What’s coming in Modern Warfare: new Gunfight mode, playlist update, more

Infinity Ward has revealed more new Season 1 content that will be coming to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare via the January 14 update, including a 3v3 Gunfight mode, the return of two multiplayer modes and another 2XP promo.

Season 1 continues to roll on in Modern Warfare and with it so does the content, as Infinity Ward and Activision have announced what’s coming next in their 2019 Call of Duty installment.

On January 13, Activision released the latest edition of their ‘This Week in Call of Duty’ blog post, in which they discussed what fans should expect in the next day’s update, along with some other CoD related news.

The update will be going live on Tuesday, January 14, likely around 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET and will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC right away.

3v3 GunfightGunfight Trios will turn the fan-favorite mode into a 3v3 affair.

Gunfight Trios will make its in-game debut on January 14, turning the popular multiplayer mode into a 3v3 affair.

This will be the fourth version of Gunfight – the classic 2v2 that’s been in the game since day one, the recently-added 1v1, and O.S.P., which players didn’t enjoy too much.

Although it hasn’t been yet confirmed, it’s likely that this new 3v3 variant will replace the 1v1 mode since IW wouldn’t want to spread the Gunfight player-base too thin by having three versions all available at the same time.

Return of two MP modes – Cranked & Drop Zone

Cranked and Drop Zone were two new modes introduced in the weeks following the launch of Season 1 in Modern Warfare. Now, both will be returned as available playlists in multiplayer via the upcoming update.

Cranked is similar to Team Deathmatch but with a twist – after getting their first kill, players need to find and get more kills within a short period of time or else they’ll explode.

Drop Zone, on the other hand, is objective-based and works similarly to Hardpoint in that teams earn points by controlling specially marked zones on the map.The big twist, however, is that Killstreaks can only be earned by controlling the drop zones for long enough to gain access to the Care Packages that fall into them from the sky, each containing either a lethal or support streak.

More XP boost promos

While not directly tied to this update, there will be another XP promo coming at the end of the week to take advantage of players being home from school and work on January 20 due to it being Martin Luther King Jr Day.

Super Nintendo World News Is Imminent, Says Universal Japan

USJ has revealed a new promotional trailer for the park in the form of the music video ‘We Are Born To Play’ by Galantis ft. Charli XCX.

The video has been shared on the official Nintendo YouTube channels in both Japan and North America and shows off the Switch, and the Super Mario World and Super Mario Kart themes

Apart from this, there’s a brief glimpse of the wristband at the very end of the clip, that will connect with a phone app and will apparently “redefine” theme parks.

Super Nintendo World may well be one step closer to opening its magical doors, as an official announcement has just been teased by Universal Studios Japan.

According to the tweet shared below (with translation provided by Japanese Nintendo), news on the theme park will be shared on 13th January at 7pm PT – so that’s 10pm Eastern, and 3am/4am the following morning for the UK and Europe. The announcement came alongside an image showcasing a logo for the park.

Now we’re fully aware that this is an announcement of an announcement (groan), but it could well be worth keeping an eye out for this at the time mentioned above. Nothing’s confirmed yet, of course, but we imagine we may well be hearing about the park’s official opening date or even perhaps be treated to a quick look around the park itself. We’ll make sure to share any worthwhile news as it appears.

In recent months, we’ve heard about a wristband that is set to “redefine what a park experience is like” and even seen leaked images of the park’s construction. The theme park is located at Universal Studios, Japan.

Privacy activists beg Google to ban un-removable bloatware from Android

For much of Android’s existence, Google has adopted a relatively hands-off approach that lets manufacturers ship units with pre-installed bloatware which, in many cases, cannot be easily removed. This has infuriated users and privacy advocates alike, leading 50 of the latter to pen a blistering open letter to Google and Alphabet chief Sundar Pichai urging him to take action.

Privacy International, along with dozens of other civil rights organisations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU, wrote: “Privacy cannot be a luxury offered only to those people who can afford it.”

“Android Partners – who use the Android trademark and branding – are manufacturing devices that contain pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted, which can leave users vulnerable to their data being collected, shared and exposed without their knowledge or consent,” the letter states.

The concern surrounding bloatware hinges on the fact they exist without the standard Android security model, with pre-installed apps able to access the microphone, camera, and location by default.

Presently, apps downloaded from the standard Google Play store require the user to “opt in” to access the more sensitive parts of the phone.

The open letter also cites an academic study published in May 2019 that found 91 per cent of all pre-installed apps aren’t present on the Google Play Store — suggesting they may have harmful behaviours that would preclude them from being listed on the standard Android app store.

