The gaming side of SXSW has announced several
additions to the Austin, Texas, event, including esports tournaments and featured
guests.

Noted speakers this year will be Jordan “n0thing”
Gilbert, professional gamer for 10 years and inactive player on Cloud9, and Ashley
Jenkins, co-founder of Rooster Teeth’s The
Know
video news series. Gilbert, who will discuss his career, will be
interviewed by Duncan McMonagle, general manager of Dbltap. Jenkins will join
with Brendan ‘Playerunknown’ Greene in a featured session titled PLAYERUNKNOWN:
From Mod Creator to Creative Director
.

Arena of Valor and Clash Royale, both
mobile titles, will make their esports debuts at the SXSW Gaming Tournament Stage.
Arena of Valor is a 5-on-5 MOBA, and Clash Royale is a real-time multiplayer strategy game.

Other programs include:

  • Conversations
    with Richard Garriott, Koji Igarashi, and Warren
    Spector
  • Updates
    from the Sonic the Hedgehog team
  • Featured
    speaker Nate Nanzer, commissioner of the Overwatch
    Leaue

SXSW Gaming is from noon to 8 p.m. March 15 and 16, and from noon to 7 p.m. March 17 at the Austin Convention Center. For more information about SXSW Gaming, including ticket sales and registration, go here.

Since its debut with Metro 2033  in 2010, 4A’s in-house engine has proven to be a powerful piece of evolving software. Metro: Last Light launched five years ago, and many publications, us included, use that game as a benchmark test for new gaming PCs. Despite its dark setting, Metro has always boasted beautiful visuals and memorable effects, like water droplets collecting on Artyom’s gas mask and impressive shadow effects as a lamp swings in the darkness. However, with Exodus moving into new environments and embracing new gameplay styles, 4A had to overhaul its engine to meet the team’s ambitions.

Exodus’ version of the engine includes physics-based rendering, an overhauled lighting systems, as well as full-facial capture for cinematic sequences. Given Exodus’ focus on its sandbox spaces, this engine also has to account for day and night cycles, dynamic weather, and simulated biomes for the inhabitants of each sandbox. Like everything else about Exodus, the graphics engine itself is an upgrade in ambition.

“Hopefully we’re able to keep the Metro games as a standard for everyone’s benchmarking needs,” says executive producer Jon Bloch says, smiling. “We love blowing up video cards.”

If the final version of Exodus’ graphical fidelity matches what we saw during our demo, 4A will likely hit that benchmark ambition. As someone who recently played through the Redux versions of both 2033 and Last Light, games that still look utterly fantastic, the jump in visual quality is still impressive. Take Moscow for example.

Here’s a shot from Metro 2033 Redux’s version of Moscow:

And here are two from Exodus’ version of the capital:

Notice the increased detail of textures on the objects on the ground? See how the light cuts through the radioactive fog of Moscow? This is because of what this new engine affords the game. In the gameplay demos we watched during our trip, the environments were lusher, the character models were more detailed, and there was a significant improvement in character and creature animation compared to the stiffer models in both 2033 and Last Light.

While players with high-end PCs will definitely reap the most from Exodus’ visual offerings, console players don’t need to worry too much about missing out on eye candy. 4A says that the engine’s power translates to consoles, and that the developer plans to have native 4K resolution as well as full HDR support for Xbox One X. The studio plans to also make use of the PlayStation Pro’s extra boost in power, but didn’t talk specifics during our trip.

For more on Metro Exodus, be sure to check out our coverage by clicking on the banner below.

The tag team between Rocket League and WWE is going strong as Psyonix announced that Rocket League is adding WWE-themed customization items later this year. More information about the specific items is coming in April.

Rocket League has integrated themselves greatly into the WWE promotional machine, from sponsoring live events like last night’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, to making regular appearances on WWE’s YouTube channel UpUpDownDown, a gaming-centered show featuring WWE Superstar Xavier Woods, to setting up booths for people to play the game during the weekend of April 8 for Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans.

This announcement comes on the heels of news that a DC-themed DLC pack is coming to Rocket League in March.

[Source: Psyonix]

Each Monday, come here for a rundown of all this week’s big events that we know about, from game releases, to betas, to recapping the biggest continuing news stories from the previous week. If there’s anything we missed, feel free to let us know! This week covers the dates from February 26 to March 4.

Upcoming Releases

Gravel (Xbox One) – February 26
De Blob 2 (PS4, Xbox One) – February 27
Immortal Redneck (Xbox One) – February 27
Payday 2 (Switch) – February 27
Riftstar Raiders (Xbox One) – February 27
Darkest Dungeon (Xbox One) – February 28

Things To Watch Out For

Dead Space Is Free On PC Origin For A Limited Time – You can grab the horror classic free on PC for a limited time still, so don’t wait too long.
Chun-Li’s June (Star Gladiator) Costume Challenge – The second part of Chun-Li’s June costume is available through SFV’s Extra Battle challenge until March 1.
Monster Hunter World Ryu Costume Quest Still Available – You can get the Ryu’s skin now if you have SFV save data on your PS4 until March 1, after which the quest should open up to everyone.
Monster Hunter World Aloy Costume Quest Launches Soon – The Horizon: Zero Dawn quest that allows you to earn an armor set that makes your hunter look like Aloy starts on February 28.
Remastered Turok Games Coming To Xbox One – The first two Turok games are coming to Xbox One on March 2.
Overwatch League (Stage 2, Week 2) – Shanghai Dragons take on the L.A. Gladiators, while later in the week the Philadelphia Fusion meet the London Spitfire.

