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Category - Xbox

Another Hint Of Overwatch’s New Character Emerges


The drip feed rollout of hints regarding the next playable character in Overwatch continues today, this time with a new image.

Overwatch’s Twitter account today sent out a message in the guise of a news story update that references Efi Oladele, the young girl who was first introduced last week.

No Caption Provided

The tweet reads, “[UPDATE] Genius grant recipient and Numbani local Efi Oladele posts curious image on her holovid channel, declaring: ‘Time to get to work!'” This was accompanied by the image above of a shopping list. She’s widely presumed to be building whatever is going to become the new playable character, and most of the items on the list appear to be for it.

Aside from the fact that it’s likely to be some kind of robot or android, we don’t yet have a clear idea of what form the new character will take.

Blizzard began teasing the new character last week. There was an in-world interview with Efi, an update to the in-game arrivals board on Numbani, and then a fake news story about an incident at an airport, which was then reflected in-game. Meanwhile, director Jeff Kaplan has said the character is “not who you think it is.”

Source: Gamespot


Middle-earth: Shadow Of War Confirmed, Watch The Epic Announcement Trailer

After yesterday’s leak, Warner Bros. today officially announced a follow-up to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The new game, as rumored, is titled Shadow of War.

The amazing announcement trailer can be seen in the video embed above. It’s a CG video, with the first gameplay slated to arrive on March 8.

Like Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War is developed by Monolith Productions. Talion and Celebrimbor return from the first game; they must “go behind enemy lines to forge an army and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.” The first game’s praised Nemesis System also returns.

Here is the official plot description for Shadow of War:

“In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. The open-world action-adventure game is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from the first game is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience.”

Shadow of War is set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

“Following the amazing reception to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, we massively expanded every dimension of the game, including the world, the story, the RPG systems, the core gameplay, and of course the personal player stories of the Nemesis System,” Monolith Productions VP Michael de Plater said in a statement. “As lifelong fans of Middle-earth, we are so grateful to have the privilege to bring to life the most incredible fantasy world ever created in a new way, for a new generation. With Middle-earth: Shadow of War, we can’t wait to see the amazing stories players are going to create and share.”

Shadow of War’s updated Nemesis System features an element called “Followers.” These are characters that will add “entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal, and revenge.” The Nemesis System from the first game was a gameplay system that allowed enemies to remember every encounter with the player. The enemies also have different personalities.

Overall, Monolith is promising a “richer, more personal, and expansion world” for Shadow of War. Players can expect to see “epic heroes and villains,” as well as “iconic locations, original enemy types, even more personalities, and a new cast of characters with untold stories.”

In its own statement, Microsoft confirmed that Shadow of War will be an Xbox Play Anywhere title for Xbox One and Windows 10. This means buying a digital copy for either platform provides access to it on the other. Additionally, Microsoft announced that Shadow of War will be available on Project Scorpio this holiday. The game will also be available on PlayStation 4 Pro.

Shadow of War launches on August 22 in North America and August 25 in Europe.

Source: Gamespot


Look At This Skinny Xbox One Controller

Available in the US February 21 from Hyperkin (Australian availability yet to be confirmed), the X91 wired Xbox One controller is designed to replicate the slender form factor of the game pads of old. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.

The X91 will also be available in red and black. All three will retail for $US29.99 ($40).

I just received a review sample of the X91 and have yet to put it through its paces, but it’s just such a unique shape compared to other Xbox One controllers that I felt I had to share.

It’s the bastard child of an Xbox One controller and a Super Nintendo game pad, its grips short and stunted, its guide button significantly shrunken. The analogue sticks might look smaller, but they’re the same size as Microsoft’s official ones.

I’ve been playing on my NES Classic quite a bit recently (the kids need teaching), so I am used to a controller that’s wide and not tall. The only stumbling block I foresee is the bumpers and triggers, as the X91 doesn’t sport the extended grips that allow my forefinger to rest comfortably against the controller’s backside.

I’ll be giving the oddly-shaped controller a go over the next week to see how it handles Xbox One and PC games. Until then, just look at it. Weird.


