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by Jacob Siegal via BGR News

As we approach the five year anniversary of the PS4, it’s difficult not to think about the future of the brand. After all, the PS4 arrived nearly seven years to the day after the PS3, so it seems safe to assume that the PS5 is already deep in development at Sony HQ. This week, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera seemed to say as much when he revealed the PS4 is entering the final phase of its life cycle.

The Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki shared Kodera’s statement on Twitter this morning, which he provided at the Sony IR Day 2018 event in Japan. Kodera shared the news in relation to Sony’s revenue, which he claims will be negatively affected by the drop off in unit sales. But PS Plus subscriptions should blunt the impact.

In addition to confirming that the PS4 will be replaced by a successor in the near future, Kodera also told analysts and investors at Sony IR Day that March 2021 will be when PlayStation will begin looking toward the future. It’s unclear if we should expect to see signs of the PS5 by 2021, but that would mark eight years since the PS4’s launch.

Beyond the potential future hardware, Kodera also talked about software. According to Kodera, PlayStation will continue to introduce new IPs (Horizon Zero DawnKnack), refresh old IPs (God of WarShadow of the Colossus), and build franchises around properties that develop a sizable audience.

We still don’t know anything concrete about the follow-up to the PS4 (nor do we expect to learn anything at E3 2018 this year), but it sounds like we won’t be waiting too much longer, as the PS4 life cycle winds down.

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by Paul Tassi via Forbes

Microsoft does not have all that many Xbox One (and now PC) exclusives out in 2018, but so far, two of its most high-profile ones would seem to be failing to impress critics.

Sea of Thieves current sits at a 66 and 69 on Opencritic and Metacritic respectively, which Opencritic notes is in the bottom 30% of all releases on its site, given that games are rarely given below a 6/10 in our current industry climate.

State of Decay 2 is…not faring much better. It’s currently at a 68 and 72 on Open and Meta, the bottom 37.5% of game’s reviewed, though with less reviews in on embargo day here. The game itself will be out May 22nd, and unlike the $60 Sea of Thieves, is only $30. But it is also included in Microosft’s Game Pass as part of the subscription, as all new Xbox One exclusives are (though so far that hasn’t been terribly appealing).

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Like Sea of Thieves, perhaps State of Decay 2 will attract its own share of fans who don’t care at all what critics are saying. But, if you want to look at what critics are saying, here’s a sampling:

Metro (4/10):

The State of Decay concept still holds plenty of promise but this sequel is so broken that laughing at its bugs and glitches becomes its primary source of entertainment.

GamingBolt (6/10):

State of Decay 2 isn’t a bad game but it doubles down on too much of the first game’s failings. For newcomers, the repetitive combat and mission variety, glitches and lack of polish can be a turnoff but the base-building and survivor management manage to shine.

But some are more positive:

PC Gamer (8/10):

A solid survival game vastly improved by putting the focus on people, not zombies.

IGN (7.5/10):

State of Decay 2‘s zombie-infested maps are good places to scavenge, fight, and survive in. Combat is satisfyingly brutal and the special zombies inspire some real fear of permanent death, even though the Blood Plague turns out to be more of a sniffle. But the bugs are just as persistent as the zombies, and after a dozen or so hours the repetition of both eventually take their toll, making the appeal of replaying feel more limited than I’d expected for a sandbox RPG.

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And finally, Polygon’s score-less review headline: “State of Decay 2 made me sad, but mostly bored.”

While State of Decay 2 was never meant to be some sort of AAA blockbuster, I’m sure everyone at Microsoft was hoping for a clear win here after mixed reactions to Sea of Thieves, but that just does not seem to be the case.

This is also a tough situation because A) Sony has been drowning in praise for the seemingly inevitable GOTY, God of War, for the past month, its crown jewel exclusive. B) The next biggest Xbox One exclusive that (supposedly) releases this year is Crackdown 3, which has had an exceptionally troubled production and has yet to look terribly good in any previews.

Microsoft understands this problem. It’s been very vocal about the fact that it knows it needs to invest more in its own studios and creating quality exclusives, but the problem is that is going to be a very long process if they’ve just started recently. The first step in that direction could be the upcoming Fable 4 created by the Forza Horizon team, but again, we’ll be lucky if we see that game by what, 2020-2021? So it seems like next gen is where Microsoft has the potetial to start turning this narrative around, even if I and others have been deeply satisfied with their recent hardware (Xbox One X) and program (Game Pass) offerings.

I will probably be skipping State of Decay 2 for now with so much else to play, but if you think it’s your bag, don’t let pesky critics stop you from giving it a shot.

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cliff_bleszinski

by Sean Buckley via CNET

Boss Key Productions’ first game was a flop. Its second was too little, too late. Now, company founder Cliff Bleszinski says the game studio is closing its doors.

When the creator of the iconic Gears of War franchise said he was coming out of retirement to create video games that harkened back to chaos of classic arena-shooters like Unreal Tournament, Cliff Bleszinski had the gaming industry’s attention. “CliffyB,” as he was called by fans, had over two decades of experience making AAA games and a vision to revive a kind of fast-paced competitive first persons shooters that hadn’t existed in years.

Now, that dream is dead. Today on Twitter, the game designer announced that his new company, Boss Key Productions, “is effectively no more.”

Despite early excitement, it’s an ending almost everyone saw coming.

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Lawbreakers, the company’s first game, flopped almost immediately after launch, completely failing to build the dedicated player base necessary to survive – despite having a relatively strong showing at E3 2017. “Lawbreakers was a great game that unfortunately failed to gain traction,” Bleszinski explained on Twitter. Team-based shooters just weren’t in anymore: large scale Battle Royale games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds were. The company tried to pivot.

