Tuesday, January 25, 2022
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50 turns as Cathay in Total War: Warhammer 3’s campaign


I wouldn’t say it’s the best feeling, to watch a dozen portals to hell burst into existence across the green pastures of Grand Cathay, the site of my steadily growing empire in Total War: Warhammer III.

Not that it’s supposed to be, but I’m especially sensitive to this sort of thing. I like to build and beautify; I’ve been known to build unnecessary parade grounds in Command & Conquer rather than finish missions just because I thought them thematic. My biggest gripe with Total War: Warhammer II was that it would drop hostile armies into my territory as soon as I started a Vortex ritual; they always seemed to appear whenever my own troops were absent, so that no matter how I prepared, I was powerless to prevent the destruction of several carefully tended cities.

So you can imagine how I felt when these rifts into the Realm of Chaos burst upon my territory like acne before a first date. Warhammer’s infamously grimdark lore is all about the fact that even the most redoubtable city is only a Skaven orgy away from drowning in a tide of rats, but look, it’s not just me: “It felt a bit contrived that you can’t control the fact there’s going to be a few stacks coming in and attacking you,” game director Ian Roxburgh tells us, reflecting on player feedback from Warhammer II.

And as it turns out, the rifts are fine. Or at least manageable. You get a warning when they’re about to appear, and when they do, they don’t do anything too nasty – just spew out corruption in the flavour of a particular Chaos god. Leave them alone for a few turns, though, and they’ll spawn a hostile hero. A few turns more, and you get a hostile army of moderate strength. I haven’t left any open for longer than that.

Surveying a menu of rifts in Total War: Warhammer 3's campaign

Those first armies are pretty tough to deal with if you’re still in the early stages of the game, as I can attest because I was limited to 50 turns with Total War: Warhammer III’s campaign in our hands-on preview. Knowing what I was up against, I save-scummed to a few turns before the rifts appeared to see if I could prepare for their arrival more effectively than the Vortex’s invaders. Rifts can be closed by hero actions or by a lord – the lord will have to fight a battle, but the opposition is weak and the rift will close even if you lose, as I discovered by hiring and sacrificing solo lords solely for this purpose. On my second ‘rifting’, only two portals last long enough to spawn a hero, and none to throw an army at me.

Chased through portals by an incarnate fart in a floating throne? Who would’ve thought that Total War would ever take us here?

“We give the player all the tools to deal with it,” Roxburgh says, and in my experience so far, that’s true. It’ll still feel like an appropriately stressful event; you’ve got to pull your heroes and lords back into your territory, deploy them efficiently, and manage the intense corruption the rifts leave behind. If you’re distracted, the consequences will quickly escalate to nation-crushing heights. But you can “strategise your way out of it,” as Roxburgh says.

A door goes both ways, and rifts are your means of ingress to the Realm of Chaos, which is basically Warhammer’s version of hell. We’ve known for a while that the ostensibly suicidal idea of entering this realm is central to Warhammer III’s plot; we fought beneath the Brass Citadel, the home turf of the Blood God Khorne, in last year’s battle preview. Now we know the reason we’re doing so; prepare for a lot of proper nouns.

Battling against a purple and pink backdrop in Tzeentch's realm

Ursun, the bear god of Kislev, has been imprisoned in the Forge of Souls at the heart of the Realm of Chaos. His jailer is Be’lakor, the first Daemon Prince, who holds the dubious distinction of being hated by pretty much everyone in Warhammer lore – even the monstrous Chaos Gods themselves.

even the most redoubtable city is only a Skaven orgy away from drowning in a tide of rats

This universal hatred means Be’lakor “can do stuff that will affect everyone, and everyone’s gonna try and stop him,” principal writer Andy Hall explains, “and he’s an important character and a fan favourite, so we knew early on that we wanted to use Be’lakor in that role [as the game’s archvillain].”

For a god to be left in such a vulnerable state is an opportunity for everyone. It’s a safe assumption that Kislev will want to rescue their patron deity, while Cathay’s intro cinematic reveals that they’re out to do the same thing because Ursun can help them find Shen-Zoo, the missing younger sister of Cathay’s ruling dragon family. I was ready to assume that the Chaos gods just want to eat Ursun or something and absorb its power, but based on everything we’ve seen so far I dare to hope that each faction’s storyline may be far more intricate and particular than that.

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The arch-schemer Be’lakor is certainly up to nothing so obvious. Hall teases that his “actual plan is revealed” as you complete more challenges within the Realm of Chaos. You need the soul of a Daemon Prince from each of the four gods’ domains in order to access the Forge of Souls and face Be’lakor in the campaign’s final battle, and so, as my heroes and sacrificial lords rush to close every other rift, I send Miao Ying into the one nearest my capital.

Total Warhammer’s enigmatic adviser introduces me to Tzeentch’s realm, and the Impossible Fortress at its heart. This is my destination: the Librarian, Tzeentch’s favoured Daemon Prince, is hiding there with the soul I need. Each of the four gods’ domains in the Realm of Chaos contains its own challenge – Khorne’s is a gauntlet of combat challenges, for instance, while Tzeentch’s realm is a maze, formed of floating chunks of rock.

It’s navigated by means of paired teleportation portals, but there’s no way to tell where any portal will lead until I go through it. At first I think it’s a memory test, like the card game Concentration, but then I discover that going back through a used portal doesn’t return me to the one I first entered – fitting, as one of Tzeentch’s titles is ‘Changer of the Ways’.

War coordination in Total War: Warhammer 3

Defeating roaming Tzeentchian armies (each so weak that they barely dent my own, even when auto-resolving) gives me the option to mark portals with a pair of coloured glyphs. This ‘fixes’ their connection, so the challenge is to kill enough armies to either discover the path to the Impossible Fortress directly, or fix enough pairs to intuit it by process of elimination.

he’s an important character and a fan favourite, so we knew early on that we wanted to use Be’lakor

Andy Hall

Principal writer

It’s also a race. As mentioned above, everyone has a plan for Ursun, and any of the other major powers may send their Legendary Lord into one of the four realms to claim the same prize. I’ve been hopping across these blue-tinged floating rocks for no more than a couple of turns before I’m joined in Tzeentch’s fun house by Ku’gath Plaguefather and then Skarbrand. If either of them wins the battle at the Impossible Fortress before me, I leave with nothing.

I deduce the correct portal just in time to realise Skarbrand is too close for me to catch, and get a sinking feeling as the roaming armies feed themselves to him. Surely their sacrifice will help him figure it out if he hasn’t already? But no – he stomps off in the wrong direction and, with Ku’gath hot on my heels, I’m first to the big battle.

Total War Warhammer 3 trade routes

Where the Brass Citadel had a nice sequential feel to it, the Impossible Fortress’s map is a disorienting maze of rocky outcrops on mixed elevations. The battle is tough and I scrape through by the skin of my teeth having spent most of it drowning in pink and blue flames, but I reflect that Tzeentch’s limited unit roster means that I could’ve anticipated this and built an army accordingly. Lesson learned for next time.

As my time with the build elapses and I have time to digest it all, I’m also struck by the absurdity of Warhammer III. I mean, playing Concentration with teleportation portals, chased by an incarnate fart in a floating throne? Who would’ve thought that Total War would ever take us here? It’s amazing fun so far, in case that wasn’t clear, but 50 turns is only a sliver of the full game. Total War: Warhammer 3 is out on February 17th, by which time we’ll have our final review ready for you.

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Driver Magician Download (2022 Latest)


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Total Warhammer 3’s final boss is Be’lakor, and he’s voiced by Richard Armitage


Creative Assembly has revealed that the big bad of Total War: Warhammer III is none other than the daemon prince Be’lakor. What’s more, he’s being voiced by Richard Armitage, whose gravelly tones you might recognise as belonging to the actor behind Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit trilogy.

“We wanted him as a villain because that’s his role in Warhammer,” Creative Assembly principal writer Andy Hall says. “Whether it’s from Mordheim or even The End Times, he plays this role as a villain, and why he’s so ideal for that role is that the Chaos Gods hate him, and the goodies certainly aren’t friends with him either. He can do stuff that will affect everyone, and everyone’s going to try and stop him.”

Hall goes on to say that the team knew they wanted to use Be’lakor reasonably early into the design process, particularly praising his suitability for a climatic boss battle. “He’s a classic villain full of plots and machinations, but he’s also a big, hulking daemon creature as well,” he tells us. “So he could fulfil that role as being a bit of muscle, but being very intelligent with it as well.”

Creative Assembly stops short of confirming whether or not Be’lakor will be playable, though Hall teases that he’s sure the team will “get to that place”, and that “you may or may not be able to play him at some point during Warhammer III. We’ll kind of let players discover that for themselves.” Game director Ian Roxburgh adds that the team might look into doing more things with Be’lakor after release, too.

The big bad isn’t all we spoke to the Total War: Warhammer III devs about, though. We also learned that the strategy game will feature multiplayer co-op campaigns of up to eight players and what The Great Maw looks like. Keep an eye out for the full Total Warhammer III interview on the website soon.

The Total War: Warhammer III release date is set for February 17.

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CodeLobster IDE Download (2022 Latest)


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Total Warhammer 3’s ninth legendary lord is a daemonic Mr Potato Head


The Total War: Warhammer III release date is less than a month away now, and Creative Assembly has revealed the ninth legendary lord you’ll be able to pick in the strategy game’s campaign. It’s the Daemon Prince, the leader of a surprise eighth launch faction, the Daemons of Chaos. With no set affiliation to any specific Chaos god, the Daemon Prince can take powers and equipment from all four, and is as a result the most customisable lord Total War has ever seen.

The Daemons of Chaos, like their tabletop namesake, represent ‘Chaos Undivided’ – an army that has access to units from all four Chaos gods’ rosters. That on its own is enough to guarantee some interesting buildcrafting with the Daemons of Chaos, but as it turns out, it’s their leader who provides the broadest canvas for player creativity.

The Daemon Prince is a fallen prince of Kislev, as we learned in our hands-on campaign preview. Game director Ian Roxburgh tells us that Warhammer III’s prologue “tells you about how that particular Daemon Prince came about”, and confirms that he is the same Yuri named in the letter Tzarina Katarin is studying in the announcement trailer (this is not the same Yuri as Yuri Kovalenko, however – “there’s more than one Yuri in Kislev,” says principal writer Andy Hall).

By gaining Daemonic Glory – the Daemons of Chaos’ unique mechanical currency – you can unlock new blessings, weapons, and body parts for the prince, all drawn from any of the four gods or from a fifth track representing Chaos Undivided. Effectively, you’ll be bolting together your own Daemon Prince, swapping out bits as you conquer and dedicate new territories to the gods of your choice. Creative Assembly says there are 500 billion possible configurations for the prince, which makes him Total Warhammer’s very own version of Mr Potato Head.

The Daemon Prince can change his head, torso, wings, left and right arms, legs, and tail, and he can carry something in either hand, or a two-handed weapon. Each daemonic bit comes with its own stats and abilities, including access to special spells and passives. Your selections for each component will be reflected in the daemon prince’s model on the campaign map and battlefield.

Gaining Daemonic Glory will also grant access to higher-tier units. At certain thresholds, you can decide to dedicate your faction to one particular god, which unlocks the most advanced units and blessings available. Alternatively, you can pledge to Chaos Undivided, and you’ll be able to use high-tier units from all four gods’ army rosters.

