‘Overwatch 2’ release date, and when ‘Overwatch 1’ servers will shut down

Overwatch 2. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.
Overwatch 2. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

While Overwatch 2 is right around the corner, developer Blizzard Entertainment is preparing to shut down servers for the first Overwatch. If you’re looking to see when each game will be available, here’s when Overwatch 2 comes out – and when the first Overwatch‘s servers will go offline.

Overwatch 1 servers will shut down on October 3, at 5PM BST / 6PM CEST / 9AM PDT.

That’s a day before Overwatch 2 comes out, with Blizzard’s next shooter launching on October 4 at 8PM BST / 9PM CEST / 12PM PDT / 3PM EDT. As Blizzard has pointed out, timezone differences in the eastern hemisphere mean that the shooter will launch on October 5 for some countries, including Australia and China.

The gap between Overwatch servers going down and the sequel launching means there will be just over 24 hours where fans will not be able to play either game.

As the launch of Overwatch 2 approaches, fans have questioned whether Blizzard’s approach to monetising the series goes in the right direction. Last week, fans highlighted that one skin for Junker Queen could cost around £18, and could potentially cost even more.

Overwatch 2. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment.

In September, it was also confirmed that Overwatch 2 would require unlocking agents through a battle pass.

Blizzard went on to explain the decision, with general manager Walter Kong saying that “Heroes are the single most engaging content that we have in the game. And as we designed this model, it seemed to be a very strong fit to put those heroes into our new engagement systems.”

In other Overwatch 2 news, Blizzard has announced that it will be holding a tournament for the LGBTQ+ community. Designed to offer “an inclusive and welcoming environment for underrepresented genders,” potential competitors can sign up for the tournament here.

Elsewhere, controversial Activision Blizzard executive Frances Townsend has stepped down and will now serve as an official advisor to CEO Bobby Kotick and the company’s board of directors.

Dizzee Rascal to celebrate 20 years of ‘Boy In Da Corner’ with gig at London’s The O2

Dizzee Rascal
Dizzee Rascal performs at South Facing Festival 2021. CREDIT: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

Dizzee Rascal has announced a headline show at The O2 Arena in London next year.

The show on March 8, 2023 marks 20 years of his Mercury Prize-winning debut album, ‘Boy In Da Corner’, which was released in 2003.

Tickets go on general sale here this Friday (October 7) at 10am BST.

Dizzee released his latest album, ‘E3 AF‘, in 2020. In a review of his seventh album, NME wrote: “Throughout his career, Dizzee Rascal has pushed boundaries and surpassed expectations. This album is no different. It’s underpinned by a sense of homecoming for the rapper. On ‘E3 AF’, he marks his territory, coming back to a sound he grew up with while tipping his hat to the future.”

Earlier this year the grime star was given a community order after being convicted of assaulting his ex-fiancé.

The rapper, whose real name is Dylan Mills, was found guilty at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on March 7 for assaulting his former fiancé over a row about child contact and finances.

He was found guilty of assaulting Cassandra Jones by pressing his forehead against hers and then pushing her to the ground at a house in Streatham, south London on June 8, 2021.

Mills was originally arrested on that date on suspicion of common assault and was later released on bail. He was charged on August 2, 2021.

Metropolitan Police said at the time: “Officers attended and a woman reported minor injuries. She did not require hospital treatment.”

After Mills was found guilty in March he was captured on film leaving court and knocking a camera out of the hands of a photographer. He then proceeded to pick the camera up and throw it across the street.

‘Tarkov’-inspired 2D shooter ‘Zero Sievert’ comes to Early Access next month

Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.
Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.

Cabo Studio has announced that top-down survival shooter Zero Sievert will launch in Early Access in November, with a free demo available to play as part of Steam Next Fest.

A demo for Zero Sievert will be playable from today (October 3) to October 17, while the game itself will be available in Early Access from November 22. The shooter will cost £15.99 at launch, though a launch sale will knock the price down by ten per cent.

As for what the game’s about, Zero Sievert is a single-player extraction shooter that will sound familiar to fans of Battlestate Games‘ hardcore shooter Escape From Tarkov.

