Shacknews - Josh Barnes

We're almost there, ladies and gentlemen. This is the last Modojo Rewind before the Nintendo Switch is finally released. As such, there's plenty of Switch-related news to talk about this week, from how to get yourself one if you missed out on a pre-order to new games that will be available for it. We've also got plenty of mobile games to talk about and some tech news to boot, so let's get started!

Snipperclips

Nintendo Is Almost Ready To Switch It Up

With just a week left before the Switch is out in the world, Nintendo has been spreading the hype as much as possible. They've shown off their own unboxing video, and even talked about a couple more games that will be available at launch. Shovel Knight's new Specter of Torment campaign and Fast Racing Neo successor FAST RMX will debut on the Switch at launch, along with co-op puzzle game Snipperclips. Disgaea 5 Complete also received a Switch release date for May.

If you weren't able to nab yourself a pre-order, then you may want to check in with your local GameStop at launch anyway, as they seem to have a couple of extras for walk-ins. It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the Switch though, as Nintendo confirmed this week that the Virtual Console will not be available at launch.

Robot Unicorn Attack 3

It's Called Modojo For A Reason

There's never a shortage of mobile games to talk about, due in no small part to the revolving door nature of their popularity. Mobius Final Fantasy received a Final Fantasy VII themed updated with cards and a new class, while Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius got updated with a new story arc, esper, and more. Robot Unicorn Attack 3 has still only soft-launched in a couple of countries, but it's already getting updated in preparation for its full launch.

Pokemon Go is still popping into the news as well. With Pokemon Day right around the corner, you can catch a special Pikachu variant that rocks a party hat. Internet sleuths also narrowed down the locations of Gen 2 region-exclusive pokemon Heracross and Corsola. Finally, Futurama and Skylanders both have new mobile titles on the way.

iPhone

Tick-tock, It's Tech O'clock

We don't just cover games over at Modojo, so for those of you who have an interest in the tech side of things, here's some other cool stuff that went down this week. AT&T announced they too will be offering unlimited data plans soon, as they were in no mood to be left behind by the likes of Verizon. SnapChat decided to finally start making money off of their new product and are now selling their Spectacles online in the U.S. rather than just in random yellow vending machines hidden around the country.

Samsung has reached out to Sony for their Galaxy S8 battery needs, which is hardly surprising after their factory caught fire not long ago due to the darn things. Rumors continue to spread about the iPhone 8, this time that its front facing camera will feature some 3D tech and that Apple won't be offering a 32 GB model. The HTC One X10 had some images leaked of its sleek new design ahead of its Mobile World Congress reveal. Some cool cat also put his skills to use making a Pebble watch face resembling the Resident Evil 7 device, and anything drawing more attention to that awesome game is worth talking about.

As usual, this is just a taste of all that's gone on over on Modojo this week. I do have one last fun little story to share, however, starring a wacky Japanese 3DS game called Dragon Ball Heroes: Ultimate Mission X. The lastest in Namco's digital card game series, Ultimate Mission X naturally looks to be the biggest and hypest entry yet, but what really stood out was a fun piece of art we spotted in the official trailer. A piece of art that genuinely had us questioning if fan-art was now being used in trailers. Enjoy that picture below, and have a good week folks.

Dragon Ball Heroes
Shacknews - David Craddock

BioWare issued a tweet earlier announcing that Mass Effect: Andromeda has gone gold. In industry speak, "gone gold" means that the core game is finished and ready for mass production ahead of its slated March 21 release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Mass Effect: Andromeda leaves Commander Shephard and her (or his) crew behind to follow a new cast of characters. Players will command Scott or Sara Ryder, a military recruit primed to explore the game's open-world environment. 

With Mass Effect: Andromeda just under a month away, BioWare wants to make sure players are ready to boldly go where no Shepard has gone before. A "Weapons Training Video" breaks down different weapon types, melee combat, and more. Earlier this week, the studio announced that Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones' Margaery Tyrell) will voice Dr. Lexi T'Perro, an Asari character.

