England will face no repeat of the racist abuse which marred their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria when they face Kosovo next week, according to the president of the country’s football association.
England’s black players were targeted for abuse during their last outing in Sofia on October 14, with the Bulgarian federation ordered to play their next home game behind closed doors as punishment, with a further match suspended for a period of two years.
England face Kosovo in Pristina in their final qualifier on Sunday, November 17 but Agim Ademi, the boss of the FFK, says Gareth Southgate’s men have nothing to fear on this trip to eastern Europe and highlighted the strong historical bond between the two countries.
“We have no concerns whatsoever (regarding racism),” he told the PA news agency.
“Kosovo for a very long time has suffered from discrimination. It took decades of effort, suffering and a war in the end to end this discrimination.
“The roots of racism are in discrimination and as such it is condemned in our society.”
Ademi was referring to the conflict of the late 1990s, when Serbian forces clashed with ethnic Albanians in the territory.
Great Britain was part of the international coalition which forced the Serbians to withdraw and the UK was one of the first countries to recognise the newly-independent Kosovo in 2008.
“England’s role as a country in freeing the people of Kosovo from the oppressive regime of Serbia in 1999 has been instrumental,” Ademi said.
“But not only that, England has become shelter to thousands of Kosovo refugees who were expelled from their homes during the war.
“Every one of them has been in one way or another touched by the heartfelt support and generosity of English citizens. Some of these refugees of the time are celebrities of today because England sheltered them, provided education and offered opportunities.”
The celebrities Ademi was referring to are pop stars Dua Lipa and Rita Ora. Ora was born in Pristina and her parents moved to the UK while she was an infant, while Lipa was born in the UK after her parents had left Kosovo.
“Rita Ora and Dua Lipa are worldwide-known artists who next to announcing proudly their country of origin, they never forget to show their gratitude to England for the opportunities it opened up for them,” Ademi said.
Kosovo only gained FIFA membership in 2016 and this is only their second qualification campaign.
“There has been not one single match in Pristina when the stadium has not been full of spectators,” he said.
“The tickets sell within minutes. People are enthusiastic that Kosovo is playing internationally; our team has become a symbol of the country and a source of pride, and is performing well.
“We are certain that England’s players will not walk off because of abuse. Players of both teams will leave the pitch at the end cheered by the spectators regardless of the result.”
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Obsidian’s Grounded is a survival game crossed with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Obsidian is a studio best-known for deep, intriguing role-playing games like Fallout: New Vegas and, most recently, The Outer Worlds. But the studio’s next release moves in a completely different direction. At X019 in London, Obsidian revealed Grounded, a survival game set in a suburban backyard where a group of four friends has to fend…
Obsidian is a studio best-known for deep, intriguing role-playing games like Fallout: New Vegas and, most recently, The Outer Worlds. But the studio’s next release moves in a completely different direction. At X019 in London, Obsidian revealed Grounded, a survival game set in a suburban backyard where a group of four friends has to fend for themselves after being shrunk down to the size of an ant. “It’s a little different than what you’re used to seeing from Obsidian,” says director Adam Brennecke.
Grounded, which is the first new property from Obsidian since the studio was acquired by Microsoft, is a four-player co-op experience that can be played in both first- and third-person. Like most survival games, you’ll build a base, craft gear, gather resources, and hunt and cook food. What Obsidian hopes will make the game stand out is the setting.
The game has a very Honey, I Shrunk the Kids vibe. The four main characters were all shrunken as part of an experiment and are now forced to survive the untamed wilds that are actually a standard American suburban backyard. Seen from this new perspective, things feel very different: bugs become giant monsters, while a simple baseball is a huge structure. A patch of grass is a forest to traverse, and weedkiller turns an area into a toxic zone.
According to Brennecke, part of the appeal of the setting for the studio was its accessibility. “It’s something that everyone is familiar with,” he explains. “Everyone has an expectation for what they’ll see in this world. It’s very approachable, even on a global scale. Everyone knows what insects do, how they behave; even the man-made objects you find in the yard are familiar. It’s a pretty cool environment as a game designer to come up with ideas. It’s a setting where everyone on the team, and even outside the team, can be a designer and contribute ideas.”
It’s also much more elaborate than it might seem. Despite being developed by a relatively small 12-person team, Grounded features what Brennecke describes as a robust and realistic ecosystem. “It’s a huge ecosystem where the insect life is being simulated outside of the view of the player,” he says. “We want to make insects to behave like we all expect insects to behave. So an ant colony will send out scout ants to search for food, and will battle the player over food. They communicate through a pheromone system with other any colonies. And there’s a day / night cycle where this ecosystem is constantly changing. Things come out at night like giant spiders and fireflies.”
Grounded will be available in spring 2020. It’s coming to Game Pass on both Xbox One and PC, and it will also be available through Steam early access.
