Former ‘Silicon Valley’ star T.J. Miller will not face a federal charge of calling in a fake bomb threat after prosecutors in Connecticut moved Thursday to dismiss the case. Miller was arrested in April 2018 at La Guardia Airport in New York after allegedly making a false call about a bomb threat on an Amtrak […]
Focus Features will begin production on “Spoiler Alert,” a film adaptation of Michael Ausiello’s 2017 best-selling memoir titled, “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.” Ben Aldridge of “Fleabag” renown joins the previously announced Jim Parsons in the movie. Kiska Higgs, president of productions and acquisitions announced the release thursday. Michael Showalter will direct the film. “Spoiler […]
Entertainment One announced that Jillian Share will join the company as co-president of production in the film division on Aug. 2. Share will work with current president of film production Zev Forman to oversee the division’s day to day activities and expand the studio’s development and production of films based on IP from Hasbro brands, […]
Only 220 will be sold, and it includes possible entry into a new off-road competition.
Musical adventure The Artful Escape will arrive on September 9, and it’s bringing a truly impressive voice cast, including actors and actresses from Game of Thrones, Kingsman, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Predator, and more.
Announced during the Annapurna showcase today, The Artful Escape will launch for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC (and will launch into Xbox Game Pass). The game is a psychedelic side-scroller about a teenage guitar prodigy, Francis, who’s looking to craft his stage persona and travels to mystical worlds to do so.
While trailers and gameplay have previously been wordless, we’ve now learned that the game includes a number of high-profile actors and actresses. Francis will be played by Michael Johnston (Teen Wolf), and is joined by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones’ Cersei Lannister), Mark Strong (Kingsman, Kick-Ass, Shazam!), Jason Schwartzmann (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Rushmore), Carl Weathers (Predator, Arrested Development), and Caroline Kinley (Love is Blue, Love is Yellow).
Announced as The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti, we’ve been seeing snippets of the game – developed by Australian studio Beethoven & Dinosaur – since 2017. We’re very happy to see it finally on the way.
House Republicans say their new immigration bill will reverse the historic surge of migrants by increasing the number of Customs and Border Protection agents, improving technology for rooting out illegal aliens, and resuming construction of a southern border wall.
Homeland Security Committee ranking member Rep. John Katko (R., N.Y.), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), and conference chairwoman Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) proposed the legislation on Thursday, arguing that the 1.1 million illegal crossings so far this year constitute a security threat. Citing an increase in fentanyl seizures by border patrol agents—enough to kill millions of people—the House Republicans say law enforcement isn’t equipped to handle the challenge.
Katko said the administration’s “weak leadership” is squarely to blame for the border crisis, but his bill offers an effective alternative that will address the thousands of migrants flocking to the border each week.
“When the southwest border is lawless, it’s the fabric of all our communities that suffers. And that is unacceptable,” Katko said. “From finishing the border wall system to modernizing technology and bolstering border staffing, this legislation tackles key shortcomings and weaknesses we’ve seen for ourselves that are fueling the border crisis. I am proud to stand with so many of my Republican colleagues to put forth a strong, common sense alternative to President Biden’s failing and destructive border security policies.”
Republicans like McCarthy have repeatedly called for the Biden administration to restore pandemic safety measures like Title 42, which gives border patrol agents broad authority to turn back most migrants. Biden’s overturning of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” program, law enforcement officials say, has also contributed to a 362 percent increase in illegal immigration at the southern border when compared to last year.
The bill looks beyond traditional border infrastructure to curb the flow of migrants from Central and South America by directing $10 million toward commercial technologies to assist border security and monitoring. Katko also calls for the creation of a border security innovation lab, where officials can test ideas and concepts to make the apprehension of migrants more efficient.
Stefanik, who supports the bill, said the White House’s policies put the American people at risk.
“Biden’s open border policies have been a complete disaster, causing the worst border crisis we’ve seen in over 20 years,” Stefanik told the Washington Free Beacon. “As the number of encounters continues to rise, drugs and weapons are flooding across our southern border, and Democrats have turned their backs on our border patrol agents and law enforcement. I am proud to support this legislation that reinstitutes President Trump’s successful border policies and invests in infrastructure, technology, and support for our federal law enforcement officers. We know these policies work, and Biden’s negligence is dangerous to our national security.”
