Scary New Quests, Bosses, Gear & More

Blizzard has officially announced details on the first season of its popular loot-driven action-RPG, Diablo IV. The Season of the Malignant launches July 20 and will feature new quests, gear, powers, and Varshan the Consumed, a new boss just waiting to be killed and looted.

Released last month, Diablo IV is the latest entry in Blizzard’s popular and long-running demon-killin’ franchise. The game is mostly the same classic looting and dungeon-crawling action you’d expect from a Diablo game. And now, this already-large game is growing a bit more as part of the upcoming first season: Season of the Malignant.

According to Blizzard’s official website, this first season of Diablo IV will focus on “a new form of Lilith’s corruption” that has apparently spread throughout the game’s world of Sanctuary. This new corruption has created nasty beasts known as Malignant Monsters, aka Diablo IV enemies but covered in gross worms and tentacles. As always, it’s up to you, brave hero, to uncover the source of the corruption and harness its “twisted” power to help you fight back against this new corrupting evil.

Here’s a trailer announcing the new season.

Diablo IV | Season of the Malignant | Announce Trailer

What new in this upcoming Diablo IV season?

This new season, scheduled to launch on July 20, will include a new questline revolving around the Malignant corruption. Players will work with Cormond, a former priest of the Cathedral of Light, to learn why this is all happening and stop it “at all costs.”

As you kill the new infected, corrupted enemies roaming the world of Diablo IV, you’ll be able to scavenge and harness their Malignant Hearts. Blizzard says there will be over 30 new corruption powers unique to this system that players can use during the season, letting folks turn the evil against itself and craft entirely new over-powered builds for their characters.

Every ring and amulet that drops during Season of the Malignant will have a color-coded festering socket that can house a Malignant Heart of the corresponding color. They’ll each have new powers and bonuses aimed at making you feel like you’re crafting an entirely new Diablo IV build for the first time again. You can even break the Malignant Hearts down into a special currency used to craft new ones that slot into your loadout better.

As part of this new update, players will also be able to explore “Malignant Tunnels” to search for and destroy a new boss, Varshan the Consumed. Players will also be able to loot six new unique items and seven legendary aspects.

As with many other live-service games, such as Fortnite, Diablo IV will feature a seasonal battle pass filled with free rewards and premium unlocks. Some of the free unlocks include a Scroll of Amnesia—which provides a free Skill Tree and Paragon Board reset—and a new title, Eldritch Monster. The paid premium tier of the pass will include exclusive cosmetics like armor and gear for your mounts.

How do you start season 1 of Diablo IV?

Once the season launches on July 20 players will have to create a new seasonal character, which Blizzard previously confirmed. Once that’s done, you can start earning Seasonal Favor, a new currency that players get by just completing quests, killing monsters, and completing battle pass challenges. Players then use Favor to make progress through the battle pass tiers.

One thing to keep in mind is that only players who have completed the main campaign of Diablo IV will be able to join in on the seasonal content and festivities.

Update 7/7/2023 9:17 a.m. ET: Added more information about the Malignant Hearts system.


Fatal Guilty Gear Strive Exploit Persists Seven Months Later

Guilty Gear Strive, Arc System Works’ popular 2D anime fighter, is still dealing with some hacking issues that are so bad, a recent tournament had to get canceled and its prize pool refunded.

Read More: Anime Fighting Game Under Attack By Hackers Who Have Made It Unplayable

Earlier this year, Kotaku reported on Guilty Gear Strive hackers exploiting a resurfaced fatal flaw centered around something known as the “R-Code.” This code houses various in-game player data, such as handles and win-lose records, and hackers were able to manipulate this data to do all sorts of frustrating shenanigans. This included not just changing a player’s name but also sending in-game chat messages without a player’s consent and causing memory leak issues that essentially made Strive unplayable. Largely impacting big content creators who play the game on Twitch, the problem has now persisted for months, and has gotten so bad that a community-run tournament was canceled due to how unbearable things have become.

Guilty Gear Strive players beg for help

Kelly “SQ” Chapdelaine, who placed seventh in May’s Combo Breaker tournament, posted a video on X (formerly Twitter) illuminating the issues.

