Chess Champion Breaks Silence On ‘Anal Bead’ Cheat-gate

Magnus Carlsen competes at a chess tournament earlier this year.

Photo: Arun Sankar (Getty Images)

After nearly a month of anal bead memes and chess drama, world champion Magnus Carlsen has finally opened up about his stunning defeat to 19-year-old grandmaster Hans Niemann and his shocking stunts that followed in the aftermath. Long story short: He thinks Niemann is a cheater, over the board and online, and he refuses to ever compete against him again.

“I believe that Niemann has cheated more—and more recently—than he has publicly admitted,” Carlsen wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “His over-the-board progress has been unusual, and throughout our game in the Sinquefield Cup I had the impression that he wasn’t tense or even fully [concentrating] on the game in critical positions, while outplaying me as black in a way I think only a handful of players can do.”

Read More: The Chess Grandmaster Anal Bead Conspiracy That’s Happening Right Now, Explained

The drama all started earlier this month when Carlsen lost to Niemann in an unusual match in their first-ever meeting at the in-person Sinquefield Cup. Niemann should have been outclassed, but instead Carlsen made some mistakes and the 19-year old capitalized on them with stunning precision. Rather than move on to his next opponent, Carlsen resigned from the entire tournament following the defeat, and tweeted out a provocative YouTube clip that heavily implied he thought foul play was involved.

The chess world spent the following week abuzz in heated debate and speculation about whether Niemann was in fact a cheater and if so, how he may have accomplished it. On Twitch and Reddit, chess shitposters joked that maybe Niemann used supercomputers inside anal beads to communicate the best moves to him via vibration. There was no evidence that he did, but the outlandish meme captured everyone’s imagination in part because it reflected the fact that there was no evidence for Carlsen’s insinuation in the first place.

Fast-forward to last week and Carlsen and Niemann met in an online match in the Julius Baer Generation Cup. The latter only played two moves before the chess champion resigned, leaving the announcers shocked and escalating the whole controversy to an even higher level. Niemann lost in the knockout stage before the two could face each other again, while Carlsen ended up going on to win the tournament, but not before once again heavily implying the 19-year old was a cheater and should never have been allowed to attend in the first place.

Even now, however, Carlsen has still stopped short of providing any actual evidence for the claims. While Niemann admitted to cheating once when he was younger on Chess.com, the biggest online chess website which has since banned him, Carlsen is back to alleging that Niemann specifically cheated against him in the Sinquefield Cup. He even goes so far as to blame the tournament organizers for not being vigilant enough.

“I also believe that chess organizers and all those who care about the sanctity of the game we love should seriously consider increasing security measures and methods of cheat detection for over-the-board chess,” he wrote. “When Niemann was invited last-minute to the 2022 Sinquefield Cup, I strongly considered withdrawing prior to the event. I ultimately chose to play.”

Read More: Chess Champion Ratchets Up Cheating Drama By Resigning In Just One Move [Update]

As The Guardian reports, the chess police tasked with identifying cheating use a mix of tools, including computer programs that analyze players’ behavior and look for anomalies. Basically, if someone plays too well, the software will flag it and the experts investigate further. Computer scientist Ken Regan, who developed the program used by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), checked Carlsen’s now-infamous loss to Niemann and found nothing.

Danny Rensch, a chess master and executive at Chess.com, told the Guardian his platform has better anti-cheating models finely tuned to each grandmaster’s player profile. “Once in a while anomalies do happen,” he said. “But if you have a lot of smoke, a lot of evidence, and a lot of reason to believe in the DNA of who someone is, and you walk into the room and they just say, ‘I just lifted that fridge with one arm,’ you’re like, ‘Fucking bullshit, motherfucker.’” Is there a lot of smoke in the Niemann case? Rensch isn’t saying. At least not yet.

Niemann has continued to deny the allegations, although he hasn’t yet responded to Carlsen’s latest salvo. But the 19-year-old has broken at least one promise. When the drama first started, he promised to play his next match naked to prove he wasn’t hiding anything. To everyone’s relief, he did not make good on that threat.

