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Have some more lore in new Shadow of Mordor trailer

October 7th's helmeted headbutt between prominent fantasy games is officially over: Dragon Age Inquisition is moving to November, while Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor gets an earlier debut, on September 30. According to developer Monolith Productions, the open-world orc-stalker is progressing well enough to reach PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 a week earlier than first announced, with the PC version coming in on October 2.

Warner Bros. has also released a new trailer to coincide with the game's promotion at San Diego Comic-Con. The spectral figure paired with Shadow of Mordor's protagonist, Talion, is revealed to be Celebrimbor, the long-departed Elven smith who forged the Rings of Power. Beyond their connection to Middle-Earth's notorious mind-control jewelry, both Talion and Celebrimbor have reason to venture into Mordor and hijack Sauron's army for their own purposes.

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Iron Banner challenges return to Destiny Beta

Heads up, Destiny level-cappers -- you've got a new challenge waiting for you. Bungie is reintroducing Iron Banner challenges in a series of special Crucible events throughout this weekend, giving Beta veterans an incentive to take on new competition.

To unlock the Iron Banner challenges, players must first visit Lord Saladin in Destiny's Tower hub area. Afterward, the Iron Banner can be accessed in a separate playlist within the Crucible. Make sure to hunt down some quality gear in the game's campaign mode first; Iron Banner matches do not place limits on player equipment, making your weapon and armor power levels key components to victory.

Matches take place across 'Rusted Lands' on Earth, 'First Light' on the Moon, 'Shores of Time' on Venus, and 'Blind Watch' on Mars, with special awards and gear available for players who advance in rank. Iron Banner events will be held today from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m PDT, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Challenges will also be available tomorrow from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

[Image: Bungie]

Skylanders Trap Team to introduce 'Eon's Elite' premium toy line

Activision announced that it will roll out a new collector-oriented series of Skylanders toys following the launch of the multiplatform sequel Skylanders Trap Team this fall.

The new "Eon's Elite" figures feature a metallic finish, and sit atop a golden base inside a premium-packaged foil display case. If you can bring yourself to crack open the packages and ruin their aftermarket value, you'll find that the Eon's Elite toys summon in-game characters who are up to three times more powerful than their non-premium counterparts.

Today's announcement follows up on Activision's recently revealed Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition, a bonus-bundled special edition of the game that will carry a premium price tag at retail. Recent announcements suggest that Trap Team will move beyond the series' traditional youth-oriented focus in order to appeal to an expanding collector market.

The first Eon's Elite series features relaunched characters from 2011's Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, including Spyro and Chop-Chop. Prices for the new toys were not announced, but given their focus on packaging and presentation, they're likely more expensive than currently available figures.

[Image: Activision]

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One does not simply move up the Shadow of Mordor release date (but WB did)

Warner Bros. revealed it's moved Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor away from the October 7 madness, bringing the game forward to September 30 in North America and October 3 in the UK.

According to a press release, Warner Bros is releasing the game earlier "based on hearing fans' excitement." It may also have something to do with the number of high-profile games releasing on the game's original street date of October 7. Dragon: Age Inquisition's already abandoned the October 7 ship for November, but the date's still home to the likes of Alien: Isolation, Driveclub and NBA 2K15.

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LittleBigPlanet 3 private beta bounces in next month

The private beta for LittleBigPlanet 3 begins in August, a community manager writes on the LittleBigPlanet fansite. Media Molecule has hand-picked a small number of members from that site to receive beta invites, set to be distributed via private message in the "next couple of weeks."

Sony announced LittleBigPlanet 3 during its E3 conference this year, and it's due to hit PS4 and PS3 in November. We got to play a level designed to show off the new characters in LittleBigPlanet 3 during E3, and found it to be charming with tons of fun level-creation opportunities. Only one disappointment: "Once again, certain parts of the game will be closed off to you if you don't have the appropriate number of play partners." We have to interact with actual people? Fine.

Destiny beta now open to everyone

Bungie has kicked open the doors of the ongoing Destiny beta, inviting all players to join the test regardless of whether or not they were able to score a code.

"Today, at 4:00 PM PDT, we're opening the Destiny beta to anyone who wants to create a character and walk in their boots," reads an update posted to the Bungie website moments ago. The developer then points out the caveats attached to this offer: Interested players must have an Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4, and a valid Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscription.

Bungie claims this show of generosity is an effort to fully stress test the game prior to its official September launch. If a chance to aid the studio behind Halo is not enough to convince you to join the beta test, keep in mind that those who play Destiny on Saturday, July 26 will be rewarded with a special in-game emblem for their assistance.
[Image: Bungie]

Madden 15 says Russell Wilson is as good as Tom Brady

After EA offered its take on the top NFL rookies heading into the upcoming season earlier this week, it started dishing out Madden NFL 15 player ratings by the handful. While it isn't pulling the curtain back for every player yet, the developers at EA Tiburon unveiled the top-rated athletes in the game at five positions so far: Quarterback, running back, fullback, tight end and wide receiver. Among the more eye-opening appearances on the lists are Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, whose 93 rating is tied with Patriots passer Tom Brady, though Wilson's Super Bowl win in February provides a healthy argument about his place in the game.

Leading the charge for quarterbacks are Denver's Peyton Manning and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, both rated 98 overall. Fellow Packers player John Kuhn is the top fullback in the game with a 93 rating, while Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's 98 rating barely eclipses that of Eagles rusher LeSean McCoy and Chiefs runner Jamaal Charles (both rated 97). New Orleans' Jimmy Graham is the top tight end in the game at 97 overall, and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is the lone 99 overall-rated player in the bunch. Head past the break for the rest of EA's rankings. Madden 15 will launch August 26 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360 and PS3.
[Image: EA Sports]

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Stick a pin in your Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix pre-order

Customers who pre-order Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix will automatically be upgraded to the Limited Edition, Square Enix announced today via the PlayStation Blog. Along with updated versions of Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix and Kingdom Hearts: Re: Coded, those who score a copy of the Limited Edition will also receive a nifty pin featuring Sora and Mickey.

