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    What I’d Like To See In The New Open-World Star Wars Game

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Last week, Ubisoft and the newly established Lucasfilm Games announced a joint effort to create a narrative-focused, open-world Star Wars title. Details surrounding the game’s characters, mechanics, and setting(s) haven’t been revealed yet and likely won’t be fully unpacked until a few years from now. However, based on the limited information that has been shared, I’ve put together a short wish list for what I’d like to see in the new Star Wars game.

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    New Planets & Aliens

    The Star Wars Battlefront franchise brought a myriad of classic and never-before-seen worlds to life. Novels and movies have also unveiled new fauna that piqued fans’ interest. But the latest Star Wars title has the rare opportunity to go beyond previous media. Original planets and aliens could give the anticipated game its own identity while adding more nuance to the extensive lore. Also, it’d be nice if Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games left out desert planets (new or old). I mean, we’ve got enough of those to fill an entire solar system at this point!

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    Anyone Other Than The Skywalkers

    Is anyone else tired of the Skywalker family? From Anakin to Luke and Leia to Ben Solo and Rey (…to a certain extent), the Skywalkers have taken center stage in a majority of main and side Star Wars narratives. Simply put, it’s time to move on. There’s an entire galaxy out there, after all. Surely, there’s another cast of protagonists that are interesting enough to learn about, right? Of course, the Skywalkers have single-handedly ensured the survival of the entire universe on multiple occasions so I suppose I wouldn’t mind reading about them in a collectible codex entry. But, please, keep them out of the next game!

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    Maybe An Ahsoka Story Instead?

    Speaking of other interesting characters, Ahsoka Tano takes the cake. She’s seen and been at the forefront of some of Star Wars’ most important historical moments: The Clone Wars, fighting the imperials alongside the rebels years after her stint with Anakin Skywalker, and even assisting Rey in her final clash with Palpatine (sort of). Ahsoka has been around for a long time, meaning that a video game about any specific event in her life could be a solid opportunity to build an enticing video game story.

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    Cooperative Play

    Here’s a controversial wish: Include an option to play with friends. Most story-focused, open-world games tend to be single player experiences for the sake of narrative cohesion and immersion. Even so, exploring the galaxy far, far away with a small band of loyal, non-AI companions is the perfect recipe for success. Star Wars is nothing without its community, so why not let that community explore the far reaches of space and play through the entire game together? Star Wars: The Old Republic, despite being an MMO, could provide a solid framework for how to implement engaging cooperative objectives.

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    Intergalactic Travel

    Remember journeying across the Milky Way with Shepard and co. in the first Mass Effect? There’s nothing quite like discovering uncharted planets, secretly home to the galaxy’s most tantalizing mysteries. How about the ambitious, infinite universe of No Man’s Sky? Ripping through atmospheres seamlessly and entering space proved to be an exciting endeavor time and time again. The next Star Wars game could benefit from manual space travel (as opposed to fast-travel mechanics). Implement a variety of visually appealing cruisers, and players will likely be taking to the stars more times than they can count.

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    Enticing Skills & Cosmetics

    There’s no word on the gameplay mechanics of Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games’ anticipated Star Wars IP, but customizable abilities or lengthy skill tress (perhaps, like the one in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) would be an awesome way for players to take different approaches to combat or exploration. How cool would it be to wield a lightsaber in one hand and a blaster in the other? What if your favorite force ghosts could be summoned during battle? And let’s not forget about throwing in an unhealthy number of cosmetics –weapons/cruisers, haircuts/accessories, and gear/ clothes so that everyone can live out their own, fine-tailored (see what I did there?) Star Wars fantasies.

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    A Morality System

    At its core, Star Wars is an age-old parable about the battle of good versus evil; more specifically, the struggle between the light and the dark side. Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic featured a morality system where players could change the outcome of the plot or character interactions with seemingly simple, but far-reaching decisions. And in an extensive universe like Star Wars, where a single choice can alter everything (e.g., Finn and Rey’s fateful meeting on Jakku and the entire trilogy of events that followed), giving players the chance to tell their own, personalized stories speaks volumes.

