Bionic Commando was a game that flew in the face of its own era. When it reached Nintendo’s Famicom on this day in 1988—first released in Japan as Hitler’s Resurrection: Top Secret, the heavily altered home version of a 1987 arcade oddity—jumping had already become the definitive verb of the time, the thing most every video game hero did and did well. Then along came Rad Spencer, Bionic Commando’s ridiculously named red-headed star. He could shoot a gun just fine, fulfilling gaming’s other primordial verb. But he was incapable of jumping on his own, an 8-bit soldier completely, improbably stuck to the ground. Instead, all his climbing and swinging was done with an innovation that became one of gaming’s greatest gadgets: the grappling hook.
In the 30 years since Bionic Commando (or 31 if you want to go back to that anemic arcade original), grappling hooks have shown up everywhere, coming in a spectrum of styles across about every type of game you can imagine. They’re one of design’s unsung heroes, always regarded with glowing praise but remaining relatively uncommon and hardly ever commanding as much attention as guns and our other beloved killing implements. That might be because their appeal—beyond being just flat-out cool—lies squarely in gaming’s most abstract measure: feel.
Video game grappling hooks are objects of pure tactile delight. They are divorced from the needless pretenses of realism and instead are fine-tuned to tickle the primal parts of our brains, the subconscious nooks that find pleasure in rhythm and speed and fluidity. Strip the best grappling-hook games of their art and stories and characters, and the act of flinging out a rope and arcing through the sky would be just as thrilling. Some, like Grin’s underrated but comically grim 3D reboot of Bionic Commando, might even be better.
For a stark insight into what makes a grappling-hook game really work, one need look no further than the original two Bionic Commandos. The 1987 arcade edition is unarguably more impressive from a visual standpoint, and it nailed some of the basics of satisfying swinging. But the big upgrade that makes 1988’s NES version a classic and the arcade original a sort of awkward prototype is your character’s newfound ability to fire his hook in mid-air. With that single update, everything about the game changes. Now, with enough practice, you can string your swings together, staying off the ground for long period of time, flinging yourself up and around obstacles, and flying through levels with whatever inventive route you can assemble. Bionic Commando 1987 was very much a ground-based game with the hook still a means to an end, used to move from tree branch to tree branch or girder to girder as you run around shooting dudes. Bionic Commando 1988 made the hook the end itself, an incomparable tool that was challenging to wield but offered a dynamic, fast, fulfilling way to move through environments.
And that’s the singular stroke of genius from which all great grappling-hook games have descended. Whether Bionic Commando 1988’s mile-high battlefields or Just Cause 2’s tropical island, their presence and the speed and euphoria of flight they provide make being on the ground the worst possible option. In something like Treyarch’s legendary Spider-Man 2 (because let’s face it, in video games, Spidey’s web is basically just a silken grappling hook), screwing up your swings and ending up on your feet is a punishment, an indignity you have to live with before leaping into the air and getting back into your groove.
Even at 14 years old, that game remains a benchmark for virtual swinging. Its replica of Manhattan is the perfect environment for it, allowing for an endless number of dizzyingly high buildings to leap off and swing from. And when it came to designing Spidey’s webslinging—the sound and look and, most importantly, feel of it—the developers focused on all the right things. Spider-Man can quickly launch himself into the sky, getting into position to start a series of swings. From there, it’s all about building and maintaining momentum, synchronizing yourself with your swinging superhero and locking into a rhythm of button presses to keep jetting forward. You’re riding this line between precise, trance-like control and giving yourself up to gravity’s whims.
Different games handle rhythm and movement differently—you might call it the difference between a grappling hook meant to swing, like Spider-Man or Bionic Commando, and one meant to zip, like Just Cause or the Batman: Arkham games or even last year’s exemplary Flinthook—but illustrating that struggle to harness uncontrollable forces has been one of the keys to great-feeling grappling hooks from the beginning. Even the arcade Bionic Commando understood that. One of its best little touches is the way your soldier wobbles around like a helpless ragdoll when you reel in the hook from a diagonal and fight against your own forward momentum. It’s an animation that perfectly conveys the way using a grappling hook in a game puts you at odds with motion, and it carried over into Capcom’s home version.
Later grappling-hook games with complex physics and cameras and 3D models would take this to new heights. In Grin’s 2009 Bionic Commando, Rad thrashes his limbs like crazy as he barrels through the air.In Just Cause 2, the camera goes off-kilter and violently shakes as Rico Rodriguez reels in his grapnel and zooms toward its anchor. Batman is far too cool to let a little thing like zipping toward a wall at high speed cause his arms to flap around, but in Arkham City and Arkham Knight, he can’t extend that same control to his flailing cape. In all those cases, the visuals are doing a lot of work to help accentuate the speed and exhilaration the designers want you to feel, but just as important is the evocative sound with which they back it up: the satisfying clank of the hook grabbing hold, the whir of gears reeling in, or best of all, the deafening wind rushing past your head.
Unfortunately for Grin’s Bionic Commando, its great swinging wasn’t enough to overcome its bizarre Diet Kojima story and the frustratingly narrow environments that would kill you for straying too far. That latter issue was an understandable concession, but it goes against the freedom of movement and encouragement to push systems to their extreme that makes grappling-hook games so special. That’s a big part of why Spider-Man 2 remains as beloved as it is. There’s no better place to play with those tools than New York’s towering maze of concrete and steel. It’ll become a webslinging playground once again in September with the arrival of Insomniac’s Spider-Man, a game cut from the same mold as Spider-Man 2 and that has internalized all the tricks of the grappling-hook canon; you can especially see that in the kinetic animation of its lithe hero, with his whipping limbs and the way he kicks through arcs and into jumps. It has the feel of a true, modern successor that’s been many years in the making. Here’s to hoping Bionic Commando might someday get the same treatment.
Say you’re a fan of hooning modified Porsche 911s. You have an abandoned Air Force base available to you. And you just really, really loved Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. What do you do?
Well, you hoon the shit out of the 911, for starters. The car featured in this video was described to me as “a 997 BBi Street Cup known as ‘Project Swan.’” According to the video’s caption, it has a 9,000-rpm redline, 3.8-liter flat-six that makes over 850 horsepower through a sequential gearbox. I think it began its life as a Porsche 911 Turbo? It’s unclear.
Anyway, the driver, David Rawberts, screams the thing through an abandoned base in Victorville, California, while collecting letters to spell out “SKATE.” If you’ve played Pro Skater 4, then this is a challenge that you should be familiar with.
It’s not every day that you can relive video game moments in real-life with a fiercely modified car. I’m over here if anyone wants to storyboard some Dead or Alive 4 tributes.
Overwatch loves to give players cookies for explosive plays. After every game, all players are treated to a recap of the “Play of the Game,” a video replay that usually only focuses on whatever killed the most people. It’s a feature that has been desperately in need of a revamp since Overwatch’s release two years ago, but despite Blizzard’s previous promises, that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.
As a game about teamwork—with several heroes whose big contributions don’t look like exploding RIP-tires—Overwatch misses the mark when it only rewards big-kill plays. When Play of the Game values a kill streak over, say, a clutch heal or someone actually staying on the payload, it teaches Overwatch players that the most important part of the game is eliminations.
