Ender Dragon is Minecraft’s final boss, a serpentine collection of dark blocks that launches fireballs at the player. Minecraft speedrunners have long struggled with it, but this week speedrunners finally discovered how to bypass the Dragon altogether. It’s already led to a world record.
Part of what makes the fight against the Ender Dragon time consuming is a series of End Crystals that sit atop pillars and heal the Dragon when it flies near. However, players can also craft their own End Crystals and bring them into the final level to wreak havoc. Originally players were trying to place extra End Crystals in specific places to influence the Dragon’s path during the fight and also deal some extra damage (they can be exploded like land mines).
Recently, experimenting with this strategy yielded an even better discovery. Placing an End Crystal as soon as the player enters the Dragon’s level causes it to glitch and never spawn while still yielding the portal to the end credits that marks the completion of a run.
Placing Crystals after the Dragon has already been defeated summons a new Dragon. If this happens, the game checks to see if the end portal that spawns after the battle is already there, in which case it doesn’t create one. However, timing things right can confuse the game. By placing the crystal before the battle starts, the player is able to trick the game into skipping the fight entirely. “Because we place the crystal before the Dragon fight is fully loaded, it fails to find evidence of another portal, and so it creates one,” explained the MineCraft glitch hunter Matthew Bolan.
A player by the name of Geosquare discovered the glitch by accident while researching a tool-assisted speedrun for the fight. His findings in turn helped one of the game’s most prolific speedrunners, Illumina, to break the world record of 4:07:400, held by Joshgaming4 and which had previously stood for over two years, with a 3:20.9 run.
“It was from mid 2015,” Illumina said in an email. “It was a very daunting time to beat and that’s why it stood for so long.” Illumina thinks the run still has room for improvement.
There’s a lot of randomness in a Minecraft speedrun, and speedrunners try to find the ideal parameters for spawning a new world. In Minecraft these parameters are known as seeds. Players select a seed at the beginning of a run, and they determine what flavor of map will be generated by the game. In Illumina’s case, using the new Ender Dragon glitch meant finding a seed that would give him a world conducive to crafting the necessary End Crystal. In addition to discovering the glitch, Geosquare also helped find the best seed for executing it.
“The seed was found by Geosquare by writing a program using variables that would make the seed optimal,” Illumina said. “He ran the program for about 5 minutes and they spent a couple hours looking through the seeds that came up. There is probably a better seed than the current one as it only took a couple hours to find, but when there are 2^64 seeds, it is not easy to go through all of them.”
Illumina’s world record was specifically in Minecraft’s “seeded” category. There are other categories that prohibit both glitches and seed optimization, but Illumina thinks that misses half the fun. “A benefit from [seeds] is that it keeps the category more interesting as you never know when a new seed would be found,” he said. “Some runners said that we should just stick to one seed to make one route consistent but I disagree in doing that.”
“Every category of this game is too RNG and takes a lot of grinding to get a great run,” said Illumina who’s been running the game since 2011. “But it’s always fun to see if you will get lucky in a run, kind of like gambling. It’s definitely much different of a game to run from any other I’ve seen. Things like the Dragon skip and seed optimization programs help marry the chaos of the game to the practiced skill expert players want to bring to it.”
The Xbox One X has been on shelves for just under a week (well, shelves that aren’t here), and it’s a little difficult to gauge its success without hard sales figures. Microsoft haven’t come out of the gates with glorious tales of how their new console has been selling like hotcakes, and some data in from the UK might make you curious as to why. Because the Xbox One X is selling pretty damn well there. Better than Sony’s PS4 Pro did during its own launch window.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, the Xbox One X has seen over 80,000 sales (adjusted by 20% from raw data) in the United Kingdom alone, which is a pretty significant figure for the singular region. The sales figures eclipse that of the PS4 Pro, which only hit 50,000 in the same time and took a full month to reach 80,000 in total. The lack of exclusives at the launch seem to have been a moot point too, with third-party titles such as Call of Duty: WWII and Assassin’s Creed Origins proving to be solid sales companions with the Xbox One X during the last week.
This bodes well for Microsoft, who have been facing an uphill battle ever since this generation started. Out of the gates the Xbox One was the weaker of the two core consoles, and over the years that battle has changed the rules of combat. Sony and its extensive exclusives library now outweighs many arguments over the Xbox One X’s superior power, but it seems evident that in the UK that’s still a large factor in purchasing decisions.
