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Pokémon has been nothing short of a phenomenon since it first debuted over 20 years ago on the Nintendo Game Boy. Whether you’ve been there since the very start, like yours truly, or came along later, the series has been a constant in the popular zeitgeist since it appeared. And yet, it’s always been on handheld systems. Sure, we’ve had Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Snap and even Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee that reimagined the original Pokémon Red/Blue games for the Switch. But we’ve never had a brand-new generation that debuted on a home console—until now, that is, with Generation VIII’s Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield start off like most any other Pokémon game. You are tasked with becoming the very best, like no one ever was. You quickly meet your best friend and rival, Hop, and his brother Leon, who is the Pokémon Champion for the Galar region and is famous for being undefeated. So, you and Hop set off to do the impossible in a race to be the first to beat Leon and become the new champ. Leon is intrigued by this ambitious mission, and unlike Pokémon games in the past, it is he who offers you your starter Pokémon. From there, you’ll have to take down eight unique gyms across the Galar region, each with a special challenge.

Credit: Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.

I chose Scorbunny as my starter, marking only the second time I haven’t chosen the water type in my personal history. Interestingly, Hop takes the Pokémon your starter is strongest against (in my case, the grass type Grookey) and the champion takes the Pokemon you’re weakest against (Sobble, the water type for me). Typically, your rival takes the Pokémon yours is weakest against, and the third stays with a Professor. It’s a small detail in regards to the overall game, but it makes so much sense you wonder why it wasn’t done sooner.

From a very high-level view, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield then play like most other Pokémon games from here on out. You’ll hear tales of the legendary Pokémon Zacien and Zamazenta that protect Galar (foreshadowing an inevitable meetup), you’ll catch Pokémon in the wild to build a balanced party to take down gym leaders and collect badges to prove you’re worthy to combat the champion, and you’ll quell some inevitable trouble that arises from those who would use Pokémon for nefarious means. The core of Pokémon remains both relatively unchanged and tremendously fun. Where this latest generation of Pokémon both excels and falters, however, is in the differences that the games introduce when compared more directly with their predecessors.

One major upgrade is the look. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield look absolutely stunning, taking full advantage of the Switch hardware and being on a proper home console. Every location you visit is incredibly detailed, and the world feels more lived in than most other Pokémon games with many more people and homes to explore. The British influence on the game is also evident everywhere you look, with some regions and towns modeled after popular tourist attractions like Stonehenge or the Roman Baths. There’s even a proper Underground that can shuttle you to places around Galar.

Credit: Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.

But the Underground is the first, and admittedly most minor, of several elements in Pokémon Swordand Pokémon Shield where it doesn’t feel like developer Game Freak leaned into an idea far enough. It isn’t long after your first Underground ride that Flying Taxis are introduced, representing the game’s true fast travel system and replacing Fly from previous games. In one fell swoop, they make the Underground needless window dressing.

Early in the game, well before you face your first gym, you have to cross an extensive expanse called the Wild Area, a massive field that connects to two key towns in Galar. The field features a bevy of new and old Pokémon alike, and is one of the best places to put together a balanced team for combat. Random encounters of the past are gone, and you can actually see Pokémon floating, flying, walking, or bouncing all around the field. There are still “surprise encounters” occasionally, marked by an exclamation point before the battle begins that are triggered by staying in tall grass for too long. But, for the most part, you’ll know exactly what wild Pokémon you’re trying to capture—and I, for one, am thrilled random encounters are all but gone now.

The Pokémon in the field are also consistently around certain levels in certain parts, offering up a makeshift barrier in the game to let you know to come back to particular parts of the field later on. For example, trying to capture a level 25 Butterfree when you’re only level 12 isn’t going to work most of the time.

The Wild Area also introduces two new gameplay components, the first of which is camping. Camping may not sound like much, but here you can play with your Pokémon and cook curry with them in fun little minigames that also have a benefit in battle. You can earn easy XP to help level up your Pokémon when you make camp, and developing a better relationship with your Pokémon while relaxing could lead to in-battle bonuses like shaking off paralysis or delivering critical hits more frequently. It serves as a nice distraction from constant battling, and I admit it’s pretty fun to play catch with your favorite Pokémon. Camping can be done in other areas later on, too.

Credit: Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.

