BioShock Creator Ken Levine Not Involved With New Game

Ken Levine created one of the most memorable and beloved video game franchises with BioShock. As the series moves on with a new studio, Cloud Chamber, Levine is stepping away from the series he created, it seems. Cloud Chamber’s boss Kelley Gilmore tells GameSpot that Levine is “not involved” with the new BioShock title; instead, he is focused on his own studio and projects.

“Ken has his new company called Ghost Story Games. From what I understand, they’re pretty immersed in creating whatever great thing they’re working on, which we all know something will come out of there that’s amazing as usual,” Gilmore said. “So he’s involved with that and he’s not involved with this project.”

It’s unclear if Levine was already aware of the new BioShock game’s development, of if he will eventually contribute to the project in any unofficial capacity. GameSpot has contacted Levine for comment.

While Levine may not be involved with the new BioShock game, Cloud Chamber has recruited a number of BioShock veterans for the project, including Shawn Elliot, Hogarth de la Plante, Scott Sinclair, and Jonathan Pelling. Additionally, Cloud Chamber has hired developers who worked on the Assassin’s Creed, Star Wars, and Call of Duty franchises.

Levine’s new studio, Ghost Story–which is owned by 2K’s parent company Take-Two–is focused on developing narrative-driven gaming experiences. Little is known about what the studio is making, but in October a job posting described it as a “creatively ambitious project in the immersive sim genre,” which is something that Levine, and no doubt others on the team, have experience with.

Don’t expect to be playing the new BioShock game soon, as it is still years away from release. For lots more, check out GameSpot’s extended interview with Gilmore about the new BioShock and starting the new studio.

Oculus Quest’s Surprise Update Has Added Hand Tracking

Oculus Quest has received a surprise update that has added a feature that was not expected until 2020. The Quest is now capable of hand tracking as of update v12, which will allow you to handle applications and eventually games without the need for controllers–instead it’ll follow the movement of your hands.

The Oculus Quest, which does not require a powerful PC to run, is now capable of some more advanced VR immersion. A video in the tweet that announced the new hand tracking update showing off how you can easily control a video playing in VR without a controller now–all you need to do is turn on hand tracking in the Experimental Features menu.

In an announcement post on the Oculus Blog, Oculus has also promised a new developer SDK, so that this technology can move beyond the first-party apps that currently make use of the new function. This will allow developers to modify their games for hand tracked controls. “We’ll continue to add new features and functionality to improve the experience of hand tracking on Quest in 2020,” the post promises.

“We hope hand tracking will make VR more approachable for newcomers to try by removing the need to learn controller functions. And for those who own Quest, when the hardware melts away you can be fully immersed in the magic of VR while connecting with others in a seamless, intuitive way.”

This makes the Oculus Quest the first commercial VR headset with native hand tracking on the market. Hopefully developers will find interesting ways to use this in their games in 2020.

The Game Awards 2019–Geoff Keighley Rejects “Conflict On Interest” Claims Over Death Stranding Cameo

In preparation for The Game Awards later this week, host Geoff Keighley has hosted a Reddit AMA about the show and what viewers can expect. While most questions were fairly straightforward, one prompted a longer response from Keighley: “do you feel that it’s a conflict of interest that you’re the producer of the event and in one of the games nominated for a good number of awards?”

This question is in reference to Death Stranding, the new game from Hideo Kojima’s studio, Kojima Productions. Keighley has discussed his friendship with Kojima on numerous occasions, and appears in Death Stranding as one of several celebrity cameos. In his response, Keighley promises that there is no conflict of interest to speak of, and gets into the specifics of the voting process.

“More than anything, the integrity of the show and the awards is the most important thing of all,” Keighley says. “I don’t vote on the nominees or winners–that’s done by a jury of 80 global media outlets that we list on the website. That process isn’t the result of me having a cameo in a game, but also because I work with developers on world premieres, announcements, sponsorships, and other aspects of the show. I want the jury to be ‘blind’ to all those other aspects.”

He notes that while he is friends with several people within the industry, there are others who also hold him personally responsible when their games don’t win. “If I’m being honest it can sometimes be pretty lonely trying to keep everyone happy,” he says. “But I just have to stay true to the rules and voting and hope that, if I want to build something that stands the test of time, I act as ethically and fairly as I can.”

Keighley notes that his appearance in Death Stranding was recorded in 2017, for a promotional piece that was not used, and Kojima later asked if the motion capture could be used in-game. He did not do the voice acting for his character–that was performed by Matt Mercer. “I certainly get the concern,” he concedes. “As producer of the show I’m inevitably going to have relationships with people in the industry. That’s what allows me to do the show in the first place. The producers of the Oscars, for instance, are often (or almost always) people who produce movies. I don’t make games, don’t invest in games or own game stock. All I can do is be transparent about those relationships and make sure the voting is separate.”

The Game Awards airs December 12 at 8:30 PM ET. You can still vote for your favorite games to win before the show.

