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GDC Postponed Due To Coronavirus Concerns; E3 Organizer The ESA ‘Watching The Situation Very Closely’

GDC Postponed Due To Coronavirus Concerns; E3 Organizer The ESA 'Watching The Situation Very Closely'

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The Game Developers Conference, which was set to take place March 16 to 20 in San Francisco, Calif. has been postponed by its organizers Informa due to concerns surrounding the global spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. The conference, which started in 1988, draws attendance from an international pool of developers, publishers, press, and more.

You can read the statement from the organizers of GDC in its entirety below.

“After close consultation with our partners in the game development industry and community around the world, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone the Game Developers Conference this March.

Having spent the past year preparing for the show with our advisory boards, speakers, exhibitors, and event partners, we’re genuinely upset and disappointed not to be able to host you at this time.

We want to thank all our customers and partners for their support, open discussions and encouragement. As everyone has been reminding us, great things happen when the community comes together and connects at GDC. For this reason, we fully intend to host a GDC event later in the summer. We will be working with our partners to finalize the details and will share more information about our plans in the coming weeks.

For more information, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.”

The news comes following several companies, including Sony, Microsoft, EA, and Activision-Blizzard, deciding to pull their attendance from GDC 2020 due to concerns surrounding the global spread of COVID-19. In addition, an email sent to those who purchased or otherwise acquired a badge to GDC 2020 says, “[all] current paid registrants will be receiving a full refund within 4-6 weeks.” The FAQ page linked above says that those who booked hotel reservations inside the official GDC room block will not have any fees or penalties when they cancel their rooms.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) confirms to Game Informer that it is keeping on eye on the evolving situation with regards to E3, its annual June event in Los Angeles, Calif. You can see The ESA’s statement provided to us in its entirety below.

“Everyone is watching the situation very closely.  We will continue to be vigilant, as our first priority is the health, wellness and safety of all of our exhibitors and attendees. Given what we know at this time, we are moving ahead full speed with E3 2020 planning. Exhibit and registration sales are on track for an exciting show in June.”

The annual Game Developers Conference brings together members of the video game industry for a week of panels, informative talks, demos, and networking. As of February 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports approximately 80,000 confirmed infections of the coronavirus COVID-19, with its risk assessment set at “High” on a global level.

Even prior to this news, the spread of COVID-19 has affected the games industry through other convention cancellations, delays of games, and reports of Nintendo Switch shortages.

[Image Source: GDC]

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Answering Your Biggest Questions About Baldur’s Gate III

Answering Your Biggest Questions About Baldur’s Gate III

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Baldur’s Gate is an incredibly beloved PC RPG franchise, but Baldur’s Gate II released in September of 2000, so there is a good chance that you missed the original buzz. Thankfully, Baldur’s Gate III might be the perfect entry point. Larian Studios is handling development, and the studio received a ton of praise for its work on the Divinity: Original Sin series. We recently had an extended look at the game, and based on what we saw Baldur’s Gate III could be a must-play RPG for the generation. To prime your excitement, here is everything you need to know about this promising project. 

Do I need to be a fan to play this? 

No. Whether you’re a fan that has been waiting 20 years for Baldur’s Gate III or a complete newcomer, developer Larian Studios is working to ensure that the game is approachable for everyone. If you are a fan of Baldur’s Gate or even the Dungeons & Dragons universe, there will be plenty of Easter eggs to find, but an understanding of the franchise isn’t a prerequisite for fun. 

What is the story about? 

The game opens with a giant floating ship traveling across the country and kidnapping people. Those prisoners are infected with a vicious-looking tadpole creature that is slowly turning them into Mind Flayers – psionically powered monsters with a face full of tentacles. However, the ship crashes before the process is complete and everyone onboard is scattered to the wind. You control a group of survivors who must deal with the tadpoles in your brains before you mutate into Mind Flayers.

 

Okay, so who are these poor saps? 

In Baldur’s Gate III, you can create your own character or choose from one of several pre-made heroes. These pre-made characters come with their own backstories, skills, and motivations. Even if you create your own hero, you will encounter Larian’s pre-made characters throughout the game and they may join your party. We were given a brief glimpse of a few of Larian’s characters, and they are all unique. For example, Astarian is a vampire spawn who suddenly finds that he can walk in the sunlight without burning. However, he still possesses a hunger for human blood. Another interesting hero is Shadowheart, a cleric who was on a mission but voluntarily had her memories wiped, and now all she knows is where she needs to go to complete her mission. Whoever you choose as the main protagonist will dramatically color the rest of the story, change your side quests, and influence the interactions you have with everyone else in the world.

Enough about story! How does combat work? 

