Nintendo and Intelligent Systems finally provided some concrete details about the upcoming Fire Emblem entry, Three Houses, during the latest Nintendo Direct. A lot of interesting stuff was revealed, but arguably the biggest tidbit of info is the July 26 release date. Here is the most notable information we gleaned from the presentation.

The Game Is Harry Potter As Hell
Back when Nintendo revealed Three Houses, the fact it took place at a school and had its student body separated into houses resulted in many people noticing similarities between the game and the popular Harry Potter franchise. The latest video has only doubled down on those similarities. As a professor at the Officer’s Academy, you training your students with exercises and exams while building your relationship with them as their teacher. Interiors for the academy show in the Direct echo the stone design castle of Hogwarts as well.

New Continent, New Characters
Three Houses takes place on the continent of Fódlan, which is divided into three kingdoms: Adrestian, Faerghus, and Leicester. All the kingdoms live in relative harmony and send their high-born children to the monastery of Garreg Mach. We don’t know much about the plot beyond that setup and you taking the role of a professor at that academy. However, given Fire Emblem’s fondness for exploring violent and philosophical divisions between kingdoms, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these three  eventually warring with one another.

Permadeath Is Likely Returning
During the presentation, Nintendo stated that “Whether your students live or die will depend on your leadership.” There has been no explicit outlining of how permadeath will work (or even if it will feature in the game), but given the series’ history that statement seems to imply it will. Every Fire Emblem since Awakening has also had the option to turn off permadeath as well, so we might see that, too.

You Choose Between Three Factions
Each of the three houses (Black Eagles, Blue Lions, and Golden Deer) of the academy are tied to one of the kingdoms on Fódlan’s continent (respectively: Adrestian, Faerghus, Leicester). During the game, you choose to lead the education for one of the houses, caring for all the students under that house banner, including the heir apparent for the kingdom.

The School Is Packed
While fans might be nervous that the school setting will result in fewer units to use on the battlefield and characters to get to know, the Direct briefly mentioned: “There are many students to meet, each with their own personality and skills.” 

You Are Actually Teaching During The Game
Your role as a professor isn’t just a title. The gameplay featured during the Direct showed the player able to plan and carry out lessons, as well as tutor students one-on-one. They can even give exams.

You Can Select Your Protagonist’s Gender
As was the case with Awakening and Fates, you have the opportunity to select your main character’s gender at the beginning of the campaign.

No Word On Whether Or Not Relationships Return
Both Awakening and Fates allowed players to have members in their armies date one another and even produce offspring. Given that this entry takes place in a school setting, that premise might be difficult, and neither Nintendo nor Intelligent Systems have said anything about that feature yet.

Battle Systems Are Being Tweaked 
Instead of single units moving across the battlefield, per series norm, units will often have battalions troops at their back to support them during battle. No word yet on how that affects stats during battle.

There’s A Lot More 3D This Go Round
Fates and Awakening featured 3D models on the battlefield, sure, but in the quieter moments in your home base, you were mostly talking to character portraits in traditional visual-novel style. However, you’re able to roam around Garreg Mach as a 3D character speaking to other 3D characters in Three Houses. The models are also a big improvement over the previous games, with them actually having feet and detailed faces.

The Supernatural Is Involved Once Again
It just wouldn’t be Fire Emblem without fantastical elements. The series has always danced with fantasy, focusing on necromancers, dragons, and mages. Three Houses has its own share of the fantastical, with spell-casting powers on display during the direct as well as a mysterious girl named Sothis appearing in your main character’s visions.

For more on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, head here.

The other day, Square Enix and Nintendo revealed that Dragon Quest XI for Switch, known appropriately at Dragon Quest XI S, would be coming to the console this Fall. The Switch version has a number of improvements to the game over last year’s release on PlayStation 4 and PC, including some use of orchestrated music and extra story content for the game’s characters. As of right now, Square Enix is not sure whether these new additions will come to the previously released versions.

According to Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki, when he asked Square Enix about the subject, they simply stated they are undecided on the matter.

The music is one often-criticized aspect of the original release, so the replacement for the battle and field music you’ll be hearing most often is making existing owners somewhat upset. Whether Square Enix responds to those complaints is another question entirely.

