Checkpoint #4: The E3 Report

Xbox Project Scarlett, Breath of the Wild 2, Doom Eternal, Watch Dogs Legion, Marvel's Avengers and more

Welcome to another week of Checkpoint. For this week’s issue, we’re reporting on the highlights from all the major E3 shows. Back to our usual format — whatever that means! — next week.

Giveaway Alert — Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Do you have a friend who you’d like to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with? We’re giving away a PC copy (requires a Battle.net account)!

Any new subscriber who signs up before next week’s issue will go in the draw. Send your friends a link to Checkpoint’s homepage and get them to punch in their email address to enter: http://checkpoint.rocks

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There’s a lot of news to digest, so enough fluffing on about freebies. This issue is long enough that it may be truncated in Gmail, but you can click here to read in your browser if you prefer. Onward:

Microsoft: A new Xbox generation, Game Pass, Elite controller Series 2 + more

Xbox Project Scarlett

Big ticket items first: Microsoft announced that the upcoming next-generation Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett, will be hitting stores in time for holiday 2020 — we’ve got about 18 months to knock off our current-gen backlogs.

According to what we’ve heard of Scarlett’s specs, it’ll make your new-ish Xbox One X look quaint. Scarlett will support 8K resolution — which is, to say the least, quite a long-term bit of future-proofing. It’ll have a solid state drive, real-time ray tracing, a CPU four times more powerful than the one in the X, and support up to 120 frames per second.

Naturally, Scarlett will support the xCloud streaming service.

We should hear a lot more at E3 2020. In the meantime, here’s Polygon with everything we know about the console, trailers, ray-tracing demos and more.


Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

We knew that Game Pass was going to be extended to PC, but Microsoft delivered an unexpected home run for player value at this event.

Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which brings Xbox Live Gold ($9.99), Xbox Game Pass ($9.99), and the new Game Pass for PC ($9.99) into one bundle at $14.99 per month.

It seems Microsoft is willing to take a hit to revenue to continue executing on the platform strategy that has been shaping up under Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer. If you’re paying for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass already, you’ll be saving money and getting more for it.

When you switch over or sign up, you’ll get your first month for a special introductory price of $1. Get all the details at The Verge.


Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

Available in November, the popular Xbox Elite controller is getting an update.

The Series 2 will feature Bluetooth, an internal rechargeable battery pack that offers 40 hours of play per charge, and adjustable tension on the thumbsticks.

The adjustable triggers now have three levels of depth, up from two. And the rubber grips now wrap all the way around the device to stop them from falling off, as they sometimes did on the original.

Start saving your US$180, and in the meantime, learn more at Windows Central.


Project xCloud: October public beta

Project xCloud is Microsoft’s game streaming service. All eyes have been on Google Stadia in recent weeks, and we didn’t hear a lot of new info about xCloud at E3, but we do know one thing: we’ll all get to try it out in October, when it goes into preview.


Backwards compatibility

There were a couple of important announcements around backwards compatibility this year.

Firstly: Microsoft is going to great lengths to ensure that anything you can play on the Xbox One today will be playable on Scarlett. That means Xbox One games, and it also means 360 and original Xbox games that have been made backwards-compatible for Xbox One.

Unfortunately, that list isn’t going to grow much from now on. Microsoft announced that its next batch of backwards compatibility releases will be its last. Check out the list of releases on Kotaku. If you’ve been hanging out for a port and it’s not listed there, I’m sorry to say that you won’t be getting it at all.


Right now Microsoft’s most interesting work is happening on the hardware and platform side. There were a bunch of exciting game reveals that shouldn’t be missed, though:

Those are the big ones. A few other notables:


Bethesda: Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Orion cloud gaming platform + more

Bethesda announced Orion, a software platform that apparently improves cloud gaming performance dramatically. Orion aims to give players on slower internet connections a better quality streaming experience.

Orion is not a streaming service in itself, as Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud are. Instead, it’s a library that can be implemented by game publishers to enhance performance on services like Stadia and xCloud.

A beta test will be available later this year. More details at The Verge.


