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Tag: 2017 at 10:40AM


Resident Evil 7’s New DLC Drops The Horror For Action

Resident Evil 7 embraced an unsettling horror presentation built around claustrophobia and dread. Players were fragile and death lurked around every corner. The game’s latest downloadable content switches things up. It’s all about making the monsters fear you.

At the end of Resident Evil 7, players were shocked to encounter series regular Chris Redfield working alongside a revamped version of Umbrella, the nefarious corporation responsible for most of the series’ monster-filled disasters. The game advertised that an expansion would explain exactly what was going on. The extra content Not A Hero, which came out Tuesday, finally provides some answers months after being delayed. Players take control of Chris on a mission to hunt down Lucas Baker, the unhinged son of the violent Baker family from the main game. Lucas has reclaimed a series of underground mines and turned them into a laboratory. Chris will have to face new monsters and avoid Lucas’ sadistic boobytraps in order to bring him to justice.


Not A Hero is an exercise in player empowerment. Resident Evil 7’s protagonist Ethan Winters was vulnerable, scrambling to assemble a makeshift arsenal that could fight off against unimaginable horrors. Chris knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s equipped with a sturdy pistol, a combat knife, and a powerful shotgun. These tools make it easy to tear monsters to bloody shreds and much of the expansion involves confidently blasting waves of enemies with your superior firepower. It’s a different kind of gameplay experience than the base game, which severely limited ammunition and resources. Chris is a bonafide action hero.

In order to shake things up, Not A Hero adds numerous complications. Highly infected enemies cannot be killed with normal ammunition, contaminated areas must be navigated before Chris runs out of oxygen, and dark caverns can’t be reliably explored without first locating night vision goggles. The underground mines were underutilized during Resident Evil 7’s main campaign. Not A Hero turns them into an interweaving maze of monster nests and hazards that feel entirely distinct from the cramped hallways of the Baker Plantation. It’s less about what might lurk behind an unopened door and more about panicking as a pack of clawed abominations back you into a corner with only a few seconds of oxygen left. Not A Hero is a successful reimagining of the series’ action-focused titles.


End Of Zoe, which also came out Tuesday, attempts to tell the tale of what happened to Zoe Baker after she was left behind at her family’s plantation near the end of the main game. It’s a strong hook that is quickly dismissed so that players can take the role of the hitherto unknown Joe Baker as he saves a damseled Zoe. Joe’s introduction into the story is sudden and awkward. He’s both a noble warrior and grime-covered swamp dweller, Jeremiah Johnson by way of The Devil’s Rejects, and even by Resident Evil standards he feels out of place.

Joe’s solution to dealing with monsters is to punch them real hard until they die—first with his bare hands and later with a prototype power-gauntlet. You find an enemy and you rush up to punch them over and over until they die. Occasionally, you can stagger them and dispatch them with a gory finishing move. While the DLC tries to give you extra actions, like stealth executions and spear-throwing, it’s usually more effective to get in close and keep punching until your enemy is a pile of goo. This is arguably the most empowering experience in all of Resident Evil 7; there’s no need to be afraid when you can destroy all the monsters with your bare hands. It’s fun but ultimately far too shallow. There’s not much to do but punch and keep on punching.


End of Zoe can’t decide if it is a serious story about family or a cheesy grindhouse romp with one liners and uppercuts. Everything is played with a heaping spoonful of self seriousness that clashes with the absurd gameplay. When you boil it down to the core, End of Zoe is the story of a swamp hermit killing monsters with the help of his punchy science glove. I would have liked to see them lean even further into the concept’s schlocky nonsense.

Resident Evil 7’s initial rounds of DLC, which came out January, focused on puzzle solving, most notably in a room escape sequence that disempowered players. Not A Hero and End Of Zoe go in a completely different direction and give players the chance to shoot, blow up, smash, and power-punch monsters right in their teeth. There’s not as much horror here but there’s still plenty of catharsis.

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Never Stop Sneakin’ Is A Stealth Game For People Who Hate Stealth

Never Stop Sneakin’, the new game from the creator of Dust: An Elysian Tail, open with a time-travelling madman kidnapping every president of the United States throughout history. It’s ridiculous. It’s also an excellent little top-down stealth game, and I don’t even like stealth games.

Normally I’m far too impatient for stealth. Waiting for guards to pass, sneaking past security systems—it’s not for me. I am large and loud and if you give me a gun I am going to fire it and hope for the best.


Never Stop Sneakin’, available now for the Nintendo Switch, is a stealth game that borders on an action game, thanks to simple controls that take care of traditional stealth mechanics for the player. All one has to do to kill a guard is to walk up behind them when they’re not looking. If a player has bullets in their inventory and gets spotted, they automatically spend a round to take the guard out. If they’re out of bullets but have a smoke bomb, that’ll go off, giving them time to dispatch the enemy. It’s almost a maze game with brief periods of waiting and the odd boss fight.

I do mean odd. In the screenshot above I’m facing off against Vice President Helicopter, a member of the evil Executive Branch. He is a helicopter, in case that wasn’t readily apparent.


The humor is absurd, which is just my style. If you’ve not watched the Kotaku Plays video atop this post, do so now and you’ll see what I mean.

Between the simple controls and the silly humor, I’m having a great time playing Never Stop Sneakin’. I almost gave it a pass simply because it had “Sneakin’” in the name, but here I am, stabbing guards, hacking computers and building up my base for my eventual rescue mission. It’s a stealth game even the most impatient run-and-gunner can enjoy.’s the announcement trailer. It’s silly too.

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EA Leak Gives Us A Glimpse At How Publishers Plan Marketing Campaigns 

A new leak from the mega-publisher Electronic Arts reveals a marketing plan for two of the company’s smaller games, and while there’s nothing particularly extraordinary in here, it makes for an interesting peak inside the sausage factory.

