GTA Online’s massive new heist is the game’s biggest update yet

Grand Theft Auto V hasn’t received the same kind of meaty single-player expansions as its predecessors, but there’s a good reason: GTA Online. The game’s multiplayer mode has received a wealth of updates since its 2013 debut, ranging from new weapons and vehicles to expansions that change the structure of the game. Now, four years after its debut, GTA Online is getting what Rockstar describes as its biggest update yet in the form of a brand-new, multi-part heist — and it’s available today.

Called “The Doomsday Heist,” the update is spread across three acts, each of which is a complex heist in its own right. As the name implies, the story involves building a team to fight off a potential doomsday scenario, described as “a plan so diabolical it could end life as we know it.” You’ll have to form a squad of between two and four players to fight the menace, and you’ll even get a high-tech planning room to sort out each mission.


GTA OnlineGTA Online

“Each of the three massive heist acts that comprises the story of ‘The Doomsday Heist’ involves negotiating multiple ruthless freemode prep missions, tactical setup operations, and experimental weapons and vehicles — each ending with an over-the-top finale that brings a payoff big enough to comfortably share with your fellow crew members,” explains Rockstar. At times you may also have to fight with other groups for resources, and the update of course includes the prerequisite additions of new weapons and vehicles, including a personal jetpack.

As with all previous updates, “The Doomsday Heist” is available for free to all GTA Online players. And there are a lot of them: earlier this year publisher Take-Two revealed that GTA V had sold 85 million copies, making it one of the best-selling games of all time.

The Biggest Disappointments of BlizzCon 2017 – IGN Access


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We break down the 4 biggest letdowns and disappointments from BlizzCon 2017’s opening ceremony.

While BlizzCon’s opening ceremony had a whole bunch of exciting announcements, there were also a few disappointments along the way.

Some things we were hoping for or expecting didn’t show, and even some stuff we knew wasn’t coming still stung. Here are the four biggest disappointments of the show:

(Basically) Nothing New For Starcraft 2

While the free-to-play reveal was exciting, Starcraft 2 otherwise had a very slow year. Apart from a little bit of co-op content that we heard next to nothing about, we didn’t see anything new.

While Starcraft 3 may have been a little bit much to hope for, it seems like the logical next step for the series. It’s been two years since Legacy of the Void and there hasn’t been much to show for it since then.

It all left me wondering what the future of Starcraft looks like. Should we expect a new game, or maybe just a new expansion? Is that even on Blizzard’s mind? It’s hard to tell, and this BlizzCon didn’t help that.

No New Overwatch Story/Game Reveals

There were rumors leading up to BlizzCon of Blizzard hiring for an unannounced project set in the Overwatch universe, but it looks like we don’t get to know what that may be yet.

The new map and hero were exciting but entirely expected, and Overwatch didn’t really do anything else to wow us this year with the game. An event or future story update would have been great to see, and an entirely new Overwatch game would have been even better.

So while Overwatch had a fun BlizzCon, it didn’t really have a revolutionary one. It feels a bit like the game is focusing more on the ramp up to its Overwatch League than blowing us away with big announcements.

No New Games

Okay, so this one may be wishful thinking, but ever since Overwatch was announced anything is possible.

We know Blizzard is always working on things they haven’t shown us, and BlizzCon will be the place they reveal that stuff. It didn’t happen this year, but there’s no reason to think it couldn’t have.

Blizzard has been on a roll with new games the last few years, so it’ll be exciting to see whatever they come up with next, whenever that might be. I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath.

No Diablo

So this is really a disappointment from before BlizzCon, as Blizzard gave us a heads up that Diablo wouldn’t really be at the show this year, but it still stung to see it live.

This could have been the year of Diablo; a new expansion, Diablo 4, or any number of other content updates for the world of Sanctuary. But instead it was entirely a no show.

We knew this was coming, but I still wish it hadn’t. I held out hope for a surprise announcement or at least some sort of tease, but it wasn’t meant to be. So here’s to BlizzCon 2018 being the actual year of Diablo.

You can find all the news from BlizzCon 2017 right here.

Tom Marks is an Associate Editor focusing on PC gaming at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.


macOS High Sierra’s biggest updates happen behind the scenes


With all of the new features packed into iOS 11, High Sierra is something of a disappointment. It’s a bit like getting socks and underwear for Christmas. You know it’s necessary and you’ll be happier six months from now when you don’t have to walk around with your toes poking out of holes, but for now, you wish there were a few more video games and action figures mixed in with the bunch.

That’s partially a result of a yearly upgrade cycle — Apple can’t reinvent the wheel each time out. But more than that, this latest version of macOS is about rebuilding the software’s foundation. There are a few surface level enhancements, most notably to Safari and Photos, but the fundamental updates to the operating system are almost entirely below the surface.

