At the beginning of the year, Blizzard announced they were hard at work on a new hero for Overwatch. A picture of a small bit of backstory might be hinting at who that hero could be.

In the tweet from the Overwatch account, the caption reads “[DECLASSIFIED] After-Action Report: Operation ‘WHITE DOME’.”

The actual text says:

Strike team under the command of myself, CAPTAIN ANA AMARI, was deployed to the outskirts of Istanbul, Turkey to deal with a remaining pocket of omnic resistance. Personnel included Lieutenant Reinhardt Wilhelm, Chief Engineer Torbjörn Lindholm, and Private First Class Emre Sarioglu. After routine insertion, the team was ambushed, taking heavy fire from the entrenched combatants without casualties, the battle resulted in serious injuries to Lindholm and lesser injury to Lt. Wilhelm. Had it not been for Lt. Wilhelm’s timely intervention, it is likely that Lindholm would have been killed. Due to conspicuous bravery on the part of Lt. Wilhelm, I am suggesting a commendation for his actions.

The new name, Private First Class Emre Sarioglu, appears to have been a part of Ana, Reinhardt, and Torbjörn’s squad in the old days. Other heroes have been introduced similar ways, being names in files or in-game lore dropped over time and eventually fleshed out. It is definitely curious how Sarioglu is only mentioned once in the file and then never again.

What do you think? Is this a new hero or a just a name in a file?

 

Our Take
Blizzard learned a lot of lessons from the way the Sombra ARG backfired, so hopefully they put those lessons to work here and don’t tease the new character for too long.

In a messy legal situation that has been continuing since at least December, Star Control’s original developers, Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, are filing a counterclaim against Brad Wardell and the company Stardock over the question of who owns Star Control.

We talked about the story in December, but the short version is that Reiche and Ford believe that the rights to Star Control belong to them and have been working on a new game under the company name Dogar and Kozan, while Stardock believes it belongs to them and have reportedly been trying to stop the development of the pair’s sequel to the game.

From our original story in December: “In order to understand Dogar and Kazon’s claims, we need a bit of history. Toys for Bob (which Dogar and Kazon founders Fred Ford and Paul Reiche also founded) developed the original two Star Control games, which the now-defunct company Accolade published. After Accolade published a couple of sequels not developed by Toys For Bob, the franchise went into deep sleep, and its rights were later picked up by Atari. In 2013, Stardock bought the rights to series from Atari when the company liquidated its assets as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (Stardock is currently listed as the publisher of the series on Steam). Stardock is creating its own entry in the Star Control series, Star Control: Origins.”

Today, the pair announced via their website that they are filing a countersuit against Stardock.

Stardock filed a complaint in Federal court against us, personally, alleging among other things that we are not actually the creators of Star Control,” the post reads. “This is news to us! Are we clones of the original Fred and Paul, just now learning of our squelchy vat birth?  Unfortunately, Stardock’s complaint is not a prank – so, today we took action and filed a response in Federal court answering Stardock’s false claims. Of course, we’ve also filed counterclaims against Stardock, as the original Fred and Paul would have wanted.”

It is impossible to say outside of a courtroom how this will turn out, but it looks like both sides are digging the trenches for a protracted battle.

 

Our Take
While I legally have no idea who is in the right here, the biggest takeaway from this is that IP and copyright law is messy. I can’t wait to see this untangled and see who has the correct claim, though my guess is that it’s not that simple.

Welcome back to The Game Informer Show! On this episode, Ben Hanson is joined by Joe Juba, Elise Favis, and Suriel Vazquez to talk about the shocking state of Metal Gear in a post-Kojima world, the bizarre and impressive Assassin’s Creed Origins Discovery Tour mode, the future of Rainbow Six Siege, and much more! After some great community emails, we’re joined by former Dragon Age creative director Mike Laidlaw to explain why he recently left BioWare and why he’s looking forward to CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. We hope you enjoy the show, and be sure to participate in the #gishowchallenge… there are details in this episode.

