Items filtered by date: Saturday, 10 June 2017

FIFA 18 for Nintendo Switch: EA confirms Ultimate Team, Joy-Con controls

FIFA is coming back to Nintendo’s platform, and publisher Electronic Arts confirmed onstage today during its Hollywood fan event that this offshoot of its flagship soccer series is getting one of its most popular features.

Ultimate Team will be among the modes available for FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch when it launches September 29. EA announced the news in advance of next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show.

This is the EA Vancouver and EA Romania development studios’ take on building a fantasy team in the soccer sim, and it’s one of the most popular features in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. Bringing it over to FIFA’s first appearance on a Nintendo console since FIFA 15 shows EA could be looking more seriously at the Switch than it did at the failed Wii U, which it abandoned. And since FIFA 17 was the best-selling console game in the world last year, opening it to a new (even smaller) audience could have a positive effect on EA’s bottom line.

EA also will offer ways to play with every control scheme for the Switch: a single Joy-Con controller, two Joy-Cons docked on the Switch, or the Pro Controller. The game works when Nintendo’s new hybrid console sits in its TV dock, when you use it as a handheld, or when in the tabletop mode (where the Switch sits on a flat surface with its kickstand out).

Other features include the standard Career Mode, Kick Off, Local Seasons (which you can play across two Switch systems), Online and Offline Seasons, the Women’s International Cup, and more.

“FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch is the best FIFA you can take with you anywhere, play anytime and with anyone,” said producer Andrei Lăzărescu. “We’re delivering the immersive and authentic experience that fans expect from FIFA while leveraging innovative ways to play both at home and on the go with Nintendo Switch.”

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Everything we know about Anthem, BioWare's new action adventure game

Video link:


During the production of Mass Effect: Andromeda, BioWare was working on a semi-secret new game, which was finally revealed today at EA's 2017 E3 show. The teaser is brief (watch it above), and leaves us with lots of questions—many of which we hope will be answered during Microsoft's E3 show on Sunday when we'll see the first gameplay footage.

For now, though, we can use the teaser and previous statements EA has made about the game to put together a fuzzy picture of what BioWare has been up to.

Anthem will release in Fall 2018

Earlier, I updated this story to say that Anthem would release in spring 2018, because that's when the official YouTube channel's about section said it would release. Apparently, that was a mistake. The game's YouTube channelhas since been updated with a fall 2018 release window. (Thanks to Alessio Palumbo from Wccftech for pointing this outto me in the first place.)

It's not an RPG

Anthem is described by EA as an "action adventure" game, not an RPG, as reported by Polygon. However, that doesn't mean BioWare-style storytelling and NPC friendships (and more-than-friendships) are necessarily out of the picture. EA CEO Andrew Wilson also said that we can expect "the great RPG character development and story progression that BioWare is known for."

Based on the trailer, it very much looks like a monster-hunting shooter reminiscent of Destiny. Which brings us to the next detail...

It will be a "live service"


"This game is built around a live service, and through our creative process, we’ve decided to add more to the disruptive new social designs for our players," said Wilson during the same investor's call. So clearly there is a multiplayer component, which suggests we could be looking at a cooperative shooter or melee action game of some design.

What isn't clear is how BioWare-style "RPG character development and story progression" fits into that. We could see cooperative missions and loot collecting eating up time in between episodic story missions, which the teaser may hint at when we hear "the story doesn't end here, it's just the beginning." That's just speculation, though.


Could this be a hub city where players congregate?

There are monsters

Big ones. Not having seen anything else threatening outside of the wall, we're assuming these beasts are our primary antagonists. However, this being BioWare, there may be more to it than roaming bundles of muscles and teeth—some kind of intelligent threat, too, which drives the story.

The scenes of soldiers suiting up suggest we'll be some kind of elite force that ventures into the unknown—an overgrown planet that may or may not be Earth.

There'll be choices to make

"You either live with the choices you make," says the teaser, "or die trying to change them."

It may just be a dramatic cliche, but it seems pretty clear that choice is being emphasized here—there aren't many lines in the teaser, so it'd be odd to include this one without reason. The second part of the sentence is harder to interpret, though. Will we be trying to change our pasts? Or, if trying to change our choices results in death, is this a hint at permanent consequences for our actions? It could be neither, but I'd love to see BioWare experiment further with the 'morality' systems it's been tinkering with for years.

Either way, I'm excited to find out more at the Microsoft conference. It's airing at 2 pm Pacific on Sunday—find out where to watch and see the full E3 2017 schedule here.

