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The Week in Video Games – March 18, 2018

This week in video games: Fortnite takes on PUBG, Star Wars: Battlefront II loses paid loot boxes, and Sea of Thieves is bundled with the Xbox One X. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

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Fortnite Battle Royale

This week in video games: Fortnite takes on PUBG, Star Wars: Battlefront II loses paid loot boxes, and Sea of Thieves is bundled with the Xbox One X. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may get region locks in an attempt to fix poor matchmaking, if an update on a Korean PUBG developer blog is to be believed. A translation of the post says:

“For areas experiencing uncomfortable game environments, we are considering operating as a server that can only be accessed and played by players in the area. In addition, people in other regions will not see the server,”

Meanwhile, recent updates to the PC version of PUBG have added new friend list functionality, an emote system, and a feature that splits the matching pool based on players’ ping rate.

The latest patch for PUBG on Xbox One was also deployed, fixing repeated footstep sounds, and player revival bugs. Nonetheless, as Eurogamer reports, the Xbox One version of PUBG is still sub-par, which must be worrying for its makers when you consider that its competitor, Fortnite, appears to offer a consistent experience across console, PC, and even mobile.

Fortnite fever

In fact, the conversation has noticeably shifted towards Fortnite in recent weeks, and with good reason. The game has gone from battle royale cash-in to legitimate gaming phenomenon. Its success is built on a surging player-base, and multiple celebrity endorsements.

The mobile version of Fortnite began its iOS test this week, and player feedback has been very positive. The Verge captures the overall sentiment, saying that “controls aside, it’s surprising how similar this game is to the PC or console versions.”

Fortnite has also broken Twitch’s concurrent streaming record, with 600,000 viewers tuning in earlier this week to watch Canadian rapper Drake take on Tyler “Ninja” Blevins.

Finally, Epic Games has unveiled details of Fortnite Party Royale, a tournament featuring pro-players and celebrities that will be held at this year’s E3.

Call of Duty Battle Royale?

There’s no confirmation on whether the Call of Duty franchise will be offering its own version on the battle royale genre, but according to a report from investment firm, Oppenheimer, Activision are “keenly aware” of the genre’s success.

Get ready for GDC 2018

The Game Developers Conference begins on Monday with a full week of talks and sessions that cover all aspects of game development. We’ve pulled together our list of highlights, and we’ll also be reporting from the conference throughout the week. And check back here on Monday for our look at some of the GDC alternatives independent developers are running.

Paid loot boxes leaving Star Wars Battlefront II

Electronic Arts is dropping Star Wars Battlefront II’s controversial loot box system. An update will be released on March 21 that removes paid loot boxes from the game. Crates can then be earned by logging into the game, reaching milestones, and completing timed challenges. Crates will also no longer include star cards among their rewards.

Nindies in the spotlight

Independent games were largely absent from the most recent Nintendo Direct, but this will be remedied in a new Nindies Showcase broadcast on March 20 at 9am PT. The video is expected to reveal a smattering of new games, and will perhaps reveal more information on Undertale, and No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again.

Microsoft outlines plans for E3

Microsoft is promising its biggest E3 ever, by sort of not being at E3. Microsoft’s entire Xbox showing – including its media briefing and game demo booth – will now be held at the nearby Microsoft Theater in LA Live. Meanwhile, back at the LA Convention Center, the usual Xbox space on the show floor will be replaced with a booth promoting the Mixer streaming service. Joy.

The Crew 2 release date

Ubisoft has confirmed that announced that multi-vehicle racer, The Crew 2, will be released on June 29, 2018 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Players can start building up their collection of vehicles now by completed a new range of challenges in the 2014 original, The Crew. Head over to official website to find our what sort of busy work you’ll need to engage in.

New Far Cry 5 trailer

Far Cry 5 has received another new live action trailer ahead of its release on March 27, 2018. The Sermon shows the lengths ‘the Father’ will go to in order to keep his flock on the right path.

Sonic Mania gets new modes and characters

Sega used its South by Southwest panel to unveil Sonic Mania Plus, an updated version of last year’s well-received 2D Sonic the Hedgehog game. Plus will feature an all-new Encore Mode, plus two new playable characters: Ray the Flying Squirrel, and Mighty the Armadillo. A new Sonic racing game was also teased in this ‘top secret’ trailer.

Yakuza Kiwami 2 confirmed for release in the West

Sega has also confirmed that Yakuza Kiwami 2 will get a PlayStation 4 release in the West on August 28, 2018. The release follows on from the recent Yakuza 6, and last year’s sparkling remake, Yakuza Kiwami.

