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This pumpkin carving sim is a real delight

Over the weekend, I got together with friends — via Discord — and carved pumpkins. Each October, I always seem to forget how messy and hard pumpkin carving is; typically, I end up giving up halfway through. This year, I persisted, and actually carved my favorite ghost-type Pokémon into a massive, massive pumpkin. I immediately put it outside so that my neighbors could admire my handiwork.

The next morning, I opened the front door and saw a large squirrel hobbling away from my pumpkin. The Pokémon had been decimated — almost unrecognizable. (The squirrels also ate nearly all the teeth out of my partner’s pumpkin, too.)

Believe it or not, he once had a full set of chompers
Image: Nicole Carpenter/Polygon

Mourning the destruction of my pumpkins, I loaded up A Short Hike developer Adam Robinson-Yu’s Mayor Bones Proudly Presents Ghost Town’s 999th Annual Pumpkin Festival, a pumpkin carving simulation game that he released on Wednesday. I planned to test it out by re-creating the pumpkins we carved over the weekend, but I ended up staying much, much longer. Robinson-Yu’s pumpkin carving tool and pumpkin festival is an absolute delight.

The game is available on Linux, Mac, and Windows PC via itch.io, where it’s offered with a name-your-own-price option. There are two locations, essentially. First is the pumpkin carving station, where you’re able to use two separate tools — a scraper and a knife — to create pumpkin masterpieces. There are a variety of different pumpkin types and colors to choose from, too. Once your pumpkin is finished, you can pop over to the pumpkin festival, which is where other real-life users have already displayed their pumpkins. You can place yours, too.

Image: Adam Robinson-Yu via Polygon

At the festival, you can change lighting — daytime or nighttime — and check out pumpkin creations that were placed by users. Other festival goers hover around in real time with you, all represented on screen as cute white-sheet ghosts.

There are so many fantastic creations at the festival already, and the grounds are just teeming with pumpkins. It feels magical to wander around the yard with strangers. I bobbed and weaved around the screen, trying to communicate with the other player I was wandering with: Come this way! I want to show you my pumpkin.

You’re allowed to place three pumpkins on the server, but can replace old ones if you want. Robinson-Yu said on the pumpkin carver itch.io page that the online festival area will only remain online for “a limited time” — probably until a few weeks after Halloween. However long this game remains up, it’s one you’re going to want to check out. Just like Robinson-Yu’s A Short Hike before it, it’s a true, simple delight.


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Halo Infinite: Microsoft Responds To Microtransaction Concerns Regarding New "Coating" System

Developer 343 Industries recently announced that weapon, vehicle, and player skins in Halo Infinite will be called “coatings,” and immediately, people expressed concerns about microtransactions.

Community manager John Junyszek has now responded. Writing on Twitter, he said that while Halo Infinite will have a microtransaction store, it won’t be the only way to get the game’s customization items, which go beyond coatings.

“There will be all kinds customization items (including coatings) that can be earned in-game and earned as special rewards,” Junyszek said. “Will there be purchases? Sure. Is that the only way? Absolutely not.”

With the new seven-layer coating system, it appears Halo Infinite will offer many more options to players looking to create a player that is unique. “Although moving away from the old color system was a tough call, it has allowed us to go into greater detail and variation with armor color, materials, patterns, etc. You are going to look great in Halo Infinite,” Junyszek said.

We have known for years that Halo Infinite would have a microtransaction store. In 2018, a job listing at 343 mentioned microtransactions and how developers will use human pyschology and behavioural analysis to encourage people to keep coming back.

While Halo Infinite will have microtransactions, there will be no paid loot boxes. Given that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will be free-to-play, it makes sense that the game will support microtransactions as a way to make money from the product.

It’s understandable that fans would have concerns about microtransactions, given how they can be handled in various games. It’s good to know that Halo Infinite will let players earn items through gameplay, but it’s too soon to say how player-friendly the system will be until we learn more about the specifics.

While Halo Infinite doesn’t release until 2021, you can get your hands on multiplayer skins by purchasing sugary snacks and shopping at GameStop.

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GameSpot After Dark Ep. 64: Phasmophobia Mania Feat. Suriel Vazquez

On this week’s episode of GameSpot After Dark, Jake, Lucy, and Kallie are joined by MinnMax co-host Suriel Vazquez. As always, the crew talks about what they’ve been playing (or doing in general), and this week includes some rather timely and spooky picks: early-access ghost-hunting game Phasmophobia and Frictional Games’ horror followup Amnesia: Rebirth. Suriel also shares his passion for Hades, which he reviewed for GameSpot.