 


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Overwatch 2 Devs Spent A Year Making Genji’s Customizable Mythic Skin – Exclusive Interview

Overwatch 2 introduces a bevy of new characters, maps, and modes when it launches early next week. However, the most significant change arriving alongside the sequel’s new free-to-play format is a Battle Pass. The pass’ free track allows players to unlock a new support character named Kiriko, while its premium track – which costs $10 or 1,000 Overwatch Coins – offers unique cyberpunk-themed cosmetics like weapon charms, souvenirs, and legendary skins. Players who complete the 80-tier premium Battle Pass receive Cyber Demon Genji, the first of Overwatch’s new class of customizable cosmetics called Mythic Skins. 

We recently interviewed Overwatch 2’s leadership group to learn about their philosophy while developing the Battle Pass and Mythic Skins’ role in the sequel’s revamped monetization strategy. 

overwatch 2

“When we looked at making this transition to free-to-play, one of the great goals we had was to give Overwatch players what they wanted, which was just continuous delivery of content. We know this because players have been telling us that keeps them engaged over the long term,” says General Manager Walter Kong.

Kong tells us the size of Overwatch 2’s core team is nearly triple what it was in 2016 – a necessary expansion to meet the short timelines of developing a free-to-play online game. He continues, “We spent a long time thinking through how to be able to fund continued development of the game in a way that would still present fair and enjoyable experiences for all players, whether they choose to pay or whether they choose to play for free. And our approach, in terms of players who pay, is to deliver tremendous value.” 

overwatch 2

That’s precisely where Overwatch 2’s new skins come into play, though they’re not exactly a cheap investment, according to Game Director Aaron Keller.

“We put a lot of time into building our cosmetics. A Mythic Skin takes us over a year to make. It’s a massive investment for the team, and a massive amount of resources go into building these things. And we think it’s worth it.” Keller continues, “One of our values is to be able to put out the absolute coolest cosmetics we can, and we hope they can be seen as some of the very best in the industry.”

Every season has a theme and an accompanying Mythic Skin featuring multiple layers that players customize to their liking. 

In an exclusive follow-up interview with Overwatch’s Commercial Lead and Vice President, Jon Spector, we asked for more details on Mythic Skins and the team’s philosophy while creating them. 

“Putting the Mythic Skin in the Battle Pass felt like the right decision, even if candidly, I think we’d make more money selling it directly in the shop. But we really wanted it to be one of the centerpieces of our Battle Pass system,” says Spector. He continues, “The guiding principle behind Mythics was asking the art team to outdo themselves and make something even cooler than Legendary Skins. In some of our media assets, you can see the Dragonblade animation, which I think is the single coolest thing we’ve ever done with a skin.”

In the case of Cyber Demon Genji, Spector tells us there are four separate layers to style: two Dragonblade variants, three helmets, three tattoo patterns, and multiple color schemes. There’s also an option to randomize the layers for decision-averse folks. After unlocking the skin, all customization options are available to players, so they won’t have to complete challenges or spend additional time playing the game to fully enjoy their reward for reaching Tier 80.

But players who were hoping Overwatch 2 would mirror Halo Infinite’s no-expiration Battle Pass system will be disappointed. 

“One of the pieces of player feedback I’ve seen since Mythic Skins were first announced is people feeling like [the skins] are more special if there’s an aspect of earning them. So I think the ability to look back and say, ‘I got Mythic Genji because I was playing in Season One and completed the Battle Pass,’ will make it feel even more special,” says Spector, who wants players to feel really good about investing money into the game. 

“We’ve all been in the trenches for a while getting everything ready for October 4. The whole team is so excited about launching Overwatch 2. But also knowing that it’s the starting point for the journey we’re all on together, and knowing how much cool stuff we have down the pipeline, feels really good.”


Click here to read more about Kiriko, Overwatch 2’s new support character. 

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Cyberpunk 2077 Dev Reacts To Game’s Popularity | GameSpot News – GS News Updates

Cyberpunk 2077’s initial launch period was highlighted by game-breaking bugs and massive performance issues across last-gen Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles at the time. In an unprecedented move, Microsoft and Sony began issuing refunds, with Cyberpunk 2077 being removed from the PlayStation storefront for a lengthy period of time.

Fast-forward to 2022, and Cyberpunk 2077’s road to recovery has seen developer CD Projekt release massive patches that have helped it find new life on console and PC. The recent Cyberpunk: Edgerunners anime series on Netflix has also helped shift new fans to the game, and on Steam the game has climbed the charts and remains in the top 10 most-played games on Steam currently.

