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Everything announced on September’s PlayStation State of Play

September’s PlayStation State of Play unveiled new trailers for The Last of Us Part II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Wattam, and much more.

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September’s PlayStation State of Play unveiled new trailers for The Last of Us Part II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Wattam, and much more.

This month’s PlayStation State of Play broadcast was a huge improvement on Sony’s previous efforts in March and May. It still lacked the off-beat charm found in a Nintendo Direct but the 20 minute-long show cut to the chase with a steady stream of new game trailers and reveals.

The highlight was new footage and release date confirmation for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II but there were also strong appearances from games including Wattam, Arise, and Afterparty.

You can watch the PlayStation State of Play for September again right here, or scroll down the page for a quick rundown of all the announcements.

PlayStation State of Play – September 2019

Humanity – game reveal

A new crowd-coercing physics puzzle game from Tetris Effect developer, Enhance, and Tha Ltd. It’s due for release sometime next year.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – new trailer

A new story-focused trailer from the upcoming reimagining of Infinity Ward’s seminal FPS. Released on PlayStation 4 (and other platforms) on October 25, 2019.

Wattam – new trailer

Brand new footage of Wattam, the new game from Katamari Damacy creator, Keita Takahashi. It’s a beautiful and quirky game of connection and communication that looks like Death Stranding done right. It’s coming to PlayStation 4 this December.

Arise: A Simple Story – new trailer

Piccolo Studio’s unabashed homage to Thatgamecompany’s Journey and Flower is coming soon from publisher, Techland.

L.A Noire: The VR Case Files

Rockstar’s tale of crime and corruption in 1930’s Los Angeles is out now on PlayStation VR.

MediEvil – demo out now

A free demo for the upcoming remake of the 1998 PlayStation classic is available on the PlayStation Store until October 6, 2019. The full game is released on October 25, 2019.

Civilization VI – PS4 release date

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI finally comes to PlayStation 4 (and, cough, Xbox One) on November 22. The Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm add-ons will also be available separately or in a bundle.

Death Stranding – PS4 Pro Bundle

A Limited Edition Death Stranding-themed PlayStation 4 Pro bundle will be released alongside the game on November 8, 2019. The console looks nice, the translucent orange DualShock 4, however, is truly vomit-inducing.

Afterparty – new trailer

An impressive new trailer for Night School’s tale of the devil and the drink. Coming soon to PlayStation 4 (and other platforms)

PlayStation Plus – October games confirmed

MLB The Show 19 and The Last of Us Remastered will be available free to PlayStation Plus subscribers from October 1, 2019.

The Last of Us Part II – trailer and release date

A stunning new trailer for Naughty Dog’s highly-anticipated sequel confirms the return of Joel, once again played by Troy Baker, and a release date of February 21, 2020.

Upcoming PS VR highlights

  • Gorn – Winter 2019
  • Espire 1: VR Operative – September 2019
  • Stardust Odyssey – Winter 2019
  • After the Fall – 2020
  • Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash – Autumn 2019

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for weekly updates on the latest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 games. You can also follow us on Flipboard or Twitter.

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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Dragon Quest XI, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Transistor.

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Four new Minecraft fighters announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The shock reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s new Minecraft characters coincided with a Twitter outage as delight poured in.

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Minecraft Steve Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Nintendo / Microsoft

The shock reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s new Minecraft characters coincided with a Twitter outage as delight poured in.

Nintendo announced on stream that Minecraft’s Steve, Alex, Zombie and Enderman will all be joining as playable fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Once this second Fighters Pass is through, the total roster will number an impressive 86.

The announcement coincided with widespread Twitter downtime, leading to many users (half-) joking that the announcement had “broken Twitter“.

Nintendo confirmed that Steve and Alex will either be available to players who purchase the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2 for £26.99 or Challenger Pack 7, which can be bought separately for £5.39. This challenger pack includes the two fighters as well as a new stage and seven music tracks. 

