TIME Video Games

The Fallout 4 Pip-Boy Replica Won’t Work With These Phones

Bethesda

Anything over 6 inches is a no-go

The Fallout 4 limited edition, honking big, bona fide replica Pip-Boy won’t work with the iPhone 6 Plus, in case you’re rocking Apple’s 6.22-by-3.06-inch phablet.

Mind you, Fallout developer Bethesda’s $120 not-so-smartwatch, modeled after the gigantic arm-computer players wear in the series, still looks like something a Ghostbuster might strap on — the antithesis of fashion feng shui, but kind of cool anyway. It’s for diehard fans of the upcoming post-apocalyptic free-for-all, which is to say, probably not you.

But even if you are secretly jonesing to cosplay one of the game’s survivors, you’ll need a phone smaller than 6 inches to get the thing to actually do something recognizably Pip-Boy-like via Bethesda’s companion iOS and Android app. The list of compatible smartphones includes all models of the iPhone from 4 until the iPhone 6. You can apparently insert foam to jury-rig a snug fit for other devices, but the top-end size to jam a phone into the Pip-Boy’s frame is 6 inches. That, among others, means no to the Huawei Ascend Mate 7, no to the Nokia Lumia 1520, and definitely no to Sony’s monstrous Xperia Z Ultra.

The Pip-Boy is essentially a green-screen gauntlet, an old-school IBM mainframe screen you clap to your arm. In the game, it’s the interface to all the fiddly roleplaying minutia like characters stats and inventory. It’s also a pretty slick portable radio, say you want to listen to the Ink Spots croon something ironic as you probe the game’s post-nuclear mutant-scape. The limited edition replica version is mostly fan service most likely to grace display shelving. But if you really want your second screen experience served on your forearm (and you managed to snag one of the things before they sold out), bear in mind it’s not phablet-friendly.

TIME Video Games

Watch What Happens When Mario’s Creator Meets the Muppets

Take a peek behind The Jim Henson Company's studio doors with Nintendo video games luminary Shigeru Miyamoto.

Did you catch Nintendo’s zany puppet-filled E3 showcase? Were you left wondering whether those were just slick Nintendo-fashioned Muppet knockoffs or the real thing?

The video above lays the question to rest. In it, Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto confabs with The Jim Henson Company chairman and Muppets maven Brian Henson, and tours the company’s historic Charlie Chaplin Studios headquarters. (Yep, that’s Mr. Miyamoto grabbing a shot of Kermit with his smartphone.)

That’s also pioneering Zelda and Mario collaborator Takashi Tezuka as well as Nintendo Senior Product Marketing Manager Bill Trinen accompanying Mr. Miyamoto on the tour. It sounds like Nintendo reached out to The Henson Company when it was pulling its idea for the E3 video together. The Henson Company then built the puppet likenesses of Nintendo’s executive team (including Mr. Miyamoto) as well as their elaborate Star Fox analogues. And Nintendo asked Brian Henson himself to sit in ther director’s chair:

Also of interest, it seems The Henson Company gave Mr. Miyamoto a rare award back in 2008 (they’ve only handed out 15 total) for, as Mr. Miyamoto describes it speaking to Brian Henson, “all the games [he] made for children and helping them to dream different dreams.”

“We gave them out to who we thought were the most imaginative people in the world,” says Henson.

“Even now I have it in the center of my room,” says Mr. Miyamoto.

TIME Video Games

Microsoft Is Helping Teachers Use Minecraft in the Classroom

It's long been a popular education tool

Microsoft is opening a new portal that helps teachers learn how to use the open-world mining game Minecraft in lesson plans, the company has announced.

Minecraft’s creators first noticed some teachers and students flocking to the game as a learning tool since it launched back in 2011. Since then, Minecraft has only become more popular in education — teachers have used Minecraft to help students understand Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, DNA extraction techniques and more.

Minecraft compares itself to educational toys like LEGOS, which allow children to exercise creativity and problem solving skills.

