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Fashion

Rag & Bone selling $395 Pizza Rat sweater

Pizza rat has been gentrified.

Retailer of pricey, urban-chic threads Rag & Bone has debuted an entire line dedicated to subway hero pizza rat — including a $395 sweater — in honor of 2020 being dubbed the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar.

“Made from different types of ultra-soft yarn to give it textural interest that fits the Pizza Rat graphic,” reads the product description for the cotton, merino, cashmere and alpaca sweater, named “Pizza Rat Crew.”

Also in the lowbrow, high-end Pizza Rat line are a $150 tee, $275 sneakers, a $95 beanie, $150 coin pouch,  $150 card case and a discreet $425 handbag with the pie-loving rodent hidden inside.

For those not able to pay full price for the pricey subway pest-branded gear upfront, Rag & Bone offers the option to pay for it in monthly installments.

“That you can finance this rat sweater is another layer of insanity,” tweets one horrified critic.

“This $395 pizza rat sweater is everything thats wrong with what new york is becoming,” writes reporter Polly Mosendz.

An ad reel on Rag & Bone’s homepage shows attractive young people wearing the Pizza Rat items in a pizzeria.

The brand, founded in 2002, prides itself on “combining British heritage with directional, modern design,” according to its About page on Facebook.

The notorious rodent first made headlines in 2015, when YouTube footage of the little guy carrying an entire slice of pizza down a flight of stairs went viral. His successful scavenging notoriety has paved the way for other vermin to become internet famous as well.

An overpriced sweater somehow feels like the natural endpoint for the humble creature.

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Technology

The Games We Would Love To See Announced In 2020

It’s the start of a new year and a new decade, and 2020 already feels full of endless possibilities. New consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be hitting this holiday season, and with that comes even more potential for blockbuster game announcements throughout the year. As we kick off the new year, we want to look ahead to the video games we would most like to see announced over the next 12 months.

These are our dream scenarios; we know they aren’t all plausible.  But in some perfect version of 2020, maybe they are. Read about each editor’s most-wanted game announcement, then tell us about your dream reveal in the comments below!

Star Wars Battlefront II

Star Wars: X-Wing

Criterion Games already created the blueprint for an X-Wing revival in Star Wars Battlefront II’s space-combat-focused multiplayer. How that could work as a single-player experience was also prototyped by Criterion in the short (and awesome) Star Wars Battlefront – Rogue One X-Wing VR Mission. Turn that into a full game bearing the X-Wing name. Players can still fly other vehicles, but have the story focus on an X-Wing squadron or pilot. Luke, Wedge, or Poe could lead the charge. Not every Star Wars game has to have a lightsaber in it. LucasArts proved that numerous times back in the day with the X-Wing and Rogue Squadron series. Please bring one of those back, EA.— Andrew Reiner

The World Ends With You sequel

Like many fans, I haven’t given up on hoping for a sequel to The World Ends With You. As a game with such distinct style and substance, it’s a shame Square Enix hasn’t announced a new entry for this unique property. When the Switch version launched over a year ago, I thought it might drum up more interest in resurrecting the series. Creative director Tetsuya Nomura seemed to be hoping for the same, saying in a Nintendo blog back in 2018 that it was “the final chance for creating a path to a sequel” and that he’s had ideas for the past 11 years of what would come next. Sadly, it’s been crickets since then, with no updates either way. Hopefully, the hold up has just been that Square Enix is finishing up some other projects before it commits to anything. Still, I’d love to see where the Reaper’s Game could go and how the game’s mechanics would get reinvented for newer hardware. And knowing Nomura had all these ideas makes me even more curious to see what he would do next.— Kimberley Wallace

Silent Hill Soulslike

This collaboration between Konami and From Software would be legendary. Imagine walking the streets of Silent Hill armed with an array of weapons, ready to engage in carefully timed combat with ghouls and aberrations. Some of the puzzle solving from the series would be preserved, with the combat borrowing elements from From Software’s action suite, from Souls to Sekiro. Wondering if you’re coming up on some deadly enemies? The classic Silent Hill camera lets you know when foes are ready to strike, with the audio going completely dissonant and wild when you approach a boss like a Pyramid Head or underworld wurm. Why not? This series has had all kind of mental leaps and UFOs! Level up, customize your character, and battle minions from hell in schools, asylums, and hospitals!— Daniel Tack

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Splinter Cell

Some of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises have been heading in a certain direction the past few years: They’re putting a focus on stealth action in co-op friendly open worlds. Splinter Cell is getting left behind, despite its beloved co-op campaigns and sprawling, multi-path levels – and that is absolute nonsense. Imagine a better version of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and that’s what the future of Splinter Cell should be. Satisfying stealth mechanics and fun gadgets with varying degrees of lethality, all in an open-world setting with dense outposts that offer multiple paths. Sam Fisher is the voice in the ear of your custom character, guiding them through missions. It’s a complete no-brainer in my mind, I hope Ubisoft looks into its heart in 2020 and feels the same way.— Leo Vader

Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising 5

I’m taking full advantage of this list’s central conceit, which is that the plausibility of our predictions isn’t important. With that in mind, I’m gunning for a Dead Rising 5 announcement. Never mind the fact that Capcom closed the studio behind the series, Capcom Vancouver, in 2018. And let’s not dwell on the fact that zombies may or may not be completely played out in 2020. I want to hear an announcement this year! I’d love to see a renewed emphasis on the psychopaths, since those human survivors have long been one of the most interesting elements in the series. Dead Rising 4 whiffed on that element, which was disappointing, even though I still think the game is pretty solid otherwise. Who knows? Maybe Microsoft could reanimate this franchise with the launch of the Xbox later this year. Dead Rising 3 was a launch game on Xbox One, and Dead Rising 4 was a timed exclusive on Microsoft’s platform. I can always dream.— Jeff Cork

Spider-Man

Spider-Man 2

While Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War hogged most of the awards in 2018, Insomniac’s treatment of Marvel’s Spider-Man was incredible, rivaling the greatest superhero games in history. It told an excellent, self-contained story that featured many of Spidey’s most sinister adversaries, but it also showed how Spider-Man’s problems can quickly become Peter Parker’s problems. Plus, it definitely set the stage for future entries through myriad teases and character appearances. Could we finally see Green Goblin? What about Venom? Possibilities abound, and with Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers game scheduled to hit this year, it would be awesome if these titles all existed in the same Marvel game universe.— Brian Shea

Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect Trilogy Remake

Some gamers think this should be easy, saying “Why can’t BioWare just re-release all three games in the Mass Effect trilogy, but using uniform gameplay systems?” In reality, that would be an incredibly complicated task – but I still want BioWare to do it anyway. We could play through Commander Shepard’s saga again, but with all the improvements retroactively applied across the entire adventure. Picture the fluid combat of Mass Effect 3, the dialogue interrupts of Mass Effect 2, and the deep skill progression of Mass Effect 1 all blended together to create a consistent and rewarding experience from top to bottom. Plus, BioWare could tune up the parts of the originals that didn’t totally work, like some clunky menus, annoying minigames, and wonky boss fights. Replaying old Mass Effect games is still fun, but a full remake would allow the adventure to be immortalized in its best possible incarnation.— Joe Juba

StarCraft: Ghost

Blizzard is well-known as a company that makes great games, but it’s also famous for killing projects well into their development. StarCraft: Ghost is one of the most infamous examples of this practice, and it’s also the canceled project that cut me the deepest. As a fan of both StarCraft and stealth games, Ghost sounded like a brilliant combination of two of my favorite things. As Nova, players would have a boots-on-the-ground view of Blizzard’s phenomenal sci-fi world. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to imagine that the design doc said something like, “Splinter Cell in space.” StarCraft: Ghost sounded almost too good to be true. And maybe it was; I can’t speak to its quality, because it didn’t release. After a few years in development, Blizzard canceled the project. Still, old ideas have a habit of resurfacing – especially great ideas – and StarCraft: Ghost is still a great idea. Now more than ever, the industry needs a good stealth game, and StarCraft’s world is begging for someone to create a load of inventive sneaking gadgets. Imagine jumping from shadow to shadow as you board a Protoss Mothership or activating Nova’s cloaking device while sneaking through a Zerg encampment. I’d love to acquire new tools that would let me hack into and control enemy vehicles, psionically disable foes, and perform short-range teleportation maneuvers. Given Blizzard’s current push of developing games with a multiplayer focus and a long tail, maybe Ghost isn’t the kind of game that gets an approved budget. Maybe we’ll never see anything more of StarCraft: Ghost. If that’s the case, then could Ubisoft just release another Splinter Cell already?!— Ben Reeves

Fable III

Fable 4

Let me take you back to a simpler time. A time when gamers roamed the whimsical countryside of Albion and were free of the phrase “asymmetrical multiplayer.” Believe it or not, it’s been 10 years since Fable III released – an injustice that needs to be righted. At one time, Fable was the third pillar in Xbox’s stout first-party lineup. The fantasy world remains a classic for its cheeky humor, intriguing world building, and balanced combat, and was the perfect palate cleanser after playing games such as Halo and Gears of War. In 2020, I need Phil Spencer to strut on stage and confirm that Playground Games is working on the next Fable, set to release before the end of 2021. In a time where Xbox fans want more great exclusives and with Microsoft’s new system launching later this year, the timing is perfect to reintroduce the world to the quirky joy that is Fable.— Alex Stadnik

Fight Night Champion

Fight Night

EA’s Fight Night series has been gone too long; the visceral boxing experience peaked with 2011’s Fight Night Champion, but the franchise has been absent this entire console generation. Certainly EA’s UFC has boxing elements, but the sport deserves its own stage. Fight Night represented that well: the close-up on spray from a jab to the jaw, the strategic dance of the fighters, and the desperate work of the corner team. Add some story elements and/or a full career mode, and EA could deliver a satisfying, challenging journey. Fight Night doesn’t have to be an annual series, but it does have to come back.— Matthew Kato

