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Firewatch’s secret best feature is shutting down

If you haven’t developed your photos via the Firewatch Fotodome, you probably want to get on that.

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Firewatch Fotodome

If you haven’t developed your photos via the Firewatch Fotodome, you probably want to get on that.

Did you ever try to explain how photography used to work to a modern child?

First, they find it baffling that you couldn’t just use your phone. It’s unbelievable that you couldn’t view or delete your photos once taken. Then the notion of 27-shot, physical film – in a world of unlimited, cloud-based storage – seems completely alien.

Finally, when you tell them you used to have to go to a pharmacy to collect your photos – and often had to wait a couple of days – it blows their minds. See also: floppy disks, cassette tapes, and good old fashioned rotary telephones.

What you got back, though – that little envelope full of mystery and magic – was something really special. As brilliantly advanced and convenient as the modern photographic process might be, there’s something being lost in translation with the removal of that tactile product.

Firewatch, the first-person mystery adventure game set in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989, is similarly of its time. The game features a typewriter instead of a laptop; walkie talkies in place of mobile phones; a paper map in place of GPS; a Walkman in place of an iPod.

And Firewatch also features a single-use, disposable camera.

Now, if you’re like me and mistakenly thought the camera was a gameplay mechanic for capturing evidence, you might’ve held onto your photos until the end of the game. But what you’re supposed to do – as with all disposable cameras – is use it to capture the world around you. For the world around you is beautiful.

One of Firewatch’s lesser-known features, courtesy of publisher Panic, is the ability to get your in-game photographs developed. In the traditional manner. First, you send off for them, and a little while later, when you’ve almost forgotten about them, they turn up on your doormat in a glossy envelope.

It’s called Fotodome, and it’s brilliant. The Firewatch crew have taken Fotodome on the road with them, to a number of events, but Panic have also offered the service via mail order.

Sadly, Fotodome is closing its presses next month. On May 20th 2019, or until stocks of the adorable envelopes last, Panic will be shutting down the Fotodome service for good. So if you want to snap some of Firewatch’s wonderful wilderness and get them developed the way we used to, you’d better get on that.

The online hosting for people’s Firewatch snaps, however, will stay online after the closure of Fotodome.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Xbox Series X confirmed to launch this November

Xbox Series X will launch in November, Microsoft says, despite Halo Infinite delay.

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Xbox Series X release date November 2020
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Xbox Series X will launch in November, Microsoft says, despite Halo Infinite delay.

Halo Infinite is no longer coming this holiday season. But, Microsoft insists, the Xbox Series X still is.

In a post on Xbox Wire, editor-in-chief Will Tuttle announced that the console will arrive this November. That’s as specific as Microsoft has been willing to get so far (while still being pretty vague).

“We have plenty to keep you busy until Chief arrives: There will be thousands of games to play, spanning four generations, when Xbox Series X launches globally this November and over 100 optimized for Xbox Series X titles, built to take full advantage of our most powerful console, are planned for this year,” writes Tuttle.

“And with brand new console features like hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing, framerates up to 120 frames per second, faster loading times, and Quick Resume for multiple games, playing will look and feel better, no matter which games you choose to play on day one.”

During last month’s Xbox Games Showcase, each trailer ended with the promise that the game would be available on Xbox Game Pass. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that Xbox is invested in selling subscriptions to the streaming service, at least as much as the company is invested in continuing to sell consoles and its flagship games.

Now, with its biggest launch game delayed, Microsoft is relying even more on Game Pass’ impressive catalog. The Xbox Wire post emphasizes Xbox’s massive library, citing Game Pass and the wealth of Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One games available through backwards compatibility.

Microsoft no longer has a system seller for this fall. We’ll see if that even matters anymore.

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Halo Infinite delayed into 2021

Halo Infinite, Microsoft’s flagship title for the launch of the Xbox Series X, has been delayed into next year.

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Halo Infinite Delayed
343 Industries

Halo Infinite, Microsoft’s flagship title for the launch of the Xbox Series X, has been delayed into next year.

Look, after the Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 delay, nothing can hurt me. But, that doesn’t mean Halo fans the world over aren’t bummed that they won’t have a new crop of Covenant to shoot their way through this holiday season.

Microsoft made the announcement on Twitter, via the official Halo account.

