Welcome back to your monthly report of game news compiled as much as possible into one convenient ad-free place, so you don’t have to worry about the pesky cracks that some info tends to fall through at more major publications! Apologies for the delay due to my brief poor condition, I’ve fully recovered and will happily cover early October as well.
Thanks and credit for the banner image goes to the Avocado’s one and only Space Robot!
The World of Ratings Boards:
It was a less eventful month in that wild world, mostly just postings for already announced and/or dated games that have likely just went gold, like cyberparkour Ghostrunner, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, Call of Duty: BO-CW, Super Mario 3D World+, Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game: Complete Edition, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and most recently the multiplayer dino shooter Second Extinction. There is still a handful of more notable news to come out: A new version of sigh one of David Cage’s earlier titles was posted to the Australian Classifications Board as Fahrenheit: The Indigo Prophecy, while Square Enix’s Switch-exclusive RPG Bravely Default 2, after being announced last December and going without major updates since the March Nintendo Direct Mini, has also been rated on the ACB, suggesting release news may finally come for it soon. Lastly, in a rare occurrence, the US’ own ESRB leaked physical releases and dedicated next-gen Xbox versions of The Arkane Collection and the Wolfenstein Alt History Collection shortly ahead of Best Buy listing them as they released on October 6th.
Super Mario Bros 35th Anniversary Direct
The morning of September 3rd, Nintendo released a Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct, more than five months after it first leaked that they had significant anniversary event plans for the year that were being partially scuttled and reworked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reports stated that the anniversary season would’ve originally started in April 2020 with a live announcement event that had just been canceled out of safety concerns. In addition to what wound up being featured in the final Direct or otherwise announced during the year (Mario Maker 2 Final Update, Paper Mario: The Origami King, Lego Mario sets), a first look at Illumination’s Mario film would have been included in the canceled April event as part of the multimedia cross-promotional framework, with an appearance by Super Nintendo World Japan as well before its opening was postponed from summer 2020 to spring 2021. The Direct announced Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, a Mario themed collector’s edition Game and Watch, the battle royale Super Mario Bros. 35 and the original SNES Super Mario All Stars coming to Switch Online, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, and Super Mario 3D All Stars, in addition to showcasing various merchandise and smaller promotional events in Mario Maker 2 (whose post on Nintendo’s site briefly listed its original mid-April date), Animal Crossing New Horizons, Mario Kart Tour, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Splatoon 2, and My Nintendo.
3D World + will release on February 12th 2021 (internally delayed from Fall 2020), porting the Wii U’s signature 3D Mario while adding online support for the co-op multiplayer, a 20-30% movement speed boost to all player characters, adjustments to their moveset, and most significantly the new Bowser’s Fury expansion, which was announced via a cinematic trailer with more details coming before launch. Bowser’s Fury was reportedly the immediate next major project for the core 3D Mario dev team, evidently leaving Odyssey post-launch support behind in order to turn 3D World into the true second 3D Mario Switch release, in turn making it easier for them to take all the time they need with the next fully new 3D Mario title, and maybe even work on something else for a little while. Mario Kart Live is a digital Switch title controlling RC cars with mounted AR cameras as they race around the living room floor, developed by the Velan Studios as the first project from its ex-Skylanders developers. The car, camera, and game release as a $100 package on October 16th with two different current car models to choose from. Super Mario All Stars released on September 3rd for NSO’s SNES app. Super Mario Bros. 35 released as a free NSO exclusive on October 1st, featuring matches of 35 players simultaneously racing through courses competing to be the last survivor by extending their own timers and sabotaging others, and will currently only be playable through March 2021. The Mario Game and Watch will release for $50 on November 13th featuring a reskinned G&W Ball, the full SMB 1, and The Lost Levels.
The controversial Super Mario 3D All Stars was announced to release only two weeks from reveal on September 18th, in a physically and digitally limited run ending with Nintendo’s current fiscal year in March 2021. It features Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy in first-party Nintendo’s first collection since the Kirby Dream Collection in 2012. The games are largely emulated and upscaled, but do also feature some more actively updated or outright replaced sprites, environmental textures, and UI texts. The game undeniably could’ve used some more quality of life updates and its framing as a limited-edition collector’s item is entirely ill-fitting and unnecessary, but a new reprinting of 64 and Sunshine for the first time in 16 and 17 years respectively, and a package of three great games in high quality emulation, shouldn’t be totally outshined by poor business decisions.
