1) Steven Spielberg turns 71. After seven decades and 64 movies, how does one continue to maintain such a deserved, legendary reputation?
It’s easy to take Spielberg for granted, given that he’s been the accepted architect of so much of our cultural landscape since the ‘70s. But in that regard, I say to us all, ‘How dare you be so complacent?’ A bona fide master and pioneer of the medium, Spielberg continues to provide both the warmest, most reassuring pop culture touchstones, and some of modern cinema’s most significant, weighty, and relevant productions. And he never even seems to blink when changing gear. So, after such a long time, and such a consistently brilliant track-record (even substandard Spielberg is better than 90% of films out there), what’s his secret, when so many other directors burn out after a handful of movies, if they even approach his level of quality at all? It’s impossible to distil such talent into a simple equation – otherwise everyone would be Spielberg, and they certainly aren’t – but one bizarrely easy-to-overlook factor is that he just has a real, unwavering instinct for storytelling, character, visual impact, and all the places that the three meet. These, fundamentally, are the bones of all good film-making, and they’re all-too-often ignored in far too many movies. But never by Spielberg. Whether delivering important political message or thrilling dinosaur spectacle, the man always focuses on what matters. David Houghton
What: Steven Spielberg’s 71st birthday
When: December 18
2) Is GTA Online: The Doomsday Heist paving a trail to the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2?
After four years of GTA Online, Rockstar has dropped the most boombastic update yet with The Doomsday Heist. Completing a series of new missions involving orbital lasers and flying cars leads to the heist finale, which resolves the long running Mount Chiliad mystery by busting open its previous inaccessible vault and stealing the GTA holy grail – a jet pack! By tying up a loose end of that magnitude, it’s hard not to see this as the last big content addition to GTA Online, but with Red Dead Redemption 2 looming on the horizon that shouldn’t be a surprise. No online mode has been confirmed for RDR2 as yet but it would be unfathomable to suggest it won’t happen, so it makes sense for Rockstar to move its online focus to the next project. It’s easy to see how the mechanics established in GTA Online would transfer to Red Dead Redemption – crews become posses, CEOs and MC Presidents are gang leaders, heists revolve around train robberies and bank hold ups – and the years of experience should mean RDR Online gets off to the best possible start. Iain Wilson
What: The Doomsday Heist
Where: GTA Online
3) How will Life is Strange: Before The Storm deal with the fact its biggest choice has already been made?
I’m loving Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. This three episode prequel has more warmth and heart than the original, even if it repeats a handful of the themes and locations. The final episode launches on Tuesday 19 December, and the biggest challenge it faces is telling a compelling story where we already know the end. Not only that, but the first couple of episodes have made such a virtue of both choice and the adorable, burgeoning relationship between Chloe and Rachel, that it’s going to be so tough for this final chapter to give us satisfying pay-offs to either. Because we know what happens, our choices ultimately won’t change the outcome, which renders them a little meaningless. Right? Maybe the point is that games are more about the journey, rather than the destination, and in an age where we’re often rushing to reach the end, Before The Storm could be one of few titles that reminds us to slow down and enjoy the moment, especially if the ending is all set to be so tragic. I certainly hope so, and can’t wait to settle back into Arcadia Bay next week. Andy Hartup
What: The final episode of Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
Where: PS4, Xbox One, PC
When: 19 December, globally
4) Will Star Wars Battlefront 2’s Resurrection story chapter stop everyone talking about loot boxes?
Look, we get it. The internet was not happy about the way Star Wars: Battlefront 2’s multiplayer progression structure worked. But today, we want to talk about the next phase of the game itself, which has just been released as free DLC. The update adds a nice, faction-war style, side-choosing dynamic to the multiplayer, but more interesting is the Star Wars Battlefront 2 Resurrection story chapter, which moves the campaign’s tale away from the cameo-packed Original Trilogy storytelling of the vanilla game, and into a pre-Force Awakens area all of its own. Finally starting to feel like a real, legit chunk of Star Wars in its own right, the Resurrection side-story is very much part of the bigger, sequel trilogy narrative, and perhaps sets the foundation for Battlefront 2 to go ahead as its own, episodic corner of Star Wars canon. The gameplay might not be revelatory, but as a chunk of Star Wars ‘gaiden’ storytelling along the likes of the comics, novels, or even Rogue One, it seems that Battlefront 2 could become rather compelling in the future, should the frequency and price-point of updates hit the right balance. David Houghton
What: Star Wars: Battlefront 2 Resurrection DLC
Where: PS4, Xbox One, PC
When: Out now
5) Does The Last Guardian work in virtual reality?