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    Party Members & Romance Options

    Space is cold and endless. It’s also a lonely void to sift through alone. Why not bring along a hand-picked crew of weird and enticing personalities to make the journey even more exciting? Better yet, give players the option to create deeper relationships with their battle buddies through a plethora of character-specific side content and branching dialogue. If this is sounding a lot like Mass Effect, then you’re probably right. But Ubisoft and Lucasfilm Games should feel no shame in taking a page out of previous, acclaimed space opera titles. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

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    Official Animal Crossing: New Horizons Makeup Collection Announced With ColourPop

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Nintendo and ColourPop Cosmetics are teaming up once more for a new colorful Animal Crossing: New Horizons makeup collection. From shimmery pinks to pastel blues, the new makeup line comes with lipsticks, eyeshadows, blushes, and more. 

    The new Animal Crossing: New Horizons makeup collection from ColourPop Cosmetics is set to launch on January 28 at 10 a.m Pacific. The new line will include several eyeshadow palettes, highlighter, lip color, blushes, and glitter gel. We don't have prices quite yet, but ColourPop did unveil our first look at the new collection in a recent tweet seen below: 

    We’re ready for an island adventure 🌴 #ColourPopxAnimalCrossing available on 01/28 at 10am pst on https://t.co/5C9dbsi9Af! pic.twitter.com/Qor6RBQHKH

    — ColourPop Cosmetics (@ColourPopCo) January 15, 2021

    ColourPop is an established brand in the makeup community, both for casual looks and even cosplay. This company is also no stranger to fun collaborations, most notable being the collab it did with Sailor Moon a few years ago that sold out almost immediately at launch. 

    Interested? Any pieces from the new Animal Crossing: New Horizons makeup line would pair nicely with the expertly crafted Legend of Zelda makeup brushes we shared last year. Two beloved Nintendo franchises combined for the ultimate "lewk"? You can't go wrong. 

    The new line will officially launch on January 28. If you're looking to nab something from the newest collection, you can enter your email through the official website here to be the first to know when orders go live. 

    Thoughts on the latest nod to Animal Crossing: New Horizons? If you are into makeup (or are looking to buy for someone in your life that is), what other gaming collaborations would you like to see? Shout out with those fandom desires in the comment section below! 

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    Turn In Those Destiny 2 Tokens Before Beyond Light's Season 13 Begins

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Tokens are a huge motivating factor behind the PvP of Destiny 2, but as Beyond Light continues its progression from season to season, new changes are coming in for how the game operates. Bungie is warning players to go ahead and use up their tokens now before the arrival of season 13 because the new season will render them as good as garbage. 

    Vendor tokens are a way for Guardians to cash in on their efforts, turning them in for loot, quest steps, or just weapon parts fodder. These tokens are also vital to acquiring Legendary gear for the loot itself or to farm for Legendary Shards. While tokens are going away here shortly, the change is actually fan-requested, and signals the return of a more direct rewards system. 

    Rewards area lead Justin Dazet took to the Bungie Blog to update players on where tokens are heading and why the change. 

    When talking about the changes to rewards, Dazet confirmed that the areas affected will be Crucible and Gambit, as well as Strikes. While only Crucible and Gambit are PvP-centric (with Strikes falling securely in the PvE space), the vendor tokens act much in the same way for all three player activities. According to Dazet, "We’ll be adding two new unique weapon rewards to each of the three playlist rituals (so six total across all three activities). These weapons are in addition to the ones added in Season of the Hunt, and continue to have a small chance to drop at the end of each activity."

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    The coming season allows for rewards to be visible on ritual vendors – with each season offering its own row of rewards and progression towards playlist completion. The change also means that rank rewards won't be automatically dropped in a player's loot stream. Instead, now they are available to pick up straight from the vendor. The purpose of this change is to increase visibility for what Guardians are earning and what they are working towards. 