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Microsoft cuts Xbox One S price by $50 ahead of Project Scorpio unveiling




Microsoft is cutting its Xbox One S price by $50 tomorrow, just as the company unveils the final name and price for its next Project Scorpio console. The software giant announced the price drop on Twitter today, simply revealing that Xbox One S consoles and bundles will drop by $50 tomorrow. It’s not clear if this is a permanent price drop, as Microsoft has run a number of deals on the Xbox One S recently.

While Microsoft's tweet is confusing and appears to indicate a $50 off the base model that's priced at $249, the software giant has clarified to The Verge that the price cut is only on certain bundles. The Xbox One S Battlefield 1 500GB bundle and the Xbox One S 1TB Forza Horizon 3 bundle will both be discounted by $50. Effectively, this means 500GB bundles are $249, and 1TB bundles are $299. 

Microsoft dropped the price of its original Xbox One console last year to $299 ahead of the launch of the Xbox One S at E3, and then dropped it further to $279 just after announcing the Xbox One S. The new price drop for the Xbox One S could hint at a more aggressive pricing structure for Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. Many are expecting Microsoft to unveil its Project Scorpio console pricing tomorrow at the company’s E3 press conference, and Xbox fans are hoping to see $399 or $449 pricing on the new hardware. Microsoft is planning to unveil Project Scorpio at 2PM PT / 5PM ET tomorrow during its E3 press conference.

Update, June 11th 3:30AM ET: Microsoft has clarified its confusing tweet and revealed only certain bundles are getting a price cut.

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New Kingdom Hearts 3 Trailer Shows Combat, Massive Bosses

It's not for exactly part of E3, but this trailer is sure to raise a lot of excitement during the show!


Video link:

EA kicked off its not-quite-at-E3 festivities earlier today, and now it looks like Square Enix wants to join the party of "companies that don't need your big E3 press conference to show off amazing trailers." A new Kingdom Hearts III trailer is live now, and you should just watch it before reading anything else.

While the trailer is mostly in Japanese, some of the text is in English. And combat is, of course, a universal language that we can all appreciate.

In addition to showing off some of the game's villains, levels we haven't seen before, and new bits of gameplay, the trailer also revealed when we'd get the next bit of information. At the very end of the trailer, text pops up on screen saying: "Join us next month at D23 Expo 2017 as we personally present a NEW WORLD and NEW TRAILER! July 15, 2017."

D23 is a Disney-focused event held in Anaheim, California that also tends to include news for Disney's expanding library of content, including Marvel and Star Wars.

No Caption Provided

But the most interesting part of this trailer is that it's not part of Sony or Microsoft's press conferences. Instead, Square Enix chose to run the spot during a Kingdom Hearts concert that took place on Saturday night. Since the next new bit of information isn't coming until D23, that means we likely won't see any more of the game at E3. 

Square Enix has several other big franchises in the works, the publisher/developer decided not to host its own press conference at E3 this year. While this doesn't rule out the possibility of getting info about Square's other franchises during the show, it sets an interesting precedent for the reveal of AAA game trailers going forward. Regardless, this still adds to the year's most exciting week in gaming news.

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Pence family cat dies: 'You touched a lot of hearts in your little life'

One of the Pence family's beloved pets has passed away, second lady Karen Pence announced on Twitter Saturday.

"Rest in peace Oreo," she tweeted. "You touched a lot of hearts in your little life. Our family will miss you very much."

Pence tweeted a series of photos, including one of Vice President Mike Pence snuggling with the black-and-white feline. In another photo, the Pences and daughter Charlotte are sitting on a doorstep with Oreo, the other family cat Pickles, and the family's pet bunny Marlon Bundo.


The vice president introduced the family pets to the nation in January, when he tweeted a photo of himself with Karen and Charlotte, along with their furry friends, en route to Washington.


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Chilling video shows rescue of missing woman "chained like a dog"

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- After hearing a woman's screams inside a large metal container, investigators sawed and pried open the bin, rescuing the woman who had been chained inside for about two months by a serial killer, according to new videos released by prosecutors. 

The videos also show Todd Kohlhepp, in cold and emotionless detail, confessing to killing seven people in South Carolina. He pleaded guilty two weeks ago to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison. On Friday, prosecutors released several videos, dozens of pictures and hundreds of pages of evidence against him. 

In the rescue video, once the container was opened after the 10-minute operation, officers walked in carefully with their hands on their guns and found a clothed Kala Brown, sitting on the floor with a chain around her neck stretching to the wall. 

