The PSO2 New Genesis overhaul is coming sooner than expected

A rework of Phantasy Start Online 2 was announced last year. Dubbed PSO2 New Genesis, it aims to bring SEGA’s hit MMORPG into the modern age. Initially, players weren’t expecting to see the update go live for some time. However, a new announcement has confirmed that it will be arriving later this year.

Set for a June 2021 release, the update will be an occasion to celebrate for all Phantasy Star fans. The Japanese MMO was launched back in 2012 in Japan. It didn’t find its way across to the West until just last year. Due to the eight years delay it does look a little aged in places. The PSO2 New Genesis overhaul will give the game a modern looking coat of paint.

What’s in the overhaul

PSO2 New Genesis gameplay

One of the most exciting parts of this announcement is its release date. Typically, Japanese developers tend to release content in their own native country earlier than other countries. This is because it takes time to localize and translate content. However, New Genesis breaks away from this trend by releasing simultaneously in Japan and worldwide.

Any characters that you already own will transfer from PSO2 to New Genesis. No progress will be lost as this is a rework of the existing game, not a new game. This is good news for those that have invested thousands of hours into their accounts.

Exact details haven’t been confirmed but we know that some big changes are expected. The original marketing for New Genesis described it as a “change to the game system.” These changes are significant enough that certain items and weapon stats will not be available in the rework.

Finally, the PSO2 New Genesis overhaul will be fundamentally reworking the combat. Phantasy Star has had an outdated combat system for some time now so fans will surely be happy to hear this. Given that it’s the franchises 20th anniversary this year, an update on this scale feels appropriate.

Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan is leaving Blizzard after 19 years of work

Jeff Kaplan Blizzard stepping down

In a breaking announcement posted earlier today, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan is leaving Blizzard. The veteran developer has been responsible for the development of Blizzard’s hero shooter ever since it was first pitched in 2013. Before that he had worked on World of Warcraft and the cancelled Titan.

In the announcement Kaplan does not provide a specific reason as to why he is stepping down. Simply, he calls his time at Blizzard “an honor,” and thanks everyone for supporting him. With Kaplan leaving current assistant game director Aaron Keller will be taking his role. Before joining Blizzard, Keller was best known for his contributions to Realm Royale.

End of an era

Jeff Kaplan Blizzard announcement

It’s no secret that Jeff Kaplan is widely considered one of the industry’s most talented individuals. He has had years of success at Blizzard with almost everything he worked out turning out a success. However, it’s his creation of Overwatch which most know him for. The hero shooter has gone on to become one of Blizzard’s premier brands.

Overwatch isn’t just a video game franchise. Jeff Kaplan came up with an idea and Blizzard expanded it into so much more. We now have Overwatch novels, comic books, and several cinematic shorts.

Kaplan stepping down may have some fans concerned about the fate of Overwatch 2. The long-awaited sequel was first announced at Blizzcon 2019 with further details being revealed at Blizzcon 2021. However, according to Keller you don’t need to be worried.

In his own statement Keller reassures fans that Overwatch 2 is “continuing at a good pace.” Equally, fans can expect “more frequent updates,” on Overwatch 2 going forward. It will be interesting to see how Blizzard proceeds without Jeff Kaplan. He has been a key figure in designing some of its flagship franchises. It’s never easy to lose such a talent but I’m sure everyone involved at Blizzard is ever thankful for Kaplan’s contributions.

After months of complaints the Roze skin is being nerfed in Warzone

Call of Duty: Warzone developer Raven Software has today unveiled its latest set of changes. This patch looks to address the battle royale’s biggest problems. Amongst these includes a nerf to the infamous Roze skin, a commonly used operator in Warzone.

Roze is a popular choice as her armour in this skin was completely black all over. This made it an excellent choice for hiding in shadows or difficult to spot locations. Many players found this skin frustrating and, in some cases, even unfair. It was unlockable last year before the Cold War integration so many players can’t even use it.

A Significant balance patch

Warzone Roze skin nerf tweet source

Alongside the Roze changes Raven has also confirmed certain Warzone guns will be receiving nerfs. Those listed include the M16, AUG, FFAR 1, and Sykov. The inclusion of the Sykov is particularly interesting as it was only added a few days ago.