Devolver Digital: Fall Guys, Bootleg, Carrion + more

Devolver Digital had a bunch of new games to announce. Most of the coverage focuses on the shtick, so let’s focus on the real:


Ubisoft: Watch Dogs Legion, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey updates + more


Square Enix: Marvel’s Avengers, Final Fantasy + more

Square Enix’s main reveal involved its long-awaited Marvel game, now officially titled Marvel’s AvengersIt’s coming to PC, Xbox, PS4 and Stadia on May 15, 2020, and there’s a trailer. The game will take place outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Final Fantasy


New titles


Nintendo Direct: Breath of the Wild sequel, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Cadence of Hyrule + more

A sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development. We saw a trailer and we know the game will come to Switch (no surprises), but there’s no release date in sight yet.

The game may or may not feature co-op or a playable Zelda — the game’s producer is being particularly cryptic on these points. Tellingly so? You decide. The sequel uses the same world and many of the same art assets as the original, but has a distinct horror vibe to it.


Luigi’s Mansion 3 is heading to the Switch and loads of new details were revealed during the Direct. Luigi is on vacation, and the mansion in this game is the hotel. Luigi’s gooey friend can be summoned to help you get past obstacles, and can be controlled in co-op (hey, it beats being a hat).

The game will also feature new multiplayer modes, and launch sometime in 2019, though no specific release date was announced.



Pokémon Sword and Shield came up, but we didn’t hear a lot about it that The Pokémon Company hadn’t already covered last week.


PC Gaming Show: Borderlands 3, Baldur’s Gate 3, Evil Genius 2 + more

The PC Gaming Show is a big one, with news from many organizations, so let’s crunch through the highlights.


EA Play Recap: Star Wars Jedi, Sims 4, EA Originals

We covered EA’s event in last week’s edition, but to ensure this E3 report is complete, here are the highlights:

That’s it for this edition.

Thanks for reading Checkpoint. If you enjoyed it, please tell your gamer friends about it — you’ll be helping me keep this newsletter growing and going, and they could win a copy of Black Ops 4. And don’t forget to follow us on social media to receive interesting gaming updates throughout the week:

Thanks for your support! See you next time,

- Flob

Checkpoint #3: Another Starcraft shooter bites the dust

Google Stadia details, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Pokémon Sword & Shield + so much more that my fingers are literally crying

Hey gamers, welcome back to Checkpoint.

When I started this newsletter a few weeks ago, I knew E3 was right around the corner, but I never really stopped to put two and two together. Any games journalists reading this right now are having a chuckle at me, no doubt. There’s a lot to cover, and the E3 news is just getting started — this will be a trial by fire!


Fallen angel

PC gaming and cross-platform titles

Nope, that’s just a fallen Jedi.

EA had its E3 event on Saturday, and though it didn’t have as much to announce as in previous years, there was a clear blockbuster: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks incredible [ign]. This futuristic swashbuckler is scheduled to arrive on November 15. You can watch nearly 15 minutes of gameplay footage already [polygon].

The company also announced The Sims 4’s next expansion, Island Living. Players will spend time on the island of Sulani, where they’ll be able to work on their tan, swim with dolphins and mermaids, and try new careers such as conservationist and lifeguard. You’ll be able to live out your island adventures on June 21 (Win/Mac) or July 16 (PS4/XB1). [vg247]

EA has also announced a bunch of promising indie games that it’s publishing under the EA Originals label. [eurogamer]


Baldur’s Gate 3 is on its way. Larian Studios, developer of Divinity: Original Sin 2, confirmed that the title is in development at a certain Google event this week (which we’ll discuss in more detail momentarily). There’s no release date as yet, and it appears to be coming to PC and Stadia. [pcgamer]


Bandai Namco’s E3 announcements leaked early and Thrones-loving gamers will have a bit more GRRM in their lives soon enough. From Software are teaming up with George R.R. Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki to bring new IP, Elden Ring, to PC, PS4 and Xbox One. (Due to the timing of the newsletter, you might’ve already seen the official announcement by the time this hits your inbox.) [vg247]


Destiny 2’s next expansion, Shadowkeep, has been announced, and players will be heading back to the moon. Shadowkeep will cost US$34.99 and arrive on September 17. [gameinformer]

That’s not all: the game is going free-to-play, to an extent. From September 17, the base game and its first two expansions will be free. We’re getting cross-platform character saves at the same time, and the game will be moving over to Steam on PC. [rockpapershotgun]


A new Darksiders game has been announced. Darksiders Genesis is a co-op hack n’ slash game — it’ll be similar to Diablo 3 with more exploration and puzzle-solving.

