The Week in Video Games – June 18th, 2017

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Here’s our hop, skip, and jump back through the week’s biggest news stories from the world of video games.

It was all about E3 this week with plenty of new game and hardware announcements to chew over.

E3 Press conference round-up

This year’s E3 saw all the big names approach their press conferences differently. Electronic Arts called on the services of online influencers to cringe-worthy effect, before rescuing things with the appearance of Janina Gavankar to introduce Star Wars Battlefront II. Microsoft put Phil Spencer front and centre to unveil the Xbox One X, backed-up by a shrug inducing ‘surprise’ reveal of a new Porsche. Sony’s theatrical procression of demos was a far cry from the PowerPoint slides of old, and Reggie Fils-Aime came over all philosophical on the Nintendo E3 Showcase, before Mario took over a T-Rex and stole the show. Bethesda didn’t spring any huge surprises, but that Wolfenstein II trailer could well have been the best in show. For me, the real winner was Ubisoft. Their Tom Clancy-free lineup was exciting, imaginative and bold, to say nothing of having the best E3 ‘One more thing” moment in some years.

The Madness of Crowds

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay

Charles Mackay knew exactly what would happen when you add 15,000 paying customers to E3 and point them in the direction of the Nintendo booth. This was the biggest E3 since 2005 – with over 68,000 attendees – and it made for an uncomfortable experience. The volume of people wasn’t a problem in itself, rather that the format of E3 hasn’t changed to accommodate the extra numbers, and offer paying punters an experience worth the admission fee. Neither trade-show nor fan expo, there’s a lot of work to be done for next year.

Hugs and kisses for the XOX

It’s the Xbox One X, then. The world’s most powerful console can be yours for $499 on November 7, 2017. It’s a powerful beast, and if you need some help understanding what a FLOP and GDDR5 is, we’ve got you covered. Based on what we saw at E3, we can say two things about the new console’s capabilities: 1) Forza Motorsport 7 truly does look mind-blowing, and 2) with Crackdown 3 the Xbox One X can accurately recreate the look of at ten-year old Xbox 360 game.

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E3 merchandise leaves a lot to be desired

Games expo merchandise needn’t be terrible. PAX produces some good stuff, and I’ve picked up some nice tees from the likes of EGX and – the admittedly more industry focused – GDC over the years. However, E3 merch has always been, well, a little crappy. USGamer looks a this year’s crop of truly terrible t shirts and, erm, spatulas.

Up in Arms

Nintendo looks to have another hit on their hands with Arms, the new Switch-exclusive fighter. The game demoed well at E3 last week, with long lines despite the game being available to buy on Friday. It’s received positive reviews across the board, with an Edge 9, and Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson calling it a “mad, brilliant dance of a game.” USGamer’s Caty McCarthy offers a slightly cooler take, saying that in its current state, the game “doesn’t have enough variety among its many arms and fighters to keep the experience feeling fresh for long.” Fortunately, Arms will be receiving plenty of free DLC, including this new character, announced at E3.

EVE Online gets colour blind support

CCP Games has added colour-blind support to its MMORPG, EVE Online. Gamasutra reports on how CCP has implemented new options, and how to use them.

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds gets a zombie mode

Quelle surprise. Super popular battle royale, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, is getting a new zombie mode. The new mode – which was announced via Twitter – will not form part of the base game, the optimisation of which remains the priority for the development team.

PlayStation 4 sets the pace

Just in case we were too hyped by the Xbox One X announcement, Sony reasserting their dominance of the current console generation with the release of some impressive sales numbers. As of June 2017, the PlayStation 4 sits at over 60.4 million units sold. Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime, was also keen to point out that the humble 3DS has also been pretty successful – with 66 millions consoles sold since 2011 – and that Nintendo intend to support the line beyond 2018.

A happy ending for Hitman

Following the surprising announcement a month ago that Square Enix were ditching Hitman studio Io Interactive, the future of the venerable series has literally been on a knife-edge. Unusually for a studio sale – where the intellectual property typically stays with the publisher – Square Enix were prepared to let the Hitman property go with Io, to incentivise the sale. Now a buyer has stepped forward, and that buyer is… Io Interactive!

In a statement on their website, Io Interactive confirms they are “now officially an independent studio, having agreed a management buyout with Square Enix, confirming that they “will keep all of the rights to the Hitman IP.”

This is a watershed moment for IOI. As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP – we’re about to forge our own future and it’s incredibly exciting. We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.

Statement, Io Interactive

More E3 coverage from Thumbsticks

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