    Dazet says that progression is moving into a per-ritual basis, meaning players can be Rank 10 for Crucible and Rank 4 for Gambit and that valor resets will now be done through the corresponding vendors in order to secure the final reward: 

    • Rank 4: 3x Upgrade Modules 
    • Rank 7: 3x Enhancement Cores 
    • Rank 10: Seasonal Ritual Shader (changes to 3x Enhancement Cores after resetting your rank) 
    • Rank 13: 2x Enhancement Prisms 
    • Rank 16: Seasonal Ritual Emblem (changes to 2x Enhancement Prisms after resetting your rank) 
    • Reset Reward: Ascendant Shard (changes to Exotic Engram after resetting your rank) 

    In addition to the usual Ritual Engram, each rank will also include a Prime Ritual Engram as well. With a few tweaks on the way, tokens and token gifts will no longer be a necessary aspect of Destiny 2. Bungie urges players to spend them before the new season starts because they will soon become obsolete and as good as trash. 

    Thoughts on the tweaks to reward tokens in Destiny 2: Beyond Light for season 13? What other changes would you like to see Bungie implement? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below! 

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    I Played Path Of Exile: Echoes Of the Atlas All Weekend And Have No Regrets

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    On Friday, a new Path of Exile league and content drop hit on PC, and it's coming this week to console. I’ve played Path of Exile on and off for almost a decade now (with 500 hours logged on Steam), and each league guarantees at least a quick return to check out what’s new. Several of us at Game Informer are always going back to see what's happening, check out Jeff Cork's experience with the previous Heist league here

    With the latest Ritual league and Maven content, Grinding Gear Games concocts a potent brainworm that taps into their best-in-class action/RPG endgame cycle, but some of the framework constructed around other aspects of the game is beginning to feel rough. I basically played all weekend, leaving me with a cool level 85 Necromancer that’s likely just the beginning for my participation in this update. Yep. Level 85. I played … a lot. Let’s take a quick walk through Ritual, the Atlas, and Path of Exile.

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    Answering Your Own Prayers

    With Ritual league, you really get to have it your way when it comes to loot. While trading is part of the game, I’ve never enjoyed that aspect and prefer to find my own gear, up to and including playing in Solo Self-Found league. Unfortunately, when I play in that mode, I can’t use the guild bank to gear up all my friends, so standard leagues is generally where I end up. However, instead of gathering up a boatload of Chaos Orbs and trading for powerful items, I love to find my own gear and make do as I work my way through the campaign and the Atlas. Ritual gives players access to extremely powerful gear, high-end currency, and essentially agency over their own progression path as you bust through each screen, which adds a lot to the overall progression arc. No longer are you hoping for a good drop, you’re selecting exactly what you want and earning it, maybe over the course of several maps. 

    Ritual lets players purchase items with ritual points that you earn in each area. Can’t afford the big power items? You can defer the item to a future area, meaning you’ll see it again soon at a discount. You can defer items as many times as needed in order to get them at a reasonable price, which allowed me to snag a Tabula Rasa early on my character. Tabula Rasa is a huge early-game boost, giving the player access to a 6-link chest piece that you can slot in any color of gem. The downside of course is that the Tabula Rasa is truly a “blank slate” with no stats, so it’s a replaceable piece much later down the line.

    Anyway, the key point here is that each and every area you enter is chock full of interesting choices to make. As you select gear or currency to purchase, it makes every location interesting and even overpowers whatever else you may be doing in the area in terms of priority. Completing rituals adds a controllable progression path to a world of randomness in a meaningful, smart way. Instead of relying on a complete roll of the dice as to what you can find, you get to pick from a potent selection of goods in each and every area, and save stuff that’s too expensive for later. Ritual has all the slot-machine hooks via spotting an exalted orb or a premium anointed talisman in your ritual shop and adds some method of choice and controlled progression to a world ruled by chance. It’s a great way to create risk, reward, and advancement while keeping an element of surprise throughout.

