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    Netflix's The Witcher Season 2 Reportedly Casts Downtown Abbey Actor Kevin Doyle

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Netflix's The Witcher season 2 is back in production after a few delays, including an injury involving Geralt's actor, Henry Cavill. Several delays have been an unfortunate occurrence for the show's new season due to COVID-19 and Work From Home orders, but the show continues on with a brand new castmate in tow. According to recent reports, Netflix's The Witcher season 2 casts Downtown Abbey actor Kevin Doyle. 

    As reported by Redanian Intelligence, a property that has provided a number of onsite images and a plethora of insider information, the newest cast member will reportedly be playing a character by the name of Ba'Lian. Known for his portrayal of Mr. Molesley on the period series, he's also contributed his talents to other shows like The Tudors, Hawaii Five-0, and Happy Valley.

    If you're among the people that we know are asking "who," you're not alone in your confusion about who Ba'Lian is. This character does not appear in any of the novels from Andrzej Sapkowski, the source material behind the show that eventually spawned CD Projekt Red's hit The Witcher game adaptation. This will be an all-new character to meet somewhere during the season 2 narrative. 

    The upcoming season will be much darker than the previous episodes we've experienced and has taken quite a few notes following the first season's reception. To the relief of many, one critical portion of feedback that has been implemented is making the Nilfgaard armor actually resemble armor versus the weird tree testicle visage first witnessed in the debut episode. 

    Season 2 will see the return to Geralt's childhood home of Kaer Morhen, where the hope for peace is long gone for our cast of beloved characters. With Yennefer's return from her perceived death and even more characters from the series making their on-screen debuts, Netflix's The Witcher season 2 is the highly anticipated continuation of where this show can lead fans.  

    What are your thoughts on Netflix's The Witcher season 2's latest casting reveal? What are you hoping season 2 includes that the first one did not? Sound off with your thoughts in the comment section below. 

    [Source: Redanian Intelligence via r/NetflixWitcher]

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    Castle Nathria Hall of Fame Closed, Arena World Championship 2021 - Cup 4

    Curse
    By Curse,
    Castle Nathria Hall of Fame Closed - Cross Realm Mythic Available Next Week
    100 Alliance and Horde guilds have completed Mythic Castle Nathria and claimed their spots in the Hall of Fame. Starting next week, March 9 in NA and March 10 in EU, cross realm Mythic Castle Nathria will be available.

    CastleNathriaHallofFameClosed.jpg


    Arena World Championship 2021 - Cup 4
    Arena World Championship 2021 Cup 4 has started! Watch top teams from around the world fight for their share of the weekly $10,000 prize pool, and points used to advance to the Season 1 Circuit.

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    Destiny 2 Trials Of Osiris Disabled Indefinitely Following Win-Trading Shutdown

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

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    Earlier this week, Bungie removed Trials of Osiris from Destiny 2: Season of the Chosen following the revelation that that players were "win-trading" in order to get those coveted rewards. While the studio gave us some good news regarding the hilariously fun 12-player raid glitch, Bungie also confirmed that Trials of Osiris is disabled indefinitely. 

    In the most recent This Week In Bungie blog post, Cozmo offered up an update for those players curious about when Trials would return. The update was short, not so sweet, and to the point: "Last weekend, Trials of Osiris was disabled due to unexpected issues. While these issues are being investigated, Trials of Osiris will be unavailable to players. We will have more information when it becomes available." 

    While the indefinite removal is a bummer for some, the good news is that it sounds like it will be making its way back into the game at some point in the future. Bungie has a lot of change up ahead, including crossplay and transmog -- as well as a total overhaul to rewards -- so the rollout of Trials maybe a little longer than usual. Still, there are a lot of problems with the setup of this particular PvP instance, so hopefully Bungie takes the time to look at some of those less-than-desired aspects of Trials before bringing it back into the game. 

    Click here to watch embedded media

    As we mentioned in our previous coverage, Trials is an instance that is overrun cheaters, making the already brutally challenging PvP instance even more so, especially for those running on PC. Other players feel that Bungie hasn't been consistent regarding what this experience has to offer, especially in terms of what the ultimate goal is. Some feel that if the player count is low, Bungie will switch up the Trials experience to try to bring more Guardians in. Given that Trials is incredibly challenging as part of being a Pinnacle PvP activity, new players get smashed into the ground fairly quickly and with nothing but the equivalent of "I went to Trials and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." 

    It will be interesting to see how Trials of Osiris continues to evolve in Destiny 2, we hope that the latest iteration of tweaks is one that players will resonate with. 

    To check out what else is moving and shaking in the world of Destiny 2 with Season of the Chosen, you can check out our game hub here to learn more. 

    [Source: Bungie]

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    5 Takeaways From The Elden Ring Leaks

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    eldenring2.jpg

    Since the cryptic cinematic reveal in 2019, players haven't heard or seen anything official from From Software's Elden Ring. With the dynamite success of Sekiro, Dark Souls III, and the rest of the Souls saga, expectations are high for From Software's next contribution to the subgenre they put on the map with Demon's Souls a decade ago. Recently, some blurry snippets of what's purported to be Elden Ring footage have leaked, as these things sometimes do. Bloodborne aka Project Beast was famously leaked prior to release, showing off what would be an incredible and horrific dive into the unknown.

