PS5 Will Offer “Transformative” Gaming Experiences; Faster Load Times Shown Off In New Video

Sony has again provided some new details on its next-generation console. As part of Sony’s Corporate Strategy Meeting today, the company discussed at a high level what it hopes to achieve in the future across its various business units, including PlayStation.

The two keywords for PlayStation going forward are “immersive” and “seamless,” Sony said. Concerning hardware, Sony said its next-generation console, the PlayStation 5, will offer an “immersive experience created by dramatically increased graphics rendering speeds.”

This will be made possible through the “employment of further improved computational power and a customized ultra-fast, broadband SSD,” Sony said.

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Overall, the PlayStation 5–or whatever Sony ends up calling its new console–will offer experiences that “greatly exceed” what is possible on PS4 and PS4 Pro. Sony said people can expect “completely transformative and immersive gaming experiences” on the PS5.

One of the features that PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny talked about for the PS5 is how its use of solid-state drives will reduce loading screen times.

Cerny pointed out that the fast travel loading screen in Spider-Man on PS4 took roughly 15 seconds on a PS4 Pro, but less than one second on a dev kit for the PS5. Given that the new hardware will be backwards compatible with older games, that means your load times will likely be reduced across the board when you upgrade. Check out the video below from The Wall Street Journal report Takashi Mochizuki who is attending the Sony event today to see the faster load times in action.

Cerny also talked about how the PS5 will allow for faster rendering, which means more environmental objects and textures will populate at a faster rate. In the presentation today, Sony said the PS5 will offer “many new features” beyond these advancements to loading and rendering, though none were mentioned.

Also during the presentation, Sony said it expects the PS4 to reach sales of 100 million units by the end of the 2019 calendar year. PS4 sales currently stand at 96.8 million systems sold. PlayStation Network has 94 million monthly active users, the company said.

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Additionally, Sony management talked about how streaming will play a big role in the PlayStation brand going forward. The PS5 will support Remote Play functionality, Sony confirmed, while management also said it’s looking to its new deal with Microsoft for cloud-gaming solutions to play a role in the company’s future success in that area. Sony of course already operates the PlayStation Now streaming service (which has 700,000 subscribers by Sony’s latest count), but it appears the company has bigger and bolder plans in the future.

Sony is not attending E3 2019 next month, so the company presumably won’t be announcing the PlayStation 5 there. The PlayStation 5 will have an “appealing” price point given its specs, according to Cerny, but there is no ballpark estimate yet regarding what the price may be.

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As for the release date of the PlayStation 5, Sony has said it will not release in the next fiscal year, which means it won’t launch April 2020 at the soonest.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/ps5-will-offer-transformative-gaming-experiences-f/1100-6467046/

Call Of Duty Mobile Beta Beginning In Some Regions; Maps, Modes, And More Details Announced

Activision has shared more details on Call of Duty Mobile as the spinoff approaches the regional beta testing phase. The first closed beta is beginning this week in India, with regional tests starting soon in Australia and then following to other territories over the coming months.

A post on the Activision Blog details the upcoming game. A variety of control options let you customize the toggles like sensitivity, gyroscope aiming, field of vision, and sprinting. You can choose Simple Mode, which auto-fires your weapon, or Advanced Mode that uses manual firing along with some other options and HUD customizations. It even boasts 17 sliders for aiming sensitivity.

As a Call of Duty game, of course, you can select up to three Scorestreak equipment like the Recon Car, Air Supply Drop, Missile Strike, Drone, and Sentry Gun. From your Loadout menu you’ll pick a Primary and a Secondary weapon, each with its own optics and attachments, grenades, and perks. Your five loadout slots can be one of several characters from Call of Duty history, including Alex Mason, Soap MacTavish, and Ghost Riley.

So far the studio has announced five modes: Free-For-All, Frontline, Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint, and Domination. It will also bring back several well-known Call of Duty maps, including Crossfire, Standoff, Crash, Killhouse, and Firing Range.

