Hello! Welcome to this week’s Gaming Roundup, where lots of small bits of news came out but nothing particularly earth-shattering.
So we’re gonna rapid-fire it this week, with some additional chat about Starlink’s poor sales and a For Honor documentary on Netflix. Let’s go!
UBISOFT ANNOUNCE POOR STARLINK SALES
Remember Starlink: Battle for Atlas? It was released towards the tail-end of last year and was Ubisoft’s attempt to create their own Toys to Life concept. It’s probably best known for the Switch version seemingly turning into a Star Fox game.
Well, Ubisoft this week announced that they were no longer producing the physical toys for the game due to lack of demand. There will still be support for digital content going forward, but physical updates are no longer on their way.
This isn’t really surprising. Ubisoft launched this in the wake of the Toys for Life fad dying down, not to mention their toys always looked a little fiddlier than the competition. This was, of course, the game that asked you strap plastic ships directly to your controller, and that always looked awkward.
This does clearly spell the end for the Toys to Life genre. With the absence of new Skylanders news and the death of Lego Dimensions and Disney Infinity, it’s hard to see anyone succeeding with another line in future. Nintendo’s Amiibo line is still going, but this never operated the same way, and is perhaps why it hasn’t suffered the same fate.
FOR HONOR DOCUMENTARY ON NETFLIX
Speaking of Ubisoft, this week a documentary arrived on Netflix entitled Playing Hard. Rather surprisingly, it focuses on the development of For Honor, Ubisoft’s historically inaccurate swordplay game. It’s perhaps an odd choice that came out of nowhere, as For Honor didn’t seem to do all that well on release. A little research tells me it was largely done on a whim, as filmmaker Jean-Simon Chartier wanted to investigate who this Ubisoft company was and why they were taking over Montreal.
I decided to check out the documentary. It turns out, it’s a unique look behind the scenes of AAA game development. We spend time with key team members including creative director Jason Vanderberghe, producer Stephane Cardin and brand manager Luc Duchaine, and see the game through its development. We see Vanderberghe gleefully pitching his dream game to the publishers and see Cardin and Duchaine visiting game shops following the game’s release full of excitement.
But it also shows the darker side. We see Cardin disappear around December 2016 to go into therapy due to stress. Duchaine is warned by doctors to stop stress-eating or else he’ll suffer a heart attack. And Vandeberghe tearfully describing how the process left him feeling that his baby had been stolen from him in the process of the game’s development.
All in all, it’s a fascinating watch, regardless of your opinion on the game itself. Aside from overdramatic comparisons between game development and literal warfare, I found it an interesting rare look behind the curtain. I found it more interesting than the game itself, in fact, which I gave my muted response to in a video on my YouTube channel this week (by complete coincidence, I swear!).
RAPID-FIRE NEWS ANNOUNCEMENTS!
In a week with lots of small but somewhat meaningful news, it’s difficult to stretch all these announcements to a full paragraph. So instead, here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on across the industry.
- You can buy a special key for the Resident Evil 2 remake for the princely sum of £4. This unlocks everything in the game, so if you can’t be bothered to play the actual game, this is for you, I guess!
- Bethesda have been accused of breaking their promise to not include pay-to-win microtransactions in Fallout 76 by selling Repair Kits, which allow you to fix any of your items and make the game a little less stressful to play
- The superb spooky platformer Little Nightmares is getting an isometric prequel for iOS devices soon called Very Little Nightmares. I’m intrigued by this one.
- Pokémon fans got a treat with new trailers for both Detective Pikachu and the CGI remake of Mewtwo Strikes Back.
- Kitana has been confirmed to return for Mortal Kombat 11, surprising no one.
- It’s been confirmed that Shenmue 3 will feature forklifts, which were a crowd-pleaser in the previous games.
- Nintendo have accidentally confirmed the return of Stage Builder mode for Super Smash Bros Ultimate in an otherwise unremarkable new promo.
- Bungie accidentally let PC and Xbox players access gear exclusive to the PS4 version of Destiny 2 and now they’re patching it to revoke access. Not the best look, admittedly.
- You can now change your PSN ID after years of demands for it, but Sony have admitted there are caveats.
And that’s it. That’s your week in news, so let’s see what’s happening on the release front.
Only a couple of releases this week, but they’re interesting ones. First up is Dangerous Driving, which is basically the newest Burnout game. Burnout has been a popular series but has been out of action since 2008’s Burnout Paradise, with only a recent remaster of that game to tide fans over. Dangerous Driving is the answer to that absence, being a spiritual successor made by a small team of former staff from Criterion. It’s a stripped-back affair, but still has the spirit of the series at its core.
But my Game of the Week this week is Pathway, the latest release from Chucklefish, who are steadily becoming one of my favourite game companies. Pathway is a strategy RPG like Chucklefish’s last game, Wargroove, but this one uses a setting not often seen in RPGs. Gone are swords and sorcery, and in its place are desert ruins, Nazi enemies and daring archaeologists who insist their discoveries belong in a museum. Yes, it’s an Indiana Jones land tactical RPG, and I was sold when I heard the concept.
I have been very excited for Pathway since playing it at EGX back in September, not least because I’m always up for some archaeology themed pulp adventure in any media. The fact that it’s a lot of fun to play and has a great artstyle in line with Chucklefish’s other retro-tinged releases is a bonus. It’s out now on PC and I highly recommend it.
And that’s it for this week! Sorry for the short one, but it’s been very quiet this past week. As always, if you’re looking for more gaming chat with me, you can also find me on Twitter and on Youtube, and of course on the Geeky Brummie podcast with the rest of the team. And while there will be another roundup next week, there will also be our Batman 1966 screening, and tickets are still available! See you next time!