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Gaming: Watch PS5 shred PS4 in Spider-Man demo; Elder Scrolls board game; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Spider Man on PlayStation 4

Back in April, Sony shared with Wired a words-only preview of what the next PlayStation console (let’s call it the PS5 for now) already can do. Now, the world is getting its first fleeting glimpse of the kind of speed we can expect to see when the PS4’s replacement flashes on the scene. 

At a recent company meeting, Sony presented a side-by-side demonstration of both the PS4 Pro and a PS5 development unit loading up, and then running, a bit of in-game footage from the PS4’s Spider-Man. And if this tweet from The Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki is anything to go by, the new console is going to run circles around its older sibling.

As you can see, the new unit loads a save file from Spidey’s swing through New York nearly ten times faster than the PS4 Pro — currently the flagship console in Sony’s lineup. Then, when the camera begins to move through the Big Apple’s friendly neighborhood streets right within the game engine, the PS5 version slingshots ahead with an adrenaline-rushing speed that leaves the PS4’s otherwise not-too-shabby pace running on fumes. Periodic freezes in the action only serve to reinforce the fact that everything Sony shows on screen indeed is running as part of Spider-Man’s moment-by-moment gameplay.

Sony says the upcoming PS5’s newfound speed will come in part thanks to the company’s planned switch from the current console’s spinning hard drive to a bespoke flash storage drive that enables read speeds physical units just can’t match. In addition, Sony is teasing the new device will sport backwards compatibility with older PlayStation games, it’ll still take physical discs, and — at least for the first phase of its rollout — it’ll likely share the gaming market with the PS4, which the company said (via Variety) it plans to continue supporting for at least three more years. 

Is there a caveat to all this next-gen goodness? Well, Sony hasn’t yet announced what the PS5 will cost, and many gaming outlets have interpreted its early comments on the topic as a sign that it could hit the streets with a bit of a premium price tag over current-gen consoles. And, if gaming history serves as any guide, it may only be a matter of time, once developers have fully explored the PS5’s capabilities, before some AAA game (or several) finds a way to stretch even the souped-up new machine to its technical limits. 

We don’t know when the PS5 will make its debut, but Sony is on record saying it won’t be this year. In the meantime, our favorite web slinger (and tons more PS4 games, both in release and upcoming) are still plenty fast enough for us, right here on this aging side of the next console generation. 

Fus! Ro! Dah! It’s hard to imagine that an RPG gaming franchise as iconic as Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series has never spun off into the world of tabletop gaming, but until this week, the lore-rich land of Tamriel had never gotten a proper board game treatment for fans to shout about. 

Now, thanks to an agreement between Bethesda and tabletop makers Modiphius Entertainment, that’s all about to change. Modiphius has just announced The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms, a Skyrim-themed miniatures board game that draws on the company’s previous Bethesda tabletop gaming collaboration in Fallout: Wasteland Warfare.

The Elder Scrolls Call to Arms board game

Call to Arms is built “on the core mechanics” of Wasteland Warfare, says Modiphius, but trades Fallout’s apocalyptic Wasteland setting for Skyrim’s lush forests and icy mountain reaches. Some of Skyrim’s biggest NPCs are being resin-cast as playable game pieces for Call to Arms, including Riften’s Mjoll the Lioness, Solitude’s General Tullius, Whiterun’s housecarl Lydia — and even the guy who drives the whole plot of Skyrim, Winterhold’s Ulfric Stormcloak himself. 

While there’s no hard release date set for The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms, Polygon reports Modiphius plans to have the game ready some time around Christmas — with more expansions based on The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls Online to follow.

Few existing game franchises are likely as ripe to tap into the Fortnite-inspired battle royale craze the way Call of Duty is, so Activision’s fresh tease of the battle roayle mode that’ll be bundled in with the upcoming Call of Duty: Mobile game in some ways feels downright inevitable. 

Along with a handful of new images, game makers shared their vision this week for how a Call of Duty free-for-all should look on smart devices — and while it retains plenty of DNA from the console-based version that landed in last year’s Blackout mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, it’s a tailor-made experience that Activision said in a recent blog post will stand on its own.

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Mobile’s battle royale comes with its own huge map, highlighted by locations drawn from previous COD games that’ll be familiar to longtime fans. Playable in either first- or third-person, matches will accommodate 100 players at a time, with the flexibility of jumping in solo, or as part of a team consisting of either two or four people. 

Fans of established battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends (and, for that matter, Blackout mode itself) should feel right at home with the mobile version’s last-team-standing gameplay formula: dive in, survive long enough to scavenge some gear, and then formulate a plan of attack.  

Call of Duty: Mobile is already available in China, but regional beta testing is just getting underway in the U.S. and other English-speaking territories ahead of the game’s full release later this year. Battle royale is just one piece of the full puzzle, but it’s expected to arrive alongside the rest of the free-to-download game when Call of Duty: Mobile finally arrives for Android and iOS.