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This Week in Gaming News: Bye Bye Boss Key, Bonjour Black Out

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rage 2

I told you the E3 news would start hotting up, didn’t I? As gaming’s biggest annual event draws ever closer, we as news-seekers become ever more entrenched in leaks, rumours and, perhaps most shockingly, a variety of publishers deciding to show off brand new games before the pomp and circumstance of the event has even started. It’s madness I tells ya!

The biggest of these premature announcements was perhaps the most Marmite (look it up) game ever seen. You know what I’m talking about and because it’s caused such a stir, and was given its own chuffing reveal event, I feel like I really have to mention Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in place of something I’d much rather talk about – in this case, it has to be Platinum Games’ secret new title that will apparently “turn the action genre on its head.” But five stories is your limit, and reluctantly it’s gone. After you’ve had your minute silence to pay respects to the aforementioned omission, we’ll get that CoD nonsense out the way…

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ Thinks Very Highly of Itself

Well, this is a hotbed of diverse opinion now, isn’t it? They say any publicity is good publicity (I think people who work in PR usually say that the most), so on that basis Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 did rather well for itself. Naturally, the internet is fit to burst with people hating the fact that there’s no single player, wary of the Black Out mode featuring a lot of microtransactions, and just generally being salty about the whole thing. Then there are the people who feel a company like Activision need to be defended and have their game stuck up for. It’s all very loud and very silly. Not quite as silly as a lengthy event full of grown men mispronouncing the word ‘duty’ to make it sound like they were giving a public presentation on taking a shit, but that’s neither here nor there. Actually, it’s specifically there, and not here in England where I live and we talk all proper like, but I digress.

Gaming News Black Ops 4

Typically understated self-promotion from Activision

Giving too much air time to people’s reactions is something that YouTube can carry on doing as far as I’m concerned (apart from my own, which I will happily give you an abundance of), so let’s discuss the game itself. Black Ops 4, as we already knew, does not feature a single player campaign. We discussed that information a few weeks back as sources had claimed that Treyarch simply ran out of time, but since then the developer has, of course, completely debunked that and have claimed to Eurogamer they never had a ‘traditional campaign’ planned at all. Hmmm…

Instead of a campaign, the game will come with three main modes: Standard multiplayer, a Zombies mode with three missions and seasonal events, and Black Out – which is the new battle royale mode. Treyarch co-studio head Dan Bunting, in his interview with Eurogamer, was unwilling to state how many concurrent players this mode will feature, but it will have the largest map the developer has ever produced (featuring parts of older maps), and will allow players to use “land, sea and air” vehicles. Activision was keen to relay the message to us that they play a lot of BR games and they wanted to make their own version only when it could be done “the Black Ops way”. Or when it’s most profitable and popular, whatever.

That’s really the gist of what we know right now. The reveal event was mainly a lot of bluster and bravado, and proof that nobody at Treyarch understands how Roman Numerals work (I think the game really is called Black Ops IIII). It releases on October 12th this year and, according to Twinfinite, has been confirmed by designer Matt Scronce to not be releasing on Nintendo Switch.

Can I stop now?

‘Rage 2’s Daily Drip-Feed

Remember Rage? Yeah, I don’t really remember much about it either, but don’t worry about that – it’s getting a sequel! Awesome?

Bethesda provided the quickest drip-feed campaign known to man as it released teaser images on Saturday and Sunday last week, an announce trailer on Monday, a gameplay trailer on Tuesday, and then reposted it on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday. Isn’t that a Craig David song? In fairness, it’s probably not the game reveal anybody expected (or maybe even wanted), but it certainly promises to be full of bombastic action and, according to an interview with Tim Willits on Gamestar, free of loot boxes.

Gaming News Rage 2

Seems like ages ago we were staring at dirty-teeth-May-14-man

According to IGN, you play a character named Walker who, much like Chuck Norris’ character, is a ranger. In fact, he’s “The last Ranger of the wasteland,” and will come up against an evil bunch of bastards called The Authority even though, as a ranger, you’d imagine he would have quite a lot of respect for authority. He probably does, just not for The Authority. Got that?

