Microsoft is only launching one next-generation Xbox, not two

Microsoft revealed its next-generation Xbox Project Scarlett console on stage at E3 earlier this month, but many had been expecting two consoles to be unveiled. Rumors previously suggested that Microsoft was working on a pair of new devices: one codenamed Anaconda that would be high-end, and another codenamed Lockhart that would be the more affordable option. Thurrott.com reports that Microsoft is now focused solely on a high-end Xbox console, under the broader Project Scarlett effort. While Xbox chief Phil Spencer did reveal the company was “deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” at E3 last year, plans have clearly changed as only Project Scarlett was mentioned as a single console this year. Thurrott previously reported that… Read the full article…

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is out now for iOS and Android in the US

Pokémon Go creator Niantic Labs’ newest augmented reality game based on the Harry Potter universe is available now for both iOS and Android in the US, a day earlier than we anticipated it would launch in the region. The game, called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, is similar in style to Pokémon Go, asking players to traverse a virtual map overlaid on the real world and collect magical artifacts. Originally, Niantic and its partner Portkey Games, the new subsidiary of Warner Bros. Games dedicated to the J.K. Rowling franchise, said the title would be available on Friday, June 21st in the US and the UK as part of the beginning of its global rollout. It’s not clear if it is also available in the UK, but US users should have no problem… Read the full article…

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2’s creators want the game to grow up — but stay weird

In the cult 2004 role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, vampires love to dance. Your protagonist can show up at a nightclub and jump into the center of the action, throwing their limbs wildly with an enthusiasm that’s not generally credited to the undead. And in a demo of Bloodlines’ upcoming sequel from Hardsuit Labs and Paradox Interactive, dancing is one of the first things you see, courtesy of a team member who did “extensive research” into the game’s original animations. Developer Hardsuit Labs seems to be building a lot of these little, familiar details in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. But in an interview at E3, its creators also talked about how to translate the original game’s tone and ideas into a new… Read the full article…

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Review

Twenty years ago, Naughty Dog’s Crash Team Racing made a name for itself as “the other good kart racer.” And to this day its dynamic courses, flavorful lore, challenging-yet-clear power-sliding mechanic, and lack of catch-up items make it a game that deserves better than living in Mario Kart’s shadow. Despite a few seriously frustrating single-player races, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a thrilling ride that keeps the excellent original game intact while adding some quality of life updates, such as an improved HUD, and obligatory modern trappings such as unlockable cosmetics. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled instantly transports me back to 1999 and the early 2000s with its familiar tracks, cartoonishly bright colors, and ridiculous plot of stopping Nitros Oxide from turning Earth into a parking lot. But this remaster is far from stuck in the past: visually, it looks stunning with vivid details around every corner and animations that give Read the full article…

Link’s Awakening Switch: I Stole From a Shop and Was Murdered

After playing over 30 minutes of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Remastered for Nintendo Switch I learned three main things: The combat feels great, old-school Zelda puzzles are still fun (and unchanged), and this game is struggling to perform acceptably on the Switch (at least in full-screen mode on a TV) in its current state. Oh, and I also learned that stealing is wrong (albeit very fun). There’s a video of the incident below. Let’s start with the good stuff: The shield is now mapped to the right trigger so it no longer takes up one of two inventory slots. This means you can block, stab, swipe, spin, AND jump (with Roc’s Feather, which I got in Tail Cave) all without juggling inventory slots. If you’ve played the original game, you know this was annoying and fixing it is a big deal. Here’s some combat footage from my playthrough Read the full article…

Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Speed Champions Review

Playground Games is doing its best to please everybody. Forza Horizon 4’s first expansion – Fortune Island – was the DLC for authentic driving and drifting purists, but its second is a quirkier package that’s more in line with Forza Horizon 3’s memorably wacky Hot Wheels add-on from 2017. After that, Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Speed Champions feels like a logical leap and it looks absolutely terrific, although it doesn’t quite hit the same heights as its Hot Wheels-based predecessor (figuratively or, indeed, literally). LEGO Speed Champions remains in sync with Playground’s previous work with Hot Wheels – just like the enormous, highway-width orange tracks of Hot Wheels Island, the LEGO bricks here have been scaled up to suit the real world, as if some billionaire lost a bet to a 10-year-old in the toy aisle. The LEGO looks quite remarkable, too – especially under bright sunlight. The softly-scratched surfaces Read the full article…

