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The Long Dark Story Mode trailer, release window revealed

This is the first trailer for The Long Dark Story Mode and – even better – we now know when it’s coming.

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This is the first trailer for The Long Dark Story Mode and – even better – we now know when it’s coming.

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign The Long Dark launched on Steam’s Early Access proving ground on September 22nd 2014, and in the intervening 452 days has shifted over 457,000 units. According to developer Hinterland Studios The Long Dark has sold over 550,000 copies in total, so that puts it close to 100,000 sales under the Xbox Game Preview service. Excluding the Kickstarter monies – and based on some purely back-of-a-napkin mathematics – that puts their gross receipts at close to $11 million, assuming of course every copy has sold at the full price of $19.99.

These are impressive numbers, and while ongoing funding keeps studios running and the iterative user testing process is a great tool for developers to really get things just right before the release proper – The Long Dark has so far seen different 75 updates and versions – there’s a danger that it becomes difficult to plant a marker in the sand for the end of the process. It’s just too easy to get comfortable when you don’t have a final delivery date. Some games (mentioning no names) seem to have been in Early Access for an eternity, but there inevitably comes a time when you have to rip off the band-aid and release your creation upon the world.

For the team at Hinterland Studios that means that The Long Dark Story Mode is coming, and when it does – in Spring 2016 – will mark the end of the game’s Early Access lifespan. Here’s the full low-down from the press release:

The first part of Story Mode’s Season One launches in Spring 2016, with the entirety of Season One being released episodically over the remainder of 2016. Players will take on the dual roles of bush pilot Will Mackenzie, and doctor Astrid Greenwood, as they both struggle to survive the aftermath of the “First Flare” event, which has brought modern civilization to its knees.

Hinterland outlined the Spring launch and post-launch content plans as follows:

  • At launch, The Long Dark will include both the first part of Season One of Story Mode, and the Sandbox Mode. The Long Dark Story Mode content launching in the Spring will amount to 3-4 hours of gameplay, in addition to the freeform Sandbox mode which offers 100s of hours of open-world exploration-survival gameplay.
  • The remainder of Season One will be released in additional 2-3 hour episodes over the course of 2016, until the Season One story arc is complete. The expected play time for the entire Season One Story Mode is between 10-12 hours.
  • Players will experience the events of the Season One from the perspectives of two playable characters: bush pilot Will Mackenzie, and Dr. Astrid Greenwood. The story will unfold as the Story alternates between these two characters, with the player experiencing both points of view.
  • The core gameplay mechanics of The Long Dark Story Mode are derived from the Sandbox, though specifically tuned for narrative gameplay. Story Mode replaces the Sandbox’s permadeath with a progress-based save system.
  • The Long Dark Story Mode will launch with two large features currently unavailable in the Sandbox: Survivors, and The Aurora. Although Story Mode will use much of the existing Sandbox game world, about 25-30% of the Story Mode world will be entirely new areas.
  • Kickstarter, Early Access, and Game Preview backers will receive the Season One Story Mode content automatically as it is unlocked. No additional purchase is necessary.
  • The Spring launch of Story Mode will mark the end of The Long Dark’s time in Early Access and Game Preview.
  • At launch, the current $19.99 USD “pre-release” price will be increased, to reflect the game’s enhanced content value after more than a year of polish and content updates, plus the addition of Season One Story Mode content.

TL;DR on The Long Dark Story Mode?

The Long Dark Story Mode is coming in spring, it’s going to be episodic, and its going to have multiple seasons. The first season will be 10-12 hours long, and will be released in 2-3 hour episodes. It’s got two playable protagonists, and while the sandbox mode mechanics will be preserved permadeath is going to make way for saving in Story Mode, for obvious reasons. The release proper will mark the end of Early Access, and everyone who’s bought the game so far – be it through Kickstarter, Early Access or Game Preview, and probably at a lower price than the final release – will get a ‘season pass’ to the first season of The Long Dark Story Mode.

Anything else? Oh yeah… we’re really quite excited. As is usual when we talk about The Long Dark, let’s finish with some beautiful images – this time some of the wonderful stylised art from the Story Mode trailer.

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.

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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Classic Final Fantasy games up to 50% off in a Nintendo Switch sale

You’ll find big discounts on classic Final Fantasy games – including 7 through 10 – in a sale on the Nintendo Switch.

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Final Fantasy Nintendo Switch sale
Nintendo / Square Enix / Thumbsticks

You’ll find big discounts on classic Final Fantasy games – including 7 through 10 – in a sale on the Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch does feature new games – every week! Bookmark our new releases page to stay up to date on that front – but it’s the console’s credibility as a retro machine that gets people excited.

Everything is getting ported to Nintendo Switch. Everything. Even PC games at both ends of the joke – Doom at the low-end, to Crysis at the high – are getting a run-out on Nintendo’s little handheld that could.

