New job listings at Supermassive Games, developer of Until Dawn and the Dark Pictures Anthology, for an unannounced project seem to point towards a departure from their traditional releases within the world of interactive narratives.
As first pointed out by Twitter user @MauroNL3, two job listings for the studio’s next unannounced project center around a mechanic that traditionally isn’t found within their previous titles: combat. @MaruroNL3 notes that the openings, Combat Engineer and Combat Designer, are both looking for somebody with experience in creating “varied and compelling real-time combat”. The listings also cite that applicants must “have experience of designing: the rules of combat, enemy behaviors (AI), combat motion fields, player attack trees (hand to hand, weapon based and ranged), leveling up and skill progression spectrum (for combat and equipment) and of course levels and spaces to exploit these systems”, as well as “player and AI world traversal” that suggests a potential open world environment or environments with a large scope.
Supermassive’s has gain both critical acclaim and commercial success during the current console generation with their PlayStation 4 exclusive interactive horror narrative title Until Dawn in 2015, that focuses on players making certain choices under the rules of the butterfly effect that could save or kill any of the eight playable characters. Their most recent outing, Man of Medan, was the first entry into the developer’s new Dark Pictures Anthology series and was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike.
Little Hope, the next entry into the Dark Pictures Anthology series and published by Bandai Namco, is set to release on October 30th, 2020 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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New information and screenshots for Returnal, the upcoming project from Finnish developer Housemarque, has started to become available to the public,including new details surround its roguelike game play.
In an update to the its PlayStation Store page, new points surround the plot and premise of the game detail the page. “After crash-landing on this-shape shifting world, Selene must search through the barren landscape of an eancient civilization for her escape” the synopsis begins. “Isolated and alone, she finders herself fighting tooth and nail for survival. Again and again, she’s defeated – forced to restart her journey every time she dies.”
As previously mentioned, the game will focus on roguelike gameplay, a genre that has seemed to find a new lease on life this console generation through hit titles like Motion Twin’s Dead Cells and Supergiant Games’s Hades. Players will “discover that just as the planet changes with every cycle, so do the items at your disposal”, with “every loop offering new combinations, forcing you to push your boundaries and approach combat with a different strategy each time”, the description reads.
Additionally, new screenshots for the upcoming project have also been added to the store page, which highlight the game’s “intense third person shooter combat, thrilling exploration, and haunting narrative” (which can been viewed in the gallery below).
Housemarque, who have worked closely with Sony over the past decade, developed the PlayStation4 launch title Resogun to high praise and most recently Nex Machina and Matter Fall for the aforementioned system as well.
Returnal is tentatively scheduled to release on PlayStation 5 in 2021.
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The newest DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is set to be revealed tomorrow (10/1/20) at 7 AM PT/10 AM ET/3 PM BST.
In a tweet from Nintendo of America, a roughly 3 minute video presentation will highlight the newest fighter to join the popular arena fighting title. Series Director Masahiro Sakurai will also appear following the video to provide fans with a brief message.
The unannounced fighter will be the second character revealed for the Fighters Pass Vol. 2, which includes the previously announced and released Min Min from ARMS. As the title of the pass suggests, this is the second of two Fighters Passes for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which first was announce in January 2020 and promises new content stretching until the end of 2021. Previously fighters released in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1 include Joker from PErsona 5, Hero from Dragon Quest, Banjo & Kazooie from the self-titled franchise, Terry Bogard from The King of Fighters, and Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Super Smash Bros. has long been one of Nintendos storied franchises for over two decades now. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has amplified the attraction to the franchise even more so since its 2018 launch, by selling 19.99 million physical units world wide as of June 2020.
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Sony looks to capitalize on its success with the PlayStation 4 this generation as it heads towards this November’s launch of the PlayStation 5. One title they are hoping will play into that success is the upcoming remake of FromSoftware’s cult hit Demon’s Souls (now developed by Bluepointe Games), and fans can now get more from the launch of the game with added bonuses.
First spotted by Wario64 on Twitter, Demon’s Souls is now confirmed to have a Digital Deluxe Edition of the game available for the game’s upcoming November 12th launch. This special edition of the game (which can be preordered on the PlayStation Store) will include the full game, Legendary Hero Soul, Renowned Warrior Soul, Storied Warrior Soul, Red-Eye Knight Armor, Boletarian Royalty Armor, Ritual Blade, Hoplite Shield, Ring of Longevity, Preservation Grains, Phosphorescent Grains, Bearbug Grains, Large Hardstone Shard, Moonlightstone Shard, and a digital version of the game’s soundtrack.
