Xbox Live Gold Ends After 18 Years, Replaced By Game Pass Core

After nearly two decades, Xbox Live Gold will die on September 14. In its place is Xbox Game Pass Core, a cheaper version of the Game Pass service that’ll allow gamers to play online together, as well as offer a curated selection of games to play. And, yes, that also means Games with Gold is going away too. You’ll still have access to those games you downloaded via the program, but there are some things to consider.

Originally launched in 2002, shortly after the launch of the original Xbox, Xbox Live quickly became the standard for online play on consoles. The service evolved with the Xbox 360, featuring various networking capabilities such as cross-game voice chat and messaging, and in 2013, Xbox Live Gold also offered free games each month via Games with Gold. In 2017, however, Microsoft turned to offering another online service with Xbox Game Pass, allowing players to download countless games for around 11 bucks a month on consoles. Now, the services are essentially fusing together on September 14, with the Xbox Live Gold branding being phased out, and Games with Gold ending on September 1. Xbox Game Pass Core, which’ll cost 10 bucks a month, or $60 a year, will offer 25 games to play and access to online multiplayer.

Game Pass will let you keep your Games with Gold games (under one condition)

Let’s get the big question out of the way first. Yes, you will be able to access games you’ve downloaded via the Games with Gold program, but here’s the catch: For Xbox One games, you’ll need to remain a Game Pass Core or Game Pass Ultimate subscriber to keep your Games with Gold games. 

According to Microsoft, Xbox 360 games are exempt from this requirement, as per the copy on the Game Pass Core announcement page:

Regardless of subscription status, any Xbox 360 titles redeemed via Games with Gold in the past will be kept in a player’s library.

If you are an existing Xbox Live Gold subscriber, you’ll automatically convert to Game Pass Core on September 14. Microsoft provided the following list of games that’ll be available on September 14 via the new service, with more to be added ahead of the service’s launch:

  • Among Us
  • Descenders
  • Dishonored 2
  • Doom Eternal
  • Fable Anniversary
  • Fallout 4
  • Fallout 76
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Gears 5
  • Grounded
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Human Fall Flat
  • Inside
  • Ori & The Will of the Wisps
  • Psychonauts 2
  • State of Decay 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Purchase Game Pass: Microsoft

Microsoft promises to add new games to Game Pass Core two to three times each year, in addition to various membership-exclusive deals and discounts.

The pricing of the service is somewhat curious, however. At 10 bucks a month, the full Xbox Game Pass on console is a mere dollar extra. It’s hard to imagine why someone would choose not to just spend the extra dollar and get access to a far larger game library that’s abundantly added to every month. It means Microsoft is now matching PlayStation’s Plus Essential service, which is the same price, with a similar library of games, except Sony’s version still offers a couple of free games every month to subscribers. What a curious move.

New Laws May Require Game Handhelds Have Replaceable Batteries

A Nintendo Switch screen features something replacing what appears to be a smoke detector battery.

Image: Nintendo / Andrey_Popov / Kotaku (Shutterstock)

The European Union dropped new regulations demanding future consumer tech products, including gaming handhelds like successors to the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck, have user-replaceable batteries by 2027.

Read More: ‘Let Him Fix It’: The Battle Over Who Gets To Repair Your Consoles

In a press release outlining the new mandate, the European Council stated that all portable batteries for appliances, light transport vehicles such as electric bikes, and other devices should be removable and replaceable by the end user. The aim is to reduce the environmental and societal impacts of discarded batteries, with the goal of creating a “circular economy” which encourages recycling and reusing old batteries as much as possible. In a statement to indie gaming publication Overkill, an EU source said upcoming gaming handhelds are also included in these new regulations.

“The batteries of gaming handhelds are covered by the batteries and waste batteries regulation,” an EU representative said. Meanwhile, the document detailing the regulation states that, “A portable battery shall be considered readily removable by the end-user where it can be removed from a product with the use of commercially available tools, without requiring the use of specialized tools, unless provided free of charge with the product.”

Read More: This PC Gamer Built Their Rig After Dumpster Diving For Months

According to the directive, product manufacturers will be required to include removal instructions and safety information to assist users with replacing old batteries, and they must be removable with common, readily available tools (or with proprietary tools that are provided free of charge with the device). Still, we’ll have to wait at least four years for the ordinance to take effect, and in that time, it may face all manner of resistance from manufacturers, so it’s probably too soon to celebrate this as a milestone for tech sustainability. But there’s hope.


