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Wednesday, Jul 1



Extended Uncharted 4: A Thief's End E3 2015 demo reintroduces Elena

1 comments Rory Young - 12:32pm (PST) Like Share

And Elena doesn't look too happy

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The Uncharted 4: A Thief's End demo shown during Sony's press conference at E3 2015 was very impressive. There's no argument to be made with that statement. However, considering that the demo closed out Sony's entire conference, it was quite a bit anti-climactic. The demo ended with Nate in the middle of a chase sequence, abruptly ending without any meaningful conclusion or cliffhanger. The truth is that this was because they were showing the second half of the demo behind closed doors to press and industry folk on the E3 show floor. Today the full, extended demo has been published online for all to see.

It's not necessarily Naughty Dog's fault that their left a rather sour taste in many viewers' mouths during the press conference. They likely had nothing to do with choosing when their demo would be shown in the event and it definitely seems like they didn't expect to be the show's closer. But that's definitely what they were. Nevertheless the press went on to laud Uncharted 4 as one of E3 2015's best showings, citing the closed demo. But it's hard to persuade casual viewers that something gets better when they haven't seen it for themselves as of yet. Thank goodness Naughty Dog decided to put out this extended demo relatively recently after E3 2015 ended, eh?

The demo picks up right where the E3 demo started, with Nate and Sully looking for Nate's brother, leading into a huge chase through the mountain-side city. Where the Sony E3 demo ended, as Nate tethered onto a truck's overhanging crane hook as it rode across a bridge, Naughty Dog's full demo continues on. I won't spoil the action itself, as the video will showcase it much better than I can describe. I will mention that the conclusion of the demo is much more rewarding, as we're reintroduced to Nate's wife, Elena. It's clear she isn't happy to find her husband back in his adventuring ways, and seemingly having been lying about them as well.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is planned for release exclusively on PlayStation 4 in early 2016. This may be the last we see of the game for some time as Sony hypes up their holiday releases in the months to come, but I think most will be happy with this glimpse at the upcoming action adventure title.

 
 

PlayStation Plus in July adds Rocket League on PS4, Geometry Wars 3 on PS Vita

6 comments Rory Young - 12:14pm (PST) Like Share

More free PlayStation 4 games for the PlayStation 4 god

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Sony had some comparably challenging competition from Microsoft's Games With Gold in July. Assassin's Creed sized competition. It doesn't look like Sony's stressing it, maintaining their monthly mix of indie titles and mid-tier surprises that may have passed people by in July's PlayStation Plus. Sony uses their service to promote titles that may otherwise never have found the spotlight on PC or on their own platforms. Well, beyond the PS Vita that is. Sony just seems to put every great PS Vita game directly onto PS+. No complaints there!

Note that July's PlayStation Plus line-up won't begin until July 7, since July 1 falls on a Wednesday and Sony only updates their storefront on Tuesdays. 

PlayStation 4

  • Rocket League
  • Styx: Master of Shadows

PlayStation 3

  • Rain
  • Entwined (PS4, PS3, PS Vita)

PS Vita

  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
  • Mousecraft (PS4, PS3, PS Vita)

It's good to see another mix of multiplatform offerings on PlayStation Plus this July. Both Entwined and Mousecraft will be available on all three Sony platforms, giving the PS4 four games, the PS3 three games, and the PS Vita three games. Oh yes, whatever PlayStation platform you're on, there will certainly be a grand selection of games to play. There aren't any big blockbuster titles this month, which is sure to frustrate some subscribers. Hopefully they'll all be too busy with Rocket League to make too much of a fuss over it.

Make sure to log in and download your copies of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Skulls of the Shogun for PlayStation 4. They'll be departing from PlayStation Plus as soon as July's games kick in.