Halo Infinite Delayed to 2021

“We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure that the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo experience that meets our vision,” wrote 343 Industries studio head, Chris Lee.

“The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday… The extra time will let us finish the critical work necessary to deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever at the quality we know our fans expect.”

343’s Halo History

Halo Infinite is the third original Halo game from 343. Halo 4 and Halo 5 disappointed many longtime series fans. As a result, there’s a lot riding on the success of Halo Infinite.

But, when Microsoft showed off extensive gameplay for the first time last month, the game’s graphics were mocked and memed on the Internet. Halo Infinite just didn’t look like what fans expected from a next-generation Halo game.

In part, that’s because Halo Infinite isn’t a next-generation Halo game. Microsoft has committed to launching first-party titles on the upcoming Series X and the aging Xbox One. Halo Infinite has the unenviable task of running on this-gen hardware while looking like a next-gen game.

Hopefully, with the extra time, 343 can deliver a game that feels like an evolutionary leap. And hopefully they can also maintain their mental and physical health in the process.

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has been delayed

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, the long-awaited sequel to the cult RPG, has been pushed back to 2021.

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Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2
Hardsuit Labs

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, the long-awaited sequel to the cult RPG, has been pushed back to 2021.

There’s nothing like the original Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, even 16 years after its release. As a younger Millennial who grew up in the early ‘00s, the game hits an extremely specific nostalgia pressure point. The industrial metal. The moody Los Angeles setting. The ill-advised fashion. The game is so of its time – problematic depictions of women, people of color and mentally ill folks, unfortunately, included – that there really has never been another game with the same vibe.

So, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has been one of my most anticipated games since it was unveiled in 2019. Unfortunately, developer Hardsuit Labs announced today that the decade-plus wait will last a little longer.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines Delayed

“We are moving the launch of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 to 2021,” reads a statement on the game’s Twitter profile. “Our goal has always been to deliver the best game possible, to immerse you into a Seattle re-imagined in the World of Darkness, and deliver a worthy successor to the original Bloodlines game. Due to the quality bar and ambitions we have set for ourselves, we have made the difficult decision that we need more time. This means that our goal to release in 2020 is no longer possible. Moving launch is one of the changes we are making to ensure the best player experience possible.”

The statement is attributed to Andy Kipling, of Hardsuit Labs, and Jakob Munthe, of publisher Paradox Interactive.

If the game arrived in 2020, it would have been competing with this fall’s behemoth RPG Cyberpunk 2077. Both are the kinds of choice-based games that RPG fans will want to sink dozens of hours into, across multiple playthroughs. And, that’s not even mentioning the other massive games hitting this fall. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Halo Infinite and a new Call of Duty to name a few. So, the delay is probably a good move.

Hopefully, the game arrives early in 2021, though. I remain eager for another adventure in that iconic world. Once bitten, right?


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This week’s PlayStation 4 releases (August 10-14, 2020)

Ubisoft’s Hyper Scape headlines this week’s lineup of new PlayStation 4 video game releases.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Ubisoft’s Hyper Scape headlines this week’s lineup of new PlayStation 4 video game releases.

Hyper Scape is this week’s big new PS4 release. Ubisoft’s free-to-play FPS battle royale is certainly ambitious, and you can expect it to be well supported by Ubisoft. Nonetheless, it has a ways to go to convince us that it will be as successful as other F2P shooters like Apex Legends or Valorant. Lovely art direction, though.

Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey made their names on mobile, but we can’t wait to play Team Alto’s dreamy snowboarding games on the big screen. Both titles come to PS4 – as well as Xbox One and Switch – in The Alto Collection on Thursday.

Other new PS4 releases that catch the eye include Zero Strain, which is a vibrant top-down shoot ’em up with MOBA elements, and Dying Light: Hellraid, a new, hellish, expansion for Techland’s Dying Light. EA Sports UFC 4 also makes an entrance on Friday.

We’ll update this page throughout the week as we get more PS4 release dates confirmed.