It’s still early says for the console though, and Microsoft’s toughest days are still ahead. As Sony continues peppering their future with great looking exclusives, Microsoft is hunting for new developers to bring under their wing. A process that might only see fruit in many years to come.
Last Updated: November 13, 2017
Marvel Heroes and its Omega upgrade, were a grand effort. When developer Gazillion Entertainment first launched it as a PC-exclusive several years ago, it was a diamond in the rough. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it still had a solid foundation that could be used for further enhancements.
Said enhancements were slotted in aplenty, with Marvel Heroes growing with new gameplay additions on a monthly basis at one point. Free to play, offering a taste of everything that it had before it asked for some cash in return, Marvel Heroes was a great game to spend a few idle hours on. Marvel Heroes omega was meant to be the start of a new chapter for the game, one that brought its action to consoles with some handy dandy control schemes that simplified the action.
Instead, it was a swansong as Disney pulled the plug on Gazillion Entertainment and their access to the pantheon of heroes and villains. Originally scheduled for demolition at the end of December, giving players time to say goodbye and experience the game without the need to purchase anything else, Gazillion has instead closed up shop sooner than expected.
All of the staff has been dismissed, and the servers have been switched off, as Gazillion made the closure official:
A damn shame, that’s what it is. The fact that this was done to the staff before they could celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday properly is bad enough, but when you factor in that the crew got zero severance payments as well? If there’s any anger to be directed at Marvel Heroes Omega, it needs to be channelled at the people in charge who were responsible for mismanaging the title and letting their crew of hard-working developers take the brunt of this monumental stuff-up.
Last Updated: November 28, 2017
Gambit, arguably one of the most popular X-Men characters, is one who has still not appeared in an X-Men movie to date. We are of course completely erasing that X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie from our minds. It didn’t happen, I tell you.
So, I guess it’s surprising that it has taken this long for 20th Century Fox to finally start moving forward on the troubled production of this iconic hero’s solo movie, but with Channing Tatum firmly set for the lead role and Gore Verbinski on board to direct the film, it is finally scheduled to get made. It even has a release date for Valentine’s Day, 2019, which will serve as a personal love letter for all of those fans desperate to finally see Gambit come to life.
Such is the despair and frustration around the stop-start nature of the troubled production though that some fans don’t want to get their hopes too high until they actually see pictures of the film actually getting started before they will believe that it will actually get made. And while I do not have such evidence to bring you today, a new report from Omega Underground reveals that casting work on a film titled ‘Forevermore’ is due to start soon for a film to be shot in New Orleans.
Now ‘Forevermore’ might not sound like much, but the article goes on to reveal that it is the new working title for the Gambit film, which was formerly called ‘Chess’ by the studio in previous plans. Those unfamiliar with working titles, it’s usually named that studios use in development to try and keep actual details of films secret – though as you can see, it doesn’t help with today’s modern world where the slightest of changes can be easily picked up by fans and journalists anyway.
Along with the title change, there are also reports of a role being cast for a character called Mariya, which they believe refers to Bella Donna and another casting for a role titled Lewis which is believed to be for the film’s villain. If these rumours are true, we should be hearing some new casting announcements for the film soon.
We still don’t know much about the Gambit film, but at least it looks like production should start soon. With next year bringing a total of three big X-Men movies with New Mutants, Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Gambit will also hopefully bring something different with it to set it itself apart from those films and potentially usher yet another exciting character in the otherwise mostly disappointing X-Men film franchise.
Last Updated: November 21, 2017
WAR! GOOD GOD Y’ALL! What is it good for? Father and son bonding apparently, as Kratos’ war against the pantheons that ruled mankind ended with plenty of deicide and a quest to find peace. What does a former god of war do in his off-time then? Apparently sire a child, as Kratos is coming back not only with a vengeance but with his son Atreus as well.
In a new chapter for the series that looks far more emotional and narrative-driven than ever before, Kratos has to juggle severed heads and parenthood in a world where mythology is both brutal and fierce. A world where plenty of old gods and beasts still have a bone to pick with the legendary warrior, who now no longer wields the chains of Olympus but rather simpler and more visceral death-dealing tools.
Which you can see Kratos put to good use in this latest trailer for God of War.
Dammit, still no release date.
Last Updated: October 30, 2017
When the story first broke a few weeks back that Disney was potentially looking at acquiring a huge chunk of Fox’s film and TV properties, for many fans – who realized this meant that the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises could now be brought into the Marvel fold – it seemed like a dream. Now that dream seems to be becoming reality. A very, very expensive reality.
