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.
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 Panic, Reigns 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:
- The Making of SteamWorld Dig 2
- West of Loathing – a video game ‘made out of jokes’
- Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – Redesigning a classic
- The Sound Design of Night in the Woods
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.
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.
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.
More gaming news from Thumbsticks
- PlayStation Store releases for March 27, 2018
- Xbox One digital releases for 26–30 March, 2018
- Zone of the Enders 2 remaster gets delayed