Free games for Twitch Prime subscribers

Amazon has announced that Twitch Prime members will now receive five free PC games each and every month. The pick of this month’s included titles are Superhot, Oxenfree, and Mr. Shifty.

British Academy Game Award nominees announced

BAFTA has revealed this year’s British Academy Game Awards nominees, with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice receiving an impressive nine nominations. Other nominees include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and the wonderful Gorogoa.

Free copy of Sea of Thieves

If Sea of Thieves is not a success, it won’t be for a lack of trying. Not only is the game included as part of Xbox Game Pass, a digital copy is also being bundled with every new Xbox One X console for a limited time. The promotion runs from today through to March 24, 2018.

Sega classics come to PS4, PC, and Xbox One

The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Collection is getting another outing on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. This time the collection includes over 50 games with enhanced features such as gameplay rewind, a mirror mode, and a range of visual filters. Some titles will also support online multiplayer.

Sunday reading

To mark the arrival of the brand new Tomb Raider movie, Tom Baines looks back at the long-running series, and its ability to reinvent itself. And in the latest edition of Cut Scenes, Josh Wise explores the intersection between films and video games with an examination of Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, and The Bourne Identity.

See you next week, dear readers.


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Save up to 85% with this week’s new Xbox One deals

Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5 headline the latest crop of Xbox One digital game store discounts.

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Xbox Deal with Gold
Microsoft

Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5 headline the latest crop of Xbox One digital game store discounts.

There are just two sales on Xbox One this week, but both have a few games worth picking up at bargain prices.

Capcom’s Resident Evil 3 remake is released this Friday, but it’s unlikely to top last year’s stunning update of RE2 which is reduced by 50% on Xbox One. Devil May Cry 5 is also half-price and well worth checking out if you missed it on release.

Other recommended sale titles include Risk of Rain 2Iconoclasts, Don’t Starve Together, and two bundles that bring together Three Fields Entertainment’s range of Dangerous Driving and Danger Zone games.

You can purchase the latest batch of discounted Xbox One games until April 7, 2020. Visit the Xbox One digital games store or the Microsoft online store for the full range of titles. Here’s the full lineup.

Deals with Gold

  • Agony – 80% off
  • Artifex Mundi Ultimate Collection – 50% off
  • Big Pharma – 30% off
  • Blacksad: Under the Skin – 50% off
  • Bleed 2 – 75% off
  • Call of Cthulhu – 75% off
  • Dead Island: Riptide Definitive Edition – 75% off
  • Decay of Logos – 25% off
  • Desert Child – 50% off
  • Don’t Starve Together: Console Edition – 60% off
  • Doodle God: Crime City – 50% off
  • Doom and Destiny – 35% off
  • Hellfront: Honeymoon – 75% off
  • Mordheim: City of the Damned – 75% off
  • Old Man’s Journey – 50% off
  • RICO – 25% off
  • Risk of Rain 1 + 2 Bundle – 40% off
  • Risk of Rain 2 – 40% off
  • Saints Row IV: Re-Elected – 75% off
  • Shikhondo – Soul Eater – 67% off
  • SolSeraph – 60% off
  • Space Hulk: Tactics – 75% off
  • The Sojourn – 33% off
  • The Technomancer – 75% off
  • Truck Driver – 25% off
  • We Happy Few – 70% off
  • We Happy Few Digital Deluxe – 70% off

Spotlight Sale Highlights

  • Accidents Will Happen Bundle – 60% off
  • AereA – 85% off
  • Albedo and the Cast Bundle – 80% off
  • Alvastia Chronicles – 40% off
  • Antiquia Lost – 30% off
  • Asdivine Hearts – 40% off
  • Bonds of the Skies – 40% off
  • Chronus Arc – 40% off
  • Devil May Cry 5 (With Red Orbs) – 50% off
  • DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition – 67% off
  • Fernz Gate – 40% off
  • Frane: Dragons’ Odyssey – 30% off
  • Iconoclasts – 60% off
  • Illusion of L’Phalcia – 30% off
  • Jydge – 60% off
  • Kona – 80% off
  • Lost Artifacts: Time Machine – 35% off
  • Mighty No. 9 – 80% off
  • Mulaka – 65% off
  • Resident Evil 2 – 50% off
  • Revenant Dogma – 40% off
  • Revenant Saga – 30% off
  • Shiny – 85% off
  • Ultimate Danger Bundle – 60% off
  • Wuppo – 85% off

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for weekly updates on the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 games. You can also follow us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

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This week’s PlayStation 4 releases (March 30-April 3, 2020)

Resident Evil 3 and Persona 5 Royal headline this week’s lineup of new PlayStation 4 and PS Vita releases on the PS Store.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Resident Evil 3 and Persona 5 Royal headline this week’s lineup of new PlayStation 4 and PS Vita releases on the PS Store.

