Dragon Quest Builders 2 Finally Gets A Release Date In The West

Alongside the announcement of Dragon Quest XI for Switch, we also got confirmation for the western release of Dragon Quest Builders 2, which released in Japan late last year. It’s coming to the West on July 12 for both Switch and PS4.

The news was confirmed during Nintendo’s Direct presentation and subsequently on Sony and Square Enix social feeds. Though, for all the news from the Direct presentation, be sure to read our news roundup.

Much like the first game, Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes place in an alternate reality of an existing Dragon Quest game where the main antagonist defeated the heroes and left the world a barren wasteland; this one specifically focuses on Dragon Quest II. You play as a Builder rescued by a mysterious boy who’s tasked with rebuilding the world back to its former glory.

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The sequel sports an array of new features, which includes four-player online and local cooperative play, underwater exploration, an optional first-person view, a dash ability, and more. Owners of the first Dragon Quest Builders also get some nice perks, being able to unlock the ability to craft the original protagonist’s clothes and the Dragon Lord’s throne.

For a closer look at the game, watch the trailer above. Otherwise, if you’re curious about the first Dragon Quest Builders, be sure to read our full review. GameSpot gave it an 8/10, concluding that “the excellence of Dragon Quest Builders illustrates the versatility of this 30-year-old franchise as much as it speaks to the engrossing appeal of Minecraft-inspired creation. The story-advancing draw of quests goes hand-in-hand with the depth of a crafting system that cleverly uses monster drops as some of the game’s building tools. Whether you want to focus on completing assignments or build with no specific purpose, the game is feature-rich enough to suck up untold hours, even if this happens to be your first Dragon Quest experience.”

BioWare Wants To Make More Mass Effect Games

In 2017, following the tepid reception to Mass Effect: Andromeda, a report said that the Mass Effect franchise was put on ice. That may be the case, but now a pair of BioWare higher-ups have spoken about their eagerness to make more Mass Effect games … someday.

Mark Darrah, the executive producer Anthem and the Dragon Age series, told Polygon that BioWare is “definitely not done with Mass Effect.”

He said the Mass Effect universe is ripe with storytelling opportunities. “We could pull on the threads we put down with Andromeda; we could pull on threads from Mass Effect 3. There’s a lot of interesting space to be explored.”

BioWare general manager Casey Hudson is also quoted in the piece. He said the Mass Effect franchise is “very much alive.”

“I’m thinking all the time about things that I think will be great. It’s just a matter of getting back to it as soon as we can,” he said.

BioWare producer Michael Gamble weighed in on Twitter, saying BioWare is “of course” not finished making more Mass Effect games.

Sources told Kotaku in 2017 that BioWare is giving the Mass Effect franchise a rest instead of getting to work right away on another game to follow Andromeda. That title was the first that BioWare Montreal served as lead developer on; the developer previously acted as a support studio for other BioWare projects.

BioWare’s next big game is the multiplayer shooter Anthem, which launches later this month for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The studio is also working on a new Dragon Age game, and the first teaser can be seen here.

Would you like to see more Mass Effect games? Let us know in the comments below!

New PS4 Game Deals Now Live On PSN In The US

On top of Ubisoft’s ongoing PSN sale, a new selection of game deals are now available in the US PlayStation Store. Just as it has on Xbox this week, publisher Take-Two is offering deals on a range of games for PS4, PS3, and Vita–but they’ll only be discounted for a limited time.

On Sony’s current-gen console, players can get both BioShock: The Collection and Borderlands: The Handsome Collection for $15 each. If you have a PSVR headset, you can purchase Borderlands 2 VR for $37.50. The acclaimed strategy game XCOM 2 is down to $15 as well, while its War of the Chosen expansion can be yours for $16.

If sports games are more up your alley, the latest entry in Take-Two’s annual wrestling series, WWE 2K19, is on sale for $19.80. Basketball fans can pick up NBA 2K19 for the same price ($19.80), while NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, a more arcadey take on the sport in the vein of NBA Jam, is down to $15.

