Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The annual MINECON kicked off on Saturday morning, celebrating all things Minecraft. As one would expect, viewers of the MINECON Earth livestream were treated to details about the world-builder's next update. And for that update, everyone's going under the sea.

Titled 'The Update Aquatic,' Minecraft's next update is being touted as the game's biggest one to date. Most of the focus will go into the game's oceans, adding new fish types, dolphins, coral, explorable shipwrecks, and also some new water physics to go along with all of it. The trident weapon is being added for underwater defense, along with new enchantments, such as the Loyalty enchantment that ties the weapon to its user, allowing anyone to call their weapon, like Thor with Mjolnir. The Update Aquatic is coming soon.

The Minecraft website has more details on everything revealed at MINECON. This includes 2018 delays for the Super Duper Graphics pack and the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Want to watch the whole MINECON Earth 2017 livestream? Check out the presentation in its entirety below.

Shacknews - Asif Khan

Welcome to the new Shackcast, the official Shacknews podcast of Shacknews. On the twelfth episode of the Shackcast, the gang talks about Star Wars Battlefront 2 microtransactions problem, Rocket League on Switch, GameStop's stock, The Game Awards nominations, and more with your host Asif Khan, co-host David Craddock and special guest Lola the Pom. Tune in to hear us jibber jabber about games, fast food, and having too many damn games.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Listen on iTunes Podcast App

Tune in on Google Play

Now on Stitcher

Special thanks to Bombay Sitar for their unofficial and unpaid sponsorships of this episode of the Shackcast.

Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

This past week has been eventful for players fond of role-playing games: not only has Skyrim finally landed on the Switch as well as PlayStation VR, portable-oriented players have also just today been treated to the likes of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. These two titles follow their forebears only by one year — one day less than a year, in fact — and though many would argue that's too soon to be releasing an enhanced version of a game, the truth is that they're perfect send-offs for a series soon to migrate to the Nintendo Switch.

Not all things are about Nintendo, of course, though we do understand feeling that way sometimes. This week we've also found some news regarding the mobile versions of the world's most popular soccer game franchises as well as an exciting new gameplay trailer for thatgamecompany's upcoming iOS- and tvOS-exclusive title. This critical information and only the barest of references to medieval weaponry await in the Modojo Rewind.

Of Catching And Training

Being mobile and portable-minded gamers ourselves, the biggest news this week concerned the recent release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. We were able to get our initial impressions of the games out early, and after experiencing all the sights and charms that the region of Alola has to offer, we are proud to offer our official review of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

In a related note, Pokemon Go players were given some good news this week when the development team at Niantic assured fans that support for Pokemon Go won't be taking a hit by the work being done on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. That's not to say that they don't need more help, of course, just that they're "100% committed" to the continuing support of the AR-based hit.

Nintendo Switch Roundup

For Switch players, the big news this week was the inevitable release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Nintendo's hardware. Nintendo and Bethesda both made a big showing of the game running on a Switch before the hybrid console had even released, and after months of waiting, it's finally arrived. And, naturally, we dove head-first into Skyrim on the Switch in our review.

One of the big questions regarding Bethesda's breakaway hit RPG on the Switch was how many corners would need to be cut in order to get the title working on the system. Would graphics and gameplay be finely-balanced like an oak-shafted halberd, or would the power needed by an open-world RPG lead to a clumsy bludgeoning of the game's biggest features? As it turns out, Skyrim performance comparisons between the Switch and other consoles have been undertaken, and the results are fairly surprising.

Oh, and speaking of Switch game features — a new patch for Stardew Valley on the Switch has been submitted to Nintendo pending approval, and among the features is support for video capture, which could make Stardew Valley the first third-party Switch game to support the feature.

Mobile Kickoff

Soccer is one of the biggest sports on the planet, and any football fans who have played FIFA or PES know how addictive they can be. This undoubtedly meant that FIFA and PES would make their way to mobile devices, and now both franchises are ready to long pass into the new year. FIFA Mobile has introduced an all-new season alongside a newly-added campaign mode, and PES 2018 Mobile has been released providing players access to new Legendary athletes like David Beckham and the just-added ability to play with friends.

As for those who like their games a little less technical, Catan Studio has released a new text-based adventure game for mobile devices set in the Catan canon, which is interesting to say the least. Also, thatgamecompany has taken part in a new six-minute video that dives into everything there is to know about Sky, the upcoming Journey-esque iOS and tvOS title that was unveiled earlier this year at Steve Jobs Theater.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

It's not quite Black Friday yet, but that's not stopping the console shops from offering up some of the best deals of the year. Both PlayStation and Xbox are putting forth some outstanding pre-Black Friday deals. The catch is that they're only for Xbox LIVE Gold and PlayStation Plus members, so if you're already paying for those services, why not give these deals a look?

