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 LegendsPokémon 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 OnlineDiamond 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:

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.

This week in anti-DLC: Dota Underlords’ first battle pass will be free.

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.

Neon Paralysis

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.

Surprising nobody, Super Mario Maker 2 is June’s best-selling game.

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.

Gorn Gore

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).

new Pokémon Masters trailer has shown off the mobile game’s co-op gameplay, where you’ll play against AI opponents with two friends. 

Sky: Children of Light, from the designer of Journey, has finally arrived on iOS after its reveal at the 2017 Apple iPhone keynote.

That’s it for this edition.

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- Flob

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