Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, next-gen tech details, reports from the bunker and awards, plus all the latest releases!
PS5 vs Xbox Series X
So here we go. The first concrete details about the next-gen systems launching (possibly) by the end of the year. Microsoft revealed a bunch of details on the Xbox Series X online early in the week, and Sony streamed their planned GDC talk about the PS5 on Wednesday, beamed straight from the Satellite of Love. The latter got a lot of attention as a huge hype train arrived at the nerdiest station possible and all the passengers complained.
Look, I’m gonna level with you here, guys. I appreciate and love the art of video games and it’s why I play games. To lose myself in the art and the writing and the world building. It’s amazing.
I’m less appreciative of the big numbers that happen under the bonnet. I understand that it takes a lot of complex tech wizardry to make a Mario go boing, but I am the worst person to write about any of that. I tapped out of the PS5 spec reveal when it quickly became obvious it was a highly technical GDC talk robbed of its context and all the big numbers were making my head hurt. I don’t do numbers and the main takeaway I had was something about fast loading, too many mailboxes exist in Spider-Man apparently and I still don’t know what a teraflop is, but it is still an inherently funny word.
So if you wish to know the specs of these machines and don’t curl into a ball at the mention of the term “ray tracing” like I do, please consult the very in-depth reports put out by Digital Foundry this week on the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. I will report back when Sony and Microsoft announce the only two things that matter to the average person on the street: the game library and the price.
As COVID-19 continues its spread across the world and everyone retreats into their homes to ride it out, here’s how the games industry have reacted.
EGX Rezzed, MCM Birmingham and UK Games Expo have all been postponed to later dates.
Filming for The Witcher has been placed on hold, as UK restrictions take effect. The delay currently stands at two weeks.
Square Enix have warned that there may be supply-side issues with Final Fantasy VII Remake, and physical copies may see unpredictable delays. The game is set to release 10th April, and will continue to do so on digital platforms, but those who’ve pre-ordered a physical copy have been warned they may not see it on launch day.
But it’s not all bad news. As sporting events have been cancelled across Europe, fans have turned to their virtual equivalent to get their fix. 60,000 Spanish fans tuned in to watch players from the real-life teams battle it out in FIFA as a replacement for the original fixture. Real-life F1 drivers joined streamers for a virtual Australian Grand Prix after the real thing saw cancellations.
Pokémon Go events have been cancelled, and the in-game Incense item has been given increased spawn rates and a longer duration to encourage players to keep catchin’ em all when they can’t go outside.
Japanese students who would have missed their graduation ceremonies due to school closures came up with a solution – hold the ceremonies in Minecraft.
As people have now found themselves sitting around the house with extra free time, here’s some free options. The Resident Evil 3 Remake demo is out for your enjoyment. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in full is free for the weekend, and Football Manager 2020 is free for a week. The Steam Games Festival is packed with demos for upcoming indie games. And itch.io have a bunch of curated lists of discounted or free titles to keep you entertained. If you’re stuck for a game to play (although I imagine we all have backlogs) then these are some good options if you fancy trying something new.
GDC may have been cancelled, but the annual GDC awards have gone ahead virtually. Here are all the lucky winners.
Game of the Year – Untitled Goose Game
Best Audio – Control
Best Debut – ZA/UM Studio (Disco Elysium)
Best Design – Baba is You
Innovation Award – Baba is You
Best Mobile Game – What the Golf?
Best Narrative – Disco Elysium
Best Technology – Control
Best Visual Art – Control
Best VR/AR Game – Vader Immortal
The Independent Games Festival Awards were also announced.
Seamus McNally Grand Prize – A Short Hike
Excellence in Visual Art – Knights & Bikes
Excellence in Audio – Mutazione
Excellence in Design – Patrick’s Parabox
Excellence in Narrative – Heaven’s Vault
Nuovo Award – The Space Between
Best Student Game – BORE DOME
Audience Award – A Short Hike
Fairly quiet week this week for releases, presumably because of the two big releases (I’ll get to that), but there are still a few things.
Retro-styled sidescrolling shooter Exit the Gungeon has exited the Apple Arcade to release on Steam and Switch, announced after Nintendo’s Indie World presentation this week. Mountain-climbing driving game Overpass is out now on all consoles after a recent PC release. And finally, cartoony basketball beat-em-up Dunk Lords is out now for Steam, for those who want basketball with more fighting.
Games of the Week
So I’ve been highlighting a lot of indie games lately for Game of the Week but this week I’m going to focus on not one, but two, AAA games. This is because this week is a very special event, where in this time of social distancing, you can find a way to be sociable with a whole bunch of new animal friends, and then go off and rip and tear until it is done.
That’s right, it’s the week where Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal have launched together to create a love-in of adorable talking animals and demon-slaying badasses. We’ve all seen the fanart of Mr Doom G. Slayer and his secretary pal Isabelle getting together to blast some demons and be home ready for the fishing event.
If you don’t know about these two, of course, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the latest in Nintendo’s life simulator series, where you live a happy cozy life making friends with a bunch of anthropomorphic animals and getting in debt with a raccoon. Doom Eternal is the sequel to 2016’s reboot of classic FPS Doom, where the objective is to murder a bunch of demons in gruesome and exhilarating ways.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was made by Nintendo’s internal teams and unsurprisingly is out on Switch. Doom Eternal is published by Bethesda and developed by the modern incarnation of legendary developers id Software, and is available for everything except Switch (for now).
And that’s it for this week! Thanks for joining me in the bunker, stay safe everyone, and support your local indie creators in these trying times. I will be back next week as always!