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10 video game stories you might have missed – May 12, 2019

Here’s our quick round-up of some video game news you might have missed.

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Kratos - God of War

Here’s our quick round-up of some video game news you might have missed.

It’s been another packed week in the world of video games, with a new Ghost Recon game announced by Ubisoft, and an impressive new trailer for Final Fantasy VII Remake closing the latest PlayStation State of Play.

As ever, there were a few stories that we missed. Here are ten worth knowing.

The video game cartoons we didn’t get

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, another glorious piece of video game ephemera is unearthed. Twitter user Tanooki Joe discovered an Ebay auction listing promotional art for unmade cartoons based on Castlevania, Double Dragon, Metroid, and California Games. The concepts feature a male Samus, and a rather Scooby-Doo-like take on Castlevania. It’s probably for the best these were never made.

Metroid and Castlevania video game cartoons
Images: Lance Cannon

Trouble at the top for the ESA

Variety has published a report detailing “a toxic environment rife with internal politics” at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The association – which runs the annual E3 games event – has recently found itself on the wrong side of the arguments against workplace crunch and exploitative monetization practices. The problem, it seems, starts at the top.

Nintendo confirms E3 2019 plans

Nintendo has officially announced its plans for E3 2019 with the news that a new Nintendo Direct will air on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. It will be followed by three days of content from the Nintendo Treehouse. There will also be tournaments for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 held on June 8, 2019.

Xbox Game Pass Quests expand to new regions

Major Nelson has announced that Xbox Game Pass Quests are now available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, France, Germany, and Mexico. Quests encourage players to complete activities within eligible titles in return for Microsoft Reward points. The points can be redeemed for Xbox gift cards, in-game content, and digital media.

IDW launches a new Gears of War comic

Gears of War: Hivebusters is a new five-part Gears of War comic books series from IDW featuring art by Alan Quah and Pierre Droal, and a script by Kurtis Wiebe. The story is set after the events of Gears of War 4 and follows a tactical COG unit’s attempt to destroy a swarm hive from within.

EA Access is coming to PlayStation 4

Games subscription service EA Access is coming to PlayStation 4 five years after it debuted on Xbox One. The PS4 service will launch in July, and include early trials on new game releases, access to a library of EA titles, and 10% discounts on digital purchases. We assume it won’t include many of the last-generation titles that are available on Xbox One via Backward Compatibility.

The Division 2 loot plans shelved

Ubisoft has backtracked on plans to add higher level weapons and gear to The Division 2. The ‘515 gear’ was planned to drop in the game’s third update but following an outcry from players, developer Massive Entertainment said they had decided “not increase Gear Score beyond 500”.

God of War documentary released

Sony has released Raising Kratos, a two-hour-long documentary that follows the development of Playstation 4 game, God of War. The film was assembled from over 400 hours of raw footage and took two years to complete. It’s a fascinating look at the creation of one of this generation’s defining video games. Grab a coffee and watch it right here.

Monster Hunter World gets a free trial on PS4

PlayStation 4 owners can download and play the opening section of Monster Hunter World for free until May 20, 2019. The free trial includes the Ancient Forest and Wildspire Waste locations and eight assignments to complete. Online multiplayer is included, and all progress can be carried over to the full game.

Two points for Sega

Sega Europe has acquired Two Point Studios, the company behind the well-received simulation game, Two Point Hospital. The game will continue to receive support and updates as the studio works on new, unannounced projects. Speaking about the acquisition, Sega Europe president, Gary Dale, says:

“We’re delighted to welcome Two Point Studios officially in to the Sega family. As a relatively new, British-based developer with a global hit already under their belts, we knew we had to move quickly on this deal because they are an extremely attractive investment proposition with a great deal of talent.”

New game releases

Rage 2 and the Castlevania Anniversary Collection are the highlights from this week’s lineup of new video game releases for the Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.


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Three nice enough games are free on Xbox this weekend

ICYMI, here’s news of three more games that are currently free to play on Xbox One.

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In case you missed it, here’s news of three more games that are currently free to play on Xbox One.

“Nice.”

My English teacher used to say that you should never use the word “nice” to describe something. But sometimes, it just fits. Xbox Live Gold members and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members have three new games to enjoy this weekend as part of the latest Free Play Days promotion. The lineup is unlikely to get anyone truly excited – outside of fans of each series – but free is free.

