343 Industries has revealed the full schedule for the latest Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview for the weekends of September 23 – 26 and September 30 – October 4.
343 shared the details on Halo Waypoint, also saying that the goal of this weekend's preview is to "test our services and systems at scale, gather data on a breadth of real-world hardware configurations, and obtain feedback on Arena, Training Mode, as well as the new Halo Waypoint web and app experiences."
During the weekend of September 30 – October 4, "Big Team Battle will go live and take it up a notch."
While Training Mode and Weapon Drills in this Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview will be playable the entirety of both weekends, there will be specific play sessions where players will be able to team up with friends and matchmake. These dates and times are as follows;
Weekend 1 – September 23 through September 26 – Arena
Friday, September 24 @ 10am-2pm & 5-9pm PT
Saturday, September 25 @ 10am-2pm & 5-9pm PT
Sunday, September 26 @ 10am-2pm & 5-9pm PT
Weekend 2 – September 30 through October 4 – Big Team Battle & Arena
Friday, October 1 @ 10am-2pm & 5-9pm PT
Saturday, October 2 @ 10am-2pm & 5-9pm PT
Sunday, October 3 @ 10am-2pm & 5-9pm PT
Close: Monday, October 4 @ 10am PT
Players will also be able to play in Halo Infinite's Social Arena and Bot Arena multiplayer playlists during set times, and Big Team Battle will feature Capture The Flag, Slayer, and Total Control on Fragmentation.
As with the first preview, a preview of the Battle Pass will be available, and each account has been granted Credits (cR) so that the Battle Pass and certain items can be purchased for testing during the flight.
This test flight is only available to certain players who had a fully registered Halo Insider profile by September 13. If you have yet to complete your profile on Halo Waypoint, be sure to do so, as that will be the best way to get invited to future tests.
If you did get an invite, you can check out the Installing on Xbox and/or Installing on Steam articles on the Halo Insider Support Site to help get you in the action as quickly as possible.
The new Perfect Dark game is being co-developed by Crystal Dynamics, the Square Enix studio responsible for the recent Tomb Raider trilogy, Marvel's Avengers and Gex (vale Gex). The announcement was made today by the game's primary studio, The Initiative.
“We are partnering with Crystal Dynamics, the world class team behind character-driven games such as Tomb Raider, to bring this first-person spy thriller to a new generation,” The Initiative tweeted. “The teams couldn’t pass up a chance to work together. We’re still early in development, but incredibly excited to use this unique opportunity to deliver on the vision for Perfect Dark!”
The Initiative is a new Los Angeles based studio. It has yet to release a game, but it's headed by Darrell Gallagher, who spent ten years at Crystal Dynamics working across the Tomb Raider series. The Initiative's Daniel Neuburger also previously worked at Crystal Dynamics, though the studio also boasts former talent from BioWare, Sony Santa Monica, Blizzard and more.
Perfect Dark doesn't have a release date or even a release window just yet, and it sounds like development had barely begun as of July.
“In the end and this'll sound like maybe the wrong thing to say I actually don't think it matters what path that we pick,” Xbox head Phil Spencer said in July regarding the game's possible direction, “whether we decided to go back and reimagine Perfect Dark or do something new, I think the important thing is the quality of the execution and whether we deliver a delightful game that people love.”
At this point we practically expect photo modes in certain kinds of games. If you're playing a fancy open-world or action game with exquisitely detailed graphics, it's a surprise to find the developers didn't implement a good way to capture the perfect freeze frame of a lush landscape, a cool pose, or a detailed facial expression.
And even when games do have their own photo modes, these proprietary versions can have limitations. If you've been looking for a more multi-purpose photo mode tool, you'll be glad to know that screenshotting aficionados already invented it: the Universal Unreal Unlocker, or “UUU.”
The UUU mod lets you trigger a free cam mode in a lengthy list of Unreal Engine 4 games (more than 300, according to UUU's creator), disable HUDs, and recreate the in-game console. Plus it adds a frame skip function. The result is a lot of freedom to capture exactly the right moment—even during cutscenes, which are usually off-limits.
It's also a ticket to wander through game environments that either go underappreciated or missed entirely, like the cyberpunk cityscapes of The Ascent or Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order's iconic Imperial bases.
I chatted with the UUU community on Discord to see their work and hear from a few members. TeoTave told me about the shot above, which he grabbed in Jedi: Fallen Order. “I wanted to capture that idle pose from Cal while giving the impression he's looking to the environment in the background, but I also wanted to add an 'intruder element' in the frame, like that starship in the upper left corner,” TeoTave says.
