Christmas is almost here, so celebrate with the latest on Overwatch, some great news about the new Dune movie, some artificially intelligent announcements from Facebook, new content for Crypt of the NecroDancer, and finally, a free demo for the new PS4 game Nier: Automata!
Blizzard Entertainment has some big plans for Overwatch in 2017. In the latest developer update for the game, Blizzard has outlined what updates and other new features fans can expect to see over the course of the new year. First up, game director Jeff Kaplan says that Overwatch will be getting a server browser for custom games, allowing users to search out specific kinds of matches, and also set up their own matches and then invite strangers from the public. This is one of the most requested features, and it should arrive early in the year. 2017 will also see plenty of new modes, maps, and characters, obviously. The next new map, called Oasis, will arrive very early in the year, following its debut on the game’s Public Test Region in November. It’s no surprise that Blizzard is working on loads of new content for Overwatch. It’s easily one of the fastest-selling games of all time, and had more than 20 million players after just four months on store shelves.
The director behind one of the best sci-fi movies in years is taking on one of the most iconic sci-fi tales of all time. Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who recently delivered the awesome sci-fi hit Arrival and is currently working on Blade Runner 2049, might helm the new big screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Villeneuve is in negotiations with Legendary Pictures, which picked up the rights to the novel earlier this year. The book was first published in 1965, but despite the fact that it’s one of the most iconic sci-fi tales of all time, its first big screen adaptation in the 1980s was a massive bomb. Its complicated story, themes, and characters don’t lend themselves well to the silver screen, but if anyone can translate them and make them work, it’s Denis Villeneuve. If he does take the job, it would be his next project after finishing the new Blade Runner, which is currently shooting and due to hit theatres in October.
It looks like Facebook wants you to let them come inside your house. The social network’s CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has revealed new details about his home AI system Jarvis, which he first announced earlier this year. It’s basically a voice and text-activated system that can help run your home, with the ability to control lights, temperature, appliances, music, and security. The thing that makes Jarvis special is that, the more it interacts with you, the more it learns about your particular tastes and patterns, so it will know what you want it to do before you even ask. Zuckerberg is coding Jarvis himself, and yes, he says he named it after Tony Stark’s home AI system in Iron Man. In a video released yesterday on Facebook, the AI system is voiced by Morgan Freeman, although the video is pretty tongue-in-cheek so it’s unclear exactly how similar its depiction will be to the final product. Zuckerberg says he hopes to eventually make Jarvis available to the public, but there’s still a lot of work to do and he expects to be working on it for at least a few more years. All of this raises some questions. Facebook doesn’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to safeguarding your privacy, and letting them into your home would obviously give them access to a whole lot more information about you than ever before. Users will just have to decide for themselves if they’re comfortable with these new “smart home” systems. Other tech companies like Google and Samsung have already started making their own home AI systems, so it’s coming sooner than you think.
Get ready to dance your way back into the Crypt of the NecroDancer. Developer Brace Yourself Games has announced that Crypt of the NecroDancer: Amplified, a DLC prequel to the main game, will finally hit the PC on January 24. Players will take control of a new, shape-shifting protagonist and fight their way through new levels and boss battles, complete with plenty of new weapons, loot, and music. New music is a big deal. Crypt of the NecroDancer offers a unique gameplay style that’s a combination of a roguelike RPG and rhythm game, with players traversing through dungeons to the beat of the whatever song is playing. Amplified will be the first big DLC expansion, and players have been waiting almost two years. The developers haven’t said if the DLC will be coming to the PS4 version of the game.
Square Enix and Platinum Games have given PS4 owners an early Christmas present. A free, playable demo of the new game Nier: Automata is available today on the PlayStation Network. The demo will let players try out one of the early missions from the game, which offers a variety of both short and long range weapons. There’s also a range of difficulty levels, so once you beat the demo, you can try it again on a harder setting. Nier: Automata is a sequel to the 2010 action-RPG Nier, but unlike the original, this one is being developed by Platinum Games, and like their previous work, there’s a stronger emphasis on fast-paced combat. The final version of the game will launch March 17 on the PS4, with a PC version slated to follow later in the year.