You can pre-register through the official site which will also sign you up for a chance at the beta. Additional gameplay modes are still to be announced.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/call-of-duty-mobile-beta-beginning-in-some-regions/1100-6467038/

Yes, Pokemon Sword And Shield Have Trainer Customization

Since Pokemon X and Y, each mainline installment in the series has allowed you to customize your trainer’s outfit, and it looks like that will be the case in Pokemon Sword and Shield as well. While the games’ reveal trailer hinted that trainer customization would return, the feature was confirmed when clothing retailer Uniqlo announced the winners of its Pokemon t-shirt design competition.

The winning design will not only be made into a real shirt, it’ll also appear in the upcoming Nintendo Switch games as a clothing option for your trainer (via Serebii). Uniqlo’s website shared a pair of screenshots showcasing the male and female trainers wearing the winning shirt rather than their default clothes, confirming you’ll be able to change their outfits. You can take a look at the screenshots below.

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It remains to be seen how many different clothing options will be available in Pokemon Sword and Shield. Both Pokemon X/Y and Sun/Moon allowed you to purchase an assortment of different outfits and accessories for your trainer, from hats and glasses to bags and shoes, and that will presumably be the case in Sword and Shield as well. One thing we do know for sure, however, is your avatar will at least be able to don a soccer-like uniform; the male trainer could be seen wearing one as he entered a stadium near the end of the games’ reveal trailer.

Nintendo gave fans their first look at Sword and Shield during a special Pokemon Direct broadcast this past February. While the presentation was fairly brief, it did reveal some important details about the upcoming games. For one, the titles are set in a new region called Galar, which appears to be inspired by the UK. We also got to see the games’ new starter Pokemon: the Grass-type monkey Grookey, the Fire-type rabbit Scorbunny, and the Water-type lizard Sobble.

Pokemon Sword and Shield are slated to launch for Switch in “late” 2019. We’ll presumably learn more about the games during Nintendo’s E3 2019 presentation, which is set to take place on Tuesday, June 11, at 9 AM PT / 12 PM ET / 5 PM BST. Until then, you can check out everything we know about Pokemon Sword and Shield so far.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/yes-pokemon-sword-and-shield-have-trainer-customiz/1100-6467030/

The Best Game Deals At Amazon For Memorial Day Weekend (Switch, PS4, Xbox One)

While not a games-focused retailer, Amazon often has some of the best gaming deals available online, even discounting some new games on release day and dropping the price on expensive first-party Switch games. The digital store currently has great discounts on some noteworthy games for PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. And if you live in the US, you may have a three-day weekend ahead of you due to Memorial Day, which means even more time for gaming–so we’re here to let you know about all the best deals.

On Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is back in stock this week for $10 off, a rare price for one of the Switch’s flagship games. Both Pokemon: Let’s Go games are down to $45 and can help you get your Pokemon fix until Pokemon Sword and Shield are out later this year. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is also discounted at $45, and you can grab Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for $49.94.

Over on PS4, Nier: Automata‘s Game of the Yorha Edition is only $28 and includes all DLC and bonus content. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is only $25. On both PS4 and Xbox One, don’t miss Monster Hunter World for $19, Devil May Cry 5 for $40, and The Division 2 for $45. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is also only $45 on Xbox One, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a bit cheaper than elsewhere at $26.20.

Remember that if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll get free two-day shipping on many of these games. See more of the best game deals at Amazon below!

Nintendo Switch:

PS4:

Xbox One:

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-best-game-deals-at-amazon-for-memorial-day-wee/1100-6467028/

New Apex Legends Patch 1.1.3 Is Available Now

Popular battle royale title Apex Legends has received a new patch that addresses a variety of issues concerning audio, hit detection, PC crashes, and more. Respawn Entertainment community manager Jay Frechette took to the EA blog to detail the patch, which is available now for all three platforms.

Frechette discussed improvements made to audio performance. “We have made improvements both in our code and with our content that will hopefully fix [sounds dropping out, missing sounds for an extended duration, or distortion for a period of time].” These fixes should lower the encounter rate of the described audio issues.