The crew then discusses the news from the week–in this case, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s debut Twitch stream designed to get out the vote. They talk about what made it such a compelling stream and their appreciation for Ocasio-Cortez’s genuine approach to political outreach.

In far more controversial news, we also got a first look at Tom Holland as Nathan Drake. Does the After Dark crew care at all? That’s for us to know and for you to find out.

As with every episode, this one ends with questions from you, the listeners. This time, we take on a doozy: How do you deal with a romantic partner who dislikes that you play video games? We gave actual advice and didn’t just tell you to break up with them–promise.

Below you’ll find all the necessary links to find the show on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Google Play. We’ve also included an RSS link so you can put that into your podcast app of choice.

Where You Can Listen

  • RSS Feed
  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Google Play

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Developer Digital Has Acquired Serious Sam Developer Croteam

Serious Sam 4 developer Croteam has worked with publisher Devolver Digital so many times, they’ve decided to make their relationship official. That’s the vibe, at least, in Devolver’s announcement that the company has acquired Croteam, ensuring that they’ll continue releasing games together in the future.

“Devolver has acquired Croteam…or maybe Croteam has acquired Devolver…who could really know at this point in the relationship,” the announcement reads (for the record, it’s definitely the first one). “What’s certain is that our future together is ultra exciting with new projects like The Talos Principle 2, more Serious Sam games, and original IP from Croteam and the Croteam Incubator studios.”

This also serves as a soft confirmation that there’ll be more Serious Sam games before 4, although this was never really in doubt. The game released in September for PC and Stadia, and received a 7/10 in GameSpot’s review.

The studio’s next game will likely be The Talos Principle 2, first announced in 2016. Croteam previously told PC Gamer that the game is currently in the works, and that it will be the studio’s focus now that Serious Sam 4 is available.

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Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War's Main Theme Music Revealed; Jack Wall Returns

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has brought back Black Ops composer Jack Wall to do the music once again. Developer Treyarch has confirmed Wall’s involvement in the game, and also released the main theme music, which is meant to reflect the ’80s and the Cold War period.

Wall told SPIN that he used a number of soft synth instruments to create a “dark, shadowy” feel that felt appropriate to the time period.

“I wanted to create something for the main menu that immediately said very clearly ‘Cold War’: Reagan, Brezhnev, Soviet choir,” Wall said. “I wrote a distinctly ‘of the era’ Soviet-sounding theme, mixing Soviet choir and orchestra with dark synths. Making music and sounds from the ’80s–[using instruments like] Moog Modular, Minimoog, and CS80, as well as other soft synths–to give it that dark, shadowy Black Ops feel in the time of larger-than-life Cold War political figures like Reagan and Brezhnev.”

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/9FvtJDPJCe8

Wall also created the music for Black Ops 2, 3, and 4. Outside of the Call of Duty franchise, Wall is known for the music he wrote for Mass Effect 1 and 2, Jade Empire, Splinter Cell, and Lost Planet 3.

Black Ops Cold War releases on November 13 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, along with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The game’s cross-play beta recently ended, and if you took part, you can now claim a special freebie for Call of Duty Mobile.

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Pixelated Roguelike ScourgeBringer Is Now On Game Pass For PC And Xbox One

This year has seen some great roguelikes, including Supergiant Games’ popular Hades, Spelunky 2, and Bloodroots. And another one, ScourgeBringer, is now available on Game Pass.

ScourgeBringer, developed by NeuroVoider creators Flying Oak Games, is a fast-paced free-moving roguelike platformer that’s sort of like a crossover between Celeste and Dead Cells. You play as Kyhra, the deadliest warrior of her clan, as you battle tough enemies and even tougher bosses to uncover the truth of what sent the world into the post-apocalypse. ScourgeBringer is available on PC and Xbox One. It can also be played on Xbox Series S/X when the next-gen consoles launch on November 10 for $300 and $500, respectively.

For those who would rather own the game outright, ScourgeBringer is available to purchase for $17 USD on the Microsoft and Steam stores. The game is currently on sale on Steam for $14.44 until October 28. Check out the PC system requirements for ScourgeBringer below.