PlayStation announced The Last Guardian VR Demo and PlayStation Experience last week, and as soon as the show opened I elbowed my way to the front of the queue to try it out. And it delivers. It delivers what I’ve really wanted since I first caught a glimpse of Trico’s feathery butt all those years ago, the chance to give him a stroke and ride on his back. The demo is short and simple, but gives you a hit of Trico right to the veins. You can call him, pick up barrels to feed him, and climb him to reach platforms. Perform these very simple tasks and you’re rewarded with the stomach flipping VR experience of riding him like a pony, as he jumps and jogs across the game’s sun dappled landscape. It’s free, it’s delightful, and it’s the perfect way to show off VR to your family once Christmas cabin fever sets in.
What: The Last Guardian VR Demo
When: Out now
6) What’s going to happen now Disney is buying 20th Century Fox?
You’ve probably heard about Disney buying 20th Century Fox (for a cool $52.4 billion) and wondered why everyone can’t stop talking about it. It’s just two companies merging, right? Well, yes… but when those companies are two of the biggest movie and TV power houses in the world and own most of the major entertainment franchises between them, it suddenly becomes a lot clearer why you should care. Everyone’s going to be watching to see how the acquisition affects the entertainment we watch from Star Wars to The Simpsons, and there’s already been talk of the X-Men, Deadpool, and the Fantastic Four joining the MCU. In fact, the closer you look into it, the more interesting this deal becomes. The exact details haven’t been released yet, but there’s a good chance Disney will have a say in anything from the streaming service Hulu, to James Cameron’s planned Avatar sequels and more. Watch this space. Lauren O’Callaghan
What: Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox
7) Netflix has another brilliant crime drama that’s vying to be your next Making a Murder
Calling all true crime fans. Netflix has gifted you plenty of fantastic crime dramas and documentaries ranging from Making a Murderer, to The Keepers and Mindhunter, and now there’s a brand new docu-drama demanding your attention. Wormwood arrives on Netflix on Friday, December 15, and it’s all about the CIA conspiracy known as MK-Ultra. The story goes that the CIA was using LSD as a truth serum as part of a secret Cold War program. The truth though, goes much, much deeper. With legendary filmmaker Errol Morris (famous for The thin Blue Line and The Fog of War) behind the lens here, it’s clear this is Netflix aiming for another success like Making of a Murderer. And with appetite for true crime at an all time high, thanks to podcasts like My Favorite Murder, Serial, S Town and Last Podcast on the Left, as well as TV content like this, Wormwood will definitely be worth adding to your watch list right away. Sam Loveridge
When: Friday, December 15
8) The Predator is coming to Ghost Recon Wildlands – Is this the new future for keeping online multiplayer fresh?
One of the bigger surprises this week has been the announcement that Ubisoft is adding the Predator to the previously otherwise straight laced Ghost Recon. Not only will players be able to hunt and (try to) defeat the galaxy’s greatest hunter, but they can play as him in a new PvP mode, and unlock exclusive stuff like the helmet, complete with heat vision, or those nasty extendable wrist blades. It’s described as “the most difficult fight in all Ghost Recon Wildlands” and basically seems to be one big fan serving love-in from the dev team to the movie. On the one hand it’s slightly odd given Wildlands previous focus on the authenticity and scale of its Bolivian setting. But, on the other, it’s a fun addition that, while… let’s say unexpected, takes the basic mechanics of the game and gives its a really interesting spin. It’s something more games should try as, often, DLC can extend the experience without changing it. More experimental expansions like this could bring in new players just as much as satisfy the existing ones. Be quick though, you’ve only got until “early January.” Leon Hurley
What: Ghost Recon Wildlands
Where: Coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC as free DLC