You can watch the video below, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, or listen to episode 387 on SoundCloud. Also, be sure to send your questions to podcast@gameinformer.com for a chance to have them answered on the show and win a prize by becoming Email of the Week!

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Our thanks to the talented Super Marcato Bros. for The Game Informer Show’s intro song. You can hear more of their original tunes and awesome video game music podcast at their website.

To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below…

2:45 – Kingdom Come: Deliverance
5:30 – Game Informer’s 300th Issue Party at Fulton Brewery
6:20 – Metal Gear Survive
36:45 – Assassin’s Creed Origins Discovery Tour
46:00 – Rainbow Six Siege’s Future
50:10 – Florence
1:00:50 – Community emails
1:02:20 – Introducing the #gishowchallenge
1:33:25 – Our entrance music
1:53:10 – Mike Laidlaw on Dragon Age and leaving BioWare

The Xbox 360 version of the Kinect was not exceptional at performing its base functions. However, artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles defied the odds in October 2015 by steathily using the device to capture a near-perfect 3D replica of Nefertiti, and they have been curiously public about their actions since.

Eurogamer‘s video editor Chris Bratt got in touch with the architects of this bizarre art heist to see how they pulled it off. The artists mentioned how they prepared a complicated “mobile setup” with lots of prep work. They observed the security guards’ patterns in Berlin’s Neues Museum on Sundays: the busiest day for visitors. They even took calculated breaks to avoid suspicion. Check out the video below for more details.

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A controversy arose over the probability of using Kinect to create the high-resolution scans of the Egyptian Queen’s bust, and some believe that the artists might have stolen the museum’s own scans instead of creating their own. Nelles offereed a comment on this version of events in his interview with Eurogamer:

“Officially we claim to have scanned the bust at the museum at this point. But frankly speaking, I can tell you that this was part of the process to acquire the data. We have combined technologies. We have not only done the scan with the Kinect, but you can use the data of the Kinect for certain parts of the measurements and then you combine other data that you acquire through other methods. This leads to this kind of high resolution, high poly dataset.”

Either way, the duo want to add to the a discussion about the possession of art and who has the right to house historical artifacts taken from other countries. The artist could face some significant legal repercutions for their scans, but the museum hasn’t pursued action yet.

[Source: Eurogamer]

 

Our Take
However the age-old controversy about art ownership plays out, the artists’ use of the Kinect is one of the most interesting points of this tale. While the story loses a bit of its magic with “combined technologies,” the fact that Microsoft’s peripheral played a role is undoubtedly impressive.

According to an interview from Dengeki Online, Final Fantasy XV’s roadmap of DLC episodes will continue until at least 2019.

In the interview, director Hajime Tabata and game designer Takefumi Terada discuss the current three-episode plan for the remainder of 2018, starting with the announced Episode Ardyn. While working on that, Tabata realized they wanted to do more content for the game, and added a fourth episode to the docket.

That means that all four episodes spread out will go through 2018 and into 2019. As for future content beyond that, it’s undecided.

Final Fantasy XV’s previous DLC episodes – Episode Gladiolus, Episode Prompto, and Episode Ignis – have been released as part of the game’s season pass, while the next four episodes should be part of the second season pass, though they have yet to be extensively detailed.

Final Fantasy XV is re-releasing as Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition, containing the first game’s DLC and multiplayer expansion, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and for the first time on PC on March 6. Square-Enix revealed today that Steam pre-orders and early purchases for the game will receive a Gordon Freeman skin for Noctis. There will also be a free PC demo on February 26.

[Source: Dengeki Online]

Bandai Namco have announced two patches to hopefully iron out issues the game has been having with online matches. 

The two major issues, an inability to match with other players in Ring Match and getting disconnected from the lobby, will be the focus for a patch at the end of February. Bandai Namco producer Tomoko Hiroki says, however, that one patch is unlikely to solve all the problems, so they are preparing another patch for March, as well. 