On the PS3 side, players can get the individual BioShock and Borderlands games for very cheap; BioShock and BioShock 2 are $4 each (as are Borderlands and its sequel), while BioShock Infinite and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel are $6 apiece. The critically acclaimed military shooter Spec Ops: The Line is down to $6 as well, as is XCOM: Enemy Within.

You can see some other notable deals below; the full list can be found on the PlayStation Store. Much like the aforementioned Ubisoft sale, these deals will only be available until Friday, February 19, so you have until then to take advantage of the offers.

This Week’s PSN Deals

PS4

  • BioShock: The Collection — $15
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection — $15
  • Borderlands 2 VR — $37.50
  • Mafia III — $10
  • NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 — $15
  • NBA 2K19 — $19.80
  • WWE 2K19 — $19.80
  • XCOM 2 — $15
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen — $16

PS3

  • BioShock — $4
  • BioShock 2 — $4
  • BioShock Infinite — $6
  • Borderlands — $4
  • Borderlands 2 — $4
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel — $6
  • The Darkness 2 — $8
  • Duke Nukem Forever — $4
  • Mafia II — $7.50
  • Spec Ops: The Line — $6
  • XCOM: Enemy Within — $6

Activision Explains Why It Broke Up With Bungie

As part of Activision Blizzard’s earnings report today, the company discussed its decision to split off from Bungie on the development of the Destiny franchise. President and Chief Operating Officer Coddy Johnson started off by saying Activision Blizzard is “confident” that it was the right decision for both Activision Blizzard and Bungie to go separate ways. Describing the breakup as a “mutual, amicable” agreement, Johnson said the deal is the “right path forward” for each entity.

“Bungie gets to focus on the [Destiny IP] that they have created and we get to focus on our biggest opportunities on our biggest franchises with our best resources,” Johnson said. “Our decision was reached with mutual agreement with Bungie to sell back the commercial rights. And for us at least, it was rooted in really our strategy overall.”

When Activision Blizzard and Bungie originally signed their 10-year publishing deal for Destiny back in 2010, one key component of the agreement was that Bungie would get to retain ownership of the Destiny IP. By comparison, Activision Blizzard owns the IP for its other major franchises such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. There are a number of benefits to owning an IP, Johnson said.

“We did not own the underlying Destiny IP, and we do for all of our other major franchises, which we think is not just a differentiator for us in the industry,” he said. “But also controlling the underlying IP gives us the chance to move in with new experiences and new engagement models which also come with new revenue streams and, structurally, higher economics when you own the IP.”

Also during the call, Johnson said Activision Blizzard wanted to break up with Bungie because the Destiny franchise was failing to meet its commercial projections. “Destiny is highly critically acclaimed, high quality content, but it was not meeting our financial expectations,” he said.

Specifically, Activision Blizzard said previously that Destiny 2: Forsaken failed to sell up to the company’s expectations, though Bungie asserted that it wasn’t disappointed with the game.

When Activision Blizzard management conducted a financial review for 2019, the company saw signs that indicated Destiny would not be a “material contributor” to the company’s profit. Not only that, but Activision Blizzard assigned some of its own studios, including High Moon Studios and Vicarious Visions, to assist Bungie in developing Destiny content faster.

“[Bungie was] tying up one of our scarcest resources–developer talent,” Johnson said.

While High Moon and Vicarious Visions will continue to work with Bungie on Destiny content for a “transition period,” they will be freed up after this to work on other Activision projects. Earlier today, Activision Blizzard said it plans to increase the number of developers working on games like Call of Duty, Candy Crush, Overwatch, Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Diablo by about 20 percent in aggregate over the course of 2019. It could be that High Moon and Vicarious Visions shift some of their efforts to these projects, but that hasn’t been confirmed at this stage.