We’ve learned who Warhammer III’s final boss is, and gotten some new details about co-op campaigns. Total War: Warhammer III will launch February 17.

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Total Warhammer 3’s co-op campaign supports eight players and simultaneous turns


Creative Assembly is stepping up its multiplayer offering in Total War: Warhammer III. While the upcoming strategy game’s predecessor Total War: Warhammer II allowed for a maximum of two players in its campaign multiplayer mode, this time around the studio has quadrupled that number.

Total Warhammer III’s campaign multiplayer has received a bunch of improvements and changes over the previous two in the series, as game director Ian Roxburgh tells us in an interview. “We’ll evolve, we’ll get all the things that fans wanted, but then we’re going to throw some curveballs and put things in they’d never have expected,” he says. “Real innovative Total War stuff as well, like eight-player simultaneous campaign multiplayer. No one would dream of that happening. It’s so much fun; we’ve had a blast developing that, having battles with eight of you playing a party in it and controlling a few units each, and the way that works.”

Roxburgh says the studio has even created some “mini” multiplayer campaigns, which will allow you to essentially “start and finish an eight-player multiplayer campaign in one evening with friends, where you get straight into the action and the armies fighting each other within the first turn or so”.

These smaller-scale offerings, Roxburgh tells us, are designed to offer “a social, one-night experience rather than, like, a six-months epic” – by which he means the experience of eight players tackling the main campaign together. “But, of course, people who want to [do that] can.”

As for what these various multiplayer options will look like, we learned that there’ll be two zoomed-in campaigns called Darkness and Disharmony and Something Rotten in Kislev. What they’ll offer exactly in terms of story, gameplay, and player limits, though, we’ll have to wait and see.

The Total Warhammer III release date is February 17.

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‘Scream’ Directors Talk Full Spoilers: The Killer, Who Died, and Secret Cameos



If you haven’t seen the film yet, you’re about to ruin it for yourself! 

After 11 years of dormancy, the Scream franchise has returned in a big way with the release of the fifth installment, simply called Scream – the confusing nature of that title turning into one of many inspired meta jokes within the film itself. Scream had a great opening weekend at the box office, bringing in nearly $34 million over the four-day holiday weekend and proving there are still plenty of eager fans who’d been waiting for a new chapter in the story Kevin Williamson and the late Wes Craven launched 25 years ago.

With Scream now in theaters, I spoke to the filmmaking trio Radio Silence — Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella (Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett are Scream’s directors and Villella is Executive Producer) — for a follow-up conversation in which we were able to dive into all the big spoilers from the film, which they collaborated on with writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick. Among the topics of discussion were a pivotal death, the motive of the killers, the confirmation of one beloved character’s survival, and the hidden vocal cameos of multiple Scream series alumni.

Prior to the film opening, Radio Silence made it clear they’d love to continue on with the franchise to continue the story, and given the film’s success, that seems highly likely to occur, leading to some talk about where things leave off here and what it could mean for the future.

One last spoiler warning, before we dive in discussing a very notable plot point in the film…

Fandom: Let’s start with the sadness of losing Dewey. In general, I’m curious how set in stone the script and its major story elements were when you signed on, so let me ask if Dewey’s fate was always a part of it and then what was it like talking to David [Arquette] about it?

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: It was there when we read the script. There’s a lot of little changes and some inner workings of scenes and stuff, but for the most part, the bigger story is exactly as it was, and that includes Dewey’s death. The two things that were the most debated before we were in production were Dewey’s death and Billy Loomis‘s role. Those were the two that we asked, “Are we going to be this crazy and actually kill Dewey? And are we going to be this stupid and have ghost Billy? Are these the two things we’re doing?” And I think the answer to both of them is weirdly the same, where the DNA of Scream is all about expectations and subversion and how do we do that? How do we push boundaries and make sure that you can never get too comfortable?

Dewey’s death, it just felt like, on a story level, we had to have it, because it’s what brings Sidney back and it’s the emotional engine of the entire second half of the movie. It just does so much for the story and the structure of the actual movie. And then, on a larger level, it does in a lot of ways what the Drew Barrymore scene [in the original Scream] does. We become so invested in this character, and we love this character so much over 25 years, that we don’t expect him to die and we don’t think he’s going to die. And then to kill him in the middle of the movie – not the finale, not the opening, but just in the middle – is the other thing that I think Guy and Jamie did in the script that was so smart, because then you kind of get past the opening, like, “Alright, this is the Dewey show! We’re going to be in this!” And then 30, 40 minutes later, he gets killed.

David Arquette (“Dewey Riley”) in ‘Scream’

One of the things that really helped us get comfortable with the idea was that we were gonna give him a hero’s death and it wasn’t gonna be easy. We were gonna treat it with reverence and respect and we really wanted to do him justice. And David was teed up. William Sherak, our producer, teed it up, when they sent the script to David, like, “Listen, he dies in here. We don’t want this to be a surprise. We want you guys to know that going into it. There it is.” And our first conversations with David, David understood that; he got it. He loved the script and he was like, “I don’t want Dewey to die but I understand why he has to die. That sucks but I’m in.” And it was hard! It was hard emotionally for the three of us. I can’t imagine how hard it was for David and I think that’s just a testament to what an incredible actor and a human he is that he would put so much of himself and so much love into this character for so long. And then to see it through like that,  it deserves a lot of our respect.

Fandom: The killers’ motivations are always a big deal in the Scream movies and often tied to what’s going on in the zeitgeist. Did the toxic fandom idea resonate with you guys pretty quickly, just in terms of “Yes, of course. That’s what it should be about today.”

Chad Villella: I think from the very first time we read it, and we read that one line, “How can fandom be toxic?” – It really shined a light for us as to what this movie actually is and where it’s going. And to be honest, we’re looking in the mirror a little bit too. We are fans, we have very strong opinions about other movies that we love and that were made or continued in its lineage and we were very well aware that we were becoming part of that conversation. We were making a movie [continuing a story] that we’re fans of, so the irony isn’t lost on us. But to be able to shine a little bit of a light on it and to be able to open up that discussion as to what is too far, how you can take it too far… Well, obviously killing people is way, way too far!

Tyler Gillett: Hopefully, what the debate becomes [about] is what are the rules of engaging with entertainment? Because the distance between the things that we watch and that we either love or hate and the people who created it has gotten really small. A lot of the consequences of that are really great and fandoms can respond directly. We’ve certainly been the beneficiaries of that and the amount of support and love we’ve had from the Scream fan community has been absolutely absolutely crazy. We’ve also experienced the other side of it, where it gets a little bit scary. The look at this kind of psychology of where we’re at in terms of fan culture to us is just an endlessly fascinating thing to talk about. And again, I think what makes it so interesting to us is that we also consider ourselves a part of it, and that we’re not immune from the criticisms that we’re also lobbing at those communities. That level of introspection that the movie sort of forces you to examine yourself about the way you’ve engaged with entertainment, I think that’s all part of what’s really interesting, and a living and organic kind of byproduct of what these movies are.

Fandom: The Rian Johnson stuff is a big highlight and I noticed he has a Thank You credit at the end. So was there a fun conversation with Rian about how he would become part of Scream and Stab

Tyler Gillett: Yeah, early in post-production we knew we wanted him involved. It was in the script: “Rian Johnson, Director of Stab 8.” Jamie [Vanderbilt] knows him peripherally and reached out to him and he gave us his blessing to be in the movie and kind of use, obviously, his story and what happened on Last Jedi. I think that’s a big turning point in fan culture.

We originally wanted to actually have him appear in the movie. We had this idea of shooting a press junket video for Stab 8 where he’s talking about all the brilliant ideas in it and all the smart choices he made and ultimately we couldn’t do it because he was off making that small little Knives Out sequel. But we wanted to include him because he’s such an icon. We are obviously such big fans of his. I think we’re also all defenders of that movie, but he is like at the center, the nexus in so many ways of that of that conversation. It doesn’t feel like you can have a conversation about fandom and not include him in that in some way.

Fandom: And maybe we can see that junket footage in the future. Who knows?

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: I sure hope so!

Fandom: Sam is revealed as Billy’s daughter, and at the end of the movie, we definitely see her unleashed. She goes kind of all Tommy Jarvis on Jason Voorhees when she kills Richie, and we leave on this interesting little bit of ambiguity with her seeing Billy’s reflection one more time. Is there any cause for concern there? 

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Well, it’s Scream, so let’s always say maybe there’s a cause for concern, but our approach was that she has now accepted that Billy is a part of her. And while he’s never going to not be a part of her, she has to now carry that forward. We had a cut of the movie where she was still medicating herself at the end and we all — us and the writers collectively — decided it was better to not have her do that and make it actually feel like she’s not just back where she started medicating away her past and that she’s actually able now to accept Billy as a part of who she is… And who helped her murder her boyfriend [Laughs], and then move forward!

Melissa Barrera (“Sam”) in ‘Scream’

Tyler Gillett: Naturally! I think what you’re saying Matt, and I think we talked about this, is the idea that almost everyone has something in their past that is scary and can inform who they are in a bad way or a good way. Telling a story about a character who takes some power back from that and makes it her own and owns it and becomes okay with it just was really interesting to us and really satisfying.

Fandom: What was it like working with Skeet Ulrich? You reaching out must have been quite a surprise for him!

Chad Villella: Yes, and he was just as shocked as we were the first time we read the script to receive that call. “Hi, Skeet! You want to be in Scream 25 years later?” Again, it was in the script the first time we read it, and it was another one of those big swings that we took, moving everything forward and making him part of Sam’s life and Sam’s storyline and the way it informs who Sam is and what she has been running from and what she needs to overcome to move forward as a character.

Getting Skeet to set was an absolute blast. It was a day that we were on stage in the Macher house, which is Amber’s house in our movie. And he walked in and he walked through the kitchen and there were tears in his eyes. And we’re thinking, yeah, this is a pretty incredible and surreal experience not only for him but for us who grew up on the movie and love the movie more than anything to be able to stand in that kitchen with Billy Loomis. It was just the meta on top of meta on top of meta and we stand by it being the right choice for the movie and Skeet just honestly took it to the next level for being there one day, in one weekend. Because of COVID, he had to quarantine with everybody and the way he bonded with our entire cast in such a short amount of time and to be able to really build a friendship with everyone so that the trust was there throughout was just remarkable. And he brought a lot, as a ghostly reflection, to our storyline and it’s such a vital part of it.

Fandom: And kudos to him for secret keeping. I interviewed him and Matthew Lillard last fall for the 25th anniversary and seeing your movie, I was thinking “Man, if only I knew he was coming back then…”But I’m glad I didn’t! So let me ask about Richie’s YouTube screen and the Easter egg reveal informing us that Kirby from Scream 4 survived. How did you decide to sneak that in and can we hope maybe we might see her again at some point?

