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The Week in Video Games – March 25, 2018

This week in video games: it’s all about PUBG, GDC, Ni No Kuni, and Nintendo Nindies. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

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Sea of Thieves

This week in video games: it’s all about PUBG, GDC, Ni No Kuni, and Nintendo Nindies. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is now testing its own Event Mode. Designed to be more than a standard preset custom game, the mode will feature new content. To start with, it will include eight player teams, and a doubled drop rate on rifles. Event mode will be moved to the live server as soon as it’s deemed stable.

Patch 11 was also deployed to the Xbox One version of the game this week. It adds improvements to the game’s stability, inventory management, and UI.

Following hot on the heels of the Fortnite Battle Royale mobile game, the PUBG mobile game – developed and published by Tencent, and previously only available in China – began launching suddenly around the world this week. It’s surprising just how good a job they’ve done.

There was also plenty of PUBG talk at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. One of the highlights was a talk by community manager, Sammie Kang, on how Bluehole built its devoted following of streamers. Brendan Greene also took to the stage to speak about his career and the rivalry with Fortnite. And speaking of conferences, Brendan Greene is also slated to deliver the opening “storytime” keynote at PAX East next month.

Fortnite news

Marketing intelligence company SuperData reports that Fortnite Battle Royale is currently making more money than PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, despite – or should that be because of – its free-to-play status. According to the report – discretely titled, Fortnite is eating PUBG’s lunch – Epic’s game is surpassing PUBG in terms of revenue, and Twitch streaming views.

Fortnite was also to be found at GDC, and in Epic’s ‘State of Unreal’ keynote, it was announced that the game will soon receive a suite of video replay editing tools. They will allow players to review completed matches, capture footage, and create highlight reels.

NIntendo Switch breaks records

Nintendo broadcast another Nindie Showcase this week, revealing a new selection of indies heading to the Switch in 2018. Highlights include Lumines Remastered, Pool PanicReigns Kings and Queens, West of Loathing, and The Banner Saga series. Epic Games also announced that ARK: Survival Evolved will also come to the Switch later this year.

Finding these games on an increasingly crowded eShop is becoming a problem, but according to Nintendo’s Damon Baker, this is something the company is actively looking to solve.

Game Developers Conference

In case you missed it, GDC 2018 was on this week. And as we do every year, we’ve been there, attending talks and producing reports for everyone who couldn’t make it. There’s more to follow, but here are some of our early entries:

And the winner is…

GDC also features a number of awards. We already knew about Tim Schafer’s lifetime achievement and Rami Ismail’s ambassador awards – and why Nolan Bushnell didn’t receive the pioneer award, as originally planned – but there were awards for games, too. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild won big at the GDC choice awards, while one of our favourites, Night in the Woods, triumphed at the IGF awards.

Didn’t go to GDC?

If you didn’t get to go to GDC, or have come back inspired and looking for more development help, check out our guide to some indie alternatives, with perspectives from the people who setup and run them.

Vive Pro revealed

HTC have announced the new Vive Pro headset, an upgrade on their original unit. The Pro has a number of features to bolster the existing tech, including 2880×1600 resolution, a new redesigned head strap, and built-in noise-cancelling headphones.

The Vive Pro is compatible with SteamVR Tracking 1.0 and 2.0, meaning you will only need to replace the headset if you are making the jump from the original Vive. This new model will cost around £800, with pre-orders open now, and the original Vive headset receives a price cut as a result.

The Atari VCS is a thing

With their fingers in everything from speaker hats to crypto-currencies, we tend exhale a weary sigh when we hear the name Atari these days, but… damn them… there is something undeniably cool about the newly renamed Atari VCS console.

Atari VCS

It’s mainly the retro looks, and the classic Atari joystick-inspired gamepad looks the part, too. As for the games, there’s still no word, and we still think it’s going to be a disaster.

God of War has gone gold

Cory Barlog wrote on the PlayStation blog this week, both to announce that God of War has gone gold, and to offer his thanks to the team at Sony Santa Monica studios.

“This was the scariest, most wonderful thing I have ever done and I can honestly say it would never have been possible without the full-throated support of Sony and the tireless work of the incredible team at Santa Monica Studio.

We have been through a lot together and I would not change a thing. You are the best damn team a director could ever hope for and I am thankful beyond words for every ounce of passion and pride you put into this game.”

It looks to be shaping up into a fine addition to the series, but we still wouldn’t recommend letting Barlog babysit your kids.

World of Tanks update

World of Tanks has been trundling along for four years, and amassed over 160 million players. You could argue that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but developer Wargaming has this week released a major update to the popular tank ’em up.

“Update 1.0 improves the baseline technology for the game, introducing the in-house developed Wargaming Core graphics engine. Thanks to it, we’re now capable of elevating the entire game and can ensure World of Tanks is a fun and immersive experience for years to come.” – Milos Jerabek, development director, World of Tanks PC

Head over to the World of Tanks website for the update’s full patch notes.