Finally, Johnson offered a brief timeline of events that led up to Activision Blizzard parting ways with Bungie and the Destiny series. He said that Activision Blizzard learned in November, after its earnings report, that Bungie wanted to get out of the publishing deal. This deal was done in late-December, Johnson said, before it was ultimately announced in early January.

The bigger Activision Blizzard news today is that the company is cutting around eight percent of its workforce in a layoff round that could affect 800 people or more.

PlayStation Boss Predicts “Post-Console” World

Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios boss Shawn Layden has laid down a ambitious prediction for where he thinks the video game industry could be headed. Speaking to Game Informer, Layden said he foresees some kind of “post-console” world where PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo are more unified than ever. While Layden maintains that PlayStation is the “best gaming experience,” he said Xbox One and Nintendo Switch offer “great experiences” as well, and PlayStation should do more to recognize that.

“I don’t want to put too fine a point on this because it might upset some of the people I work with, but I think effectively, we’re looking at kind of a post-console world where you can have quality gaming experiences across a variety of technologies,” he said. “Sure, PS4 and PS4 Pro provide what, of course, we think is the best gaming experience, but the other consoles out there, be it Switch, Xbox One X, or tablets, or phones–there are great experiences across all these. What we need to do is recognize all that.”

He added: “We’re not little gaming ghettos that are not federated or aligned at all. We’re all part of the same gaming community, we just come at it through different doorways. I think the future will be an extension of that metaphor. Your platform is not your hideaway. It’s just your doorway to all these other gamer folk.”

That’s an intriguing and surprising quote to hear from a PlayStation higher-up given that what Layden is suggesting is just about the opposite of what Sony’s approach has been in recent years. Controversially, the company initially said it wouldn’t allow cross-play between PS4 and other consoles because PlayStation is the best place to play. The company has since relented, and games like Fortnite and Rocket League support cross-play between PS4 and competing consoles.

Layden is not alone in talking about his desire for the walls between consoles to come down. EA’s CEO predicted a future for games where you can play on any device, while the CEO of Red Dead Redemption parent company Take-Two also has spoken about the closed system walls coming down and why that might be good. Pete Hines, an executive at Bethesda, said he wants to see the closed system walls between Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo come down so more people can play together.

“I think you’re going to see platforms get more homogenised,” Hines said. “Because truthfully, there’s really not a reason for [competing consoles] to be different. You don’t buy a DVD and then worry about which DVD player you have. You just buy a DVD and anything that plays DVDs works. And I think games are going to start to move closer and closer to that.”

Also in the interview, Layden talked about how the transition between console generations can be problematic and difficult.

“One of the terrible circumstances of our gaming industry is that every time we launch a new console technology, we sort of put the last generation to bed,” he said. “That doesn’t occur in movies. That doesn’t occur in music, but it occurs all the time in games.”

Sony’s game-streaming service, PlayStation Now, allows PS4 users to play PS3 games, but this is not the kind of true backwards compatibility that Xbox One offers. On PS4, you have to pay to play games through PlayStation Now, while Xbox One’s backwards compatibility feature recognizes the games you owned on Xbox 360 and lets you play them on Xbox One.

Layden also spoke about why Sony is not attending E3 this year. Expanding on what he told GameSpot sister site CNET, Layden said Sony just doesn’t have much to talk about.

“This year, coming to 2019, I’ll be honest–we just didn’t have a new story to tell. And when Sony rings the bell for everyone to come ’round, they have an expectation for something that is completely new and amazing. We looked at the lineup and we can probably only give fans a lot of updates on things they already know, so how does this work for us?”

He added that Sony right now is releasing fewer games than it ever has in its history. “We’re doing fewer games at any given time than any time before in our history. Back in the day, when we were doing 15-20 games at a time; there was always a new game. Something was in a window that we could have that conversation about. But 2019, for us, that confluence just didn’t occur.”

Game Informer’s full interview with Layden is fascinating and in-depth–you can read it here.