Zero Sievert charges you with scavenging equipment across multiple areas, all set in an atmospheric fictitious post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe setting,” describes the game’s Steam page. “Your base of operations, the bunker, is filled with traders, modding stations, and areas to make your own, providing you with progression across your excursions into the wild.”

“Across the five biomes of the game, you’ll initially be armed with little more than a gun and a bottle of water, after which point it’s up to you to recover items, take out bandits, and most importantly, get back alive,” continues the description.

Speaking to NME, developer Luca Carbonera acknowledged that Escape From Tarkov helped to inspire Zero Sievert, and he sees the top-down shooter as “a more immediate, approachable, and less hardcore version of Tarkov that manages to offer that same thrill of getting in, getting loot, and getting out.”

Currently, Zero Sievert is planned to remain in early access for about a year, which will include five procedural locations to loot from November.

In other gaming news, actor Lance Reddick has teased new content for Horizon Forbidden West in a since-deleted tweet.

‘League Of Legends’ pre-season brings pets, Chemtech Drake, and more

League Of Legends. Credit: Riot Games.
League Of Legends. Credit: Riot Games.

The League Of Legends pre-season changes have been revealed, detailing the return of Chemtech Drake and a host of jungle changes – including the addition of pets.

For this year’s pre-season, developer Riot Games has focused on making big changes to the jungle role.

That includes the return of Chemtech Drake, an elemental Drake that was removed from League Of Legends in January after Riot acknowledged that it was “too frustrating to play with.

However, much of the unpopular Drake’s features – including the vision-obscuring fod – have been swapped for new abilities. Chemtech Drake’s buff will now grant tenacity and stronger heals and shields, while earning Chemtech Soul will give champions on your team bonus damage if they’re below a certain amount of health.

League Of Legends Lux
League Of Legends. Credit: Riot Games

Additionally, the Chemtech Drake’s environmental effects have been changed. In active matches, Blast Cones will send champions twice as far, Honey Fruits will stop slowing champions and grant a shield, and Scryer’s Bloom will grant movement speed for anyone running toward revealed enemy champions.

The return of Chemtech Drake comes alongside some major changes to jungling that Riot touched on in August. The biggest of which is the addition of pets, which will be companions for junglers to raise in return for powerful buffs.

“These pets will acquire ‘treats’ through monster kills and slowly over time as the game progresses which will help them evolve,” explains Riot. “Once evolved, pets will give their owners Avatar buffs which empower them with different abilities.”

league of legends dragon soul
League Of Legends. Credit: Riot Games

There are three different pets being added, with each supporting a distinct playstyle. The Noxian Embercat will provide its owner with slows and bonus damage, while the Ixtali Ixamander offers shielding with slow resist and tenacity – perfect for tankier junglers. Finally, the Ionian Cloudleaper gives bonus movement speed to players who are looking to have more of an impact across the map.

Beyond pets, jungling is also going to be made easier for new players to learn. This includes recommended jungle pathing, a leashing range indicator, and more detailed pings to communicate with teammates. Teams will also be able to vote on whether to take or leave an objective.

Elsewhere, top laners will be given some experience adjustments to help them “scale faster and hit those key item and level breakpoints faster relative to mid and bot,” and several new Mythic items have been added to the game.

In other League Of Legends news, Riot Games recently shared ‘STAR WALKIN” – this year’s Worlds anthem, which was created with Lil Nas X.

‘Zero Sievert’ developer Cabo Studio talks about the ‘Tarkov’-esque 2D extraction shooter

Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.
Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.

It’s hard, at first, to take 2D extraction-shooter Zero Sievert seriously. You hop off your cutesy train with your cutesy gun to get some cutesy loot for your adorable little mountain base. Then you get pinned in a house and flanked by the ruthless, pixel-cute, bandits.

Behind the charming aesthetic, Zero Sievert is hard as nails. While many games are currently trying to corner the loot and scoot gameplay that made Escape From Tarkov a smash hit, Zero Sievert is one of the few that manages to bring that tense mix of fear and elation to the table. It’s clear to see Tarkov’s influence everywhere: the weapons are similar and you’re trudging around the middle of the Russian wilderness, after all.