    Charting A Course

    The Atlas is Path of Exile’s endgame system, structured via map items that the player can find and alter. You find various maps and attempt to fill out your Atlas by completing each one, but it’s nowhere near that simple. For instance, maps are items and come in various rarities, and like everything else in Path of Exile, these can be altered with other consumable items. Have a magic map? Make it rare and change the modifiers. Add scarab beetles when you open the map to add other elements like more loot, higher drop rates, bigger challenges, and more. Feeling spicy? Use a Vaal orb to spike a map into something completely unpredictable. Modifying map aspects and quality is a major aspect toward creating loot-laden playgrounds filled with challenges and discoveries, and experimentation is critical to success. The random elements that can be attached to a map involve everything from monster density to item drop rates. The screenshot below highlights a map with a solid number of modifiers that you can see in the top right, but it’s nowhere near how wild things can get when you start really crafting your maps.

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    The Atlas gets a big boost in explorative properties here in this latest content drop with the addition of the Maven, who will follow you around the Atlas, stepping into boss fights and trying to kill you from behind the scenes with fireblasts, buffs, and other chaos injected into the standard map bosses (These are of course, on top of any modifiers you have already added). Eventually, you’ll be able to run gauntlets and take on the Maven yourself, and add special elements to your map regions at the same time via yet another progression tree. Until then, it’s business as usual as you explore hundreds upon hundreds of maps, tracking down dangerous bosses throughout the Atlas. The Atlas is easily the deepest and most interesting endgame ARPG progression system out there, and it’s wonderful to see it continue to get compelling upgrades.

    Burden of Knowledge

    For all the great things available now with this latest content drop, Path of Exile faces the challenge of being almost incomprehensible to newcomers at this point . There are what feels like hundreds of systems that all interact with each other, and by the time players finish the campaign and enter the Atlas, they can easily be overwhelmed. Inventory management has become an absolute nightmare over the years, even with special stash tabs to help keep things organized. You see, many of Path of Exile’s leagues stick around and are added to the core game after their lifecycle ends, leading to a game packed with varied encounters and content around every turn. On the flip side of that equation is the fact that there are hundreds of various currencies that all take up inventory space and that on the surface may be completely unintelligible.

    How is a new player supposed to know the value of say, seven time splinters or some sepia oil? With all the various different currencies and objects you can carry at a given time, inventory space is now at an absolute premium and there are just too many things to pick up, carry, and sort. There are so many systems at work now that it’s a knowledge minefield trying to navigate divination cards, abyss gems, and numerous other features and mechanics that are now just piled high on one another with little or no assistance from the game. Sure, you can look up explanations online or use the help tool in game to try to figure things out, but it’s asking a lot of the player to do the research on all these mechanics on top of learning Atlas, builds, passive skills, ascendency trees, skill interactions, and tons more. Path of Exile has a lot of complexity and meat on its bones and I don’t ever want that to change, but providing valuable and simple information and maybe streamlining some of the hundreds of currencies would be a boon, in my opinion, before the deluge of tools crushes itself under its own weight. Hopefully when we hear more about Path of Exile 2 is where it would make the most sense to tie some (not all) of these structures together or give us some more inventory space.

    Tap Dance

    Another aspect that I feel is in dire need of a look is cleaning up some of the systems of ages past. While popping health, mana, and utility potions is a staple of the ARPG genre, there are few occasions in Atlas-tier POE that I’m not simply jamming on potions almost 100% of the time. This creates a frustrating and potential painful experience for the hand after a few hours of play as the number keys get punched into oblivion with a fervor that would make even the most aggressive Sinister Strike punching World of Warcraft Rogue blush. I’ve had hand and nerve issues in the past due to repetitive number punching, and while I don’t want potion healing and resource generation to go away, the frequency of continuous inputs that current POE expects is rough.