Modern Warfare 2 Operators And Weapons Transfer To New Game

A Call of Duty military man with a skull mask is shown standing against a black, green, and tan background.

Image: Activision

While we still have yet to see this year’s Call of Duty game, it sounds like Activision is implementing something new to the shooter series when it launches in the fall: cosmetic carryover between the last game and the next.

In a post on the Call of Duty series’ official Twitter account, the company teased that Modern Warfare II’s Operators (character skins), Weapons, and Bundles will transfer over to the 2023 game when it comes out later this year. The post itself was a poll that asked “Should #MWII Operators, Weapons and Bundles carry forward into Call of Duty 2023,” and the only two answers were “Yes” and “Yes, when is reveal?”, referencing the fact that the next game has yet to actually make its public debut. Since neither of those answers are a negative, it sounds like Operators, Weapons, and Bundles are transferring over to the new game.

Cosmetic carryover has been an issue for Call of Duty, as Activision puts out a new game every year without much, if any, connectivity between games. In a lot of live-service games, you’ll spend money and unlock items to use over the course of several years, but with Call of Duty players moving over to a new game every year, a lot of that time and money investment is left behind. It sounds like Activision is aiming to rectify this issue by making Call of Duty more akin to live-service games, even if it is still jumping between new entries.

While that’s some good news on the Call of Duty front, the military shooter series had been a major point of contention in Microsoft’s efforts to acquire Activision Blizzard since that process began at the start of 2022. Now, the deal all but finalized, Microsoft and Sony have signed an agreement to ensure the series appears on PlayStation platforms in the future.

Dev Promises To Make Up For Hated Game With Free Remaster

A developer on the third-person stealth-action game Grey Skies: A War of the Worlds Story has come forward to comment on the game’s abysmal Steam ratings, saying the team will address the concerns and release a free remaster.

But first, a bit of context. Grey Skies: A War of the Worlds Story launched on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam in November 2020. An atmospheric survival game with action-adventure and stealth elements based on the works of science fiction author H.G. Wells, Grey Skies was rocked by a plethora of negative Steam reviews. Players criticized it for sloppy animations, illogical gameplay, atrocious controls, and much more, with the general consensus being that it’s a janky mess of a misbegotten game. This dragging has persisted to this day, and Steel Arts Software never responded.

That was for a reason, as developer Nathan Seedhouse confirmed in a July 15 post on Grey Skies’ Steam page that personal issues kept him preoccupied.

“After a couple of years of crippling personal issues that kept me away from development, I came back to find that Grey Skies has issues, and has been reviewed extremely poorly,” Seedhouse wrote. “I was unaware of just how bad it was until recently. I came back to it with fresh eyes after more than two years and completely understand the issues most people have taken with it.”

Seedhouse went on to say that although Grey Skies undoubtedly has problems, many of which the Steam reviews point out ad nauseam, he firmly believes the team “made a decent game” underneath it all. As such, Seedhouse has outlined some upcoming plans to rectify the mistakes.

“I am remastering the game with new technologies that have become available, and my own improved knowledge of development,” Seedhouse continued. “I will read through all the concerns carefully and address each one, paying close attention to the most common complaints, such as clunky movement and frustrating stealth elements. I really appreciate each and every one of you that took a chance on it. So the remaster will be automatically added to any library that already owns the original Grey Skies, free of charge of course.”

In an email to Kotaku, Seedhouse said the development team is just him now and that the artist he worked with “left a couple years ago.”

“There is no development team,” Seedhouse said. “[The update post] wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. I was just hoping to quietly replace Grey Skies for the people on Steam and carry on with my next game.”

It’s unclear how the studio will remaster the game and, should such an event come to pass, whether it’ll win back players who already took a chance on it. We also don’t know if the theoretical remaster would hit platforms other than Windows. Still, with confirmation that the remaster will be free for those who own Grey Skies, and that the original version of the game will be removed from sale soon, we can only hope that things go well for both Seedhouse and Steel Arts Software.

Update: We’ve added a statement from the developer to this story.