We may be hearing more from Layden on the subject of a “post-console” world very soon. Layden will give the keynote address at the DICE Summit this week in Las Vegas. His speech is titled “Beyond Generations,” so you can expect he’ll give some predictions about the future of gaming.

Sony’s Video Game Division Gets A New Boss

Sony has announced a management re-shuffling for its PlayStation business. The massive company announced today that Jim Ryan, the longtime PlayStation executive who most recently served as Deputy President of Sony Interactive Entertainment, will become SIE’s president and CEO. The move is effective April 1, 2019–this is not a joke.

John Kodera, the current president and CEO of SIE, will become Deputy President. In that position he will “dedicate his focus on creating innovative user experiences and further enhancing the network area,” Sony said in a statement.

Ryan, who has worked at Sony for a quarter of a century, will report directly to Sony’s overall president and CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida. PlayStation is big business for Sony. Yoshida said in a statement that Sony’s video game division, which is called Game & Network Services, is now Sony’s overall largest business when it comes to sales and operating income. He also said gaming is a “growth driver” for Sony going forward.

“This industry is relentlessly fast-moving, and to remain the market leader, we must constantly evolve ourselves with a sense of urgency,” Yoshida said. “Based on extensive discussions with John, I have decided to change the management structure of SIE to ensure sustainable evolution of the PlayStation platform and further growth of the network area.”

Yoshida said Kodera, the outgoing SIE CEO, will work towards further expanding PlayStation Network. It is already a massive service; it counts more than 90 million monthly active users globally, Sony said.

As for Ryan, he said it is a “huge honor” to become the president and CEO of SIE. “I’ve seen the PlayStation business grow and change massively since the very early days, and I hope to be able to put that experience to good use in reinforcing the foundations of the Game & Network Service business, and in evolving the entertainment that PlayStation offers to its engaged and passionate community,” he said.

Ryan originally joined Sony in 1994, holding various positions as he climbed the corporate ladder. In 2011, Sony appointed him as the president of SIEE, a position that saw him leading PlayStation’s business endeavours across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Oceania. Prior to his appointment to SIE Deputy President in January 2018, Ryan was SIE’s head of global sales and marketing.

Ryan is known for his candid and sometimes controversial comments in interviews. In 2017, Ryan explained why Sony didn’t at the time allow cross-play by saying doing so could potentially expose children to “external influences” that it could not directly control. Xbox leader Phil Spencer responded by calling out Ryan’s comments as being unhealthy for the video game industry overall.

In other Sony news, the company is skipping E3 this year–and here’s why.

Civilization 6: Gathering Storm Review – The Wind Rises

Civilization VI told a straightforward story of the consequences of your actions. Fail to keep your people happy and they would put down their hammers and raise pitchforks. Be rude to the other leaders and they would soon refuse to deal with you. Beyond that, however, you could go about building your empire mostly unconcerned with any repercussions to your decisions. Last year’s Rise and Fall expansion added some complexity to the tale with the introduction of its Loyalty mechanic. Operating in isolation was no longer possible. Settlements on the fringes of an empire could, if they liked what they saw across the border, decide to rebel. Players who took their citizens’ loyalty for granted would find themselves leading no one.

This kind of accountability is extended in multiple directions with Gathering Storm, the second major expansion for Civ VI. Through the institution of a World Congress, Gathering Storm lets leaders reward and punish each other for certain actions, allow them to pass sweeping resolutions that affect every civilization, and ultimately secure their diplomatic favor. And with its new World Climate system, Gathering Storm makes you accountable to the world itself by hitting you–sometimes painfully hard–with the calamitous consequences of exploiting the map’s rich resources.

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Your path to victory in Civ VI was predictable once you’d established the foundation of your empire by the Modern Era, but the new World Congress and World Climate systems add enough dynamism to keep you working right up to the new Future Era. Gathering Storm encourages you to “play the map,” taking advantage of the surrounding resources, and then adapt the repercussions of your decisions reflected on that map. As an expansion focused on consequences, however, it can take some time for the new stuff to make its presence felt.