Additionally, there are some interesting and exciting details behind the release: while the N64 emulator is a modified pre-existing one (and may I say again, Switch Mario 64 is way better than the Wii U’s), the Gamecube and Wii emulator Hagi is built from scratch new, and more handy purchasers than I have already gotten Luigi’s Mansion 1, Metroid Prime 1, and F-Zero GX running in this emulator off their cartridges. Combine this with my knowledge that Nintendo has a large-scale project in place to bring their first-party 3D back-catalogue onto Switch in HD to be carried forward into new entries in the Switch family. It seems very likely that this collection’s production was informed by how it could be used as a springboard, i.e. getting emulators ready now means far less need for the greater time and resources of many individual native ports, and thus it’s likely more will be done with these emulators sooner than later. Not everything can equally pay off as a full investment, full price retail release (collection, remake, etc.) the same way the blockbuster Mario (and Zelda) series can, and NSO both conceptually (‘free’ bonuses with a cheap, limited online service) and functionally, with its single-hardware dedicated apps containing dozens of games, simply isn’t sufficient for the scope of this project given how storage size rapidly expanded for hardware past the N64. Thusly, it’s easy to imagine both emulators’ primary use being a forthcoming eShop “HD Classics” line (or some such name), hopefully with prices that wouldn’t exceed the $20 per game of 3D All Stars.
On September 7th, reliable Microsoft source Brad Sams leaked the design for the long-rumored Xbox Series S, the digital-only, lower-specced budget model of next-gen Xbox alongside its premium counterpart, which was soon corroborated by Daniel Ahmad. WindowsCentral’s Jez Corden and Zac Bowden proceeded to report all of the main information from Microsoft’s planned upcoming press event later that same evening. WC reported that the consoles will have a simultaneous global launch on November 10th, with the S coming in at $300, the same as an original model Switch, which still shocks me months after first hearing that price rumored, and the X at $500. They also detailed that Xbox’s pricing plan includes expanded, heavily marketed and emphasized alternative payment option plans built off the existing Xbox One All Access service that is maintained with support from various regional banks. The two-year AA plans for Series X and Series S replace the recently discontinued One X and digital One S’s plans, paying off the next-gen consoles at $35 a month for premium Xbox and $25 a month for budget Xbox, with two years of the Game Pass Ultimate service packaged into all plans at those prices. The night this all came out, I made sure to do the math, and then had to do the math again when I was better rested. Every Xbox All Access Plan does, on top of the general appeal of piecemeal payments over an upfront lump sum, ultimately provide some savings relative to the combined upfront retail price of this hardware and the $15 a month GPU subscription, as full package Game Pass is indeed expensive: Series S All Access saves $60 overall, Series X All Access saves $20, and the remaining One S All Access ($23 a month) saves a whopping $108.
Xbox responded to the leaks the next morning, formally announcing Xbox Series S with the same render, same reported price tag, and same release date, posting a full trailer later that day which itself still managed to be undercut by a leaker sharing it on Twitter between the first post and the trailer. The Series S trailer promises “Next-gen performance in the smallest Xbox ever”, supporting 1440p resolution with 4K upscaling, up to 120 frames per second, ray-tracing and variable rate shading support, and a solid-state drive of 512GB storage, which is not enough storage for a digital only console. The next day after that, Microsoft proceeded through the rest of their announcements from the now canceled original press event, confirming Xbox Series X’s price, that it was releasing on November 10th alongside Series S, the new All Access options, and that pre-orders would open September 22nd, as well as releasing a trailer for the new global expansion of their All Access program. Alongside this came several software announcements: Gears Tactics‘ launch for X1 and XSX/XSS is on November 10th, making it the de facto first party next gen launch title in the wake of Halo Infinite’s delay, Tetris Effect: Connected is also releasing November 10th, Watch Dogs: Legion and Yakuza: Like a Dragon‘s timed exclusive next-gen versions are also set for that day, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla moved its overall release date up by a week to that date, and EA Play was announced to be newly packaged into Game Pass Ultimate at no additional charge.
