.45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND is a cyberpunk RPG by the developer of VA-11 HALL-A

Sukeban Games is working on what it describes as a "cyberpunk active time action" game with a battle system that's similar to Parasite Eve. In a blog post, Chris of Sukeban has officially announced .45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND, featuring a mercenary named Reila Mikazuchi as its protagonist. Enemies can attack you from anywhere while you're exploring environments in the game, and you'll have to dodge and wait for an action bar to fill before you can launch a counterattack. The action bar fills at a speed based on your character and weapon stats, so the stronger you get, the faster you can fight back. 

While the announcement doesn't have a in-depth explanation of the game's plot, Chris describes its story as follows: "You play as Reila Mikazuchi; a washed out mercenary whose glory days are long gone. In a last attempt at grabbing life by the horns she decides to go back to the life, only to realize the real enemy isn’t in front of her gun."

The indie developer is planning to make seven chapters for the game, and five are already done and playable. It has yet to announce a release date, though, so as not to repeat its "N1RV ANN-A situation." Sukeban is the developer behind the cyberpunk bartending "booze-em-up" game VA-11 HALL-A, which is set in a post-dystopian world with a corporate-controlled society. 

VA-11 HALL-A was wildly successful for an indie title, and Sukeban announced a sequel called N1RV ANN-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action back in 2018 after it hit 200,000 copies sold. The developer hasn't released N1RV ANN-A yet despite announcing a 2020 launch date, and it doesn't look like we're seeing it anytime soon. Chris said .45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND is "significantly ahead in development" and that the developer is dedicating its "full attention to it for the foreseeable future."

Sukeban has also released the first trailer for .45 PARABELLUM BLOODHOUND, and you can watch it below.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/45-parabellum-bloodhound-is-a-cyberpunk-rpg-by-the-developer-of-va-11-hall-a-180043556.html?src=rss

The workers at Bethesda Game Studios have fully unionized

The workers at Bethesda Game Studios have joined the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and they say they're the first Microsoft video game studio to form a wall-to-wall union. A total of 241 workers have either signed an authorization card or have indicated that they wanted to join a union through an online portal. The "wall-to-wall" nature of their organization means the CWA will be representing workers across job descriptions and divisions — and not just one type — including artists, engineers, programmers and designers. Bethesda is the developer behind Starfield and the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games.

Microsoft has already recognized the union, so workers at the studio's Maryland office have officially joined CWA Locals 2108, while those in its Texas office have become members of CWA Locals 6215. "We are so excited to announce our union at Bethesda Game Studio and join the movement sweeping across the video game industry," Mandi Parker, Bethesda Senior System Designer, said. "It is clear that every worker can benefit from bringing democracy into the workplace and securing a protected voice on the job. We’re thrilled to get down to brass tacks and win a fair contract, proving that our unity is a source of real power to positively shape our working conditions, our lives, and the company as a whole."

Bethesda's workers join the growing number of unionized personnel in video games. In January 2023, quality assurance workers at ZeniMax Studios, the parent company of Bethesda, banded together to form what was then the largest union in the industry with 300 members. It lost the distinction as the largest union in video games when 600 quality assurance workers at Activision, which is also owned by Microsoft, joined the CWA this year. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-workers-at-bethesda-game-studios-have-fully-unionized-163024914.html?src=rss

X is working on a way to block links in replies

X is developing a new feature that could help address spam posts on its website. According to Nima Owji, an independent app researcher who's unearthed several unreleased X features in the past, the platform formerly known as Twitter is working on the ability to disable links in replies. Based on the image Owji posted, users will be able to tick a box for the option if they don't want people to be able to respond with a link to their posts.

Christopher Stanley, the Senior Director for Security Engineering at X, confirmed the feature's existence in a response to a post about it. "My team built this," Stanley wrote in his reply. In addition to keeping spam bots away, the feature could also prevent real human users from promoting their websites in other people's posts. However, it can also prevent users from posting links to legitimate sources in case they're trying to debunk false information and prevent fake news from spreading further. 

