NEO: The World Ends With You Complete Preorder Guide

NEO: The World Ends With You is set to release July 27 for Nintendo Switch and PS4. It will also arrive on PC via the Epic Games Store at some point this summer. You can preorder the game now–and it’s even on sale for $49.94 at GameStop.

A sequel to the Nintendo DS original from 2007, this new installment stars a new cast of high schoolers who run amok in Shibuya and are forced to compete in the “Reapers’ Game.” Sounds spooky. Read on for more preorder info.

Preorder NEO: The World Ends With You

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PS4

Nintendo Switch

Preorder Bonus

Preorder NEO: The World Ends With You at the PlayStation Store, and you’ll receive a free avatar set. You’ll also get the Legendary Threads Set, which is described like this: “This gear set contains five equippable items once used by the legendary Neku. These items are normally unavailable until you proceed considerably far in the story, so they will give you a leg up in the early days of the Game, and provide you with powerful unlockable abilities that will serve you well until the very end!”

What Is NEO: The World Ends With You?

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NEO: The World Ends With You is a full-on sequel to the 2007 original, a well-received JRPG that debuted on the Nintendo DS and has since been released on mobile and as an enhanced port for Nintendo Switch.

This new game follows Rindo, a high schooler who gets caught up in the mysterious “Reapers’ Game,” a life-and-death battle you’re forced to play. Rindo is joined by new characters Fret and Nagi, as well as Minamimoto, who appeared in the original game. This group of heroes is known collectively as the Wicked Twisters. They’ll have to face off against numerous rival teams in “a week-long battle for your lives!”

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As you play, you collect “threads” which are not only fashionable, but also impart stat boosts to your characters. You also collect pins that let you unleash “psych” abilities in battle. You control multiple party members at once, but each one can only equip one pin. Your job is to press buttons to deploy psychs in order to defeat your enemies. Over 300 pins are available to find, so you can mix and match to create effective combos.

This installment represents the first time the series has come to PlayStation.

Other Preorder Guides

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Chris Reed is a commerce editor and deals expert at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed.

Loki Finale Explained: Who Is He Who Remains, a.k.a. Kang the Conqueror?

Warning: Full spoilers follow for Loki Season 1.

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Loki Season 1 did what its predecessors WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier avoided, serving up the big reveal that comics fans had basically been expecting — and that the show had been hinting at throughout its six episodes: Jonathan Majors made his MCU debut as classic Marvel time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror, or at least a Variant of the character known as He Who Remains.

The series also ended this first season by shattering the “Sacred Timeline,” which sets up the upcoming events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and probably a bunch of other Marvel projects as well.

Kang from the comics, and a very Kang-ish version of He Who Remains from Loki.

So the question is, now that Thanos is gone, how much of a role will Majors’ character play in the MCU moving forward? We know Jonathan Majors will play Kang in 2023’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and Loki has been dropping Easter eggs indicating that Kang might be showing up even sooner than expected.

If you’re not familiar with Kang or why he has the potential to be the next Thanos-level threat to the MCU, we’re here to shed light on this powerful villain and also explain the finale of Loki. These are the topics we’ll be covering here:

  • Loki Season Finale Explained
  • Who Is He Who Remains/Kang the Conqueror?
  • Kang’s Origin
  • Kang’s Powers and Abilities
  • Kang’s Many Identities
  • Kang and the Young Avengers
  • Kang the Conqueror Actor Jonathan Majors and Marvel Universe Connections
  • Kang in TV and Games

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Loki Season Finale Explained

In the Season 1 finale of Loki, Loki and Sylvie finally make it to the end of time (should that be capitalized?) to confront the mysterious figure behind the TVA. No, not the Time Keepers, who we learned a couple of episodes back were fakes, but the actual figure who has been overseeing the pruning of the Sacred Timeline: He Who Remains.

Majors plays the character as a fun figure, one who perhaps has gone a little bonkers living forever at the end of all time, knowing everything that is going to happen.

Well, to a point. As the episode proceeds, He Who Remains explains his backstory, but also that they are now reaching a moment in the timeline where he will no longer know how things are going to play out — a juncture that will finally free him of the self-imposed prison he has been living in as master of the timeline. And it’s up to Sylvie and Loki to decide what comes next.

But first, about that backstory: He Who Remains explains that it all began with a Variant of himself, a scientist from the 31st century, who discovered that other timelines/realities exist. At first things were friendly as other versions, or Variants of this scientist, began to meet up across different timelines. But then some Variants turned to conquering, and the Multiverse War we learned about in Episode 1 began. In the end, He Who Remains… well, remained. As the winner of the war, he created the TVA to keep other timelines from coming into existence in order to avoid another multiversal conflict.

The last words of He Who Remains: "I'll see you soon."

And so now He Who Remains wants out, and Loki and Sylvie have a choice: Become the new masters of the Sacred Timeline, or kill He Who Remains, which will bring about the multiverse once again and, inevitably, the return of an untold number of He Who Remains/Kangs who will wind up re-starting the war. Loki wants to take over, if only to avoid the inevitable conflict that will result from killing He Who Remains. But Sylvie wants to kill He Who Remains, choosing the chaos of a multiverse — and free will — over all else. After fighting Loki, she kisses him — and then pushes him back through time to the TVA before stabbing He Who Remains, who doesn’t even fight back. We last see Sylvie at the end of time, contemplating her decision as the timeline splinters into an infinite amount of variations — a multiverse.

The finale ends with Loki landing back at the TVA, but he soon realizes that it’s a TVA from a different timeline, because Mobius and Hunter B-15 have no idea who he is. And then he sees it — a statue of He Who Remains, who now looks a lot like Kang from the comics. Is Kang the Conqueror now the master of time (and the TVA)? We’ll surely find out in Season 2, which was revealed in post-credits tease that simply shows TVA paperwork being stamped with the words “Loki will return for Season 2.”

Who Is He Who Remains/Kang the Conqueror?

It’s not easy recapping the convoluted history of Kang the Conqueror. He’s a villain who’s gone by many names and many different motivations in his countless clashes with the Avengers and Fantastic Four. But through it all the basics have stayed the same. Kang is a man who sees himself as the rightful master of the world. Using the power of time travel and the most sophisticated weaponry his future world has to offer, Kang has repeatedly sought to rewrite history to his own whims and ensure his own rise to power.

Kang’s love of time travel is exactly what makes him such a dangerous and seemingly never-ending thorn in humanity’s side. No matter how often he’s defeated, banished or even destroyed utterly, some version of him is always out there, waiting and plotting. In the Loki Season 1 finale, He Who Remains is clearly a Kang Variant, but apparently a more benevolent one than the Kang (or Kangs) we’ll likely get moving forward in the MCU.

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Kang’s Origin

While the first appearance of Kang the Conqueror is featured in 1964’s The Avengers #8, the character technically debuted a year earlier in Fantastic Four #19. We’ll try to summarize Kang’s confusing origin story as simply as possible.

Kang’s real name is Nathaniel Richards. Originally a historical scholar from the 31st century (and possibly a distant descendant of either Reed Richards or Victor von Doom), Nathaniel discovers Doctor Doom’s ancient time travel tech and uses it to travel back to the era of ancient Egypt. Crowning himself “Rama-Tut,” he lords over his new subjects and uses his futuristic tech to make himself seem like a god. That is, until the Fantastic Four show up to end his reign.

After escaping to the 20th century, Rama-Tut meets Doctor Doom and uses Doom’s distinctive armor as inspiration for his next supervillain identity, the Scarlet Centurion. However, he’s again defeated by Earth’s heroes and attempts to return to his own timeline.

