Amazon’s Throne and Liberty MMO is coming to the west in September

Amazon Games has revealed when it will bring free-to-play MMO Throne and Liberty to the Americas, Europe and Japan. The company will release the NCSoft-developed title in those regions on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on September 17. There will be full cross-platform support. An open beta will take place in July and you can sign up for that through the game’s website.

Throne and Liberty, which was originally supposed to be a direct sequel to the original Lineage, debuted in Korea last year after a lengthy development process. It has both player vs. player and player vs. environment combat, and you can join guilds and form alliances to help you succeed. Amazon says battles can accommodate thousands of players at the same time.

The action takes place in an open world called Solisium, where the weather can impact the effectiveness of your weapons and even open up new routes. Your character can shapeshift into creatures that can navigate the sea and air more quickly. You'll even be able to transform into slain bosses to help out your side in battles.

Amazon signed a deal with NCSoft in 2023 to publish Throne and Liberty in North America, South America, Europe and Japan on the heels of Lost Ark’s success. That game, from South Korean developer Smilegate, turned out to be a huge hit, with a peak of 1.3 million concurrent players on Steam. Over two years later, Lost Ark is still going strong, with an average Steam concurrent player count of nearly 56,000 in May.

Despite how well Lost Ark (and before that, New World) performed for Amazon Games, the division has gone through some rough spells over the last several years. Soon after its first in-house game Crucible debuted in May 2020, Amazon pulled it back into beta status before completely shutting down the free-to-play shooter outright a few months later. Last year, Amazon laid off around 300 workers from its games division as part of a broader downsizing.

Even so, Amazon has some other notable games in its pipeline. It's working on a Lord of the Rings MMO and it's publishing the next Tomb Raider game (it's bringing a live-action Tomb Raider series to Prime Video too).

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom will finally let you play as Zelda herself

Did you think Nintendo would simply only release remakes and second-tier games until the Switch's successor finally comes along? Guess again. During Tuesday's Nintendo Direct stream, the company revealed a brand-new Legend of Zelda game. Nintendo is making many fans' long-held dreams come true here, as you'll get to play as Zelda herself in a Legend of Zelda title (as opposed to something like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate).

The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom opens where most Zelda games finish, with Link defeating Ganon. But just as he frees Princess Zelda, our usual hero is sucked through a rift into an alternate dimension. That flips the script, as it's now down to Zelda to rescue Hyrule (and her tunic-wearing cohort too, I suppose).  

Like the best Zelda games, this one's played in a top-down perspective and it borrows the art style of the Link's Awakening remake. Series producer Eiji Aonuma said his team wanted to create a new gameplay style for a Zelda game too. 

Rather than wielding a sword, Zelda's main tool is called a trirod. With this, she can copy many items and use these "echoes" to navigate the world. This brings some of the sandbox puzzle-solving elements of Tears of the Kingdom to Echoes of Wisdom. In combat, you can hurl echoed items at enemies, and even create echoes of monsters to fight for Zelda.

You won't have to wait too long to get your hands on the game and try all of this out for yourself. The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom is coming to the Nintendo Switch on September 26. A Hyrule-themed Nintendo Switch Lite will be available on the same day.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Mario and Luigi: Brothership is coming to Nintendo Switch this November

Nintendo kicked off its latest Direct showcase with quite a surprise. The company has revived the Mario and Luigi RPG series with the first new entry in nearly nine years. The upcoming title is called Mario and Luigi: Brothership, and that title just about melted my darn heart when I saw it pop up. 

The reveal trailer shows Mario Mario and Luigi Mario working together to explore islands, overcome obstacles and stomp out enemies. They'll be able to use "evolved bros moves" to take out bad guys and as in previous entries, it seems like you'll control both brothers simultaneously. It all looks extremely adorable. Mario and Luigi: Brothership is coming to Nintendo Switch on November 7.

The last entirely new entry in the series came in 2015 with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam on the 3DS, a game that also drew inspiration from Paper Mario. Mario and Luigi: Brothership is the first game in the series made for the Switch, though Superstar Saga is available via Switch Online + Expansion Pack. It's not clear which studio is developing the latest game — Nintendo has been keeping strangely quiet about such details of its first-party games recently — but original studio AlphaDream shut down in 2019.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

A Quiet Place: The Road Ahead is coming to PC, PlayStation and Xbox this year

The premise of A Quiet Place always seemed like great fodder for a game: make too much of a racket and a blind, noise-sensitive alien will most probably kill you. Six years after the original movie hit theaters, a video game spinoff is almost here. A Quiet Place: The Road Ahead is coming to PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S later this year.