Tyler Gillett: It was always something where we knew there was an opportunity to provide an answer to that question. Certainly, spending time on Twitter and Reddit, we know the “Justice for Kirby” movement is a very real thing. As fans of that character, we all have a real soft spot for Kirby and love the idea that her story didn’t end in 4. We had originally had a conversation with Hayden [Panettiere] and talked about some other ways to answer that question in this movie. I think at the end of the day, what we found was that because of the level of love and respect we have for Kirby, it would have felt weird to bring her back and just do something small and that it would actually distract you. If you had a scene that wasn’t a satisfying Kirby scene, then you’d spend the rest of the movie going, “F**k, when is she going to come back!? When am I going to get the thing that I expect to have from this character?” And so it made more sense to just provide a little nod to her on that YouTube page. And who knows where that character goes next…

I think one of the things that creates a real rich fandom – and again, we’re considering ourselves a part of that – is the offscreen story of these movies and [wondering] what happens to these characters when the camera stops rolling. We’ve always loved thinking about, like, “Where’s Kirby’s life at? What do you do as a survivor after something like that?” Honestly, it was a big question with the legacy cast in this one. It was one of the things we were most looking forward to when we were reading the script. “Where the f**k are Dewey, Sid, and Gale? What are they up to? Where are they 10 years later?” That offscreen story is something that we think is really vital to creating this kind of vibrant universe and certainly is something that we as fans really love to brainstorm on.

Neve Campbell (“Sidney Prescott”) in ‘Scream’

Fandom: Sam is the lead character of this movie but what do you think is the future for Sid and Gale as far as the franchise is concerned? I’ve seen people speculate, ‘Oh, well, I guess you could continue without them.’ But they also could easily still come back next time or come back later… There are a lot of options. Have you had those conversations yet? 

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: It’s early days, and we’ll see what it is. But for our money, we don’t think of it so much as a handoff in the way that some franchises have done it. We think of it more as we have new people in the family. For us, whatever’s right for the next one is right. We would love to be able to work with Neve [Campbell] and Courteney [Cox] again. That was truly a wonderful experience and they were just so fantastic the whole time. So TBD, but I sure hope they’re going to be in it if there’s an it to be in.

Fandom: So let me dig into more of the people I noticed got a “Thanks” credit at the end and why that is. Hayden and Rian, we have the context for. And I’m assuming Matthew Lillard is because of that other little YouTube video we glimpse near Kirby’s, pondering whether the “real” Stu survived?

Chad Villella: Oh, no. So with Matt Lillard, we have his voice in the movie. He is the voice of the Stab 8 Ghostface with the flamethrower and then he also has a line in the house that says, “Cool house, Freeman!” at the party when Amber’s walking by.

Tyler Gillett: When you hear it again, by the way, you’re gonna go, ‘Well, f**k, of course that’s Matt.”

Chad Villella: Yeah, it really pops.

Matthew Lillard voices the ‘Stab 8’ version of Ghostface in ‘Scream’

Fandom: [Laughs] Wow, you’re really adding to the lore here! Obviously, Matthew Lillard was nearly in Scream 3 and fans always speculate maybe Stu survived, like your YouTube video Easter egg references. Now, I have to assume some people are gonna say Stu was hiding there at the party.

Chad Villella: [Laughs] Right, exactly. The ghost of Stu at the Macher house.

Fandom: Or was it a ghost?

Chad Villella: Or was it!?

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: And that Thank You list is the people from the toast to Wes. That’s all ADR. Every single person on that Thank You list did a “To Wes!” for the toast at the party as a toast to Wes Craven. Also everybody who was in the movie did it, along with Kevin Williamson and ourselves.

Tyler Gillett: And then sort of deeper, on another level, Drew [Barrymore] also voice cameos as the principal at the high school. That’s her reading the announcement at the end of the school day. And Jamie Kennedy also voice cameos at the party. He’s the guy who says “Someone’s goofy ass dad is kicking us out” while Mindy and Frances are making out on the couch.

Part of it was, I think, just for us on a personal level, we had this real desire to get to know Wes through the people that he worked with and the people whose lives he changed. We just had a real strong desire to reach out to everyone and let them know “We love what you’ve done, we want to honor it, and we want you to be a part of us honoring it, in every way possible.”

Eric Goldman: The only other folks I wanted to ask about from the Thank You list were Henry Winkler and Adam Brody

Tyler Gillett: In the toast.

Chad Villella: Both in the toast.

Sonia Ammar, Mason Gooding, Melissa Barrera and Skeet Ulrich pose with fans at opening night of the ‘Scream’ at the AMC Burbank 16

Eric Goldman: In the original film, there is this last minute reveal that Dewey survived and they famously had debated whether to include it or kill him off, which was what was scripted. In your film, kind of taking that spot are the twins, Chad and Mindy, who we discover both survived in the closing moments. Did you go back and forth on their fate for either of them and did you shoot any different options? 

Tyler Gillett: We knew going into shooting that they were both going to live, but in the original script, Chad did not survive. We cast Mason [Gooding] after having a couple of zooms with him and he’s just the most wonderful person you’ve ever met and his energy is so infectious. It was a little bit like what happened to Dewey. He’s so good in the movie. He’s such the perfect choice for the character that we were like “We can’t kill him! He’s gotta stick around.”

Eric Goldman: I was very happy to see Mason wearing his Woodboro High jacket when he, Melissa, Skeet, and Sonia introduced the movie opening night at the theater I was at. 

Chad Villella: He loves that thing!

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Every time we see him, I feel like he’s wearing it.

Fandom: Hey, I would too!

Tyler Gillett: It’s an amazing jacket.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: He wore it on the flight home!

Mikey Madison (“Amber”) in ‘Scream’

Eric Goldman: This is a question that I know has followed Kevin Williamson for 25 years and I believe he ultimately has kind of said he doesn’t give it too much thought. But in this movie, do you know who killed each victim, between Richie and Amber?

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Guy and Jamie did the legwork on that and then we’ve stolen it from Guy and Jamie. But yeah, we know who’s who. It’s mostly Amber. Amber does a lot of the heavy lifting in this murder relationship, which we thought was fun. One of the things we’ve joked about a lot is that it feels like it’s the Richie show, but in reality, it’s probably the Amber leading from behind show and Richie feeling like the big man with the great ideas who was actually just full of s**t. And then Amber’s doing all the killing and it was probably her idea to begin with.

Fandom: These movies need to keep their secrets, sometimes even from the cast, so at what point in the process did Jack [Quaid] and Mikey [Madison] find out they were the killers? 

Chad Villella: That was at production, right?

Tyler Gillett: Yeah, they knew early on. The first draft they read, that everyone read, had the names changed. And then eventually we let Mikey and Jack know that they were the real killers. As part of them agreeing to sign on to the project, they also had to be aware that was going to be a part of the challenge, right? The heavy lifting of their performance was going to be ultimately going to 10 at the end of the movie. Some of the most memorable moments early on in the process was telling the two of them “You’re actually the killer.” Matt has a screengrab of Jack’s face told to him over zoom. And the reveal to him was, honestly, like I think a lot of audience members feel when he finally stabs Sam in the foyer in the movie. He just couldn’t f**king believe it.

Both of them were so committed to doing Billy and Stu justice. We’re really mirroring the end sequence in the first movie a lot in this one and I think that they both really felt a responsibility to do that well. The challenge of those performances is that once you realize who the killers are, the whole movie can kind of play in a new context and the progression of those performances still makes sense. It’s what’s so good about Billy and Stu. They’re so suspicious from the beginning and then you realize that they’re killers and the movie has done so many twists to make you feel like they’re not. In this one – and this is really just kudos to Jack and Mikey – they really understood the nuance of when to be sinister and when to be sweet, and we loved getting as many as many different varieties of takes and as many different textures as we could so that we could build some of that suspicion and calibrate it along the way.

Jack Quaid (“Richie”) and Melissa Barrera (“Sam”) in ‘Scream’

Chad Villella: The other really fun thing was we were into post and Jack would message and he’s like, “I’m still the killer, right?? Because I’ve been reading things on the internet that you guys shot multiple endings!”

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: “Stay off the internet!”

Chad Villella: “You’re still the killer and it’s all good.”

Eric Goldman: “Don’t go on the subreddit.”

Tyler Gillett: Fun fact… Jack actually created a character, an avatar, and was posting on the Scream subreddit while we were in production on this movie. It was Stabhead or Stabhead69 or something.

Eric Goldman: That’s amazing. I also have to ask about the strange amusement of this being the second movie to set Mikey on fire at the end, after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Was this just an accidental coincidence that was already written before she was cast? 

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: It was an accident. A very happy accident that we have now embraced. We love Mikey from her performance in that and then also on Better Things. She’s just an incredible actor and we just love her and we wanted her to be Amber so badly. And to be totally honest, if anything, at first, we were like, “Is that gonna be f**king lame that we’re doing that? Does it come off lame?” And then we were like, “We don’t care because she’s great.” Now I think we really embrace it, that we were the second movie to burn her alive. We’re hoping she has a third, but whatever she’s into!

Fandom: Maybe she spaces out the next one and surprises people.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: Yeah, she pops up in a movie and they’re like, “Well, I know what happens to her…”

Tyler Gillett: She needs to light someone on fire in her next movie.

Fandom: You have a lot of fun references to the entire series in the movie, but I’m sure you also had to keep in mind that some people are gonna go see this that don’t know all the previous movies and wouldn’t get everything mentioned if it became too specific. Though I will admit, as a big fan, when Sid and Gale are talking in the car about who started this and Gale says it was her with her book and Sid says it was Billy, I was thinking, “Well, really, Roman Bridger started at all.”

Tyler Gillett: [Laughs] That’s fair! Fair criticism.

Chad Villella: Fair, very.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: They might not know that though! Well, no… Sidney would know that. Nevermind, I take it back. Yeah, I was trying to walk us out of it.

Tyler Gillett: We need to bring this conversation to Guy and Jamie is what we need to do.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: [Laughs] “This is Guy and Jamie’s fault!”

Tyler Gillett: Honestly, we hope that audiences watching this have the experience that we had watching the first one. That movie, for us, in so many ways, was like a gateway to the genre. And that is because of how referential it is, how it talks about other movies in the genre, and outside of the genre, and how it really has this encyclopedic knowledge of movies. Not only does it feel like the movie just has to have that – that in its DNA, Scream does that and is really a celebration of moviemaking in so many ways – but we hope that it inspires audiences to go back and watch the first four if they haven’t or rewatch them if they haven’t in awhile. And then, of course, all the other movies that are referenced, they’re a rich part of a community that we consider ourselves, so thankfully, to be members of. Hopefully the movie comes off as a celebration of all of these titles.

Eric Goldman: Before I let you go, who killed Wes and Judy? That’s the only one I can’t really figure out.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: We’ve said that it’s both.

Eric Goldman: Yeah, it seems like it’s one of the only times neither Richie and Amber are accounted for at all. 

Chad Villella: That’s the time when they could do it, yeah.

Tyler Gillett: Yeah. Tara and Wes & Judy are the instances where it could be both.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin: The doubles.

For more on Scream, click the image below to see what the original film’s writer, Kevin Williamson, told Fandom about creating the concept and where the series has gone since. 

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Photo Mechanic Download (2022 Latest)


The minute you put down the camera, your post-processing workflow begins. The most productive photographers in the world use Photo Mechanic’s powerful features to make managing photos faster and easier. Quickly ingest photos from your memory cards and pick your winners without having to wait.

Use tools originally created for photographers under the world’s most extreme deadlines to add information such as captions, keywords, and copyright to your images as fast as possible. Finally, deliver those images to the world with powerful export features. Photo Mechanic speeds up your workflow, and you take all the credit.