Also, it should be noted that there's a free Overwatch weekend going on right now. So jump right on in and consider picking the game up while it's on sale.

Here's our selection of this weekend's console deals:

Xbox One

The following games are a part of Xbox One Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

The following deals are available to all Xbox One users.

PlayStation 4

The following deals are available to all users. PlayStation Plus members may be eligible for additional discounts.

  • PlayStation is gearing up for Black Friday. Come back next week for the full list of PS4 Black Friday deals. PlayStation Plus members, however, should keep reading below.

The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Wii U

Xbox 360

The following games are a part of Xbox 360 Games with Gold/Deals with Gold. An Xbox Live Gold Subscription is required to receive these discounts.

The following deals are available to all Xbox 360 users.

  • Come back next week for more Xbox 360 deals.

PlayStation 3

The following deals are available to all users. PlayStation Plus members may be eligible for additional discounts.

  • PlayStation is gearing up for Black Friday. Come back next week for the full list of PS3 Black Friday deals.

The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

Nintendo 3DS

PlayStation Vita

The following deals are available to all users. PlayStation Plus members may be eligible for additional discounts.

  • PlayStation is gearing up for Black Friday. Come back next week for the full list of PS Vita Black Friday deals.

The following deals are available only to PlayStation Plus members.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Earlier on Friday, Shacknews spotlighted this weekend's Rainbow Six Siege: Pro League Season 3 Finals. With this being such a big weekend for Ubisoft's tactical shooter, of course there's going to be a free weekend. On top of that, the game is on sale for the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, the Humble Store has kicked off its Fall Sale, GOG.com is offering up the Double Fine catalog, and GamersGate is getting the ball rolling on Black Friday just a little bit early. Check out the full list of deals below.

Here's our selection of this weekend's PC deals:

Amazon

Direct2Drive

Fanatical (Formerly Known As Bundle Stars)

Pay $3.49 for Carmageddon: Max Damage, Punch Club Deluxe Edition, System Shock: Enhanced Edition, Guts and Glory, Serial Cleaner, Final Exam, Monochroma, and Sudden Strike Gold. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $13.59 for Batman: Arkham Knight and all of its DLC. These activate on Steam.

Or pay $4.99 for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and all of its DLC. These activate on Steam.

GamersGate

GOG.com

Green Man Gaming

Humble Bundle

Pay $30 or more for Starbound, Darkest Dungeon, Minecraft: Story Mode, Stardew Valley, Move or Die, Duck Game, Her Story, She Rememered Caterpillars, Stronghold Legends: Steam Edition, DreadOut, Pony Island, Mighty No. 9, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Arma: Gold Edition, Grey Goo, Sorcerer King: Rivals, Shadowrun Returns, Kholat, Primal Carnage: Extinction, Lakeview Cabin Collection, The Park, Magicka, Machinarium Collector's Edition, Jump Stars, Fearless Fantasy, No Time to Explain Remastered, and Psychonauts. Some of these games are only available in limited supply, so get them while they last. These activate on Steam.

Or pay what you want for Rebuild 2: Gangs of Deadsville, SimplePlanes, and Out of the Park Baseball 18. Pay more than the average $6.25 or more to get Mad Games Tycoon, Plague Inc.: Evolved, and Train Simulator 2017. Pay $10 or more to also get Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition. These activate on Steam.

Origin

  • Plants vs. Zombies GOTY Edition - Free!

UPlay Shop

  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege Complete Edition - $44.99 (50% off) (Base game and season passes also on sale.)

Steam

As well as regular discounts, Steam has a couple of additional weekend deals.

Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have descended upon players, providing a fresh take on all of the Alola region action that 3DS owners first sampled when the original Sun and Moon titles released in November of last year. And though one year isn't much time in the grand scheme of things, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon promise a few specific changes to plot, features, and available creatures that not only make them an interesting purchase for those who played and enjoyed the original titles, but also an especially attractive option for those who haven't yet jumped in on the Sun and Moon action.

As someone who missed the initial buzz surrounding Pokemon's earliest releases, I'm in a unique position when it comes to reviewing Ultra Sun — while I'm more than familiar with the overall gameplay recipe, I don't know much about Pokemon lore, largely thanks to my inexperience with earlier generations of the game and only the briefest overview of the series' ever-expanding catalog of the different pocket monsters featured so far. As such, and in opposition to Brittany's much more experienced impressions of Ultra Sun and Moon, I dove into Ultra Sun with only the barest hint of what I was getting into. And it must be said, I've been pleasantly surprised by what I've found.

