Respawn spaces out 'Apex Legends' content updates to avoid crunch


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Now that Respawn has released its first Apex Legends Battle Pass and is otherwise settling in, it’s outlining how it will handle Apex updates going forward — including what it won’t do. In the lengthy status post, the company’s Drew McCoy stressed that his team would make the battle royale game feel “alive and thriving,” but wasn’t going to pursue updates so aggressively that it required crunch time that could prompt “burnout or worse.” In other words, he’d rather a new feature take longer than jeopardize health or the quality of the output.

The statement is a not-so-subtle allusion to a recent Polygon exposé covering working conditions at Epic Games. Reportedly, Fortnite‘s rapid growth and near-constant updates have led to contractors and permanent employees working 70 to 100 hours per week. Epic claimed these examples are “incredibly rare” and that it wants to “immediately remedy” those situations, but anonymous employees disagreed — they cited examples of staff being fired simply for refusing to work weekends. There’s apparently intense pressure to work as long as possible, and Respawn clearly doesn’t want that mindset to affect its team.

This more measured pace has an effect on Apex. Rather than see a flurry of updates, you’re more likely to see “large, meaningful” releases that have a “lasting impact.” You’ll always get a new Battle Pass, a new character and a new gameplay element, McCoy said, but you won’t see constant tweaks. He also emphasized that the company wasn’t diverting resources from one game to support another. There are “entirely separate” teams for Apex and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, McCoy said, and the studio is “pushing out” future Titanfall games to properly support the Apex crowd.

Respawn is already providing a few clues as to what’s coming next. It’s tackling a problem where servers slow down near the start of a match, not to mention audio glitches and cheaters. You’ll also find out more about season two at EA’s Play event in June, including its new character, a new weapon and changes to the title’s lone Kings Canyon map. There’s plenty in the pipeline, then, even if it won’t come at the same blistering pace as with Fortnite.

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5 ways to enjoy the hell out of Mortal Kombat 11, even when you miserably suck at it

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I know absolutely nothing about what's going on here, except that Johnny Cage is exhausting and Baraka is a sweet baby angel.
I know absolutely nothing about what’s going on here, except that Johnny Cage is exhausting and Baraka is a sweet baby angel.
Image: WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT

I am truly, deeply, unfathomably terrible at Mortal Kombat 11 — but damn if I don’t like shouting “FATALITY!” at the top of my lungs. 

When I received a copy of MK11, I had every intention of respecting it with a full review. The latest installment in a 27-year-long franchise with a history and lore more complicated than the Rosetta Stone, this game is the kind that deserves to be played thoroughly and written about thoughtfully. (Not to mention, early buzz had been very promising and from what few promotional materials I’d seen, the game looked very worth my time.)

Unfortunately, as I’ve said, I suck at MK11 — so much so that after some surprisingly rough rounds in the tutorial setup, I deemed a traditional MK11 playthrough out of the question. Foregoing the traditional storyline, I decided to just mess around, and subsequently had a freakin’ blast. 

Yes, I was reveling in the game’s most surface-level enjoyments, and missing out on its reportedly incredible story. I’ve also heard the game mechanics are a vast improvement on past iterations, but considering I’ve never tried any of those past iterations, I’m missing out there, too. 

But, I didn’t really care.

Maybe I’ll try my hand at the main story again when I’ve got more time and can better tell my right from left (don’t judge me), but for now I’m just enjoying the weird and wonderful ways I’ve decided to tackle the game.

So, if you’re similarly terrible at kombat and looking for ways to enjoy this stunning, gnarly, and surprisingly hilarious game, grab a partner, hit Fight, and buckle up. 

Here are 5 ways to enjoy the absolute hell out of Mortal Kombat 11, even when you miserably suck at Mortal Kombat 11

1. Google fatality codes like your life depends on it 

An astute observation from yours truly: “I like it when their heads go smoosh.” 

Mortal Kombat is a notoriously graphic series, and as best I can tell, MK11 is no exception. From firey dragons splitting your torso in half to a dude slicing off your head, punting it like a soccer ball, and then impaling it with a spear midair, the game’s finishing moves or “fatalities” are gloriously gory — and more than worth hunting down one-by-one.

To get to the fatalities, you’ve got to hit exactly the right combination of buttons right when your opponent is barely hanging on with the right character and from the right range. Otherwise, you’ll get a lame finishing punch, low kick, etc. barely worth winning the match for.

So, you can aimlessly smash your controller and hope things work out — or you can Google the codes! Try these, for starters.

2. Play a terrifying round of body part H-O-R-S-E (Er, K-O-R-S-E?) 

Why not make getting maimed and murdered fun for everyone?

Here are the rules for body part H-O-R-S-E: 

(1) Say the body part of your opponent that your are intending to damage out loud. Example: “I’m gonna rip your jaw off.”
(2) Attack your opponent. If you successfully get the body part you named on the first try, then you don’t get a letter. Alternatively, if you don’t get the body part you named, then you do get a letter.
(3) Your opponent must then attempt to get that same body part on you. If they successfully get it, then they don’t get a letter. If they don’t, then they get a letter.
(4) First one to spell out “HORSE” loses.
(5) No blocking or running away.
(6) No repeating body parts.
(7) Switch up characters frequently for added hilarity and hopelessness. (When you’re bad at MK, doing anything intentionally can feel borderline impossible, but the unintentional is still pretty funny.) 