Ultima

We are long overdue for a new single-player installment of one of the original RPG series that defined the genre. Games like Elder Scrolls, Divinity, The Witcher, and Dragon Age owe huge debts to the Ultima franchise, which helped introduce open-world exploration, party-based combat, moral and ethical quandaries, and grand fantasy storytelling into the video game role-playing canon. Electronic Arts would be wise to capitalize on the venerable brand by finding a way to work through any rights issues, and reintroduce the franchise to a public that is hungry for big fantasy worlds to explore. The ill-advised mobile game of 2013 wasn’t the right direction to prove the series’ worth; we need a full-blown, triple-A epic for gamers to embrace. Players should return to the role of the mysterious Avatar as they once again are called to a much-changed Britannia, there to confront a new generation’s struggles to understand embody the Virtues (like compassion, valor, and honor) that defined the earlier game narratives. The depth of world-building that shaped the early games in the series would lend weight and history to a new installment, and a strong team of game writers and designers could capitalize on the explicit morality component inherent to the Ultima brand. The series has lain dormant for far too long, a new installment on next-gen consoles could be amazing.— Matthew Miller


What is your dream announcement in 2020? Let us know in the comments!

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Basketball

Lakers’ Anthony Davis to travel after negative MRI from fall

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis plans to travel with the Los Angeles Lakers on their upcoming road trip after he bruised his buttocks in a nasty fall.

The Lakers announced encouraging news about their six-time All-Star’s health Wednesday, a day after he left their blowout win over New York with a scary injury.

An MRI exam performed overnight on Davis showed no major concerns, and X-rays were negative. Davis was extremely sore, but his injuries appear to be only bruises.

The NBA’s sixth-leading scorer is expected to be listed as questionable when the Lakers open a two-game road trip Friday in Dallas.

Davis was hurt when he fell hard on his back and tailbone after trying to block the shot of New York’s Julius Randle in the third quarter of the Lakers’ sixth straight win, 117-87 over the Knicks on Tuesday night.

Davis pounded the court in pain and stayed down for about two minutes while his teammates gathered around him. He eventually rose with help and walked off the court slowly, but under his own power.

After the game, the Lakers’ Danny Green called it an “ugly fall, man. It’s probably going to take some time, seeing how long it took for him to get up and walk out of here, the way he’s walking out of here.”

The news might not be as bad as the Lakers feared, however.

The team initially diagnosed the injury as a bruised sacrum — the lower part of the spine. But the Lakers altered their diagnosis to a soft-tissue bruise after the MRI, which likely means the injury is less serious.

The Western Conference-leading Lakers (30-7) were off Wednesday. They play the Mavericks on Friday and at Oklahoma City on Saturday before returning to Los Angeles.

Davis will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he is widely expected to re-sign with the Lakers. He is averaging 27.7 points and 9.5 rebounds in his first season with Los Angeles after the team traded most of its young core to New Orleans for him.

“He’s one of our pillars,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s our present. He’s our future. He’s one of the best players in the world, so obviously he means a lot.”

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Baseball

Brewers ‘Counsell gets 3-year contract extension through ’23

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee general manager David Stearns didn’t have to do much thinking when it came to a new long-term deal for Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

”Both Craig and I thought this was probably an inevitability at some point,” Stearns said Wednesday after announcing a three-year extension for Counsell through the 2023 season. ”It was just a matter of finding a time to work through the details.”

Hired to replace Ron Roenicke a month into the 2015 season, Counsell led the Brewers to consecutive postseason appearances for the first time in team history.

Counsell already is the longest-tenured manager in the National League. Among all big league managers, he is fifth behind Oakland’s Bob Melvin, Cleveland’s Terry Francona, Houston’s AJ Hinch and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash.

”You know this job doesn’t have much security,” Counsel said. ”I think we’ve taken steps to put the franchise in a good place, and that’s going to be the job moving forward — to keep it in a good place and to keep us contenting for playoff appearances and World Series titles. That’s our mission going forward, and hopefully with some stability, that helps us do that.”

Milwaukee went 96-67 in 2018, beating the Chicago Cubs in a tiebreaker game for the NL Central title and tying the franchise record for wins. The Brewers reached Game 7 of the NL Championship Series, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then lost to Washington in last year’s NL wild card game after wasting an eighth-inning lead.

The 49-year-old Counsell finished second in NL Manager of the Year voting in each of the last two seasons. He is 405-381with the Brewers.

”I get to continue to work for a franchise that means a lot to me while we get to continue doing what we’ve been doing, and try to take it to another level,” Counsell said. ”It’s really that the work gets to continue — that’s what I’m excited about.”

Counsell was raised in Milwaukee and his father, John, worked in the Brewers’ community relations department and ran the team’s speakers bureau. Counsell played 16 seasons in the major leagues and won World Series rings with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. He spent his last five big league seasons with the Brewers, who hired him after the 2011 season as a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Football

Browns continue coaching search, interview Eagles’ Schwartz

CLEVELAND (AP) — Jim Schwartz began his NFL career as a gofer with the Browns. If he comes back, he can boss people around.

The Philadelphia Eagles‘ defensive coordinator, who started out as a scout and errand runner under coach Bill Belichick in Cleveland, interviewed Wednesday to be the Browns’ next coach. Schwartz has more head coaching experience than any of the other five candidates who have spoken to the team.

