Hello! Welcome to the latest Gaming Roundup!
This week, Bethesda, Avengers, Esports and all the latest releases!
Microsoft Confirms Bethesda Purchase
It’s finally official. Bethesda are now part of Xbox Game Studios after approval from authorities in the US and EU. This purchase also includes Bethesda’s portfolio of developers, including Tango Softworks (The Evil Within), Arkane Studios (Dishonored) and MachineGames (Wolfenstein), as well as Bethesda’s internal development studios responsible for the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises.
What does this mean for Bethesda franchises going forward? Well, up next for them is, ironically, two PS5 exclusives, with Deathloop (one of my more anticipated games) coming in May, with Ghostwire Tokyo following later in the year. Beyond that, we know Starfield is on its way, and MachineGames is making an Indiana Jones title, but while Microsoft have confirmed “some” games will be exclusive to PC and Xbox, there’s no indication on whether these two will be.
Also, pretty much the entire library of recent Bethesda games is now available on Game Pass for console and PC. So that’s nice. I recommend Dishonored. You can thank me later.
Last week, Crystal Dynamics made the bizarre announcement that they would be overhauling the much-maligned Avengers title. But rather than adding new content or addressing the wider issues with the game’s general bland feel, they announced that they would adjusting the XP amounts in an effort to attract new players. And no, I don’t mean they were shortening them to speed things up, they’re increasing them to make the grind longer. Because the problem with the superhero game was apparently that the superheroes were getting too many superpowers too quickly.
They “clarified” this news on Reddit this week, in a statement that read exactly the same as the initial post, and it hasn’t been well-received. The top response even states that the XP wasn’t the problem with the game, the lack of content was, which is true. Marvel’s a big property, and the lack of success with this game is entirely on the developers for not providing Marvel fans with what Marvel fans want – a game where you feel like the heroes right off the bat.
It’s odd to me that Crystal Dynamics are struggling to learn what went wrong with this game. And so soon after Anthem folded in on itself after it made most of the same mistakes. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the game ended up going the same way.
Animal Crossing Build-A-Bear
In a move that surprisingly hasn’t happened already, Build-A-Bear Workshop is releasing an Animal Crossing range.
Build-A-Bear’s announcement of the range is coy on details right now, with only a confirmation the range will be launching soon. Presumably series staples like Tom Nook, Isabelle and K.K. Slider will be getting the plush treatment, but it’ll be interesting to see who else.
There’s currently a sign-up form to receive details, so make sure you’re on that if you’re desperately in need of a capitalist tanuki you can cuddle at night.
And now, here’s the esports news with Mat!
Queen Elizabeth Park Announces Esports Cluster
London tech and innovation campus Here East in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has announced plans to for an esports cluster at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The roadmap they have outlined aims to drive job creation and economic growth and bring both esports and games industry closer to East London.
Here East and LLDC outlined unique characteristics that make Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park the natural home for esports in the UK. These include state-of-the-art sporting venues, proximity to international esports teams and close engagement with academic institutions and local initiatives specialising in esports.
The plan builds upon the long-term regeneration strategy being delivered by LLDC and stakeholders across Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. With its mix of world-class tech, creative, culture and higher education, the Park offers an unrivalled environment to support the emerging esports cluster.
This is good news for esports in the UK, considering the growing economic benefit of esports and gaming as industries here. The location also makes sense given the facilities in and around the park which make a perfect climate for esports.
However, as an adopted Brummie and home grown West Midlander, I also don’t want to see all the attention go to London. The West Midlands is and has always been the leading cluster for gaming, contributing more than £224m GVA to the region and I think it has a lot of potential for Birmingham to become the UK capital for esports. Birmingham has various arenas for tournaments, a wealth of spaces for training and offices, venues for events around gaming and esports all without the London price tag and transport infrastructure that makes it central to the rest of the UK and internationally.
I think we as a city and a region need to do more to capitalise on what is a massive amount of potential… if only people understood the power of gaming and esports!
Fortnite Trinity Challenge
Okay, I confess, I’m not a Fortnite player. Screaming 10-year olds telling me they’ve diddled my Mum aside; I can’t get my head around the building element – although watching pros play it is quite fascinating. However, if you are then this might be one for you!
Mobile Network Three is inviting players in the UK to participate in the Fortnite Trinity Challenge and unlock an exclusive new skin. This new Fortnite Trios tournament will give players in the EU server region the opportunity to be the first to win the Trinity Trooper Outfit.
Gamers can play up to 10 matches in the three-hour tournament window with their trio. The top-performing trios in EU will unlock the new Trinity Trooper Outfit (both styles). Additionally, those who compete in at least five matches will earn the Trinity Impact and Trinity Overload Emoticons.
