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Trailers Highlight Two Character Packs Now Available For Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Starting today, players can download two new character packs for Lego
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, provided they aren't playing on Wii U,
3DS, or Vita. These are the first two of five planned DLC waves included in the Season Pass.

Joining in on the brick-based fun are a total of 16 new heroes and
villains, as well as four new vehicles of varying sizes. You can see a
few of these new characters and starfighters in action in the trailers
below.

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Characters included in the prequel trilogy pack are a damaged Anakin
Skywalker , Captain Panaka, Darth Maul, Jango Fett, Jar Jar Binks,
Padmé Naberrie, Watto, and Zam Wesell. The Freemaker Adventures
television series is represented by  Kordi Freemaker,
Rowan Freemaker, Zander Freemaker, Naare, Raam, Roger the Battle Droid, Baash, and Graballa the Hutt. The Naboo Fighter and Star Scavenger are also added in full size and microfighter form.

Each of these DLC packs can be purchased individually for $ 2.99, or in the $ 9.99 Season Pass. In our review, we found Lego Star Wars to be a fun way to experience the latest stories in a galaxy far, far away.

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Hasbro Unveils New Star Wars: Black Series Figures At San Diego Comic Con

For the second straight year, Hasbro's San Diego Comic Con panel was loaded with Star Wars: The Black Series action figure reveals. In addition to a line of Black Series figures based on the forthcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which we anticipate will be shown at the show later today, Hasbro's next batch of figures are classics that fans have long been waiting for.[Expert]

This line consists of Lando Calrissian, a Tusken Raider, Qui-Gon Jinn, a Royal Guard, and Hera Syndulla from the Star Wars Rebels animated show. Hasbro also revealed the winner of the Black Series poll, where fans were given the chance to vote for an upcoming figure. That winning figure is Jaina Solo, one of Han and Leia's kids from the now-defunct Expanded Universe.

As strange as it is to see this figure being made years after she was removed from Star Wars' canon, it is cool to see side characters like this get the spotlight from time to time. Jaina edged out Star Wars: The Force Unleashed's Starkiller, who at the time of the poll closing, had the same percentage of votes. She must have won by a narrow margin.

Here's hoping Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is coming back in a big way later this year, gets his own 6-inch Black Series figure.

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Test Chamber – 4-Player Triangle Wars In Videoball

Videoball, a sports video game from independent creator Tim Rogers, is out now. Watch us play two matches to see it in action.

Editor Jeff Cork, interns AJ Moster and Blake Hester, and I played through two rounds of this deceptively simple sports game. Don't worry – yelling is involved.

For more on Videoball, check out this preview from 2014 where we chatted with the creator, Tim Rogers. Videoball is out now on PlayStation 4 and PC as well as Xbox One, which I neglected to mention in the video. Also, keep an eye out for our review, which will be online soon.

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

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Halo Wars 2 Details Revealed Along With Cinematic Trailer

Several details for Halo Wars 2 were revealed yesterday at San Diego Comic-Con. The panel featured Kiki Wolfkill, franchise director Frank O'Connor, studio head Dan Ayoub, and narrative director Kevin Grace, along with Blur Studios' creative director Dave Wilson and actress Erika Soto.

The group discussed what's in store for the sequel, including new characters and how it will follow the ending of the original game. In Halo Wars 2, the crew aboard the UNSC Spirit of Fire awake from cryogenic sleep 28 years later. After drifting in space for so many years, they find themselves above a Forerunner installation known as The Ark. Here, they discover a distress signal, which leads them to meet the new AI character Isabel (played by Erika Soto).

In 343 Industries' new development video, Ayoub describes her as "a very different kind of AI" in comparison to past AI from the Halo series, such as Cortana and Serina. 

"She shows up in a way we haven’t seen AIs behave in Halo before," says Grace. "She’s freaked out. She’s seen all of her friends die and her outpost destroyed." She soon becomes tasked with helping Captain Cutter face The Banished, the splinter faction of the former Covenant.

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The above video also reveals Atriox, a new villain coming to the series. 343 Industries describes him as much more than your average brute, who excels in close combat and is able to outsmart opponents. Captain Cutter will have to face this enemy, which may prove to be a difficult battle.

Furthermore, a cinematic trailer was unveiled, which you can check out below.

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Halo Wars 2 will be out February 21 of next year on Xbox One and PC. You can watch our Test Chamber of Halo Wars 2's open beta here, as well as read more about what's in store for this sequel by reading 343 Industries' blog post on Xbox Wire.

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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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Science-Fiction Weekly – The Solus Project, Stranger Things, Star Wars: Episode VIII

Praise I continually give: I'm watching a new show on Netflix and it's great! From House of Cards to Daredevil to the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to smaller successes like Love, Netflix's original programming is on fire. The latest show to lure me into a binge-watching coma is Stranger Things, a science-fiction thriller that plays out like a mix between Goonies and The X-Files. Set in small town in Indiana in the 1980s, Stranger Things is one of those shows that you don't want to know anything about before you view it for yourself. Even Netflix's basic program summary gives away too much. Just watch it.

I'm five episodes in, and am thoroughly impressed with the writing, acting (even all of the child actors are great), and moments where it becomes unbearably intense. Stranger Things nabs this week's Golden Grok award (given to the best sci-fi entertainment each week), and is a welcome throwback to the star-gazing entertainment I loved as a child. No, it's not as light and bubbly as films like D.A.R.Y.L. or Flight of the Navigator, but it has a similar flow and pacing to these "classics," which are more about the characters and their place in the world than the science-fiction trappings that surrounds them. What's interesting is that the '80s sci-fi shows were designed with kids in mind, but Stranger Things, while delivering that same style of coming-of-age story, is darker and for the adults who watched those shows as kids.

