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Gears Of War 4 SDCC Panel Talks JD’s Full Name, Horde Mode 3.0, And Hints At A Gears Movie

During today's Gears of War 4 panel, The Coalition studio head and Gears of War co-creator Rod Fergusson was joined by the voice talent behind the upcoming title to discuss the process of making the game. While entertaining antics, like acting out a script from the game with the roles mixed up – the voice of JD, Liam McIntyre, played the role of Del, Kait's actor Laura Bailey did a hilarious Marcus impression, Del voice actor Eugene Byrd did a soft-spoken attempt at Kait, and Marcus' voice, John DiMaggio, delivered an overly Australian version of JD, poking fun at McIntyre's natural accent – ensued, Fergusson also delivered some new details for fans.

Horde Mode 3.0

We've known that Horde mode is coming back for Gears of War 4, but not much else has been given out by the development team. Fergusson claims to be quick to look back at the successes of past iterations of the mode, but also to the failures. He says that the Horde 2.0 was a great version of the game, but it sometimes became too "tower defense-y." With Gears of War 4's Horde mode, you're able to build stuff wherever you want to and move it around as you please. In addition, Fergusson divulged that the mode will feature a system based on classes and skills, but will not be something like OverRun. Horde 3.0 will go back to being 50 waves, but we won't known too many more details for a while.

JD Fenix's Full Name

When the question-and-answer session occurred in the panel, Fergusson was quick to advocate for playing the game unspoiled when people asked questions about the potential of a new member of the Carmine family, or where characters like Cole and Anya are, but he was able to be swayed by the enthusiastic crowd and voice actors on one subject. One Q&A participant brought up the subject of if the "D" in "JD" stood for Dominic in tribute to father Marcus' longtime squadmate, Dominic Santiago. Fergusson was gun-shy at first, but after a uproarious swell of encouragement from both the crowd and the voice actors (with McIntyre going on and on about "wanting the D" and Bailey teasing that she could see Rod was about to give in), Fergusson stood up and said, "His full name is James Dominic Fenix." The crowd (and panelists) went wild upon the announcement.

You can see the moment for yourself below.

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On The Topic Of A Gears Of War Film

Another Q&A participant got up to ask about a Gears of War film. Fergusson stated that he has, in the past, talked around the issue, stating that it's something that the team would love to do. This time, however, he said that something has recently changed and he's excited at the prospects of being able to deliver news very soon. Not exactly a confirmation, but it sure sounds like something is in the cooker.

Bender And Jake The Dog Won't Be Grabbing Lancers Anytime Soon

One of the more off-the-wall questions during the Q&A session came in the form of asking about the possibility of having characters in Gears of War games that sound like Marcus Fenix voice actor John DiMaggio's other well-known roles like Bender from Futurama or Jake the Dog from Adventure Time. While both Fergusson and DiMaggio laughed at the idea, Fergusson eventually pointed out that they "aren't making a Deadpool game" so they need to keep the fourth-wall-breaking to a minimum.

Other Tidbits

In addition to the other pieces of news, Fergusson told one fan that asked about sawed-off shotguns in the final game that the powerful weapon would not be appearing in the game. This garnered some applause from the fans in attendance.

The panel also shared a clip from veteran actor Jimmy Smits, who announced he is playing Oscar Diaz, Kait's uncle, in Gears of War 4. You may know Smits from his work on Sons of Anarchy, The Star Wars prequels, season 3 of Dexter, or any number of films or TV shows in his long-running career.

To hear about our time playing Gears of War 4 at SDCC 2016, head here.

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Star Wars Battlefront Offline Skirmish Mode Available Now

Update: The offline skirmish mode for Star Wars Battlefront is now available.

Original Story (July 14, 2016 @ 12:26 p.m. Central):

Star Wars Battlefront takes the fight where fans have been hoping it would go since the game’s launch. Another offline mode will be added the game in the coming days.

While this isn’t a campaign (for that you’ll need to wait for the next installment), Skirmish will give you a way to practice against bots. The offline option will be available in both Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron game types. For those on console, you’ll be able to play with a friend via split-screen.

Also coming this summer are more Hutt contracts, additional rewards for logging in, and a chance to experience the Bespin maps for free. The next paid expansion, Death Star, will be out this September.

