Checkpoint #9: Grand Theft Lotto
GTA Online casino announced, Overwatch Role Queue, Dota Underlords free battle pass, a Switch refresh, and more
Welcome back to Checkpoint!
Grand Theft Auto Online’s casino DLC has a release date, a Role Queue system is coming to both quick play and competitive mode in Overwatch, there’s a quarantined party zone for cheaters in Apex Legends, Pokémon Go gets a quality-of-life update, and the first The Witcher TV series trailer is here.
Let's get into it.
Grand Theft Lotto
PC gaming and cross-platform titles
The long-awaited free DLC for Grand Theft Auto Online, Diamond Casino and Resort, lands on Tuesday. Players will get to try their hand at games like blackjack, roulette, poker, and slot machines. There’ll also be horse races, new cars, and a purchasable Master Penthouse.
Ubisoft is joining the fray of games subscription services this September with Uplay+ (US$15/mo), and has unveiled the full list of 108 games that will be available at launch (most of Ubisoft’s titles, and — the big draw, if any — almost all DLC).
A platter of Overwatch news this week:
A Role Queue system is rolling out to both Competitive and, for some reason, Quick Play. In Competitive mode, you’ll have a Skill Rating for each role from now on, which means you’ll need to do 15 placement matches to get sorted across the board.
The Summer Games are back, with some new skins and weekly challenge events. Players aren’t too enthused about the skin selection and it seems Summer Games is getting a little played out at this point.
A PTR patch is bringing some changes: ultimate generation has been slowed down, Brigitte is less tanky, and Moira can fade when stunned.
A Twitter teaser seems to have provided some very vague hints on Hero 31.
Apex Legends has a beautiful way to deal with cheaters: it’ll take them out of your queue (you are a good, upstanding citizen, yes?) and force them to play with one another.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is starting to flesh out a story for its world, and has dropped a cinematic trailer to introduce you to it. I’ll avoid giving you the details here should you prefer not to have it spoiled for you. Meanwhile, a hefty update has been released, including an Erangel remaster, car radios, changes to healing, and more.
Fortnite had an end-of-season monster versus mecha battle over the weekend. It added some Tac Shotgun variants and made some sniper changes in the same patch. And it looks like Save the World is going free-to-play next season (reportedly), which probably makes sense, since I don’t know anyone who has actually bought it.
Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news
Hot on the heels of the Switch Lite announcement, Nintendo has revealed a mainline Switch refresh that features significantly longer battery life.
After Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate last month, users figured out that you could load up on the cheaper Xbox Live Gold subscription and have that time converted into Game Pass Ultimate time for $1 — which includes Live Gold, Game Pass, and Game Pass for PC. Instead of trying to squash this trick, Microsoft has embraced it and is encouraging users to go for it.
New Switch Joy-Con color combos are on the way! You can see them all in this handy post. All I can say is that I’m suddenly unhappy with my neons, but too paralyzed by choice to know what I’d buy instead.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 has a release date, and it is October 31, which you may also recognize as Halloween. Apt.
Nintendo being Nintendo, it has deleted a popular user-made Mario Maker 2 level for unexplained reasons. As far as I am concerned, this company banks on its nostalgic adoration to get away with far too much fan-hostile bullshit — particularly when those fans are creators.
A Turing-Complete Wipe
Gaming culture, industry, and miscellanea
The first trailer for Netflix’s The Witcher is here. Let’s not waffle on about it — just go and watch, if you haven’t already, then let me know what you think (hit reply to this email). Meanwhile, new details about the Magic: The Gathering animated series have spilled.
In high-profile departures: Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce is leaving the company after 28 years, while Tim Willits is leaving Id Software after 24 years. Both represent the end of the line for the old guard at each company.
Microsoft has released its Q4 fiscal year 2019 financials and says that Xbox revenue has dropped by a massive 48%, supposedly due to “current-gen fatigue”. Of course, it’s more likely that this is because Microsoft has teased new consoles than fatigue — the “current” PC generation has been incrementally improving for 30+ years.
Ah, a Turing-complete computer made out of sewerage in Cities: Skylines. Elsewhere in more pleasant user-generated content, someone has built a giant piano in Minecraft Earth.
VR, AR, streaming, and other emerging tech
Google has had to do a lot of clarification about what’s included in the monthly subscription recently (noting that it is not a games subscription service like Game Pass). It does plan to offer “roughly” one free game per month, a number that does not try hard to compete with Xbox Live Gold, PlayStation Plus, or the Epic Games Store. It also won’t support Bluetooth audio at launch, and TV play with a Chromecast will require official Stadia controllers.
Gorn, the VR gladiator game, has finally left early access. It’s available on Steam and the Humble store for $15, and can be used with the Index, Vive, or Rift..
Ahead of the Curveball
Mobile gaming news
Overwatch comics are coming to mobile via Snapchat, with existing releases Train Hopper and Dragon Slayer coming first. They’ll be converted into a mobile-first format, with animations and other dynamic features.
The latest Pokémon Go update introduces a raft of quality-of-life improvements, including the ability to check IVs within the app, and easier curveball throws on large phones (as an XS Max owner, thanks Niantic).
A new Pokémon Masters trailer has shown off the mobile game’s co-op gameplay, where you’ll play against AI opponents with two friends.
That’s it for this edition.
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