Schwartz had a five-year run as Detroit’s coach, and he long has been regarded as one of the league’s top assistants.

The 53-year-old is looking for another shot as head coach, and he could get the chance with the Browns, who are the only team still looking.

Owner Jimmy Haslam promised a ”disciplined” and ”thorough” search for his next coach last week, and there’s no reason for the Browns to rush now that they don’t have any competition and the field of available candidates has thinned with Washington, Carolina, Dallas and the New York Giants addressing their vacancies.

Schwartz is not considered a front-runner for Cleveland’s job, but he does have an impressive resume, which includes inheriting an 0-16 team in Detroit and taking it to the playoffs in his third season. Schwartz went 29-52 with the Lions.

After coaching in college, Schwartz joined the Browns in 1993 and worked with the team for three years before owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore, where he became the Ravens’ outside linebackers coach. He was Tennessee’s defensive coordinator and then got the Lions job in 2009.

Schwartz has spent the past four seasons with the Eagles, who have ranked in the top 5 in yards and points allowed three times with him in charge. He is under contract with Philadelphia through next season, but the club can’t stop him from taking a head job with another team.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson is thrilled that Schwartz is getting a chance to sell himself to the Browns.

”I think he would make a tremendous head coach again with his leadership and what he has brought and how I’ve been able to lean on him and his experiences as a former head coach,” Pederson said. ”Jim’s done an outstanding job with our defense, obviously, the improvement we saw throughout the course of this season. I’m excited for him and his opportunity and wish him the best.”

Haslam and his search committee, which includes chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, have interviews scheduled with Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski on Thursday and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Friday.

McDaniels, who has Ohio roots and is believed to be favored by Haslam, had planned visits to Carolina and the New York Giants, but both of those teams zeroed in on other coaches on Tuesday.

Stefanski was DePodesta’s preferred choice last year when Haslam chose Freddie Kitchens, who was fired after going 6-10 during a drama-filled season.

The Browns also interviewed former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

McCarthy was signed by the Cowboys on Tuesday.

Schwartz and McDaniels are the only remaining candidates with head coaching experience.

Once the Browns hire a coach, they’ll begin interviews for general manager. Haslam wanted his new coach involved in that process to make sure they’re aligned from the outset.

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Lifestyle

10 Best Video Games 2019

Four of the best games of the decade came out last year. God of War, Insomniac’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2 from Rockstar, and Nintendo’s video game equivalent of a touchdown dance, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. With 2018 representing such a leap forward for the industry, expectations were high for 2019. And while a lot of the top studios stepped up to the plate, we didn’t see the sort of towering achievements in gaming this year that we did in years past.

But that’s not to say the last year of the 2010s was a disappointment. FromSoftware gave us a spectacular re-assessment of its Dark Souls series that was in big need of an update, Apple Arcade empowered smaller, more intimate developers to get into the spotlight, and Nintendo finally, at long last, managed its first console Pokémon title. 2019 won’t be as memorable as 2018. Video games as an industry, however, will continue to grow and reshape in new and exciting ways, building on what 2019’s titles accomplished, as we push into the next decade. Until then, these are Esquire‘s top 10 video games of the year. Play one, play them all.


10. Kingdom Hearts 3

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Kingdom Hearts III

Release Date: January 25
Platform:
Xbox One, PS4

Nearly 15 years after the last main series installment Kingdom Hearts 2, diehard fans leftover from the PS2 era finally got their hands on another home console Kingdom Hearts title, starring Sora and the original trio. Fusing the complex and darker tones of Final Fantasy with the charm of Disney into one ridiculously complex, twisty story should not work by any means, yet somehow totally does. This game has an incredible visual style, remarkably smooth combat, and inventive worlds and terrain, making it one of the must-play titles this year. While the release divided fans and the community, there’s no denying the game is polished, even if it leaves distant echoes of Donald spotting ingredients in the darkest corners of your memory. Plus, the ReMind DLC is set to release this January with a bunch of new content, making now the perfect time to hop in. —C.S.


9. Sayonara Wild Hearts

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Sayonara Wild Hearts

Release Date: September 19
Platform:
Apple Arcade, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Between Google Stadia, Apple Arcade, and all the recently announced pay-to-play subscription services, 2019 has been an exhausting year for gaming platform news. But Apple Arcade turned out to be legitimately promising. The subscription service justified its existence by costing only $5 a month, and it gave players access to a rich and diverse cross-section of indie developers and bigger studios entering the mobile game ecosystem. Sayonara Wild Hearts from Simogo is a completely distinctive piece of work that feels downright insane to experience on a cellular phone. But that’s what makes the artform of gaming so exciting—it can resonate on screens big and small. With a sharp, vector art style and music video-inspired gameplay, Sayonara easily competes with the big, triple-A offerings from the year. And, most of all, at only a few bucks as part of the Apple Arcade subscription, it really makes you question the $60 price tag on main console games. —D.N.