“In a last ditch attempt we scrambled to do our own take on the huge battle royale genre with Radical Heights,” he says, “However, it was too little, too late.”

The game designer says he’s going to take some time off and reflect on the last four years of his career, but Boss Key Productions is closing its doors. For now, however, the servers for Radical Heights will remain online.

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by Rachel England via Engadget

Microsoft’s Xbox gifting feature was a big hit with players last fall. Now, the company has expanded digital gifting to include PC games and PC downloadable content (so things like map packs and skins). It’s also made all Xbox One games eligible for gifting. It’s a pretty straightforward process. Head to the Microsoft Store, find your game and select ‘buy as gift’. Just enter the recipient’s email address — or choose their Gamertag if you’re gifting via Xbox One — and they’ll get a redemption code. Then you can sit back and wait for the gratitude to roll in.

Of course, there are some restrictions. You can only gift two discounted products every 14 days (although there are no limits on full price gift purchases). Xbox 360 and Xbox original games are still off the table, as are pre-orders, free products and downloadable consumable content, such as virtual currency. And finally, recipients can only redeem gift codes in the country or region where they were purchased. Navigate all that and you’re guaranteed to be someone’s favorite person.

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by Dylan Claundy via We Got This Covered

A new rumor has dropped on 4Chan and it’s leaked a handful of alleged details as to what Rocksteady are working on at the moment: An open world Superman video game. I know, our brains nearly imploded, too.

Specifically, the rumor confirms that Rocksteady are indeed developing the project. The British company, who are best known for their work on the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham series, have been pretty quiet as of late, so take this news with a grain of salt for now. Still, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the game and what’s been revealed here is certainly intriguing.

From what we understand, it’ll be developed using the cutting edge Unreal Engine 4 and will feature a massive open world (about 3 times the size of Batman: Arkham Knight with a lot more buildings). Bizarrely, though, you won’t be able to play as Clark Kent. The post does mention, however, that your arch rival will be the extraterrestrial cyborg, Brainiac. 

Furthermore, the alleged game will feature semi-destructible environments, much like Batman: Arkham Knight. Also, the combat system will integrate flying into its core mechanics, a little like Dragon Ball Z, where you can zoom towards your enemies and repeatedly punch them. Not only that, but it’ll also be set in the Arkham universe and filled to the brim with a ton of easter eggs that’ll flesh out Superman’s backstory and lore.

Again, none of this has been confirmed by the studio, but what we do know is that Rocksteady have promised us already that their next game will “blow our minds.” Could they be working on a project that’ll feature Superman, though? Or do you think this rumor is just too good to be true?

As always, do let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below.

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by Samuel Axon via Ars Technica

Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One will get 120Hz-display refresh-rate support in a software update for the consoles. Support for higher refresh rates opens the door for smoother gameplay, both in terms of performance and input responsiveness.

In a news post on the Xbox website, Microsoft briefly described the 120Hz feature, along with several other updates, and said they are coming this May. Other coming changes include the ability to group games and apps in new ways for easier browsing of your library, an improved interface for managing family account permissions for parents, a slight overhaul of button commands in the Xbox interface, the ability to trim game capture clips directly from the Guide interface, and improvements to the Xbox Accessories app.

Earlier this year, Microsoft added support for AMD FreeSync 2 to the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. FreeSync is a variable refresh rate (VRR) technology that reduces distracting screen tearing on many displays without impacting game performance. FreeSync, along with 1440p resolution support that was added in the same update (and now 120Hz support), all expand the Xbox One S and Xbox One X’s compatibility with computer monitors. Microsoft is positioning the Xbox One as an alternative to a gaming desktop, even if your preferred setup is in the home office rather than the living room. That said, many TVs also support 120Hz.

Let’s manage some expectations here, though: you won’t be able to play 4K games at 120fps in the upcoming 120Hz update, because the HDMI 2.0 standard used in the Xbox One S and Xbox One X isn’t capable of that. That won’t be possible until HDMI 2.1, which likely won’t be available in consumer TVs or future Xbox models until next year. For now, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X will only support 120Hz at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

Microsoft’s news post doesn’t clarify whether 120Hz support will come to all Xbox One models or just some, but we’ll be surprised if we see it in the original Xbox One (that is, the one that precedes the more recent S or X models), because the original Xbox One uses HDMI 1.4a, which is even more limiting than 2.0.

It’s also important to note that, while the console itself will support 120Hz, the games won’t necessarily support it. There are benefits to running a game at 60fps on a 120Hz monitor, but game developers will have to update their games to offer 120fps modes to take full advantage of the technology. In most cases, the standard Xbox One and Xbox One S won’t be able to hit that target, but the Xbox One X could manage that at 1080p and 1440p for many games, should developers choose to support it.

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by David Gelmini via Dread Central

Agony looks like one of the most explicit games we’ve ever seen, so it comes as no surprise that it had to be slightly censored in order to avoid an Adults Only rating from the ESRB. Now, before you go bitching about how much you hate censorship, keep in mind that the changes made to the game were minimal, with the camera having to be slightly obscured during some of the most extreme sequences so that it could secure an M-rating.

As AO-rated games are never released on consoles, the version of Agony coming to PS4 and Xbox One will be the slightly altered M-rated edition, whilst the PC version will come with an optional patch to remove the censorship and to experience a fully uncut version of the game.

As anyone familiar with the history of the ESRB will know, this isn’t the first time that a non-pornographic game ventured into Adults Only territory. The Punisher and Manhunt 2 both had to be censored in order to avoid an AO rating, whilst Hatred was released uncut on Steam with the rating intact.

Agony, which takes place in Hell, was developed by Madmind Studio, and will be published by PlayWay later this year.

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