Plugin your memory cards and start picking winners and deleting rejects almost instantaneously. Move from image to image without that annoying rendering delay. Add a dynamic caption, copyright, and keyword information individually or in batches. Upload images to online galleries or image services in a flash. And, so much more! The Mechanic is the ultimate file and metadata management tool.

Editing your photos can be a lot of work. It makes the process of selecting, organizing, and adding metadata to your images so much easier. Here are some of the key features that help you get things done more quickly and accurately.

Features and Highlights

Fast Viewing / Culling
Go from your memory card to working on your best images faster than ever before. Ingest, cull, rate, and organize for a quicker, more efficient workflow.

Work How You Want
Let’s work together. Photo Mechanic is built to play nice with your other post-processing and creative tools so that you’re in control.

Captions, Keywords, And Copyright
A picture is worth a thousand words, but only the embedded metadata counts. Get your images tagged faster with crucial info like credit and copyright to protect your business.

Contact Sheet
The Contact Sheet is the heart of your workflow. See your image thumbnails, edit and organize quickly and efficiently. The app puts you in control.

Preview Raw Files Fast
Flip from one image to the next without any render delay. With thousands of images, the savings really add up.

Sometimes you need more than one keyword to describe (and find) an image. It helps you add keywords in many ways. Structured Keyword lists allow you to add related keywords fast.

Automatically add EXIF camera data to your images like focal length, serial number, or ISO to metadata fields like captions or keywords.

Batch Editing
Work faster when you copy, delete, tag, watermark, rename, resize, and add IPTC metadata to lots of photos at once.

Move, Copy, & Rename
Add capture time to filenames. Create dated folders on the fly. Copy files to multiple destinations at once. PhotoMechanic’s file-management tools are incredibly powerful.

Code Replacements
Save time typing long complex text with Code Replacements. A few keystrokes can add entire sentences to your captions.

GPS Coordinates
Geotag your photos by easily applying your saved GPS tracking logs to your photos with the program. Now, in the Mechanic 6: Use GPS data to automatically add the city, state, and country names to your metadata!

Adjust Capture Dates And Times
Take photos from multiple cameras and get them synchronized to the correct date and time. This is great for wedding photographers with second shooters.

Pick The Best Of The Bunch
View and compare images side by side, horizontally or vertically. Spot differences between images that are too subtle to see when viewing one at a time, or simply pick between two top choices.

Note: 30 days trial version.

Also Available: Download Photo Mechanic for Mac

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Total War: Warhammer III


Total War: Warhammer III

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Crossfire: Legion feels like a classic RTS game action movie


If you take the essential, exciting ingredients you remember from classic RTS games like Command & Conquer and StarCraft, and render them down into an intense stock, you get something like Crossfire: Legion. It’s an upcoming strategy game from Homeworld developer Blackbird Interactive that emphasises its bombastic combat, while streamlining the fussy economy stuff enough to make it approachable for newcomers.

It’s set in the near-future warscape of Crossfire, the massively popular Korean FPS game that launched in 2007. While it’s not a household name in the West, it’s a major phenomenon in Asia – according to SmileGate, Crossfire has a staggering 689 million players across 88 countries, and sees concurrent user counts that the top Steam games could only dream of. A Chinese television series based on Crossfire has racked up 1.8 billion views.

You don’t really need to know anything about Crossfire to get into Crossfire: Legion, though. It’s a pick-up-and-play RTS that instantly feels familiar if you’ve played any version of multiplayer StarCraft in the past 20 years. You start with a base structure, recruit workers to collect resources and build initial structures, and start pumping out units as quickly as possible.

During a private press preview last week, we got a chance to play with one of the two factions Blackbird Interactive says will be ready when Crossfire: Legion hits Early Access, which is currently scheduled for sometime in April. In a 3v3 matchup with the developers and other members of the press, we play as the Black List, a scrappy, stealth-focused group of guerrillas who are dead set against the more hegemonic and high-tech forces of the Global Risk faction.

An artillery barrage on a base in Crossfire: Legion

Blackbird Interactive says it wants to focus players’ attention on battlefield strategy, letting them imagine and execute tactical plans without having to divide their attention between micro and macro tasks as much as they would in classic strategy games. The tactical element of Crossfire: Legion, the developer explains, is in unit deck building and commander selection, which you’ll do before each match.

Legion instantly feels familiar if you’ve played any version of multiplayer StarCraft in the past 20 years

Matches begin in classic StarCraft format: you’ve got a headquarters building and some worker units – forklifts, in my case. I quickly queue up several more at HQ, placing a rally point at the resource collection node at my start location. Once I’ve filled up my metal and gas nodes with as many workers as they can take, I pop up a barracks and start pushing out soldiers.

Matches progress quickly, and it’s not long before my teammates and I are taking new territory and clashing with our opponents. When I see a stream of soldiers, tanks, and helicopters heading north through a choke point near my second base, I send reinforcements along to help out.

Surveying your base buildings in Crossfire: Legion

Commanders aren’t physically present on the battlefield, but they have abilities that drastically shape your approach to a match, so your choice of commander is effectively a commitment to a specific playstyle. Cardinal, the Global Risk commander available during the test, can call for an artillery barrage with his Fire At Will ability, or heal and buff units in an area with Rally. Meanwhile, the Black List leader, Phoenix, can place a Ghost Core structure on the map, which can recall units to it in a stealth state, preventing enemy units from targeting them.

your choice of commander is a commitment to a specific playstyle

The Ghost Recall ability takes some careful timing to pull off – it’s not an instantaneous cast, so it’s important to activate it as soon as it looks like you’ll need to withdraw. Wanting to do as much damage as I can during offensives, I find myself waiting too long to use the ability, and only a few of my units successfully teleport out of the fray before our attack is blunted. Fortunately, I’ve been pushing out to new HQ sites and keeping my production queues full, so a fresh attack force is ready to go right away – this one fielding some heavy trucks with powerful mounted lasers.

More explosions in Crossfire: Legion

Another faction will be revealed in February, which is when Blackbird plans on opening up Crossfire: Legion’s first public demo. March will see the addition of ranked modes and voice communication, with army customisation, an open beta, and the Early Access launch all slated for April.

Blackbird says it’s planning on adding an army card system, a full single-player campaign, co-op scenarios, and more of just about everything that’s already present: more units, more maps, more commanders, and more online modes. Steam Workshop support for mods is also on the to-do list during the Early Access phase.

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Java Development Kit (32-bit) Download (2022 Latest)


Java Development Kit (also known as JDK) contains the software and tools that you need to compile, debug, and run applets and applications that you’ve written using the Java programming language. JDK has as its primary components a collection of programming tools, including javac, jar, and the archiver, which packages related class libraries into a single JAR file. This tool also helps manage JAR files, javadoc – the documentation generator, which automatically generates documentation from source code comments, jdb – the debugger, jps – the process status tool, which displays process information for current Java processes, javap – the class file disassembler, and so many other components.

The JDK also comes with a complete Java Runtime Environment, usually called a private runtime. It consists of a Java Virtual Machine and all of the class libraries present in the production environment, as well as additional libraries only useful to developers, and such as the internationalization libraries and the IDL libraries.

Contents of the JDK:

Development Tools
(In the bin/ subdirectory) Tools and utilities that will help you develop, execute, debug, and document programs are written in the JavaTM programming language.

Runtime Environment
(In the jre/ subdirectory) An implementation of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for use by the JDK. The JRE includes a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), class libraries, and other files that support the execution of programs written in the Java programming language.

Additional Libraries
(In the lib/ subdirectory) Additional class libraries and support files required by the development tools.

Demo Applets and Applications
(In the demo/ subdirectory) Examples, with source code, of programming for the Java platform. These include examples that use Swing and other Java Foundation Classes, and the Java Platform Debugger Architecture.

Sample Code
(In the sample subdirectory) Samples, with source code, of programming for certain Java API’s.

C header Files
(In the include/ subdirectory) Header files that support native-code programming using the Java Native Interface, the JVM Tool Interface, and other functionality of the Java platform.

Source Code
(In src.zip) Java programming language source files for all classes that make up the Java core API (that is, source files for the java.*, javax.* and some org.* packages, but not for com.sun.* packages). This source code is provided for informational purposes only, to help developers learn and use the Java programming language. These files do not include platform-specific implementation code and cannot be used to rebuild the class libraries. To extract these files, use any common zip utility. Or, you may use the Jar utility in the JDK’s bin/ directory: jar xvf src.zip.

Also Available: Download Java Development Kit for Mac

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Microsoft agrees $70bn deal to acquire Activision Blizzard


Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard in “an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion”. If approved, the deal would give ‘Team Xbox’ full ownership of iconic IPs such as Call of Duty, Warcraft, Diablo, and many more, and grow its head count by almost 10,000.

The story first broke at the Wall Street Journal and was followed by a corroboration at Bloomberg’s The Terminal. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has since confirmed the acquisition himself on the Xbox Blog.

“It is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard,” Spencer writes. “We will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalogue. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community.”


The Microsoft news centre has its own version of the announcement with a statement from CEO Satya Nadella, as does Activision Blizzard’s news room with a statement from CEO Bobby Kotick. Among the additional details to be gleaned in these statements is that Kotick will remain in post, at least for now, despite the ongoing lawsuit concerning workplace discrimination and harassment at Activision Blizzard. You can catch up on all of those developments in our explainer story.

Microsoft says it intends to use the acquisition to “provide building blocks for the metaverse” and emphasises its value in mobile gaming – Activision Blizzard also owns King, a major developer of mobile games, most notably Candy Crush.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of this acquisition. We all thought we’d seen the biggest such deal in our lifetimes when Microsoft bought ZeniMax Media, owner of Bethesda, for $7.5bn in 2020, but this is truly seismic. Activision Blizzard is among the very biggest videogame publisher-developers in the world, owns some of the most lucrative franchises in gaming, and boasts a global headcount of almost 10,000 staff.

Indeed, the implications for the game industry are so vast that this raises questions about fair competition. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval, which it may or may not receive under US anti-trust laws. Kotick’s statement says “transactions like these can take a long time to complete. Until we receive all the necessary regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions are satisfied, which we expect to be sometime in Microsoft’s fiscal 2023 year ending June 30, 2023, we will continue to operate completely autonomously.”

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The Sandbox Game Download (2022 Latest)


The Sandbox Game is a F2P gaming experience and an asset editor that allows players to experience a decentralized gaming ecosystem that empowers creators to share and monetize voxel assets and gaming experiences that are made digitally unique using Ethereum blockchain technology. Enjoy!

The Sandbox Game is accessible from inside the web browser and can therefore be played on a wide array of desktop and laptop computers, with the bare minimum of GPU hardware present. The experience of playing it can include countless video game genres, from open-world exploration games, action, adventure, puzzle, multiplayer, community events, and many others. The visual style of the game utilizes eye-catching voxels – three-dimensional polygons that can be used to create stunningly stylish and detailed environments from small rooms to large open worlds.

What is SAND?

In-game objects and experiences created inside this title are called ASSETS and they are marked with SAND ($SAND)- a unique ERC-20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain and a main utility/governance token and the currency of the entire Sandbox platform.

What is NFTs?