The other new feature is the highly talked about the Dynamax/Gigantamax feature. Dynamaxing a Pokémon is similar to the Mega Evolutions from Pokémon X/Y and Pokémon Sun/Moon, but far better balanced and far more critical to the story. Dynamaxing only lasts for three turns, whereas Mega Evolutions continued until a battle was over. Only one Pokémon per battle per trainer can be Dynamaxed and doing so replaces the moves of your Pokémon with Max moves based on type. For example, fire moves turn into Max Flare when Dynamaxed, whereas water moves turns into Max Geyser. This helps prompt players to ensure their Pokémon have a variety of different moves, not just always play to type. After all, a Pokémon with four fire-type moves would then only have one move while Dynamaxed. The only difference, besides appearance, with a Pokémon that can Gigantamax when they Dynamax, is they have an exclusive G-Max move that’s even more powerful, but the Pokémon capable of doing this are few and far between.

In the Wild Area, you’ll encounter your first Pokémon dens. These are powerful hot spots that cause energy to course through them. Any wild Pokémon that has made a home in these dens will automatically Dynamax. If you can defeat a wild Dynamaxed Pokémon, you’re guaranteed to catch it in its original, de-Dynamaxed form. It’s a great way to quickly build a powerful party to take on the eight gym leaders.

As great as all this was, and as much fun as I had exploring the Wild Area, there’s only one Wild Area in the entire game. If you’re like me and put a priority on becoming champion and taking on all the gyms as quickly as possible, you’ll only need to go through the Wild Area twice in the entire game. Sure, you can go back and visit whenever you want. But it was very disappointing that instead of filling Galar with these Pokémon havens, most of the rest of the game relies on routes and caves that harken back to the original Pokémon games. You can still catch wild Pokémon on these routes, but only the Wild Area has wild Dynamax Pokémon.

Credit: Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.

This leads into another issue with Pokemon Sword and Shield: inconsistent pacing. It wasn’t until hour seven of my playthrough that I got to my first gym, which made the game feel like it was going to be a slow burn. Once you get through the Wild Area that first time, however, the pace of the game quickens dramatically. Even with each gym offering a fun mini challenge (like herding Wooloo for Milo), you’ll roll through gym battles at a pretty breakneck pace; I was taking down gyms almost hourly. Just walk down a path, catch a couple more Pokémon for the Pokédex, and snag another badge. Other Pokémon games spread their gyms out more evenly, offering you challenges, puzzles, and sometimes even towns that might not have a Pokémon gym, but which offered other distractions in-between. Had the pacing been more consistent the whole way through, the linearity might’ve been less noticeable and less problematic.

That inbalance may have been less noticeable because, as the titles might suggest, Pokémon Swordand Pokémon Shield is focused more on battling than any previous Pokémon game. It’s not just celebrated in the Galar region—it’s their entire way of life. The goal of completing your Pokédex is a distant second to becoming champion now. This has also led to some user interface and gameplay innovations that I didn’t realize we needed so badly until we got them here. Like, for example, clearly telling players moves that are effective or not effective against Pokémon before you use them as long as you have Pokédex data on your opponent; no longer having to go to a Pokémon Center to adjust your team, instead now being able to just switch Pokémon out of your party with a box on the fly; and even a new feature called Poké Jobs that allow Pokémon not in your party to do missions and gain XP on their own. These were all nice little conveniences that went a long way towards my enjoyment of the game.

And, of course, we need to talk about the Pokédex. Not a second of my game was less enjoyable because the Galar region doesn’t have access to all of the hundreds of Pokémon previously introduced. Instead, I found joy in finding all of the regional exclusive variants the game offers, as well as dozens of brand new Pokémon including Drednaw and Corviknight, who were anchors in my party alongside Scorbunny from almost the beginning of the game. There are still plenty of Pokémon to play around with, and the idea that another region wouldn’t have access to all the Pokémon in the world makes perfect sense. Think of them like the region exclusives in Pokémon GO.

Credit: Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.

Finally, I wasn’t able to put the online play for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield through its proper paces, as the servers still aren’t up. That said, I was able to do a local link battle with Mike from the EGM main office. Similar to how you can make a code for private groups in Pokémon GO raids, you can make a number that you share for local battling, which worked without a hitch when we tested it out. That said, there was still a bit of a balancing issue. After the game reset all our Pokémon to level 50—as is standard—since Mike was using early game moves, and all my Pokémon were touting end game abilities, even when matchups would normally favor him like his grass-type Grookey against my water/rock-type Drednaw, I pummeled him. Of course, most people won’t even try battling until they get later in the game, but Mike did me a solid by taking his lumps to test out the link battles.