“Many of the most fun parts of Minecraft, including the collaborative nature of play, the need to experiment, the open world, the earning of achievements, and the growth of players’ in-game characters as well as their personal skill sets, are also key to excellent learning environments,” reads a Minecraft Education blog post.

Microsoft acquired the Swedish game-maker behind Minecraft, Mojang AB, in September for $2.5 billion.

TIME Video Games

Don’t Expect Batman: Arkham Knight To Work Well on PC Any Time Soon

The game was yanked from store shelves last week, and won't return until sometime this fall

Don’t expect the crippled PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight to run as smoothly as its console brethren for some time.

Game publisher Warner Bros. released the first of presumably several patches to come over the weekend, addressing several crucial issues. But the game’s community manager admits the work ahead is “significant,” writing:

[Developer] Rocksteady is leading our team of developers and partners as we work on the PC performance issues that players have been encountering. The work is significant and while we are making good progress on improving performance, it will take some time to ensure that we get the right fixes in place.

The PC version of Rocksteady’s sprawling Arkham finale arrived in tandem with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions last week. But while the game works near flawlessly on both consoles, it was so catastrophically broken on the PC that Warner Bros. yanked the game from online and retail shelves altogether—an all but unheard of move in the triple-A gaming space.

Read more: 5 Things I Absolutely Love in Batman: Arkham Knight

The game remains unavailable for purchase on digital download service Steam, with a message stating that “Batman: Arkham Knight will be available on SteamOS, Linux and Mac in Fall 2015.” For all those who managed to buy a copy before sales were suspended (and thus still able to play the game), the first patch rectifies a design oversight that prevented players from upping a frame rate cap, fixes various bugs and crashes, and smooths out performance-related issues. You can read the complete fix list here.

The community spokesperson adds that Rocksteady will “continue to make interim patches available to address issues for those still playing the game on PC.”

TIME Video Games

Why Destiny Players Are So Mad About Red Bull

Bungie

Bottoms up, Guardian

Remember that old Red Bull slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”? Well now Red Bull gives you an exclusive quest in Activision’s Destiny, too.

The kicker: you have to buy specially detailed cans of the $2 to $3 popular caffeine, taurine, B-group vitamins and alpine spring water concoction. (You don’t have to drink it, of course.)

The quest, according to Red Bull’s marketing site, is “a never-before-seen, multi-stage mission in The Taken King that will test the speed and strategic abilities of Destiny players in new ways.” The Taken King is developer Bungie’s third expansion for the game, unveiled earlier this month at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles and due out September 15.

The cans will also include bonus XP (experience points) to “help players prepare for the epic quest,” says Red Bull, adding that the marketing push “leverage themes of speed, tenacity and strategy inspired by the energy drink.” Let’s think about the subtext for a moment: buying an energy drink makes you a better killing machine with the athletic output of a person in a chair pushing buttons. The medium is the message!

The bonus XP, which basically ups your XP grabs for a limited period of time, can be redeemed and used from July 1. The new quest itself should be available on or around The Taken King‘s release date.

Destiny, developed by an iconic studio (Marathon and Halo‘s creators) and mega-hyped by one of the largest game publishers in the world, started out as a slightly better than average shooter last fall. It has since, inch by grinding inch, developed into a pretty good one. It’s also sold a bazillion copies, with substantially more registered users (in the vicinity of 16 million) than World of Warcraft when we were at peak World of Warcraft (about 12 million). The Taken King is thus poised to be a major event by forces of numbers alone.

The trouble is, one of Destiny’s weaknesses is that it’s partly a game about doing the same thing over and over. Singular content is thus paramount. Maybe the new Red Bull mission turns out to be tedious rehash. Or maybe it’s totally fantastic. No one knows. But if it’s the latter, I suspect you’re going to have some pretty peeved players.

