New story in Technology from Time: Should You Reconsider Using WhatsApp After the Jeff Bezos Hack? Probably Not

Amid reports that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s phone was allegedly hacked by Saudi Arabia — with the direct involvement of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman via the popular chat app WhatsApp — some users may be wondering: Can I be hacked the same way?

Investigators have “medium to high confidence” that Bezos’s device was compromised after the chief executive received a mysterious video file from Bin Salman, also known as “MBS,” via WhatsApp, according to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone. After that file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data. Around six months later, Bin Salman sent Bezos messages that suggested he had knowledge of the CEO’s then-secret affair with Lauren Sanchez, details of which became public in January of last year. The report, first published by Motherboard, concludes that gigabytes of photos, text messages, and perhaps audio recordings made using Bezos’ iPhone microphone may have been sent to whomever conducted the attack.

So is it time to delete WhatsApp, a popular chat app used by at least 1.5 billion people worldwide? Probably not, if you’re worried about this specific incident.

Some in the forensics community have taken issue with FTI’s report, claiming it leaves important questions unanswered. Chris Sanders, a network security instructor and expert in a tool used by FTI during its investigation, says the evidence laid out in the report fails to credibly support its conclusion.

“The report didn’t express that the forensic examiners found any malware on the system, didn’t identify any concrete malicious communication, and didn’t find any malicious code in the video,” Sanders says. He also notes that the report didn’t specify which app was responsible for the iPhone’s surge in outbound data transmissions. “The iPhone tracks the volume of outbound data per application,” he says. “However, the report doesn’t identify the application associated with this outbound data. Why?”

Former Facebook CISO Alex Stamos has also questioned how FTI came to its conclusion. He called for a more thorough investigation of Bezos’ iPhone to better understand what happened. “The idea that this report is the furthest you can go with access to the phone is wrong,” tweeted Stamos. “The circumstantial evidence is reasonably compelling, but since this is a major national security issue now more eyes need to be on the evidence.”

“All FTI Consulting client work is confidential,” an FTI spokesperson said. “We do not comment on, confirm or deny client engagements or potential engagements.” WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, has not responded to TIME’s request for comment.

That said, security experts say that, if accurate, the Bezos report suggests the existence of a particularly nasty flaw in WhatsApp, at least at the time of the incident. “If you want to use WhatsApp … and there is a bug in, say, the video player? Boy, you’re already hosed,” says Carl Livitt, principal researcher at cybersecurity firm Bishop Fox. While it’s generally a good idea to avoid opening mysterious files, FTI’s report doesn’t mention Bezos or the investigators actually opening or playing the suspicious video that seems to have led to the data breach. That means there’s a potential that, with this exploit, “you literally don’t need to do anything except open WhatsApp for it to be triggered, it requires no user intervention,” Livitt says.

Still, orchestrating an attack like this would cost millions of dollars, according to Livitt. That should put everyday WhatsApp users at ease. “For your average consumer, that’s not really much of a problem because you have to be pretty darn important for a nation-state to exercise that level of effort to target you,” Livitt says. But there could be a risk to people like business leaders, dissidents and others who might be targeted by state actors.

Livitt adds that there’s a silver lining in the Bezos incident: it has likely gotten lots of people to think twice about their cybersecurity practices. “I would be very surprised if a lot of high profile business leaders have not looked at the Bezos incident and are right now speaking to their security experts, asking them the questions you’re asking me: What do we do to prevent this?” Livitt believes Bezos’ security hygiene could be improved by simply carrying a second phone, making his primary device less of an attractive target. “We tend to advise going away from these technological fixes and maintaining a separation of duty for the devices that you use.”

Moreover, monitoring the traffic your phone is sending and receiving can help you notice anything that may be amiss. For monitoring your smartphone’s memory use or network activity, apps like Omnistat 2 and System Panel 2 can reveal those details and provide real-time updates, along with widget support to keep that data easily accessible. You can take other steps, too. “Updating your OS, reviewing what data apps access by going into their security and privacy settings, these are excellent things to do to make sure you understand what they’re accessing,” says Carnegie Mellon Professor Yuvraj Agarwal, who recommends both increased awareness on the part of consumers when it comes to data sharing, as well as a stronger, more privacy-centric approach on the part of developers.