Katko’s plan comes as the Biden administration seeks a new approach to the immigration crisis. A State Department plan released Thursday aims to address the “root causes” of increased migration, such as a lack of economic opportunities in countries like Guatemala, by collaborating with Central American governments. Vice President Kamala Harris, whom the White House has tasked with handling the crisis, has been the subject of bipartisan criticism due to her management of border security and illegal immigration.
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut will offer an interesting mix of new content to players returning to Sucker Punch’s epic adventure, as well as a more robust package for newcomers on both PS4 and PS5. Introducing a new story expansion taking place on a brand new island, alongside quality of life updates, PS5-specific features, and new content for Ghost’s surprising multiplayer Legends mode, the Director’s Cut has plenty to make a return trip to Tsushima seemingly worth the while.
To learn a little more about what players can expect, I spoke with Creative and Art Director Jason Connell and Senior Writer Patrick Downs about what gameplay updates players can expect, how Iki Island is letting the team explore new themes and ideas, and how the new content reflects both the team’s interests and what players have been asking for.
Director’s Cut Gameplay Additions
The Iki Island expansion will be accessible to players at the beginning of the main story’s second act and at any point after, meaning players that may have already beaten the game when it debuted last year will be able to jump in as well. Connell explained how the team wanted to ensure that, at whichever point you decide to sail off to Iki, Ghost of Tsushima will make sure its challenge is appropriate for your progress in the wider game.
“Whether you go there right at the beginning of act two, or you go there at the end of the game, a challenge will be presented because we’re scaling the difficulty of it,” Connell said. “If you’ve already gone all the way to the end of the game, it’s not like it’s going to be a breeze. It’s still going to have a challenge for you, which is important considering the way that we’ve implemented this.”
The Director’s Cut won’t add new stances or new weapons according to Connell, refuting some alleged leaks that popped up about the new content weeks ago, but Connell did speak to how not only Jin’s horse now get armor, it will also have a new skill, teased in the trailer.
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“Your horse has a new skill, it’s shown in the trailer. You can see it do a charge, which is super exciting. And then there’s a bunch of other stuff that we’ll obviously want some people to play and find out for themselves,” Connell teased.
He spoke to the far-ranging additions being added in this version of Ghost as a chance to both respond to the feedback and enthusiasm of fans, and tweak the experience overall in ways they couldn’t previously, like with the Japanese lip sync for characters, which will now be an available feature.
“That’s one where we wanted to have it, and we even experimented with them. But due to technical constraints, and the way we were making cutscenes and cinematics, and logistical time constraints, we just couldn’t make it happen. We had a chance to reevaluate that and make it happen this time,” Connel said.
“It’s definitely a really rare moment to have reflection from the community, and certainly, we listened there a bunch and that’s got to be in the mix. But there’s also things that we wish we could have made happen [in the original release], but couldn’t.”
Adding PS5 Functionality
Though a patch has allowed Ghost of Tsushima’s performance to improve when the PS4 is played on a PS5, the Director’s Cut edition will offer native support for features of the console, like 3D audio and use of the haptic feedback in the DualSense.
On the audio side, while Ghost was originally built for the PS4, Connell spoke to how so many of the design elements of Ghost of Tsushima, which aims to wrap you up in its beautiful world, lend themselves so well to a 3D soundscape. And one particular example of the audio team’s work really struck him about what could be accomplished.
“There’s this thing that you come to find out, which is whenever I heard the [Guiding Wind] before, I would hear it. maybe. left to right, but I wouldn’t ever really hear it over my head, or going from way behind me to way in front of me,” he said, explaining how Ghost’s unique navigation element could take advantage of this tech.
“Or when a rainstorm comes in, you just hear a general pitter patter [in the original version]. But now, it feels like the pitter patter is happening at my feet, like it’s hitting the actual ground. The immersion level just goes up a notch.”
Connell also spoke a bit to how Ghost of Tsushima’s swordplay so naturally can be adapted to the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback of the DualSense.
“Then you add in some of the really cool features with the DualSense adaptive triggers and the haptic feedback, and applying that to when you hit somebody with a sword. It’s a sword fighting game, so having impacts that feel excellent is [a major goal]. In anything you can do, we’re going to try to find those tools and use them, and now we have this whole new set of tools.”