Expect Darksiders Genesis on December 31 for US$30, available for Windows and Stadia. [rockpapershotgun]


Battlefield 5’s next chapter will bring four new maps with it, starting from June 27. [vg247]

Dauntless released its second major patch, focused on quality of life improvements. [destructoid]

And Fallout 76’s next patch will overhaul the combat system [destructoid]. We’ve heard a bit from Todd Howard this week — he says the company knew Fallout 76 would need to take an iterative approach to get the game where they wanted it post-launch. [pcgamer]


Blood and Truth was the first VR game to top the UK physical chart this week. It didn’t have a lot of competition, but given the relative size of the VR market, this is a notable achievement! [eurogamer]


The Google Stadia story

Stadia pricing, timeline, and titles

Google made a number of substantive announcements about its upcoming game streaming service, Stadia, this week.

Stadia will be available to gamers in launch countries this November.

To get started with the service, users will need to buy a Stadia Founder’s Edition kit. This includes a Chromecast Ultra, a controller, a three-month Stadia Pro subscription, and a couple of other sweeteners. This will cost US$129.99. If you’re diving into the Stadia ecosystem, you’ll probably also want to unlock the Stadia Pro subscription for $9.99/month — this unlocks 4K with HDR and surround sound, and free games and discount offers. [polygon]

The list of countries that’ll be able to participate at launch is slim, mostly owing to Stadia’s high bandwidth requirement and Google’s apparent decision to base launch countries on average speeds (not the mere availability of higher speeds for a segment of the population). As [polygon] reports, these countries include:

  • United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland

Australia is not on the list, which is unfortunate for me!

Stadia has over 20 publishers on board to ensure a well-stocked game library at launch. A number of popular cross-platform titles will be coming to Stadia at launch. Founders will get Destiny 2 and its expansions for free [destructoid], and Tom Clancy’s Division 2 will be available on day one. New titles like Baldur’s Gate 3, Doom Eternal, and Borderlands 3 will be coming to Stadia at launch [ign].

Stadia already has platform exclusives lined up. Gylt, a horror puzzle adventure game with a Dreamworks aesthetic from the makers of RiMe, will be coming to Stadia and only Stadia in November. [polygon]

[ign] is maintaining a wiki entry tracking confirmed Stadia games as they’re announced. [gameinformer] has some details on the kind of experience you’ll get depending on the speed of your internet connection.

And finally, if you just want to enjoy the eye candy and the exciting upcoming products, [techcrunch] has helpfully rounded up all of the game trailers from the Google event.

There’s a lot that remains to be seen here, but even for those of us who love our dedicated hardware, game streaming will certainly change how things are done across the whole industry — including pushing console companies to finish moving to an iterative platform approach.


Burst Fire

Quick links

Burst Fire gives you quick links to stories you may want to explore further on your own. In last week’s issue I added Burst Fire to handle interesting but non-essential links in an efficient way.

This time, I’ve separated Burst Fire out to keep the newsletter focused. I’m still experimenting with Checkpoint’s format, and will be for some time, so hit reply and let me know which approach you preferred!