Now, a pin may not seem like a big fuss, but this is an official, collectible Disney pin - and thus, it is part of the pin trading tradition that officially kicked off in 1999. Disney pin trading is serious business to those with a passion for it, as some pins have reached prices upward of $1,000 on the secondhand market.

So you take care of that pin, young man/lady! It just might be worth something someday.
[Image: Square Enix]

Court approves settlement over Sony's 2011 PSN breach

The US District Court for the Southern District of California approved a settlement for the class action lawsuit resulting from Sony's 2011 PSN data breach. The settlement may result in Sony doling out as much as $17.75 million, which includes an offer for one free game (PS3 or PSP only), three PS3 themes or credit for three months of PlayStation Plus membership (valid only for new subscribers).

The claimant groups are divided based on whether PSN account holders prior to May 15, 2011 took advantage of the "Welcome Back" program following the intrusion. Those that did not accept the PSN Welcome Back offer can claim two of the benefit options among the games, themes and PS Plus membership credit on a first come, first served basis until a $6 million allocation from Sony is reached. For those that did take advantage of the program, they will receive one of the benefits above until a $4 million allocation is reached.

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Dark Souls 2 'Crown of the Sunken King' review: Lost and crowned

After losing days to just navigating Lordran, I understood the switch to more linear pathways in Dark Souls 2. Still, I missed getting truly lost in the first game's open world. It was a labyrinthine mess that coiled in on itself in the most confusing ways, and it added another layer to an already oppressive game. The world itself was against you in Dark Souls, and it magnified those feelings of dread, challenge and, eventually, satisfaction.

It's great to see Crown of the Sunken King, the first Dark Souls 2 DLC expansion, is closer to the first game's mazey madness, albeit in a more conscise form. Its rocky inclines and crumbling chambers don't so much twist and turn as gently lead you astray, and the interconnections are more foreshadowed. It makes sense for the DLC's scope; it takes five hours to find and defeat the final boss, and that's even if you lose your way a few times.

All the same, in its stone-cold heart of hearts, Sunken King is just more Dark Souls 2, albeit inevitably tougher. There are a few new enemies - some total bastards - while others are more reworked and re-skinned, but generally the higher difficulty comes from placement and numbers.

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Disney Infinity 2.0 hits North America on September 23.0

Update: Disney Interactive confirmed the game's release dates for Europe. It will hit the continent's mainland on September 18 before arriving in the UK on September 19.

The Marvel-stuffed Disney Infinity 2.0 is officially hitting North America's store shelves on September 23, a date that's been rumored for a while. We've confirmed with Disney the release date applies to the PS4, Xbox One. Wii U, Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the sequel.

Disney also confirmed the pre-order program GameStop's been advertising, which bundles in an extra $14-value Disney Infinity 2.0 figure, is available at "top retailers nationwide." We reached out to Disney to find out the figures are available in the promo - UK retailer GAME says players can choose between Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Iron Fist.

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Akiba's Trip 2 brings the full monty, including PS4, to North America


Akiba's Trip 2 AKA the helpfully named Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is confirmed for PS4 in North America. Acquire's action-RPG leaves its hat on the PS4 sometime this holiday season, after arriving on PS3 and Vita on August 12.

One of this year's more intellectual games, Akiba's Trip 2 tasks you with taking the clothes off vampire-like enemies terrorizing Tokyo. Because you want to shine sunlight onto their vampiric skin, of course. There's no other motivation than that, as the above NSFW trailer clearly shows.
[Image: XSEED]

Hohokum launch trailer is just the right amount of weird


The arrival of Honeyslug's cheerful Hohokum is mere weeks away, and it's still impossible to classify. The game received a new trailer to celebrate its August 12 launch date (August 13 in Europe), showing the meditating hermit-like star of the game in addition to the squiggly, flying worm that players control.

Devised by artist Richard Hogg, Hohokum became a 2011 IGF finalist before Sony Santa Monica began working with the Hogg and Honeyslug in May 2013 to bring the game to PlayStation platforms. It will be Cross-Buy-enabled as well, so the $14.99 price will give players access to the PS4, PS3 and Vita versions.

Hohokum is part of the PlayStation Store Play event Sony announced just yesterday, in which players that pick up four games in August will receive $10 of in-store credit. Additionally, pre-orders for the four games are 20 percent off each for PlayStation Plus members. Joining Hohokum in the deal are Rogue Legacy, The Swapper and CounterSpy.
[Image: Sony]

Live and let CounterSpy

Image Yesterday we learned that Dynamighty's mod stealth-action game CounterSpy will reach the PlayStation 4, PS3 and Vita on August 19. Today we're presented with a launch trailer that's less "debonair, Connery-era James Bond" and more "Daniel Craig on a murderous rampage." [Image: Dynamighty]... Continue Reading

Play Destiny's Beta on Saturday, get a reward in the full version

Bungie is offering Destiny Beta participants an exclusive reward for the full version of the game as an incentive for logging in this weekend, according to an in-game message relayed to players today.

"To earn your reward, play the Destiny Beta on Saturday, July 26th at 2pm PDT (9pm GMT)," the message reads. Bungie did not specify what the reward is, but free is free, so be sure to hop on this weekend if you're intrigued. Here's hoping that it's a gold-plated Peter Dinklage-bot. Or new character dances. Or a dancing Dinklage-bot.

[Update: Bungie confirmed that the featured reward is an in-game emblem.]

[Image: Bungie]

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