This is where Kang the Conqueror is born. Richards accidentally travels forward too far in time, arriving in an era when human civilization has collapsed. As the only person left who understands the advanced but forgotten technology of the 40th century, the newly minted Kang is able to quickly conquer his new timeline and even extend his new empire beyond Earth’s borders. Not content to be ruler of a futuristic empire, Kang begins a recurring game of toying with time and attempting to rewrite history to suit his own whims.

Kang’s Powers and Abilities

As an ordinary human from the 31st century, Kang has no innate superhuman powers. However, he’s a gifted physicist and historian, using his knowledge of science and history to manipulate the timeline and accumulate power. His distinctive green and purple suit of armor (inspired by Doom’s own armor) both enhances Kang’s strength and allows him to survive in whatever inhospitable environments he may find. Kang has a time-ship that allows him to freely travel through the time-stream, and he’s also assembled a vast army comprised of the best warriors from throughout history.

Kang also sometimes wields a ray gun that can sap a person’s strength and willpower, along with various doomsday weapons only a 40th century tyrant could dream of.

Kang also seems to be functionally immortal. Because he’s so fond of abusing the timeline for his own selfish ends, there are countless variations of Nathaniel Richards in existence. No matter how many times Kang is defeated, there’s always another incarnation of the Conqueror ready to continue his crusade.

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Kang’s Many Identities

Kang is every bit as convoluted a character as one would expect from a man whose favorite hobby is manipulating time. But part of what makes Kang such a confusing character is that he’s had so many different names and identities over the years. It doesn’t help that these various characters weren’t all originally conceived as being the same person, so a lot of these connections have been forged after the fact. If you’re familiar with the comic book storytelling term “retcon,” Kang is basically its living embodiment.

As we’ve already covered, Nathaniel Richards uses names like Rama-Tut and the Scarlet Centurion early on in his career as a time-travelling tyrant. But taking up the mantle of Kang isn’t his last identity shake-up.

At some point in his long life, Kang gives up his name and his empire to instead forge an alliance with an advanced alien race known as the Time-Keepers. In exchange for true immortality, Kang agrees to preserve the timeline and ensure the Time-Keepers’ rise to power. At that point he becomes Immortus. Ironically, his younger selves are responsible for much of the damage Immortus is tasked with undoing.

Kang has held other cover identities while masquerading as a 21st century human, including a small-town mayor named Victor Timely and a business tycoon named Mr. Gryphon.

If all this isn’t complicated enough, thanks to time travel these various incarnations of Kang basically coexist alongside each other and sometimes collude or wage war against one another. There’s even an entire team of Kangs known as the Council of Cross-Time Kangs. Picture the Citadel of Ricks in Rick and Morty, but with less alcohol and self-loathing.

 The many versions of Kang the Conqueror.

Kang and the Young Avengers

There’s another notable incarnation of Kang who may well factor into the MCU at some point. The 2005 series Young Avengers introduces a team of teen heroes modeled after classic Avengers but with very different backgrounds and origin stories. The team’s founder, Iron Lad, isn’t a descendant of Tony Stark, but is actually a teen version of Nathaniel Richards from a splinter timeline. Kang attempted to travel back in time and rescue his younger self from a group of bullies who had left him hospitalized for months. Kang saves himself and gives the young Nathaniel an advanced suit of armor in the hope of hurrying along his transformation from ordinary man to Kang. But instead, young Nathaniel is horrified by his older self and travels back in time to form a new team of Avengers.

Ultimately, this version of Kang is killed and Iron Lad is forced to wipe his own memories and return to the future, restoring the proper timeline. But he leaves behind a copy of his consciousness inside his armor, which fuses with the broken remnants of Vision to form a new version of that iconic Avenger.

Iron Lad is an important Kang offshoot to know, given that Marvel is showing every sign of introducing the Young Avengers in the MCU.

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Kang the Conqueror Actor Jonathan Majors and Marvel Universe Connections

We know Jonathan Majors will be back as Kang in Ant-Man 3, but Kang’s love of time travel and perpetual habit of returning to threaten the Avengers all over again make him perfectly suited to become a recurring antagonist across the MCU. It doesn’t hurt that he has deep connections to so many different Marvel characters and teams. Will he also play some kind of a role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or the reportedly multiverse-focused Spider-Man: No Way Home? Nothing is confirmed yet, but it would seem likely.

As mentioned before, Kang may well be a descendant of Mister Fantastic or Doctor Doom. Both characters have certainly played a key role in his development as a villain. He also has connections to major characters on the cosmic side of the MCU. In the comics, Kang once competed with the Grandmaster for a chance at godlike power, and he attempted to claim the so-called “Celestial Madonna” (better known as Mantis) as his bride.

Decades after it was originally published, Marvel added more layers to the events of Fantastic Four #19 by revealing Nathaniel’s true motivations for travelling back in time and becoming Rama-Tut. He was actually seeking out a young En Sabah Nur, the mutant destined to become Apocalypse, to crown him as his heir. He never succeeded, though Apocalypse turned out to be a chip off the old block in terms of harnessing futuristic technology and seeking to dominate the world.

With Kang now firmly linked to the Fantastic Four, Avengers and X-Men, Marvel forged yet another connection in the 2015 series Uncanny Inhumans. There, Black Bolt gives his son Ahura to be fostered by Kang, seeing the time travelling tyrant as the only safe haven in a world growing steadily more hostile toward the Inhumans.

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Kang in TV and Games

  • TV: Given his status as one of the greatest Avengers and Fantastic Four villains, it should come as no surprise Kang has enjoyed a healthy career outside of Marvel’s comics. His first animated TV appearance came way back in 1967’s Fantastic Four animated series, with the episode “Rama-Tut” adapting the events of Fantastic Four #19. Whether as Kang or Rama-Tut, the villain has appeared in numerous other Marvel cartoons like X-Men Evolution and Avengers: United They Stand. He even had a brief cameo as Immortus in an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series. But Kang’s most significant animated appearances have come more recently. He played a recurring role in both Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (voiced by Jonathan Adams) and Avengers Assemble (voiced by Steve Blum). He made his live-action debut in Loki.
  • Games: Kang has appeared in F2P games like Marvel: Avengers Alliance and Marvel: Contest of Champions, but his most notable video game appearance so far has been in 2017’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. Kang (voiced by MCU veteran Peter Serafinowicz) serves as the main villain of the game and is also available as a playable character.

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July 14, 2021: This story has been updated with the latest information about Loki.

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Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

Black Widow’s Taskmaster: The Marvel Villain Explained

Marvel Studios’ Black Widow movie is finally here. And with it comes the Taskmaster, a classic Marvel villain who is finally joining the MCU to face off against Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov in the film.

But just who is Taskmaster, and what makes him capable of going toe-to-toe with one of the greatest super-spies in the Marvel Universe? Read on to learn more about this dangerous yet tragic mercenary villain.

Who Is Taskmaster?

Taskmaster is widely feared as one of the most dangerous mercenaries in the Marvel Universe. That’s because his photographic reflexes allow him to mimic the fighting style of anyone he studies. Taskmaster briefly turned to a life of crime, but he quickly realized that his skills are better used training other villains how to fight. Taskmaster will lend his knowledge and experience to any organization that can meet his price, be it Hydra, SHIELD, AIM or the Thunderbolts. Deep down he’s not such a bad guy, but Taskmaster will never let his morals get in the way of a paycheck.

For a quick breakdown of all characters in the Black Widow movie, watch the video below!

