Game News Roundup: October 2020

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 most major publications!

Thanks and credit for the banner image goes as always to the Avocado’s one and only Space Robot!

It feels good to be back on schedule with this series again, so it figures that I’m only catching up in time for the news to really slow down again after a positively packed September. As such, while I’ll still henceforth be doing the bigger, bolder subheadings of last month’s entry, they’ll now be fitted into the broader and clearer strict chronological structure of earlier articles rather than being labeled by the major events therein…because there weren’t that many events to make sure to emphasize. The most significant events of a given day will be placed last in a sequence.

The World of Ratings Boards

I’d say I’m pretty sure these guys are starting to catch on to me and are trying to leak less, but the truth is I really think it’s just that this industry has gotten over its current hump of lots of important stuff at once. This news source is slowing down just like everything else is, and will pick back up probably in the spring as next-gen really settles into competition and each publisher trying to get into a good groove. Werewolf: the Apocalypse – Earthblood, which featured in the very first Game News Roundup at the beginning of this summer and is easily the least controversial of the current tide of tabletop RPG inspired video games, as well as, perhaps most notably Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, which was announced and discussed last month, Total War Saga’s upcoming Blood and Glory DLC, and uh, Blood Bowl 3, were all also rated by the Australian Board this month.

The biggest ratings board headline of the month by far came right out of the gate on October 14th, as Korea’s Game Rating Committee Mass Effect Legendary Edition, a remastered Mass Effect Trilogy which has been another of the many long-rumored and leaked projects that looks to be confirmed this year. VentureBeat’s Jeff Grubb has been a major source on this game among some of those others, and was the very first source of this title, which he shared on a podcast weeks before this ratings post came out.

First Half of October

Blizzard announced on October 1st that the next World of Warcraft expansion Shadowlands‘ release was being delayed for further work around the same time that Blizzard confirmed they were further scaling back support for Starcraft 2. Shadowlands‘ new release date went on to be confirmed as November 23rd, the MMORPG’s sixteenth anniversary.

On October 8th, People Can Fly and Square Enix finally gave a firm release date for their upcoming multiplayer shooter Outriders, delaying it from a previously planned holiday release to February 2nd 2021.

Sony revealed the PlayStation 5’s user interface in an official trailer on October 15th, attracting both praise for its aesthetic and criticism for a lack of readability and ease of use. On the same day, Sony sent out an email notification to PlayStation customers which confirmed what had been rumored for several days prior, that a major overhaul for the online and mobile PS Storefront would arrive by the end of the month, removing the wishlist and the option to directly purchase games for PS3 and PS Vita, impacting accessibility by leaving them exclusively on their own in-hardware stores and still without robust support for that software gen on current hardware.

On October 14th, Sega announced that it would offer Golden Axed free on Steam for one day only, a one-level demo of the canceled project Golden Axe: Reborn, as part of the publisher’s 60th anniversary celebrations on October 18th, while explicitly labeling the game as bad and dysfunctional. This was met with widespread criticism, as several of the individuals who had worked on the project quickly responded to say that they were not consulted in any way on this release, and they had been subject to horrifically extensive crunch and overall workplace mismanagement during that development, making the advertised framing on the demo’s Steam page at best deeply unfair and unkind. On the 15th, Sega proceeded to apologize for that text and remove it without further addressing the issues within this conflict. Separately on October 15th, the tactical RPG Digimon Survive was delayed to 2021.

October 16th

Double Fine announced that Grim Fandango Remastered, Full Throttle Remastered, and Day of the Tentacle Remastered were coming to the Xbox family for the first time via Game Pass on October 29th.

That Friday, Crystal Dynamics announced multiple delays for Marvel’s Avengers‘ post-launch content, namely that the next-gen versions of the game were being pushed from late 2020 to 2021, while its first new characters, the Hawkeyes Kate Bishop and Clint Barton, and the missions surrounding them, were pushed back from October 2020 to a currently indefinite date.

October 20th

Google Stadia, as part of its most recent event, announced Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle, a timed exclusive 64-player battle royale releasing on November 17th.

Cara Ellison has left Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 development, the third major figure off the project in the past few months.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez livestreamed the recently massive indie hit Among Us on Twitch that evening as a digital get out the vote event, reaching third place in Twitch’s top five most viewed individual streams at 435,000 concurrent views, not accounting for a combined total of it with the additional views of all of her various guests’ channels as well as the live Facebook and Youtube feeds.

October 21st

The Pokémon series experienced a number of leaks in advance of its latest DLC release at the end of the month and as part of the greater ongoing Nintendo “gigaleaks”, like a datamine of said DLC via the Home service, but perhaps the most notable of these was that on this date, a playable prototype build of Pokémon Sword dated to early 2018 was posted online and soon confirmed to be real.