8. The Outer Worlds

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The Outer Worlds

Release Date: October 25
Platforms:
Xbox One, PS4, PC

Video game developer Obsidian broke free from its Bethesda publishing chains, and showed us it’s better off alone. The Outer Worlds nails the choice heavy and customized action role play we came to love from the likes of Fallout and Skyrim. It takes place in a new, unfamiliar world with tons of quests, refined gameplay, and most importantly, choices, allowing players to become heroes, villains, bounty hunters, or anything else they want. It’s a dark look into your own psyche, because regardless of how noble you believe you are, you’ll still steal and loot the innocent because you’re just a few credits short of some shiny new armor. While Bethesda’s been stumbling lately, especially with the beloved franchise Fallout, it’s nice to see Obsidian picking up the slack and giving players the inventive experiences they really want. —C.S.


7. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Release Date: March 22
Platforms:
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Hailing from the team that brought us the likes of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice introduces some fresh gameplay and a new style into FromSoftware’s signature tactile—and difficult—gameplay. Still present are the intense, ass-clenching, precision-based combat and dodging, as well as the large-scale epic boss fights, but they’re improved with feudal Japanese Samurai elements like jumping, grappling, and hefty stealth mechanics, so players get just enough of what they love while being challenged by updated gameplay. Sekiro is polished, exciting, and fundamentally fun. It also has an immense amount of replayability, seeing as I’m currently on my fifth journey through it. Maybe on my sixth I’ll try playing with a dance pad or a bunch of electrified fruits, just to take some years off my life. This game is truly a testament to strategic, fast-paced combat. —C.S.


6. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26
Platform:
Nintendo Switch

Fire Emblem is a Nintendo franchise sorely overlooked in the West, even though half of the Smash Bros. roster comes from it. I’ve been playing Fire Emblem for a while, and no game has kept my interest as much as Three Houses. This title is all about strategy and choices. With many vastly different playthroughs all taking nearly 60 hours to beat, permadeath in combat, and relationship development that matters, the game has a ton to do. What Three Houses really aces, however, is its characterization and rewards system. The cast of this game will have you willing to sacrifice yourself before you lose anyone on your team. The game also makes you feel genuinely rewarded for building relationships and taking the time to do the extra training and episodes. I can easily fizzle out on turn-based RPGs, but somehow this game has me on my third playthrough. If you’ve never tried a Fire Emblem game, or think it’s not your thing, I dare you to play this title. And if Three Houses doesn’t hook you, no adjacent games will. —C.S.


5. Control

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Control

Release Date: August 27
Platform:
Xbox One, PS4, PC

This game is batshit—a wild, captivating narrative driven by intense telekinetic abilities and third-person shooter combat. Remedy Entertainment created one of the most independent and whole-package titles we’ve seen, not only from its studio, but in the industry in a long time. The game feels like what all those stylized, third-person shooters from the PS3 and early-PS4 era were trying to do, and failing at doing. In fact, the whole game has a sci-fi/Mr. Robot vibe, and it’s viewed from Jesse’s point of view, so players get a fragmented look at the world from her psyche. Needless to say, it has a plot that is as complicated as it is satisfying, even if it does make you second-guess your sobriety at points. Control is an ode to using masterful storytelling and inventive mechanics to create a truly unique experience in gaming. It’ll mess with your head and your reality. —C.S.


4. Pokemon Sword and Shield

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Pokémon Sword and Shield

Pokémon Sword and Shield

$56.99
amazon.com

Release Date: November 15
Platform:
Nintendo Switch

Pokémon on the big screen. It’s something fans of the franchise have fantasized about for decades now. Nintendo has toyed with our expectations before, giving us console titles like Pokémon Stadium and Pokken Tournament, but until 2019, an adventure game in the main series of Pokémon was just a pipe dream. When Sword and Shield were announced, fans threw a fit after finding out that some key features of games past were being left out. This new Switch title would no longer allow gamers to import all of their favorite Pokémon into the game, mega-evolutions were gone, and even some basic elements of gameplay were dropped, like the ability to teach Pokémon to Fly or Swim. But GameFreak was right to make some changes to the decades-old formula. Sword and Shield are less a game-changing Breath of the Wild-level achievement than they are a massive improvement to the series overall. The series has finally entered the modern day. It makes us very exciting for the Pokémon games to come. —D.N.


3. Untitled Goose Game

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Untitled Goose Game

Release Date: September 20
Platform:
Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Coming Soon:
Xbox One, PS4

Honk. Honk honk. I’m a mischievous little goose. I’m here to ruin your day. Untitled Goose Game may look like just a pleasant little jaunt through the British countryside, but it’s actually the most punk rock video title in years. And boy is it satisfying to play a game that has no other narrative foundation than the joy of tearing apart the perfect little lives of the over-privileged. It’s not the sort of Hollywood-rivaling experience that rockets the medium of gaming into soaring new heights, but Goose Game does everything a video game has to do, and does it more efficiently than most of the other titles released this year. It earns itself the rare distinction of being a singularly joyful experience. There’s nothing in House House’s little goose adventurer that feels overzealous or frustrating. Every part of it is simple, fun, and entertaining. At the end of a very long day, there are few experiences more satisfying. —D.N.