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How Are You Feeling About the Future of Halo?

Though once the talk amongst FPS fans, Halo’s popularity over the years has wavered even amongst the most dedicated fans. From its inception, it helped push the FPS genre forward on home consoles and was often considered one of the gold standards for an FPS on consoles. We’ve seen numerous sequels, prequels, and spin-offs; while some were successful, others were not. Even the most recent release, Halo Infinite, has drawn lots of criticism for its handling of the multiplayer mode and the lack of split-screen, Forge, and online co-op game modes, some of which are still not available nine months after launch.

It’s no surprise that Halo Infinite hasn’t set the world on fire due to these missing features that many expected at launch. Hopefully, when they add the content that fans have been asking for, it can one day fulfill what many hoped to be a return to form for the franchise. Forge mode, along with some new maps, weapons, and updates to the multiplayer, is scheduled for November. Still, the delay of season 3 to 2023 and the departure of developers show that ongoing development is still finding its way.

With Halo 3 recently celebrating its 15th anniversary, it’s a great time to discuss the franchise’s future. It still holds a lot of promise, but many are understandably concerned about its future, which brings us to today’s topic — How do you feel about the future of Halo?

Are you playing Halo Infinite regularly, or has that ship sailed for you? Outside of the current plans for Halo Infinite, what is missing to help it rise to the top? Do you think Halo Infinite will eventually get to where it needs to be, or have you decided to wait for the next game in the franchise? Where do you want to see Halo go in the future? What can Halo Infinite do to be one of the games we look back on fondly instead of a cautionary tale? Let us know in the comments.

Jada Griffin is IGN’s Community Lead. If she’s not engaging with users here, chances are she’s developing her own games, maxing the Luck stat in her favorite games, or challenging her D&D players with Intense combat or masterful puzzles. You can follow her on Twitter @Jada_Rina.


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This Deluxe Steam Deck Kickstand Makes A Huge Difference

A Steam Deck, seen from the rear, leans back on its attached Deckmate kickstand.

Photo: Kotaku

While the Steam Deck, Valve’s souped-up mini PC, offers a wealth of gaming experiences in a portable format, the lack of a kickstand has been a sore spot. Enter the Deckmate: A simple, plastic bracket that lets you attach not just a very handy kickstand, but also several other specialized mounting solutions to the back of the Deck.

The Deckmate is the brainchild of product design engineer Siri Ramos. Ramos has described how the Steam Deck community’s enthusiasm and support has helped them grow what was once a fun personal project into a fully featured product. To be sure, the community’s love for small maker-style projects is evident just from scrolling through r/SteamDeck. The Deckmate evolved from a series of prototypes and early 3D-printed parts to a professional-feeling final product. Now having used it for a few weeks, it feels like a very natural extension of my Deck, one with a few surprises of its own.

At the center of the Deckmate “system,” as the creator calls it, is the “grip,” a simple plastic claw that, well, grips the back of the mini-PC like a headcrab on a poor zombie. And like that headcrab, this is a pretty seamless attachment, one that doesn’t interfere with the system’s stock protective case. The grip can also hold two spare SD cards, and like a headcrab, is likely to want to stay where you put it. I’ve transferred it to another Steam Deck just once, and bending the plastic back to get it off feels like something I only want to do a handful of times at most.

The clips are visible on the top and bottom of the device when looking at it from the front, but the color and texture of the plastic blends in well with the Deck. I hardly notice it anymore, and don’t feel it with my hands when playing.

A Steam Deck with the Deckmate grip attached lays facedown in the case.

The “grip” bracket snaps on snugly and provides the attachment point for everything else.
Photo: Kotaku

The grip bracket itself doesn’t do much. Instead, it allows for a variety of “mounts” to slot into the back of the device. These lock into place with a pair of springs. Available mounts include that remarkably handy kickstand, “pucks” with adhesives to fasten a battery or USB-C hub, wall mounts, and even a 75mm VESA mount like you see on the backs of PC monitors.

While I used one of my pucks for a handy USB-C hub that allowed me to plug in a variety of USB devices along with an ethernet cable to speed up downloads, the kickstand felt most essential to me.

You might not think much of a kickstand; it’s a very basic device and concept. But given the size and weight of the Steam Deck, being able to attach one to the back has been sort of like growing a third arm, especially when playing on a couch or bed.

