#161: Half-Life Free-to-play

TODAY: Konami could be getting ready to return to Silent Hill — Valve gets generous ahead of Half-Life: Alyx release — Tencent is always hungry and only game studios can sate its voracious appetite

Top Story

Sword & Shield Wild Area ending soon

The current Pokémon Sword & Shield Wild Area event is drawing to an end. Gigantamax Alcremie wraps up on January 31st, and all the other Gigantamax events end on February 7th.

The Wild Area events started on January 9th, when Gigantamax versions of Flapple and Alcremie began spawning in both versions, while Gigantamax Coalossal is exclusive to Sword and Gigantamax Lapras to Shield.

CGI remake of first Pokémon movie coming soon

The Pokémon Company has released a trailer for Pokémon The Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, which hits Netflix on February 27th, launching world-wide except in Japan and South Korea.

Older Pokémon fans might remember the original 1998 version, but the new version might still offer some surprises – such as the exact nature of Mewtwo’s origins. The CGI remake was announced in 2018 in the end credits of Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which band are the school faculty members in Silent Hill named after?

  • Nirvana
  • Sonic Youth
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • Pearl Jam

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

News Bits

Rumours about new Silent Hill projects

Konami has been pretty quiet about Silent Hill for half a decade, but now there’s finally a glimmer of hope: There are rumours that Konami is preparing two new projects: A reboot, and an episodic series. The last game in the series was Silent Hill: Book of Memories from 2012.

Get ready for over-the-top football

How could football be improved? Well, making it more anime would be a great start! The physics-defying exploits of Captain Tsubasa and his team are coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of the New Champions is based on the works of Yoichi Takahashi and follows the increasingly ludicrious exploits of Tsubasa Ozora and his team.

Daily Fact

The mystery behind Diablo II’s flashback storytelling finally solved

Diablo II’s story is mostly told through flashbacks that don’t feature any of the playable characters. You might have thought this was all part of a grand vision, but really it was because the team didn’t have the resources to make cinematics for all the five character classes.

The infamous Secret Cow Level from Diablo never actually existed, but was just an urban legend that spread on the young internet. Blizzard decided to actually include it in the second game as an Easter Egg and has become a regular staple of the series – and other Blizzard games, usually in the form of a message insisting that there is no secret cow level.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

Daily News

Ark: Genesis expansion still expected sometime in end of January

The Ark: Genesis season pass launched last summer, and now the first part of the new expansion is coming to PC and consoles. The developers haven’t said much about when the expansion will be launched, so a delay announcement might be imminent.

Rumours in the community says the expansion could be released on January 28th. PlayStation Store still claims a January 2020 release date, while the second is arriving in the winter of 2020.

Ark: Survival Evolved was launched in August 2017

The expansions continue the story from Ark: Survival Evolved, based on the delightfully silly premise that you need to make a new life for yourself in a world dominated by dinosaurs, dragons and other monsters. The expansions add new biomes and a variety of beasts to fight and even tame and then train for battle, plus an all-new mission structure.

Half-Life series free until Alyx release

If you still haven’t played the Half-Life series, then you’re in luck: All the games are free until March, when VR extravaganza Half-Life: Alyx arrives.

Half-Life: Alyx is Valve’s first major in-house VR title and one of the first major VR-exclusive AAA games, period. It requires VR gear such as the Valve Index, but also supports other hardware like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

“The Half-Life: Alyx team believes that the best way to enjoy the new game is to play through the old ones, especially Half-Life 2 and the episodes, so we want to make that as easy as possible,” according to Valve.

Grab yourself some Half-Life right away!

Game Spotlight

Blackmoor 2

Evil has returned and the hero who was supposed to destroy the talisman that summons the Dark Lord never made it back from his quest. That means its up to you and a group of plucky heroes to crack some skulls and save the day. Never heard that one before, right? Fortunately, you’re not playing Blackmoor 2 for the story, you’re here for some good, old-fashioned arcade action!

Originally launched as a free-to-play mobile game, Blackmoor 2 feels a little out of place on Switch. The game looks fine in handheld mode, but the simple graphics simply don’t suit the big screen – with the exception of some of the more charming boss enemies.

Mixing classic arcade-style beat’em-up with action-RPG grinding and levelling is a pretty winning combination, though. Fight enemies, level up to procure new abilities, spend your hard-earned money on equipment and savour the loot dropped by bosses.

The game is similar to Castle Crashers, but with a few twists added to the mix: Football matches, siege battles … the developers understand that the formula is pretty straightforward and can get repetetive and while not every novelty gameplay feature is equally successful, they do keep the game fresh.

If you find yourself enjoying Blackmoor 2, you have a lot of content to look forward to. The story mode is accompanied by a harder Dark Mode, there are several different heroes, a competitive PvP mode, a dungeon creator – and nearly everything supports multiplayer!

The multiplayer is really where the game shines, and while the original mobile game also supported online multiplayer, the game really comes alive when you gather a group of friends for some good, old-fashioned couch co-op.

The big problem with Blackmoor 2 is that it’s a bit too basic. It’s a mobile game port, and the game design certainly feels like a mobile game. There is a single attack button, and three buttons that trigger the different characters’ abilities. Movement is locked to a single axis, and you can often win just by holding down the attack button. Dark Mode is a bit more challenging, but there isn’t that much reason to replay the game once you’ve beaten it.

Does that mean Blackmoor 2 is a bad game? Not really, it’s just a bit out of place. It feels more at home on a phone, but it is undeniably fun to play it with friends. Even if it’s not the greatest brawler on Switch, the developer’s enthusiasm really shines through and makes it greater than the sum of its parts.

If you’re a hardened beat’em-up champion, you probably won’t be too impressed but if you’re just looking for some casual fun, Blackmoor 2 will probably satisfy you.

News Bits

Sci-fi game from Focus and Blackbird

Focus Home Interactive and Blackbird Interactive announce a new partnership to develop all-new IP. Nothing has been revealed yet, except that the game will feature sci-fi elements. Both parties are chuffed to bits with the arrangement, and the game is expected to launch in 2020.

Tencent prepares to gobble up Funcom

Chinese goliath Tencent is hungry for some Funcom and is looking to acquire the Conan developer. They have made a cash offer to acquire all shares and Funcom CEO Rui Casais seems positive about it. Tencent already owns big stakes in companies like Riot Games, Epic Games and Ubisoft, and they currently own 29% of Funcom.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which band are the school faculty members in Silent Hill named after?

Answer: Sonic Youth!

Silent Hill is full of pop culture references, such as streets named after horror writers and serial killers – and the school is staffed by K. Gordon, T. Moore and L. Ranaldo from Sonic Youth. There’s tons of more or less obscure references like that if you look closely.

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