The week started with good news for fans of the weird and wonderful Psychonauts. Following a successful Fig campaign, a sequel is in the works, and will be published by Starbeeze AB. The Swedish company is investing an additional $8m on top of the $3.8m raised through crowd funding to finish the game on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
Over in the UK, Elite Dangerous and Planet Coaster creator Frontier Development made a rather mysterious announcement, revealing that it had secured the rights to an "enduring movie franchise of global renown". Frontier Development CEO David Braben was quoted as saying, "We have chosen to license this particular IP to work with as our third franchise, because we believe we can create something very special. It is creatively stimulating, already has a high worldwide profile, and is a perfect match for our expertise." What is it? Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm certainly intrigued by this news - if only to see what kind of movie franchise matches with a developer of open-universe space trading games, and roller coaster sims.
Forza Horizon developer Playground Games revealed that it's going to be opening a new studio and developing a second open-world game. "Opening another studio is something we've been talking about for a good few years, but we've been keen not to rush into it. It's a great opportunity for us to test ourselves in a different genre," Playground Games founder and creative director Ralph Fulton explained. As a huge fan of the Forza Horizon series, I'm really excited by this, and can't wait to see what the developer comes up with.
Street Fighter fans were quick to suss out Capcom's Facebook teaser for the game's upcoming DLC earlier this week. The company posted a silhouette of this season's new character, which turned out to be Kolin – an individual that's currently only featured in Street Fighter V's Cinematic Story mode.
Ever dropped $1000 on microtransactional content? Reddit user Kookoo22 did, investing – if that's the right word for it – a cool grand on Fire Emblem Heroes. He's collected no less than 500 characters, but despite spending a small fortune, is still missing Hector and Leo. Sometimes that random number generator can be a real pain in the ass.
The ESA announced that E3 is opening its doors to the general public this year, with 15,000 tickets being made available to the traditionally trade-only event. They're not cheap, costing $149 for a day pass, and $249 for three-day access. What will that get you? That's what I pondered in an opinion piece in which I lauded the idea of allowing the public into E3 in principle, but articulated concerns about exactly what kind of experience it'll deliver.
Netflix announced that it has greenlit an original animated series based on Konami's Castlevania. It's being developed by Adventure Time producer Fred Seibert's Frederator Studios, with writing from Warren Ellis, the comic book author behind Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Netwave, and Iron Man: Extremis. Nadia wasn't particularly impressed by this news, though, and wrote an editorial in which she explained why she doesn't hold much hope for the series.
Activision made a couple of key game announcements, confirming that Destiny 2 is still on track for a 2017 release, and admitting that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare "didn't resonate" with fans. The interesting news is that this year's COD iteration will "go back to its roots" and that "traditional combat will once again take center stage." So that probably means a return to World War II – which to me sounds like a really good thing.
Digital Gems: The Best Walking Simulators
While I mostly play fast-action games, I do enjoy sitting back and relaxing with a really good walking simulator every now and then. They offer a very different kind of gaming experience – one that can challenge your perceptions, make you think, and leave a lasting impression. With that in mind, I listed eight of my favorite games from the genre.
Design in Action | The Last Guardian: The Extraordinary in the Ordinary
Jeremy continued his month-long analysis of The Last Guardian with a look at why it plays so much like a retread of Ico, the 15-year-old PS2 game that was also created by Guardian director Fumito Ueda. "Much of The Last Guardian's impact comes from the way in which it subverts players' expectations and reverses the role between player and AI," he said. "The game would lose much of its ability to create surprise if it took any other form."
Fire Emblem Heroes Will Help Save Nintendo
While they’ve been very successful so far, Nintendo's mobile offerings have nevertheless been the subject of much controversy. Many complained about Super Mario Run's pricing model, while others really dislike Fire Emblem Heroes' gacha mechanics. Nadia is a fan, however, and argued, "Fire Emblem Heroes is actually an example of Nintendo using mobile in the way it intended: As a means of drumming up interest in full-scale game releases for the Switch and the Nintendo 3DS."
