Welcome back to your monthly report of game news, where I do my best to compile everything into one convenient ad-free place, so you don’t have to worry about the pesky cracks that info can fall through at other publications!
Thanks and credit for the banner image as always goes to the Avocado’s one and only Space Robot!
September 4th: Tripwire Interactive, developer of the Killing Floor series and shark game Maneater, publisher of Chivalry 2, spent days embroiled in controversy and criticism from its cofounder and then-CEO John Gibson vocally supporting Texas’ all-but-name abortion ban and declaring himself to be “pro-life”, i.e. anti-abortion, anti bodily autonomy. Development partners Shipwright Studios and Torn Banner Studios both responded, Shipwright ending all contracts with Tripwire while Torn Banner declared Gibson’s comments opposed to what it believes about women’s rights. This matter concluded the evening of September 6th when Gibson was replaced by Alan Wilson and resigned from the company, at which point he immediately rebranded into a full time Christian conservative missionary.
September 6th: On September 1st, Paradox Interactive’s CEO Ebba Ljungerud unexpectedly resigned. Less than a week later on the 6th, a survey conducted within the company in August went public, a survey conducted by two independent unions stating that 44% of 133 participating employees have experienced gender discrimination and/or mistreatment. The survey reported 69% of women who responded had experienced abuse and described a culture of silence in mishandling or neglecting attempts to complain about mistreatment. A week later, Paradox’s chair of the board of directors and former CEO Fredrik Wester attempted to address his own misconduct case for which he had evidently not been punished.
September 8th: Sony made its third (and still not last) developer acquisition this year by announcing that it had fully purchased Firesprite. Firesprite’s founders have been PlayStation partners since the beginning, starting as Psygnosis, the developers of the Wipeout series. More recently, Firesprite made The Persistence and did support work for The Playroom, an early appearance by the increasingly prominent Astro-Bot characters. In turn, on September 29th Firesprite officially acquired its sister studio and codeveloper Fabrik Games, bringing its total employees to 265.
The first new Twisted Metal game in a decade was widely reported as recently greenlit and now in development in order to promote the upcoming TV show based on the games, which cast Anthony Mackie as its lead around the same time. In late September the first tangible details about this new game were widely reported, stating that it is a free to play game from Lucid, developer of the first party PS5 exclusive original vehicular combat game you’ve already forgotten about, Destruction AllStars.
To open the Showcase, Knights of the Old Republic – Remake, which I will henceforth be using shorthand for because…come on, was announced with a cinematic teaser trailer featuring Darth Revan themself and narrated by Jennifer Hale as Bastila Shan. The game is a next-gen console exclusive and a timed PlayStation console exclusive, launching on PC and PS5 ahead of an eventual Xbox Series release. The remake is officially described as still early in development and has no current release window. Aspyr representatives have already affirmed and reaffirmed that this project is a “ground-up remake,” that it remains an RPG, and its status as a “console launch exclusive” on PS5, a partnership which only emerged earlier this year after development had already begun. Fans have of course already noted the irony of this whole situation with the original KOTOR’s full stop Xbox console exclusivity. As part of its stake, Sony is providing guidance for Aspyr on working with next-gen hardware for the first time.
Back in February I relayed Jason Schreier’s now-confirmed report on this game: as part of Lucasfilm Games’ AAA reinvestment in the games industry, alongside the Indiana Jones game by Machine Games and another Star Wars game at Ubisoft, its long-standing partnership with port-house studio Aspyr was enhanced with a contract to produce the KOTOR Remake as Aspyr’s first original release. Schreier had also reported that Aspyr will port the original KOTOR games to PS4 and Switch in the near future, which began being confirmed at the Nintendo Direct late in the month.