Owji previously found that X was experimenting with an in-app currency that's meant to help creators earn money from the platform. Several months after rampant impersonation on the website, he found that it was working on new ID verification features, as well. He also discovered that the company was looking to compete with LinkedIn by offering job listings to verified organizations. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/x-is-working-on-a-way-to-block-links-in-replies-110033673.html?src=rss

Google is turning off its goo.gl shortener links next year

Starting on August 23 this year, when someone clicks on a goo.gl link, it could first take them to a page with a warning that says the link "will no longer work in the near future" before taking them to the website they want to visit. Google shut down its goo.gl URL shortening service way back in 2018 and stopped users from being able to create new links. Now, the company has announced that it will stop supporting all existing goo.gl links altogether: The URLs will return a "404 page not found" result by August 25, 2025. 

Google is giving developers ample time to move to other shorteners by displaying the aforementioned warning page to visitors over the next year. It will only show up for a percentage of existing links at first, but that percentage will keep growing until it appears for most, if not all, goo.gl links by their shutdown date. The company warns that the interstitial warning pages could cause disruptions and prevent users from getting to the URL they actually want to go to, so it's advising developers to change their shortened links as soon as possible. 

The goo.gl link shortener service joins quite a large number of old features and services in Google's ever-growing product graveyard. They include the Hangouts chat app, the Stadia cloud gaming service and Google+, which once tried to take on Facebook. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-is-turning-off-its-googl-shortener-links-next-year-130030435.html?src=rss

The FTC is as mad about the Xbox Game Pass price increase as you are

Microsoft has made changes to its Xbox Game Pass service that are "exactly the sort of consumer harm" from its Activision acquisition that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was worried about, the agency wrote in a letter addressed to the US Appeals Court. The FTC's letter focused on a recent price hike for the Xbox Game Pass and pointed out that the Game Pass Ultimate now costs $20 a month, which is $3 more per month than before and represents a 17 percent year-over-year increase.  

In addition, the agency called attention to Microsoft's decision to discontinue the $11 Console Game Pass plan. The agency added a new Game Pass Standard tier, but it costs more at $15 a month. While it's a step up from the barebones Core plan, it doesn't include access to day-one releases, leading the FTC to call it a "degraded product." Microsoft will fully discontinue the Console tier just before the launch of the next Call of Duty game, the FTC said. Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will be playable via Game Pass from its release date on October 25, which means subscribers who want to access it on day one will have to pay for the $20-a-month tier. 

The company promised that the "acquisition would benefit consumers by making [CoD] available on Microsoft’s Game Pass on the day it is released on console (with no price increase for the service based on the acquisition)," the FTC wrote. But Microsoft's actions show a firm that's "exercising market power post-merger," it noted.

The FTC repeatedly challenged Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard, but a judge rejected its request for an injunction. At the time, the judge ruled that the FTC failed to demonstrate how the merger would lessen competition and even said that there was "record evidence" pointing to "more consumer access to Call of Duty and other Activision content." 

Microsoft, which officially closed the $69 billion deal in October 2023 after that ruling and after the blessing of regulators in the EU and the UK, now officially owns Activision Blizzard. But the FTC still isn't done opposing the merger and filed an appeal in an attempt to the block the already-closed deal, telling the court that it can prove its case by showing that Microsoft has the ability and incentive to withhold Activision's games. Back in February, the agency also accused Microsoft of going against its pledge to allow Activision Blizzard to operate independently post-acquisition after the company laid off nearly 2,000 employees in its gaming division. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-ftc-is-as-mad-about-the-xbox-game-pass-price-increase-as-you-are-120031248.html?src=rss

Google confirms the Pixel 9 Pro Fold with a teaser video

Google has confirmed in a teaser video that its upcoming line of smartphones includes a new foldable model. The company called the Pixel 9 Pro Fold a "foldable phone built for the Gemini era" in its promo tweet, and it even focused on its gen AI chatbot in the video. Similar to the non-foldable Pixel 9 Pro, this model also has a prominent camera bump. Its lenses are arranged vertically near one side of the phone, so the camera bump is mostly there and doesn't take up the whole width of the folded device.

