Tears of the Kingdom’s Map Sparks Juicy Fan Theories

One of the biggest gripes I’ve heard about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom regards Nintendo’s decision to revisit the same location, especially given the limitations of the Switch. The fear is that we’re going to get a very incremental follow-up to one of the best games of all time. But the fact that it’s still set in the same Hyrule as before does have one benefit: we can compare and contrast to see what’s changed.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom producer Eiji Aonuma revealed 10 brand-new minutes of footage in late March, which IGN examines in closer detail in the video below. They actually went ahead and found the Breath of the Wild versions of many of the same locales featured in the new gameplay, which makes it easy to see what’s different now.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Early Map Comparison

The most obvious thing you’ll note right away is an improvement in the graphics. Hyrule’s landscape is less sparse now, which fans noted earlier in the year, but you can see some polish on the finer details as well. Colors pop way more than before, allowing things like the grass to have more of a lush, painterly feel.

Read More: The Best And Worst Parts Of Every Mainline Zelda Game

As one YouTube commenter points out, there appear to be fewer destroyed Guardians hanging about, and fewer towers as well, which definitely raises questions. The most intriguing theory I’ve seen about this is that perhaps Hyrule has somehow lost some of its technological advancements, which were already starting to break down in the first game. Breath of the Wild’s true ending tells us that one of the Divine Beasts stops functioning, and another commenter points out that Zelda’s official artwork sees her holding something that isn’t the Sheikah slate. Both of these details could point toward some sort of tech alteration in the world. This would pair nicely with the ongoing speculation that we’re going to, in some way, interact with the Zonai. The Zonai are an ancient civilization that are hinted at throughout the entirety of Breath of the Wild, but never outright mentioned meaningfully. The new trailer, however, calls the Zonai out by name:

Given all the ongoing callbacks to Twilight Princess, like the ominous neon green we keep seeing, we could be moving to a more magical era rather than a tech-based one. Think Twili stuff. Spirits, shadow beings, not giant tanks. 

Tears of the Kingdom fan theories run the gamut

The most tinfoil hat explanation here could be that things are different because once again, there are time travel shenanigans afoot, so of course things aren’t in the same place. Ever notice that Tears of the Kingdom’s logo is basically an ouroboros? Then again, Zelda does say there’s much to do in that same BOTW ending, so maybe they just cleaned the mess up. That’s the sanest explanation. Pick your poison.

We also see buildings in new places, and new aspects to older features as well. The fact there’s smoke coming out of stables, alongside the Zelda artbook leak—which may feature a blacksmith—is driving plenty of speculation. Maybe it won’t be such a big deal that Zelda weapons can break this time around.

Elsewhere, some are wondering if perhaps something has happened to the Deku forest.

It’s easy to argue that these changes don’t seem significant so far, but I’m hopeful. Nintendo hasn’t shown much of the game, for one. My gut tells me, though, that the Japanese developer will use all the expectations that we have about what things are supposed to be like in the first game for effect. Plus, we already know there’s going to be at least some underground areas that aren’t in the first game, based on Tears of the Kingdom’s initial trailers.

We’ll see soon enough, as TOTK is out on May 12th.

Starfield’s Most Popular Mod Sparks Paywall Controversy

Starfield’s upscaling controversy on PC continues. The person responsible for the open-world sci-fi RPG’s most popular mod offering DLSS2 support has now created one for DLSS3 as well. It’s locked behind a Patreon paywall though, angering some in the mod community and leading a few to circumvent the project’s DRM and pirate it for free instead.

If all that sounds like a confusing mess, that’s because it is. To briefly recap: Bethesda Game Studios and AMD announced an exclusive partnership for Starfield. This meant it would only support AMD’s upscaling technology for better resolution and framerate performance, FSR2, rather than competing tools like Nvidia’s DLSS2 and Intel’s XeSS. AMD claimed nothing was stopping Bethesda from supporting the rival upscaling technologies. Nevertheless, Starfield launched without options to turn them on in the settings menu.

