I cannot wait to play these freaking games!
Earlier last month, esteemed contributor Liam Berry released his Top 10 most anticipated games of 2018 - and I figured I had to put my hat in the ring! Kicking off our newest bi-weekly column, I am going to discuss some games that I am super hyped about that aren't out yet.
2017 was a great year for video games. We had some astounding horror releases, a bunch of amazing queer-oriented games, and some pretty top notch AAA juggernauts. And now that that year has come and went, it's time to take a look at just how amazing the rest of 2018 is going to be. We've got a slew of brilliant titles heading to the market this year, and I am cautiously optimistic about how all of these games are going to turn out!
6. Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (PC) Release Date: ???
This is one of the more unique games on the list, and I almost didn't include it, until I saw that it was made by Fullbright alum and Gone Home programmer, Johnnemann Nordhagen, under his new company, Dum Bulb productions. I'm not totally sure if this game is going to be my cup of tea, but I would be lying if I didn't say that both it's incredibly style and interesting premise to leave me wanting to at least give this new game a try.
What do you think?
10. Marvel' Spider-Man (PS4) Release Date: ???
Listen, I know we've been burned in the past. A good Spider-Man game hasn't been released since the PS2! But, there's no way you can look at this trailer and not think this is going to be amazing. It seems Insomniac is taking Rocksteady and WB Montreal's lead and giving the game an Arkham-esque treatment. It's got all the trimmings to be a fun action-oriented, open-world title with what look to be stealth elements.
But will it be too similar to the Batman series we've all come to love? I don't know, and frankly, I don't care. Not only does this look beautifully vibrant and colorful, but playing as the spunky web-slinger will definitely be a change of pace from the brooding Bruce Wayne.
Am I too excited? Maybe. Could it wind up being terrible? Heck yeah. But I did say I was cautiouslly optimistic.
9. Darksiders III (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE) Release Date: ???
I am die-hard Darksiders fan. I have played both games repeatedly and loved every second of it. I don't know what it is about post-Apocalyptic video games - especially ones with personifications of things like angels and the Four Horsemen - but I can't get enough of them. Are they the best games ever created? No, of course not, but I don't care! They're so much fun.
And the best part about this one is that it has a bad-ass female lead who isn't sexualized. She also appears to be on the same playing field as her other two brothers - and honestly looks like she could kick their asses.
Who else is pumped?
8. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PS4) Release Date: 3/23/18
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was released and immediately became a modern classic - and finally, after years of waiting, we're about get a sequel. I'll always have mixed feelings about Ni No Kuni, but even I cannot deny that it was a beautiful game with an engaging story that can still keep you hooked despite the fact that you're still learning how to play it 60-minutes in.
It seems that Revenant Kingdom is focusing just as much energy on it's characters and visuals as it's predecessor. I can't say too much about anything else, but I can tell you that I'm pretty pumped to play it.
7. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (SWITCH) Release Date: ???
NO. MORE. HEROES! One of the most missed games in from Nintendo's Wii era, is getting a sequel and it looks like it's going to pack a pretty hilarious punch. It's been years since I picked up a Wii-mote to slash through the top ten assassins - but I can still remember the unabashed glee the experience gave.
I wish I could say more, but given the meta-humor of the trailer and the fun stylized visuals - I can definitely say that Travis Strikes Back is going to be one helluva ride.
5. System Shock (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE) Release Date: ???
Oh man. Oh man. Oh man. So, I'm a huge fan of System Shock II. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to play the original (don't shoot me), but I cannot wait to see this remake come to life. After raising about 1.3 million dollars on Kickstarter, this game is set for release at some point this year. AND DOESN'T IT LOOK TERRIFYING?
I have to say, even if it's Pre-Alpha phase, this game gives you a sense of dread. It's controls look a little funky, but I'm sure that's not going to be a problem during it's full release. I'm glad to see that System Shock make it's comeback into to gaming scene - and I can't wait to boot it up on my PC!
4. Far Cry 5 (PC, PS4, XBOX ONE) Release Date: 3/27/14
I've never been a huge fan of the Far Cry series - I know it's good, but it's never been something I've been super into. I played through Far Cry 4, and while it had some beautiful visuals, I just felt the whole game was a little... "meh." Still, I know that it's a good series, and I understand why people love it as much as they.