Although Embracer Group-THQ Nordic now owns Aspyr, this deal was in place before the buyout and Embracer has no known part in the game whatsoever. When Embracer announced the buyout, its press release noted that Aspyr already had a project with a budget exceeding US$70 million in the works at the time of buyout. But who is managing the game? A very peculiar scenario was created by Lucasfilm’s approach to its new games, that it funds and owns them, but it does not spend the extra money to handle distribution. When already working with major companies like Zenimax and Ubisoft, this makes enough of a kind of sense, but Aspyr has literally never handled a physical distribution itself before, only done digital releases with Limited Run handling the physical releases of their Star Wars ports. It seems that sometime this year, there was a bidding war for a minority investment on KOTOR Remake, and Sony won, securing its status as initial publisher and distributor with timed exclusivity, and the game will change hands for its other platforms. Aspyr is confirmed as the PC version’s publisher, unsurprising since physical PC releases barely exist anymore anyway, but we’ll probably be waiting a while before knowing for sure who the publisher on Xbox is.
Aspyr has been taking its task very seriously with mass-hirings in the past year or so, focusing on devs with a background in AAA RPGs and focusing on former Bioware employees where possible, including from the Star Wars: The Old Republic team, the Dragon Age Inquisition team, and even the original KOTOR team. Officially confirmed creative leads on the game include Ryan Treadwell, a producer who has taken point on PR for the game since its announcement, lead writer Courtney Woods, staff writer Sam Maggs, lead gameplay designer Matt Berner, Jason Minor, and Brad Prince. This crew is taking an approach akin to FF7R with the game, less devotedly faithful and more adaptational. Like the Dead Space Remake also announced recently, this remake will rewrite and reboot from its source material, in this case additionally serving Disney’s branding purposes by bringing its setting and story officially into continuity with the rest of the Disney Star Wars franchise entries in time for a likely eventual KOTOR live-action adaptation. Regarding Hale’s role in the trailer, “You’re going to see some other familiar voices return” was as much as Treadwell was willing to commit, suggesting a mix of returning actors and recastings where appropriate (John Cygan and Ed Asner passing away in 2017 and 2021 respectively being an easy example.) Hopefully this is a good sign for say, rapist Jeremy Soule not returning for the game’s music.
Korean developer ShiftUp partnered with Sony to feature the latest trailer for Project Eve, a visually revamped sci fi character-action game originally revealed in 2019, at the event. Project Eve is coming to Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series, and PC. ShiftUp’s CEO Hyung-Tae Kim celebrated the occasion by buying PS5 for every employee, all 260 of them. Gearbox then brought back Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands to reveal first gameplay footage set to a babymetal song, and announcing the game’s launch date ass March 25th 2022. The game like Borderlands 3 will be an Epic store exclusive on PC.
Square Enix’s new trailer for Forspoken updated its release window to Spring 2022, presented more gameplay footage, and the first story material, revealing…deep sigh that it is the second game by Square Enix in the last year to feature an isekai plot. That means that the protagonist is a resident of typical, contemporary Earth, specifically New York City here, who is mysteriously transported into a fantasy realm. Obviously this has roots in broader literary traditions, but it increasingly became a formulaic, tiresome, dominant force in Japanese animation in the past decade or so. It has now been a year since Final Fantasy XVI was announced in September 2020. Fans are getting increasingly antsy for a new update on the game, but at this point I have simply concluded that the majority of Forspoken’s marketing cycle will conclude before FF16’s own cycle starts back up. This is amusing for how many assumed Forspoken was very very far off based on its original Project Athia trailer, but I still sympathize with people’s frustrations at how being pleasantly surprised how substantial FF16’s reveal was, then frustrated at silence since.