The marketing plan was first posted last week by Reddit user OldSoul2, who said he had been accidentally getting e-mails from EA and uploaded one of them, which contains roadmaps for the upcoming games Fe and A Way Out. Although EA has not acknowledged the leak—and did not respond to a request for comment—last night at The Game Awards, the publisher showed a new trailer for A Way Out (called “Meet Vincent & Leo”) that lines up with this plan.

Here’s the full image:

Some highlights from all this:

  • Fe, which was announced at E3 2016, is described as “well received” but EA says it has “not seen anything spark it to cut through the noise,” noting that the trailer has 500,000 views.
  • To fix that problem, EA hopes to contact journalists who seemed interested in the colorful action-adventure game, and will “look at giving them exclusive stories and access to help build awareness.”
  • There’s apparently a Nintendo Direct coming in January, and EA plans to show Fe for the Switch then.
  • EA expects to sell 707,000 total copies of Fe and 894,000 total copies of A Way Out.
  • To promote the co-op prison break game A Way Out, EA hopes to “leverage relevant influencers to create Let’s Plays” with director Josef Fares.  
  • That said, EA warns, in my favorite line of this whole thing: “Josef as a personality is a plus, his passion is great, but need to watch out for controversy.” After watching last night’s speech, that sure seems prescient.

Now don’t you want to see the plans like this for Star Wars Battlefront II?

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Overpowered New Gun Dominates Destiny 2 PvP

Image via Mesa Sean

With the launch of Curse of Osiris, there’s plenty of new stuff in Destiny 2, a video game in which players travel through space resisting the urge to spend money to change the colors of their helmets. There’s also a gun that’s just about wrecking everyone.

Meet Prometheus Lens, a brand new exotic that has taken the mantle from Vex Mythoclast, Thorn, and MIDA Multi-Tool as Destiny’s most overpowered weapon. It’s a trace rifle that shoots laser beams and can melt any other player in less than two seconds.


Here is what it’s like to play Crucible in Destiny 2 right now (via r/DestinyTheGame):

It’s a problem:

It’s safe to expect a Prometheus Lens nerf at some point in the near future, because it’s making the Crucible borderline unplayable. What’s ironic is that many hardcore Destiny players have been calling for a higher time-to-kill (TTK) in PvP. Not like this, though. Not like this.

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The Traditional Games Nintendo Continues To Sell

[Image: Nintendo]

On Nintendo’s Japanese website, there is a page called “Other Products” (その他の商品). It’s fascinating.

This piece originally appeared 8/10/17.

At the top of the page, there is an entry for Western-style playing cards:

[Image: Nintendo]

Below that, there is a mahjong set.

[Image: Nintendo]

Look at these pieces. The chips have “Nintendo” emblazoned on them. How cool is that?

[Image: Nintendo]

There are also hanafuda cards, which is what Nintendo originally sold when it opened for business in 1889.

[Image: Nintendo]

You can still buy the Tengu cards.

[Image: Nintendo]

There are also Hyakunin Isshu cards. Former president Hiroshi Yamauchi was a huge fan of the Hyakunin Isshu.

[Image: Nintendo]

The Hyakunin Isshu is a collection of one hundred traditional poems. Young kids must memorize them in grade school, and during the New Year holidays, people play a card game with the poems on them.

All the cards are spread out on the floor, and someone reads one of the poems. The person who finds it first, wins.

Nintendo even sells a CD of the poems.

Nintendo also sells shogi (Japanese chess) sets. Some of the boards are made in Japan from katsura wood. Making shogi boards is complicated, and artisans spend years mastering their trade, so I’m guessing Nintendo isn’t making these in-house.

[Image: Nintendo]

The thicker the boards, the more expensive they are. The top-range shogi board Nintendo sells is 69,120 yen ($629). Expensive shogi boards can go for as much as $4,000. So these are more reasonably priced, I guess?

[Image: Nintendo]

Nintendo’s shougi pieces are outsourced to China. Plastic and wooden ones, made from Thai wood, are available.

[Image: Nintendo]

The Go (or “igo”) boards are more expensive than the shogi ones, with the top of the line one costing 143,640 yen ($1,306). Go, which was created over 2,500 years ago, was imported into Japan during by the 7th century. So while not originally a Japanese game, the country has been instrumental in its modern development.

[Image: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku]
[Image: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku]
[Image: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku]

It’s nice to see Nintendo continuing to support traditional games and a pleasant surprise to see those Nintendo emblazoned analog games in Japanese stores.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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These Noise Canceling Sony Headphones Are Even Cheaper Than Black Friday

If you’ve been meaning to buy yourself some noise canceling headphones, there’s no time like the present. These Sony XB950s are all the way down to $113 today, besting their already-great Black Friday price by $10. They would also make a great gift for anyone that spends a lot of time on planes or trains.

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Dumb Rumor Spreads About The Game Awards

This morning, I woke up to a string of headlines declaring that journalist Geoff Keighley had teased a major announcement at this week’s Game Awards. OK, I thought, clicking one of the articles, only to find out that he had done it during an interview with… me. Wait, what?

Maybe it started on Twitter, or Reddit, or on the front page of the aggregation website N4G, where a headline declared that Geoff Keighley had teased an announcement for the “sixth entry” in a “major franchise” at his annual awards show, which takes place on Thursday, December 7.

A quick Google search led me to a bunch of these same headlines:

All of these articles cited our very own Kotaku Splitscreen podcast, hosted by me and Kirk Hamilton, on which we welcomed Keighley last week to talk about what it’s like to put together The Game Awards—and what kind of offers he gets from Doritos.


