Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: “The Patriot” Review

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“When your country calls, you answer.”

Full spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD continue below.

We’re only two episodes into Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’s winter return, and the series is wasting no time getting deep into some of the biggest plot points of the season. Did Director Mace never seem quite trustworthy to you? That’s finally dealt with. You were wondering whether the May L.M.D. storyline was going anywhere fast? There was developments on two fronts, there.

While it’s a repeated refrain that many people jumped off the SHIELD bandwagon in Season 1 after the show didn’t turn out to be what they wanted, this strong return after the Season 4 hiatus shows just how much the series has improved over the years. I’d go out on a limb to say Season 4 is as strong a season as Agents of SHIELD has ever pulled off, and a big tweak that needed to be changed was not lingering too long on any one plot point or mystery.

Which brings us back to Mace. As much as Jason O’Mara’s character has been integral to the events of Season 4, the question of his slightly sketchy motivations has been relegated to the background as more pressing concerns (*cough* Ghost Rider) came to the forefront. So with Radcliffe’s L.M.D.s and Senator Nadeer’s association with the Watch Dogs now major plot points, it does feel like it was the right time to reveal Mace isn’t even an Inhuman.

There was something off about Mace from the start, from his public relations focus to his goody two-shoes persona, so finding out it was all an act wasn’t that shocking. That said, I never questioned whether or not he was Inhuman since we found out a powered person replaced Coulson, so that was a nice payoff. The action sequences playing into his newly de-powered state were fabulously choreographed, and it’s always nice to see Coulson’s shield (and Mack’s axe hatchet) come into play.

Agents of SHIELD goes back and forth on how much General Talbot is a part of the show — likely due to Adrian Pasdar’s availability more than storytelling demands — so finding out the good general was behind the whole bait-and-switch wasn’t as impactful as it might have been if he’d been around more frequently. Fortunately O’Mara’s great, humbled performance as we see the real person behind the mask helped solidify the twist. And hey, we even got a nod to Mace being “the next Captain America” in the comics, and a nice reference to his super powered serum being based on the one used by Mr. Hyde, making the whole series feel more cohesive.

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That was something this episode did repeatedly, like when we got a nod to Simmons’ time undercover with Hydra. (It was also mentioned last week, as well.) Sometimes a show can be so focused on barreling forward, it loses sight of how far it’s come. With the speed at which Agents of SHIELD is burning through plot, it was at the risk of that, so if the writers are making a more concerted effort for the series to feel more cohesive, all the power to them. The effort is noted.

Even with the focus on Mace, the Watch Dogs and their Hydra lackeys, Agents of SHIELD didn’t lose sight of its L.M.D. storyline. The throughline is that Fitz and Simmons remain in conflict about what to do with Aida, and Fitz again lies to his girlfriend as he tries to investigate what went wrong with the L.M.D. project. How many times does he have to learn this isn’t a smart call?!

At least this might lead him quicker to the troublesome Radcliffe, who offered some much needed exposition about the May L.M.D. He viewed Aida’s self-awareness as an issue, so he programmed May to not know she is an L.M.D. Of course, that becomes an issue at the end of the episode when she sees her inner machinery, and with Radcliffe not able to tweak her programming, that likely is going to have very negative side effects. It’s a nice touch that the May L.M.D. continues to note that something feels off about her, and I’m excited to see where that storyline is headed.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Considering she’s appeared in every Avengers movie, it’s safe enough to count Maria Hill as an Avenger, right? Cobie Smulders confirmed she’ll be back for Infinity War during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Expect Hulk to play a pivotal role in both Avengers movies. “We’ve worked a really interesting arc into Thor 3, Avengers 3 and Avengers 4 for Banner that I think will — when it’s all added up — will feel like a Hulk movie, a standalone movie,” Mark Ruffalo told Yahoo! Movies.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Sebastian Stan will be back as Bucky Barnes in Avengers: Infinity War, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Russo also said that Vision and Scarlet Witch’s relationship would prove significant in Avengers: Infinity War.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Expect to see Scarlet Witch’s Captain America: Civil War arc continue in Infinity War. Co-director Joe Russo teased the death she causes in Civil War will inform “where she goes in Infinity War.”