Dragon Quest XI was actually the first Switch game ever announced, mentioned offhandedly during a 2015 press conference for the NX. The release this Fall will make it over four years since the announcement, though it combines both the PlayStation 4 version’s graphics along with the Japan-only 3DS version’s retro mode as originally suspected from the announcement.

Late last year, the subject of dances in Fortnite came to the forefront when multiple lawsuits against Epic Games and other publishers were filed. The argument was that Epic and publishers like 2K were selling and profiting from dances created by other people, which was stealing their intellectual property. One of the plaintiffs is Alfonso Ribeiro, best known as Carlton from the 1990s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, who claims to be the originator of the Carlton dance, wherein someone swings their arms from side to side and shuffles their feet. 

As part of this lawsuit, to bolster his claim that he owns the dance, Ribeiro filed for a copyright on the dance last month. The U.S. Copyright Office has refused registration for, among other reasons, belief that Ribeiro is not the person who can lay claim to the dance.

According to an agent within the copyright office’s performing arts division named Saskia Florence, Ribeiro’s claim that he originated the dance has several fundamental problems. Chief among them is that the simple routine isn’t choreography and thus a copyright doesn’t make sense.

“The dancer sways their hips as they step from side to side, while swinging their arms in an exaggerated manner,” Florence writes in correspondence revealed in a California federal court. “In the second dance step, the dancer takes two steps to each side while opening and closing their legs and their arms in unison. In the final step, the dancer’s feet are still and they lower one hand from above their head to the middle of their chest while fluttering their fingers. The combination of these three dance steps is a simple routine that is not registrable as a choreographic work.”

Further more, the copyright office says, Ribeiro’s argument that he performed the dance nationally recognized as his on the ABC TV show Dancing With the Stars might actually make the opposite point he wants. In the refusal correspondence, a copyright examiner says that internet research states the choreographer partners for celebrities, the people who do the actual dancing with the stars, make up the choreography. Ergo, Ribeiro would not be the person to lay claim to the copyright.

As a response to this, lawyers for 2K have filed for a dismissal for Ribeiro’s lawsuit against them for the use of the dance in NBA 2K. The dismissal motion points out that the sole copyright for the dance would have to belong to NBC, the company that owns the copyright on the episode on which it originated.

While this is definitely a setback for Ribeiro’s lawsuit, the court siding with him and the other plaintiffs could drastically alter how copyrights for dances are seen even within the U.S. copyright office. In the meantime, Epic continues to sell the dances in question, but Microsoft has removed them from Forza Horizon 4.

It was only a matter of time before Transformers joined the ranks of other major franchises to get “the Netflix treatment.”

Netflix and Hasbro announced its partnership today to bring a new animated series, War for Cybertron, to the streaming platform in 2020.

“In this Transformers origin story, we will explore the expansive universe of Cybertron in a way that audiences have never seen before,” said John Derderian, Director of Anime for Netflix.

Rooster Teeth (RWBY, gen:LOCK) will produce the series while Polygon Pictures (Godzilla, Knights of Sidonia) will take the reins on animation. War for Cybertron will feature “a new animation look and style that presents the Transformers like you’ve never seen them before,” according to the press release.

FJ DeSanto, who served as executive producer on both Transformers: Power of the Primes and Transformers: Titans Return, will act as showrunner for the upcoming series. Several writers are already tagged for the show too, including George Krstic (Megas XLR), Gavin Highnight (Transformers: Cyberverse), and Brandon Easton (Agent Carter, Transformers: Rescue Bots).

Official art included in the press release calls War for Cybertron a “trilogy,” but it remains unclear how the series will be structured.

Metro Exodus takes Artyom and company out of inhospitable Moscow subway tunnels and into the…inhospitible Russian countryside. Between the dangerous levels of radiation waiting to suck the life out of you in certain zones and the fearsome cast of mutant predators, you need to keep your gas mask at the ready and your head on a swivel. With roving gangs of cannibals, slavers, and religious fanatics thrown into the mix, Artyom has his work cut out to make it across the continent.

To help ease your burden, you can learn from our mistakes with these valuable tips for getting the most out of the game. 

Turn On The Russian Voiceover

One of Metro Exodus’ biggest shortcoming is the wooden acting that robs emotional scenes of any weight. Do yourself a favor when you boot up the game and head into the options to turn on the Russian voiceover and English subtitles. Trust us, it’s worth it. 