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Taskmaster’s Powers and Abilities

Taskmaster was injected with an offshoot of the super-soldier serum that unlocked the full potential of his mind’s memory processes. Because of this, he has photographic reflexes. He can recreate the movements and fighting styles of anyone he observes, and he can also predict their movements in battle with near-perfect accuracy. That effectively makes him as talented a martial artist as heroes like Shang-Chi and Daredevil and as expert a marksman as Hawkeye and Bullseye. Taskmaster carries a wide arsenal of weapons that further help him replicate the moves of other heroes and villains. He wields a shield similar to Captain America’s, a sword similar to that of Swordsman and Black Knight and various other projectile weapons.

In addition to making him one of the deadliest fighters in the Marvel Universe, this unique talent has made Taskmaster a very in-demand martial arts instructor. He often makes his living training soldiers in the arts of self-defense and battlefield combat.

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Taskmaster’s abilities do come with certain drawbacks. For one thing, he can be caught off-guard when battling unfamiliar opponents or someone like Deadpool, whose fighting style is chaotic and unpredictable. And his photographic reflexes come at a heavy cost. The more he relies on his abilities, the more Taskmaster’s brain literally overwrites old memories. Because of this, he remembers very little about his past and family.

Taskmaster: Origin and Background

Taskmaster first debuted in cameo form in 1980’s The Avengers #195, before making his first full appearance in the following issue. These early stories established a basic origin story and modus operandi for the villain. They also showed him capable of battling powerful Avengers like Captain America and Iron Man to a standstill, though ultimately his unfamiliarity with the relatively recent recruit Jocasta proved to be his undoing.

Taskmaster has appeared in a number of stories in the decades since, sometimes serving as a villain and other times more as an anti-hero. As various stories established, he only cares about getting paid, so he’s just as likely to work for SHIELD or the US government as he is taking on jobs that pit him against heroes like Daredevil and Spider-Man. Taskmaster even sided with Iron Man’s pro-registration faction in Civil War, eventually becoming a drill instructor at Camp Hammond and tasked with training a new generation of heroes how to fight. Eventually, though, Taskmaster returned to a more self-centered, illegal lifestyle.

It was only with the miniseries Taskmaster: Unthinkable that the character’s true origin story and background were revealed. Readers learned that Taskmaster’s real name is Tony Masters. He was once a SHIELD agent send to terminate a rogue Nazi scientist developing his own version of Captain America’s super-soldier serum. When Masters injected himself with that serum, he gained his signature photographic reflexes but forgot his old life and even his wife in the process. While he briefly reunites with his estranged wife, Masters is forced to tap into his abilities to save her life, losing his memories all over again.

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Taskmaster has continued to play both sides of the aisle since returning to his usual routine. One day he’s acting as a double agent for the Secret Avengers, the next he’s teaming up with Black Ant to kidnap various animal-themed supervillains for Kraven the Hunter’s amusement. As long as the money is good, there are few jobs this elite mercenary won’t take on. Yet the good man that was Tony Masters is never quite buried forever.

Taskmaster in Black Widow and Beyond the Comics

Taskmaster has appeared in several animated Marvel projects, including the TV series Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man and the direct-to-video movie Heroes United: Iron Man and Captain America (all of which featured the voice of Clancy Brown). He’s also appeared as a playable character in a number of Marvel video games, including Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Heroes and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (all voiced by Steven Blum).

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Taskmaster’s most significant non-comics appearance to date is in the Playstation 4 game Marvel’s Spider-Man. Taskmaster (voiced by Brian Bloom) appears as a recurring foe in the game, forcing Spider-Man to undertake various challenges while studying his moves. After Taskmaster is defeated, he reveals he was hired by a mysterious group to determine whether Spider-Man is worthy enough to join them. Taskmaster also appears in Marvel’s Avengers.

Who Plays Taskmaster in Black Widow?

Taskmaster was once rumored to appear in Marvel’s Most Wanted, a planned Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD spinoff, but that project was eventually canceled. Instead, he now makes his debut in the MCU in the Black Widow movie, where he’ll be ripping off Captain America’s most iconic move. As for who is playing him, or what his (or her?) true identity is in the film, only time will tell. Some fans have speculated that it’s actually going to be a female behind the mask — possibly one of Nat’s allies, like Rachel Weisz’s Melina Vostokoff or Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. Or perhaps it will just be a faceless henchman in the role… but, nah, who are we kidding? Taskmaster’s identity must be an important part of the film!

For more on the Black Widow movie, check out our explainer on David Harbour’s Red Guardian.

July 8, 2021: This story has been updated with the most recent information about the Black Widow movie.

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Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

A History of Nintendo Console Redesigns

From the iterations on the Wii to the various versions of the DS, Nintendo is no stranger to redesigning both its home and handheld consoles. In the wake of the announcement of the Switch (OLED model), which will feature a larger 7-inch OLED screen (but the size of the console is unchanged from the base Switch model), a wider, adjustable base stand, enhanced audio, 64GB of internal storage, and a wired LAN port in the dock, it’s a good time to revisit just how radical – or not! – some of Nintendo’s design jumps have been over the years.

Here’s the history of Nintendo’s console and handheld redesigns, from NES to Nintendo Switch.

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What would you want a subsequent Switch redesign to look like? Which of these older models are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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Logan Plant is a writer for IGN, and the Production Assistant for Nintendo Voice Chat, IGN’s weekly Nintendo show. You can find him on Twitter at @LoganJPlant.

The Witcher Books Reading Order

Now that Netflix’s The Witcher has arrived, this wild world of wonder and weirdness is being introduced to a whole new audience. However, executive producer and showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich’s adaptation of this beloved fantasy world isn’t tied to the massively successful Witcher game franchise developed by CD Projekt Red and which established its significance in the zeitgeist. Instead, the Netflix show is based on the books by author Andrzej Sapkowski. And maybe, just maybe, fans of the show are interested in giving the books a try as well now. Well, let us help you with that!

Sapkowski has published eight Witcher books since he started writing the series back in the mid-’80s when the illustrious Polish author first submitted Wiedzmín — “The Witcher” — to fantasy magazine Fantastyka.

The Witcher Books In Order

The books covered in this Witcher Books Order article are (a.k.a. the TL;DR version):

[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”slug=netflixs-the-witcher-cast-vs-video-game-characters&captions=true”]However, Geralt of Rivia didn’t make an appearance in the world of the Witcher until the publication of Sapkowski’s 1990 short story collection, also called Wiedzmín. This text is out of print now, so it’s not one of the eight books you’ll need to read to bring you up to speed on the literary counterpart of the games so many fans have grown to love. In fact, every story in this collection bar one — “The Road to No Return,” about Geralt’s mother — was included in 1993’s The Last Wish collection.

The Last Wish / Sword of Destiny

The Last Wish is your starting point in The Witcher, which is important to note because it was published a year after 1992’s Sword of Destiny. The Last Wish takes almost every single story from Wiedzmín and adds more, all of which feature events that occur before the previously published Sword of Destiny. It’s basically a prequel collection written to prep you for Sword of Destiny.

Once you’ve read The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, you’re ready to move on to the saga. This is comprised of five novels, all of which tell the stories of Geralt, Ciri, Yennefer, Triss, Dandelion, and others. They also introduce a range of characters that don’t appear in CD Projekt Red’s adaptations, most of whom are great.