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are virtual tokens minted on the blockchain for digital scarcity, security, and authenticity. They are unique, indivisible, and non-interchangeable — allowing true digital ownership of in-game assets.

What is a LAND?

A LAND is a digital piece of real-estate in The Sandbox’s metaverse. Game designers use LAND to build digital experiences, such as games or dioramas, and also populate it with ASSETs.

The core opportunity that The Sandbox Game for Windows PC offers to players is to purchase and own their own digital plot of land. This land can become a host for their own gaming experiences, and even a place where other players can spend their in-game resources or crypto assets. This enables players to not only have true digital ownership of in-game assets, but also a digital money-making machine.

How to earn in The Sandbox?

  • Play GAMES, earn rewards
  • Build GAMES, monetize them
  • Create ASSETS, market them

Development of new areas, items, and game modes requires users to download two PC editors – “VoxEdit“ for modeling, animating, and texturing of 3D objects, and “Game Maker”, a larger editor for the creation of levels, gameplay modes, and various in-game scenarios. This intuitive game development platform can provide countless tools and services to not only seasoned artists and game designers but also complete novices who can use VoxEdit and Game Maker to learn all basics of the modern game development.

As of the time of this review, The Sandbox Game has finished its first Alpha Season 1 event, and developers are working hard on the arrival of Alpha Season 2 event that will open signups to anyone who wishes to participate, add more unique in-game experiences, more Play-to-Earn rewards, and many surprises.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor
  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 or Windows 11
  • CPU: Dual Core 2GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 2 GB

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Rainbow Six Extraction review in progress – dead ringer


Rainbow Six Extraction is a square peg in a round hole. It shares most of its DNA with one of the last decade’s best multiplayer games, the asymmetric tactical shooter Rainbow Six Siege. All of Extraction’s playable characters come directly from Siege’s roster, with similar loadouts and only minor revisions to the functionality of each operator’s gadget. It also adopts Siege’s destructible environments, so you can shred most walls back to their studs with the right gadgets or enough bullets. Extraction even continues the sci-fi narrative that Siege started back in 2018 with the limited-time PvE event, Outbreak.

All of those ingredients are present in Extraction, but they’ve been mixed in such a way that they fail to impart any flavour. Destruction works exactly as it does in Siege, but there’s no benefit to opening new pathways, and no way to exploit breachable surfaces thanks to the predominantly horizontal map design. Some operators have been creatively reworked to suit the new horde threat, but others seem out of place and ill-equipped. With so many of its components carried over verbatim from Siege, Extraction feels as much like a limited-time game mode as Outbreak did.

The story picks up shortly after the events of Outbreak, with its alien parasite – dubbed Archæans – springing up all over North America and evolving to pose team Rainbow a greater challenge. You start on Liberty Island in New York City, travel west to San Francisco, north to Alaska, and finally south to New Mexico. There are three maps to choose from in each location, but it doesn’t really matter which one you’re playing on as the objectives you’ll need to complete are randomly assigned when you start a match.

Each objective is located in its own third of the map, and there’s a Left 4 Dead-like safe zone between each area with a stock of ammo, reinforcements, and health kits to share around. As the title suggests, extraction is a key part of the game, and you’ll always have the choice of heading to an extraction point to safely escape halfway through an incursion, rather than push on to the next sub-zone with a sliver of health and risk wiping.

Approaching a singularity in our Rainbow Six Extraction review

And that’s a risk you really don’t want to take. When your operator is knocked out they’ll go into stasis and get captured by the parasite. If this happens, not only do you lose all of the XP you earned during that run, your operator also loses some individual progress and you’re forced to rescue them in your next incursion.

Destruction works exactly as it does in Siege, but there’s no benefit to opening new pathways

While there are 13 potential objectives that can occupy each sub-zone, they rarely require you to tailor your approach. There are stealthy objectives that task you with sneaking around to plant tracking devices in nests, or perform stealth takedowns on elite enemies. Escort missions come in three different flavours: escort a parasite-killing bomb, escort a downed researcher, or escort a downed teammate. Sometimes you’ll need to kill an elite enemy, other times you’ll need to bait it into an incapacitating trap. There are objectives in which you’ll need to find and activate three computers in the right sequence while a timer ticks away (this one’s easy if you just clear out most of the sub-zone before touching the first computer).

None of these require you to make use of your operator’s gadget or consider the map’s destructibility. There are a couple of minor exceptions that charge you with defending an objective for a minute or two, which you’ll do by placing down reinforcements, barricades, and gadgets to direct the flow of incoming Archæans. You have some scope for creating tactical setups during these missions, especially if you use shotguns to open up long lines of sight, but as certain enemies can breach both soft and reinforced walls alike, there’s really no way to control which direction they’ll flood in from.

Alibi using her Prisma against the parasite in our Rainbow Six Extraction review

Operator gadgets are a little more impactful. Siege’s stalwart, Tachanka, still sports his Soviet-era deployable LMG and is devastatingly effective during those defensive objectives. However, other operators have had their signature gadgets tweaked just enough to prove effective against the parasite, but no more. For the most part they feel the same, which reinforces the disappointing sense of deja vu that pervades Extraction. Vigil, for example, can now cloak himself from Archæans, letting you slink away after kicking the proverbial hornet’s nest. Alibi’s Prisma holograms pull aggro away from your squad, not only giving everyone a breather, but also making it much easier to focus your fire at a miniboss. Even Jäger’s grenade-catching gadget has been tweaked so it fires a deadly shot at any Archæan that comes into range – very handy for locking down a room.

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But for every reworked operator you’ll find one who offers almost nothing to your squad. Fuze’s cluster charges are less effective than simply shooting through a wall with a suppressed weapon, and while you can create traps with them by luring Archæans towards them, there’s no need to create such an elaborate scenario. IQ can ping supplies through walls with her scanner, but the range isn’t sufficient to reveal anything that you can’t find just by looking a bit more carefully. And Rook? Well, Rook can pass around armour plates just like in Siege, which prevent instant knockouts and grant a minor buff to your damage resistance, but it’s probably the most boring ‘ability’ in the history of hero shooters.

Some operators become extremely powerful once you level them up, with raw stat boosts, new weapons, additional gadget uses, and even new gadget functionalities unlocked at max level. Put in the work and Tachanka can deploy two turrets simultaneously, so another teammate can get mounted and loaded. Reaching an operator’s level cap takes a dozen or so complete and successful incursions, and this can be a real slog for some of the initially weak characters.

Shooting a grunt in our Rainbow Six Extraction review

The Archæans themselves come in a few different varieties, but only a couple demand any sort of coordination à la Left 4 Dead 2’s Witch or Jockey. The heavily armoured Smasher is downright lethal head-on, but if you can stun it or get a teammate to flank, then its weak spot is easy enough to get at. Likewise, the Apex, which can summon fellow Archæans at an alarming rate, just needs a few seconds of focused fire to dispatch.

The chain reaction that turns a mission from smooth sailing to helter-skelter is almost instantaneous

The real threat in Extraction comes from the Sprawl, a viscous black goop that seeps and spreads across the map, slowing your movement whenever you walk through it. Sprawl oozes from any Archæans you mow down as well as from nests you disturb, so you’ll encounter a lot more of it if you take a reckless approach.

Extraction is full of mechanics that punish you for going in guns blazing. Disturbed nests will start spitting out new Archæan soldiers, and any Archæan that spots you can release a shriek to rally every ally in the area. As more enemies come flooding in, so does more Sprawl, and very quickly it becomes difficult to make any forward progress. The chain reaction that turns a mission from smooth sailing to helter-skelter is almost instantaneous, so it really does feel like there’s only one way to approach Extraction if you want to survive. But that method is quite tedious. Crouch-walking through corridors, carefully scanning each room for Archæans, and destroying nests is easy, but it’s time-consuming, and doesn’t evolve much even as the difficulty scales.

Exploring a biker bar in our Rainbow Six Extraction review

And that’s pretty much Extraction. You cycle between 12 maps and a few different objective types, leveling up your operators and increasing the difficulty setting to earn more XP. Tracks of optional challenges offer lore titbits and extra rewards, but frustratingly they’re map-specific and can only be completed one set at a time. I played one map three times in a row hoping for a specific enemy type, completed the last challenge of the set, and then had to extract and start again to access the next set of tasks. The reward? Two sentences about a miniscule development in the team’s research efforts and some XP.

operators feel the same as they did in Siege, reinforcing the sense of deja vu that pervades Extraction

While the random selection of objectives for each sub-zone does make every playthrough a little different, it ultimately limits the stakes. It’s impossible to emulate the nail-biting tension of Left 4 Dead or Back 4 Blood’s carefully curated set pieces with small map areas and randomised objectives, and I find myself missing the scale of these climaxes.

The closest Extraction gets is with its Singularity objective type, in which your team takes on one of three Proteans. These are proper boss fights against an Archæan mimic of either Smoke, Alibi, or Sledge, each with their own alien twist on their counterpart’s gadget. Alibi, for example, casts multiple clones so she’s hard to track across the arena, while Smoke leaves a trail of toxic fumes wherever he goes, restricting your movement and vision.

Moving between sub-zones in our Rainbow Six Extraction review

Maps make poor use of their regional settings. You’ll clear out New York high rises without any cityscape views to make you pick up your jaw from the floor, and a biker bar in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighbourhood could be set anywhere else in the world. Worse still, the only form of narrative development comes through short, ultimately pointless CGI cinematics you unlock with each new region. In one, Eliza ‘Ash’ Cohen spends half a minute building up the next location, and then it just ends. No story development, no greater sense of her emotional state, how the team’s holding up, or if the threat’s escalating.

I’ll need more time with Extraction before I reach a final verdict, as there are still a couple of endgame modes I’ve not been able to try yet. The journey to endgame has been disappointing, with nowhere near enough tension and variety to break up the monotony of Extraction’s repeating objective types. Like anything else, the experience is improved significantly when playing with friends, but there are better co-op shooters out there.

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After leaks, Halo Infinite’s Cyber Showdown is officially confirmed for Tuesday


The Halo Infinite devs announced the Cyber Showdown event in the game’s early roadmaps, and leakers hinted that event would kick off on January 18. Now 343 has confirmed that – surprise! – Halo Infinite: Cyber Showdown does indeed kick off on January 18. And they’ve done it with a delightful little bit of machinima.

Halo Infinite: Cyber Showdown officially begins on January 18. The event’s likely to kick in with the usual reset time of 9am PST / 12pm EST / 5pm GMT. There’s no official word on when it’ll end or what modes will be part of the playlist, but leaks say it’ll run until January 31 and include Capture the Flag and Slayer, as well as two previously-unseen new game modes: Attrition and King of the Hill.

The official trailer channels a bit of Red vs. Blue, and shows off new cosmetics like a cybernetic mohawk. That, uh, also showed up in previous leaks. So, you know, just try to act surprised, for 343’s sake.

Check out the trailer below.

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If you’re looking for details on the Halo Infinite weekly challenges, you can follow that link.

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Honest Trailers | Hawkeye


Honest Trailers | Hawkeye

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Halo Infinite will begin “rolling out changes” to prices next week


The multiplayer’s been out for a couple of months now and it looks there will finally be some changes coming to Halo Infinite’s store prices – with developer 343 Industries promising that it is “focused on reducing” those prices and “providing stronger values” in what’s available.

