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8 things to watch out for this week

1. Find out if Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse really is the best Spidey movie ever

Say hello to a brand-new universe. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (opens in new tab) is out this week and the web has been abuzz with anticipation. Early signs all point towards Miles Morales’ on-screen debut standing alongside Spider-Man 2 and Avengers: Infinity War (opens in new tab) as one of the best comic-book movies to ever hit the big screen. But you’ll be the judge of that.

There’s lots to get excited about here: the animated style, crafted under the guiding hand of Lego Movie (opens in new tab) geniuses Phil Lord and Chris Miller, really lends itself to the dynamic, energetic adventure. Heroes and villains alike pop off the screen and, dare I say it, it’s also one of the coolest movies of the year. Miles Morales’ cocksure strut makes Tobey Maguire’s emo years seem like a very, very distant memory.

Need another reason to go and see it? Nic Cage plays a version of Spider-Man. Seriously. What more could you ask for? Oh, and when you’re done, be sure to check out what the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse post-credits scene means for the franchise moving forward. Bradley Russell

What: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Where: Movie theaters
December 12 in the UK, December 14 in the US

2. Will Fortnite’s seventh season further increase the player base?

The seventh season of Epic’s battle royale arrived on Thursday and it brought in a cold chill just in time for Christmas. There were some huge changes to the map, including a brand new ice biome as well as expected updates in the form of new skins and emotes. What we weren’t expecting was the addition of a brand new vehicle: planes! As if it wasn’t hard enough to rack up those W's, you now have to content with dogfights in the air as well. One very welcome addition, which the community has been asking for forever, is weapon and vehicle wraps, so now you can add a bit of individualization to your loadout. 

It’s without a doubt the biggest change to the game in some time, so it’ll be interesting to see what the response to all the new additions is over the next few weeks. Personally I think Epic is making all the right moves and I’m impressed that they’ve managed to keep adding to the game in so many ways while still managing to keep it feeling fun. So will Fortnite season 7 increase the player base? Absolutely. And if you’re still not convinced, just take a look at Hamirez. It is possible to love - like, actually love - a digital hamster? Asking for a friend. James Jarvis 

What: Fortnite season 7
Where: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
When: Now

3. Cast out the winter chill this Christmas with Gris, an eye-catching indie platformer on PC and Nintendo Switch 

Although it arrives right at the tail end of 2018, Gris shouldn’t be ignored in anyone’s considerations for their personal Game of the Year awards. A bold, striking platformer from developer Nomada Studios and publisher Devolver Digital, Gris is all about the ethereal wonder and design of our own subconsciousness. It certainly looks the part, but this isn’t just another indie darling lacking depth or smarts beyond its twee aesthetic. For example, the main protagonist - a girl exploring the manifestations of her psychological trauma - can’t die or even be hurt, and Nomada Studios uses that idea to play with gaming conventions. Gris is one of the few third-party games that releases on Switch before PS4 or Xbox One, too, making it a perfect pick up for those Christmas holiday travels to the family homestead. Alex Avard

What: Gris
Where: PC, Nintendo Switch
When: December 13

4.  Can PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds PS4 version help it in the battle royale wars? 

The PlayStation faithful have been left out of the PUBG party so far, but on December 7 the battle royale game finally makes it onto PS4. Anyone that pre-ordered PUBG PS4 (opens in new tab) gets a Nathan Drake Desert Outfit skin and a The Last of Us Ellie backpack, and anyone who logs into the game on PS4 when it launches will get a free Pixel Art Parachute in a brand-friendly blue. There's no denying that the game is huge and one of the pioneers in the battle royale ranks, but can it compete with Fortnite on the console after such a big delay? Time will tell, but if history has taught us anything, it's that gamers can't get enough of shooting each other on shrinking maps. Rachel Weber  

What: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
Where: PS4
When: December 7 

5. Netflix and Andy Serkis’ Mowgli is out to prove that we need another unique twist on The Jungle Book story 

Did you know that there’s been over 30 different film adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book? Don’t believe me? Just check out this list (opens in new tab). While the ones you probably remember most are the 1967 Disney animated classic and the 2016 live-action remake from Jon Favreau, we’ve had far more than just two big blockbuster versions of the tale of a boy raised by wolves… and we’re about to get one more. Mowgli is set to hit Netflix and select theaters this week, and it’s out to prove that we need another take on the iconic story. Directed by the king of mo-cap, Andy Serkis, it’s certainly got a star-studded cast behind it, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, and Cate Blanchett, and the trailer (above) promises a much darker reimagining of the story more in line with the original book. Add to that the impressive mo-cap performances and stunning visual effects, and Mowgli will no doubt be an impressive feat of filmmaking… but will it make us fall in love with The Jungle Book again? Find out when it hits the streaming service and select theaters this week. Lauren O’Callaghan 

What: Mowgli
When: December 7
Where: On Netflix and in select cinemas 

6. Take a trip back to your childhood with Heroes of the Storm's Toys Event 

Blizzard's team brawler Heroes of the Storm (opens in new tab) has some of the best limited-time events in the MOBA business, from small packs of themed skins to all-out campaigns featuring tons of free goodies and added content. HotS' Toys 2018 Winter Event (opens in new tab)definitely qualifies as the latter, introducing pitch-perfect toy skins for Stitches, Dehaka, and Valeera, plus a series of quests around a CandyLand-esque board game. Watching a cuddly teddy bear Stitches snatch up enemies in his stuffed belly is so delightfully surreal - and it's the perfect excuse to try out the recently reworked Warrior and make the most of his more aggressive talent kit. You've got about a month to complete a lap around the quest board to unlock an adorable new announcer, The Kid, who will add a childlike innocence to all your life-and-death battles in the Nexus. Lucas Sullivan

What: Heroes of the Storm 2018 Winter Event
Where: PC
When: December 11, 2018 - January 7, 2019 

7. An Xbox One indie gets a surprise release five years after it was announced 

Five years ago, Below got a blast of limelight (opens in new tab) during Microsoft's 2013 E3 press conference, and we've been waiting to play the deep, dark roguelike ever since. After years of blood, sweat, and tears during development, we'll finally get our chance to play Below next week when the game is released on December 14. The good news is that it's the perfect game for holiday grinding, with a simple mechanics that will take skill and strategy to master. Plus its slightly melancholy tone and synth musical stylings will be the perfect antidote to an overdose of Christmas cheer. Rachel Weber

What: Below
Where: Xbox One
When: December 14 

8. How long will it take to unlock the full roster in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

While the new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (opens in new tab) give you access to all 103 stages of Nintendo-themed violence and more than 700 music tracks right from the very start, unlocking the entire roster of 74 playable characters is going to be a much bigger task. Only eight fighters will be available when you turn on the game for the first time, and the methods for amassing the full collection are fairly cryptic. For anyone currently in this predicament, your best bet is to play the Adventure Mode: World of Light, beat Classic mode with multiple characters, or just grind out matches against friends or AI bots. But regardless of your approach, unlocking the complete roster is going to be a mammoth task for the holidays - and you don't even want to know how long it'll take to get all the Spirits. Rachel Weber

What: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Where: Nintendo Switch
When: December 7

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