China to lose top spot to US in 2019 gaming market

China is losing its global lead in games. By the end of 2019, the U.S. will replace China as the world’s largest gaming market, with an estimated revenue of $36.9 billion, says a new report from research firm Newzoo. This will mark the first time since 2015 that the U.S. will top the global gaming market, thanks to healthy domestic growth in consoles. Globally, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and other console games are on track to rise 13.4% in revenue this year. Driving the growth is the continued shift toward the games-as-a-service model, Newzoo points out, on top of a solid installed base across the current console generation and spending from new model releases. China, on the other hand, suffered from a nine-month freeze on game licenses last year that significantly shrank the stream of new titles. Though applications have resumed, industry experts warn of a slower and stricter approval process that Read the full article…

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will launch on June 21st

After a year of teasing out Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Niantic (the company behind Pokémon GO) and WB Games have at long last announced an official release date for the game: June 21st. The news came this evening at a press event held just outside of Universal Studios’ Wizarding World (where else?). Though details were light, Niantic also confirmed plans to hold events similar to its Pokémon GO Fests for this new Potter title. The game first rolled out in a limited “beta” phase in early May, available only in Australia and New Zealand. I asked if the June 21st date was for a worldwide release, and was told that June 21st marks the beginning of a wider country-by-country rollout, with the U.S. and U.K. getting access first. Curious as to what Niantic’s Potter-themed follow-up to Pokémon GO is like? We went hands-on with an early build about three months Read the full article…

Dr. Mario is in (on iOS and Android) July 10

After years of heel dragging, Nintendo finally opened itself up to the smartphone world in late-2016. The gaming giant hasn’t exactly opened the floodgates in the intervening years, but Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Dragalia Lost have filled the void in some form or other. There’s something to be said for the company’s thoughtful approach to the category. Nintendo clearly values its IP and is only interested in releasing games that make sense on the platform. Dr. Mario is pretty high on that list. After all, similar puzzle-style games have come to dominate the mobile platform, and Nintendo had a perfectly good title gathering dust. Dr. Mario World was unveiled back in February — or the title was, at least — with a broad summer release for iOS and Android. Last night, Nintendo offered a deeper glimpse in the form of a YouTube video. The basics of Read the full article…

More magic for ‘Pokèmon Go’ creator Niantic? ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ set for Friday release

(Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Images) Take a break from catching them all in “Pokèmon Go,” and raise your magic wand, or smartphone, for a new augmented reality offering from Niantic, as “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is set for a global launch beginning Friday. A tweet Tuesday night provided a cinematic preview of what to expect from the new game, which, like “Pokemon Go,” layers an animated universe onto the real world. The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information as the game goes live in your region soon. #WizardsUnite pic.twitter.com/ckk4s4mi8a — Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (@HPWizardsUnite) June 19, 2019 Not a lot of details in there for the rollout, but the U.S. and U.K. will apparently get the first chance to play. Niantic and WB Games gave a sneak peek of what to expect back Read the full article…

Fortnite superstar Ninja and DJ Marshmello are headlining a gaming and music festival in Las Vegas

The next big act for Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the Fortnite star and Twitch streamer, is headlining a music festival. Well, to be clear, it’s both a music and a gaming festival, a unique hybrid experience in Las Vegas dubbed Metarama. The event, which revealed its lineup this morning, is being put together by C3 Presents, the massive and experienced organization behind Chicago’s Lollapalooza and its various international editions, as well as Texas’ Austin City Limits festival. The website describes it as “a first-of-its-kind festival experience where the worlds of gaming, live music, e-sports, comedy, streaming, cosplay, and more collide.” Ninja is the big act on the bill alongside his friend, superstar DJ and electronic music producer… Read the full article…

Journey creator’s new game is designed ‘to battle against the human nature’

Journey creator Jenova Chen is drawn to making positive game experiences. Thatgamecompany’s latest title, Sky: Children of the Light, is an exploration into altruism and kindness, wrapped up in a beautiful mobile experience. But just as Journey made Chen eager to create something players could share with their less video game-inclined friends, Sky has taught him an important lesson as well: people sort of suck. “We also have to make sure the social dynamics don’t become hostile,” Chen says. “We want this to be a friendly experience … we designed so many things to battle against the human nature, to keep this world friendly.” Journey, released in 2012, was an instant hit among critics, who praised its gorgeous world and innovative… Read the full article…

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is a free-form 2D brawler with a unique sense of melancholy

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is a game that wears its influences on its sleeve, yet manages to feel altogether exceptional. At first glance, it appears to be a simple, side-scrolling beat-em-up in thrall to River City Ransom, but it blends life-sim elements from games like Persona and Shenmue with punchy combat and excellent, world-weary writing that you wouldn’t expect from a pixel-art tale about delinquent school kids. I played a lot of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa on a recent vacation and couldn’t get it out of my head, so I got in touch with its developer, which turned out to be just one guy from Moscow who goes by the name Yeo. As it happens, the story behind the game is as unusual as the game itself. It’s not every day that you… Read the full article…