This is something devs have said they’d fix for over a year and a half, with Blizzard telling Kotaku in November 2016 that Play of the Game 2.0 was in the works. But at a press conference today, the Overwatch team still could not provide an ETA on the much-anticipated “Play of the Game” rework.
Today, during a call between Blizzard’s developers and reporters, Kotaku asked for an update on Play of the Game 2.0. Overwatch principal designer Scott Mercer said this: “It’s still on our list of something something we do want to improve. There are features that, essentially, we’ve prioritized other things ahead of them. We don’t like to set up a plan and follow that plan to the letter. One of the cool things about our development process is that we do allow ourselves to change those plans as the community changes, as we do get feedback.”
Mercer summarized himself, saying that Play of the Game 2.0 is “something we still think would be really cool but we’ve been prioritizing other things ahead of it.”
Play of the Game’s shortcomings are easily explained by something that happened to me a few times last week. Playing the hero Zarya, I used my ultimate ability at just the right moment to ensnare five teammates into a closely-knit cluster. Then, a teammate would use their ultimate ability—Pharah’s rocket barrage or Junkrat’s RIP tire—to get a bunch of convenient kills. Then we’d win the point. Zarya’s ability is meant to be done in coordination with other heroes’. Yet I was the one who noticed the enemies moving together in a crucial moment. I made the calculation that it would be an ideal time to secure the point. And I’d tell the other person to use their ability on top of mine. Yet, they would be featured in the Play of the Game.
I’m not salty. Okay, I’m a little salty. But there are a lot of ways to be good at Overwatch that don’t involve getting kills or doing tons of damage. Glorifying good team-based plays, like Lucio holding down a payload in overtime, would help hammer the message that being good at a team game means playing as a team. Back in November 2016, after months of player complaints, lead hero designer Geoff Goodman told Kotaku that “there’s a plan to do what we’re calling Play of the Game 2.0. . . It’s been on the books for a little while. It’s just a matter of prioritizing everything. We have a lot of really cool ideas. We want to do a lot with the camera work. We have ideas for cooperative Play of the Games. Because what we have right now, is Zarya could ult, and then Genji gets the credit. And that’s like, ‘Come on!’”
Street Fighter V pro Justin Wong placed first in the Canada Cup Master Series tournament with the new character Falke, described by some pros as “the worst character in the game.” The reason Wong can succeed with Falke is due to his expert defensive play, particularly when it comes to engaging in the back-and-forth duet that fighting game players call “footsies.”
Fighting game players use footsies to close the distance between one another, usually by tossing out normal attacks with a quick pullback time. For most characters, these normal attacks are a low hit that has a little bit of reach; Falke has both a shin-level kick and a low staff swing that Wong tends to use.
In Wong’s match against Chris Gonzalez, both players use their normal attacks to try to predict when their opponent will move in. They are often too close to each other to rely purely on reaction time; they have to guess what their opponent will do and toss out a normal attack at the right time. This results in some attacks that do not connect, but that’s all part of the spirit of footsies.
This video might look like Wong and Gonzalez just throwing out low attacks at random and not doing much of anything. But those attacks help them gauge the spacing between one another and serve as a defense against their opponent rushing in. That’s why, when players are hovering just out of range during fighting game matches, they poke out moves like the ones seen here.
This game of footsies is all the more tense given that Wong’s health is low, and any confirmed hit from Gonzalez would be the end of him. But Wong stays patient, observing Gonzalez’s patterns and ultimately ending the match with a punishing special move.
Compete is Deadspin and Kotaku’s joint site dedicated to competitive gaming.
So, everyone’s making this joke on Twitter right now. I’m not sure why it started, but it’s cracking me up.
This image of Captain America sitting backwards in a chair comes from a scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where Peter has to watch a PSA video in detention starring the Captain himself. “So,” Steve Rogers (a.k.a Captain America) says, sitting down, “you got detention.”
Last week, people started riffing on the theme of Steve Rogers coming to lecture about a mistake or rash action you did, and it caught on. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Please enjoy this greatest hits collection.
Hyrule Warriors came out for the Nintendo Wii U in 2014. It came out for the Nintendo 3DS in 2016. In 2018, Nintendo finally looked “Hyrule Warriors” up in the dictionary. That’s my joke about the word “definitive”! Don’t worry. I, uh, I won’t make another one, much as I would like to.
This is a video review! However, science and anecdote have conspired to impress upon me evidence that many readers would rather read a review as text than watch a video. So I’ll include the (very slightly edited) full text of my review in this post. Having said that, this review is pretty weird, and you may find your enjoyment enhanced by listening to me pronounce my way through such bizarre word combinations as “a simulacrum-claxon of a honcho’s angry inbox” atop a pillow of weird cartoon music. So I’d recommend you watch the video. If I haven’t persuaded you, well, the text-only version is below.
Hyrule Warriors takes beloved characters from the Zelda franchise and puts them into a toyful joybox bursting with cacophonous action. If you’ve ever wanted to drink a lake of cackling freak-blood, look no further than—uh, wait a second. Did I just homicide a hundred dudes in, uh, how many seconds was that? Let’s go to the tape!
I made one hundred mothers cry in the first sixteen seconds and 52 frames of this game. Wow. Oh god. I’m sorry. I’ve just spent twenty hours playing through Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. This is a game so fast-paced that it has equipped upon me an attention span liable to discover tangents. In only the first sixteen seconds and fifty-two frames, Zelda exterminated the souls and abandoned the carcasses of 100 living creatures.
Let’s put that into perspective using the universe’s favorite rubric: mathematics. By a long process so complicated it has confused even me, I determined that The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past is quote-unquote “The Average Zelda Game.” I lit up a fresh save and I attacked The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past like it owed my big brother money. My goal was simple: slay one hundred fools with as much speed as I could muster. Via this experiment I determined that The Average Zelda Game’s Monster Kill Rate is 100 monsters per sixteen minutes, one second, and forty-six frames.
In other words, if the velocity of creature slaughter and the frequency of idiot funerals are your favorite metrics for ascertaining an interactive entertainment’s objective value and if you rank The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild a perfect 10 out of 10, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition scores a rhinoceros-suffocating 570.21739 out of 10! Yeowch!
Seriously, though. Hyrule Warriors isn’t a quote-unquote “real” Zelda game. It’s a Dynasty-Warriors-like, known in Japan as a “Musou” game. Musou is Japanese for “peerless,” “unparalleled,” or “unmatched.” This title is appropriate, because these are games where the player character is ridiculously powerful, handsome, and intelligent in comparison to the hundred enemy rubes they’re going to vanquish in the opening sixteen seconds of the experience.
Once upon a time, these games started out as depictions of legendary Chinese historical figures tearing up second-century battlefields. The ridiculously malleable game design template lent itself with buttery ease to branded reskins starring some of somebody’s favorite characters. These games are interactive action figure playsets. The game design engine powers a factory that churns out Sales Dynamite.