It will include ground and space maps, new weapons, new star cards, and two new heroes. One of those has been teased as “larger-than-life.” Hopefully this means Chewbacca is finally joining the fray.

EA will be showing off the Death Star expansion for the first time from Star Wars Celebration Europe. You can check it out on July 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. Pacific. The Skirmish mode will be available on July 20.

For more on Star Wars Battlefront, check out our review.

[Source: EA]

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Malevolent AI Runs The World In Episode 7 For Minecraft: Story Mode

The second episode in Minecraft: Story Mode's Adventure Pass add-on series, Access Denied, got a launch trailer today as well as a release date. It will be available for digital download on a variety of platforms on July 26.

Access Denied is episode 7 in the Minecraft: Story Mode series by publisher Telltale and developer Mojang. Jesse and his/her friends (depending on character gender chosen) have been hopping between worlds using a series of portals to try and find their way home, and now it appears their latest discovery has thrust them into a world filled with a malevolent AI and hypnotized population. The "thinking machine" in charge of this world, named PAMA , is determined to command everyone and everything in order to reach optimal usefulness and efficiency. 

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In Episode 6, popular Minecraft YouTubers including Stampy Cat, Stacy Plays, DanTDM, LDShadowLady, and CaptainSparklez made guest appearances. In Access Denied, PAMA's creator Harper will be played by popular actress Yvette Nicole Brown, who is featured briefly in the trailer. 

Episodes in the Adventure Pass can be purchased separately for $ 4.99. Or you can get access to Episode 6, 7, and 8 as they release with the pass for $ 14.99. In order to play these episodes however, you must own Episode 1 in the series, or the Season Pass disc. Episode 7: Access Denied will be available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Mac, iOS, Android, and PC.  

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Star Wars Battlefront Offline Skirmish Mode Coming Next Week

Star Wars Battlefront takes the fight where fans have been hoping it would go since the game’s launch. Another offline mode will be added the game in the coming days.

While this isn’t a campaign (for that you’ll need to wait for the next installment), Skirmish will give you a way to practice against bots. The offline option will be available in both Walker Assault and Fighter Squadron game types. For those on console, you’ll be able to play with a friend via split-screen.

Also coming this summer are more Hutt contracts, additional rewards for logging in, and a chance to experience the Bespin maps for free. The next paid expansion, Death Star, will be out this September.

It will include ground and space maps, new weapons, new star cards, and two new heroes. One of those has been teased as “larger-than-life.” Hopefully this means Chewbacca is finally joining the fray.

EA will be showing off the Death Star expansion for the first time from Star Wars Celebration Europe. You can check it out on July 16 at 2 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. Pacific. The Skirmish mode will be available on July 20.

For more on Star Wars Battlefront, check out our review.

[Source: EA]

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Trailer Reveals New Gameplay Mode For Attack On Titan

Koei Tecmo released a ton of new information and footage today of its video game adaptation of Hajime Isayama's manga series, including the announcement of a new online mode. [Except]

Attack On Titan's new mode is called "Scout Mode." In it, a player can recruit an online team of three, which he or she picks missions for throughout different locations, but with the similar goal of taking down Titans. Koei Tecmo says the missions contained in Scout Mode differ from those in the main campaign.

The new trailer also shows off the "Decisive Battle Signal." As players rescue other players on the map and take down Titans, they fill their Decisive Battle Meter. When activated, the meter uses all other players in the near area to do a large amount of damage. Check it out in the trailer, as well as a ton of new screens, down below.

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Attack On Titan is coming to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Vita, and PC on August 30. Take a look at what characters you can expect in the game in our previous preview.

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Test Chamber – The First Minutes Of Street Fighter V’s New Story Mode

With the release of the new cinematic story mode, A Shadow Falls, Street Fighter V finally has a big single-player mode to round out the online offerings. While you can read my impressions of my full playthrough here, I wanted to show off the first few sequences of the game in order to give you a feel of how the mode works.

Join Daniel Tack and me as we check out the first few fights and cutscenes in Street Fighter V's general story mode. We talk about how this new mode compares to the basic character story mode that was included with launch, and if we'd recommend you jumping in now that this story mode exists.

The new general story mode, A Shadow Falls, was implemented as a part of the June update that went live last week. It is a free title update, but you must also download the free story DLC in order to access it. Street Fighter V released in February of this year to middling reviews. To read about why it wasn't a true contender like several of its predecessors, you can head here.