Here’s the website, for example: “Speaking to Kotaku as part of their Kotaku Splitscreen podcast, Geoff Keighley, the creator and producer of The Game Awards, talked about the show and everything that it’s come to be. During his discussion, Keighley mentioned that they’d have a brief teaser during the show, a 30-second preview of a sixth game in what he referred to as an ‘insane’ franchise.”

The only problem is this did not actually happen.

Here’s the actual exchange from Kotaku Splitscreen:

Geoff: The new thing this year is also looking at some of the existing games that are service-based, that have meaningful updates. So it’s not announcing a new game, but like PUBG, we’re gonna reveal the new desert map for the first time, and gameplay on that, which is a massive update for a heavily played game. So it’s not announcing a new game, but it’s a first look at a game that’s had a big impact this year.

That kind of stuff is part of what we’re thinking about now. It’s not just about the ‘30-second CG teaser for insane franchise sequel #6,’ which some people want—

Kirk: I definitely want to play insane franchise sequel number 6, that sounds like a great game.

Jason: Oh I was thinking about Insane, the game that Guillermo del Toro was doing that was canceled.

Geoff: So that’s a long-winded answer, but it’s different every year, we ask for a lot of stuff and we don’t get it all.

In the future, we recommend that anyone thinking about writing an article like this first listen to Kotaku Splitscreen, which you can find on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and any other podcast provider of your choice.

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Final Fantasy XV Gets Character Swapping

It’s the one-year anniversary of Final Fantasy XV’s launch, which means it’s nearly time for Square Enix to finish the game. Today, the studio announced plans to let you play it all as one of Noctis’s pals.

The feature, which will be implemented at some point before the new downloadable content Episode Ignis drops on December 13, will allow you to use a an overlay menu to switch to Gladiolus, Ignis, or Prompto. Each of their combat mechanics will be based on their respective DLCs.

In the past, you could only play as Noctis. During a Japanese video presentation this morning, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata also said that more DLC will be coming in 2018.

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Gifts For The Overly Competitive Player

Image via Shutterstock

We all love to compete, but as the generation that grew up on Quake and Brood War gets older, we’re not as keen on energy drinks and pop rocks anymore. Joints can ache after an hour’s worth of play, and quality-of-life improvements are a bigger deal than a mild video card increase or another headset.

This guide for the competitive player is less about the hardware and more about the lifestyle. Whether some Discord pals are begging for an upgrade to their voice set-up or someone’s old creaky wrists are, like mine, popping like corn with every new solo queue game, here’s some ideas to gift that esports aficionado who already has the tools, but could use a few quality-of-life improvements.

SteelSeries QcK Mousepad

Most esports gift guides go for the classic keyboard and mouse. And while some clacky keys and a high DPI are great for gaming, the secret MVP is the mousepad. When I finally splurged on a new mouse, I was wondering why it didn’t feel quite as revolutionary as I’d hoped; because, it turns out, my raggedy cloth “mousepad” from college wasn’t providing a good surface for the laser. One trip to the store later, my mouse glides effortlessly on its new habitat. This pad is the one I use, but most mouse manufacturers will also have a line of pads that have great features like rubber grips to prevent slipping and a good frictionless surface to let the mouse soar through every sweeping arm motion.

Blue Snowball Mic

A headset might be your preference for gaming sessions, but if you know someone who wants a mic quality upgrade or maybe wants to start streaming their games, a good standalone desktop mic is handy to have. The Snowball has been a podcasting staple for a reason: it’s compact, portable, easy to use, and provides great audio in a variety of situations. It works on both PC and on consoles like the PlayStation 4, and lets you bust out some high-quality headphones while getting that little strand mic away from your face.

The Stick

Compete’s recurring physical therapy source Dr. Caitlin McGee had a few suggestions for foam rollers and other ergonomic ideas, but The Stick stuck out. A body massage roller for relieving pain, this is great for those who get a lot of soreness in wrists, neck, or really any area that could use some TLC after a long gaming session. It’s a good idea to help your sore muscles out when they need it, and The Stick can help you care for those 200+ APM wrists.

The Will to Keep Winning Kindle Edition, by Daigo Umehara 

Words on winning, from one of Street Fighter’s legends. Though physical copies are harder to come by, the Kindle version is an easy download and takes you through Umehara’s career, with anecdotes and life lessons providing valuable insight into the mind of a pro gamer. Whether you want to learn about the mindset of a pro or you need something to turn to in times of trouble, Daigo’s book will have something to offer most anyone.

A Rubik’s Cube (Or Other Time-Wasters)

Queue times can get pretty long, especially if you’re actually good at a game, so having something around to mess with while you wait for a match can help kill the wait. A Rubik’s cube is pretty straightforward, and keeps your wrists moving and limber while you resist the urge to smash it with a hammer. Other options include Sudoku puzzles, fidget spinners, or even some drumsticks, using your mousepad as a drumpad. Why not use all that bonus queue time to practice your paradiddles?

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Street Fighter Transformers? Why The Hell Not 

Shoryuken! Hadouken! Spinning Bird Kick! Psycho Crusher! Now transform into a car! Due out in Japan in May, Transformers X Street Fighter II figures turn four existing transforming robots into mechanical world warriors.

Titan Returns Hot Rod becomes Ken, complete with a tiny version of himself to serve as his robot head, which seems like a very Ken sort of thing.

Chun-Li becomes Chun-Cee, a repaint of the 2014 Arcee figure from the Thrilling 30 Transformers anniversary line. The gold dress details work really well in vehicle form.

Ryu and Bison (Vega in Japan) take on the form of two of Transformers: Titan Wars Voyager-class leader figures. Ryu is Optimus Prime (Convoy), a triple changer that transforms into a jet and an oil tanker.

Image via

That makes Bison Megatron, using his Psycho Power to take on the forms of a tank and fighter jet.

Image via

The figures are up for preorder in Takara’s Japanese store.