Turn Up The Difficulty For The Classic Metro Experience

Are you one of the Metro fans who enjoyed the tension that resource scarcity adds to the experience? Then I recommend turning up the difficulty. On the normal setting, we did a fair bit of scavenging in each region and almost always felt flush with ammo and resources. This should suit the run and gun crowd, but others may miss the stress attrition creates. 

Always Be Scavenging

Artyom and gang aren’t exactly flush with ammo and supplies, which means you have to gather them yourself. If you see an abandoned building, broken down vehicle, or other structure on your way to the next objective, it pays to search the area for the vital resources, new weapon attachments, and gear upgrades. Don’t forget to scavenge off the bodies of your fallen enemies as well.

Grab Those Glowy Shrooms

Those glowing mushrooms in dark spaces aren’t just handy for illuminating your way forward, they also double as the liquid resource you can use to craft supplies. Given their abundance, staying stocked up on shrooms is a good way to make sure you are never too low on that critical resource.

Resupply On The Fly

You can’t craft bullets for your main and secondary weapons while you are out on a mission, but by deploying your backpack you can still re-up on vital supplies like medkits, gas mask filters, and the bearing balls for the Tihar pneumatic air rifle. Before you head into a hot zone, make sure you are well supplied to deal with whatever may be waiting for you.

Follow This Workbench Checklist

Every time you find a safe house, you gain access to a new workbench where you can craft ammo, swap out weapons, and make the more dramatic alterations to your equipment. Each time you access a workbench, we recommend you:

1. Clean your rifles. They lose effectiveness and are prone to jamming when their condition deteriorates, so polishing them up every time you visit a workbench is a wise time investment.

2. Restock your ammo. Check which ammo types your guns use, and make sure you are flush before heading out the door. You never know when your next chance to craft ammo is going to come. 

3. Repair your gas mask. The more damage you take, the worse off your gas mask is going to be. Tab over to the equipment menu and repair the gas mask just like you would clean a weapon.

4. Install gear upgrades. While you are exploring you may come across a new flak jacket that holds more ammo, improved gasmask less prone to taking damage, a new attachment for your bracer, etc. Make sure you check to see if you have any new items to install each time you make a pit stop. 

Change Out Attachments On The Fly

The parameters of combat encounters should dictate what type of attachments you have equipped on your weapon. If you’re in a wide-open space, it’s smart to equip long-range scopes and long barrels to improve stability. Before moving into close-quarters spaces, swap out the 4X scope for a more accommodating red dot sight. Making tweaks like this can maximize your efficiency. 

Your Mask Is Your Friend

The second you hear crackling sounds emanating from the Geiger counter on your wrist bracer, hold down on the d-pad and equip your gas mask. This prevents you from taking unnecessary damage and lengthens Artyom’s life expectancy. When you hear a beeping sound, that means you need to replace your filter on the gas mask. Tap down on the d-pad and Artyom will take care of it (provided you have a replacement to spare).

Keep Your Batteries Charged

Nothing is worse than beginning an enemy encounter in a darkened area only to have your flashlight or night vision goggles turn off due to low batteries. If you’re exploring an area where you use these items extensively, make sure you occasionally hold down left on the d-pad to bring out the battery charger. 

Don’t Always Shoot First

Not every group of humans you come across will treat you antagonistically. You can often sneak up and listen to their dialogue to see what they think of the outsiders who rolled into the region on the steam locomotive. This is a great way of determining whether they will be hostile upon seeing you approach. If they don’t seem threatened, holstering your weapon and walking up to them may trigger some valuable dialogue that reveals new destinations on the map. 

Stealth Saves Supplies

Sure, you can go into any enemy encounter guns blazing. But the smarter course of action is often staying in the shadows and diminishing the enemy numbers with stealth takedowns. This lets you preserve ammo and medkits for when you really need them.

Sometimes Running Is Better Than Fighting

No matter how handy you are with a rifle, sometimes the odds stack up against you. When mutated spiders or humaninals start to overwhelm, it’s smart to hightail it out of there. Mutants don’t drop resources when they die, so killing them isn’t worth it a lot of times, and if you stay for the fireworks you may find yourself with empty clips and no more medkits.

Manners Make The Man

Maybe don’t murder every faction you come across. You have a knock out option in combat and stealth for a reason, after all. Know that your actions toward each faction affect how the rest of that region sees you and interacts with you. How you act may end up determining whether a compatriot lives or dies in the long run.

