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The Week in Video Games – April 15, 2018

This week in video games: PUBG improvements, downtime for Fortnite, and the triumphant return of God of War. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

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This week in video games: PUBG improvements, downtime for Fortnite, and the triumphant return of God of War. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

PUBG‘s new War event mode is going down a storm, with players – and critics – enjoying the game’s take on the traditional death-match. War pits three teams of 10 players against each other on a restricted section of the Erangel map, with the first team to score 200 points taking home the chicken dinner.

Elsewhere, changes to the speed of the PUBG‘s blue circle have also been well received. Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio looks at how it makes the game more tactical.

PUBG‘s new Savage map gets another round of testing this week, with a second beta running between April 16-18. (If you’re lucky enough to grab a beta key, you can redeem it here.) Although the map is still very early in development, we think it could be one of the game’s most important additions yet. We examine how PUBG‘s Savage map can potentially make us all better players.

Meanwhile on console, the Xbox One version of PUBG will be free to play next weekend for Xbox Gold members. The console edition has also received its twelfth patch, which implements a range of gameplay and UI tweaks, squashes some bugs, and adds a brand new crate.

Fortnite Battle-Royale news

Fortnite faced its first major outage this week as the game was crippled by the failure of an account service database. The game was affected for around 12 hours, leading Epic to apologise, and offer players a free Back Bling gift. Every cloud, we suppose.

In happier news, Fortnite received its regularly scheduled update on time. The update adds the new Port-a-Fort grenade, the Thunder Route 99 area for Save the World mode, plus the usual collection of cosmetics and bug fixes. The most exciting new addition is the remarkably full-featured Replay system.

Sega brings back the Genesis, and Shenmue too

There were some big announcements at this week’s Sega Fes fan event, including news of HD remasters for the first two Shenmue games. Also revealed was the Sega MegaDrive Mini, a new micro-console set for release, initially, in Japan later in 2018.

And if you’d rather play MegaDrive/Genesis games on a console, fifteen titles – converted by the talented Studio M2 – will be coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year under the Sega Ages banner.

Xbox One grows backwards compatible library

Microsoft has a revealed a new batch of backwards compatible games coming to the Xbox One on Tuesday. Titles include Jade Empire, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and SSX 3. A bunch of titles have also received Xbox One X 4K upgrades, including the last-gen classics Portal 2, and Red Dead Redemption.

Billy Mitchell is no longer the King of Kong

Billy Mitchell’s Donkey Kong high scores have been removed from Twin Galaxies’ leaderboards following a review of his submitted gameplay footage. The dispute is centred around allegations that Mitchell used an emulator, rather than an original Donkey Kong motherboard, to achieve his record-breaking scores. In a statement, Twin Galaxies said:

“Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Billy Mitchell’s’ scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards.”

God of War review round-up

The return of God of War has been universal praised, with critics wowed by the game’s graphics, narrative, axe flinging, and treatment of fatherhood.

Chris Plante, writing for Polygon, says:

“God of War is, in a single word, holistic. Every aspect is excellent on its own, but more importantly, it all serves and accentuates the larger vision.”

Dan Ryckert,at Giant Bomb, is just as enthused:

“This new entry proves that it can provide all of the positive qualities of the franchise’s past while expanding on and evolving them in every conceivable way.”

Writing in The Guardian, Keza McDonald adds:

“It is rare to play a game so accomplished in everything it sets out to do. God of War is a standard-setter both technologically and narratively.”

Destiny 2 expansion announced

Hey, remember Destiny 2? Bungie’s online shooter is getting a series of new updates, beginning its second major expansion, Warmind, in May. The game’s updated content roadmap also details some returning features from the original Destiny.

Running out of Steam

Changes to Steam’s privacy settings have had a knock-on effect on the popular stats tracking service, Steam Spy. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Steam Spy creator, Sergey Galyonkin, says the service will continue:

“I was always able to adapt, and even in this case I still have enough information to extrapolate the data, but with less precision and a higher margin for error.”

More indies reveal Nintendo Switch sales success

Two indie studios have revealed how their games have performed on the Nintendo Switch. Vertex Pop, creators of Graceful Explosion Machine, say they have sold around 50,000 copies of the game in the past year. And in a detailed post that covers all gaming platforms, YachtClub Games say they have sold around 370,000 copies of Shovel Knight on Nintendo’s console. Both studios seem very happy indeed.

The Witness devs launch grant scheme

Thekla Inc – developers of the mind-crushing puzzle adventure, The Witness – have announced a programme of grants to support independent game designers working on grid-based puzzle games. The grants range between $3,000-$20,000, and are intended for creators from groups underrepresented within the industry.

Radical Heights enters Early Access

If you’re bored with PUBG and Fortnite – and are prepared to try a game that is extremely rough around the edges – Cliff Blezinski’s Boss Key has launched a new battle-royale game, Radical Heights. The game takes its cue from The Running Man, and taps into the current, exhausting trend for all things 1980s. That said, there’s potential here. If you’re interested in the playing Radical Heights, here are the PC system specs you need.

Warren Spector’s Underworld Ascendant teased

The first trailer has been released for Underworld Ascendant, the new game from legendary game designer, Warren Spector. OtherSide’s gloomy sim is set to be published by 505 Games before the end of the year.

Some Sunday reading…

In this week’s Cut Scenes – our ongoing series that examines the intersection of film and video games – Josh Wise casts his thoughtful eye over Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and Wild at Heart.

The meditative and immersive Gorogoa is a game that’s easy to recommend, if not quite as easy to understand. Discover how developer Jason Roberts approached its in our report of his recent talk at the Game Developers Conference.

And speaking of immersion, Tom Baines relives his childhood Lawnmower Man dreams is his review of the Acer Mixed Reality headset.


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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