Also in the audio department, Frechette confirmed the team has addressed other issues, “including increasing the volume of close proximity enemy footsteps and lowering the overall volume of the game from the character select screen to the end of the drop sequence.”

Hit detection has been contentious for Apex Legends but this new patch should eliminate most incorrect hit detection with the help of some behind-the-scenes bullet damage tracking. “We expect there will still be some remaining hit registration problems, but with these fixes and diagnostic information, we are better equipped to track them down,” Frechette wrote.

It seems internet connectivity can result in incorrect hit detection. In order to better determine how internet connectivity factors into hit detection, Respawn has “refined the functionality behind [their] network problem indicator icons in the upper right of the screen.” These icons may show up more frequently now, but they will help “[narrow] down the cause of any bugs” the team may notice.

Lastly, PC crashes seem to be ubiquitous amongst Apex Legends players. Respawn noticed, specifically, “that Intel CPUs sometimes were not executing the instructions properly in one particular function.” The crashes seem to occur when writing to invalid memory. And so, Respawn found that “lowering the clock speed always fixed the crashes, even if the CPU wasn’t overclocked or overheating.” Intel has been notified, but this patch includes a temporary workaround to prevent and/or limit the number of crashes in the meantime.

You can check out the full patch notes below.

Audio Fixes and Improvements

One of the biggest issues we had to tackle was improving the audio performance to address reports of sounds dropping out, missing sounds for an extended duration, or distortion for a period of time. We have made improvements both in our code and with our content that will hopefully fix these issues for many players, and should lower the amount and length of time they encounter audio issues for others.

We have also addressed some of the other mix issues with the game, including increasing the volume of close proximity enemy footsteps and lowering the overall volume of the game from the character select screen to the end of the drop sequence. We will continue to monitor mix issues and address them as necessary. Below are the notes on improvements we’ve included in today’s patch as we continue to work on future improvements.

Performance

  • Improved audio engine to be around 30% more CPU efficient, lessening the chance of distortion or dropouts.
  • Lowered impact on data loading through code and content changes to improve potential dropout issues.

Quality of Life

  • Lowered the master volume of all sounds during the character select screen through the end of the drop sequence.
  • Lowered the volume of Wraith’s ambient kunai knife sound for those who are sensitive to the sound. If it is still bothersome we will remove it in a later patch.
  • Increased the volume of close proximity enemy footsteps for all Legends.
  • Increased the priority of enemy footsteps to ensure the sounds play even in heavy combat situations.
  • Slightly lowered the volume of Pathfinder footstep sounds heard from the first person view.
  • Fixed missing or quiet dryfire (out of ammo trigger click sound) and low ammo (the progressive change in sound that the gun makes as the magazine approaches empty) sounds for the R301, Hemlok, Flatline, and RE45.
  • Increased the volume of the music that plays when winning a match.
  • Added more detailed audio to the Training mission.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed occlusion bug for the Havoc’s “wind down” sound.
  • Fixed issue with automatic weapon fire sounds occasionally getting stuck on, usually after a Legend respawns.
  • Fixed bug with RE45 missing tail sounds (the echo in the environment after the shot) when in close proximity.

Hit Detection Fixes and Improvements

As we talked about last week, in this patch we’ve pushed some fixes that should eliminate many cases of incorrect hit registration. This patch also includes some behind-the-scenes tracking of bullet damage logic. We expect there will still be some remaining hit registration problems, but with these fixes and diagnostic information, we are better equipped to track them down.

One potential cause of hit registration bugs can be simple internet connection problems. In order to determine how much of a factor this is in reality, we’ve refined the functionality behind our network problem indicator icons in the upper right of the screen. These icons are now pickier about your connection quality and may show up more frequently than they did before.

These icon changes will be useful in narrowing down the cause of any bugs that we continue to see. Please continue to share videos and report hit registration issues you still encounter after the patch.

Fix for Lifeline “Pick Me Up” Banner Bug on PS4

  • The issue has been resolved and we will be re-enabling the banner after the patch is live.
    • NOTE: We made changes to client and backend to address this, and it’ll take a little time to take full effect. We’re expecting the error to resolve within a few hours after the patch is live.