If you’re solely interested in covering what’s likely to be featured early on in the TV series, the Last Wish and Sword of Destiny short story collections should be fine. However, if you want to know the ins and outs of the world and ensure that you’re a true Witcher connoisseur, you’ll want to dive deeper into the saga, which is set roughly 10 years before the games and focuses largely on the relationship between Geralt and Ciri. This is where the bulk of Geralt’s stories unfold, and makes up the main constituent of The Witcher universe at large — at least in terms of Sapkowski’s conception of it. Here are the five novels in order:

Blood of Elves

The first book in the saga, Blood of Elves, takes place after the short story collections The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. It introduces Nilfgaardian Emperor Emhyr var Emreis’ pursuit of Ciri, Geralt’s adopted daughter, in order to marry her and attain power over Cintra, the land that is hers by birthright. In an effort to thwart Emhyr’s plans, the Northern monarchs meet and decide to assassinate Ciri, but Geralt of Rivia watches over her in Kaer Morhen, the remote keep inhabited by Wolf School witchers. Meanwhile, a mysterious sorcerer is also trying to locate Ciri.

The Time of Contempt

The Time of Contempt picks up where the previous novel finishes. The Northern Kings are still conspiring with one another in an effort to lure Nilfgaard into war, while Ciri is due to be enrolled at Aretuza in order to study magic. Ciri comes into contact with some of the most powerful sorceresses on The Continent. As war becomes inevitable, she finds herself on the run with a bandit group known simply as The Rats.

Baptism of Fire

Geralt spends time in Brokilon forest recovering from events in the previous book, which is where he and Dandelion encounter an elven archer named Milva, who decides to join their group. People who have played the games will be glad to know that the dwarf Zoltan Chivay temporarily joins Geralt’s ragtag group too, as well as the vampire Regis. A Nilfgaardian knight named Cahir also tags along because he feels indebted to Ciri. Geralt officially receives his “of Rivia” title after an epic battle while Ciri begins to feel at home with The Rats.

The Tower of Swallows

Ciri is gravely injured after an encounter with Nilfgaardian bounty hunter Leo Bonhart, who was hired by the coroner Stefan Skellen to kill her. A kind old man nurses her back to health while Geralt’s party continues their search for Ciri and Geralt renounces his status as a witcher. The Lodge of Sorceresses attempt to gain control of a country called Kovir while Triss Merigold seeks information on Yennefer of Vengerberg. (Known as The Tower of Swallows in the U.S.)

The Lady of the Lake

Ciri encounters Arthurian knight Sir Galahad who believes she is the eponymous lady of the lake. The story cuts to a dream in which Geralt overhears Skellen and sets out to rescue Yennefer from a faraway castle. Ciri, meanwhile, tells Galahad about her time in the elven world of Aen Elle, home of the Wild Hunt. She begins to jump between worlds in order to escape them, but Eredin Breacc Glas persistently chases her, as she heads towards a final meeting with her surrogate parents Geralt and Yennefer.

Now we’re up to seven out of eight books. The last text is also a novel, but it’s a bit difficult to place and depends on personal preference…

Season of Storms

If you’re somebody who likes to know everything that happens as it happens, then you might want to read Season of Storms immediately after The Last Wish. Originally published in 2013 — 14 years after Sapkowski wrapped the saga — Season of Storms contains stories that take place between the stories in The Last Wish, which aren’t necessarily in strict proximity to one another. However, it’s also written after the saga was completed by Sapkowski and contains slight hints about what’s to come, if not outright spoilers. If you’re dying to read the series in strictly chronological terms, it could be worth reading it right after The Last Wish. If you’re the type of person who worries about spoilers though, save it for the end and enjoy it as a retrospective piece.

Those are the eight books in The Witcher series — in English, at least. There are two anthologies consisting of Witcher stories penned by guest authors in Sapkowski’s world that were published in 2013 and 2017, but they’re in Polish. If you can read them, go ahead, but they aren’t considered canon and likely won’t have anything to do with Netflix’s show or the games.

Interestingly, “The Road to No Return” short (about Geralt’s mother), which is the only Wiedzmín story missing from the Last Wish short story collection, appears in the 2000 collection Something Ends, Something Begins, which is a name some gamers might recognize from the similarly titled quest at the end of The Witcher 3. A story called “Something Ends, Something Begins” also appears in this collection too, which was written as a wedding gift for two of Sapkowski’s friends and describes Geralt and Yennefer’s wedding.[ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/07/20/netflixs-the-witcher-trailer-breakdown-rewind-theater-comic-con-2019]

However, this collection is also in Polish. You can check out a fan translation of the “Something Ends, Something Begins” story that’s apparently pretty accurate here, but “The Road to No Return” is a little harder to find. Also, it’s important to recognize that “Something Ends, Something Begins,” like the anthologies by the guest authors, isn’t considered canon, so it’s not indicative of any plot direction in the series at large. The rest of the stories in Something Ends, Something Begins have nothing to do with The Witcher series.

With all of that said, you should also check out The Witcher games if you haven’t yet. The series may not have anything to do with them, but some of the characters you meet also exist in the books, so the games could indirectly serve as a primer for encountering or hearing about some of those in the show. They’re also fantastic, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, holding up remarkably well — even by 2019’s standards. Henry Cavill, who portrays Geralt in Netflix’s series, told IGN even he has played through The Witcher 3 multiple times.

If you’re excited about The Witcher, the above is the best possible order to read the books in, with an optional placement of Season of Storms depending on personal preference. After that, dive into the games and acquaint yourself with the wider world of The Witcher too![ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/07/19/cavill-on-netflix-the-witcher-like-playing-witcher-again-with-another-skin-comic-con-2019]

Halo Infinite: Release Date, Gameplay, and What We Know So Far

Halo Infinite remains to be on the top of gamers’ minds despite all the reworks and delays the game has gone through. While Xbox and developer 343 Industries have released trailers and gameplay footage of Master Chief’s next adventure, there’s still quite a bit of mystery around Halo Infinite. For one thing, the final look of the game is still up in the air and we still know little to nothing about the story. We’re sure to hear more soon though as the game is the centerpiece of the upcoming Microsoft and Bethesda Showcase at E3 2021.

When is the Halo Infinite Release Date?

Halo Infinite has a Fall 2021 release date following an announced delay in August 2020. At the very least we know the game is scheduled to launch later this year, but we don’t know the exact month or day.

Halo Infinite was originally scheduled to release during holiday 2020 onto the Xbox Series X, PC, and Xbox One with Smart Delivery support. At one point, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said first-party games like Halo Infinite will available on Xbox Game Pass at launch.

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Is Halo Infinite Open World?

To date, we’ve only seen exactly nine minutes of gameplay that was released during the 2020 Xbox Games Showcase Livestream. From that footage, it was clear Halo Infinite was designed with more open-world gameplay in mind to give players more freedom.

Rather than linear levels, the Master Chief will be able to explore around an entire halo ring where players might come across a skull in the environment or happen across a Covenant outpost.

Playing as the Master Chief will also feel different this time since he now has upgrades and a tech tree. Overtime players will unlock new equipment such as a drop shield and a grappling hook. Halo games in the past have had upgrades like rocket packs and armor locks, but instead of limited pick ups it appears these upgrades will stay throughout your playthrough.

Unfortunately, though, dual-wielding won’t be coming back once again but you can potentially knock enemies off of the halo ring.

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Halo Infinite Graphics

Halo’s graphics have been a hot debate for years. After strong community feedback over Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians, and Halo Wars 2, 343 Industries went back to more legacy aesthetics pulled from the original trilogy.

Unfortunately, even with the new/old art style the community wasn’t satisfied with the visual fidelity Halo Infinite presented. The gameplay demo was filled with object pop-in, plastic-like textures, and flat lighting. To that end, 343 Industries has promised to raise the overall level of fidelity and presentation of the final game.

We’re hoping to get our first glimpse of Halo Infinite’s reworked graphics at E3 2021 soon.

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Halo Infinite Story

Halo Infinite and its story were first teased with a trailer at E3 2018, a cinematic trailer called Discover Hope at E3 2019 with a secret audio message from Cortana, and lastly a teaser video with a message from The Banished.

