Shovel Knight Developer’s Next Project, Cyber Shadow, Is An 8-Bit Ninja Adventure

The studio behind indie-hit Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games, is helping to release a new project known as Cyber Shadow across a medley of platforms. The studio has been hard at work on creating more depth for the Shovel Knight franchise through additional spin-off entries that flesh out the villains in the game. The titular main character was even honored for the fandom surrounding the series with an Assist Trophy role in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which still stands as the first and only indie rep to ever gain that sort of representation in the Nintendo fighting game series.

Yes, Yacht Club Games has done very well for itself in recent years, but now the studio appears ready to take on a new challenge in the gaming industry: publisher. The indie studio announced plans to partner with developer Aarne “MekaSkull” Hunziker and showcase the new title, Cyber Shadow, with plans to have the game be playable at PAX East 2019. The project is a massive undertaking from both parties, but the retro gameplay itself, much like Shovel Knight, is the real hook.

Related: God of War Canon Includes Shovel Knight’s Kratos Fight

Starring a cybernetic ninja known only as Shadow, Cyber Shadow follows a hero who is summoned after his clan is seemingly kidnapped. The world has been taken over by synthetic lifeforms, which Shadow will have to have to deal with as he traverses the devastated landscape of Mekacity. Cyber Shadow is certainly pursuing the retro vibes of previous Yacht Club Games titles–albeit with a modernized take on what looks similar to the NES classic game Ninja Gaiden. Despite lacking a release date, Yacht Club Games did inform consumers that it will launch for $14.99 USD.

Cyber Shadow looks like it’ll be a speedrunner’s dream, as users dash through the environment at a breakneck pace. It also looks to be adhering to the difficulty that older NES titles are synonymous with, which should help it establish an audience pretty quickly when it inevitably arrives across Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms.

Indie games in general have become increasingly more prominent in recent years because of the ability to self-publish. This changeup has allowed titles like Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight to flourish. Even Nintendo has begun collaborating with indie devs in a meaningful way, with the latest example of this arriving in the form of an exclusive Nintendo Switch project called Cadence of Hyrule. That crossover title is being worked on by Crypt of the Necrodancer developer Brace Yourselves Games. Hopefully, it’s only just the beginning, as games like Cyber Shadow are constant reminders of how much talent even one developer can have.

More: The Best Indie Games of 2018

2019-03-28 09:03:02

Riley Little

Game of Thrones Author Working on New Game With Dark Souls Developer?

A new rumor claims that the creator of Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin, is working with FromSoftware to develop a new game. The game studio may have just recently released Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice to critical praise, but that hasn’t stopped reports from the company stating that it would be interested in tackling a new type of adventure with a Dark Souls twist.

One  brief rumor stated that FromSoftware may tackle a battle royale title. Truthfully, that genre approach is rather hard to imagine, but it’s known that the studio has at least two active projects on the go. Meanwhile, as fans await the arrival of the final season of Game of Thrones, many avid readers may be wondering why they’ve yet to receive the next entry in the book series. It’s no secret that franchise creator George R. R. Martin is a busy man–which has seemingly delayed the eventual launch–and a new report claims that he is also spending some time developing a brand-new game video game with the studio behind the incredibly popular Dark Souls franchise, FromSoftware.

Related: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Is Steam’s Biggest Launch of 2019

Reported on by Spawn Wave (with assistance from Liam Robertson, a noted and reliable industry insider), this currently unnamed project is an open-world game where players will be able to roam from kingdom to kingdom. Besides being an ambitious undertaking that pushes the boundaries of the studio, it is still described as a Souls-like adventure. As has often been the case in the past, Bandai Namco is said to be publishing this new title from FromSoftware, and the publisher may reveal it as soon as E3 2019.

It’s important to not put too much stock in this report quite yet, as the game isn’t even officially announced yet. Still, a project being overseen (or at least contributed to by) the writer behind Game of Thrones would be a strong selling point for any piece of software. A setting with various kingdoms to explore also doesn’t sound all that different from the franchise that made George R. R. Martin a household name.