Ubisoft of abusers and abuse protectors once again presented their strange Tom Clancy versus army of Venoms game, Rainbow Six Extraction, which is now releasing in January 2022. After it was announced unceremoniously earlier that week, Alan Wake Remastered from Remedy had its first reveal trailer, featuring the base game, all DLC, and up to 4K 60fps in performance enhancement. The remaster launches on October 5th for PC via the Epic Store, PS4/5, and Xbox One/Series, with an alleged Switch port at a later date. After opening the first PS5 event last summer, GTAV Next-gen returned with new footage and a new release date, delayed from this fall to March 2022. Promising updated visual and gameplay, it has received a lot of negative press for looking too similar to previous versions while being a full-price rerelease. Near the end of the month an open letter to Rockstar from LGBTQ+ advocacy group Out Making Video Games was published, asking that the transphobic humor and highly stereotypical trans characters in GTAV be altered before its rerelease next year. At publication of this roundup, Rockstar has yet to respond. Tango Gameworks and Bethesda revealed another new trailer for Ghostwire Tokyo, the other timed PS5 exclusive brought to you by Xbox after its acquisition of Bethesda. This story trailer presents new gameplay footage and reveals key narrative details, that the protagonist is in a Venom-esque union with a spirit to stop an occult terrorist that has made Tokyo’s population vanish.
Square Enix and Eidos had another new story trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy ahead of its October 26th launch, featuring Cosmo the talking Spacedog and an evil church. Vampire the Masquerade Blood Hunt tormented me with yet another trailer I have to cover. Then there was the last quick appearance by Arkane’s Deathloop before it finally launched on the 14th to a lot of rave reviews, but also accessibility concerns and other criticisms. And one of the strangest things for an event like this in quite some time, a virtual exhibition based on the albums Kid A and Amnesiac by Radiohead, premiering in November 2021 as a tie-in with the albums’ new editions on PS5 and the Epic store. The indie game Tchia, which I previously covered at the 2020 Game Awards as a Stadia title, is a 3D open world action platformer set in the South Pacifiic New Caledonia islands, and was featured in the Showcase as a timed console exclusive, launching for PS4, PS5, and PC in 2022. The developers Awaceb had to pivot off the previous Stadia partnership for pretty self-explanatory reasons. In Tchia, players will sail, glide, and embody island wildlife to explore and defend their island. From there the blitz closeout designated first-party section of the presentation began, starting with the new Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection a ‘remastered’ two-pack of Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy newly exclusive to PS5 and PC. The package will launch in Early 2022 for PS5 with Iron Galaxy’s PC port arriving “shortly after.”
Insomniac Games announced two completely new major PS5-exclusive projects nearly back to back in the presentation, Marvel’s Wolverine and Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Wolverine was announced with a very brief cinematic teaser, just the Canadian anti-hero unsheathing his claws in a bar, and no release window. The game is described as “very early in development” in Insomniac’s PS Blog post, and its creative leads are listed there as Brian Horton and Cameron Christian, fresh off shipping Miles Morales at the end of last year. The Spider-Man 2 trailer is also cinematic, but with a lot more detail, featuring a 2023 release window, voiceover from what appears to be two different classic villains, Kraven the Hunter and Venom (Venom is voiced by veteran character Tony Todd!), the debut of the latter’s model, and several potential hints at new gameplay features. Those potential features include Peter and Miles working in tandem (the game is confirmed as single-player, so probably not co-op, but perhaps controlling both heroes either simultaneously or alternating), Peter’s new Iron Spider suit and attacks, and an ending graphic symbiote mechanics of some kind, reminiscent of the Venom and black-suit mechanics in games like Ultimate Spider-Man or the Spider-Man 3 game based on Sam Raimi’s film.
My report on these highly anticipated new games is not complete without discussing something that I was only briefly able to touch on during past months’ reporting on Activision-Blizzard, that there are serious allegations about misconduct at Insomniac that have been public since last year, shared shortly after the June 2020 PS5 event, that I only recently became aware of.
“I left Insomniac Games because of how they treat women. Firstly – let me say there are so many good people at Insomniac that I would never want to direct harm their way. But there also is a culture of hiding the ugliness that comes from the very top. I have a list in the double digits of women who were harmed by the actions of this company – some so much so that they declined to speak about it to me at all. Insomniac has throttled careers of great women, left them no option but to ‘resign’, and protected sexual predators. I know, in my time there, of at LEAST 3 sexual predators that were protected. One left of his own accord (as far as I can tell), one was fired (despite them being given a heads up earlier) when he became too dangerous and was sexually assaulting people.”