Hang Around The Aurora

When you transition from a mission to a train sequence, don’t rush over to the map and activate the next scenario. Take time to explore the train. The radio allows you to listen in to chatter from bands of survivors. Walking up to your compatriots often triggers longer conversations where you can get to know their personalities and motivations. These moments are vital to fleshing out the story and making you care more about your crew.

Be The Errand Boy

Artyom’s compatriots sometimes lament they have lost a valuable heirloom or wish to hear the soothing strumming of a guitar again. While you’re exploring the regions, keep your eye out for these things. Bring back those desired items and they will trigger some new interactions. 

For more on Metro Exodus, check out our review here.

Anthem is breaking the mold of what we expect from BioWare. With its focus on cooperative multiplayer, flight-based movement, and long-term player investment, it’s safe to say that that the game stands apart from projects like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Nonetheless, the studio’s penchant for world-building and deep lore remain in full effect; Anthem is a rich treasure trove of fiction ahead of its launch. Independent of any storytelling that might happen in the actual game, there’s a lot to get excited about in the universe that BioWare has crafted around Anthem.

In advance of the game’s full release, we spoke with Anthem’s lead writers, Cathleen Rootsaert and Jay Watamaniuk. They explained the history of the Anthem world, the nature of the Anthem of Creation, the big threats facing the player characters, and more.

Read the full interview below.

Game Informer: The game is called Anthem. What is the Anthem of Creation, and how does it affect the game world as it exists as players will find it at the beginning of the game?

Cathleen Rootsaert: The anthem of creation exists in this world. It was what built this world. That’s basically it. But it is not a benevolent force. It is a churning, chaotic, often destructive force, because the world is unfinished, and the Anthem of Creation was left behind to continually create, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Not with any sort of intention, but just this force that is churning and creating the world of Anthem. The Shapers tried to contain the Anthem and to bend it to their will, and have it create the world in the image that they had in their mind. We don’t know why they left it, but they left it unfinished. And so the Anthem of Creation, the giant machines, tech, and relics are constantly at odds with each other, creating chaos.

So the Shapers weren’t necessarily the creators of the Anthem, they were the ones who were utilizing it for their own ends?

CR: We don’t know.

Jay Watamaniuk: Yeah that’s a bit of a chicken and egg. We’re not sure what the connection is between the two, or who used what. The people who live in the world of Anthem have no answer for that question.

Do the people of the world have confidence that the Shapers were actual beings that lived in the world at some point in the past?

JW: There’s a variety of ideas behind what people call the Shapers. All the people living today in the world of Anthem have the wreckage of these massive machines, these relics, these constructs that are strewn about the place. So, there are several ideas: were they beings that lived on this world? Were they ever here? What were they? Were the Shapers the machines themselves? There’s a bunch of different opinions, a bunch of different hypotheses on that, but nobody’s certain about what they are. That whole category is referred to as the Shapers.

CR: We tried not to create one religion, you know what I mean? So, it really mirrors Earth today.

To put that another way, it sounds like you’re suggesting there’s different people who have different opinions about what and who the Shapers were, and those sometimes take on spiritual or religious significance for people, but nobody really factually knows the truth. Is that right?

CR: That’s right. And I would say, it’s going to be religious for some people and purely scientific for others. The faction that we have called the Arcanists, they study the Shapers, but they’re not, they don’t worship them as gods or anything, it’s more scientific for them.

JW: Yeah, they don’t try to figure out the relationship of the Shapers and the Anthem through a religious lens; it’s purely scientific.

Well, the dovetails well with the next question I have. Who are the Arcanists. Is that a designation like a scientist? Or is that an order of people who have gathered together of like mind? And what is their primary interest?

JW: As Cathleen mentioned, they are a group. You go and you want to become an Arcanist, versus it being a title. It’s something you would need to pursue, like a career or a calling. They are the ones that are trying to establish: ‘what are the fundamental rules of this world?’ This world that keeps changing due to the conflict between the Anthem and the Shaper constructs. So they’re trying to lay down the rules. Essentially, they are the scientists. They are the ones you go to for these bigger questions, but they are also the innovators of the world. The creation of technology sits with Arcanists. Now we’ve got offshoots, we’ve got engineers and specialists and things like that, but Arcanists are definitely identified as those that are trying to pursue scientific truth.