There aren’t too many details for fans to go on at this point, and it’s still important to rein in expectations since this is still a rumor. Given the track records of both parties involved, however, it’s definitely worth noting for anyone that’s a fan of FromSoftware or Game of Thrones. As gamers now look to the quickly-approaching E3 2019 to potentially shed some light on the matter, they can find some sort of twisted solace in having FromSoftware’s mind-numbingly difficult Sekiro to keep them preoccupied.

More: Here’s The Latest on Bloodborne 2 From Miyazaki

Sources: Spawn Wave, Liam Robertson

2019-03-28 05:03:54

Riley Little

Assassin’s Creed: 20 Things Only Experts Know How To Do In Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – the latest installment in Ubisoft’s wildly popular video game franchise – has finally landed on shelves. Set in Ancient Greece, Odyssey gives players the opportunity to assume the role of a mercenary from either Athens or Sparta, and to take part in a mythology-infused recreation of the Peloponnesian War.

The game features an even greater emphasis on the RPG elements first introduced in its predecessor, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and boasts multiple endings that are triggered by the player’s actions. Odyssey also sees the return of the controversial Hitbox combat engine which debuted in Origins – albeit in a significantly enhanced form. Thanks to these and other challenging core mechanics – not to mention the daunting size of the game’s virtual environment – Odyssey should prove suitably tough for more casual gamers. But for seasoned veterans of the Assassin’s Creed franchise? Not so much.

Indeed, gamers who have followed the series since the very first entry way back in 2007 aren’t likely to struggle. On the contrary, we expect them to flourish, putting to good use the skills and knowledge they’ve gleaned from the past 11 games in the series – not to mention the six spin-off entries – to finish the main quest in record time.  This will leave them free to start focusing on tracking down Odyssey’s hidden Easter eggs, secret areas, and other bonus content clueless rookies don’t have a chance of tracking down unaided.

Here’s a list of 20 Things Only Experts Know How To Do In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

20 Find The Legend Of Zelda Easter Egg

Of all the many classic video game franchises, few are as unanimously beloved by both gamers and developers alike as The Legend of Zelda series. The team at Ubisoft clearly rank amongst this iconic Nintendo series’ admirers – as the easter egg they tucked away in Odyssey proves.

In a tip of the hat to the most recent Zelda instalment, Breath of the Wild, a Korok – a small humanoid figure made out of clay, flower petals and twigs – can be found on the Pandora’s Cove coastline. Although this hidden tribute is now the most well-known Easter egg in the game, experts had no trouble tracking it down on their own within mere days of Odyssey’s release!

19 Achieve The Secret Ending

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey marks a dramatic change in direction for the franchise – from purely action/adventure outings to something closer to an action/RPG hybrid. This is reflected in how important the player’s actions are to the game’s overall narrative, and in particular, how that narrative reaches its climax.

Indeed, what the player decides to do – or just as importantly, say – will determine how events unfold next, and ultimately determine which of the game’s multiple endings they achieve.

Most players should be able to reach at least one ending.

If you complete every side quest and make all of the right decisions to unlock the secret, ultra ending, ensuring the best possible finale for your mercenary.

18 Visit Atlantis

As soon as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Ancient Greece setting was announced, fans immediately began speculating over whether the fabled lost city of Atlantis would be part of its virtual environment. The good news is that Ubisoft hasn’t missed a trick, and Atlantis does indeed count among the many sunken locations scattered across the game’s humongous map. The bad news? It’s highly likely that only experts will be capable of uncovering the most eagerly anticipated (not to mention coolest) secret area in Odyssey.

The steps involved are extremely taxing, requiring players to traverse treacherous terrain, solve fiendish riddles posed by the Sphinx and dispatch a bevy of mythological horrors like Medusa, the Cyclops and the Minotaur!

17 Recruit Legendary NPCs Early

Over the course of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players can enlist NPCs to serve as crew members aboard their ship, the Adrestia. Recruiting a high calibre crew is a great way to upgrade the Adrestia – so the trick is to bring legendary NPCs into the fold. Casual gamers will wait until they unlock these characters by completing quests, however experts are aware of a hidden mechanic that speeds up the whole process.