That’s a bit aggressive, but okay. Baldur’s Gate III’s combat is turned based, and you control a group of heroes that unleashes an assortment of magic spells, ranged attacks, and close-quarter skills to dispatch a variety of foes. The action takes place from a grid-free, top-down perspective and feels like a lot of strategy games and classic CRPGs. Players have a wide number of options during combat. Each hero has their own set of unique skills, but you’re also rewarded for thinking outside the box and using the environment to your advantage. We watched a mage cover a group of enemies in grease and then set them on fire in one deadly explosion. In another combat encounter, our heroes tried to push a stronger enemy into a pit full of deadly spiders. Several encounters did not go according to plan, but improvising your way out of a jam seems to be half the fun in Baldur’s Gate III. 

Seems like there are a lot of systems in this game … uh, this isn’t a question. 

No, but it is a correct statement. Larian is a big fan of systemic game design, and the developers told us that they want to let players do anything that a dungeon master would allow during a session of D&D. That sounds ambitious, but Baldur’s Gate III looks incredibly open-ended. We watched our heroes stack boxes to create a staircase toward a hidden alcove, douse flames to remain hidden from enemies, and sneak behind an archer then push them off a cliff before combat started. 

 

So the game is entirely top-down? 

Actually, no, many of the cutscenes we watched featured more dramatic camera work similar to modern RPGs like The Witcher III. In fact, you can zoom in with the camera to have a behind-the-shoulder view while exploring the world. A zoomed-out, top-down view of the battlefield seems best when managing a party of four in combat, but it’s nice to have a more intimate view of the world if you desire.  

Sold, when can I play it? 

Larian Studios is fond of early access and plans to release Baldur’s Gate III in early access to players sometime in the “next few months.” Players will only be able to play an early chunk of the story, but Larian will continue to release more of the game as development progresses. Still, you won’t have to wait long to start getting to know Baldur’s Gate III’s characters or to explore this interesting world. 


Still have questions about Baldur’s Gate III? So do we, but while we wait for more info read our review of Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 or our interview with studio founder Swen Vincke. 

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Watch Baldur’s Gate III’s Stunning Opening Cinematic

Watch Baldur’s Gate III's Stunning Opening Cinematic

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Click here to watch embedded media

Developer: Larian Studios
Release:

Platform: Stadia, PC

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re excited for Baldur’s Gate III. If you missed it, go read our impressions from a recent two-hour demo or watch our New Gameplay Today video preview. But before you go, check out this gorgeous CG video that helps set up the story. 

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Check Out A Ridiculously Fast Round Of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare’s 3v3 Gunfight

Check Out A Ridiculously Fast Round Of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare's 3v3 Gunfight

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Gunfight matches are meant to be fast, but not this fast. Reddit user IPyro58 posted a clip that achieves a feat most of us will never duplicate – three headshots with one bullet. The opposing team was well coordinated, but the formation was too tight. The only way this match could go faster is if IPyro58 didn’t have to run to get into position. What a shot!

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Plague Inc. Removed From China’s App Store

Plague Inc. Removed From China's App Store

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Plague Inc. is a game that pushes players to try to annihilate all life with an evolving pathogen. The game was released on mobile devices in 2012 and has been played by more than 130 million people, but has recently been pulled from China’s digital stores during the coronavirus outbreak.

Ndemic Creations, the studio behind Plague Inc., issued a statement that details the reasoning for the removal. The game “includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China.”

Ndemic says Plague Inc. has been one of China’s most popular paid games, and the team is working hard to try to get the game back up in the stores. “It’s not clear to us if the removal is linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing,” the statement reads. “Plague Inc.’s educational importance has been repeatedly recognized by organizations like the CDC and we are currently working with major global health organizations to determine how we can best support their efforts to contain and control COVID-19.”

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Star Wars Battlefront II Adds A Wealth Of New Content, Including More Cooperative Play

Star Wars Battlefront II Adds A Wealth Of New Content, Including More Cooperative Play

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Star Wars Battlefront II has quietly transformed into a success story, moving from the microtransaction-heavy bowels of the sarlaac pit to the comfy seat of a soaring X-Wing carrying a payload of free content. The game’s latest update, dubbed The Age of Rebellion, is impressive in size. With the focus on the original trilogy, players can now play cooperatively on the classic locations of Mos Eisley, Yavin IV, Hoth, Jabba’s Palace, Endor, the Kessel mines, and the Death Star II. As an added bonus, DICE is making co-op play available on the prequel-era capital ships, the Venator and Dreadnaught.

This update also introduces the Ewok hunter, an infiltrator unit with a bow and arrow, and the ISB agent, a dual-wielding infiltrator. The ISB Agent’s final ability regenerates nearby allies’ base health, and the Ewok hunter can single out weakened foes.