This dawned on me when I decided to fire up Spider-Man: Remastered one night. Laying in bed, with the kickstand in place, I could just rest the device in front of me to watch the opening cutscene, then pick it up when I was ready to start swinging around Manhattan island. That may not seem so revelatory if you haven’t put in too many hours on a Deck, so let me give some context.

The Steam Deck sits upright with a kickstand from the Deckmate.

The Deckmate is compatible with the sun, though I am not.
Photo: Kotaku

The Steam Deck is about as heavy as it looks. It’s a big device! And playing for extended periods of time, at least for me, kinda makes my hands get prickly and then, numb. Being able to set it down with the screen still facing me and give my hands a break during non-interactive cutscenes has allowed me to spend more time gaming. The kickstand also has a nice amount of adjustment. It can move a full 120 degrees, and it never feels like that notoriously flimsy piece of junk attached to the Nintendo Switch, which always seemed to threaten to snap right off. The Deckmate kickstand is also ideal for setting the unit down on a desk and connecting a keyboard.

Read More: Yes, You Can Use The Steam Deck As A Computer (Here’s How)

One unexpected benefit involves the Deck’s high heat output. Being able to prop it up with the exhaust fan pointing in a more vertical direction feels like a better way to set the device down while it’s downloading something or playing a graphically intensive cutscene. If Reddit’s to be believed, there may also be aromatherapeutic benefits to enjoy.

Another surprising use of the kickstand was that, while laying in bed or on a couch, I could sort of use it like a monopole, letting it support more of the weight of the device. As a result, my hands weren’t doing the work of both playing the device and holding it. Overall, the Deckmate with the kickstand accessory has just made the Deck a more cozy machine for me.

Though I found the kickstand to be the star of the show, others might find more utility in mounting extra accessories onto the adhesive pucks. As the Deckmate’s site warns, the adhesive used on these pucks is virtually permanent. So if you want to adhere a big battery pack or USB hub or whatever, be aware that you’re creating a pretty permanent bond between the puck attachment and the accessory. They’re going to be friends for life.

The rear of a Steam Deck shows off a USB-C hub held in place with the Deckmate puck mount.

I’ve got a lot going on back there now.
Photo: Kotaku

A few other caveats exist. If you have some kind of smartphone-style case wrapped around your Deck, thereby increasing its thickness, the base grip bracket probably won’t fit around it. Fortunately, a Deckmate adapter that sports the same 3M adhesive as the pucks offers an alternate means by which to fasten the grip to the back of a third-party case. It may be impossible to resolve conflicts with certain docks, though. While the Deckmate’s FAQ seems very optimistic about it fitting into something like a JSAUX dock, I found the grip bracket was just a bit too big and made it unstable when sitting in my dock.

You can also only use one mount at a time, so if you want to both use the kickstand and charge the device with an external battery, you’ll have to choose which is getting attached to the device. Granted, if you’re using the kickstand, you probably have a flat surface to rest that battery down anyway.

The Steam Deck sits next to various Deckmate attachments. The cord on the side shows signs of an iffy Photoshop.

The Steam Deck, with the grip attached, sits next to various Deckmate attachments (the right-most puck is adhered to a generic USB-C hub).
Photo: Kotaku

Critically, if you’re using a USB-C hub, you should pay careful attention to cable length, especially when making the final decision to adhere a puck to the hub. In my case, I suspect I adhered the puck a little too low on my hub, and as a result, the USB-C cable has a bit too much tension when reaching all the way up to my Deck’s single USB-C port. I’m likely going to try and reposition this, but given that the adhesive is a one-time use thing, I’m probably going to have to get creative. Moral of the story: Measure your cable lengths and make use of right-angle adapters where it makes sense.

Once detached, the kickstand and any puck-equipped devices will easily fit in the storage case the Deck comes with. You can just tuck it into that compartment on the underside that many a Steam Deck user has found creative uses for. That said, if your accessory needs extend to a gamepad, keyboard, and yet other other peripherals, you’ll need a larger bag. For those times you want to travel light, you can just detach the Deckmate mounts and leave the hardly noticeable “grip” bracket.

Deckmate parts fit snugly in the underside compartment of the Steam Deck's stock case.

