The wheels on the Pokémon Go wagon keep on turning.

As a result of dedicated players’ hard work for catching over 3 billion Pokémon in the Global Catch Challenge, a new legendary Pokémon is now in raid battles at gyms around the world. That’s right, for a limited time, you can battle Ho-Oh.

Recently, The Global Challenge awarded players for their efforts with a bunch of perks beyond just Ho-Oh, from earning double XP to unlocking Farfetch’d.

Players have until December 12 to go on the legendary raid to prove themselves against Ho-Oh. 

[Source: Pokémon Go Official Site]

Bungie game director Luke Smith promises to dive deep on the system-level changes in Destiny 2’s Curse of Osiris update next week, and talk to fans about their concerns regarding the game.

In recent weeks, Bungie has been livestreaming the higher-concept aspects of Destiny 2’s first expansions, Curse of Osiris. They’ve shown off some of the story and campaign, demonstrated the new Mercury location and Infinite Forest repeatable actions, Legendary Strikes, and more. However, much of the joy (and frustration) in Destiny 2 lies in how the game’s gear and token economy works. Today Smith tweeted that next week, the team will outline the updates they plan to make to “vendors & acquiring their gear, tokens, legendary shards, investment updates (new reward systems for weapons & armor) gameplay updates, and more.”

Smith and Bungie project Lead Mark Noseworthy will also take questions and talk about “community feedback we’ve been reading since launch.”

Whether this explanation will be part of the next weekly stream, or its own separate event remains to be seen, but it’s likely the two will be rolled together.

 

Our Take
Something tells me this is going to be a big moment for the Destiny 2 community. Fans (including Game Informer’s own Matt Miller) have been crying out for weeks about Destiny 2’s myriad endgame issues, from the way earning tokens feels like gambling to how the weekly milestones systems offers diminishing returns for those who want to keep playing after they’ve gotten all their Powerful Gear Engrams. This stream will be Bungie’s first big attempt to assuage those frustrations and let fans know how much of the feedback they’ve taken to heart. If Bungie’s talking points on this end come off as meager or tone deaf, it could further frustrate a community that loves their game of choice but is having issues enjoying as much as they’d like to.

Sonic Forces didn’t exactly re-ignite the Sonic Franchise the way Sonic Mania did (you can read our review to learn where the former falls flat) but one of its unique aspects is how it let players create and customized their own characters. Today, thanks to some new “dank” (or whatever the kids call it) and free DLC, fans can now make memes a part of their created character’s identity.

The “Sanic” T-shirt was found within Sonic Forces’ files a little while ago, but is officially available as of today. T-shirt features a crudely-drawn rendition of the blue blur of a bright green background. If you don’t know what a Sanic Hegehog is, I advise you to A) Stay pure, for the love of all that is holy and B) Make sure to turn down the volume on your speakers or headphone while Googling, and be careful out there!

[Source: Sonic The Hedgehog On Twitter]

 

Our Take
This is an unhealthy proliferation of the “gotta go fast!” mentality, which simply isn’t true. You can go at whatever speed you like.

Cuphead is a gorgeous, tough-as-nails platformer that demands proper timing, patience, and perseverance in order to get through its difficult bosses. You could say it’s the Dark Souls of platforms (but you really shouldn’t).

Well, now Dark Souls is the Dark Souls of Cuphead, or something. Youtube channel 64 Bits has created Cupsouls, a short cartoon which transforms imposing bosses like Ornstein, Smouth, Quelaag, and more and reimagines them as Cuphead-style single-screen encounters. The animations are no slouch, either, and you can tell a lot of work wen into making sure both series got the proper respect they deserve in the video below. No, there’s no actual game on the way and no, that’s not going to stop us from wanting it.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Super Smash Bros. For Wii U is a game full of loving details. From the stage and character selections to the items and trophies, it bursts with an adoration for all things Nintendo (including third party games!). Once you see the games’ stages and characters from angles the camera won’t normally let you see them, you’ll appreciate how much detail Nintendo put it the game even more.