 
 

Monday, Jun 29



Pokémon Shuffle Mobile coming to iOS and Android devices, mobile match-3 goodness later this year

5 comments Maxfield Navarro - 1:04pm (PST) Like Share

For Pokémon fans looking to move from matching candies to matching faces

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Pokémon Shuffle, one of Nintendo's first ventures into the free-to-play gaming realm, is coming to iOS and Android devices under the title Pokémon Shuffle Mobile later this year. The original Pokémon Shuffle was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in February of this year and has proved rather popular since, getting over a million downloads worldwide in the few weeks after its launch. By mixing traditional match-3 elements with fundamental features of the Pokémon series like mega evolution and type advantages, Nintendo's made what's likely one of the most addicting titles to hit handhelds in years.

The most important thing about Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is that it is free-to-play and it is meant for pick-up-and-go gamers. In each game players are given a limited number of moves used to mix and match cute Pokémon faces -- provided the Pokémon has been collected by the player -- to attack the enemy with. Matching more than three icons gives the attack more power. Pokémon's famous 17-type classification system of course comes into play in the title, allowing players to develop strategies instead of rushing headfirst into battle with any creatures that have been collected.

On the Nintendo 3DS games played were limited and could be refilled through StreetPass interactions, jewels that are obtained rarely through in-game deeds, microtransactions, or simply waiting thirty minutes. Android and iOS players will assumedly only be able to refill through the latter two or three methods, similar to other titles of the free-to-play genre such as Candy Crush, but Nintendo is new to the medium so anything could happen.

With titles such as the original Shuffle and Pokémon Rumble World on the Nintendo 3DS, the gaming giant seems to be taking quite a few progressive steps towards the mobile market and Shuffle is arguably the biggest one of them all. Provided that everything goes as well as the free-to-play expeditions on the handheld, introducing Pokémon Shuffle Mobile to a generation of gamers looking for quick entertainment might be just the first push towards creating a serious mobile gaming library full of Nintendo series and characters. It's the perfect game to play on the car ride to the grocery store or while waiting for dinner at a take-out restaurant.

Though Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is not yet available, interested gamers will be able to download it for free starting later this year on Google Play for Android devices and the iTunes App Store for iOS devices.

 

 
 

Launch trailer for The Great Ace Attorney's July 9 Japanese release, no localization yet announced

9 comments Rory Young - 12:52pm (PST) Like Share

Don't you dare keep this one Japan-only too, Capcom!

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Damn it all, Capcom! Why do you do this to us? The Great Ace Attorney, a loose translation of the Japanese title Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken, is coming up on its July 9 launch in Japan. Yes, that's the latest tile in the Ace Attorney franchise, though you won't see Phoenix Wright or Miles Edgeworth in this one. This one's set in feudal Japan and starring Ryūnosuke Naruhodō, his last name a pun on "I See!" Time travel probably isn't out of bounds for the franchise though. But back to the point -- here we are so close to the Japan launch and Capcom still hasn't announced a western localization. Damn it all, Capcom!

I'll be honest, the launch trailer for The Great Ace Attorney isn't likely to be very enticing to western audience. I'm not really posting this one for us all to watch and get hyped. I'm posting it because apparently Capcom needs quite a bit more pushing before they'll localize the damn game and if one more news post can help with that then I'll do my best for the cause. Remember, Capcom didn't even release Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2 in the west, because they're freakin' jerks. I'm crossing all of my fingers that The Great Ace Attorney won't also miss a localization, but you really can't trust Capcom with these things these days.

The trailer itself focuses on introducing each of the major characters in the game, spinning up a bit of the classic investigative intrigue with a tease of the game's first murder, as well as showing plenty of that classic Ace Attorney personality. Unfortunately there's quite a bit of text and very little movement in the trailer. 3DS gameplay doesn't translate very well into a big, high-resolution launch trailer, so they spend a lot of their time dropping unmoving concept art on-screen and adding the Japanese voice-over on top of it. I'm sure it's great if you know Japanese.

Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken, loosely translated as Great Turnabout Trial: The Adventure of Ryūnosuke Naruhodō and known in the west as The Great Ace Attorney, will launch in Japan on July 9. The 3DS exclusive adventure game has yet to have a localization for other regions announced. It may not be localized at all. Make sure to message Capcom via their social media channels that we want more Ace Attorney here, because we do. And Capcom won't do it unless we make them!

 
 

20 minutes of Gearbox's Battleborn shared from their E3 demo, unsurprisingly very Borderlands-ish

1 comments Rory Young - 12:05pm (PST) Like Share

Where all my purple drops at, Gearbox?

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Battleborn is Gearbox's upcoming free-to-play shooter. The name can be a bit tough to remember in the mix of all these upcoming F2P shooters like BattleCry, Gigantic and Overwatch. Think of it as Battle-Borderlands, which kind of sounds like Battleborn. Battleborn-derlands. Whatever. Anyway, Gearbox went E3 with Battleborn and showed off their game to attendees. That doesn't do much good for us kids at home, however. Luckily Gearbox has our back too, as they've released about 20 minutes of gameplay footage from their E3 2015 demo.

As expected the game is quite Borderlandsy. Battle-Borderlandsy. The mission shown is one of the game's cooperative modes where the players push through enemy AI, ultimately growing into the escort of a large doomsday robot of sorts. The footage ends just as this robot seems to be converted to the enemy's side. Apparently watching our players take on waves of mindless, near powerless drones makes for a good demo, but the big awesome boss fight at the end was too much to handle. Eh, the gameplay seems less focused on the action, oddly, and more on introducing the characters and their abilities.

Battleborn is one of the upcoming waves of FPS MOBA-likes where players pick one of a large roster of characters to play as. Each character has a subset of unique abilities as well as general attacks, but the focus is on ensuring each one feels fun, special, and packed with personality. Gearbox has really exemplified these ideas with Borderlands, pouring style and humor onto a surprisingly simple sort of gameplay and finding a lot of success with it. Battleborn is an extension of that idea, but capitalizing on the current popularity (and profits) of the microtransaction-rich F2P MOBA-likes.

The issue I can already see arising is that perhaps Borderlands' gameplay, and so then Battleborn's as well, just isn't enough to carry this kind of experience. Borderlands was all about progression, including leveling up, finding tons of loot, and moving the story along bit by bit. The shooting was just a part of following these progression paths. Free-to-play games and MOBA-like experiences, however, are all about quick, fast and adrenaline-pumping gameplay. The style and personality help differentiate the games from competitors, sure, but the gameplay is what's key.

I'm not sure that from what I've seen of Battleborn is enough to keep people tied into the experience in such a way. Compare what we see here to Overwatch with its quick skill cooldowns and frantic, action-packed combat, or even Gigantic's speedy action with tons of verticality and really large, screen-filling abilities. Then look at Battleborn with its rather tepid gun-play, slow movements, scant skills that are very understated and on long cooldowns. Maybe the game's overarching progression systems will be a more worthwhile investment, like in Borderlands, but the gameplay definitely isn't selling the experience very well right now.

Battleborn ha no currently announced plans for a beta, though one should be expected before the end of the year. Hopefully we'll hear more in the months to come. 

 
 

Thursday, Jun 25



Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance available October 9, revenge drives Killia against Void Dark

7 comments Rory Young - 2:07pm (PST) Like Share

Everyone knows what Disgaea delivers -- there's nothing else to say!

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Nippon Ichi Software continues to pump out these Disgaea games like they're a niche strategy JRPG of Call of Duty! What number are we on again? Oh yeah, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance! This time, it's a boyish protagonist with a lady side-kick for some reason wearing a bikini, wait... that's the same, isn't it? Okay, well this time they're fighting to overthrow the dark powers ruling hell, wait... that's the same too, huh? Okay, well this time it's on PlayStation 4. Hah! Even Disgaea can do new things once and a while. Announced today, Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance arrive on October 9 exclusively for PlayStation 4.