There’s also features like surprise trades now, where you put a random Pokémon up for grabs and get a random Pokémon in return. And, similar to Pokémon GO’sraids, those Wild Area Dynamax battles can be fought together with up to three friends. Even though Mike joined me for one despite not being anywhere near my level, the game balance battles so that, when you catch the Pokémon, it’s close to the level of each trainer. So, the Pokémon Mike could capture after the battle was a level 20, while for me, it was a level 50. We both get a Pokémon, and at least here the game remained balanced.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are among the best games the series has ever offered. The Galar region is fun to explore, the new Pokémon it offers up are some of the most interesting the series has seen yet, and the Dynamax system adds a new wrinkle that freshens things up like never before. The adventure can be a little linear—and maybe even tedious at times—but it features everything that makes Pokémon great. Hopefully next time, Game Freak will push their new ideas to the limits and really deliver something special.

Credit: Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.
★★★★☆

The first new-generation Pokémon game to release on a proper home console does not disappoint. New features like Dynamaxing and the Wild Area are fun additions that make the experience of becoming a Pokémon champion still feel fresh. It’s just a shame that Game Freak didn’t lean into the new features more than they did.

Developer
Game Freak Inc≥
Publisher
Nintendo
ESRB
E – Everyone
Release Date
11.15.2019

Gen 5 Pokemon have just started rolling out in Pokemon GO and already three of the new Pokemon have shiny versions ready for players to catch.

More than three-dozen Pokemon originally seen in the Unova region of the game were just added to Pokemon GO if one counts evolutionary chains. If one counts the evolutions for these new shinies, then a total of eight new shiny Pokemon have also been added.

The first of Pokemon GO‘s new shinies is Patrat, a Normal-type Pokemon that evolves into Watchog with 50 candies. Shiny Patrat’s have different color eyes than their normal counterparts and can be found in eggs, commonly in the wild, or in raids.

Next up is Lillipup, another Normal-type, that evolves into Herdier with 25 candy, and then Stoutland with another 100 candy. Shiny Lillipups have slightly different fur coloring than normal, and, like Patrat, can be found in eggs, commonly in the wild, or in raids.

Finally, there is Klink, a Steel-type Pokemon, that evolves into Klang with 25 candy, and Klinklang with 100 more candy. Typically, Klink is silver in color, but the shiny variety has a more golden sheen to it. Klink is also the hardest of the three to find, as it is available in Pokemon GO raids only.

Pokemon GO remains one of the most popular mobile and free-to-play games in the world, and the addition of Generation 5 will only keep players around for even longer. After all, gotta catch ‘em all.

The addition of all these new Pokemon to the game has also added other features, including new moves for battles and raids. Although the three Pokemon mentioned above only require candy to evolve, there are seven Pokemon released with this generation who require the brand new Unova Stone evolutionary item.

The Unova Stone is only available via Research Breakthroughs, which at maximum can only be earned once per week. So trainers out there will need to keep completing tasks as well while hunting for all the new Pokemon out there.

Pokemon GO is available now for mobile devices.

The collector’s edition of Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot has been unveiled this week at Tokyo Game Show.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was rumored to be in development early on in 2019, and then officially announced around E3. TGS has given Bandai Namco a chance to finally reveal many of the major details surrounding the game; including confirming the Buu arc would be part of the game and the release date.

The Buu arc trailer also shows off what the collector’s edition of the game will have in store for fans. Besides the full game for the purchaser’s system of choice, there’s a collectible steelbook, 10×12 hardcover game artbook, and an exclusive diorama figure that portrays Goku riding a Flying Nimbus with Gohan. The figure’s dimensions are 8x8x8. The collector’s edition will retail for $199.95 and more bonuses are available now if one were to pre-order either the collector’s edition or even just the base game.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the latest video game retelling of Goku’s life. It’s a story that’s been told many times before, but this time developer CyberConnect2 wants to show it to gamers in an action-RPG format. CyberConnect2 is likely best known for their years working on the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series.

To help show off what CyberConnect2 is doing with DBZ, Bandai Namco also released a Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot gameplay trailer at TGS. This newest gameplay shows off Vegeta in both combat and free roam and helps depict the game’s immense scale.

Even with Goku’s story being told countless times before, delivering it to gamers via an action-RPG gameplay mechanic could be enough of a difference to entice DBZ fans to experience the story one more time. It’s also a fascinating change considering Dragon Ball Z’s history with fighting games, including just last year’s surprise success with Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Changing the format to that of an action-RPG could also entice a new crop of DBZ fans to give the game a go, though. After all, fighting games often are seen as having a high barrier of entry that could deter certain players.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on January 17th, 2020.

