Game of Thrones’ Comic-Con trailer teases the show’s most long-awaited alliance

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“Every possible series of events is happening all at once,” Littlefinger tells Sansa Stark in the newly released trailer for the rest of Game of Thrones season seven, which HBO unveiled at a Friday-evening Comic-Con panel after it was leaked online earlier in the day.

He could have just as well been talking about the trailer itself, a “weeks ahead preview” that races through the show’s various groups of characters to show us alliances and armies coming together throughout Westeros in the coming season, as Daenerys makes her play for the throne and the North tries to defend itself against the Night King and his ice zombie horde. 

Among the most notable moments in the trailer:

  • Jon Snow openly discusses teaming up with Daenerys in order to make use of her dragons to battle the Night King. Later, Melisandre, whom eagle-eyed fans had realized was already at Dragonstone when Dany arrived there on last week’s episode, tells Dany that she believes Dany “has a role to play — as does another.”

This is a fateful moment for the show, since it indicates that Melisandre will help bring Jon Snow and Daenerys together for what will undoubtedly be Game of Thrones’ most significant partnership. (While she undoubtedly believes Jon is the fabled “prince that was promised,” a recent fan theory has posited that she could be wrong, thanks to the Hound’s powerful redemption arc.) This is the alliance fans have been waiting for since Season 1 — or 1996, if you were following the fantasy novel series first.

  • Randyll Tarly, the father of Samwell — who we know loathes Wildlings and probably hates Jon Snow in the bargain thanks to his latest disastrous reunion with Sam — turns up for a visit with Cersei in the Iron Throne Room. He’s a powerful ally — but as we know, he’s lately down one Valyrian sword.
  • We get a glimpse of Jorah Mormont in Oldtown. We heard him briefly on the last episode, but it’s good to see him in the flesh and know he’s not been totally taken over by greyscale.
  • We see Euron Greyjoy making himself at home in King’s Landing. Looks like his bid to win Cersei’s hand in marriage is going well — so far.
  • Several battle scenes occur, one of them featuring the Unsullied scaling the walls of a castle — possibly Casterly Rock. Meanwhile, Cersei is rallying her armies to stave off “the mad king’s daughter.”
  • Lyanna Mormont announces, “Winter is here, your grace” — which we already knew, but let’s face it, you’re excited to see Lyanna say pretty much anything.
  • [Source:-vox]

How D&D Beyond brings Gary Gygax’s role-playing game into the digital age

In March, Wizards of the Coast announced at PAX East that it would be bringing the traditional pen-and-paper role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons into the digital age with a new tool: D&D Beyond.

Wizards of the Coast describes D&D Beyond as a “digital toolset” for players using the game’s 5th Edition rules. The company partnered with Curse, a Twitch-owned company that builds other gaming-management tools, with the intent of making it easier for players to manage their characters and games. The program will launch on August 15th, and when it does, it’ll include a searchable database of the game’s rules, plus a platform for building characters and monsters, for keeping track of the items they pick up during the game.

Adam Bradford, Curse’s product lead, explained that while resourceful gamers use plenty of home-brewed digital tools, D&D Beyond will be a platform with “all of those elements, all with the entire library of official Dungeons & Dragons content fully integrated.”

Bradford says when the platform launches in August, “Players can play with digital versions of every official D&D sourcebook with the compendium. They can build a character using that content in addition to a custom magic item created in our homebrew system. That homebrew magic item can then be shared with the community for other players to use in their own games.” He says there’s more planned down the road: the platform will be tweaked to include monsters and encounter builders, as well as combat tracking for characters during games.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

The goal is to make players’ experience easier. Gaming has changed considerably since Gary Gygax first introduced Dungeons & Dragons in 1974. Video and computer games compete for gamers’ attention, and the role-playing scene has splintered into factions based around everything from freeform storytelling to live-action gaming, and D&D itself has undergone massive changes over the decades. Nine years ago, Wizards of the Coast released its controversial 4th Edition, which overhauled its rules system and prompted some gamers to jump over to competitors such as Pathfinder. The recent 5th Edition release met a much more positive reception from players. Bradford says introducing a digital toolset gives gamers a way to focus more on playing the game, rather than spending time looking up rules or creating characters. Other tools, such as a digital character sheet, just make sense, allowing gamers to update them quickly and accurately, but also access them on a variety of devices, rather than a single sheet of paper.