What are the Scars? From early glimpses, it seems like the Scars have a pretty strange experience of life, and I wonder if you could describe a little bit about who and what they are.

JW: That is a fine phrase that we will steal and give you no credit for. So yes, you are absolutely correct. They are strange beings, a strange race. Now some of the stuff is shrouded in a bit of mystery, I won’t be getting into today, but I want to carefully make sure that they are not considered animals or anything like that. They have a society. They just have hive minds. There’s more than a nod to an insect colony in how they go about things. How they act. Things like that. It’s more akin to locusts. They’re scavengers. They’re very well known to be scavengers. They’ll strip down Striders or anything they come upon and use it to build their own nests and hives. Their origins are shrouded in mystery, but they are almost like a plague that needs to be contained. And they’re extremely difficult to contain. So they’re part of this constant threat, against Fort Tarsis, against anyone within Bastion, which is the territory that the game takes place in.

What is the distinction then between Scars and Escari?

JW: The Escari are actually a higher form of Scars. The Escari are Scar. They have just developed into something far more powerful. You get enough Scars together, one of them will sort of evolve into something stronger.

And is there a quality about the Scars and this higher form of Escari where they’re copying other life forms? Is that the idea?

JW: Yes, they’re running around, and they look like people, but I can assure you they are not. They are more mimics than anything.

For lack of a better term, what are the other “alien threats” in the world, if we think about the Scar as being this sort of strange race/entity, are there other creatures that are roaming around out there in the world that aren’t exactly like humans?

CR: Yes, so at the beginning, the very first mission of the game when you go into the Heart of Rage, it is a cataclysm. And the cataclysm is something that is one of the most chaotic events that we come across in the world. And it is Shapers and the Anthem pushing against each other. There are two different kinds of threats that can come from a cataclysm. We have Elementals and Chimera. An elemental is something like the Titan that you fight at the end of the first mission. They are actually born out of the chaos of the cataclysm. So they are a monster born from this conflict with the Anthem of Creation. The Anthem has created these elementals. And then we have something called Chimera. And Chimera are the animals of the world who are essentially changed by cataclysms and by Shaper events. Those are two more of the threats in this world. And then there’s the grabbit. I would not cuddle a grabbit.

What’s a grabbit?

CR: Well a grabbit looks really, kind of gentle and huge, and they sort of hop around. But if you get close and have a really close look at the teeth on a grabbit, those are extremely sharp: that’s a mouthful of sharp razors. And so I wouldn’t trust them. A lot of the fauna in the world of Anthem are actually super deadly, for example we have one with an electric charge that will basically tentpole your javelin right out of the sky. So, some of the animals look innocuous, but they’ll kill you. That’s the thing. This world will kill you.

JW: I imagine the sub-heading of this article to be: Never trust a grabbit.

Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about the history of this world, as players will encounter it. Who was Helena Tarsis and why is she remembered so clearly by the people of this world?

CR: So Helena Tarsis was the first leader with the creation of the javelins who founded something called the Legion of Dawn. At that time, years and years ago, people were oppressed by another race called the Urgoth. And so Helena Tarsis with her Legion of Dawn rose up against the Urgoth and defeated them and drove them from Bastion. So, she was instrumental in our people being freed from slavery, because we were slaves to the Urgoth.

Is there anything we know about the Urgoth?

CR: Just that they are bad news.

JW: This was centuries and centuries ago. So it was sort of this great, oppressive race that were completely shattered and defeated by General Tarsis. It’s part of our history.

CR: And they’re also very much people of myth. Throughout the world you’ll find Urgoth statues. There’s a relief of the myth of Helena Tarsis defeating the Urgoth. Very much like the Knights of the Round Table, her story has been mythologized. She inspired those sorts of stories.

Are there other individual figures that you feel are really important in the history of this fictional world?

CR: Well, I’ll just let Jay jump in here after this, but the thing about the Legion of Dawn was after the death of Helena Tarsis, the Legion of Dawn split into three factions. The three factions that we experience in our game, so the Freelancers, the Sentinels, and the Dominion. They each claim Helena Tarsis and the Legion of Dawn as their origin story, but they had a falling out and now they are there completely separate factions.

What is the distinction between those three groups?

