Amazon Is Making a ‘Lord of the Rings’ MMO Game

Greetings, gamers! Welcome to a new edition of Replay, WIRED’s lightning-fast videogame news roundup. Undoubtedly the biggest deal this week was the announcement of Nintendo’s new Switch Lite, but that’s just the beginning. There’s also a new Lord of the Rings MMO on the horizon, and Cuphead might be getting a TV show. Let’s press play.

Lord of the Rings Is Getting Another Chance at MMO Glory, This Time From Amazon

Lord of the Rings has a big, complicated history in videogames. Famously, it had a major foray into the massively multiplayer world with The Lord of the Rings Online, a game that launched in 2007 and remains a cult favorite to this day for its expansive, detailed approach to living inside Middle-earth.

That game wasn’t exactly a success, though, and now a new one is coming to snatch the glory it never attained. Amazon Game Studios is currently in the process of developing a massively multiplayer online game in collaboration with Leyou Technologies that will  [...]  read more

The ‘Super Mario Maker 2’ Community Is a Haven of Player Creativity

Day after day, I keep gearing up to dive into Super Mario Maker 2. Then something holds me back. As a game, it’s a showcase of constantly impressive player creativity, an endlessly expanding compendium of fan creations. And I want to play them. But I’m uneasy. I know how this is going to go.

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See, I have a confession: I’m not very good at Mario games. I’ve never beaten the first Super Mario Bros. That last world always gets me. I’m frustrated at having to hold down the sprint button to make big jumps in high-level play. I’m just a little clumsier with Mario’s little plumber body than I should be. I’m far from an expert.

So what’s going to happen when I dive into Mario Maker 2‘s most popular, most interesting stages? I’m going [...]  read more

‘Cuphead’ Update Is Being Delayed for a Very Good Reason

It’s the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but that doesn’t mean the Replay team doesn’t have any videogame news for you. In fact, we have a couple interesting tidbits. Here’s what you need to know from the short week in just a couple minutes, plus a recommendation for a game to check out over the long weekend.

Mordhau Is Apparently Kind of a Mess

One of the PC gaming’s unexpected successes of late is Mordhau, a medieval-themed brawler that’s become a multiplayer sensation. Only problem is, its community is a big mess. As reported at length by PC Gamer, the developers behind the game seem unwilling or unable to combat rampant toxicity in their game. With a series of quotes we’d prefer not to publish here pulled directly from largely unmoderated user forums, PC Gamer illustrates a community where racism, sexism, and general hostility are not just problems, but problems left out in the open.

Mordhau devs are also in the process of rolling out female playable characters, [...]  read more

Welp, We Might Be Getting a ‘Final Fantasy XIV’ TV Show

Welcome to Replay, where you can catch up on a week’s worth of videogame news in just a couple of minutes. This week, Sony is looking to make a Final Fantasy XIV show, and also, uh, there’s Budweiser-related news? It’s a weird one; strap in.

Sony’s Making Use of Their TV Division to Make a … Final Fantasy XIV Show?

As we reported recently, Sony has opened up a wide-ranging TV division to develop, produce, and distribute television adaptations of their videogame properties and, presumably, the properties of their partners. Their first choice, though, is an odd one.

As PC Gamer reports, Sony’s working on a live-action television show about the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Final Fantasy XIV. The game, developed by Square Enix, sets players in the realm of Eorzea, which is full of all the magical things you expect from Final Fantasy: crystals, airships, people named Cid, jobs which are plentiful and flexible.

It seems a particularly strange choice for a television show, but the fact is, the floodgates are [...]  read more

The Quiet Force of YouTuber Etika’s Gaze

What is the weight of a young black man’s gaze? Who does it trigger? What does it want to say? What is he trying to say? We will never know for certain what more Desmond Amofah wanted to communicate—this week, the body of the popular YouTube gamer was found in Manhattan’s East River—but we can hazard a guess.