The third, named as former HR rep Edgar Vargas, was eventually fired as well, but remained long after “a mountain of evidence” was available.” Tangible evidence of improvements at the company beyond that handful of eventual departures is unseen, and Insomniac’s response back in 2020 only offered that it “had taken steps to address” the allegations made at that time. No response was offered to the later allegation that one employee’s departure due to mistreatment ended in Insomniac deliberately preventing her from finding new work in the industry.
The PlayStation Showcase continued as Gran Turismo 7, the racing sim’s first numbered entry since 2013, was announced to be launching on March 4th 2022 for PS4 and PS5, joining Horizon Forbidden West in the “cross-gen fall games becoming spring games out before the end of fiscal” pile, although its public delay to 2022 was much earlier. The Gran Turismo 7 trailer featured a footnote about features requiring an internet connection, inviting speculation until Kazunori Yamauchi commented to confirm that the campaign/career mode, and indeed all modes except arcade, are always-online “in order to prevent save data modification.” This news has received a lot of criticism. The show reached its inevitable closeout game with the first full trailer for the inevitably titled God of War: Ragnarok from Sony Santa Monica, one year after its announcement teaser in September 2020. Sony’s utterly transparent sleight of hand about the game’s title was obnoxious, but at least it’s finally over with. God of War: Ragnarok is directed by Eric Williams,1scheduled to arrive in 2022 for PS4 and PS5, and is now officially known as the finale of the Norse Saga, the second half of a duology. Because trilogies simply take too long in the modern AAA era, is the actual quote from Cory Barlog.
Both gameplay and cutscenes from Ragnarok were presented, featuring an older Atreus accompanying his father on a search for Tyr exploring through all nine realms as Thor and Freya seek vengeance against them for Baldur. Only with the trailer’s debut did many actors receive permission to finally announce their involvement with the game that day, including SungWon Cho voicing, motion-capturing, and writing his character Ratatoskr. Kratos’ actor Christopher Judge revealed weeks later that he almost quit the role over Barlog not directing, and that one of the game’s delays was because Sony Santa Monica had patiently waited for him to undergo several surgeries on his knees, back, and hips and physical therapy afterwards.
September 10th: Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers finally issued her ruling on the Epic v Apple case after the trial earlier this year. Judge Rogers ruled in Apple’s favor on every single count but one, the anti-steering count, in what I’ve argued and do argue is the ideal option, the option best for ‘both companies lose.’ Judge Rogers has issued an injunction requiring that Apple now allow developers on its app to link to outside payment options, while determining that Epic failed to prove that closed garden storefronts are monopolistic, that owes Apple $6 million USD (which Epic has since paid) for deliberately violating TOS, and that Apple is free to never allow Fortnite back on the App Store. Although Epic is predictably appealing, this is for now killing both Epic’s destructive technocratic dreams and the only actual harmful policy Apple had, in turn improving profit margins for smaller developers on the app store.
A private playtest of Arkane’s Xbox Series exclusive Redfall unexpectedly leaked online with numerous images being uploaded to Imgur and quickly taken down, but not before being saved and spread around elsewhere online. Information from the images and the leaker’s corresponding comments largely confirm what has been previously suggested by the game officially. It’s an open world first person shooter, with XP/powers/gear systems heavily combining looter shooter influences (especially Borderlands) and immersive sim elements from Arkane’s background. There are no AI combat partners, you’re either in co-op with other humans or playing entirely by yourself, as you journey through side quests, boss fights, and an involved central narrative. There are a total of six of unique hero-shooter style character types to choose from, up from the four featured in the game’s initial reveal at E3.