In July 2020, IGN got a chance to sit down with 343 Industries developers Chris Lee and Paul Crocker to reveal more about the game’s story and villain. First off Halo Infinite takes place well after the ending of Halo 5. The rampant Cortana is nowhere to be found and the effects of her AI uprising are still a mystery.

But what is clear is Halo Infinite’s main enemies are The Banished in Infinite – a rogue faction of Brutes from Halo Wars 2. The main villain is the banished’s leader War Chief Escharum who has taken control of the halo ring as his last stand against the Master Chief.

There could also be another mystery character that’ll play into the story that’s called “The Harbinger,” which may or may not be Cortana.

Is Halo Infinite Co-op?

343 Industries confirmed Halo infinite’s story campaign will support co-op for two players in local split-screen and four players while online.

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Will Halo Infinite Have Microtransactions?

A job listing for an Online Experience Design Director at 343 Industries revealed Halo Infinite will have microtransactions. The job description includes the design and implementation of “progression in- and out-of-game; microtransactions and integration of our business plan throughout the game; and, finally, social and engagement features that encourage players to return again and again with their friends.” It’s worth noting microtransactions have existed in previous Halo entries.

Responding to a Halo YouTube creator’s concern over microtransactions in Halo Infinite, Studio Head Chris Lee said, “We’re still working through final plans and will share more when we are ready, but I can definitely say that Halo Infinite will not include real-money loot boxes.”

Will Halo Infinite Be Cross-Play?

Halo Infinite will support multiplayer cross-play and cross-progression across PC (on Microsoft Store and Steam), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Will Halo infinite have Battle Royale?

343’s Jeff Easterling and James Bachici stated long ago in June 2019 that Halo Infinite won’t have a battle royale mode and noted that “the only BR we’re really interested in is Battle Rifle.” No one at the company has stated a change in opinion since then.

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Andrew Smith is a freelance contributor at IGN. Follow him on Twitter @_andrewtsmith.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade: What Comes in Each Edition

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is coming to PS5 on June 10. It includes an upgraded version of the original game, plus a new episode featuring Yuffie. The PlayStation 5 game is now available for preorder (see it on Amazon), but the rollout is bit complicated. It comes in a few different editions, and owners of the PS4 version get some stuff for free. Let’s dig into the details.

Preorder Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade

If you want to preorder the full PS5 game, it’s now available at all the usual retailers. And yes, it’s priced it like a standard PS5 game. This comes with the base game, PS5 upgrade, and the Yuffie episode all in one package.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade Deluxe Edition

The game is also available in a digital-only deluxe edition. It includes everything in the standard version (game, PS5 upgrade, and Yuffie episode), plus a digital art book and a digital mini-soundtrack.

What if You Already Own Final Fantasy VII Remake on PS4?

With one exception, anyone who already owns Final Fantasy VII Remake for PS4 can download the PS5 upgrade for free starting June 10. (The PS4 version is on sale for $39.99 at Amazon right now). You will, however, have to pay extra for the Yuffie episode, if you’re interested in that.

The one big exception is this: the PS5 upgrade is not available for people who got their copy of Final Fantasy VII Remake for free when it was available in March 2021 for PS Plus members. If that’s how you got your copy, the PS5 upgrade will not be available to you unless you buy a separate copy of the game.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake PS5 Upgrade Details

The PS5 upgrade includes enhanced visuals, a photo mode, and haptic feedback through the DualSense controller. It also includes the option to switch between “Graphics Mode” that prioritizes 4K visuals and “Performance Mode” that prioritizes 60 frames per second. You’ll also be able to carry over your save file from the PS4 version to the PS5 version.

What is the Yuffie Episode?

The Yuffie episode puts you in the shoes of the Wutai ninja Yuffie Kisaragi. She, along with other new characters, is on a mission to infiltrate Midgar and steal “the ultimate materia” from the Shinra Electric Power Company. The episode also includes “new combat and gameplay additions.”

Note: The Yuffie episode is only available in the PS5 version of the game.

Other Preorder Guides

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Chris Reed is a commerce editor and deals expert at IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @_chrislreed.

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Best Nintendo Switch Games

It’s an exciting time for fans of Nintendo hardware, as a New Nintendo Switch announcement appears imminent. The upgraded Switch will reportedly be released as early as September, but for now we’re taking a look at the best Switch games you can play on your current hardware. If Switch has proven anything, it’s that a console is truly defined by what you can play on it, and with such a vast library of excellent games, choosing only 25 has proven to be difficult.

This list was assembled by the entire IGN content team — including our resident Nintendo experts, the NVC podcast crew — and represents what we think are the best games to enjoy on the Switch right now, whether you’re picking one up for the first time or have been a platform enthusiast since day one. So without further ado, these are our picks for the 25 best Nintendo Switch games.

More on the Best of Nintendo:

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25. Ring Fit Adventure

Sure, exercising is good for you, but it’s got two pretty big drawbacks: one, it costs a lot of money to join a gym and, two, it’s kind of boring. Ring Fit Adventure fixes both of those problems by gamifying exercise and letting you work out from home while somehow making the entire experience feel like a fun, casual RPG. By strapping the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con to your leg and with the strange, brilliant new Ring-Con peripheral, Ring Fit encourages you to use your whole body to battle monsters, collect coins, level up, and push past your personal bests — all while giving you a serious workout within the confines of your living room. It proves that exercising can be fun — especially when it’s thousands of dollars cheaper than hiring a personal trainer, too.

24. Link’s Awakening

With its charming, toyetic visual style and bizarrely dark undertones, the vast island of Koholint in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening has never looked better than it does on Nintendo Switch. Link’s shipwrecked adventure on a mysterious island rife with eccentric characters and sprawling dungeons has always been one of the stranger Zelda stories, and this remake allows new audiences and aging fans alike to appreciate it on a modern system. It modernizes the classic beloved Zelda game with a shiny new coat of paint, some excellent quality of life improvements, and loads more hidden collectibles but, ultimately, its greatest accomplishment is retaining the weird, haunting, beautiful feeling of the original Game Boy game.

Another Zelda remake, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, is coming to Switch on July 16.

23. Astral Chain

Astral Chain is PlatinumGames at its best. It’s got it all: a unique story; deep character customization with a variety of play styles, and – of course – power-armored robot pets. On top of all that, it’s got some of the most satisfying, challenging, and fast-paced combat you’ll see on the Nintendo Switch. If you’re a fan of other PlatinumGames like Bayonetta, Vanquish, or Nier: Automata, Astral Chain won’t disappoint.

22. SteamWorld Dig 2

SteamWorld Dig 2 is a textbook example of everything a sequel should be: bigger, smarter, and just straight up more fun. Guiding Dorothy through SWD 2’s labyrinthine caverns searching for loot and upgrades is a challenging and charming twist on the classic “Metroidvania” style and has a gameplay loop that will undoubtedly keep you up into the wee hours of the morning for “just one more run.”

Thunderful Games, f.k.a. Image & Form, recently announced it has several new SteamWorld Dig games in development.

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21. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

The Nintendo Switch makes it possible to get the best of both *worlds* with Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. You can play using a comfortable pro-controller, but you can also slay its more than 100 monsters in person with friends. On top of the ridiculous amount of content packed in, you can also play as an adorable cat and pet alpacas.

Be sure to check out our recap of everything announced during Capcom’s recent Monster Hunter livestream, which included new content for Monster Hunter Rise and new details about the forthcoming Monster Hunter Stories 2.