Read Burst Fire


Eye-twitching

Gaming culture and miscellanea

ESPN tried to copy Twitch for a special NBA live stream, but the format didn’t translate well. [cybercultural]

For men who hate talking on the phone, games are keeping friendships alive. [kotaku]

A pro Fortnite player was banned from Twitch after claims he was only 12. [polygon]

Here’s an interesting look at the Hearthstone community creating its own cards. [eurogamer]


Another Starcraft shooter bites the dust

Blizzard news, rumors and reviews

Blizzard has reportedly canceled a Battlefield-like first-person shooter set in the StarCraft universe after two years of development. The report says it did so in order to focus its resources on Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2. [kotaku]

Low morale at Blizzard Esports is reportedly leading to high-profile departures, including that of OWL commissioner Nate Nanzer. [dexerto]

If you love a good spoilerWorld of Warcraft’s 8.2 Rise of Azsharacutscenes have been datamined. [wowhead]

In Hearthstone news, Dalaran Heist’s Chapter 5 and Anomaly Mode went live on Thursday. [icy-veins]

The original Diablo’s unofficial expansion, Hellfire, is now available for no additional charge to anyone who owns Diablo on GOG. [eurogamer]

What will the new-fangled existence of streaming mean for World of Warcraft Classic? [kotaku]


Double-edged sword

Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news

Pokémon Sword and Shield have been announced. In a Nintendo Direct, the publisher said that we can expect the new games, featuring an array of new Pokémon and a new location, to come to Switch on November 15. [eurogamer]

The games will include Dynamax, a new feature that allows Pokemon to turn into giant form, buffing the strength of their moves. [vg247]

[ign] has a pretty thorough overview.

This is going to be big, whatever ‘this’ is: Microsoft’s hinting at a next-generation Xbox ‘Scarlet’ in E3 teasers. Due to timing, full details will probably be available by the time this hits your inbox, so have a peek online if you (understandably) don’t want to wait for more details next week. [theverge]

Northgard, the Viking-themed RTS you’ve probably seen on Steam, is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Switch later this year (no firm release date as yet). [eurogamer]

If you took advantage of the Twitch Prime promo that gave away free Switch Online subscription time a few months ago, you might want to check up on it: you can now apply the second part of the promo to get your full twelve month subscription. [nintendoenthusiast]

Shenmue 3 has been delayed to November as it undergoes “a little more refinement”. [eurogamer]

Here are all 42 games pre-installed on the Sega Genesis Mini, which is coming on September 19. [vg247]

Changes to PS4 party chat are coming, including an increased capacity for 16-person parties and some interesting speech-to-text-and-back-again accessibility functionality. [kotaku]

Red Dead Online has added a new Public Enemy mode, and a Railroad Baron free roam event. [vg247]

Naughty Dog will be taking multiplayer servers for a raft of popular PS3 games offline in September. They include Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3The Last of Us and The Last of Us: Left Behind. [ign]

PC zombie-steampunk strategy game They Are Billions is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in July. [destructoid]

Splatoon 2’s final Splatfest is coming in July as the developer winds down post-release development for the game. [kotaku]

Ubisoft doesn’t have a Rainbow Six Siege sequel planned, but it wants to support next-gen consoles. [playstationlifestyle]


Call a locksmith

Mobile gaming news

Niantic is ending support for the Pokémon GO Apple Watch app. It wants to move to collecting steps data through third-pary app integrations using Adventure Sync. [9to5mac]

[toucharcade] reckons the iOS port of Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is pretty good, really.

Google Stadia’s mobile app will be pretty limited at launch [pockettactics].

Check out the first look at Minecraft Earth, an AR experience for iOS and Android that lets you build on your real-world furniture. [polygon]

At WWDC, Apple announced that it would be bringing support for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S controllers to iOS 13, tvOS and iPadOS later this year. [destructoid]

I’ll leave you with a game to replace Pokémon GO’s spot on your Apple Watch app picker. Pocket Bandit is a game that’s all about cracking a safe using the crown. [eurogamer]


That’s it for this edition.

Thanks for reading Checkpoint. If you enjoyed reading, please let your gamer friends know about it — you’ll be helping me keep this newsletter going. And don’t forget to follow us on social media to receive interesting gaming updates throughout the week:

Thanks for your support. See you next time,

- Flob

Burst Fire, Sun 9 Jun

Quick links for the gamer who can't get enough.

Welcome to Burst Fire, the cutting room floor links that I’ve collated for the gamer who wants to know it all.

Head back to this week’s issue of Checkpoint here.

Appetizers

Patch party

New releases

Reviews

Teasers, reveals & rumors


That’s it for Burst Fire this week! Head back to this week’s issue of Checkpoint here.

