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Gaming Roundup – E3 Approaches

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, the E3 schedule is finalised and a tiny console is on the horizon.

Full E3 Schedule

It’s E3 weekend this week! This means four solid days of video game announcements to get overhyped about and then be really disappointed when reality didn’t match your expectations.

That said, as someone who never goes into these things with expectations, I still love the excitement around the E3 reveal weekend. It’s a time to come together to celebrate upcoming games and get excited for new things on the horizon.

E3 this year takes the form of an exclusive industry portal app and numerous publisher-driven live streams. And because there are so many, here is a list of what to expect. Not all of these shows are officially part of E3, but they’re around the same time and it’s more game announcements, so I’ve included them.

Here’s what to expect, with times in BST (since we’re a British site):

  • 11th June, 8pm: Koch Primetime (publishers of Saints Row & Metro, although both franchises are confirmed not to be there)
  • 12th June, 4pm: Guerrilla Collective (indie showcase)
  • 12th June, 6pm: Wholesome Direct (indie showcase, with an emphasis on cute, cosy aesthetics)
  • 12th June, 8pm: Ubisoft Forward (expect more open world tedium and a lack of acknowledgement of their deeds)
  • 12th June, 9:30pm: Devolver Digital (expect something akin to an Adult Swim Infomercial, but possibly Shadow Warrior 3 might get a release date somewhere in the middle)
  • 12th June, 10pm: Gearbox (expect Borderlands)
  • 13th June, 6pm: Xbox & Bethesda Showcase (together at last!)
  • 13th June, 8:15pm: Square Enix Presents (looks set to focus on their Western franchises again, so best not to expect news on FF16)
  • 13th June, 10:30pm: PC Gaming Show
  • 14th June, midnight: Future Games Show (may follow directly on from PC Gaming Show)
  • 14th June, 10:30pm: Capcom (expect news on Resident Evil and Ace Attorney, apparently)
  • 15th June, 5pm: Nintendo Direct (immediately followed by a detailed Treehouse Live stream and the tears of people who didn’t get the character they wanted in Smash Bros)
  • 15th June, 10:25pm: Bandai Namco (expect more details on titles such as Tales of Arise and Scarlet Nexus, since Elden Ring got a showcase at Summer Games Fest last night)

Summer Games Fest also kicked off last night, but due to the timing of the event, I can’t give you a comprehensive breakdown of what was announced. That’s for next week!

All in all, should be a fun show. I’ll have edited highlights of my reactions to the news on YouTube next week, so keep an eye out for that, and of course I will be providing more info in next week’s E3-focused roundup and the next episode of the Geeky Brummie podcast.

Resident Thievil

Capcom are currently being sued for copyright infringement over alleged use of a photographer’s work without permission.

The lawsuit, filed in Connecticut last week, alleges that numerous photographs from Judy Juracek’s 1996 book Surfaces have been used in various Resident Evil titles without permission of Juracek herself. The lawsuit can be seen here.

The lawsuit provides plenty of evidence to back up its claims. One notable example is a shattered glass pattern Juracek photographed in Italy, which is seemingly used as a texture for the Resident Evil 4 logo. Similarly, an interior mansion door, which Juracek claims is not in a public place, can be seen in the same game. Even more damning, one file revealed in Capcom’s ransomware leak last year has the same filename as one in the CD-ROM that accompanies Juracek’s book.

Capcom have not made any comment to this lawsuit, but the evidence is convincing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in court.

Ubisoft Moving to Hybrid Working

Ubisoft have announced that they will be looking to move to a hybrid work structure as the Covid-19 pandemic shows signs of winding down.

In an email to their staff, which got leaked by Jason Schreier of Bloomberg and then officially released by Ubisoft themselves, they confirmed that they will be making concessions towards remote work going forward.

But.

Instead of an employee-led system where remote working becomes a choice for staff depending on what works best for this, this will be a top-down decision, where management will decide who works full-time in the office and who gets remote options.

Ubisoft’s approach feels flawed, with the top-down nature of it seemingly ignoring what has worked best for employees in the past year, and with Ubisoft’s questionable management in the past, I’m pessimistic about how this will be organised. You’d think giving employees a choice in this matter would help deal with some of the issues around the sexual abuse they protected for years, but apparently it’s not an option they’ve considered.

Compare this to Square Enix, whose hybrid model will be offering employees a regular choice between mostly home or mostly office, requiring a majority of the week worked from which of the two they choose, and you begin to see the flaws in Ubisoft’s approach here.

There are likely to be numerous debates around the issues of remote work in coming months as life begins to get back to normal. There are pros and cons either way, and this is why I personally feel an employee-led strategy offering choice and flexibility is the way forward. It’ll be interesting to see how other video game companies manage this as offices reopen.

More Playdate Details

The Playdate, a bizarre handheld console with a crank and a black and white screen, got more details this week, including its price and game library.

If you missed the original announcement, the Playdate is a curious little device that promises a unique gaming experience. It’s deliberately not trying to join the console arms race, and instead is offering a place for indie developers to make quirky small games to be played on the go. And can use a crank.

The first batch of games released for the Playdate will be released twice a week for 12 weeks, giving you a gradual selection of 24 games to play. These will include games from Keita Takahashi of Katamari fame, Lucas Pope of Papers Please and Obra Dinn fame, and Bennett Foddy, who made the YouTuber favourite Getting Over It. And if that sounds like a delightfully weird bunch, it is, because that’s what Playdate is going for. You can also make your own games for Playdate using a web browser app called Pulp.

The team also announced a stereo dock, which the Playdate magnetically attaches to, and contains a charger, Bluetooth speaker and a…pen holder? Okay. And yes, they made a pen to go with it because of course they are.