A Chill, Approachable RTS Game

After a decade-long absence, Nintendo’s cult-fave real-time strategy series Pikmin is back with a fourth entry. Hitting the Nintendo Switch on July 21, reviews of Pikmin 4 have started popping up—and they’re mostly glowing, with the game currently holding a score of 87 on aggregators Metacritic and Open Critic thanks in part to the bipedal doggo companion Oatchi. So, like the famed Captain Olimar himself, we figured we’d pluck some reviews from the critic soil to give you an idea of what to expect should you pick the game up.

The more you play, the more you notice the philosophy sprinkled throughout the game. Some sandboxes require a specific amount of ice Pikmin to cross a lake, but you might need an answer to another puzzle on the other side. Select dungeons may task you with digging out multiple walls to progress while choosing just how many Pikmin to send off to get the job done in time. It’s all seamlessly integrated into the game, and when it all comes together and you start making better decisions, the positive feedback loop hits just right.

With brilliant results, Pikmin 4 acts both as the perfect entry point into this world and as an extremely well-examined follow-up for long-time fans who’ve waited a decade for Nintendo to nail this next chapter. A good example of this is Oatchi, the game’s new canine co-protagonist, who I started off feeling distinctly ambivalent about. As anyone who’s played Pikmin 4‘s demo will know, the game starts with the gentlest of ramps up to the series’ usual requirements of dividing your time and resources among different Pikmin types and different human (now, also spacedog) leaders. Division of labour is a key component of the series that has evolved over time, and it elevated Pikmin 2 from its solo-protagonist predecessor. But things went too far in Pikmin 3, where control of three protagonists via the Wii U’s GamePad tablet took an awkward swing towards RTS territory.

The star of the show, however, is Oatchi. He doesn’t particularly look like a dog, but he acts like one, excitedly greeting you every morning for your daily adventure, defending you from danger, and helping your Pikmin carry objects they can’t quite handle alone. In a game about managing a large group of helpful creatures, Oatchi is your fantastic assistant manager that does all the heavy lifting. His greatest strength, however, is carrying you and all your Pikmin with the press of a button. As visually interesting as it has always been to corral dozens of Pikmin and throw them at your problems, it always leads to annoying issues of them falling off bridges or getting caught on corners. Gathering all your Pikmin on Oatchi’s back eliminates this issue and makes everything so much more manageable, which lets you focus on the fun.

A created Pikmin character looks up at a massive beast of a creature with several Pikmin behind them.

Image: Nintendo EPD

Oatchi’s got some moves too, initially offering up a jump that allows you to traverse the maps a lot easier, and a dash that headbutts enemies and catapults all Pikmin straight at an enemy for instant damage. He can also swim, and safely carry your water-averse Pikmin types across bodies of water. All of these abilities can be upgraded too, making Oatchi more powerful and unlocking new abilities as you progress. Oatchi’s a valuable new tool, and works well with the new Ice Pikmin. They, as the name probably suggests, are capable of freezing bodies of water, but also enemies too, which gives you a fantastic window to unleash other damage while they can’t hurt you. It’s a marvel for the big chomping sorts that like to make a quick snack out of your Pikmin. It’s a good combo, particularly as the game has evolved alongside your own arsenal.

For the times that you absolutely can’t avoid losing Pikmin, there is now a new Rewind Time feature. Previous Pikmin games have offered a do-over at the end of the day, but Pikmin 4 expands the concept by regularly saving. You can’t manually save during a day, and it’s easy to see how that would be too exploitable, but the auto-saves typically happen every 2-5 minutes, so you never lose too much progress. For those who are very protective of their Pikmin, it’s a huge convenience feature to just rewind a few minutes and try an encounter again if you ran into trouble in the interim.

The story took me around 20 hours to complete, but in classic Pikmin tradition, that is less the real ending than a signal of more to come. While I can’t go into detail, I will say that the post-credits content in Pikmin 4 might just be the best the Pikmin series has ever delivered. In fact, Pikmin 4’s greatest folly is that it saves the best of its new tricks until you have completed the campaign’s first ending and seen the credits, because I would’ve liked to have dived right into all of these creative locations, met their bizarre inhabitants, and unlocked its homage to previous Pikmin games.