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Someone’s Making A Spiritual Successor To Theme Hospital

On the back of the recent revival of management sim games, a new studio out of Prague has decided to tackle healthcare with an upcoming game called Project Hospital.

As the name suggests, the game revolves around building and maintaining a hospital. Players will focus on identifying diseases, researching cures, and treating as many patients as possible. They can also play the finance angle and throw ethics and sound medical practice to the wind. Studio Oxymoron Games, recently put out a trailer (thanks Eurogamer),

If you’re old enough you might notice a passing resemblance to Theme Hospital. Like that late 90s PC game, Project Hospital is isometric and menu-driven. You’ll more or less manage an array of inputs and outputs in the individual parts of your hospital and the cute little sprites you decide to stick in them. This could mean anything from to deciding what medical equipment to purchase (and how much to charge patients for its use) to which insurance companies you decide to do business with.


If you weren’t already feeling cynical about the impenetrable modern healthcare system, Project Hospital could be just the thing you’re looking for. It’s due out some time next year.

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Black Adam Player Proves Unbreakable At Injustice 2 World Championships

Ryan “Dragon” Walker was crowned the first Injustice 2 world champion during a special Eleague broadcast last night, in a 3-1 victory over FoxyGrampa in the grand finals.

Walker had already taken the Evo title, and now boasting two major championships, it’s fair to say he’s the top player in Injustice 2 for the time being, as former king of Netherrealm games SonicFox has abdicated the throne for other ventures.


Using Black Adam, Walker’s particular style of play is a little more reserved than most. In moments like the one below, Walker patiently reads the opponent, poking and prodding to with lightning bolts before moving in to pressure with his orbs. His turtle-like play made it tough for players to gain the upper hand against him, as Walker had clearly done his homework on the match-ups he was set to face in the playoffs.

In a match against Tekken Master, Walker’s late wake-up threw off a game-winning move. At such low health, Tekken Master was eager to chain together the last few hits he needed, so much that he goes flying over a still on-the-ground Black Adam, a drop that sealed the match for Walker.

If you want to see the entirety of last night’s finals and Walker’s run through the winner’s bracket, you can find the VOD in the Eleague Twitch archives here.

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The Xbox One X Is A Tough Sell

The Xbox One X does exactly what it’s meant to do, but who is it for? Is it worth buying the most powerful game console ever? Let’s discuss on today’s Kotaku Splitscreen.

First Kirk and I talk about World of Warcraft Classic, the end of Miiverse, and whether the video game industry is really unsustainable. Then we’re joined by indie designer Zach Barth (33:13) to talk about his excellent new game, Opus Magnum. Finally, Kotaku’s Mike Fahey comes on the show to talk about the Xbox One X (58:36), a console that does exactly what it promises to do… which probably isn’t enough for most people. (Read his review here.)

Get the MP3 right here. A brief excerpt from our Xbox One conversation:

Kirk: You have all the consoles, Fahey, so how do you see the Xbox One X fitting into your gaming ecosystem?


Fahey: Well, let’s put it this way: Now that I’ve completed my review of the Xbox One X, it’s still hooked up to an HDR 4K TV, and there’s a few things I’ll go and check out some more, and I’ll check out other games as their enhancements get downloaded, and see if that changes them significantly. But I’m glad to go back to my PlayStation 4 Pro.

Jason: Interesting. Why?

Fahey: The game library is what it comes down to. My tastes lean toward anime-type stuff: RPGs, rhythm games. PlayStation 4 has all of that. The Xbox One X, and Xbox in general, has a lot of the same standard triple-A games, not so many indie games, and an absolute dearth of Japanese imports because the Xbox One is nothing in Japan. It’s hard to say where the Xbox One X fits in. It wants to be competitive with the PlayStation 4 Pro—you can see that in the specs.

Kirk: And it should be said, it’s a much more powerful console.

Fahey: It’s like 1.4 times more powerful than the PlayStation 4 [Pro] is what the spec from Microsoft was bandying about. And it does have an Ultra-HD Blu-ray player, and the PlayStation 4 does not have that. But it also only plays Xbox games, there’s not a lot of them, the exclusives the Xbox One gets aren’t as amazing as, say, Horizon: Zero Dawn.


Kirk: And you can play them on PC. Forza Horizon 3, for example, I love that game but I play it on PC, I don’t play it on Xbox One.

Fahey: And the thing is, 4K is more important on the PC, because you sit at a desk, you’re a couple feet away from your monitor. So that pixel density makes a big difference. There are charts online that show you the viewing distance for a 55-inch 4K TV, for it to make a difference with the human eye, and it’s like, you have to be 3.5 feet away for it to really make a difference. And I’m not sitting 3.5 feet away from my 4K TV.

Fahey: If someone had no console at all right now, and they didn’t have an HDR TV and a 4K TV, and they said I have no console, I want to play the system with the most games, that’s PlayStation. It’s hands down PlayStation. The Xbox One’s been struggling to keep up with the PlayStation since 2013. And it’s almost as if— PlayStation’s had two iterations, but Microsoft’s done three, and it’s almost as if they brought their sandwich to the sandwich building contest and they’re like ‘Nope, yours isn’t good enough’ and Microsoft says, ‘Hold on a sec,’ and they lift the bread up and throw some more stuff in there and they’re like, ‘How about now?’ ‘Not quite.’ And [Microsoft] says ‘Be right back. Here we go. Four times the meat. How about now?’ It’s still the same sandwich, but okay.

There’s lots more discussion of the Xbox One X and much more. As always, you can find Splitscreen on Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Leave us a review if you like what you hear, and reach us at with any and all questions, requests, and suggestions.