Over an hour’s worth of brand new Death Stranding game footage will be revealed next week at Tokyo Game Show.

Death Stranding is the highly anticipated open-world action game from Hideo Kojima, and his first project since his departure from Konami back in 2015. Since Gamescom last month, Kojima Productions and Sony have been ramping up the reveals for the game; like that Death Stranding can be played in first-person, despite revealed footage being exclusively in third-person.

In that vein, PlayStation of Japan will be doing a series of live shows during TGS, and the shows on September 12th and 14th will feature long stretches of Death Stranding content. There are 50 minutes scheduled for the show on the 12th, and 30 more minutes on the 14th. Hideo Kojima will also be present at every show, including an extra one on September 15th featuring the Japanese voice cast. The English version of the game touts a star-studded line-up including Norman Reedus as Sam Bridges and Mads Mikkelsen as Cliff.

In Death Stranding, players will be tasked with linking together a vast world full of isolated communities. The hope of this mission, as assigned by the character Amelie, is that by reconnecting with one another, the people in the game’s world will rediscover something they’ve collectively lost because of cataclysmic events and the ever-present BTs – the mysterious entities that players can detect via their Bridge Babies.

The fact that Sony is affording so much time to Death Stranding could mean several things. There seems to be a lot more questions than answers surrounding the game in regards to what it’s really all about and how it will play. A big reveal like this could be to help assuage fears of questioning gamers and turn those sitting on the fence into sales.

Sony also lacks any other true powerhouse exclusive leading into the holiday season, as The Last of Us II release date remains unknown. While Concrete Genie, the remake of MediEvil, and the remaster of Yakuza 4 are nice feathers in Sony’s cap, they aren’t true headline grabbers. Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding is a tentpole release that could cement a strong quarter for Sony, especially as the Nintendo Switch further corners the nostalgia market, and Microsoft seemingly rests on their laurels and just rides Gears 5 for all its worth.

Death Stranding is a PlayStation 4-exclusive set to release on November 8th, 2019.

If one were to find themselves on the fence about picking up Astral Chain, the new Switch-exclusive action title from developer Platinum Games, then Walmart is looking to make the decision a little easier.

Like most brand new games, Astral Chain normally retails for $59.99. But at least on launch day, if one were to purchase the game physically at a local Walmart, it would ring up at the register for the discounted price of $49.94, or more than $10 off the normal price.

This isn’t the first time this summer Walmart has tried to entice gamers to buy the physical version of a new game. Walmart offered similar discounts in July for Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, also Switch exclusives. Just like then, the discount was only offered in-store.

Astral Chain is set in the year 2078 where mankind is on the brink of extinction. Inter-dimensional beings called Chimera are trying to destroy the last remnant of humanity, which reside in the megacity called “The Ark.” Players will choose to play as one of two twins who work on the Neuron Police Task Force and that utilize Legions, or subservient Chimeras tethered to the twins by a psychic chain, to combat the threat and keep humanity afloat.

One wonders what could be prompting the day one discounts. There’s the surface level answer that price slashing is an easy way to entice potential Walmart customers away from their competitors. There’s also been worry lately in the gaming world over the lifespan of physical media. After all, brick and mortar stores like GameStop continue to see their stock plummet in a world where digital downloads offer unparalleled convenience for many.

Of course, Astral Chain also did not have nearly as much of a promotional window as many other games. It was only announced in February of this year, leaving it with less time to educate gamers as to what it was about, and relying on recent gameplay videos to try to build up hype.

That said the game is performing extremely well critically. It’s garnered a bevy of 8s, 9s, and even 10s, on the review front. Directed by Takahisa Taura, who was lead designer on Nier: Automata, while under the supervision of Bayonetta and Devil May Cry series creator Hideki Kamiya, it should really be no surprise that critics are responding positively from the latest stylish action game from Platinum.

Astral Chain releases on August 30, 2019, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

Although a constant stream of news about Cyberpunk 2077 recently came out of Gamescom, CD Projekt Red’s latest endeavor is far from done with its con-season tour.

September 11th through the 15th have been penciled in to the developer’s calendar now as it is set to appear at Tokyo Game Show courtesy of Spike Chunsoft. Spike Chunsoft is the company handling the Japanese publishing duties for the game. Cyberpunk 2077 is offering an experience unique to TGS, though, including the chance to take pictures with a life-size replica of the motorcycle seen in the game.

