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The Week in Video Games – February 25, 2018

This week in gaming: PUBG gets new crates, Burnout Paradise returns, and Sonic heads to big screen. Here’s our digest of the week’s top news stories from the world of video games.

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Metal Gear Survive

This week in gaming: PUBG gets new crates, Burnout Paradise returns, and Sonic heads to big screen. Here’s our digest of the week’s top news stories from the world of video games.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

PUBG continues to be updated, refined, and optimised. The most recent update adds new crates and performance improvements. A new matchmaking system was also deployed that prioritises players with lower ping-rates. PUBG Corp say the aim is to improve the play experience by splitting the matching pool, instead of restricting connection depending on ping.

In terms of new content, a third map is now scheduled for release by the end of June. It’s about time for a snow or lava level, don’t you think?

The week in PUBG copycats

Two new battle-royale shooters were teased this week. Mavericks: Proving Grounds, from UK studio Automaton Games, will feature matches with up to 400 players. Good luck with that.

Vulkan Society’s upcoming game is Proxima Royale, a sci-fi take on the battle-royale genre that is now taking sign-ups for next month’s closed alpha.

Fortnite Battle Royale’s Season 3 also began this week with an update that adds a wealth of new in-game rewards, 60 FPS for all consoles, a new orchestral score, and a hoverboard.

Destiny 2 features delayed

Bungie has delayed some features originally planned for Destiny 2‘s most recent update. In a post on the Bungie website, game director Christopher Barrett said:

“With today’s update we’ve moved a few items out to later releases – this is because we are trying to ensure each feature we add hits a sufficiently high quality bar. So while we really wanted to get Nightfall Strike Unique Weapons into your hands next week to coincide with Nightfall Scoring, it’s more important that each of those rewards live up to the difficulty it will take to earn them. They have to be super cool, so we’re giving the artists extra time to make sure they are… super cool.”

Metal Gear micro-transactions

Metal Gear Survive has a hard enough task to win over fans without this sort of funny business. As reported by Polygon, the game has made the creation of extra character save slots a micro-transaction. Each slot costs 1,000 of the game’s SV Coin currency, which equates to approximately $10 in real-world cash. Naughty Konami.

Phil Spencer reveals Xbox challenge

Xbox boss Phil Spencer spoke candidly at the gaming industry’s DICE Summit this week. His wide-ranging speech covered the challenge of rebuilding trust in the Xbox brand, and the culture at Microsoft’s gaming division:

“The team was in a world of pain, we hadn’t done our best work with the announce of Xbox One, the product we’d built wasn’t meeting the expectations of our customers, market share was taking a nosedive and it was painful to read all the headlines.”

The full and frank talk is available on YouTube, and well worth a watch.

DICE Awards for Zelda, Cuphead and Horizon Zero Dawn

The 2018 DICE Awards were held this week, and recognised the achievements of the best video games from the last year. Winners included, yup, you’ve guessed it, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, along with Horizon Zero Dawn, Cuphead, and Snipperclips. Here’s the full list of winners.

Meanwhile, Double Fine founder, Tim Schafer, will be the highly deserving recipient of this year’s BAFTA fellowship award.

Call of Duty studio founders move on

Michael Condrey and Glen Schofield, co-founders of Sledgehammer Games, have left the Call of Duty studio to work on new ‘executive duties’ within Activision.

Burnout Paradise returns

Electronic Arts have confirmed that Burnout Paradise Remastered will come to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on March 16, 2018. The reissue features the full base game, plus all content DLC, plus a range of performance and graphics improvements. Unfortunately, there’s no word on a version for the Nintendo Switch. Sob.

Super Mario Odyssey gets a free update

A free content update for Super Mario Odyssey has added the new Balloon World online mode. Balloon World let players hide and hunt balloons to compete in online leaderboards, with a sartorially critical Luigi as your guide. Also included in the update are two new snapshot camera filters, and three new costumes for Mario to wear.

Sonic the Hedgehog movie on the way

The big gaming rivalry of the early 90s returns, but this time on the big screen. Following the news that a Mario movie is in production at Illumination Entertainment, Sega has announced that the long-mooted Sonic the Hedgehog film will finally come to cinemas in November, 2019. The film will be a live-action CG affair, made in partnership with Paramount Pictures. Deadpool director Tim Miller has signed on as Executive Director.