The Overwatch Playboy parody ‘Playwatch Magazine’ has been shut down by a copyright claim

Last year, Deviantart artist Manusogi created a series of covers for “Playwatch,” a fictional men’s magazine that was equal parts Playboy and Overwatch. The covers teased articles like “Classified File: Doomfist,” “Playwatch Interviews Bastion,” “Talking to Support Heroes,” and “75 Ways to Die.” And of course, there was plenty of cartoon skin, too: Nothing outright pornographic, but probably not safe for most workplaces, either. (Which is why all the images are down below.)

Naturally, it didn’t take fans of the game long to take the idea and run with it. put together an actual Playwatch Magazine—online, of course—with, as Dorkly put it, “articles, interviews with real-life cosplayers, and yeah, loads of horny fan art.” And it was actually pretty good: A lot of it was silly—the multi-page interview with Bastion is nothing but beeps and boops—but it also included coverage of the November Symmetra buff, top Hero picks and player rankings for the month, an interview with Jannetincosplay, and even a Spanish-language article about Sombra.

Unfortunately for readers (because we read it for the articles), the site has now been forced offline. “We have received a notification from a digital copyright protection agency that claims Playwatch Magazine infringes Blizzard’s intellectual property rights. For that reason, we have contacted Blizzard directly and decided to close the website until we have an answer from them,” a message at says.

“We started several months ago with the goal of bringing Overwatch fans a new way of enjoying the game and creating a place where artists and writers could share their work with the rest of the community. The entire Playwatch Team is extremely grateful for your support. It has been a privilege getting to know you all, and we will keep you updated with any news we have.”

It’s possible, as COG Connected speculated, that it was the decision to launch a Playwatch Patreon that incurred the wrath of Blizzard. Google cache indicates that it had racked up a measly $63 per issue (the actual Patreon has also been deleted), but it’s the principle of the thing that’s the issue: Earning money off of someone else’s property, even if it’s just to help keep the lights on while the work gets done, is generally a big no-no when it comes to fan-made projects like this.

But it may also simply be a matter of Blizzard not being comfortable with this adult take on its characters. Blizzard took similar action last summer against a person who was using Source Filmmaker to create animated Overwatch porn.

I’ve reached out to Blizzard and Overpog to hopefully find out a bit more, and I’ll update if I receive a reply. In the meantime, while it’s sad the articles are gone (because, to repeat, that’s why we read it), you can enjoy or be enraged by a couple of Playwatch covers below.


Final Fantasy 15’s User Interface Is So Bad

Source: Kotaku Australia

I like plenty of things about Final Fantasy 15, but the map and menus are not among them. This game’s interface is a mess of nonsense so carelessly taped together that it defies logic or comprehension.

Final Fantasy 15 introduces itself as “A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.” Over the fifty-odd hours I’ve spent with the game, I have repeatedly tried to imagine a newcomer getting their head around this hive of counter-intuitive menus, confusing button mapping and inconsistent prompts. I’ve mostly failed.

I began to document my many problems with this game’s user experience and quickly realised that I was staring into a bottomless abyss. I just never ended. Nearly every moment in the game is plagued by some instance of bad UI, unclear text, contradictory information or bad prompts. (This is all collectively referred to as UX, which stands for user experience. I’m mostly talking about UX in this article, though UX and UI are closely related.)

Rather than attempting to catalogue every UX sin this game commits, I decided to keep my focus on a few particularly egregious examples. Let’s start with the worst thing in the game. You may be wondering, what is the worst thing in the game?

The Map Is The Worst Thing In The Game.

Final Fantasy 15 is an open-world game, at least in its first half. It’s loaded with sidequests and hidden secrets. It’s meant to be explored, which means that the map is one of the most important tools the player’s got.

Unfortunately, Final Fantasy 15‘s map is one of the worst video game maps I have ever used. That isn’t empty hyperbole — I’m honestly having a hard time thinking of a worse map.

You open the map by pressing the right thumbstick. That should probably have been the first warning sign.

There are a ton of small things wrong with FF15‘s map, but let’s start with the most fundamental one: The cursor. Like in basically every other game with a map, you move a cursor around this map and use it to highlight points of interest. The crucial difference is that FF15‘s cursor doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to do.

There are a few generally accepted practices when it comes to video game maps, and one of them is that when you place the cursor on something, you can press the “enter” button (usually X on a PlayStation controller) to select that location. Maybe that lets you fast-travel there, or brings up a sub-menu that lets you mark it or learn more about it.

