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Game News Roundup: February 2021

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 as always goes to the Avocado’s one and only Space Robot!

On January 11th, Disney and its subsidiary officially announced the formal revival and reestablishment of LucasArts under its original brand from the 1980s, Lucasfilm Games, which will be on all future titles. While it remains solely a licensor rather than an in-house developer, its heads henceforth are once again more actively pursuing and funding a larger variety of new projects on the heels of EA’s controversies and cancelations of some titles greenlit under their partnership. After nearly a decade of effective inactivity and an infamous exclusive contract with EA, Lucasfilm Games began to establish a new future for the franchise in gaming by announcing two new big budget titles licensed out to new companies, with Wolfenstein reboot developers MachineGames revealing a teaser for their Indiana Jones game published by Bethesda, while LG announced that Ubisoft’s The Division team Massive Entertainment was beginning work on an open-world Star Wars game. A combination of LG statements and third party reporting quickly clarified that their contract with EA had not been dissolved, merely renegotiated to no longer maintain exclusivity for the remaining years on it. Speculation abounds that this contract will not be renewed upon its 2023 expiration, but in the meantime Lucasfilm firmly stated that the partnership and projects currently in the works with EA remain.

In late January, Sega announced a restructuring to divest its video gaming division from Sammy Corporation, its pachinko and pachislot division. As a result, Toshiro Nagoshi prepared to retire as chief creative officer and become creative director as of April 1st. Then, at the end of February, Juro Watari suddenly resigned in entirety from Sega and admitted to an uncertain future for his Cyber Troopers Virtual-On series.

While I still try and fail to report on the Gamestop situation, here’s Jimquisition instead.

On February 1st, the biggest step forward yet occurred towards the anticipated death of Stadia as Google officially announced that it was closing both of its internal development studios at Stadia and redirecting the platform exclusively to third-party partnerships, canceling multiple projects in development in the process. Stadia Games Director Jade Raymond is departing Google entirely, while around 150 developers will need to “try to find new roles” within the company. Weeks later, multiple reports from Bloomberg and VGC among others further detailed the extensive difficulties within Stadia and the consequences of this closure. Stadia had underperformed Google’s sales targets by the hundreds of thousands, racked up expenses by blowing many millions of dollars on its biggest launch titles that went largely unplayed, like Red Dead Redemption 2, while generally not offering enough to most indie developers to make the partnership worthwhile. The product was, as was apparent from the outside and outset, actively rushed to market with missing features despite some employees rightfully arguing that they were releasing it in effective beta at best and needed to keep expectations at a beta level. Development was treated by top brass as a means for marketing and showing off Stadia’s features rather than an end unto itself. Google and Phil Harrison’s unrealistic expectations and lack of grasp on the industry were a recurring theme right up to the end, with the now infamous story that Stadia’s now fired devs learned of the decision at the same time as the public and less than a week after Harrison had assured them of “great progress.” A complete hiring freeze enacted once the pandemic started in early 2020, despite Google’s abhorrently massive profits, had effectively stopped internal development from progressing whatsoever. Both upon the closures’ announcement and in the months leading up to it, dozens of projects both internal and third-party were canceled, including an original multiplayer game from Jade Raymond, a sequel to Journey to the Savage Planet, and proposals for Stadia exclusives from Hideo Kojima (an episodic horror game) and Yu Suzuki among others. This puts the longevity of Google’s promise for continued third party support only further in doubt.

Other events on that day: CrisTales‘ new release window was announced as scheduled for July 2021. Sega announced its Yakuza detective spinoff Judgment‘s next-gen versions scheduled for release on April 23rd. It’s coming to not only Stadia and PS5, but also Xbox Series X, bringing the series yet another step closer to total parity between its Xbox and PlayStation support. When asked, Sega stated that no PC port was planned, despite all the other occasions of series entries porting to Xbox and PC simultaneously. Rumor has it that a PC port is happening, it’s just being delayed in both announcement and release due to a Stadia exclusivity deal.