“Rest assured,” states Hiroki, “that we will not stop until the fix has been completed.”

You can see Hiroki’s video talking about the patches below. She has, in the last few weeks, also signed up for the EVO Championships to play Dragon Ball FighterZ competitively.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

 

Our Take
To some extent, I kind of want them to take the entire online mode back to the workbench and rethink it from a fundamental level. I guess this is a good start, though.

The first sales numbers from 2018 show Capcom’s Monster Hunter World and Dragon Ball FighterZ, both games releasing on January 26, are the best selling games of the month.

The two Japanese titles were strong contenders to come out on top, as they were the most significant retail releases so far in 2018. Dragon Ball FighterZ had the strongest debut of any Dragon Ball game in the U.S. since Dragon Ball Budokai on the PlayStation 2 in 2002. Monster Hunter World was the best selling title overall, while also topping both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sales rankings, cementing it as the best debut in the series in the west.

Capcom has previously stated that Monster Hunter World is the fastest selling game in the publisher’s history.

Here’s the list of the top 20 games for the month of January.

Monster
Hunter: World
1
Dragon Ball: FighterZ 2
Call of Duty: WWII 3
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds 4
Grand Theft Auto V 5
NBA 2K18 6
Super Mario Odyssey* 7
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of
the Wild*
8
Mario Kart 8* 9
Madden NFL 18 10
Star Wars: Battlefront II 11
Assassin’s Creed: Origins 12
UFC 3 13
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six:
Siege
14
FIFA 18 15
Dragon Ball: Xenoverse 16
The Sims 4 17
Splatoon 2* 18
Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT 19
Need for Speed: Payback 20

Titles with an asterisk do not count digital sales. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds does not count digital sales on PC.

Many of 2017’s biggest games, such as Call of Duty: WWII and Assassin’s Creed Origins are still hanging around with nearly as much strength as the previous year. Microsoft have positioned PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds well, tying the game’s console release to the Xbox with a strong sales presence. Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT, the newest game in the 3D fighter series, debuted at 19th, despite releasing only a few days after Dragon Ball FighterZ and Monster Hunter.

In terms of hardware, the battle between Switch and PlayStation 4 continues to be one of victories on both sides. While Switch sold the most units, the PlayStation 4 generated the most revenue. Microsoft was not incredibly far behind, as the gap between the PlayStation 4’s revenue and Microsoft’s revenue, even at third place, was only three percent.

Much like December, the 3DS had one of its best month-aligned sales records, having its best January in terms of dollar amount since January 2014, and best in terms of unit sales since January 2013.

 

Our Take
It’s incredible how well Monster Hunter and Dragon Ball did. While they are the most notable releases so far, they sold incredibly well in a vacuum, and their rankings are not due to a lack of competition. Capcom and Bandai Namco are likely incredibly bullish about the rest of the year, especially after Capcom admitted disappointment in the sales of their 2017 titles Resident Evil VII and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Nintendo have run afoul of European regulators with its eShop return and cancellation policies; which is to say, Nintendo does not allow either of those things, and that doesn’t fly in Europe.

The Norwegian Consumer Council has accused Nintendo of practices that violate European law with its very strict no-refund policy. In a letter published online, the Consumer Council harshly condemned pretty much every digital storefront, worst of all Nintendo, for inadequate digital rights compliance. From the summary:

The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) has found that out of the seven leading digital video game platforms, only Origin and Steam had adequate systems in place for refunding purchased video games. Out of the seven platforms, Nintendo in particular violates consumer rights by not offering any way to cancel a pre-ordered game.

Nintendo, for their part, has a policy of not allowing refunds under any circumstances, including accidental purchases. From the company’s support site
  • We are unable to provide refunds or exchanges for mistaken purchases.
  • Please be sure to read the game descriptions and check out the screen shots available through the Nintendo eShop before making purchases.
  • We also encourage you to visit www.nintendo.com for information about the games available for our systems.
  • In addition, many websites make reviews available of games which you can use to make your purchasing decisions.