Since Halo Infinite’s multiplayer released in November for free, the developer’s seen more than a few complaints about the way it’s handled things – such as the lack of Slayer playlists, the way progression in the Battle Pass works, and, yes, the price of various cosmetics in the real-money store.

The good news is that 343 seems to be listening to feedback regarding all these issues and is working on improving them – and now it’s the turn of the store. 343’s head of design Jerry Hook took to Twitter to say that the studio is “going to begin rolling out changes” to the way they “package and price items” in Halo Infinite’s online multiplayer shop – and that’ll start this coming Tuesday, January 18.

According to Hook, the store will now “vary week-to-week” and the team intends to reduce prices, make bundles better value for money, to make items that are available in bundles separately, “and more”. He also adds that 343 is “trying new things throughout the rest of the season” so that it “can continue to learn and improve for the future”.

These changes should hit around the same time as Halo Infinite’s Cyber Showdown event this Tuesday, which will feature new cosmetics to unlock like a cybernetic mohawk. That’ll go well with nail polish.

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iTop VPN Download (2022 Latest)


iTop VPN helps you access various videos, music, social media, and games, including Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tiktok, Roblox, Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG, and so on. The Best VPN software for Windows 11/10/8/7 Fast & Secure!

  • Unblock Content Freely
  • Best-in-Class Encryption
  • Blazing-Fast Speed
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Security Reinforce
  • Browser Privacy
  • Kill Switch

iTop VPN is an all-around VPN for desktop or laptop PC that ticks all the boxes. It caters to users to the high-grade encryption protocols, lightning-fast speed of data transfer, and the practical unblock of geo-limitations. Threading all the lines together, it has proven itself to be a trustworthy one among the competitors.


iTop VPN for Windows PC frees your gameplay in any region despite territory restrictions. It offers multiple servers in many countries or areas. You can connect those servers to hide the original geo-blocking IP address to play banned online video games successfully in your region. For example, it can work as a PUBG VPN.


Streaming services win popularity thanks to the supply of unlimited movies, TV shows, and other splendid content. However, giant services, like Netflix, Hulu, set a boundary depending on regions to prevent audiences in some areas from accessing.


The app figures out the easiest way to visit unavailable websites blocked by school, office, or region, containing adult content sites you like (for those who are at age of majority).


It gives a big hand when you need to deal with confidential works. It encrypts the traffic and sets flexible IPs so that your activities online can’t be tracked or monitored. No matter where you work, at home or office, it delivers non-stop protection.


If you move or have a long-time business trip to a country where social networks like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, face government censorship, iTop VPN for PC routines the internet traffic for access to banned services and helps you stay in touch with your friends and family.

How to set up VPN for Windows 10 and Windows 11?

It supports Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 10, 11.

Step 1: Click the Free Download button to download the setup file.
Step 2: Double-click the set file on the folder to install the iTop VPN app.
Step 3: Connect to the VPN for Windows.

How to connect to a VPN on Windows?

The best free VPN for Windows 11 should be able to help you access a range of online streaming services, social media sites, and news providers, and so on. Also, a free VPN for Windows 11 should help you bypass game geo-restriction safely and securely.

VIP features not available:

  • 1800+ servers worldwide
  • Unlimited data & bandwidth
  • 10x faster internet speed
  • Streaming, gaming & social VIP servers
  • Extra browser privacy protection
  • Block ads, trackers & malware
  • Secure torrents downloading
  • Split tunneling connection
  • Static or dynamic IP

Note: 16 servers and 700MB data per day in demo-free version.

Also Available: Download iTop VPN for Mac

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FFXIV All Saints’ Wake release time – Halloween event finally starts this week


After a long delay thanks to the highly-anticipated release of the Endwalker expansion, Final Fantasy XIV’s Halloween event is finally ready to kick off – in January, the new spooky month. We’ve got the full FFXIV All Saints’ Wake release time and date below, and you won’t have to wait much longer to get that clown costume.

Final Fantasy XIV’s ridiculously-long delayed Halloween event, All Saints’ Wake 2022 (2021?), will finally release this Thursday, January 20, at 12 AM PST / 3 AM EST / 8 AM GMT and will last until February 2 at 6:59 AM PST / 9:59 AM EST / 2:59 PM GMT – so you’ll have just under two weeks to collect all the rewards.

Given that All Saints’ Wake is the Final Fantasy MMO’s annual Halloween affair it was expected that the event would, of course, take place in October – however, the big delay to the Endwalker expansion meant a lot of planned events got pushed back too. The Christmas/New Year celebration got away with it, but Halloween was pushed all the way to January.

Well, the wait is nearly up. Players will soon be able to unlock a range of clown-themed costume pieces, facepaint, and even haunted pumpkins for your in-game home. Once the event starts, players need to talk to the Adventurers’ Guild Investigator in Old Gridania [X:10.4, Y:8.4] (thanks, Nova Crystallis). Remember, you need to be at least level 15 to get on this ride.

All Saints’ Wake kicks off in Final Fantasy XIV this Thursday, January 20.

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God of War for PC Download (2022 Latest)


God of War is an award-winning third-person action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studios and published on the Windows PC platform for the first time by PlayStation. With a long history as one of the most popular action franchises in the world, this blockbuster console IP which has received four main releases on PS2 and PS3 consoles and several spin-offs on other console platforms has finally arrived on Windows 11 and Windows 10.

Focusing on a brand-new chapter of the life of God-killer Kratos, this celebrated 2018 adventure has received a wide array of high-profile awards, including almost 200 GOTY awards from publications from all around the world, awards for the screenplay, direction, acting and even the Game of the Year award on The Game Awards 2018 ceremony.

God of War (2018) follows the latest adventure of Spartan warrior Kratos, set centuries after his destruction of the Greek pantheon of gods. Even though this is not a reboot or re-imagination of the entire franchise, new players can find this game a perfect starting point and introduction into the story of this fascinating character, which has found himself in a new land of Norse mythology, ready for a brand-new adventure of epic scope, emotional moments, and incredible action.

God of War for PC version starts with a funeral, and a Kratos trying to fulfill the dying wish of his late wife to take his son Atreus and bring her ashes on the highest mountain in all the realms. This takes the unsuspecting duo on an adventure of much grander scope than they have expected, forcing them not only to find solutions to many combat encounters on their way (including a few incredibly epic boss battles) but also emotional barriers between two very different personalities. Kratos, who is still struggling with his past, his actions, and the significance of his godhood, needs to learn how to let go of his anger and teach his young son how to be a better person than him, to not take advantage of his godlike powers, and open up about many secrets of his own family.

But action is the core of this title, and it does not disappoint. During this long adventure Kratos and his son visit an incredible variety of environments and fantastical realms of Norse mythology that are crafted as linear experiences that are united by the incredibly innovative central hub area called The Lake of the Nine which can change its form during the length of the campaign. The environments, characters, enemies, and visual effects are all crafted with incredible detail, making every moment of exploration and combat engaging and stunning. All that is presented uniquely with a “single-shot” camera that never cuts to a new viewpoint, always managing to showcase events around the player in a spectacular and realistic (almost documentary) fashion.

Windows PC version of God of War is optimized for modern gaming hardware, but it can also effortlessly run on a wide array of older desktop and laptop PCs. It features customizable visual settings, remappable controls, Nvidia DLSS smart upscaling, widescreen monitors, and much more.


  • Requires a 64-bit processor
  • OS: Windows 10 or Windows 11 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel i5-6600k (4 core 3.5 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 5 2400 G (4 core 3.6 GHz)
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD RX 570 (4 GB)
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 70 GB available space (file size)
  • Additional Notes: DirectX feature level 11_1 required

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Age of Empires 4 is having a ranked seasons test this week


After releasing back in October, Age of Empires 4 is set to receive some welcome new features this month – including a January patch with “pointed balance changes and bug fixes” and the first 1v1 ranked seasons preview test, which is due to hit later this week.

First up is the introduction of 1v1 ranked seasons competitive play, which is promised to go live later this Spring but developer Relic has revealed that the first ranked seasons beta test will begin this week – on Thursday, January 20, to be precise, which will then run for just over a week to January 28.

Only players who have signed up to be an Age of Empires Insider will get to participate in the beta, so head here to do that. Once you’ve filled in the form and provided the necessary information, you should receive an email that allows access to the game’s beta branch. The preview will only offer 1v1 matches but it’ll be a taster for the longer “structured seasons” Relic is planning to add.

As for the January patch, while the Winter update added a few fan-requested features this month’s will be mostly focused on “key balance changes and bug fixes based on your feedback” – with the aim of addressing the “most critical issues”. Changes include stopping the Mongol civilization’s Fire Lancer unit from “feeling overpowered” and sorting several Delhi Sultanate bugs. The developer will be going into the update in more detail in this week’s stream, and the patch itself will drop “very soon”.

Our reviewer really enjoyed Age of Empires 4 but did note a few problems, such as the absence of ranked play – which we assumed would be available at launch. It’s good to see that it’s finally being added in, so hopefully the remaining problems will get sorted out in due course.

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What if: Fallout 4 got a roguelike mode?


In case you didn’t see the news, Hitman 3 is getting a roguelike mode. It sounds like the perfect fit for the trilogy: a more challenging remix of targets and sandboxes from all three games, with meaningful progression and proper consequences if you fail a mission. You earn better gear as you murder your way through idyllic vineyards, grandiose country houses, and Berlin techno raves, which you can store at your safehouse for use in subsequent assignments. However, if you die during a mission or your target escapes, then any gear you took with you is gone for good.

It’s a genius mash-up of ideas. But it’s got me thinking about other games that could benefit from roguelike elements, and as a long-time Fallout fan it hasn’t taken long for the pieces to click together. So, what if Fallout 4 got a roguelike mode?

One of the enduring frustrations with Fallout 4 is that, despite having such a robust building system, there’s very little to actually do in each settlement once they’re all set up how you like them. There are vendors you can trade with and you’ll routinely have to travel around the Commonwealth bailing settlements out of trouble, but when everything’s running smoothly there’s really no reason to hang around the villages and homesteads you’ve helped establish. Similarly, once you’ve cleared out every vault, raider hideout, and historic landmark on the map, your best bet for replayability is to start modding or begin a fresh save.

But what if you could take direct control of wastelanders in your settlements, form raiding parties, outfit them with basic gear, and head out on expeditions across the Commonwealth?

View of the Sanctuary settlement in Fallout 4

If that sounds familiar it’s probably because sending your citizens out in search of loot is the basis for Fallout Shelter’s endgame. As the overseer of your very own vault, you can round up your best and brawniest, go Supermarket Sweep on the vault armoury, and dispatch them topside to pick through the bones of the old world for rare weapons, armour, and resources. You can’t control much on standard loot runs other than deciding when to recall your vault dwellers, but there’s a procedurally generated log of their journey that creates small narratives for each adventurer. A post-launch questing system developed the idea, letting you put your dwellers into teams and then steer them through crumbling tower blocks and factories, pursuing specific objectives.

Any gear you were carrying is now in the gigantic, bulging hands of the super mutant that killed you

It’s not particularly fun. To be honest, it’s downright tedious after your first couple of runs – you’re essentially clicking on different rooms and waiting to see if your vault dwellers survive the encounter. But if you transplant the basic structure of Shelter’s questing into a more interactive game like Fallout 4, it could be brilliant.