In Case You Missed It

Finding Relief In Overwatch – Chronic Pain And Gaming 
Alicia Vikander On Reinventing The Role Of Lara Croft 
Dragon Age’s Mike Laidlaw Opens Up On Why He Left Bioware 
Is Metro Exodus More Or Less “Hardcore” Than Last Light? 
Secret of Mana Remake Review 
Florence Review 
Retro Games Author Talks Pioneering Video Game Journalism, Upcoming SNES Book
Student Meets Retweet Goal To Change AP Chem Exam To Fortnite Exam 

What are you looking forward to this week? Let us know in the comments below!

After falling just short of the playoffs in Stage 1, Seoul Dynasty is deepening its roster with the addition of Heo “Gambler” Jin-woo, a support player who has excelled in tournament play since the game launched. Jin-woo will be a dedicated healer for Seoul, an area rival teams have been exploiting this season. Given the new meta for heroes, Lucio will likely be the primary healer used, but should other support characters receive tweaks in future Stages, Jin-woo is considered one of the best Mercy players in the world. He’ll likely be in the starting lineup moving forward, taking some of the healing weight off of Yang “Tobi” Jin-mo’s shoulders.

“We’ve finally assembled our prefect roster,” says coach Baek Kwang-jin. “Stage 1 provided us insight into each team’s strategies and matchup potentials. Now we are working to create new strategies by incorporating and coordinating with Gambler. You can expect to see us perform with innovative tactics during Stage 2.”

Seoul returns to action against Dallas Fuel this Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT. Jin-woo’s previous Overwatch successes, include placing in first in 2016’s Intel Extreme Masters Season with his previous team LW Red. That win netted the LW $50,000.

Subset Games made a name for itself with its first game, FTL: Faster Than Light. Its latest release, Into the Breach, proves that it wasn’t a fluke. Matt Miller has been playing – and enjoying – the strategy game, which pits squads of mechs against kaiju-like monsters. Check out what he has to say in our latest episode of NGT.

As Miller explains at length, there’s a lot of depth in Into the Breach that might not be immediately apparent. Fortunately, he’s been able to play through the game multiple times and can articulate just some of its nuances to me and Leo. Don’t worry, however. This is a game that involves huge robots slamming giant monsters into buildings, pushing them into the ocean, and generally ruining their monster lives. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Into the Breach is coming to PC on February 27.

Twitch has teamed up with charity organization The 1,000 Dreams Fund to help promote up-and-coming female streamers on the platform. By offering financial grants, Twitch hopes to sustain and support these channels.

The goal of these grants is to help women succeed despite the gender gap in the streaming industry. According to a 2016 study, women make up 35 percent of Twitch’s streamers, and the industry remains predominantly male. 

“Many of the problems women face are because of lack of respect,” caster Tina “shadowfoxx086” Degenhart told Polygon. “But gaming is just another platform that we shouldn’t shy away from. The industry won’t understand how to treat women if we don’t show them how to treat women.”

The 1,000 Dreams Fund aims to award grants to at least two high school or college students each semester, ranging from $500 to $2,000. The grant money aims to help fund streamers’ equipment, travel expenses for conferences, workshops, and more. The organization is also hosting a livestream next week to bring awareness to the campaign. Titled Streams for Dreams, the event will begin on March 1 and run through April 1.

You can read more about the cause by heading to The 1,000 Dreams Fund’s website.

[Source: Polygon]

 

Our Take
The games industry as a whole is still predominantly male, and I’m always excited to hear about initiatives that help immerse women or young girls into the competitive field. Video game streaming is only growing in popularity, and creating avenues to help women find success despite the gender gap can make for a promising future.

Lore In A Minute! is a YouTube show that gives quick breakdowns of different games’ lore and stories. Kingdom Come: Deliverance has a detailed, medieval open world, and this video can help you grasp what’s going on as you begin your journey.

You can watch the short video below. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a massive RPG, but this video at least gives you some information on protagonist Henry, and how he became entwined in a rebellion to overthrow the king.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more, read our tips guide and associate editor Javy Gwaltney’s opinion piece on how he wants to see more protagonists like Henry. Stay tuned for our review of Kingdom Come Deliverance.

[Source: Lore In A Minute!]

First 4 Figures recently revealed its newest collectible, which is a chibi version of Artorias The Abysswalker. Poised for battle in a circle of purple flames, Artorias still looks fearsome despite his rounded edges and chibi form. 

Although he may look small in the image above, Artorias stands eight inches tall. This statue is part of First 4 Figures’ SD line, which stands for “super deformed.” These figures will all have a chibi-like aesthetic, with a large round head and a small body. Take a closer look at the Artorias figure in the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

You can also watch a making of video from the First 4 Figures team below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

This figure is due to release in Q2 2018 and sells for $99.99. You can pre-order it now by heading here. For more Dark Souls collectibles, check out this figure of Sif the Grey Wolf and this Funko edition of the Red Knight.

Detective Pikachu is a 3DS game that released in 2016 in Japan, and now it’s finally coming to the West. This Pokémon spin-off takes place in Ryme City, centering around Tim Goodman and Detective Pikachu, who team up to solve a number of mysteries.

Crime solving, however, isn’t nearly the strangest thing in this Pokémon game. Detective Pikachu sounds like a gruff older man, which so far comes across more unsettling than anything else. Watch the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

A specially themed 2DS XL Pikachu Edition and a new Detective Pikachu Amiibo will release alongside the game.

Detective Pikachu releases for 3DS on March 23 for $39.99. For the Detective Pikachu live-action movie, read about how Ryan Reynolds is being cast in the leading role. Ken Watanabe has also been cast for the film. You can also view leaked photos from the film set here.