Epic v. Apple/Google Updates
Tuesday September 8th, Apple files a 67 page countersuit against Epic that denies “many of Epic Games’ claims” and declares its conduct unlawful. The companies went on to meet again in court for a hearing starting on September 28th, where Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers denied Epic’s injunction for Apple to be forced to rehost Fortnite on the App Store without changes, but also made permanent the injunction preventing Apple from terminating Epic’s other developer accounts and overall Unreal Engine iOS support. These decisions apply in the meantime before a final full trial ordered by Rodgers and set to commence in May 2021, a trial which will fully account for the potential impact by the ruling on various other digital gaming storefronts like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft’s. Rodgers was initially ordering a jury trial, but both Apple and Epic argued for a trial by judge and were ultimately approved. In both Epic Games v. Google and public discourse, Google is arguing on the basis that their storefront and its rules are incomparable to Apple’s and the cases are unrelated, with the seeming intent of avoiding going to court at all. In advance of next year’s trial, on October 8th Microsoft updated its Windows app store guidelines both to preclude it from being affected by the future ruling and to further increase the pressure on Apple to adjust their policies, which are currently affecting Microsoft’s ability to offer its new xCloud game streaming on Apple devices.
Hyrule Warriors Sequel + 2021 Switch Update
The morning of September 8th, Nintendo released both the announcement trailer and a longer behind the scenes video for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a musou sequel set during the century-ago Calamity from Breath of the Wild‘s backstory developed by Koei Tecmo in close collaboration with Eiji Aonuma and other BOTW team members, who provided story and dialogue. On top of the versions of Link and Zelda from the blockbuster hit and its upcoming sequel, all four past Champions were announced as playable characters. The game was announced to release November 20th as the final Nintendo game of the fall season, with its next major update coming September 26th during Tokyo Games Show. The four Champions amiibo will reprint and relaunch in November with new special compatibility with this game. In the BTS video, Aonuma said that updates on BOTW2 would need a bit longer of a wait.
Takashi Mochizuki followed up on his August report with a new article on September 8th, stating that Nintendo was about to further increase their Switch production order, bringing it to 30 million units in order to fully satisfy demand through the holiday season and into next fiscal year, potentially further pushing back production of the new Switch he’s reported in the process. He also provided a more direct update on that new model, stating that since that August 24th publication, he had spoken with several separate third parties who can say that Nintendo has asked to make their games for the system “4K-ready”. A hardware update seems ever more imminent, and it’s looking likely to use some form of 4K upscaling, AI, a modified form of DLSS, etc. Capcom leaker Dusk Golem, who’s been a primary source on things like the existence of an upcoming Switch-exclusive, RE engine based Monster Hunter (as seen in the Partner Showcase and TGS sections below) and Yoshinori Ono’s departure from the company, later went on to say that his contacts can also confirm an upcoming new Switch model, and that its existence has influenced developers’ handling of their Switch titles, that they can count on their games being upscaled and stabilized by stronger hardware.
The year’s second Ubisoft Forward streamed on September 10th after a September 1st announcement. Shortly before the stream started, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot featured in a four minute video addressing the massive uncovering of workplace abuse at his company during the summer, offering a simplistic apology while claiming that they learned of those incidents at the same time the public did, even though it’s on-record that those incidents were directly reported and largely ignored internally at time of occurrence, in addition to often being perpetrated by the leadership that was responsible for receiving those reports and responding, like the now former head of HR Maxime Béland. Further on top of that, later the same month, the company bid fond farewell to Rayman creator Michel Ancel when he announced his retirement from game development, which immediately preceded a new report detailing his verbal abuse, overwork and mismanagement of employees during Beyond Good and Evil 2‘s development, which itself matched rumors about his behavior during older projects. Ubisoft only went on to confirm that they had been investigating his behavior when he departed after the report had come out.