Your wastelanders could each have different SPECIAL stats and perks just like the Sole Survivor, and by building gyms and schools you could start training your own crack squad of treasure hunters. At the start, however, you’ll have to make do with some rusty old pipe pistols and a ragtag selection of your settlement’s most expendable residents.

A wastelander farming in a settlement in in Fallout 4

Whoever you pick as the squad leader will be your playable character throughout the expedition, and should you die while hunting for rare gear, that character will stay dead. Any gear you were carrying is now in the gigantic, bulging hands of the super mutant that killed you. Your body? Probably parcelled out among gore bags and hung high over the streets of Boston to ferment.

A roguelike mode introduces a means for players to create new stories with a fresh cast of characters

Of course, if your raiding party is successful then you’ll return with boosted stats, new perks depending on what harrowing experiences you endured, rare weapons, and bottle caps to reinvest in the settlement’s facilities. With a couple of successful outings under your belt, you may be tempted to strap on some of your best gear and take on a much more challenging excursion.

At some point, inevitably, you’ll get too cocky and your party will be wiped out, putting a dent in your settlement’s development, but there’s always some sliver of progress: maybe you unlocked an important door or disabled some turrets before you died, so the next raiding party has an easier time clearing the building.

Gore bags in downtown Boston in Fallout 4

As for locations, the simplest solution would be for Bethesda to stuff key locations from around the Commonwealth full of random loot, traps, and high-level enemies, and present it to the player as incursion-like map events. You’ve probably cleared Monsignor Plaza of raiders during Fallout 4’s main story, but now it’s occupied by high-ranking gunners, and they’ve brought some tantalising loot with them. Major locations like Vault 95 already have respawning enemies, but a few unique monsters, some light redecorating, and a refreshed loot table would go a long way towards making it feel like a fresh adventure.

Alternatively, Bethesda could take inspiration from Far Cry New Dawn and set its expeditions outside the open-world map. Because nothing that happens in this roguelike mode would be considered canon, Bethesda would have carte blanche to create whatever endgame gauntlets it wants. Ghoul-infested shopping malls? Virtual reality worlds à la Vault 112? Spooky rural mansions? Considering Fallout 3’s Mothership Zeta DLC took players aboard an alien spaceship, not even the sky’s the limit.

None of this is really all that different from Fallout 4’s current endgame, which randomises enemies, locations, and objectives to make infinitely repeatable quests. These ‘radiant quests’ could definitely benefit from being scaled up in the changes they make to existing locations, but the real problem is that there’s really no sense of progression, whether narratively or in the gear you find.

Shooting a Triggerman with a combat shotgun in Fallout 4

A roguelike mode introduces a means for players to create brand-new stories with a fresh cast of playable characters. Separate from the achievements of the main character, but occupying a shared space so you can always step back into the Sole Survivor’s shoes to marvel at how far the Commonwealth has come.

And if anyone at Bethesda is reading this – hey, Todd – then it’s not too late to turn Fallout 5 into a roguelike spinoff. How cool would it be to start out as a fledgling raider and steer your camp to glory?

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Origin Story | The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


What does it mean to be an iconic game? In a world where the term has been overused in the confines of “internet speak” on a plethora of playable experiences that have come (all too quickly) and gone (all too quickly), the word in question has begun to lose a bit of its mythological weight. The mark of a true gaming icon is the ability to exude excellence through its gameplay, immersing its players in a world of possibilities and jaw-dropping creativity. A true icon moves the zeitgeist forward in ways we once thought were impossible.

And, if we were to speak honestly on games that deserve to be categorized and heralded as “iconic,” Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that should always be considered for this title. A franchise known for its genre-defining gameplay, narrative, and everyone’s favorite semi-silent hero, Link, The Legend of Zelda has worked to captivate gamers of various generations for thirty-six years with games featured across Nintendo’s home and handheld consoles alike.

But with three decades worth of familiar dungeons and narrative progression, the late 2010s saw Nintendo taking a bit of a risk with their beloved iconic franchise. Flipping The Legend of Zelda on its head, Nintendo released Breath of the Wild as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch and the Wii U on March 3, 2017.

Implementing an unstructured open-world concept, Nintendo sought to create a nonlinear experience for fans of the iconic franchise, allowing the player to play and beat the game however they liked. The decision was risky, but ultimately paid off—the game was met with overwhelming critical acclaim.

But how did we get here? Why did Nintendo take such a risk with a franchise so beloved by their fans and run the chances of changing it into something unrecognizable? Was there a need to adapt to the ever-evolving trends of the game industry, especially for an icon? Well, allow for us to answer all these questions and more with another installment of Origin Story!

The Conventions of Zelda

Our story begins immediately after the release of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Acclaimed Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma stated that—after fans played, beat, and engaged with Skyward Sword on a critical level—he received an abundance of emails and messages requesting the Zelda team to incorporate more modern mechanics into the franchise. One message in particular that stayed with the producer was a comment from a player saying, “We want to know what happens in the places you can’t go to.”

“I think for people, especially Zelda fans, they have a curiosity to find out what happens in those places where you can’t go, where you’re not supposed to go,” says Aonuma in a 2016 interview with Game Informer. “So we wanted to create a world where you can further that investigation, you can go further and further and continue to search for places where you can’t go.”

Aonuma had taken these comments to heart as he and his team Nintendo EPD—an internal division at Nintendo—began to seriously think about the possibility of transforming the Zelda franchise. As he began to work on 2013’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and the then-untitled Zelda console game, Aonuma felt that these two aforementioned games would be the perfect opportunity to test out new mechanics that could potentially “rethink the conventions of Zelda.”

While hard at work on A Link Between Worlds, EPD decided that they wouldn’t go too far in breaking from the franchise’s conventions but would use the game as means to ease players and themselves into a different kind of Zelda game. Hiromasa Shitaka, director of A Link Between Worlds, loved the idea of unraveling the franchise and looking at it from a fresh perspective that brought everything about the mechanics, gameplay, narrative, and objectives into question.

With this mentally equipped and agreed upon by the entire team, EPD would go forth and introduce first-time mechanics/concepts for the Zelda series with some of them including clearing A Link Between Two Worlds dungeons in any order/way they choose and a system that allows the player to “rent” items to clear dungeons. A Link Between Two Worlds was met with critical acclaim, with both of the new mechanics applauded for fitting seamlessly into the iconic essence of what makes Zelda, well, Zelda.

With Nintendo impressed with the results of changing a bit of Zelda’s identity in A Link Between Two Worlds, Aonuma, along with Hidemaro Fujibayashi—the director of Skyward Sword—set their full attention to the untitled Zelda console game that EPD had only flirted with up until this point in time. The concept of Breath of the Wild was born.

An Icon, Reimagined

Development on Breath of the Wild began around 2011 with a full-fledged dedication to the process ramping up in January 2013. After seeing how positively fans reacted to the changes made to their latest 3DS iteration of Zelda, Aonuma was determined to deliver a console Zelda experience that would challenge the way we all expected from a Zelda game. In a conversation with Kotaku, Aonuma doubled-down on their current philosophy of “rethinking the conventions of Zelda,” arguing that what players have come to expect from the game are not the characteristics that make Zelda the game that we all love. “Our mission is developing this new Zelda game…is quite plainly to rethink the conventions of Zelda. I’m referring to the expectation that the player is supposed to complete dungeons in a certain order,” said Aonuma. “We want to set aside these conventions, get back to basics and create a newborn Zelda so that players can best enjoy the real essence of the franchise.”

Nintendo EPD compiled a list of mechanics and concepts that they could implement into their next console Zelda game, including but not limited to: open-world concept encouraging exploration, the chemistry engine—an engine that would control the elements of objects within the game and how they interact with the world around you, Link’s stamina improved gauge, the player having the ability to “break” weapons and the Master Sword being unlocked as a special “rechargeable” weapon, and, of course, the ability to tackle any dungeon or any objective however you want. Yes, Aonuma and co. wanted to give the player freedom to do what they pleased and experiment in their virtual playground, truly reimagining not only The Legend of Zelda as a franchise but, as a result, what an open-world game could be.

To materialize this version of the iconic franchise, Aonuma and Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi drew inspiration from one of the greatest open-world games of all time: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrimhowever, not in the way that you would expect. In a 2017 interview with Gamespot, Aonuma revealed that looking at Skyrim was a matter of collecting the proper “data and then work and see what worked, what didn’t.”

“In the past, I’ve also actually said that I have played Skyrim, so it’s not necessarily that I don’t play games,” said Aonuma. “But we don’t look at it from, ‘Oh, what kind of things can we take from this game?’ It’s more of like, ‘How can we prepare for this? What should we expect from games like this?’” It was after this assessment that they began to add more people to their team to prepare for the massive challenges they noticed that Bethesda had when creating Skyrim, including inconsistencies across the world map, how to properly implement the open-world concept and do it without, you know, acquiring Bethesda’s signature Easter egg: bugs. After steady studies of Skyrim and what avenues Bethesda took to pull off such a landmark game, Aonuma took what they learned and hit the drawing board hard. It was time to breathe new life into an icon.

When Breath of the Wild was first announced, it would be initially slated for a 2015 release, then a 2016 date, and, finally, pushed to a 2017 estimated arrival date. Being in full gear production since 2013, if Nintendo were going to flip the Legend of Zelda franchise on its head, they would need a bit more time to pull this off. Aonuma wanted to refocus his team and “rethink the conventions” of Zelda but specifically the art direction/character design, graphics, and the “open-air concept” and how players experience the game. These three areas of the Breath of the Wild would prove crucial in delivering a final product that would help redefine the Zelda experience, and Aonuma had the team do it.

The Most Difficult Character Design

With an open-world concept set in place, it was time to decide on the art direction of the brave new game and art director Satoru Takizawa knew they had to deliver, especially for a game of this scale. To capture the timeless essence of the franchise, Takizawa and Aonuma agreed that they needed art that felt familiar yet fresh, and that’s when they agreed on drawing inspiration from old anime that the team used to watch in their youth. Opting to pull inspiration from the power of nostalgia, Takizawa and the rest of the art team agreed to simplify the animation in a way that allowed for the characters to pop; utilizing an array of vibrant colors, simplified designs, and distinctive character expressions, the team wanted to make it easier for the player to engage and remain engaged with the game’s world and its inhabitants. When asked about this specific direction for Breath of the Wild’s artistic direction and anime influence on its graphics, Aonuma made sure to emphasize that there wasn’t one particular anime that they were heavily pulling from but were enamored with the sense of wonder that these throwback animations made them feel. In a conversation with Game Informer, Aonuma said:

“Instead of us trying to build a game that’s like an animation, it was more about functionally in that animation is a process where you kind of chip away at the unnecessary stuff and really return to the more simple and basic colors. And in the same way, we try to do that in which we had to make some of the features of the game very clear, distinct so that it’s visible and clear to the player. So if we put too much detail, too much complexity to the background and the characters, the character or anything that’s going on will start to blend into the background and be hard to see what’s going on. And that’s why we wanted to make it very, pop out and make it very clear that our intent and the focus is very apparent and clear to the user.”

