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    Raven Software Strike Ends Following Successful Unionization Vote, QA Organizational Changes In The Works

    By GameInformer,


    It is important to keep in mind what is going on within Activision Blizzard at this time regarding ongoing allegations about the work culture. The ongoing lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against the company is over reported toxic workplace culture. The bulk of the suit focuses on "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws," specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please check out our previous coverage here.

    It's been a busy week for Activision Blizzard studios, but even more so for the workers at Raven Software. Quality Assurance members of the studio who have been on strike for several weeks following the termination of employment of contracted workers have decided to cease striking following a successful vote for unionization on Friday

    The decision to end the strike came on Saturday from the ABetterABK Twitter account, saying, "Pending the recognition of our union, the Raven QA strike has ended. Unused strike funds are being stored for future organizing/strike efforts." So, while these QA members are going back to work, the onus is on Activision Blizzard to recognize the union or face another potential strike in the future. 

    Pending the recognition of our union, the Raven QA strike has ended. Unused strike funds are being stored for future organizing/strike efforts.

    We'll post or retweet any GWU updates here. Appreciate all the community support throughout the strike!

    — ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) January 23, 2022

    While the Game Workers Alliance Union is yet to be acknowledged by the brass at the prolific publisher, more news came out today about a QA reorganization within Raven Software. Game Informer was provided a letter sent to Raven staff from studio head Brian Raffel outlining the changes to Quality Assurance and their relationship with other departments within the studio. Raffel says in the letter, "I’m excited to share that our QA colleagues will embed directly within various teams across the studio, including Animation, Art, Design, Audio, Production, and Engineering." Brian states later in the announcement that embedding QA with other teams is the norm at other Activision studios and will bring Raven more in line with how the rest of the broader company is operating. "It’s more important than ever that we foster tighter integration and coordination across the studio – embedding will allow for this," writes Raffel. 

    A statement from an Activision Publishing spokesperson shares Brian Raffel's sentiment that this change will "enhance the collaborative work" of the various teams to support the products it works on. The spokesperson goes on to say, "This is the next step in a process that has been carefully considered and in the works for some time, and this structure aligns Raven with the best practices of other prominent Activision studios. It is also a milestone in our broader plan to integrate QA more into the development process as our teams strive to deliver best in class coordination in real-time, live service operations."

    While it seems like there's some progress in changing how the QA team is handled within Raven Software, this statement doesn't mention or acknowledge Friday's vote to unionize, nor does it look like it has been officially acknowledged by management at all. We'll report on any developments that will come from either of these changes in the coming days and weeks.

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    Jack Garland Does It His Way In The Final Stranger Of Paradise Trailer

    By GameInformer,

    Click here to watch embedded media

    Jack Garland and his conquest to destroy Chaos has had us talking since we learned of it last June. We're less than two months from release, and after two betas and multiple trailers, I still don't know what is going on in Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin.

    There's plenty of action shown off in the latest and apparently last trailer for the game, with Jack and Co. using various classes in battle to destroy hordes of enemies, including the multi-headed Tiamat, which apparently gets crystallized and shattered in the footage. We're also introduced to more big baddies like Lich and Kraken and the Final Fantasy 1 boss known as Marilith brandishing some fiery blades. 

    We catch glimpses at Jack dressed in regal garb, speaking with Sarah, and gifting her a pitch-black egg-like object, while promising not to forget. Memory is brought up a few times, with one early mention from Jack expressing the opinion that "it's a mercy to forget." The trailer clocks in at almost five minutes and goes all over the place. From dark castles to bright virtual-looking rooms, and camera sweeps over golden fields set to Frank Sinatra's "My Way". I never thought I'd be hearing Ol' Blue Eyes on a Final Fantasy soundtrack alongside Limp Bizkit, but here we are. 

    Whether you like it or not, Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is set for release on March 18 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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    Every Pokémon Officially Confirmed For Pokémon Legends: Arceus

    By GameInformer,


    Pokémon Legends: Arceus is out later this week, and in honor of its release, we've collected this list of Pokemon confirmed to be roaming the wilds in the Hisui region. This list does not include any leaked information and is based on Pokémon shown in official art, screenshots, or footage for Pokémon Legends: Arceus. However, there are quite a few Pokémon we can assume are in the game if their final evolution has been revealed or there is enough evidence for us to say we strongly think they will be included like the Sinnoh Gen 1 evolution cycle (Magmortar, Tangrowth, etc.). While we haven't laid eyes on them, we've included their names along with an asterisk. We will try to update this list as more information becomes officially available.

