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    • Uncrowned Guard
      The gaming giant Activision Blizzard and its arsenal of top-tier games are coming to Xbox Games as Microsoft has purchased the company and all of its assets.  The maker of Call of Duty, Overwatch, and many more games beloved by gamers is excepted to land on Xbox Game Pass once the dust has settled.
      Activision Blizzard has been embattled with its fanbase due to scandals within the company and lawsuits regarding all sorts of activities that are beyond inappropriate.  CEO of Activision Blizzard is Bobby Kotick and he has been surrounded by a PR nightmare as news reports have not only stated that he was aware of the misconduct taking place but allegedly took part in some of the activities directly.
      Xbox’s Phil Spencer has been openly against how the scandals were handled, but Microsoft has announced that Bobby Kotick will retain his position as CEO after the merger.  This has been followed up by numerous reports stating that Kotick plans to leave the company after the deal is complete.  Officially, he is still their CEO and Microsoft has publicly announced their support for him to remain as such.
      Overall, we do not know the long-term effects of this deal.  Will Call of Duty be an Xbox exclusive?  Will World of Warcraft come to console?  We can base some of these answers on the Microsoft-Bethesda purchase and assume that all their current games will remain as is and continue to support all platforms while new games will release as Xbox Exclusives. 
      Call of Duty’s yearly releases and Overwatch 2 fall into “new games” when they release and the fate of these are still unknown.  Most would agree that in the short term, making Call of Duty an Xbox Exclusive would be a poor decision as it remains the world’s top-selling video game each year, and the majority of players are often found on PlayStation.  However, nothing about dropping nearly $70 billion is very “short term” and only the future will tell how things play out.

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Steam has released their top games of multiple categories from 2021 that shows their best sellers, most players, and many other stats in the PC gaming world.  These numbers only reflect games on the Steam Platform, so items from Epic Games, Battle.net, EA Origin, etc. are not factored into the mix.  Lists are presented in random order as Steam does not release exact information on most of these statistics.
      Below you will find the three most asked for lists, but more lists can be found linked at the bottom of this article.  Top Selling Games is the first list and it is based around the gross revenue of the game on Steam and therefore DLC and in-game purchased should be factored int these results.  The second list is Top New Releases and the results of this list are based around the game's performance during the first two weeks of its release.  The last list we placed here is the Most Played List and that is based around most concurrent players on at one time, Steam did state the free weekends and other promotional playtime events are not factored into this list.
      Top Selling Games
      Games are provided in random order and were selected by gross revenue.
      New World Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six® Siege Dead by Daylight Dota 2 Valheim Battlefield™ 2042 Apex Legends™ PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS Counter-Strike: Global Offensive NARAKA: BLADEPOINT Grand Theft Auto V Destiny 2 Top New Releases
      Games are provided in random order and were selected by revenue over their first two weeks.
      Back 4 Blood Resident Evil Village Mass Effect™ Legendary Edition Halo Infinite Battlefield™ 2042 New World Age of Empires IV Valheim Forza Horizon 5 Farming Simulator 22 OUTRIDERS NARAKA: BLADEPOINT Most Played Games
      Games are provided in random order and were selected by highest peak concurrent players.
      Grand Theft Auto V Cyberpunk 2077 Halo Infinite Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Dota 2 PUBG: BATTLEGROUNDS New World Apex Legends™ Rust Valheim There are a few other categories of rankings that they proved as followed:
      Top Early Access Graduates Top Selling VR Games Top Controller Games  
      Image: Wirestock - stock.adobe.com