October 22nd

In honor of the tactical RPG series Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary, Nintendo released a trailer announcing that the original version of its first entry, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for the Famicom, will launch officially in the West for the first time as a Switch eShop release. Coming on December 4th 2020 for $6 digitally with a $50 collector’s edition boxset edition, 1 year and nine months after its Japanese NSO release and 12 years after the Western release of its DS remake, this iteration of this release is, like other current anniversary products, slated to be pulled after the current fiscal year ends in March 2021.

October 26th

Ori and the Will of the Wisps‘ Switch released its major stability patch addressing leaderboard issues, clipping through the world, and the crashing issues cited here on the Avocado.

Sony’s Pete Smith announced in a blog post that the Sony-published multiplayer car combat PS5-exclusive game Destruction AllStars is being delayed from November 2020 to February 2021, when it will be added to the PS Plus free game lineup for two months. All who pre-ordered the game via Sony or recognized retailers prior to this announcement will be refunded to match the game’s new free-with-subscription launch.

October 27th

The first widespread embargo dates for next-gen were hit today, with limited coverage of Astro’s Playroom beginning. The next PS5 embargo date is November 6th, when Miles Morales will start being previewed officially rather than the current stream of leaked footage.

Nintendo announced a second patch for Super Mario 3D All Stars which will go live on November 17th, adding support in Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine for choosing between both ‘standard’ and ‘inverted’ camera control options, after the game had launched with only the former available, while the original releases had only offered the latter.

The same day, CD Projekt Red announced that Cyberpunk 2077 was once again delayed, this time to December 10th 2020, mere hours after developers announced that the game had just gone gold, who in turn only learned of this delay via the social media announcements of it. In an earnings call the same day as the announcement and its ensuing discourse, company CEO Adam Kicinski made the documentedly untrue comment that crunch within their workplace “is not that bad, and never was”, which he very quickly had to apologize for after responses from employees, all of which occurred behind closed doors and was only publicized due to some current employees operating as sources to reporters. Another of the company’s board members had his own statement later that week, that the delay was primarily motivated by feeling the need to ensure a 90+ Metacritic score for the game, of which the technical performance of the current-gen release of the game is seen as its biggest threat, hence why the game can ‘go gold’ and then need to spend weeks refining it further by an extensive day one patch.

October 28th

The director of Halo Infinite, longtime 343 Industries executive Chris Lee, has left the project, the second person to leave the position mid-development in the past two years.

The 28th was a busy day, and it started with another Nintendo surprise release, namely this month’s Direct Mini Partner Showcase, which was announced upfront in the video as the final entry in that series for the year. After multiple recent comments from Square Enix developers to expect news soon on Bravely Default 2, it returned as the opening game for this final partner showcase, announcing that it will miss calendar 2020 but get in before the end of fiscal with a February 26th 2021 launch, and citing feedback (more than 20,000 response) from the March demo as significantly informing their final design choices, with a dedicated trailer on the changes coming later that day. Story of Seasons announced its next entry, Pioneers of Olive Town, afterward, coming to Switch March 23rd 2021. An apocalyptic management sim, Surviving the Aftermath, was announced for Switch as a general Spring 2021 release, and a brief, dedicated appearance without any new info was made by Immortals Fenyx Rising for Nintendo audiences. The traditional montage kicked in, showing the returning Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia coming November 3rd, Griftlands coming Summer 2021, and Tropico 6 coming November 6th.

Finally, several major announcements hit one after another, starting with Ubitus bringing the Switch’s cloud streaming program West two years after its 2018 Japanese debut, arriving with two next-gen optimized titles, 2021’s Hitman 3 and the recent Control: Ultimate Edition, available exclusively via this program. Control launched on the 28th with a stand-alone app and quick, timed free demo, while costing $40 to stream the full game (without any time limit on access to the full game, which Assassins’ Creed Odyssey and Resident Evil 7’s Cloud versions did in Japan, and with a promise that a warning will come in extended advance if access will be lost in the future). Hitman 3’s Switch launch is currently TBD but likely to come with its January 20th 2021 multiplatform launch or later. Ubitus quickly proceeded to state that it is already working to bring more major games to Switch via its cloud streaming platform, “working with numerous industry-leading game developers.” Among reporters, Resident Evil 7, and Resident Evil 3 Remake, which had a Switch Cloud version reported shortly after launch, are both expected, but AC Odyssey isn’t, for whatever reason. The Switch Cloud apps currently don’t provide support in Australia for the same reason as the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles multiplayer problems in the region, and out of consideration for this matter of game streaming’s accessibility, I am currently working on a quick piece about my experience with the Control demo on my own oft-cited bad internet.

