Modern Warfare 2 beta goes live for everyone in September

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will have its beta go live next month. As announced at the Call of Duty League Championships, the beta will be playable in September. The beta will provide early insight into its gameplay ahead of the game’s official launch on October 28.

As previously expected, PlayStation will get access earlier than other platforms. Both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 players will get to take part in weekend one. Those that pre-order Modern Warfare 2 can play the beta from September 16 to 22 whilst the open beta starts out on September 18 and ends on the same date.

PC and Xbox players will have to wait a little longer. Those two platforms don’t get access to the beta until September 22 or September 24 if you don’t pre-order. Access to the beta for these platforms will continue until September 26. This second weekend will also be accessible to PlayStation consoles meaning that PlayStation owners who pre-order will get ten days of beta access.

PlayStation having exclusive early access may seem confusing. After all, didn’t Microsoft acquire Activision Blizzard? Currently the deal is still being approved and until the green light is given Microsoft has no say on what Activision does. Also, Activision has made it clear that it intends to honor all existing deals regardless of the acquisition. Until PlayStation’s exclusivity deal runs out Call of Duty will continue to receive PlayStation exclusive content.

What to expect

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The Modern Warfare 2 beta will have a decent variety of content. Activision has already confirmed that it will feature “a robust multiplayer experience going beyond the Core 6v6 experience”. That’s PR talk for maps and game modes that aren’t just traditional 6v6. Plus, the beta will show off the game’s progression system and even give rewards in the full game to those that take part.

Xbox is offering a family plan for Game Pass Ultimate subscribers

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Microsoft is running tests for a new family plan. This family plan will be accessible to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers and looks to make the service more consumer friendly. The idea is that Ultimate subscribers will be able to add family members to share their membership with.

Right now, the testing is limited. Only Xbox Insiders from Colombia and Ireland have access to it. Those eligible can add up to four people to their subscription. Exactly why these markets were picked to try first is unknown but it’s likely that Microsoft wanted to start small. It’s good to make sure the system works as intended before rolling it out to a wider audience.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as simple as it first seems. The current version of the Xbox family plan does not offer one day of Game Pass Ultimate membership for one day of family membership. Instead, a full month of Game Pass Ultimate equates to around 18 days of group membership.

If this model is finalized then the group membership will cost 66% more than the standard package. With Game Pass Ultimate priced at $14.99 a month, the group package could cost close to $24.99 a month. That’s an eye watering $300 a year for a single service.

In Microsoft’s defense paying for four separate Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions would cost $720 a year. When compared to that the Game Pass Family Plan offers a much better deal. Plus, you do get an awful lot with the subscription.

Game Pass Ultimate

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There are a lot of perks to being a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber. You get access to over 100 different games and day one access to all first party titles. That includes upcoming games like Forza Motorsport and Naraka: Bladepoint. The subscription also provides Xbox Live Gold membership letting you play online and all the benefits that comes with EA Play.

The new Warzone Samoyed dog skin was allegedly plagiarized

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The recent patch notes for Call of Duty: Warzone revealed what operator skin would be coming next. Developer Sledgehammer Games shared Samoyed; an upcoming skin based on the dog breed of the same name. However, following the reveal there have been accusations that the Warzone dog skin was plagiarized.

Twitter user saillin has accused Activision of stealing their content. The posted tweet says “I have to explain this matter, COD Vanguard Samoyed skin plagiarism”. Attached is an image showing saillin’s original art next to Warzone’s Floof Fury Tracer Pack. It doesn’t take more than a glance to tell that the similarities go far beyond a coincidence.

Although it’s possible that both skins being a Samoyed dog is a coincidence that’s where the coincidences end. Both the original art and the Warzone dog skin have near identical clothing. That includes the same scarf, the same satchel, and the same elbow pad.

It looks as though the artist is being genuine too. A look through saillin’s ArtStation account reveals that their original work was posted in December 2019. That’s right the concept art that has been plagiarized is from over two years ago.