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Halo Infinite’s surprise launch and solid gameplay have been loved by many gamers, both casual and competitive alike. However, the game is not perfect, as players rush to point out the game’s terrible cosmetic system and horrible XP progression, other players have noticed some oddities about the ranked play of the game.
      Players trying to get the most out of the competitive side of Halo have reported numerous matches where players are not all equal in rank.  This has caused some uproar as it means lower-skilled players are being placed with higher-skilled players in competitive matches.  Unequal player ranks also defeat a major part of the concept of having a “ranked” system if the ranks get mixed anyway.
      343 has confirmed this as a feature of the game as they currently place players on ranked teams to balance the team, not the players.  This concept does have a few good merits as it allows for mixed players to matchmake as a team, but for solo players, it is discouraging when you are not matched with players of your skill to make the team balanced. 
      However, after a Twitter posting, 343’s Junyszek has posted that they are looking into making this system better and seemed to confirm that random matchmaking should not be balancing teams when it isn’t needed.  We have no idea what those changes will be or how they will affect groups, but the ranked system needs numerous aid as players continue to face unequal teams, 3v4 starts, and cross-platform cheats.
       

    • Uncrowned Guard
      As Halo Infinite takes over the FPS world, players have not enjoyed the painfully slow progressive system of the game’s Battle Pass due to terrible XP gains and lackluster challenges.  343 has announced today their first step towards fixing this problem will be increased to the daily game XP bonuses.  Instead of a near-pointless 50XP single game bonus, the game will have 300XP boosts for the first game and slowly work down to 50XP for the 7th+ game you play.
      343 hopes this change will encourage players to continue playing daily while also rewarding those who are heavy gamers and play numerous matches per day.  Some have pointed out that the game is still in Beta and once the missing content is added, the XP problem should get better along the way.  However, with the current limited-time events, the start of Season 1, and numerous other marketing tools, it is extremely hard to say that 343 is not pushing this as the full game.
      Junyszek of 343, also stated that bigger changes were in the works to help fix the XP problems but did not add any details to what those changes may be.  For those curious, players can now rank up one level of the Battle Pass each day simply by playing 6 matches with the new XP system as that would add 1000XP (the required amount per level). 
      Hopefully, this is the start of a series of fixes to compliment the excellent gameplay of Halo Infinite with a store and cosmetic system that doesn’t feel so “money-hungry mobile game” like. 

    • Uncrowned Guard
      The second chapter of the hit battle royale game Fortnite is coming to a close with a large event on December 4th at 4 PM EST.  The event is called “The End” and will be a one-time-only event that Epic Games seems to be hinting at the final moments for the current map.
      The event will need to compete with an excellent end to Chapter 1 where a massive black hole destroyed the map and Chapter 2 released a few days later with a new map.  While highly suspected that Chapter 3 will feature a new map, the details are nearly non-existent about the upcoming chapter, and we will need to wait and see what is in store for players.
      Chapter 2 has been building up for a major event as the map started to become overrun with mysterious cubes that slowly built up in the center of the map to form a structure that now houses the Cube Queen.  Epic suggests players get in the game at least 30 minutes before the event starts and the last event did come with some server issues as players flooded online to experience the one-time event.
       

    • Uncrowned Guard
      A Redditor by the username u/Aaronfrogger recently posted a screenshot on r/battlefield2042 that stated he got early access to the game by mistake and posted a screenshot of the available weapons in the game.  The list is certainly lacking with a bare minimum amount of effort put into the available weapons:
       4 Assault Rifles 4 SMGs 2 LMGs 3 Marksman Rifles 3 Sniper Rifles 3 Pistols 3 Utility Guns Sadly, it is just a screenshot of the list with a SFAR-M GL Assault Rifle selected and all the others just a dimmed-out silhouette of the possible weapon choices.  We can also provide no confirmations about the list’s legitimacy, but current preload data seems to support it. This list is stated to be the same across all specialists as well, so no hope of getting more variety based on who you select to play as.
      Overall, the number of weapons is better than many recent Battlefield games but disappointing as it barely improves on the terrible arsenals presented in past games.  A video leak would have been great as the current image lacks a lot of information about the weapons themselves and the possible customization of those weapons.
      The Beta did not provide much hope that “radical” customizations could be achieved to make the list more versatile and enjoyable for players, but much of the information we need is still hidden away behind EA’s media wall.
       