Youtuber Shesez has once again worked is camera-bending magic to show us what various Super Smash Bros. For Wii U characters and stages look like close-up, and from angles outside of the forward-facing one in which they’re usually shown. The Midgard and Pikmin stages have some particularly interesting tricks to explore.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The Pokémon Company has announced the series has recently shipped over 300 million copies worldwide, crossing a huge milestone that solidifies its place among the most popular game series in the world.

The announcement comes off the release of the two most recent 3DS games, Ultra Sun and Moon, (you can read our review of them here), which the company says provided the last boost needed to get the series across the finish line. The 300 million number includes all Pokémon-related software released from February 1996 (When Pokémon Red and Green first released in Japan) to November 2017 (when Ultra Sun and Moon released and the month you are currently living in if you’re reading this before December 1, 2017).

Only one other franchise has managed to ship over 300 million games: The Super Mario series.

[Source: Famitsu]

 

Our Take
PSA: You don’t have buy ’em all, you know. That’s not the catchphrase.

I have been playing Super Mario Odyssey a lot, and it’s a great game. You can read Reiner’s Super Mario Odyssey review right here, which echoes many of my own thoughts, but for a more personal perspective I wanted to share why its more than just a great game. To put it simply, it makes me happy.

When ranking Mario games, I still place Super Mario Galaxy at the top. That game took its genre’s namesake – the platform – and reimagined it, placing Mario on planets with questionable gravity. It was insane and still is 10 years later. I had a good time with the follow-up, Super Mario 3D World, but it lacked the personality of Marios prior. It felt familiar to a fault, despite having some fantastic platforming challenges. Super Mario Sunshine remains, to this day, the only 3D Mario game I did not complete to the 100-percent mark. It reimagined Mario’s core mechanic, jumping, in a radical way, but I was happy to put it down after completing the final Bowser confrontation.

Super Mario Odyssey is clearly a product of the Super Mario 64 school of Mario. It features a collection of large (but never overwhelmingly large) worlds that contain an impressive collection of secrets. I played a lot of 2D Mario growing up (Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, in particular) but it wasn’t until I played Super Mario 64 until that I felt like I was controlling magic. I still remember playing Super Mario 64 for the first time at a Walmart kiosk. I was blown away by being able to do a triple-jump while my father impatiently tried to hurry me to check-out, and an older man behind me patiently waited his turn.

Odyssey recalls some of my first Super Mario 64 experiences, not so much in its structure, which is familiar, but it in the way it is able to frequently surprise. The less said about the game’s finale the better, but it left me literally giggling while my daughter cheered beside me.

Which brings me to another reason why playing Super Mario Odyssey makes me so happy – my daughter loves it. She had a million questions for me while watching me play. I started a new game for her and she was excited when she was able to turn into a frog, but was ecstatic when she beat her first Broodal boss. When I took the controller back, she asked me every few minutes, “Have you saved Peach yet?”

The game’s cooperative mode is also perfect for the style of cooperative play I enjoy with my young daughter. She is an active participant in the action, but not so much that she hinders my progress. I can still play with the reckless Mario platforming abandon I have been cultivating since 1996, and while she controls Mario’s hat, she is able to move around, attack enemies, collect coins, and just generally help. To play Mario and hear her say, “Dad, I am going to take care of those Goombas for you. Let me know if you need help,” just fills me with fatherly pride.

During one particularly harrowing boss battle, my daughter stood up beside me emphatically shouting, “Jump!” every time an obstacle came near. It was the way I felt when I played Mario 64 with my brother, eagerly cheering one another on as we tried to toss Bowser into the mines that circled his arenas.

Nintendo is an expert at playing off the nostalgic impulses of the players that grew up on its adventures (i.e., me), and that is true with Super Mario Odyssey – but it does feel new. It’s not a retread of Super Mario 64, but rather recalls the way I felt when I played Super Mario 64 20 years ago, and seeing some of those same emotions through my daughter’s eyes has been an exciting trip.