Walker will be traversing a “massive open world” with a “vast and varied landscape” and he’ll be able to use a variety of vehicles like monster trucks and gyrocopters to do so. When not driving or flying, he’ll be murdering and causing chaos with upgradable weapons, something called Nanotrite powers, and something else called Overdrive, which lets him “push weapons beyond their mechanical limits”. It all sounds very… well, videogamey, but it looks a lot of fun. The original 2011 Rage certainly looked beautiful and featured some solid id mechanics, but it was largely forgettable. Maybe time will have been kind to the franchise and we will see a more substantial and varied game at the second attempt.

Cliff Bleszinki Can’t Enter the Door Without Boss Key

My word, how the mighty have fallen. I might be getting old, but my memory still works well enough to hark back to when Cliff Bleszinski was the David Beckham of video games developers, and now look at the poor sod. In fairness to the man, Boss Key Productions was clearly a development studio with talent in making games, but evidently not one with talent in making people actually give a tiny rat’s ass about them.

Gaming News Boss Key

Turns out Lawbreakers is like Overwatch, but isn’t Overwatch. Unfortunately, Overwatch is Overwatch and Overwatch is still relevant

Lawbreakers, as we discussed a few weeks back, was beyond languishing with a player base of fewer people than required to even have a single match, and Radical Heights was a blatantly rushed-out, broken, and cynical cash-in (or not, as the case may be) on the battle royale trend currently reigned over by a little game from Cliff’s former studio – Epic Games. Perhaps most ironic of all is that Cliffy B actually presented the first ever trailer for Fortnite at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards. He probably should have slipped in something slanderous about it giving you cancer just to protect himself, but I guess he wasn’t to know he’d eventually try desperately to rip it off and then be forced to fold his new company when that rip off failed. Hindsight, eh?

Gaming News Cliffy B

Boss Key Productions: The Obituary

In a statement released on Twitter, Bleszinski stated that Boss Key Productions was “effectively no more,” and that he needed to take some time away from video games to be with his family and care for his sick dog. He also stated that he still hopes to make something in the video games medium again “someday,” and that Radical Heights’ servers would “remain up for the near future.”

The news is really pretty sad, and I’m not just talking about that poor dog, as Bleszinski has been a key figure in bringing the gaming world a real sense of attitude and style, as well as one of the most iconic franchises of the last decade in Gears of War. As well as that, he just seems like a bloody good bloke, and I genuinely hope we’ve not seen the last of him.

?????, ‘Superhot JP’!

Superhot is brilliant. Fact. Therefore, I was positively tingly with excitement at the announcement that the brilliant slow-mo shooter will return in Japanese form! Adapting the formula created by the Superhot Team, developer GameTomo aims to “[maintain] the same intoxicating rhythm of slow motion combat, [and present] a brand new adventure with a distinctive Japanese flavor.”

Thanks to the FAQ section on the game’s official website, further details have been revealed. It is described as “a new game in the Superhot universe, using Japanese environments, from samurai castles and hot springs to karaoke bars and bullet trains,” and will have gameplay additions of “new weapons, see through shoji screens, and some other surprises.”

Gaming News Superhot JP

The core concept of Superhot is so good that simply releasing more of it in a new setting is enough for me

According to GameTomo, the standalone game will be “priced very reasonably,” and will feature 15-18 regular levels and 3-4 endless levels. This all sounds bloody lovely, with the only caveat being that Superhot JP (a working title, apparently) will be released on PC and PS4 “in Japan first and then possibly other countries worldwide.” Possibly? Are you kidding me? Provided this is only cautious pessimism and we do eventually see the game release in the west, I can’t wait. Although, as it’s likely just a digital release, I’ll just make a Japanese PS4 account and download it anyway. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

Nintendo’s E3 Presentation Was Leaked. Or Was It?