    • ThunderFlash
      Battlefield 2042 came out firing with a massive level of hype that drove it through a monstrous FPS release market coming in Holiday 2021 with the likes of Halo Infinite and Call of Duty Vanguard.  However, that hype seems to have been put to the test with the recent open beta for 2042 as players got to experience the game for themselves firsthand.
      First came the bugs, the game was full of them to the point that players encountered problems with nearly every feature of the game, and numerous game-breaking bugs would decide the outcome for many players’ games.  Dice released a statement that stated the game used in the beta was “months old” and most of the bugs were fixed already.  This statement was received with a lot of question marks and confusion as the open beta was a massive marketing push for the game and they are claiming they willingly choose a bad version of the game to show off.
      Although the key complaints wouldn’t flood in until players started to notice some major gameplay changes from previous Battlefield games that seemed to be unanimously disliked.  Destructible environments, one of the most key and enjoyed features of the series, have been removed in favor of a few scripted style destruction points in buildings and on the map.
      Vehicles just didn’t feel like a battlefield game and worst of all, specialists somehow added classes of characters you can play, but also removed the “classes” part of Battlefield.  Squad teamwork has been such a major (and loved) focus point of Battlefield and now players have no idea who to turn towards for more ammo, healing, etc.  Players can freely switch equipment between specialists, and this is nice for a Call of Duty style game but very confusing for a squad-based game like Battlefield.
      Gunplay was good, but seemed basic and forgiving for a Battlefield game and some players even pointed out that it felt like a fancy mobile shooter with how easy recoil was to manage.  Although outside of the gunplay itself, the core gunfighting of the game itself was lacking.  Revives were basically nonexistent, teamwork was reduced to simple team spawns, and the game as a whole just seemed to lack all of the glory that makes Battlefield an amazing shooter.
      Hopefully, these issues are not as bad as they seem.  Perhaps, the destruction issues were limited to the map they released for the beta and others will be better.  Also some better indication on who has ammo and more rewards to encourage reviving and other teamwork would certainly be nice.

    • Uncrowned Guard
      343 Industries, the dev of Halo Infinite, has finally released the settings that will be used in competitive matchmaking.  Well, at least the general guideline of settings being used and a good explanation on what players can expect in their recent blog. The blog also stated these settings will be used for the game’s competitive matchmaking along with the game’s esports competitions.
      Players will start all games using Halo’s iconic esport gun, the Battle Rifle, and will quickly find out that their HUD lacks a motion tracker.  Grenade hit markers will also be disabled in these modes and players will need to focus on teamwork to achieve consistent victory.  Friendly fire will also be enabled for the game modes to push for even more team coordination.
      Modes used in competitive play are currently limited to Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, and Oddball.  Weapon and equipment spawn points will be locked to static locations and set with interval timers that focus on team tactics to control the best gear.
      These changes to the gameplay are stated to allow lone wolf play, but to enforce that teamwork will be the primary reason for victory or defeat.  343 mentions that they are striving to push for settings, maps, and even spawns on the map to push the better team to end the round with the better score. 

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Dbrand started selling custom black side plates for the PS5 to offer users options over the factory white plates early this year.  The company is well known for selling custom skins and other user customization items for popular electronic devices, but Sony has never been much of a fan of this type of practice (although they are certainly not the only ones). 
      The Darkplates were a fully-featured replacement plate for the console that utilizes a very detailed Dbrand engraving pattern alongside the black color scheme.  The company seemed to anticipate some legal action against this product as even they featured the line “Go ahead, sue us.” right on the product page.
      The cease-and-desist order sent by Sony to Dbrand this week references a violation of Sony’s trademark of their popular controller symbols and Dbrands was quick to point out that those do not exist as part of this product.  However, it does appear that the letter is mostly focused on the actual physical design of the side plate using a Sony-owned design and connection to their console.  Dbrand breaks down the order on their Reddit and you can view it here (just be advised that it does have quite a few profanities involved).
      Dbrand has pulled the plates from their store and has replaced the page for the product with a list of news articles about the side plates.   Hopefully, this page is referencing the company’s plan to fight the cease-and-desist order as it does appear that they have both appealed it and stated that the product will be returning. 
      Image: Dbrand