Players can also bring new weapons into the fray, such as a new blasters like the E-11D and DL-18, as well as the T-21 heavy blaster, and the Cycler Rifle. Heroes vs. Villains skirts the classic trilogy to add playable maps set on the MC85 Star Cruiser and the Resurgent-class Star Destroyer.

The update brings a number of tweaks and fixes, such as modifications to Leia’s E11 blaster and Chewbacca’s bowcaster. You can find out more at DICE’s official Battlefront II forum.

 

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Zarude, The Rogue Monkey Pokémon, Unleashed in Pokémon Sword & Shield

Zarude, The Rogue Monkey Pokémon, Unleashed in Pokémon Sword & Shield

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To celebrate Pokémon Day, a new Mythical Pokémon is being introduced into Pokémon Sword and Shield – Zarude. This Dark- and Grass-type Pokémon is known as the Rogue Monkey, and it uses vines grown from its body to get around, attack, and even heal itself.

The new trailer for Zarude gives players just a glimpse of the creature’s vine abilities, and developer Game Freak says more info on the Pokémon is coming in the future.

In other news, the company has announced limited-time Max Raid battles. Starting today at 4 p.m. Pacific until Sunday, March 1 at 3:59 p.m. Pacific, Dynamax Mewtwo may appear in Max Raid Battles. It can’t be caught, but if you beat it you’ll get rare items like Ability Capsules. 

You can also encounter Dynamax Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, and others in Max Raid Battles, but unlike Mewtwo, these can be caught.

All of these limited-time Pokémon will put up a challenging fight, so it’s suggested you bring along some friends. 

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PlatinumGames Reveals Its New IP

PlatinumGames Reveals Its New IP

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PlatinumGames, the studio that developed titles like Bayonetta and Nier: Automata, has revealed a trailer for a brand new IP going by the working title Project G.G. for now.  The video (which you can watch above) teases an action-focused experienced with a transforming hero and a giant monster.

In an official message from director Hideki Kamiya, he explains that Project G.G. is different from previous PlatinumGames efforts because it is a new IP owned by the studio. “For everything from its setting and characters, to its game design and story, to how it’s promoted – PlatinumGames is in full control,” Kamiya says.  

The announcement contains no release window, but don’t expect to see the game soon. Kamiya’s message notes, “The finish line is still a long way away.”

The reveal of Project G.G. is part of a recent push from PlatinumGames that began with the Wonderful 101 Kickstarter campaign. Both are part of what the company has called the “Platinum Four,” so we still have two more announcements to look forward to.

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Shadow Of The Colossus And Sonic Forces Are March’s Free PlayStation Plus Games

Shadow Of The Colossus And Sonic Forces Are March's Free PlayStation Plus Games

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If you subscribe to PlayStation Plus, you can download Shadow of the Colossus and Sonic Forces for free starting on March 3. You’ll have until April 6 to get both of these games. You also have until March 2 to download February’s free games, which are BioShock: The Collection, Firewall Zero Hour, and The Sims 4.

Shadow of the Colossus is a must-play game that scored a 9 out of 10 rating from Game Informer‘s review. If you haven’t played the game since it originally released on PlayStation 2, this enhanced PlayStation 4 version features all-new visuals, 4k display options, and the ability to play it at 60 frames per second on PlayStation 4 Pro.

Sonic Forces didn’t fare as well, scoring just a 6.5 out of 10 in our review. People are high on Sonic right now after the surprisingly fun movie, so this game may be worth a look if you want to see what he’s been up to in games.

Lastly, on March 27, PlayStation Plus subscribers can check out Predator: Hunting Grounds for one week. This asymmetrical multiplayer game pits four humans against the predator. The game officially releases on April 24.

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Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon Is A New Rogue-Lite/Puzzle Hybrid

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon Is A New Rogue-Lite/Puzzle Hybrid

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Yacht Club Games has announced Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon, an all-new puzzle game created in collaboration with developer Vine. Following the upcoming releases of Cyber Shadow and Shovel Knight Dig, Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon will be the third title Yacht Club Games has made in collaboration with an external game development team.

Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon combines rogue-lite, dungeon-crawling elements with the traditional dropping-tile puzzle game formula. You move around as your selected character, trading damage with enemies and collecting potions. You encounter all kinds of recognizable characters from the various Shovel Knight campaigns to this point, but you’ll also meet Puzzle Knight, a brilliant puzzle master who leads Shovel Knight on the quest.

You can check out the first trailer below.

No further details regarding platforms, release window, or price are currently available. Yacht Club Games says its still “in the thick of development,” but the teams will have more to share soon. Those who attend PAX East this weekend will be the first to play Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon.

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