To put together a product that was useful to gamers, Bradford says Wizards approached the build process in the same way the company developed the new edition of the game: via extensive playtesting. “Player feedback has mattered and been acted upon, and the results speak for themselves,” he says. When the company first announced the product in March, they had worked with a pool of 160,000 players to design and tweak it.

Image: Wizards of the Coast

The elements currently in the Beta release will remain free; that includes the Basic Rules, the Standard Reference Document, and the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion. For more features, however, players will have to pay. The system will offer digital content and subscriptions for sale, as well as specific game elements and adventures.

Players will also be able to purchase digital sourcebooks, such as the Player’s Handbook or Volo’s Guide to Monsters, which will be available for $29.99. Adventure modules will run players $24.99. (Bradford notes that when D&D Beyond launches, the three core game books — the Player’s HandbookDungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual — will be on sale for $19.99.)

There are also two subscription tiers. The Hero Tier is designed for players; signing up removes ads, lets players create an unlimited number of characters, and adds “publicly-shared homebrew content to your collection to use within the toolset.” The second subscription is The Master Tier, which is designed for Dungeon Masters and their groups. It includes the benefits of the Hero Tier, but also lets DMs share their unlocked official content with other players within a campaign.

While gamers have been using digital tools for decades — PDF character sheets, number randomizers, character details stored on Google Docs, websites like Roll20 — it’s hard to believe that until now, Wizards of the Coast has essentially missed the opportunities that technology and the internet have to offer to the game. “Creating a comprehensive toolset for D&D is challenging,” Bradford explains, because it’s more than just digitizing all of the tools. It’s making sure they all work together in a way that makes sense. “The goal is that technology is used to mitigate the negative impact of rules on the game experience, where the key focus of telling an interactive, cooperative, epic story with your friends shines through more clearly.”

[Source:-the verge]

The best video games of 2017 so far

Nintendo’s bright, brisk take on the fighting game has a range of outlandish characters engaging in lighthearted fisticuffs with customisable robotic arms. The Switch motion controllers make it a ridiculous physical workout.

Armed and dangerous
A ridiculous workout … Arms. Photograph: Nintendo

What we said: Arms is unique, colourful, and accessible, with enough complexity to tempt a competitive scene but not so much to make anyone feel alienated.

Read the full review


(PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS; Double Fine)

Game designer David OReilly produced one of the most unusual video game releases of the decade with this exploration of time, space and being, all set to a soundtrack of quotes from philosopher Alan Watts.

David Oreilly’s Everything.
A strange comfort … David OReilly’s Everything. Photograph: David Oreilly

What we said: Everything takes the strange comfort of the procedurally generated personal to a universal scale, and it is good. It’s really good. Everything is a game that knows what its core strengths are, and it does not shy away from them: everything persists, and everything is connected.

Read the full review

Gravity Rush 2

(PlayStation 4; Sony)

The acclaimed gravity manipulating sci-fi title is back with an unexpected yet welcome sequel, following lead character Kat as she swoops and falls through a stylised neon city.

Kat in Gravity Rush 2
Reckless abandon … Kat in Gravity Rush 2. Photograph: Sony Interactive Entertainment

What we said: Gravity Rush 2 recreates the sense of reckless abandon that came when riding a bike as a child, the feeling of limitless potential combined with the intoxicating thrill of knowing that the tarmac could come up to meet you at any moment.