CBS affiliate WSPA-TV is expected to exclusively report next week on the case files surrounding Kohlhepp.


Video shows Kala Brown with a chain around her neck as investigators rescue her from a large metal container in South Carolina. 


"Do you know where your buddy is?" an officer said. 

"Charlie? He shot him," she said quietly. 

"Who did?" 

"Todd Kohlhepp shot Charlie Carver three times in the chest, wrapped him in a blue tarp, put him in the bucket of the tractor, locked me down here. I've never seen him again. He says he's dead and buried. He says there are several bodies dead and buried out here," she said. 

Investigators found three bodies on the rural Spartanburg County property. They had gone to the land on Nov. 3 to look for Brown and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Charles Carver. The couple had been missing for two months, and Brown's cellphone indicated she might have been in the area when she vanished. 


Investigators search a field on property owned by Todd Kohlhepp on Nov. 3, 2016.


Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright says deputies heard the 30-year-old woman banging on the walls of the container as they served a search warrant in 2016.

"It was pretty emotional, to say the least," Wright told reporters at the time. "When she was found, she was chained like a dog -- she had a chain around her neck. It's only by God's grace we found that little girl alive." 

The woman and her boyfriend were last heard from in late August 2016, WSPA reports. The missing case gained national attention after suspicious posts appeared on Carver's Facebook page that his family suspected were posted by someone else. The page was later taken down. 

Kohlhepp also pleaded guilty to raping Brown. The Associated Press typically doesn't identify victims of sexual assault, but Brown has spoken publicly about her traumatic experience, appearing on Dr. Phil's television show in February

Authorities say on the way to the hospital, Brown told them about how Kohlhepp confessed to killing a married couple before she was captured, and about killing four people at a Spartanburg County motorcycle shop -- murders that were unsolved for 13 years

After authorities let Kohlhepp talk to his mother and promised to give her money from his accounts, he confessed in several other videos released by prosecutors. 

Kohlhepp bragged in one video about wearing gloves when loading his gun to assure no fingerprints were on the casings. He also told authorities he pulled the gun apart and threw the components into different trash bins, putting the barrel into a bag of used kitty litter. 

Even though it had been 13 years, Kohlhepp detailed each shot he fired at the Superbike shop, including final shots to the forehead of 30-year-old Scott Ponder; 52-year-old Beverly Guy; 30-year-old Brian Lucas; and 26-year-old Chris Sherbert. 


Victims of the 2003 "Superbike" murders in Chesnee, S.C.: Chris Sherbert, Scott Ponder, Brian Lucas and Beverly Guy


"That was one big building. I cleared that building in under 30 seconds," Kohlhepp said. "I'm sorry, but you guys would have been proud." 

The investigators asked if anyone begged for their lives or said anything to him. 


Meagan (left) and Johnny Coxie


"I don't remember any of that. I will tell you that once I engaged, I was engaged. It was almost like a video game. It's not a game -- you've been there, sir, you know what I am talking about," Kohlhepp said. 

Kohlhepp also killed 29-year-old Johnny Coxie and 26-year-old Meagan Leigh McCraw-Coxie in December 2015. They, like Carver and Brown, were lured to Kohlhepp's land after he promised them work. 

Kohlhepp killed Coxie immediately and tried to keep McCraw-Coxie locked away, but he said he killed her after several days because she tried to burn the container after he gave her cigarettes. 

"She wanted Little Caesar's pizza. I hate that (expletive). It gives me heartburn," Kohlhepp said. "Dr. Pepper, cinnamon rolls and freaking Newports. If you go down to that building, you'll find an unused package of Newports that I bought for her." 

Kohlhepp denied killing anyone else. He did say he shot a man in Arizona when he was 14, but could give few details. Authorities have not charged him with any additional crimes in other states. 

Kohlhepp moved to South Carolina in 2001 after 14 years in prison for a kidnapping in Arizona. Authorities there said the then 15-year-old Kohlhepp forced a 14-year-old neighbor back to his home at gunpoint, tied her up and raped her. 

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Trump’s son seems to confirm Comey’s account of the president’s comments on the Flynn investigation

by Jenna Johnson/The Washington Post


Soon after former FBI director James B. Comey testified that President Trump told him that he “hoped” the FBI would drop its investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the president's personal lawyer flatly denied that accusation and said Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.”

But Donald Trump Jr. — the president's eldest son — seemed to confirm Comey's version of events in a Saturday interview on Fox News as he tried to emphasize the fact that his father did not directly order Comey to stop investigating Flynn.