Following on from reports that Disney was back at the negotiating table with Fox and had gone radio silent – usually meaning that things were getting serious and they didn’t want details leaking out – it now looks as if the two studios could come to an agreement as early as 15 December. That’s next week. As previously reported, Fox would look to hold onto their lucrative news, sports and broadcast network divisions, while Disney snaps up their film and TV properties which will undoubtedly be used to heavily bolster their own digital streaming platform which is set to launch in 2019.
Along with those film and TV properties, Disney would also acquire Fox’s stake in Hulu (to supplement the portion they already own alongside Comcast), Nat Geo and Sky, the distribution rights still owned by Fox for some of the early Star Wars films, and partial ownership of comic publisher Boom! Studios. Current Fox shareholders would retain a stake in the newly trimmed down studio while acquiring shares in Disney in a fixed exchange ratio.
And according to CNBC – the ones who actually broke this rumour initially – all of this could come at an eye-watering price tag upwards of $60 billion. That’s an incredible amount of money, but consider Disney’s most recent history of massive purchases. They bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012 and have already made $3 billion of that back off just two Star Wars movies in two years. Similarly, they also acquired Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe alone – ignoring the actual comics publishing side of things or any merchandising – has already earned over $5 billion for them. Forgetting the comic book movie franchises and other properties they would acquire, Fox’s gigantic slate of TV dramas alone would probably help Disney to make a sizeable dent on that $60 billion investment, so this is definitely not bad business.
This is not a done deal though. CNBC reports that its own parent company, Comcast, is also in negotiations with Fox as a potential buyer along with Sony and Verizon Communications. However, it appears that the talks with Disney have moved along the furthest and are the closest to being finalized. This would without a doubt be a massive game-changer in the entertainment business, and some would even say that Disney could be flirting with anti-trust laws with this proposed monopoly. Not that it would dissuade them. Disney has been known to make legislators in Washington look the other way in the past, and with it being rumoured that current Disney CEO Bob Iger is looking to make a run for US President in the near future, it looks like only a matter of time before the House of Mouse actually does rule the world.
Last Updated: December 6, 2017
Way back in February 2015, Marvel and Sony blew fans’ minds when they revealed that they had struck a surprising co-production deal that would allow Spider-Man (whose film rights were owned by Sony) to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the failed reboot of Amazing Spider-Man, fans were overjoyed at the prospect of Spider-Man finally getting done right on the big screen. As amazing as that sounded though, there was a problem: These same fans were all Peter Parkered out. After an original trilogy starring Tobey Maguire then another two film reboot with Andrew Garfield, many were calling for a different Spider-Man to be given his cinematic due. An Ultimate Spider-Man, to be exact.
In the Marvel Comics universe, their Ultimate imprint was an alternate universe that featured younger, more contemporary versions of their classic characters. It also had its own young Peter Parker… “HAD”, as the young hero would eventually die at the hands of his archnemesis Green Goblin, unmasked and in full view of the public. His death though would inspire Miles Morales, a young boy who also had spider-like abilities thanks to the very same experiment that gave Peter his. Donning his own costume, Miles would become the new Spider-Man to fill the gap left behind by Peter Parker.
Created by writer Brian Michael Bendis as a character his mixed-race daughter could identify with, the half black/half Hispanic Miles Morales would become a beacon of representation in the Marvel universe… and also just one really amazing Spider-Man. His popularity would lead to him being one of the few heroes brought into the mainstream Marvel universe when the Ultimate Universe was destroyed in the Secret Wars event, and he’s even landed his very own cartoon TV series on Disney XD. But still, no movie talk as Tom Holland was cast to play Peter Parker again in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Luckily though, Marvel had a plan. Coming off mega-successes like The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller were tapped to write/produce a new feature-length animated film focusing on Miles Morales. Well, him and a whole lot of other Spider-Men as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was revealed to follow Miles Morales as he somehow discovered of the existence of the many alternate universes in the Marvel universe and all their respective webheads. And thanks to the first trailer for the film dropping at Brazil’s Comic Con Experience (CCXP) over the weekend, we now know that it looks spectacular!
The film features some jaw-dropping visuals and I absolutely love the little touches of the classic comic frames jammed into the action. For now, this film is a completely standalone entity. However, we don’t know which Peter Parker it is that shows up at the end of the trailer, and with the whole multiverse angle I wouldn’t be surprised if Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse teased some connection to Tom Holland’s live-action MCU version at some point. Can you imagine how fans would lose their minds if this movie proves popular enough to have Miles make the transition from animated to live-action to show up next Holland’s webslinger and the rest of the Avengers somewhere down the line? We have been told that after the still-untitled Avengers 4 that the MCU was getting shook up in a big way, and the existence of alternate universes would definitely do that.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will be directed by Bob Perschietti (Puss in Boots, The Little Prince) and stars the voice talents of Shameik Moore, Liev Schreiber, Mahershala Ali and Brian Tyree Henry. It is scheduled for release on 14 December 2018.