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Jeremy Renner will be back in Avengers: Infinity War, and he’s excited about what’s ahead. “It’s some real exciting stuff for lots of characters, especially for what they’re thinking of doing with Hawkeye,” he told Hey U Guys.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Nebula will be in Infinity War, but don’t expect it to be a huge role. “I’ll be making a little appearance in the next Avengers movies,” Karen Gillan told BBC Scotland.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Zoe Saldana reconfirmed her involvement in Infinity War to MTV News at the 2017 Golden Globes. Even though shooting was slated to begin in several weeks, she still hadn’t seen a script.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Yes, that includes Drax the Destroyer too.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Vin Diesel then let slip that all of the Guardians of the Galaxy will be appearing in Infinity War, promising an epic Groot vs. Hulk fight.

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord was the first of the Guardians of the Galaxy to be confirmed for Infinity War.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

In addition to Doctor Strange, his sidekick Wong will be back for Infinity War. Benedict Wong confirmed his appearance to ComicBook.com.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Benedict Cumberbatch confirmed his inclusion in Infinity War, and expressed his excitement in getting to work alongside the other Avengers. “To get us all together will be quite something,” he told Empire magazine.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Expect to see the effects of Thor: Ragnarok have a direct impact on Infinity War. Said co-director Joe Russo: “Where he’s gonna be at the beginning of Infinity War is gonna be a very interesting place and I think very profound. I think he’s gonna have a real emotional motivation after that.”

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

After some uncertainty, Tom Holland confirmed in an interview with Vogue Italia that he will be in Infinity War.

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Expect to see Chris Evans in Infinity War, but he won’t be suiting up as Captain America. Coming off the events of Civil War, expect to see him in civilian garb as Steve Rogers — at least at the start the movie.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Robert Downey Jr. is back as Iron Man in Avengers: Infinity War, fulfilling one of the final couple of appearances as the character in his Marvel contract.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "The Patriot"  Review

Avengers: Infinity War will bring together a wider swath of Marvel superheroes than any Avengers film yet, but just who exactly will be in the movie? Click right to find out who is confirmed for the 2018 release.

Avengers: Infinity War – Every Character Confirmed
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Equally intriguing is the storyline with the real May. Ming-Na Wen seems like she’s having a heck of a lot of fun with these dual roles, and seeing her get another gritty action scene as May wakes up in Radcliffe’s lab was an especially impactful performance. With Coulson now in charge of SHIELD again, even if Mace remains its public persona, you have to get excited for how he’s going to respond to Radcliffe’s deception when he inevitably finds out about it.

The Verdict

Agents of SHIELD delivered another standout episode as it peeled back the mystery surrounding Director Mace and also had some exciting developments with May. Between its great action sequences, solid character work and speedy plot development, the fourth season of Agents of SHIELD is as great as the show’s ever been.

Gabe Newell Says Valve Is Still Working on Single-Player Games

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Newell said new Half-Life IP is possible.

Gabe Newell, Valve co-founder and legendary figure in the world of PC gaming, did another Reddit AMA today, during which he said Valve is currently working on at least one single-player game.

His answer to the question was a simple “Yes.” That game isn’t Half-Life 3, because in the same breath, he joked “The number 3 must not be said.”

Newell did sow the seeds of hope for at least something Half-Life related when he admitted there was a possibility of a new IP in the Half-Life/Portal universe.

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Newell reiterated the JJ Abrams/Valve movie collaborations are still in the works. The JJ Abrams/Valve announcement first came all the way back at DICE 2013, but it wasn’t until early last year we got an update on the Half-Life and Portal movies.

Gaben is a master at answering questions without actually giving any concrete information, but he did say he believes Portal 2 is Valve’s best single-player game, while Dota 2 is his most-played Valve multiplayer game.

Newell also spoke on the removal of Flash Sales from the Steam store, saying removing them lets users find “the best deals whenever they are able to visit the store during the sale.”

