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‘Apex Legends’ adds 9v9 Control battles on February 8th

Respawn is continuing to expand Apex Legends beyond its battle royale roots. The studio is launching its first big team mode, Control, as a limited-time feature available starting February 8th. The mode will sound familiar if you've played Destiny's Control or other hold-the-points gameplay formats. Two teams of nine players each vie to capture and keep up to three zones, with infinite respawns for every player. Those zones will confer benefits like they do in other games, but the nature of those benefits is different — there's a strong incentive to focus on territory rather than wiping out the enemy team.

Every zone your team owns will add points each second, up to a score limit of 1,250. You'll randomly encounter "Capture Bonuses" that deliver a wealth of points if your team holds a given zone when the bonus timer runs out. Own both the center point and your team's home point and you can spawn in that middle ground. And if you manage to capture all three points, you'll start a "Lockout" that guarantees a win if those points are yours when a timer expires. A lopsided match shouldn't drag on longer than necessary, to put it another way.

Control also introduces a ratings system where players can progress through tiers the more they accomplish for the team in a given life. You'll earn use of your ultimate ability every time you move up a tier, so there's plenty of motivation to stay in one piece. Respawn is promising Control-specific badges and challenges for those interested in longer-term goals.

And yes, there's a new Apex character. The game is introducing Mad Maggie, a seemingly Mad Max-inspired, Australian-sounding warlord who has been sentenced to fight in the Apex games. Much like Caustic, her abilities reflect her willingness to leave morality at the door — Riot Drill forces enemies out of cover by burning them, and Wrecking Ball produces boost pads while also exploding near foes. She can also highlight enemies she shoots, and moves more quickly while using shotguns.

It's too soon to know if Control will become permanent like Arenas. Respawn's strategy is clear, however. Modes like this potentially keep Apex fresh for veteran players, and might expand the audience to newcomers who aren't fans of the original game's last-one-standing experience.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/apex-legends-control-mode-mad-maggie-170705860.html?src=rss

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CDPR will expand The Witcher universe with a single-player ‘Gwent’ game

A single-player version of the card game Gwent is in the works. CD Projekt Red said the standalone title, which is currently codenamed Project Golden Nekker, will be released this year. Although the developer has already released a single-player component of Gwent called Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, it says the upcoming game will be a distinct experience.

“It’s not another Witcher Tales but something different,” Gwent communication lead Paweł Burza told IGN. “We’re aiming to provide a captivating single-player for players who prefer it over competitive multiplayer Gwent.”

CDPR has been teasing Project Golden Nekker over the last several months, including in a Gwent roadmap presentation in December. It hasn't revealed many more concrete details beyond the release window and some concept art.

As for Gwent, itself a spin-off from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CDPR plans to add new cards throughout the year. The studio is also aiming to release the delayed current-gen console versions of The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 in 2022.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/gwent-single-player-game-is-coming-later-this-year-171836990.html?src=rss

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Meta’s upgraded 3D avatars work across Facebook, Instagram and VR

If the company formerly known as Facebook is going to help establish the metaverse, it's going to need virtual personas that are consistent across its apps — and it now has just that. As of today, Meta is rolling out updated 3D avatars to Facebook, Messenger and Instagram (via DMs and Stories). The new design lets you bring the same avatar across Meta's platforms, including VR — you can maintain your look as you switch to your Quest 2 and back.

The avatars themselves promise to be truer to your style with more faces, skin tones and expressions. You can also add Cochlear implants, over-the-air hearing aids and wheelchairs. Meta is also being more adventurous with clothing. You can now pick up official NFL apparel (shown above) to flaunt your love of football ahead of the Super Bowl.

You can still create different avatars for Facebook, Instagram and VR, so you can have a more realistic persona for VR meetings and a more fantastical one for your social media profiles. Meta has also promised to "eventually" simplify moving avatars across places, and already lets you sync avatar changes between Facebook and Instagram.