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Hazard Zone has been an unknown game mode of the upcoming Battlefield game since the game’s announcement and details of the mode itself were limited at best.  However, EA has released an informative post about the mode and while we still lack many details, it clears up a lot of what the mode will include.
      This mode is coming as part of the Battlefield Portal experience that includes all sorts of older game assets and matchmaking options to allow players to create all kinds of custom games and lobbies.  The core concept of the mode is collecting intel from drop pods within a map full of NPCs, opposing players, and raging storms.  And no, it does not appear that the new mode can use older Battlefield maps at this point.
      The mode has a heavy focus on teamwork as it includes a pre-game lobby of sorts that allows the team to explain the map and equip items for the mission.  The maps will be broken down into regions that contain the Data Drives you are searching for, but also other interactive elements (like Uplinks that allow you to request Call-ins).  While it is not confirmed, images on the article suggest teams of 4 will be used and we have no idea if you must matchmake for 4 total players, or if solo and small teams can go in as-is.
      The mode seems focused around Dark Market Credits (DMC) that are earned in-game and allow players to purchase gear for the mission.  It sounds like gear needs to be purchased per game, but that is not something we could confirm per the article as there are also character upgrades and other unlocks.  DMC cannot be purchased with real money, but we do not know if any other microtransactions exist within the mode.
      Specialists are in the mode and come with a basic starter weapon (which is why we believe upgrades are purchased per game) and we have no idea if they will have abilities, and such without purchasing them.  The mode will also reward players/teams for completing harder objectives in the map and offers streak bonuses for completing multiple maps successfully. 
      Matches are estimated to be from 5 to 20 minutes long as players can choose when to extract and what goals to focus on and will feature up to 32 other players (24 on older-gen consoles).  Inserting seems standard with most modern battle royale games and teams can revive downed players using features on the map.  NPC numbers are listed as “varies” so they may be randomly set during each game or simply based on the map.
       
      Source: https://www.ea.com/games/battlefield/battlefield-2042/news/battlefield-briefing-exploring-battlefield-hazard-zone
      Image: EA

    • Uncrowned Guard
      Earlier today reports started to pile in that Twitch had a massive data breach of source code, projects, sensitive information, and all sorts of data were released in a torrent file with over 100GB of data.  This breach was released on 4chan and numerous sources started to confirm that items such as earnings reports and previously unknown information were legitimate information. 
      Twitch has come out on Twitter and confirmed the leak happened and that they are trying to figure out how much information was leaked to the public and what account information was released.  The Amazon-owned company has been a target of many data breaches in the past and it currently has not been noted to contain login information.
      However, we would strongly urge all Twitch users to change their passwords and activate two-factor authentication as well for added protection.  There seems to be a vast array of internal Twitch tools that were leaked during the breach and this may allow users to bypass current anti-spam and other tools the platform uses to protect streamers. 
      Although no one is quite sure of the damage or the potential misuse the leaked data may produce at this time.  There seems to be no word on if any banking information was released, but streamers did confirm on Twitter that the earnings reports were accurate and taking actions to protect your associated bank accounts would be advised until more is known.
      There are no reports on if this affects anything with Amazon accounts, but it is never a bad idea to change your password and have 2FA activated no matter the reason.  The information is already public and being spread out amongst the internet, so please do not wait for confirmation that your account is safe, just take the steps now even if it turns out pointless in the end.
       
      Image: prima91 - stock.adobe.com

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