20. Splatoon 2

Splatoon 2 is one of those rare games you can play for more than a year and still not be tired of it. Many players hoped for a fast port to Switch to hit the ground running, but what we got was an impressive sequel with an all-new single-player campaign and plenty of incredible, and free, post-release content.

Nintendo announced Splatoon 3 earlier this year with a 2022 release date.

19. Paper Mario: The Origami King

Paper Mario: The Origami King may not a perfect game – or, in fact, not even the best entry in the Paper Mario series – but it is one of the most charming adventures on the Nintendo Switch. While most of the RPG trappings of the earliest entries of the franchise have been stripped away in Origami King, it’s more than made up for by an interesting new take on the battle system and one of the funniest, silliest stories in any game to date.

18. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Retro’s second entry in their Donkey Kong Country series is every bit as charming and challenging as Rare’s SNES trilogy. The Switch port of the Wii U original features an easy mode with Funky Kong but retains all the white knuckle platforming that made Tropical Freeze a hit back in 2014. Boasting some of the best boss fights and most original challenges in a platformer in the last decade, and a charming Saturday morning cartoon art style, it’s a must own on Nintendo Switch.

17. Pokemon Sword & Shield

Pokemon Sword & Shield finally brought mainline Pokemon games to home consoles – even if it’s only by default, since the Switch is both a handheld and home console. Beyond seeing hundreds of monsters in HD on your nice big TV, Sword & Shield brought with it a slew of welcome changes, including several quality of life improvements, the removal of random encounters, and Gigantamaxing, which basically gave your favorite Pokemon the Stay Puft treatment.

It’s also the first game in the franchise to include post-launch expansion packs, The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, which include both new and classic Pokemon to add to your collection.

The franchise’s latest game, New Pokemon Snap, was released on April 30. The series’ next games, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl and Pokemon Legends: Arceus, were recently dated for November 19, 2021, and January 28, 2022, respectively.

16. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is widely considered one of the best JRPGs ever made. You’ll never want to leave Alrest, even after spending 100+ hours exploring its huge open world.

You play as Rex, a salvager turned hero and “Driver” to the legendary Blade Pyra. Characters are extremely well written, there are dozens of Blades to unlock, all with their own unique look and personality, and the combat system is satisfying and complex.

15. Spiritfarer

It’s not an easy thing to make such a cheery, colorful game built around such a heavy topic, but Spiritfarer manages to have very real conversations about life and death with a warm smile and a plentiful amount of comforting hugs. This lovely town manager has you ferrying friendly souls to their ultimate rest, building them homes and growing close as you do. It’s a downright gorgeous mix of a building game and a platformer, and one that’s not quite like anything else available on Switch or elsewhere.

IGN named Spiritfarer the Best Adventure / Puzzle Game of 2020.

14. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a wonderfully open-ended farming sim. You’ll forge your own country path with fishing, fighting, farming, and falling in love. Additionally, being able to take advantage of the Switch’s sleep mode helps take some of the pressure off of not being able to save in the middle of a day, even if a few other bugs in the port are still waiting to be squashed here.

13. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle faced no shortage of skepticism before its launch. But Ubisoft Milan’s robust strategy game proved itself with some truly challenging levels and accessible but complex turn-based gameplay, while also finding a way of marrying the Rabbids and Mushroom Kingdom’s senses of humor into one, charming experience.

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12. Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 helped us achieve our childhood dreams of building our own Super Mario levels. OK, technically the first game did that, too, but the sequel took everything great about the original and somehow made it even more charming and wonderful. Not only are its 100+ story mode levels absolutely brilliant, but its accessibility as a viable game design tool is second to none — game designers of the future will almost certainly cite Super Mario Maker 2 as one of the catalysts for their careers. SMM2 is truly one of the Switch’s best experiences: a challenging platformer that satisfies your creative urges, and offers a near-infinite stream of delights.

11. Celeste

Celeste is a surprise masterpiece. Its 2D platforming is some of the best and toughest since Super Meat Boy, with levels that are as challenging to figure out as they are satisfying to complete. But the greatest triumph of Celeste is that its best-in-class jumping and dashing is blended beautifully with an important and sincere story and an incredible soundtrack that make it a genuinely emotional game, even when your feet are planted firmly on the ground.

A surprise semi-sequel, Celeste 2: Lani’s Trek (or Celeste Classic 2), was released earlier this year. A proper sequel, however, probably won’t happen, according to the developer.

10. Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is one of the best modern MetroidVania’s available, using all the pieces that make the genre so great in the first place without feeling derivative of anything that came before it.

The expertly crafted map that is the kingdom of Hallownest has an absurd amount of paths to explore, bosses to fight, and secrets to uncover. That’s all drawn in a somber but expressive art style that gives the adorable bug people who live their lives, and stories, of their own. It can undoubtedly be a challenging and demanding game, but what you get out of will be a reward worth far more than you put in.

A sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, is in development for Switch. IGN’s hands-on Silksong preview said it’s like Hollow Knight “but with the speed cranked up to 11.”

9. Slay the Spire

There’s something about Slay the Spire’s balance of strategy and randomness that makes it an endlessly replayable puzzle. Assembling that perfect combo of synergistic cards can feel incredible, but there’s also a joy in scraping your way to victory despite the odds never quite falling in your favor. With that potent package on the Switch’s mobile platform — with some fairly decent touch control options, we might add — it’s a miracle we’ve ever stopped playing it.

8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8’s encore on Nintendo Switch didn’t just keep the online community alive and added returning favorites like Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast, we also got a brand-new “cops and robbers” team mode with Renegade Roundup, all of the great DLC stages, and even some guests from the Splatoon universe. It’s not a new game, but one so good, it deserved to reach a bigger audience on Switch right away.

Mario Kart 8 is now the best-selling racing game in U.S. history. To date, it’s sold over 35 million copies worldwide.

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7. Hades

Roguelikes don’t always appeal to everyone, but Hades has somehow found a way to win over even those with a distaste for them. Fighting your way out of the Greek underworld is a ruthless and challenging affair, but every failure is rewarded in a way that somehow makes them exciting in their own right.

Instead of just notching up each loss and moving onto the next, the moments between each run push Hades’ excellent storytelling to the forefront, giving you opportunities to learn more about its charming characters and grow close to them – as well as improve the prince of the underworld’s abilities and weapons. It’s that meaningful mix of progression and infinitely repeatable escape attempts (coupled with genuinely fantastic writing, art, and action) that make Hades as delectable as Ambrosia itself.

Hades was crowned Game of the Year at the 2021 DICE Awards.

6. Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is essentially a FrankenLuigistein’s monster of the first two games, a mashup of both that creates the perfect Luigi’s Mansion experience. Charming, clever, and absolutely gorgeous to look at, Luigi’s Mansion is 17 levels of pure ghost-hunting joy. Working your way through each of the haunted hotels may never extremely challenging, but the creative boss fights and deviously hidden collectibles will keep you busy for a dozen hours or more. The excitement of getting to a new level just to see its theme (TV Studio! Sewer Maze! Egypt!) is well worth the price of admission, plus the game opens with Toad driving a bus. Priceless.

5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes the series to new heights, deftly blending grueling battles with an expansive social hub that allows for near limitless customization as you recruit, train, and bond with the memorable characters on your team. Its unique take on a three-pronged story ensures that no matter which house you choose, the engrossing plot that unfolds always leaves enough mystery to make multiple playthroughs incredibly hard to resist.

The Fire Emblem: Three Houses DLC Expansion Pass, which added seven new missions as part of the Cindered Shadows side story, is now available.