This is probably faker than the claims that the moon landing was fake, but considering we don’t have the hindsight to prove it’s fake, I’m going to use this final news story to briefly analyze and fantasize over an apparently leaked Nintendo E3 schedule from this last week. Because, let’s be honest, if you’re a Nintendo fan, the truth is usually much less exciting than the fiction, so we might as well use our ignorance for a little bliss right now, eh?

First things first, let’s take a look at what this ‘schedule’ (unaltered from the source) involves:

  • Intro trailer showing Dragon Ball FighterZ, FIFA 19, NBA 2K19, Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, Octopath Traveller and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
  • Super Smash Bros. – Developed by Bandai Namco
  • Punch Out!! Become the Champion – Developed by Next Level Games
  • Metroid Prime: Renegade – Developed by Bandai Namco
  • Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion
  • Fire Emblem Memories – Developed by Intelligent Systems
  • Fallout 3 Anniversary – Developed by Bethesda
  • Yoshi’s Flipping Island – Developed by Good-Feel
  • Pokemon Lets GO! Pikachu and Eevee Editions – Developed by Game Freak
  • F-Zero SX – Developed by Platinum Games
  • Fortnite – Developed by Epic Games
  • Star Fox Lylat System – Developed by Retro Studios

That’s quite a lot to digest, isn’t it? Obviously, some of these are pretty much guaranteed to happen. I’d wager that the ‘intro trailer’ is nailed on because we basically know that all those games are coming to Switch other than Dragon Ball Fighterz. Start off with a safe bet – clever boys. It’d also be pretty insane of Nintendo not to show something of Smash Bros. on the Switch, and whether Metroid Prime 4 is to be subtitled Renegade or not, it’ll still likely make an appearance a year after it was first announced. We also know that Fire Emblem has been confirmed for Switch and the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion has been known about for months.

Gaming News Nintendo E3

Subtitle confirmed

That covers the things I think are likely, which leaves us with the pie-in-the-sky beauties that I would sell my own grandmother for if it could make them be true. I suppose the most unrealistic thing about the rest of these reveals is that, were they true, Nintendo would be both listening to their fans AND announcing basically all their major IPs at once. That isn’t necessarily a bad tactic, but something tells me that reveals of a new F-Zero, Star Fox, and Punch Out! showing up on the same E3 presentation as a new Metroid, Smash Bros. and Fire Emblem is way too heart attack-inducing to be real. But just imagine it…

The loudest criticism of this ‘leak’ is that it assumes we would all believe a game called Yoshi’s Flipping Island could ever exist. While this is a pretty salient criticism, the previous title was called Yoshi’s Woolly World, so it’s not like those games have been marketing themselves on understated seriousness thus far, is it? Lastly (ignoring the Pokémon thing because I don’t even know what that’s supposed to be), a Fallout 3 Anniversary on Switch (it is 10 years old in October this year) is potentially the best reason to spend an hour taking a shit this side of a vindaloo, so if that were to come true, my Mrs will know where to find me of an evening. Oh, and Fortnite is on the list too, because of course it is. So there’s that as well.

Gaming News Fallout Anniversary Switch

Come oooooooon, be real!

With that lovely visage of me roaming the Capital Wasteland from the seat of my toilet safely in your heads, I will bid you adieu for another week. Did I miss anything important? Did I get anything wrong? Have you ever played a game on the toilet for longer than an hour? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next week.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.

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The Asus GX701 Gaming Laptop Competes with the Most High-End Desktops

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Asus GX701 image

As the gaming industry soars to new heights with more powerful technology—and manufacturers such as Asus, Razer, and Alienware—that brings the most beloved, pixelated characters to life on screens of various sizes, gamers often find themselves torn between what kind of hardware to utilize to get the most out of their gameplay.

