Hello! Welcome to the Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, E3, MAR10, PC and HBO, plus all the latest releases!
As is proving to be a trend on these roundups lately, another event has been cancelled due to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that’s currently been escalated to a pandemic by the WHO. And this is the big one. E3, the biggest games show on the calendar, is now off, in response to the outbreak in California.
This is a huge blow to the industry as a whole. E3 is the cornerstone of everything at present, with major announcements revealed, deals and connections made, and the entire city of LA becoming a celebration of gaming as a whole for a week. And this year, none of that will happen.
Well, the announcements may still go ahead. Microsoft and Ubisoft have confirmed they’ll be shifting to online presentations, and Nintendo’s Treehouse presentation is likely to come from their offices rather than the show floor. Other similar online events are in the works.
Elsewhere, the BAFTA Game Awards ceremony has also just been cancelled at the time of writing. This too will be replaced with a livestream announcing the winners, happening at the same time as advertised. EGX Rezzed in London has also been postponed, now looking at an unspecified summer date.
We’re going to see a lot more of this in coming months, along with more supply side issues, so expect me to bring this virus up constantly. I will not be cancelling these roundups, however, as even if I were to self-isolate for health and safety reasons, it wouldn’t be much of a change for me writing this from a pillow fort.
Lego Mario Teased
On March 10, or MAR10, it was a day to celebrate Mario, and Nintendo decided to celebrate it with a surprising new announcement. They’ll be teaming up with Lego to make a new playset.
Details are minimal right now but it appears to be a special playset that features a large Mario figure with digital displays built in, which react to other parts of the set, allowing you to have a physical recreation of the games. It’s basically a real-life Mario Maker, which is pretty cool.
No word on a release just yet, but this is still an awesome collaboration.
PC Port on The Horizon
In a surprising move, Sony have announced that PS4 exclusive title Horizon Zero Dawn will be seeing a PC release later this year. Confirmed for a summer release on Steam, it’s the first time an entirely PlayStation-owned franchise is seeing a release elsewhere.
Sure, other PlayStation exclusives have gone multi-platform after some time, but these decisions were usually in the hands of other parties. MLB The Show going multi-platform is likely a push from Major League Baseball themselves because licensed sports games have their own complicated set of rules. Death Stranding, also coming to PC in summer, was likely a Kojima IP with a limited exclusive publishing deal with Sony, since 505 Games are handling publishing duties this summer instead. But Horizon Zero Dawn? All Sony’s baby, with developers Guerrilla part of their first-party developer portfolio.
It’s quite a surprise, but it’s not a bad strategy. Release your own IPs on PlayStation, then after 2-3 years throw out a PC release to absorb some extra players who probably would never buy a console. I doubt we’ll be seeing Xbox or Switch releases in future, however, but PC seems a logical direction for games that have already been flagships years before.
And PlayStation fanboys have taken this incredibly well. Oh wait, they haven’t.
However, as someone whose primary gaming platform is PlayStation, I’m totally cool with this news because now I can encourage PC players to check out Aloy’s Robo-Dino Adventure. It’s an excellent game that made it quite high on my Top 100 Games of the 2010s, and now even more people can play it. Which is excellent news!
The Last of Us TV Show
Speaking of PlayStation franchises turning up on other platforms, Naughty Dog’s zombie classic The Last of Us is coming to HBO as a TV show. Craig Mazin, creator of Chernobyl, will be helming the series, while the game’s director Neil Druckmann will be serving as an executive producer and contributing to the writing team.
This last portion is the best part of the news, as hopefully this means we’ll be avoiding the disaster zone that is the Uncharted movie, which still currently doesn’t resemble any Uncharted game I know. With Druckmann on board, it’ll likely stick closely to his vision for the game.
No confirmation of the cast yet, but Hollywood isn’t exactly short of rugged bearded men in their 50s to play Joel, and I wholeheartedly agree with the repeated fan suggestion of Kaitlyn Dever as Ellie. I’m not familiar with her work, but she looks like a combination of Ellie and a younger version of Ashley Johnson, Ellie’s original VA, so that alone works. She’s also worked with Naughty Dog before, as she played a small role in Uncharted 4, so that hopefully works in her favour too.
I’m curious to see how this turns out. Get the right cast, keep Druckmann closely involved and avoid turning it into a lazy rehash of The Walking Dead, and you could be onto a winner here.
I like to think I do a fairly decent job of keeping up with the latest releases, but sometimes a few slip through the net. Let’s start the release section this week with some games I missed recently but I think are still worth checking out. Let’s start with Dreadout 2 on Steam, the sequel to Indonesian horror game Dreadout, and looks set to be bringing in some gruesome Silent Hill style monsters to go alongside the Fatal Frame style ghosts.
Then there’s Murder by Numbers, a murder mystery/picross hybrid (yes really) for PC and Switch, with a team whose past credits include Ace Attorney and Hatoful Boyfriend, in case you somehow missed the picross and thought this was a serious mystery game.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster looks like a cross between What Remains of Edith Finch and The Shining. It’s a first-person mystery thriller available for Steam and set in a spooky hotel where a girl has died.
In game that actually released this week but are also ports and re-releases, cinematic platformer Stela is now on Steam and Switch after its previous Xbox and Apple Arcade releases, and elsewhere, Borderlands 3 is out of Epic exclusivity and now available on Steam.
Releasing in Early Access this week is Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. Initially I was like, oh cool, that looks a lot like Symphony of the Night, I dig it. But, it turns out, Record of Lodoss War is a huge Japanese franchise that spawned from an author’s DnD game in the 80s, and went on to become a novel series that’s been adapted many times. This is the latest video game adaptation, and features the popular character Deedlit, a female elf, waking up in a mysterious unknown place.
One of the big releases this week is Nioh 2, the sequel to Koei Tecmo’s demon-hunting samurai Soulslike. It serves as a prequel to the first game, and instead of a defined protagonist like the first game, you make your own player character here. I don’t know a lot about the original Nioh, as I only recently played the first hour of it, the evidence of which can be found on my YouTube channel very shortly.
Game of The Week
Game of the Week this week is Ori & The Will of the Wisps, the sequel to 2014’s Ori & The Blind Forest. This features Ori venturing beyond the forest of the first game into the wider world to discover their destiny, and probably encounter a few massive dangers along the way. The devs have promised the game is bigger and full of even more depth than the first game.
I adored the original game, which made it into my Top 100 Games of the 2010s, and early reviews of the sequel are promising, placing it in the low 90s on Metacritic. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. As you’d expect from a first-party Xbox title, it’s available on Xbox One, with a Steam release also available (haven’t seen many Xbox fanboys smashing their consoles over this, however).
And that’s it for this week! I’ll see you again soon with more news and releases from the world of gaming!