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Ingress Players Use Unofficial Tools To Stalk One Another


In May, Nicci Kay and her wife moved 25 miles south to the port city of Tacoma, Washington where, in time, they planned to overtake the Resistance’s hold on the area. Kay is an Ingress player, an agent in a great and invisible cyberwar over territory that spans the globe, involving two factions: the Resistance and the Enlightened, of which Kay is a member. Between leaving her new home and clocking in at work, Kay, who goes by SmugLioness in Ingress, would drive to enemy strongholds—parks, statues or other local structures—to claim them as her own. Kay had heard that local Resistance members were unusually aggressive in their tactics, but was not deterred from her hunt for territory until she came home one day to a mysterious note on her doorstep.

“You are a lion,” it read. “Don’t be a cheetah.” Then a smiley face.


The note appeared to be accusing Kay of cheating (a charge she denies), but more importantly, it was unsettling for her to find. Somebody who also plays Ingress apparently tracked her down and left a note at her home. And she says that what enabled her enemies to find her was an underground, player-made tool that collects Ingress agents’ location data. Kay describes herself as one of countless Ingress players who have fallen victim to third-party tracking tools that cheaters use to gain the upper-hand—tools that, apparently, were originally created to detect cheaters of a different kind.

Unlike most multiplayer games, Ingress is played in person, out on the streets. Although it’s not as popular as its spiritual successor, the blockbuster mobile game Pokémon Go, it has a substantial audience, having been downloaded over 8 million times since its 2012 release. Like Pokémon Go, Ingress is navigated through a smartphone app that depicts the player’s immediate proximity on a map. Across the globe, two teams vie for control of “portals,” or real-life locations marked as in-game objectives. Recently, some Enlightened teammates coordinated to seize portals that collectively spanned across the state of Alabama at 10 a.m. on a Saturday.


Ingress is a strategic game. Players have a lot to gain by getting to portals before their enemies do and by intercepting large, planned territory grabs. And they have a lot to gain by continually defending those portals for long periods of time, which earns them achievements. To get an edge, it’s kosher to scope out nearby people’s phones to see if they’re secret agents trying to take down a portal. It’s also kosher to memorize times a local competitor might get off work and swing by crucial portals when they’re not around—even though it sounds creepy as hell. What’s messed up, Ingress players say, is using third-party software to track opponents’ movements, right up to their doorstep.

Riot/Clean Ingress

On Tuesday, October 17th, a Resistance whistleblower exposed their team’s widespread use of a third-party tool called Riot, which was released in December 2015. Riot is a data-scraping tool that unearths and organizes players’ activity data stored in Ingress. Most actions in Ingress are attached to a geolocation, but what Riot does is sort those public actions into easily-queried trends. Over the chat application Slack, privileged Resistance members could type in commands like “!Riot JohnSmith123,” which would prompt a bot to list and locate all portals owned by JohnSmith123, information that would be difficult to obtain and organize on such a large scale through regular gameplay.


It’s got a lot of other functions, too. Riot can list locations where users have sent messages through Ingress’s app, which can easily lead enemies to a player’s home, where they can leave menacing notes (or worse). Riot can list locations where players visit most to capture portals. It can be set to notify users when enemies drive outside a defined home area—presumably, to conduct an out-of-town strategic action. The whistleblower shared screenshots of Riot in action as well as nearly 800 players with access to it.

Riot/Clean Ingress

Whispers of high-tech Ingress tracking tools had spread among Enlightened members who felt that their opponents had a little too much dirt on them a little too quickly. A Washington-based woman I’ll refer to as Carlie told me that the portals she’d been meticulously upkeeping would often get taken down moments before they’d level up, which meant that someone was likely keeping track of her progress. Three times throughout one year, she said, her car was blocked into a parking space by another car when she was attempting to leave a lot to re-up her portal, for example—a story two other Ingress players have echoed.


When Carlie and her husband took a trip to Puerto Rico, portals they captured there were quickly taken down by Resistance members, she says. Carlie says she saw local Washington players bragging over Ingress’s chat app that they knew she was traveling out of town and tracked her to Puerto Rico, where they commissioned someone to sabotage her.

Carlie doesn’t think that these portal captures and well-timed defensive maneuvers were coincidences. The Resistance teammates she accused of participating in this conspiracy later appeared on the whistleblower’s list of Riot users—as did the person whom Kay suspects left the note on her doorstep.

Here’s the thing: Nobody I talked to argued that the data available through Riot was “private.” Ingress gives players access to a startlingly large and detailed amount of location data about one another, but that data is abstract and unfocused. That’s how the game is played. Without Riot or analogous third-party tools, it would only be possible to determine where a player spends most of their time through a ton of time and effort. What alarmed Ingress players wasn’t necessarily the technology—they signed up for this—but the way players were using that technology to violate other players’ privacy and do creepy things.

Ingress/Clean Ingress

Riot was apparently developed to detect “spoofers,” or cheaters who have multiple Ingress accounts. With some extra software, these spoofers can trick Ingress into thinking they’re in different locations so they can grab portals in New Mexico when they’re actually in Virginia. A lawyer and Resistance player named Chris Lee Norris, who says he has spoken with Riot’s creator, said that its creator was frustrated after years of asking Niantic to address the cheating problem. (While reporting this story, we couldn’t get in touch with Riot’s creator.) So, Norris said, the creator decided to collect and decode location information contained in the app “to aid in the tracking of cheaters.” One Wisconsin-based Ingress player named Sarah Jean said she’s used Riot to report 30 alleged “spoofers,” and went on to allege that players on the Enlightened team have swiped in to sabotage her long-standing portals, too, with currently unnamed tools.


Perhaps the person who left a note on Nicci Kay’s doorstep, accusing her of being a “cheetah,” was also using Riot the way it was intended to be used, as terrifying as the effects may have been.

