of Willow’s quest. After taking photos of five Pokémon in their habitats, such as Ralts and Snover, the wish-making Pokémon Jirachi appeared and needed to be caught using AR. After the quest was completed, players could venture off to the trading post or battle it out in the arena. It felt like a legitimate Pokémon world had come to life in Chicago. A good number of trainers were also decked out in gear of their team’s colors.

The quest could be completed in an hour or two, but ended up being a blast given just how many other Pokémon were captured along the way. The park’s design and conditions were fantastic, allowing for thousands of players to easily navigate the grounds. The only sour note came from the shopping experience tied to the show. The official merchandising booth had a line that stretched well out of the park’s grounds, and some of those who waited over an hour found the items they desired were sold out.

I ended up taking my family to the festival and we had an absolute blast. Here’s hoping Niantic returns to Chicago again next year with a similar setup for the festival. They say the third time’s the charm, and that proved to be the case for Pokémon Go Fest.

E3 may have had an esports zone, but this is the REAL esports zone, folks! We have a bunch of events going on this weekend across several genres, so watch something while you wait for your favorite upcoming games!

We have another weekend of the Overwatch League upon us, and the Boston Uprising (the new underdogs I am rooting for now that the Shanghai Dragons are winning matches) are playing! Let’s all root for them now. (Stream / Schedule)

Of course, we also get 10 more League of Legends matches courtesy of the LCS, so if MOBAs are more your thing, have at it! (Stream / Schedule)

The Call of Duty World League for Black Ops 4 is having its current event in Anaheim, California, and between a pro and open-slot tournament, there’s lots of pro points to go around! (Stream / Schedule)

Blizzard is having a Hearthstone Masters event in Las Vegas this weekend! The event uses a new specialist format, in which players can swap among three decks between rounds. (Stream / Schedule)

The Fighting Game Challenge tournament in Łódź, Poland has two big tournaments you may want to keep an eye on: One more Tekken 7, and one for Mortal Kombat 11. (Tekken Stream/ Mortal Kombat 11 StreamSchedule)

For more fighting, check out Fighters Spirit, which features Street Fighter VGuilty Gear XrdBlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, and BlazBlue: Central Fiction. (Stream / Schedule)

Rounding out the trio of events is Reflect, which have Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dragon Ball FighterZStreet Fighter III, and more. (Streams)

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene is in Dallas, Texas this weekend for the Dreamhack Open tournament. Watch as eight teams will fight for their share of the $100,000 prize pool. (Stream / Schedule)

Dreamhack is also hosting a Brawlhalla event, with both a singles and doubles tournament. (Stream / Schedule)

The Dota 2 Starladder ImbaTV Minor determines who gets the last two spots in next weeks’ Epicenter Major, so if you’re curious about whether Alliance will make the cut, tune in. (Stream / Schedule)

That’s it for this weekend! Let us know if we missed an event, or if there’s a scene you’d like us to cover, in the comments.