    Without further ado, here are the Pokémon we've confirmed are in Legends: Arceus in order of generation they were introduced: 

    Generation 1:

    • Pikachu
    • Raichu
    • Clefairy
    • Clefable
    • Vulpix
    • Ninetales*
    • Zubat*
    • Golbat
    • Psyduck
    • Golduck
    • Growlithe (Hisuian)
    • Abra
    • Kadabra*
    • Alakazam*
    • Machop
    • Machoke
    • Machamp*
    • Tentacool
    • Tentacruel
    • Geodude
    • Graveler
    • Golem*
    • Ponyta
    • Rapidash
    • Magnemite
    • Magneton
    • Onix
    • Voltorb (Hisuian)
    • Rhyhorn
    • Rhydon
    • Tangela
    • Mr. Mime
    • Scyther* (Evolves into Kleavor)
    • Electabuzz
    • Magmar
    • Magikarp
    • Gyarados
    • Eevee
    • Snorlax

    Generation 2:

    • Cyndaquil
    • Crobat
    • Pichu*
    • Cleffa*
    • Togepi
    • Togetic*
    • Sudowoodo
    • Aipom
    • Yanma
    • Murkrow
    • Gligar
    • Heracross
    • Tediursa
    • Ursaring
    • Swinub
    • Piloswine
    • Remoraid*
    • Octillery
    • Mantine
    • Stantler* (Evolves into Wyrdeer)
    • Elekid*
    • Magby*

    Generation 3:

    • Wurmple
    • Silcoon
    • Beautifly
    • Cascoon*
    • Dustox*
    • Ralts
    • Kirlia
    • Gardevoir
    • Nosepass
    • Roselia*
    • Chimecho
    • Snorunt
    • Glalie
    • Spheal
    • Sealeo
    • Walrein

    Generation 4:

    • Turtwig
    • Grotle
    • Torterra
    • Chimchar
    • Monferno
    • Infernape
    • Piplup
    • Prinplup
    • Empoleon
    • Starly
    • Staravia
    • Staraptor
    • Bidoof
    • Bibarel
    • Kricketot
    • Kricketune
    • Shinx
    • Luxio
    • Luxray
    • Budew
    • Roserade
    • Burmy
    • Wormadam
    • Mothim
    • Combee
    • Vespiquen
    • Pachirisu
    • Buizel
    • Floatzel
    • Cherubi (pictured on a sign)
    • Cherrim*
    • Shellos
    • Gastrodon
    • Ambipom*
    • Driftloon
    • Drifblim
    • Buneary
    • Lopunny
    • Honchkrow
    • Glameow
    • Purugly
    • Chingling
    • Stunky
    • Skuntank
    • Bronzor
    • Bronzong
    • Bonsly
    • Mime Jr.*
    • Chatot
    • Gible*
    • Gabite*
    • Garchomp
    • Munchlax
    • Riolu
    • Lucario
    • Hippopotas
    • Hoppowdon
    • Skorupi
    • Drapion
    • Croagunk
    • Toxicroak
    • Carnivine
    • Finneon*
    • Lumineon*
    • Mantyke
    • Snover
    • Abomasnow
    • Magnezone*
    • Rhyperior*
    • Tangrowth
    • Electivire
    • Magmortar
    • Togekiss*
    • Yanmega*
    • Gliscor
    • Gallade
    • Probopass
    • Froslass
    • Darkrai
    • Shaymin (Land Forme)
    • Arceus

    Generation 5:

    • Oshawott
    • Basculin* (Evolves into Basculegion)
    • Zorua (Hisuian)
    • Zoroark (Hisuian)
    • Braviary (Hisuian)

    Generation 6:

    • Rowlet

    New Pokémon in Legends Arceus:

    • Wyrdeer
    • Basculegion
    • Kleavor

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    Dead By Daylight: New Saw Crossover Puts Jigsaw Front And Center

    By GameInformer,

    Dead by Daylight Jigsaw Saw

    Behaviour Interactive has announced that in collaboration with Lionsgate Films, it is bringing more Saw content to the Dead by Daylight universe, including Jigsaw. 