Naturally, an individual’s desires and expectations vary from person to person, but for those who are consistently on the lookout for the best hardware on which to play their games on max settings with little to no frame drop, options tend to be far more limited—and expensive. Those limitations tend to be further strenuous for those PC enthusiasts who would also like to play their favorite games on the road.

Enter the gaming laptop, where manufacturers attempt to take some of the most powerful hardware and condense it into a mobile framework for those consumers with the budget and drive to use them. While historically it has been difficult for gaming laptops to even come close to competing with high-end desktops—something that is still up for debate among the tech community—the technological landscape has evolved to the point that manufacturers are on their way to narrowing the gap between laptop and desktop.

When investing in any piece of technology, however, there are various obstacles of which consumers should be aware while researching what hardware (or pre-built machines like a gaming laptop) do the best job of overcoming those hurdles. Everything from ventilation to CPU clocking and general performance based on the games in which one is interested must be taken into consideration.

In the search for finding a machine that can play the most graphically intense games on max settings without sacrificing frame rate, Goomba Stomp decided to put the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 to the test.

Hardware Specifications

Before delving into how the Asus GX701’s hardware performs, it’s important to note the laptop’s hardware specifications.

The CPU is the i7-9750H Six Core Processor that clocks between 2.6GHz and 4.5GHz. Next is the graphics card (GPU)—the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 with Max-Q Design (which basically means it’s a watered down version of the standard RTX 2080 GPU due to its smaller size to fit in the laptop, sacrificing a small amount of power). Couple the CPU and GPU with the 32GB of RAM and the 1TB NVMe SSD, and the Asus GX701 is a mighty powerhouse on paper.

Hardware Performance — CPU

i7-9750H Six-Core Processor (CPU)

Functioning as the laptop’s brain, the i7-9750H Six Core Processor decodes the actions it’s instructed by the RAM to process. Even operating towards its base end of 2.6GHz, the Asus GX701’s CPU rapidly produces the output users command it to execute, resulting in swift completions that turn into web pages, game activation, reduced loading times, and more.

With a max operating temperature of 100 degrees Celsius, gamers can rest assured this CPU will give them a decent amount of wiggle room when it comes to putting the laptop under heavy loads. For titles that are CPU-intensive, however, such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Black Desert Online, and the Total War franchise (where thousands of soldiers and other objects must exist on the battlefield), it should be noted that the i7-9750H does get hot to the touch above the keyboard.

When its heat rises (often above 90 degrees Celsius when under a load), the fan kicks up to compete with the high temperature, often becoming loud. While the noise is both obnoxious and disconcerting at first, one becomes used to it after extensive use; though, the nagging sensation at the back of one’s mind can be enough to leave one paranoid that the machine is going to overheat and shut down. Despite this paranoia, the Asus GX701 never shut itself off during any of Goomba Stomp’s gaming sessions and continued exhibiting rapid outputs when receiving input commands while performing several tasks at once.

Hardware Performance — GPU

RTX 2080 Graphics Card (GPU)

The RTX 2080 is one of various state-of-the-art graphics cards available to gamers. Released in September 2018, this 8GB GPU is just one step behind the RTX 2080TI. To put this card to the test, Goomba Stomp cranks Black Desert Online up to max settings, with its vibrant colors and overwhelming amount of assets (including other players in the game) and without losing any frame rate in the process. Doing so produces vivid images that are crystal clear at the maximum range available in Black Desert’s world. Everything looks real, and frame rate never drops below 60 frames per second (FPS), allowing for beautiful aesthetics and smooth gameplay.

Moreover, using Total War: THREE KINGDOMS and Total War: WARHAMMER II as the examples in which Goomba Stomp employs max settings in a strategy title and the “Extreme” setting for unit size (number of soldiers in each individual unit in an army), the frame rate does not drop. The i7-9750H works hard, heating up to 90-95C, but does not overheat or experience any catastrophic failures that result in the game crashing (even with the maximum amount of units allowed on the battlefield at once).