[PC ONLY] Crashes Specific to Intel CPUs

We investigated the crash reports from many people who were crashing frequently and found that Intel CPUs sometimes were not executing the instructions properly in one particular function. A common example was an instruction that only reads a register crashed on writing to invalid memory. With the help of many forum users, we found that lowering the clock speed always fixed the crashes, even if the CPU wasn’t overclocked or overheating. Thanks everyone, with a big shout out to Falkentyne, TEZZ0FIN0, JorPorCorTTV, and MrDakk!

This has been by far the most commonly reported PC crash over the last month or so and we’ve notified Intel about the issue. In the meantime, we’ve put a workaround in this patch to avoid the crashing at your original clock speeds just by changing the instructions used by that one function.

Additional Bug Fixies

  • Fixed issue with the Fortified Passive ability for Gibraltar and Caustic where they would take damage through shields.
  • Fixed the bug that allowed players to stick objects to Gibraltar’s Gun Shield.
    • Admittedly, it’s been fun to see the results of this, but the behavior is not intended by design and could get out of control. Items will no longer stick to Gibraltar’s Gun Shield. However, it will now deflect Arc Stars.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/new-apex-legends-patch-113-is-available-now/1100-6467031/

Pokemon Go: How To Get Leafeon And Glaceon

A new wave of Gen 4 Pokemon has arrived in Pokemon Go. Along with Garchomp, Cherrim, Hippowdon, and a few other monsters originally from the Sinnoh region, players can now finally get Glaceon and Leafeon, the long-awaited Ice- and Grass-type evolved forms of Eevee. However, the way to induce these evolutions is a little different than normal.

To get Glaceon and Leafeon, you’ll need to use Glacial and Mossy Lures–two new kinds of Lure Modules recently introduced to the game. If you’re unsure of what those are or how the whole process works, we break down everything you need to know about the new Lure Modules and how to evolve Eevee into Glaceon or Leafeon below.

What Are Glacial / Mossy Lures And How Do I Get Them?

Glacial and Mossy Lures are two new types of Lure Modules in Pokemon Go. Like standard Lures, these can be placed in Poke Stops and will attract certain kinds of Pokemon for a limited time. Glacial Lures will draw in Water- and Ice-types, while Mossy Lures will attract Bug-, Grass-, and Poison-types. There are also Magnetic Lures, which will cause more Electric, Steel, and Rock Pokemon to appear.

At the moment, the only way to obtain the new Lure Modules is to purchase them from Pokemon Go’s in-game store. Each one costs 200 coins and works for 30 minutes when activated. In the future, Niantic says the new Lures will also be distributed as rewards for completing Special Research tasks.

How Do I Evolve Eevee Into Glaceon / Leafeon?

In order to evolve Eevee into one of its Gen 4 forms, you’ll first need to either place a Glacial or Mossy Lure in a Poke Stop, or visit a Stop where one of these is already active. As their names suggest, the Glacial Lure will allow you to evolve Eevee into Glaceon, while the Mossy Lure will allow you to evolve it into Leafeon. If you’re within range of an active Glacial or Mossy Lure, go to Eevee’s detail screen and you’ll have the option to evolve it into its corresponding evolution.

Are There Other Ways To Get Glaceon / Leafeon?

If you don’t have enough coins to spring for a Glacial or Mossy Lure, you can obtain Glaceon or Leafeon by employing the Eevee naming trick. As Serebii details, if you give your Eevee a specific nickname, it’ll evolve into one of the new forms when powered up. Nickname it Linnea to evolve it into Leafeon, or nickname it Rea to evolve it into Glaceon. However, this trick appears to work only once, so you’ll need to get your hands on a Glacial or Mossy Lure if you’re hoping to add more Glaceon and Leafeon to your collection.

Do Any Other Pokemon Evolve With The New Lures?

