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Gaming Roundup – Ah, the Pre-E3 Drought

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, some Sony news and Nintendo’s E3 Direct, plus regular esports news. That’s all.

The Latest in PlayStation

It’s that time of year again, where E3 is on the horizon and therefore all possible news is held off until a single weekend in June (the roundup in two weeks is going to be looooooong).

However, one company isn’t going to be at E3 – Sony Interactive Entertainment. The PlayStation publisher instead is choosing to make minor announcements as they go, with presumably a major State of Play at some point over the summer.

So what are their latest minor announcements? First up, God of War Ragnarok has been pushed back to 2022, a delay from last year’s teaser trailer’s 2021 release window. It’s also been confirmed to be a cross-play title, with a PS4 version launching alongside the PS5 version, along with Gran Turismo 7. This last part has caused some upset making people wonder what the point of getting a PS5 right now is, as if Ratchet & Clank isn’t out in a week. Come on, people.

Elsewhere, Days Gone developers Bend Studio have confirmed the rumours about a lack of Days Gone sequel with confirmation that their next project will be a new IP. While no other details have been provided, it’s clear that Days Gone’s poor sales have been a factor in the moving away. Which is honestly not surprising, as Days Gone wasn’t doing much to make itself stand out alongside other contemporary titles, not least because it was originally announced alongside The Last of Us 2, and there was clearly only room for one zombie franchise in people’s hearts. Here’s hoping that Bend Studio get the opportunity to really flex this time and prove themselves with something truly unique.

Finally, the developers of PS5 pack-in game Astro’s Playroom, Team Asobi, have announced a major expansion. The only remnant of Japan Studio left under Sony’s portfolio, the team made an announcement this week that the studio is “spreading its wings and growing bigger” in a move that feels like a major walk back from Sony’s shuttering of Japanese development. It’s quite possible with this move that Asobi may just become a replacement for Japan Studio, making it seem odd that Sony closed the studio in the first place. It’s a great move though, as Astro’s Playroom was a joyful surprise to PS5 owners on launch and more of that creativity and playfulness on PlayStation is welcome.

Nintendo Announces E3 Direct

Nintendo are the latest publisher to confirm their E3 showcase, with a Direct confirmed for 15th June at 5pm UK time. Setting the record straight in regards to those Switch Pro rumours, Nintendo have confirmed it will focus entirely on software, with “most” games in the presentation launching in 2021.

No doubt the internet is already awash in unhinged speculation, but all I want is the last two Smash Bros characters revealed. It’s not a certainty that both remaining characters in the current fighter’s pass will be shown, but it seems a sensible time to get it over with.

And now, over to the esports news with Mat!

Portsmouth Uni Launches First Esports Coaching and Performance Degree

Hey friends! First up we have an exciting new announcement from Portsmouth Uni have just unveiled their degree in esports coaching and performance. Delivered online and starting in September this year, this BSc (Hons) will be the first ever degree of its kind to be offered by a university.

Designed and delivered in partnership with IFoEC Ltd – the education partner of the International Federation of Esports Coaches – the Uni describes it as an “essential next step if you want to set yourself apart as an esports coach.”

The course itself was developed over the last year with a team of established academics, practicing esports coaches and sport performance professionals.

The teaching staff comprises of personnel from both the University of Portsmouth and IFoEC, some of whom currently work with professional esports teams. It also includes a placement year where students can work in established esports businesses such as league and event operators or technology companies.

Alternatively, they can take the time to set up their own esports business which could include providing coaching services, creating, and running a competitive esports team or esports performance organisation, or organising a competition for a particular esports title.

Overall, I’m glad to see more evidence of universities following in the footsteps of Staffordshire Uni, who were the first to offer a degree in an esports-centric subject. It further cements the growing culture in Unis for legitimising esports in the UK, alongside the growing number of universities esports teams and the establishment of the UKUEL.

Esports is a rapidly expanding sector – the British Esports Association reports that the global market will be worth nearly $2billion by 2022. With the growing grassroots scene in the UK and escalating number of young people considering a career in esports, Portsmouth offering what would be an esports equivalent to a sports science and management degree opens up more opportunities for esports coaching and management.

Anyone interested can check it out here

New Grassroots Esports Fund Sets Sights on the UK

Next up, Swedish esports platform Challengermode has announced a partnership with web browser Opera GX to create a ‘grassroots esports fund’, which aims to accelerate the growth of small emerging esports organisers in the UK, US, and Germany.