Ni No Kuni II review round-up

Level-5’s Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom has been met with a broadly positive critical response, with the game’s mix of genres and gameplay styles being the focus.

Cam Shea, writing for IGN, says:

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom distinguishes itself from its predecessor by layering fast-paced, real-time combat and an engaging kingdom building system atop more traditional RPG systems

PC Gamer’s Austin Wood, wrote:

Ni No Kuni 2 is gorgeous, charming and constantly evolving. Its combat is layered and exciting, and polished by a medley of systems that let you finely tailor your play style. Its globetrotting coming-of-age story is a bit saccharine, but it’s told well, and packs an ending that still occupies my thoughts.”

 

Sea of Thieves takes to the seas

There were choppy waters for Rare’s Sea of Thieves on its maiden voyage. Reviews have been mixed, but the connection issues that plagued the game’s launch were a bigger problem. With over one million players accessing the game in its first 48 hours, servers buckled, and at one stage Rare had to temporarily prevent new players from signing up. Still, the game has given us an early contender for video game gag of the year, with its literal Day One patch.

This week’s video game sales

If you are look for something to play over Easter, the PlayStation Store Easter sale, the Nintendo eShop Spring into Action sale, and a range of new Humble Store sales should provide enough games for you to choose from.

Weekend reading…

In the latest edition of Cut Scenes, Josh Wise explores the intersection between films and video games with Grand Theft Auto III vs. The Sopranos.

Over on The Verge, Megan Farokhmanesh delivers a sobering report into the troubles that have blighted Telltale Games. It’s a tough read, but helps understand both the endemic issues in our industry, and how Telltale went from one of the hottest studios around to 25% layoffs in just five years.

And if you have ever considered dipping a toe into the, somewhat daunting, Yakuza series, Kotaku has pulled together a useful guide on where to start.


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New Xbox One releases (April 6-10, 2020)

This week’s lineup of new Xbox One releases includes a classic survival horror, an interactive movie, and a game about delivering parcels that isn’t Death Stranding.

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Next week’s lineup of brand new Xbox One releases includes…some games.

Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t coming to the Xbox One just yet. Instead, players can look forward to Retro Tanks. Yes, folks, it’s a quiet week on Xbox One.

The highlight of the week is probably Null Drifter, the fun and furious twin-stick shooter from Panda Indie Studio. And if you fancy making your own games, BQM – Block Quest Maker is an engaging RPG dungeon-creation tool.

Other new Xbox One releases include console ports of Indietopia’s ageing tactical combat game Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike, and Behold Studios’ ageing RPG, Galaxy of Pen and Paper.

There’s a more comprehensive range of games coming to PlayStation 4. In addition to FFVII Remake, there’s Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories and, erm, Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm.

Each new release can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store and Microsoft online store. Here’s the confirmed lineup.

New Xbox One games – April 6-10, 2020

Monday, April 6, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Construction Simulator 3: Console Edition

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike
  • Galaxy of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Glaive: Brick Breaker
  • Null Drifter
  • Rush Rover

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • Beholder 2

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • BQM – Block Quest Maker
  • Braveland Trilogy
  • Obduction
  • Retro Tanks

If none of these games are to your liking, read about April’s Games with Gold lineup.


Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 games. You can also follow on the socials via Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

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New PlayStation 4 releases (April 6-10, 2020)

Final Fantasy VII Remake headlines next week’s lineup of new PS Store releases for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake headlines next week’s lineup of new PS Store releases for the PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and PS VR.

A classic franchise returns to PlayStation 4 next week. Yup, it’s the long-awaited release of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories. Granzella’s game has a long, storied history, beginning life as a PS3 title in 2011 before real-world events caused its postponement. The game’s western release comes at an equally difficult time, but patient fans of the series should be satisfied.

Speaking of patience, this week’s actual big release, Final Fantasy VII Remake, will hopefully be everything fans have been waiting for. We loved what we played back at E3 2019, and also enjoyed the recent demo. Early reports point to a game that is both modern and respectful to the original. Final Fantasy VII Remake is officially out on Friday, but is shipping early in some regions.

Meanwhile, PS VR owners might not be able to play Half-Life: Alyx, but they do get to experience the rush and thrill of Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm. Other new PS4 releases include Null Drifter, Troubleshooter, and Rush Rover.

Here is the full lineup of new PlayStation Store games for the PS4, PS VR, and PS Vita. We’ll update this post with any late additions throughout the week.

New PlayStation 4 releases – April 6-10, 2020

Monday, April 6, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories
  • Form
  • Galaxy of Pen & Paper +1 Edition
  • Null Drifter
  • Rush Rover (and PS Vita)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike
  • A Room Where Art Conceals
  • Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • Troubleshooter

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake

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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.


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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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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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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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