WWE 2K20 would normally headline the list, but the latest edition of the long-running wrestling franchise is notoriously rough and was widely panned on release. Nonetheless, if you’re stuck at home with family, the game could be a good bet for some local multiplayer. It will likely make you smile, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

Monster Energy Supercross 3 lets players recreate the 2019 AMA Supercross season with a suite of gameplay modes and a robust track creation tool. And if you want to lose yourself in some faraway lands, The Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited offers a wealth of adventures to embark on.

WWE 2K20 and Monster Energy Supercross 3 are available to play until midnight on April 5. The Elder Scrolls Online is free to play until April 13.

As always, game progress and achievements can be carried over to purchased copies. And there are some discounts available to tempt you into that purchase.

Free Play Days Discounts

WWE 2K20

  • Standard Edition –  67% off
  • Deluxe Edition – 67% off
  • Originals: Bump in the Night – 35% off
  • Backstage Pass – 35% off

The Elder Scrolls Online Tamriel Unlimited

  • Standard Edition – 60% off

Monster Energy Supercross 3

  • Standard Edition – 30% off
  • Special Edition – 30% off

Nice enough.


For more video game news and offers, follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard..

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Indie adventure Windbound looks like Breath of the Wind Waker

Take the mechanics of Breath of the Wild and splice it together with the heart of Wind Waker, and you’ve got something close to Windbound.

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Windbound
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Take the mechanics of Breath of the Wild and splice it together with the heart of Wind Waker, and you’ve got something close to Windbound.

At the time, with its cartoon cel-shading and Kevin Costner’s Waterworld version of Hyrule, people sneered at The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Sandwiched between the darker Majora’s Mask on the N64 and Twilight Princess on the Wii, Wind Waker was critically acclaimed, but not terribly well-received by fans.

It’s funny how often fan opinions age badly, isn’t it? Wind Waker is now widely regarded as one of the highlights of the series. It also spawned two direct sequels – The Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks – which is a rarity for the series, and its meandering open-world clearly formed part of the blueprint for 2017’s Breath of the Wild.

Announced today by developer 5 Lives Studios – the team behind Satellite Reign – and publisher Deep Silver, indie adventure Windbound clearly carries the spirit of both Wind Waker and Breath of the Wild in its DNA. (With a touch of Rime’s puzzling and The Flame in the Flood’s survival thrown in for good measure.)

The accompanying press release reads:

“Created by Australian developer 5 Lives Studios, Windbound is a beautiful rogue-like 3rd-person survival adventure, fuelled by hunting, exploration and crafting. The player assumes the role of Kara who has been shipwrecked on an unknown land and must learn to adapt and survive, while solving the mysteries of a series of forgotten islands.

Windbound takes the survival genre in a new direction, focusing on nomadic hunting and exploration, together with custom boat building and an immersive tactile sailing experience. The game provides endless replayability options thanks to the procedural world, dynamic wildlife and modular boat crafting.”

Windbound will release for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on August 28, 2020. That’s a smart move by 5 Lives Studios and Deep Silver – if you get the news of the Switch version out of the way early, it’ll stop people begging for it incessantly.


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The Last of Us Part II is delayed, again

Bad news from the Naughty Dogs: The Last of Us Part II is delayed, again. (And this time there’s no new release date pencilled in.)

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The Last of Us Part II delayed
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Bad news from the Naughty Dogs: The Last of Us Part II is delayed, again. (And this time there’s no new release date pencilled in.)

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc with the video game industry. From event cancellations to production shortages to store closures game delays, it seems nothing is safe from the knock-on effects of the worst crisis the world has seen in years.

(And while you could argue that video games are trivial in the wake of the human cost of COVID-19 – and you’d be absolutely right – it’s worth remembering that they’re still important in their own small way. In addition to being an enormous employer, of a job that can mostly be done from home, they offer entertainment and escapism at a time where we’re all stuck in isolation.)

But this next piece of COVID-19 cancellation news really stings: The Last of Us Part II has been delayed. Again.

In a statement, developer Naughty Dog said:

“As you’ve likely just seen, the release of The Last of Us Part II has been delayed. We’re sure this news is just as disappointing to you as it is to us. We wanted to reach out to all of you in our community to give you a little more information.

The good news is, we’re nearly done with development of The Last of Us Part II. We are in the midst of fixing our final bugs.