“UUU was used here for removing some unwanted effects, for the free camera, for freezing the game at the right moment (after counting the seconds for the idle animation to trigger and the starship to appear in the frame…and countless of tries) and for hotsampling.”
UUU was created by software developer and game modder Frans Bouma, AKA Otis_Inf, who's worked on camera mods for some time, but always wanted to make something more universal.
He and a friend started building camera unlockers for a few specific UE4 games, and then worked to make the code increasingly generalized so it would function across multiple titles made with the engine. Lo and behold, it worked, and Bouma has been able to keep up with Unreal Engine updates that would otherwise complicate things.
The UUU also uses what's called “hotsampling” to help you take more detailed photos without melting your GPU.
“The idea is that you compose a screenshot at a size you can see on your monitor in windowed mode. Say 1920×1080. Then use software to resize the window to 7680×4320 (8K or whatever you want), let the game resize, grab a quick screenshot, then resize again before your GPU explodes. The full window won't fit on your screen, but most capture software will still grab the full framebuffer. So long as you resize to a resolution of the same aspect ratio, the screenshot should be the same as the one you composed, just much higher resolution,” UUU community moderator Jim2point0 said.
Many of the screenshots submitted by the UUU community featured some level of hotsampling, as well as alteration using ReShade.
Portrait shots of PC gaming's most beloved characters are easier with the UUU tool. If a game supports any arbitrary resolution, you can resize your shot and get a high-res image without having to awkwardly rotate your camera or crop in on a distant shot.
Bouma isn't just keeping pace with UE4. He's also recently added a new light system that can add custom lighting in real-time. In this shot from Kena: Bridge of Spirits, he's added two custom light sources that illuminate the heroine's staff and face.
v4.1 BETA with the new custom light system (not 100% implemented but will be later this week) now available on my Patreon: https://t.co/aueLCSzEGa. Shot below with 2 custom lights. pic.twitter.com/x48qnO0qefSeptember 21, 2021
UUUsers have also used the free cam functionality to dig deeper into parts of the games that developers probably never intended to be seen.
“There is a moment on Ruiner in which the character gets into a kind of bike that is supposed to go lightspeed,” Discord user SammirLlm says. “The first time I was like 'man this trail sure is looong,' but when I got to replay it and used UUU on that scene, turns out the bike is not moving, it's the surroundings that are moving quickly and in a kind of loop so you get this sense of motion. Honestly it was pretty funny to see.”
Another recently added feature that screenshotters have been finding use for is the camera path function. This lets you create a path for the camera to follow, sort of like a virtual camera dolly just like you'd see in professionally edited movie trailers. Check out the video below for an example using The Ascent's main city hub.
And for modders who want to crank games beyond their stock settings, UUU reenables each UE4 game's console command function, occasionally letting you tweak graphical settings beyond what even developers set for ultra mode.
During tonight’s Nintendo Direct, an additional service was announced for Switch Online.
Dubbed Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, the new membership plan is coming to Nintendo Switch Online in late October with classic Nintendo 64 and SEGA Genesis games.
In addition to all the benefits of a Nintendo Switch Online membership such as online play, access to library of NES and Super NES games, and more, members can play select titles like Mario Kart 64 online with up to four players for the first time ever.
The Shadowrun Trilogy is coming to Nintendo Switch in 2022.
The collection of cult classic RPGs feature turn based combat, branching narrative paths, and more. They take place in a dystopian future, and are described as, "cyberpunk-meets-fantasy."
Paradox Interactive's trilogy includes Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun Dragonfall – Director's Cut, and Shadowrun Hong Kong – Extended Edition. The trilogy is already available on PC.
The games take place in locations across the globe, including Seattle, Berlin, and Hong Kong. The trailer showed off combat reminiscent of XCOM. In our original Shadowrun Returns review, we called the game "good," saying, "the light tactical combat has enough depth to make it a worthwhile adventure."
The series was originally created as a tabletop RPG more than 30 years ago. About a decade ago, the series came back in the form of new, single player RPGs. The games were released originally in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle of Flesh released in 1996, and it had just about everything you could ask for from a full-motion video horror adventure game: secret experiments, psychic powers, mad scientists, alternate dimensions, alien creatures, government teleportation programs, a bunch of gruesome murders, frontal nudity, and at least one severed head.