On February 2nd, THQ Nordic’s parent company Embracer Group (which held the Nordic branding until after the 8chan controversy in 2019) announced its acquisitions of Duke Nukem Forever‘s and legendary dipshit Randy Pitchford’s Gearbox Software for $1.35 billion, and Aspyr Media for $100 million, respectively. Pitchford stated soon after that the acquisition would not preclude Gearbox’s continued work on Borderlands, and that Gearbox owns Borderlands while also sharing certain rights to it with Take-Two. Aspyr has up to this point exclusively been a publisher and porting studio, having done so since the early 2000s, but recently most famous for the PS4 and Switch versions of older 3D Star Wars games like Jedi Outcast, Jedi Academy, and Episode I: Racer. Reports came later that same week saying first that Aspyr has the original Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 games on the docket as modern ports to release by the end of 2021. In addition, after rumors had emerged of a KOTOR 1 Remake greenlit by Lucasfilm Games, and Aspyr had announced work on its first fully developed and big-budget/AAA title, and listed their recent hiring of many developers departed from Bioware’s The Old Republic MMO team, Jason Schreier reported that these developments are in fact one and the same. The ex-Bioware team is making a “modernly canonized” KOTOR 1 Remake at Aspyr.

Other developments on that day include that Respawn officially announced via social media a March 9th release date for the Switch port of Apex Legends after previously teasing the news, the first full trailer for Mass Effect Legendary Edition released, announcing its scheduled release date as May 14th while extensively detailing its graphical and mechanical updates across various press sources, and as relayed by reliable reports like Daniel Ahmad et al., official next-gen sales numbers through December 2020 were released, with Sony announcing that the PS5 sold 4.5 million units in the holiday quarter, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales sold 4.1 million copies across PS4 and 5 as part of an overall highly successful period even with the individual PS5s selling at a loss, while the Xbox Series consoles have sold between 3 and 3.2 million units, somewhat better than the Xbox One had in its first quarter.

After previously launching last fall as a next-gen exclusive, the complete series bundle and remaster Overcooked All You Can Eat had a retail listing leak its previous-gen (Xbox One, PS4, Switch, and Steam) versions on February 3rd ahead of the developers officially announcing it on the 15th for a scheduled March 23rd release.

On February 4th, investment fund Kowloon Nights announced 23 new partnerships to financially support various indie developers in the productions of each of their next or current projects, including She Dreams Elsewhere, 30XX, Sloclap’s then unannounced Sifu, and the teams behind Spiritfarer, Paradise Killer, Oxenfree, and Desperados 3, among others. Polygon provides the full list here.

On February 5th, Square Enix’s FFXIV presentation revealed Endwalker, the MMO’s final narrative expansion which is set to conclude the story began in A Realm Reborn and release in Fall 2021. The presentation also announced that FF14’s open beta on PS5 will begin on April 13th, the same day as the final patch for Shadowbringers that will set up the lead-in to Endwalker. FF14 expansions will continue without continuing this current storyline. Ubisoft delayed the release of its Price of Persia Sands of Time Remake indefinitely after its previous delay to March.

On February 9th: CD Projekt Red was hit by a ransomware cyber attack similar to the one Capcom suffered last year, stealing personnel data as well as the source code of games like The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. The hackers successfully sold off the data in an auction only days later for some millions of dollars. The hack effectively locked the infamous studio’s employees out of work for two weeks straight, due to the compromise of their personal info and need to send in work computers for malware scans. Weeks later, the second major patch for Cyberpunk was delayed to March due to those issues. Bandai Namco’s financial report announced that it will appoint a new president, Masaru Kawaguchi, while reorganizing the company to merge its gaming and toy divisions in April. At the end of the month, Bandai Namco would go on to announce that it will sell all of its North American arcade gaming locations due to the pandemic’s impact on the business and many of those locations individually. It will continue marketing and selling arcade games themselves. Crash Bandicoot 4‘s Switch port and next-gen versions were announced for a March 16th release. More than two years after the original lawsuit that ended in a class-action settlement, a new lawsuit has been filed by Sharon O’Donnell against Riot Games and its current CEO in particular, Nicolo Laurent, alleging years’ worth of experiences with sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliatory behavior from him during her employment. The company proceeded to open an investigation, while the Riot Workers United organization that arranged the 2019 company walkout began publicly backing her.

