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8 things to watch out for this week

No Man's Sky Next, Destiny 2, Castle Rock and Banner Saga 3

1. Power up your rocket and take to the No Man's Sky, because multiplayer is here in time for the maligned space exploration game to launch on Xbox One

Forget what you’ve heard about No Man’s Sky for a second, and try to let your mind be as open as the vast expanse of the game’s infinite network of planets, galaxies, and solar systems. Hello Game’s indie epic certainly deserves a portion of the heated criticism it received after launching in 2016 for PC and PS4, but alienated players and disconcerted onlookers should know that it’s no longer the game they remember. That’s because its creators have ignored the temptation of the spotlight to knuckle down on updating, improving, and expanding No Man’s Sky to be the best version of itself, and the resulting difference between then and now is phenomenal. With an Xbox One release and the Next update (which adds multiplayer, third person gameplay, and more) on the horizon, now’s a better time than ever to dust off the virtual spacesuits and come on in; the procedurally generated water is mighty fine. Alex Avard

What: No Man’s Sky Next
PC, PS4, and Xbox One
July 24

2. The Banner Saga 3's a wonderful homage to its creators and its fans, and I'm sad that it'll all soon be over

The Banner Saga is one of those game series that not everyone may have heard of, but when you do you'll remember it for its soaring scores and striking art style. Every character is based on the likenesses of the developers themselves, or their family members, and what's more, alongside these faces you'll find the semblances of various Kickstarter backers, as they too have been part of this process. Developer Stoic launched a Kickstarter campaign for the game that let people pay to put themselves in the game, and simultaneously help fund the end of this epic series. I've always loved The Banner Saga because of its beautiful animations, but also for the way it combines a branching narrative, strategy and tactics, character building and elements of other major franchises like XCOM, Game of Thrones and, heck, even Oregon Trail - without the dysentery. Finding out how all your choices throughout the first choices are going to play out in the grand finale is nerve wracking (after all, we've had this before with Mass Effect and not had the right payoff), but from everything the Banner Saga folks have done this far, it's definitely going to be an experience. And if you haven't started your Saga yet, the Banner Saga Trilogy launches the very same day as Banner Saga 3. Treat yo'self. Sam Loveridge

What: Banner Saga 3 (and the Banner Saga Trilogy)
Where: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch
When: July 26

3. Will Castle Rock confirm a shared cinematic Stephen King universe? 

Horror fans, take note! Castle Rock is hitting Hulu this week and it’s based on the shared universe Stephen King created within his terrifying novels. Castle Rock first appeared in King’s The Dead Zone and many of his novels have since been set in or referenced this fictional town, but this is the first time we’re going to see it on screen in all its glory. Produced by J.J. Abrams, Castle Rock will blend together many of King’s well-known stories to create a truly terrifying series, but what everyone is wondering is - will Castle Rock confirm a shared cinematic Stephen King universe? You might think this is odd given that we’ve had many King adaptations before without any hints that they’re all set in the same universe, but Castle Rock is different for a number of reasons. Firstly it stars Bill Skarsgård as "The Kid". The same Bill Skarsgård who plays Pennywise in the recently released It movie… That’s just a consequence though surely? Well, maybe... maybe not. It’s unlikely that the creators would choose to cast an actor so well-known for a King role as someone entirely different in another King adaptation unless there’s a reason. Plus, there’s King Easter eggs galore in the Castle Rock trailer (watch this Think Story YouTube video for a brilliantly detailed breakdown of them all), which seems to hint at everything from 1994’s The Shawshank Redemption to 2007s The Mist playing a role. Tune in and find out if we have a new cinematic horror universe on our hands this Wednesday. Lauren O’Callaghan

What: Castle Rock
When: July 25, 2018
Where: Hulu

4. Get freaked out about your laptop, and not just because you forgot to delete *that* browsing history 

Despite having a tagline that sounds like a mix between a Dad-joke and a spooky meeting request - "Death wants some Face Time" - Unfriended: Dark Web looks like a worthy sequel to the 2014 movie Unfriended. Yes, it revolves around a laptop and the Dark Web - which it feels like TV and movie writers barely understand and only just discovered - but there's something unnerving about watching terror play out on the devices we carry around with us every single day. If you enjoy it you might need to see it more than once, because the movie has two different endings that will be swapped randomly when it screens in movie theaters. Rachel Weber

