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Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta dates confirmed

Following Ubisoft’s massive betas for The Division, Steep and For Honor, it’s now Ghost Recon Wildlands’ turn.

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Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta

Following Ubisoft’s massive betas for The Division, Steep and For Honor, it’s now Ghost Recon Wildlands’ turn.

We’d normally do a bit of exposition at this point about why betas are important – check performance, gauge server sizing, reveal bugs and flaws – but we write these things about Ubisoft games so often, we’ll take it as read that you all know what it’s for.

Ubisoft’s latest online endeavour has already had a closed beta, back in January, but now the dates for the Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta have been confirmed by the giant publisher. They’ve also released a trailer to go with the announcement.

Players who take part in the Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta will be given access to two of the game’s 21 open world environments, and will be able to go it alone or play with up to three friends in online co-op, just like the real game. If you then purchase and play the main game’s campaign before March 31, 2017 (through the same Ubisoft account) then you’ll also be granted access to a limited-time mission to say thanks for participating in the tests.

The Ghost Recon Wildlands open beta will run over the weekend of February 23 – 27, 2017. The beta will be available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and pre-loads will begin a few days early on Monday, 20 February. Check out the system requirements if you’re thinking about playing on PC.

The game itself launches on March 7, 2017.

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Surprise! The Long Dark is out now on Nintendo Switch

Another Nintendo Direct, another raft of surprise Nintendo Switch releases. One of today’s picks is The Long Dark.

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The Long Dark Nintendo Switch
Hinterland / Thumbsticks

Another Nintendo Direct, another raft of surprise Nintendo Switch releases. One of today’s picks is The Long Dark.

Nintendo has developed a habit of doing the old “and it’s available on the eShop right now” trick during its Direct presentations. In a summer of interminable video press conferences and wall-to-wall Geoff Keighley and 15-minute trailers for games we won’t see again for a couple of years, it’s a lovely little trait, an instant dopamine hit.

And Nintendo used it again, a few times, during its September 2020 Nintendo Direct Mini Partner Showcase. There were games we knew were coming at some point, like Hades, and games we didn’t, like Ori and the Will of the Wisps. But they were still a nice surprise.

Then there was The Long Dark, the brilliant, wintry survival epic from Hinterland Games. That, too, got a surprise launch on the Nintendo Switch today. This is a lovely turn of events for a couple of reasons:

  1. The Long Dark is really rather good.
  2. The last we heard, the game’s performance on Switch was quite poor, so it’s excellent that it’s now in a state good enough to release.

There’s also an excellent launch trailer to mark the occasion:

Meanwhile, Hinterland head honcho and The Long Dark director Raph van Lierop took to Twitter to address some players’ confusion that, uncharacteristically, the trailer wasn’t particularly bleak.

We’re looking to heading out into the wilderness and playing The Long Dark later this year. You know, when it gets really cold.


Check out everything else announced in this month’s Nintendo Direct, or follow Thumbsticks on FlipboardFacebookGoogle News, and Twitter.

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Prepare for Watch Dogs: Legion with this Epic freebie

Watch Dogs: Legion is out in a month, which means you have just enough time to play through its fantastic predecessor.

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Watch Dogs 2 - Marcus Holloway
Ubisoft

Watch Dogs: Legion is out in a month, which means you have just enough time to play through its fantastic predecessor.

In Ubisoft’s upcoming open-world game Watch Dogs: Legion, you can play as anyone. In this week’s Epic Games Store freebie, Watch Dogs 2, you play as a very specific person who I like an awful lot. Marcus Holloway, the game’s protagonist, is a genuinely likable, cool, chill dude. He’s also one of the few Black leads in video games.

The game around Marcus is also very cool. Set in modern day San Francisco, Watch Dogs 2 is a slice of sunshine-y fun that hands you a tonne of cool hacker superpowers. If you want to know more, I wrote about it as one of the best (and least realistic) hacking video games on the market here.

The Other Freebies

Also free: Football Manager 2020. This one ain’t for Yanks, like me; it’s about the other kind of football. From my experience playing the sport as a 10-year-old, managing a football team mostly involves keeping the team stocked with Capri Suns and helping them choose a cool name. Our uniforms were blue and white and we called ourselves the Blizzards. Very cool stuff. The beautiful game, indeed.

And, the final freebie is an indie platformer called Stick It to the Man, which has a cool pop-up book aesthetic. Worth a look for the low, low price of free.

And, here’s your friendly reminder that all five episodes of 3 Out of 10 are still free. I’ve played the first two episodes of the “interactive sitcom” about life at the world’s worst game developer and I’m becoming increasingly invested in the story. The minigames have a surprisingly good hit-to-miss ratio, as well.

All of this is free until next Thursday when Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition will be up for grabs.


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The future of VR is wireless as Facebook goes all in on the Oculus Quest 2

With specifics for the Oculus Quest 2 finally here, it’s also been revealed that the PC-only Oculus Rift headsets will be discontinued in 2021.

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Oculus Quest 2
Facebook / Oculus

RIP Oculus Rift.

With specifics for the Oculus Quest 2 finally here, it’s also been revealed that the PC-only Oculus Rift headsets will be discontinued in 2021. Sales of the original Quest will also cease. It’s another clarifying move in Facebook’s vision for the future of VR. It comes alongside the recent announcement that a Facebook account will be required to use any Oculus headset by 2023. Indeed, a Facebook account is required to use the Quest 2.

Facebook has reassured users that they will continue to support PC VR via Quest and Oculus Link. The Rift platform of PC software certainly isn’t facing a shut down any time soon.

That said, Facebook seems to be betting big on wireless, mobile experiences being the key to VR reaching mass audience appeal. Whilst the Quest 2 does fold both the wireless and PC-fidelity VR worlds into one headset with a fibre-optic Oculus Link cable – available to preorder separately – it’s telling that this cable isn’t included with the headset itself.