Two Shining Stars

By far the most notable feature about Pokemon Ultra Sun is its presentation. This is a second take on what was already a very modern release from a very high-profile development team, and as such, the polish on display is considerable. The realm of Alola is bright, colorful, and cheery, with a graphical style that's reminiscent of classic PS2-era RPG titles; and, like with many games from that time, Ultra Sun's camera sways around the 3D environments dynamically depending on where players move, providing a sort of cinematic feel that we've largely forgotten about in an era where camera control is typically put into the hands of the player.

All of the environments, from grassy fields to populated island cities, feel alive thanks to loads of available NPCs and unmarked areas that allow for brief glimpses of scenic vistas. This is a very pretty game, and that visual allure is present in everything from glowing distant skylines to the in-game menu, which has been revamped to provide even more style and flair when compared to the base games. This level of polish is even noticeable during casual conversations with other characters, events that are typically a banal affair, largely thanks to the game's fluid camera work and crisp art style.

On Timeless Gameplay

The Pokemon series has been met with critical acclaim not just for presentation, since constantly-evolving technology provides for ever-increasing audiovisual fidelity, but also for the series' immaculately-tuned gameplay. Like in just about every other Pokemon game, Ultra Sun and Moon drop players into the shoes of a nameless trainer-to-be with the overt goal of capturing, battling, and caring for adorable little pocket monsters. And though that recipe has remained largely unchanged since around 1996, Game Freak has once again managed to capture the magic that made the Pokemon series such a hit to begin with.

From the outset, players will be tasked with exploring their new home, only to stumble directly into the Alola region's deeply-entrenched fascination with Pokemon. After choosing from one of three available starter Pokemon, the world begins to open up with seemingly-countless opportunities to battle against trainers and rummage through the foliage in an effort to seek out rare and powerful new creatures to add to the Pokedex.

As for actual Pokemon, Ultra Sun and Moon feature the same available roster of creatures from the base versions of the games, including the then-new additions of creatures like Lurantis, Bewear, Comfey, and others, as well as Alolan forms of previous-generation creatures like Rattata, Diglett, Meowth, and Golem, among others. The Ultra versions of the games also toss in a few new exclusive Legendary creatures the likes of which we won't spoil here, but suffice to say there's plenty of content for dedicated players that never quite manage to shake their catch-'em-all mindset.

More Than The Sum Of Their Parts

Even for those who haven't experienced Pokemon fever first-hand, Ultra Sun and Moon still manage to convey the sense that they was lovingly-crafted for a highly-dedicated demographic. Everything from the availability of Z-Moves to the Pokemon Snap-esque photo function serves as a reminder that Ultra Sun is just as much for experienced players as it is for series newcomers, and additions like the ability to groom and heal Pokemon after battles presents a subtle touch that provides both utility to the player as well as a way to feel a deeper connection to the game's numerous pocket-sized companions.

t's really hard not to love Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. While I can't rightly say they're everything that a die-hard Pokemon fan wants, they're very clearly games that rank among the most-polished and most-appealing titles available on the Nintendo 3DS hardware. The attention to detail is so thorough that it's easy to forget these are products designed by a team; oftentimes in my journey through Ultra Sun, the form of the game itself seemed to fade away, leaving me willfully drawn into a living, breathing world filled to the brim with creatures, battles, and pleasant surprises. That's a rare feeling even in the hyper-realistic world of modern console and PC gaming; to find such an experience for handheld hardware is nothing short of astonishing.


This review is based on the Nintendo 3DS releases. The game keys were provided by the publisher. Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are available for purchase now for $39.99 each.

Shacknews - Chris Jarrard

PC gaming is bigger than ever and the tech that powers it continues to get smaller and more efficient. While the premium PC gaming experience used to be confined to the desktop, advances in CPU and GPU technology allow you to get the same performance from a gaming laptop. Black Friday 2017 is bringing some hot deals on the most popular gaming laptops from the big names like ASUS, Alienware, and MSI.

The Best Black Friday 2017 Deals on Gaming Laptops

Late last year, Nvidia introduced its Pascal line of graphics chips to the market, bringing an unseen level of performance that produced less heat and required less energy than the previous generations of graphics cards. Heat and power consumption are the biggest enemies of progress in the gaming laptop arena, so the new Pascal GPUs are the perfect fit for lightweight, efficient gaming on the go.


