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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s holiday update will let players trade guns for snowballs

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare team is spreading some holiday cheer this season with a limited time snowball fight mode. In the game’s latest update, Infinity Ward and Activision are rolling out a new gunfight mode, cleverly titled “Snowfight,” that lets players trade in their guns for snowballs. From now until 1pm ET on…

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s holiday update will let players trade guns for snowballs

The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare team is spreading some holiday cheer this season with a limited time snowball fight mode.

In the game’s latest update, Infinity Ward and Activision are rolling out a new gunfight mode, cleverly titled “Snowfight,” that lets players trade in their guns for snowballs. From now until 1pm ET on December 31st, you and a partner will be able to fight enemies with chunks of snow rather than grenades and guns. The snowballs function a lot like other throwable items in the game, like knives, and players can pick them up across the new Winter Docks map.

The Winter Docks map is decorated with wreaths, holiday lights, and a group of four scary-looking snowmen. If you decide to destroy the snowmen, you’ll trigger a fun, seasonal easter egg.

Players will start with snowballs in the first round of a Gunfight match, according to GameRant. After that round, they can use guns, but also continue to pick up snowballs across the map throughout the rest of the game.

There are a few holiday updates for Call of Duty: Mobile players too. A new Prop Hunt game-mode will run through December 31st, and you’ll be able to earn a new battle royale class through December 29th.

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Niantic says Pokémon Go’s AR multiplayer Buddy Adventure feature is ‘coming soon’

Pokémon Go creator Niantic Labs says its augmented reality multiplayer feature, Buddy Adventure, is coming “very soon” to the iOS and Android versions of the mobile game. Buddy Adventure was first shown off last month at a press event, and it allows players to use the existing buddy system in Pokémon Go to bring a…

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Niantic says Pokémon Go’s AR multiplayer Buddy Adventure feature is ‘coming soon’

Pokémon Go creator Niantic Labs says its augmented reality multiplayer feature, Buddy Adventure, is coming “very soon” to the iOS and Android versions of the mobile game. Buddy Adventure was first shown off last month at a press event, and it allows players to use the existing buddy system in Pokémon Go to bring a more realistic version of their favorite pokémon into the real world using more sophisticated AR technology.

Niantic’s says Buddy Adventure takes advantage of Pokémon Go’s existing AR+ mode, which launched first in 2017. AR+ taps into Apple and Google’s respective AR platforms to access more detailed depth maps and other data necessary to create advanced AR visualizations. Once it’s active, you’ll be able to see your buddy pokémon more realistically blended with the real world where you can then interact with it and feed it snacks to earn special perks that help the pokémon grow over time.

“Each Pokémon has different quirks and ways to express itself. Watch closely to see a diverse range of movements and expressions, whether you and your buddy are playing together or exploring the world around you,” the company said in a blog post. “Along with feeding your buddy, you can also play with it. Watch what your buddy does when you interact with it in AR+ mode. Different Pokémon react in different ways.”

Image: Niantic Labs

Niantic is also bringing a tiered level feature to its buddy system that lets you build a relationship with a pokémon through feeding it and playing with it in AR+ mode. Higher levels unlock better perks as your buddy pokémon’s mood improves.

Soon, Niantic says you’ll also be able to use its so-called Shared AR Experience mode, which is the multiplayer component of Biddy Adventure. That will let two players exist in the same shared AR world, meaning you’ll be able to see a friend’s buddy pokémon, interact with it, and also take photos with all four of you in the same frame. The multiplayer component is launching at a later date after the initial launch of Buddy Adventure sometime in early 2020.

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The Verge Video Game Gift Guide 2019

If you aren’t up on whatever the latest and greatest video games are it can feel tricky to find the right gift for the video game players in your life. And while it is often the thought behind the gift that counts most, it helps to make an informed decision so it doesn’t look like…

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The Verge Video Game Gift Guide 2019

If you aren’t up on whatever the latest and greatest video games are it can feel tricky to find the right gift for the video game players in your life. And while it is often the thought behind the gift that counts most, it helps to make an informed decision so it doesn’t look like you picked up something at random.

That’s why we got the best minds at The Verge to help put together our list of the top video game gift suggestions. So whether you want to help a family member or friend get into VR gaming with the $399 Oculus Quest or help improve their play in Fortnite on Nintendo Switch with the $25 PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ controller, we’ve got some great gift ideas for you.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

If you’re a glutton for challenging games, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice hangs with the likes of Dark Souls, as it comes from the same developer. Set in feudal Japan, this game puts even more of a focus on reflex-based fights and vertical gameplay. Price: ~$40

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The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Link’s Awakening on the Switch is a great remake of the Game Boy classic. The new graphics make it seem like you’re playing with tiny toy figurines, and the game’s world, puzzles, and dungeons are just as fun to explore as they were in 1993. Price: ~$59

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Control

This is one part action game, one part otherworldly / paranormal horror game. Jesse finds herself infiltrating the mysterious Federal Bureau of Control’s headquarters, called the Oldest House, in search of her long-lost brother. It is a wild ride that’ll have you searching for every little scrap about the mysteries of the Oldest House and FBC. Price: ~$45

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Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s portable console has only gotten better in the last year, with great new games like Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Link’s Awakening remake, and, of course, Pokémon Sword and Shield. Playable both on the go and a big screen and now featuring even better battery life than the original model, the Switch is still a no-brainer. Price: ~$299

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PDP Faceoff Deluxe+ Switch Controller

