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This week in video games: Fortnite takes on PUBG, Star Wars: Battlefront II loses paid loot boxes, and Sea of Thieves is bundled with the Xbox One X. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may get region locks in an attempt to fix poor matchmaking, if an update on a Korean PUBG developer blog is to be believed. A translation of the post says:

“For areas experiencing uncomfortable game environments, we are considering operating as a server that can only be accessed and played by players in the area. In addition, people in other regions will not see the server,”

Meanwhile, recent updates to the PC version of PUBG have added new friend list functionality, an emote system, and a feature that splits the matching pool based on players’ ping rate.

The latest patch for PUBG on Xbox One was also deployed, fixing repeated footstep sounds, and player revival bugs. Nonetheless, as Eurogamer reports, the Xbox One version of PUBG is still sub-par, which must be worrying for its makers when you consider that its competitor, Fortnite, appears to offer a consistent experience across console, PC, and even mobile.

Fortnite fever

In fact, the conversation has noticeably shifted towards Fortnite in recent weeks, and with good reason. The game has gone from battle royale cash-in to legitimate gaming phenomenon. Its success is built on a surging player-base, and multiple celebrity endorsements.

The mobile version of Fortnite began its iOS test this week, and player feedback has been very positive. The Verge captures the overall sentiment, saying that “controls aside, it’s surprising how similar this game is to the PC or console versions.”

Fortnite has also broken Twitch’s concurrent streaming record, with 600,000 viewers tuning in earlier this week to watch Canadian rapper Drake take on Tyler “Ninja” Blevins.

Finally, Epic Games has unveiled details of Fortnite Party Royale, a tournament featuring pro-players and celebrities that will be held at this year’s E3.

Call of Duty Battle Royale?

There’s no confirmation on whether the Call of Duty franchise will be offering its own version on the battle royale genre, but according to a report from investment firm, Oppenheimer, Activision are “keenly aware” of the genre’s success.

Get ready for GDC 2018

The Game Developers Conference begins on Monday with a full week of talks and sessions that cover all aspects of game development. We’ve pulled together our list of highlights, and we’ll also be reporting from the conference throughout the week. And check back here on Monday for our look at some of the GDC alternatives independent developers are running.

Paid loot boxes leaving Star Wars Battlefront II

Electronic Arts is dropping Star Wars Battlefront II’s controversial loot box system. An update will be released on March 21 that removes paid loot boxes from the game. Crates can then be earned by logging into the game, reaching milestones, and completing timed challenges. Crates will also no longer include star cards among their rewards.

Nindies in the spotlight

Independent games were largely absent from the most recent Nintendo Direct, but this will be remedied in a new Nindies Showcase broadcast on March 20 at 9am PT. The video is expected to reveal a smattering of new games, and will perhaps reveal more information on Undertale, and No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again.

Microsoft outlines plans for E3

Microsoft is promising its biggest E3 ever, by sort of not being at E3. Microsoft’s entire Xbox showing – including its media briefing and game demo booth – will now be held at the nearby Microsoft Theater in LA Live. Meanwhile, back at the LA Convention Center, the usual Xbox space on the show floor will be replaced with a booth promoting the Mixer streaming service. Joy.

The Crew 2 release date

Ubisoft has confirmed that announced that multi-vehicle racer, The Crew 2, will be released on June 29, 2018 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Players can start building up their collection of vehicles now by completed a new range of challenges in the 2014 original, The Crew. Head over to official website to find our what sort of busy work you’ll need to engage in.

New Far Cry 5 trailer

Far Cry 5 has received another new live action trailer ahead of its release on March 27, 2018. The Sermon shows the lengths ‘the Father’ will go to in order to keep his flock on the right path.

Sonic Mania gets new modes and characters

Sega used its South by Southwest panel to unveil Sonic Mania Plus, an updated version of last year’s well-received 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game. Plus will feature an all-new Encore Mode, plus two new playable characters: Ray the Flying Squirrel, and Mighty the Armadillo. A new Sonic racing game was also teased in this ‘top secret’ trailer.

Yakuza Kiwami 2 confirmed for release in the West

Sega has also confirmed that Yakuza Kiwami 2 will get a PlayStation 4 release in the West on August 28, 2018. The release follows on from the recent Yakuza 6, and last year’s sparkling remake, Yakuza Kiwami.

Free games for Twitch Prime subscribers

Amazon has announced that Twitch Prime members will now receive five free PC games each and every month. The pick of this month’s included titles are Superhot, Oxenfree, and Mr. Shifty.

British Academy Game Award nominees announced

BAFTA has revealed this year’s British Academy Game Awards nominees, with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice receiving an impressive nine nominations. Other nominees include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and the wonderful Gorogoa.

Free copy of Sea of Thieves

If Sea of Thieves is not a success, it won’t be for a lack of trying. Not only is the game included as part of Xbox Game Pass, a digital copy is also being bundled with every new Xbox One X console for a limited time. The promotion runs from today through to March 24, 2018.

Sega classics come to PS4, PC, and Xbox One

The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Collection is getting another outing on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. This time the collection includes over 50 games with enhanced features such as gameplay rewind, a mirror mode, and a range of visual filters. Some titles will also support online multiplayer.

Sunday reading

To mark the arrival of the brand new Tomb Raider movie, Tom Baines looks back at the long-running series, and its ability to reinvent itself. And in the latest edition of Cut Scenes, Josh Wise explores the intersection between films and video games with an examination of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, and The Bourne Identity.

See you next week, dear readers.

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