Author Archives: Lucas Matney

Here’s what having the biggest game of the year looks like at E3

For all of the beautiful photo-realistic titles shown off at E3 this year, for all the mind-bending storylines and beautiful art styles, it seems that nobody can stop thinking about Fortnite.

The battle royale title has picked up users at break-neck speeds, announcing yesterday that it now has 125 million active users logging in and dropping into battle. The Epic Games title is available across a wide variety of platforms — it just launched a version for the Nintendo Switch yesterday, successfully rounding out the most viable gaming platforms.

In short, this is Fortnite’s year, and on the E3 show floor, Epic Games made quite the splash with one of the more elaborate booths, complete with mechanical llama piñatas, photo ops, merch, snacks and plenty of opportunities for fans to stop and play a little Fortnite.

Check out some more of the ridiculous opulence below.

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Hands-on with Nintendo’s Poké Ball Plus

Nintendo doesn’t come out with a ton of hardware in-between system launches, but the peripherals it does come out with have a history of being pretty quality. That being said, the Poké Ball Plus may be the nicest little game-specific system accessory Nintendo has sold yet.

At Nintendo’s big, honking E3 booth I had a chance to go hands-on with the little golf-ball sized device. Nintendo was not allowing us to take video or pictures of it during use, but rest assured, this is exactly what it looks like in real life.

For what should by all means be a gimmicky little device, Nintendo put a thoughtful amount of engineering into the little ball, which was surprisingly fun to play the new titles with and seemed to offer a lot more than nostalgia for prospective owners.

Build-wise this thing feels nice and hefty with an experience that feels a bit more immersive than using a Joy-Con because you are holding a little ball rather than flicking a controller. Additionally, there are some lights on the joystick/trigger that light up to showcase when you’ve caught a Pokémon or are housing one. You can charge the Poké Ball Plus via USB-C and you’ll get about six hours charge on it, the company tells us.

You can navigate your character through the game with the joy-stick and push it in to make selections. When it comes to actually capturing Pokémon that you encounter, you can sort of flick the little ball — there’s a strap and a little ring to ensure the ball doesn’t go flying.

Will this be something that drastically improves your experience playing the varieties of Pokemon: Let’s Go? No, but you probably won’t feel like an idiot for spending extra money on something your system’s Joy-Cons can already do if more fun is an acceptable system spec.

It’s cool, it’s cute and tiny and, similar to the Pokémon GO Plus wristband, you’ll be able to connect this to your phone and catch the little creatures on-the-go, so you are getting some added functionality if you’ve bought into Niantic’s Pokémon world on mobile, as well.

Other features beyond being able to house a Pokémon that you have captured on the move is that you can actually shake the device and hear the sound of the particular Pokémon you currently have captured. As far as fun little features go, this has a lot to offer fans.

We don’t have an official price for the accessory itself, but Nintendo did reveal today that it will be included with a $100 bundle with a copy of Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee. You’ll also get the mythical Pokémon Mew with your Poké Ball Plus.

Everything Nintendo announced at E3 2018

Nintendo came out with the big guns for its pre-recorded E3 conference this morning, delivering updates on a couple of veteran franchises while also bringing some new titles to its Switch console.

We didn’t get a ton of big surprises, but what Nintendo showed off was certainly exciting to a lot of fans. The bulk of the presentation was (as expected) devoted to the intimate minutiae of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is arriving at the end of the year and will bring the biggest cast to the game ever, with some new characters arriving alongside the entire cast of the series’ previous iterations.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Party and Fortnite were probably the biggest highlights, but let’s take a look at everything they talked about.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

One of the crazier parts of this announcement included the fact that Nintendo has made a redesigned GameCube controller, which will be compatible with the game and will be supporting your old GameCube controller somehow as well, presumably with a dongle.

Available December 7, 2018.

Super Mario Party

Alongside the new gameplay content, Super Mario Party is going to integrate some weird multi-Switch gameplay that will allow users to play together across multiple Switch consoles and merge their screens together.

Available October 5, 2018.

Fortnite

Available now for free download.

Other stuff

In addition to the big-gun trifecta of game announcements, Nintendo also shed some light on other titles coming to the system, which has realistically had a pretty tiny game library since launch.

Fire Emblem Three Houses

Coming spring 2019.