More problematic perhaps, and our main sticking point with the game personally, is that it never feels like it properly digs down into providing situations where all the upgrades, gadgets, gizmos, and abilities that you unlock become completely essential to your survival. Indeed, during our review playthrough we barely ever reached for our sprays or bombs and actually didn’t use quite a few of the unlockable distractions and offensive capabilities on offer. If you simply must keep every single Pikmin alive you’ll likely experiment more, and a fairly good balance has been struck between accessibility and challenge for the most part, but we can’t help but feel it could have burrowed further down into giving you situations where your entire inventory needed to be explored in order to navigate the obstacles in your path.

A created Pikmin character rides on the back of the dog companion Oatchi with several Pikmin in tow.

Image: Nintendo EPD

It’s all incredibly engaging, to the point that I’d run straight to my Switch whenever I had a spare bit of time. Since the Pikmin 4‘s exploration timeline is measured in days (which take about 15 real-world minutes), it’s perfect to play in short bursts. The game gives you all the time you need while still making you respect the urgency of your mission. I finished its story in a leisurely two dozen hours, but there’s plenty more content after credits roll.

Yet despite these frustrations, the world of Pikmin 4 is so overflowing with cuteness and style that I couldn’t be unhappy for long. Every bark from Oatchi as he ran up to see me, every time a Pikmin babbled happily as it drank nectar from an egg, never failed to make me smile. In its basic gameplay premise of collection, as well as in the little touches that make that premise even more enticing, Pikmin 4 looks at life on Earth from an optimistic perspective. What if advanced alien explorers found joy and usefulness in what we have here — not in our greatest technologies, but in the bits and bobs we forget about in the course of a regular day? I felt drawn to collect all the treasure in Pikmin 4 not just because I wanted to fill out one of my many checklists, but because I wanted to see the game’s reinterpretations of human objects, a catalog full of jokes but also deep appreciation. And in this way, Pikmin 4 accomplishes maybe the best thing a piece of media can do — it makes the real world seem more wondrous than it did before.

Pikmin 4 is a smart and content-packed refinement of one of Nintendo’s most underrated series, but long-time fans may be put off by how long its generous campaign takes to get going.

There seem to be some issues with the game, particularly around the way some mechanics don’t become necessary until either late-game or after you’ve beaten it. It’s one of those it-really-opens-up-once-the-credits-roll type of games. However, if you can overlook the lull in the first dozen or so hours, reveling in new features like the companion Oatchi and the somewhat exhilarating boss encounters, Pikmin 4 presents what many have called a relaxed, approachable entry to the long-running real-time strategy franchise.


New Last Of Us PC Mod Turns Game Into Intense FPS

The Last of Us Part 1 is a brutal game that features a lot of murder and gore. But because the game is played from a third-person perspective, there is a bit of distance between players and its intense action. But that distance disappears when the game is modded into an action-packed first-person shooter.

In March, Naughty Dog released the remastered PS5 version of the original Last of Us on PC. Initially, this version of the popular post-apocalyptic zombie survival game was a mess, filled with bugs and other problems. But since then, the developers have apologized for the lousy port and improved it. And now, as the Last of Us Part 1 on PC gets more stable, people are beginning to mod the game.

As first spotted by, YouTuber and modder Voyagers Revenge is working on a first-person mod for Last of Us on PC. The mod is intended to make the game not only play like a first-person shooter, but also make the combat more intense and violent. You can see the mod in action in a recently uploaded eight-minute gameplay video.

The Last of Us in First Person Mode – Brutal Combat & New Aggressive Gameplay [PC Mods 4K 60FPS HDR]

In the video, the creator shows off how the combat from the Last of Us Part 1 translates to a FPS-like perspective. At one point we see Joel holding off waves of infected enemies with a handgun and rifle, and it almost plays out like something from Dying Light or Far Cry. It’s surprising that, even in this unfinished state, the mod looks extremely playable and professional. If you told me this was some new VR mode being added to the game by Naughty Dog themselves that would work with PSVR2 headsets, I’d probably believe you.

According to Voyagers Revenge’s videos, the mod, which they’ve been working on for a few months already, is being developed using tools created by other modders Flawless Widescreen, JediJosh920, and TheMagicalBlob.

Now the bad news: Voyagers Revenge doesn’t have a release date for this FPS mod. In the comments under the new gameplay video, they explain that this version of the mod is “unstable” and was built on an “older build of the game” that is prone to crashing. However, the creator does suggest that some version of the mod might be released publicly in the future, telling viewers to “stay tuned” and adding that “the mod community for [Last of Us] is going to wake up.”

