Fortnite’s Chapter 2 Battle Pass Gives You New Ways To Level Up

After numerous leaks and a big world-ending event, Fortnite‘s Chapter 2 update has finally arrived on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices, bringing the game back online following an extended blackout. Not only does the update introduce a wealth of new skins and an entirely new map to battle on, it marks the start of a new Season–and its Battle Pass works a little differently than before.

Instead of Season 11, this is the first season of Chapter 2. As usual, the Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks–roughly $10 USD–to purchase, and it gives you access to 100 tiers of rewards to unlock over the course of the season, including skins, wraps, back bling, loading screens, and more. In previous seasons, you could level the Battle Pass up by completing weekly challenges, and while that will still presumably be the case this season, Epic has introduced a few new ways to level up.

This time around, you’ll be able to earn season XP and new medals by completing in-game activities, such as looting chests, eliminating opponents, harvesting materials, and other actions. These medals will be upgraded the more you complete their associated tasks. Moreover, you’ll be able to increase your level beyond 100 now, although it’s still unclear what the new level cap is and if there are any extra rewards for getting that far.

Chapter 2, Season 1 runs until December 12, according to Epic’s website, which seems to be a little shorter than a typical season. If you want to get a head start on the rewards, you can purchase a Battle Pass bundle for 2,800 V-Bucks, which unlocks the first 25 tiers immediately. Those who spring for a Battle Pass can also earn up to 1,500 V-Bucks by playing Fortnite this season, which is more than enough to cover the cost of next season’s Battle Pass.

As previously mentioned, Fortnite Chapter 2 introduces a new map, which features 13 new locations to explore, along with a handful of returning areas such as Pleasant Park and Retail Row. Water is a bigger factor this time around; not only have speed boats been added to the game, you can also now swim and fish. Keep checking back at GameSpot for more Fortnite Chapter 2 coverage.

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Author: Kevin Knezevic

OpenAI’s AI-powered robot learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube one-handed

Image: OpenAI

Artificial intelligence research organization OpenAI has achieved a new milestone in its quest to build general purpose, self-learning robots. The group’s robotics division says Dactyl, its humanoid robotic hand first developed last year, has learned to solve a Rubik’s cube one-handed. OpenAI sees the feat as a leap forward both for the dexterity of robotic appendages and its own AI software, which allows Dactyl to learn new tasks using virtual simulations before it is presented with a real, physical challenge to overcome.

In a demonstration video showcasing Dactyl’s new talent, we can see the robotic hand fumble its way toward a complete cube solve with clumsy yet accurate maneuvers. It takes many minutes, but Dactyl is eventually able…

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Author: Nick Statt

New Pokemon Sword & Shield Info Coming Tomorrow

Pokemon Sword and Shield arrive on Nintendo Switch next month, and The Pokemon Company has more to share about the games ahead of their launch. The company has announced a new Galar Research Update video will drop tomorrow, October 16, promising some more new details about the Switch RPGs.

The Pokemon Company hasn’t teased what we can expect from tomorrow’s update, only that it will drop at 6 AM PT / 9 AM ET. Previous videos have revealed new Gen 8 Pokemon and game mechanics, so we’ll presumably get our first look at some of those in the video, although nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

🚨 Galar Research Update 🚨
Show of hands, Trainers: who’s ready for more information on #PokemonSwordShield?
📅 October 16, 2019
⏰ 6:00 AM PDT
⚔️🛡️ pic.twitter.com/xVun4S8eN0

— Ghost-type Pokémon (@Pokemon) October 15, 2019

The last video The Pokemon Company aired was a 24-hour “livestream” from the Glimwood Tangle, a mysterious forest area in the Galar region. While that broadcast was largely uneventful, it did reveal a new Pokemon: Galarian Ponyta. This form is exclusive to Pokemon Shield and has a billowy purple mane much like a unicorn.

Pokemon Sword, meanwhile, will be the only place players can encounter Sirfetch’d–a Galar-exclusive evolution of Farfetch’d. You can check out all the other new Gen 8 Pokemon revealed so far in our gallery.