High Sierra is a sort of recommitment to macOS. Past upgrades found the company hedging closer to iOS and had many wondering if this was all leading to a convergence of the company’s two operating systems. With 10.13, the company brings the first new file system since the Mac’s earliest days, a new video compression technology for 4K and the arrival of Metal 2, the latest version of the company’s graphics API.

Many of the upgrades are about futureproofing the OS. High Sierra marks Apple’s first real commitment to virtual reality support, for instance. As such, the absence of day to day changes is going to be pretty negligible for many users. When it comes to things like graphical enhancements, the difference may actually be greater on older systems — the good news there is that, like its predecessor, High Sierra is compatible with systems dating as far back as 2009.

For these reasons, it would perhaps be misleading to call this a “review.” And besides, as with the last several macOS upgrades, High Sierra is completely free — given the lack of visible features, it would be a harder sell if it wasn’t. As it stands now, there’s little reason not to take the leap. Though, given all of the big upgrades on the backend, you’re going to want to make sure you set aside a significant chunk of time to install this one.

High Sierra officially hits the Mac App Store today. Here’s what you can expect.

HFS++

The biggest update to macOS is one you won’t notice. Crazy to think, but HFS+ is a legacy system that’s been an underlying technology of Apple operating systems for around 30 years. It’s hard come up with too many consumer electronics technologies with that kind of staying power, and it was long overdue for an upgrade.

The straightforwardly named Apple File System (APFS) was first unleashed on the world in iOS 10.3. At the time, the update’s most immediate impact on the end user was the fact that it might free up some storage space — something that’s obviously at much more of a premium on a mobile device than a PC.

Here, the company is promising more stability. The new file system, which is being rolled out across Apple’s various lines, is optimized for flash storage (and won’t be available for Fusion Drives right away). The new file system has native encryption built in for added security, encrypting each file individually. The new crash protection records data in multiple locations for added protection against loss of data, and document saves have been improved to protect against system failures like loss of power.

There’s a smattering of other improvements, like faster Time Machine saves and generally more responsiveness across the system. The big thing here, however, is the idea of futureproofing the system, including the ability to handle a huge number of files on a system. It’s also about delivering a long overdue update to a system that was having trouble keeping up with advances in current technologies.

Graphics and video

Metal 2 brings the biggest changes from a graphics perspective — but as with the file system, most won’t be immediately apparent on installation. Apple is promising smoother animations on this end, but testing the final build on a brand new MacBook Pro, I didn’t really pick up on much of a difference. This is likely another spot where the difference will be more pronounced on an older device that can benefit more from additional from better GPU usage on the low end.

Most of the latest Metal’s benefits will come over time, as developers tap into Apple’s new API. The update pushes Apple a step closer to offer true gaming machines — a category that has been entirely dominated by PCs over the last several decades. The new version brings increased machine learning to the GPU and promises more robust graphics. It also adds support for virtual reality rendering and support for external GPUs, so Mac users can offload some of that heavy lifting to peripherals.

On the video side, built-in support for High Efficiency Video Coding (HVEC) maintains the theme of freeing up extra space. The compression technology is the successor to H.264, lowering bit rates, while supporting higher quality 4K video. According to Apple’s numbers, the new standard occupies upwards of 40-percent less space.

Photos

Photos gets the most visible changes this time out. Up front, you get a new, persistent sidebar that includes a history of photos you’ve imported, along with media organized by category: Live Photos, panoramas, selfies, and animated GIFs. That last one is newly supported by Photos, with Apple having prioritized its own proprietary Live Photos technology in the past.

The toolbar up top now includes tabs for further filtering by Photos, Moments, Collections and Years and photos can now be organized by dragging and dropping. They can also be exported by being dragged onto the desktop — a dead simple feature Apple really ought to have included several updates ago.

The most important upgrades to photos are in editing. In fact, Apple is slowly turning Photos into a solid editor — a change over past versions where it was most a preview/gallery application. I spent some time playing around with Live Photo editing tools and was impressed by what you’re able to do here with a number of filters, simple effects and a timeline.

Live Photos still haven’t moved too far from proprietary novelty — animated GIFs are still the far more universal option. But these new tools make the technology far more flexible letting you adjust how photos loop with effects like Bounce. Photo filters have gotten a pretty significant revamp as well, putting the desktop version more on par with what we’ve been accustomed to using on mobile.

Photos now also includes direct access to key editors like Photoshop and Pixelmater, so you can open them directly through Photos and save the changes in the app.

Safari

Apple’s browser gets the other key updates in High Sierra, most focused on privacy and intrusive ads. The browser now stops audio on autoplay ads, one of the key sources of madness in the modern world. Interestingly, Apple will keep the video going — as it notes, its own website uses animations — but if you haven’t started a video yourself, it will pause it and toss a big proprietary play button on top of it. You can also make exceptions for those sites you don’t mind autoplay from.