The World Climate system is the most meaningful change, but it doesn’t really kick in until you’ve started extracting strategic resources like coal and oil. Early on you’ll encounter floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and endure the odd drought or volcanic eruption. These weather events pass in a couple of turns, potentially reducing your population, injuring units and pillaging improvements, but they can also fertilize tiles to reward you with greater yields in future.

But weather is not climate. Once you start burning coal and oil to fuel both the power plants in your industrial districts and the battleships and tanks that comprise your military force, you start pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As those emissions rise, tallied by the new World Climate report that tracks the cumulative contributions of each civ and resource, the world will progress through up to seven phases of climate change. Sea levels will rise, at first flooding coastal tiles and eventually leaving many of them completely underwater. Weather events will increase in both frequency and severity, simultaneously desiccating your farmlands through drought and ravaging your cities with tornadoes.

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The choices you’re forced to make here are difficult and meaningful. Resources like coal and oil are powerful and refusing to exploit them will cede an immediate advantage to any rival. Through the Industrial and Modern Eras they fuel the most effective units in your navy and army. Do you really want to rely on defending your homeland with frigates while the enemy has ironclads? Further, consumable fuel resources are the first ways you’re able to power your cities. A concept debuting in Gathering Storm, powering a city–say, via a coal power plant–boosts the yields of various districts and buildings. Can you really afford to let your research labs and stock exchanges sit idle while your coal-guzzling neighbor is sprinting ahead in the science race?

Later you’re able to develop methods of harvesting renewable energy resources such as wind and solar farms, but by the time you’re able to deploy them, you may find yourself lagging too far behind a less eco-friendly rival or, worse, suffering the consequences of irreversible damage to the planet. Helping to mitigate such destruction and preserving the natural environment will slow down the effects of climate change. This forces new, perplexing early game decisions. Chopping down that nearby rainforest will give a quick boost to producing a settler, but leaving it untouched may mean future settlers will live to see a world that still has air to breathe. Before Gathering Storm, this wasn’t a choice–you chopped for the short-term gain because there were no long-term consequences. Now, every decision is purposeful. Now, every tile in your empire is asking: “Are you sure you want to do that?”

The World Congress is slightly less successful at providing new and meaningful choices than the World Climate system. What it does, though, is make you far more aware of what other leaders are up to. Once the congress convenes, from the Medieval Era onwards, you’ll find yourself voting on various resolutions every 30 turns. You might be asked to vote on boosting or banning certain types of great people, or whether trade routes to particular civs or city-states should receive bonuses. You don’t just get one vote; instead, you can spend a new form of currency called Diplomatic Favor to vote as many times as you can afford. Favors can also be traded with other leaders, just like any resource, meaning diplomatic players will need to give away valuable luxuries or strategic resources in order to fully exert their influence on the World Congress.

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In theory, these resolutions should enable the diplomatic player to tip the scales in their favor. In practice, though, their effects aren’t transformative. You might get an extra trade route here, a slightly slower Great Engineer there, but nothing that feels game-changing. The randomness doesn’t help–if you could propose a resolution rather than merely voting on the ones that pop up that would provide a better return on the investment.

More compelling are the choices to be made around actually pursuing the new Diplomatic Victory, awarded to the leader who first reaches 10 Diplomatic Victory points. You’re still essentially voting your way to the top, but you’re also competing with other leaders to send the most aid to another civ recently devastated by floods, for instance, or to generate the most great people points to win the Nobel Prize. Diplomatic Favor is also earned via alliances with other civs and becoming the suzerain of a city-state, so the Diplomatic Victory is genuinely a case of demonstrating you can lead the world.