Deckmate parts fit snugly in the underside compartment of the Steam Deck’s stock case.
Photo: Kotaku

If you just want to get the kickstand, you’ll need the grip bracket, which runs for $20, and then the kickstand mount itself for an extra $15. Individual pucks are $7 each. You can also opt to buy the “Entire System,” which includes the grip, two pucks, the VESA mount, a wall mount, and the case-agnostic adapter for $49. While you can certainly find cheaper kickstand options on Amazon and elsewhere, the Deckmate system feels sturdy and reliable. Sitting the Deck down with the Deckmate kickstand, it never feels like it’s going to topple over (as long as the angle is set right). Its size and build quality feel like a good match for the Deck itself.

You can also go the DIY route by downloading the Deckmate’s digital files and print them yourself. I imagine it will take some trial and error, but the files are free and distributed, as all things should be, under a Creative Commons license.

Overall, the Deckmate, particularly with its kickstand, is a great Steam Deck accessory that expands where (and how) I can play games on it. It’s high quality, looks good, and meshes nicely with the DIY spirit of the device. With any luck we’ll see more unique, quality projects of this sort as the Deck settles into the wider landscape of gaming hardware.

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Tinykin Review – Little Big Fun

Tinykin smartly blends platforming and puzzle-solving with the minion management of Nintendo’s Pikmin series. Players control a flea-sized astronaut who travels from his home planet to Earth to trace humanity’s true origins. The explorer’s journey takes him to an ordinary home occupied by sentient insects who worship a mysterious deity. To return home, the astronaut must assemble a rocket by gathering ordinary household objects with the help of small, adorable aliens called Tinykin. As a fan of “little person in a big world” experiences, Tinykin’s premise and world drew me in, and its gameplay satisfied me until its conclusion.

The best, though perhaps reductive, way to describe Tinykin’s gameplay would be “Pikmin as a platformer.” Each room in the house offers large, smartly laid-out playgrounds where players overcome platforming challenges and solve environmental puzzles using different types of Tinykin. These include pink varieties that carry objects, red versions that explode on impact when tossed, and green Tinykin that stack vertically to form a living ladder, among others. I like how the game introduces each Tinykin one stage at a time, letting me spend an entire level getting used to their unique talents before introducing another. 

The well-crafted puzzles become better (and more involved) as you recruit more Tinykin to your ranks. Some obstacles can be as simple as carrying an oversized appliance out of your path. Other tasks become scavenger hunts, challenging you to find creative ways of traversing the world to locate and retrieve scattered items. Solutions tend to be relatively straightforward, no matter what form a puzzle takes; Tinykin never forces you to wrack your brain, at least not for very long. I found this level of challenge relaxing but engaging enough to avoid becoming mundane or overly simplistic. Tinykin’s puzzle-solving has a nice flow that keeps the experience moving, making it a breeze to get through. 

Controlling the Tinykin is simple and intuitive, requiring little more than aiming and flinging them at designated targets. I also love that Tinykin can perform jobs independently, allowing me to multitask. It feels great to let a dozen helpers work on lugging objects to their destinations while I gleefully collect scattered pollen (used to upgrade a hover ability), find missing letters for a mail bug, and complete side quests. 

Tinykin is a collect-a-thon like the 3D platformers of old. Gathering items and finding secrets is rewarding because every nook and cranny usually hides a discovery. Sometimes it’s bundles of pollen; other times, it’s a missing piece needed to complete a side errand, such as reuniting a photograph with its frame. The world is a colorful, oversized jungle gym, and I’m impressed with how each room feels like a lived-in dwelling while still having clear pathways that appear organically arranged. 

 

I had the most fun freely exploring and using my Tinykin army to tinker with whatever lay before me, like pushing in protruding books or yanking a washing machine’s door open. Hopping across a kitchen, hallway, or bathroom is a delight from this small perspective, and platforming feels exceptionally tight. Riding soap bars across ziplines to get around faster makes it even better, and locating shortcuts, such as climbing ropes, expedites backtracking. I only wish there was a map because the busy environments make quest givers feel like needles in a haystack whenever it’s time to turn in a job. 

Tinykin feels comforting in an old-school sense. Its challenges never become convoluted, nor does its design reinvent the wheel, and that’s okay. Tinykin executes its handful of ideas exceptionally well, making it a thoroughly enjoyable and laid-back journey that only requires six to eight hours of your time. Don’t let this delightful adventure sneak under your radar.