Activision hasn’t formerly commented on the situation yet but its actions scream guilty. For one, it has removed any reference of the dog skin from the Warzone patch notes. Also, saillin has since confirmed that Activision has reached out to them. Hopefully, the situation gets sorted out and saillin gets appropriately compensated.

Not the first time

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This isn’t actually the first time Activision has run into legal issues with Call of Duty. In 2019 Call of Duty Modern Warfare introduced an operator called Mara. But it turned out that Mara’s appearance was taken from a real-life model called Alex Zedra. Zedra later accused the publisher of stealing and monetizing her likeness which is a breach of copyright.

Bungie is bringing back SBMM to Destiny 2 PvP modes

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Developer Bungie has announced plans to bring back skill-based matchmaking to Destiny 2. It removed SBMM from Destiny 2 after some players complained about it. However, what followed was uneven lobbies that have ruined the experience for a large chunk of the playerbase.

Old lobbies were formed using a different kind of matchmaking, CBMM. CBMM stands for connection-based matchmaking and is where a game prioritizes ping over everything else. In contrast, SBMM sacrifices ping to create fairer lobbies where all players are at similar skill levels. Both systems have their pros and cons and have their place in games. However, for a competitive shooter like Destiny 2 not having skill-based matchmaking doesn’t make much sense.

Interestingly, Bungie is opting to reintroduce SBMM into Destiny 2 in an unusual way. Rather than just have it working once the update goes live it will instead start out as “loose SBMM,” to help the developer fine tune its matchmaking. Based on how this loose SBMM works out Bungie will then either make it stronger or weaker.

Bungie also goes over why it feels doing this is necessary. It is currently very difficult for new players to enter the Crucible and be competitive. Furthermore, it isn’t fun for anyone to start a game that they never had a chance of winning. Bungie’s hope is that by adding SBMM to Destiny 2 both of these issues will be fixed.

The SBMM controversy

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In this instance most players are favorable of the decision but not everyone likes SBMM. Skill based matchmaking is a particularly controversial topic in the Call of Duty community. Many CoD players feel as though it overly punishes players for being good at the game. Even so, there’s no doubt that if tuned properly it benefits the majority of people. It’s just up to Bungie to figure out exactly how strict the SBMM needs to be.

The Last of Us Part 1 will come to PC ‘very soon’ after PS5

Last month Sony unveiled The Last of Us Part 1. It is a remake of the original The Last of Us that is coming to PlayStation 5 on September 2. However, when the announcement dropped there was no details regarding the PC version’s release date. But we now know that The Last of Us Part 1 will come to PC soon after the PS5 version’s launch.

Developer Naughty Dog’s senior environment texture artist Jon Benainous took to Twitter to provide fans with some good news. A fan named Charble stated how excited they are for the PC version. Benainous responded by saying “Glad to hear you’re hyped man! PC version should come out a bit later, but very soon after the PS5 release”.

With Benainous being an employee at Naughty Dog his word is about as reliable as it gets. We have no reason to doubt him but this news is somewhat surprising. When it comes to porting exclusives to PC Sony has begun to open up to the idea but its hesitation to do is obvious. Unlike The Last of Us Part 1 other PlayStation exclusives such as Beyond Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human took years to come to PC.

Plus, other recent PlayStation exclusives have shown no sign that they are coming to PC at all. Take Gran Turismo 7 for instance, which is strictly a PlayStation exclusive. It may be ported to PC in the future but Sony has given us no reason to assume so.

When is ‘very soon’?

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It’s great to hear that the PC port of The Last of Us Part 1 will come “very soon,” but what does that mean? Without an official release date, it’s difficult to say but we can take a reasonable guess. If the PlayStation 5 version is coming out in September, the PC version should arrive before the end of 2022.