The browser’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention removes cross site tracking — so if, say, you look at a pair of shoes on Zappos, they won’t follow you around on every page you visit. It doesn’t do away with cookies entirely, though, keeping tracking that’s relevant to the site of origin, so your data isn’t cleared out every time you leave. Safari also offers the ability to choose who can access the computer’s camera, location and microphone on a per site basis and lets users set specific zoom levels for different sites, so it’s the same size each time they visit.

Updates to the JavaScript engine, mean that Safari’s focus on browsing speed gets pushed even farther this time out. But privacy is really the focus — which will likely ruffle the feathers of advertisers who rely on that specific level of tracking.

Odds and ends

  • Mail gets a couple of updates — including improved search results based on senders and how frequently messages are read.
  • There’s also a new full screen view that Splits the display between the inbox and the message you’re currently writing.
  • Oh, and Apple has improved compression, so messages take up to 35 percent less space.
  • As with iOS 11, Siri’s got a new, improved voice.
  • Apple’s assistant also has improved music playback functionality, assuming you have Apple Music — just in time for the HomePod, naturally.
  • Files copied on one Mac can now be pasted on a nearby one with the same log in. It’s a bit like a much more simplified AirDrop.
  • Spotlight now includes flight information status.
  • Notes include tables and pinning to keep a specific message up top.
  • FaceTime lets users take Live Photos on from the other person’s camera — I’ll be honest, this one still weirds me out a bit. But both parties are notified when this occurs, a la Snapchat.

Hi, Sierra

In terms of outward facing features, this is a fairly disappointing upgrade. The tweaks to Safari and Mail are nice, but they’re more the stuff of a smaller point upgrade. High Sierra’s biggest features are those you won’t see right away — and in some cases might not even notice over time.

It’s like a congressional infrastructure bill — it’s important and necessary for the future, but it’s not the kind of thing that gets people excited to tune into CSPAN.

But this upgrade is an important one for keeping macOS relevant and preparing the operating system for the future. It marks the long-awaited end of the company’s long outdated file system and takes steps toward improving Apple’s status in the gaming world. It’s undoubtedly worth the price of admission (free) — just make sure you give yourself sufficient time to install.

Pokemon Go UPDATE – Niantic drops BIGGEST hint yet for Gen 3 release | Gaming | Entertainment

Pokemon Go developer Niantic has dropped its biggest Gen 3 hint yet.

Niantic CEO John Hanke recently told Taiwanese magazine Business Weekly what the game’s next secret weapon will be new Pokemon.

“There is a lot of Pokemon that have not yet been launched,” Hanke revealed (via Comicbook).

“So I think the next secret weapon will be launch of the next Pokemon generation. I hope the players will soon see them.”

Fans have already discovered Gen 3 Pokemon in the game files, while a new update suggests that everything is in place for an imminent release.

In fact, the only thing missing are the sound files needed to replicate the new Pokemon.

Check out a selection of our favourite Gen 3 Pokemon in the gallery below…

A recent Pokemon Company statement suggested that spooky new gen 3 Pokemon would join the app at Halloween.

“The Halloween season is a special time in Pokemon Go,” the post reads.

“Plenty of good stuff is coming to the game later this October, and we can’t wait to get out and about to see what sort of excitement we can scare up while catching new Pokemon to fill out our Pokedex.”

Gen 3 Ghost Types include Shuppet, Banette, Mega Banette, Duskull and Dusclops, which is a nice selection for a limited time Halloween event.

One Pokemon that definitely won’t be joining the game is Oh-Ho.

A leaked Niantic email supposedly confirmed plans to add Oh-Ho to the game as part of an imminent Legendary Raid.

Unfortunately, the email wasn’t actually sent out by Niantic, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for Oh-Ho Raids.

That’s according to a Niantic employee, who told Reddit users: “I reviewed our support ticketing system and I can confirm that our support team did not send this erroneous message.”

It’s been speculated that a new Legendary Raid will launch alongside Gen 3 Pokemon and the upcoming Halloween event.

Feature: The Biggest Nintendo Switch eShop Games of 2017 – Fall / Winter Edition

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Recently we published our Fall / Winter edition of the ‘Biggest Nintendo Switch Retail Games of 2017’, which was relatively easy to put together. With less than three months left in the year there are only so many titles still coming, and in the retail space picking out 20 overall didn’t leave many behind. Now, however, it’s time for the Switch eShop list, which has been altogether more challenging.