    The current POE progression path also includes numerous delves into The Labyrinth in order to unlock ascendency points, which are build-defining class points that are non-optional. Forcing players to push through the annoying myriad mazes, traps, and corridors of The Labyrinth today feels egregious. When the Labyrinth was the endgame content years ago, it made sense, but today it’s just busywork. On that note, while I understand that many skill points and other essentials are tied to quests, I think it’s time to do away with having to do the campaign every league. The 10 acts take a while to complete and if you want to give players the tale of Wraeclast that’s good and all, but after the 5th or 6th time I’d rather just get right into maps and not worry about fighting the Brine King again.

    Ever Evolving

    Some content drops for Path of Exile don’t really land for me, as I checked out of Harvest and Heist fairly quickly. Ritual is the perfect control out of chaos that gives you the excitement of getting new drops but without the sheer random sprawl of just cracking chests and killing monsters hoping to see big loot flip out. Maven adds more to the best aspect of the game already, the Atlas, and gives hope that Path of Exile will continue to iterate and expand their endgame system. While there are some aspects of the game that feel like they have worn out their welcome since their early inception, now is a great time to jump into the new league, if you’re willing to spend some time learning about the many, many features that have been implemented over the years.

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    Apex Legends Might Be Coming To Nintendo Switch Very Soon

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Fuse, Apex Legends’ latest playable character, is launching alongside Season 8 Mayhem next month. A new repeater rifle and Kings Canyon changes look to breathe new life into the popular battle royale's intense and fast-paced action. However, a long-requested Apex Legends wish might be fulfilled next month too: There’s a chance that the game could be coming to Nintendo Switch.

    BREAKING: The Japanese version on YouTube states Apex Legends is coming to Switch on February 2.

    "And on February 2nd, it will be possible to play on Switch at the same time as the start of Season 8!" pic.twitter.com/63TpUn27Mx

    — Apex Legends News (@TitanfallBlog) January 18, 2021

    According to the Apex Legends News Twitter account, the Japanese version of Fuse’s “Tales from the Outlands” trailer that was uploaded to YouTube contains an exciting statement in the description banner that reads, “And on February 2, it will be possible to play on Switch at the same time as the start of Season 8!” In that same thread, a commenter added that the Spanish version of the video has the same announcement. However, in the English video, that sentence doesn’t appear at all. You can see the tweet above. 

    Nevertheless, it seems as if Season 8 will be a fittingly definitive moment for Apex Legends’ two-year anniversary next month. What do you think about the possibility of Apex Legends coming to Nintendo Switch? Would you play it on Nintendo's hybrid console? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below! 

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    Get Yourself A Giant (Official) Mountain Dew Body Pillow, Because You Deserve It

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    Why seek human comfort when you could have a gigantic Mountain Dew body pillow instead? That's right, Mountain Dew is taking its marketing to a new, comfortable level with a humongous body pillow modeled after the sugary, high-fueled soft drink. Do you need one? No. Should you get one anyway? Absolutely. 

    The body pillow is officially licensed and is meant to be perfectly designed after an actual bottle of the drink. Do the Dew without the actual drink itself, because there is no hard cap on obsession and technically this is one of the unofficial-yet-official Gamer Drinks Of Choice™.

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    “The Dew Body Pillow is a larger-than-life replica of a Mountain Dew bottle, perfect for those cold, winter nights when all you need is the comfort of your Mountain Dew to give you those warm, fuzzy feelings,” says an official press release about the latest Mountain Dew piece of memorabilia. 

    Real talk? I'd rock this. My husband might want to murder me, but it'd look pretty swanky next to my Garrus body pillow because who needs self respect when you have comfort like this? 

    The official Mountain Dew store will be offering the new pillow sometime in March, though an exact date hasn't been given yet. Regardless, when it arrives, we'll always know that our plushy Mountain Dew pillow is there to carry us through these trying times. 

    [Source: Mountain Dew via BestProducts.com]

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