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Gaming Roundup – E-E3

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, E3 goes online and esports news from…Primark? Yes really!

Digital E3 Confirmed

Because of, you know, everything, E3 never happened last year. Instead it was a nightmare snarl of shows from multiple companies all happening within the space of a single weekend, occasionally overlapping to add extra frustration for anyone who tries to cover these things (like me).

Thankfully, E3 itself is back this year. But because of, well, everything, we won’t be seeing the entire world’s game industry cramming into a tiny convention centre in Los Angeles, and instead the show will be an entirely online affair.

Despite this, we still won’t be seeing Sony there for yet another year, and EA are also continuing their absence, but will likely hold their own show just before in a weird attempt to upstage proceedings (and will probably bore people with FIFA some more instead). Nintendo and Microsoft will be there, however, along with a bunch of other major publishers, including Capcom, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and Koch Media. Konami will also be there, although it’s anyone’s guess what they’re doing there at this point since last I checked they were a gambling machine company now.

The event will be held for free entirely online, although there will be exclusive media opportunities that we aren’t big enough to be part of (yet). Expect the 12th to 15th June to get very busy indeed.

Outriders Launch Woes

Last week, Square Enix launched Outriders, an online co-op shooter set on a hostile planet that sure looks like an online co-op shooter set on a hostile planet. It’s done pretty well, likely helped by its release on Game Pass as people hopped on just to try it out at no extra cost, but that success has come with a cost.

The opening weekend has been a nightmare, with persistent server problems, glitches and performance issues have dogged the game, prompting complaints and requests for explanations from the development team.

While these issues are still being worked on, developers People Can Fly have confirmed a full post-mortem, which will be delivered through Reddit. They have also announced an appreciation package for players who struggled their way through the launch weekend, which will include a Legendary weapon and some extra in-game currency.

While launch issues continue to be a problem for modern games, and more effort should certainly be spent on trying to improve this for future titles, it’s good to see a developer being up front and honest about the issues they’ve had.

And now, esports news with Mat!

Teams Confirmed for League of Legends Tournament

The UK Esports League (UKEL) have confirmed the final eight teams for their Summer 2021 League of Legends tournament.

These teams are:
• Demise (London)
• LondonUTD (London)
• Lucendi Gaming (Leeds)
• MunsterRGaming (Rugby)
• NerdRage (National)
• Resolve Academy (National)
• Viperio (Newcastle Upon Tyne)
• X7 Esports (Isle of Man)

It has been a hard-fought spring season getting to this point with some casualties along the way. Munster Rugby Gaming dropped down after finishing eight in the UKEL Spring 2021 season, competing with Resolve Academy and X7 Esports who rose through the ranks from the qualifiers.

Munster were initially knocked out by X7 but managed to earn their place back in UKEL after beating Mythos Gaming 2-0. Mythos Gaming also lost 2-0 against Resolve Academy resulting in their team being relegated.

Unfortunately, this proved to be the final straw for Mythos Gaming whose founder Conor ‘Econicity’ Elliman published a statement on Twitter saying they have now ceased operations.

The UKEL Summer 2021 tournament is gearing up to be an intense bout with some fantastic teams. I’ve mentioned previously the prowess of LondonUTD and the Spring season has demonstrated the pedigree of the other teams. Overall, this shows that UK LoL is bringing a fierce fight.

Details and schedule will be announced later this spring so for now sit tight and head over to the official UKEL website.

Primark Launch Esports Team

Yeah, so fashion retailer and purveyor of flimsy paper bags, Primark are throwing their hat into the Esports ring after becoming the latest brand to create a team for the Celebrity Esports Superstar League (yeah, that’s a thing).

The competition went live on 1st April and is looking to bridge the gap between the esports and entertainment sectors.

The team, called ‘Primark Legends’, will include Love Island star Kem Cetinay and professional footballer Chelcee Grimes, alongside a randomly selected fan. Primark Legends are the fourth team to be announced and will join six other teams competing in Celebrity Esports’s new tournament.

Other teams already announced include Grenade Squadron, Gorillas and ‘Beast Mode On’. Some of the celebrities announced for the series include UK dance group Diversity, professional boxer Tony Bellew, and footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa.

The Celebrity Esports Superstar League is gaining the attention of some big brands, and by extension, the attention of an audience outside of esports. I like the inclusion of Chelcee Grimes, who has many strings to her bow as a singer/songwriter, tv/radio presenter, and professional footballer. I hope more women are announced in the line-up as this could have significant impact in bringing esports to more young women in the UK.

More will be revealed in the coming weeks, in the meantime check out the full roster here.

Students, You’re One Step Closer to the Big Leagues!

The UK Esports League (UKEL), in collaboration with the UK League Championships (UKLC), National Students Esports (NEC) and National University Esports League (NUEL), are joining forces to present a first of its kind initiative in the UK, the Student Proving Grounds.