What: Unfriended: Dark Web
Where: Movie theaters
When: July 20

5. Time to watch Tom Cruise nearly kill himself, and see the moustache that (nearly) ruined Justice League

The most important question with any Mission Impossible film these days is ‘what the hell did Tom Cruise do this time?’ when it comes to the stunts. It looks like he was taking it easy for Fallout because he only learned to fly a helicopter to perform a dangerous 360 degree roll while hurtling through a canyon. Oh, and jumped out of plane 100 times over one year to film a spec ops grade HALO Jump. That stands for High Altitude Low Opening and involves jumping at over 25,000 feet and then popping your parachute below 2000 feet. I mean, it’s like he’s not even trying any more. Aside from that, the story involves the Mission Impossible team going slightly rogue (again) after messing up a mission (again) to track down an arms dealer trying to nuke the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia all at once. It’s also the only place you’ll get see Henry Cavill’s moustache that was so badly comput-o-erased from Superman’s face in Justice League. He plays a top CIA assassin sent after the MI team to keep them in check when everything kicks off. Leon Hurley

What: Mission Impossible Fallout
Where: US and UK cinemas
When: July 25 in the UK, July 27 in the US

6. Is Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's move to ditch loot boxes the start of a wider industry trend?

Orcs in Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Micro-transactions. Loot boxes. These are basically the swear words of the video game world (well, some of them anyway). They're not exactly popular mechanics, especially when it comes to full-priced games. Titles like Fortnite or Pokemon Go, which you can play for free forever and only pay when you want a new skin or another egg incubator, rarely come under the fiery gaze of the gaming community for the way they deal with such in-game purchases. But games like Middle-earth: Shadow of War, or, whisper it, Star Wars Battlefront 2, haven't had it quite so easy. However, in its latest update, Shadow of War has done away with microtransactions and loot boxes entirely, after the original announcement back in April, where developer Monolith said that the ability to spend real money on Orcs "risked undermining the heart of our game, the Nemesis System". It's an incredibly interesting move by Monolith, and one that has sparked questions as to whether other developers and publishers will follow suit. After the backlash that lots of huge games have had for their inclusive of microtransactions, it's definitely something that needs to be addressed in the biggest of the new games for 2018. It'll be very interesting to see how it all plays out when the big names in games start arriving from September onwards. Sam Loveridge

What: Shadow of War's latest update
Where: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
When: Right now

7. Dig in to Destiny 2’s last big update – and loot the final Faction Rally of Season Three - before Solstice of Heroes leads into Year Two

And lo, the final run into the (hopefully) game-saving Destiny 2: Forsaken expansion begins. In early September, Destiny 2: Year Two starts, purporting to bring with it all of the changes, fixes, overhauls and evolutions that the frequently disappointed Destiny community has been craving for oh so long. But before that, there’s a little time to kick back, take stock, and celebrate the end of Year One in the most quintessentially Destiny way: By grinding for limited-time loot, using incrementally improved gear. The big Solstice of Heroes event starts on July 31, but before that we have the last Faction Rally of Season Two to finish, along with a final bunch of new gear upgrades and systems changes to play with (before Forsaken mixes everything up). That means that you still have until Tuesday to fight your way up to level 50 Faction loyalty for that last Exotic weapon Catalyst, and you also have a bunch of new ways to play at the same time. Most immediately, stalwart Exotic armour pieces like the Warlocks’ Starfire Protocol and the Titans’ ACD/0 Feedback Fence have been given ludicrous new upgrades. And beyond that, 6v6 Quickplay is now a standard Crucible playlist. There’s also a permanent Rumble playlist, Strike and Crucible Bounties, and Prestige versions of the two Raid Lairs. Dig in, kick the tyres, and see how it makes you feel about Year Two. David Houghton

What: Destiny 2’s big July update
Where: PS4, Xbox One, PC
When: Out now

8. San Diego Comic Con 2018 kicks off this week, but with Marvel Studios and HBO absent, what can fans expect?

San Diego Comic Con is usually the biggest event in any geek’s calendar whether their into movies, games, or comics, but this year, things are looking a little different. Both Marvel Studios and HBO are giving Comic Con 2018 a miss, which means they’ll be no news, footage, or revelations about Avengers 4, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Game of Thrones season 8, or Westworld season 3. With two of the most popular names in movies and TV absent from the Con, what can fans expect to find? Well, Warner Bros. is taking full advantage of Marvel’s absence and will dominate Hall H on Saturday with sneak peeks at the Aquaman movie, Wonder Woman 2, and more. Then there’s our first look at the new and first female Doctor Who during BBC America’s panel, not to mention teasers for The Predator, Halloween, Glass, and a whole host of new TV shows in the form of George R. R. Martin’s Nightflyers and the Charmed reboot from The CW. You can find a full breakdown of the San Diego Comic Con 2018 schedule on the our hub page and don’t worry if you’re busy this weekend/asleep during US hours because GR will be covering all the big news from Comic Con, so you don’t miss a thing. Lauren O’Callaghan

What: San Diego Comic Con 2018
When: July 19-22, 2018
Where: San Diego… and on GR!

8 Things to Watch This Week picks the best games, movies and shows of the next seven days every Friday at 9am PDT / 5pm BST.

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