Meta acknowledged the unified avatars were an "early step" in creating the metaverse. This doesn't suddenly create a truly cohesive and immersive digital space. It's a start, though. If nothing else, it provides consistency that might encourage you to try an avatar instead of sticking to a favorite photo.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/facebook-instagram-3d-avatars-upgrade-180051176.html?src=rss

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Here’s why your Apple two-factor texts include strange tags

If you've noticed that Apple's two-factor authentication texts include much more extra text than you're used to, don't fret — there's a good reason for it. As Macworld explains, Apple has implemented a previously proposed system that uses domain-bound codes for sign-ins. The extra tags (such as "@apple.com #123456 %apple.com") are meant to improve the trustworthiness of autofilling text codes in platforms starting with iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.

The technique theoretically discourages more sophisticated phishing attacks that try to intercept and redirect two-factor verification messages. If you're using one of those more recent operating systems, you'll only get a code autofill suggestion if the domain of the site requesting a code matches the one in the text. A phishing site can't simply prompt Apple for a code and expect an autofill prompt, then. If you don't get an autofill prompt, there's a good chance the site is bogus.

Apple quietly started delivering codes in the new format around November 2021. The concept isn't necessarily limited to Apple's ecosystem, but it has yet to be widely adopted elsewhere. Still, don't be surprised if these lengthy 2FA texts become more commonplace and potentially thwart some phishing campaigns.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-two-factor-text-explanation-183032786.html?src=rss

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‘It Takes Two’ is being adapted for film or TV

Hazelight Studios and Sonic the Hedgehog production company dj2 Entertainment are aiming to turn It Takes Two into a movie or TV show. Pat Casey and Josh Miller, who wrote both Sonic movies, are onboard to adapt the co-op game for the big or small screen. Although no studio or network has snapped up the project just yet, Variety reports that a bidding war is underway.

“Creating the world and story in It Takes Two was so much fun for me and the team,” Hazelight founder and creative director Josef Fares said in a statement. “Since it has a strong narrative with many crazy characters and just as crazy co-op action moments, the potential is huge for a great adaption to film or television.”

At the 2021 Game Awards, It Takes Two won three honors, including the game of the year gong. EA published it last March and more than three million copies were sold by October. Along with It Takes Two and the Sonic movies, dj2 is working on a Tomb Raider anime for Netflix. It's also developing a Disco Elysium series and a Sleeping Dogs movie.

Although It Takes Two received widespread plaudits for its platforming and asynchronous split-screen gameplay, several critics took issue with the "stay together for the kids" story and an "awful" character called The Book of Love. With some finding the plot to be the weakest aspect of the game, it'll be interesting to see how that translates to a movie or TV show.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/it-takes-two-tv-show-movie-hazelight-studios-dj-2-entertainment-184039870.html?src=rss

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Sony is buying Destiny studio Bungie

Sony has plans to acquire Bungie, the studio behind the hit sci-fi MMO Destiny, in a deal worth $3.6 billion. Bungie will join the Sony Interactive Entertainment family, which includes Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, Guerrilla Games, Sucker Punch Productions, Bluepoint Games and a handful of other prominent studios.

Bungie is positioning the acquisition as the start of a new era for the company — one focused on global multimedia entertainment, not just games. Bungie will retain creative control over its franchises and continue to develop for multiple platforms, not just PlayStation, according to a blog post by CEO Pete Parsons.

"We will continue to independently publish and creatively develop our games," he wrote. "We will continue to drive one, unified Bungie community. Our games will continue to be where our community is, wherever they choose to play.​"

The deal follows news on January 18th that Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, and it's the latest sign that the video game industry has entered the consolidation stage. Massive companies including Microsoft, Sony and Tencent are in the process of sweeping up as many studios as they can in a battle for exclusive experiences. As console makers, Sony and Microsoft hold particular power in these negotiations, with built-in audiences of millions on the PlayStation and Xbox platforms.

These deals give the acquired studios financial stability, production support and wide-reaching marketing plans, though they'll have to operate within a corporate ecosystem and potentially tie their games to specific platforms. Bungie, it seems, has plans to publish outside of Sony's PlayStation universe, though time will tell what that looks like in practice.