And of course I'm mostly kidding, guys. Disgaea 5 has plenty of new features that should placate the dedicated fans that the franchise has amassed so far. The latest game will feature alliance attacks, special moves only activatable when protagonist Killia's "relationship" is aligned with an ally. There's also an all new Revenge Mode which strengthens characters as their allies get defeated in combat. And Disgaea 5 is making a point to show off more of the Netherworlds than ever see before. Okay, so the new features aren't really changing the game in any significant way. But it's on PlayStation 4!

The game doesn't need to change in any huge ways, after all. Fans love Disgaea because of the huge customizable roster of allies, including over 40 races and jobs, each with their own specific traits. They love the grid-based tactical combat and grindy yet challenging combat. They love the oh-so-anime storytelling from the perspective of an anti-hero battling for control of what's basically hell. There's not really anything like Disgaea, which is why Nippon Ichi doesn't really ever need to change the formula. Fans want more of this sort of experience and so Nippon Ichi delivers.

Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance will be available on PlayStation 4 starting October 6 in North America and October 9 in Europe. The latest game in the Disgaea franchise will not be coming to PlayStation 3 -- it's a PS4 exclusive! So if you're a Disgaea fan, I'd recommend jumping to the new generation. I don't think the franchise will be going back now that they've made the jump.

NIS America also announced that Disgaea 5 will feature a special Launch Day Edition which includes the game, a reversible cover, a wider collectible box, a 32-page art book and the game's original soundtrack -- all for the same price as the game would be otherwise. It's basically the best way to do launch day incentives ever, because there's none of that pre-order DLC crap involved.

 
 

Apple removing iOS Civil War games for depicting the Confederate Flag

21 comments Rory Young - 1:03pm (PST) Like Share

The iOS storefront yet again shows it's not a safe place for video games

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In today's chapter of "Video Games: Is it Censorship?" I believe we can add another page in the, "Yes, it's Censorship" part of the book. Apple has gone on a banning rampage in their own iOS storefront, removing every game which depicts the confederate flag. This includes titles such as strategy game Ultimate General: Gettysburg and a series of Civil War strategy games made by Hunted Cow. The only similarity between the titles appears to be that they include the confederate flag as an asset within their game files.

The statement that Apple has apparently been sending to developers who have had their art pulled from the store gives only a bit of reasoning for the action:

"...because it includes images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways."

The flag has long been an object of political controversy in the United States, but has recently been pulled back into the spotlight after a racially motivated public shooting occurred in the state of South Carolina resulting in nine murders at a Charleston church. The state's leadership has come under fire for running the confederate flag at the state capitol, a symbol rooted in racist history going back to the times of slavery and a symbol the South Carolina shooter used to justify his hate crimes. The South Carolina governor has taken down the flag as the controversy has spread across the nation, starting a conversation regarding the meaning of the flag to those who continue to fly it. It still runs in front of many government buildings in the United States.

Apple has apparently decided that this controversy is worth dealing with within its own App Store, dealt with by removing games featuring the confederate flag in any way from their storefront. Video games remain a federally protected art form, but as far as Apple's storefront goes they are well within their rights to remove any product they want to. Still, this amounts to suppressing art based off of content found distasteful within them. That is to say, it is the very definition of censorship. 

The question of whether this is the right thing for Apple to do or not is another question entirely, but let no one call this anything but censorship. At least some of the games pulled from the storefront went lengths to portray an accurate historical context for their content, but this seems to have no meaning to Apple in their effort to remove all instances of the confederate flag. Apple is well known for removing any sort of "distasteful" games from their storefront in the past, including games approaching any sort of sexual content or excessive violence. Censorship is something they are well versed in, for better or worse. It's unlikely these games will be allowed back on the storefront.

Touch Arcade has received a statement from the developer of of Ultimate General: Gettysburg which I believe accurately and maturely summarizes the situation:

"We accept Apple's decision and understand that this is a sensitive issue for the American Nation. We wanted our game to be the most accurate, historical, playable reference of the Battle of Gettysburg. All historical commanders, unit composition and weaponry, key geographical locations to the smallest streams or farms are recreated in our game's battlefield.