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For more Test Chamber, click the banner below, or check out our hub.

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Should You Play Street Fighter V’s New Story Mode?

In February, Street Fighter V launched with strong gameplay mechanics, but not a ton of content. Over the past few months, Capcom has been balancing and adding modes, characters, and stages. The June update (which actually hit on July 1), was the most significant update yet. Not only did it finally implement the currency shop so that players could buy DLC with either Fight Money earned through playing or Zenny purchased with real money, but it brought with it two new characters and improved matchmaking. The biggest addition, however, is the cinematic story mode called "A Shadow Falls." I played through the new story mode in its entirety to give you an idea of whether it's worth your time or not.

A Shadow Falls is the first cinematic story mode to appear in the Street Fighter series. The many games of the Street Fighter series to this point have explained the narratives through different methods. At launch, Street Fighter V used illustrations with voiceover, which wasn't exactly action-packed. This new cinematic approach is a vast improvement, but it's not perfect.

The voice acting isn't the worst I've heard, but any faults in the acting are accentuated by the mismatched lips in the cutscenes. Other than the lip-syncing and the occasional glitch involving the characters' over-the-top hair, the cutscenes are well-animated and are much more entertaining to watch than the still animations that launched with Street Fighter V. I also liked how the characters continue dialogue into the matches themselves. That means that when a cutscene references an item both characters are trying to acquire, you'll hear them trade verbal jabs like "Why do you need it so bad anyway?"  

Chronologically, this story fits in between the events of Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter III. The narrative jumps around in its telling of the building battle between the World Warriors and Shadaloo, rarely letting you play as the same character twice consecutively. In jumping between the characters at a rapid rate and letting those diverse characters' personalities shine unhindered, Street Fighter V's story mode feels akin to that of Dead or Alive 5 in both structure and tone. I prefer the approach of letting you stick with one character for multiple battles as is seen in Mortal Kombat and Injustice, since that feels more cohesive and lets you get to know the characters more intimately, but I appreciate the approach Street Fighter V takes.

The campy, humorous kinds of moments found in the Dead or Alive 5 story are also present in Street Fighter V's new mode. For every intense moment of Ryu and Necalli facing off, there are moments like R. Mika and Zangief readying to take on Laura and Alex in a pro-wrestling tag team match, or F.A.N.G acting like a complete weirdo. I actually like that about A Shadow Falls. It would be strange for Street Fighter V to venture into the gritty tone presented in NetherRealm's fighting franchises. The personalities in Street Fighter V are colorful, and the developers do a good job of showcasing that here.

The two chief complaints of the character story mode that launched with Street Fighter V were the overall lack of difficulty and how little time it took to play through all of the content. With A Shadow Falls, those complaints are both addressed. In the character story mode, your opponents were not much more than punching bags. While the battles in A Shadow Falls aren't particularly difficult, they at least pose a competent challenge for most players. If, for whatever reason, you get stuck on a fight but just want to continue the story, the game presents you with a "skip battle" option. However, if the difficulty is too light for your skill level, a more difficult setting unlocks for the mode once you complete your first playthrough, with each difficulty rewarding you with fight money upon completion.

In addition, the story mode is substantially longer than all of the character stories put together. A full playthrough takes around four hours. The mode also allows you to select particular scenes to go back to if you want to relive some of the content with a robust scene and battle selector option.

Another cool thing A Shadow Falls does is it allows you to play characters that aren't yet in the game. In the first chapter, I was able to play as Juri and Urien, which is a cool way to let you test out the characters before they release. Also, if you missed the period where all the characters were unlocked while Capcom figured out its currency shop, you also get to play as current DLC characters like Guile, Balrog, Alex, and Ibuki over the course of story mode, essentially allowing you to test drive them. 

Though A Shadow Falls isn't my favorite story mode in a fighting game (that title still belongs to the Mortal Kombat games), I'm glad to see more games explore this route. The sometimes-goofy narrative is fun to follow, and getting to play as the full cast (and then some) is a great introduction for new players, or a great way to refamiliarize yourself if you took an extended break following Street Fighter V's launch. The lack of arcade mode and inability to play a single match against an A.I. opponent are still sore spots for Street Fighter V's offline offerings, but A Shadow Falls makes great strides in that category. I just wish that Street Fighter V launched with this mode.