    This news comes by way of IGN, which revealed that Jigsaw will be featured in Dead by Daylight’s new Archives Tome 10: Saw event. This Tome will go live on all platforms where you can play Dead by Daylight on January 26. 

    According to IGN, players will explore the memories of Amanda Young and Detective Tapp from Lionsgate’s Saw movies to unlock the “Book of Saw Collection.” Plus, players will be able to unlock new rewards in the form of outfits for Young and Tapp, and 60 new cosmetics for their own character. 

    “Over and above our primary objective of providing our fans with fun and continuously renewed content, one of our goals when integrating a powerful movie franchise such as Saw is to invite a larger community into the Dead by Daylight universe,” director Mathieu Côté told IGN. “We’re truly grateful to our partner Lionsgate for offering us this opportunity.” 

    What’s interesting about this is that Saw-related content has already been featured in the multiplayer horror game by way of the Pig killer. Perhaps this means Behaviour Interactive is going to double-dip into other horror franchises it’s collaborated with in the past. 

    While waiting for Jigsaw to join the game on January 26, read about the most recent DLC, Portrait of a Murder, that hit Dead by Daylight back in November, and then check out the teaser for the upcoming chapter based on The Ring. Read our thoughts on the game in Game Informer’s Dead by Daylight review after that. 

    [Source: IGN]

    Are you excited for Archives Tome 10: Saw? Let us know in the comments below!

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    Blizzard on Weapons Loot Table in Sepulcher of the First Ones

    By Curse,
    Blizzard on Weapons Loot Table in Sepulcher of the First Ones
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Hi! Enhancement currently has 3 weapons on the first bosses of the raid, but no higher ilvl weapon on the last bosses. We are the only melee dps spec alongside rogues to not have a higher ilvl weapon. We also didn’t have one in SoD. Considering our melee weapons have a decent impact on our damage as a melee dps, is it possible to get an additional higher ilvl weapon on the last bosses? A nice solution would be to change the higher ilvl warglaives on the 9th boss to a 1h axe or even remake the weapon tokens from Nathria. It just feels bad to not have access to the same power as the other classes. Or at least can we get an explanation for this situation. Thanks!

    Hey there! This feedback’s come up in a few places, so I wanted to drop by and give an update on what we’re doing to address it, why we’re addressing it in this case specifically, and then go into a deeper dive behind some of the motivations and current thoughts about end-boss weapons, raid loot in general, and weapon tokens ala Castle Nathria.

    First off, the what and why - we’re going to be adding an Agility Dagger to Rygelon (Boss 10) & removing the Agility Fist Weapon from Skolex and moving it to The Jailer (Boss 11). This represents +1 additional weapon overall for the raid, and leaves only some healers without a weapon from those final 3 bosses - we’re not likely to make a change to that, as there’s a unique Healer Mace that we anticipate will be a pretty powerful option for those specs earlier in the raid. As to why we’re making this change - Sepulcher of the First Ones has the highest amount of bosses with increased item levels (3 bosses over the traditional 1 or 2), which we felt was appropriate to support both Rygelon & Lords of Dread feeling like high-level encounters you could tackle in any order, as well as the cement a clear jump after Anduin, the raid’s first-week hurdle. However, even one extra boss at the +7 threshold created a level of imbalance that felt less textured in the ‘some have one, some don’t’ way, and more like a small few being excluded - exclusion to this degree wasn’t intentional, and that’s why we’re acting on it.

    However, this has led to some legitimate questions - why don’t all classes have a ‘stronger’ weapon in each raid, and furthermore, why not use Weapon Tokens like Castle Nathria did? These may not answer all of those perfectly, but I’d like to share some thoughts on the subject and shed light on the kinds of things we think about when designing items & loot tables that may help push the conversation forward.

    Philosophically speaking, we think there’s a lot more to items than just the stats they provide on a mechanical level. We put so much time into naming and placing them appropriately because they’re a way to flesh out the stories of the enemies and environments they come from. As you suggest in your post - we certainly could have included an Axe over a Warglaive on the Lords of Dread fight if our goal was purely covering every spec; but let’s look at it from a different angle. Lords of Dread has you fighting Mal’Ganis, debateably the most well-known Demon in all of Warcraft Lore, and the only demon in any of Shadowlands’ 3 raids. From that perspective, it might be weirder if we didn’t drop Demon Hunter-specific weapons from that fight.

