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The Week in Video Games – April 1, 2018

This week in video games: there’s a comet in the Fortnite sky, Switch consoles are getting bricked, and No Man’s Sky is coming to the Xbox. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

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This week in video games: there’s a comet in the Fortnite sky, Switch consoles are getting bricked, and No Man’s Sky is coming to the Xbox. Here’s our digest of the week’s top gaming news stories.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ new 4×4 km map will be playable this week, for those lucky enough to get an invite. Keep an eye on PUBG’s social media channels on Monday April 2, 2018 for more details. The initial test of the map – which is still early in development – will run for three days.

And to mark the game’s first anniversary, players can get a free PUBG SCAR-L skin if they log in to the game before May 1, 2018.

Fortnite news

Fortnite Battle Royale now has a premium starter pack to give new players a helping hand. It contains the rogue agent outfit, the catalyst back bling, and costs 600 in-game V-Bucks (£3.99/$4.99).

Fortnite players have also noticed what appears to be a comet in the night sky. The big question is what will happen if and when it hits? One popular theory is that it will strike Titled Towers, levelling the city, and leaving a huge new crater to play in. Keep watching the skies.

Third-party Switch docks are bricking consoles

Nintendo has told Switch owners to not to use third-party docks after reports of bricked consoles. Following the console’s 5.0 Firmware update, users of the Nyko portable docking kit have experienced issues ranging from patchy AV connection to complete console failure. In a statement to Kotaku, Nintendo said:

“Unlicensed products and accessories do not undergo Nintendo’s testing and evaluation process. They might not work at all with our game systems, and they could have compatibility problems with certain games, the Nintendo Switch system itself, and other licensed accessories and peripherals.”

The root of the issue appears to be in how the Switch manages USB-C protocols. Nintendo will repair any consoles still under warranty, and has recently rolled out another small firmware update.

In happier Switch news, the new Super Smash Bros will be playable at E3 2018.

Nintendo announce Princess Peach’s Royale Battle

Nintendo’s new paid online service will launch in September, with Super Smash Brothers expected to be one game available at launch. Another title also confirmed is Nintendo’s first foray into the battle-royale genre, Princess Peach’s Royale Battle. The kid-friendly take on the popular genre sees 100 Toads parachute into the Mushroom Kingdom to engage in a brutal fight to the death – all for the sadistic pleasure of Princess Peach.

Twitch laying off staff

Twitch has laid off around 25 members of staff from its Twitch Studios and marketing teams. In a statement to Gamesbeat, a spokesperson said:

“Coming off the record-setting numbers shared in our 2017 Retrospective, Twitch is continuing to grow and advance with success stories from Overwatch League to Fortnite’s milestone-setting streams. In order to maintain this momentum, we have an aggressive growth strategy for 2018 with plans to increase our headcount by approximately 30 percent. While we’ve conducted team adjustments in some departments, our focus is on prioritizing areas most important for the community.”

God of War will have performance mode on PS4 Pro

Upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive, God of War, will feature a performance mode for PlayStation 4 Pro users. The mode will include the option to play at 60fps frame-rate at 1080p, or 30fps at 4K resolution. The game’s director, Cory Barlog, seems pretty excited by it.

GTA V character does not look like Lindsay Lohan

The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that the character of Lacey Jonas in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V does not look like actor, Lindsay Lohan. In the court’s opinion:

“the artistic renderings are indistinct, satirical representations of the style, look, and persona of a modern, beach-going young woman that are not reasonably identifiable as the plaintiff.”

GDC 2018 sets new record

Last month’s Game Developers Conference set a new attendance record with over 28,000 games industry professionals descending on San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The dates for next year’s conference have been confirmed, and the call for speakers submissions will open this summer.

Microsoft to ban users for “offensive activity”

Microsoft has updated its Terms of Service to identify various types of “offensive activity”. The terms apply to a wide range of Microsoft platforms, including Xbox. Violation of the code of conduct may result in:

“suspensions or bans from participation in Xbox Services, including forfeiture of content licenses, Xbox Gold Membership time, and Microsoft account balances associated with the account.”

Trouble at sea

Following a furious reaction from players, Rare have rolled back plans to add a ‘Death Cost’ to their ocean-world adventure game, Sea of ThievesTMW also reports on the community backlash against Prod1gyX, a popular Twitch streamer, and the first Sea of Thieves player to reach Pirate Legend status. Players are not impressed with his, erm, pirate-like methods to reach the top.

No Man’s Sky coming to Xbox One

Hello Games have confirmed that everyone’s favourite space exploration game, No Man’s Sky, is getting an Xbox One release this summer. It will coincide with the game’s ‘Next update’, which was teased in a trailer in-which the words No, Mans, Sky, Next, and Update slowly appear on a white background.

Another game receiving a welcome Xbox One release is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. It will be released this month, and features a range of Xbox One X optimisations.

PlayStation VR gets a price drop

Sony has reduced the price of PlayStation VR around the world. The standard non-bundle pack is now priced at £259 in the UK, down from £359. In the US there’s a $100 price drop on the starter pack, bringing it down to $299, plus discounts on the Doom and Skyrim bundles.

Video game sales and promotions

It’s a busy week for sales, promotion, and free games. First up, there are Easter sales on Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch. And this week, the latest Xbox Games with Gold, and PlayStation Plus titles will become available to subscribers.

Weekend reading…

In the latest edition of Cut Scenes, Josh Wise explores the intersection between films and video games with Bioshock vs. Tim Burton’s Batman.

And finally, if Fortnite has been the breakout game of 2018, the breakout video game character has to be Boomer, the Far Cry 5 dog. Cameron Kunzelman, writing at Kotaku, talks about his love for his canine companion.

Happy April 1st, see you next week!


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New PlayStation 4 releases (April 6-10, 2020)

Final Fantasy VII Remake headlines next week’s lineup of new PS Store releases for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake headlines next week’s lineup of new PS Store releases for the PlayStation 4, PS Vita, and PS VR.

A classic franchise returns to PlayStation 4 next week. Yup, it’s the long-awaited release of Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories. Granzella’s game has a long, storied history, beginning life as a PS3 title in 2011 before real-world events caused its postponement. The game’s western release comes at an equally difficult time, but patient fans of the series should be satisfied.

Speaking of patience, this week’s actual big release, Final Fantasy VII Remake, will hopefully be everything fans have been waiting for. We loved what we played back at E3 2019, and also enjoyed the recent demo. Early reports point to a game that is both modern and respectful to the original. Final Fantasy VII Remake is officially out on Friday, but is shipping early in some regions.

Meanwhile, PS VR owners might not be able to play Half-Life: Alyx, but they do get to experience the rush and thrill of Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm. Other new PS4 releases include Null Drifter, Troubleshooter, and Rush Rover.

Here is the full lineup of new PlayStation Store games for the PS4, PS VR, and PS Vita. We’ll update this post with any late additions throughout the week.

New PlayStation 4 releases – April 6-10, 2020

Monday, April 6, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

  • Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories
  • Form
  • Galaxy of Pen & Paper +1 Edition
  • Null Drifter
  • Rush Rover (and PS Vita)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

  • Convoy: A Tactical Roguelike
  • A Room Where Art Conceals
  • Sharknado VR: Eye of the Storm

Thursday, April 9, 2020

  • Troubleshooter

Friday, April 10, 2020

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake

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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.


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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

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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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