Full ScourgeBringer PC System Requirements

Minimum:

  • OS: 64bit Microsoft Windows 7 SP1, 8.1, 10 (version 1607 or better)
  • Processor: 64bit 1.5 GHz CPU
  • Memory: 2048 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.0 (DirectX 10) compliant graphics card and driver
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Storage: 500 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Intel graphics: please read the GPU compatibility thread on the forum

Recommended:

  • OS: 64bit Microsoft Windows 10 (version 1607 or better)
  • Processor: 64bit Multi-core 2Ghz CPU
  • Memory: 2048 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 3.0 (DirectX 10) compliant graphics card and driver
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Storage: 500 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Game controller recommended

ScourgeBringer has been in early access for a while, most recently appearing in a Summer Game Fest demo event that featured over 70 verticle slices of upcoming Xbox titles. We included ScourgeBringer in a list of Summer Game Fest titles that left us excited. Associate editor Jordan Ramèe said he “loved it a lot” and admired its “hard but fair gameplay loop.”

ScourgeBringer isn’t the only game to join Xbox Game Pass this week. The company confirmed that a bevy of titles, including the trippy platformer Katana Zero and isometric RPG The Swords of Ditto, will make their way to Xbox Game Pass throughout the week.

But as some games enter, others leave. A handful of titles will be leaving the subscription service this month, such as Afterparty, Metro 2033 Redux, Saints Row IV Re-Elected, and Tacoma. Check below for a full list of games entering and leaving the Game Pass vault this month.

Titles Now On Xbox Game Pass

  • Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition – PC
  • Heave Ho – PC
  • Katana Zero – Android, PC, Xbox
  • Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition – PC, Xbox
  • The Swords of Ditto: Mormo’s Curse – PC
  • ScourgeBringer – PC, Xbox

Titles Arriving On Xbox Game Pass Soon

  • Cricket 19, October 21 – Xbox
  • Supraland, October 22 – Xbox

Titles No Longer Available On Xbox Game Pass

  • Felix the Reaper – PC, Xbox
  • Metro 2033 Redux – PC, Xbox
  • Minit – PC, Xbox
  • Saints Row IV Re-Elected – PC
  • State of Mind – PC

Titles Leaving Xbox Game Pass On October 30

  • Afterparty – Xbox
  • LEGO Star Wars III – Xbox
  • Rise & Shine – Xbox
  • Tacoma – PC, Xbox
  • The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game – PC, Xbox
  • The Red Strings Club – PC

Xbox Series X And Xbox One News

  • Xbox Series X Hands-On Preview – Less Waiting, More Gaming
  • So, What Happens Now With Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout, And Bethesda's PS5 Exclusives?
  • Xbox Series X And S Preorders Live Now
  • + Show More Xbox Series X And Xbox One News Links (2)
  • Xbox Series X and S: All Confirmed Launch Games
  • Xbox Series X: Release Date, Specs, Price, And Everything We Know

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Watch Dogs Legion Preorder Guide: Release Date, Next-Gen Upgrade, And Pricing

Watch Dogs Legion promises more systemic freedom than previous entries in the tech-centric series, focusing on having you assemble a large group of hackers instead of following a single hacker around. Legion was originally set to release March 6, but Ubisoft delayed it late last year. During this year’s Ubisoft Forward stream, Ubisoft announced Watch Dogs Legion will release on October 29 on PS4, Xbox One, PC (via Uplay and the Epic Games Store), and Stadia. Ubisoft also confirmed that Watch Dogs Legion will also be available on Xbox Series X and S when those consoles launch November 10, as well as the PS5 when it launches November 12.

Those who buy Watch Dogs Legion will receive a free upgrade from PS4 to PS5 and Xbox One to Xbox Series X, regardless of whether you buy a physical or digital copy. For physical edition owners, you will have to insert the disc into the next-gen console when playing. Digital edition owners can download the game on their new console this holiday, with Series X supporting Smart Delivery.

While the first two games took place in Chicago and San Francisco, respectively, Watch Dogs Legion moves the setting to a near-future, dystopian London. Interestingly, Legion will let players “recruit” and take control of any NPC in the game, and your character choice will actually affect how the game plays out. Check out our guide to everything we know about Watch Dogs Legion, including how its NPC system works, character classes, combat, and more. Also, take a peek at the latest trailer shown during Ubisoft Forward.

Whether you’re new to Watch Dogs or a longtime fan of the series, you might be wondering where you can preorder Watch Dogs Legion now (that’s why you’re here, right?). Here’s all the info you need before preordering, including details on Watch Dogs Legion’s preorder bonuses and Collector’s edition.