Like the Glacial and Mossy Lures, the Magnetic Lure also enables certain Pokemon to evolve when placed in a Poke Stop. Specifically, Magneton and Nosepass can evolve into Magnezone and Probopass, respectively, when you’re nearby an active Magnetic Lure. As with Glaceon and Leafeon, to get either of these evolutions, place a Magnetic Lure in a Poke Stop, click on the Pokemon’s detail screen, and you’ll have the option to evolve it into its Gen 4 form.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/pokemon-go-how-to-get-leafeon-and-glaceon/1100-6467010/

New Outer Wilds Trailer Reveals The Xbox One Console Exclusive Launches Next Week

Mobius Digital has released a new trailer for its upcoming open world exploration game, Outer Wilds. The game is scheduled to release for Xbox One and PC on May 30.

On Xbox One, Outer Wilds releases day one on Game Pass. Provided you’re already paying the $10 USD a month subscription fee, you can download and start playing the game come May 30. On PC, Outer Wilds is launching as a limited-time Epic Games Store exclusive.

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After fans expressed a desire for the game to launch on Steam as well, Mobius Digital said people can feel “rest assured” that their feedback is heard and that the overall goal is to “bring the game to [players’] preferred platform as quickly as possible.” Mobius Digital explained that deals were struck with both Epic Games and publisher Annapurna Interactive–the latter of which is also responsible for publishing indie games such as Ashen, Donut County, and What Remains of Edith Finch–to “keep our small studio running long enough to ship the game at the level of quality that it is today.” The studio added that “[each] of these partnerships has enabled us to make the game better and more accessible for everyone who will play it.”

In Outer Wilds, you play as an alien caught in a The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask-like time loop. As the newest member of your planet’s space program, you travel from planet to planet within your solar system in search of an explanation as to why the loop keeps occurring. Like Majora’s Mask, you use what you learn from each loop to further your progress in subsequent attempts. “The planets of Outer Wilds are packed with hidden locations that change with the passage of time,” Mobius Digital said in a press release. “Players can visit an underground city before it’s swallowed by sand, or explore the surface of a planet as it crumbles beneath their feet.”

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/new-outer-wilds-trailer-reveals-the-xbox-one-conso/1100-6466993/

Xbox Boss Promises To Combat Online Toxicity And Encourage Inclusion

Xbox head Phil Spencer has published an editorial on the Microsoft Blog expressing the importance of diversity, and committing the company to combating toxicity online. To that end, he identified three key initiatives for the Xbox team.

The first initiative is continued vigilance from its Xbox Safety team, and expanding the composition of the safety team for a greater variety of perspectives. The group of community leaders known as Xbox Ambassadors will also be working on “community missions” to help create an inviting environment for players.

Spencer’s second initiative is to create more tools for players and community leaders to customize their level of engagement to their comfort level. Over the summer, Club managers will get more moderation features, and other content moderation tools will be available by the end of 2019. It also commits to easier parental control tools, along with Gaming Summer Camps launching this summer to teach kids healthy habits. A recently launched “For Everyone” portal on Xbox.com keeps track of these initiatives.

Finally, Microsoft will share its safety tech across the industry, including its teams working on research, data science, and moderation. It compares this plan to its PhotoDNA technology, which it has shared with police and tech companies to fight child pornography.

“The gaming community continues to grow rapidly, and the imminent roll-out of new game services such as Apple Arcade, Google Stadia, and Microsoft’s Project xCloud, will make gaming available to even more people worldwide,” Spencer states. “Our industry must now answer the fierce urgency to play with our fierce urgency for safety.”

The full letter also serves partly as a mission statement for the company. It cites data on the current diversity of the gaming audience, the benefits of gaming for people with autism or Alzheimer’s, the connection between gaming and STEM education, and then explains the current events that have led to this safety-focused approach.

“This widespread embrace of gaming and its global communities have turned video games into the world’s leading cultural industry, bigger than movies or music,” it says. “But it also comes at a time when digital life includes a growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry and misogyny.”