2. Mortal Kombat 11

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Mortal Kombat 11

Release Date: April 23
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC

After three decades of Mortal Kombat games, it seemed like there was little left to be said for a series that has already ripped more than enough spines to fill an entire football stadium. But, NetherRealm’s risky shift toward narrative, Hollywood-level storytelling makes MK11 not only one of the best games of 2019, but also the best MK game of all time. Of course, the combat in the eleventh main series title of the franchise is as elevated and complex as it’s ever been—but what makes MK11 so daring is its single player mode. For years, the leading criticism of fighting games has been their hollow or otherwise forgettable single player campaign. The past few MK games have broken that mold a bit, but MK11 finally makes the case that fighting games are not only worth buying for the spirit of competition. The story of the latest battle for control of EarthRealm and the constellation of realms that it resides inside is actually quite affecting, somehow making us sympathize with these mindless ragemonster characters. With lots of DLC still yet to be announced, MK11 is a game we will be playing for years to come. —D.N.


Game of the Year
Super Mario Maker 2

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Super Mario Maker 2

Release Date: June 28
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Yes, Mario Maker 2 is Esquire’s Game of the Year. It is as close as we came to a perfect title in 2019, and not just because Arby’s made some levels. The concept of harnessing the imagination of a vast player base to create a game with a content stream that is quite literally endless is brilliant, and Mario Maker 2 expanded on the excellent blueprint laid out in the first title, adding a trove of new tools and styles. Those tools Nintendo gave us allowed for everything from extremely challenging levels, inventive Rube Goldberg-esque auto Marios, music-based levels, rhythm-based levels, recreations of other games, and so much more intense creativity. The game lit the world on fire when it came out; everyone and anyone was playing or talking about it. Hell, even brands started uploading their own levels in the community. Any title that is a challenge and also prompts you to listen to an 8-bit rendition of “All Star” by Smash Mouth is a hit in our book. Mario Maker 2 sparked a cultural phenomenon, much like what the Mario Brothers did in the early days. —C.S.

 

Video Editor
Dom Nero is a writer and video editor based out of Astoria, NY.
Cameron Sherrill is a designer and writer for Esquire.com, where he covers technology and video games.

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Trending News

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are Stepping Back as “Senior Members” of Royal Family

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have decided to “step back” as “senior members of the Royal Family,” they announced on the Sussex Royal Instagram on January 8. It’s a move that media outlets are already calling “unprecedented.”

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen,” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shared on Instagram. “It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”

The post concludes, “We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

As People notes, the news this week indicates Harry and Megan won’t reside full time in the U.K., and the “North America” the royals mention could be Canada (Meghan previously lived in Toronto, and the family recently vacationed on Vancouver Island).

The announcement comes after months of tabloid harassment involving Harry and Meghan. In October, Prince Harry announced that Meghan would be pursuing legal action against the Mail on Sunday, which reportedly published a letter Meghan wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. In his statement, Harry compared the situation to the one his mother, Princess Diana, had faced.

“My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person,” he said at the time. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Meghan Markle Is Criticized for Marrying Prince Harry in “60 Minutes Australia” Special

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Tv Shows

The Bachelor Producers Encourage Contestants To Steal ‘For A Sec’ With Peter Weber

As any fan of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and /or Bachelor in Paradise will know pretty well by now, each show seems to follow a set playbook for how things progress when it comes to the leads interacting with those vying for their hearts. But, franchise host Chris Harrison was quick a few months ago to remind us that what we saw as “rules” were really more like loosey goosey guidelines that could be switched up at any minute. Well, we know now that at least one of the common traits of the show is very much encouraged by producers.

Something that happens every single Bachelor / Bachelorette season, especially during the opening stretch after the prospective wives / husbands arrive at the mansion, is that many of them try to force the hand of the lead when it comes to getting to know them. How? Well, as the lead speaks to each person one-on-one, it’s not a surprise for a different suitor to crash the party and ask, “Can I steal you for a second?” As can be expected, the same thing happened on new Bachelor Peter Weber’s season premiere, and he always agreed to the interruption.

So, why does this happen all the time? According to Chris Harrison, it’s not just the contestants deciding to go for it, as the producers do stoke the “can I steal you?” flames. Here’s what he told Entertainment Tonight:

You know what? As a recently inducted member of Bachelor Nation, this is actually a relief to hear. Every season, there are many aspects of The Bachelor (not to mention the other franchise shows) that will be mildly to severely irritating, and, for me, hearing “Can I steal you for a sec?” almost every time the lead sits down with someone definitely tips the scale at severely. I have wondered for several seasons now why the lead allows the near-constant interruptions and now I realize that they know the producers would prefer it if they did.

I mean, I totally understand where the impulse to break into someone else’s one-on-one time comes from. As Chris Harrison said, if you’re competing for the lead’s attention, you need to get some solo face time with him or her. That first night in the mansion is especially crucial, which is why we always see so many people come out of the limo in crazy costumes or introduce themselves with some kind of gimmick; they’re trying to make themselves a memorable member of the throng.

Peter Weber started Season 24 of The Bachelor with a whopping 30 women to choose from. There’s a rose ceremony at the end of that first night, so if you don’t get to spend any alone time talking to the man, he’ll be even more likely to withhold his precious rose (not a euphemism) from you and send you packing. So, we end up with scenarios like this:

Ahem…As you can see, producers probably really like this move because it leads to early tension, and The Bachelor is next-to-nothing if there’s no drama between the ladies. So, ladies and gents, go ahead! Shoot your shot with the lead and steal away, because literally no one is going to stop you.