Watch Dogs Legion preorder bonuses

Preorder Watch Dogs Legion, and you’ll receive the Gold King Pack, which includes a Lux Car Skin, Uneasy Lies Mask Skin, and Serpent Sisters Gun Skin, with any version you choose. My Best Buy members will also get $10 reward credit when preordering from Best Buy.

Preorder Watch Dogs Legion standard edition | $50-60

Only interested in the base game? Then the standard edition is the one you’ll want. You’ll also receive any applicable preorder bonuses. You can get it for a $10 discount on PS4 and Xbox One at Walmart.

Physical:

Digital:

Preorder Watch Dogs Legion Gold edition | $100-$110

Upgrade to the Gold Edition, and you’ll receive three days of early access to Watch Dogs Legion and its season pass in addition to the base game and any preorder bonuses. The physical Gold edition costs $110, while the digital version is priced at $100.

Physical (includes steelbook):

Digital:

Preorder Watch Dogs Legion Ultimate edition | $120-$130

Opt for the Ultimate edition, and you’ll also receive the Ultimate Pack, which consists of the Urban Jungle Pack and 4-week VIP status. The physical Ultimate edition costs $130, while the digital (sans steelbook case) costs $120.

Physical (includes steelbook):

Digital:

Preorder Watch Dogs Legion Collector’s edition | $190

Finally, you’ve got the Collector’s edition, which adds in a Lighting Ded Coronet Mask (38 cm), an exclusive steelbook, a double-sided propaganda poster, and three stickers on top of everything in the Ultimate edition. This edition is currently sold out, but could return ahead of the game’s launch. The Xbox version comes with a digital code, while the PlayStation owners get a physical disc.

Video Game Preorder Guides

  • Watch Dogs Legion Pre-Order Guide: Release Date, Next-Gen Upgrade Info, And More
  • Cyberpunk 2077 Pre-Order Guide, New Release Date, And Collector's Editions
  • Yakuza: Like A Dragon Pre-Order Info: Release Date, Deal, And More
  • + Show More Video Game Preorder Guides Links (3)
  • Demon's Souls PS5 Preorder Details: Price And Where To Buy
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition, Price, And More Preorder Details
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Pre-Orders Live Now: Price And Editions Detailed

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Fallout 76 Is Free To Play This Week, And Heavily Discounted

In the world of Fallout, October 23 marks the day that the bombs first fell. While that might seem like an odd anniversary to celebrate, Fallout 76 is doing just that with a free-to-play week, which is active from now until October 26.

You can currently play the full game–including the Wastelanders and Nuclear Winter expansions–for free on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Any players who enjoy their time in the wastelands and decide to keep going after this week will find that their progress carries over, and the game is discounted by 60% until October 27. The exact price will vary depending on your region.

There are some other discounts running in-game during this event, so all players can pick up Atom Packs at a discount:

  • 500 Atoms: 20% off base price
  • 1000 Atoms (+100 bonus Atoms): 25% off base price
  • 2000 Atoms (+400 bonus Atoms): 30% off base price
  • 4000 Atoms (+1000 bonus Atoms): 35% off base price

Furthermore, all players will be able to access a preview of Fallout 1st, the subscription service that gives you private servers. Until October 26, you can find a preview available to purchase in the Atomic Shop, which will give you some of the membership benefits for the rest of the free-to-play period. You’ll gain access to the Scrapbox and Survival Tent.

Fallout 4 is also on sale this week, with the base game and GOTY edition discounted by 70%, and the Season Pass and DLC packs cut by 60%. It’s worth remembering, though, that if you’re buying a PS5 and subscribe to PS Plus, you’ll get Fallout 4 through the new Plus Collection.

Fallout 76 has struggled since launch to hold our attention, although the Wastelanders expansion saw a marginal improvement–check out GameSpot’s 5/10 review. The game is also on Xbox Game Pass, so subscribers to that service will still be able to access the game after this trial.

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PS4 Halloween Sale Includes Resident Evil 2, Days Gone, And More

With Halloween right around the corner, now’s the perfect time to play some appropriately spooky games. If you’re a PS4 owner looking to get in the holiday spirit, the PlayStation Store is hosting its annual Halloween Sale right now. Not every game in the sale is a pure horror game, which means you can grab titles like Death Stranding and Days Gone for cheap, too. The Halloween Sale runs until November 3, so you have a few weeks to make your picks. There’s also a new Games Under $20 promotion filled with lots of bargains.