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Grounded Review – Mountains Out Of Molehills

The survival-crafting genre is famous for a few things: steep learning curves, a bit of jank in its systems, and a sense of seriousness that, to be fair, is to be expected in an experience that starts you off hungry, thirsty, cold, and defenseless. Obsidian’s Grounded, launching into its 1.0 state after two years in Xbox Game Preview, delightfully rejects these tropes, by and large. Instead, it takes the best bits of these games, polishes them, and offers a childlike spin, giving it all a charming sense of place and a unique point of view.

The premise of the game’s setup is simple: You take on the role of one of four kids inexplicably shrunken down to the size of an ant and must fend for yourself (and up to three co-op partners) in The Backyard, a typical residential space that would be less than notable if not for your sudden change in stature.

In The Backyard, dinner is a tadpole cooked over campfire, or perhaps some gooey “gnatchos,” and your biggest concerns are no longer homework and bedtimes, but wolf spiders and bees. It’s the sort of thought experiment no one leaves childhood without having dwelled on–what if I was really small?–and as such, the game filters every weapon, potion, safe haven, and more through the eyes of its kids.

For Hoops and her friends, a few steps across The Backyard become a trek through a dense and dangerous forest.
For Hoops and her friends, a few steps across The Backyard become a trek through a dense and dangerous forest.

The early hours aren’t as steep a climb as these games tend to be, and that’s a credit to the team that made it. Normally in a survival-crafting game, just the simple act of building a campfire or crafting an axe can lead to severe head-scratching due to a game’s poor manner of explaining its world. Grounded’s well-reasoned early onboarding and menu guidance helps clarify what you need and, oftentimes, exactly how to get it.

This doesn’t directly make combat easier or base-building less time-consuming, but indirectly, it feels like absorbing the game’s codex to the extent that you always know what you should be doing. Combined with the game’s steady progression toward making your character formidable in their own right, Grounded is certainly one of the more welcoming games of its type.

Because of the game’s ’90s sci-fi overtones–your sudden status as a miniscule pre-teen is the result of an experiment you’ll uncover as the story progresses–there are many field stations set up around the dense backyard which you can use to study materials such as plant fibers, spider legs, and dandelion stems. As you study them, you’ll discover all you need to know about the item, including the crafting recipes that demand it.

This helps lift up Grounded in those critical first few sessions, because though you still won’t have much of what you need to craft some of the more elaborate items, you’ll discover them–and thus understand their place in the world–much sooner than games like this tend to allow. This starts to explain The Backyard at a much more welcoming pace than I’ve gotten used to by playing similar games over the years.

The early hours are still tough though, especially when played solo. Most encounters and even non-combative activities seem designed for multiple players. Taking on an orb weaver spider within the first hour is a death sentence for you, but more manageable with a few friends. Similarly, building a really elaborate home base takes a lot of assembly line-like maneuvering, like lugging grass planks from the wilds back to home. Each additional set of hands makes the game more enjoyable, which is usually the case when co-op is an option, but also more digestible.

When night falls, it's best to have a clear plan of action, or else just sleep through it.
When night falls, it’s best to have a clear plan of action, or else just sleep through it.

Speaking of base-building, Grounded presents its many craftable objects in fun ways. The kids at the center of the story think of base-building and weapon-crafting the same way Kevin McCallister thinks of booby-trapping his house from burglars in Home Alone. Like leaving Micro Machines scattered on the hardwood floor for the brutish intruders to slip on, building up a safe haven for yourself in Grounded means not only filling the space with important survival tools like a workbench or a tent, but also the stuff that kids would hope to have on hand, like a trampoline and a basketball hoop.

Much of the story is doled out through audio logs and the occasional cutscene, but the characters routinely comment on things as you’re exploring, like how the weevils, with their hose-like noses, sound like they’re congested, or how they’ve always been taught not to waste food. These are kids experiencing some incredible circumstances, but they still manage to behave and talk like kids. They’ll explore landmarks unique to their world too, like discarded hot dogs, spilled-over juice boxes, and ant hills full of secret passageways.

