Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Activision, FIFA, Animal Crossing and more!
FIFA and EA Fall Out
EA appear to have had a falling out with FIFA, the governing football body whose license is used for, well, the FIFA series.
With rising concerns about the nature of the franchise’s Ultimate Team mode, where players are encouraged to shell out tons of money on lootboxes to get the players they want, it’s possible to assume that FIFA have been getting cold feet at working with that level of greed in future.
But no, because if you think EA are money-hungry, let me introduce you to FIFA, an organisation taken to court in 2015 over serious corruption charges. In fact, the dispute between them may involve FIFA asking for $1bn for the next World Cup cycle in licensing fees, along with restrictions on how much money EA can make out of the deal. EA are refusing to pay this.
Instead, they may go their separate ways, with a trademark already registered for “EA Sports FC”. This is unlikely to affect a lot of the licensing within the game, however, as the games have separate deals with UEFA and the footballers’ union FIFPro, so player likenesses are likely to remain intact.
It’s unclear where FIFA would take the rights instead, so this looks like a story set to develop quite a bit. And look at me, I wrote a thing about football adjacent stuff and made it sound like I know what I’m talking about!
Activision Fires Staff
The ongoing issues around Activision Blizzard continue.
This week, Activision have announced that 20 staff members have been let go from the company following the multiple lawsuits alleging serious misconduct around sexual harassment and discrimination.
Chief compliance officer and former torture enthusiast Frances Townsend made the announcement, welcoming the reports from workers and promising to take every step necessary to address these issues in future. Townsend had previously stated that the claims were “a distorted and untrue picture of our company” and tweeted out a vaguely threatening article about whistleblowers, which is no longer available as she has since deleted her Twitter account.
Of course, no one from the executive level has faced punishment for their involvement in the allegations detailed in the lawsuits against the company, including CEO Bobby Kotick, who has been previously named in one of the lawsuits from the SEC. Which is interesting.
There are still a lot of legal entanglements going on around Activision lately, and it’s not clear if things will see much change any time soon.
Animal Crossing Update
In happier news, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is set to receive a massive new update, set to be the final significant update for the game. But this is such a hefty one, it’s unlikely people will notice for a while.
Here’s what to expect:
– Brewster, fan favourite café owner, is back, serving up coffee and vibes once more
– Boat captain Kapp’n is also back, now taking you on island tours full of new flora and fauna
– Harvey’s Island, mostly home to a slightly creepy photo mansion, is now a new space to host permanent shops, so you no longer need to wait for a month for Redd to show up again
– New things to dig up, specifically Gyroid items from previous games
– Farming and cooking, allowing you to plant a variety of vegetables and use them in a range of recipes, allowing you to turn Animal Crossing into Harvest Moon if you so wish
– More storage
– More K.K. Slider songs
It’s a lot, and it’s not all, because Nintendo’s recent Animal Crossing Direct also announced a paid DLC expansion, which is also hefty.
Entitled Happy Home Paradise, it’s clearly an attempt to bring the home customisation of 3DS title Happy Home Designer into New Horizons. You can fly out to a special archipelago where you can take custom requests from villagers to build their dream home.
In order to do this, a bunch of in-depth customisation options will be added, and what’s more, those options can now be used on your home island too, allowing you to properly partition rooms, change lighting and add special soundscapes for both you and your neighbours.
I’ve fallen off Animal Crossing quite considerably over the past year, but these new updates look likely to pull me back in. Best get some weeding done!
God of War Coming to PC
The latest Sony exclusive game to get a PC release is 2018’s God of War, aka Dad of Boy. Arriving in January, the port brings a whole bunch of graphical options and ultra-wide screen support to the excellent hack n slash grumpy father simulator.
It follows stablemates Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone and Uncharted in getting a PC release, showing a stark shift in PlayStation’s priorities. The purchase of PC port experts Nixxes a few months ago suggests there is even more to come. And why not? Many of these titles have had a hugely successful run on their home platform, so bringing them to PC provides them a new lease of life with a fresh audience. But of course, the fanboys do not see it this way.