Checkpoint #2: Prepare to go dark…

Modern Warfare reboots, Game Pass on PC, Pokémon 2019 + (much) more

Hey everyone, glad you're here to read our second issue! This has been a major gaming news week — and with E3 around the corner, things are about to get crazier before they get better. Strap yourself in — there's a lot to get through here.

Prepare to go dark…

PC gaming and cross-platform titles

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is rebooting, with a focus on gritty realism. Coming October 25, it'll feature a single-player campaign, the polished multiplayer we expect from CoD games, and squad-based co-op. [theverge]

There's a closer look with developer commentary at [polygon]. The game will have cross-platform play, will supposedly ditch the season pass altogether, and its campaign will feed into its co-op mode.

Some hearts are bound to be broken, though — Modern Warfare doesn't have a Zombies mode. "We're trying to create an authentic, realistic feeling world," Infinity Ward's campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff said. [eurogamer]


Xbox Game Pass is coming to Windows 10. While players can play PC-compatible Game Pass titles already thanks to Play Anywhere, this expansion of the Game Pass program will bring some top PC-first developers with it. It'll launch with over 100 titles from Bethesda, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive and Sega. Timing and pricing are expected to be revealed at E3. [engadget]

On a related note: Microsoft's Xbox Studio titles are about to be sold on Steam. That means Gears 5 and Age of Empires products, among others. [techspot]


It's been an eventful week for classic id Software games. Nvidia is updating 22 year-old Quake II with real-time ray-tracing and calling it Quake II RTX. You can grab the first three levels for Windows or Linux free as shareware. [arstechnica]

Meanwhile, original Id developer John Romero has released Sigil, a fifth episode for nearly 25 year-old DOOM. It's free, so there's nothing stopping you from spending the weekend slaughtering demons. [polygon]


Battlefield 5's first new location came out on Thursday. Mercury is set on the coast of Crete, and is the first of two maps based on 1941's Operation Mercury. [vg247] Meanwhile, players aren't super happy that Dice has removed the Frontlines and Domination game modes entirely, due to low player counts. [kotaku]

Destiny 2's Season of Opulence begins this coming week. It'll feature a new six-player PVE activity in the lost treasure vaults of Calus' Leviathan. [vgr] In bigger news, Bungie will reveal the game's next expansion on Thursday. [trueachievements]

Dauntless has pulled off true cross-platform, and people are really [destructoid] excited [polygon] about it.

Burst Fire

Quick links

This has been a big news week, and with E3 around the corner, we're experimenting with ways to provide you with maximum information and minimal fluff. Burst Fire gives you quick links to stories you may want to explore further on your own.

Black jack

Gaming culture and miscellanea

Now that the historic cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris has been damaged by fire, Assassin's Creed: Unity has the best virtual recreation of the undamaged monument. [rockpapershotgun]

Disneyland just opened its new land, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, which features a full-size replica of the Millennium Falcon. [polygon] has a close-up look.

Someone has fixed up the Sonic trailer with the cartoon version you were expecting to see the first time around. [destructoid]

You can now have Pokémon weddings in Japan, officially licensed by The Pokémon Company, and I think perhaps that's enough said about that. [kotaku]

If you're a fan of Sea of Thieves, good news: a tabletop RPG of piracy is on the way. [eurogamer]

Draw two

Blizzard news, rumors and reviews

The Overwatch Workshop is doing big things for the game, which had spent some time stagnating prior to the Workshop's release. The most popular mode is an adaptation of the card game Uno [kotaku]. There's even a recreation of Super Smash Bros [pcgamer].

Blizzard is making its Blizzard Pride pin available on the Blizzard Gear Shop until the end of July. It's usually an internal Blizzard item. Blizzard will donate the proceeds to The Trevor Project [wowhead].

Chapter four of Hearthstone's Dalaran Heist experience — the Underbelly — is now available. Grab the complete bundle for $19.99, or get the individual chapters for $6.99 / 700 gold. [icy-veins]

Blizzard has hinted that we might return to Argus in a future World of Warcraft expansion. Argus was one of the most popular elements of Legion — are you excited for this possibility? [blizzardwatch]

Gotta sleep 'em all

Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news

The Pokémon Company had a lot to reveal this week, and I'm not just talking about those licensed weddings. 