There’s a less publicized gameplay mechanic which enables you to recruit legendary NPCs by defeating them in combat using non-lethal takedowns.

Better yet, once your ship’s roster is made up entirely of legendary NPCs, you unlock the “Argonauts” trophy, too!

16 Regain The Cyclops Eye

One of the most frustrating moments in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey arrives early on, when you’re forced to give up the Cyclops’ Eye during Sequence 1. It’s not exactly the most classy of disposals, either: to put it bluntly, you squeeze it up the rear end of a poor, unsuspecting goat. If you’re scratching your head over this last revelation, then just trust us: it makes sense at the time!

Rookies will write off the Eye as a lost cause, but experts up to speed on the game’s secrets won’t give up so quickly. By engaging in an exhaustive goat-hunting expedition in Kephallonia, they’ll recover this valuable artifact, earning the dubious “Stink Eye” achievement, as well.

15 Change Their Ship’s Figurehead

Long-time fans of the series will recall that in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you could easily customize your ship’s decorative figurehead as part of the normal upgrade process. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that carries over to Odyssey – and only expert players are likely to work out the secret method of doing this.

For starters, you need to defeat a boss – not exactly a walk in the park itself, by the way – and then behead them.

Once this has been take care of, if you scroll through the inventory of ship upgrade options, you’ll see your new souvenir listed. Select it, and voila! The Adrestia will have itself a brand new (and rather creepy) figurehead!

14 Track Down All Of The Cultist Clues

The underlying mythology of the Assassin’s Creed franchise incorporates several shadowy organisations – and Odyssey is no exception. The latest entry in the series introduces the nefarious Cult of Kosmos, and players aiming to get the most out of game’s story need to track down and eliminate key members of the group. In order to do so, they’ll have to swap their mercenary’s helmet for their detective’s cap, as the cultists’ whereabouts are only revealed by clues sprinkled through Odyssey’s sprawling Ancient Greece setting.

Some of these hints can be uncovered with little effort, whereas others will prove elusive to all but the most seasoned of gamers!

On the plus side, all of this running around pays off, as only players who chase down every single cultist will get to experience the game’s whole story.

13 Unlock Evie Frye

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – the ninth video game in the main series – is headlined by twins Jacob and Evie Frye. Of the two siblings, Evie is arguably the more memorable – which is probably why she’s an unlockable character in Odyssey. Now, before you get too excited, bear in mind that Evie is a legendary NPC, so you won’t get to play as her directly.

Still, it’s incredibly cool to recruit her as a crew member on your ship, provided you’re an Ubisoft Club member with enough XP to afford her. See, unlocking Evie requires players to part with 7,500 XP in exchange for the “Master Assassin” badge, which only long-time fans of the franchise will have amassed!

12 Access Battle Royale Mode

Battle royale games like Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds are currently the hottest thing on the block. Making the most of modern online multiplayer capabilities, games in this genre pit a pack of players against each other in thrilling, last-man-standing contests.

Obviously, this stands in stark contrast to the single-player, open world experience offered by Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – until experts stumble across the “Call to Arms” sidequest. Found by scouring the island of Melos, this mission – which requires skilled players to wipe out 99 consecutive enemies – represents a thinly-veiled attempt by Ubisoft to acknowledge (or should that be “cash in on”?) the popularity of the battle royale genre!

11 Find The Black Panther Easter Egg

Black Panther is currently the second highest grossing film of 2018, and with that success comes a considerable fanbase, too. At least some of the developers at Ubisoft fall within that category, if the Black Panther Easter egg included in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is anything to go by. As experts will have no doubt already discovered, the game contains a fairly faithful recreation of Black Panther’s two most notable scenes: the duels that occur at the base of a waterfall.

This is staged at the Gortyn Waterfall, where players can first spectate on the melee using Eagle Vision.

That’s not all, though: it’s also possible to clamber up the cliff where the fight is going down, and actually confront the pair of brawlers yourself!