Developer Stormind Games (Remothered, Batora: Lost Haven) has crafted a first-person horror adventure based on the movies. You'll play as a young woman who attempts to steer clear of those terrifying creatures while dealing with her inner fears and family turmoil. All you'll have to help you survive the aliens is whatever tools you can find, such as a flashlight or homemade noise detector. But as the movies and game trailer make clear, just a single noise can spell doom.

Publisher Saber Interactive first announced a video game version of A Quiet Place in 2021 and initially planned to release it in 2022. It took an extra couple of years and perhaps a change of studio (Saber initially said iLLOGIKA and EP1T0ME were working on the project), but The Road Ahead now seems to be just a few months away.

Meanwhile, a prequel movie will hit theaters later this month. A Quiet Place: Day One stars the brilliant Lupita Nyong'o and Joseph Quinn of Stranger Things fame.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The next Nintendo Direct takes place on June 18

The next Nintendo Direct is scheduled for June 18 at 10AM ET. Nintendo said during its latest earnings call that a showcase would take place sometime in June and the company has stuck by its word. The Direct is just far enough away from Summer Game Fest to let Nintendo have all of the attention to itself.

The stream will run for around 40 minutes and focus on games coming to Switch later this year. It really does feel like this is the swansong period for the Switch, as Nintendo confirmed it will finally reveal the console's successor by next April. However, the company has made it clear that there will be no discussion of the Switch 2, Super Switch or whatever the next console is called during the Nintendo Direct. 

That said, here's hoping Hollow Knight: Silksong will show up here — that highly anticipated sequel was a notable no-show during Summer Game Fest. I have my fingers crossed for a Donkey Kong platformer too. It's been too dang long since the last one.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Logitech reveals a 3D stylus for Meta Quest headsets

Logitech has unveiled a mixed reality stylus for Meta Quest headsets. The MX Ink is designed to help users craft more precise designs and illustrations. The $130 stylus, which is compatible with Quest 2 and Quest 3 headsets (but, curiously, not the Quest Pro), will be available in September.

The MX Ink will come with two spare tips, one fine and one wide, and you'll pair it using the Meta Quest App. You'll be able to adjust factors such as pressure curves and double tap timing directly from the Meta Settings.

Logitech says that you'll be able to switch between the MX Ink and Quest controllers with ease, and it's the first tracked peripheral from a third-party that Quest headsets officially support. You'll be able to write and design on 2D physical surfaces, then switch to a 3D space and back again as needed, while a pressure-sensitive tip and main button will enable "high-precision creativity," Logitech says. Six-degrees-of-freedom spatial tracking should help with that.

The MX Ink will run for up to seven hours on a single charge, according to Logitech. You can recharge it via USB-C or a dock that's available separately. An MX Mat accessory (a flat surface that Logitech describes as "a friction-free writing and drawing environment") will be available too.

The stylus will be compatible with several Quest apps out of the box, including Gravity Sketch, PaintingVR, Arkio, Engage, OpenBrush, Gesture VR and ShapesXR. As UploadVR notes, it will also work with PC apps Adobe Substance Modeler and Elucis via Quest Link or Air Link.

It's interesting to see Meta beating Apple to the punch when it comes to offering stylus support on a mixed reality headset. Apple, of course, has both the Vision Pro and the Pencil in its stable of devices. The company has reportedly tested a new version of the Apple Pencil that does work with the Vision Pro, but it's yet to see the light of day.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Embracer shuts down Alone in the Dark reboot studio Pieces Interactive

Embracer Group has closed yet another studio. This time around, the embattled company has shut down Pieces Interactive, the developer of the recent Alone in the Dark reboot.

An image posted on the studio's X account reads "Pieces Interactive 2007 - 2024. Thanks for playing with us." The front page of Pieces' website notes that the developer has released more than 10 titles of its own over the last 17 years. It also worked as a support studio on other projects.

Embracer bought Pieces in 2017 and placed it under the umbrella of publisher THQ Nordic. In April, reports emerged that Pieces had laid off some of its employees, just a few weeks after releasing Alone in the Dark (which had been delayed a couple of times).

The closure of Pieces comes several weeks after Embracer said it had concluded its restructuring process following the collapse of a proposed $2 billion investment a year ago. The company shut down several studios, including TimeSplitters developer Free Radical Design and Volition (Saints Row), and it laid off nearly 1,400 workers in the second half of 2023. Embracer has also sold off several studios, including large parts of Saber Interactive as well as Gearbox Entertainment.