JW: The fundamental reason for the split is because is that they had different ways of interpreting what General Tarsis did with her life her  and acts that she is known for. The Sentinels are the ones that established Fort Tarsis and this gigantic wall. Now the Sentinels believe that this is our island of civilization in this in this sea of monsters and chaos. We will defend this. We are the shields against the chaos of the world versus humanity, and that is where law and order are. So that’s sort of the foundation of the beliefs of Sentinels. “If one of them stands, the wall remains” is something that they say.

Versus Freelancers. Freelancers are beholden to no one, they have no real organization. Freelancers will go out beyond the wall and deal with problems out there. The problems are diverse, they’re either taking care of someone, rescuing someone, helping people, silencing shaper relics when they when they’re out of control. There’s a variety of tasks. And so, between those two groups there’s a bit of friction because they differ in how they want to protect humanity. They both have that goal, but they accomplish it in different ways.

And we have the Dominion which is a different set of beliefs. They are the ones that pursued this oppressive race that held humanity down because they wanted to destroy them, and they have a far more aggressive approach to what they do. And so they have become an expansionist empire, and they have gone north and then not much was heard from them. In our game, the threat of the Dominion is very, very real. And while the world is out to kill you, as we mentioned before, the most recent thing out to kill you is that the Dominion are coming. So, there’s a stark difference between the Dominion and the other two groups that that came from the tradition of General Tarsis.

And the players will be controlling Freelancers?

JW: That’s correct. We figured it would be more interesting for the player if you could fly up beyond the wall and check out what’s there versus standing on the wall.

Fair enough. That would be very different kind of a game. A lot slower paced.

JW: Quite different, yes. More of an RTS.

Is it fair to say the Sentinels and the Freelancers are allied? Just maybe not always in complete agreement?

JW: They’re absolutely allies. When it comes down to it they just differ so wildly in how they go about their jobs their vocation that there’s friction there. And there’s always been friction there and a little bit of mistrust. You essentially have the person that stays in the fort and then you’ve got this weird sort of other guy that flies over the wall and deals with these very strange problems, so there’s an element of “I don’t quite understand what you do. I don’t trust what you do.” But in the end they’re both working towards the same goal. They’re both here to protect humanity.

What is the location called Freemark, and what happened to it?

CR: Freemark is another great city in the region of Bastion. There’s Antium. Fort Tarsis is kind of like the stop on the trade route we have, like a smaller sort of place between the two large cities. And Freemark was a was another one of these great cities, and it had a very highly respected and highly-populated Freelancer enclave in it as well. It was actually built to protect a shaper relic called the Cenotaph. The Dominion believed that they had a way, using the Cenotaph, to control the Anthem of Creation. And so they busted their way into Freemark, they messed with the Cenotaph and they caused the cataclysm that became the Heart of Rage which is at the center of our story. Because now the Freelancers want to go back in.The city of Freemark was destroyed, the people died, and it was it was a horrific event, and so the Freelancers goal is to shut down the Heart of Rage because if these cataclysms keep going they just continue to destroy everything around them. They eat the land and they suck everything into their terrible force.

And is there a known way of how to stop these cataclysms?

CR: One of the specializations of the Freelancers is that they deal with Shaper constructs and and part of their goal is to stop the cataclysms before they start. And so they have some special knowledge, but it’s also very much that they’re flying by the seat of their pants. It’s not like “oh, ok. Green wire, red wire and shut it down. Like every situation is different, because every once in a while they’ll come across a Shaper construct or a relic that they’ve never seen before, so it’s a very specialized and dangerous knowledge. We liken them to kind of like fire-jumpers. You know how they’re jumping in to put out sort of oil well fires right?

You mention that the threat of the Dominion is a big part of where the story begins, and that there’s this cataclysm that’s ongoing that the Freelancers and the Sentinels are concerned about. What else is happening in the current events of this world?

CR: At the beginning of the game we see that the Freelancers are going in to the Heart of Rage and they’re going to shut it down. And if you’ve played you know that it’s a failure. Because of that failure, the game actually starts two years after that point, and the Freelancers are now really diminished. People don’t trust them. A lot of Freelancers lost their lives trying to shut down the Heart of Rage, so a lot of what you’re doing over the course of the game is to is to rebuild the reputation of the Freelancers.

Is there a leadership structure to the Freelancers? Is there somebody you’re taking orders from?