    Every loot table on any boss should help tell a story, which adds to the excitement of receiving the drops themselves. There’s layers to this of course; harder or more iconic encounters often deserve more unique or powerful rewards - but they’re a tool we use for our game to feel more immersive. Another example from Sepulcher is Artificer Xymox’s return - there are a pair of swords that use the same model, where one is a relic the Cartel’s stolen from the raid, and the other is a replica of the same blade they’ve made with the intent to auction it off at Tazavesh. Compare this to 9.0’s tokens - while there was a higher level of equality among drops in the raid, the excitement was often lower in a relative sense; this is in part due to the delayed gratification tokens provide (you had to zone out in 9.0’s case to get the appearances from your sanctum), and in part due to the disconnect in what you actually got out of them. Despite having some very cool covenant appearances, they didn’t feel grounded in the story of the raid or the content you got the token from, which led to the specific drops feeling less memorable overall.

    Another goal of ours is to have loot evenly distributed throughout a raid such that there’s a variety of things groups value differently across bosses and even entire wings. This helps groups who are struggling to progress on a specific difficulty still get useful loot while reclearing, while also serving as a nice incentive for groups to push ever-so-slightly into a higher difficulty and gain a foothold. This idea is what led us back to making certain unique weapons (internally we call these Cantrips) in Sanctum of Domination like Jotungeirr from The Nine, or Cruciform Veinripper from Painsmith - their unique effects were on par with a higher item level bump, but we were also able to let them drop earlier, and enhance the experience of defeating those important characters within our setting. Weapons aren’t the only way we can create memorable and equitable raid loot (jewelry and trinkets also tend to help fill in these gaps as well), but they’re a very potent tool in our toolbox for making all parts of the raid feel rewarding and meaningful to revisit rather than making the final bosses be the only ones that matter.

    To be clear: 9.0’s weapon tokens did solve a problem for some players, and there’s a lesson to be had in the response to them. While a 7 item level disparity is rarely ever a barrier to class viability, the feeling that everyone was on an even playing field along at least one axis is clearly an idea that resonated strongly among some of you. I don’t want all of the above speak to sound like we’re never going to iterate on weapons, or that people who liked how 9.0 played out were flat Wrong - just that Tokens clearly solve only one slice of the problem while denying us (or at least hindering) the ability to achieve our other goals for raid itemization as a whole.

    There’s a lot more we could get into about the place of Cantrip weapons/items, but I’d like to save that discussion for a future post later on when we’ve got a greater appreciation for how the Sepulcher plays out. I hope this helps communicate a bit more about where we’re coming from and why things end up the way they do, even among players who value the mechanical & numbers side of WoW for whom some of this may not be satisfying. Lastly, I want to thank you for taking the time to write this post & make suggestions! We can’t respond to every single one, but they help shape our discussions and iterations internally.

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    PvP with the Blues in the Solo Shuffle Brawl - Friday, January 28

    By Curse,
    PvP with the Blues in the Solo Shuffle Brawl - Friday, January 28
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    On Friday, January 28, starting at 2:00 p.m. PST, come join members of the World of Warcraft development team on the Broxigar PTR realm as we playtest the new Solo Shuffle Brawl that’s being added in the 9.2 Eternity’s End update!

    The Solo Shuffle brawl pits six players (two healers or tanks, four damage dealers) against each other in exciting 3v3 Arena matches. As the name implies, you can only queue for this brawl solo and players will go through 6 rounds of arena matches as they are shuffled between teams. For more design insight on Solo Shuffle, please check out our Solo Shuffle article: Eternity’s End Preview: Solo Shuffle

    For this PTR playtest specifically, we will be placing all arena participants in the new 9.2 Arena – Maldraxxus Coliseum. This setup is only for PTR testing; the Solo Shuffle Brawl will pick a random arena map when it is active in 9.2 Eternity’s End.

    January 28 at 2:00 p.m. PST

    We’ll be queueing for Solo Shuffle: Maldraxxus Coliseum starting at 2:00 p.m until 4:00 p.m.

    To playtest with us, log into the PTR and open Group Finder (default hotkey: i), click on the Players vs. Player tab, select the Solo Shuffle: Maldraxxus Coliseum and click Join Battle.

    After playtesting with us, please submit any bugs and feedback in the following thread: Solo Shuffle Brawl Feedback

    We look forward to seeing you on the Broxigar PTR realm on Friday, and we appreciate all of your testing and feedback!

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