While playing these two titles does cause the i7-9750H to pick up the pace, resulting in temperatures that made the area above the laptop’s keyboard almost too hot to touch, the GPU has no problems rendering images while working in conjunction with the CPU to maintain high FPS. Indeed, for the likes of Total War, the RTX 2080, even with Max-Q Design, is overkill.

Ventilation

Gaming laptop photo (GX701)
Gaming laptop (Asus GX701) Vents

Something that all gaming hardware requires is proper ventilation, allowing devices to suck in cool air and blow out hot. To that end, a machine’s architecture must allow for vents that permit efficient intake and exhaust. Historically, gaming laptops have lagged in this regard, often relying more on decent thermal paste and powerful fans in lieu of sufficient vents.

To remedy this shortcoming, the Asus GX701 has four vents—one on each side and two on the back. When the laptop is under a heavy load, one can feel hot air being expunged from the system through these vents. Despite the amount of hot air that gets blown out of the system, the CPU still manages to get hot to the touch.

However, as mentioned above, since the laptop has not shut itself off to protect itself and the games played have yet to falter, these vents appear to be enough (when working in conjunction with the fan and thermal paste) to keep the machine within normal operating temperatures.

Software – MyAsus

MyAsus is a program that allows users to receive product information, as well as notifications that certain apps, drivers, or features have an update available. If the software detects any available updates, it will automatically notify users and prompt them to either download and install the update or postpone it for a certain amount of time (10 minutes, one hour, or four hours).

While this app seems useful on paper, its execution is a travesty at best. When receiving a notification regarding updates and choosing the option to “update now,” Goomba Stomp experienced a frustrating issue in which MyAsus drifted into a perpetual cycle of trying to begin the update process—the swirling icon next to each update indicating the system was processing the information never went away, and the updates never proceeded to be downloaded or installed.

Anytime Goomba Stomp opted to “postpone” the update for an hour or more, MyAsus pretended to not receive that command and would send another reminder 10 minutes later that updates were found. Therefore, the most useful facet of MyAsus was the ability to uninstall it and clear up a negligible amount of space in the Asus GX701’s memory (thus relegating it to the past tense). Despite MyAsus being a preinstalled program, it was removable and ceased to be annoying once discarded and virtually burned, never to plague Goomba Stomp’s gaming laptop again.

Miscellaneous Features

The most prominent miscellaneous feature is the ROG (Republic of Gamers) Armoury Crate application. This program allows users to adjust the keyboard’s colors and color animation settings, giving those with an interest in the laptop’s aesthetics the power to choose what look suits them best. From a static color pattern to a reactive mode in which keys don’t light up unless pressed, the RGB (red, green, blue) system provides several minutes of entertainment all by itself, until one figures out which pattern(s) they wish to use.

Moreover, Armoury Crate serves as a hub for ROG fans to browse online deals for video games (a store), a logistical manipulator that allows users to observe their apps and free up memory space at will, and a hardware monitor for users to track their fans’ RPMs as well as CPU and GPU stats (temperature, voltage, etc.).

Overall Impression

For those with the budget and desire to possess a high-end gaming laptop that travels well and can compete with some of the most powerful desktops on the market, the Asus GX701 is a prodigious choice. With hardware that rivals almost any modern gaming rig, any game one plays will be a smooth, gorgeous experience.

However, bear in mind that the CPU does run hot, often idling between 50-60 degrees Celsius and heating up to 85-95 Celsius when under a load. Nevertheless, the ventilation, fan, and thermal paste work well together to prevent the laptop from overheating so users may continue enjoying their virtual worlds. Moreover, to assist with remedying the paranoia that abounds in one’s mind when dealing with the hot CPU, Goomba Stomp also invested in a cooling pad, which helps keep the CPU five-to-ten degrees cooler while under load.