10 Discover Sam Fisher’s Goggles

So far we’ve focused solely on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Ancient Greece setting – which disregards the fact that certain sections of the game are set in a present day safe house. Anyone unfamiliar with the franchise’s convoluted (some would say downright insane) science fiction elements, just trust us when we say that this does make sense.

Regardless of whether or not you buy into this more far-fetched aspect of the Assassin’s Creed mythology, there are multiple Easter eggs to dig up during these segments. Not all of these relate to the franchise either – just ask the experts who’ve unearthed the iconic, three-lensed night vision goggles worn by Sam Fisher, the protagonist of Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell games!

9 Stumble Across The Sword In The Stone

The team at Ubisoft has done a remarkable job of recreating an utterly convincing (albeit wildly fantastical) rendition of Ancient Greece in Odyssey. This awesome attention to detail is reflected in almost every aspect of the virtual environment, particularly the character and weapon design. We say “almost”, because at least one item experts will undoubtedly come across whilst roaming the game map definitely does not fit the time period depicted: the Sword in the Stone from Arthurian legend. Fortunately, this gag is an intentional mistake on the developer’s part.

Unfortunately, you can’t remove this legendary blade from its Lakonia resting place.

That’s a real shame: historical accuracy be damned – there’s always a place for Excalibur in our armory!

8 Locate The Rabbid Figure

Another easter egg squirrelled away in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s modern era safe house setting, the Rabbid figure is hard to spot if players blitz through these sequences. However, experts tend to favor a more methodical approach – even when confronted by the franchise’s moments of less than engaging gameplay.

These long-time campaigners will cast their eyes over every inch of the safe house, which means snooping around each room, no matter how empty it appears to be. This will eventually lead them to the shelves of a particularly untidy room. Here, they’ll spy the Rabbid toy – a cute shout-out to Ubisoft’s all-ages Rayman franchise, accompanied by a line of dialogue (“Bwaah?”) associated with these bunny-like characters.

7 Acquire The Epic Unicorn Skin

It doesn’t matter what mythology we’re talking about: unicorns are invariably treated as an incredibly rare species. Certainly, this carries over to the world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where players can indeed transform their horse into one of these awe-inspiring creatures – provided they can get their hands on a unicorn pelt.

They sport an eye-watering 6,400 Drachmae price tag!

Rookies who are feeling flush will plump for either the Black Unicorn or undeniably amazing (though sadly, non-flying) Pegasus skins, purchased with real-world cash from the Ubisoft Store. On the other hand, genuine experts prefer to earn their keep, and will trawl merchant stalls for the appropriately named, randomly-spawing Epic Unicorn skin, which leaves rainbow hoof prints.

6 Home Town Pride

The developers of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey hail from Ubisoft’s Montreal headquarters, based in Quebec. Like the citizens of any city or town, these guys and gals are proud of the place they call home – so much so that they managed to sneak a Quebec-related easter egg into the game!

It’s something that will almost certainly go unnoticed by less observant gamers, but experienced players – the type of people who scan the entire game environment for secret material – will discover a travel magazine whilst rifling through the safe house. The destination this mag is promoting? Why, Quebec, of course! True, it’s not exactly the most exciting bonus content in Odyssey, but it’s a nice touch all the same.

5 Put The Arena Spikes To Good Use

A key trait which separates veteran Assassin’s Creed players from newcomers is the willingness of the former to experiment with their surroundings. Take the spikes that dotted around the Arena in Odyssey.

Rookies will probably dismiss these as mere set dressing and completely ignore them once the fighting breaks out.

Don’t expect experts to make the same mistake, though. Already clued up on just how interactive the game worlds in the franchise can be, these gamers will immediately identify the potential for the spikes to deal damage to their opponents. The next thing you know, the edges of the Arena will begin to resemble a shish kebab vendor who trades in skewered would-be gladiatorial champions!

4 Reminisce About The Frye Twins

It turns out Assassin’s Creed Syndicate isn’t the only instalment in the franchise to take place in London – Odyssey does, too. True, the vast majority of the game is set in Ancient Greece, but its modern era sections unfold in London, something that won’t come as a shock to more attentive players.