You can quantify all those important gameplay elements like how it controls well, its consistent framerate, its gorgeous visuals, and its pace of reward is impressive, but ultimately, as I play it, it just makes me feel calm and happy, which is exactly what I wanted from a new Mario adventure.

For more of our Super Mario Odyssey features, click the links below.

The developers of the popular, Black Mesa mod for Half-Life (which rebuilds the game from scratch in the Source engine) have announced they are pushing the much anticipated Xen levels into next year, but will have an update to improve the rest of the game next month.

Seems like just yesterday we were announcing that Black Mesa was going to be releasing soon… in 2012. Since then, the mod has released without the Xen levels, gone from a free mod to a paid product, and made a number of improvements along the way. In the most recent community update for the paid mod, project lead Adam Engels said that while they were hoping to release the last few levels for the game this year, that’s not happening. Engels did not announce a new date, but said “we have an internal deadline we are confident in, and we will be getting everyone more details as we get closer to that date.”

Instead of the last few levels, the team will release an update that will layer on some new visual effects and features they have been working on concurrently with the Xen levels, and hope to test in December before making them final once Xen releases. This includes lens flares, godrays, and everyone’s favorite, four-way texture blends! For the full breakdown of what players can expect next month, head over the game’s blog on Steam.

When that update hits, the team will also have additional details about where they stand on the Xen levels, and when players may be able to finally see the journey of this long-awaited mod come to an end.

 

Our Take
I played the original Black Mesa mod a while ago and enjoyed it quite a bit – enough that I’m contemplating giving it another go once the new levels hit. Here’s hoping they come out when there aren’t a ton of major games coming out. Oh, who am I kidding: That’s “Always” now.

The Xbox One X is finally here, and we decided to put the new system through its paces by playing an original Xbox title with some explosions in it. Andrew Reiner, Jeff Cork, Kyle Hilliard and I are here to put Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge through the ringer with SEVERAL explosions, a devastating betrayal, and a list of the Top Ten Pool Hunks in Cinema History.

Then, we take a look back at Black, the original Xbox FPS from Criterion Games. The Burnout developers’ take on a gritty, over-the-top shooter still holds up today as the most realistic, beautiful, and viscerally satisfying shooter ever released. That’s my opinion and you can’t tell me it’s wrong.

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Bungie is making some tweaks to the way players earn experience in Destiny 2. Though the changes may sound like minor number changes, they should greatly speed up the rate at which players level up and (more importantly) earn Bright Engrams.

The change is likely in response to a thoroughly examination of how players earned experience in Destiny 2 user EnergiserX posted on Reddit. In their post, Energiser noticed how, the faster players earn XP by killing enemies, the more of that experience seems to disappear. While this has the largest effect on those who quickly grind repeatable activities like Public Events most (cutting around 95 percent of their experience gains), this also affected players who simply played the game as intended, cutting their experience in half.

Hours after the post went live, Bungie announced that it had reviewed the data on their end, found this to be the case, and is replacing that system entirely. The amount of experience players earn for all activities has changed, and players should see that the experience numbers they see when they defeat enemies and complete activities should match the experience they earn in the backend. Over the next week, Bungie “will be watching and reviewing XP game data to ensure that these changes meet our expectations, as well as yours.”

 

Our Take
I’m very tempted to think this was Bungie getting caught doing something intentionally rather than an accident. Many of the changes in Destiny 2 seemed aimed to disincentivizing players to spend too many hours playing the game in a given week or grinding, and this experience scaling seems in line with that philosophy. Also consider that the thing players are grinding experience for in the endgame (Bright Engrams) is also the thing they can buy with actual money. Those two elements combined make me skeptical that this was a flaw in the system, but it’s hard to know at this point. Either way, Bungie did respond to this backlash expediently, which is good.