The stream’s preshow announced new songs for Just Dance 2021, a Far Cry VR game coming 2021 and a second VR title, A Game of Space, coming October 28th, and an early 2021 release window for Roller Champions, before the main event started with the full reveal of Immortals Fenyx Rising. Announced as Gods and Monsters at E3 2019, is an open world action-RPG set in the world of Greek myth, releasing December 3rd 2020 for X1, PS4, Switch and PC. The game features the customizable hero Fenyx, significantly updated and stylized visuals from its first reveal, a Dragon Age 2 style comedic framing device of Zeus and Prometheus recounting and commenting on the story’s events, and as seen in gameplay previews, a whole hell of a lot of mechanics cloned from Breath of the Wild, including telekinesis puzzles that use near-identical animations. Google’s Phil Harrison appeared to announce the game’s Stadia-exclusive demo, which leaked earlier this year in its 2019 build, a sentence which is basically a pile of punchlines fighting for attention. The Prince of Persia Sands of Time Remake was announced (after leaking earlier this fall) set to release January 21st 2021 on PS4, X1, and PC, with significant evidence of a Switch version that remains unofficial for now being present as well. This remake is the first project that the company’s Indian studios, Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai, are taking lead on, and I highly recommend Rishi Alwani’s article commenting on the significance of such a high profile project coming out of the country. It’s equally meaningful for this series to move away from the European developers of its past to people who are much closer to the culture and heritage the game represents, and it’s a shame that controversy over the graphics in this trailer have overshadowed that.
A brief appearance from the Hyperscape battle royale and a longer one from Ubi’s overall eSports division occurred, leading into a trailer for new Rainbow Six Siege content which features Sam Fisher. You know, the beloved star of Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad with its anti-Semitic and anti-BLM conspiracy theory plot, which CEO Guillemot’s son directed? To keep you from thinking too long about that, they made sure to follow it with a trailer announcing the heavily requested return of Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game: Complete Edition, the famously delisted arcade brawler cult classic which will release on Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC and Stadia in Holiday 2020. Then an extended Watch Dogs: Legion showcase started with Clint Hocking introducing politically active Londoner musician Stormzy, selected for a musical partnership and motion-captured side quest role to reflect the game’s contemporary quality, then moving into a new gameplay trailer showing off various recruit types including some more unique options like a beekeeper who commands a cybernetic bee swarm and a street artist focused on nonlethal combat, and ending with the intro of the requisite post-launch season pass by announcing that Aiden Pearce, his hat, and his gravely voice are back and playable in an extended story arc. Which just makes you ask if the more acclaimed/popular Watch Dogs 2 and its hero will receive a similar tie-in. Finally, Ubi confirmed that yet more Forward presentations are coming and played the trailer for One More Thing TM, revealing Riders Republic coming February 25th 2021 to PS4, PS5, all Xboxes, and Stadia, a massively multiplayer extreme sports game by the developers of Steep, set exclusively within scenic American national parks.
Deltarune Ch. 2 Updates
In time for the fifth anniversary of Undertale’s full release, Toby Fox went on a mini promotional circuit, doing an interview and feature with Famitsu, hosting a celebratory digital concert, and finally posting a production status update on the Undertale site all in the span of a week. The Status Update featured several new screenshots from the upcoming second Chapter in Deltarune’s episodic release, linked above, and various details about the game’s production. Those details include that a small current dev team is in place with further recruiting as of the update’s posting, significant progress having been made for developing the overall game’s story, dialogue, and music since 2018, and that Chapter 2’s primary production (everything before QA, localization, etc.) is currently expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Once Microsoft had finally revealed all for its next gen launch, Sony announced its final pre-launch showcase on September 12th for a September 16th airing. After rumors about the next mainline Final Fantasy had rumbled throughout the year, the show opened with an extended cinematic trailer announcing Final Fantasy 16/XVI as a PlayStation console exclusive, showing off a return to a more medieval aesthetic, plenty of narrative and combat, and overall giving way way more than I’d been expecting for the game’s very first trailer. The game is directed by Hiroshi Takai with Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida as lead producer, best known as the director of the massively successful Final Fantasy 14 relaunch. The two later interviewed with Famitsu, providing some story details, stating that staff are already “working towards the completion of the game”, and reiterating from the game’s social media that its next major update won’t be until next year. Spider-Man: Miles Morales was next up, starting with a cutscene that seamlessly segued into street navigating gameplay from the game’s opening, and shifting again into combat gameplay as Insomniac’s Brian Horton popped in to provide commentary, stating that it’s set a year after the first game and features both Roxxon Corporation and tech-empowered revolutionaries led by the Tinkerer as major antagonists. In this part of the presentation, the game was still only marked as coming Holiday 2020, but in an inexplicable move, after the stream finished a surge of PS blog posts immediately posted all at once that provided key details, like the PS5’s launch titles, pricing for those games and peripherals, etc.