The company is looking to gamify sleep — as it used Pokémon Go to gamify walking — with the upcoming title Pokémon Sleep. A new device, the Nintendo Pokemon Go Plus Plus, will track the sleep patterns of players. [cnet]

We also heard about a new cloud-based Pokémon storage system, Pokémon Home. It looks like you'll be able to transfer Pokémon between the Go, Let's Go, Sword and Shield titles. [polygon]

A follow-up to the 3DS title Detective Pikachu is coming to the Nintendo Switch [nintendolife]. 

Rhythmic action-adventure title Cadence of Hyrule — a mashup of The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the NecroDancer — looks like it'll be coming to the Switch around June 20 [vg247].

Super Mario Maker 2’s best new feature will be a chaotic multiplayer mode [polygon]. But don't expect to play against your friends online [nintendolife].

A new gameplay trailer for PlayStation exclusive Death Stranding is out, and a November 8 launch date has been announced [ign].

Starting in August, the cost of your PlayStation Plus subscription may be increasing if you live in Europe or Asia [vg247].

Square Enix's Marvel game will be called Marvel's Avengers [ign]. More details to come during E3, but we know the game will feature hero customization, a single-player campaign, and multiplayer [ign].

Open the valve

Virtual reality, augmented reality, and emerging tech

Here's a first impressions review of the premium Valve Index virtual reality headset [polygon].

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has received VR support, if you happen to have a Nintendo Labo VR kit around [theverge].

Ryzen rising

Hardware and peripherals

AMD's third generation Ryzen 3000 CPUs pack some serious punch — both in performance and value [wccftech]. AMD also announced its Navi series graphics cards at Computex 2019 [tomshardware].

Another security vulnerability that takes advantage of CPU hyper-threading — ZombieLoad — has joined the stable of existing issues. How much trouble could Intel be in if hyper-threading isn't part of a viable business strategy? [techspot]

Chaos, no conquest

Mobile gaming news

Pokémon Masters is an upcoming Pokémon game for mobile. It's battling-focused, will be available for iOS and Android, with more details coming in June. [gamespot]

Bumpin’ Dungeon is a fun dungeon-crawler-puzzler coming out on iOS and Android in July [toucharcade].

Meanwhile, Warhammer: Chaos & Conquest embodies everything that is wrong with predatory mobile gaming [pockettactics].

Unusual artifacts

Game industry & game development

Twitch had to suspend new accounts from streaming earlier this week after the Artifact category was spammed with disturbing content [dotesports].

A loot box bill has been introduced in the United States Senate by both Republican and Democrat senators [arstechnica]. As with all encounters between government and technology, the outcome isn't looking ideal [gizmodo]. Game industry analysts are betting the bill never passes [venturebeat].

The trade war between the U.S. and China may have consequences for gamers soon enough, with the Trump administration proposing a 25% tariff on game console and board game imports [vg247].

Last week we covered the news that gaming disorder had become part of the DSM. Now we've seen the first psychological test for gaming disorder [eurogamer]. Thoughts? (Hit reply to send me your thoughts on individual stories, feedback on the newsletter as a whole, or just to say hi.)

That’s it for this edition.

Thanks for reading Checkpoint. If you enjoyed reading, please let your gamer friends know about it — you’ll be helping me keep this newsletter going. And don’t forget to follow us on social media to receive interesting gaming updates throughout the week:

I’d also like to thank everyone who subscribed over the past week, and congratulate Ben H., the winner of our Yakuza 0 prize draw! Stay tuned on social for details of our next competition — it’s gonna be an exciting one.

Thanks for your support. See you next time,

- Flob

Checkpoint #1: Replay the reaping

Dauntless, Overwatch Replays, 'gaming disorder' + more

G’day mates, Flob here. It’s been a busy week in the gaming world, which is just as well because it makes our inaugural issue a real stocking stuffer. If you like what you see, please take a moment to subscribe!