“When he tells you to do something, guess what? There's no ambiguity in it, there's no, 'Hey, I'm hoping,'" Trump said. “You and I are friends: 'Hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job.' That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo: 'Oh, I felt threatened.' He felt so threatened — but he didn't do anything.”

Trump also said that Comey's testimony “vindicated” the president and that everything in it was “basically ridiculous.”

“I think he's proven himself to be a liar in all of this. I think he's proven himself to be a dishonest man of bad character,” Trump said.

His comment came during an interview with Jeanine Pirro, a former New York district attorney and judge who is a longtime friend of the Trump family. Pirro has long been a go-to interviewer for the president and his allies when they need a sympathetic cable news host who will enthusiastically agree with them and not ask any difficult questions. (That same day, Pirro attended a baby shower in New York for Lara Trump, who is married to Eric Trump.) After the interview aired late Saturday night, Pirro tweeted: “Such a great interview!” Trump agreed and tweeted: “Good times. Thanks Judge.”



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Trump expected to announce Cuba policy next week in Miami

BRANCHBURG, N.J. — President Donald Trump is expected to outline his new policy with Cuba next week, announcing steps that could reverse some of the changes made by former President Barack Obama to open commerce and travel after a half-century standoff with the communist island.

The Trump administration has been discussing policy changes that include prohibiting business with the Cuban military while maintaining the full diplomatic relations restored by Obama. The White House has also been debating new restrictions on American leisure travel to Cuba, which has more than tripled since Obama’s 2014 announcement.

Trump is expected to announce the policy on Friday in Miami, according to a person familiar with the plan. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning. The White House said the timing of the announcement had not yet been finalized.

Obama’s policy moves have led to extensive corporate investment on the island, including new, daily commercial flights, licenses for U.S. hotel operators and agricultural investment by U.S. companies. Trump will be under pressure from lawmakers and corporate interests to continue the U.S. engagement with Havana.

Tourism to Cuba remains illegal under U.S. law, but has become allowable under many circumstances. American travelers to the island must fall into one of 12 categories of justification for their travel, ranging from religious to educational activities meant to bring the traveler into contact with Cuban people.

But Obama eliminated restrictions on “people to people” travel, opening the door for tens of thousands of travelers to book their own independent trips to Cuba. Opponents of Obama’s changes said that allowed many Americans to engage in prohibited tourism on an island where the Castro government has driven exiles from their homes and businesses for decades.

The president, who was spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, has been developing the policy changes in consultation with members of Congress, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Rubio said in a statement he was confident Trump would “keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and advance the Cuban people’s aspirations for economic and political liberty.”


AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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'Anti-Sharia' Marchers Met With Country



Protesters who gathered on Saturday to denounce Islamic law were met across the country with equally sized or larger counter-protests.

Organizers called the "March Against Sharia" rallies to protest what they say is the threat to U.S. society posed by the set of traditional Muslim practices, which they say includes oppression of women, honor killings, homophobic violence, female genital mutilation and other abuses.

But reports and pictures show large counter-protests around the country, with activists accusing the "anti-sharia" marchers of racism and Islamophobia.

Sharia "is a legal or philosophical code derived from Islamic scripture and meant to guide the behavior of observant Muslims," as NPR's Tom Gjelten noted. Religious experts say it's similar to parts of Christian and Jewish customs.

The rallies were held in about two dozen cities and about 20 states. They were organized by the conservative group ACT for America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the "largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America, claiming 280,000 members and over 1,000 chapters." The organization describes itself as "the NRA of national security."

"I feel like we need to make a stand now, before [sharia] makes more inroads," protester Shannon Boulogne told WABE reporter Adhiti Bandlamudi. "I've always been, you know, for women's rights."

Bandlamudi reports that Boulogne was among a small group of demonstrators who gathered in Atlanta's Piedmont Park. The Los Angeles Times reports they were met by a "small gaggle of counter-protesters," who "held up placards and shouted, 'No Hate! No Fear! Muslims Are Welcome Here.' "

A few miles away, other Atlantans held a counter-protest and food drive. Asma Elhuni, of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, criticized the "anti-sharia" protesters. "If they're against sharia, are you against feeding the poor? Are you against being friendly, showing love? Because essentially that is Sharia," she told Bandlamudi.

In Syracuse, N.Y., "March Against Sharia" organizer Lisa Joseph told North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann that she put the rally together because she and others are "against female genital mutilation, honor killings, throwing gays off of buildings, stoning people to death."