We receive a lot of letters of gratitude from American teachers who use our game in history curriculum to let kids experience one of the most important battles in American history from the Commander's perspective.
Spielberg’s "Schindler's List" did not try to amend his movie to look more comfortable. The historical "Gettysburg" movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money.

Therefore we are not going to amend the game's content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on AppStore. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results. We can’t change history, but we can change the future."

Simply put, the iOS is not a safe place for art and so is not a safe place for video games. Hopefully more developers become aware of this as a result of today's events.

Join in the ongoing discussion for this topic within the Neoseeker community, care of @Shilz.

Categories: Mobile Games
 
 

XCOM 2's behind-closed-doors E3 2015 gameplay shows off our alien-conquered Earth

0 comments Rory Young - 12:15pm (PST) Like Share

Snakes? It had to be snakes

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Dedicated XCOM fans have probably been able to sniff this out already, as Firaxis Games gave several live demos to various live-streaming outlets during E3 2015. The folk at Firaxis and 2K understand that not everyone was able to keep up with every E3 livestream though. So they went ahead and released a full recording of their E3 2015 demo which was otherwise only shown "Behind Closed Doors." XCOM 2 will be arriving in November later this year, so you can rather reliably say that even though this is beta footage, it should be feature complete. This gameplay is a good indicator for what the final game will look like.

As is typically the case for any and every E3 demonstration, the XCOM 2 demo focuses rather heavily on introducing the various new features which Firaxis will be adding in the sequel. These range from large features like stealth approaches to start a mission, secondary objectives like blowing up the statue, to less obvious features like the new classes, improved cinematic quality of gameplay and evacuation procedures. All in all, there is a ton of information for XCOM players to take in from this demo. I figure folk will be looking it over for quite some time in order to figure out its secrets.

For folk like me who aren't so interested in the features so much as the XCOM authenticity, I'd say this demo is a triumph. The whole party is wiped out except for one single character, yet performed  rather amazingly considering they went up against overwhelming odds in the middle of an alien-controlled stronghold. Just having that final character survive is great symbolism, as the game's entire premise is about losing the war yet continuing to struggle against oppression. Also, he saved that other character so he could salvage her armor and items. That's a true XCOM player right there. What a huge loss of investment otherwise, right?

XCOM 2 is in development at Firaxis Games and is planned for released exclusively on PC in November later this year. It takes place some time after the events of the original XCOM and is built on the idea that humanity lost the war with the invading aliens. XCOM has survived, however, and is planning on taking back their planet.

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Games With Gold for July adds Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on X1, Gears of War 3 on 360

5 comments Rory Young - 11:32am (PST) Like Share

Here ends the reign of Pool Nation FX of the Xbox One's line-up

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Well hey, hey, hey! Look at this! Microsoft's got a pretty solid line-up of title for Games With Gold in July. Both Xbox platforms will be picking up a pair of games. I guess Pool Nation started to ask for too much money. Best yet, we're getting both a pretty outstanding AAA game as well as a smaller indie game. That's the best of both worlds. The Xbox 360's are both just outstanding. Two of the best games of that generation, and one of them well-timed considering a pair of announcements at E3. Good on Microsoft to even be willing to share this one. Alright, enough teasing.

Let's take a look at Microsoft's Games With Gold line-up for July:

Xbox One

  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (July 1 - July 31)
  • So Many Me (July 16 - August 15)

Xbox 360

  • Plants vs. Zombies (July 1 - July 15)
  • Gears of War 3 (July 16 - July 31)

We're witnessing an interesting divergence here. It looks like Microsoft has figured out the direction they want for the program going forward. Xbox One games on the service seem to be on a monthly release schedule, but with tapered releases. That is to say that a new game will be added every 15 days, but an old game will then be removed. This will maintain a 2-game schedule, but also provide two new games every month. The Xbox 360, though, where it must be easier to get contracts for new games in a short amount of time, will also maintain two games each month. However, they'll only last 15 days and only one will be up at a given time.