It’s a combination of that lovely form factor and the ease of portability, with a little help from a lovely 720p screen, that makes the Switch feel so good as a remaster-wielding retro machine. (And of course, Nintendo’s stellar back catalogue, from a raft of NES and SNES games with Nintendo Switch Online to the recently-released Super Mario 3D All-Stars.)

At the top of my list of things I wanted to see on the Nintendo Switch was “every Final Fantasy game ever, please,” and, sure enough, Square Enix and Nintendo are obliging. But they’re rarely cheap. You’d think for all the times I’ve bought and re-bought Final Fantasy VI, VII or IX over the years, I might get some sort of loyalty discount. Maybe a Final Fantasy equivalent of Nectar points? But no. They cost quite a lot, even if Square’s ports aren’t always that hot.

Which is why a Square Enix sale on the Nintendo eShop – featuring a bunch of Final Fantasy games, but also, more! – at discounted prices is so exciting. There’s up to 50% off, as well, which is a cracking discount.

Here’s everything included in the Square Enix Nintendo Switch publisher sale.

Square Enix Nintendo Switch publisher sale

  • Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
  • Final Fantasy IX
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD
  • Final Fantasy Explorers (Nintendo 3DS)
  • I Am Setsuna
  • Lost Sphear
  • Oninaki
  • Romancing SaGa 2
  • SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions
  • Spelunker Party!
  • Star Ocean: First Departure R
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call (Nintendo 3DS)
  • World of Final Fantasy Maxima

The picks of the litter are obviously the mainline Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy VII is obviously brilliant; the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII is splendid; Final Fantasy IX is secretly the best one; Final Fantasy X/X-2 is another excellent remaster; Final Fantasy XII isn’t great (but the Zodiac Age remaster makes it much more bearable); and Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is… also on sale. There’s a reason the Final Fantasy VII Remake is so great, and it’s because it steals its best ideas from these earlier iterations.

The recent remake of Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon – subtitled EVERY BUDDY!, their emphasis, not ours – is also well worth checking out, even if it is a bit of a peculiar curio. Romancing SaGa 2 is also well worth checking out, while I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear are modern-developed indie games published by Square Enix.

These deals are only available until September 30, so you’d better get on that.


Bookmark our sales and freebies pages for the latest video game promotions. You can also follow Thumbsticks on FlipboardFacebookGoogle News, and Twitter for daily news updates.

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New PlayStation 4 releases (Sept 28-Oct 2, 2020)

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars: Squadrons headline the list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time and Star Wars: Squadrons headline the list of new PlayStation 4 releases.

Here at Thumbsticks, we pride ourselves in being some of the finest gaming armchair analysts around. But, we’re only human and have to confess that the popularity of Activision’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy took us by surprise. With over 10 million copies sold it’s now over to Toys for Bob to bring the franchise up to date with Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. First impressions are positive, and the recently revealed N’ Verted mode should give the game a venue to experiment with some wild new ideas.

EA’s history with the Star Wars licence has had its ups and downs, but following Battlefront II (eventually) and Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order the publisher has found some consistency. The strong run looks set to continue with Star Wars: Squadrons, a game that sets out to do one thing well, and from early accounts achieves it capably.

Speaking of licensed products, we’re also hopeful for The Walking Dead Onslaught, the new PSVR survival game from Survios. It’s about time the franchise had another decent tie-in.

Other new PlayStation 4 releases include Orangeblood, Genshin Impact, and Re:Turn – One Way Trip. There’s also a chance that the promising future racing game Pacer will be released on PS4 following a short delay.

Here’s the full lineup of new PS4 games confirmed so far. Check back throughout next week for details of any late additions.

New PlayStation 4 releases: Sept 28-Oct 2, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • Genshin Impact
  • Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Commander ’85 – TBC
  • Pacer – TBC
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip
  • The Walking Dead Onslaught
  • Warsaw
  • Projection: First Light
  • Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!
  • Until You Fall

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • No new games today!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • FIFA 21 (EA Play First Trial)
  • Orangeblood

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Star Wars: Squadrons

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Visit our new releases page for weekly updates on the latest games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

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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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New Xbox One releases (September 28-October 2, 2020)

Crash Bandicoot, Star Wars and FIFA (sort of) headline this week’s list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

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New Xbox One game releases
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Crash Bandicoot, Star Wars and FIFA (sort of) headline this week’s list of upcoming Xbox One releases.

Do you know which Star Wars games are the absolute best? No, it’s not that new one with Archie Andrews off Riverdale as a Jedi, nor is it Episode I: Racer, or even Knights of the Old Republic. It’s the classic PC flight sims, the ones that came on half a dozen floppy disks: X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and X-Wing vs Tie Fighter.

With that in mind, we are perhaps most excited about Star Wars: Squadrons, a Star Wars space combat flight sim with all the pew! pew! you’d expect. Squadrons has pedigree, too; it’s developed by EA’s Motive Studios, the crew behind the brilliant Star Wars Battlefront II. (That’s the modern, multiplayer Battlefront II with lots of cool ships to fly, not the middling shooter from 2005.)