On February 11th: An unexpected announcement came, that the highly controversial Six Days in Fallujah has reactivated development after the famous initial 2009 cancelation, being made by Highwire Games with a release set for late 2021. This news has been rightfully met by much attention and criticism, especially upon the developers’ insistence of an apolitical vision for their game adapting a real world battle in which war crimes were committed by the imperial invading US forces. Meanwhile, Sony publicly scheduled Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart‘s release date as June 11th, while Epic Games Store had new major exclusives galore. Axiom Verge 2 had a PC port announced as an Epic exclusive, and after almost twenty years, the Kingdom Hearts series was announced to no longer be console exclusive, with Square bringing Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 RemixKingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter PrologueKingdom Hearts 3, and Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory to PC all on March 30th, as Epic exclusives.

On February 12th, after various teases, Playtonic Games finally unveiled their rebranding, announcing the opening of their Playtonic Friends indie publishing division, which will hopefully fill the gap left behind by Double Fine since its purchase by Microsoft. Meanwhile, King’s Bounty II received its second delay to August 2021.

On February 13th, Several new third party Switch titles hit various ratings boards, including Tales of the Borderlands ahead of its inclusion in the Direct, but most notably The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, following from its leak in the Capcom hack. The Capcom documents indicated that it will be announced in April. Sorry I didn’t mention that the last time I reported on that.

On February 15th, Ubisoft finally officially changed the title of Rainbow Six Quarantine to RS: Parasite, while the charming indie visual novel with art and animation by the Small-Buteras, Later Alligator, finally had its Switch release date narrowed down to March 2021.

On February 16th, Amazon delayed its MMO New World once again to late 2021, seeming ever more likely to go the same way as Stadia, while Marvel’s Avengers was finally able to schedule the release date for its Hawkeyes expansion and next-gen versions, March 18th. Also, Pokémon Unite received a progress update ahead of its full launch later this year, announcing a Canadian open beta beginning in March.

Along with the first full sized/general Nintendo Direct since September 2019, the 17th featured Microsoft debuting “FPS Boost,” a new BC feature and means of doubling or quadrupling framerate in backwards compatible games on Series S and X. All of the games so far that support FPS Boost are Xbox 360 titles.

Nintendo Direct:

The Direct opened with a trailer for the fourth Fighter in the current Smash Bros Ultimate DLC Pass, immediately fulfilling one of the expectations the announcement on the 16th set by revealing Xenoblade Chronicles‘ Pyra and Mythra as a transforming fighter in the same vein as Zelda and Sheik all the way back in Melee. The two women will join the fighting roster in March with the traditional presentation by Sakurai on March 4th. Like Min Min did at the start of the second DLC Pass, Pyra further adds to the game’s first-party and Switch generation software representation, arriving from first-year games that missed out on base roster inclusion due to limited resources and bad timing. General Producer Shinya Takahashi then cut in on the first of several occasions, addressing the long gap between general Directs, with a general implication of the Partners Showcase strategy being a “that was then, this is now” occurrence.

Two of the biggest and best third party/indie reveals of the day hit one after another, Mediatonic’s 60-player phenomenon Fall Guys and Moebius’ Outer Wilds, both scheduled to release on Switch in Summer 2021. Fall Guys was soon after confirmed to also be coming to Xbox in the same window, in the process effectively confirming the timetable for Sony’s exclusivity deal on the game given its August launch. After first being announced in the Japanese version of a 2019 Direct, the dual Famicom Detective Club Remakes were finally officially confirmed for English localization, a first for the games, and a simultaneous worldwide launch on May 14th 2021. This very unique first-party release is significant due to its preservation and restoration of games that were seminal works in the visual novel genre and haven’t been rereleased since their original late 80s launch. Following from Age of Calamity last November, Koei Tecmo’s latest musou will be the brand new Samurai Warriors 5, coming simultaneously to Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC on June 27th 2021 in Japan and July 27th in the West. Square Enix’s modern support for the Mana RPG series received another entry on its belt in turn, with the announcement of a remaster for the PS1’s Legend of Mana coming June 24th. A quick check-in with Monster Hunter Rise showed the new entry’s twin characters joining the combat fray, while also announcing that the special edition MH themed Switch previously confirmed for Europe and Japan would also release in North America on the same day, the game’s scheduled launch date of March 26th.