    Nintendo’s policy of “all sales are final” explicitly goes against European laws for digital purchases. While other services might also not have consumer-facing refund procedures, they do perform limited refunds through customer service, which Nintendo reportedly not do. The letter petitioning Nintendo points out that Nintendo cannot enter into a contract with consumers that bars them from exiting or dissolving the contract before the game is even released.

    The eShop, which includes all of Nintendo’s modern platforms including the 3DS, Wii U, and Switch, was the only digital store examined that was found not to be complying with European law.

     

    Our Take
    European digital rights are taken extremely seriously and I was wondering when they would start holding Nintendo’s feet to the fire. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo responds, as not complying with the law is probably not a valid option.

    It seems Luigi is bringing more than time trials with him in
    a new update for Super Mario Odyssey.

    Nintendo of Australia originally had a link that went to
    the update’s page and announced it’s available to download February 23, but it
    has since been taken down. However, Twitter user Nibellion still has the original link
    and saved a few pictures
    that reveal new costumes for Mario. Additions to the
    plumber’s wardrobe include a swanky suit, a “Hawaiian” shirt boasting Shine
    Sprites from Super Mario Sunshine, and knight armor.

     

    Luigi’s Balloon World is a competitive balloon-finding challenge
    mode. Players will have 30 seconds to hide a balloon. After that, players have
    the same amount of time to find that balloon. New filters for the game’s photo
    mode will be added as well.

    [Source:
    Nintendo of Australia and Nibellion on Twitter]

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the games made me into the diehard RPG fan I am today. After going down memory lane, I realized how entertaining and refreshing it was to look at my RPG history, so I decided this column would reflect that. I challenged myself to come up with the RPG that was most formative and memorable for me from each console and handheld generation. Now for a caveat: these may not be the games I consider the best of each generation, just the ones that had the biggest impact on me as a gamer. I started with the SNES era because that’s when my love for RPGs began. I hope you’ll share your picks and reasoning in the comments, too. 

    Console

    Fourth Generation (SNES/Genesis era): Secret of Mana
    If you’ve been reading my work, this probably isn’t a big surprise, but I know some of you will gasp at me selecting it over Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI. These may be stronger games, but Secret of Mana is what made me truly fall in love with the genre. It was the first time I really cared about a story, and I reveled in its challenging boss battles. Secret of Mana impressed me for its creativity, especially the vibrant world full of unique (and sometimes adorable) baddies. The music constantly replays in my mind, and few memories burn brighter than finally watching the credits roll.

    Fifth Generation (PS1/Saturn/N64 era): Final Fantasy VII
    This may seem like an easy pick, but it’s difficult to slight Valkyrie Profile and Suikoden II. However, if I’m being honest about the game I played the most and blew my mind, it’d be Final Fantasy VII. The cinematics just changed everything for me. The realistic presentation was new to the genre, and I like that this entry delved more into science fiction. It really was a turning point for RPGs, and it’s another story that still sticks with me today.

    Sixth Generation (PS2/Xbox/GameCube/Dreamcast era): Persona 3
    When Persona 3 launched, there was really nothing like it. So many RPGs hit in this era, but you could say there was an issue with quantity over quality. This darker entry just blew the competition out of the water. It made smart changes to the established formula by adding social links and making you manage your day-to-day life. Throw in persona fusion, and I was hooked. I loved the message behind social links – a simple act of kindness can go a long way in helping someone. Persona 3 embodied life’s hardships, emphasizing working with others to get through it, culminating in one hell of an ending. Persona 4 may have tweaked the formula, but Persona 3 laid down a new foundation and made the bigger impression on me. 