Considering the horrendous perversion that is MyAsus being a troublesome and irrelevant preinstalled software is the only real drawback Goomba Stomp experienced, it’s safe to say the GX701 is a phenomenal machine, despite its burdensome cost and large size.

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‘Black Widow’ Teaser Trailer: A Shot By Shot Analysis

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After years of speculation, we finally got official confirmation of a Black Widow movie from Marvel Studios at the San Diego Comic Con during the summer this year. This was a big deal for fans of the first female Avenger; as a woman who has been a fan of Marvel movies since first seeing Iron Man in 2008, I personally think that this has been a long time coming. Black Widow will hopefully be as influential as Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman when it comes to female-led superhero movies (that are actually good). And we now have a Black Widow teaser trailer to break down, so let’s take a look.

Spoiler warning for a key plot point in Avengers: Endgame.

Just like in Budapest

The opening shot is of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, which holds significant meaning to Natasha Romanoff a.k.a Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). In the first Avengers film, whilst fighting against the Chitauri, she quips to Clint Barton a.k.a Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) that the situation is “just like Budapest all over again.” Hawkeye retorts with “you and I remember Budapest very differently.” It was probably intended as a throwaway line, but fans became curious as to what exactly did go down in this mission. It is mentioned again in Avengers: Endgame, so it is clearly an important mission where something big happened. This opening shot may well be a flashback to this moment, or it could be that Natasha finds herself back in Budapest once again during the movie.

Flashbacks

The Black Widow teaser then has Natasha reflecting on her past, saying that she used to have nothing, as the Red Room ballerina flashbacks from Avengers: Age of Ultron are shown. The Red Room is where we see the girls dancing; it’s a Soviet training facility where Natasha was groomed to become a spy and killer. The premise of the movie is vague at the moment, but the theme of facing the past is prevalent. I would not be surprised if Natasha returns to the Red Room in the film.

Superhero Family

More flashbacks are seen of the original Avengers film, as Natasha narrates that having nothing changed when she got the job as an Avenger and gained a family. We see Clint and Nick Fury, two of the most important people in Natasha’s life, as well as a small flashback from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It is clear that Natasha’s feelings towards her fellow Avengers changed significantly the longer she was with them. They were her family, something she had never had before. As a character who was originally portrayed as manipulative and cold, it is encouraging to see her given more depth and made to feel more human.

Nothing Lasts

Black Widow teaser

Natasha goes all stereotypical brooding protagonist as she looks in the mirror and narrates that “nothing lasts forever.” The film is said to be set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and deals with the fallout of the Avengers becoming fractured; Natasha is clearly affected by the split in the family dynamic.

Black and Red

Not really much of an analysis here but this is a super cool variation of the Marvel Studios logo made to look like the Black Widow symbol. Awesome. Moving on.

On the Run

Black widow teaser Scarlett

A voice (it sounds like General Ross to me, but I’m not sure) says that he heard that Natasha had to leave in a hurry. She responds with, “it’s never easy these days,” and we see Natasha navigating her way through a crowded train station. Following the events of Civil War, she is likely to be on the run after helping Captain America with his plans. She is pretty much a fugitive at this point.

Young Ross

After a convoy of armoured cars is shown, we then see General Thaddeus Ross looking a lot younger then we have seen him before via de-aging technology. This is likely to be a flashback of some kind to long before any of the Avengers came to light, as we don’t even see him looking this young in his first appearance in The Incredible Hulk.

Yelena Belova

Black Widow teaser Yelena

After Natasha says that she is done running from her past, we see her stalking through the corridors of an apartment when she comes face to face with Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Belova is a character from the comics, as well as a fellow Black Widow who was trained in the same Red Room as Natasha.

The two have a brief scuffle here. Whilst it looks like they are enemies at first, it becomes clear that they seem to be practising their sparring skills, or at least fighting one another with no intention of using lethal force. Natasha refers to Yelena as “sis;” their time in the Red Room must have brought them closer together, close enough to consider one another family. In the comics, Yelena is the one to take on the mantle of the Black Widow after Natasha’s death. Knowing what we do after Endgame, it is possible that Belova could be set up as a possible successor.