Camelot’s Mario Golf: Super Rush was revealed next for a June 25th release date. Promoted as their biggest Mario Golf game yet with wide scale courses, not to mention the first home console entry since the Gamecube and first entry whatsoever since 2014, it features a Story Mode like the series’ early entries, now starring your Miis, as well as motion controls, online multiplayer and the Speed Mode. From there third party headlines kept on rolling as Tales from the Borderlands‘ Switch port was announced with a March 24th release, and Capcom Arcade Stadium collection had a quick reminder that it was Available Today and an explainer for its system, that one arcade game is downloaded for free and the rest are purchased in a trio of $15 installments. After leaking earlier this year by the Xbox Store listing its achievements early of all things, the Direct officially announced that Stubbs the Zombie, an original Xbox exclusive in 2005, will be coming to Switch, PS4, and Xbox One on March 16th 2021. The aforementioned Aspyr Media is handling this port and in turn officially putting the Halo engine on Switch ahead of certain long-hoped and rumored announcements. After first being announced at E3 2019, No More Heroes 3 finally scheduled a specific release date of August 27th 2021, while further detailing a tournament arc story and gameplay such as the return of the traditional odd job minigames. The next game that first debuted during this presentation, Neon White is, ahem, a first person shooter and platformer crossed with a deckbuilding game, with a strong visual aesthetic (reminded me of Paradise Killer and my girlfriend of Persona 5) about competitive demon slaying for the chance to live in Heaven, published by Annapurna Interactive and developed by none other than Ben Esposito and company, the creator of Donut County, in a striking tonal shift for his second game.

We didn’t know who was developing it until the last minute, it keeps being confused with pre-existing mobile games of the same license that aren’ the same game, it’s the number one new reveal of the Direct that makes people ask, “Wait, that’s a first party game?” It’s DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, published by Nintendo and coming to Switch on June 4th. Based on Lauren Faust’s webseries and Cartoon Network series, and licensed from Warner Bros’ DC Comics universe, its gameplay features both diversely powered superhero combat and social sim elements of spending time with friends and sharing on social media. Although the production context of the game was unclear for a few weeks, in a last-minute news update to this section courtesy of GoNintendo and the Australian ratings board, it turns out that the developers of this game are Toybox Inc., a small third party studio led and founded by ex-Marvelous staff, who have an exclusivity contract with Nintendo. They developed the Switch port of Deadly Premonition and co-developed Deadly Premonition 2 amongst several other titles. Given the context of those releases and this info, it seems likely that in addition to publication, Teen Power is co-owned and co-funded by Nintendo as a full-stop third party exclusive. And moving on from that, it’s that third party port Jeff Grubb accurately leaked ball the way back in summer 2020, the multiplayer third person shooter Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, coming on March 19th. This port’s completion signifies the support of the Frostbite engine on Switch after technical difficulties with it in the past, hopefully a good sign for future EA ports. It didn’t release West until after the Switch had already launched, it’s one of those unsung late 3DS titles, the full-scale1 RPG Miitopia, now making a surprise reappearance and coming to Switch itself as of May 21st 2021. It’s being remastered and ported by Grezzo, developers of the Link’s Awakening remake and current upcoming projects, and continues the return of Miis to the forefront started by their inclusion in the aforementioned new Mario Golf.

The previously announced Mario Anniversary update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons was detailed next, coming February 25th and bringing many costumes and items, most notably the functioning Warp Pipe teleporting villagers around their island. Octopath Traveler‘s developers returned triumphantly with an even clunkier tittle but an even more ambitious project to go with it, Project Triangle Strategy (working title) coming in 2022. This tactical RPG in the vein of early Fire Emblem and Tactics Ogre offered an extensive explanation of its extensive designs. A very brief teaser played for Star Wars Hunters, a free to play competitive multiplayer arena combat game focused on the franchise’s bounty hunters coming to Switch and mobile later this year from…Zynga. Oh shit those guys are still a thing? Anyway. Debuting with an overlong and deeply misconceived reality TV parody trailer, Knockout City is a multiplayer dodgeball game from EA and Velan Studios, completing the current set of EA releases on Switch while continuing Velan’s relationship with Nintendo after their work on Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit last year. The game will be coming to PC, Switch, plus all Xboxes and Playstations all at once on May 21st 2021. After its Apple Arcade release last September, World’s End Club is coming to Switch on May 28th from Too Kyo Games, and frequent collaborators Kazutaka Kodaka and Kotaro Uchikoshi, creators of Danganronpa and Zero Escape respectively. The sidescrolling puzzle mystery game builds on the ideas of their past works with the notion of a death game being suddenly called off, leaving the survivors to process their experience and investigate the state of their world. Also, the very straightforwardly announced physical release of Hades comes March 19th with downloads for the game’s soundtrack and art book.