You Can Be An Extreme Storm Chaser In This Game

Every time I watch Twister, Jan de Bont’s 1996 film about a ragtag group of storm chasers trying to figure out how to better predict tornadoes, I think to myself: “Boy, do I wanna do that.”

Now, thanks to Twisted, a Roblox game in development from two storm superfans, I can do just that. And if you, like me, watch Twister at least once a year and find yourself longing to don a Hanes tank top and cargo pants that get progressively more filthy during a day of 200 mile-per-hour winds swirling around in a murder vortex and slinging mud at you, maybe you should check out Twisted, too.

Twisted 1.20 Thumbnail

“Throughout the rolling hills and prairies of the fictional state of Keysota, scientists and thrill seekers alike set out on the roads in chase of severe weather. Some will observe from a safe distance, while others will risk it all to get the perfect shot of a violent tornado from close range,” reads Twisted’s description on the official Roblox website.

Tornado chasing the video game

Players start by selecting a “blue blip” on the map of Keysota, which are areas of interest that could spawn a tornado. They then drop into the game, select a car for their storm-chasing efforts, and jump in the driver’s seat. From there, they’ll have to use the instruments available to them (which are based on actual meteorological tools like doppler radar and hodgraphs) to track down a twister and drive to intercept it.

The game, built by Willzuh and Siryzm in Roblox, is only in beta right now, but it’s got an active community of fans—as well as the attention of Reed Timmer, storm chasing’s resident bad boy. Timmer saw a screenshot from Twisted featuring side-by-side tornadoes and tweeted, “I may have to start playing video games today.” Twisted even includes Timmer’s iconic Dominator vehicle (a souped-up, armored car he’s been iterating on since 2009) as a vehicle option, so it’s clear the creators are fans of the self-proclaimed “extreme meteorologist.”

Twisted 1.20 dropped on July 25 with a massive update that includes a revamp of its impressively large map, object reactions to wind that increase in violence based on their vicinity to a tornado (like trees bending and street lights swaying), dynamic tornadoes that are more varied in shape and movement, and a smaller, “lite” version for those whose devices that can’t handle the larger game. Twisted’s extensive wind, damage, and debris systems make for a pretty intense game, which is why the game’s official page warns that the full-fat version “will NOT run well on low end devices.”

Kotaku reached out to Twisted’s devs to learn more about their process and what to expect for its future, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

As a Twister superfan and wannabe storm chaser, I am kicking myself that I don’t have a rig that can handle this beautiful behemoth. Guess I’ll be watching all the future Twisted streams and loudly shouting “Going green. Greenage!” alone in my apartment.

Star Wars Open-World Game Won’t Be An Unfinishable 300-Hour RPG

You might shudder at the thought of one Star Wars: Outlaws planet being about the size of two Assassin’s Creed Odyssey zones, but you don’t have to worry about it being some bloated RPG you’ll never finish, the devs told IGN.

Read More: Star Wars: Outlaws Planets Will Be As Big As Entire Assassin’s Creed Games

In a July 25 IGN interview conducted during San Diego Comic-Con, Outlaws creative director Julian Gerighty and narrative director Navid Khavari were asked about Ubisoft’s penchant for building gigantic open-world games. The question stemmed from a July Edge Magazine interview in which developer Massive Entertainment said the upcoming third-person action-adventure game featured planets that “might be [equivalent to] two of the zones in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.” We don’t yet know just how many planets the game will include, but there’s little doubt that Outlaws’ galaxy will be vast indeed.

Of course, that kind of scale isn’t inherently good or bad, and games can use vastness for all kinds of purposes, thematic and otherwise. But plenty of players have started growing exhausted with games whose huge maps are cluttered with icons, each indicating a different activity for you to complete or yet another enemy stronghold to conquer. Our own Zack Zwiezen, upon learning that Outlaws’ planets would be as big as entire Ubisoft games, wrote:

I already feel tired when trying to visualize these massive, Assassin’s-Creed-sized worlds. I really, really hope they aren’t covered in thousands of icons and symbols. I’d prefer some empty space, areas where you just travel through them and don’t stop and spend four hours checking off items from a never-ending list. One can hope, right?