TGS will get the same demo that fans at Gamescom have experienced, but translated entirely into Japanese for the crowd there. This Cyberpunk 2077demo will also be revealed to the public in the coming days via Twitch and Mixer, since Germany and Japan is out of most gamers’ travel budgets. Fans at TGS won’t be able to go hands-on with the demo, but will instead be walked through it in a closed theater by one of the devs. If it’s anything like what was seen at E3 2019, players can expect Johnny Silverhand, the character that superstar actor Keanu Reeves plays and helped create, to pop up in the demo at some point.

Courtesy of Google Translate, gamers know that the booth will be in Hall 8 at TGS, where there will be special badges and hand towels given to visitors to the booth, and they’ll able to get a picture taken with a cosplayer and a life-size replica of the Yaiba Kusanagi motorcycle players can ride in-game.

While these sorts of creations aren’t uncommon, it’s interesting to see Tokyo Game Show get an exclusive one. TGS used to be a tentpole convention for many developers, but has taken a backseat to the bigger, western conventions that have popped up over the last couple of console generations. This move could be an attempt to help appeal to a market where Cyberpunk 2077’s performance could be in doubt. However, if Cyberpunk 2077’s story can match the depth and complexity of CD Projekt Red’s last game, The Witcher III, there should be little skepticism that this highly anticipated title will do fine in every market.

Cyberpunk 2077 is set to release on April 16th, 2020, for Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Battletoads made its presence felt at Gamecom in Cologne, Germany, this year with a 4K demo available to attendees.

Battletoads was long rumored to be in development at Rare before being formally announced at E3 2018 that Rare and DLaLa Studios were indeed working on it. Then, at this year’s E3, gamers finally got a gameplay trailer in addition to a playable demo at E3 that featured much of the same content at Gamescom. However, the Gamescom event was the first time influencers and press were allowed to capture gameplay footage and share it with fans outside the show.

The eight minutes of gameplay highlights the three Battletoad brothers, Rash, Pimple, and Zitz, as they are on the hunt for a gang leader named Porkshank. The three trade one-liners as easily as they do fists with the enemies that fill the screen. They then finally catch up to Porky, and the expected boss battle ensues.

The side-scrolling, beat ‘em up action appears reminiscent of the same gameplay that made the franchise famous in the early 90s. Additions like mapping particular moves to individual buttons, and each toad featuring a wide variety of “morph” moves, look to deliver far more gameplay depth than what was had during the NES days. The new art design also looks great in 4K, as the cartoonish style really pops off the screen.

It’s also been confirmed that this new Battletoads will feature three-player couch co-op, and at least one hoverbike level, again harkening back to the franchise’s NES roots.  Whether or not this new game will match the original’s infamous difficulty level is yet to be seen.

Even if it falls short of that lofty difficulty mark, fans of the series are likely just happy to see the Battletoads back in some form or another. If the new Battletoads hits its 2019 release window, it will have been 25 years since a standalone Battletoads game, Battletoads Arcade, was made available to the public. There were cameos made by the Battletoads in Shovel Knight as bosses, and Rash in Killer Instinct but if anything, it only whet the appetite of fans even more so to have a standalone entry in the series again.

Battletoads is slated to drop sometime in 2019 for PC and Xbox One.

Tetris 99’s sixth Maximus Cup has been revealed to be a crossover with Fire Emblem: Three Houses.Maximus Cups are special online events held in Tetris 99 where players can unlock a variety of themes or prizes if they earn at least 100 points within a given time period. Previous Maximus Cup prizes included a Game Boy theme in honor of Tetris’s 35th anniversary, 999 My Nintendo Gold Points, and a Splatoon theme.

This month’s Maximus Cup will reward players with the Fire Emblem: Three Houses theme if they earn 100 points between 8am on August 23rd (UK time) and 7:59am on August 27th (UK time). Although the announcement came from Nintendo of Europe, there’s little doubt that this will be a worldwide event.

Tetris 99 is one of the bonuses of having a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. It comes free with the subscription whether you pay monthly, quarterly, or yearly for the service. Players can take on 98 other Tetris players at the same time in a surprisingly addictive battle royale mode as you try to outlast your opponents and be the last Tetris player standing.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the latest exclusive hit for the Switch, receiving both critical praise and sales success. As the title suggests, players get to choose which of the game’s three houses they will belong to, and the story changes drastically based on this choice. It’s the fastest selling entry in the long-running tactical-RPG series to hit US shores. It’s also not the first time Nintendo has decided to pair one of their console exclusives with the Maximus Cup, doing it before with Splatoon 2.