Far Cry 5, though, seems to be a bit of departure for the series. Instead of beautiful, exotic locales fighting against warring factions of and war bosses - we're fighting against a militant evangelical cult? This is both a bold and incredibly political choice for Ubisoft, and I can't wait to see if it's paid off.
3. God of War (PS4) Release Date: 4/20/2018
Listen. No, seriously, listen. I have never liked God of War. I have gotten into huge arguments about how it's gratuitous and obnoxiously sexual for no reason - but I'll be damned if this trailer didn't blow me away. Why? Because we're finally seeing something in Kratos, the main character of the series, besides some sort of blood-hungry monster.
There's a lot here that I love: The departure from Greek Mythology and the exploration of the Norse realm; Kratos being compassionate and at least somewhat emotionally vulnerable; Kratos' SON, who looks to be as much of a ball of rage as his father! It's incredible - and a major (but welcome) departure from the usual tone of the incredibly violent series.
1. 2. Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, XBOX ONE) Release Date: 10/26/18
So, full disclosure, I have never played Red Dead Redemption. I know, shoot me down and burn me in a pit with the rest of the fake gamers - but I never owned a PS3 and I live on a budget, so the opportunity never arose. I know all about it though. I've seen the many Let's Plays and think pieces about it's ending and it's main character. I am aware that it has a lot of significance in the gaming community (and I'm buying it when I get my next paycheck, okay).
Saying all of that, I understand the hype around it's sequel. But I have to wonder, will it carry the same weight as it's predecessor? It certainly looks beautiful, and the characters definitely kept me engaged throughout the trailer, but time will tell.
After all, this game has a lot to live up to.
1. Kingdom Hearts 3 (PS4, XBOX ONE) Release Date: ???
I'm dead. I have died. After all, that's the only logical explanation for this. There's no way Kingdom Hearts III is actually coming out this year, is there? I mean, it's not like it's been thirteen years since I first played Kingdom Hearts II. It's not like I've played every single goddamned title Square Enix and co. have released on every freaking handheld system. I have to be dreaming, right?
NO. I'M NOT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL PEOPLE. KINGDOM HEARTS III IS SET TO RELEASE THIS YEAR! WHEN? I HAVE NO IDEA, BUT IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING! AND I AM SO PUMPED. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED FOR A VIDEO GAME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE AND I HOPE THAT YOU'RE AS EXCITED AS I AM!
Shann Smith is a freelance writer, screenwriter, playwright, gamer, and film/TV lover. When he's not working on his columns for Popdust, he's doing his best to create and consume as much media as he can!
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The iconic crooner turns 33 today
Frank Ocean's intentionally elusive character has been a key ingredient in his rise as one of the last decade's most influential artists.
"If I start to tell a story and then I decide not to tell the story anymore, I can stop. It's my story," he told W Magazine last September. "The expectation for artists to be vulnerable and truthful is a lot, you know?"
The idea of staying true to yourself may not sound inherently groundbreaking, but for the last near-decade, Frank Ocean has spoken almost exclusively through his music, at times sprinkling loosies online merely for the sake of getting something off his chest. "There's something that happens when you say what you're doing before it's done," he said to W. "You're accountable for that version that you talk about... It's usually better for me to make what I make, put it out or don't, and then talk about it freely."