Despite that impressive list, Phantasmagoria 2 wasn't exactly a critical hit at the time. It did have its share of fans, however, thanks to its campy B-movie charm. Even today, lead actor Paul Morgan Stetler, who played Phantasmagoria 2's tormented protagonist Curtis Craig, says he still gets plenty of mail from fans.
Since Stetler found himself with some extra time during the lockdown, and since this year marks 25 years since Phantasmagoria 2 launched, he decided to reach out to members of the cast and development team, many of whom he hadn't spoken to since the game was finished. Guests of his monthly interview series with the people involved with Phantasmagoria 2, called Conversations With Curtis, have so far included Monique Parent (who played Jocilyn), Todd Licea (Jonas Craig), Paul Mitri (Trevor), as well as YouTubers like Ross Scott (you may know him from Freeman's Mind) and Voidburger.
As the interview series continues for the rest of the year, future guests will include the game's director and writer, as well as more of the cast.
Conversations with Curtis is a nice way to present an oral history of the game's development and a fun trip down FMV memory lane. There's even a great minigame on the official site, complete with FMV, that lets you point-and-click around Curtis' apartment and his office, where you might stumble across a few hidden clips, including a reenactment (over webcams) of a scene by Stetler and Parent. You'll also find Stetler's Patreon right here.
More than 18 months after its original release, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is finally get another expansion, but we'll have to wait a little longer to find out what it's all about. At a minimum we know it will feature the return of Brewster, a fan-favorite character who dates back to Animal Crossing: Wild World on the Nintendo DS.
The trailer shown during today's Nintendo Direct only offered a very brief glimpse of a new expansion to the museum, which will include Brewster's coffee shop. Nintendo will reveal much more about the expansion at a future event in October.
What happens, this content update is a long time coming for Animal Crossing fans. While Animal Crossing: New Horizons has introduced several new features since its Spring 2020 launch — including new characters, events, and the ability to go swimming — it still lacks some features from the 3DS game.
Despite that, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been an incredible success for Nintendo, selling some 31 million copies in less than a year. It's been described as the quintessential pandemic game, its wholesome community building making it something of an international obsession during a period where people have been stuck indoors.
While many have since departed to play other games, the new expansion will hopefully be a great reason to venture back. It releases November. In the meantime, stay tuned for a full recap following today's Nintendo Direct.
There's a moment in Lumencraft's debut trailer that absolutely sold me on its concept. Between all the bug shooting and rock-blasting particle effects, it's a simple river of physics-based lava that looks like the biggest threat, trickling its way into every tunnel you dig, overflowing into every moat you make.
Lumencraft developer 2Dynamic Games describes it as a top-down shooter with tower defense elements like turrets to fend off huge swarms of underground bugs. You're humanity's last hope to obtain the precious Lumen minerals, which store up enough energy to stave off extinction. Like all macguffins, you're not the only one after the Lumen minerals, or the only one willing to fight for them.
In what I can only describe as “not your daddy's Dig Dug,” gameplay has you drilling your way through a darkly lit cave system to search for resources or enemies, with some impressively detailed physics. As you drill, tunnel walls form around you with the same satisfying feeling you get from power washing, or from toppling a tower in Teardown. I'm also reminded of the similarly physics-based Noita, where every pixel is simulated and impacted by elements. Throw a grenade and its blast radius will chunk everything in an almost perfect circle to pieces, but the ensuing destruction also means that the remaining rock wall is weak enough to crumble under the heat of the lava on the other side.
The lava starts flowing, quickly inching closer to you, and it looks like your options are limited: Use your drill to dig a moat or a new tunnel that will hopefully divert it far, far away. Environmental destruction also plays a role in building and defending a base, letting you shoot through your base's own walls to create chokepoints. The trailer's finale shows the player dodging swipes from a giant cave troll-like creature. Whenever the troll swings its arms, it takes a chunk of cave with it, altering the battlefield on the fly.
2Dynamic Games says they're taking inspiration from similar top-down action games like Alien Breed and Darkwood. Helping 2Dynamic with production is Star Drifters, another Polish studio with some experience in top-down shooters via their game Danger Scavenger.
Lumencraft is releasing in Early Access sometime “in the coming months,” but the full version aims to add a skill progression system through nonlinear missions, more biomes, and different map types. The good news? You can get an early taste of Lumencraft when its demo releases on October 1 as part of Steam Next Fest.