Is this the future DLC-ification of “leveraged” non-gaming IP? Is the future of nickel-and-dime gaming additives the subsidization of not-universally-beloved corporate mega-brands throughout the food, automotive, banking and big box retail industries?

To be fair, given Red Bull’s move into eSports in recent years — specifically its Red Bull Battlegrounds competition — the deal seems less out of left field than slightly irritating. In the world of inexplicable corporate gaming team-ups, this one has at least that connection to fall back on. And if you’d rather sidestep the Red Bull deal entirely, it sounds like the quest may be available after an exclusivity period that’ll run from September 18 to December 31.

TIME Video Games

Movie Theaters Are Turning Into Video Game Arcades to Make More Money

Full frame of movie audience wearing special 3D gl
J. R. Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett ull frame of movie audience wearing special 3D glasses to view film Bwana Devil which was shot with new natural vision 3 dimensional technology.

Imagine playing games with a few dozen of your closest friends

A few years ago, an old-school video games arcade called Rusty Quarters in Minneapolis closed its doors for good. I knew about it through a local close friend, who’d regale me with tales of the place’s retro pleasures: Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Jr., Joust, Ms. Pac-Man — “Our childhood,” as one of the owners put it in a 2013 Indiegogo pitch to keep the biz afloat.

I never got a chance to visit Rusty Quarters before it shuttered, and I’ve long recognized that the days of plunking quarter (or tokens) into imposing cabinets housing tube screens with vector graphics and devoted system boards are mostly well behind us. But the L.A. Times has an interesting piece up Wednesday about a theater-related gaming push that could fulfill a related longterm (and as yet unfulfilled) dream I’ve nurtured for decades.

Imagine playing Minecraft on a movie screen. And not just you playing by yourself in a dim lit theater, but you alongside dozens of other players, collaborating in realtime by way of laptops operated from the comfort of cozy theater seats.

Despite the annual record-breaking revenue figures you hear trotted out when blockbusters like The Avengers 2 or Guardians of the Galaxy arrive, movie theater attendance has plummeted over the past decade, reports the Times. That’s partially why ticket and concession prices are going up. What else to do with all those warehouses of multistory screened cinematic entertainment, then? Supplement with video games, of course.

The Times reports that some theaters are turning to video games, among other non-movie events, to get more people in the building. On the gaming front, think League of Legends, a popular online real-time strategy game (and mega-popular e-sports entry) in which teams attempt to destroy each others’ bases and champions by deftly plying elaborate offensive and defensive tactics.

My dream was always to play a game like Super Mario 64 on a screen the size of a small building, but therein lies a paradox: some of the most amazing single-player experiences would by definition be too indulgent to justify, contradicting the financial imperative to fill up the house. But multiplayer experiences like Minecraft, or League of Legends? It sounds like the sky’s the limit, and if the concept fires the imagination of gamers attracted by the more immediately social, face-to-face, event-style experience of “theatergaming,” maybe even coming soon to a theater near you.

TIME Video Games

3 Tips to Actually Enjoy Batman: Arkham Knight on PC

They're pretty basic, and won't provide the comprehensive relief PC players deserve, but they're all we've got until publisher Warner Bros. fixes its mess

Having trouble getting the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight running optimally? You don’t say.

For reasons unclear to all save actual PC owners, sadly accustomed to studios releasing unfinished versions of games that work just fine on consoles, the PC version of Arkham Knight has all sorts of problems. Low-res textures, sluggish frame rates, and a cache-related glitch Kotaku claims can prompt the game to delete itself.

To Rocksteady’s credit, the studio’s Arkham community manager has acknowledged complaints are coming from enough people to warrant the following PC support forum disclaimer:

We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.

Note the part about an “external PC development partner.” Translation: Warner Bros. outsourced the PC port. There’s nothing wrong with that in principle, but in this case the disparity between platforms looms large: I can confirm that the PlayStation 4 version, which I’ve had for a while now (reviewed here), was blemish-free from start to finish, and I’m seeing the same reports from Xbox One owners.