Gears of War 3 is an awesome  game, my favorite in the franchise, and Microsoft must be releasing it to build up hype for the pending release of the Gears of War Ultimate Edition on Xbox One. Hopefully they don't end up showing how much better the series is on Xbox 360. Plants vs. Zombies is an understandable pick. It's a great title that comes from one of Microsoft's closest third-party partners. I believe Garden Warfare has also been a part of Games With Gold. And Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is just a solid get no matter what. Sure it's one of the older titles on Xbox One, but it's possibly also the best launch title for the platform.

There's your Games With Gold for July, everyone. Make sure to hop online and download Massive Chalice and Pool Nation FX on Xbox One before the end of July, as well as Thief on Xbox 360.

 
 

Diablo III 2.30 upcoming patch adds 'Ruins of Sescheron' zone, difficulty expanded up to Torment X

3 comments Rory Young - 2:23am (PST) Like Share

Unclear if the Ruins of Sescheron is story-based content or not

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Season 3 continues unabated in Diablo III, looking as strong as it ever has. The game has been reinvented with post-launch patches and the major changes introduced with the release of the Reaper of Souls expansion. The flock of returning player has only reinvigorated the Blizzard Entertainment devs currently working on Diablo III, as they've only just announced their plans for Patch 2.3.0. The patch will feature an entirely new zone to explore and adventure through, rewarding players with the mysterious Kanai's Cube artifact upon completion. And that's just scratching the surface.

The patch will be hitting the Public Test Realm "soon" for those willing to be test rats. It's not clear whether Blizzard intends to release 2.3.0, though with Season 3's end still a ways away it seems like might have it ready before the Season's end. Here are the major feature updates, though it should be noted that Blizzard has made major changes to patch features before. Don't be surprised if things change between now and release:

  • Ruins of Sescheron Zone: Patch 2.3.0 will unlock the Ruins of Sescheron zone, an explorable are with new enemies and "environmental hazards." At the end of the zone will lie the Tomb of King Kania and his mysterious Kanai's Cube artifact."
  • Kanai's Cube: Like the Horadric Cube on steroids, Kanai's Cube allows for breaking down Legendary items in order to equip their effects as passive skills, converting crafting materials, and other tricks.
  • Crafting Updates: "Crunched down" number of crafting recipes, as well as dynamically adjusting recipes for low level items.
  • Adventure Mode Updates: Changes to improve the pacing of Adventure Mode, while encouraging players to do more bounties across multiple acts. Includes Act-specific crafting materials and bonus Horadric Caches for completing Bonus Acts.
  • Season Journey: Starting in Season 4, a new interface will allow players to track their progress across Chapters and Tiers. These will note "major milestones" and unlock portrait rewards for certain challenges.
  • Increasing Torment: Torment, previously capped at VI, will not scale all the way up to Torment X.
  • Legendary & Set Items: It wouldn't be a patch without new legendary and set items and effects, as well as revamping some existing items. Not retroactive.
  • Combat Changes: Crowd control to be less effective against certain "tougher" monsters. More or less experience granted based on monster difficulty (time taken to kill a monster). Difficulty diverted away from Rift Guardian and into challenges along the way.

This is just a list of major feature changes made in Diablo III's patch 2.3.0. The specific notes have not been published, and the developers have even noted that there are some smaller but equally awesome changes that just didn't make the list. 

As mentioned earlier, the patch is not yet live on the Public Test Realm and it's not clear whether or not the patch is intended to be released before or after the end of Season 3. The general trend for Blizzard is to release these big patches as a season is ending, however, so players can get accustomed to the content before the next season begins. All without shifting the meta mid-season. Expect more details on this soon.

Diablo III and its expansion Reaper of Souls are both currently available on PC, and also on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the form of the Ultimate Evil Edition. News on console patches tends to come quite a bit later than for PC, so please wait for more information in the months to come, console players.

 
 
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