There are a handful of solid horror games in the sale. Resident Evil 2’s stellar 2019 remake is discounted to $16, Little Nightmares is down to $5, and both Evil Within games are 50% off; the first entry is $10, while The Evil Within 2 is $30. You can also grab the atmospheric first-person shooter Alien: Isolation, and all of its DLC, for only $8.

Other games that somewhat touch on the horror genre are heavily featured in the sale, too. Death Stranding is on sale for $30, Days Gone is down to $20, and Doom Eternal is $30. You can also snag The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s Complete edition for $15 and Nioh for $10. Though not a huge discount, it’s worth noting that the recently released Souls-like Mortal Shell is on sale for $25.49.

The Games Under $20 sale runs until October 29 and features deals on a variety of popular franchises. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection is discounted to $10, which is quite the bargain considering it comes with three great remastered adventures. Multiple Far Cry games are heavily discounted: Far Cry 4 is $6.59, Far Cry Primal is $9.89, and Far Cry 3 Classic edition is $9.89.

PlayStation Plus deal

12-month digital code


You can even snag some worthwhile games for $5 or less, including the charming couch co-op adventure Unravel Two, Tomb Raider: Definitive edition, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

You can browse both sales at the PlayStation Store and see our picks below.

Best deals at PlayStation Store

  • Alien: Isolation – The Collection — $8 ($40)
  • Blair Witch — $15 ($30)
  • Darkest Dungeon — $7.49 ($25)
  • Days Gone — $20 ($40)
  • Death Stranding — $30 ($40)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided — $4.49 ($30)
  • Devil May Cry HD Collection — $15 ($30)
  • Devil May Cry 5 — $20 ($25)
  • Diablo 3: Eternal Collection — $19.79 ($60)
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive edition — $24 ($60)
  • Doom Eternal — $30 ($60)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Deluxe edition — $5 ($20)
  • The Evil Within — $10 ($20)
  • The Evil Within 2 — $30 ($60)
  • Far Cry 3 Classic edition — $9.89 ($30)
  • Far Cry 4 — $6.59 ($20)
  • Far Cry Primal — $9.89 ($30)
  • Little Nightmares — $5 ($20)
  • MediEvil — $15 ($30)
  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst — $5 ($20)
  • Mortal Shell — $25.49 ($30)
  • Nioh — $10 ($20)
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville Deluxe edition — $15 ($50)
  • Resident Evil 2 — $16 ($40)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive edition — $4 ($20)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete edition — $15 ($50)
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 — $10 ($25)
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection — $10 ($20)
  • Unravel Two — $5 ($20)
  • Wolfenstein: Alt History Collection — $48 ($80)

The Best Deals And Sales This Week

  • Black Friday 2020: Thanksgiving Day Store Closings, Retailer Ads, And Deals To Expect
  • Walmart Black Friday 2020 Ads Revealed
  • Dell's Black Friday Sale Kicks Off Early With Laptop And PC Deals
  • + Show More The Best Deals And Sales This Week Links (2)
  • PS4 Halloween Sale Is Live Now, Includes Resident Evil 2, Days Gone, And More
  • GameStop Pro Day Sale Is Live Now: FF7 Remake For $39, B2G1 Free Funko Pops, And More

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 Has Lost Its Senior Narrative Designer

Cara Ellison, the senior narrative designer for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, has moved on from the project. In a statement given to PC Gamer, publisher Paradox Interactive has confirmed that Ellison is no longer involved with the game.

“We can confirm that Cara Ellison has decided to leave Hardsuit Labs and is no longer working on Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2,” the statement reads. “Cara brought fresh ideas to the project and many of her contributions will be present in the game launching next year.”

Ellison has secured a new position–she’s now a Senior Narrative Designer at League of Geeks, the Australian developer of Armello. The studio’s next game remains a secret, but it will be published by Private Division.

Ellison is not the first narrative team member to leave the project. In August, narrative lead Brian Mitsoda and creative director Ka’ai Cluney were terminated from developer Hardsuit Labs. In June, it was announced that Chris Avellone’s contributions to the game would not be used after numerous accusations of sexual assault and misconduct came to light.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 was originally scheduled for a 2020 release, but it was delayed into 2021. A new date has not been set. The game is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X, as well as PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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