A host of Microsoft-exclusive characters are appearing, or in one case returning, to Nintendo consoles for the first time in a Minecraft update today.

A new skin pack for Minecraft allows players to take on the appearance, blocky though they may be, of characters from Halo, Banjo-Kazooie, and Gears of War in the Switch and Wii U versions of the game. While this obviously isn’t the first time Banjo has been on a Nintendo system, I believe it does mark the first appearance for Master Chief and the coalition gang.

This is part of an effort on Microsoft’s part to prep the unification of Minecraft servers cross all compatible platforms. Sony has refused to participate in Minecraft crossplay, so the Microsoft mascots appearing on Switch is the first time they’ve crossed the console barrier. 

The skin pack is available for purchase on all cross-platform versions today, though it has been available on Xbox for ages.

 

Our Take
This is interesting, because I cannot imagine this mascot exchange works in reverse with Mario packs being available on Xbox One. Who knows, though, maybe that’s part of the cross-platform deal. We’ll have to wait and see.

All month long we’ve been talking about the upcoming God of War on the PlayStation 4, to coincide with our cover story. Now it’s your turn to ask questions. In an upcoming episode of The Game Informer Show podcast, we’ll be speaking with God of War’s creative director Cory Balrog and asking him questions from the community. What do you want to know about the game’s latest trailer, the game’s development, or Kratos’ journey? Please leave your question in the comments section below and you might hear it answered during the interview.

Subscribe to The Game Informer Show podcast by clicking here and get ready for the bonus episode airing this Friday.

Click on the banner below for more exclusive features on God of War.

After undergoing maintenance for the last couple of days, Destiny 2 has welcomed back the Iron Banner event for the first time in its second season. The competitive playlist features the Control playlist, which tasks players with holding down up to three map positions to increase point totals for kills. Iron Banner will be running until next week’s reset on Tuesday, February 6.

Along with Iron Banner, Destiny 2’s most recent update also brought a few changes to the game, including weaponry to buy from Lord Saladin himself and the addition of masterwork armor.

For more on the update, check out Bungie’s latest patch notes.

Fresh off of its announcement of over four million players on Xbox One, PUBG Corporation has released a new patch for the preview game that primarily addresses vehicle damage.

Here are the details for the update from PUBG Corporation:

Gameplay

  • We’ve listened to your feedback and further modified the damage players can inflict on vehicles, increasing areas of vulnerability. This includes:

    • Increased damage to the vehicle body, and significant damage to the wheels when targeted with gunfire
    • Increased vehicle damage when successfully targeted with a grenade
    • Both driver and passenger will suffer increased injuries from crashing into objects or other vehicles (Dacia, UAZ, and Buggy)
    • Slight reduction to player damage when being struck by a vehicle

Optimization

  • Continued optimization to controller input lag
  • Visual quality of reticle is improved for Xbox One (Red Dot, Holographic, and 2x Sight)

Bug fixes

  • Resolved issue where inventory may highlight the wrong column when looting
  • The sensitivity setting for 4x Scope is now also applied to the permanent scope on the VSS
  • Auto-run (double-clicking the left stick) is disabled when aiming down sights
  • Players can now use the D-Pad while in the map view without switching melee, pistol, or throwing weapons
  • Removing the marker from the map when pressing (Y) will no longer switch primary/secondary weapons
  • Fixed issue where the crosshair is not correctly displayed after players reconnect to a game session

[Source: PUBG Corporation] 

Kazuma Kiryu brings people together, whether it’s helping random couples with their love troubles, smoothing out relationships between criminals, or giving Yakuza players a common appreciation for the long-running series. Yakuza 6 gives the hero a new way to unite people, with the introduction of a clan-creator minigame. Think of it as a slightly more violent version of the series’ hostess clubs. OK, it’s a lot more violent.

Kiryu will be able to recruit a variety of different foot soldiers for his clan, which can be leveled up through battles. Those battles are fairly ambitious affairs, featuring dueling teams of up to a dozen combatants each. Players assume the role of battle tactician, giving commands to Kiryu’s men and helping them take on enemies – including the Six Lunatics. You can see the lunatics and more in the video below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is coming to North American PlayStation 4s on March 20.