In Final Fantasy 15, pressing X doesn’t select the object the reticle is highlighting. You can press square to set a waypoint, but if you press X, you won’t interact with the thing on the map at all. This would be annoying on its own, but the map actually does something even worse — pressing X moves you away from whatever you were looking at and snaps the map back to the last place you rested.

For example, let’s say I’m in Hammerhead and I want to check out a spot on the opposite side of the map. I move the cursor across the map, zoom in, and press X out of habit. Here’s what happens:

BAM, I’m snapped back to where I last rested, which is near where I’m standing. Do I want to fast-travel to a rest stop? No, I do not! I wanted to know more about that place I was looking at!

The map shows you a couple of button prompts on the bottom of the screen:

It tells you that you can move and zoom with the thumbsticks, you can mark with square, or you can press triangle for “menu.” It does not tell you to press X to make a menu selection, one of many times this game omits on-screen button mappings for no clear reason.

Pressing square to “mark” is pretty clear — you put a navigation point anywhere on the map and it appears in-game to help you know where to go. What does that “menu” button do? It toggles whether or not the menu is visible, to no other apparent function.

Above: toggling the menu on and off.

I can think of no reason why you would want to turn the menu on or off, yet there’s a whole button that accomplishes only that. Also, and this is a little thing, but if you watch that gif you’ll see that while the Menu button does hide the menu, it doesn’t hide the prompt at the bottom of the map telling you what your currently selected menu option does. “Return to the spot where you last rested” is still visible.

I can’t actually do that; pressing X with the menu closed does nothing. But the prompt is still there. Just another of a hundred small inconsistencies that pile up over time.

Fast Travel Is A Nightmare.

Quick: How do you fast travel in Final Fantasy 15? If you thought you could get to it through the map, you’re wrong. You can’t actually use the map to fast-travel in this game, because fast travel is tied to the car, not the map. To be more specific, fast-travel is accessed through a list of sub-menus you open within one of the car’s navigational menus, and there is in fact a map visible behind those menus. But you don’t actually use the map to fast-travel.

In most games, you would open the map and use the cursor to find your intended location. If it was somewhere you’d visited, you could select that location, press X, and get a prompt to fast-travel. If you hadn’t discovered the location yet, you could move to the nearest place you had discovered and travel there. Occasionally a game will restrict you to fast-travel spots or something like that, but the basic functionality remains. Move the cursor to the spot, select it, and go.

Here’s how you fast-travel in FF15. Let’s go back to Hammerhead and say I decided I wanted to fast-travel to the Rock of Ravatogh across the map. If I’m not at my car, first I have to go into the map and warp to the car. Then I have to walk up to and interact with the car, then select “Auto” in the driving menu. There is no indication that this is how I should fast-travel, it’s just what I have to do.

It’s another little thing, but “auto” and “manual” actually mean something specific when it comes to cars, and it doesn’t involve whether or not your butler drives.

The map opens and asks me to select a destination. I can now freely move the cursor around the map, but as always I can’t actually do anything with the cursor. I can actually do less than usual, because I can’t even press square to set a nav point.

One option for fast travel is to warp to a parking spot. I know I want to go to the Rock of Ravatogh, right? But I can’t just select the correct parking spot by going over to it on the map. Pressing X takes me to the ‘parking spot” menu, which I’ll have to scroll through in order to find a parking spot I want to warp to. Each new parking spot I select jarringly jumps the cursor around on the map.

This is what my nightmares look like.

In order to travel to a parking spot, I often have to find it on the map first, memorise its name, then go into the parking spot list, find it on that list, and finally select it to fast-travel.

At this point I could also fast-travel by selecting a destination from the “quest locations” menu. However, you can’t just fast travel anywhere you want. You can only fast-travel to some quest locations. If you carelessly pick one that doesn’t allow fast travel, Ignis will automatically begin a long-arse drive in that direction.

Furthermore, a lot of quest locations that don’t allow fast-travel are located near parking spots that you can fast travel to. If you want to save time, you’ll have to go into the map, find the quest location, then find the name of the nearest parking spot, then go into the parking spot menu, find that parking spot, and fast-travel there.

Are you confused? I bet you are. I’m confused, and I just spent like 600 words trying to write it all out.

Altissia Is A Labyrinth Of Doom

I’m not done with the map, but let’s shift focus. The Venice-inspired city of Altissia is beautiful, but it is also cursed. It’s not actually all that big, yet due to the confusing way it’s been designed, it is nearly impossible to get around without getting lost. At one point when you’re exploring, Prompto even remarks on how confusing the city is. I’m right there with you, Prompto.