Let’s face it: if you’ve liked video games more than a little bit at any point in the past seventeen years, you know what a Musou game is. You probably can’t throw a moderately-sized rock through a semi-crowded GameStop’s front window without seriously injuring someone who has what they consider to be a unique take on the popularity of the Musou series. I’ve been writing articles about video games for various magazines and online publications for going on two decades, and I’ll admit: Taking cheap hate-shots at Musou games has been one of my favorite pastimes as a word-typer across these decades. [Like, I think I used the exact sentence “These are games where you are the only guy on the battlefield who knows Which One’s The Square Button” in, like, five different articles under different pen names, like, yeah.] Making fun of Musou games is almost as easy as playing Musou games. Wow: see? That was my best joke so far, and I’m just getting started.
Every once in a while across these decades, a pop-up blogger’s head punctures the canopy of frothing ridicule to declare an opinion about the Musou games starting with “Actually” and ending with “though.” Today, maybe that person will be me.
Here we go.
I have a confession to make: I like these games. No, I do not like them “ironically.” I just like them. I didn’t always admit that I like these games. No. I’ll be 39 in just a few weeks, and I know off the top of my head that 78 is the American male average life expectancy. What I’m saying is, I mathematically qualify for a midlife crisis. You could say I’m at a crossroads in my life, and that this has begun to impress a confessional tone upon my monologues as a professional video game expert.
So I say again: I like these games.
However, I used to approach them with loud cynicism.
Here’s a sample of that cynicism:
“Wanna like a Musou game? Here’s a handy guide: Step one: Love the source material.”
I wrote that sentence once in a British magazine many years ago. Let’s not talk about that magazine.
Years later, in 2014, the unthinkable happened: they put god darn Zelda in one of these. I played it a bit. It was okay.
One year after that, in 2015, the double-unthinkable happened: they put god darn Dragon Quest in one of these games.
I played Dragon Quest Heroes. And, uh.
Actually, Musou games are kinda good, though.
Playing Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition on my Nintendo Switch this past week has been pleasant. The game is so stressful, yet stress-free. I find items during battles. I cash them in at the end of the battles. I acquire stuff. I learn skills. I play and replay battles. I succeed at side missions sometimes; I fail at other times. It’s a toy box full of Zelda characters and Zelda sound effects.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a big tactical action game full of Zelda. This practically begs for a classic bullet point review in the fashion of an early-2000s website.
So let’s talk about the graphics.
Despite the appearance of the Team Ninja logo in the opening splash, the game is not a rock-solid 60 frames per second. The framerate fluctuates. You can tell that the action never gets as low as 30 frames per second the instant you get into a cutscene, because, wow, the cutscenes are definitely 30 frames per second.
Everything else looks pleasant. The characters are detailed. The animations are delicious. The boss monsters are ferocious. The visuals constantly and consistently remind me of games I love, and I love that. I love the way the graphic design of the menus reminds me of old Zelda games without, you know, being pixel art. You’re always getting new stuff to use and look at and play with. Wow! I unlocked a Breath of the Wild outfit for Zelda! I don’t even know what I did to deserve this. As far as I can remember, I just played through the first level. Of course I put it on her immediately.
Let’s talk about the sound!
Usually, I turn the music off to capture footage of games when making a video, so that the game’s sound effects can play behind my voiceover and I can smoothly edit in goofy cartoon music. I muted the music when playing for some of the footage I’ve used in my video. However, this game was so noisy even with the music off that I’ve had to mute the game footage altogether so that item-getting fanfares and such don’t interrupt one another.
And oh buddy, let me tell you: Those item-getting fanfares are hot, and they are wild.
Are you, my friend, for example, familiar with that twinkly little jingle that plays when a key appears in Zelda? Or the four-note fanfare that plays when you open a treasure chest? Or the frilly trill that unfurls when you discover a secret? Imagine a killing cyclone composed entirely of such sonic signatures. Meanwhile enemies growl and heroes battlecry. Blows land. Blades shing. Blunt objects thud. Dozens of flying bodies hit the floor together every second.
I played back some music-free footage of this game on my living room television, and let the sound of it wash over me. It brought back memories of the years I lived in Japan. I could practically smell the mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke belching out of the automatic doors of an air-conditioned pachinko parlor. Musou games are alive with this warm, white noise. It’s hypnotic, if you’re in the mood to be hypnotised.
Listened to in isolation, the music fascinates me. It is a different intensity of white noise from the sound effects. Listen to the first track you hear in the first level. It builds and builds. It thrums and hums. When if ever will it graduate into a melody?
This is a snippy question to ask: you aren’t supposed to hold any of Hyrule Warriors’ individual elements up to the light.
You take it all at once or you take none of it at all.
Let’s talk about the game design.
If The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a loved one who bakes and then decorates a birthday cake and then surprises you with a birthday party attended by your living friends and your miraculously resurrected favorite dead relatives, Hyrule Warriors is a clown force-feeding you cotton candy in a loud basement. You’re the hungry goose now, dog, and Zelda is the red-nosed farmer. Your weird rainbow liver is gonna earn some goofball molecular gastronomist a freaky fistful of Michelin stars.
Uh, at least that’s the sort of thing I would have said in the early 2000s. Today I’ll speak more nicely. I honestly think the Musou games deserve a little intellectual interrogation. I’m going to make an honest attempt.
My ancient beef with Musou games was that the action wasn’t hard enough. I earnestly wanted all the busywork and action-figure clanging of a Musou game. However, I wanted it with all the precision of a Treasure game, all the technicality of Street Fighter, and all the difficulty of Devil May Cry. At the very least, I wanted some of the enemies to please hit me.
(Also, I wanted the screen to freeze-frame and shake a little bit more when I hit dudes. I mean, I mean, I wanted it to feel like I was doing something, you know?)
Dragon Quest Heroes made me pay attention because, well, it’s Dragon Quest. By finally shutting up for two seconds and getting a little bit over myself I was able to appreciate that Musou games actually are not action games at all. (I mean, the games aren’t exactly trying to convince you that they’re action games. Like, seriously, look at this combo, man.)
Musou games are Action-Flavored Strategic Job Responsibility Simulators. A Musou game has more in common with Hello Kitty and pachinko than it does with Zelda or Monster Hunter. And I mean, I’m not just saying “Hello Kitty and pachinko” to sound quirky and irreverent. I mean it: Hello Kitty is a character that exists to sell goods with Hello Kitty logos on them. Hello Kitty has been hugely influential to product designers in Japan for decades. As for pachinko: Well. That’s a little bit more complicated.
Pachinko is a game about physical trend-watching. Balls tumble and cascade down a vertical table, plunking and clacking against stationary pegs, orchestrating nearly inscrutable friction against mobile levers and platforms. A multitude of tiny silver balls plink, clack, and roll. All the player actively does is control the flow. A pachinko player’s deepest skill is the recognition, prediction, and mindfulness of patterns.
A Musou game likewise tears the experiencer’s attention span into busy shreds. You must always be mindful of who is where, of what territory the enemy controls or doesn’t. Switching between playable characters is a simple button press. You can order your captains to hold specific zones. You can clear a level without owning most of the territory. You can fail all of the side goals and still glimpse the loud word “VICTORY.” How well you plan routes which intersect the multivarious simultaneous objectives determines how much and how good loot you win. So it is Musou games are about coping with stress. They’re games about being the boss in a noisy cartoon office. Behold this mini-map, lit up alive with the fireworks of Hey, Listen, a simulacrum-claxon of a honcho’s angry inbox.