The Fighters Pass Vol. 2 currently boasts only Min Min from ARMS, but four more characters/challenger packs are yet to be announced.

A full live-stream presentation on the Steve & Alex fighters is due October 3rd, which you can watch on the Nintendo UK YouTube channel. Expect a release date during that stream.

Minecraft seems a natural fit for the mega-franchise, given smashing is among Steve’s main activities. As for building, I’m not holding my breath that we’ll see a redstone calulator in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate anytime soon.


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Nintendo: Remember to charge your Switch at least every six months

Nintendo Support tweets out a warning to all those letting their console gather dust – it might not be the same when you return.

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Nintendo Switch Battery Charge
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Nintendo Support tweets out a warning to all those letting their console gather dust – it might not be the same when you return.

Lithium batteries are a pain as much as they’re a convenience. Whilst we’d love them to be magic items we can imbue with power, instead the darn things are subject to real-world physics and require good maintenance practice. Typical.

Nintendo Support took to Twitter to push this message home for the Switch, saying:

“The battery built into the game console may become unchargeable if it has not been charged or used for too long. Please charge it once every six months.”

I’d go further and recommend you cut that to every month. Keep your batteries at room temperature and aim for partial discharges over full ones (around 50% is the sweet spot). Since batteries are under the most strain when they’re fully charged or completely empty, neither overcharging nor completely draining is ideal.

A few months ago PSPs were similarly suffering from underuse, leading to battery swelling and even bursting.

Who are these Switch-owning monsters who leave their consoles so unloved for half a year at a time? Have they not seen that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is out? That said, I know I’ve been guilty of leaving my own console discharged for perhaps two months at a time. Don’t look at me.

Whether it’s the battery of your Switch, your phone, (or for god’s sake check that PSP now!), we could all probably do better to look after the future explosives we sleep next to at night.


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Super Mario Bros. 35 is out now on Nintendo Switch

The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

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The new Super Mario battle-royale game is out now for Nintendo Switch Online members.

The Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary celebrations continue apace with the release today of Super Mario Bros. 35 on Nintendo Switch. The game is based on the 1985 NES classic but adds a battle-royale gameplay twist similar in format to Tetris 99.

The game sees 35 players compete online across classic Mario courses, beginning with the iconic World 1-1. The platforming gameplay comes as naturally as breathing, but this time, defeated Koopa Troopers and Goombas are sent over to other players’ courses to disrupt their progress. You’re also up against the clock which counts down from 35 seconds and has to be topped up by stomping on enemies. The fun continues until there’s one Mario left standing.

It’s a simple concept, and in our brief time with the game, a well-executed one. Matches are chaotic and pleasingly clumsy with familiar levels made significantly more challenging. The game is also exquisitely produced with a user interface that echoes Super Mario Maker.

Here’s the launch trailer.

Super Mario Bros 35 is free to download and play for Nintendo Switch Online members at no additional cost. Weirdly – and just like the recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection – the game is only available until March 31, 2021. To get it, navigate to the Nintendo Switch Online section of the Switch eShop.


Get updates on the latest Xbox One, Switch, and PlayStation 4 video games via our new releases page. And follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for daily news updates.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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October’s PlayStation Plus games are fast and frightening

Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

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Sony has confirmed the two PlayStation 4 games coming to PlayStation Plus in October 2020.

First on the starting grid is EA’s Need for Speed Payback. Which Need for Speed is that you ask? It’s the 2017 effort from Ghost Games. The racing isn’t actually that bad, but the game is dragged down by creaky storytelling and aggressive microtransactions. It’s worth a quick spin.

Next up is Vampyr, Dontnod’s 2018 tale of bloodlust and revenge set in Edwardian London. It’s a distinctly AA game but not without merit for fans of gothic fiction and Hippocratic hokum. In our review, we said that a “vivid sense of time and place, and a fantastic central idea, soon turn pale with repetitive combat and a forest of conversation trees.” It certainly doesn’t suck.

Both of next month’s free PlayStation Plus games are available to download from October 6, 2020.