New Look

Natasha is next shown looking awesome in a new outfit. Her suit certainly seems more armoured than the usual attire, and amoured suits are always an improvement from the skimpy cat suits that a lot of lady heroes have to wear. I’m also living for those warrior braids she’s got going on.

Rooftop Run

A glimpse at an action-packed rooftop chase shows Natasha chasing someone off screen before leaping to what looks like a tall chimney pot. She isn’t alone either…

It looks as though Yelena is clinging to the chimney as well, while Natasha holds onto someone unknown. Could this be a friend or foe? It looks a little bit like another fellow Black Widow named Melina (more on her later).

Operations Base

The next shot in the Black Widow teaser shows two silhouetted figures — one looks like it could be Natasha — in a dark room with screens showing red dots. It looks like it could be depicting locations across the world, or possibly even tracking agents. This may be the base of operations for the Soviet facility where Natasha and her fellow Widows were trained. This is also suggested by Natasha’s narration, as she says that she has to return to where it all started, heavily implying this could be related to the Red Room. This is a very vague shot, so it is interesting to wonder what exactly this scene could be.

White Widow

We get another new look for Natasha, as she does a superhero landing down from a helicopter in a white outfit, obviously intended to camouflage her in the snow-laden military base she finds herself in. This outfit is similar to one that she wore in the comic series Black Widow: Deadly Origin. Deadly Origin explores her past as an assassin, so it is likely that there will be more inspiration taken from the comic.

Taskmaster

Black Widow teaser Taskmaster

The Black Widow teaser next offers a glimpse of super-villain Taskmaster, as he readies his bow in a scene that looks like he is ambushing the Widows. Taskmaster is a well known villain in the Marvel universe, but his identity in the cinematic universe is yet to be confirmed. There are already some fan theories floating around as to who is underneath the mask.

Melina

We next see Melina (Rachel Weisz), the Black Widow mentioned earlier. She is a seasoned assassin, and also part of the Widow family.

Alexei Shostakov

This is followed by a shot of Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour), otherwise known in Marvel comics by his hero guise Red Guardian. In the comics, Alexei is the second person to take up the mantle of the Red Guardian, who is basically the Russian version of Captain America. Natasha and Alexei were actually once married in the comics, but it is unclear as to whether the two will have a romantic connection in the film, as a character named Rick Mason (O-T Fagbenle) is said to have a romantic interest in Natasha.

Red Guardian

Black Widow teaser Red Guardian

Natasha narrates that this will be a hell of a reunion, as we see Alexei donning his Red Guardian outfit and proudly announcing that it “still fits.”

Family Dinner

The Black Widow family sits down for a spot of dinner around a table in the next shot. Alexei says “Family, back together again” as Yelena rolls her eyes, Melina mocks Alexei for putting on weight, and Natasha does her best to console him with a somewhat disingenuous smile. You know, typical family stuff. This group are clearly close (or were close at some point), but I can’t help but feel that someone around the table may not be entirely what they seem. That’s a gut feeling on my part, though.

Natasha has always had trust issues, but she may have loosened up a bit following her time with the Avengers. It would make sense to challenge her character development by having someone close betray her. Again, though, that is just speculation at this point. Also, does anyone else find it weird that these people probably spent a LOT of time in Russia together, and Natasha is the only one without a thick Russian accent? No? Just me? Let’s move on then.

Fight Club

The Black Widow teaser trailer continues with a quick shot of Alexei in his Red Guardian outfit again, this time fighting with an unknown enemy. He still seems to have what it takes, as he brutally headbutts the bad guy.