Musou games aren’t about feeling powerful. They’re games about feeling responsible. Every time I think about Musou games, I remember the all-night internet cafes of Tokyo in the early 2000s. It used to be, you could borrow PlayStation games and play them in your booth by yourself. Every time I stayed out too late seeing a band in Kabukicho and missed the last train, there was this one underground internet cafe I’d always spend the night in. It was lit electric blue. On summer nights it was frozen with air conditioning. It was home, with low ceilings, and free iced cocoa. Every night, returning to my booth with a fresh glass of iced cocoa, duck-walking under those low ceilings, I glimpsed many salarymen with their jackets off and their ties loose, smoking like chimneys, slaughtering hundreds of idiots per minute in the latest Musou joint. Why weren’t they doing this at home? They must have worked so late in terror of the boss’s judgment that they missed the last train. Musou games are thus white noise for a stressed mind. Musou games afford us an opportunity to fight real stress with game stress. Musou games are the video game equivalent of listening to a sad song when you’re sad.
So should you play Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition for the Nintendo Switch?
Well, do you love Zelda? Do you know THIS guy’s name?
Like, I don’t mean do you know what species of personoid he is, I mean, do you know his proper given name, like right off the top of your head?
Do you want to hang out with Zelda characters amid pleasant scenery whilst listening to music that reminds you of music you love?
Do you love Linkle a lot and hashtag Linkle in Smash or my Switch in the trash?!?
Do you adore the acquisition of trinkets?
Do you want to go trick-or-treating for Triforces? Does the idea of collecting a dozen interactive dolls of Zelda characters and then replaying scenarios again and again in order to obtain all manner of pretty outfits and accessories to dress them up in appeal to you? Would you like to do this on the bus or train, or in the bathroom?
Seriously, these Musou games are always bursting at the seams with collectible abilities, equipment, and stuff. It’s like they were made for the Nintendo Switch. Just like F-Zero GX!
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is a Smash where Zelda is all of the Bros. It is bursting with the ghost of Nintendo’s sweetest past. Once again, as they do so well, Nintendo proves that just when you thought you might be done with the past, the past sure as heck ain’t done with you: You will be a cold skeleton in the hard earth before you even come to terms with being able to think about milking every trinket out of this game.
Actually, this is, in fact, the exact game I was playing in 2014 when I coined my YouTube sign-off catchphrase. My friend stared at the TV for many minutes while I played. “Why would you play this?” they asked. My reply was immediate:
“Because I was born stupid and I won’t die hungry?”
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is still working the kinks out of its new map, Sanhok, adding more and details with each new test period. The most recent test opened the map to all players, who have discovered strange golden chests lurking around the island.
Sanhok started as a test map called “Savage,” a 4×4 grid island much smaller than the 8×8 grid maps already in the game. The reduced scale encourages close combat and picks up the game’s pace to match its competitor, Fortnite Battle Royale. Since then, the map returned once in another closed test and again for all players to explore. Each new round of testing has added new buildings and details, turning it from an island of greybox assets to something with more character. During this last round of testing, some players say they’ve found another change: the addition of golden treasure chest in random locations.
Posters on Reddit are sharing pictures of treasure chests found throughout the map in inconspicuous locations. One was found tucked away behind a massive rock formation near Bootcamp Alpha while another is apparently located in a forest Northeast of the Ruins. There appears to be no option to interact with them. Players are unsure of what purpose they could have, mostly joking that they hide generic weapon skins or are a shoutout to Fortnite Battle Royale’s sparkling, loot granting treasure chests.
It’s possible that the chest will have a use when Sanhok finally goes live but for now, players eager to hunt for more will have to wait for the next round of testing. In the meantime, Kotaku has reached out to PUBG Corporation for more information. It’s not quite as dramatic as falling meteors but it does add a pinch of mystery to the battle royale.
This afternoon’s entertainment is brought to you by UFC champion (who somehow finds time to have an entire professional video game streaming career on the side) Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. Prepare to witness a full spectrum of emotions in a mere 30 seconds.
Usually, when the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds circle closes, it heralds either a tense final showdown or the creeping tendrils of certain doom. Playing a match yesterday on the game’s new, still-in-testing map Sanhok, UFC champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson found himself seemingly all alone as the end drew near, but the game claimed that two other players were still alive despite the circle’s rapidly corrosive effects.
0:00-0:09: Not yet fully aware of how strange this moment is, Mighty Mouse is still enjoying himself. “Where are you?” he shouts to his hypothetical foes in a goofy voice.
0:10-0:11: Mighty Mouse glances around pensively as the circle closes in. Realization dawns.
0:12-0:20: He is dumbfounded. The game tells him there are still two other players alive, but the circle almost certainly should’ve killed them by now. “Dude, what the—” he says as the circle reaches his character. “Are you serious right now?” Then his character drops dead.
0:21-0:24: Mighty Mouse is outraged. His face crinkles in disgust. He nearly blurts an obscenity, but stops himself. The video game has betrayed him.
0:25-0:30: Mighty Mouse realizes that he got a chicken dinner anyway, and everything is immediately cool and fine. “Boom!” he says. “Brand new map. Big daddy won.”
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Experts agree that if you’re going to kick an addiction, it’s important to have the support of others. If you’re a Twitch streamer, can some of that support structure come from your audience? A streamer named Pegz hopes so.
A few months ago, Pegz wasn’t happy with what he saw when he looked in the mirror. He’d put on 145 pounds over the last five years, but that wasn’t all—what he really saw was someone who regularly blacked out, who raged at his family, who once punched a hole in the ceiling. He saw an alcoholic. Pegz knew he needed to change, but also that he couldn’t do it alone.
So, after taking a hiatus to work on himself, he decided to open up about the situation to his Twitch stream. “I just started to be honest about it,” he told Kotaku via phone. He started up a stream on April 19 and even changed his channel’s description. “Hey I’m Pegz, and I have a problem drinking,” the intro to his channel now reads. “In the past, I have let that ruin streaming and stuff IRL. I’m ready for a difference. I’m done drinking. I’m going to use Twitch as a way to stay accountable. I am ready to be happy again.”
Nearly a month later, he’s still checking in almost every day, letting his viewers know that he’s still sober. And his viewers are helping him along. “People come into chat just to talk about that and encourage me,” he said. “I missed one day of streaming so far since I started streaming sober, and everyone showed genuine concern about me missing that one day. It’s been very encouraging.”
Pegz, 25, said that while he started drinking as a teenager, he didn’t drink heavily until he turned 20. He called it a “vicious cycle”: When he messed up at work or couldn’t handle family life, drinking made him feel better. But before long, drinking became a Band-Aid over a series of increasingly self-inflicted wounds. It caused him to lose friends, so he drank about that. As a result of that, he didn’t have anybody to talk to about his growing stack of problems. He drank to remedy that, too.
Drinking “always made me feel like a better person,” he said. “When I start drinking, this idea gets in my head that I just continue and continue to be a better person, to the point that I black out.”
For a while, those brief, half-conscious respites were enough to keep him going, but in his personal life, things kept getting worse. He panicked in situations where he didn’t feel like there was enough alcohol on hand. He lied to his family about money to buy more.