The Drop: New PS4 releases for August 10-14, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

  • No releases.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

  • Brunch Club
  • Hyper Scape
  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Infinite Combate
  • Prehistoric Dude
  • Tyd wag vir Niemand

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

  • Banner of the Maid
  • Escape From Tethys – TBC
  • Metamorphosis
  • Zero Strain

Thursday, August 13, 2020

  • The Alto Collection
  • Bite the Bullet
  • Boomerang Fu
  • Darkestville Castle

Friday, August 14, 2020

  • Dying Light: Hellraid
  • EA Sports UFC 4

Bookmark the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest video games. You can also follow us on social media via Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.


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Save up to 90% with the latest Xbox Deals with Gold

This week’s crop of Xbox One video game discounts includes Metro Exodus, Doom Eternal, and Forza Horizon 3.

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Xbox One sale - Metro Exodus
Microsoft / 4A Games / Thumbsticks

This week’s crop of Xbox One video game discounts includes Metro Exodus, Doom Eternal, and Forza Horizon 3.

There’s a modest lineup of new savings on Xbox One this week. Our Deals with Gold highlights include Radiation Blue’s roguelike FPS Genesis Alpha One, and Greedfall, the impressive action RPG from Spiders.

This week’s Spotlight Sale is more impressive and has a distinct Bethesda vibe with many of the publisher’s biggest games on offer. There are 70% discounts across the Dishonoured series and a 50% price cut for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Doom Eternal – a game we called “technically solid, blistering in parts, but lacking in soul” – is reduced by 40%. Skyrim, Prey, and various packs of Wolfensteins are also available.

We were more impressed by Metro Exodus – “courageous” said our review – which is reduced by 67%. Other Spotlight Sale highlights include Forza Horizon 3, Kamiko, and Overwatch.

This week’s Deals with Gold and Spotlight savings run through to August 17 on the Xbox digital games store and Microsoft online store. Here’s the full sale lineup.

Deals with Gold

  • 7 Days to Die – 50% off
  • 8-Bit Armies – 90% off
  • Beholder Complete Edition – 80% off
  • Blacksad: Under the Skin – 60% off
  • Bombfest – 85% off
  • Carnival Games – 75% off
  • Genesis Alpha One – 75% off
  • GreedFall – 75% off
  • Knights of Pen & Paper 2 Deluxiest Edition – 67% off
  • Knights of Pen and Paper Bundle – 60% off
  • Monochrome Order – 40% off
  • n Verlore Verstand – 70% off
  • Outbreak: The Nightmare Collection – 50% off
  • The Station – 70% off
  • The Walking Dead: Michonne – The Complete Season – 75% off
  • Valfaris & Slain Double Pack – 50% off

Spotlight Sale

  • Animus – Stand Alone – 50% off
  • Arkane Anniversary Collection – 70% off
  • Best of 2019 (Sparklite/Stranded Sails) – 15% off
  • Brunch Club – 10% off
  • Cyber Complex – 50% off
  • Dishonored 2 – 70% off
  • Dishonored The Complete Collection – 70% off
  • Dishonored: Death Of The Outsider – 70% off
  • Doom – 50% off
  • Doom + Wolfenstein II Bundle – 50% off
  • Doom Eternal Deluxe Edition – 40% off
  • Doom Slayers Collection – 55% off
  • Fallout 4 – 70% off
  • Fallout 76: Wastelanders Deluxe Edition – 40% off
  • Forza Horizon 3 Standard Edition – 67% off
  • Forza Horizon 3 Ultimate Edition – 70% off
  • HoPiKo – 80% off
  • Kamiko – 30% off
  • Metro Exodus – 67% off
  • Outbreak: The Nightmare Chronicles – 50% off
  • Overwatch Legendary Edition – 67% off
  • Prey – 70% off
  • Prey + Dishonored 2 Bundle – 70% off
  • Revenant Dogma – 40% off
  • Riddled Corpses EX – 80% off
  • Skyrim Special Edition + Fallout 4 G.O.T.Y. Bundle – 60% off
  • Super Night Riders – 75% off
  • Tanky Tanks – 35% off
  • The Elder Scrolls Online – 50% off
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition – 67% off
  • Whispering Willows – 70% off
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – 70% off
  • Wolfenstein: Alt History Collection – 60% off
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order – 70% off
  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – 70% off
  • Wolfenstein: The Two-Pack – 70% off
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood Deluxe Edition – 35% off
  • Xenon Valkyrie+ – 80% off

For even more video game savings, visit our dedicated sales page. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.


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