3. Create elaborate back stories for your meat puppets

Yes, I understand that NetherRealm hired two incredibly talented and award-winning professional video game writers to create a masterful cast of compelling characters, impactful intertwining narratives, and an experience worth $59.99. 

But in my playthrough, Baraka is my pre-pubescent son, whom I am gently guiding through the painful perils of toxic masculinity, normalized violence, and complex dental care in a cruel and uncaring world.

If, like me, you and your friends have no idea what’s going on in the Mortal Kombat realm, then I highly recommend taking insane guesses, or just making stuff up. Sure, it sounds like an assignment for an amateur improv group — but it’s also so freaking fun.

4. Blindfold the other player, try your best to beat them, and see who wins

At a certain point, it’s easy to wonder whether a monkey smashing away at your controller would be better at Mortal Kombat than you are. One could hypothetically answer that question by either (a) getting a monkey, or (b) trying this less involved option. 

Is it an opportunity to test the limits of chance in a controlled environment or an excuse to leave the room while the blindfolded person keeps playing and you raid their fridge? No one knows!

“FINISH YOUR BEER.”

Image: WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT

5. Responsibly douse your MK11 playing experience in booze, snacks, and shouting

Mortal Kombat is a great way to spend a night with friends all on its own, but for anyone (read: adults over the age of 21) looking to up the ante, it can’t hurt to mix some alcohol in with your evening of mindless violence and intense competition. 

I’ll allow you and your tolerance level to determine the best way to implement this, but here is a list of cocktails that begin with the letter “K” for your convenience. 

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Expanded 'Persona 5 Royal' debuts worldwide in 2020


Atlus

If you didn’t get enough of Persona 5‘s mix of JRPG gameplay and Japanese city life, you’re in luck. Atlus has unveiled Persona 5 Royal, an expanded version of the well-received tale. It’ll come to the West in 2020 (the Japanese get to play October 31st of this year) and should flesh out the game in several directions — including, of course, dating.

There’s a more elaborate story that explores the “trials and tribulations” of the cast, with new puzzles, locations and characters (including Kasumi Yoshizawa). You’ll find new activities like darts and snooker. PS4 Pro optimizations are new, too. And if you spend as much time courting people as you do fighting enemies, you’ll be happy to hear that there are new dating spots.

It’s a long time to wait for what’s ultimately an upgraded version of a game that has been available for two years in most parts of the world. With that said, the game was already well-received. It’s hard to complain about more of a good thing, and it might be a good excuse to jump in if you haven’t played the fifth installment.

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'Sea of Thieves' update adds a swashbuckling adventure on April 30th


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Rare has shed new light on just what stories you’ll see in Sea of Thieves‘ anniversary update, and the first one might just scratch the itch if you think the core game is a bit threadbare. A new trailer for the first “Tall Tales” story, “Shores of Gold,” suggests that you’ll experience a fleshed-out story complete with cutscenes, elaborate sequences and puzzles. You’re tasked with tracking down the Shroudbreaker, the key to visiting a mysterious island — and of course, you’ll face dangers ranging from creepy skeletal warriors to booby-trapped chambers.

“Shores of Gold” will join a range of other major changes when the update arrives on April 30th, including a competitive Arena mode, fishing, harpoons and more complicated ship damage. It’s hard to say if the addition of full-fledged story segments will rejuvenate the game after its rough first year. However, it definitely shows that Rare is committed to the game for the long haul — and it certainly adds some variety if you want to do more than sail the seas finding one buried treasure after another.

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'Anthem' update adds a dungeon crawl, but delays Cataclysm


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BioWare has added a string of content to keep Anthem fresh, although there are some omissions that could rankle early fans of the shared-world shooter. The newly available 1.1.0 update adds a new Stronghold (aka dungeon), Sunken Cell, that gives you a new place to explore once you’ve finished the main story. It also eliminates some of the drudgery in the game. You can access the Forge (the crafting station) anywhere in the world, start new missions without returning to home base and access contracts without having to pick them up one by one. You can spend more time actually fighting, to put it another way.

However, it may be what’s missing that matters the most. BioWare has acknowledged that it won’t deliver everything it hoped to add in its Act 1 roadmap, including the Cataclysm event many players were expecting. You now won’t hear more about the major story event until sometime in May. You’ll also have to forego guilds, the mastery system, the second phase of Legendary Missions, weekly Stronghold challenges, leaderboards and some new freeplay events.

The company is quick to acknowledge why it’s pushing features back: it was “talking about things too early.” Some features have missed original targets due to bugs, feedback or “complications,” and BioWare now wants to talk about new features closer to their completion. It also wants to obtain more of that feedback by launching a “Player Feedback Environment” (read: test server) for PC players willing to experiment with new additions. Much like Bungie, BioWare is aware that it needs to adapt and provide a more reliable roadmap for new features — even if that means postponing some features.

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