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SYFY WIRE Fortnite

Gaming: Fortnite ends blind loot boxes; Sekiro boss teases Souls-style twist; Call of Duty’s decade of sales dominance

By Benjamin Bullard
Sekiro via official website 2019

In a move that suggests Epic Games senses players' building frustration over microtransactions in free-to-play games, the developer has announced it will no longer ask players to pay for loot boxes in Fortnite: Save the World without first knowing what they’re buying.

In a blog post last week, Epic revealed it will end blind loot boxes with the upcoming release of update v7.30, which will enable players to glimpse the contents of the game’s trademark supply Llamas (aka loot boxes) before pulling the trigger to spend those V-Bucks.

“We believe it’s important that the Llamas you buy have what you want, and that you can earn awesome items just for logging in and playing,” Epic explained. The new approach will center on a new, modified version of the loot boxes called “X-Ray Llamas,” which, as the name suggests, will “show you the contents before you purchase it.”

The new system takes into account which weapons a player already has in inventory, and won’t offer a duplicate of the same weapon — unless a player already owns all of its available variants. To acquaint players with the new feature, the game is offering up five free Llama Upgrade Tokens, and once the update goes live, the current V-Buck prices for the loot boxes won’t change.

The change applies only to Save the World loot boxes; Llamas in Battle Royale are rarer and typically play a different role in the game from their Save the World counterparts.

Fortnite is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS.

With the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice only a couple of months away, more details are beginning to emerge about the all-new game from Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne developer FromSoftware.

In a sprawling interview with Game Informer, From president Hidetaka Miyazaki recently revealed that Sekiro — which focuses more on parkour-style platforming elements than its notoriously difficult cousins in the Souls series — might just contain a midgame plot twist that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s earned their way to the end of Bloodborne.

“Hypothetically speaking, if this was a Bloodborne interview, we wouldn’t go, ‘Hey, guess what happens in the second half,’ Miyazaki joked. “But if you can think of the opening of the game as a more traditional Japanese ninja fantasy, then it’s not going to continue along that same exact track the whole way through. I think it’s safe to say that much, and I think more would be a spoiler.”

Miyazaki also revealed that Sekiro won’t play as a linear, on-rails experience, and that moving about the game world will be a bigger selling point than it was in the Souls series.

“We feel like Sekiro’s probably on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of the freedom the player has to explore the world, if we’re to compare it to our previous games,” he said. “Particularly from the mid-game onward, the world really opens up, and you have a great deal of choice and freedom about which order and way you choose to explore.”

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice slices onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 22.

With so many established gaming franchises iterating across platforms and from one console generation to the next, it’s no surprise that Call of Duty rates near the top of the sales charts from one year to the next. But COD just hit a pretty remarkable milestone in a gaming space crowded with big names: It recently passed its 10th year as the best-selling U.S. console franchise, according to a reported analysis from data firm The NPD Group.

Publisher Activision celebrated news of its dominant decade with a blog post thanking fans and promising COD still has plenty of battles left to fight.

“2018 was an amazing year for Call of Duty fans,” the publisher posted. “Thank you for your tremendous support for Black Ops 4, and thank you for your continued inspiration to play Call of Duty. The NPD Group announced this week that 2018 marks the 10th consecutive year that Call of Duty is the best-selling console video game franchise of the year in the U.S., which would only be possible with support from this amazing community.”

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 released in October of 2018, yet still managed to help propel the franchise (along with all those gamers who’re deeply invested in previous COD titles) to another annual sales win.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.