X019: all the news from Microsoft’s big Xbox event
Every new announcement in one place Contributors: Verge Staff Microsoft’s X0 conferences are usually small in focus, but Microsoft went big for its late 2019 event in London, with its first big showing of original games from Rare, Obsidian, and Dontnod. Plenty of other games, like Age of Empires 4, Tell Me Why, and more…
Microsoft’s X0 conferences are usually small in focus, but Microsoft went big for its late 2019 event in London, with its first big showing of original games from Rare, Obsidian, and Dontnod.
Plenty of other games, like Age of Empires 4, Tell Me Why, and more debuted onstage, too. Microsoft also debuted some exciting developments on xCloud, its cloud gaming service, as well as Game Pass.
We’ve got all of the latest announcements and deals covered below.
Valve’s new Half-Life release isn’t about selling Valve headsets — it’s about selling SteamVR
Yesterday, Valve released a trailer for its upcoming game Half-Life: Alyx — the first we’ve seen of the shooter series since 2007. Valve says Alyx is “the next part of the Half-Life story, in a game around the same length as Half-Life 2.” (For the record, that’s about 10 to 15 hours.) It might even…
Yesterday, Valve released a trailer for its upcoming game Half-Life: Alyx — the first we’ve seen of the shooter series since 2007. Valve says Alyx is “the next part of the Half-Life story, in a game around the same length as Half-Life 2.” (For the record, that’s about 10 to 15 hours.) It might even help clear up some of Half-Life 2: Episode 2’s myriad questions. And it’s coming exclusively to virtual reality headsets in March.
Valve is making a not-so-subtle attempt to sell people on VR headsets, which remain a niche platform at best. It’s using the game to promote its own high-end Valve Index headset, offering Alyx for free — and with some special cosmetic features — to Index users. Oculus and Sony have long used their clout and money to lock up big VR titles for the Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, and PlayStation VR. Now, Valve has its own flagship product.
But Valve is playing a different game than Oculus and Sony. Both of those companies have invested heavily in hardware exclusivity. As far as we know, Valve doesn’t seem to care about having the world’s most popular headset; it just wants to own the software pipeline for everybody’s headsets, the same way it nearly does for traditional PCs.
Half-Life: Alyx is exclusive to Valve’s SteamVR platform, the way that games like Stormlands are exclusive to the Oculus Store. But unlike the Oculus Store, SteamVR supports basically any PC-based headset — including the standalone Oculus Quest, thanks to a recent update. You can play Alyx as long as your PC meets the beefy minimum specs, a fact Valve touts on the game’s landing page.
I’m sure Valve would like lots of people to specifically buy the Index. But I doubt it expects them to. The system costs $999, which is more than twice the price of a Rift S or Quest, and it requires a more cumbersome setup than nearly any other consumer headset. Index controllers are unusually full-featured, and Valve might include some special interactions involving them, but it hasn’t suggested that you’ll get substantially more gameplay options.
Many VR headset sellers downplay competition in the industry. Companies like Oculus and HTC have argued that any headset sale is a win for everyone because it’s growing a very small platform and creating more opportunities for developers who can release their games across lots of headsets.
Even if there’s a diverse array of headsets, though, Valve could theoretically become the default storefront for all of them. And it could help build that dominance with a hugely anticipated game like
Half-Life 3 Half-Life: Alyx. After all, Valve launched the non-VR version of Steam on the strength of Half-Life 2, back when the idea of a ubiquitous digital storefront seemed strange. A few years later, the platform was synonymous with PC gaming.
Steam was convenient and user-friendly, but its dominance has given it tremendous power over small developers — many of whom have welcomed the rise of platforms like Itch and the Epic Games Store. It’s bad for all industries, including gaming, when there’s only one place to sell your stuff.
Fortunately, this could be less likely to happen on VR than PC. Steam was fairly singular when it launched, but almost every big PC VR brand already runs its own reasonably well-established store. Windows Mixed Reality has Microsoft’s app store, Oculus headsets have the Oculus Store, and HTC has Viveport, which also supports multiple brands of headsets.
These stores generally come with their own VR “desktops,” too. On one hand, this could eventually create more lock-in for Valve since you can use other headsets purely through SteamVR without touching the Oculus or Viveport interface. On the other, non-Valve headset owners have to actively seek out SteamVR, and they’re shunted by default toward a competing store. (It’s still not clear how independent stores like Itch or GOG might fit into this ecosystem.)
Back in 2015, before any of these headsets were released to consumers, I speculated about the possibility of virtual reality platform wars. VR headsets offered hugely different experiences at that point: the Oculus Rift still used an Xbox gamepad and phone-based VR was seen as a viable category in its own right, rather than an evolutionary dead end. So it made more sense to wonder whether developers would get locked into building games for specific platforms.
As Valve’s cross-headset support for Alyx shows, though, most PC-based systems have settled on a similar experience: a wired headset that lets you walk around a room, plus two motion controllers with a semi-standard button layout. So instead of console wars, VR’s conflict seems more like the fight over PC platforms between Steam and the Epic Games Store — except this time, Valve doesn’t have the same head start.
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