In addition, new screenshots for the upcoming title have been posted to the game’s PlayStation Store page, and are viewable below:
Demon’s Souls, originally developed by FromSoftware, supervised by SIE Japan Studio and released in 2009 on the PlayStation 3, has been held as one of the grandfathers of the “SoulsBorne” genre within gaming, that focuses on stamina based combat with unwavering difficulty. SIE Japan Studio has remained on in a supervisory role on the remake, but Bluepoint Games (developer of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and the 2018 Shadow of the Colossus remake) has overtaken the development. After long speculative rumors regarding its existence, the remake was officially announced at Sony’s PlayStation 5 Showcase in June 2020.
Demon’s Souls is set to launch exclusively on the PlayStation 5 on November 12th, 2020.
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With the launch of Sony’s newest home console, the PlayStation 5, growing closer every day, more information regarding its suite of launch lineup titles begins to become available, including Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
In a post from the PlayStation Blog, Ned Waterhouse, Design Director at Sumo Digital, announced that the forthcoming PS5 launch title (also available on PS4) will be receiving both a Digital Deluxe edition (Ps4 & PS5) as well as a Special Edition for the PS4 version of the game.
The Digital Deluxe Edition includes the full game, a digital art book, a digital soundtrack, four Sackboy costume of notable PlayStation characters, four Sackboy emotes, and 20 Sackboy avatars. The costumes include Connor from Detroit: Become Human, Jin from Ghost of Tsushima, Deacon St. John from Days Gone, and Same Porter Bridges from Death stranding. Additionally, the PS4 Special Edition of the title will additionally include a physical artbook, a Sackboy plush, and is upgrade to PS5 for free.
The Sheffield developer also released a new look at the title on PlayStation’s YouTube account, focusing on the roots of the Sackboy character and how its evolution from former LittleBigPlanet & PlayStation mascot to attempting to help revitalize 3D platforming on the PlayStation ecosystem
Sumo Digital has most recently developed Hotshot Racing, Team Sonic Racing, and the Xbox exclusive Crackdown 3.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure releases on November 12, 2020 on PlayStation 4 and Playstation 5.
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With the launch of Sony’s newest iteration of their long running line of home consoles in the PlayStation 5 set to launch this November, fans have already begun to dig deep into their pockets to preorder both the system and its slate of launch titles. One of those titles is Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a continuation-but-not-full-sequel to Insomniac’s 2018 smash hit Marvel’s Spider-Man, has now officially gone live for pre-order and with it are also some new pre-order bonuses.
In a tweet from Insomniac’s official twitter account, the developer showcases a variety of items players will receive from pre-ordering the game before its official launch, including two new suites for Miles, three additional skill points, and a Gravity Well Gadget.
The suits, which are highlighted even more so by Insomniac Games’s Community Director James Stevenson, include the T.R.A.C.K. Suit and an additional suit that is blurred out and only titles “Spidey Suit Number 2”.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales follows Miles Morales, a pseudo-apprentice of Peter Parker with spider-powers all his own, in a post-Marvel’s Spider-Man world that looks to carry the story into the original game’s sequel. Insomniac has confirmed the game is not the full sequel to the original game, comparing it to Naughty Dog’s 2017 release of Uncharted: Lost Legacy in size and scope.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is set to launch on November 12th, 2020 on both PlayStation 4 & 5.
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The newest expansion for Pokemon Sword & Shield, titled The Crown Tundra, will be released on October 22, 2020.
Announced during a broadcast on Pokemon’s official Youtube account, the second expansion to the newest entry in the long running Pokemon franchise looks to take players to a new, arctic-themed area within the Galar region, titled the Crown Tundra, along with a new mentor that will help you to oversee an exploration team charged with uncovering the mysteries the new land has to offer. The video also highlighted numerous new activities for players to participate in such as the Galarian Star Tournament that challenges players against some of Galar’s best and brightest trainers. It was also announced that all Legendary Pokemon from previous mainline entries will be able to be caught within the new Dynamax Adeventures raids.
