Hello! Another week, another roundup, and I sometimes wish the games industry would space its announcements better.
Lots of small announcements last week, and all the announcements in the world this week. In this edition, we talk Star Wars, PlayStation 5, Capcom Home Arcade, Smash Bros, and all the latest releases as always!
THERE REALLY WILL BE A SINGLE PLAYER STAR WARS GAME
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been quite a bit of news on the ol’ Star Wars front lately, with the Internet alive with speculation about the Rise of Skywalker trailer. But that’s not all that got announced at Star Wars Celebration this year. Turns out EA have avoided cancelling yet another Star Wars game, as Jedi: Fallen Order is on its way later this year.
A teaser trailer was shown off at the event, introducing us to player character Cal Kestis, a padawan who survived Order 66. While it’s not clear how the game will play, we got a good sense of the world the game will inhabit, as well as a glimpse at an obvious villain, and a possible ally.
Vince Zampella of Respawn, who are working on the title, has confirmed that the game will be a pure single-player experience with no microtransactions or tacked-on multiplayer. It’s a damning statement of the industry that these are considered selling points now, but it’s good to get the confirmation. Not that it’s helped much with trust, as much of the reaction has been “it looks good, but it’s still an EA game and I expect the worst now.” Hopefully it defies these expectations.
More details are sure to come out in the next few months, and the game itself is set to launch on the 15th November this year.
SONY REVEAL FIRST DETAILS OF THE PS5
After furious speculation across the Internet, Sony have revealed the first details of the PlayStation 5. In an interview with Wired magazine, hardware designer Mark Cerny gave some of the initial technical background. You can read the full interview for details, but the most notable bits are that the console is likely to use a solid-state drive, and will have backwards compatibility with PS4 games.
The use of SSDs is significant, because Cerny states that it comes from a desire to reduce loading times as much as physically possible. His mention of fast travel caught my attention, especially as my recent playthrough of Shadow of the Tomb Raider was mired by fast travel that was far from fast, so knowing Sony are determined to reduce this kind of thing in future is a big deal. How well it’ll work long term remains to be seen, but it’s an exciting development.
The PS4 compatibility is a big deal too. With the PS4 itself having no backwards compatibility at all, for Sony to just outright say games will play across systems is huge. This will be due to similar hardware between the two systems, rather than the vastly different architecture between PS3 and PS4. Hopefully this will reduce the need for constant remasters next generation, but I’m not going to get my hopes up too much here.
Other notable information includes the confirmation that the PS5 will still use physical media despite theories it would be all-digital, and the complete dismissal of a 2019 release, as has also been theorised.
It’s not clear when more will be known about the PS5, but considering the sudden left-field announcement of these details, it’s perhaps best to not try and predict when more details will happen.
UBISOFT SUPPORT NOTRE DAME
Outside of gaming, you may have heard about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris which has destroyed a large portion of the historical building. Thankfully, there were no casualties and much of the artwork has been saved, but it’s clear that history had been lost through the incident.
While French billionaires donate huge sums of money and the French government seek out plans for rebuilding, an unlikely source of help has arrived. Ubisoft have announced a €500,000 donation towards the cathedral, but also have offered up Assassin’s Creed: Unity for free on Uplay.
This may look like a cynical marketing ploy, but considering Ubisoft’s dedication to recreating historical places in the Assassin’s Creed games, it’s an interesting alternative to seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral while it rebuilds. After all, the cathedral was recreated in painstaking details within the game, so climbing around its rafters in a virtual space is almost as good as seeing the real thing for now. Which is pretty cool.
ADAPTATION NEWS GALORE!
In video game adaptation news, three stories popped up this week. First up, the Alicia Vikander Tomb Raider movie, based on the 2013 game, will be getting a sequel. It’s unknown if this will be based on Rise of the Tomb Raider, the direct video game sequel to TR ’13, but what is known is its lead writer. Amy Jump, known for Free Fire and A Field in England, has been hired to write the script this time around. As a TR fan who never saw the last movie due to not thinking it looked very good, hopefully this one might turn out a bit more interesting.
Microsoft’s long-awaited Halo TV series has seen some movement this week, with Showtime confirming the lead actor. Pablo Schrieber, currently known for playing Mad Sweeney in American Gods, will be playing Master Chief and not, as I initially misread, Master Chef. The only other detail about the show so far is that there will be a new character, a teenager, who seemingly may end up working with Master Chief. That’s all that’s known for now, but more details should be out as production progresses.