Furthermore, Raven Software is planning to use this opportunity to fix some crucial bugs. Amongst these includes a current bug that prevents the Variable Zoom scope from producing sniper glint. Sniper glint is a mechanic that gives away a sniper’s location when scoped in. However, by using this attachment you can bypass this mechanic.

The other major bug fix is focused on the Modern Warfare weapon perks. A couple of patches ago many of these became broken in both Warzone and Modern Warfare. An example of this is the Sleight of Hand perk no longer speeding up reload time.

Finally, the RC-XC killstreak is going to reworked so that you cannot acquire it through a Buy Station. This may not be as exciting to Warzone players as the Roze skin nerfs, but it’s a nice change nonetheless. Many players weren’t happy with how the RC-XC had taken the loadouts spot on the Buy Station. This change resulted in players accidentally purchasing the killstreak when trying to obtain a loadout.

Infinity Ward confirm that missing Modern Warfare maps will return soon

Modern Warfare maps new map Killhouse

The Season Two reloaded update brought with it plenty of content to the Call of Duty franchise. Both Warzone and Black Ops Cold War received a bunch of balancing changes and a new gun. What fans didn’t expect though was three new maps for Modern Warfare.

The 2019 first person shooter had not received a major update in several months prior to these maps being added. However, the addition didn’t last long. Just a few days after the update Infinity Ward removed two of the three maps. It had remained silent on the matter until now but has finally provided a much-needed update.

They are coming back

Modern Warfare maps gunfight
As posted on the official Infinity Ward twitter, both maps will be returning soon. According to the developer they were launched earlier than intended and still require “a bit more love,” before going live.

The maps in question are Drainage and Al-Raab Airbase. Both of these maps were leaked a long time ago but didn’t enter Modern Warfare until recently. Given the lack of updates for Modern Warfare over the last year, it is disappointing to see them removed. Hopefully Infinity Ward sticks to its word and we can try them out again soon enough.

It’s not just maps that have received this treatment either. There are three guns in Modern Warfare that are fully functioning and modelled, but haven’t been released. These are the Sykov, CX-9, and RAAL. Unlike the maps, Infinity Ward has not publicly acknowledged these or provided a release date.

Whilst it is nice to see Modern Warfare receiving updates once again, these new maps are probably not a sign that things are going to improve. Raven Software is hard at work developing Warzone whilst Infinity Ward are likely working on a new Call of Duty altogether. Regardless, the communication is appreciated and it’s nice to see Modern Warfare hanging in there.

The leaked Warzone map Ural Mountains likely originated from Blackout

We’ve known for a while now that a new Warzone map is in the works. The leaks first appeared a few months back when the name Ural Mountains first appeared. Originally, we thought that Ural Mountains was a remake of the existing Warzone map, Verdansk. But the leak that has come out today has revealed some fascinating new information.

Instead of being a remake of Verdansk, it turns out Ural Mountains most likely started life as a Blackout map. Blackout was Call of Duty’s first attempt at creating a battle royale. Bundled as part of Black Ops 4, it wasn’t overly successful. Since Warzone has taken over the Blackout population has faded outside of a handful of diehard fans.

Ural Mountains is coming

Warzone Ural Mountains Verdansk map

The theory is that Warzone was not intended to have Cold War integrated into it. Instead, Treyarch had likely been working on a Blackout 2 of sorts. However, once Warzone gained so much traction plans changed and Blackout was scrapped. This left Treyarch with the difficult task of converting Ural Mountains into a Warzone map.

The leaked images suggest that Ural Mountains will be made up of several existing Fireteam maps. Fireteam is a large-scale game mode in Black Ops Cold War that sees ten teams of four battle over various objectives. It isn’t overly surprising that Ural Mountains will consist of Fireteam maps as this is what the original Warzone map did too.

The Verdansk that players know is effectively a merging of several Ground War maps. Similar to Fireteam, Ground War is another large-scale game mode exclusive to Modern Warfare. It’s an effective strategy as it allows a developer to create one map that covers multiple game modes.

