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Gaming: Halo theme park incoming; Days Gone shows its zombies; Apex Legends a hit; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Halo Outpost Discovery via official YouTube 2019

Halo has long been the gold standard for immersive experience when it comes to getting lost inside a first-person sci-fi world, but Microsoft’s new movable theme park concept based on the iconic franchise is taking things to a whole new level.

Five U.S. cities will become destinations for fans to get their real-world Flood-fighting game on, as the traveling Halo: Outpost Discovery theme park swoops in to take over local conventions centers this summer.

No one’s going to mistake the roving Halo road show with the local county fair, but the idea’s much the same. The portable park experience will arrive in each city to set up a curated array of “VR experiences, video games, escape rooms, laser tag, a museum, a life-sized vehicles, a Halo ring, and more,” via the report, before tearing it all down and boarding the Pillar of Autumn to unpack everything for fans in the next town.

Halo developer 343 Industries is partnering with events company Herschend Live (which has plenty of touring experience staging live events for franchises like Dollywood and the Harlem Globetrotters) to bring Halo: Outpost Discovery to Orlando, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Anaheim. The first stop in Orlando opens its doors on July 5.

The Halo playground reportedly will take up about 300,000 square feet of convention space, featuring everything from cosplay meet-ups to the team-based “Combat Deck” laser tag experience to a “Covenant Escape” simulation that has guests working together to race their way out of an enemy ship. 

To check out all the attractions and activities that’ll have you channeling your inner Master Chief, as well as to score tickets, head on over to the Halo: Outpost Discovery landing page

The surprise arrival of Apex Legends, EA and developer Respawn’s answer to the Fortnite-challenging battle royale game set in the Titanfall universe, got off to a sensational start when the game made its all-but-unannounced debut earlier this week. 

The free-to-play co-op game reportedly racked up more than 1 million players in less than eight hours’ time after going live on Feb. 4, as tons of curious gamers checked out Apex Legends’ unique team-based take on the battle royale formula. Respawn CEO Vince Zampella tweeted out the buzz the game already had generated only hours after launch:

Launching the game with virtually no advance notice was a strategic way to let it speak for itself and generate a different kind of buzz. “We made a deliberate decision to eschew a pre-release marketing campaign featuring lots of trailers and previews, so we didn't feel the need to build up hype,” the developers explained in a blog post. “…Our goal was to allow players to form their own opinions through play, and let the game do the talking.”

Respawn followed up the launch by promising to listen to player feedback from the get-go, promising that there’ll be “tons of top-secret new stuff” arriving to keep the experience fresh over the coming months. Apex Legends is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

The post-apocalyptic spin that Days Gone will put on the zombie survival genre is growing less and less mysterious, thanks to Sony’s recent reveal of the virus-afflicted enemy types we’ll be facing (or dodging) when the game arrives this April. 

A newly-released trailer shows off the undead enemies while giving them a name: “freakers.” Check it out below:

As you can see, the zombies in Days Gone will come in more than just one flavor — and thankfully, so do the many weapons and techniques you can use to put them down. Days Gone arrives for the PlayStation 4 on April 26.

Finally, a here’s a quick hit highlighting a pair of just-revealed games that promise to have players revisiting a pair of familiar franchises. 

As part of its recent earnings report, EA disclosed that it’s working on new games based on Plants vs. Zombies and Need for Speed, although there are no early details on what the games’ scale, scope, or even launch platforms might be. Plants vs. Zombies tweaks the tower defense formula by having players nurture their flora into fighting shape to ward off an endless zombie siege, while Need for Speed has developed into an all-encompassing racing franchise that’s spawned nearly 30 titles dating all the way back to the 1994 original. 

There’s no word on when either game might show up, but EA’s report covers projections through the first quarter of 2020 — so stay tuned.