“I think he’s had a drinking problem for quite some time, and I didn’t really think it was that bad, because he wasn’t, like, a bad kind of drunk,” said Pegz’ wife Kayci via phone. “He’d be a little silly and stuff.”
But recently, Kayci said, his behavior while intoxicated took a bad turn. Pegz would grow aggressive when he drank, and started verbally fighting with Kayci on a regular basis. During one altercation, he got so upset that he punched a hole in the ceiling. “At that point,” said Kayci, “I was afraid that he might put his hands on me or something. But he didn’t. He punched the ceiling. There was just a lot of yelling and fighting.”
“I didn’t hurt my wife, but I was freaking out at her and screaming and shit,” Pegz said. “It scared me. I was afraid what would happen if I continued to do it.”
His Twitch viewers could see him hit rock bottom, too. Over time, he’d built up a small but consistent following, a regular viewership of around 30 to 50 people at once. But now he was drinking while streaming—blacking out and embarrassing himself for laughs by dancing like an idiot and making a fool of himself while placing food orders over the phone.
That, too, reached a breaking point. “I got blackout drunk and fell asleep on a stream,” Pegz said, referring to a stream a few months ago. “I left it going for like 13 hours, only to have myself crawl out while people were having a blast in my chat.”
There’s an audience for drunken shenanigans on Twitch, and a large one at that. “Drunk streaming” is its own genre full of ill-advised admissions, physical stunts, and wince-inducing face-plants; you can search “drunk” on Twitch at pretty much any time of day and find yourself buried in options. After he fell asleep on stream, though, Pegz began to feel ashamed of the direction his life had taken. The aggression, the depression, the weight gain, the embarrassment—it was all too much. So Pegz decided to stop streaming for a few months and focus on getting his life in order.
One day last month, while Pegz was still struggling with alcohol, he started browsing Twitch. He’d had a long day and badly wanted to drink. As he clicked around on Twitch, the urge grew.
“I was teetering on the edge, and I went to watch one of my favorite streamers, who was just getting wasted,” he said. “I sat there and went, ‘Fuck, this is making me want to drink more.’ Then I just put ‘sober’ in the search bar to see if there was anything or anybody. Honestly, when I typed it in, it was literally people celebrating not being sober.”
That’s when Pegz decided to resume streaming—grinding day-in and day-out on games like Path of Exile, Destiny 2, and Overwatch. There’s be a key difference to his streams this time: he’d do them sober. He’d write the number of days he’d been sober in his stream title each day. The title for a stream about Escape from Tarkov is “Never played before! any tips would be awesome. 6 days sober.” His stream of the same game the next day is titled “2nd time playing, 7th day sober. any help would be awesome.” While Pegz said he has lost some viewers, first due to the period of inactivity and now to the sudden change in tone of his channel, others have embraced it.
Shortly after starting his sober stream, Pegz heard from a fan about their own struggles with alcoholism and their dawning discovery that they, too, might have a serious problem.“To that person, some of their real-life situations resembled some of mine, and I don’t think it came across to them that they might have a problem at first,” said Pegz. “That was a great talk. Made me feel really good about myself. I’m not going to lie.”
His wife has been supportive of the streams, even if they’re an unconventional way to stay sober. “I don’t really know much about what Twitch is,” said Kayci. “I know you play video games with people, so I just thought he was playing games online with friends.” Now that she knows more about what’s going on, she says she thinks it’s a better fit for Pegz than a program like Alcoholics Anonymous. “I don’t think AA meetings are his deal,” she said. “I just don’t think that kind of support group would help him. But if going online and having a certain support group of people—and having a distraction, something to keep him busy and not thinking about drinking—if that helps him, I’ll let him do it. I’m happy for him.”
Using Twitch to help maintain sobriety is an approach that Stacey Weber, a Seattle-based therapist who’s counseled people through chemical dependence and addiction, finds compelling—with some caveats.
“When someone is struggling with addiction and in recovery from substance abuse, it is extremely important for them to not be or feel isolated,” she said via email. “More than accountability to others, it’s about supportive, authentic connection to others. It’s about acceptance and inclusion.”
As long as someone is forging real connections with members of their community, Twitch could be a good supplement to recovery, Weber said. “Studies are validating that community and connection are essential to treating substance abuse issues,” she said. “So I love that here’s someone who isn’t hiding and isolating. In fact, he’s doing the opposite and is reaching out for connection and support.”
But on Twitch, emotional support goes both ways, as many popular streamers have found out: Fans don’t just support you, they look to you to support them. They want you to stream as much as you can and interact with them. In other words, in building up a Twitch community, Pegz now has the responsibility on his shoulders to maintain it.
Weber said that if anybody decides to do something similar, they need to be careful not to accidentally bring down an avalanche of outside pressure on themselves. “A relational dynamic that can cause a ton of stress and negative impact is when we try to take more than our share of responsibility for others,” she said. “While he might be the one who built the structure for the community, he can’t be entirely responsible for the community and every individual within it.”
Weber also cautioned that addiction is often a symptom of a larger set of issues, and if the underlying problems remain unresolved, then even the best, most accepting community will have trouble keeping their friend on the straight and narrow.
“For long term, sustainable support and recovery, it’s best to dig deeper into what’s at the core and fueling those harmful coping behaviors,” Weber said, recommending therapy programs that focus on mindfulness—increasing the patient’s “awareness of habitual and reactive patterns” that might perpetuate the behavior.
Kayci says this is the longest she’s seen her husband go without drinking, and hopes that this is the time sobriety sticks. “He does struggle, but I don’t think he’s constantly thinking about drinking anymore,” she said. “This time around, I have faith that he’s gonna follow through with it. I hope he does. I’m here to support him.”
Pegz said his family situation, too, has improved. “I’ve been a pretty shitty person towards my family, but my second weekend sober, I really spent a lot of time with my kids, and I really played with them,” he said, audibly tearing up. “Man, I felt so good about that. It was wonderful, because I was in a world where I didn’t feel terrible from the night before, and I wasn’t just waiting for the day to end. I could really appreciate the time I got with them.”
Challenges remain, and Pegz faces temptation daily.
“About four or five days ago, I had a drink in my hand, and I really wanted to drink it,” he said. “I had a really bad day at work, and I really felt shitty. I sat there and realized that I couldn’t, because if I did, I wouldn’t stream anymore. I wouldn’t talk to those people. I wouldn’t have anymore encouragement, and if I drank it, that would just kill everything. So I didn’t.”
The HBO show Westworld is largely focused on a single question: what does it mean for people to kill and abuse robots that look, act, and possibly even feel like humans?
Westworld challenges viewers by showing “robots” who are played by flesh-and-blood actors. It tells us they’re not real, but of course, we all know Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton are real, so we can more easily make the jump into the show’s moral quagmire.
If a robot looked and talked like Dolores, Teddy, or Maeve, would anyone feel okay about shooting that robot in the face? What if the robot was trying to kill them? What if they knew the robot only looked like it was feeling pain? And as we in the real world make our voyage from “1993 Doom Monster” to “2013 Grand Theft Auto Civilian” to, presumably, “2027 Westworld Android,” how will we know if we’ve crossed a line?