For many years now, the student esports scene has been thriving with the support of both NUEL and NSE. Each academic year sees a fresh cohort of talented and driven students who want to build their brand in the esports community. However, for a long time the student League of Legends scene has been somewhat disjointed from the wider UK LoL scene. This is where the Student Proving Grounds comes in.

Student Proving Grounds puts talented students on centre stage for an audience of experienced coaches and managers who have direct ties to professional and semi-professional esports organisations in the UK. From this exposure, the initiative aims to see a wider selection of student players move into the professional UK League of Legends scene.

Students are invited to apply for a proving grounds tournament that will take place at the end of April. This initiative is open to all students enrolled at a UK university and are Diamond 4 or higher in ranked solo/duo queue within the game.

This is an exciting initiative with some major players joining forces for the greater good of the grass roots UK esports. If you’re interested in finding out more then check out their post on it here.

That’s it from me folks, back to my 7-loss streak on Dota 2 – over to you Leigh!

New Releases

New Releases

Release time! And it’s a bit of a busy week.

First of all, let’s talk about Apple Arcade. Normally I don’t cover the mobile market, and Apple’s service rarely has much of note to discuss, but this past week? That was definitely not the case, as three games dropped from prestige developers and are getting rave reviews.

First up, there’s Clap Hanz Golf, which is Everybody’s Golf but without Sony’s involvement (or IP). It’s got all the cheerful cartoony charm of the Everybody’s Golf series, so if you’re looking for a fun casual golf game, it’s hard to go wrong with this. And then there’s World of Demons from Platinum Games, and it certainly looks like a game from them. It’s a big combo-heavy action game with an artstyle borrowed from the studio’s cult classic Zelda-like Okami. It looks excellent.

But the big draw, and seemingly one of the year’s best games so far if the reviews are anything to go by, is Fantasian. It’s from Mistwalker, the studio headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, best known as the man who created Final Fantasy. And that should give you an idea of what to expect from Fantasian. If you loved the SNES or PS1 era Final Fantasy titles, this looks like the game to scratch that itch while Square Enix are busy remaking Final Fantasy VII for about 12 games.

Scarlet Hood & the Wicked Wood (PC) is a visual novel/puzzle game mixture about a young woman who gets swept into a magical world and attracts the attention of a jealous witch. She has to make her way through an enchanted forest with the powers of the Red Witch, all while avoiding the wrath of the Black Witch.

Trials of Fire (PC) is a deck builder roguelike from a studio founded by two former Rocksteady employees. It’s a combination of traditional deck building elements, crossed with some XCOM-style tactical gameplay. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from something of this genre, but with a huge degree of polish.

Say No! More (PC, Switch) is a bizarre little game that could provide some catharsis for anyone who’s ever worked a mind-numbing low-level office job. You are an intern who’s had enough of being bossed around and decides to say no more. And this takes the form of stomping around and yelling “no” so forcefully furniture flies around. It’s very silly.

Cozy Grove (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a chill little game about living on an island, with daily tasks popping up in a way that makes its Animal Crossing influence obvious. However, the twist here is that the island is haunted and drained of colour, meaning that you have to help the island’s ghosts out in an attempt to bring colour back to your new home. It looks very cute.

Before Your Eyes (PC) is a unique story-driven game that takes “life flashing before your eyes” quite literally. And by that I mean the game is controlled with your eyes. Using your webcam, you progress through the game by blinking to advance through each scene. It’s an unusual control method, but an interesting one.

Lost Words: Beyond the Page (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) actually launched originally last year, but it was a Stadia exclusive, and let’s be honest, if a game released exclusively on Stadia, did it ever release at all? It’s an interesting little game though, with a story penned by Rhianna Pratchett. It’s about a girl dealing with tough times in her home life, escaping into a fantasy story that she’s writing. Half the game is set in the pages of her work, where moving words around allows access to new areas, and the other half is set in the fantasy story itself. I played a demo of this ages ago at EGX and it was a fun concept, so it’s great to see it’s finally gotten the wider release it deserves.

Nintendo may have unceremoniously killed off Mario last week, including the free title Super Mario 35, but the concept of “classic games thrust into a battle royale” style continues regardless. Pac-Man 99 (Switch) is the latest free-to-play battle royale to sit alongside the weirdly addictive Tetris 99, and as you might have guessed, it involves 99 people playing Pac-Man in a hectic race to see who survives the longest. A lot more stressful than Tetris 99 but just as addictive, I’d recommend giving it a go if you’ve got a Switch Online subscription.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week this week is Oddworld: Soulstorm, because I’m a long-time fan of the Oddworld series, so of course it is.

Ostensibly a remake of Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus from the PS1, Soulstorm is a much bigger and bolder game that’s pushing to expand the story much more. New mechanics have been added and a pseudo 3D environment promises some interesting level design. It also looks the best the series ever has, and you get the sense that Lorne Lanning and his crew are finally getting to realise their original vision now that the tech has caught up.

It’s a promising sequel to one of the best cinematic platformers ever made, and therefore it has to be Game of the Week.

And that’s it for this week! See you all again soon!

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