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The answers are in the wonder of his face, that fleshy prism of delight and entrance. In Amofah’s sustained looking, in the stunted, human gestures of his youth, we hear color and see sound: the echo in his eyes, the shout of his brown skin. There’s a sensitivity to the image; I know the posture well—I can feel vulnerability being kept at bay. He doesn’t want to let us all the way in. Silence eats at the photo but never wholly devours it. [...]  read more

‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ Isn’t the Next ‘Pokémon Go.’ Good

When developer Niantic launched Pokémon Go in the summer of 2016, it did so at maximum velocity. The game’s blend of simple mechanics and next-level augmented reality sparked a months-long stretch of virality, followed by years of low-key dominance. The studio’s follow-up, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, debuted Thursday on iOS and Android. And while it checks many of the same boxes—source material with a rabid fanbase, innovative AR—it’s decidedly its own experience. That’s no small praise.

It must have been tempting to turn Wizards Unite into Pokémon 2.0. Just sub in fantastic beasts for pocket monsters, wizards for trainers, and ride the fan service all the way to Gringotts. But while there are some inevitable parallels—mostly a function of using the same real-world infrastructure that dates back to Ingress, Niantic’s original AR exploration—Wizards Unite mostly resists repetition. That’s better in some ways, and worse in others, but mostly it’s just more.

Yer a Wizard, Malk

Again, [...]  read more

12 Best Couch Co-Op Games (2019): PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch

Use your portal gun to shoot portals in two places so you can walk into one and come out the other. That’s what the original Portal first-person puzzle game was all about. Now, multiply that portal count by two and you’ll begin to imagine the mind-bending fun of Portal 2, which has a cooperative campaign that requires a pair of players to figure out how to make four portals transport them through some seriously tricky puzzle rooms. If you like physics, teamwork, and funny characters, this is a fantastic, one-of-a-kind puzzler to blaze through with a friend. Available for Xbox One (Xbox 360 version will work) and PC (Steam) (1-2 Players)
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired

Electronic Arts Says That Loot Boxes Are Basically Kinder Eggs

Now that E3 is over, things in the videogame industry—and here on the Replay roundup—are returning to normal. What does that mean? It means we get to talk about loot boxes! That, plus Nintendo fan games, and the other stories you might have missed over the past week.

Electronic Arts Insists that Loot Boxes Are ‘Surprise Mechanics’

Surprise! You just spent a hundred dollars looking for a premium character costume! Isn’t this wholesome?

The controversy over loot boxes—randomized, buyable collections of in-game content—continued this week with a hearing in the UK Parliament, wherein representatives from Electronic Arts and Epic Games were forced to answer questions about loot boxes, in-game addiction, and what Prince Harry thinks about Fortnite.

As PC Gamer reports, when asked to defend loot boxes like those found in Star Wars Battlefront II, EA’s head of legal [...]  read more

Companies Don’t Need Conventions Like E3. They Should Go Anyway

Since its start in 1995, E3 has been the premiere event of the gaming industry, the place every outfit had to be to show off their wares. That’s far less true now. In recent years, videogame companies announcing they’re skipping the gaming confab has become commonplace.

Electronic Arts pulled out a few years ago, launching their own event across town. A few years before that, Nintendo stopped doing annual press conferences, though it still has a presence on E3’s show floor. This year, it was Sony’s turn: The major publisher and hardware manufacturer passed on the show altogether. With all of Sony’s resources presumably focused on the rumored PlayStation 5, the company avoided the event like an embittered college senior who has no interest in going to graduation.

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Female Representation in Videogames Isn’t Getting Any Better

Four years ago, when the videogame industry gathered in Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo of 2015, many felt as if change was in the air. It was the first E3 since Gamergate had become a household term, so industry insiders and observers alike watched the annual event closely to see how the heated conflict over the place women occupied in gaming culture would be reflected in the games that powerhouses like Sony and Microsoft brought to the show.

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If you do an online search for “E3 2015 women” today, what you’ll find is that many did feel that year’s expo represented a kind of turning point. News stories celebrated women taking on “stronger roles” in videogames and heralded “the rise” of women gamers. Microsoft’s press conference [...]  read more