Buff-giving potions are smoothies, furniture includes things like a big squishy couch made of blueberries; everything in the world clearly comes from the mind of a child. The kids’ perspective may be dramatically shifted, but they don’t lose their youthful eye for the world, and this aesthetic difference is Grounded’s greatest attribute. The colors pop off the screen like a modern Disney movie, and even the game’s most dangerous enemies have a cartoonishness about them. This is not the sort of dark and dire survival-crafting game you may be used to. If Minecraft is a game for kids with the mind of an adult, Grounded is a game for adults with the heart of a child.

That’s meant as a compliment, but it does also start to explain one of the game’s downsides: Though the crafting menu is impressive in size, especially its complete weapons list that includes different dozens of bludgeons, swords, bows, and bombs, some parts of the crafting menu feel noticeably sparse. I played much of this game within the survival mode where all threats are real, but I did find myself enjoying the freedom of creative mode and its instantly-unlocked recipes, which becomes the post-game’s main draw after the story is concluded. Seeing all the game’s possibilities in one place made me realize that, beyond a few clever furnishings and several critical crafting objects like the workbench, the game doesn’t have a ton of things to decorate your home with.

This isn’t The Sims, of course, but in every category except for its interior decor, the base-building menu is robust. If you need protection, Grounded’s weapons locker and defensive blueprints are awesome. If you’re craving fashion over function, however, Grounded is more than a few cool chairs and dressers short of the world’s smallest IKEA.

Some enemies are meant to be avoided for a while.
Some enemies are meant to be avoided for a while.

Gallery

Along those lines, the game also isn’t as reactive and experimental as you might want. Everything has a strict purpose, and there’s usually no way to skirt its rules. You can counter some effects of armor with potions, and vice versa, but these are pretty basic RPG-style elements that Obsidian and others have worked with before. The way that you can create a chain-reaction of events to solve problems in games like Minecraft, Project Zomboid, and other titans of the genre is all but absent here, though I have routinely enjoyed eliminating a spider problem by drawing them into conflict with the sneaky-tough ladybugs.

If its whimsical aesthetic is its greatest feat, Grounded’s level of polish is its biggest surprise. In my experience, survival-crafting games are more prone to messiness than most other genres. Maybe it’s the ample tools players are given to reshape their world, or the trend that demands so many of these games launch in early access, thus giving players a jankier experience more of the time, but I went into Grounded expecting to live with some of that messiness, but didn’t really find much of it.

Combat feels good in first- or third-person, platforming can be a bit imprecise at times due to how floaty it is, but for the most part, Grounded seems to enjoy its status as both a game that comes in a long lineage of like-minded experiences and the latest project from an established, expert team like Obsidian. This is fortunate too, because the game’s many traversal elements–from floating to earth on a dandelion stem, to parkouring across bent-over grass and exploring the depths of the koi pond–require some polish that ensure your mistakes are your own, not the game’s. With the exception of some missed leaps across tree branches, I never had any issues with the game’s controls and its overall feel.

Grounded isn’t the biggest game of its kind, and most of its moment-to-moment gameplay moments have been seen before in other games. Still, the fantastical setup makes for an immediately intriguing setup, and to further stylize it as a uniquely child-like adventure, polish it beyond most of its peers, and set it in a world full of familiar sights to see in startling new ways makes Grounded no small feat.

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No, Microsoft Isn’t Making a White Xbox Series X [Updated]

Update 09/26/22: After a Logitech commercial seemed to show a white Xbox Series X model, Microsoft has confirmed that no such edition is being made.

In a statement to IGN, a spokesperson said: “The white Xbox Series X console for the promotional video by our partner is not in production. We have no plans to release the Xbox Series X console in white at this time.”

Logitech told The Verge that the console had simply been skinned to match the hardware in the background of the ad.

A white Xbox Series X has been spotted in a new Logitech advert, but it’s unclear if it’s an official colorway.

The console, spotted by VGC, is seen in the background of an advert for the Astro A30 wireless headset but has not been promoted anywhere else.

The scene itself depicts several consoles and peripherals placed on shelves… but it’s unclear whether this is a real, upcoming version of the console or simply a custom version made for this advert.

The Logitech advert's white Xbox Series X is seen to the right of the model. (Image credit: Logitech)

The Logitech advert’s white Xbox Series X is seen to the right of the model. (Image credit: Logitech)

Other than special editions, such as the Halo Infinite Xbox Series X, the Series X has only been available in black since its launch in November 2020.