Thankfully, Ubisoft seems keen on avoiding the bloat and clutter. “Our objective is to really get people into a very dense, rich adventure, open world adventure that they can explore at their own rhythm,” Gerighty told IGN. “So it is absolutely not a 200 or 300 hour epic unfinishable RPG. This is a very focused action-adventure RPG that will take people on a ride and is very manageable.”

Khavari echoed Gerighty’s sentiment, saying the team is building bustling cities with cantinas and open plains. But despite the worlds being relatively large—though not as large as recent Assassin’s Creed games—the team is approaching design from “a place of character,” keeping things focused on protagonist Kay Vess’ journey and foregrounding the narrative elements that shape her story. And while huge, Star Wars: Outlaws’ map won’t be packed with icons.

“I think our job is to make sure that the player organizes their experience according to their desires,” Khavari said. “That’s one of the big pluses with an open world game is the agency of the player. So if we do our job right, it’ll be so dense and so rich with different distractions that we won’t have to rely on so many UI indications for them.”

Kotaku reached out to Ubisoft for comment.

Read More: Star Wars Outlaws’ Backlash Proves We Need More Women Protagonists

Billed as an open-world action-adventure game, Star Wars: Outlaws follows newly established scoundrel Kay Vess (and her weirdly hot droid companion ND-5) as they attempt to pull off the greatest heist the galaxy has ever seen. It’s slated to launch on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S sometime in 2024.


Hit Steam Game Remnant 2 Has A Secret Only Dataminers Can Find

Remnant II, a new Souls-like shooter developed by Gunfire Games, contains a lot of secrets, including a whole, completely hidden player class. But, twist: The devs hid it so well that only dataminers would ever find it. And they just did.

Released earlier this month, Remnant II has become one of the most popular games on Steam thanks to its tight combat and Soulslike gameplay. While its launch has been a bit messy due to performance issues, an upcoming patch should help improve on what is already one of 2023’s best games. But another reason Remnant II is doing so well is that the RPG shooter is chockablock with hidden secrets, with the game’s devs suggesting it has “secrets within secrets within secrets” that players have yet to find. One of these hidden treats is the secret Archon class, which has a strange list of requirements to unlock, so much so that it’d be nearly impossible for someone to stumble upon the solution naturally. You’d have to be incredibly lucky…or a dataminer, which was all part of the developers’ plans.

As spotted by Forbes, on July 28 Remnant II’s principal designer Ben Cureton tweeted about the secret, saying that players needed to “penetrate the code itself” to unlock the hidden class.

“We knew we couldn’t stop datamining,” tweeted Cureton, “so we leaned into it and created an entire Archetype that could be shared with the community once revealed by those with the ability to see between worlds.”

In other words, the steps needed to unlock the class were buried in the game, and once dataminers found it, they could share that info with everyone, letting all players access the secret class.

How to unlock the Archon class in Remnant II

If you were wondering how you unlock the new class, here are the steps courtesy of dataminers. First, you’ll need to level up two other classes and gather some items, then equip them all. Here’s the full list of stuff you need to do:

  • Level the Invader Archetype to 5 with the Worm Hole skill activated.
  • Level the Explorer Archetype to 10 with the Fortune Hunter skill activated.
  • Equip Leto’s Amulet.
  • Equip Amber Moonstone ring.
  • Equip Anastasija’s Inspiration ring.
  • Equip Zania’s Malice ring.
  • Equip the Black Cat Band ring.
  • Wear the Realmwalker armour.
  • Equip Ford’s Scattergun primary.
  • Equip the Cube Gun secondary.
  • Equip the Labyrinth Staff melee weapon.
  • Equip the Void Heart relic.

Once you have all this equipped, head to the corrupted door found in the Labyrinth. There, you’ll discover a Strange Box engram in the Backrooms. And that’s your ticket to gaining access to this uniquely hidden class.

For a game that is filled with secrets—in a genre that is also famous for hiding stuff and obfuscating information—it’s a really cool way to reward the most dedicated fans while also still keeping all of your playerbase involved.

People are going to datamine your video game. It’s 2023. That’s just what happens. You can be angry about it, you can bemoan the spoilers or wish it wasn’t the case, but none of that changes the fact that nowadays there is an army of expert dataminers out there waiting to pull your game and all of its updates apart, piece by piece. You can fight it, as some devs have done, or you can embrace it, like Gunfire Games has done here with this hidden class.