Twitch responded to the hate raid crisis on its platform by suing two users, CreatineOverdose and CruzzControl, for conducting some of the ‘hate raids’ which had rapidly become a widespread, intensive problem for streamers on the platform. Later on September 29th, Twitch announced a new security feature to help prevent hate raids and other harassment, allowing streamers to require that a phone number and email address be submitted by a user and verified before participating in chat, in order to increase the overall barrier of entry and make ban evasion more difficult.
September 14th: Activision-Blizzard was sued for the third time this year (filed on the 10th, reported on the 14th), this time by members of its own workforce, as represented by the Communication Workers of America macro media labor union, for unfair labor practices. Corporate management is accused of using various coercive tactics to enforce fear and silence, to discourage and prevent union activity, employing surveillance, interrogation, intimidation, control over personal social media, and promise of benefits in exchange for silence and inaction. There is also specific noting of the presence and actions of the union-busting Wilmerhale law firm.
Nintendo announced and released Switch firmware update 13.0, which most notably provided the widely requested activation of Bluetooth audio support on all Switch family systems. Additionally, maintaining internet connection while the console is in sleep mode, changed controller calibration, the Update Dock feature for future software updates to the Switch Dock 2.0 launching alongside Switch OLED, and improved boot-up times for games have all been added.
Techland once again delayed Dying Light 2‘s launch, this time to February 4th 2022.
The remaster Sonic Colors Ultimate had launched a week earlier to controversy over various technical issues, especially in the Switch version, with the biggest issue being a severe seizure risk much like Cyberpunk and Balan Wonderworld before it, which needed to be patched out and finally was on the 14th.
(Spoiler warning for the footnote)2Producer Kenichiro Tsukuda confirmed in a livestream that a sequel to Daemon Ex Machina is still currently planned, if a ways off in development schedule.
Ubisoft delayed Rocksmith+, the expensive (base price is US$15 a month, same as Game Pass) subscription service rendition of its music sim series, to 2022 with only a week before the original summer release window was closed.
September 15th: Jennifer Scheurle, Earthlight and Guild Wars 2 developer, chair of the IDGA Women in Games Special Interest Group, was accused by a number of women in gaming of using her power to emotionally abuse and manipulate them. The initial accuser, who was 18 years old and Scheurle’s student when the abuse began, had previously discussed their experiences in June 2020, but did not give the name of their abuser until this date, at which point other victims and associates of victims were inspired to speak out as well. After IDGA began responding, testimony and accompanying evidence was provided by victims that two formal complaints for investigation had been filed to the IDGA following previous informal complaints, each featuring statements from more than 10 victims and witnesses, the most recent in 2020 having more than 120 pages’ worth of total evidence and statements, and still the IDGA’s investgation was at best incomplete. That evening, Scheurle was permanently removed from The Game Awards’ Future Class honors and initiative, while request for removal from a second women-focused Game Awards initiative is still pending. On the 16th, Scheurle issued a response and an immediate resignation from the IGDA.
Nesting Games, a new development studio in Canada founded last month by former Ubisoft employees, officially announced that they share co-ownership with publisher Digital Bros. over in Italy. Nesting previously publicized their goal of providing a corrective alternative to Ubisoft in both game design and workplace philosophy, providing in-office daycare service, full remote work support, and a work week which ends on Friday at noon for all employees.
At the end of the series’ 6th anniversary livestream, Toby Fox debuted the first footage of Deltarune Chapter 2 and announced that the game would launch for Windows and Mac on September 17th. According to the FAQ on the Deltarune website, save file transfer from Chapter 1 is enabled by reaching the credits in Chapter 1, but if you don’t access to your save file, you can play Chapter 2 without concern. “As long as you generally remember what happened story-wise, you’ll be fine.” Once Chapter 2 launched for free on both Steam and the official website, a new official Status Update was published. Fox explained that he decided to release Chapter 2 stand-alone and for free as a gesture of positivity in the midst of this ongoing crisis. The eventual next new release will be a priced package of the first five Deltarune Chapters (1-5) with 6 and 7 coming later. This news is accompanied by an urging to the audience to give their money that could’ve gone towards Chapter 2 right now in support of other indie developers. Fox also described Chapter 2 as the largest, most demanding entry out of all seven, with an accompanying vague optimistic timetable for the rest of the game’s production and release.