Sony's purchase of Bungie is surprising, given where the studio started. Bungie is the original home of the Halo franchise, and it was part of the Microsoft family from 2000 to 2007. Halo was (and is) a pivotal series for Xbox consoles, and Bungie was its arbiter for nearly a decade under Microsoft. The studios split in 2007 and Bungie went private, and in 2010 it signed a publishing agreement with Activision for the Destiny franchise. That deal lasted through 2019, when Bungie moved its publishing process in-house.

Just two weeks ago, Microsoft announced it was acquiring Activision Blizzard, bringing the two former Bungie publishers under one roof. And now, Bungie has Microsoft's biggest rival, Sony, in its back pocket. These relationships are only going to get more complicated as the consolidation era runs its course through the video game industry, so buckle up for more multibillion-dollar deals and exclusivity clauses over the coming years.

Update 5:01PM ET: Well, that didn't take long. Shortly after news of the Bungie acquisition went wide, SIE CEO Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz that there are definitely more acquisitions in the company's future. 

"We should absolutely expect more," he told GI. "We are by no means done."

Additionally, Ryan confirmed Destiny 2 and Bungie's future games will continue to be published on platforms outside of the PlayStation brand. For Sony, the goal is to deliver more live, online, multi-platform experiences, Ryan said.

"Everybody wants the extremely large Destiny 2 community, whatever platform they're on, to be able to continue to enjoy their Destiny 2 experiences," he told GI. "And that approach will apply to future Bungie releases. That is unequivocal."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/sony-buy-bungie-destiny-studio-180905449.html?src=rss

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MLB The Show is coming to Switch for the first time

MLB The Show 22 will arrive on April 5th and, for the first time in the series, you'll be able to play on Nintendo Switch. There will be full cross-platform support between Switch, PlayStation and Xbox. You'll be able to transfer Road to the Show or Franchise save files between platforms and have access to items across various consoles (though Xbox Series X/S and PS5-exclusive content will remain locked to those systems).

As with last year's edition, which was the first to land on Xbox, MLB The Show 22 is coming to Xbox Game Pass on its release day. That continues an unusual arrangement where a Sony-published title is available to Game Pass members at no extra cost. Subscribers can play via the cloud as well as on consoles.

This year's cover athlete is Los Angeles Angels megastar Shohei Ohtani. The pitcher and designated hitter had an incredible 2021 season, racking up 46 home runs and 156 strikeouts. It's pretty hard to imagine anyone else gracing MLB The Show 22's cover.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/mlb-the-show-2-nintendo-switch-xbox-game-pass-192041042.html?src=rss

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PS4 and PS5 users can show Discord friends what they’re playing

Starting today, PS4 and PS5 players can connect their PSN account to Discord. At the outset, that means you'll be able to display your PlayStation game activity on your Discord profile and let friends there see what you're playing — something Xbox players have been able to do since 2018. If you like, you can display your PSN ID on your Discord profile to make it easy for folks to add you as a friend there.

To get started, open the Discord app or website on PC or mobile, then go to the Connections section of the User Settings. If you can connect your PSN account, you'll see a PlayStation icon. Discord is gradually rolling out the feature to everyone, starting with folks in the US, so you might not have access right away.

These are useful features, especially with crossplay becoming more commonplace and friends playing games together on different platforms. If you're an Xbox owner, for instance, you'd be able to hop on Discord and see if your friends are playing Destiny 2 or Rainbow Six Extraction on PC or PlayStation, and hop in to play with them.

We're starting to see the results of a partnership Sony and Discord announced last May. "Our goal is to bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on console and mobile starting early next year, allowing friends, groups, and communities to hang out, have fun, and communicate more easily while playing games together," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said at the time. SIE also made a minority investment in the messaging and voice and video chat platform.

Microsoft was previously said to be in talks to buy Discord for at least $10 billion. Though other potential suitors were reportedly interested, Discord remains an independent company. Still, with so many enormous gaming deals being agreed already this year, who knows what the future holds?