Their dialogue starts out with Bloom’s clear-cut take on the idea. “If we create machines that are just like us, and feel pain and anguish and suffering and shame and all of that stuff, then it would be as wrong to hurt them as it would be to hurt each other,” he says. “That’s the low-hanging fruit in all of this.” Then things immediately become more complicated:
Sean Illing: Well, it’s easy if you assume they can actually feel pain, but it’s not so easy if it’s a machine that’s been programmed to replicate human suffering. In that case, is it actually feeling pain or is it just mechanically signaling the experience of pain?
Paul Bloom: Yeah, that’s when the hard questions arise. I think it really matters whether the robot is feeling pain or signaling the experience of pain. There’s all the difference in the world between a creature that feels pain and really suffers versus something that has no more sentience than a toaster.
So it’s possible that you could have Westworld-like robots that look and talk like us but literally have nothing going on inside. They’re no more conscious than my iPhone. In that case, there’s nothing morally wrong about mistreating [them].
On the flip side, it’s possible that we could create machines that don’t seem conscious, they don’t have human faces and bodies, but might actually be fully conscious organisms, in which case, making them suffer would be as wrong as making a person suffer.
If you’ve been watching Westworld and have thought about this stuff at all, check out the full conversation in the Vox post. It probably echoes conversations you’ve been having in your own living room.
I thought I’d ask some of my Kotaku colleagues for their thoughts on the matter. Is it morally okay to kill a Westworld robot? Here’s what they said, and bear in mind that I asked them to keep their answers short:
Gita Jackson: No. This is a lot like the question that my vegan ex used to pose to me: is it okay to eat honey? Are invertebrates okay to eat? But the show has pretty decisively shown that they have consciousness and that killing them is at least a cousin to murder. I’m not a vegan and eat honey and shellfish but, that’s How I Feel.
Heather Alexandra: No. It think was immoral from the moment they could feel pain, let alone achieving proper sentience. I don’t hit bugs.
Riley MacLeod: Yes… an answer which surprises me.
Chris Person: It’s super not OK to kill a Westworld robot. Like the entire series is telegraphing (at least based on the first season) that humanity is not that special in the grand scheme of things and that the difference between us and the robots is really an aesthetic distinction at best.
Stephen Totilo: No, because the Westworld robots have shown that they might have sentience and be capable of personal agency. That is not true for the enemies I can kill in Red Dead Redemption. This does get uncomfortably close to abortion discussions that about when life begins, of course.
Jason Schreier: I think that it’d be incredibly disturbing for anyone to take the life of a facsimile that’s so uncannily close to being human, and given what we’ve learned over the series about the Westworld robots’ evolving consciousnesses, I’d say it’s 100% not OK.
Patricia Hernandez: Sure, if they’re trying to kill you – which they might be, in the current season! If they’re just being chill, I’d say no.
I turn it over to you, dear readers. Given what we know about them so far, is it morally okay to kill a Westworld robot?
Music of the Spheres, an eight-part musical compilation that was originally meant to release alongside Destiny in 2014, may get an official release soon, although its composer says he had no idea that was the plan.
The album, composed by Bungie’s well-known former audio director Marty O’Donnell, his partner Michael Salvatori, and former Beatle Paul McCartney, had been shelved for years after Bungie fired O’Donnell in April 2014. Teenager Owen Spence spent years trying to piece the album together using tracks that Bungie had released and put inside of Destiny, and last Christmas, someone sent him a leaked copy of Music of the Spheres, which Spence quickly put online.
Last weekend, four months after the leak, Bungie sent Spence a cease-and-desist letter, telling him that the studio planned to release its own official version of Music of the Spheres. The letter, obtained by Kotaku, tells Spence to pull the album and destroy all copies that he owns. “Bungie appreciates your passion for these works, but there are legal limitations that apply to the use and distribution of this music,” said the letter. “For example, Bungie cannot allow others to copy, distribute, make derivative works of, perform publicly, or display publicly the Music of the Spheres intellectual property without prior express written permission from Bungie.”
When Spence wrote about this on Reddit, Bungie community manager Chris “Cozmo23” Shannon told fans that an official release is in the works, making for this amusing exchange between him, O’Donnell, and Destiny 2 live lead Chris Barrett:
(Barrett’s line is a reference to a lyric from Music of the Spheres, which you can hear in this wonderful video.)
I e-mailed O’Donnell to ask for clarification on this whole situation, and he told me he had no idea this was coming:
Owen Spence, the kid who leaked it at Christmas, wrote me last week and showed me the cease and desist he received from Bungie’s lawyers. Then I saw that his stuff was being taken down so I tweeted a warning to my followers about downloading while they still can.
Next thing I see is a Reddit post from some kid I don’t know (Cozmo?) who stated that Bungie is about to release MotS officially. Which kinda ticked me off since that was the first I heard of it.
Upshot is that I’d love to stop being snarky about Bungie, but they just can’t seem to stop insulting me.
If you looked closely at the patch notes for a Division update from way back in November 2016, you would notice an odd sentence: “Fixed a Weird Door.”
It would become a trend for Ubisoft’s enormous action-RPG, which would receive many more updates over the coming months. The following May, in Divisionpatch 1.6.1, the game’s developers mentioned the following: “Fixed another weird door.”
Then in 1.7: “Fixed a weird door in the General Assembly parking lot.” … and… “Fixed some big weird doors in the Underground.”… and …“Fixed an issue where enemies were unable to detect the player after going through a weird fire door.”
Eventually, in December 2017, patch 1.8 arrived, and with it: “Fixed some weird doors.”
Most recently, the game was patched to 1.8.1. The patch notes contained the inevitable: “Fixed a weird door.”
“We are always on the lookout for a weird door,” one of the game’s producers, Cristian Pana, explained to me over e-mail when I inquired about all these weird doors in Ubisoft’s paramilitary game set in a recreation of lower Manhattan. He acknowledged that it’s become a running gag in the game’s patch notes, but said the game has indeed had numerous doors that needed fixing.
The Division is a huge game that recreates hundreds of intersections and dozens of Manhattan city blocks. It is full of buildings that are full of doors, and judging by all those patch notes, it is not possible to fix every buggy or problematic door at once.
Doors in The Division can be “weird” in a variety of ways. Sometimes, Pana said, the doors are oddly-sized or don’t fit into their frame. Some doors could trap players behind them when the player opened them or could be passed through entirely by the player’s character. Those were the problems with the door referenced in the 1.5 patch, Pana explained. Because a game can use the same coded object or model in multiple places, the weird door that patch addressed could actually be found in several different parts of the game. “Once our [quality control] team found it,” Pana said, “we were able to fix it. By fixing the actual model, we fixed all instances of the issue.”
The “weird door” gag has proliferated across five sets of Division patch notes. Pana said the developers had fixed doors even prior to 1.5 and left the you-know-what open for the team to fix more in the game’s next patch, 1.8.2, which, among other things, is meant to added a system that will connect The Division to its recently-announced sequel The Division 2.