Talking to Cabo Studio’s Luca Carbonera, the similarities are by design.

Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.
Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.

Carbonera says that Escape From Tarkov was a “huge success” and describes the extraction shooter genre that it spawned as “a breath of fresh air to the world of video games.”, and said that while he originally started development trying to make a 2D version of Stalker, a game Tarkov also lists as an inspiration, he started adding more Tarkov-inspired mechanics.

Tarkov offers a very hardcore experience that not all gamers are ready for,” says Carbonera. “It needs a really large initial time investment to grasp the basics of the game, and until then you cannot fully enjoy everything it has to offer.”

Enter Zero Sievert, which Carbonera hopes will deliver “a more immediate, approachable, and less hardcore version of Tarkov that manages to offer that same thrill of getting in, getting loot, and getting out.”

The game’s 2D perspective offers a lot of new challenges, in terms of play but also development. Instead of a typical first-person shooter perspective which makes it easy to obscure details the player can’t directly see, here Carbonera implements a fog of war. “This fog of war gives a tactical sense that is not present in most 2D shooters,” he explains.

Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.
Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.

However, despite all of the changes, the real challenge in Zero Sievert was making the AI work. “I’ve always placed a lot of importance on the AI, at the moment it can perform actions such as taking cover, outflanking the player, chasing the player based on the weapon they’re holding. These are very simple actions but they help a lot to make fights more dynamic and interesting.” adds Carbonera. “AI is complicated and complex, so it takes time to revisit it and make the appropriate changes.”

However, the biggest challenge is keeping players entertained once they have completed the journey from zero to hero. In Escape From Tarkov, a lot of the end-game experience involves throwing down with other players – yet Zero Sievert is a single-player game.

“If you look at Tarkov, most of the community plays until they finish all of the traders levels and complete the main quests,” admits Carbonera. “After that they’ll abandon the game until the next wipe.”

“Once the player has acquired the best equipment the game becomes easier and you no longer get the sense of progression that pushes you to keep playing.”

Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.
Zero Sievert. Credit: Cabo Studio.

“Right now, the progression in Zero Sievert is quite fast. There are already mechanics that will be added to lengthen it a bit. Here though, I have to be very careful, it is not enough just to lengthen the progression and make it slower, it would make the game more boring and grindy.”

Carbonera says that his “ideal goal” is to give players a sense of progression through equipment that then leads into other long-term progress options such as upgrading their base, harder questlines or even relationships with other factions. Laughing, Carbonera admits it’s a “difficult task to accomplish correctly”, but says he’ll be working with the community and listening to feedback.

It’s not so bad for a game that started out as a hobby project with no expectations, which Carbonera admits was “not going very well” until a video by YouTuber SplatterCatGaming caused the campaign to reach its goal in 24 hours.

“In that month following the Kickstarter campaign I thought I was just very lucky but when several publishers started contacting me I realised that apart from being lucky I also had a potentially good game,” says Carbonera.

I have one final mystery. What’s the deal with the game’s name?

“I don’t remember exactly when I got the idea for the name,” laughs Carbonera. “The bunker is the main hub of the game, the player spends a lot of time there, so it must be a radiation-free zone. Sieverts measure radiation exposure and hence the name Zero Sievert. It’s very simple but it stuck and ultimately I’m glad as I like it a lot.”

A demo for Zero Sievert is currently available to play on PC. 

Controversial Activision Blizzard executive Frances Townsend steps down

Frances Townsend
Frances Townsend. Credit Activision Blizzard

Frances Townsend has stepped down from the role of Activision Blizzard‘s chief compliance officer.

In a company email sent out on Thursday (September 29), CEO Bobby Kotick announced staff that Townsend would be stepping down from her position after less than two years at the Call Of Duty publisher (via The Wall Street Journal).

“She [Frances Townsend] tirelessly and successfully navigated a challenging time for the Company with leadership, conviction, and grace,” wrote Kotick in the email. Despite leaving her position, Townsend will continue as an official advisor to Kotick and to Activision Blizzard’s board of directors.

Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George went on to provide Kotaku with a copy of the company email, which further detailed Townsend’s departure and explained that the company is moving closer to completing the merger with Microsoft.