    Seventh Generation (PS3/Xbox 360/Wii era): The Mass Effect Trilogy 
    Fantastic characters, interesting choices, and great world-building made the Mass Effect trilogy trump most other games for me. If I had to pick the best game, I’d go with the second entry, just because those loyalty missions stuck with me and really meant something. I’ll never forget how empowering it felt to play as Commander Shepard bolstered by the attachment I still feel to this day for the characters around me, especially Garrus and Mordin. The story about saving the world was emotional, but BioWare also injected lighthearted moments, like Tali’s drunken antics and Shepard’s awful dancing. In the end, it felt like I got to know my crew that were willing to risk their lives with my Shep for the betterment of the galaxy. Saying goodbye to Commander Shepard and those characters was one of my hardest moments in gaming, a testament to the powerful writing

    Eighth Generation (PS4/Xbox One/Wii U/Switch era): The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    No RPG has raised the bar quite like The Witcher 3. Watching my choices ripple across a massive world was so satisfying. I love how CD Projekt Red doesn’t make anything predictable; you never know how your decisions will come back to haunt or benefit you. The sheer scope of the game is one thing, but the overall quality of everything it offered is even more impressive. CD Projekt Red crafted some of the best sidequests I’ve ever experienced, making me want to engage each of them. I felt this entry really rounded out Geralt by letting us see his concern for Ciri, who is like a daughter to him. Yennefer and Triss both have interesting arcs and are strong characters in their own right. From vicious battles to impressive storytelling, The Witcher 3 was that game that just kept giving me everything I love about RPGs.

    Handheld

    First Generation: (Game Boy/Game Boy Color/Game Gear era): Pokémon Yellow
    I may have fallen off the series a bit, but I still have fond memories of getting into the popular franchise with Pokémon Yellow. I’m not surprised that the engaging loop of “catching them all” is still around so fervently today. This is when I became buddies with Pikachu and strived to be the “very best like no one ever was.” Grinding my way from Pallet Town to get all of the gym badges remains one of the fondest memories in my RPG history. 

    Second Generation: (Game Boy Advance era): Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
    I’ve always been a fan of strategy/RPGs, even if they weren’t always the most popular games. From Fire Emblem to Disgaea, I take delight in really thinking through every situation and making the best moves. Although not a direct sequel to the PS1 game, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance still featured its great gameplay along with some tweaks that gave me a reason to load it up whenever I was on-the-go. Tactics Advance didn’t trump its predecessor’s story, but having an expansive job system alongside five playable races gave you plenty of ways to tweak your clan how you wanted. It set my mind ablaze with possibilities. 

    Third Generation: (Nintendo DS/PSP era): Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
    It was difficult to not choose a Kingdom Hearts game for my sixth generation pick; but all is well because the PSP entry, Birth By Sleep, is one of my favorites. With an emotional narrative about friendship and sacrifice, this prequel showcased the events that set Sora’s journey into motion. It introduced Aqua, one of my most adored Kingdom Hearts characters, and featured more customization in its combat via the Command Deck system. Using the deck, you installed a wide catalogue of action and magic commands, while a melding mechanic let you create even more powerful variants. Depending on which abilities you used, you’d enter a Command Style, which strengthened your attacks and gave you a powerful finishing move. I also loved locking onto enemies and finishing them off in one flashy attack with the Shotlock system. Birth By Sleep also told a captivating story through each perspective of the three leads, and felt like a worthwhile prequel with quality on-par with its console predecessors.

    Fourth Generation: (Nintendo 3DS/ PlayStation Vita Era): Fire Emblem: Awakening
    I’ve been a Fire Emblem fan for a long time and nothing made me happier than seeing the series return with Awakening. What I didn’t expect? Awakening to be the franchise’s saving grace and increase its fanfare. Smart tweaks to combat and the relationship system bolstered the already-great gameplay. There was something about watching characters bond on and off the battlefield that was so exciting, and surviving missions with just a small slice of health was an adrenaline rush, especially if you played with permadeath on. This is, in my opinion, the best Fire Emblem entry to date.

    Don’t forget to share your picks below! I’m excited to read your selections.