4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Released on the doorstep of a global pandemic, Animal Crossing: New Horizons provided a much need escape to many, selling more than 32 million copies to date. Routine and discovery play equally important roles as you plan the perfect layout for your island, make friends (or enemies) with all your villagers, and invite your friends to your own little utopia to trade items and swap secrets. It’s brilliant in its simplicity and masterful in the way it encourages players to keep up with chores, redecorate and/or reshape entire plots of land, or burn dozens of hours trying to catch rare fish or find every last seasonal item. It certainly helps that all the writing is supremely funny and that, hundreds of hours in, you’re still able to chuckle at a random comment or find genuine inspiration in the places you’d least expect. Taking a cue from many of Nintendo’s Switch editions of their long-running franchises, Animal Crossing New Horizons does little to completely reinvent the franchise, but it makes a great series even more accessible, more exciting, and more wonderful than it has ever been.

New Horizons was nominated for Game of the Year at the Developers Choice Awards.

3. Super Mario Odyssey

A masterclass in 3D platforming, Super Mario Odyssey seamlessly blends the best elements from nearly every Mario game with an entire portfolio of new gameplay mechanics to create something both nostalgic and courageous. New players will adore stomping through the vivid and vast new worlds, while seasoned veterans will stick around after the credits to unlock the hundreds of challenges that await their skill and dexterity. To put it succinctly, Super Mario Odyssey is pure, sublime joy and one of the best Super Mario games ever made.

2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is exactly what its name implies: it’s the ultimate incarnation of Nintendo’s now 20-year-old brawler series. It’s a celebration of Smash Bros. as a whole, filled with more fighters and levels than ever before, and packed to the gills with over 1000 more characters from all across gaming. “Everyone is here!” may have started out as just another tagline, but it’s one that Nintendo has impressively backed up, and it’s made Ultimate the definitive Smash Bros. game for a long time to come. Add a 20+ hour single-player mode with full-on boss fights and huge world maps and it’s easy to get lost in Ultimate. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had a lot to live up to with that name, but it has undoubtedly done just that.

Smash Ultimate’s latest fighters, Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s Pyra and Mythra, are now available.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Let’s face it, the Zelda series was long overdue for a major change, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and scale in the palm of your hand. Now widely considered one of the best games of all time, Breath of the Wild tells an epic story, as you glide, cook, and battle your way across a beautifully ruined version of Hyrule. It helped reinvigorate The Legend of Zelda in a way that fans had only dreamt of, easily propelling it to the number one spot on our list and in our hearts.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a spinoff prequel to Breath of the Wild, was released in November. A proper sequel is also in development at Nintendo — new info on Breath of the Wild 2 is expected later this year.

Upcoming Switch Games

June features a handful of promising new Switch games, beginning with Ninja Gaiden Master Collection on June 10.  Mario Golf: Super Rush and the Switch version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 will be released on June 25, followed by Disgaea 6 on June 29.

In July, Switch owners can look forward to Monster Hunter Stories 2 on the 9th, Skyward Sword HD on the 16th, the JRPG Cris Tales on the 20th, and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles on the 27th. ,

Another notable Switch game dated for the back half of the year is No More Heroes 3. Travis Touchdown makes his return on August 27.

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Did we miss anything? Is your favorite game too low? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back when we reconfigure this list again!

The Best Games to Play on Xbox Series X|S Right Now

Microsoft continues to improve the capabilities of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, recently giving FPS boost to 74 new games and making its excellent Quick Resume feature even quicker. With a massive catalog of excellent titles already available, IGN has curated this list of the best games you can play right now on your new Xbox.

With a few big releases having already hit in 2021, we’ve updated our list to feature only games with dedicated Xbox Series X|S enhancements — no more Xbox One backward-compatible games.

Whether you’re diving into an all-new adventure, getting the most out of your gaming TV with 4K 120Hz gameplay, or revisiting an old favorite through backwards compatibility on Xbox, these are the IGN staff’s picks for the ten best Xbox Series X|S games.

Most recent updates were made on May 23, 2021.

More on the best of Xbox:

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15. The Medium

Depending on when you’re reading this, The Medium might still be the ONLY actual next-gen exclusive for Xbox (i.e. it’s not also available on Xbox One). In this case, it’s because The Medium is basically running two game engines at once, and sometimes you control both at once, guiding Marianne through both the regular world of the living and the spirit world. The Medium is a psychological thriller a la Alan Wake and, thanks to its inclusion on Xbox Game Pass, is a Series X game you’ve got no reason not to check out.

14. Gears Tactics

Translating the brutal, brooding Gears of War universe and its cover-based action into a top-down, X-COM-style tactics game, Gears Tactics is an excellent turn-based tactics game that does a fantastic job of melding Gears’ famous style and action with the mechanics. While it’s lighter on the macro strategy elements than one might expect from an X-COM-like, its campaign fleshes out the expanding Gears lore, leaves a great impression with some clever, Gears-appropriate original ideas, and looks fantastic doing it. That’s especially true with Xbox Series X optimization where Gears Tactics shines at 60 FPS and 4K UHD, with enhanced textures, increased world detail and fast loading times, bringing it on par with the best versions of the game on any platform.

13. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Moon Studios’ excellent Ori and the Will of the Wisps builds on the first game’s fun foundation without bogging it down or becoming overcomplicated, which is the best praise you can give a sequel. It stays true to the spirit of the original, doubles down on what made it great, and gives you more stake in the world and options to navigate it. And now on Xbox Series X, Moon has pushed the already jaw-droppingly gorgeous game to new heights at 120 FPS and 4K UHD, with native HDR support, and even a 6K resolution supersampled rendering mode at 60 FPS. When paired with the dynamic high-range audio, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is the absolute best way to play this heartfelt followup of the little spirit that never gives up on its friends.

12. No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky Next is the story that the entire industry points to when looking for a comback tale and it’s well deserved. Hello Games managed to continue supporting No Man’s Sky with several updates that added quality of life features, like Expeditions that add a new set of challenges you can play with your friends, or the overhauled space stations, new enemies, cross-platform bases, and a ton of other community asks. Hello Games really does deserve credit because what they’ve created is beloved by players everywhere.

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11. Control Ultimate Edition

Control was already a gorgeous dive into a delightfully strange adventure and the Ultimate Edition brings it up to shiny, 4K beauty. With two performance modes for the Xbox Series X (Performance Mode targets 60fps and Graphics Mode targets 30fps with ray tracing on Series X), you can choose to the look and feel of the destruction you bring to the Federal Bureau of Control. In Jesse Faden’s search for her brother, she finds herself at the bureau. Not only is she suddenly put in charge of the bureau upon her arrival, but also needs to figure out how to save it from an invasion by otherworldly beings called the Hiss. Doing so is a joy with Control’s excellent combat mechanics that lend themselves to your playstyle as you unlock new weapons, powers, and upgrades for both. The collectibles and side stories are fantastically written as well. Control Ultimate Edition also includes both DLC, so you also have a chance to reunite with a certain Remedy character who wrote himself into a peculiar position.

10. MLB The Show 21

Xbox-owning baseball fans have been waiting an entire console generation to play a great simulation of America’s pastime once again, and thanks to MLB making Sony take the phenomenal MLB The Show multiplatform, it is now here on Xbox Series X. This year’s game brings a long-requested feature, a stadium creator, as a next-gen exclusive option, while continuing to deliver a fantastic looking, sounding, and playing baseball game to the field, with great modes like the long-running Road to the Show as well as newer favorites like March to October.

9. Destiny 2

Destiny 2′s new seasonal model was met with a bit of hesitance at first, but what Bungie has delivered is instead a compelling narrative that intertwines story beats from season to season. The fact that the game had major enhancements on the Sereis X including an FOV slider and 120hz mode in crucible and 60hz across all modes only adds more reasons to give this one a shot if you have the TV to support all the frames you can handle. The fact that it has been added to Game Pass only sweetens the deal bringing more players into the fold. Whether you’re looking to push back the darkness with Stasis or just shoot things with cool guns Destiny has proven the test of time and keeps players coming back.

8. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection now collects six Halo games all under one digital roof – everything except Halo 5: Guardians. It’s been torn down to the studs and rebuilt in grand fashion, and even better, it’s been upgraded AGAIN for Xbox Series X with support for 120fps gameplay. Crazy to think that these games were 480i/30fps the first time we played them…

The series’ next entry, Halo Infinite, is due out later this year. Developer 343 recently announced it will support multiplayer cross-play and cross-progression across Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

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7. Forza Horizon 4

One of the greatest racing games ever made – and the highest-rated Microsoft exclusive on Xbox One to date – Forza Horizon 4‘s Series X refresh absolutely slashes loading times, making its slightly laggy menu shuffling and car switching a thing of the past (even for players with enormous, 700+ car garages).

The Xbox One X enhanced version’s 1080p/60fps performance mode becomes 4K/60fps here on Series X, too – although, curiously, there are a few flourishes from the Xbox One X’s 30fps quality mode that have (hopefully temporarily) gone missing. Forza Horizon 4 may be a couple of years old, but it’s never too late to get on board; new, free cars are still being injected into the game every month.

6. NBA 2K21

Don’t confuse this with the game you may have already bought on Xbox One – NBA 2K21 on Xbox Series X is a totally new, built-for-next-gen version that has different game modes, tech, visuals, and more. And it looks fantastic. In fact, this might be the most “next-gen” looking game of the Series X launch lineup. It’s a pretty good basketball sim too!

5. It Takes Two

Admittedly, It Takes Two won’t exactly melt your GPU with its graphical intensity. Is it a nice looking game with a whimsical, fairy-tale tone and graphics to match? Yes, most certainly. But you need to play It Takes Two (with a friend or loved one either on the couch or via online play, of course, since It Takes Two cannot be played alone) because it is simply one of the best and most unique multiplayer experiences you can find these days. Writer-director Josef Fares – yes, he of “F*** the Oscars!” fame – follows up the equally excellent A Way Out with this, a story about a failing marriage that might just be able to be saved thanks to the couple being turned into children’s dolls and forced to work together to find their way back to their human forms. Play it and we promise you’ll smile.

4. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yes, it’s often silly, ridiculous, and features a side mission in which you have to deliver formula to a gangster who dresses up and acts like a baby, but when you get back on the main story path, Yakuza: Like a Dragon is one of the best video game stories of 2020.

Ichiban Kasuga and his loyal party of down on their luck misfits are all lovable in their own quirky ways, and absolutely live up to the high standard set by Kiryu, Majima, and the rest of the Yakuza series mainstays. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is funny, emotional, expertly acted both in English and Japanese, and is just an all-around wonderful RPG that pays homage to the genres roots.

Following the success of Like a Dragon, the Yakuza series will remain a turn-based RPG moving forward.

3. Hitman 3

Agent 47’s latest (and for now, last) outing is not only a much better game than its two last-gen predecessors, it’s a much prettier one too. Hitman 3 has some truly breathtaking scenes from an eye-candy perspective, and of course it runs great on the Xbox Series X as well. The first mission in Dubai will get you hooked, but the remaining five – including the second one, which is essentially like a playable version of the fantastic film Knives Out – will keep your new Xbox powered on as you try out the myriad ways to take out your targets.

2. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla wasn’t built exclusively for next-gen, but it’s impossible not to look at it running on the Xbox Series X and marvel at the sheer beauty and impressive detail of its open-world. It’s hard not to get stuck focusing on the stunning lighting and thick atmosphere of each environment and as you pillage, plunder, and build a kingdom in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Valhalla’s scope, scale, and lightning-fast load times prove the series is poised to expand its tried-and-true formula on the power of new hardware.

Valhalla’s first major DLC, Wrath of the Druids, is now available.

1. Gears 5

While it’s a bit of a backhanded compliment to say that 2019’s Gears 5 is arguably the most visually impressive game on the Series X at launch, the fact remains that the already-gorgeous Gears of War sequel has been dialed up to take advantage of Microsoft’s new console. Better lighting, raytracing, 120fps support in Versus multiplayer — the bottom line is that if you skipped Gears 5 last year, the Series X is a great place to play it for the first time.

Upcoming Xbox Series X Games

The Warhammer 40K FPS Necromunda: Hired Gun is next up for Xbox Series X|S owners. That will be released on June 1, followed a week later by Chivalry 2, which our preview said may be the ultimate melee combat simulator.

On June 18 the Series X|S version of Metro Exodus will be released as a free upgrade to existing owners. The Series X version will run at 4K/60 FPS, while the Series S version will target 1080p/60 FPS.

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Later in the month, Xbox owners can look forward to Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance on June 22 and Bandai Namco’s stylish action-RPG Scarlet Nexus on June 25.

Looking a bit further ahead, there are currently three notable Xbox games scheduled for July: F1 2021 on July 16, the JRPG Cris Tales on July 20, and the isometric action-RPG/twin-stick shooter The Ascent on July 29.

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Updates: On May 23, Red Dead 2, Sekiro, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and Watch Dogs Legion were removed, while The Medium, Gears Tactics, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, No Man’s Sky, Control Ultimate Edition, MLB The Show 21, Destiny 2, It Takes Two, and Hitman 3 were added. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Gears 5 also swapped positions on the list.

Those are our recommendations for the best game to play on Series X|S right now – let us know what’s on your list that didn’t make ours in the comments! And be sure to check out how the Xbox Series X stacks up against the PS5, and have a look at what we love about Microsoft’s new console and where we think it needs some work.

Rainbow Six Siege to Begin Removing Dead Bodies from PvP

Rainbow Six Siege will now remove persistent dead bodies from PvP, with developers saying that the drop in realism will help competitive integrity.

Ubisoft announced the change today, which will see dead bodies in PvP matches disappear after just a few seconds, being replaced with a translucent icon representing which operator died in that location.

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Game designer Sébastien François explained the problem that led to the change: “The issue now with [in-game corpses] is that they won’t be replicated the same way for all the players [in a match]. So, sometimes, line of sight will be available to you, but it won’t be available for another [player]. That will lean into very unfair situations where you’re going to take decisions that maybe were not the best ones just because of the [location] of the body.”

The change has been made not just to stop that problem, but also to offer players more information – with multiple skins for the game’s operators, it can be hard to tell at first glance which character has been taken down. That problem should be solved with the icon.

“It might make the game look a bit less realistic,” continued François, “but for us the main goal with that is competitive integrity. It’s something we’re striving for, we know it’s been an issue for a while […] but we’re really striving for competitive integrity and we think this change is for the better.”

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That trade of realism for fairness makes sense in the context of Rainbow Six Siege as an ongoing game. With the game now in its sixth year on the market, there will naturally be fewer new players looking for an immersive, sim-like experience, with much of the regular audience playing for the game’s competitive thrills. That added fairness should help reduce frustration for more seasoned players, as well as lend some weight to the game’s large presence in esports.

This change is part of a wider evolution that Siege has taken recently, swapping its gritty, monochrome in-game style for a more vibrant approach, representative of its evolution into a sport, rather than a traditional Tom Clancy game.

That’s not to say Ubisoft isn’t experimenting with Rainbow Six, though – the PvE-focused Rainbow Six Parasite (working title) should be on its way this year after some sizeable delays. Outside of the company, several of Siege’s leads have also begun work on a new online multiplayer game for Amazon.

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Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.