As demonstrated by the above clip, SQ’s game crashed a couple of times during an August 14 livestream. SQ later clarified that she had been hacked “about five times” that day. The community has taken to referring to the source of the trouble as “Hackerman,” though nobody knows just who or what Hackerman is. All they know is that it seems someone, or some group, has been hijacking Strive by exploiting the game’s R-Code, causing online matches to slow to a crawl or outright freeze entirely. The only recourse, it seems, is to hard-reset the game, but nothing guarantees that “Hackerman” won’t strike again.

Competitive player Kizzie Kay also posted a video of their experiences with these hacks, while Claire “Umisho” Harrison, a breakout Strive competitor who placed fourth in the game’s EVO 2023 tournament, begged developer Arc System Works on August 13 to “stop pretending” like the exploit doesn’t exist.

“Please anyone with a soul I’m begging you, this shit is embarrassing, people literally cannot stream your game,” Umisho said in a follow-up post, tagging Arc System Works in the process. “Hell people can’t even play off-stream sometimes and you still refuse to admit there is a real problem here.”

What Umisho is alluding to here is an April 14 X post from the official Japanese Guilty Gear account. Producer Ken Miyauchi not only apologized for the issues, but also said that the team is actively working to resolve them. At the same time, though, Miyauchi claimed that Hackerman doesn’t exist.

“We have currently identified the cause of a large impact on the issues with the network mode and are actively working together with related parties on improvements to address the problem,” Miyauchi said at the time. “We have received many inquiries regarding certain network problems believed to be caused by malicious hacking. However, from our current investigation, we have determined there is a huge likelihood of an unrelated, not human-induced cause behind these problems. We are currently carefully investigating the situation.”

Well, it seems the investigation has yet to yield actionable results as a recent tournament had to cancel its final set of matches due to hacks interfering with play.

Hackerman plagues Guilty Gear Strive again

New Head FGC is a smaller, community-run tournament centered around Guilty Gear Strive and Street Fighter 6. The group recently partnered with another small organization named Shut Up And Fight for the Double Trouble tournament, a 2v2 online Strive competition that kicked off in early August. Things were going fine until August 13, when New Head FGC posted on X that there were “lingering issues” with regard to hacking that started to affect casual play. The tournament’s founder Valore later confirmed to Kotaku in DMs that the event had to be canceled because of these ongoing problems.

“We had a 2v2 team tournament [on August 12] that saw record-breaking numbers in attendance for a team tournament in Guilty Gear, with entries from some of the most talented players in the world,” Valore said. “Some of those [players] were still in the U.S. from EVO 2023. It was extremely exciting to have worldwide talent allowed to play under our regional restrictions. However, right before top eight we had to cancel the event due to hacking.”

Valore explained that New Head FGC attempted to reschedule the top eight bracket for August 13. The group even tried continuing off-stream so that whoever or whatever Hackerman is couldn’t target the event, but it didn’t matter. Hackerman struck again, leading to the tournament’s cancellation.

“The game crashes and server instability for our players were so unbearable that it was impossible to complete a tournament,” Valore said. “The prize money had to be refunded to the donors, and it was a total mess to handle.”

Guilty Gear Strive's Ky Kiske (right) hits Chipp Zanuff (left) with a burst attack.

Image: Arc System Works

Valore was quick to point out that, again, these hacking issues seem to mostly plague folks with clout: community figures, large streamers, competitive players—the kinds of people that sustain Strive’s popularity and proliferation. As the founder of a Strive tournament, he told Kotaku that he, too, was running into Hackerman. It’s gotten so bad that he’s taking a break from playing the game until the August 24 patch, though he doubts it’ll address the problems.

“If this hacking continues, the fan engagement of the game is going to decrease dramatically,” Valore said. “Players are used to competing multiple times a week, with various tournaments that pop up online every single day. This won’t affect casual players much, but where the true game retention lies are with enthusiasts, and those are the individuals suffering most from this.”

Kotaku reached out to Arc System Works for comment.

Arc System Works apologizes again for Strive’s issues

Arc System Works’ senior esports manager Francisco “Junior” Ferreira posted on X on August 13 that the team deeply apologizes for the persistent issues. They clarified that the producer has been notified and asked the community to provide as much evidence of the situation as possible so that the team can recreate the environment internally to get to the bottom of what’s happening.

“I fully understand that transparency is key regarding this entire process so please trust me (as you have in the past) with bridging the gap between you all and our dev team,” Ferreira wrote. “I expect to get more information from the team throughout the week, but I want to also share that currently most all of our dev staff are on holiday. This holiday is expected to end come Thursday, in which case I hope to share more meaningful updates with you on progress and next steps towards resolving this issue.”