Pre-installed apps are most commonly found on cheap handsets. The lower end of the handset market is notorious for having thin profit margins, and bloatware serves as another tool for monetisation.

The letter calls on Google to allow users to remove pre-installed bloatware, including all related background services. It also states that pre-installed apps should undergo the same scrutiny as standard Google Play store apps, with users able to control the permissions the software is allowed.

And finally, the groups argue — reasonably — that pre-installed apps should have an update mechanism. With many bloatware programs languishing on old versions, they present a serious security problem, with users unable to remedy any vulnerabilities.

This Harry Potter mod built inside Minecraft is seven years in the making

How long has it been since the last great Harry Potter game? (It’s been eight years since the last Lego Harry Potter, if you’re actually counting.)

While we wait and wand-er what Warner Bros. is working on next, we have this – a seriously impressive Harry Potter mod built within Minecraft.

Built by a team of Potterheads under the name of The Floo Network, this mod is based around an enormous map of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

But there’s far more to it than just a recreation of Hogwarts. This mod includes magic spells and wands, NPCs and missions, boss fights and more.

Recreations of other parts of the Wizarding World will also be included, such as the Ministry of Magic, Hogsmeade and King’s Cross Station. Actually, a good bit of central London is included!

Speaking to IGN, lead developer Wednesday Frog explained the current project – some two years old – is based on an older Hogwarts map. Overall, work on what you see below dates back nearly seven years.

The mod itself is not public yet – the video below simply states it is “coming soon” – but you can follow development progress on the team’s Discord (and for access to that, you’ll need to donate to their Patreon).

Back in late 2018, footage appeared online which appeared to show an ambitious new big budget role-playing game set in the Harry Potter universe. Disney Infinity developer Avalanche Software as being behind the project, which we’re expecting to be officially announced sometime in the not-too-distant future for release on the next round of consoles.

Somebody has speedrun the entirety of Ring Fit Adventure in 18 sweaty hours

Regardless of where you sit on the fitness scale between Irrepressibly Active Amy and Sedentary Sally, the very notion of 18-hours non-stop exercise is probably one that fills you and your muscle tissue with a nameless, quivering dread. But that’s exactly the kind of marathon session that some speedrunners are putting themselves through in an attempt to set a record-breaking run of Ring Fit Adventure.

Ordinarily, Ring Fit Adventure’s surprisingly lengthy campaign – which received much acclaim for its engaging blend of physical activity and light RPG-style design when it released last year – would be tackled in sensible sessions ranging from a few minutes to an hour. However, as reported by Vice, some speedrunners are now starting to feel Ring Fit Adventure’s allure, and have begun tackling the game with their irrepressible record-setting mindset.

For the most part, speedrunners have so far attempted to best Ring Fit Adventure on a per-level basis, trying to secure the best times in each of the game’s 23 worlds. Inevitably, however, some are craving more, and are now starting to go all in, challenging themselves to race through the entire experience as quickly as possible.

One full-game challenger, Adam “Ventifer” England, told Vice that he initially wanted to speedrun an RPG, but the idea to play Ring Fit Adventure stuck after a joke with a friend. England took the day off work for his attempt at the end of last year, stocking up on water, vitamin water, and protein shakes to see him through. His complete run, which included “five or six” bathroom breaks and is viewable above, took 19 hours, 30 minutes, and 11 seconds.

However, that impressive (if somewhat foolhardy) feat of endurance is not the fastest time on record. Currently, that title is held by a Japanese player calling themselves Sakinyan, who managed to defeat Ring Fit Adventure’s final boss in 18 hours and 55 seconds with exercise intensity set to ‘one’, as you can see below. Sakinyan was forced to abandon a follow-up attempt, with intensity maxed out at 30, after an extremely sweaty 11 hours and 16 minutes.

I’m not sure that any of this sounds particularly wise from a health and safety perspective (especially if you’re not already well-versed in extreme exercise), but, as always with speedrunning, it’s hard not to be impressed at the sheer dedication to a cause.

Eurogamer’s Emma Kent was recently transfixed by a more sedate form of speedrunning during this year’s Awesome Games Done Quick charity event, which came to a close this weekend, raising £2.3 million ($3.13m) for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Top UK Websites’ Annoying Pop-Ups Aren’t Even Doing GDPR Right, Study Finds

It’s been more than a year and a half since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, but the internet’s still a long way from getting compliance right.

