Anthem’s pre-Cataclysm challenges are now live

Fair to say that Anthem has, so far, been one of 2019’s major disappointments. BioWare’s highly-anticipated loot-shooter landed with what can politely be called a thud six months ago, and it wasn’t long after launch that the studio essentially scrapped its post-launch roadmap and hunkered down to rethink things. Now it seems BioWare is finally gearing up for the Cataclysm, an in-game event that was meant to change Anthem’s landscape and add more to do for end-game players. A new set of ‘Pre-Cataclysm’ challenges are available to play in Freeplay mode now, and these all have to do with crystals. You can find them under the heading ‘The Oncoming Storm’ in the challenges tab in the menu. One has you destroying crystals scattered around Bastion, another wants you to complete three ‘Crystal World Events,’ and another requires you to defeat crystallized enemies. Players who complete these challenges will earn some coin and some limited-time decals to use on their javelins. All in all, not a massive addition to the game, but these are supposedly just a two-week prelude to the main event, the Cataclysm.

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Here’s what Drodo’s Auto Chess looks like on PC (for now)

The auto-battler wars are well underway on PC now, with Valve’s Dota Underlords and Riot’s Teamfight Tactics currently duking it out for supremacy. But the studio that kicked this trend off to begin with is getting ready to enter the fray. Drodo Studio, the team of Chinese developers who created the original Auto Chess mod for Dota 2, have released a playable alpha of Auto Chess, and you can play it now if you pre-registered. The game is available exclusively on the Epic Games Store, which in this case may have to do with the fact that Valve decided to make its own version of the game using Dota 2’s heroes, which Valve owns. Drodo, meanwhile, already has a standalone version available for mobile devices that it developed with Dragonest, and now it’s gearing up to launch a version for PC as well, with all new heroes, items, and lore. If, like me, you neglected to sign up for this one ahead of time, don’t worry. Youtuber MMOJackX57 has uploaded a video showing off some of the alpha PC gameplay, so you can get a sense of how it looks compared to Underlords and TFT.

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Help blow up thousands of spaceships in Eve Online’s next Aether Wars event

I won’t sit here and pretend to understand all the vagaries of Eve Online. What I do know is that it’s a massive and persistent online universe that involves faster than light travel, time dilation, and blowing up extremely expensive capital ships owned by player-created corporations called things like The Goonswarm Federation. During this year’s GDC, Eve developer CCP and London tech startup Hadean teamed up to host the biggest battle Eve has ever seen: 3,852 players flew around in a single instance of Eve and ultimately blew up a grand total of 88,988 ships. Now they’re planning on doing it again. This time it’ll be even bigger, and non-Eve players can sign up to take part. Hadean isn’t a game developer; rather, the company specializes in distributed simulations. This means, according to the representative I spoke with at GDC during the last Aether War test in March, that the company can help drastically increase the scale of multiplayer games without the need to increase the number or capabilities of servers – it all happens in the cloud.

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Yes, there is a bathtub scene in Netflix’s The Witcher

The burning question on every Witcher fan’s mind when it comes to Netflix’s upcoming series is this one: Does Geralt lounge in a washbasin at any point? We all know the scene from The Witcher III – it’s a pause in the action, and a tender moment between Geralt and Yennefer. For better or worse, it’s become one of the most memorable images from the game. So will that scene – or one like it – be making the jump to the show? Fortunately, io9 was on hand during a press roundtable with showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich to ask that very question. “There is a bathtub this season,” Hissrich said. “I won’t tell you who’s in the bathtub, but there’s a bathtub.” So the answer is: Maybe, sort of. One thing to bear in mind about The Witcher series Netflix is producing is that it an interpretation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels rather than the games, which themselves were interpretations of the original novels. That means you’re inevitably going to wind up with ‘discrepancies’ between the two, as one person will imagine a scene in a written story differently than another will.

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Temtem, the Pokémon-inspired MMO, is teaming up with Humble

The developers behind Temtem, an MMO that takes more than a little inspiration from Pokémon, have teamed up with Humble to handle distribution, marketing, and other business-related concerns while the studio focuses in on the nuts-and-bolts development of its game. In an update posted on the Temtem Kickstarter page, developer Crema explains that the task of creating a game is a big one. “There are so many things involved in the process and a team our size can hardly manage to achieve every single one of them correctly,” the developers write. “There’s so much more involved in the process that is not really developing the game: marketing, contacting distributors, merchandising, reaching out to streamers and sites, talking to platform holders…” Thus, Crema has partnered with Humble, who will be handling the publishing side of Temtem. The move makes sense: as Crema points out, there are myriad considerations to take into account when planning out your development time, and Humble already has a solid base of both customers and industry partners to leverage when it comes to publicizing and launching a game.

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The Dota 2 International 2019 prize pool is now at $30 million

The teams competing in The International 2019 will be playing for the biggest purse in esports history. The prize pool for Dota 2’s biggest tournament is now worth more than $30 million USD (£24 million). The International’s prize pool is fuelled by purchases of the International’s battle pass, of which 25% of the profits are dumped into the giant pile of money that winning teams will divvy up later this year when the competition wraps up in Shanghai. To be precise, the current prize pool stands at $30,032,510 (at the time of writing), which eclipses that of the Fortnite World Cup, which set records this year with a $30 million pool that included a $3 million prize for that tournament’s top solo player. It’s hardly a surprise to see The International’s prize pool grow – it’s gotten bigger every year since the event began. This year’s Battle Pass (which in years past has been called The Compendium) includes more goodies for Dota 2 players than ever before, making it a more attractive purchase. Plus, the fact the event itself will be held in Shanghai this year has undoubtedly generated additional excitement for China’s massive Dota 2 player base.

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