These are the two biggest new features in this add-on, but Gathering Storm also includes countless smaller tweaks that in combination with the above make it an essential purchase for Civ VI fans. There are new World Wonders to build, such as the Great Bath or the University Sankore. There are new Natural Wonders, new military units to fill in the gaps between eras, and nine new leaders, including the series’ first-ever dual-nationality leader (Eleanor of Aquitaine can represent either England or France).

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Thoughtfully, the new leaders are balanced between those that are clearly geared towards Gathering Storm’s prominent additions–Kristina of Sweden is all about winning diplomatic favor while the unique abilities of Kupe, the Maori leader, incentivize leaving untouched as much of the natural world as possible–and those who embrace some previously overlooked facet of the game. In the latter camp, Matthias Corvinus heads a Hungarian empire whose military force is best composed of units levied from allied city-states, while in the Inca, lead by Pachacuti, we finally have a civ that wants lots of mountain tiles throughout its lands.

Gathering Storm is overall a great expansion, ushering in two significant new systems that work hand in hand to deepen the experience. The embellished diplomatic options extend the range of interactions with other leaders, allowing you to work cooperatively towards common goals or pull the strings to your advantage behind the scenes. While the introduction of climate change delivers new strategic choices whose consequences resonate ever-more-loudly as you advance throughout the eras. It isn’t simply more Civ, it’s a whole new way to play Civ.

Watch New Captain Marvel TV Spot, Dumbo Trailer

Disney has been on a trailer spree today. In addition to the new Aladdin trailer that revealed an unsettling look at Will Smith as the Genie, Disney and its subsidiary Marvel released new spots for Captain Marvel and Dumbo today.

The Captain Marvel TV spot, titled “Ready,” shows more of Brie Larson as Carol Danvers and some of the struggles she faces before becoming Captain Marvel. It looks like viewers are in for quite a journey with Captain Marvel. Check out the spot in the video embed above.

The new Dumbo spot is longer, coming in at around 60 seconds. It provides even more close-ups of the impossibly cute, big-eared Dumbo, as well as the best look so far we’ve gotten of Michael Keaton’s villainous character, who recruits Dumbo for one of his new attractions. Dumbo is directed by Tim Burton, who directed Keaton in Beetlejuice back in 1988.

Captain Marvel hits theatres on March 8, with Dumbo following on March 29. It’s a very busy start to the year for Disney, as Avengers: Endgame from Marvel arrives in April, with the new Aladdin coming in May. Star Wars: Episode IX comes out in December, so Disney is poised for another huge year.

Live-Action Aladdin Trailer Reveals Will Smith’s Genie And It’s So Weird

Disney has released a new trailer for its upcoming live-action Aladdin. It’s a fine trailer, complete with colourful city shots and dark, ominous tones, but the real meat of the matter is at the end.

Will Smith’s CG version of the Genie is revealed, and, well, have a look for yourself in the video embed above.

I have questions. Why does Will Smith’s Genie look like a blue Shrek? Also why has the Genie been hitting the gym? Will Smith also plays a live-action version of the Genie, and you can see an image of him here.

Smith previously spoke to EW about the “terrifying” job of playing the Genie. As you may remember, the late Robin Williams portrayed the Genie in the animated classic, and he leaves very big shoes to fill.

“Robin didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone with the character,” Smith said. “[But] I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different. Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete.”

Disney describes the movie as a “thrilling and vibrant” take on Disney’s classic animated film. It’s directed by Guy Ritchie, and the Sherlock Holmes director’s trademark “fast-paced, visceral action” is said to infuse his take on Aladdin.

Mena Massoud plays Aladdin, while Naomi Scott portrays Jasmine. Marwan Kenzari plays Jafar and Navid Negahban plays the Sultan. Alan Menken, who worked on the music for the original Aladdin, is back again and contributing “recordings of the original songs” from the first film. In addition to new versions of the classics, Menken and award-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote two new tunes for the film.

The new Aladdin hits theatres this May. The studio that made Sharknado, Transmorphers, and Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies is making its own Aladdin.