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Gaming Roundup – Game Industry Responds to Russian Aggression

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, the effects of the Ukraine situation on gaming, and the BAFTA nominations

Games Industry Responds to Russian Invasion of Ukraine

In non-gaming news, Russia are currently engaged in an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, citing “a special military operation” in the country allegedly designed to tackle Nazism within the country, while simultaneously bombing Holocaust memorials and maternity hospitals, undermining that claim quite extensively. It’s a horrible situation, and all our thoughts go out to the Ukrainian people in this time.

And with gaming as international as it is, the industry has had no choice but to respond to the situation. Two games have seen delays as a direct consequence of the invasion. Secret Mode’s Little Orpheus saw its release outside Apple Arcade last week halted (link) due to its protagonist being a Soviet cosmonaut, and the team felt it wasn’t appropriate in the current climate. Similarly, the remake of Advance Wars for the Switch, originally planned for next month, has been delayed (link) for the time being as its story revolves around a fictional analogue for Russia invading a neighbouring country, and Nintendo clearly felt it was in bad taste in the current climate.

Meanwhile, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has been placed on hold, although the reasons for this are much more obvious when you realise the team are based in Ukraine. Naturally, the team have prioritised the safety of their employees over development of the game, which is understandable. (link)

Elsewhere, companies are pulling out of Russia. Sony pulled Gran Turismo 7 from release in the country at the 11th hour, and have since issued a statement (link) confirming that they are also suspending the PlayStation Store and hardware shipments. Xbox have also done the same (link), and CD Projekt Red will be suspending sales of their games and closing GOG.com in the country (link), a decision that make even more sense from their perspective as this situation is happening right next door to them in Poland. Nintendo have also placed the Russian eShop in “maintenance mode”, citing an inability for their payment process to handle rubles due to international sanctions. (link) EA have also suspended sales of their games, and removed Russian teams from the FIFA and NHL titles. (link)

While normally we don’t get involved in international politics, we at Geeky Brummie nonetheless hope for a good outcome for the people of Ukraine in the wake of this needless aggression against their country. Here’s hoping things return to normal soon.

Gaming BAFTA Nominations Revealed

The British Academy of Film and Television Awards have announced the nominees for the 2022 ceremony. (link)

Big winners include Returnal and It Takes Two, which received eight nominations each, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which received seven, and Forza Horizon 5 and Psychonauts 2, which received six each.

The EE Game of the Year category, the only one voted for by the general public, sees Chicory: A Colorful Tale, Deathloop, The Forgotten City, It Takes Two, Metroid Dread and Unpacking nominated. You can make your selection here: https://ee.co.uk/why-ee/baftagames

The ceremony will be livestreamed on 7th April via Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.

Here are the full list of nominations, with my personal picks highlighted in bold:

Animation

  • Call of Duty: Vanguard
  • It Takes Two
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits
  • Life is Strange: True Colors
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Artistic Achievement

  • The Artful Escape
  • It Takes Two
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Returnal

Audio Achievement

  • The Artful Escape
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard
  • Deathloop
  • Halo Infinite
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Returnal

Best Game

  • Deathloop
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Inscryption
  • It Takes Two
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Returnal

British Game

  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
  • Death’s Door
  • Fights in Tight Spaces
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Overboard!
  • Sable

Debut Game

  • The Artful Escape
  • Eastward
  • The Forgotten City
  • Genesis Noir
  • Maquette
  • Toem

Evolving Game

  • Among Us
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
  • Apex Legends
  • Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
  • Fortnite
  • No Man’s Sky

Family

  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Mario Party Superstars
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Unpacking

Game Beyond Entertainment

  • Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
  • Before Your Eyes
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale
  • Game Builder Garage
  • It Takes Two
  • Psychonauts 2

Game Design

  • Deathloop
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Inscryption
  • It Takes Two
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Returnal

Multiplayer

  • Back 4 Blood
  • Call of Duty: Vanguard
  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Halo Infinite
  • Hell Let Loose
  • It Takes Two

Music

  • Deathloop
  • Far Cry 6
  • Halo Infinite
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Returnal

Narrative

  • It Takes Two
  • Life is Strange: True Colors
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Returnal
  • Unpacking

Original Property

  • Deathloop
  • Death’s Door
  • Inscryption
  • It Takes Two
  • Returnal
  • Unpacking

Technical Achievement

  • Forza Horizon 5
  • Hitman 3
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Returnal

Activision Blizzard Shocked to Discover Actions Have Consequences

In its annual report (link), Activision have admitted they’ve been having trouble both retaining employees and attracting new talent. Their reasons for this are cited as labour shortages, increased competition for talent and “increasing attrition”. The lawsuits over sexual harassment are merely an added complication, a footnote, in all of this, even though I would argue it’s likely to be the primary reason.