Read the full review

Hitman: the Complete First Season

(Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One; Square Enix)

The bald assassin returns in Io Interactive’s brilliantly designed open-world action game, in which disguise, planning and ingenuity are as important as picking the right weapon.

Hitman video game
Return of the bald assassin … Hitman. Photograph: Square Enix

What we said: The beauty of the game is, you can play for many hours, but then see a friend try a mission and they’ll do something totally different … The game unfolds like a puzzle box and, just when you think it has finished unfolding, it reveals something new.

Read the full review

Horizon: Zero Dawn

(PlayStation 4; Sony)

Killzone developer Guerrilla Games surprised many with this gorgeous adventure following a young warrior investigating her origins on an apocalyptic Earth, dominated by hulking robot dinosaurs.

Horizon Zero Dawn
Immensely playable romp … Horizon Zero Dawn. Photograph: Sony

What we said: Horizon: Zero Dawn is an ambitious technological showpiece for Sony’s new PlayStation Pro platform and a visual benchmark for this console generation … An immensely playable – and likeable – romp with a core combat mechanic worth the price of purchase alone.

Read the full review

Injustice 2

(PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS; Warner Bros)

The superhero fighting game series swoops back, with an impressive cast of DC denizens including Batman, SuperGirl and Green Lantern, as well as a full-bodied campaign mode and some incredibly pyrotechnic battles.

Super-sized fighting fun ... Injustice 2
Super-sized fighting fun … Injustice 2 Photograph: PR Company Handout

What we said: A lavish and complete package that satisfies both casual fans and fighting fanatics alike.


State of Origin 2017 Game 2: NSW Blues v Queensland Maroons – live!

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Half-time: NSW 16-6 Qld

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There were many promising games on display at E3 this month, but for superhero fanatics, E3 was really just “Spider-Man Week.” Sony offered a tantalizing new glimpse at Insomniac’s upcoming Spider-Man game, one that will hopefully do for the wallcrawler what Arkham Asylum did for Batman.

Spider-Man PS4 4K Trailer – E3 2017: Sony Conference

Unlike most Spider-Man games of yesteryear, Insomniac’s game isn’t directly based on the comics, movies or other preexisting incarnation of the franchise. But the trailer does make it clear that the game is drawing inspiration from several key Spider-Man comics from the past couple decades. We’ve picked out six essential graphic novels you should check out if you want to educate yourself on the major players and conflicts in this game.

Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 1
usm ultimate collection

Insomniac’s Bryan Intihar told IGN that the original Ultimate Spider-Man comic is one of the inspirations for this game. Obviously the influence isn’t as direct here as with the actual Ultimate Spider-Man video game from 2005 (which was a direct tie-in to the comic and featured a story written by co-creator Brian Michael Bendis). Where the new game focuses on a 23-year-old Peter Parker with plenty of experience on the job, Ultimate Spider-Man starts at the very beginning, with a 15-year-old Peter being bitten by the radioactive spider and learning his lesson about power and responsibility.

We assume that USM’s influence on this game is more generalized. No doubt Insomniac is drawing inspiration from the comic’s willingness to reinvent a familiar mythology and change what needs changing in order to reflect the current era. We hope that the game will be as daring as Ultimate Spider-Man was when it comes to re-imagining this iconic hero.

The first Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection is a great starting point for the character in any context. This book collects the first 12 issues of the series, with half of them being devoted to telling Peter Parker’s origin story in the Ultimate Universe and the other exploring his first encounter with the Kingpin. That second storyline is an added bonus, as the game’s trailer makes it clear that Wilson Fisk has a role to play here.

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Spider-Man: Brand New Day – The Complete Collection Vol. 1

If any one era of Spider-Man comics looks to be informing the new game, it’s definitely the “Brand New Day” status quo. Brand New Day kicked off in early 2008, following up on the highly controversial “One More Day” storyline that culminated with Peter Parker sacrificing his marriage to Mephisto in exchange for Aunt May’s life. The point of Brand New Day was to offer a fresh start for Spidey, one where he was once again a swinging bachelor struggling to make ends meet and trying to balance his hectic personal life with his costumed career.