Avalanche

A helicopter attempts to escape a massive avalanche at some kind of military base. It is possible that this where the Red Room is located, and the film may focus on the Widows teaming up alongside Red Guardian to bring down the facility once and for all. Hopefully, Taskmaster will have a role to play in this as well, and I really hope it is a good one. Marvel villains have a tendency to fall a bit flat outside a few exceptions (Thanos and Loki), and I hope Taskmaster doesn’t end up falling under the category of yet another underwhelming Marvel bad guy.

Freefall

Natasha leaps from a collapsing platform in the CG-heavy but super cool final shot of the trailer, as she manoeuvres herself around bits of falling debris while being shot at by falling bad guys. It’s empowering to see a badass female character in such an action-packed scene. I just hope she has a parachute.

Where It All Began

I love this little reference to Natasha’s debut in Iron Man 2 here in the title card ending the Black Widow teaser trailer. It makes you realise how far the character has come since she took out those guys in the corridor with such ease.

Black Widow

Black Widow will hopefully tie up any loose ends within Natasha’s narrative. The movie could be quite poignant, and maybe even a little emotional following her death in Avengers: Endgame. I think any fans of her character will agree that as long as the film does justice to her and is a fitting farewell, then we will be able to let her go and move on to the next generation of Marvel heroes. What I really do not want to see is some kind of resurrection for her. She died heroically in Endgame, and I feel that her legacy would be tainted if they were to suddenly revive her. This was only a teaser trailer, of course, so hopefully the full trailer will give us a little more context.

Black Widow will be released in May 1st, 2020. Check out the new poster below.

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‘Shovel Knight: King of Cards’ and ‘Shovel Knight Showdown’— Everything You Need to Know

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Shovel Knight Showdown

8-bit retro aesthetic indie games aren’t exactly new, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that matches the quality found in Shovel Knight. The indie darling was one of our favourite games of 2014 and ever since it released on the Wii U, we’ve been huge fans of Yacht Club Games following their every move including the four additional campaigns which continued to deepen the Shovel Knight universe. Of those four campaigns, only two have been released (Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment), with the last two releasing later this month. It’s been five long years but the journey comes to an end as fans will finally have a chance to play Shovel Knight: King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown which comes out on December 10th, 2019 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, & PC each for $9.99 USD. Here’s everything you need to know about the release.

With Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove now complete, it is also getting a physical release on Nintendo Switch & Xbox One on December 10th as well. The PlayStation 4 version will follow suit in early 2020. 

Additionally, Yacht Club is releasing new amiibos the same date including the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove amiibo 3-Pack that includes Plague Knight, Specter Knight and King Knight as well as a new Shovel Knight Gold Edition amiibo.

Shovel Knight amiibo

Shovel Knight: King of Cards

Shovel Knight: King of Cards is the final campaign in the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove saga, and it’s bigger and grander than ever! Step into the regal shoes of King Knight, the Gilded Goon himself, as you shoulder bash and spin jump through all those who would oppose your reign! Travel through 4 new worlds and more than 30 all new courses, all on a journey to best the “Three Kings” who lord over the land.  Discover what it takes to become a true monarch, meet a friend or two, and amass a King’s ransom in items and loot! Plus, try your hand at Joustus, King of Cards’ very own collectible card game, with over 120 unique cards! Refined platforming, exquisite visuals, story with heart, action-packed courses, glorious new bosses and more await in Shovel Knight: King of Cards!

Shovel Knight Showdown

Shovel Knight Showdown is the ultimate platform fighting experience, where you can duel with up to 4 players and scramble after gems as your favorite heroic or villainous knight from the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove saga. Gather your pals for endless multiplayer clashes, or choose from more than 16 playable characters in Story Mode, each with their own unique story to tell. Master every move, explore a vast array of items and locales, and discover new revelations in Shovel Knight Showdown!

Earlier this year, developer Yacht Club Games also revealed the next entry in the wide-ranging franchise, Shovel Knight Dig, taking the famously retro series into 16-bit for the first time. The full reveal trailer and info on that can be seen here.

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