However, even with us finishing the game, we were faced with the reality that due to logistics beyond our control, we couldn’t launch The Last of Us Part II to our satisfaction. We want to make sure everyone gets to play The Last of Us Part II around the same time, ensuring that we’re doing everything possible to preserve the best experience for everyone. This meant delaying the game until such a time where we can solve these logistic issues.

We were bummed about this decision but ultimately understood it’s what’s best and fair to all of our players. We’re hoping that this won’t be a long delay and we’ll update you as soon as we have new information to share.

We wish you all, your families, and your friends the best of health. Thank you for being amazing fans and your continued support.” – Naughty Dog

The key takeaway here is that The Last of Us Part II now doesn’t have a release date. That means it’s effectively delayed indefinitely, but the game is nearly complete, so when pandemic-related logistical issues subside it sounds like Naughty Dog and Sony will be able to get the game out fairly sharpish.

Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world that a game about the terrifyingly violent breakdown of human society in the wake of a global pandemic won’t release smack in the middle of a terrifying global pandemic.

(But it’s still a damn shame.)


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Save up to 80% in the Nintendo eShop Spring Sale

Over 300 games are discounted in the new Nintendo Switch eShop Spring sale.

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Over 300 games, including The Witcher 3, Sonic Mania, and Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection, are discounted in the new Nintendo Switch eShop Spring sale.

Following on from this week’s new PlayStation Store sale and Xbox savings, Nintendo Switch owners can now enjoy some tempting game discounts. The big Nintendo eShop Spring sale includes over 300 games, with some recent big-hitters getting decent price cuts.

Top of the list is a 30% price cut for CD Projekt Red’s impressive port of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Ubisoft’s excellent Assassin’s Creed The Rebel Collection is also reduced by 30%, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is chopped by 75%. Alien: Isolation, Gris, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger are also games we liked.

Other recommendations include the wonderful Sonic Mania, Playtonic’s much-improved second game, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, and Larien’s engrossing RPG, Divinity: Original Sin 2. Add in a huge number of indie bargains, and there’s plenty to enjoy.

The sale runs in Europe until April 19, 2020. A batch of first-party Nintendo games will be added to the lineup on April 9 including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Kirby Star Allies.

In the meantime, here are some more sale highlights. Visit the Nintendo eShop in your country for the full list of discounts.

Nintendo eShop Spring Sale Highlights

  • Assassin’s Creed 3: Remastered – 63% off
  • Assassin’s Creed The Rebel Collection – 30% off
  • Axiom Verge – 50% off
  • Bastion – 80% off
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy – 49% off
  • Diablo III: Eternal Collection – 48% off
  • Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition – 40% off
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition – 30% off
  • Gris – 50% off
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – 50% off
  • Iconoclasts – 30% off
  • Just Dance 2020 – 60% off
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – 75% off
  • Metro 2033 Redux – 30% off
  • Metro: Last Light Redux – 30% off
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove – 30% off
  • Sonic Mania – 30% off
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy – 49% off
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition – 30% off
  • Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince – 50% off
  • Torchlight II – 30 off
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair – 33% off

More from Thumbsticks

For this week’s new Nintendo Switch games, read our eShop release roundup. And for more video games sales and savings, follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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A modern classic comes to PlayStation Plus in April 2020

An all-time PS4 great and an overlooked racer are the free games coming to PlayStation Plus in April 2020.

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An all-time PS4 great and an overlooked rally racer are the free PlayStation Plus games for April 2020.

Another month, another duo of excellent free games for PlayStation Plus subscribers. The highlight is one of Naughty Dog’s finest, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Originally released for PS4 in 2016, Uncharted 4 received acclaim from all quarters, including Thumbsticks. In our review of the year, Tom described it as the “perfect a send-off for one of gaming’s great modern characters.” We expect many PlayStation fans have already played the game, but don’t miss this opportunity if you haven’t.

April’s second PS Plus freebie is DIRT Rally 2.0. The problem with many games from Codemasters is that they are reliably reliable. And so it proves here. DIRT Rally 2.0 is a full-featured simulation of a sport that oozes quality on every turn and in every gear change. There’s a learning curve, but with a little patience, a generous and absorbing racing simulation awaits.

This month’s free PS Plus games are available to download from April 7-May 4, 2020.

PlayStation Plus free games – April 2020

  • DIRT Rally 2.0
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

March’s PlayStation Plus games – Shadow of the Colossus, and Sonic Forces – remain available to download until next week.


Bookmark the Thumbsticks new releases page for weekly updates on the latest Xbox One, Switch, and PS4 games. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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