Amazon:

While Amazon still hasn't yet provided buyers with a list of their Black Friday deals, we do expect that the online retailer will be offering up many of the items listed at other stores at discounted prices. Amazon is famous for its Black Friday Lightning Deals that offer insane savings in small time windows. Most of these deals are not announced beforehand, so you’ll want to check in regularly during the day for a chance to grab the hottest deals on gaming laptops.

MSI GL62M 15.6 inch Laptop with GTX 1050 Ti - $949.99Acer Nitro 5 15.6 inch laptop with GTX 1050 Ti - $729.99ASUS ROG Strix 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1070 and 120 Hz G-Sync - $1648.00ASUS ROG Zephyrus 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1080 and 512GB SSD - $2699.00Acer Predator Helios 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 and 256GB SSD - $1049.99


Best Buy:

ASUS GL702VM 17.3 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 and 128GB SSD - $1099.99ASUS ROG GL502VM 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 and 12GB ram - $1099.99MSI Phantom Pro 14 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 and 128GB SSD - $1399.99Alienware R4 17.3 Inch Laptop with GTX 1080 and 256GB SSD - $2499.99


NewEgg:

ASUS FX 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 and 128GB SSD - $1198.00Dell 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 3GB and 8GB ram - $899.99ASUS ROG GL502VM 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 6GB and 128GB SSD - $1199.99Lenovo Legion 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1060 and 128GB SSD - $1349.99ASUS ROG Strix 15.6 Inch Laptop with GTX 1070 G-SYNC and 256GB SSD - $1499.99


To stay on top of the latest deals, keep checking back on this guide — we'll continue adding the latest Gaming Laptop deals in the days leading up to Black Friday this November 24.

Also, we've got several more guides to keep players updated on other great Black Friday deals, including the best Black Friday discounts on the Nintendo 3DS XL, 2DS, and 3DS games, as well as our hot guide to the biggest Black Friday discounts on PlayStation VR. And, for all of the players of a mobile persuasion, we've got an extensive list of the best Black Friday sales on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple accessories.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

It's a special week for the folks at Daybreak Games. The battle for the continent of Auraxis has officially raged on for five years, with control going back and forth across its three most powerful factions. Whlie the armed conflict isn't taking a break anytime soon, Daybreak would like to celebrate the dedicated soldiers of PlanetSide 2 on this fifth anniversary of the game's release.

A Double XP week kicked off on Friday morning and will last all the way through the end of next Friday, November 24 at 11:59PM PT. In addition to that, there are plans in place for the official fifth anniversary date of Monday, November 20. PS2 players can pick up a special Fifth Anniversary Decal for free. Special Fifth Anniversary Bundles will also be made available in the depot on that same date across Initiate's, Soldier's, and Commander's tiers. The bundle's contents can be found on the PlanetSide 2 website.

More details on how Daybreak is celebrating PlanetSide 2's five years can be found on the PS2 update post. Shacknews salutes PlanetSide 2, as well as our Chatty community's own Giant Communist Robots squad. We've tossed in a video below spotlighting one of the old weekly Shackbattles. And this being Chatty, it can get a little NSFW for language, but otherwise, enjoy!

Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

Alongside the growing popularity of the smart home movement is an increased interest in smart speakers: not only are they a great way to fill the house with music, they also serve as gateways to voice-activated information as well as smart home functionality. Google and Apple, two companies that lead the mobile technological front, both have plans to bring their most powerful smart speakers to the market this holiday season; however, it seems Apple's metaphorical pie needs a little more time in the oven.

According to a statement given to TechCrunch by an Apple representative, the company is delaying the release of its HomePod speaker systems until next year. Specifically, the statement read as such:

"We can't wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple's breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it's ready for our customers. We'll start shipping in the U.S., U.K. and Australia in early 2018."

This really isn't too big of a delay — Apple had planned on rolling out HomePod speakers to customers this December, same as Google still plans to do with its beefed-up Home Max speaker, which is currently slated to arrive on doorsteps and store shelves next month.

While no reason behind the delay was offered, given that Apple is only looking for an extra four weeks or so, it's likely that software or compatibility concerns have arisen or that production otherwise just ran a little behind schedule; this far into development, we can only assume that the hardware itself is good to go and that there are a few minor kinks to work out before the speakers are ready for a worldwide release. This is speculation, of course — unless Apple provides more information, we may never know the reason behind the delay.

Either way, the HomePod is set to be a popular choice in the smart speaker market, even if it doesn't bring any new functionality to the table — like with offerings from Google and Amazon, the HomePod is primarily concerned with offering up access to streaming music and special tweaks to increase volume and sound clarity in its given environment. The speakers are set to retail for $349 each, with the option to link together multiple speakers for room-filling sound.

