8 things to watch out for this week

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You've nearly made it through Dry January, but we hope it hasn't been a dry month for great movies, games and TV. It certainly hasn't been for us, with inventive TV shows like The Good Place dazzling in its second season on Netflix, Black Lightning putting the super in superhero shows and small cats taking on big dinosaurs - with your help of course - in Monster Hunter World. Here's our pick of the eight things to watch out for this week. Take a look:

1. Can crazy smart Netflix comedy The Good Place confound and delight viewers again with its season 2 finale?

The Good Place delights as an archetypal, upbeat, US sitcom - uniting the talents of Ted Danson (Cheers), Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and creator Michael Schur (Parks and Rec) - but dazzles for different, less obvious, reasons. Part philosophy, part fantasy, the show teases a career-best performance from Danson (Michael), a godlike architect who runs The Good Place, a spiritual realm where the best people go when they die. Kristen Bell wakes up here despite living a terrible, selfish, life; desperate to mask her impostor status while attempting to become a better person (“I mean I wasn’t freaking Ghandi. But I was OK. I was a medium person”, protests Bell). If this doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy,  give it a shot… one member of the GR team recently watched season 1 in *one evening*. Each whip-smart 22 minute episode cascades into another, as the show reveals its warm characters – we forking love you, Janet – and hidden depths. With season 2 nearing its conclusion on Netflix (UK), you’ve still got time to watch it all in advance of next week’s finale. Don’t read any reviews, dive into season 1… and join us next week to see if creator Mike Schur’s conclusion can pull another hat out of the rabbit. Daniel Dawkins

What: The Good Place
Where: Netflix (UK), NBC / Hulu (US)
When: Friday, January 26

2. Here’s why superhero series Black Lightning deserves a spot on your TV schedule

I know what you’re thinking. Another superhero TV show? Christ, do we need another?! Well, the answer is yes... when it’s a series like this one. The CW developed the little-known Black Lightning comic for a 13-episode run, which started a couple of weeks ago in the US and has now come to Netflix - and unlike most superhero offerings, it’s not about young teenagers discovering their powers. Black Lightning focuses on a retired superhero who gets pulled back into the good fight to save his community, and leans heavily on its black roots and current political issues to make a statement. Basically, imagine Luke Cage, but without the slow pace and a little less subtle. This show isn’t afraid to talk about difficult topics (and be damn entertaining while doing it), but it’s lead Cress Williams who really makes this show what it is. If you’re in the US, you can catch new episodes each Tuesday on The CW and if you’re in the UK, the first episode is on Netflix now with new episodes coming every week. Lauren O’Callaghan

What: Black Lightning season 1
Where: The CW in the US and Netflix everywhere else
When: Tuesdays

3. The first of Destiny 2’s ‘game-fixing’ updates will be far more important to the game’s long-term health than the sum of its content suggests

In 2018, we find Destiny in troubling uncharted territory, losing support even from the loyal core fanbase that gladly championed the original game during its own early traumas. Plagued by backlash to deep design fundamentals that make the sequel shallower and less rewarding across the board, Destiny 2 is in a tight spot. On January 30, we get the first of the hopefully game-fixing updates that Bungie has promised throughout the year – its current schedule runs right through to autumn – and theoretically our first taste of where Destiny 2 is going. The update itself isn’t huge (it’s set to increase reward drops during Raids, and augment that bland Raid gear with new perks), but symbolically it’s huge. The nature of those new Raid perks might well be very telling of Bungie’s attitude toward gear design moving forward, offering great insight into the shape of the full sandbox overhaul scheduled for later in the year. And the way that the traditionally under-communicative studio delivers the patch will be vital. A new air of open conversation, explicitly detailed, transparent communication, and clear empathy for the player-base will be an appreciated gesture of long-term goodwill. Another set of vague patch-notes and unwelcome, in-game surprises, frankly, will not. Cross everything, Guardians. This one is going to be bigger than it looks. 