    After Sekiro, we've all had tons of questions about Elden Ring. How will it iterate on From's dark fantasy formula? Well, if these alleged clips are something to go on, we can answer a couple of those burning inquiries. Please note that this footage was likely ancient in game development terms, never meant to be screened to the public, and any number of these elements could be changed or completely nonexistent when we finally see the game for real. There are often huge changes in development that players never know about. That said, let's look at a few elements...

    There's A Jump Button

    Souls jumping is the stuff memes are made of, with thousands of clips out there where players take blundersome tumbles off walls, ledges, cliffs, and anything else you can fall of of. A dedicated jump button was featured prominently in Sekiro, letting players embrace traversal and speed options. However, it's been absent in the Souls games, where if you want to cross a gap you basically held down sprint and prayed for everything to work out. A small snippet of gameplay shows a character executing what appears to be a standard jump, so that could be exciting for exploration possibilities.

    You Can Ride A Horse. And Fight On It!

    Mounted combat is here. Given the expected scale and scope of Elden Ring's world, getting around on a mount is probably going to be a nice way to travel when you need to. Potentially more exciting is a few frames that feature actual attacking on horseback, which could let you set up assaults on high priority targets before making an important getaway as deadlier enemies come your way. The horseback riding against vistas like snowy mountains and more looks really awesome.

    We're Going To Fight Dragons

    Shocking absolutely no one, there's a giant fire-breathing dragon in the clips. Hidetaka Mizazaki has a thing for dragons, especially dragons on bridges, so I'm guessing we'll have at least two to take on. That's a guess based on nothing except Souls game dragon math, and the fact we see a giant dragon in the leaked footage.

    There's a Lot Of Dark Souls DNA Here

    In the footage, we see a lot of Dark Souls essence. Backstabbing, swordfighting skeletons, homing soulmass spell, rolling, giant door opening, and more. The released reel looks incredibly Souls-like, so much that you could easily insert the frames into some Dark Souls 3 DLC and not even miss a beat. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Give us that open world Dark Souls experience we always wanted!

    There's Probably Going TO Be a Dark, Rickety Environment

    The snippets of footage give us a look at a rickety, hard to traverse area of planks and wood, which is an environmental concept we've seen since Valley of Defilement, Blighttown, and more. The torch itself plays prominently in several clips, so it's possible that lighting mechanics could be being toyed with again, an aspect that was originally going to play a much bigger role in Dark Souls 2 but was essentially pared down to being meaningless in final release.

    What do you expect to see in Elden Ring? Did you check out the leaks or are you waiting for an official reveal? Let us know in the comments below!

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    How Many Wins Can We Get In Call Of Duty: Warzone - GI Live

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,
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    Almost a full year after the game's release, Call of Duty: Warzone remains one of the biggest titles on the planet. But as far as I know, the Game Informer team has yet to produce a win on stream in that time. Will that change today?

    Join Game Informer as we squad up and try our best to produce that coveted win (or dub as the kids call it) and have a fun fraggin' Friday stream with the GI community.

    If at first we don't succeed in Warzone, we're going to be going on a tour of some of the other modes in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War as well. Will we be able to survive the treacherous zombie hordes in the game's new Outbreak mode? How will Reiner, Tack, Marcus, and I fare as a squad in more tactical game types like Search and Destroy? You can only know by tuning in. 

    We're kicking off the fun at 2 p.m. CT, so be sure to join us for all the fraggin' fun and end your week on a high note! We'd also love your suggestions on what game modes you'd like to see us play, so don't be afraid to make your voice heard in chat. If you can't get enough of our live shows, remember to subscribe on YouTubeTwitchTwitter, and Facebook to get notified when we go live each week!

    Needing more reasons to be excited about Call of Duty? Be sure to check out Dan Tack's write-up on what the new Outbreak mode is all about and why it's going to be a big deal. You can also check out why you made need to buy a new hard drive if you're planning on playing Black Ops Cold War on a PlayStation 4.

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    How The Marvel's Avengers Game Can Turn It Around

    GameInformer
    By GameInformer,

    marevels_avengers_game.jpg

    Marvel's Avengers has an incredible single-player story, which made it very odd that Square Enix chose to market the Crystal Dynamics game heavily as a multiplayer experience. With so much of a focus on playing with friends, the endgame component of the Marvel game left little to be desired. Many felt that the grind was not worth the effort, a problem that games like Destiny 2 have faced, and with the response to those complaints being to make the title even more of a grind, we couldn't help but wonder what the heck the studio is doing and offer up a few things we'd like to see to help them turn it around. 

    How can Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics make Marvel's Avengers good again? 