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/xbox-boss-promises-to-combat-online-toxicity-and-e/1100-6467025/

The Most Influential Games Of The 21st Century: Half-Life 2

Join GameSpot as we celebrate gaming history and give recognition to the most influential games of the 21st century. These aren’t the best games, and they aren’t necessarily games that you need to rush out and play today, but there’s no question that they left an indelible impact on game developers, players, and in some cases, society at large.

2004 was a hotbed for games that would go on to leave a lasting impact on the industry. World of Warcraft popularized the massively multiplayer online sub-genre, Doom 3 impressed with its mesmerizing visuals, and Halo 2 set a new standard for console multiplayer going forward. Another title that would leave a tremendous impact on the gaming landscape was Half-Life 2. It was arguably the most anticipated game of the 2000s, and the sequel to Valve Software’s seminal debut became something of a force of nature within the games industry, reshaping PC gaming as we knew it.

At the time, Valve had a lot to live up to. The original Half-Life was a significant turning point for narrative-driven games, with the industry and PC gamers alike immediately taking notice of its unorthodox yet revolutionary approach to storytelling and action. Moving away from the traditional level progression and story beats from previous FPS titles, Half-Life’s plot was conveyed through a seamless and largely passive style. The creators were swept up by the craze surrounding their game, which eventually took on a life of its own with the rise of player-made mods–most notably the incredibly popular Counter-Strike.

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While other developers were learning from Half-Life and its burgeoning modding community, Valve was already hard at work on the follow-up that would cement the company as a creative force within the industry. Releasing on November 16, 2004, Half-Life 2 was a major success in regards to game design and presentation. While it largely upped the stakes and expanded upon the backstories of the first game’s characters, it maintained the intimate and more subdued approach to telling its story–channeling the “show, don’t tell” mantra hard.

One of the big takeaways upon its release was how much of a significant upgrade it was over the original. In GameSpot’s 2004 review, former editor James Ocampo stated: “while Half-Life 2 breaks little new ground, it’s still a superb and engaging first-person shooter, as well as an amazing technological accomplishment.” The linchpin of Half-Life 2 was Valve’s proprietary Source engine. The sequel made smart use of its improved rendering tech to increase the scale and density of the world, along with giving each character a higher level of detail. The culmination of craft and advanced tech made seeing some returning faces like Barney Calhoun, the security guard from the original, all the more impactful. By far, the most prevalent aspect of its impressive technical upgrades was the revolutionary use of in-game physics. At the time, most games that featured real-time physics only used the technology sparingly. In Half-Life 2, it was always present, giving the world added weight and a feeling of unpredictability. Not only were physics used to help tell the story, it was also the crux of some key gameplay moments.

About a third of the way through the game, you acquire the Gravity Gun, one of the sequel’s more clever creations. The Gravity Gun was a game-changer, allowing you to take advantage of Half-Life 2’s sophisticated physics by picking up, manipulating, and throwing objects, resulting in some hilarious and jaw-dropping periods of unintended fun. There was no going back after Valve’s freeform use of physics, and AAA games like Bioshock and Crysis ran with the concept; today, it seems unusual for a big-budget game not to feature real-time physics of some sort.

The effectiveness of Half-Life 2’s presentation and gameplay was in its simplicity. While the original was about arriving to work at the underground Black Mesa laboratory, the sequel’s introduction highlights the mundanity of totalitarian rule following Earth’s invasion by an extraterrestrial force. Half-Life 2’s opening is a masterclass in worldbuilding and storytelling, portraying the many horrors and triumphs from Gordon’s narrow yet incredibly detailed perspective. This clash between the understated and extraordinary is what made Half-Life compelling, and its sequel even more so. Fans eager to see a follow up didn’t have to wait too long, as Valve eventually released Half-Life 2 Episode 1 and 2. Revealing the events shortly after the sequel’s conclusion, these mini-campaigns served as a nice tease for the escalating conflict with Gordon Freeman and the alien Combine, and hinted at what was to come in the next major installment–for which players are still waiting. Both episodes were made available through the developer’s proprietary digital distribution client, Steam, allowing fans to download the next installment straight from the source.