“The platforms themselves, I think are fairly robust, in my opinion,” says Agarwal, who’s turned his research into Internet-of-Things security and data privacy into a proof-of-concept tool designed to provide real-time feedback on potential privacy issues to developers during the coding process. “Over the past few years they have been adding more and more controls for letting those users know and decide whether they want to give access to certain data to these apps.” Apple and other companies’ work in detecting and fixing security exploits is helping, too. But, Agarwal says, there will likely always be bad actors searching for and finding new ways to infiltrate digital devices. “Ultimately, there’s money in it,” he says. “And if other people are buying these exploits, then there’ll be people and entities that are going to be looking for them.”

New story in Technology from Time: London Police to Deploy Facial Recognition Cameras Despite Privacy Concerns and Evidence of High Failure Rate

Police in London are moving ahead with a deploying a facial recognition camera system despite privacy concerns and evidence that the technology is riddled with false positives.

The Metropolitan Police, the U.K.’s biggest police department with jurisdiction over most of London, announced Friday it would begin rolling out new “live facial recognition” cameras in London, making the capital one of the largest cities in the West to adopt the controversial technology.

The “Met,” as the police department is known in London, said in a statement the facial recognition technology, which is meant to identify people on a watch list and alert police to their real-time location, would be “intelligence-led” and deployed to only specific locations. It’s expected to be rolled out as soon as next month.

However, privacy activists immediately raised concerns, noting that independent reviews of trials of the technology showed a failure rate of 81%. “The police have decided against a backdrop of serious public concern to press ahead with facial recognition anyway,” Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties group, told TIME on Friday. “It suggests to me either inexplicable incompetence or ideological commitment to increasing mass surveillance in the capital.”

A judge recently ruled that the use of facial recognition in the U.K. was legal, but Big Brother Watch has launched an appeal against that decision. “This decision represents an enormous expansion of the surveillance state and a serious threat to civil liberties in the U.K.,” Big Brother Watch said of the Metropolitan Police’s announcement.

The U.K. has more surveillance cameras per person than any country in the world except China. British citizens are famously relaxed about that coverage when that surveillance comes in the form of closed-circuit television (CCTV), but Carlo, who has attended several police trials of facial recognition cameras by London police, says people are often confused and concerned when they find out cameras are using facial recognition technology.

“Turning surveillance cameras into identity checkpoints is the stuff of nightmares,” Carlo wrote in TIME last year, in response to public trials of the technology. “For centuries, the U.K. and U.S. have entrenched protections for citizens from arbitrary state interference — we expect the state to identify itself to us, not us to them. We expect state agencies to show a warrant if our privacy is to be invaded. But with live facial recognition, these standards are being surreptitiously occluded under the banner of technological ‘innovation.’” In May 2019, San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition technology over privacy fears.

London police said Friday that the live facial recognition cameras would “help tackle serious crime, including serious violence, gun and knife crime, child sexual exploitation and help protect the vulnerable.” They also said that the decision to stop people identified by the cameras would always remain with human officers.

But in the statement announcing the rollout of live facial recognition, police made no reference to the technology’s accuracy. That, Carlo alleges, is because the technology has such a high error rate. “An independent review looked at six trials, and found that all of the alerts generated by the facial recognition system, 81% were misidentifications,” Carlo told TIME on Friday. “The announcement today shows the trial period was never serious.”

The Metropolitan Police did not immediately respond to questions from TIME about the technology’s failure rate.

Police are presenting the decision as a way of increasing the efficiency of their policing while making sure the public are aware of the use of facial recognition technology. “The Met will begin operationally deploying [live facial recognition] at locations where intelligence suggests we are most likely to locate serious offenders,” the Met’s Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said in a statement. “Each deployment will have a bespoke ‘watch list’, made up of images of wanted individuals, predominantly those wanted for serious and violent offenses.”

Facial recognition cameras, Ephgrave said, would be “clearly signposted” and accompanied by officers handing out leaflets about the use of facial recognition technology. He promised that the technology was a “standalone system” not linked to any other imaging system, such as CCTV. But that hasn’t convinced some privacy advocates.

“So many things about it don’t make any sense,” Carlo told TIME on Friday. “From an operational point of view, they use a van, they have a team of plainclothes officers. In all seriousness, this is not the destination. This is a step toward using live facial recognition with CCTV cameras. The way it’s used at the moment isn’t sustainable. I fear that it’s the beginning of something even more sinister.”

