Starbucks is to thank for a planet name in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. During a SXSW keynote, the film's director Gareth Edwards said the planet Scarif came from a Starbucks barista hearing his name wrong. The barista wrote "Scarif" on his drink instead of Gareth. He also said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggested Rogue One's bloody ending, but he didn't think it would stick. He thought Disney would change course to different conclusion. "I kept waiting for them to go back on that decision," he said to the SXSW crowd. "Until the last week, I still waited for that little 'no,' but it never came."
Star Wars fans will want to tune in to Disney XD on March 18 at 8:30 p.m. to watch a Star Wars Rebels episode titled "Twin Suns." As the name so clearly highlights, the setting is Tatooine, and it just happens to be the battleground for another lightsaber fight pitting Darth Maul against Obi-Wan Kenobi. Yes, he's old Ben now, and no, Maul will likely never die.
I don't think I need to remind you that Mass Effect Andromeda is just one week away (just a few days away for EA Access subscribers). My journey is well under way, and I even sat down with Suriel Vazquez to play through two hours of the game for your viewing pleasure. The footage you are about to see chronicles the entire opening of the game up through the first planet, called Eos. You'll meet companions, get a brief taste of open-world exploration, and learn everything you need to know about leveling and combat. We even show off conversation choices – nothing huge, mind you – but you'll get a good idea of how Ryder's brain is wired. I'm finding Ryder to be a much different character than Shepard, showing a little more youthful enthusiasm and a lack of experience. It'll be interesting to see if players take to this younger, more family-driven character than the battle-hardened Shep.
My early thoughts on Mass Effect Andromeda are all over the place at this point. I'm enjoying the story immensely. The Andromeda system is proving to be an exceptional canvas for discovery. I love how nothing in this sector of space is defined until another species or a document tells you what it is. We instead see humans trying to decipher what they are seeing. That's a fantastic little touch. BioWare also nails the pacing in the early moments of Andromeda. If you want to take it slow to soak up the lore, you can take on a number of side missions and activities to keep you occupied for hours. If you want to blaze through the campaign, you can bypass those moments and keep moving along the critical path – meaning you won't run into big lulls like you did on Citadel. The new hub world, called Nexus, is nicely designed with most waypoints grouped together tightly. There is a tram ride that takes a few seconds, but again, the destination you seek is usually close.
The lull you'll likely run into is tied to world exploration. Each planet I've landed on has been huge. For those of you who want to explore every little cave and camp, you could spend an entire day on one planet. If you just want to stick to the story beats, get comfortable with the idea of driving vast distances and having to navigate rocky terrain to reach your objective. You are the "Pathfinder" after all. The Nomad controls well, and is an absolute beast when you kick it into six-wheel drive. I haven't unlocked any weapons for it yet, but the base controls are solid. Frustration comes from figuring out how to navigate mountains and uneven terrain. Not everything can be climbed. I'm enjoying the exploration and Nomad moments, but these aspects are where Mass Effect Andromeda slows down to a crawl.
Combat is enjoyable and challenging, but again has some issues. I'm not a fan of the auto-cover design, which makes Ryder take cover when standing next to any flush surface. I much prefer having that action handled by a button press. The Force-like biotics are good fun to wield (as they always have been), and are ridiculously powerful, even in the first couple hours. Enemy A.I. sometimes seems smarter than usual, showing the ability to rush or flank when they have numbers. I have run into a few foes who were defeated by the environment, either struggling with the pathing to reach their destination or thinking they were in cover when they were in fact almost fully exposed. Ryder's companions are aggressive and capable of finishing off foes. They are also quite interesting when you get to know them. So far, I haven't run into a character that is a wholesale ripoff of someone from Mass Effect 1-3. They all stand out in different ways.
That's my early take on Mass Effect Andromeda. Keep in mind, I'm still early into the adventure, and it looks like it's going to be a long haul. I'll have more on my journey next week, along with Game Informer's official review, penned by Joe Juba. For my full take on the first two hours, watch the video below.
The 10th season of Doctor Who launches on April 15, and it looks absolutely bonkers. It even has a robot speaking in an emoji language. This is Peter Capaldi's final season as the good Doctor, and odds are we'll see who takes over for him in his final episode. Before that day, he may meet a beloved character from the past if actor John Barrowman has any pull with the show's creators. Barrowman played Captain Jack on previous season's of Doctor Who and Torchwood, and would like to see what happens when the Doctor meets Jack. "The Doctor's a little bit older, perfect – Jack's matured a little bit," Barrowman said on The Doctor Who Fan Show. "Would he think, 'I'm not sure about your cape there, sir. What happened to the coat? Why a cape? Why have you gone all Dracula on me?'"
I'd love to see Captain Jack return. Torchwood was a wonderful show, and Jack proved to be one of the series' most interesting characters (both in the present and future). I also want to see David Tennant return as the Doctor. I know that goes against the spirit of the show (not to mention its lore), but he was so damn good. He should be forced to play that role until the end of time. Again, I don't think season 10 is a good jumping-on point for newcomers to the series, but take a look a the trailer below to get an idea of just how much science-fiction variety this show offers in just one season.
I don't like saying something is great before I see it, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to be great. How can it not be? I laughed through every trailer and think the casting is as good as it gets in Hollywood. The latest clip from Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards reaffirms my stance on this forthcoming film. Get ready to laugh, people. Poop jokes are the best.