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Story Mode For Street Fighter V Available Tomorrow As Free DLC

A July 1 update for Street Fighter V includes a cinematic story mode, two new fighters, stages, costumes and other features. The update is free to download, with the additional content included available to purchase in-game with either the game's currency Fight Money or real currency.  

The story mode, entitled A Shadow Falls, will be divided into five acts and takes place between the events of Street Fighter III and Street Fighter IV. In the battle between the
evil Shadaloo organization and the heroic World Warriors, players enter battles using each of the original Street Fighter V characters as well as the 6 additional DLC characters both released and unreleased. A Shadow Falls is free to download. You can check out the cinematic trailer for A Shadow Falls below. 

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The two new challengers joining the roster are Balrog and Ibuki. Balrog is a familiar face to the Street Fighter franchise, first appearing as a boss in Street Fighter II and a master in the art of boxing. It was announced earlier this week that he would making his way to Street Fighter V, and he got his own reveal trailer too. 

Ibuki first appeared in Street Fighter III: New Generation, and a combination of her tactical martial arts and ninja bombs makes her a deadly foe. At the start of June it was announced that she would be joining Street Fighter V alongside the anticipated story mode when she got her own reveal trailer as well showing off her battle mechanics. 

In addition to the new characters and story mode, the update will also include Balrog’s
Las Vegas stage and Karin Kanzuki's family private beach stage and three new alternate stages. Premium battle costumes are obtainable for all 20 characters along with a
 premium summer costume for Karin and story costumes for both Balrog and Ibuki. 

The in-game currency store will be updated with the PlayStation 4 and Steam real currency options, and the update includes better matchmaking systems to improve online play. 

[Source: Capcom]

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Blizzard Details Everything You Need To Know About Overwatch’s New Competitive Play Mode

With Overwatch's new ranked mode out in the wild (on
PC at least
), Blizzard has compiled a primer to get competition-hungry players up
to speed.

In a post on the official Overwatch website,
Blizzard gives a full rundown of what Overwatch's new competitive mode entails,
starting with news that PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners will have to wait a
little while longer for the update (Blizzard is currently targeting next week).
Once available on your platform of choice, you'll have to reach level 25 to
enter competitive mode, then play a series of 10 placement matches to earn your
skill rating, which lies somewhere between 1 (i.e., Bastion exploiter) and 100 (i.e., Tracer phenom).

The post also provides information on season length (the
inaugural summer season will be slightly abbreviated due to the late start, so get cracking!), as
well as some format changes to specific game modes: Control maps will now be
best-of-five affairs, and the scoring systems for Escort, Hybrid, and Assault
maps will be slightly more complicated (click the link below for full details).

Last but not least, Blizzard details what kind of rewards
players can expect. Just finishing the placement matches will net you a new
spray and player icon every season, but you'll also earn Competitive Points
throughout the season (plus bonus points based on your final standing) that can
be used to buy some nifty looking golden guns:

Blizzard also outlines some revisions to penalties should
you be prone to rage quitting, so be sure to check out the post in full for all
the info.

[Source: Overwatch Official Website]

 

Our Take
I'm super interested to
see how Overwatch's competitive seasons play out, and how climbing the ranks
works in conjunction with matchmaking. Many have questioned Overwatch's staying
power given Blizzard's cosmetics-only approach to progression. As someone who is firmly in the
"play because it's fun" camp, I still won't mind having a extra little bit
of motivation to keep coming back.

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Overwatch Competitive Mode Arrives Today On PC, Consoles Next Week

Overwatch’s anticipated competitive mode arrives today on PC. Things kick off with a shorter season before things enter the normal three-month rotation.

The shorter first season, which will last one and a half months, is abbreviated for logistical reasons. However, it offers Blizzard some benefits. 

Players will be able to start earning rewards right away without waiting for the fall season. Additionally, if there are problems that emerge, Blizzard will be able to adjust them before the first full two and a half month cycle.

“Competitive Play is definitely one of those features that will take us a few iterations to get right, and by getting the system out there sooner, we can start making improvements based on your feedback sooner too,” Blizzard says. 

Console players won’t need to wait long to start flexing their muscles. Xbox One and PS4 players will see competitive mode patched in next week, though no specific date has been confirmed.

[Source: Blizzard]

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