It’s also notable that Horizon and God of War are coming to PC with sequels on the way. Sony trying to convince the PC crowd to shell out for a PS5, perhaps?
There have been a couple of notable deaths in the Japanese development community these past few weeks. The first of these was Koichi Sugiyama, who died aged 90 a couple of weeks ago.
Best known for his work as the music composer for the Dragon Quest franchise, his compositions have been hugely influential across the industry in bringing orchestral quality tunes to the humble NES (they, of course, did not sound particularly orchestrated at the time). However, he was also a controversial figure, with statements against the LGBT community and in favour of war crimes committed by Japan in the Second World War. Which has meant his death has attracted a mixture of mourning and celebration, which is unfortunate.
The second death was the less controversial Mr Dotman, aka Hiroshi Ono. He was a pixel artist best known for his work on arcade classics such as Galaga, Dig Dug, Xevious and Mappy, along with cabinet artwork for the likes of Pac-Man. Tributes came from across the industry, including Namco colleague and Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada and Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro. A sad loss for anyone who’s ever played a classic Namco arcade game at some point (which, let’s face it, is probably most of us).
In new releases this week, we start with Tandem: A Tale of Shadows (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One), a puzzle platformer with a twist – you switch perspectives. You play as a girl named Emma and her teddy bear, who each have different gameplay styles blended together. Emma moves in a top-down environment, while her bear exists in a 2D platformer overlaid onto her plane. Each character must use the environment to help each other progress. It’s an interesting concept and a bold art style.
They Always Run (PC) is a stylish, fast-paced action platformer starring a three-armed mutant bounty hunter. Heavily story-driven, the game is a space western in a gritty universe full of glorious cityscapes and ruined civilizations, full of crime and corruption. Looks neat!
Fans of dark fantasy have a couple of options this week. Disciples: Liberation (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a turn-based RPG full of factions and complex moral choices. Boasting 80 hours of content and the possibility of recruiting more than 50 units to your party, this feels like a game for the serious CRPG fan.
Sands of Aura (PC) is an action adventure set in a world buried beneath the sands, crossing the tough combat of Dark Souls with the dungeon crawling of Diablo, with a few twists of its own, such as a vast sea of sand you cut through in vehicles, and a home base where you can welcome refugees of this harsh world. And how appropriate that a fantasy game about a sand-based world releases in the same week as Dune’s latest adaptation, so if you’re off to see that, you might want to look into this too.
As we’re a week away from spook time, it’s only right we start seeing the horror game creep in. Into the Pit (PC, Xbox One) is a roguelite FPS with the fast-paced gameplay of Doom, only you wield a vast array of dark magic instead of shotguns. You are a mystic sent to save a cursed village from demonic invasion. It looks perfect for those who finished Doom Eternal and have been looking for something to scratch that itch again.
Undying (PC) is a survival game in a zombie apocalypse, but with a twist. You play as a mother who has been bitten and now has limited time before she joins the ranks of the undead, and in that remaining time she needs to teach her son the skills he will need to survive without her. You know this one’s going to be tragic.
And the final horror themed title this week (before Game of the Week at least) is the latest in Supermassive’s narrative anthology series. Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is set in the middle east, where a military unit unearth an ancient Sumerian temple, now finding themselves trapped in a dark labyrinth. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the series at this point, with narrative choices and dark consequences. Also, the celebrity guest lead this time is Ashley Tisdale, in case you were wondering.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Inscryption (PC), the latest from Pony Island developer Daniel Mullins.
On the surface, it’s a card battler, but just like how Pony Island was never really just an endless runner, there’s a lot more to this too. The card battles are against a demonic figure in the darkness, and elements from escape rooms and other horror games are woven into the narrative.
If it’s anything like Pony Island, expect a lot of fourth wall breaking and even more narrative twists than you know what to do with. I have no idea how this will play, but it’s almost certainly going to be a fascinating experience, which is why it’s Game of the Week.
And that’s all for now! See you next week with more news and releases!