Ferreira hasn’t posted on social media since this update was delivered. They also have yet to respond to Kotaku’s request for comment on the situation.

Read More: For Years, ‘Joe Biden’ Has Silently Been Crushing This Fighting Game

All of this comes just about one week before Guilty Gear Strive’s third season starts. On August 24, the game will get new DLC characters—the flashy and sexy pirate swordsman Johnny, alongside three other unnamed fighters—and introduce new mechanics and stages that are sure to be exciting for the 2.5 million players the game has reached. Valore just hopes it’ll all be playable for everyone, especially for people who dedicate their time to Strive competitions.

“I’m certain the staff at Arc System Works is doing their best to account for the issues; however, we’ve been putting up with this ‘hackerman’ for over a year,” Valore said. “We just want to play our favorite game. We at New Head FGC just want to run events, be creative, and allow the community to have fun and engage with the game. If we can’t play online, then Strive is doomed. It is an absolutely horrible feeling as a Tourney Organizer to cancel the largest event you ever put on, for reasons outside of your control. Thank you for all your efforts Arc System Works. The community is just praying for a swift fix.”


Some New Metal Gear Solid Collection Games Are Barely HD

The Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 is just around the corner and publisher Konami’s dumped a bunch of additional information about the ports and remasters ahead of their October 24 release date. One of the big reveals is that Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will still only run at 720p, the same as their previous HD versions on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Update 8/22/2023 9:33 a.m. ET: Konami now says that only the Switch versions run at the lower resolution, with Konami telling IGN that the PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC versions all having a “target” of 1080p resolution and 60fps. It’s still not clear if that “target” is a hard committement or simply the maximum performance the games will reach on those platforms.

Original story follows.

It’s not a massive shock but still may come as a surprise to fans who hoped the upcoming five-game Metal Gear collection would add a few new graphical twists to make it a definitive one-stop-shop for the first half of the series. As NintendoLife, IGN, and others report in their previews, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Snake Eater are capped at 30fps on the Nintendo Switch and also appeared to exhibit some slowdown during cutscenes (a Konami rep told IGN the game was still being tweaked). The original HD remasters, which are still available on Xbox Series X/S through backwards compatibility, ran at 60fps.

The games are so unchanged that Konami even provides a content warning about some references that might seem out of place in 2023. “This game contains expressions and themes which may be considered outdated,” it reads, according to GamesRadar. “However, these elements have been included without alteration to preserve the historical context in which the game was made and the creator’s original vision. Player discretion is advised.”

While not mentioning him explicitly, the disclaimer appears to be alluding to original Metal Gear writer and director Hideo Kojima. It’s not immediately clear which content Konami might be referring to, although VGC speculates it could be things like Snake smoking cigarettes to get a buff or Dr. Naomi telling him he can do a “strip search” of her after he completes his next mission.

The collection will, however, include some additional bonus content. In addition to the original MSX versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2, there are game manuals, scripts and graphic novels. There’s also Metal Gear Solid: Integral, an expanded version of the PS1 classic that includes a series of VR training missions as well as an alternate tuxedo outfit for Snake.

Originally just set to come to PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC, Konami announced the $60 collection will actually come to the PS4 too due to popular demand (and the over 100 million console install base). While not officially revealed yet, the second volume in the collection will reportedly include Metal Gear Solid 4, 5, and Peace Walker when it arrives.


Metal Gear Solid Locked At 30FPS In Master Collection

The Metal Gear Solid Master Collection website shows box art of the first three games.

Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

Part of the appeal of video game remasters and remakes is the prospect of playing an old game on better hardware that can, ostensibly, run it better than your old console did back in the day. That is the hope, at least. Unfortunately, not every “remaster” is an improvement over its source material—just ask the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy collection. Now, eyes are turning toward Konami’s upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1., with fans hoping it doesn’t run into those same issues. On that front, today saw the emergence of one new slightly disappointing tidbit.

The original 1998 PlayStation Metal Gear Solid ran at 30 frames per second, and Konami has now confirmed that will still be the case for the newly remastered edition launching in the Collection on October 24. News of this comes from a graph on the compilation’s official website, which says the first MGS adventure will run at 30fps on all platforms, while Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will run at 60fps on all systems except for the Nintendo Switch.