The Crown Tundra was announced alongside with the title’s first expansion, the Isle of Armor, which has been offered as a $29.99 USD Expansion Pass. The Pokemon Company also revealed that new versions of Pokemon Sword & Shield will be launching in stores that will include the expansion passes bundled into them. The bundle, which is set to release on November 6th, will offer a bonus of 100 Poke Balls upon purchase, while also receiving the Pikachu and Eevee uniforms that were previously provided through purchasing both the base game and the expansion pass.. No official price has been set yet.
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Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that they would be partnering with Electronic Arts to bring their subscription service, EA Play, to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (both console and PC) for no additional cost. While no official date was previously announced, we now know that the digital gaming service will be accessible to Game Pass subscribers on November 10th.
In a post to the Xbox Wire, Sarah Bond, CVP of Gaming Partnerships & Ecosystems with Xbox, stated that the on demand service from EA will be available to on Xbox consoles starting on November 10th, while access to the PC aspect of the service won’t be available until December. “That means we will have a whole new collection of games coming your way on console and PC, and that some of the best EA play games will also be available for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play on Android devices via the cloud” Bond penned.
The date is also important to note, as November 10th marks the release date for both of Microsoft’s next generation home consoles: the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
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I’m sure mystical and other-worldly adjectives aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Rockville, Maryland. Yet, the Maryland town, home to 68,000 people, has spawned some of interactive entertainment’s most ambitious experiences over the past 20-plus years. Nestled right off of Interstate 270, as it has been for the majority of the company’s existence, is Bethesda Softworks (as well as their once parent company ZeniMax Media), developer of industry-defining RPG franchises such as the Elder Scrolls and the newer iterations of Fallout. While developing these franchise out of their primary studios in Rockville and Austin, Texas has been Bethesda’s bread and butter for much of their tenure, over the past 15 years, they have also reached a point where financially acquiring additional development studios to publish their projects has become not only an achievable outing, but a successful one to boot. Legendary franchise such as Doom from id Software and Wolfenstein from Machine Games, along with fresh IP such as Dishonored & Prey from Arkane, and The Evil Within from Tango Gameworks, all have found their way under Bethesda’s umbrella over the years.
Flash forward to September 21st, 2020. Looking to yet again combat a generation’s worth of sour narratives regarding first party titles, Microsoft announces its plans to acquire ZeniMax Media, and with it Bethesda Softworks, its studios and IPs, for the astronomically large amount of $7.5 billion. Since its announcement, the move has began to send shock waves throughout the industry. Fans and media alike have been speculating not only the big question regarding exclusivity, but what the future looks like for not only Bethesda Games Studio titles, but titles from their additional 7 studios as well. To be blunt, I think both of those subjects go pretty hand-in-hand when analyzing them. Will we see titles that were well-received critically but didn’t match its performance commercially have a future within its new Microsoft future? Will the upcoming Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6, and inevitable Fallout 5 be exclusive to Microsoft’s ecosystem of support devices (Xbox, PC, xCloud, etc)?
In short: it’s complicated.
When the news first broke about the Bethesda acquisition, my mind instantly jumped to one thing: Mojang and Minecraft. Not only is Microsoft familiar with spending quite a bit of cheddar for high value properties, but they also aren’t afraid to get the most back on it. When Microsoft acquired Mojang, and with it one of gaming’s most popular titles at the time in Minecraft, in 2014 for $2.5 billion, a similar (yet arguably not as vocal given the lesser emphasis on the exclusivity narrative this console generation has produced) sentiment was shared: what’s going to happen to non-Xbox versions of Minecraft? Yet, Microsoft tried to off-set its lack of install base by releasing the title on Sony’s PlayStation 4, as well as Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system and the Wii U. Even recently, PlayStation VR support has been added to the title. With Bethesda reaching an audience that ranges across a broad spectrum of gaming sects, why not continue to cast the net as far as possible, akin to Minecraft?
Enter Xbox Game Pass.
For all intents and purposes, Game Pass is Microsoft’s true next generation “system”. The overarching message from Xbox that past year or so, as we move towards the upcoming launch of Xbox Series X and S has been simple: they don’t care how you play their games, just that you’re playing their games in their ecosystem. That may be on the brand new Xbox Series X, that whops a beefy 8 core custom Zen 2 CPU and a GPU that boast 12 TFLOP power. It may be on your sweet gaming PC that your can play Game Pass for PC titles on with buttery smooth frame rates. Hell, it may be a simple as playing your favorite tiles on the go straight from your mobile device or table with xCloud. The point remains, in Microsoft’s perspective, a console isn’t the next generation of gaming: it’s an inclusive and expansive ecosystem. With the service now encompassing over 15 million subscribers (as of the time of this article’s writing) and growing, it’s hard to not look at this acquisition as being primarily focused on Game Pass.