While Google has yet to formally unveil the model, a previous leak, courtesy of Android Authority, has already revealed a lot of details about the upcoming Pixel 9 models. Taiwan's National Communications Commission (NCC) uploaded galleries of each phone — Pixel 9, 9 Pro, 9 Pro XL and 9 Pro Fold — to its archives. Some of those photos feature an unfolded 9 Pro Fold, showing how Google moved its selfie camera to the inside screen for a wider field of view. They also show that the model has a reduced fold crease on the display, which measures 250mm or just under 10 inches.

The NCC's leak revealed that the upcoming devices need bigger chargers, as well. Their charging rates are generally faster than previous models based on the agency's tests, though the Pixel 9 Pro Fold was the slowest of them all. We'll be able to confirm those details when Google launches its new smartphones at the next Made by Google event that's happening on August 13. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/google-confirms-the-pixel-9-pro-fold-with-a-teaser-video-030440420.html?src=rss

Xfinity is showing the Olympics with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos on its Stream app

Xfinity is giving its customers access to better picture quality, just in time for the Paris Olympics. To start with, its customers will have the ability to enable Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos via the Xfinity Stream app on compatible streaming devices and TVs for the first time, if they watch USA Network's Paris Olympics coverage. That will give them access to a viewing experience with more detailed pictures and immersive sounds even if they're not streaming through an Xfinity box. 

The telecommunications division of Comcast is also debuting an enhanced 4K viewing experience for all customers of its X1 platform as a whole. It explains enhanced 4K as 4K video delivered over Comcast's network at the highest bitrate, with Dolby Vision for more realistic pictures and Dolby Atmos for immersive audio. The capability will also premiere for the Paris Olympics and will be available on USA Network's 24/7 coverage. Xfinity also promises ultra-low latency, which means viewers will only be seconds behind what's happening in Paris in real time.

"By premiering enhanced 4K during Paris 2024, fans of the Olympics will be among the first to experience this new innovation and enjoy all the live action in stunning picture and audio quality, with significantly less delay compared to anything else in the market," Vito Forlenza, Comcast's Vice President for Sports and Entertainment, said. Xfinity put its enhanced 4K feature to the test during the 2024 Super Bowl, though, to make sure it works as promised. It says that going forward, enhanced 4K will be its new quality standard for live sports on X1. 

The streaming platform will make it easy for customers to access Olympics content, as well. Users will be able to create a custom destination for their favorite sports and access a comprehensive schedule of events, which they can then filter by any of the sports they're interested in. They can quickly access these feature and all the channels and services offering Olympics content by saying "Olympics" into the Xfinity voice remote. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/xfinity-is-showing-the-olympics-with-dolby-vision-and-dolby-atmos-on-its-stream-app-140046946.html?src=rss

NASA scraps its VIPER project that aimed to look for ice on the moon

NASA's Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover or VIPER was going to look for water ice at the moon's south pole. The agency was hoping that it could help answer important questions, such as where water is on the moon and how much there is for future spacefarers to use. But now NASA has decided to cancel the project and discontinue the rover's development, citing "cost increases, delays to the launch date and the risks of future cost growth."

The agency has already spent $450 million developing VIPER, according to The New York Times — it's even done assembling the rover and installing its scientific instruments. That said, it still has to subject the rover to a series of tests to ensure that it can endure a rocket launch and the harsh conditions of outer space. Joel Kearns, NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration, told the publication that the cancelation would save the agency at least $84 million, because it would no longer have to pay for those tests and for the rover's operations. 

Kearns added that the agency was also worried about additional expenses if the rover's launch gets delayed. NASA first announced the VIPER mission back in 2019, with plans to launch it in late 2022. However, due to supply chain issues during the height of the COVID pandemic, among other problems, its launch was pushed back to late 2024. More problems forced NASA to move its launch again to September 2025 at the earliest, so additional delays aren't outside the realm of possibility. 