Counter-protesters in Syracuse responded by shouting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and described the opposing demonstration as anti-Muslim bigotry, Mann reports.

On the other side of the country, several dozen "anti-sharia" protesters gathered at Seattle's City Hall, according to The Associated Press. But the AP reports that "[h]undreds of counter-protesters marched through downtown Seattle behind a large sign saying 'Seattle stands with our Muslim neighbors.' "

In Chicago, "about 30 people demonstrated against Islamic law and in favor of President Trump," but twice as many counter-protesters shouted back, the wire service reports.

"Each side boasted about 150-to-175 people" in a protest and counter-protest in Denver, according to The Denver Post, and law enforcement arrested four people.

A participant (who refused to give his name) in the "Denver March Against Sharia" speaks to counter-demonstrators on Saturday in Denver.

Ross Taylor/Getty Images

In Harrisburg, Penn., about 60 "anti-sharia" protesters were separated from the same number of counter-protesters. "This is a march against sharia, not Muslims," Steven R. Moore, of Washington County, Pa., told The Washington Post. "We are not affiliated with any extremist groups. ... Sharia is a barbaric system that the Islamic State is trying to impose in our country."

Several counter-protesters were "anti-fascist" or "antifa" activists, who "dressed in black masks and hoods and chant[ed] 'No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,' " Reuters reports, a slogan modified from a 1980s punk song.

Similar protests and counter-protests also happened in St. Paul, Minn., where authorities arrested several people "when scuffles broke out," the AP reports, and New York City, where counter-protesters banged pots and pans in an effort to drown out "anti-sharia" demonstrators.

NYPD officers try to separate counter-protesters and activists rallying for the "March Against Sharia" on Saturday in New York City.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Despite the concern, sharia has no chance of being imposed in the U.S. in the foreseeable future.

"It's like the Ten Commandments for Muslims. It's nothing to be enforced upon anyone. It's a moral code that I follow for myself as an individual," Muslim youth leader Mansoor Shams explained to NPR earlier this year.

No area of the U.S. has legally implemented sharia, despite false reports on social media that Dearborn, Mich., enacted it.

According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. has a population that is only 0.9 percent Muslim; and Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University, told the AP that the vast majority of U.S. Muslims oppose implementing sharia in the U.S.

Then there's the Constitution, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

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Sessions says he plans to testify before Senate intelligence panel

By Tom LoBianco and Laura Jarrett, CNN



(CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Saturday that he plans to testify before the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear if he would testify in public or private.

The move is a prominent switch from his previous plans to testify publicly on the Justice Department's budget and puts him more directly in the firing line over questions about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States and a federal investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.
Sessions had been scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House and Senate subcommittees that oversee his department's budget, but Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will go before them instead, he said Saturday in letters to the chairmen of those subcommittees.
"Some members have publicly stated their intention to focus their questions on issues related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, from which I have recused, and for which the deputy attorney general appointed a special counsel, " Sessions wrote. 
"The Senate intelligence committee is the most appropriate forum for such matters, as it has been conducting an investigation and has access to relevant, classified information," he added.
Sessions recused himself from overseeing the federal Russia probe three months ago after The Washington Post reported on a pair of undisclosed meetings Sessions had during the campaign with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. 
In a statement Thursday, however, the Justice Department said Sessions recused himself in light of his participation in President Donald Trump's campaign, and "it was for that reason, and that reason alone."
CNN later reported that congressional investigators have been probing whether Sessions had a possible third, undisclosed meeting with Kislyak.
Former FBI Director James Comey hinted in his public hearing Thursday that Sessions, a former US senator from Alabama, may have had additional contacts with Russians, and said in a closed hearing that investigators had received Russian intercepts detailing a possible third meeting between Sessions and Kislyak, sources familiar with the briefing told CNN on Thursday. But federal investigators have not confirmed the meeting happened, and the Justice Department has denied it occurred.
"The Department of Justice appointed special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter," said department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores, referring to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the department's Russia probe. "We will allow him to do his job. It is unfortunate that anonymous sources whose credibility will never face public scrutiny are continuously trying to hinder that process by peddling false stories to the mainstream media. The facts haven't changed; The then-senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel."
Sessions said Saturday that he was accepting an invitation from the Senate intelligence committee, although that was not immediately confirmed. He would likely face questions from senators not only about meetings with Kislyak and subsequent recusal from the federal Russia probe, but also about his involvement with the President's firing of Comey last month considering Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation, which Comey had been leading.
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