To get around Altissia, you’ll eventually have to use a gondola service. That’s helpful, because a lot of the time you’ll pick up a quest and see an objective marked on your HUD as an exclamation mark with no real indication of how to get there.

If you think it’s as easy as walking in that general direction, I have some bad news for you.

As an example, I picked up a sidequest that involved going on a hunt beneath a manor and photographing a haunted painting. I set the quest to active, checked my map, and saw that it was located here:

Great. I went to the take a gondola, and the gondola fast-travel menu came up.

Hmm, something’s missing. Ah yes, my quest objective does not appear on the gondola map despite the fact that it does appear on the otherwise identical game map. More than once that’s meant I had to disengage from the gondola, go into my regular map, remind myself where the quest location was, then go back into the gondola map and pick the closest stop.

Speaking of picking the closest stop: just like everything else in FF15, you can’t directly select the gondola stop you want using a map cursor. You have to scroll through a list of stops until you find the right one.

The nightmare continues.

This kind of thing is just constant. Lots of players probably just get used to it — we beat our heads against it until our heads change shape and we adjust. But we shouldn’t have to.

Everything Is Unreliable.

Let’s stay on that photography quest I was doing. It’s a quest called “The Cursed Canvas,” and it involved finding a ghost in a painting and taking a photo of it. I selected the quest in Altissia and was given the prompt “Join the hunt and head below the first secretary’s estate,” along with a turquoise exclamation mark on my HUD. I eventually took the gondola and followed the exclamation mark here. You can see it near Noctis’ feet

I walked right up until I was mere feet from the exclamation mark, and saw it was at the top of a flight of stairs:

I went downstairs and nothing happened. I turned around and looked back up the way I came and saw this:

The damn thing was still 5.79m above me? OK, I went back upstairs. The quest marker hadn’t moved. What was going on?

It took me a while, then I realised that “Join the hunt” referred to something I would have to do back at the restaurant where I’d been for the last quest step. I needed to interact with the bartender there, go to his “hunt” menu, and select the specific hunt for the monster in the painting. Somewhere, in a parallel dimension, there may well be a version of me who never figured out what he was supposed to do. He’s just going up and down those stairs forever, trying to follow a quest marker that doesn’t actually go anywhere.

Back to the bartender. The hunt was marked with a different exclamation mark within the bartender’s menu, and once I selected it I got a different quest indicator — an orange hunt marker — that took me to the same place I had been. After about five or ten minutes of dicking around and getting lost, I was finally able to complete the next step of the quest.

Oh look, another exclamation mark.

This should go without saying, but quest indicators should tell you where to go to complete a quest. If they’re telling you to go somewhere, that should be the place you need to go. In this case, I needed to sign up for the hunt to complete the quest. That hunt was marked with an exclamation mark in the menu, but the quest indicator had already jumped ahead to the next location. It should have remained on the guy in the restaurant, but it didn’t.

That’s one example, but this kind of thing is constant in Final Fantasy 15. It takes a subtle toll over the course of the game, and it teaches you not to trust what the game is telling you. Sometimes a game should leave players to their own devices, or challenge us to figure out the answer to a puzzle without any hints or on-screen pointers. But that’s much harder for a game to do when it’s so consistently sloppy that it makes us lose faith in what we’re seeing on screen. I fundamentally don’t trust FF15, and when I feel stuck or lost, I almost immediately conclude that it’s the game’s fault.

Again With The Terrible Interaction Prompts

I already wrote about how terrible FF15‘s interaction prompts are. The jump button is the same as the interact button, and there’s usually lag when the game is switching between the two. As a result, you’ll walk up to someone you want to talk to, then spend some time jumping up and down in front of them instead of talking.

All the same, I want to share something that happened to me when I tried to turn in that painting quest. All I had to do was walk up to the bartender and press X, right? Here’s how that played out:

To recap: I attempted to turn in the quest and instead I jumped. As I was mid-jump, the interaction prompt changed from the “talk” prompt to a prompt for an unrelated photo sidequest. I accidentally triggered that, which started a cutscene where Prompto set everyone up to take a photo.

