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The Week in Video Games – April 22, 2018

This week in video games: Brendan Greene speaks about the future of PUBG, Campo Santo joins Valve, and Call of Duty loses its single-player campaign. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

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This week in video games: Brendan Greene speaks about the future of PUBG, Campo Santo joins Valve, and Call of Duty loses its single-player campaign. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

Fortnite Battle Royale news

By recent standards it’s been a relatively quiet week on the Fortnite front. Meteors in the sky continue to befuddle players, but at the time of writing we are no closer to understanding – or perhaps even caring – what they mean.

Elsewhere – and just two weeks after its addition – the much-maligned Guided Missile Weapon has been pulled from the game. Better received is the Light Machine Gun, which was added as part of the recent Fortnite V3.5 content update

In an interview on the PlayStation blog, Eric Williamson, design lead on Fortnite, speaks about how quickly the game’s Battle Royale mode was designed and released.

“In July of last year, we started to work on a prototype, and then released our first version of the game in September. So, roughly two months. There was such a good, solid foundation there for us, so that certainly helped us get to a playable version so quickly.”

And if you’re serious about playing Fortnite, Variety reports on Ashland University’s new esports scholarship. Ashland’s head coach, Josh Buchanan, says:

“We’re excited to provide this platform for gamers who want to showcase their skills in a more competitive space. Fortnite facilitates an environment that allows players to get creative, innovate and show off their mastery of their skills.”

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

The much requested ability to select between PUBG‘s Erangel and Miramar maps is on the way, according to a new blog post from the PUBG development team. The post details why implementing the feature isn’t as simple as you might think:

“We analyzed tens of millions of matches and sorted the data by server, mode, and time to make sure map selection wouldn’t break the game for anyone. We wanted to make sure that we could create a solution that worked for every region’s players, even the ones with a naturally low server population.”

Brendan Greene also gave a wide-ranging interview to Eurogamer at last week’s EGX Rezzed games expo. Greene speaks about his future ambitions for PUBG, its content roadmap, the controversial Red Zone, and dealing with the Fortnite comparisons.

“It was funny, when we released the Emotes people were saying “oh you’re copying Fortnite” – well, no. We recorded these Emotes in Prague last year, before Fortnite [Battle Royale] was even announced.”

Valve acquires Firewatch studio

Campo Santo – the studio behind of the wonderful Firewatch, and the upcoming In the Valley of the Gods – has been acquired by Valve. All twelve members of Campo Santo will join Valve, and relocate to Bellevue in Washington. However, the team will continue to operate under their own, ahem, steam. In a blog post announcing the news, the studio says:

“In Valve we found a group of folks who, to their core, feel the same way about the work that they do (this, you may be surprised to learn, doesn’t happen every day). In us, they found a group with unique experience and valuable, diverse perspectives. It quickly became an obvious match.”

Valve ordered to pay $3 million in Steam refund case

Meanwhile, Valve has been ordered to pay a $3 million to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after losing an appeal in a case against Steam’s refund policy.

Call of Duty to lose single-player campaign?

The death of single-player video games continues with the absence of a mode people said they didn’t need, but will miss now it’s gone. Yup, rumours suggest that Activision’s upcoming FPS, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, will not include a traditional single-player campaign. It will, of course, be offering its own spin on the Battle Royale genre.

Read the West of Loathing design document

Asymmetric’s Zack Johnson has shared the design document for the charming, and funny, Wild West adventure game, West of Loathing. It’s a fascinating read for fans of the studio’s work, and anyone interested in game design.

Battlezone rolls onto Xbox One and Switch

Following an update next month, Rebellion’s Battlezone will be playable on PlayStation 4 and PC without a VR headset. The game – in the shape of Battlezone Gold – will also be coming to the Xbox One in May, and the Nintendo Switch later in the summer.

Night Trap comes to Switch

Also coming to the Nintendo Switch is the 25th Anniversary port of the controversial Sega CD game, Night Trap. The game will get a digital release on the Nintendo eShop, and a physical release from the folks at Limited Run games.

Dark Souls Remastered delayed

In other Switch news, Bandai Namco has confirmed that Dark Souls Remastered has been delayed to summer 2018. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC updates of FromSoftware’s influential game are still slated for release on May 25, 2018.

The week in loot boxes

Gamesindustry.biz reports on analysis from Juniper Research that says worldwide consumer spending on loot boxes and skins gambling will reach $50 billion by 2022.

Eurogamer reports on the news that the Dutch gaming authority found that four of ten games it assessed – apparently, FIFA 18, Dota 2, PUBG, and Rocket League – contravened its Betting and Gaming Act.

And the latest game to receive a backlash from players over the inclusion of loot boxes is Nintendo’s mobile hit, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Is nothing sacred? 🙁

Pro Evolution Soccer loses Champion’s League rights

The Pro Evolution Soccer series will lose the rights to the Champion’s League when Konami’s ten-year deal with UEFA expires at the end of the season. EA’s FIFA 19 looks like being the likely destination for tournament from next season.