Ingress publisher Niantic declined to comment for this story, instead referring me to an October 28th Google Plus post. In that post, Niantic acknowledged that Ingress players had been scraping, extracting and indexing data from Ingress without their consent, a violation of the game’s Terms of Service. Niantic also acknowledged that some Ingress “Ambassadors,” sort of liasons between Niantic and Ingress players, had used the technology. They stepped down or were “excused.”


“This isn’t a faction issue,” a Seattle-based player named Intoku told me. “Players on both sides have stalked and been stalked.” There’s always a level of risk involved in playing a location-based game, especially one that puts enemy players right in front of each other. Where someone works and lives can theoretically be determined by studious and long-term Ingress players without third-party tools, but those tools have made it too easy.


It’s unclear whether Riot is still available. However, for years, less-powerful tools like it have floated around the Ingress community, and it’s likely that they will continue to crop up. That’s led players from both factions to argue that the risks of playing are verging on too high. With a new type of location-based gaming on the rise, both with Ingress and the far-more-popular Pokémon Go, the rules of engagement are still being hammered out.

“It’s not okay to continue to follow a player after they have stopped playing the game,” said Intoku. “It’s not okay to identify where someone lives or works and then use that information to send them an intimidating message.”

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Sunday’s Best Deals: SSDs, SodaStream, Philips Hue, and More

Samsung SSDs, Philips Hue lights, and Super Mario Odyssey game guides lead off Sunday’s best deals from around the web.

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Top Tech Deals

An SSD is the best upgrade you can give your older computer, and Samsung’s 850 EVO line is the most popular one there is. A worldwide NAND shortage has reversed the previously inexorable downward price trend on these things over the past year or so, but today on Amazon, you can score a 1TB drive for $300, the best price Amazon’s listed in 2017.

If you don’t need quite that much space, the 500GB model is priced at $150 right now. That’s $10 more than it was last month, but it’s still on the low end of the price spectrum for this drive this year.

They don’t have the battery life of AirPods, either in the buds themselves or in the included charging case, but at $80, these tiny Rowkin truly wireless earbuds are worth a look.

Anker’s glass screen protectors will keep your iPhone displays looking flawless, and you can get two of them for just $5 right now on Amazon.

Aukey Bluetooth SPDIF Transmitter, $28 with code AUKEBRO2

External Bluetooth transmitters and receivers with 3.5mm jacks have been around for years, but Aukey’s new model raises the bar with support for optical (SPDIF) audio.


The little box can both receive and transmit Bluetooth signals, and includes SPDIF in and out ports to connect it to your TV or high-end audio equipment. Plus, it can even pair to two pairs of headphones simultaneously when transmitting, which would allow two people to, say, listen to the same TV over headphones to avoid waking up someone in the next room. Just be sure to use promo code AUKEBRO2 at checkout to save $12.

You’re probably familiar with the color-changing Hue lights that screw into your existing lamps and light fixtures, but if you really want to paint your rooms with color, you’ll want to pick up a few Hue Bloom accent lights as well.

These lights used to sell for around $80, and today’s $45 deal on Amazon is the best we’ve ever seen. If you’re already invested in the Hue ecosystem, you should absolutely pick up at least one.

If you want to take your Hue ecosystem on the go, the Hue Go is similar to the Bloom, except that it can run off a battery for up to three hours at a time, making it perfect for backyard parties. $60 is one of the best deals we’ve ever seen on it.

There are only a handful of USB battery packs out there with USB-C Power Delivery, and this is the lowest price we’ve ever seen on one of them.


$56 gets you RAVPower’s 26,800mAh battery pack, complete with a 30W USB-C port that can power a MacBook or Nintendo Switch at basically full speed, plus two regular USB ports as well. We posted a deal on a very similar Anker battery pack recently that cost more (though it did come with a USB-C Power Delivery wall charger, no small thing), and either one would be a great companion on a long flight.

You know when you ask someone to take a picture of you and your family on vacation, and you quickly learn that almost nobody understands how to take a decent photo? With a tripod, you can be in total control of those long range selfies, and this $13 AmazonBasics model works with most DSLRs and can extend from 16.5 inches up to 50 inches.

Samsung Radiant R5, $180 with code WAM5500

Much like a SONOS, Samsung’s Radiant R5 speaker connects directly to your favorite music services, sounds great, and can sync with other Samsung speakers for multi-room audio. But as you might have guessed from the name, the Radiant outputs crystal clear audio and deep bass (they packed a 5" subwoofer into that thing!) in 360 degrees. It regularly sells for $300-$350 around the web, but you can get it for just $180 today with promo code KINJARADIANT.

Monoprice Select 3D Printer V2, $255 with code 3DSELECT

If you have any inkling that you might be interested in 3D printing, this Monoprice deal is as good as it gets. Score their v2 entry-level printer for just $255 with promo code 3DSELECT, while they last.


Our deal researcher Corey is our resident 3D printing expert, and he had this to say:

I own that. I think it is the best starter 3D printer available. Prints ABS, PLA, Copoly, and several other filaments. Expect to tweak it to get the results you want, but also expect more capabilities than its price warrants.

EveShine RGB Bias Light, $10 with code AO62ENGB

We see a lot of deals on home theater bias lights, but even by our standards, $10 is insanely cheap for an RGB model. Just stick it to the back of your TV, plug it into a USB port, and control it with the included remote.

iClever Bluetooth Headphones, $17 with code PXNV65EL

You could fill a swimming pool with sub-$20 Bluetooth earbuds, but not many of them boast 8mm drivers, let alone 10 hours of battery life. Even if you already own a pair you like, I recommend getting extra sets of headphones to keep in your gym bag or luggage, for when you inevitably forget your favorites.

Extra PureVPN savings with code PRIVACY20

There’s a nasty new Wi-Fi exploit out in the wild these days, but you can protect yourself from prying eyes (and get around geo-blocked content too) with a VPN subscription.