New story in Technology from Time: AI Is About to Spark a Radical Shift in White Collar Work. But There’s Still ‘Plenty of Work for People to Do’

The story of automation in America has long been told in shuttered factories and declining Midwestern cities. But the latest wave of advancements in artificial intelligence may be bring the prospect of machine replacement beyond blue collar work. Developers are creating algorithms that promise to take over vast amounts of work in white collar fields like law and medicine, potentially upending traditionally high-status fields. For people in those once-secure positions, the questions are whose jobs may be changed, how soon, and what new opportunities may arise to take their place.

Knowledge work that involves repetitive tasks or large amounts of data, such as lawyers’ often arduous document discovery process, is particularly ripe for disruption from AI, experts say. Tasks that require human-to-human interaction or some element of creativity are likely to be safer. “Pattern recognition in general is something that these technologies seem good at,” says Mark Muro, one of the authors of a recent Brookings Institution report that suggests high-paid, educated workers will be highly exposed to new AI technology. “That is a contribution to a lot of white collar activities.”

MIT economics professor David Autor says middle management positions are particularly susceptible to this new wave of automation, particularly in fields like finance and inventory management, where humans are in charge of translating data into concrete business decisions. But he also argues that displacement from machine learning is likely to create new opportunities.

“Historically, tons of new work comes into existence as a result of automation,” Autor says. “The whole industrial revolution came about as a result of the automation of artisanal tasks, but it would have been impossible for anyone at the dawn of that period to foresee where that would go.”

That optimism may come as cold comfort for the artisans of 2020: the millions of paralegals, human resource managers, IT professionals and other knowledge industry workers whose positions are prime targets for a new wave of automation. McKinsey predicts across-the-board cuts in such fields over the next decade. Some fields, like office financial support personnel, are likely to lose more than one in four positions.

Some economists predict even more dramatic changes in the coming years, including a radical shift in top-tier white collar work. Richard Baldwin of the Graduate Institute in Geneva argues that AI, coupled with outsourcing enabled by new advances in telecommunications, will sharply reduce white collar employment. He believes those twin drivers could displace professionals in elite sectors from media and finance to architecture and law, at least until people find new ways to put themselves to work.

“What we have is displacement being driven at the pace of digital technology, but job creation being driven at the pace of human ingenuity,” Baldwin says. “What I’m worried about is that job displacement driven by digital will outstrip job creation driven by ingenuity.”

Recent advancements illustrate the extent of possible change in some of society’s most illustrious professions. This month, a team of researchers announced they had created an AI algorithm that outperformed radiologists in detecting breast cancer in mammograms. Trained on tens of thousands of mammogram images, the algorithm measurably reduced both false positives and false negatives compared to human doctors. Of course, radiology involves a lot more than classifying images. With demand for radiologists surging, it’s not likely the field will die off any time soon. “AI will not replace radiologists,” says Kevin Lyman, CEO of AI radiology startup Enlitic. “But radiologists using AI will replace those who do not.”

Of course, there are winners in any mass economic reorientation. The explosion in AI development has already created thousands of high-paying jobs for those with the skill sets to design, test, and sell such systems. Hiring growth for “AI Specialists” grew by 74% annually over the past four years, according to LinkedIn data. Carnegie Mellon University, a premier school for computer science, reports a recent explosion of interest in hiring their graduates, with three times as many tech companies recruiting in 2019 compared to just three years earlier. Over the same period, the number of data analytics, information technology, and software engineering jobs posted to CMU’s recruitment portal also tripled.

Even within the tech campuses of Silicon Valley, machine learning automation may be making inroads. San Francisco-based startup Kite has developed a plugin that uses AI to offer auto-complete suggestions for coders. CEO and Founder Adam Smith predicts the technology will eventually do much more. “Instead of Kite predicting the line of code you’re currently typing, the human will just tell us what they want the piece of code to do and we’ll synthesize that code for them,” says Smith. But while coders may be working faster, he maintains that the obsolescence of software engineers is a long way off.

Even as some high-status professions face possible AI disruption, economists are generally optimistic about the future of employment. Few are predicting anything like the end of work as we know it in coming decades. The challenge, says Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor of management science and information technology at MIT, is finding ways to transition people away from work where machines are outpacing humans and into jobs where they will be most needed.

“In healthcare, in childcare, cleaning the environment, in creative work, science, entrepreneurship, the arts — these are all areas where machines can’t hold a candle to humans,” he says. “We’ve got plenty of work for people to do.”