Miles Morales was among the major software further detailed there; it’s set to release alongside the console on November 12th, and is in fact releasing for both PS4 and PS5 at once, in a $50 standard release for each console and a PS5-exclusive $70 Ultimate Edition, which is packaged with an exclusive extensive remaster of the original game, as a Sony exec leaked months ago. There are some deeply irritating and sometimes truly shitty decisions here, and I need to unpack them a little. Anyone who bought Spider-Man 2018 and its DLC not knowing to anticipate a remastered next-gen exclusive GOTY edition, especially people who, say, got their PS4 so they could play that game when they could’ve waited, just bought one console, and ultimately saved money overall, is kinda screwed over. And that’s exactly what my partner and I are. Sony may be at least minimizing the extent to which they’re double charging for their generation-straddling releases from the days of the TLOU Remastered, but they’re still nickel and diming when they think they can get away with it. As for the presentation and blog posts, it’s a totally needless black spot on the quality of Sony’s otherwise greatly improved Direct style presentations, while recklessly risking that any more casual viewer who stops paying attention with the end of the Youtube video is leaving severely under-informed. And was there anything to gain from sitting on the knowledge of their upcoming titles’ PS4 versions? They weren’t selling PS5s yet, that transparency would cost nothing beyond marketing bullshit while saving headaches for customers.
Leaked in 2018, long-rumored, and having repeatedly delayed its reveal this year in attempt to minimize its adjacency to Joanne Rowling’s various viciously hateful transmisogynistic outbursts, the open world RPG Hogwarts Legacy was finally announced with a narrated cinematic trailer. The game follows a customized student attending 1800s Hogwarts and is currently set to release in 2021. After revealing its multiplayer the week before, the excessively titled Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War showed off some of its first campaign mission, which in an absurdly disturbing detail featured an explicit war crime from the leads in its first ten seconds of gameplay, as noted by the Avocado Gamescast‘s own @merve3! The game’s multiplayer alpha, a term which increasingly means nothing in this industry, was announced to be starting on September 18th exclusively on PS4. After missing the previously stated August timeframe, likely due to a presentation delay from Sony, the second trailer for Capcom’s Resident Evil: Village was revealed. The next trailer for Deathloop laid out of the setting’s main missions in extensive detail and featured the same new Q2 2021 release window as last month’s update. Several miscellaneous titles rounded out the show’s offerings: Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition, which will be available digitally at console launch for PS5 and XSX and bring Vergil back as a playable character, another trailer for Oddworld Soulstorm, a trailer for next-gen Fortnite, and a teaser for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach, a timed exclusive for PS4 and PS5 set for holiday 2020, which sounded like it features the voice acting of the internet’s beloved Sung-won Cho!
Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake returned from June as the final first party trailers rolled in, showing extended straight gameplay from the game’s tutorial section and then a montage of the rest of the game. Just like in June, not even a release window or year was given for this game, but those blog posts turned out to strike again: Demon’s Souls is (supposed to be) a launch title on November 12th and only on PS5, with the same $70 pricing as some other next-gen offerings this fall. The rest of the first-party launch titles, by the way, are Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Destruction AllStars, with the former releasing on PS4 and being priced at $60 for both consoles, and the latter being PS5-only and $70-only. The blog posts revealed that Horizon: Forbidden West is also releasing on PS4 as well, inciting similar “hardware being held back” concern trolling as Xbox’s cross-gen releases. Sony they announced a new PS5-exclusive, no additional charge feature that builds on PS+’s monthly free games, where a set of first party and third party games are all available at launch to install and play directly. No further details are available at present, but there will likely be rotation of games at some point if not immediately, given both the third party deals involved and the eventuality of PS5 games being added in.