That’s the takeaway from “Dark Patterns after the GDPR,” a new report by researchers from MIT, UCL in the United Kingdom, and Denmark’s Aarhus University. After monitoring the data-collection “opt-in” popups of hundreds of UK websites, they found that only 11.8 percent of the 680 sites researchers analyzed met the “minimum requirements” that the researchers set forth for a site to be GDPR compliant—specifically, that consent for user data collection through cookies and other technologies must be freely and explicitly given, while at the same time being as easy to revoke as it is to give.

It turns out that one of the biggest culprits, when it comes to consent mismanagement, pop up as soon as someone opens a page. The popups asking for users to consent to web tracking (which, realistically, everyone likely clicks anyway), are often run by ad-tech middlemen known as Consent Management Platforms, or CMPs. It turns out that these CMPs often get tripped up when it comes to garnering “explicit” consent—often inferring consent by, say, a user ignoring the popup or closing it.

After scraping the Alexa-ranked top 10,000 websites in the UK, the researchers found the most prevalent CMPs on the market were made by just five companies: QuantCast, OneTrust, TrustArc, Cookiebot, and Crownpeak.

Among the sites displaying popups generated by these give actors, nearly a third—32.5 percent—were guilty of assuming that different user actions were just as good as clicking that “consent” button, despite the fact that this isn’t recognized by EU law, according to the researchers. Meanwhile, 9 percent of the sites accepted more than one form of these “implicit consent” variables, including: “just visiting the site, navigating within the site, revisiting/refreshing the page, scrolling or clicking on the page or closing the pop-up or banner.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, the paper’s authors go onto explain that the websites working with these CMPs are still able to choose from these implied consent options even after they indicate that the CMP should check whether a visitor’s IP is within the scope of the EU, which would make that visitor protected by GDPR.

Aside from assuming consent, these CMPs don’t make opting out of tracking easy, according to the study. More than half (50.1 percent) of the sites surveyed didn’t have an option to “reject all” of the cookies or trackers on a webpage. Even for the sites that did have one, researchers found, more than three-quarters of the sites made it as easy to “reject all” than to “accept all” of those trackers—which, at times, numbered in the hundreds for a given website.

It’s not surprising that the web still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to consent-based compliance. As for collecting user data, there’s a ton of links in the digital supply chain all playing a certain role at any given time. The induction of GDPR into law makes one thing very clear: Those links need to play by these new rules, or risk a hefty fine.

Less clear are the responsibilities each link has when it comes to consent. For example, if a website is GDPR compliant, but their CMP isn’t, who should take the fall? If that same website is working with an outside vendor to give intel about a user’s data, and that vendor isn’t compliant, who should be held responsible?

This is the murkiness that ultimately led some of these ad-tech middlemen to pull out of the EU entirely when GDPR first passed—and now, more than a year later, it hasn’t gotten much better. While advertising powerhouses like Facebook and Google are able to overhaul massive infrastructure to ensure that any of that responsibility is absolved on their end compliance-wise, it makes sense that the smaller players—like the sites surveyed in this study—are still left with some holes.

Back in May, Laura Jehl, partner in the privacy and data protection practice at law firm BakerHostetler told CNBC, “In the beginning, a number of [EU] regulators informally said ‘we know you guys aren’t ready for GDPR, and to be honest, we’re not really ready either,’” implying that this of grace period would soon be coming to an end. But between puny fines being lobbed at the tech giants for their own GDPR misdeeds, and missing guidelines for the rest of us, it looks like we’re nowhere close to ready.

Grand Theft Auto IV isn’t being sold on Steam because of Games for Windows Live

Last week, it came to light that Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar Games’ grand open-world action game from 2008, was no longer available for purchase on Steam. Although an explanation was not provided then, Rockstar has finally released a statement (via USGamer) that sheds some light on the issue, with the blame being put on Games for Windows Live, Microsoft’s defunct online gaming service.

“Grand Theft Auto 4 was originally created for the Games For Windows Live platform,” began the statement from Rockstar. “With Microsoft no longer supporting Games For Windows Live, it is no longer possible to generate the additional keys needed to continue selling the current version of the game.”

Until this serial key shortage is fixed, new copies of Grand Theft Auto IV will be missing from the PC space. While the PC versions of Episodes from Liberty City standalone story expansions are still available for purchase from Steam, their days may be numbered considering the expansions also use Games for Windows Live. Since this is a PC specific issue, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the title are unaffected.

As for the PC version of the base game, Rockstar has said that it is “looking at other options for distributing GTA4 for PC,” and added that more information would be shared later.

This could mean that the studio is finally looking into cutting out Games for Windows Live integration from the game, maybe even attach Steamworks onto it instead. However, it’s unclear how long will a venture like this take, so we may be looking at a long wait before Grand Theft Auto IV reappears on Steam with a price tag.