Next was No More Heroes 3‘s first gameplay trailer, showing off plenty of unobscured combat, some story, some new mechanical ideas, and reconfirming its 2021 release window, which ended with the announcement that the original Wii games No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle were launching on the Switch eShop the same day for $20 each. Lastly, HAL Lab announced their 2018 mobile game Part-Time UFO‘s eShop release with expanded features, while Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity’s latest trailer showcased controlling the Divine Beasts as a special combat feature and announced its playable demo, after Nintendo Korea previously leaked it, with both available to play the same day as reveal as well.

Meanwhile, Sony announced its November PS Plus free games, with Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition and Middle Earth Shadow of War coming to both PS4 and PS5, and none other than the much-discussed Bugsnax as the first PS5-exclusive title in the catalogue. Additionally, the PS5-exclusive PS Plus Collection feature was fully detailed. As previously reported, it’s an assortment of PS4 games to fully play and install, which will be provided as a bonus with the standard subscription charge and will be updated regularly. Its full list of games available at launch is as follows: Bloodborne, Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Infamous Second Son, Ratchet and Clank 2016, The Last Guardian, The Last of Us Remastered, Until Dawn, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Batman: Arkham Knight, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Black Ops III – Zombies Chronicles Edition, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Fallout 4, Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition, Monster Hunter: World, Mortal Kombat X, Persona 5, and Resident Evil 7. Additionally, PS4 games offered by the Collection are guaranteed Game Boost support when redeemed through the service.

October 29th

Rare’s Simon Woodroffe, creative director of the upcoming next-gen Xbox title Everwild, abruptly resigned from his position on this date. Producer Louise O’Connor, who has featured heavily in the game’s previews, and lead designer James Blackham, remain on the project, which released its third trailer in September.

Jim Ryan and Phil Spencer have gotten deep into pre-launch interview circuits in the past month, providing plenty of headlines, but Ryan’s gamesindustry.biz interview on the 29th gave some particularly polarizing, but interesting, impressions about Sony’s plans for the first years of PS5. Most notably, Ryan stated he and Sony recognize that the more than 100 million people who already own PS4 will be and remain the majority of the PlayStation audience going through 2021 and 2022 as PS5 is starting to pick up steam, and that it is “crucial that we keep them engaged and happy.” The practical reasons behind this very simple notion are obvious, with its basis built further by the performance of new first-party titles this past year, and the gaming industry’s existing hardware experiencing expanded success during the pandemic. Those first and foremost will be what drives a need for the publisher to continue to substantially support the older hardware despite Ryan’s previous posturing about the value of a ‘hard break’, but providing more and better options for those who can’t invest in next-gen right now is a very lovely bonus in hard times that outweighs any concern trolling about power and innovation, for my money.

Ubisoft’s latest financial report announced that Far Cry 6, having seen no gameplay presentation in the time since its announcement in July, and Rainbow Six Quarantine, having not been seen at all since E3 2019, and which continues to beg the question of whether it will be at least retitled in respect to gestures everything, have both been delayed into the next fiscal year. The company where literally thousands of employees are now on record as having experienced or witnessed abuse will have to make do with only seven games releasing in the rest of this fiscal year.

A new extended gameplay trailer for the Demon’s Souls remake released the same day alongside extended article coverage detailing what has and hasn’t changed in the game. The ‘sixth archstone’ cut content is not being restored, the world tendency mechanic has largely gone unaltered except for UI adjustments to more easily communicate to players what the current state of their world is, and difficulty is generally not being adjusted. Meanwhile, music and dialogue are fully re-recorded, major well-documented glitch exploits have been removed, a new photo mode that functions as a pause button and feature specialized visual filters is introduced, with one of those filters bringing the visual style closer to the PS3 original’s, and separate cinematic and performance modes are introduced. Cinematic is stable 4K and 30fps, performance is dynamic 4K and 60fps; the latter is what’s been used for all public footage of the game so far.

October 30th

A Ubisoft Connect article on backwards compatibility posted that Friday caused a stir before ultimately being pulled that evening by the company. The article indicated that Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Vita to PS4 ports the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles Trilogy, Risk, and VR titles like Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Werewolves Within, and Space Junkies were not playable on PS5 whatsoever. Further investigation suggested that the games potentially fall more accurately under Sony’s bootable with risk of severe issue category, but Ubisoft’s writer missed that distinction. It’s also possible that the games will ultimately be fully playable and work on them only finished very late. Ubisoft’s statement on the matter: “There may be inaccuracies involving the Ubisoft titles that will be playable on PS5.” Currently, there are no further updates.