The purpose of the tournament is to celebrate the integration of 3Pay in Fortnite, a way for UK customers to pay for V-Bucks and other items via their Three mobile bill. Gamers who miss out on winning the Trinity Trooper Outfit will be able to grab it from the Fortnite Item Shop later and charge it to their mobile phone bill.
I really don’t think Epic needs another method of taking money off people, and the fact it’s a “have-now-pay-later” thing with costs coming out of your monthly bill I think is quite dangerous for some people who struggle to manage finances. However, the tournament itself looks like a bit of fun if you and some friends want to go up against players across Europe to see how you fair and get a few in-game goodies.
Fortnite players on Android, PC and console are eligible to participate in the tournament, which goes live on Sunday March 14th.
Top Blokes secure investor backing
Top Blokes, as well as having one of the most quintessentially British team names, are also a leading UK Rocket League team in the European Rocket League Championship Series (RCLC).
On Thursday they took to Twitter to announce a “new chapter” as they have secured financial backing and with it the ability to grow and improve. They’ve not revealed the who the investor group is with Top Blokes UK coach Reece ‘RamS’ Mullins saying that the entity supporting them wont be revealed for some time due to legal reasons.
But what does this mean? Essentially, it means they will continue playing under the Top Blokes banner going into the RLCS X Spring Split, now with financial backing, rather than signing to an esports organisation.
Top Blokes is now their official brand as opposed to a placeholder and with them doing so well in the European RL pro scene. The start of Europe’s Spring Regional Event 1 coming up is where the team will be looking to cement their top three position ahead of the World Championship later this year.
The Top Blokes current roster of players consists of UK players Jack ‘FlamE’ Pearton and Archie ‘archie’ Pickthall, alongside French teammate Andy ‘Kassio’ Landais and English sub Danny ‘Tehda’ Squibb, have been together since June last year.
Check out the team here.
WePlay Esports opens offices in the UK
WePlay Esports has established an office in London as part of its strategy to tap into brands and hubs in the UK.
WePlay Esports is a tournament organiser and an esports media holding company which combines esports, media and entertainment, founded in 2012. They have put together tournaments in some of the top esports games including Dota 2, CSGO, League of Legends, Mortal Kombat and World of Tanks.
In addition to hosting tournaments, they also have a focus on media rights sales managing which essentially means managing advertising and sponsorship in tournaments and using esports as an advertising platform. This move also marks their ambition to feature more brands outside of the industry to get involved in advertising.
They have identified the UK as one of the “key regions” for the company’s growth and the move will help them work closer with UK companies, local offices, and hubs here.
On the surface, it’s a sales business setting up shop in the UK to tap into the potential market here but this feeds back into the overall point I labour in many of these updates – the UK is upcoming in esports and esports is one of the emerging industries that is having a growing impact on the economy.
WePlay Esports ambition to raise awareness of esports with industries outside of the bubble can go a long way to encouraging more inward investment from top brands for esports and gaming. Again, this also means there is a possibility for more grass roots UK tournaments to emerge and a boost to international tourism.
You can check out WePlay Esports here.
Thanks Mat! And now, onto this week’s new releases!
In ports this week, Apex Legends has come to Switch, bringing Respawn’s battle royale to Nintendo’s handheld. Also coming to Switch is Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time, the excellent return of the Crash Bandicoot franchise that was one of my favourite games of 2020. It’s also coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X as well.
Beyond that, this week is a PC-centric release list. In fact, none of the following games are available on console. The Dark Side of the Moon is an FMV adventure involving missing children, an ominous solar eclipse and what appears to be a hammy villain. Probably not the greatest game of the year, as FMV adventures are rarely brilliant, but could be fairly entertaining.
Lust from Beyond is an erotic horror game and yes, I never expected to use the word “erotic” to describe anything here, but that’s what’s happening. It’s a creepy game about a man infiltrating a cult who whose idea of kinky appears to be full-on body horror. Mixed reviews on this one, but it’s intriguing.
Stronghold: Warlords is the latest in the Stronghold series that’s been going since 2001, where you build an empire through a network of castles. This latest entry takes the action to Asia, pitting the Chinese and Mongolian forces against one another. One for the hardcore strategy heads out there.
This week’s Game of the Week is Circuit Superstars. Technically this released last week, but it snuck out at the last minute and missed the roundup, and I want to feature it, and it’s caught my attention more than other games this week.
It’s a top down racing game, clearly calling to mind games like Micro Machines, but with more sim elements, so it’s perhaps closer to last year’s Art of Rally. It also covers a huge range of motorsports including Rallycross and SuperTrucks, with the small development team being huge motorsports nerds.
It looks like a lot of fun, and if you’re looking for a new racing game to try out, it’s worth checking out.
And that’s it for this week! See you next time with more news and releases from the world of gaming!