JW: Unlike the Sentinels which have this sort of very clear hierarchy, Freelancers don’t. They do have a system of respect and they have honorific type titles. We’ve got Grandmaster-type character role, but not because those people are in charge. It is simply they have experience or they have earned a reputation and thus perhaps have more sway. We’ve got a character in a fort, Yarrow, he is a retired Freelancer, but he deals with a lot of Freelancer business. Simply because he has earned that through his experience, and he knows a lot about what is going on. So, while he is not in charge, Freelancers do look up to him as a source of, maybe not authority, but certainly advice. So, yeah. No actual structure to the Freelancer group.

Who and what are cyphers?

CR: Cyphers are altered humans. They are altered by exposure to the element ember. In our world, long-distance communication has always been difficult. And so cyphers only start, these altered beings, only started appearing about 100 years ago?

JW: Yeah, they are recent innovation let’s say.

CR: Yeah. And so, Cyphers, much like Arcanists, they pursue their calling. They go to a place called a Satomi, which is a sort of like a school for cyphers, and they learn to enhance their skills. Once they study they say that a cypher is always a little broken. So, in becoming a cypher they have had give up or have lost a certain part of who they were before. And they sit in amplifier chairs, because they are linked to Freelancers through something called a link in their Javelin suits. They can process information at incredible speed, so they sit in the amplifier chair and they help Freelancers through their mission and they help them if they come across something like a new Shaper construct they’ve never seen, for example. The cyphers are there to support the Freelancers.

Do the cyphers have some particular insight into the Anthem?

CR: Yes. The cyphers are tuned to the Anthem like no one else in the world. They can actually hear it. Freelancers cannot hear it, Sentinels can’t, Dominion can’t, but a cypher can hear it, and so for example in the first mission Faye is very much fighting against the Anthem almost driving her crazy, right? It’s because she can hear it and when you meet up with Owen, Owen is very jealous of the fact that Faye has heard it. It’s very addictive, and part of Faye’s whole journey is that she wants to get back go back to the Heart of Rage because she wants to hear the Anthem finish. She wants to hear the end of the song, at least metaphorically. She is very much driven. It’s almost like catnip, like a “got to get more” sort of thing. So it’s dangerous and seductive.

We’ve talked about places like Fort Tarsis and Bastion and I wonder if you could just give me a quick summary of the geography of the game world’s geography.

JW: Sure, basically Cathleen mentioned that Fort Tarsis sits in the middle of an area or region called Bastion. And we have a very large city, the largest city, Antium, down to the south, which we don’t see in this particular game so far; we don’t actually go to visit Antium. Now, Fort Tarsis was kind of a waypoint between Antium and Freemark, which was to the north. Fort Tarsis acts more or less as a frontier between the two because civilization is set up in islands, these fortified cities in the midst of the wilderness –  the jungle, the chaos – all that kind of stuff makes it difficult to establish civilization. So, Fort Tarsis was a very critical and necessary step when traveling from Antium to Freemark. And Bastion is the region that actually extends beyond the border of what we’ve established in the game so far.

CR: We can also say that Stralheim is where the dominion are. We know that it’s like a northern region. We don’t go there, but it’s probably on the same continent. Bastion is one of the regions and Stralheim is one of the regions. But, beyond that, it’s all kind of like, “here-be-dragons.”

Is there a name for the actual world?

JW: That’s an excellent question. We’ll stop there.

The last subject I want to address are these suits that the players in interacting with. What are Javelins? What makes them special? Why is it more than just a suit of armor?

JW: There’s a couple foundational components to that. The first one, in the lore of the world itself, humanity was throwing off its shackles once upon a time due to two things: General Tarsis, of course, but it was really the development of the first javelin suits that allowed us to stand against the Urgoth. So, there’s that. The idea that humanity is not built very well to survive in this world without special weapons and special protection. And so, with the invention and innovation of javelin suits, it allows us to not only stand up to our oppressors but to build civilization from scratch. Because once we were on our own and we were free to do what we wanted we were able to build civilization, sort of carve it out of the chaos using javelin suits. Now, in the modern day there’s been refinements and changes and all that. But everyone who goes outside the walls has to be afforded some kind of protection. You’ve seen the giant walkers, the striders: heavily armored, slow moving; that’s the kind of thing that is needed to travel any kind of long distance. So, the javelin suits are these very specialized things. They’re hand-crafted, they’re carefully maintained because they are the link to basic survival within the world of Anthem. There is no survival in this world without javelins.

