Checkpoint #12: Swat Me Baby, One More Time
Get prepped for World of Warcraft Classic, new Modern Warfare details, Fortnite mechs are meching everyone mad, and Discord streaming drops
Welcome back to Checkpoint!
I hope you missed me. You might have noticed that Checkpoint did not cruise into your inbox this weekend as expected. Or perhaps you didn’t notice its absence at all — but don’t tell me that, for my ego is fragile and needy.
In any case, you deserve an explanation: I’m experimenting with a mid-week schedule in order to make healthier decisions and spend more of my weekend in the real world. I enjoy writing Checkpoint, but my day job in digital media keeps me glued to a screen during the week, and it makes more sense to consolidate that time and disconnect more fully when I’m meant to be disconnected.
Please feel free to send me any feedback about the experiment by hitting reply on this email, and we’ll see where things settle over the coming weeks.
Enough jibber-jabber, though: we have news to catch up on! Let's get into it.
She Shook Me Cold War
PC gaming and cross-platform titles
World of Warcraft Classic’s launch day is getting very close. To help you create as much nostalgia as possible, Blizzard has set up a tool to help old guildmates find each other, and you can now reserve up to three character names ahead of launch. If you can’t wait for the end of August, the closed beta has returned for a few final days.
Meanwhile, if you’re playing World of Warcraft proper, you might want to know about these buffs to arms warriors, destro warlocks, frost and unholy death knights, and resto shamans.
Overwatch’s latest patch has pulled Sigma, a new tank, and the Role Queue matchmaking system out of the PTR and onto the live client. Early reports indicate that people are loving Role Queue in comp and I agree — though I found it a bit suffocating in Quick Play on the PTR.
Blizzard’s content release schedule is ramping up as planned, and president J. Allen Brack is pleased with the company’s progress. There are obviously a lot of question marks hanging over Blizzard fans’ heads as we wait to see how this fundamental shift in Blizzard philosophy works out.
Infinity Ward has released 24 minutes of 4K Call of Duty: Modern Warfare multiplayer gameplay, and it seems like the game will be as fast-paced as ever. Modern Warfare will feature dedicated servers — a lack of which has been a major source of controversy for some titles in the series. And there’s some heavy non-verbal hinting here that the game will get a battle royale mode after all.
Overpowered mechs made the Fortnite community very mad last week, with many dedicated players taking temporary detours into other games. Epic is not ready to remove mechs from the game, but they have drastically reduced their spawn rates.
Ark: Genesis is the next chapter for Ark: Survival Evolved, and will include two expansion packs featuring new biomes, missions, new creatures, and most importantly, giant turtle-islands. Discworld-esque, except that they do not swim in space.
Foundation is a peaceful, fun medieval city-builder in early access for those days when you need to take the intensity level down a bit. This game is all about the building, with no combat elements.
Say a final farewell to the Minecraft Super Duper Graphics pack. It was originally slated for fall 2017, but we’ve had radio silence until today’s news: it has been scrapped entirely because of performance issues. Minecraft may not be a graphically complex game, but it is expected to run across a wide variety of predominantly lower-end devices, which is likely what sealed the pack’s fate.
Drop the Pressure
Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news
Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have all decided not to allow loot boxes on their platforms unless publishers have disclosed drop rates.
Xbox Scarlett’s main goal is to improve frame rates and playability, according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Microsoft also appears to be committing to future compatibility, so your console-related purchases are rendered useless by new generations less frequently.
In a move that would have been outright shocking in Ballmer’s Microsoft but is just mostly surprising in Nadella’s, we’re hearing that Xbox may allow its new studios to create cross-platform games, including rival platforms Switch and PlayStation.
We’ve gotten some real-world numbers on the new Switch model’s Breath of the Wild battery life: with a new unit’s virgin battery, at least, you can run Zelda for a whopping 5.5 hours. Nintendo also appears to be preparing for the release of a SNES-style controller for the Switch.
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
VR, AR, streaming, and other emerging tech
Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell has left Facebook, following departures by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, and Michael Antonov over the past three years. As UploadVR notes, Mitchell was the last remaining Oculus co-founder. But as far as indictments of Facebook’s culture goes, it’s actually much worse than that. With Mitchell’s departure, there’s not a single founder from any of Facebook’s cornerstone acquisitions (Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus) left, and all of them left with a great deal of animosity towards the company and Zuckerberg.
Lost in the Echo
Mobile gaming news
CCP Games is trying to bring New Eden to Android and iOS with EVE Echoes, and a closed alpha starts on August 26. I haven’t played EVE in a long time, but I’m curious to see how the company approaches MMO-style mobile game development.
Acclaimed adventure game Journey has had a surprise release on iOS, the month after the same studio’s new mobile game, Sky: Children of the Light, was launched.
Swat Me Baby, One More Time
Gaming culture, industry, and miscellanea
Discord now lets you stream gameplay for up to 10 friends, offering a medium to users who don’t want to stream publicly but are keen to let their social circles see what they’re up to. It’ll be interesting to see whether Discord is testing the waters for something bigger, or if this is a quality-of-life feature that we should take as-is.
That $3 million Fortnite World Cup winner we mentioned the other week? He’s the latest high-profile streamer who has had to deal with a swatting incident.
In Australia, an exclusive panel of bureaucrats regularly and consistently acts against the wishes of the public. I could be referring to Parliament House, but in this case it’s the Australian Classification Board, which effectively banned DayZ in the country because unused marijuana models were found in the game files. The developer has understandably decided to remove the plant — something that occurs naturally in the world regardless of its legal status — from the client worldwide to avoid further upset. But it shouldn’t have had to do so.
Roblox may not be of much interest to the core gamer subculture, but it is quietly becoming a massive development platform and is very much worth keeping an eye on as an innovator in the games-as-a-service and games-as-a-platform business.
And just for fun: a Mario Maker 2 savant has built a fully-functional calculator in-game. It’s just very, very slow.
That’s it for this edition.
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