After leaking last year, the Ninja Gaiden Master Collection was announced for a June 10th release on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. This collects the trilogy of Itagaki-directed intense 3D action games of the 00s and early 10s, however, for the first two games it controversially uses the PS3 Sigma versions rather than the originals, which cut content such as the SNES and arcade games packaged in, the introductory cutscene and ability to play cutscenes outside Story Mode, and some of the unlockable costumes. Despite this regrettable choice, Koei Tecmo rolled on with the highly expected Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Expansion Pass’ official announcement. The Pass costs $20 for its full set of content releasing between June and November of 2021. A static screen displayed the full details of this DLC with a long text list that went by so fast I kept having to rewind it to get these notes right. The June Wave adds new fighters to the playable character roster, new weapon types, and new special challenges featuring new challenging enemies. Wave 2 in November adds new battle skills, more new playable fighters, new stages, and new dedicated story vignettes for various characters. A bonus weapon and costume for Link with purchase will be available May 28th. After being announced last November, Square’s latest entry in their modern support for the SaGa RPG series, SaGa Frontier Remastered, yes this is a different headline than the Mana thing, received a surprise update in the Direct moving its scheduled release date from Summer to April 15th 2021. A quick check-in from Apex Legends with the March 9th date from before, newly featuring the first gameplay footage of the port. On the same date, a boxed retail release with a download code for the game will launch in Japan.

Eiji Aonuma appeared to begin the closing set of first-party announcements. He felt the need to clarify that they weren’t showing Breath of the Wild 2 again yet but will later this year, ahead of unveiling the new Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD remaster, coming to Switch on July 16th as part of the series’ 35th anniversary celebration. The remaster follows in the mode of Super Mario Galaxy last year by transferring the original motion controls from Wii remote and nunchuk to joy-cons, while also creating a new button-only control set (with the right stick controlling the sword) to accommodate handheld play and the common criticisms of the original motion controls. The remaster will launch alongside special edition joy-cons with Master Sword and Master Shield designs. Reliable reporters suggest that Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD will follow suit and come to Switch sometime this year in some uncertain fashion, but definitely not bundled with the new remaster. No word on the N64/3DS games. Lastly, Nintendo premiered the striking reveal trailer for Splatoon 3, scheduled to come in 2022. According to multiple sources including Imran Khan, this game was originally set for a 2020 reveal and holiday 2021 release before being delayed by the pandemic, giving hope that it could be an early 2022 release that could end the fiscal year with a bang. The trailer, and Nintendo’s extensive social media coverage immediately after the Direct, depict a major leap forward for the series that involves a brand new setting complete with new music and character designs themed after the Chaos victory in the Splatoon 2 final Splatfest, brand new mechanics like a bow weapon, reconfigured previous weapons, two new forms of mid-battle movement, choosing your landing spot in multiplayer battles, and updated character customization that matches Animal Crossing‘s gender-free options while adding a cute new Salmonid pet.

Following from its obligatory Direct appearance, Capcom announced on the 18th that the Monster Hunter series will have three livestreams between then and launch, scheduled for March 8th, 9th, and 11th and covering both Rise and Stories 2. These streams will include a director Q&A, new gameplay showcased, hunting tutorials, and more. The previously leaked second demo for Rise should be announced in one of those.

On Friday February 19th, Blizzcon premiered online following from the cancelation of its 2020 iteration. Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 were both confirmed to not be 2021 releases, with the former revealing and detailing the new Rogue class, while the latter detailed the new hero Sojourn with her railgun and rocket-slide. The previously rumored remaster Diablo 2 Resurrected was officially announced, coming to Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series later in 2021. This remaster is produced by Vicarious Visions with the intent of following the faithful and acclaimed model of their previous Tony Hawk Pro Skater release rather than the universally panned Warcraft 3 Reforged. The first expansion for WoW Classic, Burning Crusade Classic, was officially announced after leaking the day before.