In short, it’s hard to compare the two acquisition in 2020, given how drastically different the Xbox brand now is to its 2014-self. In 2014, console exclusivity was expected and pushed harder than ever, and it helped Sony’s PlayStation 4 become one of the best selling console of all time on the back of its stellar first party releases such as God of War, Uncharted 4, and most recently The Last of Us Part II. But as we begin to close out this console generation, we’re beginning to see more and more platform walls crumble, with cross-play and support becoming almost the norm with each new third party AAA release. At the basis, Microsoft has every right to gate-keep their titles to their ecosystem of supported platforms. I mean, you don’t pay $7.5 billion to not have a say in where your now-owned IP can be played. Yet, I think Microsoft is in a position where they may just be able to have their cake and eat it too.
The other prong of Bethesda’s acquisition also both helps keep the AA experience alive while also hopefully helping combat the breaking of the AAA blockbuster bubble, in terms of game development budgets. One move that became apparent this generation is the all-but extinction of the AA game. While we did see some of the most critically well received titles come from the AA space this generation (i.e. Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, X-Com 2, and more), many of these franchises have been put on hold since due to lack of sales, or have been reworked into live service experiences (i.e. Apex Legends). At the end of the day, we live in a capitalist society and the bottom line makes the final decision. But, with the pairing of Microsoft’s deep cash funds and a service in constant need of content refreshes, the ability for Bethesda’s smaller studios to continue to produce AA experiences could be all but solidified for the next 5 to 10 years. While budgets continue to sky rocket for large scale, open world, AAA blockbuster experiences, such as we expect to see with Bethesda Games Studio’s next installments in the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and their next IP Starfield, having a platform that benefits both from having an ever growing catalog of content and provides both a player base and financial return for the project itself could be the saving grace the AA space needs. This is where I see exclusivity coming into play heavily with this acquisition. The next Dishonored entry, Prey’s potential sequel, the next entry in The Evil Within (fingers crossed); these releases fit perfectly into the Game Pass mold. Experiences that don’t necessarily have the breath or scope of an Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Fallout or Elder Scrolls in terms of their world, but are interesting, complex, and engaging experiences that deserve to be told.
Also, many seem to forget about Bethesda’s footprint within the games as service, with titles such as the Elder scrolls Online and Fallout 76, that have still performed well in the background (well, more so the former than the latter). With Microsoft’s recent agreement with Bungie to bring Destiny 2 and all of its current and future expansions (including the upcoming Beyond Light due to release this November) to Xbox Game Pass, the idea of potentially incorporating both Bethesda games as a service titles seems almost a given. While both titles have previously been offered on Game Pass, the idea of having the newest content drop included with a Game Pass subscription, is something that is probably exciting for the very dedicated ESO fan base.
So that leaves just one major piece left on the board, the big guns: Bethesda Games Studio’s titles, ala Starfield, the Elder Scrolls 6, and a future Fallout installment.
Let’s first examine what is being left behind if Microsoft would decide to hold these titles to Xbox and PC only. As of September 2020, Skyrim alone had a combined player count of 18.2 million lifetime players across both PS3 and PS4. Additionally, between Fallout 3 & 4, Sony’s two home consoles have accounted for more than 21.3 million players, which gives us a total of almost 40 million combined users across four releases. While Microsoft, as expected given the commitment to backwards compatibility and accessibility of their back catalog, accounted for 53.3 million players across the four releases, you would be hard pressed to find a publisher who wouldn’t be happy with a combined player count of almost 40 million players across four single player experiences. Where I think Microsoft can dine on the previously mentioned cake is in the form of timed-exclusivity. We’re already seeing Microsoft playing legal ball by honoring the PlayStation 5 timed console exclusivity for both Arkane and Tango Gameworks’ upcoming titles in the forms of Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo (respectively). While that’s not much of a shock to many, and is fairly expected given the current climate of the games industry, many forget that Sony and Microsoft are in two completely different financial stratospheres. Currently, Microsoft is valued at over $1 trillion (USD), while Sony currently clocks in around an estimate $45 million for net worth. While that comparison is somewhat apples and oranges, it’s important to note that if Microsoft wanted to legally fight the time exclusivity contracts with Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, they could easily weather the storm.
