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The Week in Video Games – May 21, 2017

This week in video games: free games, free-to-play games, VR games and another Kickstarter controversy. Here’s our round-up of the week’s best stories.

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Sonic Forces

This week in video games: free games, free-to-play games, virtual reality games and another Kickstarter controversy. Here’s our round-up of the week’s best stories.

Play Phantom Dust for free

The HD remaster of classic 2004 Xbox game Phantom Dust is out now on Xbox One and Windows 10. And the best news is, it’s free. The updated remaster features a 16:9 screen ratio, 1080P/4K resolution, revamped online multiplayer, and cross-platform support. If you’re new to the game, Heather Alexandra at Kotaku has put together a video that shows just why it’s still worth playing. You can pick up the game on the Xbox Games Store.

So near, yet so far

PlayStation VR received a welcome new game last week in Impulse Studios’ sci-fi shooter, Farpoint. Critical response has been cautiously positive, with many critics feeling that the sense of immersion – helped by the new PS VR Aim controller – offsets the rather rote gameplay experience. Eurogamer’s Ian Higton strikes a more critical tone in his review, saying “The Aim controller lifts the gunplay above the mediocre but once that novelty wears off it’s hard not to notice just how basic everything is.”

On the subject of VR…

The high retail price of VR technology is often cited as a reason for the slow uptake of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. With a full bundles coming in at around £800, that’s no huge surprise. HTC are launching a new initiative to attract new customers to the Vive by offering a series of finance options Europe. GamesIndustry.biz has all the details

Is Zelda coming to Mobile?

Somehow the news that Nintendo might bring The Legend of Zelda to mobile has surprised many people. Nonetheless, with Breath of the Wild likely to be picking up a few game of the year awards, there probably isn’t a better time for Nintendo to cash in. We only mention this news again as we have one request of Nintendo: Make it a Tingle game. That rupee rascal is perfect for micro-transactions.

Letting off some Steam

Tim Colwill, writing at Polygon, takes a look at Valve’s ‘good guy’ reputation, and asks if it’s really deserved. It’s in-depth and enjoyable analysis of the current landscape of PC game marketplaces.

Daniel the Hedgehog

Finally, we can create our own terrible looking Sonic characters. Sega have announced that the upcoming Sonic Forces will include a Custom Hero feature. Picking from one of seven animal types – each with different abilities – players can play dress-up with their creations, who will then play an integral part in Sonic Forces‘ story. Here’s the trailer.

E3 press conferences and picnics

Ubisoft have confirmed that their E3 press conference will indeed be held at 1PM on Monday, June 12. And if you’re heading to E3, you should also make a note to visit Devolver Digital’s Indie Picnic, which is being held across the street from the main show.

Let it download

Grasshopper Manufacture had a busy week. Firstly, they announced that free-to-play PlayStation 4 game Let it Die has been downloaded over 3 million times in its first six months. Then on Friday, they revealed via Twitter that The 25th Ward: The Silver Case – a sequel to, surprise, The Silver Case – is now in production. Our own James Sweeting will be pleased as punch at that news, being a huge fan of Suda51’s original.

It is your Destiny

On Thursday Activision finally lifted the lid on Destiny 2. You’ll have most likely seen the trailer and gameplay footage by now, and impressive it looks too. The response from fans has been enormously positive, with one exception. The PC version of Destiny 2 will be exclusive to Battle.net (or whatever it’s called these days). That said, and as Glixel reports, Bungie have ambitious plans for the series on PC, so it might be the way to go.

Project Rap Rabbit

Masaya Matsuura’s NanaOn-Sha studio, and Keiichi Yano’s iNiS, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Project Rap Rabbit, the spiritual sequel to rhythm-action classics PaRappa the Rapper and Gitaroo Man. The campaign has not been short of controversy with an extortionate $4.95 million stretch goal for a Nintendo Switch version swiftly reduced to $1.5 million. At the time of writing the campaign has raised just over $100,000 of its initial $1.1 million goal.


Don’t forget, you can check out the latest video games coming to Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo consoles on our New Releases page.

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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 Deluxe - Nintendo Switch
Nintendo

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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PlayStation Store Summer Sal
Sony / Thumbsticks

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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