New story in Technology from Time: From Threats of Gang Rape to Islamophobic Badgering, Indian Women Politicians Face High Levels of Online Abuse, Says Report

Women politicians in India receive on average 113 problematic or abusive tweets per day, including threats and badgering, according to a report released today by Amnesty International.

The report, which analyzed 114,716 tweets directed at 95 Indian women politicians during the last Indian general election in 2019, found that 1 in 7 tweets about female politicians were abusive or problematic.

“Online abuse has the power to belittle, demean, intimidate and eventually silence women,” the report said.

While women around the world face sexist abuse online, Indian female leaders deal with nearly twice as much harassment than their counterparts in the U.K. or the U.S., according to the report.

Gender inequality remains a salient issue in India, which ranks 135 out of 187 on the Gender Inequality Index. In 2018, India was ranked the most dangerous country in the world for women and in recent months, violence against women has resurged. While last year’s election ushered in a record-high level of women to India’s lower house, political spheres continue to be dominated by men, who today make up 86% of the house’s representatives.

Women who do break into the male-dominated political landscape find themselves battling sexism in parliament as well as online.

“These trolls … they are going after me regularly, routinely, for my skin color, for my looks, telling me I’m not worth raping, what kind of torture and rape I should be subjected to, telling me what kind of men I should be sleeping with … and on and on and on, more and more,” Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association and member of the Communist Party of India Liberation told CNN.

For Muslim women politicians in India, the abuse is more frequent and severe. 55% of the most aggressive trolling was directed at Muslim women leaders.

“In terms of types of abuse, Muslim women received 94.1% more ethnic or religious slurs than women from other religions,” Amnesty noted.

The same is true for women from marginalized castes who are 59% more likely to face abuse.

Because there are few legal avenues for women to challenge online abuse in India, Amnesty has called on Twitter to take a leading role in regulating abuse on its platform.

The report made several recommendations for Twitter which includes sharing information on online abuse against women on a country basis, improving reporting mechanism, and providing more clarity on how the company defines, identifies, and responds to abuse.

Twitter must reaffirm its commitment to providing a ‘safe space’ to women and marginalized communities,” Tete said. “Until then, the silencing effect of abuse on the platform will continue to stand in the way of women’s right to expression and equality and Twitter will continue to fail to keep women safe from violence and abuse.”

New story in Technology from Time: Watch Us Play Doom Eternal, the Most Pure Form of Doom Ever Made

Hell has come to Earth. Skyscraper-sized demons wade through the streets. Shopping malls run red with blood. Imps scatter along the ground, hurling fireballs at the unwary. Fat and floaty cacodemons vomit onto the streets, turning the pavement to rubble. Humanity seems done for. But there’s hope. Me. I am the Doom Slayer, the Doomguy, and I am here to rip and tear.

During the three hours I spent with Doom Eternal, I pulled the eye out of a cacodemon, leapt across the lava soaked streets of America, and powered up my Doom Fortress. I wielded a chainsaw, plasma blaster, and a shotgun. And after those three hours, I think Doom Eternal will be exactly what I wanted from this game: More Doom.

The 2016 reboot of Doom was a shock. I grew up playing 1993’s bloody first-person shooter, and didn’t think a retread could recapture the magic. I was wrong. Doom 2016 was an excellent game. But when they announced Doom Eternal, I worried that adding too much to the formula would spoil the fun. I’m happy to have been wrong twice. Doom Eternal feels like Doom perfected — it knows what made the original so good and it refines that, adding just enough spice in the process.

Doom Eternal finds the Doomguy (they really call him that) floating above a hell-ridden Earth inside his Doom Fortress (they really call it that). This floating castle is a grim hub from which Doomguy launches his assault on the forces of Hell as they invade Earth. The game’s opening moments do an incredible job setting the tone — you’ll feel like a superhero stuck in a horror film. This is Evil Dead 2 starring Wolverine. It’s violent, but the violence is so over-the-top that it feels like a cartoon. The first time I punched a demon on the top of the head only to have his neck collapse into his chest, I giggled. The music, aesthetic, and gameplay all come together to create something weird and special.

The tone wouldn’t work if Doom Eternal wasn’t fun to play. Thankfully, Doom Eternal is really fun to play.