    The single-player story of Marvel's Avengers, despite initial reservations over character models, was a pretty big hit for many players. It offered a different perspective of some of our favorite heroes and it also gave the "adorkably" charming Kamala Khan a spotlight that this character deserved. The story wasn't the problem. The problem was that Square Enix shoved the story aside when marketing the title pre-launch so when it eventually did release, players were expecting this breathtaking, fully fleshed-out multiplayer endgame experience. What they got was an endless repetitious cycle that didn't feel like there was any real payoff. The grind was real. It was also Real Boring™. 

    In response to criticisms that the grind was just too much and that the endgame experience felt lacking, Crystal Dynamics announced a new set of changes. The answer? More grind! Now, the studio is making it even harder to level up and is not even offering an increase in XP until level 25. The vanilla version of the game made the grind to level 50 slow (seemingly never-ending), and without reward. The decision to make the progression even slower, even harder to get to was the exact opposite of the change this team should have implemented. 

    To further the disconnect that the studio seems to have with what players want, our own Andrew Reiner noted in his review that the endgame content didn't match up with the goal intended. He said, "It doesn’t have the competitive hooks of similarly designed games like Destiny. A steady drip of new stories and missions will be needed along with the announced heroes."

    Marvel's Avengers

    While we've seen new characters join the fight, and more on the way, it's not enough. The concurrent player count for Marvel's Avengers has dropped dramatically since launch, a problem an online game never wants to face. So what can the team do differently? Ready for a controversial statement? Here we go: Square Enix needs to take a page from the Destiny 2 playbook. 

    Destiny 2 received a mixed reaction from players surrounding its launch. Those critical of the game took issue with rewards locked behind paywalls, lackluster endgame, cheaters galore, and a disconnect between story expansions all painted a bleak picture for the future of Bungie's space franchise. Then Bungie parted ways with Activision, and we as players began to see change happen. Did the positive change happen overnight? Absolutely not. Is the game perfect now? Still nope. Between Trials of Osiris woes and Stasis' mixed reception, Bungie still has a lot of work to do. The difference is, the work Bungie has done thus far has injected fresh life into the community – a community that once more has a healthy number of active players and even more jumping in all of the time. 

    What Crystal Dynamics (and Square Enix as the publisher) needs to do is listen. The decision to make the game even more of a grind comes from the creative director mentioning that he thought that players felt that way because they were "confused." What Bungie has done, and what others have done as well such as Ubisoft with The Division 2, is listen without presumption and make plans accordingly. That's caused some missteps along the way, especially with a community like Destiny's where players seem split on what they want, but what's important is that they never stopped trying. The game available now is wildly different than the launch title. The real turning point was the Forsaken DLC, an expansion that made the risky move of killing off one of the most beloved characters in the franchise's history. What many thought would be the final nail in the coffin for Destiny 2 actually acted as a catalyst for a bright new future. Bungie has invested heavily in endgame experiences (we're ignoring Trials here, because good god is that a mess) and Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics needs to do the same. 

    Instead of making the grind even more at a snail's pace, Crystal Dynamics needs to instead focus on fixing the more glaring technical issues that are still prevalent, especially those regarding Kate Bishop. Between the delayed arrival of Hawkeye and the lack of any meaningful tweaks to endgame, Marvel's Avengers is in a dangerous position of slipping permanently into the trap that Anthem did. But it's not too late. 

    They also need to reverse plans for the slowed progression. That is not the way to go in any reality and will only further hurt any other improvements that are on the way.

    More content

    Marvel's Avengers

    Crystal Dynamics needs to adopt a more consistent content schedule. The sparsity and sporadic release of anything new makes it hard for players that are losing faith to stay focused on the game. Personally, I would love to see the studio release a new hero and a new baddie every 3-4 months or so. That will keep players interested long enough to wait out any "online boredom" felt while awaiting new arrivals. It will also keep those that do move onto other games a reason to jump back in, and a reason to keep jumping back in. 

    But new characters won't be enough, especially with the continuously dropping player count. In addition to a new good guy vs. bad guy rotation, the team should invest in multiple zone expansions on a frequent scale as well. While I understand that this might not be as doable as in the past, especially with COVID-19, any purposefully withheld content needs to be brought front and center if it's ready. 

    New skill trees to invest time in, meaningful skill trees that feel new and exciting. New zones to explore that hide rewards that players will care about, new little Easter egg voice lines for players to stumble upon and want to talk about. More comedy, more levity. People want to laugh right now. They need to laugh right now. So make them laugh, this is an all-star cast of heroes that we grew up loving and aspiring to. The MCU and comics have proven time and time again that Marvel has a unique edge when it comes to a comedic overlay, even during serious arcs, and Square Enix should encourage Crystal Dynamics to lean into this. 

    Is it worth it? 

    Should Square and Crystal continue throwing money at a game that continues to go downhill? It's technically still making a profit, so it's not in the position that BioWare found itself in with Anthem, but that doesn't mean that the same future isn't a distinct possibility. What the company needs to do now is show that they are listening. Tap into its inner Bungie and put action behind words: "We hear you, we're listening, we'll do better" and then actually do better. Players want content. The company has more content than most IPs to work with. Use it. Harness it. Deliver it and we could just see a 180 that the game needs to thrive. 

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