However, the white (or two-tone) style of the recently released Xbox Elite Series 2 Core controller may well hint that a white Xbox is coming… or it just looks the part whether you’re playing on Xbox Series X or S. Either way, the appearance of a white console in the new Logitech advert is intriguing.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for further information.

The new Xbox Elite Series 2 Core edition launched alongside the Xbox Series X|S September update, which added a new feature for this controller. You can now change the color of the Xbox logo, as well as alter hue and saturation.

Elsewhere, Logitech’s Steam Deck rival, the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld will launch this October and costs just $349.

The G Cloud Gaming Handheld uses Android 11 and comes with Google Play Store pre-installed. Marketed as the first dedicated cloud gaming handheld, the console is capable of using Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now, and can also install additional apps via the Google Play Store, including remote play and video streaming apps.

Want to read more about the Xbox Series X|S? Check out the new Xbox September Update as well as details on its new noise suppression feature.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.


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The Story Behind Mortal Kombat’s Iconic Dragon Logo

Promotional art for Mortal Kombat shows the dragon logo overtop of people cheering.

You’ve probably seen the silhouette of Mortal Kombat’s dragon logo so often that you don’t even think about how little sense it makes. There weren’t any dragons in the original Mortal Kombat, and it doesn’t factor into the backstory about an interdimensional martial arts tournament to determine the fate of the planet. So what’s the deal? Co-creator John Tobias now explains that the iconic dragon was inspired by a statue on his boss’ desk.

Tobias recently re-discovered his original pencil sketch for the dragon logo and took to Twitter to share the backstory behind how it ended up becoming the central symbol for the now decades-running fighting game series. Midway general manager Ken Fedesna had a golden statue of a four-toed Chinese dragon on his desk and Tobias apparently saw it one day when a colleague borrowed it to scan and upload it as an asset in one of the stages.

“The inspiration to use a dragon as the fictional tournament’s symbol came from ‘Dragon Attack,’ which was in contention as our game’s title before [Ed Boon] and I changed it to ‘Mortal Kombat,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday. That working title was inspired by a Queen song of the same name. While it was ultimately ditched, the colors mentioned in the original song formed the basis for the eventual arcade cabinet, which also included the Chinese dragon from Fedesna’s desk.

“I had been thinking of creating an icon to represent the fictional tournament, but also to brand the game with a symbol… like Superman’s ‘S’ or Batman’s bat symbol,” Tobias wrote. The final design ended up being a combination of the yin-yang symbol and the profile of the dragon’s head. Tobias’ sister thought it looked like a seahorse, but 30 years later it’s synonymous with one of the bloodiest and most popular fighting game franchises ever. The original statue is still around too.

Meanwhile, fans are desperate for news of the next game in the series. The last one came out in 2019, and so far there haven’t been any hints about when Mortal Kombat 12 can be expected. Director Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios were expected to pivot to working on Injustice 3, but there’s been no official announcement on that either, and the messy Warner Bros. Discovery merger has some fearing the worst. Maybe NetherRealm can fill the gap with a 30th anniversary collection that brings the series’ past into the present.

    


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Netflix’s First They Cloned Tyrone Trailers Finds The Funny In Conspiracies

Netflix has released the first trailer for They Cloned Tyrone, an upcoming sci-fi comedy directed by Juel Taylor in his feature film directorial debut. The movie will be coming to Netflix on December 30.

The film’s synopsis reads as follows: “A series of eerie events thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy in this pulpy mystery caper.” Based on the trailer, which is mainly the aforementioned unlikely trio riding in an elevator, the three joining forces are Jamie Foxx (Spider-Man: No Way Home) as Slick Charles, John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens) as Fontraine, and Teyonah Parris (WandaVision) as Yo-Yo. Check out the trailer below. But the conspiracy they’re investigating in the film, at least based on the trailer below, is still somewhat of a mystery.

Boyega, who is also set to reunite with writer-director Joe Cornish on Attack the Block 2–a sequel to the film that arguably launched both their careers back in 2011–said in a recent Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance that he does films like They Cloned Tyrone because of pressure from his dad to pursue less purely artistic and emotional roles. Boyega told Kimmel, “My dad just wants me to jump off of buildings. He actually asked me why my career is not like Bruce Willis… He’s just like, ‘No, no, jump off a building, and then you’re a star.'”

They Cloned Tyrone comes from a script by Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier (Space Jam: A New Legacy).

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