After all, just by gazing out of the safe house windows, you can take in a decent view of London’s famous skyline, with what tourists would recognize as Big Beg especially prominent. What’s more, if you allow yourself a moment to properly contemplate the sight before your eyes, you’ll even trigger a line of dialogue that references Jacob and Evie Frye, the lead characters in Syndicate!

3 Discover All Of The Underwater Locations

As you might expect from a virtual environment that recreates the entire Aegean Sea, Atlantis isn’t the only submerged area on the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey map.

The ocean floor of Ubisoft’s vision of Ancient Greece is littered with dozens of hidden locations brimming with valuable treasure.

Anyone prepared to embrace their inner Jacques Cousteau will be in for a real treat. That said, given the sheer amount of exploration required to pinpoint all of these sunken locations – fun fact: at 130km², Odyssey’s map is 62% bigger than the already massive world of Origins – we’d wager only experts will visit all of them.

2 Get All Of The Other Endings As Well

Sure, everybody wants to get the best possible Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ending – you know: the super secret, totally awesome one we mentioned earlier. Even so, part of being an expert is also having a completist streak, which is why we think they’ll figure out how to achieve Odyssey’s eight other possible endings, as well.

This might not sound like much, but it’s actually quite a feat, for two main reasons. First of all, this game is absurdly long – the main quest alone clocks in at 40 hours of gameplay – so repeating it again and again is no picnic. Secondly, they’ll need to ensure they get every single word and deed right, in order to arrive at their desired conclusion!

1 Climb Up The Naked Statue

Full disclosure: this entry is unashamedly juvenile in nature, given it revolves around players scaling up a male statue and dangling from part of its anatomy (three guesses which part). Regardless, we’re positive that even the most mature expert will decide to do just that, when they pass by this landmark early on in Odyssey – honestly, it’s just too hard to resist.

You’ll be rewarded for your childish antics if you do.

Performing this act initiates a wry line of dialogue from the player’s mercenary, which just goes to show that Ubisoft definitely predicted this becoming a thing. Although to be honest, they hardly needed the talents of one of Ancient Greece’s oracles to foresee it!

Did we miss out any other things that only experts know how to do in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey? Let us know in the comments!

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2018-10-09 06:10:21 – Leon Miller

The Walking Dead Developer Telltale Games Reportedly Shutting Down

Telltale Games, the developer behind numerous adventure video games, including an episodic series based on The Walking Dead, will lay off the majority of its staff, effectively closing the studio. Only 25 employees will remain, while 225 more will lose their jobs.

While the studio enjoyed plenty of success and critical acclaim after The Walking Dead and other titles like The Wolf Among Us, Telltale still underwent through turbulent times. Just last November, Telltale laid off 25 percent of their workforce, a total of 90 people, as the company attempted to restructure. Even after the unfortunate news, the studio pressed on, promising to release their final season of The Walking Dead, along with a second season of The Wolf Among Us and a new game based on Stranger Things.

Related: The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1 Review

Many of these plans will never come to fruition, with Telltale essentially shutting down. The Verge reports that multiple sources within the studio confirmed the massive layoffs, while USGamer reported that The Wolf Among Us and the Stranger Things game were both canceled – The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which still has three episodes left planned for release, will be completed by the leftover skeleton crew. Later, Telltale co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner, who is suing the company over breach of contract, confirmed the news on a blog post. As the final nail in the coffin, the “majority studio closure” was made official with a statement from Telltale CEO Pete Hawley via the company’s Twitter account.

The closure of this studio is shocking to the gaming community – after the success of season 1 of The Walking Dead in 2012, the longevity of the studio was unquestioned. But the company, originally famous for the Sam & Max series, took on an unprecedented number of projects, arguably spreading the company too thin. These projects included games based on Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Batman – most of these titles receiving mixed reactions from players compared to the positive reviews of The Walking Dead. The previous layoffs may have been an attempt to control the studio’s workload, but this apparently was not enough.