Enter modder PureDark and “Starfield Upscaler,” which is currently the most popular mod for Starfield on NexusMods and replaces FSR2 support with DLSS and XeSS. It’s free and has been downloaded by over 150,000 players so far, improving their experience with the game thanks to PureDark’s simple workarounds. “Yep, DLSS2 was too easy, Bethesda exported all the FSR2 functions,” they wrote. “It’s like I can just reuse 95% of the code from Elden Ring or Jedi Survivor.”

That would have been the end of the story, except that PureDark proceeded to release a test build of a second mod on September 2 that supports DLSS3, the latest version of the tool for improved framerates released by Nvidia in September 2022 (via The Verge). Instead of being free, that mod was locked behind PureDark’s paywall, reigniting an age-old debate about the ethics of profiting off mods vs. giving them away. The kicker was that PureDark even added DRM to the mod in the form of an authenticator to prevent players from accessing the tool without a one-time, active $5 Patreon subscription.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some in the PC gaming community responded by “cracking” the mod just like they would a new release in order to pirate it. “STARFIELD DLSS 3 FG Mod by PureDark Has Been CRACKED Already,” tweeted the account PC_Focus on September 3 (via IGN). “Paid mods get what deserved [sic] for having DRM implemented.”

Others in the modding community, meanwhile, have attempted to release free mods that support DLSS3. One of them is by LukeFZ564. Uploaded to NexusMods, users initially reported a number of bugs and crashes with it, but some of those seem to be resolved. The latest comments are all thanking LukeFZ564 for the free alternative to paid mods.

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Surprise Titanfall 2 Update Sparks Sequel Speculation

A surprise update to the mostly dormant 2016 PS4-era shooter Titanfall 2 has certain fans of the series abuzz with the idea that it portends…something…pertaining to a possible third chapter in the highly regarded mech shooter series. The update certainly contains some interesting stuff, including references to the number three if you’re willing to go that far. It’s weird for sure, but take a dose of skeptic juice as we break it all down.

Read More: Report: EA Cancels Joint Apex Legends And Titanfall Game

Originally released in 2016, Titanfall 2’s wall-running, mech-piloting first-person shooter action added a much needed (and very, very good) single-player campaign to the series’ already excellent multiplayer action. But given that the game launched between a Battlefield and a Call of Duty, Titanfall didn’t enjoy enough time in the spotlight before the larger shooters stole its thunder. Still, fans have continued to stand by in hope that Respawn Entertainment might see fit to create a third chapter. But while Respawn’s very successful battle royale Apex Legends takes place in Titanfall’s universe, the last seven-ish years have been mostly quiet on the Titanfall front, and when there is news, it’s usually sad. Well, that’s changed a bit in the last couple of days.

Titanfall 2 gets a surprise update with a strange reference

A bit of excitement broke out among Titanfall 2 fans after a patch that hit the game about a week ago, mostly with fixes to matchmaking, which is not terribly unusual even for older games.

Then folks noticed the patch notes for the most recent update to Apex Legends contained three sets of numbers, with each of them translating to the release dates for the first Titanfall, its sequel, and Apex Legends.

It didn’t end there. Respawn added a new game type to Titanfall 2’s multiplayer this past Monday, September 18. A game type selection that hadn’t changed for several years now featured a new mode icon accompanied with three question marks, “???”

The new multiplayer mode, which pits players against one another equipped with all-you-can-fire rockets, also contains an interesting description:

Your rockets will blot out the sun.

As folks have pointed out, that phrase is strikingly close to a quote from the 2007 movie 300—a movie whose title begins with the number three.

Titanfall conspiracy theories begin to brew

Ravenous for a follow-up to Titanfall 2, fans have taken to scouring the internet to figure out if there’s any other weird stuff going on and, well, since they want to see evidence of something going on in the Titanfall space, folks sure are finding it. In particular, some unlisted YouTube videos and social media activity from Vince Zampella, head of Respawn Entertainment, are catching attention.

Whether said in jest or as serious “evidence”, we need to splash a bit of cold water on some of this. Yes, while it is true that the channel has some unlisted videos (as many have pointed out) Archive.org’s Wayback Machine indicates that they’ve been there for years now. Further detective work has revealed that these unlisted videos are for old Titanfall 2 trailers. So, nothingburger on that front.