Introducing a New Villain, and a New Island
IGN’s Ghost of Tsushima review hailed Khotun Khan as a memorable, impactful villain, a leader of the Mongol army seeking to take Jin’s home for his own. It’s a tall order to live up to, and the Iki Island expansion will be introducing a new villain in the form of the mysterious Eagle, who Downs hopes will surprise players.
“One of our big considerations was: how do we create a villain who is a compelling Mongol leader, who reflects actual Mongol history, but also is an absolute contrast to Khotun Khan,” Downs said. “To give us something different, and new, and surprising. And then with [The Eagle] in particular, there are aspects of her as both a khatun, which is essentially a woman khan, but also as a shaman…how does that change her goals, her style of leadership, what she’s trying to accomplish? And how does that affect Jin in ways that maybe he hasn’t been challenged before on Tsushima?”
With her role as a shaman, it also perhaps opens up Jin’s story to a little more of a fantastical bent than seen in the main campaign. Of course, the Legends multiplayer mode goes into full supernatural territory, but Downs said the team’s goal was to build off what was introduced in the single-player campaign.
“We do want to respect the world that we’ve created in Ghost of Tsushima, which is grounded historically,” he said. “We wanted to keep that, although there are touches of supernatural elements like the Guiding Wind, for instance. It’s not literally supernatural in the way that Legends is, but…we took that as a springboard. Maybe not supernatural, per se, but there’s that fine line between what’s supernatural and what’s psychological.”
Downs also explained how the team wanted to use the Iki Island expansion to explore more of Jin’s past, and a different reaction to Clan Sakai than players encountered on Tsushima.
“We wanted to tell a story that lets us delve into Jin’s past, and some of the traumas that he dealt with in his growth from a young boy to samurai. And in particular, we had this notion of Iki Island as a place with kind of a dark history with Clan Sakai that we wanted to explore,” Downs teased.
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“What makes Iki unique and interesting is that, in our imagining, it’s a place, at that time in 1274, where there are pirates taking haven, and raiders, and smugglers. So, you have this story where not only is Jin dealing with a new mysterious Mongol threat. He’s also having to go back to a place that is not necessarily going to be welcoming to a samurai from across the way, and is also going to force Jin to confront some of the things that he maybe hasn’t had to confront while he’s been on Tsushima.”
And while Downs certainly teases Iki as an opportunity to learn more about Jin and his story, one of Ghost’s great storytelling ventures was to offer slices of life from across Tsushima island. Downs said the team is hoping to do the same on Iki, and paint just how much it differs through the wider stories.
“What we really pushed on in particular is trying to approach integrating all of the content, whether it’s main quests, side quests, activities, challenges, mythic stories, and really concentrate on telling the story of Iki island,” he said. “You will meet pirates. You’ll meet people who are regular folks who have had experiences with the samurai that have maybe soured them a bit. And how does Jin manage that, negotiate that rift? Stories about smugglers and pirates, stories about regular people who have suffered under war, and even stories about people who have clashing viewpoints about whether the samurai are a good thing or a bad thing. And we just tried to capture all of that stuff on Iki.”
Revisiting Jin’s Story
As Connell said previously, the Director’s Cut was a rare opportunity to reflect on what worked in Ghost, what fans responded to, and what the developers loved, and create something even more fully-featured than the robust original (and its free multiplayer update).
As for whether the Director’s Cut really stands as the definitive version of this Ghost of Tsushima story, Connell explained how the team certainly see a larger universe of stories to tell, but that they’ve just been grateful to revisit and spend a bit more time within this chapter of Jin’s life.
“Well, when we completed Ghost of Tsushima, …we were very happy with it. And then we found an opportunity to tell a little bit more [story], and there’s a huge universe inside of that,” Connell said.
“It was really exciting to be able to bring something so specific, a little bit of Jin’s backstory, and this new island to explore. All I can really say is that it’s exciting to be able to play in Jin’s world a little bit longer, and to spend some time learning from what was so great about Tsushima and applying it to something like Iki. That’s been really positive for our team, healthy for our team. I think that’s something that we’re really proud of and are excited to have people check out.”
For more on Ghost, be sure to check out IGN’s Ghost of Tsushima spoilercast with Connell from shortly after the game released, and if you’re in the midst of playing Jin’s story, be sure to jump into IGN’s Ghost of Tsushima wiki guide.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior Features Editor, Host of Podcast Beyond!, and father to his Boy, Loki, who is a dog. You can find Jonathon and cute photos of Loki on Twitter @jmdornbush.
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