To be clear, the original Metal Gear Solid ran at 30fps when it launched in 1998, but it being locked to that lower framerate across the board seems odd in 2023, especially when its sequels will apparently have some scaling depending on which platform you buy them on. (For reference, MGS2 originally ran at 60fps, while MGS3 was originally a 30fps game.)

Here’s the full rundown:

A graph shows the resolution and framerate breakdown for the Metal Gear Solid Master Collection.

Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

There’s been chatter about the games’ graphical resolutions as well. It’s a bummer to see that none of these games will run at 4K resolution, even on PC, PlayStation 5, or Xbox Series X/S. This lack of 4K support was confirmed back in August.

All of this comes ahead of Konami’s separate, upcoming Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater remake. That’s titled Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater, presumably so the number doesn’t scare anyone off from playing the game. MGS3 was a prequel in any case, so you didn’t need to know everything going in to understand it.

Metal Gear Solid Paid Voice Actor Jennifer Hale Only $1,200

Voice actor Jennifer Hale needs little introduction, having gained fame playing characters like Metroid Prime’s Samus Aran, Bastila Shan from Knights of the Old Republic, and of course Mass Effect’s one true Commander Shepard. She’s also known for Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series, in which she’s played the shifty geneticist Naomi Hunter since the series’ inception in 1998. But in a recent podcast appearance, Hale revealed that her first MGS gig voicing that important character paid only $1,200.

Previously, Hale avoided naming Metal Gear Solid directly in interviews, only saying in September that a “game made $176 million” and paid her an hourly wage that was “way less than [what] I wanted it to be.” But in this week’s episode of the My Perfect Console podcast, currently available in early access, Hale responded quickly to host and critic Simon Parkin’s question as to what that $176 million game was: It was Metal Gear Solid.

She agreed with Parkin that her original MGS pay, $1,200, is at a “grotesque disparity” with $176 million, saying “it’s indicative of what’s happening in modern culture. […] For every dollar that the workaday person makes—and [voice actors] are workaday people; all actors, on-camera, voice-over, who are not celebrities are workaday people—we make a dollar for every $399 [executives] make.”

Read More: Video Game Voice Actors Are Ready To Strike Over AI. Here’s Why
Buy Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Still, “I love [Metal Gear],” Hale said. “It was such a crazy departure from anything I’d done before. I loved it because it was brilliant, and because it was just so unique. […] And it’s dark, and it’s mysterious, and it’s intense, and […] I loved everything about it.”

Currently, Hale is one of many video game voice actors prepared to strike over what they tell Kotaku is “an existential fight to make sure that they hang on to the rights to their own voices, their own images, because that is what they make their living with, as well as achieve wages that will keep up with inflation so that they can continue to be professionals in this space economically.”

During her podcast appearance, Hale reinforced this last point and said she wants voice actors to receive residuals for game work “on a flexible structure that honors the indie developers, that honors the budgets and capacities of teams. I would like to see that.”

SAG-AFTRA members authorized a video game strike with a 98 percent “yes” vote on September 25.

5 Disappointing Things About Metal Gear Solid Master Collection

Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 gathers some of the best games ever made and puts them all on modern platforms in one convenient package. Unfortunately, a laundry list of weird caveats and shortcomings at launch make the new anthology hard to celebrate. Why is one of the best franchises in gaming history not pulling out all the stops?

Out October 24 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, and Windows PC, Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 has been stalked by controversy for months now, with questions about subpar performance on Nintendo Switch and a lack of bells and whistles on “next-gen” platforms like PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. The anthology features five main games—Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater—and includes the oddball Snake’s Revenge and the NES and Famicom ports of Metal Gear as bonuses. But now that it’s finally here, it’s hard not to be disappointed by how publisher Konami has gone about assembling it.

An operator badgers Snake about missing features.

First up is the lack of a visual upgrade on new platforms, or parity with the original versions on Switch. As shared prior to release, Metal Gear Solid still only plays at 30fps across all versions (it was never remastered for 2011’s Metal Gear Solid HD Collection by Bluepoint Games). The Switch version of Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 are also locked at 30fps (MGS2 originally ran at 60fps on PlayStation 2). All three games max out at 1080p as well, with no 4K resolution options for the stronger hardware versions.