The other big name on the Xbox One Releases this week is Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Developed by Toys for Bob, the company behind the excellent remasters, publisher Activision hopes that the return of its mascot platformer will emulate the successful return of its other late-90s icon, Tony Hawk.

There’s one other big game this week, but it’s not for everyone. Literally. If you don’t have EA Play, you won’t get to play FIFA 21 on October 2; you’ll have to wait until October 9 like everyone else. But if you do have EA Play – and remember, it’s now included with Xbox Game Pass – you’ll get to try out EA’s big footie sim, FIFA 21, a week before your mates.

Other games of note include Feather, a zen exploration game with beautiful flight, Commander ’85, an intriguing cold war mystery, and Inertial Drift, a racing game with an innovative twin-stick control scheme.

Each new game can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store or the Microsoft web store. We’ll update this post throughout the week with any late additions to the lineup.

New Xbox One releases: September 28-October 2, 2020

Monday, September 28, 2020

  • No games for you!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

  • Bartlow’s Dread Machine
  • Projection: First Light
  • Re:Turn – One Way Trip

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

  • Birthday of Midnight
  • Commander ’85
  • Feather
  • Inertial Drift
  • Swordbreaker

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • FIFA 21 (EA Play First Trial)
  • Orangeblood

Friday, October 2, 2020

  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Star Wars: Squadrons
  • Dragon Lapis
  • Warsaw

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest games. You can also follow us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter

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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Left 4 Dead 2 is having a free-to-play weekend

If you enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 during its free weekend, you’ll be able to pick it up for just $2 / £1.43.

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Left 4 Dead 2 free-to-play weekend
Valve / Thumbsticks

If you enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 during its free weekend, you’ll be able to pick it up for just $2 / £1.43.

Valve, the company that famously does not make threequels, released Left 4 Dead 2 almost 11 years ago, in November 2009. It’s a co-op zombie first-person shooter and, well, it’s really good.

Unsurprisingly, Valve stopped releasing content updates for it years ago – the last one was the addition of the first Left 4 Dead’s campaign to the sequel in 2010, if memory serves? – but that doesn’t mean Left 4 Dead 2 has been left fallow.

Thanks to Valve’s famously open Source engine (that’s a “famously open engine called Source”, not “Open Source” in the licensing sense), however, fans of Left 4 Dead 2 have been able to keep the updates coming. One of the biggest was Cold Stream, released for PC in 2012 and Xbox 360 in 2013.

Then, just this week, another community-created update – called The Last Stand – was released for Left 4 Dead 2. Once again, Valve gave the community creation its blessing and, as a result, The Last Stand is a very official unofficial update.

To celebrate, Valve is hosting a free-to-play weekend for Left 4 Dead 2 on Steam. The game, including all single- and multi-player modes, will available to play for free all this weekend. Even better, if you enjoy it, you’ll be able to pick up Left 4 Dead 2 for the princely sum of $1.99 / £1.43 until September 28, 2020.


You like free stuff, right? Bookmark our free games page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular free stuff updates.

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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Rocket League goes free-to-play, promptly breaks concurrency records, servers

Rocket League shows the perils and potential of going free to play with its server issues and huge player numbers.

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Rocket League free to play concurrency records
Psyonix

Rocket League shows the perils and potential of going free to play with its server issues and huge player numbers.

September 23, 2020, marked a shift in the life of the multiplayer hit, Rocket League. As well as making the move from Steam to the Epic Game Store, it made its football-with-cars antics free-to-play on every platform. Existing Steam players can still use the Steam version, however, and updates will continue.

Rocket League’s move from mid-priced game to free-to-play inevitably disrupted the servers in a big way, however.

It was exacerbated by the shift coinciding with a “new competitive season”. Rocket League took to Twitter to announce that “Tournaments, Challenges, and other Rocket League features are impacted by this degradation”. Whilst they managed to get the servers stable that day, it might have concerned regulars about the game long-term.

It’s been mere days, but the future now looks even brighter for the already beaming game. 

Corey Davis, the co-studio head of Psyonix Studios, took to Twitter to announce that the game had reached a new milestone of 1 million concurrent players. Commenters claim it went as high as 1.4 million. That comes with the caveat that all platforms are being counted given its crossplay support. It encapsulates the PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, Steam and Epic Game Store populations. If you support cross-play, I think you can be permitted the boast.

It’s a big boost in player population for a game that’s mostly averaged 60,000 to 80,000 on Steam since it was released five years ago. Even on Steam, Rocket League has now hit an all-time player high of 129,060 within the last 24 hours. 

For those who somehow have never partaken or just like a good deal, as we reported yesterday you can now secure yourself a £10 coupon if you redeem the game on the Epic Game Store.


Follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard for more video game news.

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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