Weirdly, Doom Eternal is in part a resource management game. You need to watch your health, ammo, and shields. Fighting through demons diminishes all three, but killing demons replenishes them. If you wound a demon, they’ll flash blue and orange. Kill them while they’re flashing orange and the demon drops ammo, blue and they’ll drop health. Blast a demon with fire and it’ll drop shields. Add to this a limited-use chainsaw that cuts through your enemies and makes them drop power-ups like a piñata. Doom had a similar mechanic, but it’s been perfected here. I always felt as if I was on the edge of running out of health or ammo, but there was always a demon to kill to get the gear I needed to survive. The loop of tension and release in the cycle of running out of supplies then killing to fill them back up is very satisfying.

On top of all this, Doom Eternal is swimming in progression systems. The Doom Slayer can find upgrades for his weapons, increase the power of abilities such as dash, upgrade his health and armor, and earn more power-ups by levels and fighting through special “slayer gates” hidden on the map and seen in the video above.

The level design is bigger and more intricate here, too. There are more secrets, weirder scenes — at one point I used the sword of a Mecha Doom Guy to cut a hole in the chest of a demon to progress — and platforming. Jumping around the map as the Doom Slayer works well; I received double jump, a dash, and the ability to climb walls within the first few hours. The levels are full of secrets and upgrades that can only be reached with a clever double jump. Often, first-person platforming is frustrating but, as with combat, Doom Eternal makes you feel like a superhero. I never met a trick jump that was frustrating — at least not in the first three hours.

Doom Eternal is what I wanted from a Doom sequel: refinement. Developer id Software didn’t have to remake the game, just improve the formula they already had. Based on Doom Eternal’s opening, they’ve done that. The developers told me the campaign would last 20 to 30 hours, so we’ve got plenty of demon-slaying to look forward to on March 20, 2020 when Doom Eternal hits the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

New story in Technology from Time: SpaceX Launches and Destroys Rocket in Astronaut Escape Test

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — SpaceX completed the last big test of its crew capsule before launching astronauts in as little as two months, mimicking an emergency escape shortly after liftoff Sunday.

No one was aboard for the wild ride in the skies above Cape Canaveral, just two mannequins.

A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off as normal, but just over a minute into its supersonic flight, the Dragon crew capsule catapulted off the top 12 miles (20 kilometers) above the Atlantic. Powerful thrusters on the capsule propelled it up and out of harm’s way, as the rocket engines deliberately shut down and the booster tumbled out of control in a giant fireball.

The capsule reached an altitude of about 27 miles (44 kilometers) before parachuting into the ocean just offshore to bring the nine-minute test flight to a close and pave the way for two NASA astronauts to climb aboard next time.

SpaceX flight controllers at the company’s California headquarters cheered every milestone — especially the splashdown. Everything appeared to go well despite the choppy seas and overcast skies.

Recycled from three previous launches, the SpaceX rocket was destroyed as it crashed into the sea in pieces. The company founded and led by Elon Musk normally recovers its boosters, landing them upright on a floating platform or back at the launch site.

“That’s the main objective of this test, is to show that we can carry the astronauts safely away from the rocket in case anything’s going wrong,” said SpaceX’s Benji Reed, director of crew mission management.

“This test is very important to us … a huge practice session,” Reed added.

NASA’s commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, said the launch abort test was “our last open milestone” before allowing SpaceX to launch Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station.

She said that could happen as soon as March. NASA astronauts have not launched from the U.S. since 2011 when the space shuttle program ended.

“We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system on the spacecraft, that will be flying for our crews, works,” Lueders said in advance of the demo.

Delayed a day by bad weather, Sunday’s launch from Kennedy Space Center brought together hundreds of SpaceX, NASA and Air Force employees on land, at sea and in the air. Tourists and locals alike packed the adjoining visitor complex and nearby beaches to see the dramatic fiery spectacle of an out-of-control rocket.

“Dragon high altitude, supersonic abort test is a risky mission, as it’s pushing the envelope in so many ways,” Musk tweeted minutes before liftoff.

Hurley and Behnken, the NASA astronauts assigned to the first SpaceX crew, monitored the flight from the firing room, including the capsule recovery effort They took part in a dress rehearsal Friday, suiting up and heading to the launch pad.

Preferring to focus on the moon and Mars, NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing for billions of dollars to transport astronauts to and from the space station. That should have happened long before now, but both companies struggled with technical problems, adding years of delay and forcing NASA to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars extra for Russian rocket rides.

SpaceX successfully flew a Crew Dragon to the space station last March without anyone on board, but the capsule exploded a month later during ground testing. The emergency escape thrusters — the kind used in Sunday’s test — had to be retooled. In all, SpaceX has tested these powerful Super Draco thrusters some 700 times.