Papers, Please film released

Maybe Mario and Sonic should give up now, because here’s a video game movie actually worth watching. Papers, Please – the short film is a Russian-language film based on Lucas Pope’s influential 2013 game. The thought-provoking short is directed by Ordynskiy, and written by Nikita Ordynskiy, Liliya Tkach, and Pope. It’s free to watch right now on YouTube.

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Detective Pikachu gets new trailer, beautiful amiibo

Nintendo has released a new trailer showing new gameplay for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS game, Detective Pikachu. More importantly, here’s a closer look at the game’s lovely, over-sized amiibo. Both are released on March 23, 2018.

Detective Pikachu amiibo

Harvest Moon creator’s next game is a cafe sim, with dragons

Harvest Moon creator, Yasuhiro Wada, has announced Little Dragons Cafe, a new simulation game heading to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The game has been in development for two years features a mix of cafe management, cooking, fishing, and dragon nurturing. Sounds blissful. Little Dragons Cafe will be published by Aksys this summer.

Troy Baker and Emily O’Brien join Death Stranding

Troy Baker and Emily O’Brien, have joined the cast of Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. Baker is known for his work on The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and various Batman titles. O’Brien is soon to star in Days Gone, having previously starred in Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within.

And finally…

This week we published the first in a new series of features on Thumbsticks. ‘Cut scenes’ examines intersection between films and video games, beginning with Metal Gear Solid 2 vs. The Terminator.

Slightly more trivial pursuits can be found in our JRPG cover art quiz. Grab a coffee, put your feet up, and see if you can name all 14 games.


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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Dragon Quest XI, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Transistor.

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Littlewood is a cosy RPG set after the battle is over

Littlewood knows there’s nothing finer than a game that gives you a nice little epilogue.

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SmashGames

Littlewood knows there’s nothing finer than a game that gives you a nice little epilogue. (No, not yours, The Last of Us Part II.)

But those games that let you go back to the world after the battle is over, to visit with the townsfolk, and just generally chill out are something special. The first game I really remember it from is Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Trap where, once restored to human form, you get to wander the village, chatting with the locals, before going to bed. That’s literally how the epilogue ends; you go back home for a well-earned rest.

It’s just so wholesome. Which is why Littlewood, a new RPG from Sean Wood and SmashGames, is so appealing.

“The world has already been saved. Now it’s time to rebuild your town, learn new hobbies, and forge lifelong friendships in this peaceful and relaxing RPG.”

It’s like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, then, but set in a world that was in peril – until the player character saved it. But the trick is, you can’t remember anything about your life before or what happened in the great battle to save the world. In order to restore your memories, you need to build up a welcoming town, encourage people to live there, and hope that spurs your recall.

But a game like Littlewood isn’t about the destination. There is an overall plot, of course, but cosy management RPGs are all about the micro-activities. And in Littlewood, you’ll be gathering, crafting, building, fishing, farming, bug catching, cooking, trading, and more – everything that people love about the genre.

Littlewood is out now on Steam.

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Pikmin 3 Deluxe is coming to Nintendo Switch this fall

Pikmin 3, one of the last remaining Wii U exclusives, is coming to Switch in October.

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Pikmin 3, one of the last remaining Wii U exclusives, is coming to Switch in October.

The Nintendo Wii U was a meh system with some fantastic exclusives. The console itself was a bit of a half-step. It was still tied, by name and nunchuck compatibility to the Wii. But, it experimented with the handheld hybridisation that later defined the Switch. Growing pains aside, iit had a great roster of Nintendo-developed games.

But, the Wii U died so that the Switch might live. And Nintendo, more aware than anyone that few people bought its last console, has thankfully brought most of the Wii U’s library to Switch. This article, outlining the dearth of Wii U games remaining without a Switch port was published less than a year ago. In the time since, half of the games have either received a Switch version or will receive a Switch version in the near future.

Pikmin 3 is the latest Wii U classic to get the Switch update, Nintendo announced today. The Deluxe version will include all of the original game’s DLC. Plus it will add new missions and the option to play the entire Story mode in co-op. Head-to-head multiplayer mode, Bingo Battle, will also return.

The RTS hybrid arrives on Switch on October 30. Notably, it is the only announced Nintendo game with a 2020 release date following the release of Paper Mario: The Origami King. Fingers crossed we hear more about those rumoured Mario remasters soon.


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New games added to the big PlayStation Store Summer Sale

New PS4 games join the PlayStation Store Summer Sale, including some of the year’s biggest releases.