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Fashion

The Best Duffel Bag and Weekender Travel Bag for Men in 2020

A good duffel bag needs to do only one thing: hold stuff. The best duffel bag, however, needs to check off a few more boxes. A great duffel bag should still carry your clothes, kicks, chargers, toiletries, and everything else in the most space-efficient, easy-to-find way possible. A great duffel should outlast your passport—or better yet, you—despite years of being stuffed in an overhead bin and thrown in the trunk of your car. A great duffel should make everyone else in the TSA line jealous. And in most cases, that means the best duffel bag is made from leather. Cowhide keeps your gear protected and develops a singular patina over time that’s all yours. That luxe hide, however, is going to cost you. Which is why we’re glad to confirm that these days there are also plenty of non-leather options on the market that are smartly engineered to hold all your stuff and stand up to being stuffed in an overheard bin again and again. And, yes, those options are also actually stylish. We’ve slung hundreds over our shoulders over the years, and none hauled our stuff as well as these. Here are 17 duffels for every budget and every type of weekend trip.


The Best Duffel Bag, Period

Lotuff No. 12 weekender

Squared-edge duffels can be clunky to carry and eye-pleasing cylindrical shapes are tricky to pack, but Lotuff’s No. 12 model has the just-right compromise: rectangular on the bottom, tapering up into a rounded top. That nameless-shape ensures the bag is as comfortable to carry against on your back (with the detachable strap) as it is to haul by hand but still sits stable atop a rolling suitcase. It’s made in the U.S.A. from vegetable-tanned leather with each piece of the carryall cut from the section that best serves that area (thicker for the body, thinner for interior pockets). Then there are the considered details: the zipper closure is engineered to run from from end-wall to end-wall, not simply across the top. That allows for a wider opening, which makes packing easy. The zippers and hardware are fabricated from solid brass, including the lock-and-key closure—nothing’s breaking here. There’s an interior zip pocket for the all the cords and tie bars you need to keep separate. The bottom of the bag is reinforced with a second leather layer, plus the handles are both riveted and stitched to support the weight of whatever you’re hauling around.

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The Best Status Symbol Duffel Bag

Louis Vuitton monogram eclipse keepall

Carrying a Louis Vuitton’s Keepall 55 blacked-out “Monogram Eclipse” duffel bag tells the world that you are a big-time man with big-time money. But there’s a reason the now-iconic bag hasn’t gone out of style in the last 90 years or so, even if it is a status symbol among the flashier set: it’s just a damn good duffel bag. It’s lightweight, thanks to a body that’s—shhhhhhhh—not leather, but coated cotton canvas (that yes, looks very, very much like leather). The shape is iconic, and the natural cowhide trim only gets better over time. Only L.V. could make cotton as enviably luxe as this.

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The Best Showstopping Duffel Bag

Bottega Veneta intrecciato duffel bag

Bottega Veneta’s signature”Intrecciato” woven leather design was first introduced in the 1970s as a way to break away from the box-shaped, rigid bags of the era. Using glove leather that was lighter and more pliable than cow skins traditionally used at the time, the brand’s craftspeople wove strips together to create a criss-cross pattern that achieved a lighter weight, more supple bag—that also stood out from the smooth-skin crowd. The artisanal infrastructure also means this bag holds its shape, whether it’s stuffed with gear in the overhead bin or barely packed for a quick overnight trip. And if you really want to stand out from every other passenger in the airport, opt for this guy in an uncommon color like this brick red.

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The Best Adventure Travel Duffel Bag

The North Face base camp duffel

Whether you’re heading to the nearest beach or Nepal, The North Face’s base camp duffel is equipped to get your gear there with zero hassle. The water-resistent laminaated ballistic nylon bag is super lightweight, with ample space for a weekend’s worth of clothes plus smart design features like a zippered pocket on the end (meant for separating wet clothes or dirty shoes). The padded shoulder strap makes hauling it around less strressful on your shoulders than most bags and the wavy colors (highlighter yellow, Ecto Cooler green) means it’s impossible to lose track of it on any journey.

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The Best Heavy Duty Duffel Bag

Filson medium twill duffel bag

Filson’s rugged twill bags have been the gold standard for guys who want to get their shit from point A to B, from the office to out-of-office getaways. The bag feels satisfyingly sturdy, thanks to a mix of rain-resistant twill and thick bridle leather handle, both of which get better/softer/doper over time. The storm-flap closure that sits over the top zip is a smart feature if you’re traveling in inclement weather and the wraparound leather straps mean this thing can carry a heavy load with ease.

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The Best Ready-for-Anything Duffel Bag

Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag 60L

This insanely durable Patagonia duffel has passed every test (planes, trains, automobiles—you name it) for summer vacations and holiday travel. Plus it looks approximately 1,000 percent cooler than everyone else’s carry-on. Like North Face’s base camp duffel, added shoulder-strap attachments mean you can actually hoof it up a mountain with this on your back.