Next-gen upgrade paths Master Doc

As this is my last Game News Roundup before PS5 and the new Xboxes release over the next two weeks from this publication, I thought a nice gesture towards the readers I appreciate so much would be to compile all of my previous coverage on next-gen versions of current games, how each will be handled with Smart Delivery and so on, with inclusion of the most recent announcements in this field that I reserved for this section. Please note that some individual third-party titles include timed exclusivity in their free upgrade paths, and some only include it in their digital purchases.

First-party Xbox and console exclusive titles lead the way with the Smart Delivery initiative: Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Gears Tactics, Grounded, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Sea of Thieves, The Outer Worlds, Tell Me Why, and the upcoming Call of the Sea, Chorus, and Halo Infinite all being confirmed. For the games that are already out, most of these next-gen upgrades will be available at console launch with the rest tentatively ready by the end of 2020.

CDPR and Cyberpunk 2077 were one of the first third-parties to publicly commit to this standard and do so for both platforms, while also applying it to their previous major release, Witcher 3. Other individual third party commitments to free upgrades on both Xbox and Playstation include current and upcoming titles like: Cuisine Royale, Dead by Daylight, Destiny 2, DIRT 5, Hitman 3, Ghostrunner, Little Nightmares 2, Maneater, Marvel’s Avengers, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, Mortal Kombat 11, Outriders, Planet Coaster, WRC 9, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Madden NFL 21 currently offers a free next-gen upgrade on the Xbox family, but it will only be free until the next series entry’s release in 2021. FIFA 21 follows the same model.

NBA 2K1 requires purchase of its $100 Mamba Forever edition for dual-access to PS4 + PS5 or X1 + new Xbox versions of the game.

Overcooked! All You Can Eat is a next-gen optimized and exclusive new edition, compiling both entries in the series and every piece of DLC, remakes the first game in the second’s engine with its additional features, and adds new levels and content as well, including extensive assist and accessibility features. Due to the extent of new content, there is no upgrade path for this.

Ubisoft’s current upcoming software follow the free next-gen upgrade model across the board, with Watch Dogs Legion, Assassins’ Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Riders Republic, the recently delayed Far Cry 6, all specifically and explicitly mentioned, alongside older titles like For Honor and Rainbow Six Siege.

Doom Eternal and Elder Scrolls Online will support free next-gen upgrades for all PS4 and Xbox One owners and future purchasers of the games, and regarding other current-gen titles, Bethesda stated “we can confirm we are committed to offer free upgrades of existing Bethesda titles we bring forward into the next generation”, indicating their approach to any other upgrades that will happen without as of yet offering concrete details on which games will receive them.

505 Games’ $40 Control: Ultimate Edition package is the only way to gain both the current and next-gen versions of the 2019 game (which famously had consistent performance issues on both base current-gen consoles) at once, with no support for current owners whatsoever.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War costs a minimum of $70 to receive the PS4 and PS5 or X1 and new Xbox, versus $60 for just backwards-compatible current gen versions.

Atelier Ryza 2, Guilty Gear Strive, and Praey for the Gods will support free upgrades from PS4 to PS5 when each launches next year. The former two are PlayStation exclusive and the latter only has an Xbox One release in the cards right now.

Alongside the initial reveal of these titles’ PS4 versions after the September showcase, Sony announced free upgrade paths for all of their current first party cross-gen games, namely Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Horizon Forbidden West. Platform exclusive indie Bugsnax also falls under this banner.

Gearbox’s Borderlands 3 not only offers free upgrade paths for all consoles, but also guarantees cross-gen progression for both Xbox and PS, which is otherwise only standardized by games under the official Xbox Smart Delivery label.

The Master Chief Collection‘s next-gen optimization launches November 17th and will come free for all current owners and Game Pass subscribers on that date, providing 4K resolution and 120fps play for all included games in both campaign and multiplayer. The announcement does at this time only specifically address those who are owners as of that date, however, when future owners are usually cited by name in these announcements, especially from Xbox.

No Man’s Sky’s next-gen upgrade comes at console launch free for existing owners of all platforms, with 4K 60fps support, multiplayer expanded to 32 players, and various other feature updates.

Closer

With next-gen finally here, who knows what the rest of the year might bring. But I, Lily Bones, can promise you that I’ll keep you informed through it all.

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Thank you to Marcus TAC, Dramus18, Singing Brakeman, Science is Bad, Ninjaneer, Prestidigitis, Frosst, and Suoly among others for your financial support of this project. Thank you to any readers for your wonderful patience while I finished this article. Thank you everyone for your reading!