This is a bizarre little system that’s not necessarily going to set the world on fire, but it’s going to do some wonderful inventive things all the same. And for that, I welcome it. I hope it does well. Even if it is a little pricey for $175.

And now, here’s Mat with a quick esports update!

BMet College Win FIFA Cup 2021

Hello friends! Huge news this week as Birmingham Metropolitan College raise the victory cup for the Xbox division of The AoC Sport FIFA Cup 2021!

Birmingham Metropolitan College was represented by George Handsaker, Daniel Day and Miles Nethercot – who was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) by British Esports for not losing a single game in the tournament. Each player had several matches against the rival colleges and academies, with their scores being tallied to give the whole team their fixture.

BMet dominated the grand final winning 9 – 0 against Tyne Met College. This follows an unprecedented performance throughout the competition. They managed to not drop a single fixture throughout the group stage and emerged top of their group (group 7) with 15 points and a guaranteed ticket into the playoffs.

The team continued their hot streak in the playoffs, winning against Bolton Sixth Form College before losing a hard-fought match up against last year’s winners Priestley College. That didn’t stop them though as they went on to win 6 out of 9 games to secure their spot in the finals.

Riding the high, BMet stormed into the finals with an undefeated winning streak which ended in stomp over Tyne Met College, not dropping a single game to triumph 9-0 in the final.

This tournament follows on from the hugely successful FIFA Lockdown Championships in 2020 and featured 52 colleges from across the country competing in weekly fixtures from March to May, with 41 teams competing in the Xbox One tournament and 38 teams in the PlayStation 4 tournament.

BMet shared their crown with Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College who won the Playstation tournament.

AoC Sport is the membership organisation for colleges, leading the development of sport and physical activity in 16+ education. The AoC Sport FIFA 21 Cup was in partnership with the British Esports Association.

With students continuing to learn from home, the AoC Sport FIFA 21 Cup offered a great opportunity for them to stay connected and represent their institution on a national level. This is an immensely proud moment for Birmingham and George, Daniel and Miles all deserve a massive pat on the back.

Leigh here again. Thanks, Mat! He has also promised details on upcoming League of Legends tournaments in separate posts so make sure to keep an eye on the site for those soon! And now, onto the new releases!

New Releases

New Releases

In re-releases this week, the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection brings a bunch of Ninja Gaiden titles to modern systems. And by Ninja Gaiden, I mean the Xbox 360 era games, since the collection contains Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, all known for their notoriously hard difficulty. You can now bring that challenge to PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One in one handy collection.

And then Final Fantasy VII Remake comes to PS5 in the form of Intergrade, which contains a next-gen upgrade of the excellent FF7 Remake alongside a DLC episode entitled INTERmission, starring clumsy ninja and master Materia thief Yuffie Kisaragi. Sadly this extra episode isn’t available for existing owners of FF7R, but if you have a PS5, the upgrade is free for those who already own the game. Which is nice.

In small indie releases, Ynglet (PC) saw a surprise release at the weekend, which is a floaty hand-drawn puzzle game. One Hand Clapping (PC) is a quirky little platformer controlled by singing into your microphone. And Wave Break (PC, Switch) is a bizarre 80s-tinged hybrid of speedboat racing and skateboarding (your speedboat is the skateboard…no really).

One notable indie release I think needs your attention is Backbone (PC), a noir point-and-click adventure starring a cynical alcoholic badger named Howard. I played a demo of this a while back, and was struck by how good its pixelated art style looked, and how solid its writing was. A grim, moody world full of bustling urban environments and a story full of twists and turns, Backbone promises to be a great little noir adventure.

Chivalry II (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is the long-awaited sequel to medieval hack n slash battler Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Expect plenty of limb-chopping, head throwing and plenty of improvised weaponry in 64-player battles that pit warring knight factions against one another.

Guilty Gear: Strive (PC, PlayStation) is the latest in Arc System Works’ beloved fighting game franchise, which I mostly know as the one with a character called “Sol Badguy”. It’s got a bonkers storyline, plenty of over-the-top special attacks and flashy anime visuals, and this time with a greater push for accessibility in an attempt to bring in new fans.

Indie Game of the Week

This is a new, infrequent feature I’ll be bringing in going forward. My goal with Game of the Week is to always try and highlight an interesting and unusual smaller game that might otherwise get overlooked. But then there are some weeks where I feel I have to give a bigger game the title for one reason or another. So to offset that, when that happens (like this week), I’ll be highlighting a specific indie title to check out as well.

This week, that game is Chicory: A Colorful Tale (PC, PlayStation). It’s a top down adventure game starring a dog with a magic paintbrush setting out to bring colour to a world in dire need of it. Some of the staff on this game worked on Wandersong, Night in the Woods and Celeste, so it’s already working with an excellent pedigree. (Seriously, play Celeste)

It looks adorable and promises some fun times with its central painting mechanics, and the soundtrack is almost certainly going to be gorgeous since Lena Raine is behind it, so for all that, it’s the Indie Game of the Week.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week overall this week is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, or as I know it, the first game that makes me desperately wish I owned a PS5.

The Ratchet & Clank series has always been excellent, and this new title looks set to be a return to form after a few weird multiplayer experiments and a remake hampered by the storytelling from the dire movie adaptation. It’s promising more ridiculous weaponry across a galaxy that’s now going to feel smaller thanks to dimensional rift that allow easy hopping between planets. Plus a new playable character named Rivet that’s already won people over even before people have seen her in action.

And from all accounts it’s a visual treat too, and one that shows off what the PS5 can do. Trailers are promising the series’ aim to become a playable animated movie is now fully realised.

I am excited to play this, but getting a PS5 isn’t easy right now, and that makes me sad. I will instead be jealous of everyone who gets to play this right now.

And that’s it for this week! See you next week with a massive E3 news special!

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