Her role will be taken over by the current senior vice president of ethics and compliance, Jen Brewer, who will be promoted to chief ethics and compliance officer after being at the company for 10 years.

Activision
Activision office. Credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

Prior to joining Activision Blizzard as chief compliance officer, Townsend served as the assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism to President George W. Bush.

Following the reports of misconduct allegations at Activision Blizzard and the lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Townsend responded by denying the allegations in an email to staff which prompted backlash within the company.

“A recently filed lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out-of-context stories – some from more than a decade ago,” an excerpt reads.

In other news, a cancelled 2001 Dune game has finally been released under the new name Elland: The Crystal Wars.

‘Dune’ game cancelled in 2002 launches with new name

Elland: The Crystal Wars. Credit: Soft Brigade, AUK Play.
Elland: The Crystal Wars. Credit: Soft Brigade, AUK Play.

The cancelled 2001 Dune game has finally been released under the new name Elland: The Crystal Wars.

Formerly known as Dune: Ornithopter Assault, the development of the title began as a Game Boy Advance game 20 years ago, based on the popular books series by Frank Herbert. The game was cancelled in 2002 and the team behind it, Cryo Interactive, had to halt all progress on the project.

Now, after raising over $21,222 (£18,915) on Kickstarter with 352 backers, the game has been released on Steam thanks to a small business that specializes in game preservation, The Retro Room Games (via PC Gamer).

Elland: The Crystal Wars
Elland: The Crystal Wars. Credit: The Retro Room Games

In Elland: The Crystal Wars, the player takes the role of Ethan Lancashire, one of the finest of Elland Inc.’s fighter pilots, whose job is to deliver crystal gatherers to the crystal fields and prevent smugglers from destroying them.

The game takes place on the desert planet of Elland on the outskirts of the galaxy which mines the minerals and crystals used in the construction of Galactic star cruisers. There are 23 playable missions where the player will also be required to pilot advanced flying machines that come equipped with heavy artillery.

The game also includes modern quality-of-life features such as the option to save any time during the game, controller support and remapping, cloud saves, and image scaling and smoothing options.

Elland: The Crystal Wars launched on Steam today (October 3) and is currently on offer for £11.15, down from £12.39.

In other news, Horizon Forbidden West could be getting brand new content in the future. This is according to the actor Lance Reddick, who plays the  character Sylens, who shared a now-deleted video stating that he was “…in a session for Horizon Forbidden West!”

Arctic Monkeys announce 2023 North American tour with Fontaines D.C.

Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys
Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys performs at Cala Mijas Fest 2022 in Malaga, Spain. CREDIT: Pablo Gallardo/Redferns

Arctic Monkeys have shared details of a North American tour for 2023 with Fontaines D.C. on support – see dates below as well as how to purchase tickets.

The Sheffield band first head stateside next summer, kicking the tour off at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US on August 25. They wrap the tour at Los Angeles’ Kia Forum in California, US on September 29.

Tickets go on general sale here this Friday (October 7) at 10am local time. Fans can also register for a verified fan pre-sale, which ends at 10am ET (3pm BST) tomorrow (October 4), here.

The shows will be in support of the band’s latest album, ‘The Car‘, which is released on October 21 via Domino.

Arctic Monkeys 2023 North American tour dates:

AUGUST 
25 – The Armory, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
27 – United Center, Illinois, Chicago, US
29 – Pine Knob Music Theater, Clarkston, Michigan, US
30 –  Budweiser Stage, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

SEPTEMBER
02 – Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
03 – TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, US
05 – TD Pavilion at The Mann, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
07 – Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland, US
08 – Forest Hills Stadium, New York, US
09 – Forest Hills Stadium, New York, US
11 – Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, Alpharetta, Georgia, US
12 – Ascend Amphitheater, Nashville, Tennessee, US
15 – Moody Center, Austin, Texas, US
16 – Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas, US
18 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, Colorado, US
20 – Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah, US
22 – Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, Washington, US
23 – Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
24 – Moda Center, Portland, Oregon, US
26 – Chase Center, San Francisco, California, US
27 – Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California, US

20 – The Kia Forum, Los Angeles, California, US

The news follows Arctic Monkeys adding a third London date to their 2023 UK and Ireland stadium tour after the first two shows sold out on Friday morning (September 30).