If you’re stuck playing the PC version, the following fixes may mitigate some of the issues until Rocksteady (and that “external PC development partner”) gets a patch or three out to rectify the situation.

Update your graphics card drivers

Self-evident, but worth a double-check in case you hadn’t seen that both AMD and Nvidia released updated Arkham Knight-optimized drivers on Monday, June 22. Players have reportedly been experiencing performance issues on both GPU manufacturers’ hardware.

Tweak a simple game file to unlock the frame rate

For some reason, Arkham Knight for PC shipped locked at 30 frames per second. I prefer 30 fps for my own reasons (don’t bother arguing!). But options are our friends, so here’s how to unshackle the frame rate:

Locate the game configuration folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Knight\BmGame\Config\), then open the following file in a text editor:

BmSystemSettings.ini

Scan for the line “MaxFPS=30″ then change “30” to whatever you’d like the frame rate cap to be.

Ix-nay the intro movies

The intro movie plays every time you launch the game, whether you button-mash or no. To fix this and get the game’s menu screen to load promptly after you’ve watched the intro, navigate to the game’s movie folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Batman Arkham Knight\BMGame\Movies) and locate the following files:

Intro_BM3Logo_fire.usm
nv_logo.usm

Slap new extensions on the end (after .USM), say something like .BAK, so you can easily find and restore everything if you change your mind down the road.

TIME Video Games

Here’s Why Destiny Is Down Right Now

Bungie

Developer Bungie offers an explanation, sort of

The futuristic first-person shooter Destiny is down for maintenance, according to a tweet from developer Bungie. The game was scheduled to be down for about six hours starting around 8 a.m. PT on Monday across all platforms (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360).

Bungie, the world-famous creator of the Halo franchise, offered little explanation for the scheduled downtime, only noting in the tweet that it was related to “future plans.” The company is planning an expansion for the shooter called The Taken King that will launch on September 15.

TIME Video Games

The Best Part of Sony’s New 1TB PlayStation 4 Isn’t the Hard Drive

The new PlayStation 4s include notable under the hood (as well as on-the-hood) changes

Answering Microsoft’s recently unveiled 1TB Xbox One with a refresh of its own, Sony has announced a new 1TB “Ultimate Player Edition” PlayStation 4, as well as revised 500GB model.

But the best part about the new PlayStation systems isn’t the extra storage space.

Unlike Microsoft’s Alcatraz-like Xbox 360 and One game systems, both Sony’s PlayStation 3 and 4 game consoles have been user upgradeable from the start, allowing owners to pop in new off-the-shelf hard drives at leisure. Thus if you already own a PlayStation 4, there’s no storage-related reason to buy a completely new console when you can just grab a much less expensive hard drive, then follow Sony’s own official installation instructions.

But the real reason to take note of the new models is that they’ll also be roughly one-tenth lighter and consume slightly less power than the original 500GB PlayStation 4. That, and if you find the current model’s fingerprint-magnetic glossy hard drive cover irritating, the new models—available in either “glacier white” or “jet black”—will come with a “grainy” matte finish across their entire exterior.

No word on prices yet, but Sony PlayStation Europe says the new 1TB model will be available on July 15 in Europe. Sony Japan says that the new 500GB models will be available in Japan by the end of this month, followed in sequence (though without specific timetables) by the rest of the world.

TIME e3 2015

These Are the 10 Most Promising Games of E3 2015

Check out our picks for the most intriguing game shown at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo

They’re not the most popular games of this year’s show. Neither Doom nor Fallout 4 are on this list, nor game franchise all-stars like Star Wars: Battlefront, Just Cause 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 or Uncharted 4. You can read about that stuff anywhere.

Here’s a look at the games you maybe didn’t see (or see as much of), a.k.a. the ones I’m at least as excited about as any of those others.