This crossover makes a ton of sense for Nintendo. Cross-promoting two of their biggest hits on the Switch only helps to raise attention for both brands and can help either push Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions, or make gamers more aware of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Not to mention, both games either just released DLC, or has announced more coming down the line, and this helps keep both brands fresh in the minds of gamers before the impending holiday rush.

Tetris 99s Big Block DLC gave the game some offline modes for players, even though its biggest appeal lies in its online mode. And Fire Emblem: Three Houses has four waves of DLC coming over the next nine months via its expansion pass, including a higher difficulty mode, more characters, maps, and story content.

A new trailer for NHL 20 has released, and it dissects one of the game’s cornerstone game modes: Franchise Mode.

The NHL 20 team has been touting a bevy of revamped features, including a new presentation package and another round of new game modes such as Squad Battles in Hockey Ultimate Team. This is the first real look at the changes coming to one of the series’ most popular modes, though.

Hosted by Producer Gurn Sumal, the trailer breaks down five distinct changes coming to Franchise Mode in this year’s game, and walks players through how each could impact every game played. These five major changes include a coaching system overhaul, line management improvements, a better trade finder, new scouting reports system, and better “depth and breadth” when it comes to controlling one’s personal hockey franchise.

All these changes seem to come from the idea of giving players the option to truly micromanage their NHL franchise if they so choose. Gamers can hire and fire coaches now based on the schemes they run, get bonuses based on the chemistry between coaches and management, and get player bonuses based on line chemistry. One can’t just acquire a bunch of 90-plus rating players anymore and expect them to play to their full potential if they don’t gel with their linemates. And one more fun aspect is that when a player retires in the game now, they are added to the coaching pool.

The new trading system is also something this series has needed for a long time. The trailer promises players will get faster­–and fairer­–responses from the CPU when upgrading their trading blocks. This looks to give that kind of instant gratification that was long absent from the trading aspects of Franchise Mode. Player values also increase and decrease during the season based on their performances, making trading a more dynamic, season-long process. Like if Mitch Marner were to approach another 100-point season, his value would go through the roof.

If one is into the metagame that Franchise Mode offers, these changes should be a welcome sight. Team building adds an entirely new layer to playing the game and becomes almost as important as how well a player dekes or shoots the puck. It appears NHL 20 has gotten the NHL series closer to representing real-life hockey than it has been in a while.

NHL 20 drops on September 13th, 2019, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

A new 4K trailer for the upcoming Blair Witch game gives potential players a brief, but haunting tour of the woods the game is set in.

Blair Witch was one of the big surprises shown off at Microsoft’s E3 press conference this year. It is a first-person psychological horror game that will play on the “found-footage” aspects the movie made famous.

Set in the same universe as the films, Blair Witch takes place two years after the first movie, in 1996. The game follows a police officer named Ellis as he searches for a missing person in the Black Hills Forest. The trailer shows developer Bloober Team has expertly recreated those woods in 4K, perfect for Xbox One X players. Ellis will carry with him a torch, and an era-accurate camcorder, similar to the three protagonists from the film.

The camcorder will likely play a significant role in the game, as it did in the original film. The Blair Witch Project is famous for starting the “found-footage” genre of movies, in this case following three film students as they looked to make a documentary on what they believed to be a local urban legend. Things did not end well for them. How much the game refers back to the movie, besides the titular witch, is yet to be seen.

The trailer doesn’t offer up any new gameplay, but instead focuses on the location the game will take place. So much of psychological horror deals in atmosphere, and the trailer subtly promises that it will deliver on this. It shows the scenic woods of Maryland both in the day and at night, with a sinister difference becoming evident as the sun goes down, and iconography that will be familiar to fans of the films begins to appear where it wasn’t before.

For fans of psychological horror, Blair Witch was a pleasant surprise at E3, and nothing we’ve seen thus far should discourage fans of the genre or the film franchise from giving this game a shot. And considering the game is being both published and developed by Bloober Team­–the team behind Layers of Fear and Observer­–the game couldn’t be in better hands.

Blair Witch is set to release on PC and Xbox One on August 30th, 2019, just after the original film’s 20th anniversary.