This week’s big new PS4 release is Capcom’s Resident Evil 3. Remade in the RE Engine, the game gets a sumptuous graphical overhaul and employs the same third-person camera used in last year’s stunning RE2 remake. The package also includes the asymmetrical-multiplayer game, Resident Evil: Resistance.

One of the best RPGs of recent years also gets an update in Persona 5 Royal. This expanded version of the game features new music, characters, attacks, locations, puzzles, and story beats. We’re particularly excited to meet new Phantom Thief, Kasumi Yoshizawa, and hang out at the Penguin Sniper cafe to play billiards and darts. We love darts.

We might love darts, but we don’t love chemical bio-weapons. However, that’s what’s in store for players trapped in The Complex. With a script by Lynn Renee Maxcy, The Complex is an interactive cinematic thriller with branching storylines and performances from Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones) and Michelle Mylett (Bad Blood).

If you like the idea of Death Stranding, but not its execution, do check out Totally Reliable Delivery Service. It’s a madcap multiplayer physics-based simulator about delivering parcels. We totally loved what we played last year, and we totally expect it to be totally worth playing.

Other new PS4 releases include Overpass, Snakeybus, and Operencia: The Stolen Sun, a new old-school RPG from Zen Studios, who are best known for their pinball games. It looks promising.

Here is the full lineup of confirmed PlayStation Store games for the PS4, PS VR, and PS Vita.

New PlayStation 4 releases – March 30-April 3, 2020

Monday, March 30, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

  • Battle Rockets (PS Vita only)
  • The Casebook of Arkady Smith
  • The Complex
  • Curious Expedition
  • Final Assault
  • Good Goliath
  • Immortal Legacy: The Jade Cipher
  • Operencia: The Stolen Sun
  • Overpass
  • Persona 5 Royal
  • Random Heroes (+ PS Vita)
  • Snakeybus
  • The Ultimate FMV Bundle
  • The Interactive Movie Bundle

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  • Totally Reliable Delivery Service
  • The Wizards – Enhanced Edition
  • WurroomInfliction: Extended Cut
  • Yoga Master

Thursday, April 2, 2020

  • No releases

Friday, April 3, 2020

  • 8-Bit RTS Series Complete Collection
  • Hyperparasite
  • Resident Evil 3

More from Thumbsticks

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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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Art of Rally is a diminutive driving delight

Art of Rally may feature some micro machines, but it’s not just a novelty racer.

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art of rally
Funselektor / Thumbsticks

Art of Rally may feature some micro machines, but it’s not just a novelty racer.

Have you ever tried to make a 3D driving game in an engine like Unity or Unreal? No, of course, you haven’t. You’re probably a normal person with sensible hobbies. You probably went outside and spoke to people. (In the before times. Nobody goes outside anymore.)

Me? I’m an odd sort. I like to know how things work. So in my neverending quest to produce semi-functional video game demos that never amount to anything, I’ve tried to make a few driving games. It’s surprisingly difficult.

Not that it’s hard to slap some skinny cylinders on a cube (yay, primitives!) and make it roll. Modern game engines come equipped with everything you’ll need to make a functional vehicle. If you put together all the various mechanical bits you’ll get something that works. It can be tweaked and tuned and customised, but is perhaps a bit too twitchy and complex for video game purposes, especially if you’re looking for an accessible, arcade feel.

To get something that plays well? That’s the real challenge. (And for the record, I usually settle on something like this. If it looks dumb but it works, it’s not dumb.)

art of rally night

Art of Rally, an arcade rally game by Funselektor Labs, currently has a free demo available. When I fired it up and started playing with a keyboard, I felt instantly reminded of my own twitchy forays into driving games. But we have all long since learned that the keyboard is not the ideal way to simulate analogue inputs like an accelerator pedal or steering wheel.

Steering was a difficult tap dance across the keys; acceleration was all or nothing; and between the two, uncontrolled slides, spins and crashes were frequent. Then I dug out an Xbox One controller and, suddenly, Art of Rally began to sing.

Just the ability to gradually depress the accelerator – and let’s not understate just how good those analogue triggers are on an Xbox One controller – unlocks a new universe of control. Feathering the accelerator through a shallow bend, near-impossible on the binary clack of a keyboard, is second nature now. Crashing is through exuberance and ambition, not through lack of control. Accidents are fun, not frustrating. (And accidents in Art of Rally are really good fun.)