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The Best Low-Key Elegant Duffel Bag

Longchamp “Le Foulonné” travel bag

For a bag first created in 1975, Longchamp’s “Le Foulonné” is impressively contemporary. It’s triangular body stands out in a field of tubular duffels, with a top-zip opening that stays open while you’re trying to pack a trip’s-worth of clothes in it. The sleek leather top strap not only looks good; it’s also less abrasive than fabric options out there.

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The Best Grab-and-Go Duffel Bag

Baboon Go-Tote

If you’ve ever needed to pack for a trip in under two minutes, then this is the bag for you. This straightforward giant holdall is crafted from impenetrable ballistic nylon, with two reinforced carry handles up top and a half-dozen stash pockets around the perimeter. Grab what you need, stuff it in where you can, and then get yourself out the door.

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The Best Quick Getaway Duffel Bag

Want Les Essentiels Hartsfield weekender

Want Les Essentials’ modernized riff on a carryall falls somewhere between a big tote and a traditional duffle bag, which makes it good for just about any kind of overnight trip. It features an organic cotton canvas body anchored by a smooth Italian leather base, a perfect mix of hardy and luxurious. The result is a streamlined carryall that offers a surprising amount of storage space inside.

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Eight More Duffels Worthy of Your Shoulders

Tumi Alpha 3 double expansion travel satchel

Bringing home a few more souvenirs than you bargained for? This Tumi number expands to give you an extra 13 inches of depth for all your newly acquired knick-knacks.

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Rains waterproof weekend duffel bag

Because there’s nothing worse than unpacking soggy wool sweaters.

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Coach metropolitan duffle 52

Gorgeous leather on the outside, generous space on the inside. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Monte & Coe wool weekender bag

That Italian wool exterior doesn’t just look good—it wicks away moisture, resists odors, and lets the stuff inside breathe.

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Carhartt legacy gear bag

As big and tough and ruggedly handsome as…well, everything else you own from Carhartt.

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Lands’ End canvas weekender duffle bag

Don’t forget to get it monogrammed for the full Cape Cod aesthetic.

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Herschel Supply Co. ultralight duffle bag

A light-as-air option with built-in backpack straps for when whatever you’re hauling gets heavy.

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United by Blue trail weekender

There’s a built-in laptop sleeve, to make that always awkward finagling for devices in the security line just a little bit easier.

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Basketball

Zion Williamson says he nearly returned to Duke rather than declare for 2019 NBA draft

The chatter about Zion Williamson returning to Duke last year seemed farfetched.

Williamson, a generationally great prospect, was a lock to go No. 1 in the NBA draft. He already faced an injury scare in college. The money was huge – a four-year, $44,271,137 contract and, more importantly, starting the clock toward his second deal plus a record-setting shoe contract. Practically no players anywhere near Williamson’s level have bypassed the draft in recent memory. Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, even said there was no consideration for returning to Duke.

But apparently Williamson actually thought about it. Hard.

Williamson, via The Ringer:

It was like the deadline, I think the deadline when you had to declare. You had to say, “Alright, what are you going to do, declare or not?”

Me, I wanted to go back. Nobody ever believes me. They think I’m just saying that. But no, I genuinely wanted to go back. I felt like the NBA wasn’t going anywhere. The money thing, that’s money. I don’t play this for money. I play it, because I genuinely love the game. I just loved my experience at Duke that much, where I wanted to stay.

But it was one of those situations where Coach K is not going to let me come back, because he wants me to do what’s best for the family. My teammates were saying, “That would be dope if you come back.” But at the same time, they’re telling me I would be leaving too much. I didn’t work this long to get to that. It was tough.

At the end of the day, I think it was kind of my mom. She said she’s going to support in whatever I do. So, I was like, “Alright, I’m going back.” And then I think her and my stepdad talked about it, and they were like, “You worked too hard to get to this moment. You’d feel bad if you left it.” So, I said, “I did work for this since I was four or five.” So, I’m going to go.

Wow.

That would changed the landscape through multiple levels of basketball. The NCAA would have taken an undeserved victory lap. Duke would be even better (if Williamson were healthy). The Pelicans would have less upside (though Ja Morant would have been a solid consolation prize). Maybe without another big name incoming, New Orleans would have handled the Anthony Davis trade differently, potentially affecting the Lakers.

I hope Williamson ultimately made the decision he wanted.

Everyone assumes Williamson should want the fame and fortune of the NBA. And maybe they’re right. This money can set him up for life. There’s nothing wrong a teenager taking advice. Sometimes, people need a push out of a comfortable status quo.

But the current system creates a predicament: There’s no going back to college basketball from the pros. Last year was absolutely the optimal time for Williamson to declare for the draft. But if he enjoyed college life, he loses his opportunity to experience that again.

It’s quandary.

I also wonder how Williamson views his decision now. He has yet to play this season due to a knee injury. The NBA would have always been there for him after another season at Duke, but not necessarily with the salary and endorsements of a No. 1 pick.

The forces of this system push elite prospects toward the first-possible draft. However Williamson felt, that was too great to overcome. I’m not sure whether this a happy or sad story.

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