Lo and behold, PureVPN is offering some pretty stellar discounts right now when you use promo code Privacy20:

  • 24 months for $62.40 ($2.60 per month)
  • Six months for $42.96 ($7.16 per month)
  • One month for $8.76

PureVPN encrypts and obscures all of your internet traffic from everyone from malicious hackers to your ISP to the government, and includes some cool features like a kill switch to automatically disconnect your Wi-Fi if the VPN stops working, as well as split tunneling, which can route some of your traffic through the VPN, while letting the rest go through your ISP.

Top Home Deals

Heat Resistant Cooking Gloves, $13 with code WGUYGS89

These $11 gloves let you grab a hot pan out of the oven, pull meat right off a grill, or even turn logs in an active campfire without getting burned, like some kind of superhero. We’ve seen silicone barbecue gloves for less than this in the past, but these are rated for much higher temperatures, and should be more flexible as well.


There’s actually a $15 Lightning deal running on them as of the time of this writing, but whether that’s still valid or not, use promo code L8ERJCOU to get them for $11.

For one day only, Amazon’s deeply discounting a bunch of Kalorik kitchen appliances, from electric salt and pepper grinders to a waffle iron to electric kettles, and more. A few highlights are below, but head over to Amazon to see the rest.

You could store your olive oil and vinegar in the ugly bottles they came in, or you could transfer them to a pair of inexpensive glass bottles instead. Your cooking Instagrams will never be the same.

Both of these discounted blenders come with multiple blending jars, including a food processor bowl, so whether you’re making a smoothie for one or salsa for an entire party, you’ll have the right tool for the job.

ILIFE A4S Robotic Vacuum, $150 with code DGQI57RL

Robotic vacuums are so cheap and ubiquitous now, it almost makes sense to start building a fleet of them.

While it lacks the brand recognition of a Roomba, and we can’t personally vouch for them like we can for the Eufy RoboVac 11, this ILIFE A4S vacuum has very good reviews, and is insanely affordable today at $150 with promo code DGQI57RL. Now you’ll have more time to clean the bathroom!

Some people can’t live without their coffee, but for me, it’s fizzy water. While supplies last, you can get a SodaStream Jet from Amazon for $68, complete with a small starter CO2 canister. That’s not the lowest price ever, but it’s the best deal Amazon’s run in months.

This inexpensive ned frame looks great, and its closely-spaced slats make it perfect for those foam mattresses you can buy on the internet, with no box spring required.

Whether you decide to pass them out to trick-or-treaters or keep for yourself, this a good deal on Snickers variety pack. You get 2 full pounds of fun-sized Snickers in all 4 flavors – regular, peanut butter, almond, and crisper for just $9. You can save another 50 cents if you subscribe, but remember to cancel your subscription if you don’t want multiple shipments.

4-Pack 12 LED Solar Motion Lights, $18 with code XNLCDGP3

Most of us will soon be enduring the season of perpetual darkness, in which the sun is already setting by the time we leave the office. So really, there’s never been a better time to install some affordable solar motion lights around the outside of your home. You can stick them anywhere that gets a sliver of sun during the day, and they don’t require any wiring.

Suaoki Air Compressor, $26 with code A9B8SLMD

There are few things more irritating than noticing your tires are low on air, and then having to find a bunch of quarters, driving to the gas station, and cursing the heavens when the compressor shuts off before you’ve finished filling all four.


Instead, just buy this tiny $26 compressor, and fill up your own tires from anywhere. You can thank me later.

The Nest Learning Thermostat usually costs $250, or maybe $200 if you find a good sale, but today at Home Depot, you can pick up a refurb of the previous generation model for only $139. The only real difference between this and the current edition is that it has a smaller screen, and it’s not like you’re watching movies on the thing.

TaoTronics Oil Diffusers, $10 with code 9HESUV4K

I was in the camp of people who felt like aromatherapy diffusers were glorified Glade plug-ins. And they are to some extent, but the fact you can use natural essential oils to create the scent, rather than whatever Glade uses, is a real game changer. The peppermint and eucalyptus scents can help with migraines and sinus headaches as well help humidify the air during drier winter months.


This diffuser is just $10 (with code 9HESUV4K), has 2 different aromatherapy settings, and doubles as an LED light with 5 colors options. Throw in this 9-pack of essential oils, just $13 with code BLISSOIL, and you’re all set.

Amazon makes trail mix now, because Amazon makes everything, and all three flavors are a couple bucks less than usual today. I’ve had the Sweet & Spicy, and it’s excellent. It’s only a matter of time until they can deliver this to you by drone when you’re actually out on a remote trail.

When is a pen worth $40? Possibly never, but the GP 1945 makes a really strong case.


This Kickstarter campaign is set to ship out pens starting in November, and the demo unit they sent me is incredibly impressive. My titanium model is very solid and well built (there’s also a lighter aluminum version), to the point that I don’t think I could break it if I tried. The butt cap also doubles as a glass breaker for emergencies, the diamond knurled finger grip works as a small ruler, and you can even blow into the back of the tube to to use it as a survival whistle.

Gifs don’t do the bolt action mechanism justice

The real star of the show here though is the bolt action method of extending and retracting the tip of the pen. It gives you enough resistance to be satisfying, but not enough to be slow or frustrating, and it makes a very addictive click when the mechanism slides into place. I have no less than four fidget toys in heavy rotationon my desk, but clicking this pen was all I wanted to do today.


There’s only about a week left of the campaign, but you can still get aluminum GP 1945s for under $40, or titaniums for under $70. That’s a lot to spend on yourself, but these would make great gifts for the holidays. Plus, if you pledge $8 extra and include a note, they’ll throw in a magnesium pen core that you can use to start a fire. Just take it out and rub it against the finger grip to generate a spark.