The PS+ Collection trailer led directly into Jim Ryan announcing the PS5’s prices as $400 for the digital edition and $500 for the disc drive edition, and November 12th and 19th as the console’s release dates, with the former being for the US, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and the latter for everywhere else. Pre-orders were supposed to start the next day, but various retailers like Gamestop abruptly started accepting pre-orders as soon as the stream ended, selling out quickly without warning for many customers, with stalls at the checkout page happening on a wide scale as well, while those who had entered Sony’s direct-order raffle weren’t contacted until that evening with the information that their orders started on Friday. And as always, there’s One More Thing: a very brief teaser for the sequel to 2018’s God of War narrated by Kratos and dated for 2021. While there was some early reporting that called the game God of War: Ragnarok, Sony has presently only referred to it as a new God of War title and publications like IGN and Polygon retracted the other title.
On Friday October 9th, after months of questions from the public and only a handful of brief comments offered by Jim Ryan, a new blog post finally provided more extensive details on PS5 backwards compatibility. Only PS4 is featured in BC support (although PSNow is rumored to be expanded further to compensate). More than 99% of the 4000+ PS4 games will be playable on PS5 at launch. The playable on PS4 only list is currently as follows: Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Vol 1, DWVR, Hitman Go: Def. Edition, Joe’s Diner, Just Deal With It!, Robinson: The Journey, Shadow Complex Remastered, Shadwen, We Sing, and TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2. Beyond the very early closed-door demos, Sony hasn’t publicly demonstrated PS4 games playing on PS5, but it’s clear that their emphasis has been in ensuring playability over performance enhancements, which is, you know, still better than the PS4 ever was on this. They’ve so far only stated that PS4 games in general will take advantage of some new user experience features in the hardware, with more to come on that later, while select titles will receive benefits in framerate, resolution, or load times from the full-fledged Boost Mode option or the PS4 Pro match option. These are also separate from individual ‘official’ next-gen upgrades, which you access by start menu pages for physical games and PS Store pages for digital games, and for the most part come free by owning the existing product, but any known exceptions to that can be found in my previous Roundups.
PS4 games will be playable with both the DualShock 4 and the new DualSense controller, although the former is recommended for the best, one to one experience. The ability to transfer saves between dedicated PS4 and PS5 versions of a game operates on a case by case basis. Any and all purchased or installed digital PS4 games can be downloaded and played from the same PSN account on PS5, or from any PS4-compatible external USB drives. All digital games, game data, and save files can also be transferred via LAN cables or Wi-Fi, and PS+ cloud saves can sync between consoles. PS4 Remote Play is supported on PS5 but it doesn’t take advantage of PS5 hardware boosts as those games are still streaming from PS4 hardware. All existing officially licensed third party peripherals on PS4 are compatible with the console for both corresponding PS4 and equivalent PS5 games. All existing PSVR titles and controllers are compatible, but they don’t connect to the PS5 camera, the PS4 camera needs to be used with an adapter that will be provided at no additional cost to existing PSVR users. The PS5’s Create menu and button have replaced the PS4’s Share menu/button for both PS5 and PS4 titles. Certain PS4 features, like the PS4 Second Screen mobile app and dedicated game companion apps, tournaments, and Live from PlayStation, won’t be useable for PS4 games playing on PS5.
Nintendo Partner Showcase
At the close of their Management Briefing presentation (which after much publicity was mostly just President Shuntaro Furukawa providing newer shareholders with a clear, detailed understanding of the company’s business and philosophy), Nintendo announced the third Nintendo Mini Direct Partner Showcase to be livestreaming in slightly over 24 hours on September 17th. This was the company’s first livestream since the July Treehouse Live with its infamous Bakugan reveal, the first Direct-branded livestream since September 2019, and some of the most advance notice in a presentation’s announcement that they’ve had all year. And did I mention it was in the actual concluding text of an hourlong powerpoint presentation by the President himself? Suffice to say, it seemed eminently clear that they considered this one quite important, and boy did that bear out. The presentation opened with another major long-rumored reveal, Capcom’s Switch-exclusive Monster Hunter Rise coming on March 26th 2021, the first new mainline MH series entry since World in January 2018 and first new Nintendo main MH entry since Generations in 2015. Rise makes major updates to the series’ gameplay and world design, and is the series’ first game built on the acclaimed RE engine. Capcom also announced Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin coming Summer 2021, also Switch-exclusive, and the series’ second family-RPG spinoff.