DRAGON BALL FighterZ

Coming 2019.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country

New update available September 14 for Expansion Pass members.

Other titles announced during the Nintendo Direct included Daemon X Machina, Overcooked! 2, Killer Queen Black, Hollow Knight and Octopath Traveler. In terms of the new Pokémon titles, Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!, they will be available November 16 and people will be able to buy a $99.99 combo that includes the Poké Ball Plus controller, as well.

So that’s it; no Metroid Prime news, no Animal Crossing for Switch, no other big teases — but there’s certainly a good chunk of titles to keep Switch owners excited for a while. We’ll be at E3 checking out some of these new titles this week, so stay tuned for more from us on the ground in Los Angeles.

Super Mario Party lets you connect multiple Switch consoles to expand your screen

Super Mario Party is coming to the Nintendo Switch, but alongside the new party gameplay, there appears to be an interesting new use of the Switch hardware for multi-player purposes.

It appears you’ll be able to modularly connect at least two Nintendo Switch consoles to expand the size of the screen you’re working with. In gameplay it seems actions will be able to seamlessly move from one screen to the other after users draw where the connection between the consoles are.

Mario Party has long been a Nintendo franchise that pushes the technical limits of the systems in their most gimmicky capacities. It seems that the Switch will gain some cool applications of the controllers’ motion capabilities for the wide variety of party games.

This really seems like the idealized use for the Switch’s controller system, and while Mario Kart 8 offered a lot of tabletop fun for using controllers on the tiny screen, Nintendo is really letting loose here bringing multiple Switches together and all of the controllers that they can handle.

How much a feature like this would actually be used in real life is a little dubious, but we’ll find out how much the mechanic fits into gameplay October 5.

Square Enix didn’t show off much at its E3 2018 showcase

Well, Square Enix just wrapped up a short and uneventful E3 press conference that really seemed to phone it in. No Final Fantasy VII remake details and nothing on The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy

The hyped presentation did have plenty to share on a new Tomb Raider title, to which they devoted about seven minutes of their half-hour presser. They also spent a lot of time with close-ups of the tornadoes that will be blaring around in Just Cause 4, which is getting a December release date. The extreme weather looks pretty cool, actually, and, given that a lot of the Just Cause series seems to be about just finding the limits of weird stuff you can do with the game’s wonky physics, this seems like it’d be pretty clutch.

Outside of that, there was a sneak peek at a new title called The Quiet Man, which at first glance seems to be a title devoted to a deaf man punching Hispanic dudes in alleys throughout New York. Babylon’s Fall is also new. Additionally we saw the Kingdom Hearts III trailer we saw at the Microsoft event yesterday, along with a deeper look into Captain Spirit, which looks cute, but I find it difficult to get super excited about.

Other trailered games included Nier: Automata: Become As Gods, Octopath Traveler, Dragon Quest XI, Under the Moonlight, Monster Hunter World and Stormblood. 

(Skip ahead like eight minutes into the stream recording to get to the trailers.)

Gamers had lofty hopes, but they were all dashed against the stone by the presser’s end as evidenced by this quick live YouTube comments screenshot. Nobody was forcing them to host a press conference, but when you hold one, people naturally have expectations.

Microsoft acquires a whole bunch of game studios

Microsoft kept the gaming announcements coming at its Xbox E3 press conference where it announced a series of studio acquisitions meant to bolster the original gaming content emerging from the console maker.

Xbox head Phil Spencer announced Sunday that Microsoft has acquired Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs and Compulsion Games. The four studios will add to Microsoft’s considerable heft in first-party game development, especially as the company looks to strengthen its game download subscription service Xbox Game Pass.

Playground Games, started in 2010, is the developer behind the Forza racing series and has been a long-time Xbox partner. The partnership announcement comes alongside the announcement of Forza Horizon 4, a new title in the series.

Ninja Theory has designed titles including Hellblade, Undead Labs has released the State of Decay series and Compulsion Games is working on its new title We Happy Few, which will launch this year.

The new studios will all be housed beneath the Microsoft Studios brand alongside a new venture called The Initiative, led by former Crystal Dynamics head of studio Darrell Gallagher. Microsoft Studios already contains groups like Halo-maker 343 Industries and the team behind Minecraft, which Microsoft acquired in 2014 for $2.5 billion.