Meanwhile, yet another studio is shutting its doors. Galvanic Games founder Patrick Morgan said on Friday that the company is closing. Morgan noted that despite a promising start, sales of Gavlanic's final game, Wizard with a Gun, were "not strong enough to sustain our studio."

The number of layoffs in the game industry so far in 2024 is estimated to be around 10,800. That's already more than the 10,500 total for all of 2023, and we're not even halfway through the year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

McDonald’s pauses AI-powered drive-thru voice orders

McDonald’s has ended a two-year test of AI-powered drive-thru ordering. The company was trialing IBM tech at more than 100 of its restaurants but it will remove those systems from all locations by the end of July, meaning that customers will once again be placing orders with a human instead of a computer.

As part of that decision, McDonald’s is ending its automated order taking (AOT) partnership with IBM. However, McDonald’s may be considering other potential partners to work with on future AOT efforts.

“While there have been successes to date, we feel there is an opportunity to explore voice ordering solutions more broadly,” Mason Smoot, chief restaurant officer for McDonald’s USA, said in an email to franchisees that was obtained by trade publication Restaurant Business (as noted by PC Mag). Smoot added that the company would look into other options and make “an informed decision on a future voice ordering solution by the end of the year,” noting that “IBM has given us confidence that a voice ordering solution for drive-thru will be part of our restaurant’s future.”

McDonald’s told Restaurant Business that the goal of the test was to determine whether AOT could speed up service and streamline operations. By automating drive-thru orders, companies are hoping to negate the need for a staff member to take them and either reduce the number of workers needed to operate a restaurant or redeploy resources to other areas of the business.

IBM will continue to power other McDonald’s systems and it’s in talks with other fast-food chains over the use of its AOT tech. The likes of Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., Krystal, Wendy’s, Dunkin and Taco Johns are already testing or using such technology at their drive-thru locations.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch FE arrives on June 24

Samsung is expanding its lineup of Galaxy FE devices, which offer many of the features of flagship devices at a more budget-friendly cost, with a new smartwatch. The company says the Galaxy Watch FE includes the sensor tech, performance and health and fitness features of mainline Galaxy Watch devices with an all-new look. Naturally, though, there are some tradeoffs.

The Galaxy Watch FE doesn't have the physical rotating bezel of the Watch 6 Classic, for instance, and it's limited to one size: 40mm. There are three color options of black, pink gold and silver and there are new one-click watch bands with blue and orange stitching. The watch has sapphire crystal glass, which Samsung says will help protect it against scratches in day-to-day use.

The device has a wide range of health and fitness features, including the ability to help you track more than 100 workouts. There's an advanced running analysis feature that aims to provide insights and guidance to help prevent injury, while the personalized heart rate zone tool will help you set your own goals based on your physical abilities.

The Watch FE also offers electrocardiogram monitoring and can look for signs of irregular heart rhythms and atrial fibrillation. Additionally, it has sleep tracking and body composition features, while it can deliver motivational messages to help you along your wellness journey.

Other features include Find My Phone and Samsung Wallet. You'll be able to control the camera of your compatible Samsung smartphone remotely with the help of the Camera Controller tool.

The Bluetooth version will cost $200 and will be available in the US on June 24. The $250 LTE variant will arrive in October.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

ChromeOS will lean more on the same tech that powers Android

Google is making some significant changes to ChromeOS, the operating system that powers Chromebooks, but they may not be easy for you to spot. Future versions of the OS will lean more heavily on the same tech on which Android is based. More specifically, Google says it will "be embracing portions of the Android stack, like the Android Linux kernel and Android frameworks, as part of the foundation of ChromeOS."

The ChromeOS and Android teams already have some experience of working together, having delivered features like the ability to run Android apps on Chromebooks. The ChromeOS crew has adopted Android's Bluetooth tech too.

There are several reasons for this shift, including engineering efficiencies and helping phones and accessories become more compatible with Chromebooks. Google says it will "continue to deliver the unmatched security, consistent look and feel, and extensive management capabilities that ChromeOS users, enterprises and schools love."

There's another major reason for baking more Android tech into ChromeOS: to enable more AI features. Google says this approach will help it to roll out new AI tools at a faster and larger scale across more devices. Given that Android devices are where many users will likely interact with the company's AI products most often outside of Search, G Suite and Gmail, it's not too surprising that Google would want to bring some of the same nous to ChromeOS.

Don't expect to see the fruits of this labor on your Chromebook anytime soon, though. Google notes that while the under-the-hood work is starting now, the upgrades "won’t be ready for consumers for quite some time." Once the overhauled ChromeOS is ready for primetime, the company promises a "seamless" transition to it.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at