Personally, I think it’s a lot cooler to embrace dataminers and reward (or troll) them. Letting these players then share new, hidden knowledge with the rest of the community makes it so everyone feels involved and a part of something bigger. Good shit all around.

Gollum, 2023’s Worst Game, Just Got A Pretty Big Patch

Gollum stares at baby bird in his cupped hands.

Image: Daedalic Entertainment

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, one of this year’s worst games, received a massive update on July 27 that addressed multiple issues across all platforms.

Developer Daedalic Entertainment shared the update on the game’s Steam store page, thanking everyone for their patience. Some of the headlining fixes of update 2.2 revolve around performance issues when deep learning super sampling (DLSS), a video rendering technique powered by AI, was turned off. This has been set to “auto” by default to prevent stuttering, primarily on PC. Other big problems included quest markers that would randomly disappear and interactable objects suddenly becoming non-interactable. Both of these issues have been fixed in the patch.

Read More: Review: 2023’s Worst Game, Gollum, Has Entered The Chat

There were plenty of other problems with Gollum, too. The camera, for instance, would get stuck on walls or inside Gollum himself, spin around the environment endlessly, or shake nonstop after certain enemy encounters—all of which have been addressed with update 2.2. Missing environments were put back in place, unfortunate progress blockers—such as one that killed Gollum during the beetle conflict early in the game—were ironed out, “required checkpoints” that weren’t there have been established, and localization issues were fixed. All in all, update 2.2 appears to make Gollum a more playable experience.

Kotaku reached out to Daedalic Entertainment for comment.

Read More: Gollum Studio Will Stop Developing Games After Its Dismal Release

This is all great news. Gollum was universally dragged when it launched on May 25. From its abysmal controls to its bland UI, the game was so derided for all its problems that Daedalic Entertainment not only apologized for the “underwhelming experience” Gollum presented and promised to address the issues, but the development arm of the German studio shut down on June 30, telling German news magazine GamesWirtschaft—and confirming to Kotaku in an email—that 25 of its over 90-person team had been impacted.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Update 2.2 Patch Notes