I don’t think I am being hyperbolic when I call Shadow of the Colossus a masterpiece. Even among Fumito Ueda’s small-but-impressive collection of games, Shadow of the Colossus stands out as my favorite. I know I’m not alone in that, which is why remaking Shadow of the Colossus is a tall and dangerous order. Thankfully, developer Bluepoint was up to the task. While it does not improve on the original game (or the HD remaster from 2011) in every way, this version of Shadow of the Colossus is absolutely worth seeking out for both fans and newcomers.

The biggest and most notable overhaul to the game are the visuals. Remakes are often complimented for allowing you see dated games as you remember them as opposed to how they really looked, but Shadow of the Colossus goes well beyond that sentiment. You can see individual blades of grass as you ride with Agro, and the portals to the sky that appear above defeated colossi take on a new beauty. With so much to look at, the added detail leads to fewer moments of boredom as you travel. It adds more weight to the moments between colossi, and made me more eager to explore.

The new environmental details are impressive, but the colossi are astounding. The beard on the sixth colossus looks better than it ever has. The eyes on colossus number 10, who chases you underneath the sand, have a humanity I’ve never seen before. The fur in particular, on all the colossi, is especially realistic. Even the new details impress, like a wave that accompanies the bird colossus you fight on the lake as it speeds toward you. Along with looking great, the wave gives the beast more implied weight, and even gives you a better cue for when to jump. The impact of meeting each colossus has never been lost on me, even after -multiple playthroughs, and it has only been elevated for this remake. I gasped at near-falls, and my heart raced as I leapt from Agro’s back onto the flying dessert colossus just as it did in the past.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For all the visual steps forward, one element falls short. Mono and Agro look great, and even Lord Emon (who had the least amount of detail of any human character in the original) has a new impressive wizened look – but Wander’s face looks bad. Something was lost in translation on the way to PlayStation 4, and Wander looks like he has been recast by a younger actor with softer features. Newcomers may not be bothered by his new appearance, but I couldn’t get over the fact that he simply never looked right.

A number of other changes are small, but still improve the experience. The original control scheme was atypical, to be polite, and the new default control scheme is more in line with contemporary button layouts (X to jump, circle to roll). Your items are now quick-select on the d-pad, making it easier to quickly change from sword to bow. Changes to the stamina bar also make its upgrade progress clearer, and it uses less screen space while still offering the necessary information. You also get a detailed list of stats you can refer to anytime, tracking things like distance traveled, time riding fish and hawks, Agro stunts, and your fastest times for defeating colossi. I love stat-tracking, so I definitely appreciate their inclusion.

The option to play a mirrored version of the game after you beat it is one of the few true additions, and it’s an inoffensive unlock that doesn’t change the game in a substantial way. While the lack of more significant content additions might be disappointing for some, I appreciate how true this remake remains to the original I adore. Bluepoint strikes a good balance, making welcome changes that leave the core experience intact.

The original Shadow of the Colossus is easily one of my favorite games. It was among the first that made me want to violently point at the screen and yell, “Look! Video games are art!” at anyone within earshot. Bluepoint’s remake feels different in some respects, but is exactly like Shadow of the Colossus in the important ways. Scaling beasts feels appropriately epic, and the few story moments that exist still tell a heart-wrenching tale of sacrifice in the face of impossible odds.

The PS4 Pro Edge
A few advantages exist if you’re playing Shadow of the Colossus on a PS4
Pro. Outside of the expected additional 4K display options, you can
also choose to play the game in Performance mode. As the name implies,
this mode prioritizes performance, boosting the framerate to 60 FPS. The
other mode, Cinematic, lowers the frame rate to 30 FPS, but displays
the game in 4K. On a standard PS4, the game plays in 30 FPS. Performance
mode was my preferred way to play. The higher frame-
rate makes the
game lose some of its filmic qualities, but it plays and feels better as
a result.

Sega announced today that they have entered into a publishing deal with London-based Interior Night, a new studio founded by former Quantic Dream lead designer Caroline Marchal.

The studio which has a mission statement of delivering narrative-driven games for mature audiences, is not discussing the new IP yet, nor is Sega. Marchal’s experience on Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls combined with the studio’s stated intention makes it fairly easy to guess what the game will end up being.