Other USB-C cables should be capable of the PC tethering too via Oculus Link but might provide an inferior performance. Either way, Quest 2 users will be able to access games on the Rift platform that haven’t been adapted especially for its wireless capabilities. These include highly-acclaimed releases like Asgard’s Wrath, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, and Lone Echo. It seems a shame this is slightly deemphasised.

The Quest 2 is launching on October 10 and undercuts the original Quest significantly with a price tag of £299. Despite this, it boasts better specs all-round: a higher resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, higher refresh rate support of  72 Hz (and 90 Hz promised via software update), a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, and 6 GB RAM. Other features like controller-less navigation bring back Kinect memories.

It’s a major shift towards affordable VR and many early reviews signal very positive impressions. Equally, not everyone is sold on the new VR system.


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Everything announced in today’s Nintendo Direct showcase

Today’s Nintendo Direct Mini Partner Showcase revealed a crop of new titles heading to the Nintendo Switch.

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September Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Today’s Nintendo Direct Mini Partner Showcase revealed a crop of new titles heading to the Nintendo Switch, including a brand new Monster Hunter game from Capcom.

The fifteen-minute presentation was short on ceremony but packed with details on upcoming Nintendo Switch games from third-parties.

Opening the Direct was Monster Hunter Rise, a new Switch-exclusive entry in Capcom’s long-running action RPG series. Other highlights included a new trailer for Empire of Sin and a surprise Switch release for Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

Here’s a quick roundup of everything announced on today’s stream. Nintendo has also confirmed that another Partner Showcase will be broadcast later this year.

Monster Hunter Rise

Capcom kicked off the Direct with a first look at a new Switch-exclusive entry in the Monster Hunter franchise. Rather than following in the footsteps of Monster Hunter World, it takes its lead from earlier numbered entries in the series. The game looks impressive nonetheless and is due for release on March 26, 2021.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

More from Capcom. This time it’s a sequel to the excellent Pokémon-like RPG that debuted on the Nintendo 3DS in 2016. It’s due next summer.

Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise

Imagineer’s sequel to the fantastic Fitness Boxing includes new workout regimes, dance moves, and more visual pizazz. It probably won’t trouble Ring Fit Adventure but if it builds on the first game, it will be worth a look for gamers with a few extra pounds to shed, ahem. Enter the ring on December 4, 2020.

Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny

The latest game in the cult tactical RPG series will arrive on Nintendo Switch in Summer 2021. In the meantime, Disgaea 5 is getting a limited-time free trial for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers beginning on September 23.

Empire of Sin

A new trailer for Romero Games Prohibition-era strategy game. Pop open a bottle to celebrate its release on December 1.

Sniper Elite 4

Rebellion’s acclaimed Italian vacation simulator arrives on Nintendo Switch this holiday season.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Surprise! Moon Studios’ sumptuous exploratory platformer is out today on Switch. A lovely looking collector’s edition – which includes both games in the series – is also being released by iam8bit.

Other announcements

Also confirmed in today broadcast were release windows for Rune Factory 5 and Square Enix’s Balan Wonderworld. Set an alarm for sometime in 2021. Coming sooner is Hinterland Studio’s stunning survival game, The Long Dark, and Supergiant’s Greek mythology-inspired roguelike, Hades. They’re out today in fact.

Watch the Nintendo Direct Mini again, right here.

And for more on Monster Hunter, here’s a special Direct broadcast from Capcom.

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Production of the Nintendo 3DS family has come to an end

Three years later Nintendo makes the ‘switch’ as production on the 3DS ends.

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Nintendo 3DS production ends
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Three years later Nintendo makes the ‘switch’ as production on the 3DS ends.

It held in there. In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, Nintendo confirmed 3DS production already ended earlier this year in March. The 3DS page on the Nintendo website has also been updated to reflect this fact. The news comes over three years after the release of the Nintendo Switch and nine years after its first 3DS system’s release. This also includes the 2DS consoles, if you were wondering.

The system is still a testament to Nintendo’s ingenuity. Although it received less focus over time, and was outright dropped in latter consoles, the 3D effect is still impressive today. Nintendo seems to be keeping that creative spirit alive in Nintendo Labo and the recently revealed Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit.

I still remember the surprise there was at the steady, continued release of games on the family of systems alongside Nintendo’s Switch plans. Such games included Metroid: Samus Returns, Luigi’s Mansion, WarioWare Gold, Captain Toad: Treasure-Tracker, Pokémon Ultra Sun, and Pokémon Ultra Moon.

The reality is that 3DS worldwide hardware sales remained steady for the first two years of the Switch’s life cycle, sustaining numbers of 7.27 and 6.4 million sales in 2017 and 2018. This was before major drop-offs in 2019 and 2020 to 2.55 million and 0.65 million respectively. Understandable for the latter, perhaps, if the console’s financial year ended in March.

It’s still not over for the handheld, though. A Nintendo spokesperson confirmed to GI.biz that “Nintendo and third-party games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems will continue to be available in Nintendo eShop, on Nintendo.com and at retail.”

Shutdowns recently affected 42 countries that accessed a limited version of the eShop, and it remains to be seen how long support will last everywhere else. With that in mind, Nintendo’s promise of continued retail support for the 3DS seems surprising.

Although the 3DS family saw gargantuan sales numbers in its lifetime, selling 75.9 million units worldwide, it falls short of many of Nintendo’s previous handheld families. The Game Boy and Game Boy Advance hit totals of 118.7 million and 81.5 million units, whilst the original DS family reigns supreme with a staggering 154 million units – over double the 3DS’s lifetime sales.


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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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