And what of The Division 2 and its potential for weird doors? Kotaku’s interview with Pana was conducted over e-mail via the public relations team at the game’s publisher Ubisoft. At the end of a list of questions, we invited the developers to provide an exclusive about how The Division 2 will handle Weird Doors. We noted that this might involve needing to confirm that The Division 2 even has doors. Sadly, Ubisoft did not seem to be interested in providing us with this exclusive. Division 2 doors, weird or otherwise, remain unconfirmed at the time of publication.
A team of modders working to make the unreleased Halo Online playable have halted work after Microsoft contacted them in an effort to protect its intellectual property.
Developed for the Russian market and based in the Halo 3 engine, Halo Online would have been only the third game in the series to be playable online on PC. However, Microsoft ceased development in 2016. After this, modders began working on “ElDewrito,” a launcher for the incomplete game that added new features and made the game playable outside of Russia.
Last week the team behind the ElDewrito mod announced its 0.6 release was imminent with a new trailer. It got lots of people excited again at the prospect of a polished yet old-school Halo multiplayer experience finally being available again for people on PC. That trailer has since been taken down, followed by a post last night on the official Halo blog of developer 343 Industries explaining why continued development on the project was infringing on Microsoft’s intellectual property rights.
“While we are humbled and inspired to see the amount of passion poured into this project, the fact remains that it’s built upon Microsoft-owned assets that were never lawfully released or authorized for this purpose,” 343 wrote in the post. “As this project reverberated across the community, our team took a step back to assess the materials and explore possible avenues, while Microsoft, like any company, has a responsibility to protect its IP, code and trademarks. It’s not optional in other words.”
The studio sought to distinguish Halo Online and the accompanying ElDewrito mod that requires Microsoft-owned assets and code, some of which remains active in current Halo games, to work, from things like the Halo Custom Edition editing tools and the Halo-inspired but completely fan-madeInstallation 01 game. Halo Online was never made “open source” or left as “abandonware,” wrote 343. Microsoft issued DMCA takedown notices back when illicit copies of Halo Online first began circulating during and after its development. With interest rising again, the studio reached out to the ElDewrito mod team to notify them the project was not considered kosher and the modders needed to “hit pause.”
What exactly hitting pause means is somewhat unclear though. In an email to Kotaku, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to provide comment on what “pause” means in this context. In a blog post that went up just a few hours after 343’s, the ElDewrito team was also vague about the situation. “There was no Cease and Desist, no DMCA, just an brief conversation about what they suggest we do,“ wrote team member RabidSquabbit in the post. According to the Eldewrito team, Microsoft is not trying to shut down the mod itself, but rather get Halo Online code removed from any of the places it’s currently be hosted online for new downloads.
While the team has temporarily halted development at 343's request, it says 0.6 is still available and encourages everyone who wants to to resume playing as normal. In the five days since the new version of the mod was released on April 20, the ElDewrito team says there has been a lot of activity, claiming that when their blog post was published last night Halo Online had over 8,000 people playing simultaneously.
Whether simply halting further development on the project will be enough to satisfy either Microsoft or 343 is unclear. While 343’s blog post didn’t say anything specifically about PC Halo games currently in development, it said it gets the message loud and clear that the PC gaming community wants one.
“Halo has an incredibly passionate community and we’re always excited to see their creativity come to life,” a Microsoft spokesperson elaborated in an email to Kotaku. “Creating quality Halo experiences on Windows 10 PC is important to us and we have ambitions to further empower the Halo content creator community to operate in an official capacity and hope to partner together as we bring these plans to fruition.”
This week, two hacking groups have independently released methods that allow a user to jailbreak the Switch, which one group is already using to run a ported version of Linux on Nintendo’s device. The worse news for Nintendo—the hackers say the exploit is due to a bug in the system’s processor chip, meaning that Nintendo can’t patch it out in a firmware update.
The flaw revolves around the Switch’s Tegra processor’s USB Recovery Mode, or RCM, which hackers say can be easily overflowed with data using another computer tethered via the USB connection. Doing so makes it possible to bypass the security surrounding the Boot ROM, effectively opening Pandora’s box in terms of what can be installed and run on the machine. This includes transforming the Switch into a handheld that can run Linux in addition to its standard “Horizon” operating system.
While hackers had hinted at this vulnerability back in January of this year, this is first time several groups have discussed in detail how it works and what the consequences will be. The exploits were announced yesterday by the hacking group ReSwitched, which is calling its method Fusée Gelée, and today by Fail0verflow, which calls its ShofEL2. While both methods involve different code, the steps are similar and utilize the same bug in Nvidia’s Tegra X1 processor. Because the bug is in the chip’s hardware, rather than the code, the groups say that there is not much Nintendo can do at this point besides fixing it for the consoles it sells in the future.
“Since this bug is in the Boot ROM, it cannot be patched without a hardware revision, meaning all Switch units in existence today are vulnerable, forever,” the group Fail0verflow wrote on its blog. It’s unclear when Nintendo and Nvidia became aware of the problem and whether or not the companies have begun taking steps to address it, but since there are already 14.8 million Switches out in the wild, the vulnerability is already widespread, and includes any Android devices which also use the Tegra X1.
While initiating the exploit is extremely complex, and not currently user-friendly enough for your average Switch owner to attempt, an important part of it relies on shorting the number 10 Pin in the Switch’s right-hand Joy-Con connector. This what initiates the Tegra chip’s recovery mode, at which point users can take advantage of the flaw in the chip allowing data overflow to access the Boot ROM. It’s a pretty devastating bug in terms of security for the console as well, with consequences far beyond hackers simply being able to run custom operating systems. “Since the vulnerability occurs very early in the boot process, it allows extraction of all device data and secrets, including the Boot ROM itself and all cryptographic keys,” the group wrote.
Both exploits are currently in their early stages. Fail0verflow claims it has Dolphin, the GameCube and Wii emulator, running on Switch, which foretells a future in which Switch owners can load up their devices with classic Nintendo games (or anything else) without paying a dime. But the method is not exactly user-friendly at this point, so it’s unlikely the average Switch owner will want to go messing around with hardware-level tricks just to play Luigi’s Mansion.
Fail0verflow, in its FAQ, writes that it’s easy to break platforms like Switch by running bad software on them. “We already caused temporary damage to one LCD panel with bad power sequencing code,” it wrote. “If your Switch catches on fire or turns into an Ouya, it’s not our fault.”
These two exploits are how people have been able to upload the system’s Boot Rom data to places like Pastebin, where it appeared over the weekend, leading other people to begin sharing their own information about the security flaw as well. ReSwitched decided to share its breakdown of what it’s calling the “Fusée Gelée coldboot vulnerability” this week, ahead of a more complete explanation of its findings on June 15.
“Fusée Gelée was responsibly disclosed to Nvidia earlier, and forwarded to several vendors (including Nintendo) as a courtesy,” wrote ReSwitched hacker Katherine Temkin in an FAQ about the exploit.
Fail0verflow, whose exploit utilizes the same bug in the Tegra chip, decided to likewise reveal its own findings alongside everyone else’s in an attempt, it says, to separate its work from the attempts at software piracy that will likely follow from it. “The bug will be made public sooner or later, likely sooner, so we might as well release now along with our Linux boot chain and kernel tree, to make it very clear that we do this for fun and homebrew, and nothing else,” the group wrote in its post.
