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The Week in Video Games – January 28, 2018

This week in gaming: PUBG hits 4 million players on Xbox One, Miitomo and Paragon are closing, and BioWare’s Anthem slips to 2019. Here’s our essential digest of the week’s video games news.

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This week in gaming: PUBG hits 4 million players on Xbox One, Miitomo and Paragon are closing, and BioWare’s Anthem slips to 2019. Here’s our digest of the week’s video games news.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news

Despite being a little rough round the edges PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is proving to be a huge success on Xbox One. The game has now passed 4 million copies sold, and to mark the occasion Microsoft is giving 30,000 battle points to each player. The in-game loose change will appear in accounts from February 1st.

The console edition of PUBG has also received a new patch which adds auto-run, and various other control and gameplay improvements. Meanwhile, over on PC it appears that lobby weapons are on the way out.

Away from the game, PUBG Corp has announced that by the end of year it will have donated $2 million to a range of charities. And, in a wide-ranging interview with GamesIndustry.biz, PUBG Corp CEO Chang Han Kim speaks about the long-term plans to grow and improve the game:

“We see PUBG as an endlessly evolving online product. It’s not like we have a clear roadmap with 2.0 and 3.0. The current version, I want to say it’s flawless, but it still needs to be polished and enhanced. That will be our primary goal: polishing the current experience to provide the best game.

Bioware’s Anthem slips to 2019

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier filed a in-depth article detailing BioWare’s efforts to complete Anthem, the online action RPG revealed at last’s year’s E3. Making games is as hard as ever, it seems, and it’s now looking like Anthem will receive a 2019 release.

Miitomo closes

Miitomo, Nintendo’s first mobile app, will close down in May. Although an initial success, the app’s unorthodox parch to social networking put paid to its long-term prospects.

Dragon Ball FighterZ review round-up

Dragon Ball FighterZ was released this week, and despite our own failed attempt to win a fight, its accessibility is being lauded:

Jeff Ramo, writing at Polygon, says:

Dragon Ball FighterZ made me feel as powerful and unstoppable as one of the series’ lauded heroes. Within minutes of playing the game, I was pulling off combos that I felt were worthy of a highlight reel.”

In his impressions piece, Eurogamer’s Wesley Yin-Poole agrees:

“Sure, it’s a fast-paced game, and with three versus three action the screen can get pretty busy at times, but Arc System Works’ effort to make the combat accessible means pretty much anyone can pick up their favourite few characters from Dragon Ball and get them to do cool and exciting stuff straight away.”

Peter Brown at GameSpot says that the game is superbly balanced for both newcomers and long time fans:

FighterZ is complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there’s no question that it’s been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball’s most dedicated fans, and no doubt those same qualities will win people over who’ve never given the series a chance.”

Minecraft remains reasonably popular

In an interview with PopSugar, Microsoft’s Helen Chiang reveals that Minecraft had a record 74 million active users in December 2017. The interview also covers cross-platform play, changes to the Switch edition, and the upcoming Aquatic update.

Xbox Game Pass to get Microsoft games on day one

Microsoft has confirmed that all Microsoft Studios games are now going to launch day-and-date on Xbox Games Pass. The first game to be included is Rare’s Sea of Thieves, which is due for release on March 20, 2018.

Movers, shakers, and Downwell creators

It’s been a busy week for industry moves. Phil Harrison – formerly of Xbox, Atari, and most notably, PlayStation – has joined Google as Vice President and GM. The role sees Harrison move back to California. Sega legend Yuji Naka –  whose work includes Sonic the Hedgehog and Phantasy Star – has announced that he’s joining Square Enix. And the creator of Downwell, Ojiro Fumoto, is giving up the indie dream to work for Nintendo.

Monster Hunter World review round-up

Dragon Ball FighterZ is not the only game released last week that aims to attract new players to a long-running franchise. Capcom’s Monster Hunter World is also courting a wider audience, and successfully so, it appears.

Martin Robinson rates the game as Essential in his Eurogamer review, saying:

Monster Hunter World sees 13 years of evolution come crashing together with some new influences to create a very exciting breed of beast.”

Sam Byford, writing for The Verge, is just as enthusiastic:

“It’s an incredible game that is just about everything I could have hoped for from a return to home consoles”

And Joe Skrebals at IGN says:

World takes a dramatic leap into a look, feel, and size that feels truly new, simultaneously staying true to the series’ ideals by maintaining the addictive loop of combat, intimidating monsters and meaningful upgrades that fans love.”

God of War and Nintendo Labo release date clash panic!

Sony’s new God of War and Nintendo Labo will both be released on April 20, 2018. You’d think that the target demographics of these two products are far enough apart for this to pass without comment, but no, according to some internet commentators the world might just stop turning. In the spirit of the day, we hope people chill out a little.

Paragon too soon

Paragon is shutting down on April 26, 2018. In a statement, the development team says:

“After careful consideration, and many difficult internal debates, we feel there isn’t a clear path for us to grow Paragon into a MOBA that retains enough players to be sustainable. We didn’t execute well enough to deliver on the promise of Paragon. We have failed you — despite the team’s incredibly hard work — and we’re sorry.”

All players of Epic’s MOBA can claim a refund for any purchases made in the game.

GDC State of the Industry report

The latest GDC State of the Industry Survey shows that developer interest in the Nintendo Switch has risen considerably in the past 12 months. And if you thought that the public backlash to loot crates and micro-transactions might result in a reduction of their use, think again. One in 10 developers show support for using them in upcoming games.

Latest video game releases

Don’t forget to check out this week’s lineup of new game releases for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This week’s picks include Wulverblade, and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. And check back tomorrow for our weekly Nintendo eShop update.

Sunday reading

If you want to experience the bracing chill of winter from the cosy comfort of your own home, we’ve pulled together a cool countdown of the 11 Best Winter Video Games. If you’d rather a little sunshine, check out Kat Bailey’s Burnout Paradise retrospective, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of Criterion’s marvellous racing game.


More gaming news from Thumbsticks

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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, 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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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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Most important feature confirmed for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Well, maybe the second most important feature.

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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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