Tickets for the Sheffield band’s stadium tour next year went on general sale, with high demand being reported on ticket sites and across social media.

Arctic Monkeys’ first two dates at London’s Emirates Stadium on June 16 and 17 both sold out, with the band since announcing a third show at Arsenal’s stadium on June 18. Tickets for that newly announced gig, as well as the rest of the tour, are on sale now from here.

Arctic Monkeys at Reading Festival
Credit: Andy Ford/NME

Meanwhile, the band released their new album’s second single, ‘Body Paint’, last week.

The four-piece were also the musical guests on last night’s edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in the US, during which they performed ‘Body Paint’.

Shania Twain “does plan” to collaborate with Harry Styles: “I’m going to hold Harry to that”

Shania Twain
Shania Twain and Harry Styles performing together at Coachella 2022. Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ABA.

Shania Twain says she expects to collaborate with Harry Styles in the future.

The claim comes after the pair teamed up earlier this year during Styles’ headline set at Coachella 2022 in April. During the cameo, Shania joined Styles on stage to perform her hits ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’ and ‘You’re Still The One’.

Speaking to Extra, Twain said that she hopes that the onstage collaboration could lead to a studio-based link-up between the pair in the future.

While saying that the collaboration will “not [be] on [my] new album,” Twain said: “In the future, I would say yes. I’m going to hold Harry to that.

“I think we surprised each other [with] how natural it was [at Coachella]. So, I do plan on doing that.”

Earlier this week Twain opened up about her experience with COVID, saying that she was “touch and go” with the virus for a while. The country singer detailed what happened while she had the virus in a BBC interview about her documentary Shania Twain: Not Just A Girl, which follows the creation of her sixth album.

In the interview she talks about recording a song called ‘What You Gonna Do With That Air?’ and later reveals that the track is about “the anxiety of running out of air”.

Twain explained: “I had a very bad bout with COVID, with COVID pneumonia, and it was very touch-and-go. I was feeling like, ‘Oh my God, I just have to breathe.’”

Reviewing Not Just A Girl, NME wrote: “You won’t come away feeling as though Shania Twain has bared her soul, but you will have renewed respect for the talent, vision and hard work that made her an era-defining artist.”

New ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ trailer teases new hero

The latest Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer has landed, giving fans a fresh glimpse at the new Black Panther as well as Wakanda’s new foe.

In the newly released clip, which dropped today (October 3), a voice declares: “Only the most broken people can be great leaders”, as we get a closer look at new character Namor, who is the ruler of Talocan, an ancient civilisation of underwater people.

M’Baku then warns that killing him will “risk eternal war”, as the Wakandan heroes face their new foe. The trailer ends with a shot of the new mysterious Black Panther suited up.

The new clip follows on from the first trailer, which was released in July and saw the characters mourning the death of T’Challa, before we captured a brief glimpse of the Black Panther suit.

'Black Panther Wakanda Forever' trailer
‘Black Panther Wakanda Forever’ trailer. CREDIT: Marvel Studios

The film comes after the passing of original Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, who died following a battle with colon cancer in 2020.

Marvel boss Kevin Feige recently revealed that it was “much too soon” to recast the character in the sequel to the 2018 blockbuster.

“It just felt like it was much too soon to recast,” he told Empire. “Stan Lee always said that Marvel represents the world outside your window.

“And we had talked about how, as extraordinary and fantastical as our characters and stories are, there’s a relatable and human element to everything we do. The world is still processing the loss of Chad. And Ryan [Coogler, director] poured that into the story.”

Black Panther Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa in ‘Black Panther’. CREDIT: Alamy

The producer added: “The conversations were entirely about, yes, ‘What do we do next?’ And how could the legacy of Chadwick – and what he had done to help Wakanda and the Black Panther become these incredible, aspirational, iconic ideas – continue? That’s what it was all about.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to see the return of Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Martin Freeman from the original Black Panther, with the likes of Michaela Coel, Tenoch Huerta and Dominique Thorne joining the cast.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is released in UK cinemas on November 11.