We’re got 10 main games and 10 ‘Honourable Mentions’, but many of them can certainly be interchangeable depending on opinion and taste. In addition this list was tough to figure out because a lot of release dates have been vague or moving around. Some of the games from the Summer list, for example, have now been officially bumped to early 2018. Examples include Runner3 and Flipping Death, while to be fair Vblank Entertainment didn’t specify 2017 in its most recent blog update for Shakedown Hawaii. As a result all three drop out this time, but not because we’ve lost any enthusiasm for what they could have to offer.

We’ve also left out some potential gems on the basis they’re out the day after this is published, again to try and keep the list a little longer term. WulverbladeThe Flame in the Flood and Yono and the Celestial Elephants were all in the running originally but taken out because they’re right around the corner. They’ve still had their mention, though, so are certainly included in the thinking of ‘Biggest’ games still coming this year.

Also worth mentioning are indie retail games, like Gear.Club UnlimitedRiME and various others, which don’t really qualify for the eShop list so also miss out.

With all of that said, we still found it easy to find 20 games that are fixed or seem likely in 2017, with some good titles no doubt missing out. Consider it a top 20, albeit we made tough calls to pick 10 for their own profile entries. Let’s get to it.

A fun car-football game that’s been a phenomenon on other platforms, this is being ported to Switch by Panic Button (which is also porting DOOM to the system). On Switch it’ll mean the game will be playable on the go, of course, and there’ll also be some colourful exclusive cars based on Mario, Luigi and Samus’ gunship. It seems like a sure-fire download hit.

Coming to Switch ‘first’ in the Holiday season, this is a rhythm game in which you take on dance battles, aiming to lead your crew through the city onto bigger and better challenges. It features music by Kid Koala and could be a hugely fun game to play over the festive period.

Dandara – Long Hat House

Developed “specifically with the Nintendo Switch in mind”, this is a stylish and intriguing Metroidvania that aims to produce intuitive controls for a touchscreen or gamepad controls alike. Its art style and mechanics are certainly eye-catching, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of this one when it lands on the Switch eShop later this year.

A developer that’s been active and delivered some real quality on the Switch already, this will be a system-exclusive sidescrolling action RPG, seemingly playing up to the studio’s strengths. 30 quests and four character classes are promised, and we’ll be able to team up with three others for local and online co-op.

Frozenbyte would be the first to admit it had a rough time following the launch of Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power, but that shouldn’t wipe out its accomplishments and rule out a return to its best. This top-down action title features co-operative play with local and online options, and is set in a fantasy world not entirely dissimilar to that seen in previous games like Trine and Has-Been Heroes.

One of the strengths we’re starting to see with the Switch eShop is the diversity of content, and with this one being a ‘console exclusive’ (it’s already out on PC) it certainly offers a change of pace. Promising a lengthy campaign and the freedom to create your own bridges, you build various constructions and then hope that they hold together when put to the test.

A love letter to both the Game Boy pixel art style and old school platformers. In story mode you play as the titular octopus hero that has over 40 different power ups to find, and you are able to spit ink to turn enemies into platforms on your quest to save kidnapped humans hidden across the world map. In addition, there is a planned local co-op mode and a competitive, semi-randomly generated ‘runner’ mode coming sometime after the initial release. We spoke to Christophe Galati to learn more about the game.

Perhaps debatable in the leading ten as it’s a port of a game long since out elsewhere, but frankly it’s pleasing to see this franchise heading to Nintendo hardware. A notable part of quirky local multiplayer gaming for a long time, this entry packs in plenty of zany turn-based battling. The Switch version will also be the first to get a new Space theme, two new Forts – Mushroom and Tree House – along with some new customisations.

Originally expected in March, the development team took to social media in the Summer to confirm that it’s resolving issues with online multiplayer on Switch before it launches; it’s set to be ‘console exclusive’ to Switch, but is already available through early access on Steam. This stylish fighting title draws inspiration from the Neo Geo Pocket era, aiming to deliver two-button controls but deep, involving mechanics; Nintendo’s official game page says it’s ‘Coming 2017’, so who are we to argue?

Owlboy – D-Pad Studio

We debated the inclusion of this one within the team as it doesn’t yet have a formal release date, though it was announced in the Japanese version of the Cat Mario Show (believe it or not) back in May and was seemingly playable at the Tokyo Game Show. The developers have only said an announcement should be ‘soon’ on social media, but we’re throwing this in as a wildcard. It’s a gorgeous game and critically acclaimed on PC; frankly we’re just hoping this one will arrive this year.


Now onto the Honourable Mentions, a few of which are very unlucky to have missed the list of 10 above.

Honourable Mentions


It’s worth highlighting again how many hot titles are due in early 2018, so check this official page before crying foul over the list!

Lots to consider, and no doubt we’ve missed some absolute gems. Let us know which of these excite you the most in the poll and comments section below.