That’s seems to be the general status quo for Spidey in the new game. Like in Brand New Day, he’s a seasoned veteran, but still prone to making mistakes and biting off more than he can chew in his day-to-day adventures.

There are some more specific story beats in the game’s trailer that hearken back to Brand New Day, however. The first Brand New Day Complete Collection happens to feature the first appearances of both Martin Li/Mister Negative and Yuri Watanabe/The Wraith, two characters who factor prominently in the trailer. If you want a better idea of how these two fit into Spider-Man’s world, this book is your best bet.

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Spider-Man: New Ways to Die
new ways to die

Mister Negative was a major player in a key Brand New Day-era storyline called “New Ways to Die,” which pitted Spider-Man against his old foe, Norman Osborn. The twist here is that “New Ways to Die” unfolded during the “Dark Reign” status quo, a period where Osborn took over as Director of SHIELD and effectively became the defender of the free world. With a true supervillain in charge, it was a time when every Marvel hero learned what Spider-Man already knew – it’s no fun being the underdog everyone hates.

A big part of New Ways to Die involved Mister Negative transforming Eddie Brock (who at that point had rejected the Venom symbiote and was recovering from a battle with cancer) into Anti-Venom. This storyline helped solidify Li’s place in the criminal underworld and showcase his powers on a wider scale. We also noticed a billboard in the game trailer that reads “Re-elect Osborn for Mayor.” We have to wonder if the game will be borrowing more from the general Dark Reign status quo and exploring Osborn’s successful (if brief) rise as a respected political figure.

Readers can also check out the Spider-Man: Brand New Day Complete Collection Vol. 2 trade paperback if they want to read this story, as New Ways to Die is one of the stories included there. But those who prefer to get straight to the point can stick with the basic New Ways to Die collection.

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Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5: Spiral

Both Mister Negative and The Wraith have remained recurring players in the Spider-Man books since their Brand New Day introduction, but “Spiral” marks their most significant appearance in recent years. This storyline occurred in the aftermath of the massive Spider-Verse crossover, where Peter Parker teamed up with dozens of Spider-Men from across the multiverse to defeat the family of vampiric cannibals known as The Inheritors. The purpose of Spiral was basically to help ground the franchise after the craziness of Spider-Verse. So even though this book is technically Vol. 5 in the 2014-2016 Amazing Spider-Man series, it works perfectly fine as a standalone tale.

Spiral explores the effects of a massive gang war in New York City, as everyone from Black Cat to Hammerhead to Tombstone to Mister Negative is fighting for control of the criminal underworld. The game’s trailer establishes that there’s tension brewing between Mister Negative and Kingpin’s rival gangs, so that alone makes this book a relevant read.

However, Spiral is especially important where Yuri and her costumed alter-ego are concerned. The storyline focuses a great deal on her thirst for vengeance and the way that good heroes can become corrupted by their crusades. We have to assume the game will be covering similar ground and that Spidey’s fight to save his new partner from her own demons will be equally important.

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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 1

More than a decade after helping to birth the Ultimate Universe in Ultimate Spider-Man #1, writer Brian Bendis dramatically revamped the franchise by killing off Peter Parker and replacing him with a new teenage Spider-Man, Miles Morales. Miles quickly found a sizable fanbase, both for helping to bring a greater diversity to Marvel’s superhero lineup and because he allowed Bendis and co-creator Sara Pichelli the chance to tell a very different sort of “Young Spider-Man” tale. Not only did he have to juggle the warring responsibilities of being a teenager and a superhero, he had to live up to the impossible standard set by the late Peter Parker.

The final shot in the game trailer shows that Miles has a role to play in this story. Whether we’ll actually see him take up the mantle of Spider-Man remains unclear, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to read the first volume of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and discover how Miles evolved from ordinary teen to Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

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