You can only do that quest in the daytime, so Prompto decided we couldn’t take the photo. (The game still made me watch the cutscene). I was then given control of Noctis again, but he’d been moved and the camera had reset. I had to manoeuvre him in front of the bartender for a second time, wait for the proper interaction prompt, and finally complete the quest. I couldn’t come up with a better 30-second encapsulation of this game’s usability problems if I tried.

How Do Chocobos Jump?

As I said at the outset, Final Fantasy 15‘s user experience is so consistently awful that I could dedicate an entire series of articles to picking it apart. There’s the upgrade screen, which drowns you in identical icons that don’t indicate what they do or how to tell them apart:

There are all the hidden button prompts, like how the radio and camera controls in the car aren’t shown on-screen but the rest of the controls are. There’s the fact that the tactical menu you can call up during combat doesn’t actually permanently pause the game, and if you leave it open too long combat will resume without warning.

There’s the way you have to press circle to go forward from the photo selection screen, when most of the time that button has been used to go back.

There are the control schemes, each of which manages to place one of the three crucial combat buttons in an awkward place rather than simply swapping the square and circle buttons, which is all they really needed to do:


There’s the combat interface, which routinely manages to drown the player in so much visual information that I usually just tune it out:

I hope you like a lot of really fast-moving numbers!

In addition to all of those things, there is the way that Chocobos jump. As much as any other single thing, the Chocobo jump captures the maddening inconsistency of Final Fantasy 15‘s interface and UX.

When you’re running around on foot, you make Noctis jump by pressing the X button. This is consistent across all three control presets.

But when you’re on a Chocobo…

… you jump with circle. Pressing X will make you dismount so that you have to get back on again.

Everything else is weirdly remapped as well (you run with the right trigger and sprint with square?), but I can’t get over the fact that for some mysterious reason, the game has decided that Chocobos jump with the circle button. They could have so easily kept jump on X and had you dismount with the circle button. It would have made more sense in several very obvious ways. But they didn’t.

All these problems were almost certainly the result of the necessary compromises and corner-cutting that occur in the final push to ship a massive video game. I’m sure the developers did the best they could with the tools and time they had. But like many a bad interface, FF15‘s often feels as though it was consciously designed to undermine the player. It’s striking that this game somehow remains likable despite its woeful technical shortcomings, and that it can stand up to a holistic critique while withering so pitifully in the face of a more specific one.

I don’t regret the time I spent finishing Final Fantasy 15. I stuck with this flawed, fascinating game even when I was pressing the wrong button to attack, forgetting how fast-travel worked, or getting lost in Altissia. I stuck with it through the enjoyable opening chapters, the terrible later chapters, the wearying boss fights and the half-assed story revelations, all the way to the bitter, confusing end.

Throughout all of that, the rampant usability problems nipped at my heels, tripping me up like a snarling mutt I couldn’t shake. Whether you’re a fan or a first-timer, Final Fantasy 15 requires far more patience than it should.



Overwatch was Twitch’s most-watched new game in 2016, and other stats

Infographics are so 2016. The hip, cool way of making data exciting is to make it into a road trip.

Published today, Twitch’s 2016 Retrospective is an interactive year-in-review that encourages players to drive through the landscape of the life online, picking up interesting tidbits and trivia along the way. You can play as a guest and learn things like how many minutes were watched in total last year (292 billion) or which country is the friendliest (Finland, much to the approval of PC Gamer editor Evan Lahti), or you can log in with your Twitch account for a more “personalized experience,” and a prize at the end of the trip.

Some spoilers:

  • Twitch finished the year with 2.2 million unique streamers
  • Twitch users sent 14.2 billion chat messages last year
  • The most-used emote in 2016 was the Kappa, which was brought into action 413 million times
  • The most-watched new game was (surprise) Overwatch
  • A whopping $25.3 million was raised for charity

That impressive charity total includes $9 million raised by Extra Life, $2.6 million from the Yogcast Jingle Jam, and $2.5 million from Games Done Quick. A full breakdown of the funds raised can be seen below—and bravo to everyone who took part, either by donating or helping to raise funds.

Some key Twitch stats are withheld—such as Twitch’s total audience, any measurement of Twitch Prime subscriptions, and a ranking of the most popular games throughout the year—but the webpage is otherwise a colorful tabulation of Twitch culture.

Note that the personalized version of this retrospective is not currently live, but Twitch said it will be up and running “shortly.” We’ll let you know when it is.

Source: PCGamer