On February 23rd, many announcements hit, especially from Sony. The next generation of PlayStation VR was officially announced in a PS blog post with the new PS5 headset and a new controller modeled on the DualSense’s feature, which are botth stated to now connect to the console with only a single cord for ease of use. As stated by Hideaki Nishino in the blog post, PS5VR will not launch in 2021, but early devkits are already being sent out. Sony also announced that a further slate of their titles are coming to PC, starting with Days Gone this Spring as stated by Jim Ryan in an interview and reconfirmed by Bend Studio that day. Based on reports from last year that got this correct, the ever-requested Bloodborne and the Uncharted Collection should be expected as well. After being teased the day before, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 had its next-gen versions and Switch port officially announced via trailer, coming to PS5 and Series X on March 26th and Switch later in 2021. Physical owners can only upgrade on PS, not Xbox, and the upgrade on either platform costs $10, while PlayStation has worse options on save data transfer. Vicarious Visions is confirmed by Activision to be working on these in addition to the recently announced Diablo 2 Resurrected.

On February 24th, after Jason Schreier’s Bloomberg report from two weeks earlier of the Anthem Next expansion patch development being under review, he reappeared to state that EA had officially canceled the project, which was confirmed later that day by the companies. He separately reported later the same day that, in the process of reviewing the failure of Anthem and the considerable success of Jedi Fallen Order, the publisher had just newly granted permission to a repeated request from Bioware developers that all previously planned multiplayer and live service elements of the next Dragon Age game be scrapped, making it the company’s first single-player-only new title since Dragon Age II ten years ago. All 30 developers working on Anthem Next will divert to Dragon Age. These details have not been commented on by the publisher or developer.

The previously Xbox family exclusive first-person shooter Star Wars Republic Commando was, after previouly leaking, officially announced for a release on PS4 and Switch scheduled on April 6th, following from its 2005 original Xbox launch and 2018 Xbox One port. Like many/all recent Star Wars port jobs, it is being handled by Aspyr.

On February 25th, the first Sony State of Play for the year premiered. After VGC reported on it, Sony confirmed that they were effectively shuttering Sony Japan by reorganizing and diverting its remaining personnel and resources around Asobi, the developers of the AstroBot games. The majority of Sony Japan’s staff had left last year with Keiichiro Toyama and formed their independent studio, Bokeh, as the conclusion to years of instability, financial difficulty, and tensions within that part of Sony. Bokeh will be revealing its first title, Toyama’s return to survival horror after creating Silent Hill and Siren, later this year. In addition, Subnautica: Below Zero‘s exit from early access had its date scheduled with an announcement trailer, putting the game’s launch on all current PlayStations, Xboxes, and the Switch at May 14th. The System Shock remake was newly scheduled for a Summer 2021 launch with a demo arriving that day to show off the current state of gameplay. System Shock 2021 was written by serial sexual predator Chris Avellone.

The State of Play was announced as featuring exactly 10 games and primarily previously announced ones, and boy did it live up to that. The showcase opened on detailing Crash Bandicoot 4‘s PS5 upgrades, moved on to gameplay from Returnal, and showed a second trailer for EA and Velan’s Knockout City after its Direct debut the week before, which went into more detail on its multiplayer dodgeball gameplay. The sole debut for the presentation came from Sloclap, developer of Absolver, with Sifu, a single player 3D kung-fu game merging beat-em-up and character action influences. Sifu is scheduled to come to PS4 and PS5 later in 2021. Solar Ash, from the creators of Hyper Light Drifter, returned to showcase its fluid 3D movement and action gameplay and confirm a 2021 release window. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach returned to fully show off its expanded gameplay in the vein of Alien: Isolation, exploring a large retrofuture pizzeria 3D environment while evading your mechanical hunters more directly instead of keeping them at bay from a single room. It’s scheduled to come to PS4 and PS5 later this year. Noted jackass and inexplicable neocon chud Lorne Lanning narrated the likely final Sony presentation appearance for the big budget remake entry in his dystopian environmentalist series, Oddworld Soulstorm, further detailing its “2.9D” platforming, while officially announcing its scheduled release date as April 6th and its availability as the free PS5 game on PS Plus for the month of April.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits reappeared for the first time since June 2020, extensively presenting its platforming and combat gameplay, scheduling an August 24th 2021 release date (a delay from Spring to Summer after its previous delay out of 2020), and Deathloop showed off further gameplay set to Bond-theme styled music. The final piece of the presentation was Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade, the story DLC and next-gen upgrade bundle of the game scheduled for a June 10th 2021 release at a $70 price tag. Its trailer presented the PS5 technical updates and this new story episode featuring a playable Yuffie and Sonon alongside Cid and other cohorts. The technical updates are a free upgrade for all PS4 FF7R owners, while the Intergrade story DLC must be paid for separately by everyone and is only available on PS5. Base FF7R’s presence on the PS+ Collection on PS5 and upcoming addition to PS+ free games in March on PS4 are confirmed to not qualify for free upgrades. In Japan, there is no available free upgrade for current owners whatsoever. Immediately following the trailer’s premiere, Square Enix announced two new FF7 tie-in mobile games, The First Soldier, a prequel battle royale, and Ever Crisis, an episodic companion series more directly remaking the original FF7 narrative alongside the entire extended FF7 franchise’s narrative, specifically citing Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, and Before Crisis as being included. In the process of these announcements, Tetsuya Nomura officially moved into Creative Director for the remainder of the FF7R series while also managing these projects alongside still unannounced ones, with Naoki Hamaguchi being named as Director for Part 2.