PDP’s wired Switch controller plugs into your dock and enables some things that aren’t possible with Nintendo’s own Pro controller. You can plug in headphones for private listening and voice chat in supported games. Price: ~$25

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Super Mario Maker 2

Make the Mario level of your dreams (or nightmares) with Super Mario Maker 2. This sequel to the Wii U original comes with tons of new level-making options, a Super Mario 3D World level theme, a story mode, and competitive online multiplayer. Price: ~$50

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Judgment

Yagami is a disgraced lawyer-turned-private detective in the fictional Kamurocho district of Tokyo. Aside from handling other small cases for people around town, he gets pulled into a larger case involving warring Yakuza clans, corrupt police and government officials, and corporate espionage, which all ties into the case that caused him to stop being a lawyer. Price: ~$39

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Sega Genesis Mini

Whether you had a Sega Genesis growing up or not, this mini version of the console is a great idea for any gamer. It is everything you expect from a tiny retro console: it has a great library of 42 games and modern save functionality, with lots of great small details like menu music, moving bits of hardware, and access to games from multiple regions. Pictured with Sega Genesis Mini Tower of Power accessories. Price: ~$78

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Oculus Quest

The Oculus Quest hits a sweet spot of power and convenience for virtual reality headsets, offering room-scale tracking and full-fledged hand controllers in a self-contained, user-friendly package. It’s especially good paired with Beat Saber, a kinetic rhythm game played with virtual lightsabers, which is one of the best experiences VR has to offer. Price: ~$399

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SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

Getting your wireless headphones to work with the Nintendo Switch is usually a nightmare, but it’s a problem that SteelSeries’ Arctis 1 Wireless solves. It includes a headset that’s pre-paired with its handy USB-C adapter, which means you’ll be experiencing seamless, lag-free audio in no time. Price: ~$99

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Why Fire Emblem: Three Houses is my game of the year

There is no multiplayer in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but it certainly lends itself to being social. I have a running text thread with two friends about the game, and I have a couple more I message. Nicole and Christina send me Three Houses tweets and memes. Sarah chronicles her playthrough on the game’s toughest…

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Why Fire Emblem: Three Houses is my game of the year

There is no multiplayer in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but it certainly lends itself to being social. I have a running text thread with two friends about the game, and I have a couple more I message. Nicole and Christina send me Three Houses tweets and memes. Sarah chronicles her playthrough on the game’s toughest difficulty setting, “maddening,” which is proving appropriately named. Andrew has advice about “min/maxing” characters, though I haven’t had the heart to tell him I have no idea what that means. Basically, I’ve been talking about Fire Emblem for the better part of the year.

Three Houses is a rare feat in that it’s a legacy franchise that seems to have satisfied the longtime players and also welcomed a new audience to the series. (I’m somewhere in between, having played one and a half of the Fire Emblem games on 3DS.) How developers Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo pulled that off has mostly to do with making an excellent game with an overwhelming number of entry points. Maybe you like an RPG with a sophisticated leveling system to fiddle with. Maybe you like a near-perfect loop of tense tactical combat and relaxed moseying between battles. Or maybe you just like the Hogwarts vibes of Three Houses’ high school drama.

It helps that, generally, the writing across the game is consistently strong, often weird, and even funny. The sweeping fantasy plot is serviceable in broad strokes, but it’s the many hours of dialogue here that do most of the work. Throughout the game, you’ll have support conversations with your classmates, and they’ll talk to each other. The whole thing feels rich and lively; each student has their own motives and anxieties and petty feuds.

Plus, the game incentivizes you to get to know these characters. The more you talk to, have dinner with, or leer at (eye-roll) them, the stronger they become in battle. Want to get to know the reluctant alliance prince? Go for it. A mage who loves to cook? An agoraphobic archer? A samurai with daddy issues? Why not. A chaotically horny professor? You do you.

The older Fire Emblem games were famous for permadeath, which is the video game term for, uh, death. When a unit dies in a battle, they’re gone for good. What Three Houses does to up the stakes is make all of your units feel like actual characters with personalities and backstories. That means if they get offed in a skirmish, you might actually miss them. (It also lowers those stakes a bit by allowing you to rewind your turns in battle.)

This brings me to Three Houses’ greatest weakness: its combat. In some ways, fighting is more accessible than in previous Fire Emblem games, but it’s also less sophisticated. Even on “hard,” the battles are pretty straightforward. Plus, there’s very little variation in missions or maps. You seemingly rout the same bandits over and over across a series of familiar forests, beaches, and deserts. The presence of oversized monsters is a fun challenge, but even they become rote after you slay your dozenth beast.

A couple of months before Three Houses was released, I was playing another excellent strategy game on the Nintendo Switch called Wargroove, a title clearly inspired by, among other things, the Fire Emblem series. Complete with throwback pixel art and a cast of cheery, kind-of anime characters, Wargroove focuses almost all of your attention on the battles. It has a more consistent, rigid approach to combat, with fewer dimensions, forcing you to be more deliberate with your positioning and attacks. Basically, Wargroove is harder. (In fact, it’s so hard that developer Chucklefish Games released a patch to make the campaign easier.)

Yet, even as I complain about the new Fire Emblem being a bit too easy and too forgiving on the battle front, it’s the game I keep returning to. It’s more likely that I’ll go for a third playthrough of Three Houses before returning to Wargroove. In its nearly 20th iteration, Fire Emblem, a series built on a reputation for its punishing combat, has become a funny thing: a game more concerned with loving than fighting.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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