Wildfire<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d8fc3f180510c425031e86829f9a20d0"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/G6z7c-nIQ6M?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>On the severely underappreciated return-to-form John Mayer project <em>Paradise Valley</em>, Frank Ocean coos about a passionate love affair over the chirp of late-night peeper. While the brief interlude is over in a little over a minute, it's a transporting few moments and conjures up the all-consuming sensuality that comes with a fleeting summer romance. The track was also a coy ode to French model Willy Cartier, who the singer was rumored to be dating at the time.</p>
Bitches Talkin' / Songs For Women<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5fd567794c7eb788b01a2cb053354d95"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_09OZPldk_g?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Over a slick infusion of lo-fi surf rock and '80s synth-pop, Frank Ocean grinds out memorable bars and shows welcomed versatility as a rapper and singer. He explores a newfound love affair, and over the course of the song, watches it deteriorate as he prioritizes making music, but the singer never changes his mind. He understands his music will make women swoon, but at the end of the day, they remain unable to relate to his lifestyle.</p>
Pilot Jones<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5e43aaa5ce9277ac381309e8b8061aad"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/azgDZ-TBCzk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The glitchy <em>Channel Orange </em>deep-cut "Pilot Jones" once again finds Frank offering stream-of-consciousness anecdotes about another relationship. The love affair is undoubtedly toxic, and Frank's voice weaves in and out of various tempos and pitches, his voice at times shaky and unguarded then clear and pristine. </p><p>His voice wavers and stumbles with an almost drunken elegance as electronic clicks and wurrs gently push him along. He is trying to bring himself down to his partner's level, a prospect he ultimately fails to achieve. It's an absorbing track that shows that Frank truly thrives when placed amongst deteriorating song structures.</p>
Blue Whale<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4a2300d9667687dcd6aa0ac190231b20"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vinLW-uY53Q?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>An early album outtake uploaded spontaneously, "Blue Whale" finds Frank full-on rapping and speaking frankly on his relationships and his poor adjustment to fame. "This life goes on man that's one thing about it," he says with defeat. He knows there's no escape from this lifestyle he chose. The beat, produced by Pharrell Williams, flows like a gentle body of water, and it's a shame the track didn't get a final album cut.</p>
Biking<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5730e5f548adc50d72a70eff8acd4afc"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fYGPcfUqzL0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>With hard-hitting features from Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator, it's a shame this 2017 loosie didn't get more attention. While the song's lo-fi vibe fits perfectly in Frank's world, Tyler, the Creator and Jay also sound right at home. Frank's buoyancy sounds optimistic, a refreshing departure from his signature slow-burn hums, and that's because Frank was hesitantly content at this point in his career. </p><p>"God gave you what you could handle," he calls out on the track's hook, his voice soaked in reverb; there doesn't seem to be anything he can't conquer on his own. It's a fleeting victory lap for someone as empathetic as Frank, and you know it won't be long before he's down in the dumps again. But the crooner tries to relish in this moment of satisfaction rather than question it this time around, and it's a welcomed change of pace.</p>
Crack Rock<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="37ff7120dbd7b20bb5b389fbb251f8ec"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IVzzw7Vkiyg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Aided by bouncy drums and a breezy keyboard, Frank abandons his relationship commentary in favor of a deep reflection on drug addiction and the war on drugs. Here he croons with a breathy quip, a move he said was intentional in order to mimic <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/jul/21/frank-ocean-guardian-exclusive-interview" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">how a "smoker would sing it."</a> The track's narrative remains powerful and transportive to this day.</p>
Skyline To<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8e85a2198e917f8808a6ecbf30582f29"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CtkUJb22oSQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While almost every song on <em>Blonde</em> is by no means underappreciated, "Skyline To" finds Frank once again gliding freely in the clouds, nothing but improvisational guitars to push him along. The song's power is that it is merely a collection of ruminating thoughts Frank has had over the last few years, most of them soaked in bitter nostalgia. "It begins to blur, we get older," he cries. "Summer's not as long as it used to be." </p><p>"Skyline To" highlights what makes Frank such a compelling artist: his ability to take the mental struggles of the human experience and shape them into song.</p>
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Keith Raniere's pseudo-philosophy ranged from hedonism and nihilism to neurotic obsessions with weight, body hair, and training people out of empathy.
In 2006, when Allison Mack was a lead actress on CW's Smallville, she accepted an invitation from co-star Kristin Kreuk to attend a meeting for a "women's empowerment" group called NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um).
Over the following decade, the Albany-based organization became known as a cult that practiced sex slavery and branding under the guise of mentoring young women. Earlier this week, Mack pleaded guilty to charges of federal racketeering and sex trafficking for her senior role within the organization, which included recruiting women for "labor and services" under orders from Keith Raniere, NXIVM's leader and co-founder.
On October 28th 2020, Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for his involvement with NXIVM. Here's everything you need to know about the cult, and what led to Raniere's downfall.
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