Top Lifestyle Deals

What’s better than a $13 folding camp chair with a cupholder? A $13 folding camp chair with TWO cupholders, of course.

Lululemon is normally pretty expensive, especially for clothes that you plan on sweating in. But, as an owner of a couple of pairs of their yoga pants, their clothes last forever and feel great.


Today, you save a little cash by shopping their We Made Too Much clearance sale on men’s clothes. They have a pretty wide selection of shorts, sweaters, pants, and tanks.

Dorco Pace Trial Pack, $19 with code KINJA1020A

Dorco’s Pace razors consistently represent some of the best values in the shaving industry, even when they aren’t on sale, but if you aren’t sure which model is right for you, this trial pack can help you decide.

The Pace Trial Pack includes a handle, six Pace 6 Plus cartridges (which include a seventh blade on the top to use as an edger), and four each of their Pace 6, Pace 4, and Pace 3 cartridges, which includes six, four, and three blades, respectively. The set would normally cost you about $38, but promo code KINJA1020A will take 50% off at checkout.

35% off select Breda watches with code KINJA35

If you don’t know about Dallas-based Breda, you need to. The watch brand creates minimalist, easy-to-wear styles of watches that aren’t overworked or overpriced. And we’ve got 35% off on three different styles, including different colorways. Use the code KINJA35, including different colorways. Use the code KINJA35 and grab the Valor, the Rand, or the Belmont for 35% off ($46-$52, depending on the style).

Top Media Deals

Super Mario Odyssey comes out next week (preorder it with Prime for $48!), and both the hardcover and paperback Prima game guides are both cheaper than ever right now.

Top Gaming Deals

Parrot doesn’t make the best drones out there, but if you’re curious about earning your wings before investing in a DJI, a bunch of refurbished quadcopters and accessories are on sale in today’s Amazon Gold Box.

Hasbro’s board games don’t really hold a candle to the likes of Catan, but they’re family friendly and easy to pick up, and a bunch of them are on sale today on Amazon.

20% off gaming accessories. Promo code TWITCHCON20.

TwitchCon 2017 kicked off today, and Amazon’s celebrating the best way they know how: With a sale. Save 20% on any of the gaming peripherals you see on this page with promo code TWITCHCON20, including popular gear from Logitech, Razer, Corsair, and more., $99

When CogniToys asked me to check out their latest educational toy, STEMosaur, I was fearful it would end up in the pile of “nothing special” STEM toys that litter my kids’ room. I was absolutely wrong.


At just $99, an Indiegogo exclusive price for Kinja readers, STEMosaur packs an inordinate amount of education, games, jokes, core coding concepts, and more into his softly textured plastic shell.

My six year old was excited to fit plastic parts, drive screws, and connect ribbon cables to assemble her new toy. After installing the CogniToys app and getting him connected to the internet, STEMosaur’s gruff little voice came to life as he immediately started asking and answering questions. My daughter was soon playing games, learning facts, and laughing through full conversations with him.

In minutes, STEMosaur went from a box of parts, to a toy, to a playmate, to a companion. Your $99 Indiegogo pledge (expected to ship in December) gets you a smart educational toy with near infinite replay value, thanks to a solid out-of-the-box design and regular CogniToys system updates. As an added bonus, he’s cute and falls low on the ever-growing list of STEM toys in my home that may one day become sentient and kill my family.

Super Mario Odyssey, $48 for Prime Members

Super Mario Odyssey is only about two weeks away, and here’s a friendly reminder that if you have Amazon Prime, you can preorder it for $12 off(discount shown at checkout). This deal is valid up until release day, but Amazon’s been known to sell out of preorders of popular Nintendo games in the past, so it might behoove you to place your order early.

You can also preorder a Switch bundle with exclusive Joy-Con, and the game included.






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Rocko Will Navigate Unemployment in Rocko’s Modern Life Comic From Boom! Studios

All images via Boom! Studios. Illustration by Nick Pitarra.

Poor Rocko. After his star turn in the ‘90s, not much has really changed for the poor, beleagured wallaby. Still hanging out with his old friends. Still navigating the surreal messiness of contemporary existence. At least now, thanks to Boom! Studios, he’ll get to do it all in comic book form.

As reported yesterday by the Los Angeles Times, the ennui’d wallaby will grace the comic pages this December, with writing by Ryan Ferrier (Kong on the Planet of the Apes, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and art by Ian McGinty (Adventure Time, Bravest Warrior) and backup stories by illustrators like KC Green (Invader Zim, that wonderful This is Fine dog), David DeGrand (SpongeBob Comics), and Tony Millionaire (Sock Monkey).


The first issue will feature three covers, a main cover by Jorge Monlongo (Adventure Time), what Boom! is calling a “look-and-find” cover by Bachan (Bill & Ted Save the Universe), and a variant cover by NIck Pitarra (The Manhattan Projects).

All is not well in the world of O-Town. According to Boom, a job shortage is underway, and Rocko will face all the calamities of postmodern life: unemployment, the uncertainty of a career at the crossroads, cell phones.

Like the upcoming Nickelodeon special slated for 2018, the focus of the comic is on Rocko’s arrested development and his displacement in the strange 21st century.


“The linchpin of the series is that Rocko hasn’t really advanced much,” Ferrier told the LA Times. “That [sounds] very grim, but it’s also very funny too.”

It’s okay, Rocko. We haven’t grown up all that much either.

The original Rocko’s Modern Life television show ran from 1993 to 1996, and was notable in its ability to meld a surrealist take on the adult sitcom with a format and mood that still somehow managed to get children watching. It’ll return to TV next year, and you can check out Boom’s comic when the first issue hits stands in December. Check out the covers below.

Illustration by Jorge Monlongo
Illustration by Bachan.
Illustration by Nick Pitarra.

[The Los Angeles Times, Comic Book Resources]

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