EA and DICE delayed the launch of Battlefield 2042 from October to November 19th 2021 due to difficulty completing the game during the ongoing pandemic. This official announcement came after many reports of the game’s delay had come out earlier that day and the night before. EA’s stock had already fallen before the delay was officially confirmed, because shareholders are, in a way, just like us.
September 16th: Sony announced that former Capcom USA/Europe CEO Kiichiro Urata, who departed Capcom only last month, will be joining Sony as the senior vice president and head of the “Japan Asia Partner Development & Relations Division.”
Frogwares announced the launch date of Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One as November 16th 2021 for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC. On the 14th, the launch date leaked early via the Microsoft store, and Frogwares announced that the Xbox One and PS4 versions had been slightly delayed.
September 17th: Several new games were announced at the THQ Nordic 10th anniversary livestream. Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake is a brand new multiverse-themed adventure platformer “Coming Soon” and greenlit on the success of the Battle for Bikini Bottom remake. The remake Destroy All Humans 2: Reprobed was announced as part of this show, but was previously leaked by both the GeForce data leak and an accidental early PlayStation social media post a day later. Reprobed is set to arrive in 2022 for PC and next-gen consoles. The true continuation of a certain turn-based tactics series was announced to arrive after over 20 years with Jagged Alliance 3. The canceled sequel to Appeal Studio’s award winning 1999 adventure game Outcast was announced to have been resurrected as Outcast 2 – A New Beginning, developed by the current iteration of the original studio for PC and both next-gen consoles with no current release window.
343 Industries confirmed on Friday that the upcoming eighth season of content for the Master Chief Collection, coming this fall ahead of Halo Infinite‘s December launch, will be the game’s last. The MCC will receive this dedicated send-off update and then support will by necessity begin to wind down after, shifting away from seasons to individual patches, as post-launch support for Halo Infinite begins.
September 19th: Breaking late in the evening on the 19th in the West and on the morning of the 20th in Japan was the first of seven official announcements for the yearlong Persona 25th anniversary event. All were supplemental news, from the various Persona anime series, stage show, and previous music show all now officially streaming in Japan, to an in-person concert slated for November 21st in Tokyo and a digital concert at TGS, and the official anniversary merchandise launch, which included the ‘secret designs’ teased in the summer which did turn out to just be a Persona 4 reprint and a set of all the existing series protagonists in one picture. Atlus indeed gonna Atlus. The next announcement will be in December.
After a French former journalist first alleged this, Tom Henderson provided a corroborating report days later, that Quantic Dream is in early development on a Star Wars game as another Lucasfilm Games partnership following from EA’s contract being renegotiated to non-exclusivity. Disney is bringing this company onto one of its biggest franchises despite QD’s previous partner literally rushing to complete their three-project contract so Sony could cut off ties as soon as possible. This news fills me with a sense of resignation and profound ugh. Cage is a bigot and a predator who throws temper tantrums in court, surrounds himself with sycophants, and insults all of the mediums he’s so shallowly engaged with along the way. I dearly love the narrative adventure genre and resent the bad name these assholes put on it. It’s a deep shame to keep rewarding them, regardless of the money tied to them. This will also not be Quantic Dream’s last mention this month, although the other news has more positives.
September 20th: As revealed by the Wall Street Journal, the Activision-Blizzard situation escalated this month into the federal US government joining the California DFEH by opening an intensive investigation of the game publisher. One single game company is now undergoing three lawsuits and investigations by a state government and the federal government simultaneously. The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued many to subpoenas the company and various employees and executives both current and former, including CEO Bobby Kotick himself. Board meeting minutes from the last two years, personnel files and separation agreements from former employees, and personal correspondences between executives regarding harassment and discrimination complaints, have all been requested to be turned over and reviewed by the SEC. Activision’s spokesperson confirmed to the WSJ reporters that the SEC investigation has launched and is covering workplace misconduct among other matters. Blizzard’s chief legal officer Claire Hart announced her resignation from the company on LinkedIn the same day, in a very apt punctuation on this latest update.
