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Gaming: World War Z teases release; Overwatch introduces new star; more

By Benjamin Bullard
World War Z screen via Saber Interactive site 2019

It’s been a long time coming, but now that World War Z the video game is almost here, developer Saber Interactive is sending out a zombie alert as it opens pre-orders ahead of the shooter’s release this spring.

The game’s new trailer warns “the zombies are coming,” and sure enough, what starts out as a would-be stealth skulk to get around one shambling corpse turns on a dime into a full-on zombie pile-on, against a musical backdrop — get ready, nu-metal die-hards — of P.O.D.’s “Boom.”

WWZ obviously isn’t going for subtlety here, but that’s in the game’s DNA as a first-person shooter instead of a zombie survival slog. First announced in 2017, the project has seen halting updates over the past year, but pre-orders are now live at the game’s website and will net you a lore-correct Lobo (short for “lobotomizer”) weapon that can swat down those mobs at close range.

From New York to Moscow and points farther afield, get ready to take the zombie fight across the globe when World War Z swarms onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC starting April 16.

Overwatch has been around long enough that many of its standout characters are now household names for anyone who’s spent much time around a Blizzard game. It’s hard to believe the studio has churned out 30 Overwatch heroes since the game first released back in early 2016, but that’s where we are — and Blizzard is teasing the imminent arrival of hero number 30, combat medic Baptiste, by giving him his own origin story trailer:

An orphan who pulled himself out of poverty and wants to make a difference, Baptiste is a techy support character whose presence can literally mean the difference between life and death. Via The Verge, his special “immortality field” mechanic can keep team members alive even when taking critical damage, and he wields an ultimate ability that doubles the effects of any healing (or damaging) volleys that pass through its field.

Blizzard hasn’t said when Baptiste will officially join the Overwatch team, but he’s already on the practice squad in the public beta. Be on the lookout for Blizzard’s 30th hero to move up the roster starting soon.

Kingdom Hearts III may have tied up all the dangling plot threads in one of gaming’s most lore-dense franchises, but you’ll soon be able to slow things down to a board game’s pace to digest all those character connections, permutations, and dimensional shifts.

Talisman Kingdom Hearts game via The OP site 2019
The OP, makers of licensed board games for blockbusters like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, has just revealed Talisman: Kingdom Hearts Edition, which will put Sora, Goofy, Donald, King Mickey, and more on your tabletop to take on the Heartless. Kingdom Hearts provides the cosmetic skin overlaying the venerable Talisman gameplay structure, which has proven a durable platform for fresh takes on fantasy board gaming ever since its 1983 debut.

The OP is pitching the upcoming game as a quest to “acquire the needed Strength and Magic to seal the Door to Darkness and keep Heartless from consuming the communal worlds.” So far, all we know is that it’s coming sometime this year, so keep that keyblade sharp as we wait for a release date.

Finally, Red Dead Online is finding its legs with its first major update since entering beta late last year. Rockstar has just revealed the new batch of improvements and tweaks, alongside a new trailer, which you can check out below:

The update covers just about every facet of the moment-by-moment online experience, from new gameplay mechanics and modes to weapons to clothes and cosmetic tweaks. There’s a new “Fool's Gold” event coming next week, complete with a ridiculously blingy-sounding “protective suit of Golden Armor” to stand out in your Wild West surroundings, as well as “Up in Smoke,” “Spoils of War,” and “Plunder” — a trio of “showdown modes” that will team up players “to capture and deliver bags, steal loot from each other and survive,” according to the announcement.

There’s a lot to take in, and Red Dead Online is being crafted to deliver the same kind of always-on, something-for-everyone experience that has kept players coming back to Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Online for five years running. Check out the game page for a full breakdown of all the ways you can get your cowboy on once your long and winding single-player journey with Arthur Morgan has come to an end.