But then the team hit a creative snag. It was no secret that Breath of the Wild had looked significantly different from Zeldas past and the team was very adamant on sticking to these artistic decisions. But when it came to the design of the princess of the same name… well, it wasn’t that simple. Zelda’s design wound up being one of the most complicated development points as the team couldn’t agree on what direction they wanted to interpret Hyrule’s famed princess. The issue was found in the fact that the planning and design teams didn’t agree on how Zelda should make the player feel, and as a result, they were split on how she should look. This disagreement was based on two different approaches that the teams had.

The design team felt that Zelda’s appearance should be based on the notion that “first impressions are everything,” and from the moment players see her for the first time, her design “should make you feel something deep inside.” On the other hand, the planning team felt that they should approach her design from the standpoint of “what kind of person Zelda is.” Planners felt that if players could understand who she is and why she needed to be saved, this would, in return, cause players to have a positive reaction to her when they finally saw her. Both of the teams felt that whichever approach they decided on would ultimately dictate how Zelda would be showcased through her demeanor, personality, and how players responded to her in-game.

They wound up blending both of these approaches as Fujibayashi felt one approach couldn’t exist without the other. “The character that was the most difficult…well, that would be Zelda, by far. The reason behind that, well, it’s sort of obvious… I mean, she’s the heroine,” said Takizawa in an interview with Kotaku. “Until the very end, we were making subtle changes to her gestures, the lighting, the way her eyelashes look, stuff like that. We were saying, ‘No, she looks better this way, no this way’ until the very, very end. So I think that would make Zelda the most memorable, but also the most challenging character, no question about that.”

The “Open-Air Concept”

It’s no secret that the world of Breath of the Wild is enormous. With the ability to scale mountains (and slide off of them in the rain, ugh), drop from the highest peak in the game and ride the winds with your paraglider, and sand-surf what seems like a limitless desert, Breath of the Wild felt like a real-world with a real depth to it. But what isn’t widely known is that Nintendo had been trying to accomplish something along these lines before they ever started production on this game-changer.

This concept that they came up with was known in-house at Nintendo EPD as the “Open-Air Concept,” a truly groundbreaking mechanic for the Zelda franchise that originated back in The Wind Waker; the player would be able to pick a destination, usually a faraway island, and then would be able to travel there through the air or by sea. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of hardware back in the day and a much smaller team, the “Open-Air Concept” was unable to be fully realized during the days of the GameCube. Still, it was kept on ice as Aonuma always “wanted to try to make a massive world in which players could go anywhere someday.”

That “someday” was Breath of the Wild. Fujibayashi and Aonuma enlisted Monolith Soft., known for their extensive work on modern open-world masterpieces in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, to assist in making the “Open-Air Concept” dreams become a reality as they worked to perfect the game’s geographical depth. Before they could really understand what map size they were going for in this new Zelda installment, the teams wondered how massive they could make their world and which size would amount to the most fun. Kyoto-native Fujibayashi felt that Monolith and Nintendo could utilize Kyoto as a foundation on which to base the game’s scale, stating that Kyoto’s geography was perfect for this particular adventure and easiest to pinpoint the direction of the game’s map. The decision to look to the capital of Japan as a world model would also serve as a basis for the game’s litany of shrines, temples, gardens, and overall culture for Breath of the Wild’s stunningly humanistic atmosphere.

The outside help from Monolith and the addition of more members to Breath of the Wild’s production would help push the creativity for the game into untapped territory for a Nintendo game, let alone the Zelda franchise. Unfortunately, as a result, the game’s world grew a hundred times over and became too big for Aonuma to manage. To remedy this issue and to keep track of all the new additions that Monolith and EPD were making, Aonuma felt it would be a great idea to stop production every time they hit a development milestone and celebrate by everyone playing the game together with each playthrough dedicated to exploring the world discovering all of the game’s brand new locations, topography, and other additions.

Mechanics of the Wild

Fujibayashi had also wanted to implement more mechanics to Zelda since the creation of Skyward Sword allowed the player to become more engaged with the environment around them. Mechanics include hunting, cooking, gliding, perfect dodging, and complete freedom in combat. Much like the “Open-Air Concept,” though, these ideas were simply just dreamed until now, of course. To achieve an authentic feeling that the world was alive like our own, Fujibayashi utilized the Nintendo Switch’s software process to bring these mechanics to life, granting the player the ability to fully immerse himself/herself in the open-world of Hyrule.

In a nod to the title’s name, the production felt it would make it harder for players to acquire hearts—a shift in typical Zelda philosophy. Replacing this easy method was the act of hunting as the player would be able to hunt animals and gather fruits/vegetables that they would then be able to cook on an open fire. Through multiple trial and error situations, the player would learn which animals, fruits, and vegetable combinations would give the player the most hearts after being cooked or, at the very least, consumed raw.

Battle was another aspect of Breath of the Wild that was turned up to ten as the technical developers incorporated an immersive combat system that allowed complete player freedom in defeating enemies. Perfect dodge, flurry rush, and riding gusts of wind with your paraglider were introduced as ways to put Link in the best possible situation when engaged in battle and gave the player an option to decide how they vanquish their opponent. You could set the fields of luscious grass ablaze, wait for a gale of wind to begin, hitch a ride with your paraglider over your enemies and then, when they least expect it, plunge your sword upon them. Or you could parry an enemy’s attack, or better yet, you perfect dodge and attack with a flurry of slashes that send that bokoblin to bokoblin heaven. The choice is yours. Through the use of the game’s physics engine, it became possible for every player to essentially create a new experience every time they stepped on the battlefield.

With new experiences also came new music. Sound director Hajime Wakai explained that they stripped away the much-expected themes for this Zelda installment and wanted to try something that felt more authentic to the game’s open-world concept, revolutionary mechanics, and humanistic identity. “From the very beginning, we wanted to focus on those ambient sounds rather than excitement-building music because we knew they’d add authenticity to the environments and scenery,” said Wakai in Nintendo’s The Making of Zelda: Breath of the Wild video. “We felt that this approach would be a better fit for this game.”

The sound team decided to make heavy use of the piano to properly set the tone/mood for this game’s adventure. Although piano had never been used before on any Zelda game, the incorporation of the piano would end up helping recreate the identity of The Legend of Zelda, or at least for this particular installment. To ease players into something familiar, they also decided to make piano Breath of the Wild versions of old classic songs/tunes that fans were accustomed to and incorporated them into . The idea was that the familiar melodies would work as a gentle way of inviting hardcore Zelda fans into some new and fresh while reminding them that this is still Zelda.

The soft, drawn-out ambient keys assist in narrating Link’s travels through the unruly but beautiful paths of the wild, and, as they do, the piano compositions are used to determine what time of day it is, the weather and your geographical location. As an indication of sorts, song tempos in the game would either speed up or slow down the closer you got to morning or night. Music, the game’s geography, and mechanics work in tandem to create such a vibrant open world that replicates the beauty of a real breathing world.


As every component of Breath of the Wild came together, and production finalized, it was time to give Breath of the Wild to the world. On March 3, 2017, a revitalized icon would be unleashed upon the world as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch and one of the last exclusives for the Wii U. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marked a beginning for Nintendo just as much as it did an end, as we stepped into the next generation of Nintendo consoles and game innovation. And Breath of the Wild was the perfect game to make a statement with.

The game that flipped the Zelda franchise on its head was released to critical acclaim for its groundbreaking take on the open-world concept and its ability to reinvent the Zelda franchise without missing a beat. Breath of the Wild would win a ton of Game of the Year awards and, by the end of 2017, players were already citing this installment of Zelda as one of the greatest video games of all time; The Legend of Zelda was still an iconic franchise, and while updating the game for a new generation Nintendo created another iconic installment in the game’s history.

And of course, this wasn’t the last time we would see this take on Link, Zelda, and Hyrule. With the success of Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Switch owners were treated to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a spin-off of Breath of the Wild that utilized Dynasty Warriors-style gameplay. And as a cherry on top, Nintendo announced that they are actively working on the much-anticipated follow-up to the Breath of the Wild in the form of a direct sequel.

Regarding the sequel, Aonuma stated at E3 2021 that Breath of the Wild 2’s setting “has been expanded to include the skis above Hyrule,” which, in an actual full-circle moment, bring us right back to where our idea for Breath of the Wild started: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. While we don’t know what to expect from the sequel of the acclaimed game, we can expect this iconic franchise to keep making classic entries into its catalog and, as long as the creativity and passion for the series’ mythology is there just as we were shown with Breath of the Wild, The Legend of Zelda as a whole will forever remain a gaming icon.

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SnapGene Download (2022 Latest)


SnapGene is the easiest way to plan, visualize, and document your everyday molecular biology procedures. Customize the display of enzyme sites, features, primers, ORFs, DNA colors, and more. The map can be in a circular or linear format.

Take advantage of SnapGene’s efficient data handling to scan large DNA sequences with thousands of annotated features. Make insertions, deletions, replacements, and case changes. When a sequence is copied and pasted, features are automatically transferred. Annotate common features automatically, or annotate novel features manually.

Find common features in your DNA sequence using SnapGene’s extensive database. Additional features of your choosing can be added to a custom database.

It provides elegant, information-rich windows for simulating a variety of common cloning and PCR methods. Highlight unique restriction sites in bold font, or choose the automatically defined Unique Cutters or Unique 6+ Cutters enzyme set.

Use your own primers, or ask the app to design primers automatically. The product file stores the template and primers in its history. Assemble up to eight fragments. Select the fragments to be joined and their orientations, and Snap Gene will design primers.

Use a Sequence view to see at a glance whether two translated features are in the frame. If so, the translations are linked on the same line. If not, the translations are on separate lines. Use the powerful alignment tool to check whether an actual construct matches the simulated construct.

It automatically records operations to create a graphical history, and stores the ancestor constructs in the final file. Use the familiar, secure operating system of your computer to store and organize your Snap Gene files.

Export a sequence to GenBank or FASTA format. Export a map or simulated agarose gel to common image formats. Convert a sequence, map, or gel image to standard formats for use with other software.

The open exchange of information is crucial, so SnapGene and SnapGene Viewer provide options for reading and exporting common file formats.

Note: 30 days trial version. You need to request a free trial license in order to evaluate the SnapGene app.

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You’ll be able to buy FFXIV again later this month


A month after Final Fantasy XIV was pulled from sale thanks to the Endwalker expansion being just too darn popular, the team is finally planning to put one of the best MMOs on PC back on sale on digital storefronts – in less than two weeks, in fact.

Back in December the Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker expansion finally launched to much acclaim, including from ourselves, with many new and returning players flooding in to the venerable MMO to experience it – so many, in fact, that it caused a lot of server authentication errors and increased queue times to a ridiculous degree.

Things got so bad that Square Enix was forced to suspend sales of Final Fantasy XIV altogether – undoubtedly costing the publisher a lot of new customers in the process. Well, finally producer and director Naoki Yoshida has given a date for the MMO’s return to storefronts: January 25, 2022, at 12 AM PST / 3 AM EST / 8 AM GMT / 5 PM JST.

The team also plans to re-open the Oceania Data Center on the same day with five worlds, and Square Enix is waiving the usual server transfer fee as these will be brand new worlds – so as to encourage players to populate them. A “major server expansion” for North American and European servers is also planned for later this year, so hopefully the server problems last month will finally be in hand.

It seems things are back on track with Final Fantasy XIV once again – even the much-delayed Halloween event is being held, albeit several months late. Fingers crossed that nothing else will go wrong.

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