What: Destiny 2’s first big 2018 update
Where: Destiny 2, on PS4, Xbox One, and PC
When: January 30 

4. Laser League's open beta begins, and this Tron-inspired game of 'Oh god the walls are closing in' might be your next obsession

In an age of gaming where every piece of a character's outfit can be scavenged for, crafted, and assigned dozens of attributes, sometimes it's nice to go back to a more simple design. Laser League, from developer Roll7 (OlliOlli, Not A Hero) plays like a mash-up of Tron's lightcycles and rugby, but really only has one rule: don't touch the enemy team's lasers. In this 3v3 game, presented as though it were the arena sport of the future, players race around a playing field trying to capture nodes that spawn walls of lasers. Various classes will help you get a leg up on your competition, but things never get so complex that you feel lost. The hectic pace of the game coupled with maps that are constantly, rapidly changing will keep you on your toes and get your heart racing. But hey, don't take our word for it - an open beta this weekend will let you try it for yourself at no cost, which you definitely should do. Like a few other contemporary leagues (Rocket League, League of Legends), we think Laser League has the potential to become a massive success. Sam Prell

What: Laser League open beta
Where: PC (Steam)
When: Friday 26th Jan - Sunday 28th Jan

5. Sea of Thieves beta lets you get drunk and blind players with vomit. Yay!

If you’re a Sea of Thieves Insider or have pre-ordered the game then the closed beta is live for you (and you can still get in by pre-ordering right now). It’s a little slice of Rare’s pirating adventure, letting you sail the seas in  search of treasure, fights and, most importantly, booze. Find a pub on any of the outpost islands and you can drink grog until you’re too drunk to stand and throw up everywhere. The two practical upshots of this is that it becomes so hard to walk you’ll likely end up walking off the jetty into the sea. And you’ll also projectile vomit //everywhere//. Hit someone with it and you’ll blind them. If you’re aim’s not good then hold a bucket, throw up into that and then throw it at them. This is why pirates rarely get invited to parties. Leon Hurley

What: Sea of Thieves closed beta
Where: Xbox One
When:  January 24 to January 31

6. Celeste from the creators of TowerFall is perfect for platformer purists

Tight controls, ruthless maps, NPCs laughing at your efforts to get to the top of a mountain: there’s plenty in Celeste to delight the most sadistic players. The people who made TowerFall - one of the best party games around - are back with Celeste. TowerFall’s platforming prowess and famously-responsive controls is woven into a tale of adventure and personal demons. You’ll have to get into the nitty-gritty of the controls and physics to master Celeste, and certainly isn’t for anyone who has a tendency to rage quit after their 147th death. It could be 2018’s Super Meat Boy. Zoe Delahunty-Light

What: Celeste
Where: PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch
When: January 25

7. Call of Duty WW2 update brings shotgun fixes, free stuff and new DLC content to PS4

It’s a good week to get back into Call of Duty on PS4 if you’re not played it for a while. Not only has there been some much needed shotgun balancing (sawn off buffed, combat shotty nerfed) it’s also preparing for its first DLC with a week long community event. The event will bring free gear for all in the shape of a new Resistance Division/class, as well as new weapons and uniforms to try out. As well as that there will be in-game events, special Orders and Contracts, plus double XP playlists, XP boosts and a free Resistance supply drop just for logging in. The event runs from 23-27 to set the scene for the Resistance DLC on the 30th, which adds three new multiplayer modes, a new War mode called Operation Intercept, and a new Zombie’s chapter called The Darkest Shore. Leon Hurley

What: Call of Duty WW2 Resistance DLC and community event
Where: PS4 (coming to Xbox One and PC in February)
When: January 23 to Jan 30

8. Monster Hunter World is the most accessible in the series yet, so it's a perfect time to get huntin'

You might have heard the hubbub about Monster Hunter World, about its massive critters, fully roamable world and fuzzy cat companions. Well, it just happens to be amazing, and not just graphically. It manages to distill everything that's made the series so successful into a game that makes it utterly accessible, ripping out overly complicated mechanics and systems to reveal a game that's still incredibly complex and deep, but actually approachable. It's rare that you'll see GamesRadar+ give out a five star review, but this one probably should have got a six. If you've felt inimidated by Monster Hunter's reputation for being overly dense, then you should absolutely believe the hype and give Monster Hunter World a chance. Sam Loveridge

What: Monster Hunter World
Where: PS4 and Xbox One
When: Now