Interior Night is made up of former staff from Quantic Dream, Sony, and Slightly Mad Studios, the developer behind Project Cars. Quantic Dream itself has recently been facing criticism after reports alleging harassment and a toxic work environment at the studio.

Sega has not given a target date or platforms for this new game, so it is likely to be some time off.

 

Our Take
It will be interesting to see what ex-Quantic Dream staff can do. It’s also good to see Sega supporting new studios and taking a chance on seeing what different visions they have to offer.

Now that Monster Hunter World is out and seemingly quite successful, millions of players have gone through the character creator and made their own hunter. Capcom, however, is thinking about whether people should be able to remake those designs after they’ve started the game.

There has been a rash of players who have created their hunters only to be surprised at the result in the game. When Game Watch Impress brought this up to producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, it seems like the idea was not one he had considered.

You can’t redo it, but when making a character you can check their expressions, so you might want to do that first while making a character,” Tsujimoto said in an interview translated by Gematsu. “However, if there’s enough demand for it then I’ll put it under consideration.”

Since the game’s release on Friday, some Japanese players have been complaining online that they have spent significant time in the character creator but the actual facial animations and lighting in the game are not well represented in the character creator itself.

Monster Hunter World is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC version planned for Autumn of this year. You can read our review of the game here, where Dan Tack calls World “the best game in the series.”

[Source: Game Watch Impress via Gematsu]

 

Our Take
I usually just keep my helmet on, but yeah, the faces can look really weird when animated. Players should be able to change their character design or sex whenever they want to, so it’s strange that the game lacked these things in the first place. Hopefully they hear demand and either patch it in or add it in an inevitable update.

Announced at EVO Japan, SNK is bringing King of Fighters 97 to modern systems with online play (iOS version pictured).

Dubbed Global Edition, the new version of the game is essentially a straight port of the game with the added benefit of playing online. Little else is known about it, but hopefully there are additional training features and replay modes available, as well.

The new game should be available in Spring 2018, though with it being an announcement at EVO Japan, it’s difficult to tell if that window is regional. We’ll see in just a few months!

 

Our Take
I am a little surprised they went with 97, considering how much more popular KoF 98 is. I’m also a little surprised at the lack of a Switch version, the arcade ports have been selling pretty well. Then again, this is a re-release based primarily on online play, so maybe the Switch infrastructure just isn’t there for them yet.

In hopes of solving its exclusive software issues, Microsoft may be looking at Electronic Arts among other companies as a possible target for acquisition, Polygon reports.

The information comes nestled within a broader discussion on Microsoft’s software portfolio, but Polygon claims that the mega-publisher is one target among several for Microsoft to acquire.

“Some of the names being thrown around as possible acquisitions by Microsoft are, frankly, astounding, even unthinkable,” the article’s author Colin Campbell writes. “But the fact that they are doing the rounds is instructive. The most recent one we heard (from a reliable source close to Microsoft) was, in fact, Electronic Arts. We also heard a whisper about Valve and about Korean outfit PUBG Corp., which Microsoft last year signed to a timed exclusive for its hit survival shooter, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.”

The possible options here are somewhat mind-boggling. Picking up Electronic Arts would be one of the biggest acquisitions in the gaming industry’s history and would so massively shake up the market that it is hard to even conceive of what the industry would look like afterward.

Valve is a privately owned company, which would make any acquisition difficult enough on its own, and founder Gabe Newell is well known not to be a fan of his former employer Microsoft and their Windows 10 strategy for gaming. Of all the mentioned acquisitions, PUBG Corp. seems the most reasonable, though it would only solve the problem of how to secure Battlegrounds forever, not how to right the internal software ship.

We reached out to Microsoft for comment, who told us “Microsoft
does not comment on rumors or speculation.” 

[Source: Polygon]

 

Our Take
To be absolutely clear, we have no knowledge about this or any acquisition Microsoft might be considering, so take the story with a grain of salt. It is a fascinating thought experiment, however, and it’s interesting to think what would happen if Microsoft threw their war chest into the middle of the ring. If there’s any grain of truth to this, interesting times could be ahead.