Considering that Ubisoft are also facing a similar problem with retaining and attracting talent, and have their own swathe of sexual harassment issues, it’s pretty easy to reach the conclusion that companies that protect abusers tend to discourage potential applicants. Who knew?

They also claim that the reason they’ve yet to hire more women to their board, despite California law stating they need to do so by the end of 2021, is because of the Microsoft acquisition. A process that only started in November, but Activision had three years prior to this to address the gender imbalance. Which is an interesting excuse, let’s see how that works for them.

Elsewhere in Activision news, the Wall Street Journal are reporting (link) that the US Justice Department and SEC are now also investigating the company over alleged insider trading too. Three men – media mogul Barry Diller, his stepson Alexander von Furstenberg and famed music industry exec David Geffen – are all accused of purchasing Activision stocks a day before Microsoft’s purchase effectively doubled their investment.

Diller denies the accusation, claiming it’s a “crazy coincidence” but their connections to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has raised questions about how much of a coincidence that truly is.

You know, I’m starting to suspect EA might not be the worst company in the industry right now…

New Releases

New Releases

Missing a week means that, oh god, we have so many new releases to cover.

If you’re looking for an action indie, you have many options from the last two weeks. Hero’s Hour (PC) is a chaotic strategy RPG with massive pixel armies waging war on one another. Core Keeper (PC) is a mining sandbox game as you and some friends seek out an ancient Core. Have a Nice Death (PC) is a roguelike sidescroller where a wildly overworked Death takes out some of his frustrations on his unruly employees. Young Souls (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a 2D brawler crossed with an action RPG about two twins set out to save their dad. And finally, Aztech: Forgotten Gods (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a 3D action game about an Aztec woman setting out to wield the power of the gods.

For something a bit more sedate, there are plenty of options there too. A Musical Story (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a rhythm-based narrative game about a man rediscovering his memories through music. No Place Like Home (PC) is a game about rebuilding a post-apocalyptic world through farming, emerging from Early Access this week. Submerged: Hidden Depths (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a “relaxporation” game about two friends exploring the aquatic ruins of a lost civilisation. And Far: Changing Tides (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is…basically the same concept, only with a more complex ship and in 2.5D.

Square Enix have been busy these two weeks too. Babylon’s Fall (PC, PlayStation) is their Platinum-developed live service game that has *checks notes* failed spectacularly because no one wanted Platinum to make a live service game. Good job, lads.

Chocobo GP (Switch) is the sequel to Chocobo Racing, arriving after only 23 years. It’s Mario Kart if it starred chibi versions of Final Fantasy characters, basically. Be warned though, I’m hearing a few reports of excessive microtransactions and bizarre season pass shenanigans.

Triangle Strategy (Switch) is Square’s most exciting release these past two weeks though. If Octopath Traveler is classic Final Fantasy, Triangle Strategy is Final Fantasy Tactics, combining the aesthetics of Octopath with grid-based battles of the strategy RPG genre. A lot of tactics are built around the three values that factor into your decisions – morality, liberty and utility. There’s a lot of positive buzz around this one, so if you like your tactical RPGs, this one’s for you!

Big hitter of the past two weeks is the return of Sony’s racing juggernaut in Gran Turismo 7 (PlayStation), which I’m honestly surprised actually released on time. Expect the usual gloriously pretentious presentations of lavish cars and an encyclopaedia of racing history. But you can’t throw a Mini off a mountain so I’m not quite tearing myself away from Forza to play this one.

Games of the Weeks

Two Games of the Week this week, one of which was intended to be last week’s pick. Shadow Warrior 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox) is the latest edition of Devolver Digital’s reboot of the goofy 90s shooter. Based on all accounts, this game is full of ludicrous Doom 2016 nonsense and a protagonist full of wisecracks. It looks like ridiculous fun so Game of Last Week it is.

This week’s Game of the Week is RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (PC, Xbox), a small Japanese indie title with a lot of support from Microsoft. You take part in an epic adventure staged entirely within a schoolboy’s notebook. I’ve been looking forward to this one since its reveal at an Xbox E3 showcase a few years back, due to its charming presentation and brilliant art design. Definitely worth checking out.

And that’s it for this week! See you again soon for more gaming news and releases!

 

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