It certainly doesn’t help that the studio’s later games suffered technical issues, with their game engine the Telltale Tool being infamous for its buggy nature. Despite this criticism, Telltale stuck with the engine, only pledging to move on from it after The Walking Dead’s final season. Additionally, the company’s employees were reportedly subjected to mismanagement, and overall work overload. With poor and unhealthy business practices and a dated graphics engine, the closure of Telltale Games may not be too much a surprise for those following the company. Studio layoffs are always unfortunate – Capcom Vancouver just suffered from its own closure. Hopefully, these laid-off employees will find their footing with new jobs, and perhaps if the final episodes of The Walking Dead are well received, it will be a proper send-off for the company after this unfortunate and tumultuous behind-the-scenes experience.

MORE: Telltale Games Co-Founder Is Suing The Company

Sources: The Verge, USGamer, Telltale Games

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2018-09-21 03:09:44 – Chris Compendio

God of War Developer Reveals Secret Details Behind Kratos’ Boat

God of War‘s senior combat designer, Dean Rymer, gave an in-depth look at what it took to add Kratos’ boat to the action game in a blog post. This different mode of transport, a first in the franchise’s 13-year history, presented the developers with a variety of new problems to solve. It turns out that getting Kratos and his son Atreus cruising around the Lake of Nine hub area was a totally different process from finding new and creative ways for the former Greek God of War to dismember the monsters he meets on his quest. And it introduced some surprising variables.

The God of War reboot takes place years after Kratos destroyed the entire Greek pantheon and moves him to the world of Norse mythology. The hero and his son go on a mission to scatter his deceased wife’s ashes from the top of a mountain. It all seems simple enough. But this simple task sets off a conflict that has the father and son taking on dragons, Valkyries, and the Norse god Baldur. Along with the changes in time period and setting, the new God of War took on a new camera and a more open-world feel instead of the previous entries’ more level-based structure. And that’s where the boat came in.

Related: Here’s What God of War Set in Egypt Could’ve Looked Like

Writing on the Playstation Blog, Rymer shares that every element of creating the boat for God of War presented new challenges. The most immediate was figuring out how to animate Kratos as he paddled the craft across the watery hub world. They had to decide between a single paddle or two oars and manage how he’d look going in different directions. The quick solution was to build a cardboard mock-up in the motion-capture studio. This let designers look at all of their options and grab reference material before they made a single computer mock-up. The finished product has over 600 animations.

Once they knew how Kratos was going to move in the boat, designers had to figure out how the boat was going to move on the water. The team had to find a control system that both handled well and felt “right” to players. Rymer says that even deciding where the craft’s momentum would originate was an iterative process:

“Originally the boat had its ‘power’ coming from the center. We effectively had an ‘all-wheel drive’ boat. We moved the ‘power’ to originate from the rear of the boat. Now we had a ‘rear wheel drive’ boat. Immediately, play testers not only had the perception that the turn rate was increased, but that the boat turned more predictably. They could now oversteer the boat to use its ‘power’ to position it where they expected it to go.”

Even getting Kratos in and out of the boat required a multitude of decisions. The team wanted the transition between land and water to be seamless. But doing so required them to get around other mechanics. The main one was Atreus himself, who had context-sensitive A.I. In some cases, he’d follow behind Kratos. But other times, he was running ahead to point something out. Developers had to put special limits on Atreus’ behavior to keep him out of the way.

Since Kratos can get onto the boat from any angle, the team didn’t want Atreus to interfere. So Rymer says they established a “Son ‘No Go’ Zone” around every dock in the game. Atreus will never enter this area. He only seems to during the actual boarding animation, during which the code automatically figures out his approach angle based on the one the player took. The developers limit how much players can move the camera during these transitions to hide any animation weirdness that might arise.

Along with these more technical details, Rymer shared some other interesting tidbits about the boat in God of War. For example, the LED panel on the front of the PlayStation 4 controller turns a specific “aqua blue” color whenever Kratos is on the water. The paddling sequences also contain over 750 lines of dialogue, in which Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir swap stories. The oar itself is technically a weapon according to the game code, but sadly, Kratos never wields it as one. Maybe Sony is saving that for the inevitable God of War 5, whenever that comes out.

More: What To Expect From God of War 5 and 6

Source: Playstation Blog

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