Read More: Kotaku’s Metal Gear Retrospective Series

Even without any big improvements, Konami notes that the launch versions still suffer from various bugs and performance issues it plans to patch sometime in the future. A full list of the shortcomings was provided to IGN. “Across Metal Gear Solid 1, 2, and 3, bug fixes are also planned, specifically on MGS2,” the site noted. “Konami warned the game may significantly slow down in certain cutscenes, which sounds worrying. A patch to reduce processing load is planned.” Visual options like CRT scanlines and the ability to switch between windowed and full-screen mode in the options menu in the two MSX games are also MIA at the moment.

There’s also the laggy pause button. Konami added the option to pause during cutscenes, a long-requested feature for the story-heavy stealth series. Footage from copies of the game that leaked early, however, showed that it can take up to 10 seconds for the game to register the pause after the button’s pressed, taking some of the shine off the new option. It’s still unclear if that’s intentional or will be patched down the road.

The Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 is, perhaps less surprisingly, encountering issues on PC as well. Initial Steam reviews are very mixed, with players complaining about unintuitive keybindings, poor UI, and a lack of aspect ratio options. “Take this with a grain of salt, the game literally just launched, but damn the video settings, button mapping, and poor UI/UX for the collection is pretty sour,” wrote one player. “I am sure it will improve over time, but yikes.”

Most galling for me personally are the games altogether missing from the physical Switch version of the collection. In North America at least, only Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, and Snake’s Revenge are actually on the game card. The three Metal Gear Solid games, which are the main ones advertised on the front of the box, must be downloaded separately. As someone who treats their Switch like a physical repository for retro remasters and re-issues, it’s frustrating to have to rely on an internet connection and a temporary online storefront to have access to all-time classics. It sounds like the Japanese physical release at least also includes the first Metal Gear Solid on the game card.

Many of the initial reviews for Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 have noted these shortcomings while still pointing out that at the end of the day these games still play great and remain some of the most profound meditations on geopolitics, war, and the military industrial complex the medium has ever produced. “I think it’s great that such a huge swathe of Metal Gear history is now readily available and easily playable on modern systems,” writes The Verge’s Jon Porter. “But there’s also a part of me that thinks Konami missed an opportunity to give Metal Gear Solid in particular a fresh coat of paint and update it for a modern audience.”

The video game industry is generally so bad at preserving its past I wish it would go all out when it decides to finally take the opportunity to repackage old games and sell them again. If that means charging more so be it. I’d gladly pay $100 for the definitive edition of all of these games. Maybe we’ll eventually get that one day. In the meantime I hope Konami’s planned post-launch updates give the collection some of the additional love it deserves.

Metal Gear Solid 3 Gets Unreal Glow-Up In New Remake Trailer

Naked Snake crouches next to a brick wall.

Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

When the Metal Gear Solid 3 remake was revealed back in May, all we got were some shots of a swamp and Naked Snake coming out of the water. A new trailer that debuted today during the latest Xbox mini-showcase finally gives us a look at the game in action, if only briefly. And you know what? It looks really good.

The remake will take the 2004 PlayStation 2 game and overhaul it in Unreal Engine 5. While that could run the risk of drastically changing the style and feel of the original Fox Engine version of the stealth action game, Snake’s environmental sneaking and silent takedowns look as characteristically Metal Gear as ever, and the graphics look way better.

Here’s the new trailer:

The “first in-engine look” begins with Naked Snake trudging through a muddy river next to a crocodile. Later we see him crouching near some tall grass as the mud flicks off his clothes and boots. From there we see him aiming a pistol, climbing across a cliff, grabbing a guy from behind, and lots and lots of glimpses of wildlife. As some fans noted, the new footage appears to confirm that Snake can finally move while crouching, unlike in the original game.

The earlier reveal trailer had the potential to be mostly smoke and mirrors, but now this whole project is looking a lot more promising and real. We still don’t have a firm release date yet, or a clear idea of exactly who at Konami is working on it. Singaore-based art and outsource development studio Virtuos is helping with production. Konami also confirmed the remake will use the original voice performances, but that original director Hideo Kojima and original artist Yoji Shinkawa are not involved in any way.

The company said it wanted to start with remaking Metal Gear Solid 3 since it’s the origin story for Big Boss. If all goes will, it could mean we’ll eventually get Unreal Engine remakes of Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 as well. All three games can currently be played on the new Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection, though the remaster anthology leaves plenty to be desired.


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