BioWare is already looking ahead to customer support. Like Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall 2, Mass Effect: Andromeda will have DLC, but not within the confines of a season pass. Furthermore, BioWare and publisher EA are open to bringing the game to Nintendo Switch if the console—due out next Friday, March 3—proves successful.

Shacknews - John Keefer

We knew that the free Not a Hero DLC was coming for Resident Evil 7, but we didn't know much about it. Capcom has let the "hero" out of the bag now, revealing that Chris Redfield will be coming back to the game.

Note that spoilers are ahead if you haven't already finished RE7.

The tweet is indeed a teaser for the story-based DLC. At the conclusion of the game you find Redfield is working for Umbrella Corp., but the hint seems to be that this weird combo of Redfield and his job could deal with him pursuing a person or a creature. An upcoming CGI movie in Japan called Biohazard: Vendetta reunites Chris, Leon Kennedy, and Rebecca Chambers. The plot has Chris chasing an individual who is trying to release something called The Trigger Virus in New York City. The film is supposed to be a story bridge between RE6 and RE7, so perhaps the DLC let's the player actually pursue the madman. 

Unfortunately, Capcom still isn't divulging the release date for Not a Hero, other than the always nebulous "this Spring."

Shacknews - John Keefer

Nioh has taken the Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden formulas, thrown them into a blender and come out with a rather difficult, but popular, game. It is so popular in fact that the game has hit the one million sales figure less than a month after launch.

Koei Tecmo revealed the numbers in a press release (via Siliconera), and promptly agreed to celebrate with the release of a special gift for fans. The Golden Nioh Armor will be part of a 1.04 update today, and the company said it will be extending the early purchase program for the game, which grants the Crimson Master Armor, until March 1.

Nioh has proven particularly difficult for many players, but that hasn't stopped one die-hard expert Distortion2 from completing the game in a then-record 96+ minutes, despite dying six times. He has since shaved that down to 85 minutes.

Shacknews - John Keefer

When Snipperclips was revealed for the Nintendo Switch in January, it looked like a unique little puzzler that fans could get their hands on some time later in the month after the console launched on March 3. Good news, scissors fans: The game has officially been revealed as a launch title.

The new IP, officially called Snipperclips - Cut It Out Together - forces players to work cooperatively to solve puzzles but cutting paper shapes to create new shapes. Players can play solo or co-operatively with up to four players. There is also a mode where players can compete against each other.

The game, developed by SFB Games, will be available for $19.99, but you can try it first by downloading a demo from the eShop on launch day.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Mass Effect: Andromeda is pushing toward its launch into the far reaches of the universe next month. Nintendo Switch will be coming out a few weeks earlier. Is there a chance the two will ever meet up? Not in the immediate future, BioWare says.

Rumors of a Switch version of the next stage of the Mass Effect saga have been swirling since the console-handheld hybrid was announced last year. BioWare's Michael Gamble said earlier this year, though, that it wasn't going to happen. Andromeda producer Fabrice Condominas has also reiterated that, with a bit more explanation.

"First, we were too deep in development to focus on a new console," he told Grabit in an interview. "Secondly, the door is open, we have nothing against the Switch even if we have nothing for the Switch. If the Switch is a significant success we will revisit that. So the door is certainly not closed, it just wasn’t the right timing for us."

Right now, EA has only FIFA title planned for the Switch - being developed by EA Vancouver - and scheduled for release some time after the console launches on March 3. EA VP Patrick Soderlund said that more titles could be announced once the console "takes off." The wait and see attitude from EA falls in line with an earlier statement by EA CFO Blake Jorgensen where he questioned how broad the appeal would be for the platform.. 

Shacknews - Donovan Erskine

Superhot VR will be getting its much-anticipated "Forever" update in less than two weeks. According to a tweet from Evolve PR, we can expect Superhot VR Forever to hit on March 7 for the Oculus Rift with Touch controllers. 

The Forever update will provide players with plenty of bonus content that is said to add "hours of gameplay." New modes being added to the game include Don’t Die, Don’t Shoot, Endless Mode, Hardcore Mode, Headshots Only, Time Trial, and 10-Minute Challenge. These new game modes will push players, testing their accuracy, speed, endurance, and ability to strategize. It’s nice to see an original hit VR title still getting attention and updates from its developer over a year after release. Superhot VR is exclusive to the Oculus Rift for $24.99.