These exploits aren’t the only way that hackers are trying to open up the Switch to run all software. As Ars Technicareports, another group called Team-Xecuter has been working on a modchip it plans to sell that would also allow custom code to be executed on the Switch. ReSwitched’s announcement of the Fusée Gelée bug could be partially an attempt to get ahead of that group’s release, whose methods Temkin disagrees with.
“Not just do they publicly endorse piracy, and seek to profit from keeping information to a few people, but they’re also willing to drop a 0-day that affects a broad swathe of devices on the public without any responsible disclosure,” she wrote in her FAQ. “All in all, I think that Team Xecuter seems to be without morals or scruples, and I am happy to do as much as I can to reduce their profitability and thus disincentivize these kinds of awful behaviors.”
While it seems that Nintendo’s ability to address the flaw in the Switches currently on the market is limited, it could still alter the hardware it sells in the future. Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry speculates that it’s possible the T214 Tegra processor referenced in a Switch 5.0.0 firmware update could signal the company already has plans to move away from the compromised T210 model the exploits are currently dependent on. Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request by Kotaku for comment.
Persona 5 fans are very excited about a DLC costume that depicts the main character as a sexy lady cop, and I cannot say that I blame them.
The upcoming Persona 5: Dancing Star Night is a Persona 5-themed rhythm game where the Phantom Thieves of Hearts dance their way through some fun remixes from the game’s bumping soundtrack. Leading up to release, Atlus has been showing off some pretty cool DLC costumes, the most recent of which are of the male characters crossdressing.
While it’s definitely cool that Ryuji literally stole Ann’s outfit—and looks pretty good in it—Persona 5 fans have been losing their shit over the game’s protagonist as a sexy lady cop. The fanart has been spicy.
This week, Destiny 2 finally reintroduced 12-player matches to the competitive Crucible. It’s a big step in the right direction.
At launch, Destiny 2 PvP was restricted to four-player teams. Every game mode had eight total players, whether it was Control, Supremacy, Trials of the Nine, or old-fashioned team deathmatch. That was a significant change from the first Destiny, which defaulted to six-player teams. Due to team-sizes as well as an overall weakening of weapons and abilities, Destiny 2 PvP was less interesting than its predecessor’s. You could call it “more tactical,” though in the end the primary tactic was to stick with your three teammates and team-shot anyone you happened across.
This week’s limited-time Iron Banner event brings back six-player teams to the game. (It was originally supposed to launch a few weeks ago but got delayed due to a bug.) I’ve played some rounds of 6v6 Control, and I gotta say, those matches were the most fun I’ve had in Destiny 2 Crucible in a long time.
I haven’t played 6v6 on every map in the game yet, but my initial concern that D2’s maps would feel too small with four total extra players has so far proven mostly unfounded. The game feels much more active and frantic, and gunfights are far more common, but it’s not exactly crowded. Just livelier. I did a lot more killing, and… well actually, I think I was just playing well, because I didn’t do a lot more dying. I’m sure in time I’ll do a lot more dying, too.
Overall the matches I’ve played have felt so much more active, exciting, and wild. One gunfight would frequently spill over into another gunfight, and the resulting fracas was silly and entertaining. I won’t say it felt entirely like a different game, but it felt like a different version of the same game.
The “Go Fast Update,” which rolled out a couple weeks ago, has also helped Destiny 2 feel a little different than the last time I played. That update aimed to increase the speed of just about everything in the game: faster cooldowns, faster respawns, and faster movement. The only thing it didn’t speed up, somewhat controversially, is the average “time to kill,” or, the time it actually takes to kill another player.
Playing as a Warlock with boost glide jump, I was immediately struck by how much more quickly I was able to zoom around the map, flitting into and out of fights and rarely feeling stuck or like I was moving too slowly. I also noticed how much faster my super and grenades charged and have been routinely getting two supers in a single match. That would’ve been unheard-of in vanilla Destiny 2.
Bungie has also tweaked the game’s weapon balance. I’ve been wrecking shop with the Vigilance Wing pulse rifle (never a slouch, but which now sits happily near the top of the meta) along with the MIDA Mini-Tool. I’ve seen the complaint that while the faster player movement is nice, the time-to-kill is still too long, meaning it’s even easier to escape a losing gunfight before your opponent can take you down. The bigger team-sizes in Iron Banner somewhat compensates for that, since I found that if I escaped one gunfight, I’d frequently run right into another, and I rarely felt that sense of denied satisfaction that I often felt in a vanilla Destiny 2 gunfight. That said, I understand why higher-skill players might reiterate the critique that time-to-kill is still too high even in 6v6 games, and it’s a criticism to which Bungie has seemed receptive since the Go Fast update hit.
There are some other problems as well, naturally. Loot is still largely unexciting, and I found myself instantly sharding every drop I got. Matchmaking was also noticeably slow on PC, doubtless due to the game’s dwindled player base. I’ve sometimes had to wait several minutes before getting put into a game.
I’ve also noticed that power ammo is everywhere, which makes the game awfully unpredictable. Power ammo spawns have been sped up, and if you kill someone while they’re carrying power ammo, you have a limited window to grab their ammo for yourself. Power ammo is what’s used in weapons like shotguns, fusion rifles, sniper rifles, swords, and rocket launchers, each of which can perform a one-hit kill. A couple of players with power ammo can dramatically change the dynamic of a given shootout, and with so many players leaping around at once, it becomes difficult to keep track of who has a power weapon out and who doesn’t. I’ve seen more shotgunning and fusion rifling in Crucible, which seems fine, at least at a first impression. However, rocket launchers also use power ammo, meaning that it’s pretty common to run around a corner and catch a rocket to the face.
That strikes me as more of a problem with Destiny 2’s current weapon slot arrangement, since shotguns, fusion rifles, and rocket launchers are all lumped together. Bungie has said that players can expect changes to the game’s weapon slots in the future and that they’re working on a new system. I imagine this is the sort of issue they’re hoping to fix. I don’t know what the solution will look like, though I actually hope the sequel doesn’t just revert back to the first game’s weapon slots, since that system had plenty of its own problems.
With the last few major game updates, as well as the ones that are in the works, there’s a growing sense that Destiny 2 is picking itself up off the ground and regaining its footing. It’s got a ways to go before it regains the momentum it had last September, and it could well be too late for it ever to be the mainstream world-beater Bungie (and fans) had hoped it would be. But the timeline for the next six weeks is promising, with the next expansion launching on May 8 alongside a bunch more changes, including an exotic weapon overhaul that sounds like it could be pretty cool. Yesterday Bungie tweeted a video of the changes they’ve made to the Graviton Lance rifle and… I mean, damn:
That’s all in the future, which means as always, we’ll have to wait and see. Destiny 2 PvP is in a messy state of flux at the moment, but the 6v6 team sizes tip it over into enjoyably messy, and I’ve found myself wanting to play competitive Destiny again for the first time in a while.
When Iron Banner ends next week, 6v6 will depart with it. Given how much fun the larger team sizes have turned out to be, I would be surprised if 6v6 didn’t quickly make its way into Destiny 2’s regular quickplay rotation. Hopefully that will happen soon.