A heartbreaking report from earlier this month said Half-Life 3 is unlikely to ever be released. When asked about it in the AMA, Newell sacrastically said he believes “all unidentified anonymous sources on the Internet.”

Valve did say it’s working on a big update to Team Fortress 2, which is nice, but doesn’t have nearly the same impact as solid Half-Life 3 news.

Seth Macy is IGN’s weekend web producer and just wants to be your friend. Follow him on Twitter @sethmacy, or subscribe to Seth Macy’s YouTube channel.

Wizards of the Coast Opens Digital Studio

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D&D and Magic: The Gathering will be explored in new genres.

Game publisher Wizards of the Coast has opened up a digital studio, with the aim of recreating some of its practical properties in a virtual space.

This is a fairly big deal, as Wizards of the Coast owns the world’s most popular tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons, alongside what is arguably the world’s most popular collectable card game, Magic: The Gathering.

The studio will be run by a group of ‘all-stars” and led by Jeffrey Steefel, best known for his work on The Lord of the Rings Online, according to a blog post from Wizards of the Coast President Chris Cocks. Video game veteran David Schwartz will also come aboard to lead a new publishing team “to explore partnerships and collaborations that will bring Magic and D&D to unexpected settings, genres, and platforms.”

“What would it be like to throw fireballs as a Planeswalker in an MMO, or quest for treasure with your friends in a D&D augmented-reality game?” wrote Cocks.

Wizards of the Coast has already ventured into the digital space with games like Magic Online, but this new studio seems like a significant step forward for the company to create more immersive digital versions of its properties.

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Lucy O’Brien is an editor at IGN’s Sydney office. Follow her ramblings on Twitter.

 

 

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

Valve boss Gabe Newell held a Reddit AMA tonight, answering a lot of questions about his company and more.

Below is a roundup of some of his standout responses from the sessions, while you can go to Reddit here to see absolutely all of Newell’s answers.

In other news about Newell, Forbes named him to its latest list of the world’s richest people. According to the magazine, he has a net worth of more than $4 billion.

Half-Life and Portal Movies Are Still Coming

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

What He Would Change About Steam

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

What His “Spark” Was for Video Games

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

He Gets Recognized Often in Public

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

…And They Ask About Half-Life 3 Of Course

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

How Does Newell Like His Steak?

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

What’s Going on With Half-Life

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

…Continued

Gabe Newell Answers Tons of Questions in AMA, Including How He Likes His Steak

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Overwatch's PTR Could Reward Players for Participating in the Future

Blizzard is exploring the possibility of rewarding players for playing on Overwatch‘s public test realm, although nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

The latest developer update video features game director Jeff Kaplan providing an overview of the PTR and discussing some of the common questions that come up about it. He talks about how its primary purpose is not necessarily to gather feedback–though that is welcomed–but instead to ensure the game runs smoothly.

Whether they’re testing for bugs or providing feedback on new content and balance changes, PTR players are assisting Blizzard, for which Kaplan said he is grateful. That raises the question of why there are no incentives to play on the PTR beyond the ability to be the first to try out something new. Kaplan said Blizzard isn’t against the idea, and the real challenge is diverting resources away from development on the core game itself.

“For us to put incentives on the PTR is something we’re looking into, so it’s not off the table; it’s just a little complicated,” he said. He noted that players have suggested they could receive loot boxes or some portion of their experience in the main game, ideas that Blizzard thinks are “great.”

“Those ideas, while very cool, would take development time to implement,” he explained. “And right now we wrestle with, is the best way to spend our time engineering features for the PTR so players have more incentive [to play on it], or using that same development time and putting it towards the more core features or content of the game that go out to all players?”

Later in the video, Kaplan also talked a little about the changes that are live on the PTR right now and why they were made. Those include buffs to Sombra and nerfs to D.Va, Ana, and Roadhog. He also explained why the PTR doesn’t currently exist on consoles, which largely comes down to the roadblocks that stand in the way of releasing frequent patches on Xbox Live and PSN.

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