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Gaming: Walmart to stream games?; Battlefield V plows into battle royale; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Cuphead for Nintendo Switch

Is there something in the air that’s attracting some of the world’s biggest non-gaming companies to get in on the video games streaming bandwagon? A new report suggests that retail behemoth Walmart may be planning a games streaming service of its own — just days after Google made waves by revealing Stadia, a platform-free cloud games service whose only in-house hardware is a game controller.

US Gamer reports that anonymous “multiple sources familiar with Walmart’s plans” have shared that the company “is exploring its own platform to enter in the now-competitive video game streaming race,” describing the potential platform only as “a streaming service for video games.” The same report says Walmart has been in discussions with developers and publishers ”since earlier this year and throughout this year's Game Developers Conference.”

From a business point of view, it may make sense for a retailer like Walmart to seek out gamers via their internet connections. Walmart’s physical media section has long been a dominating presence in its actual stores, but digital game sales have incrementally begun to overtake their disc-based companions, leaving virtual stores like Steam and the Epic Store picking up more and more former customers of brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart and GameStop.

The report doesn’t indicate when Walmart might debut a streaming service, nor whether it might specialize in the same mostly-AAA titles that line the bulk of the chain’s physical game sections, so it may be a while yet — if ever — before we dial up Walmart's idea of a digital gaming storefront.

It seems that everyone is getting in on the battle royale craze, and now it’s Battlefield V’s turn. DICE and EA Games have revealed the first footage from the game’s upcoming Firestorm battle royale mode … and judging from the fan responses, it looks as though the little red Cub tractor you can pilot on your mayhem spree is pretty much stealing the whole show.

Anyone who’s played Fortnite, Apex Legends, or even, well, Battlefield V will likely feel right at home here: Like other free-for-all, last-player-standing games, this one’s all about dropping in, scavenging for gear, and improvising a strategy to stay alive longer than the other guys.

With 64 players per match and tons of vehicles adding a fun new twist, the new mode will come as a free download for all Battlefield V owners. Plow your way to victory when Firestorm arrives on March 25 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

In the highest-profile instance yet of just what the new Nintendo-Microsoft alliance might have in store for Nintendo fans, one of the Xbox’s quirkiest, most well-reviewed platformers is heading to the Switch.

Retro-cool platformer Cuphead, which debuted for the Xbox One and PC in 2017, is coming to the Switch next month, expanding its distinctive Steamboat Willie-era style of animation to a whole new audience. Nintendo announced the game with a crazy clip that taps directly into the game's 1930s-vintage vibe:

The art style may be fun, but Cuphead’s gameplay is serious business. Beloved by fans for being one of the biggest platforming challenges on the Xbox One (or anywhere else), you’ll be able to experience Cuphead on the go when it spins onto the Switch starting April 18.

Finally, let’s finish strong with Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, a brand-new RPG from the original writer behind the eponymous 2004 cult classic from the former Troika Games studio.

Publisher Paradox Interactive has revealed a gritty, lurid, and of course bloody announcement trailer that shows off the new game’s Seattle setting. As you can tell, there’s definitely nothing retro about the look of Bloodlines 2, and the trailer emphasizes a bit more parkour and action-oriented gameplay than fans of the first role-playing game might remember:

Picked up for development by Hardsuit Labs, Bloodlines 2 is being written by Brian Mitsoda, the same guy responsible for the distinctive, high-drama vamp-against-vamp narrative that endeared the first game to fans. There’s no release date yet, but expect Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 to bare its fangs sometime in 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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