Zelda Sequel Behind-The-Scenes Shots And Nintendo Concept Art Shown Off

Nintendo’s Japanese designer recruitment site has shared some interesting concept art and insight into how the trailer to the upcoming Breath of the Wild sequel came together. The site, spotted by VGC, explains Nintendo’s expectations from designers and artists, showing off some of the work that has gone into their most popular recent games and characters. It’s not just valuable for potential designers, though, as the page also features some great concept art.

The page includes some concept art for Isabelle, the mayor’s assistant from Animal Crossing: New Leaf who proved so popular that she became a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It shows several iterations the character went through before her look was settled on. It says that they wanted a character who as many people as possible would grow attached to.

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There are also various pieces of Splatoon 2 stage and character design throughout the page, showing off the different models and the colorful designs of the game’s levels. There’s no major revelations here, but it’s interesting how the stage art captures the general vibe of the game well.

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Much of the page is focused on the work that went into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, including the reveal of the game’s sequel. The first image below shows how a mix of motion capture and Maya software was used to map Link’s movements in the trailer, which is embedded above. It’s a small but welcome insight into the process involved. The other images from the original Breath of the Wild below are a mix of storyboards for the game’s iconic opening scene of Link running to the clifftop and environmental design examples.

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The Breath of the Wild sequel is happening because Nintendo had too many ideas for DLC. A release date has not been announced, but it will be exclusive to Nintendo Switch.

The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance Tactics–Release Date Announced In New Trailer

The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance Tactics was first announced during Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct, and now it finally has a release date. The turn-based strategy spin-off from the recent Netflix TV series (itself a sequel to the 1982 film) will release for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC on February 4, 2020.

This news comes via the game’s official Twitter account, which also debuted a new short trailer for the game. The trailer can also be watched on YouTube.

According to the game’s Steam page, it will feature over 50 battles and 15 playable characters, which will be a mix of characters from the original film and some from the more recent series. You’ll be able to equip your characters with gear and the game will feature changing, dynamic environments that can help or hinder your strategies.

The Netflix series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, received a 9/10 in our review. Reviewer Chris E. Hayner said that the show “should hook you in with its fantastical storytelling and incredible world.”

Watch Loadout Episode 1: Why Is The Revolver So Iconic?

Whether it’s video games, movies, or TV shows, entertainment is filled with iconic tools of warfare, and much of the stories we love are defined by them; the Pulse Rifle is synonymous with the Aliens franchise; the Man With No Name’s mystique and effortless cool is heightened by the revolver he whips out in the squint of an eye; and the sound of a bullet from the Intervention hitting an enemy immediately conjures up Call of Duty-flavoured nostalgia.

These weapons are the focus of Loadout, a new show that will identify some of pop culture’s most influential armaments and explore them in-depth. Each week, host Dave Jewitt will tackle a different weapon, delve into its origins, examine how it has been used, and lay out the impact it has had on pop culture.

In Episode 1, Loadout takes hold of the revolver, a legendary weapon that has been present from the earliest days of cinema to the current era of video games. Why is it so popular? Watch Episode 1 of Loadout to find out. New episodes will air every Saturday and you can find them on GameSpot’s YouTube channel–make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Episode 1: Revolvers

Black Widow Poster, WandaVision, And Falcon & Winter Solder Images Revealed At Brazil Comic-Con

If you were one of the people that attended Comic-Con Experience in Brazil on December 7, and you happened to be at the Marvel panel, then you were probably pretty confused as to why the studio only used half of its allotted time before ending the event out of nowhere–especially with Black Widow coming out in May and plenty of Disney+ shows on the horizon.

While only going for 30 of the 60 minutes scheduled for the panel, Marvel Studios did reveal some images for upcoming Disney+ shows, as well as this new poster for Black Widow, which you can see below.

Black Widow movie poster
Black Widow movie poster

On December 4, we got a look at the first trailer for Black Widow and now this gorgeous poster. According to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, this movie will set up the future of the MCU, while exploring more of the character’s past. While the poster says the movie will arrive on April 30–which is a Thursday, so there will be late-night showings–it’s scheduled to release in the United States on May 1, 2020.

The Eternals

Those in attendance got to see the first footage of the upcoming MCU movie The Eternals as well. Feige explained this movie will change the MCU in Phase 4 and take place over the course of 7,000 years. However, those who weren’t at the show didn’t get to see the footage, and it won’t be shown elsewhere until later down the road.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier

Images from The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and WandaVision–two Disney+ series launching soon–did make their way onto the internet. And Falcon and Winter Soldier images look like the titular characters just hanging out.

The Falcon and Winter Soldier will arrive in Fall 2020, and the series stars Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.

WandaVision

There was also one image revealed for WandaVision, and it is a bit of a trip. We already knew this was going to be a weird show, but check the image out for yourself.

It’s still early on in the production process for WandaVision, but it looks like the show jumped into a 1950s sitcom. WandaVision will star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, Paul Bettany as Vision, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo, Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, and Kathryn Hahn as “the noisy neighbor.” WandaVision isn’t expected to arrive to Disney+ until Spring 2021.