The traditional Pokémon Day and first 25th Anniversary video presentation for the franchise was announced on Thursday to premiere the next day, February 26th. When the Pokemon Presents aired, it opened with a quick countdown and an extended anniversary celebration video covering the series’ history in great detail, which immediately transferred into TV ads. A quick gameplay overview trailer played for New Pokémon Snap ahead of its launch in two months, And lastly, there was a series of announcements for live events in various franchise services, from Pokémon Go to Sword and Shield’s regular raids.

A quick gameplay overview trailer for New Pokémon Snap came next, discussing the expanded photo editing features, which will impact the scores the photos receive, as well as the online photo sharing and leaderboards new to the series since it debuted a decade before Nintendo’s first online-supported console. The trailer also showed off new features or updates to the core gameplay, like employing music, fluffruit food, and evolutionary Illumina orbs to create new photo opportunities, as well as an environmental scanner within the camera to inspect environments and uncover shyer, hidden creatures.

As they moved into new announcements, Sinnoh was at last confirmed as Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, highly faithful remakes of the Gen 4 games, recreating the grid map and chibi overworld sprites, were officially announced and scheduled to release in Late 2021. The trailer clearly presents that the Underground world from Gen 4 is preserved, and there is some indication that these remakes incorporate at least some material from Gen 4’s third version, Platinum, as a starting area NPC who is only available in that version and who provides a flower for the Legendary Shaymin, is clearly visible in the footage. Further official details will need to be provided to determine the extent to which that version’s content is integrated.

But that’s not all! Sinnoh was in fact doubled down upon, as a new mainline title series was revealed with Pokémon Legends Arceus, scheduled to come in Early 2022, (specifically January-March according to the katakana shown in the Japanese version of the presentation). A “premake” as official social media has described it, it expands and emphasizes on Gen 8’s Wild Areas and takes place in a generations-ago Feudal Sengoku era of Sinnoh with a painterly art style. Many traditional aspects of the series have been adjusted to best fit this more fully open-world format, where the player is a research assistant focused on building the region’s very first Pokédex. The Pokémon League and Pokémon trainers in general are years away from being established, so the world is a very different place. Even while probably working from an early build, the trailer seems very conscious in responding to popular criticisms and preferences within the series’ community, showing off increased draw distance and decreased pop-in within the open world, as well as full-contact combat animations.

The player character has their own health bar that can be damaged by wild Pokémon and lead to Game Overs. All battles are seamlessly integrated into the overworld rather than isolated within dedicated battle screens, and those battles are said to be similar in design to early Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle system. Pokémon are available as fully animated flying and swimming mounts rather than the silhouettes of past generations and loading screens in Sword and Shield.

Other news from February 26th include a Bloomberg report that the PS5 is receiving a firmware update this summer that will unlock usage of external hard drives for PS5 games, not just PS4 games as it is currently, aiding players with storage size difficulties. This update will also add higher top speeds for the console’s fan. An EA Play update coming in March brings good news for Game Pass people and Star Wars dorks like my girlfriend as Star Wars Squadrons will join the services among other titles. Halo Infinite received its monthly update, showing off plenty of art and screenshots, discussing the overall intent of greater freedom in design of the world and the missions alike, the implementation of a day-night cycle and corresponding lighting, stating the primary subjects for the next two monthly updates (Audio Team in March, PC version team in April), and stating that they are transitioning into the pure polish phase of development with QA, performance maintenance, balancing, etc.

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