In the meantime, Discord and Sony are looking at other ways to collaborate. "We’re excited to continue our partnership with PlayStation and explore how we can collectively create great shared experiences for your friends and communities," Discord wrote in a blog post.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/discord-ps4-ps5-integration-playstation-205352162.html?src=rss

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‘World of Warcraft’ will finally let Alliance and Horde players raid together

There's always been a strict wall in World of Warcraft between Alliance and Horde players — you can only cooperate with people from your own side. Blizzard is ready to (partly) remove that barrier, though. As Polygon explains, WoW's 9.2.5 update will allow cross-faction dungeon crawls, raids and rated PvP matches. You won't be cut off from your friends just because they chose the 'wrong' allegiance for their characters.

You'll have the option to both directly invite people from an opposing faction or join premade groups in the Group Finder listings for a given event type. Group leaders can limit instances to same-faction players, however. And don't expect to be living in harmony with rivals outside of these controlled circumstances. Guilds, matchmaking-based events and the regular world will behave as usual, so you'll still need to be on your guard most of the time.

The feature is available regardless of level, although there will be a few old instances where multi-faction parties can't enter, such as Battle of Dazar’alor, Trial of the Crusader and Icecrown Citadel. They'll need to be "reworked" to eliminate single-faction elements, Blizzard said.

There's no release date for the 9.2.5 update at this stage. It's a long-requested update, and it's well-timed in a post-Battle for Azeroth environment where the Alliance and Horde have reached a delicate truce. Whether or not it boosts player counts is another story. Dexerto notes Blizzard's total monthly active base dropped by 20 million between 2017 and 2021, and WoW likely played a large role in that drop. Toss in an ongoing sexual harassment scandal and cross-faction WoW may only have a limited effect, even as it fulfills the hopes of many subscribers.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/world-of-warcraft-cross-faction-raid-214800786.html?src=rss

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Wordle, the game everyone’s obsessed with, gets bought by the New York Times

Wordle, the once-a-day word game that's been delighting puzzle nerds (and cluttering Twitter feeds) since launching in October of last year, has been purchased by the New York Times... reports The New York Times. So long, old buddy. 

The game is the brainchild of Josh Wardle and his partner Palak Shah, and once day it gives players six chances to guess a five-letter word. In an interview with the Times earlier this month, Wardle admitted that the project was inspired in part by Spelling Bee, one of the paper's subscription games which Wordle will likely appear alongside shortly. 

In part, the appeal of World was that — unlike much of the internet today — it was in now way ad- or subscription-supporter. There was no app (even though some clones attempted to capitalize on that fact.) It was, two years into a global pandemic, a rare, unalloyed good. The Times did not disclose the exact terms of the Wordle acquisition, though it stated in a press release that it paid "in the low-seven figures." We've reached out for comment to the Times on if any changes are slated. 

On Twitter, Wardle stated that while "it has been incredible to watch [Wordle] bring so much joy to so many" he has found the experience "a little overwhelming," given that he's been maintaining the free, highly-trafficked game himself. He notes that once it migrates to the Times, Wordle "will be free to play for everyone," and win streaks will likely be preserved.

Wordle became an overnight sensation, thought it was hardly its creator's first brush with mass online fame. While employed by Reddit, he was responsible for both "Place" and "The Button," both of which garnered plenty of positive attention, though neither with the scale or staying power of Wordle, which is estimated to have millions of daily users. A bot (run by another former Reddit employee, Kevin O'Connor) tracks the number of solves that are shared to Twitter via the now-ubiquitous black, green and gold emojis. It regularly cracks 250,000 such tweets daily. 

The game has itself become a sort of template for a new variety of word puzzles, spawning a variety of offshoots that range from legitimately interesting challenges — like the two-column Dordle, the work-backwards Crosswordle or the adversarial Absurdle — to silly or absurd riffs such as Sweardle and Lewdle. More variations are seemingly released every week. Still, it's the end of an era for the game that started it all, even if functionally for players it seems things will remain much the same. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/wordle-nyt-new-york-times-sale-215510156.html?src=rss

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