Nintendo announced Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise, coming digitally December 4th 2020 with new rhythm gameplay. Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny, the first new Disgaea in 6 years, was announced for Summer 2021. Brenda Romero’s Empire of Sin returned from E3 2019 to announce its release date across all platforms as December 1st 2020, followed by Sniper Elite 4 coming to Switch Holiday 2020, The Long Dark releasing the same day, and PGA Tour 2K21‘s physical release coming September 25th. Supergiant’s Hades announced its own same-day release. The second trailer for Square’s Balan Wonderworld was revealed, showing off co-op and various power-ups, and announcing its release date as March 26th 2021. Rune Factory 5 returned from a very vague teaser all the way back in February 2019 with a fairly extensive new trailer announcing a 2021 release. And the stream closed out with the reveal of Ori and the Will of the Wisps Available Today on Switch! Daniel Ahmad had been teasing this since August. This announcement trailer came alongside announcements for collector’s edition and standard physical releases of both games on Switch, published by iam8bit and releasing December 2020. Moon Studios went on to extensively discuss the hard work that went into ensuring the best possible port of the far more technically demanding sequel, The Partner Showcase was immediately followed by a dedicated Monster Hunter Direct, with yet more info to come at Tokyo Games Show the next week.
On September 21st, with one day until next-gen Xbox pre-orders open, Microsoft announced that it has purchased and is in the process of acquiring ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion, and with it the eight developers Bethesda Softworks, id Software, Arkane Studios, Tango Gameworks, MachineGames, Alpha Dog Games, Roundhouse Studios, and Zenimax Online Studios. With the deal completing sometime between January and June 2021, Microsoft proceeded to commit to not disrupting the pre-existing timed exclusivity contracts for Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo and Elder Scrolls Online‘s PlayStation support, while stating that all other future titles will have their platforms determined on a “case by case basis.” Doom Eternal was announced later that same week as coming to Game Pass October 1st for Xbox and later in 2020 for PC. I generally got my anti-capitalist comments out of my system on the discussion thread for this, but: no one company should have as many previously third party studios as Microsoft does.
Tokyo Games Show
Tokyo Games Show went all digital for four days of presentations from September 23rd to September 27th, and Xbox actually opened the show this year, announcing a special discounted price for the Japanese release of the Xbox Series S and new enhancements for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020‘s Japan, as part of their continuing efforts to court the country’s gaming audience. Some other highlights from the show include: Square Enix released a new trailer for their remaster of 2010’s Nier, announcing the release date as April 23rd 2021 on PS4, X1, and Windows, and confirming a Western release for upcoming mobile spinoff Nier Re[in]carnation; Bandai Namco’s RPG Scarlet Nexus released a new story trailer showing off the game’s parallel protagonists and campaigns; Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity revealed the new playable character of young Impa; Monster Hunter Rise presented extended gameplay footage showing off its new Palamute companion, grapple-climbing mechanic, and no load time environments; Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires was announced, releasing early 2021 on PS4 and PS5, all Xboxes, Switch, and PC; Balan Wonderworld demonstrated its next-gen optimization running off a PS5; and Capcom commented that they were still trying to make current-gen releases of Resident Evil Village happen despite their design plans and pandemic safety standards making that difficult, while also showing off extended gameplay that demonstrates the game’s greater emphasis on freedom and exploration.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter 7
The Fighter 7 announcement trailer premiered on October 1st, revealing that Minecraft is coming to Smash represented by the default player character Steve and his alts Alex, a Zombie, and the Enderman, arriving with an incredibly complex mining and construction based moveset that every stage was readjusted to support. Sakurai briefly appeared after the trailer to discuss the pack a little and confirm the full presentation would occur two days later on October 3rd as a lead-in to Minecraft Live. This set of Minecraft characters are the second Microsoft-owned and second fully Western fighters in the series after Banjo-Kazooie earlier in the first DLC cycle. Along with detailing the fighter’s full moveset, the full presentation announced that Steve would be releasing on October 13th and 14th, while Bomberman and No More Heroes‘ Travis Touchdown were both revealed for the next set of Mii Costumes to release alongside Steve. Imran Khan and Minecraft’s 2010-2017 production director Daniel Kaplan commented that finalizing Steve for the series had been an extended process going back at least five years and back to the previous Smash titles’ DLC cycle. This considerably recontextualizes the public understanding of Ultimate and its DLC’s development, tells us that these negotiations were likely a significant stepping stone for the greater partnership between Microsoft and Nintendo today, and reinforces Sakurai’s comment of the challenge that programming this fighter offered.