The Solus Project, a science-fiction survival game from Grip Digital, could have benefited from that '80s love. Although the premise is strong – Earth no longer exists, and mankind has taken to the stars to locate a new planet to call home – there's no pulse to the alien world of the character you play. Lifeless planet meet lifeless human, good luck having fun together.

The Solus Projects' survival mechanics are nicely designed, but the hunt for water and food quickly becomes a rote process that has more to do with messy item management than fulling the need of your character. I love the idea of fighting for survival on a mysterious alien world, but the progression reveals are rarely shocking, the character hardly ever emotes, and well, if the game ended with a M. Night Shyamalan twist that showed I was actually exploring a park in North Dakato, I wouldn't be that surprised.

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If you are in the market for a good "mankind is screwed" story, check out Daniel Arenson's Earth Alone, a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. All you need to know: 50 years have passed since aliens destroyed Earth. It's now time for an army to fight back. The book goes places that I didn't expect, and Arenson does a great job of establishing characters that you want to see succeed. The great news: Arenson already has two sequels in the works. Here's hoping he writes faster than George R. R. Martin.

The other book you should put on your radar is Timothy Zahn's upcoming Star Wars: Thrawn. If you haven't read Zahn's Star Wars: Thrawn Trilogy yet, do so now. It's no longer considered canon, but it remains one of the greatest Star Wars stories to date, and a big reason why centers on the character Grand Admiral Thrawn. We thought we'd never see him again after Disney blew up the expanded universe, but he's making his return in Star Wars Rebels: Season 3 this fall, and later in the novel I noted. How much of the original trilogy will be referenced? We'll have to wait to see, but in an interview with Star Wars' official site, Zahn says "Thrawn will span several years of the Star Wars timeline, beginning with his first encounter with the Empire and ending just before the opening of Rebels: Season 3." When asked if he would incorporate story content from the original Thrawn Trilogy, Zahn said he's thrown in bits and pieces, but nothing too blatant, which suggests the trilogy still isn't canon in any capacity. 

Although Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the primary focus at last weekend's Star Wars Celebration in London, Rian Johnson did take the stage to discuss Star Wars: Episode VIII. Johnson didn't go into too much detail about anything in the upcoming sequel, but did say that it starts right where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey handing the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker. Johnson said that his film dives deeper into the lives of the new characters and challenges them more, drawing inspiration from such films as Bridge on the River Kwai, and Gunga Din. John Boyega also revealed that his character Finn is not in a coma for the entirety of Episode VIII, although Johnson teased that he thought about keeping him in one.

Hasbro's annual "Vote for the Next Black Series Figure" poll is live on Star Wars' official site. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed's Starkiller is on the list! Given the weak competition he's against, you should probably cast a vote for him right now. The other options are Mara Jade (the only other second choice I will accept), Captain Rex (who is already getting a Black Series figure), Dengar, Darth Talon, and Jaina Solo. Do the right thing and give Starkiller the vote.

That's it for this week's Science-Fiction Weekly. I'll be back in seven days with a review of Star Trek Beyond, which opens this weekend, and perhaps even a write-up for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's extended cut. Calm down, Superman is an alien, so it's science fiction to a degree. Also, I'm morbidly curious about the 30 minutes of new footage. I hated (emphasize that word as much as you can) the original cut of the film, and just need to know if this new version makes it better or even worse.

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Hasbro’s Jyn Erso Figure Unveiled At Star Wars Celebration

During the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story cast panel at Star Wars Celebration a couple days ago, a Jyn Erso action figure from Hasbro was unveiled. This is the first Rogue One action figure showcased publicly. 

Jyn is a character appearing in the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One, and she's played by Felicity Jones. Jones was the one to unveil the 6-inch figure of her character. Jyn has few accessories, including her shawl and blaster pistol. The figure is expected to release at some point this fall. Below you can find more pictures.

You can also check out more Star Wars collectibles by heading here.

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Star Wars Battlefront Death Star DLC Will Include Characters Chewbacca And Bossk

During Star Wars Celebration, EA revealed that two new characters will be added to Star Wars Battlefront in its third major expansion, Death Star.

The two playable characters include the Trandoshan bounty hunter Bossk as a villain and the fan-favorite Wookie Chewbacca as a hero. No further details were given at this time, but Chewbacca was briefly shown on screen during the presentation. Death Star will release this fall. Outside of these two characters, it will also feature new maps, weapons, and Star Cards.

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Just a couple days ago, we learned about the upcoming offline mode, Skirmish, which will release July 20. You can read out review of Star Wars Battlefront here.

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Rogue One: Scarif Will Be Star Wars Battlefront’s Final Expansion

Today at Star Wars Celebration, Star Wars Battlefront's fourth and final DLC Rogue One: Scarif was announced, which will act as a movie tie-in for the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One.

Battlefront director Niklas Fegraeus took the stage and revealed both the name and release date. Rogue One: Scarif will hit this holiday. He also mentioned that Jyn Erso, Rogue One's protagonist played by Felicity Jones, will be a playable character. Director Krennic will also be introduced in-game. As for the setting, it will take place on the tropical planet Scarif. 

Earlier today it was announced that Chewbacca and Bossk are the new playable characters coming to Battlefront's Death Star DLC. Be sure to also read about Skirmish, the offline mode coming to the game.

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Star Wars VR Game Trials On Tatooine Will Release On HTC Vive For Free

The Star Wars virtual reality title, Trials on Tatooine, will release in just two days for free on the HTC Vive.

The game takes place between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. You assume the role of a Padawan who serves as Luke Skywalker's Jedi apprentice. The game is an interactive cinematic experience, but it also features some lightsaber battles. Release is set for July 18.

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To learn more about Trials on Tatooine, check out our hands-on impressions from GDC 2016.

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