Earlier this month, Oculus had suggested the Forever update would be coming sometime in February. This push to early March represents a slight delay, but it should be worth it for VR fans eager to play more in the puzzle-combat world of Superhot.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Halo Wars 2 marks the second time Microsoft has brought on a studio to infuse the Halo universe with the real-time strategy genre, but surprisingly little has changed. It's still a breezy version of RTS staples, which gains streamlined accessibility at the cost of some finesse. Still, it's a fine and familiar taste of traditionally more complex mechanics, with a notable new feature that may lend it some longevity.

Combat Streamlined

Like its predecessor, Halo Wars 2 follows a rock-paper-scissors pattern for enemy weaknesses. In broad terms, infantry beats air, air beats vehicles, and vehicles beat infantry. Some specialized units are more attuned to taking down particular enemy types, but overrelying on those would be a mistake. Instead, a winning strategy usually comes down to balance. A few of each unit type, all moving in unison.

That focus on a healthy mixture of units is where Halo Wars 2 goes for blunt force instead of fine detail. You can select units by type, but in the chaos of battle, that isn't always doable. You can make individual squads by mapping them to the D-pad, but from then on you need to hold a trigger button to select them. In general, I found neither solution was as useful as simply selecting all units with one handy button click and setting them towards a target. This wide-swath approach to strategy lacks some of the grace of more complex RTS games. Most of the work is done in the planning stages, when selecting unit upgrades or positioning before a battle. Once the aggressions begin, it was mostly a matter of seeing if my calculations paid off.

In the campaign, though, that set-and-forget approach can feel punishing. I often had to repeat missions, or at least go back to my base to regroup, after discovering a surprise waiting for me. Since most of my winning approach was done before firing a shot, if my unit composition was off in some significant way, I would be wiped out without much chance to make it right in the heat of battle. When it was off because of unforeseen factors, like say a specialized enemy unit appearing in the middle of combat, it felt frustrating and unavoidable.

In the Mythos

All this could be applied to any well-polished console RTS, but Halo Wars 2 does feel appropriately like a Halo game. Iconic units like the Warthog and Hornet are back, and enemy vehicles are recognizable even from a birds-eye perspective. A couple of new units, the Kodiak and Jackrabbit, fit in nicely to the mood and tone of Halo as an RTS. Most importantly for Halo, it features a squad of Spartans, the elite units of the Halo universe, reprising their role as premiere hero units that can turn the tide of battle. Plus, for those desperate moments, your commanders have their own sets of powerful leader abilities that can be triggered at the right time.

That par-for-the-course Halo feel applies to the story as well, in ways both good and bad. The Halo series has a unique space melodrama quality, with sweeping orchestral scores and characters showing a level of earnestness straight out of 1950s serials. But it also has a tendency to overcomplicate its mythology. The base idea in Halo Wars 2 is understandable enough: a race called the Banished was cast out of the Covenant and has risen to prominence now that it's gone. Trouble ensues.

But the finer myth-making of the titular halos, and how exactly this story squares with the cliffhanger ending of Halo 5: Guardians, were less clear to me. I was left feeling like I'd reached a cliffhanger, but I wasn't sure how or why. Halo has never excelled at storytelling, and a story like Halo Wars, that is told from the wider angle of a large conflict, struggles in many of the same ways.

Stacking the Deck

Outside the campaign, Halo Wars 2 offers traditional multiplayer, as well as a new "Blitz" Mode. Unlike its regular multiplayer, Blitz takes notes from the popular blind box trend in video games. Rather than build up a base to make your units, you have a single customizable deck made with cards earned through the campaign, for various achievements, and of course, for purchase. 

This is where I expect to see Halo Wars 2 find its longevity. Traditional RTS multiplayer can turn into very close to a solved game, as the win will usually go to the player who builds up a more versatile and larger army more quickly. The ability to balance your team by editing a deck beforehand adds a layer of pre-planning to the execution, which is where this distillation of strategy already shone anyway. It affords 343 and Creative Assembly to tempt players back with giveaway packs. I also suspect that the strength of decks gives another metric for accurate matchmaking, since I regularly seemed matched up with competitors around my skill level. Everything about it seems fine-tuned for long-term play.