Disney Interactive and Nighthawk Interactive officially announced a multiplatform rerelease (coming November 2021) of the 2019 Disney Classic Games Collection after it had previously leaked via ratings board listings. This rerelease from the previous info was known to additionally feature the 1994 The Jungle Book game, but is now also confirmed to have secured the rights to include requested additions left out of the original release, most significantly Shinji Mikami’s Aladdin for SNES. In addition to a full retail release, it is available as a $10 upgrade for owners of the previous release.
Less than a week after the remaster’s leak and announcement, Brazil’s game ratings board listed Alan Wake Remastered for Switch, which has not officially been announced.
September 21st: Both rulings came in for Quantic Dream’s libel lawsuits against two of the three French publications extensively, collaboratively covering the harmful workplace at David Cage’s studio. Quantic Dream regrettably did win its case against the newspaper Le Monde, because the newsaper staff’s protective nondisclosure of anonymous sources fell below France’s notoriously strict standards on libel cases, which is based in the combination of proving truth, basis of truth, and good faith, i.e. no intention to harm the plaintiff. This loss, this failure of the balance between procedure and ethics, is thankfully counterbalanced by the second ruling. Quantic Dream’s misconduct has been proven in court of law as established by the second publication, Mediapart, winning the other libel case. The arbitrary divide in rulings on these collaborative sets of journalists speaks to the flaws in France’s libel rules, and the design of French law prevents these results from establishing precedent for future cases between journalists and entertainment companies in either direction.
The fourth lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard was issued by a second federal government body, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, progressing its own investigation open since September 2018 into suing for failure to respond to sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
Jason Schreier via Bloomberg in turn broke the news of the latest departure at Activision-Blizzard, executive producer and Overwatch 2 development head Chacko Sonny, leaving that week after five years with the company, as soon confirmed by a company spokesperson with of course no comment on the circumstances in which this is occurring. No, Blizzard was more concerned with talking about Overwatch 2 at this year’s Overwatch League’s Finals.
Sadly, actor Stephen Critchlow passed away at only 54. He had a long distinguished career, including voice acting for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and FF14.
September 23rd: Nintendo finally closed out their primary 2021 news cycle when the annual Fall Nintendo Direct aired at 3 PM Pacific/6 Eastern, having ultimately reverted back to a full cycle of three seasonally released general Directs after the chaos of 2020. That’s not to say there isn’t still new stuff to learn before the year is out, as we shall soon see. Before the Direct, Nintendo itself accidentally leaked two of its biggest announcements by accidentally putting both a new Kirby game and Bayonetta 3 onto the Nintendo website’s 2022 schedule early. Primarily hosted by Producer Yoshiaki Koizumi with a snappy new haircut since E3, the Direct opened with a major third party reveal, the dedicated paid expansion to the smash exclusive hit Monster Hunter Rise, Sunbreak, which will launch in Summer 2022. Like Monster Hunter World Iceborne before it, these expansions are basically entirely new and very large story modes of their own, literally classified as separate games within Capcom’s documentation, replacing expanded rereleases of previous generations.
Ahead of its launch next month, Mario Party Superstars reappeared from E3 with some fresh news, showcasing the full base game slate of boards, the previously announced Peach’s Birthday Cake and Space Land from Party 1 and 2 respectively, along with Woody Woods from 3, Yoshi’s Tropical Island from 1, and Horror Land from 2. Horror Land in its original release introduced a day/night system for the series that later became the main theme of Mario Party 6. I expect there will be a traditional sixth secret board, now that I’m aware of this feature after never successfully unlocking it as a kid. Additionally, the dedicated minigames-only mode has seven different levels to play them in rather than a simple abstract space, which is nice. The full list of all 100 minigames featured was published at the same time and can be found here, featuring games from throughout the series. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars was announced, a new turnbased RPG themed after card and tabletop games from none other than Nier creator Yoko Taro, after a couple years of just a mobile game and a remaster. Voice of Cards will launch digitally on Switch, PS4, and PC on October 28th 2021, with a free demo available on all platforms right after the presentation.