Pokemon Sword and Shield launch for Nintendo Switch on November 15. Download cards for the games have reportedly started appearing in stores in Japan and reveal the titles’ file size is 10.3 GB. For more on the games, be sure to check out our Pokemon Sword and Shield pre-order guide.

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Author: Kevin Knezevic

How Google’s Pixel 4 compares to other popular flagship phones

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Google has announced the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, joining the ranks will all the other 2019 flagship phones. If you’ve been following along with the numerous leaks, you might already have a good idea as to what this phone offers. That’s simply because most of the leaks were actually true.

Both phones have a fast 90Hz refresh rate display that makes scrolling around more enjoyable, and games that support it animate smoother. Each has a Snapdragon 855 processor and 6GB of RAM, and comes with Android 10 pre-installed. They differ when it comes to screen resolution, as well as their screen and battery size. The Verge’s Dieter Bohn has a first look with the devices that does a thorough job of breaking down their differences.

There are a few…

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Author: Cameron Faulkner

The biggest announcements, live from Google’s 2019 Pixel event

Google’s big 2019 hardware event is underway. The company started things off by announcing a release date for Google Stadia and sharing details about its new Pixel Buds. Based on rumors, we also expect it to announce a new Pixelbook, Pixel Buds, and possibly some Nest smart home hardware.

We’re live at the event, and if you want minute-to-minute updates of everything that’s happening, check out our live blog. But if you just want the headlines with the context that you need, we’re putting them all below.

Google’s “all-new” Pixel Buds are small, true wireless headphones

Google has announced its next-generation Pixel Buds, called the “all-new Pixel Buds”. These are truly wireless headphones that allow for hands-free access…

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Author: Cameron Faulkner

Why You Should Be Excited To Play Need For Speed: Heat

Before I got my hands on the new Need for Speed game, I popped Payback into my PlayStation to remind myself why I bounced off the 2017 release quicker than my best Nürburgring lap. An unmemorable open world, annoying characters, and a weirdly grindy upgrade system were the culprits. Payback had promise, it was meant to let us live our Fast & Furious fantasies, but as Richard Wakeling put in his review, the game had a “general drabness that seeps into every layer of the game.”

Need for Speed: Heat will be the fourth game in the franchise from Swedish developer Ghost Games, but have the team managed to shift the series back into gear? Initial impressions are promising. Gone is the dusty dime-a-dozen desert of Payback’s Fortune Valley, we’re off to Palm City, a neon-lit urban sprawl, with collectible street art, tropical weather, and the colour saturation seemingly turned up as far as it will go. There has clearly been an effort to squeeze all the good bits of the open world a bit closer together, or create a “compact road network”, as producer Jeremy Chubb put it. Miami was a big influence on Heat’s Palm City, as you might guess, but there’s more than meets the eye when you hit the streets at a hundred miles per hour.

Palm City reflects your neon-trimmed car and the flashing sirens of police in pursuit.
Palm City reflects your neon-trimmed car and the flashing sirens of police in pursuit.

One of the first things I noticed when I inevitably spun a supercar into a tree is that I blew right through it, rather than coming to a grinding halt on impact. Objects in the world are much more forgiving when it comes to the laws of physics, which makes navigating the winding roads a whole lot more fun. This, as demonstrated last year in Forza Horizon 4’s crumbling country walls, is a concession that usually has a positive impact on the feel of a racing game, so it’s a welcome change to the world of Need for Speed. Changes like this are what give me hope for this game being great, and thankfully they have been made where it matters most.

For example, the speed cards from Payback have been binned in favour of a much simpler upgrade system. Want to improve your engine? Cool, just earn money and buy the parts. Tuning your ride is not overcomplicated, but there’s enough there to give even the most hardcore of petrolheads a good whiff of gasoline. Cars aren’t divided into classes, nor are you restricted on what you roll up in for a race. It’s just you, a decent selection of cars to choose from, and some shiny extra parts to make you go faster and look good doing it. There’s even a dedicated ‘rev engine’ button in the tuning menu, with an emphasis on getting the tinny timbre of your exhaust to your personal preference of obnoxious harmony.

Press R2 to rev your engine and get the sound just right.
Press R2 to rev your engine and get the sound just right.