A daunting day

PC gaming, cross-platform, and miscellanea

Dauntless is a free-to-play RPG, and the first game to offer true cross-platform play between the PC, Xbox and PlayStation. For anyone wondering whether gamers really want cross-platform support, the results of the Dauntless launch speak for themselves: players are waiting up to three hours to get in, and developer Phoenix Labs is scrambling to add capacity. [engadget]

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is getting a free Enhanced Edition next month. The game has long been plagued by negative reviews unhappy with the extremely unforgiving tuning, and it seems this update is focused on quality-of-life improvements that'll make it a more enjoyable experience. [gameinformer]

Dota 2 players can now access an Avoid Player feature… for $9.99. This seems like the worst possible application of paid services in free-to-play games. [theverge]

Plasticity is a light puzzle game about small acts of environmental kindness. It's free on Steam. [steampowered]

Replay the reaping

Blizzard news, rumors and reviews

Players of the World of Warcraft Classic beta are confusing so many old features with bugs that Blizzard had to set up a "Not a Bug" list. [icy-veins]

What was your biggest vanilla pet peeve? Tell us in the comments.

Overwatch is celebrating its third birthday with another Archives event — and this one has some epic skins. The Archives patch brought the much-anticipated Workshop with it, allowing players to create their own scripted game modes. [playoverwatch]

On the PTR, Blizzard is testing a Replays feature. Overwatch players will soon be able to review their 10 most recent games, with playback speed controls, the ability to spectate every player in first- or third-person, top-down views, and bookmarking. [dotesports]

Meanwhile, Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer has jumped ship. He’ll be heading up esports at Epic Games (Fortnite, Rocket League) while Blizzard’s Pete Vlastelica moves into the top job. [polygon]

Finally, meet the Diablo cosplay so good it doesn’t even look real. [instagram]

1,460 DayZ

Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news

This is quite an achievement: Mortal Kombat 11 is the first third-party game to take the #1 spot on Nintendo hardware in 14 years. [gonintendo]

Four years after the initial announcement, DayZ is finally coming to PS4 on May 29. [pushsquare]

Microsoft says Xbox One's Project xCloud already has the technical capability to stream more than 3,500 games, without any changes or modifications required by a developer. [majornelson]

Square Enix's Star Ocean remake, First Departure R, is coming to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. [polygon]

Crank up the panic

Hardware and peripherals

Panic, purveyor of fine FTP clients (and, less facetiously, publisher of Firewatch) unveiled the Playdate gaming handheld this week. It'll include a new game each week from a different designer — and features a handcrank, of all things. [tomsguide]

Cooler Master has a new slate of thermal solutions to announce. One is an AIO liquid cooler, but for the most part the company has focused on technical advancements in air cooling. Which is very good news for those of us who get a bit nervous about water inside our towers. [wccftech]

Facebook bought Oculus and spent the last five years killing what it was and reinventing it as a Facebook-scale company, according to [techcrunch].

Stack the deck

Mobile gaming news

Call of Duty: Mobile is getting a battle royale mode, with all the usual attributes: 100 bloodthirsty players, fancy parachutes, and squads. Downsides: operating on a platform with smaller screen sizes that aren't well-suited to online FPS games. [pocketgamer]

Shards of Infinity is a deck-building card game for iOS and Android, from former MTG champ and Ascension designer Justin Gary. [pockettactics]

Coming this fall, LEGO Legacy: Heroes Unboxed is a mobile game that'll let you unlock iconic minifigs and playsets from LEGO history. [toucharcade]

Caught in the crunch

Game industry & game development

The World Health Organization classified 'gaming disorder' as a disease this weekend. Naturally, the move has sparked a negative reaction from the video game industry — and, no doubt, gamers — which claims that the research is not robust enough to justify gaming disorder's inclusion in the DSM. [venturebeat]

Mark Lloyd says crunch is breaking the brightest minds in the video game industry. [gamasutra]

That’s it for this edition.

Thanks for reading Checkpoint. If you enjoyed reading, please let your gamer friends know about it — you’ll be helping me keep this newsletter going. And don’t forget to follow us on social media to receive interesting gaming updates throughout the week:

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- Flob

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