I’m starting to think that the Game Awards might rival the Critical Hits awards, what with the show having access to an amazing online infrastructure, oodles of cash and developers who don’t leave flaming bags of dog crap on their front porch whenever we ask for interview opportunities. Maybe, but not really. Nice try Geoff Keighly, but you have a long way to go before you’re taken as seriously as we are over here in the Critical Hit awards show kitchen where we hand out dodgy Chinese chocolates to the biggest winners of the year.
That being said, this year’s Game Awards was a great show. Plenty of announcements, plenty of trailers and at least one instance of a game developer telling the Oscars to go f*** themselves. Our kind of show! In case you missed the show, worry not. Here’s a list of trailers from the various announcements, in case you weren’t ready to wake up at 3 in the AM to stream the event:
World War Z
From Software’s Shadows Die Twice
In The Valley Of The Gods
The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – The Champion’s Ballad
Fortnite Battle Royale 50 v 50 team mode
Bayonetta 1 and 2 for Nintendo Switch
Sea of Thieves release date trailer
So…2018 looks fun, right?
Last Updated: December 8, 2017
If there’s one game that I’m looking forward to in 2018, it’s a title which doesn’t revel in blood, guts and gore. Rather, it’s a game of creation, fuzzy logic and fleeting glimpses of imagination. Media Molecule’s Dreams is that game, a project whose hefty ambitions have resulted in it spending plenty of time in development.
I’m not exactly surprised. Little Big Planet from Media Molecules was an absolute behemoth when it came to giving fans options to create their own content within the confines of that game, and that was years ago. Time has passed, technology has improved and the software injected into these machines is more malleable than ever.
Dreams is all about creation. It’s about shaping your dreamscape, of using the power of the mind to create new worlds to explore. At the 2017 Game Awards, Media Molecule had a new look at Dreams debut. Check it out below:
That’s a lot more surreal than I was expecting, even more so than the original E3 2016 reveal of Dreams. It looks like Media Molecules is aiming to create a game for everyone, by giving players the tools to create interactive experiences within Dreams that range from Galaxian simulators to good ol’ PLEASE HUG ME DAMMIT games for its main character who craves a decent night’s escape from reality.
I kinda dig that. A PlayStation 4 exclusive, Dreams can be played with a regular controller or the PS Move controllers.
Last Updated: December 8, 2017
Guys! GUYS! GUUUUUUUUUUUUUYS! A new Devil May Cry is coming! Glorious day! Fantabulous! Splendifferictacular! I can’t wait to play a new Devil May Cry…
DAMMIT I GOT ALL HYPED UP FOR NOTHING. Apologies to all three of my nipples, we’ll have to save the excitement-rubbing for later. Back to the meat of the story then: Devil May Cry, a franchise that redefined action on various consoles, is coming back with a vengeance. Next year March 13 according to VG247, the original trilogy of Demons with tear ducts will hit PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
That means that players will get to play 2001’s Devil May Cry originale and it’s superb super-awesome 2006 demon-slaying sequel Devil May Cry 3, which introduced Dante’s blood brother Vergil and the meme that launched a thousand ships. That also means that players will have a chance to play Devil May Cry 2, a game which usually elicits howls of anguish from fans.
I’ve personally never played the middle game in the first trilogy, although most fans regard it as a middling bastard child that almost killed one of Capcom’s best franchises thanks to its sheer awfulness. Hold my root beer while I get my gimp suit, because I need to experience this pain for myself so that I can understand what y’all have gone through.
It’s not the first time that Devil May Cry popped it original trilogy onto a newer console, as the first HD Collection hit PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 way back in the dark ages of 2012. A more innocent time, before loot boxes and one wherein the only true problem in in the industry was EA’s propensity to make online portions of its game locked to a console thanks to a special code that came with each new purchase of a hot game.
Ah, the good ol’ days. Anyway, March 13 then for anyone who has an interest in achieving S-rank scores in bludgeoning demonic beasties. That’ll set you back an RRP of $29.99. I’ll update with local pricing as soon as I get it.
Last Updated: December 8, 2017