Marvel is coming to FIFA 23 in an unusual Ultimate Team collab

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Publisher Electronic Arts has leaked some unusual information regarding FIFA 23. This year’s installment of the popular football series will be collaborating with an unexpected partner. Players of the Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 23 will be able to earn special Marvel player cards.

FIFA Ultimate Team already has a series of cards called Heroes. These Hero cards are throwbacks to former great players who had standout careers. They are a tier below icons but still house names that many fans remember fondly. It’s these Hero promo cards that are being used to tie into Marvel.

Any information beyond that is currently unknown. We’re not even sure if these Marvel-themed cards will be new or just a rebrand of the existing Hero promo. Although we’d expect that EA will use Marvel to try and sell cosmetics in FIFA 23 including TIFOs, badges, and kits. There’s no way a publisher of EA’s size would overlook such an easy opportunity to make money.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a collab between Marvel owners Disney and Electronic Arts. Disney signed off the publishing rights for all Star Wars games to EA back in 2013. It was that decision that led to the infamous Star Wars Battlefront II loot box controversy. Let’s hope that this collab between Marvel and FIFA 23 doesn’t go as badly. Although with the state of the AAA games industry right now you can never be certain.

Big changes ahead

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Collaborations like these are only one part of the big changes planned for FIFA 23. This year’s FIFA will also have cross-play for the first time. That means that PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, and PC players will all be able to play together. There have also been leaks hinting that EA is reworking the iconic chemistry system but that is still to be confirmed.

The Forza Horizon 5 Hot Wheels map has been revealed

Developer Playground Games has unveiled the map for the Forza Horizon 5 Hot Wheels expansion. The reveal was posted on the official Forza Horizon Twitter account over the weekend. Just in time for the DLC to release with it launching tomorrow.

The reveal gives fans something to look forward to ahead of launch. The maps design is split up into four parts each bringing something very different to the table. There are three biomes that appear to be snowy, desert, and forest. These biomes are connected together with Hot Wheels tracks that weave their way through the sky.

With it being a Hot Wheels DLC, you can expect all sorts of crazy tricks. From loop to loops to big ramps there will be no shortage of excitement. Also, it isn’t just an island that’s getting introduced with this DLC. Forza Horizon 5 will be receiving a ton of Hot Wheels themed cars alongside the new map.

So far fourteen cars have been confirmed. This includes iconic Hot Wheels cars like the 2000 Hot Wheels Deora II, 2012 Hot Wheels Rip Rod, and the 1949 Hot Wheels Ford F-5 Dually Custom Hot Rod. Some of these will be bundled with the DLC whilst others will have to be earned through the Series 9 Festival Playlist. You can expect more non-confirmed cars to follow later on in the series.

Déjà vu

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Long term Forza fans have probably noticed something familiar about the new DLC. This isn’t the first time we’ve gotten a Hot Wheels expansion. Back on Forza Horizon 3 there was another Hot Wheels DLC that was similar to this one. It was extremely well received with players feeling as though it tapped into Horizon’s chaotic fun better than any other mode. Given its popularity it isn’t too surprising that Playground decided to run it back for Forza Horizon 5.

Williams Racing teams up with Currys to promote esports accessibility

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Formula 1 team Williams Racing has teamed up with electronics retailer Currys. The partnership has been established in an effort to promote accessibility in esports. This includes plans to provide opportunities to race for young drivers and efforts to better identify rising stars in the UK.

The partnership will see Williams’ official racing simulators scattered through various stores. Over 50 UK-based Currys stores in total will house these simulators. Customers will be given the chance to set the fastest lap possible with the top drivers qualifying for the Currys Racing League. The final round will be hosted at Williams’ very own facility, the Williams Esports Lounge. The Esports Lounge is a state-of-the-art simulation racing venue where professional esports drivers practice.

As an additional bonus the winners will also receive specialized coaching. Coaches from Williams Racing will help the Currys Racing League winners take their driving to the next level. If things go especially well the winners could even land a spot on the Williams Esports Academy team.