In addition, Vince Zampella randomly liking a post that advocates for a future Titanfall game is hardly surprising. Zampella has publicly stated that he’d “love to see” a future game in the wall-runny, mech-stompy franchise.

Excitement in Titanfall 2 resurges

All of this has caused a bit of a surge in Titanfall 2 interest. The game is once again trending on social media.

While Titanfall 2 hasn’t broken into even the top 25 most-played games on Steam, it has seen an uptick in player count, breaching 25k active players most recently.

Respawn Entertainment / AsmongoldTV

Kotaku has reached out to Respawn and EA for comment.

Titanfall 2 has maintained an adoring, though small, fanbase since its release. Hope for a follow-up now matches the fervor surrounding many other much-desired yet AWOL video game sequels. And while I welcome a new multiplayer mode in Titanfall 2, what I really want is an update that kills the damn EA launcher and lets you use 4K without editing the .ini file. A girl can dream.

Microsoft Crackdown On Unauthorized Controllers Sparks Backlash

Microsoft appears to be cracking down on third-party peripherals for its consoles. Players are reporting getting error messages when they try to use certain off-brand controllers on Xbox Series X/S, with the accompanying text telling them them that the devices are not authorized and will no longer usable come mid-November. The major policy change is sparking a loud outcry from various gaming communities, including fighting game players who often use third-party fight sticks for high-level competitions.

The upcoming change was first reported last week over on WindowsCentral. An Xbox One user reported getting an 0x82d60002 error code when trying to use her existing off-brand Xbox controller. “A connected accessory is not authorized,” a console warning read. “Using unauthorized accessories compromises your gaming experience. For this reason, the unauthorized accessory will be blocked from use on 11/12/2023.”

A similar warning was reported by accessory maker Brook Gaming, which specializes in fighting boards and steering wheel adapters. “Recently, we have received player feedback concerning these products when used on Xbox consoles (the latest OS version 10.0.25398.2266 released on 10/16) during online gameplay,” the company tweeted on October 20. “We deeply regret any inconvenience this may cause you.”

As many players have pointed out, this new policy could be one way that Microsoft is attempting to crack down on manufacturers of XIM and Cronus Zen adapters which help players modify their controller inputs to cheat in popular online shooters like Call of Duty: Warzone 2 and Rainbow Six Siege. At the same time, the blanket ban will also mean that lots of cheaper off-brand controllers and custom gaming accessories will no longer work on Xbox.

“Heyo [Phil Spencer, Xbox, Matt Booty] This is essentially a death sentence for local fighting game events that run on Xbox, much less, others that can only afford one arcade stick,” fighting game content creator and expert Maximilian Dood tweeted on October 29 as the news spread. “The Brookgamingfans converters are not cheat devices. They’re a huge boon to the FGC. Please reconsider!”

The biggest question about the new restrictions is whether peripheral makers will be able to apply to become authorized suppliers, or if the ban will remain in place for anyone who doesn’t have a branded deal with Xbox. That would mean companies paying Microsoft for authorization, potentially increasing the costs of the devices themselves or forcing some manufacturers to stop making devices for Xbox entirely.

This is the situation that’s already in place on PlayStation and it’s a huge drag. The PS5 only supports officially licensed controllers and accessories, of which there are very few. Most are also quite pricey. The result has been a near-total lockdown that gives players few alternatives to Sony’s DualSense. Microsoft now seems to be heading in the same unfortuante direction.

Update 10/30/2023 12:04 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Microsoft confirmed the ban will soon go into effect and said it’s for “performance, security, and safety.” “Microsoft and other licensed Xbox hardware partners’ accessories are designed and manufactured with quality standards for performance, security, and safety,” they wrote in a statement. “Unauthorized accessories can compromise the gaming experience on Xbox consoles (Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.) Players may receive a pop-up warning that their accessory is unauthorized. Eventually, the unauthorized accessory will be blocked from use to preserve the console gaming experience.”

The full list of of supported devices going forward is available on Microsoft’s website.

               

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