  • Beyond Eyes

    Imagine a game that let you guide a 10-year-old girl, who at some point lost her ability to see, through an amorphous, painterly world, a world that forms or dissolves in response to aural cues or interference. Beyond Eyes appears to be an attempt to craft an adventure that may, if successful, in some small but meaningful way manage to convey some of both the travails and epiphanies of experiencing the world absent visible light.

    PC, Mac, Xbox One

    TBD 2015

  • Cuphead

    Cuphead looks like Betty Boop meets a shoot ’em up meets miracle. Over the course of the game, its teacup-noggin protagonists do battle with giant paranormal carrots, boxing frogs, angry birds, queen bees, gambling contraptions and not-so-little mermaids, all staged and immaculately animated in the most astonishing hand drawn and inked, cel-based, and watercolor-painted backdrops in the history of video gaming.

    PC, Xbox One

    TBD 2016

  • Dishonored 2

    This long anticipated sequel to one of the better post-Thief sneakers transpires in a coastal city where you’ll hunt new adversaries, optionally playing as Dishonored‘s original (male) protagonist, or a new one (female) with her own abilities and retro-futura gadgets. Crucially, as in the original, you can experience the entire game, if you so choose, without killing a soul.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    TBD 2016

  • Firewatch

    Firewatch, “a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness,” lets you play a volunteer fire lookout officer circa the Yellowstone fires of 1988, “your only emotional lifeline” ongoing chats with an unseen supervisor by handheld radio. It’s anyone’s guess where that goes (Twin Peaks or Always?). But it’s the game’s striking look that’s been grabbing attention: vast, clear-lined, color-saturated backcountry, styled after 1930s National Park Service posters.

    PC, Mac, PlayStation 4

    TBD 2015

  • Horizon Zero Dawn

    Guerrilla Games (the Killzone series) is apparently making a post-post-apocalyptic action-adventure titled Horizon Zero Dawn, which with its cast of robo-dinosaurs and low-tech, archery-adept heroine had me thinking Transformers: Beast Wars meets Vikings.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2016

  • The Last Guardian

    The Last Guardian still exists, thank goodness, and stars a boy (controlled by you) and his giant sphinx-like companion, who both wend their way through vast, precipitous, architectonically elegant backdrops. As in Shadow of the Colossus (by the same director), you can cling to all aspects of your animal companion, clambering around its feathered bulk and guiding it between platforms to help buddy-solve environment-based puzzles.

    PlayStation 4

    TBD 2016

  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

    Finally, a Mirror’s Edge sequel…or technically prequel, since it transpires prior to the original game’s events and focuses on the futuristic message-sneaking protagonist’s backstory. The biggest change: instead of executing flawless first-person parkour maneuvers along linear rooftop routes, you’re handed access to a fully traversable, open-world version of the last game’s gorgeous but mostly off-limits alabaster metropolis.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    February 23

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

    Microsoft demonstrated a terrifying gameplay slice from this sequel to the 2013 franchise reboot during its E3 showcase. Yes, there’s no way anyone in human history could pull off those kinds of moves, but we’ll doubtless have fun pretending when the game ships this fall—so long, crucially, as developer Crystal Dynamics managed to carry along (and further develop) all of the character-building virtues that consistently elevated the last installment.

    Xbox One, Xbox 360

    November 10

  • Super Mario Maker

    Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin those levels to look like different Mario games, ranging in visual style from the NES’s 8-bit glory days to the Wii U’s slick, 3D, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? The only catch: you have to first beat your own level at least once, before Nintendo will let you share your level with others online.

    Wii U

    September 11

  • Unravel

    It’s cute, and yes, too much in gaming gets by on “cute” these days, but Unravel–about a yarn-creature platforming through the world using string from its body to solve physics-related puzzles–looks like more than just a riff on Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Think LittleBigPlanet meets cat’s cradle (the string game) meets silk-spinning, and I think we’re close.

    PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

    TBD

    Read next: This Nintendo Fan Took 800 Hours to Crochet a Giant Replica Super Mario Blanket

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