Konami reveals a new Castlevania game

Konami has also announced the return of the Castlevania series – in a new multiplayer mobile gameCastlevania: Grimoire of Souls, will be released on iOS later this year, and features the return of fan favourites Simon Belmont, Alucard, Charlotte Aulin, Shanoa and Maria Renard, as well as a crop of new characters. The game will feature real-time cooperative and competitive multiplayer.

God of War

PS4 exclusive God of War isn’t short of surprisingly touching moments, but most touching of all is a video released this week showing its director, Cory Barlog, checking out the game’s review scores.

Some Sunday reading…

In this week’s Cut Scenes – our ongoing series that explores the intersection of film and video games – Josh Wise examines two classics of both mediums: Resident Evil 4 and Assault on Precinct 13. Earlier this week, he also posted his impressions of Capybara’s Xbox One exclusive, Below.

A note from the Thumbsticks editorial team

Global ad revenues are dropping and Thumbsticks is no exception. With the prevalence of ad-blocking technology – particularly in a tech-savvy market segment like video games – and the overall downward trend in online advertising, it’s really starting to bite. Ad revenue just about covers hosting the site and other ancillary costs, but we no longer earn enough to operate a proper freelance budget.

But with new challenges come new opportunities, and with that in mind (and because all the cool kids are doing it) we’ve set up a Patreon. If you like what we do, then please consider supporting us. Every penny we earn is poured back into the site, into giving new and aspiring writers an opportunity, and bringing you more quality content to enjoy.

Don’t want to commit to long term support with Patreon, but still want to say thanks? You can always buy the team a coffee or two.


Video games news from Thumbsticks

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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.


For more video game news and offers, follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard..

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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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Save up to 80% in the Nintendo eShop Spring Sale

Over 300 games are discounted in the new Nintendo Switch eShop Spring sale.

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Over 300 games, including The Witcher 3, Sonic Mania, and Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection, are discounted in the new Nintendo Switch eShop Spring sale.

Following on from this week’s new PlayStation Store sale and Xbox savings, Nintendo Switch owners can now enjoy some tempting game discounts. The big Nintendo eShop Spring sale includes over 300 games, with some recent big-hitters getting decent price cuts.

Top of the list is a 30% price cut for CD Projekt Red’s impressive port of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Ubisoft’s excellent Assassin’s Creed The Rebel Collection is also reduced by 30%, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is chopped by 75%. Alien: Isolation, Gris, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger are also games we liked.

Other recommendations include the wonderful Sonic Mania, Playtonic’s much-improved second game, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, and Larien’s engrossing RPG, Divinity: Original Sin 2. Add in a huge number of indie bargains, and there’s plenty to enjoy.

The sale runs in Europe until April 19, 2020. A batch of first-party Nintendo games will be added to the lineup on April 9 including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Kirby Star Allies.

In the meantime, here are some more sale highlights. Visit the Nintendo eShop in your country for the full list of discounts.

Nintendo eShop Spring Sale Highlights

  • Assassin’s Creed 3: Remastered – 63% off
  • Assassin’s Creed The Rebel Collection – 30% off
  • Axiom Verge – 50% off
  • Bastion – 80% off
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy – 49% off
  • Diablo III: Eternal Collection – 48% off
  • Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition – 40% off
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition – 30% off
  • Gris – 50% off
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – 50% off
  • Iconoclasts – 30% off
  • Just Dance 2020 – 60% off
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – 75% off
  • Metro 2033 Redux – 30% off
  • Metro: Last Light Redux – 30% off
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove – 30% off
  • Sonic Mania – 30% off
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy – 49% off
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Complete Edition – 30% off
  • Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince – 50% off
  • Torchlight II – 30 off
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair – 33% off

More from Thumbsticks

For this week’s new Nintendo Switch games, read our eShop release roundup. And for more video games sales and savings, follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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A modern classic comes to PlayStation Plus in April 2020

An all-time PS4 great and an overlooked racer are the free games coming to PlayStation Plus in April 2020.

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An all-time PS4 great and an overlooked rally racer are the free PlayStation Plus games for April 2020.

Another month, another duo of excellent free games for PlayStation Plus subscribers. The highlight is one of Naughty Dog’s finest, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Originally released for PS4 in 2016, Uncharted 4 received acclaim from all quarters, including Thumbsticks. In our review of the year, Tom described it as the “perfect a send-off for one of gaming’s great modern characters.” We expect many PlayStation fans have already played the game, but don’t miss this opportunity if you haven’t.

April’s second PS Plus freebie is DIRT Rally 2.0. The problem with many games from Codemasters is that they are reliably reliable. And so it proves here. DIRT Rally 2.0 is a full-featured simulation of a sport that oozes quality on every turn and in every gear change. There’s a learning curve, but with a little patience, a generous and absorbing racing simulation awaits.

This month’s free PS Plus games are available to download from April 7-May 4, 2020.

PlayStation Plus free games – April 2020

  • DIRT Rally 2.0
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

March’s PlayStation Plus games – Shadow of the Colossus, and Sonic Forces – remain available to download until next week.


Bookmark the Thumbsticks new releases page for weekly updates on the latest Xbox One, Switch, and PS4 games. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you found this article interesting or entertaining and you want to support quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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