So what are the signets and crowns as they relate to javelins?

JW: You can think of it like a metaphor of a car key and putting it into the ignition; there’s a special connection between pilots and the javelin. It’s also true of someone like an operator, someone who operates a strider, a special connection between that person and this piece of machinery. It’s not just a suit that has servos and is articulated, and all that kind of stuff. There’s a much deeper connection between a person and a machine that occurs between the action of the signet and the crown of that machine itself. Without getting too into crazy detail, it’s good to think of it as a car key going into an ignition; it’s what starts you up, it’s what connects you to that machine, to that javelin.

Beyond what we’ve spoken about, what else are you excited about for players to encounter in the world of Anthem?

CR: Well, I think that I would just mention that you can wander around Fort Tarsis and really get a sense of what the world is like from the people who live there. There are people that you can talk to, there are merchants, there are other cyphers, there’s a bar, of course, (where everybody kicks back), there’s a freelancer enclave and people with stories. And the stories of these people that live in Fort Tarsis intertwine with each other. So, you can meet an old woman and discover the story of her child, who was a freelancer. There’s a gossip who sticks around the fort and there’s somebody named Prospero who’s there to sell you awesomeness for your suit. These people all have lives and that’s really where a lot of that richness from the lore comes from. You know, if you’re going to go out and play with your friends, if you’re friends say: “Well, let’s meet at 8 o’clock then we’ll go out and we’ll fly some missions,” I would hope that people would say: “You know what, I’m going to show up a half hour early and I’m going to check out Fort Tarsis; I’m going to walk around and I’m going to talk to some of the people there because I think that there’s a lot of fun conversations.” And you get to know your crew. Your crew is also there, like any other BioWare game, that’s where you’ll find Owen, Faye, Haluk, Tassyn. You can talk to them and learn a little bit more about them and get to know them better.

JW: I think to add on to that abut the detail of Fort Tarsis, which is set up a bit like it’s set up like a small town, one of the great bits that I discovered as we moved along in development is slapping on the suit and not having an endpoint, not having a marker out in the world. The artists have done such a beautiful job crafting this world. We’ve done our best to try to fill up with things to discover. And so, you don’t need to feel pressured to be on a directed mission. Get out there, and find out what can be discovered. I mean, it’s a game about exploration and it’s a big, giant world and you have this excellent way to explore that. Don’t miss the beauty of it. That’s my advice.


Anthem is available today for PC players with EA’s Origin Access Premier and as a 10-hour trial on Xbox One, and is available on all platforms (PS4, Xbox One, and PC) on February 22.

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: 4A Games
Release: February 15, 2019
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Metro Exodus is finally coming out after a fairly significant delay and it seems like things worked out quite well according to our review. Players can finally journey back into the cold world of Metro and figure out how to survive in the post-apocalypse and today’s launch trailer helps reinforce those themes.

Check out the launch trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The trailer shows off the various oppressive environments you’ll be journeying through in the game, along with the kind of enemies that will try to kill you in them. 

Metro Exodus is available today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Anthem – New Gameplay Today Live

Nearly seven years in the making, BioWare’s new RPG Anthem has finally arrived! Join us for this episode of New Gameplay Today as we play the first two hours of the game, starting at 1 p.m. Central. Check out the stream on YouTube or Twitch and let us know what you think of the game and if you have any questions based on our limited experience playing it so far!

Hasbro unveiled a new line of Fortnite-themed NERF blasters and Super Soakers earlier today. Although the toys won’t be physically available until March 22, pre-orders are already available through Hasbro Pulse

In light of the recent announcement, Hasbro also partnered with the prominent Fortnite Esports organization TSM. Pro-player and streamer, Myth, alongside his teammates, contributes to TSM’s growing popularity as Fortnite remains a beloved multiplayer phenomenon

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



Click here to watch embedded media

In what continues to look like the oddest, (but also best) interpretation of Pokémon on the big screen, Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith are at it again with a new trailer getting us ready for the release. Little new is shown this time, but we do now know that it will be hitting theaters on May 10, so mark your calendars.

We did get a little bit more of Mr. Mime…miming, so that was good. Otherwise, watch the trailer above if you want to see what a hyper-realistic Lickitung looks like.