However, it doesn’t look as though Ural Mountains will be coming to Warzone anytime soon. Even though Ural Mountains itself isn’t the Verdansk remake, that remake is still expected in the near future. It seems likely that the Verdansk remake will drop in Season 3 later this month whilst Ural Mountains will follow in a later season.

The Summer Game Fest is set to return alongside hundreds of new games

Summer Game Fest logo announcement

Normally gamers rally around the Electronic Entertainment Expo for big announcements. Better known as E3, it is the premiere video game conference that attracts millions ever year. However, due to COVID restrictions last year saw E3 replaced with the Summer Game Fest, an online only alternative.

It was unclear until today if E3 2021 was going ahead but we now know that isn’t the case. Instead, a second Summer Game Fest has just been announced. Much like last year’s this event will host most of 2021’s biggest game announcements. From AAA blockbuster titles to exciting indie projects, just about every upcoming game will be showcased in one form or another.

Plenty of support

Summer Game Fest Skate 4 reveal

Being this year’s largest gaming event, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of the industry titans are supporting it. We already know that the likes of 2K, Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Sony will all be attending. In fact, the only major publisher that probably won’t make an appearance is Nintendo. The Japanese tech giant has moved away from traditional conference events in favor of its own Nintendo Direct format in recent years.

Furthermore, you won’t have to wait too long to see the Summer Game Fest in all of its glory. It has been announced for June 2021. Once June arrives the festival will be broadcasted across several popular livestreaming website such as YouTube and Twitch.

The main appeal of the Summer Game Fest is that it is where publishers come to announce their biggest titles. Last year’s festival saw highly anticipated titles like Skate 4 and Crash Bandicoot 4 announced. Equally, Sony and Microsoft used the event as an opportunity to showcase both of the new next-gen consoles.

It’s clear then that even the largest companies in the industry won’t hesitate to show what they have made. Expect the Summer Game Fest of 2021 to house the biggest announcements of the year. To keep updated you can sign up to the official SGF website for more information in the near future.

Stat tracker SBMM Warzone shutdown by Activision lawyers

SBMM Warzone logo feature

SBMM Warzone is a Call of Duty: Warzone stat tracker used by the battle royale’s community. It has played an important role for players looking to improve themselves. By comparing various stats, the tracker was able to give you an idea of your rough skill level. However, it appears that Activision is not happy with its existence.

American publisher Activision has ordered SBMM Warzone to shut down its operations. Their deadline to reply is today and failure to do so will end in legal action being taken. The Belgian site has since announced its closure but has reached out to Activision for a possible partnership.

Why Activision doesn’t like SBMM Warzone

SBMM Warzone office

Without an understanding of how Warzone works this move may seem odd. SBMM did not make money out of what it was doing nor was it directly affecting Activision’s operations. All the website did was provide a platform for players to see in-depth stats for themselves and other players.

However, there was two aspects of SBMM Warzone that Activision likely took issue with. The stat tracker had a system where it would create a rank representative of your lobbies skill level. These ranks varied from Bronze to Diamond. This was necessary as Call of Duty: Warzone itself does not have either a ranked mode or skill rating system.

Activision doesn’t want people to understand the ins and outs of its skill-based matchmaking system. By having a platform which ranks players and lobbies it makes it easier for players to do just that. Furthermore, SBMM Warzone could be considered a breach of privacy from Activision’s point of view.

Large corporations are held to high standards by organizations like the European Union when it comes to privacy management. Allowing a site that leaks various details of its users’ gameplay could be punishable in the future. It may be considered overly cautious, but Activision has the right to protect its user’s data if deemed necessary.

Astria Ascending is a new JRPG made in collab with Final Fantasy devs

Astria Ascending promo art

Publisher Dear Villagers has today revealed its latest work, Astria Ascending. Ascending is a JRPG made in collaboration with several industry veterans. Amongst those includes developers who have worked on Final Fantasy and Nier: Automata. It will launch in 2021 on PC, Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.

It will also feature on Microsoft’s signature Game Pass service at launch. This means that you can check it out on Xbox consoles before paying the full price. It is currently unknown if it will be making its way onto Game Pass for PC too.