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New PS4 games join the PlayStation Store Summer Sale, including some of the year’s biggest releases.

Sony has added a new batch of PS4 games to this year’s PlayStation Store summer sale. The headline additions are the acclaimed Final Fantasy VII Remake, the reimagined Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the fun enough World War Z, and the not as fun as it wants to be Doom Eternal.

The EA-published 3v3 shooter Rocket Arena is slashed in price by a massive 83%, just three weeks after release. And if you’ve been following the moderate buzz around sci-fi FPS Disintegration, it’s now reduced by a tempting 40%.

Other AAA games still on offer include Marvel’s Spider-Man, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age, and Red Dead Redemption 2.

The PSN Summer Sale now runs through to August 19, 2020, which should give you enough time to pick through the mountain of titles on offer. Head over to the PlayStation Store in your region to see the full lineup. Here are some more recommendations from your friends at Thumbsticks.

PlayStation Store Summer Sale Highlights

  • A Plague Tale: Innocence
  • Abzû
  • Alien: Isolation
  • Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey
  • Anthem
  • Bad North
  • Bayonetta
  • Borderlands 3
  • Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
  • Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
  • Dark Souls III
  • Days Gone
  • Dead Island Definitive Edition
  • Death Stranding
  • Doom Eternal
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age
  • Dreams
  • FIFA 20
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
  • For Honor Standard Edition
  • Grid
  • Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition
  • Kerbal Space Program Enhanced Edition
  • Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind
  • Maneater
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • Need For Speed Heat
  • Ni No Kuni Ii: Revenant Kingdom
  • Nioh 2
  • Persona 5 Royal
  • Predator: Hunting Grounds
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Saints Row: The Third Remastered
  • Secret Of Mana
  • Shenmue III
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Superhot
  • Tetris Effect
  • The Last Of Us Remastered
  • The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel III
  • The Outer Worlds
  • The Sims 4
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Digital Edition
  • World War Z
  • Yakuza 5 Remastered
  • Yakuza Kiwami

For more video game deals – including news of this week’s Xbox One bargains – visit our dedicated sales page. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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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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Release date revealed for Microsoft’s xCloud streaming service

xCloud will come to Android on September 15, 2020. There’s no news on a release date for an iOS version of Xbox’s game streaming service, however.

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xCloud will come to Android on September 15, 2020. There’s no news on a release date for an iOS version of Xbox’s game streaming service, however.

We’ve been hearing about the “Netflix of video games” for years now. But for all the promise, we’re yet to see anyone actually nail that value proposition.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service – that allows you to play hundreds of PC and Xbox One games for a low monthly subscription fee – is the closest we’ve come thus far. But that still requires on you having some associated hardware to play the games, either an Xbox One console or a Windows PC.

Well, it did require you to have some associated hardware. As of September 15, 2020, all you’ll need is an Android phone.

That’s because Microsoft’s xCloud streaming service, which has been going through testing in the last year, is getting a full release on Android phones. Even better, xCloud access will be bundled in with the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription level, meaning you’ll get “more than 100 games” available to play on your phone or tablet with no console or PC hardware. (There’s no sign of an iOS release date for xCloud yet, but that’s not unusual. It took Steam a very long time to get its in-home streaming app certified on the App Store, for instance.)

xCloud will launch in 22 countries on September 15, 2020. Those countries, at the time of writing, are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

As usual, it’s primarily Europe and North America that’s catered for, with South Korea and its incredible internet infrastructure in there, too. More countries (and, presumably, that elusive iOS version) will follow in due course.

You’ll need a compatible controller to use xCloud, but the good news is any Xbox One controller – which can connect to Android via Bluetooth – will do the trick. The likes of Razer, PowerA and 8Bitdo will be producing accessories, like the Android-specialist Razer Kishi controller, but you might prefer to get a cheap controller clip. It might be worth buying one quick before they stick “xCloud” in the listing title and jack up the price.


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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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Most important feature confirmed for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Well, maybe the second most important feature.

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pet the cat assassins creed valhalla
Ubisoft / Thumbsticks

Well, maybe the second most important feature.

Yes, you can pet the cat in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

That’s it. That’s the news.

Also, have you seen how big that cat is? That is clearly an ancient ancestor of the Norwegian Forest Cat, a very large, hairy Scandinavian breed. (Like cat Vikings, really.)

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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