Last month, meanwhile, Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule ended up in the wrong orbit on its first test flight and had to skip the space station. The previous month, only two of the Starliner’s three parachutes deployed during a launch abort test.

Lueders said it’s too soon to know whether Boeing will need to send another Starliner to the space station without a crew or go straight to launching astronauts later this year. An investigation team is still looking into why the Starliner’s automated timer was off by 11 hours during the December test flight.

New story in Technology from Time: The 8 Video Games We Can’t Wait to Play in 2020

This year marks the start of a new decade, and the end of a generation of video games. Sony and Microsoft are set to launch new systems during the holidays, marking the beginning of a new phase in gaming. But that’s good news: Traditionally, the games launched at the end of a generation are among that generation’s best.

Here are the video games we’re most looking forward to playing in 2020:

Cyberpunk 2077

Computers, synt-wave, betrayal, and Keanu Reeves — Cyberpunk 2077 is the most hyped game of the year. Fresh from the success of The Witcher 3, developer CD Projekt Red has gone from medieval fantasy to the dark and gritty world Night City in the year 2077.

This is an open-world action RPG in which players create their character and play their own way. Sneak through a base, hiding in the shadows and controlling the security system, or smash through the walls guns blazing. It’s up to you. Also, Keanu Reeves plays the ghost or a revolutionary rockstar that’s stuck in you head.

Cyberpunk 2020 hits PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on September 17, 2020.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy VII defined role-playing games for a generation of gamers when it arrived in 1997. Cloud, Aerith, and Sephiroth are gaming icons. More than 20 years later, developer Square Enix has remade the game from the ground up. The old turn-based combat system has been overhauled, the graphics look incredible, and the music is orchestrated to tug on our heartstrings.

Let Final Fantasy VII break your heart all over again on the PlayStation 4 starting April 10, 2020.

DOOM Eternal

DOOM’s 2016 release brought the first-person shooter franchise back to its roots. DOOM Eternal is more of the same, but perfected. Rip and tear your way through hundreds of demons as you wage war against heaven and hell to save Earth from the apocalypse.

Raise hell in Doom Eternal on the PC, PS4, and Xbox One starting March 3, 2020.

The Last of Us Part II

The Last of Us set a high bar for storytelling in big-budget video games. Like The Walking Dead, its zombies are a background for a drama about a family in upheaval. Joel is a man with a terrible tragedy in his past, Ellie is a girl who can save the world. Part II picks up the story years after the end of the previous game. Joel and Ellie are older, but the world is no better.

Play The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 4 on May 29, 2020.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

You know how it is. You purchase a vacation package from that rascally racoon Tom Nook, and the next thing you know you’re stranded on a deserted island. You try to spruce up the place as best you can, all while making regular payments to Nook. The Animal Crossing franchise is Nintendo’s version of The Sims, but more adorable and full of strange mysteries. There are talking animals, adventures, and one industrious raccoon who expects his debts to be repaid.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will hit the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.

Half-Life: Alyx

Half-Life 2: Episode Two ended on a cliffhanger more than a decade ago. Since then, fans have watched as their hope for a Half-Life 3 went from hope to horror. The idea that developer Valve, the company behind the digital distribution platform Steam, would ever release a follow-up to the genre defining Half-Life franchise has become a joke.

But Valve recently announced that a new Half-Life is coming out this year. The twist is that it’s a prequel. The second twist is that it’s exclusive to virtual reality headsets. With Valve’s track record of success, Half-Life: Alyx might be VR’s first killer app.

Half Life: Alyx comes to PC Virtual Reality headsets in March 2020.

Halo Infinite

Master Chief is eternal. Master Chief is infinite. We don’t know much about Halo Infinite — only that’s it’ll be a first-person shooter like its predecessors, and launch alongside Microsoft’s new Xbox Series X over the holiday. And honestly, that’s enough.

Halo Infinite is set to launch alongside the Xbox Series X this holiday season.

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X

The year will end with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. We know precious little about both consoles — only that they’ll be hardware powerhouses able to run games in 4K at high frame rates with minimal loading times. At the moment, that’s all marketing. We know some of the games coming to the Xbox Series X, and very little about what’s coming to the PlayStation 5. But there’s a whole year ahead of us to hype the machines and learn what delights are planned.

Both new consoles are set to arrive over the holidays.