A gorgeous hand-drawn JRPG

Astria Ascending screenshot official

Astria Ascending is a gorgeous title that features some of the best art the industry has to offer. Set in a world of chaos, players control various Demigods who are aiming to save the world. A mysterious force is putting their world at risk at it is up to these eight heroes to stop it.

Each of the eight heroes has their own unique story and narrative. You’ll have to cross give 5 cities, 25 dungeons, and 30 hours of gameplay in order to conquer Astria Ascending’s story. A 100% completion run is expected to take closer to 50 hours for most players.

Outside of its main story, Astria Ascending also features various side quests and mini-games. One of which is an original fantasy-themed token game not playable anywhere else. The majority of gameplay is turn based with unsurprising similarities with the Final Fantasy series. Developer Artisan Studios is best known for its work on Super Neptunia RPG and specializes in 2D RPG design.

Dear Villagers’ head of publishing Guilaurme Jamet described the development process as “a delight.” Furthermore, Jamet called it “an honor,” to work alongside so many industry veterans. It should be interesting to see what Dear Villagers and Artisan Studios can come up with.

Publisher Team17 has a new tactical shooter in the works, Ready or Not

Ready or Not Promo image

You probably know Team17 best for its iconic Worms franchise. The turn-based artillery series became a hit in the 90s and has since become the staple of Team17. But in recent years the publisher has been expanding its catalogue of games. The latest addition to its line-up is the newly announced Ready or Not.

Developed in partnership with Void Interactive, Ready or Not is an upcoming squad based tactical shooter. It depicts SWAT team missions where you and your teammates are tasked at deescalating tricky situations. This includes hostages, raids, and anti-terrorism.

Are you Ready or Not?

Ready or Not gameplay shot

The best comparison on the market right now is probably Rainbow Six Siege. Both are tactical shooters that place a focus on teamwork and strategy. However, Team17’s new project isn’t just limited to competitive multiplayer. According to the Steam page, it will also launch with a “story-rich campaign.”

Developer Void Interactive is claiming Ready or Not will have over 60 unique items at launch. These tools and attachments will allow a player to build their gun exactly as required. From optics, muzzles, magazine types, and foregrips, the weapon customization looks detailed. Potentially, it could be on the same level as something like Warzone’s gunsmith system.

Team17 studio head Chris Coates gave his thoughts on the announcement. Coates believes Void Interactive are a “hugely ambitious studios,” and that his team is “excited,” to be working on the title. The FPS market isn’t something Team17 has ever tried to enter but Ready or Not will change that.

Arguably, this new addition moves away from the kinds of games Team17 are known for. Their most popular three games: Worms, The Escapists, and Overcooked, are all family friendly. However, Ready or Not is a simulation focused on intense competitive play. Adding a new dynamic to its library could help Team17 diverse its brand identity.

Activison remove R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow from Warzone and Cold War

Warzone R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow early release

Yesterday Activision accidently released the R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow early into Warzone. It could be unlocked via an in-game challenge or purchased from the store. It However, the publisher has reversed the change and some fans aren’t happy.

Anyone who purchased the bundle has been refunded for their purchase. You’ll be able to re-purchase the bundle again when it goes live again later. Assuming it is planned to be a mid-season release, players can expect the R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow to drop early next month.

It hasn’t gone down well

Warzone R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow bundle

Had Activision simply removed the crossbow Call of Duty fans may have not been too bothered. However, the publisher has chosen to reset all progress players made with the crossbow. If you earned mastery camo on it you won’t have unlocked once the R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow is released.

Unlocking Gold camouflage on a gun can take several hours. In Black Ops Cold War especially, gun levelling is very slow. This is an unusual move as in the past Activision has not punished players for similar situations. For example, some Modern Warfare players have unlocked the Sykov pistol early and have kept access to it for months.

On one hand, I can understand Activision’s position. It was an unintentional release and it likely doesn’t want anything messing up its release schedule. AAA games like Call of Duty usually have strict schedules that developers have to adhere to. It’s currently unclear why this mistake happened in the first place.

However, there was no indication that the R1 Shadowhunter Crossbow was released by accident. Therefore, it seems unfair to punish the most dedicated players who put aside time to play your game. As far as we can tell, there is no plans to revert this decision. Once the crossbow releases for real next month players will have to level it up again from scratch.