Shacknews - Kevin Tucker

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have descended upon players, providing a fresh take on all of the Alola-region action that 3DS owners first sampled when the original Sun and Moon titles released in November of last year. And though one year isn't much time in the grand scheme of things, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon promise a few specific changes to plot, features, and available creatures that not only make them an interesting purchase for those who played and enjoyed the original titles, but also an especially attractive option for those who haven't yet jumped in on the Sun and Moon action.

As someone who missed the initial buzz surrounding Pokemon's earliest releases, I'm in a unique position when it comes to reviewing Ultra Sun — while I'm more than familiar with the overall gameplay recipe, I don't know much about Pokemon lore, largely thanks to my inexperience with earlier generations of the game and only the briefest overview of the series' ever-expanding catalog of the different pocket monsters featured so far. As such, and in opposition to Brittany's much more experienced take on Ultra Moon, I dove into Ultra Sun with only the barest hint of what I was getting into. And it must be said, I've been pleasantly surprised by what I've found.

404: Catchy Header Not Found

By far the most notable feature about Pokemon Ultra Sun is its presentation. This is a second take on what was already a very modern release from a very high-profile development team, and as such, the polish on display is considerable. The realm of Alola is bright, colorful, and cheery, with a graphical style that's reminiscent of classic PS2-era RPG titles; and, like with many games from that time, Ultra Sun's camera sways around the 3D environments dynamically depending on where players move, providing a sort of cinematic feel that we've largely forgotten about in an era where camera control is typically put into the hands of the player.

All of the environments, from grassy fields to populated island cities, feel alive thanks to loads of available NPCs and unmarked areas that allow for brief glimpses of scenic vistas. This is a very pretty game, and that visual allure is present in everything from glowing distant skylines to the in-game menu, which has been revamped to provide even more style and flair when compared to the base games. This level of polish is even noticeable during casual conversations with other characters, events that are typically a banal affair, largely thanks to the game's fluid camera work and crisp art style.

On Timeless Gameplay

The Pokemon series has been met with critical acclaim not just for presentation, since constantly-evolving technology provides for ever-increasing audiovisual fidelity, but instead for the series' immaculately-tuned gameplay. Like in just about every other Pokemon game, Ultra Sun drops players into the shoes of a nameless trainer-to-be with the overt goal of capturing, battling, and caring for adorable little pocket monsters. And though that recipe has remained largely unchanged since around 1996, Game Freak has once again managed to capture the magic that made the Pokemon series such a hit to begin with.

From the outset, players will be tasked with exploring their new home, only to stumble directly into the Alola region's deeply-entrenched fascination with Pokemon. After choosing from one of three available starter Pokemon, the world begins to open up with seemingly-countless opportunities to battle against trainers and rummage through the foliage in an effort to seek out rare and powerful new creatures to add to the Pokedex.

As for actual Pokemon, Ultra Sun and Moon feature the same available roster of creatures from the base versions of the game, including the then-new additions of creatures like Lurantis, Bewear, Comfey, and others, as well as Alolan forms of previous-generation creatures like Rattata, Diglett, Meowth, and Golem, among others. The Ultra versions of the games also toss in a few new exclusive Legendary creatures the likes of which we won't spoil here, but suffice to say there's plenty of content for dedicated players that never quite manage to shake their catch-'em-all mindset.

More Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Even for those who haven't experienced Pokemon fever first-hand, Ultra Sun still manages to convey the sense that it was lovingly-crafted for a highly-dedicated demographic. Everything from the availability of Z-Moves to the Pokemon Snap-esque photo function serves as a reminder that Ultra Sun is just as much for experienced players as it is for series newcomers, and additions like the ability to groom and heal Pokemon after battles presents a subtle touch that provides both utility to the player as well as a way to feel a deeper connection to the game's numerous pocket-sized companions.

It's really hard not to love Pokemon Ultra Moon. While I can't rightly say it's everything that a die-hard Pokemon fan wants, it's still very clearly a game that ranks among the most-polished and most-appealing titles available on the Nintendo 3DS hardware. The attention to detail is so thorough that it's easy to forget this is a product designed by a team; oftentimes in my journey, the form of the game itself seemed to fade away, leaving me willfully drawn into a living, breathing world filled to the brim with creatures, battles, and pleasant surprises. That something that's rare even in the hyper-realistic world of modern console and PC gaming; to find such an experience through handheld hardware is nothing short of incredible.

...

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