Ghost Recon Wildlands Is Janky, But I Still Love It
Mike spent last weekend playing the Beta of Ghost Recon Wildlands, and despite finding numerous technical flaws, admitted, "I'll be damned if I didn't enjoy the hell out of it though, especially in cooperative play." I absolutely agree. I also put a good few hours into the game, and had a whale of a time battling its legions of drug bandits.
Open World Games Make me Drive Like an Idiot
Indeed, while I was driving around Ghost Recon Wildlands' open world, I found myself pondering the nature of travel in these kinds of games. My problem is that I don't find it a particularly immersive experience, and consequently drive like a total lunatic because I want to get to the next mission as quickly as possible. It's a bad habit that made me wonder what could be done to make travel in open-world games more engaging.
The Thunderjaw Cometh: Horizon Zero Dawn's Robots are Still the Real Stars
Kat followed up last week's in-depth article about Horizon Zero Dawn's RPG elements with a piece about the game's cool-looking denizens. "Out of Everything I've seen of Horizon Zero Dawn," she said, "the robots have the best chance of elevating Guerilla's new adventure and making it the breakout IP that Sony clearly wants. The humans are fine, but the robots pop. There's a reason that Sony decided to pack a Thunderjaw statue in with the game's limited edition—the robots sell themselves."
Overwatch's Fight Against Alternative Input and The Folks Caught in The Middle
In an official post on Blizzard's forums, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan announced that, "The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console." Using alternative input devices can give gamers a distinct advantage over those who use joypads to control the game, and Kaplan wants to shut down this practice. "The problem is, high-level Overwatch console players aren't the only ones who use alternative input devices," noted Mike in his excellent, in-depth article about the controversy. "For many gamers, disabilities mean that alternative input devices are the only way they can play the game at all. There are a host of conditions that make normal console play an issue."
Let's Talk About Nioh's Difficulty
Following on from his review of Nioh last week, John Learned went into details about just how tough the game really is. "Nioh, for its part, has a couple of bosses that are downright relentless and a few later sub missions that the game tells me that I out-level, but get stomped on whenever I try them," he admitted. "It’s made to be this way, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that people might have different levels of ability with this kind of stuff, so many players won’t be able to see the end credits."
Stories From Around the Gamer Network
USgamer is a part of the Gamer Network, which includes such sites as Eurogamer, Nintendo Life, Push Square, Rock, Paper Shotgun, and VG247. Here's a selection of my favorite stories from across our network.
Nintendo Classic Mini NES Review (Digital Foundry)
Just how accurate is Nintendo's emulation compared to virtual console and enthusiast NES hardware? That's the question John Linemann asked as he took a technical look at Nintendo's hard-to-find retro-console. It's a fascinating piece that's well worth a read.
PS4 Pro Boost Mode: a Game-Changer for Unpatched Titles? (Digital Foundry)
Richard Leadbetter's analysis of the PS4 Pro's boost mode that's coming soon in the 4.5 system software upgrade makes for some very interesting reading. "The improvements vary from the dramatic to the inconsequential," he said, "but by and large, the end result is a highly valuable feature that we think Pro owners are going to love."
The Secret of Monkey Island's Swordfighting (Eurogamer)
Chris Bratt returns with another one of his excellent videos, this week taking a look at the design process behind The Secret of Monkey Island's classic swordfighting sequences.
7 Times You Failed a QTE and Looked Like an Hilarious Dummy (Outside Xbox)
This Outside Xbox video made me laugh on more than a few occasions. It highlights the consequences of not hitting the right buttons during QTE sequences in games like Heavy Rain, Until Dawn, and Tomb Raider. Great stuff!
Is it Time to Overhaul How Consumers Pre-order Games? (Gamesindustry)
"Physical retailers are calling for a change in how video game pre-orders are conducted," reports Christopher Dring. "They are speaking to publishers and platform holders over the possibility of selling games before the release date. Consumers can pick up the disc 1 to 3 weeks before launch, but it will remain 'locked' until launch day." Is this a good idea? Chris explores the possibilities.