PlayStation Plus free games – October 2020

  • Need for Speed Payback
  • Vampyr

September’s PlayStation Plus games – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Street Fighter V – are available to download until next week. And if you’re playing on Xbox One, Microsoft has also confirmed the four titles coming to Games with Gold in October.


Take a look at our new releases page for regular updates on the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 games. You should also follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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CD Projekt Red reneges on ‘non-obligatory crunch policy’ for Cyberpunk 2077

Developers will have to crunch, and crunch hard, until Cyberpunk 2077 releases in November.

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Cyberpunk 2077 crunch
CD Projekt Red

Developers will have to crunch, and crunch hard, until Cyberpunk 2077 releases in November.

In 2019, before Cyberpunk 2077’s big E3 showing, CD Projekt Red requested an interview with Jason Schreier, then of Kotaku. Schreier, now with Bloomberg, is one of the industry’s foremost voices on video game labour and conditions, with a level of access many of us dream of.

In that conversation, which was published on Kotaku, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcus Iwiński spoke of a “non-obligatory crunch policy” for developers working on Cyberpunk 2077, and promised that the developer, famed for its intense crunch on games like The Witcher 3, wanted “to be more humane and treat people with respect”.

Now, weeks out from the release of Cyberpunk 2077, Schreier reports that mandatory crunch is now in effect at CD Projekt Red, following an email from studio head Adam Badowski.

Per the Bloomberg article, quoted verbatim as Thumbsticks has not seen the email directly:

“Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive,” Badowski wrote, elaborating that this meant “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend.” The extra work would be paid, as required by Polish labor laws. Many other video game studios don’t pay for overtime.

“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” he wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

It’s important to stress at this point that crunch is not simply “a bit of overtime”, as many armchair commentators on social media are quick to suggest. Crunch, in video game development terms, is the systematic failure of project management that leads to extended periods – weeks, months, or sometimes years – of development staff working horrific hours with no respite. That will often involve six- or seven-day weeks, evenings and weekends, totalling 60-, 70-, or 80-hour weeks. Week in, week out. For months. Delays to release dates, which you might think offer a reprieve, often simply extend and elongate the crunch.

CD Projekt Red is always keen to point out that – as per Polish labour law – crunch is paid overtime for its employees, reportedly time-and-a-half for evenings and double-time for weekends. This sounds brilliant to our American friends and colleagues, who – far removed from the sorts of working time protections we enjoy in the EU – might have to perform similar crunch with no additional remuneration, only holding onto the vague promise of bonuses should the game perform well upon release.

And for an odd evening here or there, or the weekend before release, that would be fine. That would just be regular overtime.

But when crunch is a culture and lasts for months – or years – it’s no wonder that burnout is endemic in this industry and attrition rates are so high. It’s also often referred to as “optional” but there is a tacit expectation that everyone must crunch; just look at Rockstar, where the Housers reportedly expected everyone to be working if they were, and they were always working. Nobody wants to be seen as letting their teammates down when everyone else is suffering together, missing their families, struggling with their mental health and exhaustion.

Crunch is far from the only issue with Cyberpunk 2077, with questions around the game’s use of racial stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and attitudes towards transgender people circling since that E3 demo. And no doubt people will still buy it in droves. A large portion of the gaming public simply won’t care about the cultural harm or the conditions its developers face. Or, at least, will care less about that than their desire to play the hot new video game. Some will see working on a game like Cyberpunk 2077 as such a “dream job” that people should suffer any poor conditions with a smile.

But we once thought that the food industry wouldn’t change, as was the case with battery-farmed eggs. Then, when the public stopped buying them in favour of higher-welfare options, the industry changed its ways. The same is true of the cosmetics industry and the growth of cruelty-free products with the “Leaping Bunny” accreditation, or the market for ethically-sourced produce with certifications like “Fairtrade” or “Rainforest Alliance”.

These campaigns prove that when the public votes with its feet – or more to the point, with its wallet – then the industry of production can change.


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Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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