NASA has several projects lined up that will help it verify the presence of water ice on the moon. They just won't be focused on that goal and will most likely need more time to achieve what NASA was hoping VIPER would. The agency is planning to disassemble the rover and use its instruments and components for future missions. It will, however, consider proposals from American and international companies that may want to use the rover, as long as it doesn't cost the US government more money.

While the project itself has already been canceled, the flight that was supposed to ferry VIPER to the moon will still push through. NASA chose Astrobotic to launch the rover and to develop a lander called Griffin to safely get VIPER to its destination. The mission will fly with a non-functional item simulating the VIPER's mass. As Kearns explains, a successful demonstration of the Griffin lander would still be valuable for future missions, whether or not it's carrying a real rover. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nasa-scraps-its-viper-project-that-aimed-to-look-for-ice-on-the-moon-110005343.html?src=rss

PlayStation Summer Sale slashes prices on Elden Ring, COD: Modern Warfare 3, FFVII remake bundle and more

It's summer sale time for the PlayStation Network, and this year's discounted offerings include some of the biggest games released these past few years. You can grab Elden Ring for the PS4 and the PS5 for 30 percent less than its usual price at $42. The critically acclaimed title, developed by FromSoftware with world building by George R.R. Martin, was one of Engadget's favorite games for 2022. It's also notoriously difficult and will definitely challenge you and test your patience. Armored Core VI, another FromSoftware creation, is listed for $42, down from $60. Its deluxe edition that comes with a digital artbook and a copy of its soundtrack only costs $7 more.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III Cross-Gen is also half-off right now at $35, though for around $4 more, you can get the bundle with some extra items. Hogwarts Legacy for the PS5 is down 60 percent, so you can get it for $28 instead of $70. Meanwhile, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the sequel to Fallen Order that was released last year, is only $31.49. That's 55 percent lower than its retail price of $70. There's a bunch of discounted Resident Evil titles included in the sale list, as well, including RE Village for the PS4 and PS5, which you can get for only $16 instead of $40. 

And if you're curious about the new versions of Final Fantasy VII and haven't tried either of the games that are already out, you can get the FFVII Remake and Rebirth Twin Pack for $75 instead of $100. For $90, you can buy the digital deluxe version of the bundle that usually sells for $120 to get access to both games for the PS5, a digital artbook, a digital soundtrack and some special items. The PlayStation Summer Sale will run for almost a month, ending on August 14, though some games will be removed from the promotion earlier than that.  

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/playstation-summer-sale-slashes-prices-on-elden-ring-cod-modern-warfare-3-ffvii-remake-bundle-and-more-123035675.html?src=rss

Tesla now sells a $300 Cybertruck Tailgate Shield to protect your bulletproof truck

Tesla has started selling a couple of new accessories for the Cybertruck, including a $300 tailgate shield. It's a custom-made padding for the vehicle, designed to hang off its tailgate and protect it from any equipment you're hauling. 

We gotta say, it's admittedly quite amusing to see Tesla selling an accessory to protect the Cybertruck when one of the vehicle's promotional videos shows someone shooting guns at it. When the company debuted the model, it also staged a demonstration to show that it can withstand a sledgehammer. Still, if you regularly put, say, a road or a mountain bike in the bed of your truck, the shield could prevent it from banging up against the vehicle's tailgate and cause scratches and other cosmetic imperfections. To mount the pad, you'll need to insert its straps into the tailgate gap while it's halfway open, so you may need a friend to help you out. 

In addition to the tailgate shield, Tesla is now also selling a $100 jumpseat that you can attach to your Cybertruck. The vehicle's tailgate can fit up to three jumpseats, and you can install them even with a shield on. Tesla recommends the jumpseat for tailgating parties, picnics, sporting and other outside events. And once your activity is done, you can fold the collapsible seats up for storage. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tesla-now-sells-a-300-cybertruck-tailgate-shield-to-protect-your-bulletproof-truck-110037148.html?src=rss