After speculation had stirred in early August, Bloomberg on September 1st reported that AT&T has called off its sale of Warner Games based on several factors, such as the reassessment of its value based on the satisfactory performance of their game reveals from the DC Fandome event and the game industry’s sales boom experienced during the pandemic, and complications during sale negotiations like the buyers’ concerns over additional deals that would need to be made for licensing out properties that Warner still owns to those companies.
Multiple quality of life improvements were made to the Switch eShop in early September in conjunction with the increased number of presentations and high profile new titles releasing. 1. Allowing for digital pre-orders to now be canceled up to one week before release and now only charging for the order at that cutoff point, 2. now displaying a game’s screens just from hovering the cursor over it instead of going into its full page, and 3. displaying timers for how long each game’s current discount will last for.
September 10th: Ember Lab’s Kena: Bridge of Spirits (PS4, PS5, and PC) was delayed from the holiday to Q1 2021.
September 12th: 2K confirmed Borderlands 3‘s free next-gen update, which will come alongside a patch for splitscreen local multiplayer this fall.
September 15th: xCloud’s full launch as part of the Game Pass Ultimate package began after its earlier beta. Oculus Quest 2 was announced for an October 13th release.
September 18th: Jett: The Far Shore (PS4, PS5, and PC) from Superbrothers, was delayed to 2021.
September 24th: Amazon announces its cloud gaming service and Stadia competitor Amazon Luna during an Amazon devices event. Its Early Access phase hasn’t started yet, but invitations for early access can be requested from the Amazon site as of the announcement date. Luna will start at $6 a month, is currently US-only, and it will be available for PC, Mac, Fire TV, iPad, and iPhone at launch with Android support coming soon. Luna is playable by keyboard and mouse, Bluetooth controllers including DualShock 4 and Xbox One, and a $50 Luna controller, which is supposed to minimize play latency and easily switch between devices via cloud server connection. Amazon has also seen record profits and owner Jeff Bezos gaining tens of billions more dollars since the pandemic started while 19,000 employees suffer from COVID infections while being overworked
September 29th: The final main trailer for the Pokemon Sword and Shield Expansion DLC released, announcing its second half’s release date as October 22nd. Nintendo announced that the free eShop game Jump Rope Challenge, which was marked as a limited time product since its release in July, would now no longer be removed on September 30th due to it sustained popularity, and will remain available “until further notice”, providing the first visible test run for the limited release timeframes of other recent Nintendo products to be adjusted.
October 8th: Young Horses announces that their upcoming game Bugsnax has gone gold and will launch on November 12th alongside PS5 as a $25 digital title on PS4, PS5, and the Epic Game Store. Netherrealm announced the Kombat Pack 2, the Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate complete package, and a free next-gen upgrade for the game, all of which release on November 17th. The new individual DLC pack features returning characters Mileena and Rain, and final guest character John Rambo as voiced by Sylvester Stallone, while the aforementioned Ultimate edition package features everything, the base game, all character DLC including those new three, and the Aftermath story expansion.
October 9th: Amazon Games announced that they were no longer supporting Crucible, the dev team will going forward be working on New World and other unannounced titles instead. Full refunds for all in-game purchases are supposed to be provided, and the servers will shut down on November 9th.
October 10th: Square Enix’s social media celebrated the 8th anniversary of the original Bravely Default, while also stating that information on the aforementioned upcoming Bravely Default 2 will be available soon.
Next time, we’ve moved past the peak of news and are looking down the barrel at many major releases and next-gen hardware in only a matter of weeks.
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