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Game Replay: Pokemon Go field testing reaches the United States
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May 17, 2016, 07:19 PM
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look back at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Blood Bowl 2 arrives on Mac via Steam, Pokemon Go field testing opens up for registration in the United States, Microsoft frees up unused gamertags on Xbox Live, and Valve releases its Dota 2 Battle Pass to raise funds for The Invitational tournament.

Pokemon Go field testing commences in United States

Pokemon Go, the reimagining of the creature-collecting game for mobile devices, is now being field-tested in the United States. The game for iOS and Android, made by The Pokemon Company and Niantic, has expanded its testing from Japan, Australia, and New Zealand to the US, with users able to help test out the game by signing up with a Google email address.

The field test is effectively a closed beta, which means that players wanting to take part may find bugs and a limited set of features compared to the final release. It is noted by iMore that selected players must abide by a confidentiality agreement before playing, preventing them from sharing experiences from the game with others. It is also likely that players taking part may lose their progress in the field test, when the game goes live for all users.

Following the general theme of the original Pokemon games, Pokemon Go adds in a geographic mechanic, where players must physically move from place to place in order to hunt and capture the creatures. Unlike the main series, the Gym system requires players to join one of three teams, and battle for ownership of a Gym in a specific area. Pokemon Eggs and Poke Balls can be collected by visiting "interesting places," such as museums and public galleries, with a pedometer used to "hatch" the eggs over time.

At the time of the announcement, it was revealed players would be able to get a Bluetooth-connected accessory that could be worn on the wrist. The Pokemon Go Plus warns players of nearby events with vibrations and a flashing LED, with a button press capturing any nearby monsters.

A release date for Pokemon Go remains unannounced, but it is likely to go live soon, considering testing has started in the US.

Blood Bowl 2 arrives on Mac with cross-platform multiplayer against PC players

The sequel to Blood Bowl, a "fantasy football" game based on the board game from Games Workshop, has arrived on Steam for the Mac. Shipped by Cyanide Studios and Focus Home Interactive last year for Windows, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One, Blood Bowl 2 has made its way to OS X, with owners of the PC version now able to play the Mac version, complete with SteamPlay functionality allowing Mac and PC players to compete against each other.

Unlike football, Blood Bowl 2 is based within Games Workshop's Warhammer universe, with multiple races taking each other on with various abilities. The turn-based strategy title is a more violent and humorous form of the sport, though players still need to win by scoring the most points during the game itself.

The game includes a new graphic engine compared to the original, and adds in a new persistent multiplayer league mode, where players can coach their teams and take on others. There is also a story-driven campaign, and a marketplace for coaches to buy and sell their players.

Blood Bowl 2 for Mac is currently offered on Steam under the Midweek Madness sale, with the game being sold at 60 percent off until May 20.

Microsoft frees up close to a million Gamertags for reuse

Xbox console owners who missed out on getting their first choice of gamertag for use on Xbox Live are being given a second chance. Similar to an event that took place in 2011, Microsoft is opening up gamertags from accounts it has declared abandoned for reuse, with active players able to change their gaming name to one of their choosing.

Close to one million gamertags will be opened up for reuse from 2pm ET on Wednesday, May 18, released over a 24-hour period. The accounts the names came from were abandoned from the time of the original Xbox, were never migrated to the Xbox 360 or Xbox One, and haven't been in use for a considerable amount of time.

In order to acquire one of the tags, players must have accrued at least one year of Xbox Live Gold membership over the account's life, and be an active subscriber to the service. While tags can be picked up from the Xbox website, the Xbox App in Windows 10, and an Xbox One console, Xbox 360 owners will not be able to do so from the console itself.

Valve releases The International Battle Pass to raise tournament prize pool funds

Valve has launched its companion item for fans of Dota 2 to use, as part of its yearly tournament, The Invitational. Slightly differing from The Compendium released for the last three years. The International Battle Pass will provide players with details relating to the tournament itself, as well as a number of bonus items that are gifted and also available to earn within the game itself.

Incorporated as part of the Battle Pass, the Compendium will offer coverage of the major esports tournament, with players able to make predictions for matches, and read up on the profiles of teams and players. Typically, the sales of The Compendium in previous years is used to pay towards the tournament's prize fund, with last year's fund exceeding $18.4 million. A quarter of Battle Pass sales goes directly to the prize pool, which Polygon notes has already exceeded $4 million after the first day of sales.

Outside the tournament, the pass provides a way for players to enjoy weekly tournaments, in-game quests, and mass player challenges, with in-game rewards offered for completing tasks and for players raising their pass level. Bonus items are also promised if the prize pool beats the figure from last year, with players potentially picking up extremely rare in-game items.

The Battle Pass is priced at $10, with a 50-level head start offered for $27.
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