Even if an opportunity in esports isn’t what you are looking for this partnership still looks enticing. Winners will also be rewarded with sim racing bundles and a one of a kind F1 experience. Williams Racing’s head of esports Steven English hopes that the partnership will allow people to “discover the excitement of virtual racing”.

Sim racing is huge

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It’s obvious that regular motorsport is big with F1, NASCAR, and the IndyCar Series all attracting huge viewership. However, a lot of people overlook just how much sim racing has grown. One study estimated that the sim racing industry is worth around $9 billion. Also, the industry is thought to have grown in excess of 50% in just the last two years. At that rate of growth sim racing could one day take over esports surpassing the likes of League of Legends and CS:GO.

Battlefield 3: Reality Mod launches this week after seven years of work

Battlefield 3 is one of the best first-person shooter games ever made. At launch it was renowned as the pinnacle of game graphics but that was a while back. Eleven years later and it still looks decent but it hasn’t aged flawlessly. To keep it looking fresh the modding community has been working on the Battlefield 3: Reality Mod.

The Reality Mod is an overhaul for DICE’s once flagship shooter. Led by Stefan Roos, the project aims to improve just about every aspect of Battlefield 3. That includes a visual overhaul, gameplay innovations, and multiplayer servers that support over 100 players.

On the mod’s official page, the developer describes its goal as creating “immersive gameplay and a more realistic experience”. One of the standout changes is that Battlefield 3: Reality Mod changes how the game plays. Whilst the original Battlefield 3 is a fast-paced shooter, this mod focuses more on tactical team-based gameplay. That’s something that Battlefield players have been crying out for after Battlefield 2042 disappointed many by removing many teamplay-centric aspects of the franchise.

Battlefield 3: Reality Mod does this by removing a lot of the core features that made the original game casual friendly. There’s no squad spawning, the maps are larger, UI clutter is reduced, and the voice chat is proximity based. Only some of these features will be available for version 0.1 at launch with more coming in the future.

Almost here

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If this all sounds exciting then I have some great news for you! Although the Reality Mod isn’t quite playable yet its launch isn’t far away. The Reality Mod will be playable from July 17, just under a week from now. Of course, you’ll need to purchase a legal copy of Battlefield 3 plus its DLC to play it. It does not matter if you are using an Origin or Steam version of the game.

NBA 2K23 PC release will not be the next gen version

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2K Games has confirmed that NBA 2K23 on PC will not be the next gen version. This is the third year in a row where PC players have been given the last gen version of the popular basketball simulator. Unsurprisingly, the decision hasn’t gone down well with the community feeling neglected.

In a pre-order FAQ posted on its official website the publisher explains the decision. It states: “For now, the focus was on assuring NBA 2K23 was optimized for the new consoles (PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S), while also making sure the experience remains fresh and innovative for players on other platforms”. If that response sounds familiar it’s because this is exactly what 2K said last year, but with 2K23 being replaced with 2K22.

Is 2K telling the truth or is this generic PR vomit? The reality is that most PC gamers don’t have very powerful machines. A look at Steam’s June 2022 hardware survey shows that the three most common graphics cards are the GTX 1060, GTX 1650, and GTX 1050 Ti. All of those are far less powerful than the GPUs present in the next-gen consoles. Due to this 2K probably doesn’t want to make NBA 2K23 next gen on PC because it’s scared of losing potential sales.

The way most publisher get around this problem is by optimizing their games. A well optimized game is capable of taking advantage of more powerful hardware whilst still running on less powerful cards. But that would take additional resources that 2K doesn’t seem prepared to invest.

The countdown

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On the off chance you’re still interested the FAQ also reveals NBA 2K23’s release date. It will launch on September 9 on all major consoles and PC. There are five versions available: Standard Edition, Digital Deluxe Edition, Michael Jordan Edition, and the Championship Edition. More information on these editions can be found on the 2K store page.