In the beginning, the purpose of Steam was to allow for quick updates to Valve’s core titles, and Half-Life 2 was the first that required its use. Over time, however, Steam’s role in Valve’s repertoire changed. In the year following Half-Life 2’s release, Valve began negotiations with third parties to have outside games on the client, creating a new digital marketplace. Thanks to Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike serving as the killer apps for Steam, the digital platform became synonymous with PC gaming. It turned the once-impenetrable PC gaming scene into something more accessible and enticing. But above all, it would become the nexus point for all new indies and AAA games that would be released on PC. Today, Steam is so well-established and ingrained in the PC gaming community, many players are quick to voice frustration when a new AAA game goes to a rival service instead.

Half-Life 2’s opening is a masterclass in worldbuilding and storytelling, portraying the many horrors and triumphs from Gordon’s narrow yet incredibly detailed perspective.

Half-Life 2 was just one of many steps that Valve took to expand its reach and influence in the PC space. Just two weeks before Half-Life 2 launched, Valve had shipped Counter-Strike: Source, the successor to the popular mod that took the online PC community by storm. Along with Half-Life 2–which also included a download key for CS: Source–this one-two punch of hotly anticipated titles from Valve made for an incredibly enticing package. The developers even supplied toolsets for the Source Engine, planting the seeds for the massive modding scene that would explode in popularity in the years since.

In 2004, Half-Life 2 became the template for single-player, narrative-driven AAA games that followed, and it also marked the beginning of Valve’s time as a prestige developer. Following Portal and Team Fortress 2 in 2007, the developer also released the incredibly popular co-op zombie-shooter Left 4 Dead, finding a massive audience on both PC and consoles. However, things slowly began to change in the 2010s, as Valve focused more on the business of Steam and less on their own products.

Half-Life 2 was a creative and technical breakthrough for Valve, very much setting the tone for what came next. Unfortunately, Gordon Freeman and his iconic crowbar were one of the things cast aside following the developer’s mammoth success and eventual pivot towards Steam. To put this into perspective, we’ve been left with Episode 2’s cliffhanger four times longer than the time it took Valve to create the first sequel. The Valve of today is a vastly different company than what it was during the 2000s, with many key creatives like Marc Laidlaw, Chet Faliszek, Viktor Antonov having left for other opportunities.

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In many ways, the Half-Life series fell victim to Valve’s tremendous success following the impact of Half-Life 2 and Steam. Despite the sudden changes that the company went through, there were many attempts to get a potential sequel off the ground internally–including a new episode developed by Dishonored developer Arkane Studios set around returning to one of Half-Life 2’s most memorable locales, Ravenholm. These unfortunately never came to fruition. In 2017, former Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw posted a heavily revised and reworked script from one of the previous attempts to get a new game off the ground, leaving fans to speculate on what was to come. The mere mention of a proper follow-up to Half-Life 2 has often led to gossip and internet rumors about what happened or what might have been. Some fans have even taken it upon themselves to produce their own follow-ups to the game. Half-Life 2 was a massive leap forward for AAA titles, and there’s always a twinge of sadness that Half-Life 3 hasn’t come around to show what a newer future could be.

Looking back on the history of Half-Life 2, it was very much the quintessential PC game. Half-Life 2, much like its predecessor, let players experience Valve’s vision for what modern AAA could be. And just like the original, it became a gateway for something more significant. For both Valve Software and the gaming community at large, the absence of Half-Life has left a noticeable void within the very culture of gaming. We may never see Gordon Freeman and his crowbar again, but the impact of the series–setting the stage for what was to come with the future of AAA gaming–is still felt to this day.

For a look at the rest of our features in this series, head over to our Most Influential Games Of The 21st Century hub.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/the-most-influential-games-of-the-21st-century-hal/1100-6466992/

E3 2019: All The Companies Attending The Show

E3 2019 is almost upon us, and after more than 20 years the massive gaming expo is undergoing some changes. Following successive years of tweaks including opening the show to the public, this year a few of the largest developers–especially platform-holder Sony–have pulled out of the show floor in lieu of their own off-site messaging or events.

