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Gaming Roundup – Everything is Broken

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week: Bethesda, Google and Blizzard are all being terrible, every game has been delayed, and WWE is broken. But there’s also a cartoon skeleton, so it’s not all bad.

BETHESDA SUBSCRIPTION FACES SOME MAJOR FALLOUT

Remember Fallout 76? Remember how it was supposed to have added NPCs right about now, until they delayed it to next year? Well, good news everyone! Bethesda have decided to address these concerns of them releasing an unfinished game by charging you even more money for it. Wait, that’s not good news at all…

Yes, Bethesda’s latest galaxy brain move is that the best way to encourage people back to their ailing live service is to charge extra for it. They’ll be charging £11.99 a month or a BARGAIN price of £100 for a year. Wait, not a bargain. The other one.

Quite why they think this is a good idea is beyond me. Deals to make things cheaper are usually the way companies entice customers in, not charge more for something they’re already showing no interest in. Naturally, the reaction has ranged from mocking laughter to anger, with no one seeming all that keen to stump up a cool hundred for the chance to wander through an empty and occasionally hostile wilderness. Weird.

The timing is interesting too, considering what came out this week. More on that later.

STADIA’S GUARANTEED DAY ONE ACCESS IS NOT A GUARANTEE

Speaking of inexplicable business decisions, let’s talk about Google’s Ouya, better known as Stadia. Two separate stories this week have presented this as quite possibly the worst games system launch since the last time Phil Harrison was involved in a system launch.

First of all, there’s news that the special Stadia wireless controller isn’t going to be wireless unless you’re using a Chromecast device for your TV. It’s a weird problem since Bluetooth-enabled controllers (which is, well, all of them) work perfectly fine with PC and mobile already. This is because Google’s controller doesn’t use Bluetooth to connect; it uses wi-fi instead. This is to present a “seamless” transition between playing on your TV and then moving to your laptop, but since you’ll need to dig around for a USB-C cable in order to do this, it doesn’t appear to be very seamless right now.

Oh, and also, if you pre-ordered the Founder’s Edition so that you’d get guaranteed day one access to Stadia, then you’re misguided. Google won’t be able to meet all the orders for the physical components for their seamless, easily-accessible digital streaming service in time. You see, the controller and the Chromecast device that come as part of the Founder’s Edition are going to take some time to manufacture, so they’ll be sending them out on a first-come, first-served basis. This also goes for the access codes, which will only be emailed over once the physical components have been manufactured. Again, I want to reiterate, this is for a service advertised as seamless, easily accessible and freely available.

POLITICIANS ARE UPSET ABOUT VIDEO GAMES (BUT THIS TIME IT’S OK)

Two separate stories have emerged this week about politicians intervening on issues surrounding video games. Unlike the past, where politicians have waded in to discuss how video games are corrupting the youth and destroying the fabric of society, this time they might have a point.

Over in the US, politicians of all stripes wrote a letter to Blizzard condemning them for their behaviour surrounding the suspension of Blitzchung and their business dealings in China. The politicians signing the letter included Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, two politicians who couldn’t be further apart politically if they tried. At this point, if you’re uniting the Democrats and Republicans on an issue, then you’ve really messed up somewhere. Blizzard have yet to respond to this letter.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, the Children’s Commissioner has released a report urging the government to update gambling laws to include lootboxes and other gambling-like mechanics within video games. Reasons cited include a quote from a Fortnite player describing being mocked for using default equipment, and the argument that protections against child gambling exist outside the virtual world so they should exist within it too. It’s a fair report that also raises issues of children being the victims of scams and cyberbullying, while also acknowledging the benefits of social gaming on children.

Of course, this isn’t legislation, but it’s yet another step towards regulating this stuff once and for all.

NOTHING IS GETTING RELEASED ON TIME

Every game in the world has been delayed.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But there were two significant announcements of delayed games within minutes of each other yesterday, and hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come.

The Last of Us Part II, stated mere weeks ago that it would be out in late February, will now be coming out in late May instead. Naughty Dog put a statement on the PlayStation blog that the game was almost done but needed a little extra polish to meet their standards. Crucially, they didn’t want to work their staff into the ground to do so, resulting in the delay we see now. So it’s hard to be upset by this.

Ubisoft, meanwhile, have delayed every game in their roster, and it’s all because of those meddling critics not liking Tom Clancy’s Breakpoint. CEO Yves Guillemot stated that due to Breakpoint’s poor performance, they revised their predictions for the financial year down, and pushed Watch Dogs: Legion, Gods & Monsters and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Quarantine out of that window to add extra polish and avoid the same mistakes. Now, this is fine, but it does raise questions about what state those games were being planned to release in before Breakpoint scuppered all their plans. Still, at least they’ve acknowledged where they went wrong instead of charging forward like a train on fire (hint hint, Bethesda).

NEW RELEASES

Couple of big AAA releases this week. First up is WWE 2K20 for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, for the wrestling fans out there. However, no matter how much you’re into WWE, it might be worth waiting for this one, or giving it a miss entirely, judging by…well, all of this nonsense. Oh dear.

Speaking of annual releases, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is also out for PC, PS4 and Xbox. If you’re still playing Call of Duty at this point, go nuts. If you really don’t care, then I doubt this will convince you otherwise. Basically, it’s Call of Duty. You already know where you stand on this.

One small release buried amongst the titans this week is Crossroads Inn on PC, where you can run a fantasy tavern. It’s one part management sim and one part narrative choice game. On one hand you have to manage your staff, stock and other important elements of tavern management, like SimCity but on a smaller scale. But then within that, adventurers, political figures and shady types will frequent your tavern, and their interactions open up a wider story you can interact with. It seems like a really cool idea for anyone who’s ever played DnD and wondered what the tavernkeeper gets up to while they’re out adventuring.

If Ryan was writing these, the Game of the Week would be The Outer Worlds, currently available for PC, PS4, Xbox One and a Switch release on the way. It’s Obsidian making a new RPG in space, where you’re battling against a society ruled by ruthless corporations. Basically, it’s Fallout New Vegas in space, and considering the story I led with this week, there’s very much a market for a new classic Fallout style game. Side note: The Outer Worlds is available for the one-off price of roughly £50 (as you’d expect), or it’s part of the Game Pass subscription of £7.99/month, which also includes New Vegas. Just in case you needed some price comparison against some other news this week.

GAME OF THE WEEK

My Game of the Week choice this week isn’t The Outer Worlds, it’s the remake of MediEvil on PS4. Mainly because I adored the original back on the PS1. It’s about Sir Daniel Fortesque, a knight who went down in history as a hero despite instantly dying in battle to an arrow in the eye. He’s been resurrected for a chance to prove himself and take down the dark sorcerer who killed him in the first place.

MediEvil back on the PS1 had a brilliant Burton-esque aesthetic flavoured with a dollop of British humour. It saw Sir Dan traverse through a series of weird and wonderful levels, fighting off the forces of darkness with a range of weapons including a magical chicken drumstick and his own arm. This remake looks like it’s bringing back all of this, giving a polished-up yet faithful rendition of the classic adventure. And what’s more, it’s a perfect game for this time of year, as you play a skeleton who at one point fights a pumpkin. What more do you need?

And that’s it for now! See you next week with more news and releases from the gaming world!