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.