The LA Convention Center is still packed with companies showing their wares, though, from game studios and publishers, hardware manufacturers, and gaming outlets. The LA Convention Center will still be bustling with activity in mid-June.

The show officially begins on Tuesday, June 11, but several companies will be hosting their own press conferences and special presentations before then. Those include mainstays like Nintendo and Microsoft, alongside relative newcomers like Limited Run Games. Once again the week surrounding E3 will have several adjacent events, like EA’s annual EA Play days, Nintendo’s invitational tournaments, and newly this year, a Fortnite Block Party the weekend directly after E3 ends. You can check out all the planned events in our press conference schedule.

Check out the full list of participating companies below.

Every Company Attending E3 2019

  • 2K Games
  • 5 Hour Energy
  • 505 Games
  • Activision
  • AIM Controllers
  • AK Racing
  • Alienware
  • AMD
  • Annapurna Interactive
  • Arcade 1up
  • ArenaNet
  • Astro
  • Atlus
  • Bandai Namco
  • Bethesda
  • BGS
  • Big Ben Interactive
  • Black Shark
  • Blackhawk Network
  • Bloober Team
  • Capcom
  • Chronicle Collectibles
  • CI Games
  • Clickentertainment
  • Core Gaming
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Daedalic Entertainment
  • Deep Silver
  • Digifast
  • Double Fine / Starbreeze
  • DreamGearLLC
  • E-Guardian
  • E-Win
  • E3 Esports Zone 2019
  • EA
  • Electronic Software Association Foundation
  • Epic Games
  • Eureka Ergonomic
  • Exorcized Studios
  • Extra Life
  • Facebook
  • Firefly Studios
  • Fluidstance
  • Friend Times
  • Frontier
  • Funcom
  • Funko
  • G Fuel
  • Game Informer
  • GameKit
  • Gameloft
  • GameSpot
  • GameStop
  • Gaming Outfitters
  • GDC
  • Geico
  • Gentle Giant Studios
  • Giant Network
  • Good Shepherd Entertainment
  • GT Throne
  • Guangdong Entertainment
  • Guillemot
  • GuliKit
  • GungHo
  • HiDow
  • Hori
  • Hyperkin
  • IGN
  • Improbable
  • IndieCade
  • Intellivision Entertainment
  • Kalypso
  • Karnox
  • Konami
  • KontrolFreek
  • Lenovo
  • Lifeform Gaming
  • Little Buddy
  • Logitech
  • Marvelous Xseed Games
  • Mayflash
  • Mecca Electronics
  • Meta
  • Microsoft
  • Modus
  • Momocon
  • National Videogame Museum
  • Natsume
  • NDreams
  • Netmarble
  • Nexon
  • Next Level Racing
  • Nintendo
  • Nvidia
  • Nyko
  • NZXT
  • Oculus
  • Opera Solutions
  • Paracosma
  • Paradox Interactive
  • Path
  • PDP
  • Peak Audio
  • Perfect World
  • Perfect World Games
  • Phillips
  • PowerA
  • Private Division
  • Pro vs GI Joe
  • Proximat
  • Psyonix
  • Rainbow Horse
  • Raynor Gaming
  • RDS Industries
  • Rebellion
  • Red Hydrogen
  • Sades
  • Satisfye
  • Scry.Info
  • Season
  • Sega
  • Sensorium
  • Shacknews
  • Shenzhen IPM Biotechnology
  • SmachZ
  • Soleseat
  • Square Enix
  • Subnation
  • Sunchip
  • Super Soul Bros
  • Techland
  • Technical’s
  • TEGway
  • Tencent
  • THQNordic
  • Today
  • Tripwire
  • Turtle Beach
  • Twitch
  • Ubisoft
  • UCC Distributing
  • Unsigned & Independent
  • ViPod
  • Virtuos
  • Volante Design
  • VoltEdge
  • VPX
  • Warner Bros
  • Wizard Games
  • WOM6
  • Woodier
  • XRocker
  • Xsolla
  • YouTube Gaming
  • Zen Studios

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/e3-2019-all-the-companies-attending-the-show/1100-6467008/