Even with the massive financial security that Microsoft has, in which if they gate kept BGS’s upcoming releases and potentially lost money (though it’d be a hard stretch to imagine that happen), why completely limit your sales? $7.5 billion definitely earns you first dibs to your consumer base, but for those players who didn’t want to invest in the Xbox ecosystem at $15/month (which it seems there are still many), why not sell them the game for $70 if they’re willing to pay? While Bethesda titles will absolutely play a large part in the plans for Game Pass in the coming years, they aren’t the “end all, be all” for the service and won’t be the only reason Microsoft entices you to join in. More people are gaming now than ever in the medium’s history, and Bethesda franchises like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout have the ability to transcend consumer sects. With all Bethesda titles confirmed to be releasing day and date on Game Pass, timed-exclusivity gives the opportunity to get the heavy initial player base to join the service and hopefully keep them long term, but after a year could bolster sales again heavily, as we all expect the PlayStation 5 to have a very impressive adoption rate this generation.
We truly don’t know what the future for Bethesda and Xbox holds. The deal won’t be finalized until around the second half of 2021 (per Microsoft), but with a deal of this magnitude: one thing is abundantly clear: a $7.5 billion deal will never be simple. Maybe mystical could fit the bill for what could happen to the gaming industry out of Rockville, Maryland?
Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studio CEO Shawn Layden has been reemerging from Sony’s overall silent end of 2018 by speaking more to multiple news outlets. With much of Sony’s road map of 2019 for the PlayStation 4 being relatively unknown outside of the upcoming Days Gone from Bend Studios in April, one area Layden mentions fans should expect to see a higher emphasis on is multiplayer.
Speaking Business Insider, the long term Sony gaming staple touched on a multitude of topics, such as the staggering units sales that the PlayStation 4 has accumulated, which currently has surpassed 91 million lifetime units sold. While the positives for the gaming company rolled, the PlayStation guru was given a somewhat devil’s advocate approach: for all of the success this past year (and the overall console generation), what is something that PlayStation has whiffed on? “For all of the advances we’ve made, and the high bar we’ve focused on in storytelling” Layden began. “I mean, I dare anybody to experience something like The Last of Us and not feel emotional about it; and with God of War, that story of a father and son; and Horizon: Zero Dawn, and the power of Aloy, the protagonist. All of these things, I believe we’ve done quite well. I’m very happy with the Spider-Man game that went out last year. And looking forward, Days Gone is coming in a couple months. That’s not only compelling and gripping, but it will emotionally try you very hard. I think all those things we do really well. What we don’t do so much in is multiplayer.”
Admittedly, while PlayStation has been the go-to home console for many gamer’s needs this generation, they have seen a distinct drop in first party multiplayer based games. Many Sony owned franchises such as Killzone and Twisted Metal that rely heavily on multiplayer aspects, have laid dormant for year; with the former of the two last releasing in 2013, with Killzone: Shadow Fall on PS4. While they haven’t necessarily been hurting because of it, due to the immaculate resume of their single player, first party experiences, it is something that Layden has noticed and looks to address moving forward.
When asked for clarification on if he meant local or online multiplayer, Layden specified his intentions on online multiplayer. “Couch co-op — I mean that’s a whole category I think the industry needs to look back at. We have that with sports titles, and some racing titles, but not with much else. And I think that speaks to the power of the internet on the one hand, but otherwise we might wanna revisit that to get more family engagement in the gaming experience. But, no, I was referencing more with the things like GTA 5 Online, or you look at Call of Duty, or Fortnite, or any of those experiences. Worldwide Studios, like I say, we’ve been going really heavy into story-driven gaming. The power of the narrative. Big, spectacular experiences. But not a whole lot in the multiplayer side of things, I think. That’s an area where you will likely see us start to make more noise in the new term.”
With confirmation of Sony’s departure from this years upcoming E3 event later last year, both media and consumers remain optimistic of the Japanese tech giant’s 2019 year, but the mystery surrounding its releases does make some cautious. Layden has gone on record via a tweet stating “see you in the new year” when pressed about the upcoming year, but many releases outside of April’s Days Gone still don’t have dates attached, including The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding, and Ghosts of Tsushima. Hopefully by Layden’s recent media presence it means that more information on PlayStation’s 2019 isn’t that far in the distance.
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