Gaming: Black Ops Blackout Beta blasts off; Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice reveals more; Squre Enix teases new RPG

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Sep 10, 2018, 8:15 PM EDT

Today’s the day, Call of Duty fans: The long-awaited CoD: Black Ops 4 Blackout beta is finally live, at least for those lucky enough to have gotten their foot in the door. 

The PS4-exclusive private beta event is giving the CoD community its first taste of the all-new Blackout mode, a battle royale experience that merges conventional CoD gameplay with a fast-paced, last-player-standing free-for-all that will see as many as 80 characters shooting it out at once. 

The beta is only a small window into what players can expect from the full game, which itself looks like a kitchen-sink celebration of everything Call of Duty has come to represent through the years. The final game will forego a single-player story campaign in favor of wall-to-wall multiplayer, which essentially provides a jumping-off point for a host of expandable play styles that, at least in theory, could keep the fifth main installment in the CoD franchise humming for as long as players keep tuning in.

The timed event provides developer Treyarch with an opportunity to collect player feedback, first from PS4 owners ahead of the event’s expansion later this month to Xbox One and PC, before the full game (that’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, in case you’re getting lost in all the lingo) hits PC and consoles next month. 

With a game map that reportedly dwarfs anything the franchise has seen before, the final game sounds like it’s shaping up to be a monster. Players who’ve already downloaded the multiplayer beta, or who have pre-ordered the full game, can access the Blackout beta via the email invite that Treyarch sent out. Code redemption and other beta access information can be found at publisher Activision’s support website.

Call of Duty on YouTube

If you’re anxious for even more info on how FromSoftware intends to challenge you in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice -- the first new title that doesn’t share any DNA with the infamously brutal Dark Souls series -- you’re in the right place. 

FromSoftware has just unveiled a new, Japanese-language trailer for Sekiro ahead of this month’s Tokyo Game Show, and it gives us the best glimpse yet of how the game’s combat system should distinguish itself from its famous predecessor, without giving an inch of ground when it comes to difficulty.  

FromSoftware on YouTube

Aside from the killer and distinctive feudal Japan aesthetic, the thing that appears to set Sekiro apart from the Souls series is the added emphasis on traversal as a strategic element. As the clip suggests, stealth may play a role in taking down enemies, and the ability to jump, grapple, and dive-bomb with almost parkour-like freedom adds a new dimension to combat that the Souls games never had. 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice steps into the ring for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Mar. 22, 2019.

The biggest name in Japanese RPGs has just unveiled a first look at Project Prelude Rune, an all-new RPG from an all-new development studio first teased by Square Enix more than a year ago. 

The product of Studio Istolia, the newest of Square’s in-house RPG development spinoffs, Project Prelude Rune appears to share a strong artistic affinity with the painterly, cell-shaded animation style of games like Ni No Kuni and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Check out the Japanese trailer below:

Square Enix on YouTube

Details on the game are still light, so consider the trailer more of a progress update on what the new development shop, headed by Hideo Baba (a veteran of Namco’s Tales of… series), has been up to for the past 18 months. With no announced release date and no real description of the characters or setting in the video, our next best bet for additional info will come when the Tokyo Game Show kicks off later this month.