On the road, Heat has some refinements too. The handy live-tuning from Payback makes a welcome return, letting you tweak your car as you drive, and there’s a new focus on both drift and race handling. Depending on how sideways you want to go, you can swap in upgrades that will either make your car glide around the track, or tighten steering for precision handling. Drifting feels easier to pull off by just tapping the gas as you turn, then powering-on to slide around those corners, like an elegant figure skater but with more horsepower.

The biggest change to Heat, and also its biggest selling point, I think, is the contrasting day and night activities. Daytime sees you competing in totally legal races for cash prizes. Cops–yes there are cops!–don’t seem that fussed about you drifting the streets, and will only cause you a minor inconvenience if you do big and obvious crimes right in front of them.

Night is a different story. Switching to night mode makes you feel a bit naughty, like you’re out after bedtime and mum doesn’t know. Night is where you impress the cool kids by taking part in illicit races and earn Reputation, the game’s second currency. Reputation unlocks the opportunity to buy things, like new cars and upgrades, which you then purchase with the cash you’ve earned during the day. But causing mischief at night will have the cops on your bumper quicker than you can say, “Dude, I almost had you,” and they are relentless. As you race through the night your ‘Heat’ level, a multiplier for your reputation points rises, and with it more police attention. This is where the game feels most exciting, with a handful of cops on your tail as you try to reach first place without getting busted. It makes every race feel different, as you may happen to elude the law entirely, or they could be on your tail from the start. You have limited car health at night, and should you get busted or break down before you make it back to a safe house with your winnings, wave goodbye to your reputation. You could even say it’s the Dark Souls of street racing–Prepare to drive.

How to avoid getting busted is up to you; outrun police cars with the raw horsepower under your hood, or nimbly weave through backstreets until you’ve lost them in the urban jungle. NOS is very much your friend when avoiding jail and getting ahead in races, but in Heat you will need to be more tactical with how you use it. Rather than one big bar that you can tap on and off as you please, this time you have single use canisters of Nitrous Oxide, so pick your moments to boost wisely. You can also equip auxiliary items to use when on the run, such as repair kits, nitrous refills, and kill switch jammers. Kill switches being one of the nasty tools the police will deploy to try and stop you, along with road spikes, helicopters, and heavily armoured ‘Rhino’ vehicles.

Limiting NOS by cannisters makes boosting more tactical.
Limiting NOS by cannisters makes boosting more tactical.

The brief bit of story I got to see wasn’t far from what you’d imagine; a trendy crew of young drivers who want to make a name for themselves, but I didn’t find it cringy or annoying like I have with previous Need for Speed games. I was also introduced to a very corrupt cop, who seems to have a murderous vendetta against street racers in the city. I’m genuinely curious about how his story unfolds–it feels like it isn’t beyond the realms of something you’d see in a Fast & Furious movie. There’s also a virtual crew system–a list of 32 people who you’ll see in the world, stand beside their cars in your garage, and act as a familiar group you can compete with at any time. The game offers plenty of social options, but they don’t get in the way at any point, so if driving solo is your thing you can take to the roads on your own.

I had a blast in the few hours I played of Need for Speed: Heat, and I’m way more enthusiastic about tearing through the streets of Palm City than I was for Payback a couple of years ago. The refined upgrade system, improved handling, and the risk to reward baked into the day-to-night cycle could make for a better, more interesting experience, but I can’t say for sure until I get behind the wheel in the full game.

Stay tuned to GameSpot for more Need for Speed: Heat coverage, and take a look at the video above to see me kitting out my favorite car and taking it for a spin.

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Author: Will Potter

Remote-controlled scooters are coming, and Tortoise is (slowly) leading the charge

You may have noticed that scooter companies typically have short names — usually around four or five letters — that are meant to invoke feelings of flying or zooming across an urban landscape unencumbered. Think Bird, Spin, Scoot, Bolt, Jump, Wheels, etc.

Tortoise is not a scooter company. That should be obvious from the startup’s name, which invokes a character who is slow but clever, ultimately defeating a much faster opponent. Tortoise is working with scooter companies to introduce a seemingly radical concept: scooters that can move autonomously across a city and reposition themselves, without a rider. That’s right. Autonomous scooters.

Well, sort of. Remote-operated might be a better description,…

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Author: Andrew J. Hawkins