Finally, Netflix have confirmed that their Witcher series will be coming in Q4 this year, although no specific date was announced. This narrows it down considerably though, so keep an eye out this winter if you’re looking forward to seeing Henry Cavill as Geralt.
JOKER STEALS THE SHOW IN SMASH BROS
Nintendo finally announced the release of Persona 5’s Joker in Super Smash Bros Ultimate this week, along with gameplay footage and stage details at long last. And the release date is…yesterday, actually! The trailer released Wednesday and was followed a day later by the release of Joker and Update 3.0, which added a Stage Builder and sharing functions to the game as well.
And of course, I jumped on that immediately. Joker’s moveset is speedy and loaded with tricks, and his moveset switches between two forms – a standard form, and a powered-up form with the help of his Persona, Arsene. He comes with a stage, based on the recurring subway dungeon of Persona 5, Mementos. The stage can change appearance based on the music selection, changing to blue or yellow for Persona 3 or 4 tracks respectively.
And I’m in love with all of it. There has been a lot of love put into the character and the Persona representation in general, and I’ve been having a great time playing around with it all. Joker, his stage and its associated music, are all available now from the eShop for £5.99, or as part of the Fighters Pass, which gets you the next four DLC packs as well, for £22.49.
CAPCOM BRING THE ARCADE HOME
First there was the NES and SNES Mini systems. Then there was the PlayStation Mini. Soon we’ll be getting the Mega Drive Mini. And now, Capcom have announced their own plug and play machine loaded with classic games. It’s called the Capcom Home Arcade and contains 16 classic Capcom arcade titles. These include Street Fighter II, Darkstalkers and Ghouls n Ghosts, with the full list on the official website.
There’s just one problem. The design of the actual machine is…the Capcom logo. It’s a dual arcade stick, allowing for 2-player gamers, but the entire thing is shaped like the Capcom logo. And it looks odd. I understand they wanted strong branding but it just looks a bit silly.
AND ANOTHER THING
A few more quick stories for you:
– Microsoft have revealed the newest Xbox One model, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which doesn’t have a disc drive, and shows just how much gaming has shifted to digital-only releases for this to be a viable business model. It’ll cost £199 and be out in May
– Much-loved Switch JRPG Octopath Traveler is making the leap to PC in June, so you can play it even without Nintendo’s machine
– The director of Final Fantasy XV has announced that his next game, released independently, will be called The Pegasus Dream Tour and will be about the Paralympics. It’s likely to be a mobile release.
Quite a few new games this week. First up, there’s My Time at Portia, which saw a console release this week. It’s been on Steam for a while, but this week, the PS4, Xbox One and Switch got to play this crafting and farming game. Think a 3D Stardew Valley but with more city building. It also has a bear in a bathrobe, and who doesn’t want that?
Speaking of city building, the latest in the Anno series came out this week. Anno 1800 sees the series return to a historical setting after the past two sci-fi themed entries, and introduces a blueprint mechanic that allows for better planning than most city builders.
Then there’s Heaven’s Vault, which is an indie game about archaeology. But this isn’t Tomb Raider or Uncharted, this sees you putting pieces of disparate information together to unravel the mysteries of an ancient otherworldly culture. It’s been getting some rave reviews for its uniqueness, but I’ll admit I’m not a fan of its presentation, particularly in its sparse animation. But if you can look past that, unlike me, then it could be an interesting look if you’re after something a bit more relaxed.
World War Z was an excellent novel, but suffered a mediocre Brad Pitt movie adaptation that used basically none of the source material. That theme continues this week, with an equally tangential video game bearing the name. World War Z, the game, is basically just Left 4 Dead with less charm and larger crowds of zombies. But hey, if you’re desperate for yet another zombie shooter, then maybe it’s worth a look?
And finally, Game of the Week time! This week I am happy to hand it to a game that I’ve been waiting for, and finally entered Early Access this week. That game is Dreams, Media Molecule’s latest attempt to get people being creative with video games, and I’m totally on board as I always am with their games. This leans a lot more heavily on the creation aspects than LittleBigPlanet did, and my experience with it so far (some of which I put on YouTube!) suggests it needs a little bit of getting used to, but it still has that Media Molecule charm. Will most likely put up a larger post about my thoughts on once I’ve played round with it a little more.
And that’s it for this week! You can find me for further gaming chat on YouTube and Twitter, as always, and as you read this, I should be at Insomnia at the NEC with the rest of the team! Tonight is also, finally, our Batman 1966 screening, and I hope to see you all there! And then I shall see you back here next week for more gaming news and releases!