New Trailer For Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy Is About A Video Game NPC

While playing games like GTA V, have you ever wondered what the typical NPC does during the course of its day, amidst the explosions, gunfire, and people driving recklessly? The upcoming July movie Free Guy explores just that. Check out the first trailer for the movie below.

Starring Ryan Reynolds as “Guy,” a bank teller grows tired with his day-to-day life, constantly getting robbed, so he decides to fight back. Very quickly, he realizes he’s actually an NPC in a game, and from there, everything goes off the rails.

Free Guy also stars Lil Rel Howery, Taika Waititi, Jodie Comer, and Britne Oldford. The movie is directed by Shawn Levy, who you may know from his work on the Night at the Museum films, along with a few episodes of Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Free Guy arrives in theaters on July 3, 2020.

Audica Review – Electronic Gun Music

Before it made games that just dropped the pretense altogether and used plastic instruments, Harmonix was already the master at turning your average, run-of-the-mill controller into an instrument of musical chaos in Frequency and Amplitude. That same ethos is the engine driving Audica, which seeks to do the same for VR motion controllers. It’s a game with a killer idea, but the execution is just short of the mark.

At its core, Audica is a VR shooting gallery that makes music. In a world where stylishly slicing boxes with lightsabers is the current gold standard for rhythm games, stylishly making music with blasters was pretty much the logical–even welcome–next step on paper. Your instruments are two neon laser tag guns. Colored targets fly toward you to line up with a circle on a specific beat in a song, and your job is to shoot that target on the beat with the correct colored gun for the maximum amount of points. The game does throw curveballs at you–some targets require you to hold your gun sideways, for example. But, by and large, Audica’s premise is simple: make music with laser pistols. Despite this simplicity, though, making beats with bullets feels great in Audica.

Your lasers feel appropriately futuristic; by default, they’re cool, reflective cannons with mirrored blades attached to the barrel that convey a sense of power. That feeling of power is all the more pronounced once you start firing away at targets and get in sync with the ebb and flow of a song’s note pattern. Every successful hit generates a slick, track-specific “thwap!” that punctuates every note.

Screenshots were provided by the publisher
Screenshots were provided by the publisher
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If, for whatever reason, the default sound on a track doesn’t work for you, you do get the option to customize the effect. That same level of customization carries over to the calibration options, with some extremely user-friendly settings to account for your sense of rhythm or lack thereof. That’s even more crucial in virtual reality, and Audica aces it, weaving the calibration tools in with the beat and targeting tutorials rather elegantly before you even start the game proper. Even with the calibration, the game is extremely forgiving when it comes to perfectly hitting a target dead center, though perfect aim does help achieve the best possible scores on a song. Still, just jumping into a track and firing at will is a blast because Audica is so approachable.

Audica’s big, pervasive caveat, however, is that you better like fast-paced, thumping EDM from the last five years, because there’s really nothing else in the game. Constricting the pool of music causes all of the tracks to bleed together after long sessions. The DLC helps, bringing some bigger star power and at least some element of chill to the soundtrack with songs like Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Billie Eilish’s “bad guy,” but these are also some of the trickiest songs in the game, even at lower difficulties. More than anything, those tracks are a perfect showcase of how versatile the note charting and game design can be given a bigger musical palette to work from, and highlight just how much less of that creativity gets a spotlight in the main tracklist.

Also, even by rhythm game standards, Audica is too tricky for its own good. Far too often, notes are there to taunt, trip up, and challenge instead of letting you revel in the music being played. Audica’s challenges often come from deliberately destroying your groove, creating off moments that don’t feel like you’re supposed to get in sync with the music being created by your shots and swipes. It feels like trying to win a dance competition, and every few seconds, someone tosses an orange at your head.

In this case, that orange can take the form of frequent errant notes, targets outside your field of view, or modifiers that you can’t turn off, many of which ask the unnatural–a certain modifier that requires you move your arms an arbitrary amount during the song is probably the most egregious of them. On Advanced and Expert modes, you still get a wide berth to hit the targets anywhere, but it doesn’t matter if those targets appear off the beat and ask more of you than responding to the rhythm. When the game isn’t getting in its own way–and the note patterns are complex, but follow a certain rhythmic logic–it does feel empowering, like you’re in a breezy, futuristic version of Baby Driver. In particular, tracks like KD/A’s “Pop Stars” that flit back and forth between poppy melodies and impactful hip-hop line deliveries lend themselves extremely well to punctuating every note with a pull of the trigger. But this isn’t sustained across all of Audica’s tracks. Obstacles are far too arbitrary too often for that.

Mostly, though, you just can’t help but get the feeling of playing a grand experiment, and it’s a shame that Audica doesn’t land as well as Harmonix’s other rhythm games. There’s a lot that’s simply, innately cool about Audica’s concept, the very idea of using weapons to make music, but once you reach a certain level of proficiency, the enjoyment dries up faster than it should.