Whipping through the forests of Finland in Art of Rally, with the squirmy retro rally car wrestled under control, you can appreciate how pretty a picture Funselektor has painted. It’s minimalist and understated, with block colours frothy foliage and bouncy, lo-fi obstacles. This is rallying with a smear of vaseline on the lens and gravel in its heart, which suits its adorable replicas of (what look very much like) a Lancia Delta and Ford Escort RS1800.

art of rally jump

Don’t expect Art of Rally to be a hyper-realistic racer, then. The pared-back visuals and instinctive action tell you where Funselektor’s priorities lie. This pocket rocket will never compete with Codemasters’ efforts on realism and technicality, then, but that’s not the aim here.

But for an accessible, arcade-friendly rally game? We’re expecting Art of Rally to have plenty of depth to back it up. You’d expect nothing less from the creator of (the surprisingly zen) Absolute Drift.


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This week’s Xbox One releases (March 30-April 3, 2020)

This week’s lineup of new Xbox One releases includes a classic survival horror, an interactive movie, and a game about delivering parcels that isn’t Death Stranding.

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New Xbox One game releases
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

This week’s lineup of new Xbox One releases includes a classic survival horror, an interactive movie, and a game about delivering parcels that isn’t Death Stranding.

A bumper week of new Xbox One releases is headlined by Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 3. If you enjoyed last year’s stunning update of Resident Evil 2, you can expect the same lavish production values, control refinements, and well-directed scares.

Another nerve-wracking release is The Complex from Little Jade Productions. It’s pitched as “a live-action, cinematic interactive movie sci-fi thriller” about the aftermath of a bio-weapon attack in London. The story is written by Lynn Renee Maxcy, winner of two Writers Guild of America awards for her work on The Handmaid’s Tale. Michelle Mylett and Kate Dickie are among the cast.

If you’re looking for something a little less panic-inducing, you should totally check out Totally Reliable Delivery Service. We played the game at E3 last year and had a blast. It’s funny, chaotic, charming, and sometimes panic-inducing. Oh crap.

Other new games include Lost Artifacts: Golden Island, Random Heroes, and Snakeybus, which, if you haven’t seen it, is exactly the game you think it might be.

Each new release can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store and Microsoft online store. Here’s the confirmed lineup.

New Xbox One games – March 30-April 3, 2020

Monday, March 30, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

  • The Complex

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  • Shaolin vs Wutang
  • Totally Reliable Delivery Service
  • Random Heroes
  • Lost Artifacts: Golden Island

Thursday, April 2, 2020

  • No releases

Friday, April 3, 2020

  • The Curious Expedition
  • Horror of the Deep
  • HyperParasite
  • Resident Evil 3
  • Snakeybus

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 games. Jump on the Thumbsticks bandwagon by following us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter.

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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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Final Fantasy VII Remake to ship early in some regions

Disruption to global supply channels means that Final Fantasy VII Remake will be shipped early in Europe and Australia.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake delay
Square Enix

Disruption to global supply channels caused by COVID-19 means that Final Fantasy VII Remake is shipping early in Europe and Australia.

It looks like some players will get the chance to visit Midgar a little sooner than expected. In a statement posted to Twitter, Square Enix says that Final Fantasy VII Remake will be shipping to Europe and Australia earlier than planned due to the impact of COVID-19 on global supply channels.

In the statement, producer Yoshinori Kitase and director Tetsuya Nomura said:

“These unique circumstances have made it very difficult to align timing of our global shipping. Our highest priority is that all of you, including those who live in countries currently facing the biggest disruption, can play the game at launch, so we made the decision to ship the game far earlier than usual to Europe and Australia. As a result, there is greater chance that some of you in these regions will now get a copy of the game prior to the worldwide release date of April 10.”

Copies of Final Fantasy VII Remake will be shipped to other Western regions later this week. The game should be available for the official launch date, although it might be prudent to expect short delays and a lower than usual numbers of physical copies available. Such is life. You’ll pull through it.

The statement ends by asking players who get the game early to not spoil the experience for others.

“We know there are potential spoilers that have been out there for over two decades as the original Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997. But Final Fantasy VII Remake is a new game that still has many surprises for everyone.”


This week’s new video game releases

To find out more about this week’s new releases – including Resident Evil 3, Persona 5 Royal, and Totally Reliable Delivery Service – read our full Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One roundups. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard for daily news updates.

Thumbsticks needs your support

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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