  • Adjusted DLSS default mode from “off” to “auto” to prevent stuttering and performance issues when playing with RTX without DLSS.
  • Resolved a low reproducibility bug where parts of the environment could be missing.
  • Fixed an issue where quest markers could disappear after continuing from the main menu.
  • Fixed an issue where interactable objects become non interactable after restarting.
  • Fixed Bugs in the checkpoint system to improve the titles stability and clear annoying gameplay bugs
  • Corrected the issue of the Bird losing the player’s chosen color in the breeding mission.
  • Fixed the Bell in “Thranduil’s Halls – Cellars” being placed before the player placed it.
  • Resolved a malfunctioning interactable object in “Thranduil’s Halls – Cellars.”
  • Fixed a conditional blocker that caused Gollum to die if restarting during the beetle conflict.
  • Fixed an unresponsive situation where the Pause Menu overlapped with a Game Over screen.
  • Addressed the issue of losing mouse focus when opening settings.
  • Fixed a blocker in the tower of light where the guard could see the player after spawning.
  • Increased the chase radius for the “Cruel Woman” chase to prevent save games where the player cannot keep up anymore.
  • Fixed a locked camera issue in the cart sequence in the “Sewers.”
  • Improved Bird Training Spy Mission and Morning Visits, fixing several bugs.
  • Resolved missing environment issues in “Tower of Light.”
  • Fixed cog wheels spinning in random directions.
  • Fixed nervous hands achievement behavior.
  • Adjusting DLSS mode and sharpness when loading a save from a previous version.
  • Fixed background sequence causing blocker behavior in Sewers.
  • Overall fixes for background sequences.
  • Fixed a Game Over screen in the tutorial when restarting from the main menu during the chase sequence.
  • Fixed a possible bypass in Tower of Light Day 6 that caused a blocker.
  • Fixed a softlock in Shadow Mountains when jumping off a cliff during a checkpoint.
  • Added required checkpoint to Great Halls Low Day 1.
  • Fixed malfunctioning trigger in Beast Pits Day 3.
  • Fixed unresponsive menu issue after quitting from Gamma settings.
  • Unloaded sublevel issue in the Black Pits cart mission fixed.
  • Halls of Grond & Execution chambers – fixed and adjusted rotating wheels.
  • Fixed extra camera shakes.
  • Gollum Groom is now covered correctly by translucency while still respecting DOF and refraction.
  • Fixed possibility to end the Sewers without killing both orcs.
  • Fixed some localization issues.
  • Fix excessive camera rotation during frame drops.
  • Solved the issue of no sound in the cutscene of Cook’s death.
  • Fixed KingsGrove missing sublevel when the escape orcs quest started.
  • Resolved tutorial checkpoint issue in the chase mission.
  • Fixed German conflict menu choice being displayed as French.
  • Fixed several VO subtitle inconsistencies.
  • Fixed Pause Menu malfunctioning after initial load of the game.
  • Refresh animation state when Gollum is pushed by another character in crouch mode.
  • Added missing “Hold” to Food tutorial in German and both traditional and simplified Chinese.
  • Fixed a blocker in Mines Day 2 where the environment would unload before reaching the 3rd tunnel.
  • Redundant collectibles removed for ending levels.
  • Fixed unresponsive puzzle door in Ruins Outside when loading from Main Menu.
  • Fixed blocked progress after the throttle tutorial when restarting from a checkpoint.
  • Fixed Gollum floating at the beginning for Chapter 2.
  • Fixed a softlock in Outer Gardens where Gollum would be detected immediately after spawning.
  • Resolved Gollum staying in the shadow form even after exiting the shadow volume.
  • Fixed softlock in “Queen Cascades” where it’s possible to avoid quest dialog when loading checkpoint.
  • Fixed missing Mell water spot VFX when loading checkpoint.
  • Fixed missing Grashneg lantern issue when loading checkpoints in Shelob’s Lair.
  • Fixed unresponsive map / collectible screen when spamming open / close buttons.
  • Improved NPC navigation around Gollum.
  • Fixed a conditional blocker when returning from haze in Haze Gate.
  • Kings Grove – fixed incorrect quest marker when loading checkpoint.
  • Fixed wrong spawn location, direction, and missing quest marker on a specific checkpoint in the Finale.
  • Fix for wall running not always triggering correctly.
  • Riverpath fixed invisible 2 elves’ issue at the end of the level.
  • NorthTower flying platform room improved visual effects.
  • Fixed a conditional blocker in Breeding Hills when the spymission NPC group became immobile.
  • Added a missing intuition path and relocated a wrongly placed intuition path in Riverpath.
  • Fixed malfunctioning door hole in Ruins Outside when transitioning from the Main Menu.
  • Fixed incorrect visit number in Cells when returning with the lights to the cook.
  • Fixed NPCs in Tower of Light Day 9 not being aware of Gollum when returning from the Main Menu.
  • Fixed punctuation in Lore Compendium.
  • Resolved the issue of input hints flickering.
  • Fixed the title remaining unresponsive when opening the Pause Menu while selecting Gollum or Sméagol before the inner debate.
  • Synced data for DLSS Support, setting Fidelity fx2 to 0 when DLSS Support is false.
  • Fixed blockers in North Tower when reloading a checkpoint and trying to interact with the winch.
  • Added missing localization files.
  • Fixed fluctuating groom when the game is paused.
  • Fixed an issue in Bird Breeding where the inquisitor wouldn’t move or play the dialogue when reloading a checkpoint.
  • Resolved an unresponsive door puzzle dialog blocker in Ruins Outside.
  • Fixed the issue where falling due to stamina loss while turning on a bar prevented Gollum from climbing afterward.
  • Fixed missing environment issue in Kings Garden on the 2nd visit.
  • Fixed misplaced damage volume in Kings Garden.
  • Discarded input when the controller disconnects.
  • Added an input to close the message window of the disconnected device.
  • Fixed the bush not restoring its state after reloading a checkpoint.
  • Resolved missing environment in Mirkwood Chase when loading a checkpoint.
  • Fixed a conditional blocker in Mines when restarting after picking up the last tag.
  • Fixed the delivery bridge environment in Sewers when reloading.
  • Adjusted the wrong Grashneg scale in Sewers.
  • Fixed infinite Game Over screen in Construction Low when sweeping through a specific checkpoint.
  • Fixed the wrong state of the door when transitioning from Tower of Light to Bird Breeding.
  • Resolved incorrect camera spline in Shelob’s Lair during the 2nd chase.
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