A total of $30,000 (approx. £21,150) will be distributed to local esports organisers through the fund. External platform support will also be provided by Challengermode to streamline tournament and competition setups.

The initial round of funding will focus on organisers in VALORANT, CS:GO, League of Legends, and Teamfight Tactics.

According to the release, the offering focuses on the ground level infrastructure, to ‘foster long term esports engagement and increase the accessibility of small scale esports initiatives.

Every little helps and I think the added support from the Challengermode to streamline competition set-ups is a nice bit of added value for recipients of the fund. I just hope more initiatives like this are in the pipeline for the industry – we need all the support we can get!

You can read the full release here.

Riot Announces Mobile Version of Valorant

To celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Valorant, Riot Games have announced a mobile version of the shooter is in the works. This coincides with another announcement by the company that more than 14 million PC players globally log on each month to play their 5v5 character-based smash hit with half a billion games so far since it first launched on 2nd June 2021.

The mobile version doesn’t have a release date yet but will follow suit from Riots other major title, League of Legends which debut it’s mobile version, Wild Rift late last year. It will also follow the footsteps of other competitive shooters which came before it such as PUBG Mobile and the infamous Fortnite mobile game.

To mark Valorant’s year-one milestone, Riot will host a month-long celebration for players and fans, gifting members of the community in-game rewards and initiatives. Throughout the month of June, the Valorant community will receive commemorative digital swag, including a redeemable player card and a free event pass.

Riot is at the top of the esports food chain with Valorant rising up the competitive esports ranks at a rapid rate to compete with their other IP League of Legends. It’s also one of the major esports that has discovered a lot of UK talent in the short 12 months since its release.

Mobile esports itself has also enjoyed a health rise in recent years with more and more ports and mobile specific competitive multiplayer games being released as both technology and internet connectivity improves globally.

This is one to watch out for in the future, as well as the rise of mobile gaming in esports over the next decade. For now, sit tight and watch this space!

Back over to you, Leigh!

New Releases

New Releases

In Early Access releases on PC this week, Going Medieval is a hybrid of city builder and tower defence, as you build and manage a castle in a time of war and strife. On a similar note, there’s The Last Spell, which is more of a straight tower defence strategy with roguelike elements.

Continuing the strategy theme, Slipways (PC) promises a condensed game of space trade management, where a run can be completed on your lunch break but will still get you making tough decisions about how to build your empire. Until We Die (PC) is set in a post-apocalyptic subway bunker, where you have to manage your survival base against threats from outside.

In more wholesome games, Stonefly (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) sees you playing as an inventor in a beetle mech flying through a magical shrunken world. Hokko Life (PC) is…Animal Crossing. You move to a village populated by anthropomorphic animals, and you just go about your day-to-day life. I’m kind of amazed they’re getting away with this to be honest.

It’s a good week for retro side-scrollers. Astalon: Tears of the Earth (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is an anime-styled title with three unique playable characters in a style that’s more than a little inspired by Shovel Knight. Sunblaze (PC, Switch) also takes inspiration from another indie darling, as it resembles Celeste if it was set in a superhero training machine. And finally, Mighty Goose (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is Contra with a goose. No really.

DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power (Switch) is a game specifically aimed at teen girls, starring the kid-friendly interpretations of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl from the DC Super Hero Girls cartoon show. It’s a combination of a superhero brawler and a teen life sim that probably won’t appeal to the dudes super into the Snyder Cut, but there’s a younger audience that would likely go nuts for it.

Necromunda: Hired Gun (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a dark and gritty FPS set in the Warhammer 40k universe, so expect a lot of grimdark nonsense, I guess. I don’t know, I know very little about Warhammer.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox) is a sniper-oriented FPS that has nothing do with Sniper Elite (as I’m only now discovering as I write this) but still offers a lot of the same vibe. Haven’t got confirmation of its stance on ludicrously detailed testicle shots though.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week is Operation: Tango, coming to PC, PlayStation and Xbox. It’s a game all about espionage, with a really cool twist. Instead of just playing an operative sneaking around with AI-supported mission control, in this game, your friend is your mission control.

One player plays a spy infiltrating secret places while the other player acts as the hacker, getting into systems and providing top-down information from floor plans and other data. It looks super stylish and should be a lot of fun. It’s also free for PS5 players this month as well (although sadly the PS4 version is not free).

And that’s it for this week! See you again soon with more gaming news and releases!

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