I was more compelled by Blitz than the more traditional multiplayer, which packs plenty of mode variety but all feels fairly similar regardless. Whether building up a base, capturing control points, or playing a zippier game mode with near-limitless resources, it was hard for these slight twists to feel like they amounted to significant gameplay differences. There may be layers of high-level strategy beyond my current abilities, but I'm not sure I'll get there if the traditional multiplayer doesn't hold much of my interest. Blitz, by comparison, introduces deck builds and a dash of randomness that felt fresh more often. 

Drop Zone

Halo Wars didn't rewrite the RTS playbook, and Halo Wars 2 is unlikely to bring on many converts who weren't convinced by the first attempt. In many ways this is an iterative sequel, with new units and balance, and a handful of additions. The campaign is well-made and the multiplayer shines thanks largely to Blitz Mode. It's a streamlined take on a genre that has faded even more in recent years, but in its own way, Halo Wars 2 is still carrying the flame.


This review is based on an Xbox One code provided by the publisher. Halo Wars 2 is now available, for $59.99. The game is rated T.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Intel's previous modus operandi for releasing new processors has been to launch one each year, then move on to the next generation. This year, we were looking at a 10nm Cannon Lake chip to replace the aging 14nm chip as expected, but the company has hinted that a fourth 14nm chip could debut in PCs this holiday season as well.

Unofficially dubbed Coffee Lake, this new 14nm chip would mark the first time that Intel has extended a processor to a fourth iteration. If the reports are accurate, Coffee Lake would follow previous 14nm chips Broadwell, Skylake and the current Kaby Lake designs. When Kaby Lake was introduced, it marked the end of the company's tick-tock process, which had previously consisted of two processors within a development cycle in the same nm class, with the latter being an upgrade over the former. A fourth chip in the 14nm class is unprecedented, especially if it continues to provide performance improvements over its 14nm brethren.

Kaby Lake launched this year as the "optimization" step in Intel's 7th generation execution plan. Kaby Lake was the first CPU to be launched under Intel's new "process-architecture-optimization" development model, but Coffee Lake doesn't fit with that. Instead, Coffee Lake will be a bridge between the 7th and 8th generation Intel chips, featuring improvements that will be found in Cannon Lake, but using the 14nm manufacturing process. Unfortunately, Intel's 10nm die yields have continued to be low, so this may not be the last setback in its plans.

In addition, as 8th generation chips, both Cannon Lake and Coffee Lake are expected to provide a 15 percent boost in performance over Kaby Lake, which is considered the last in the 7th generation line.

Intel is rumored to be launching Kaby Lake X and Skylake X chip at Gamescom this year in August, with 10-, 8 -, 6- and 4 core models. All chips are expected to be tagged as the Core i7-7000 series processors.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition is offering a free weekend for the game's multiplayer starting today, highlighted by a new Feral Horde playlist that could have some new players running away screaming.

The first-ever Horde variant "ratchets up the intensity of each wave, changing the composition of each wave to focus more on constant pressure and unrelenting assault," the developer said in announcing the event. "Prepare to move, dodge and scrap your way to victory against new waves filled with hefty amounts of Explosive Trackers, Swarm Grenadiers, DR-1s, Dropshot Scions and more!"

The playlist is automatically set to Hardcore difficulty, with Clocktower being the only map that will support it right now.

Here are the objectives for the weekend:

  • Complete 50 Waves in the Feral Horde playlist, earn the Tiger Skin.
  • Complete 100 Waves in the Feral Horde playlist, earn the Cheetah Skin.
  • Complete 200 Waves in the Feral Horde playlist, earn the Snow Leopard Skin.

Be sure to register at the game's official completion page so you can be tracked and earn your skins.

Also as part of the weekend, The Coalition is offering a three-card Feral Horde Gear Pack for 400 credits, and double class XP for every version of Horde, including public and private.

No official end date or time was listed for the event, but it will likely end some time Monday. 

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