ZA/UM’s highly acclaimed and newly fully voiced RPG Disco Elysium: The Final Cut was finally announced to be digitally arriving on Switch and Xbox October 12th 2021, with Xbox physical release November 9th and Switch physical release in Early 2022. The second and final wave of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity DLC was showcased with an announced release date of October 29th, featuring new story content, and Robbie and Purah as new playable characters along with a secret third new character. Square Enix announced the new sequel to the PS1’s Chocobo Racing, Chocobo GP, as a full-stop Switch exclusive coming in 2022, roughly a decade after the first attempt at a sequel on 3DS was canceled. GP will feature at least 20 playable characters from throughout the Final Fantasy franchise. Before continuing the first-party reveals, Koizumi announced that the Final Mr. Sakurai Presents for Super Smash Bros Ultimate presentation will premiere on October 5th (7 Pacific/10 Eastern) to announce the game’s final DLC fighter. Friend and colleague Wolfman Jew rightly called that this approach would return from both the Smash For and Ultimate Pass 1 DLC cycles as it further builds up the momentum and fully turns it into an event not just about one new character, but the entire game, aptly so considering the likelihood of another long hiatus like after Brawl.
This led directly into the first series to put Masahiro Sakurai on the map majorly returning after its last mainline entry back in 2018, with the extremely exciting reveal trailer for Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the series’ first ever 3D platformer launching in Spring 2022. Only the second ever fully 3D series entry whatsoever after Sakurai’s spinoff racing game swan song, Air Ride, the game is set in a fully 3D mysterious new abandoned and overgrown world. The big announcements came right on rolling, as something widely anticipated, repeatedly datamined and reported on for ages, was finally confirmed. The announcement teaser for the next major free update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, featuring the beloved recurring Roost Café (and more!). The Roost update will be detailed in a dedicated Direct in October, is releasing in November after multiple delays throughout this year due to ongoing COVID states of emergency affecting development in Japan, and will only be the next major update for Animal Crossing, not the last. After a slow start from limited supply, I’m happy to report having learned that COVID vaccination in Japan is at a rate of more than a million doses per day right now with a total population percentage already rivaling the US’. I’m grateful for the safety of anyone and everyone, including those working hard on our entertainment, but I dearly hope other regions like the African continent can see this kind of recovery soon.
The next update for Mario Golf: Super Rush was also announced, releasing the same day with Koopa and Ninji as new characters and two new golf courses. Another 3DS game was announced for Switch with the remastered port Disney Magical World 2: Enhanced Edition, a half social life sim, half simple RPG starring your customized Mii in a world of Disney classics, coming this holiday. As I mentioned before, the original classic 2003 RPG Star Wars: KOTOR was now officially announced for Switch, coming with remastered textures from Aspyr November 11th, with KOTOR 2 sometime after. No sign of a PS4 release yet, amusingly. After releasing Call of Juarez: Gunslinger on Switch two years ago, and still in the midst of its current messy and insanely long marketing cycle, Techland here announced that Dying Light 2: Cloud Version will arrive on Switch alongside all other versions on its 2022 launch date, and announced the October 19th release date for the original zombie action series entry Dying Light: Platinum Edition coming fully ported to Switch. Although it wasn’t in the Direct, earlier on this same day indie developer Modern Storyteller announced that their highly acclaimed timeloop adventure game and former Skyrim mod The Forgotten City, would be releasing as a Cloud Version on Switch this same day, only two months after the game’s launch this summer.
Square Enix had HD2D tactical narrative RPG Triangle Strategy return from this year’s first Direct to inevitably be formally updated from working title to final title like its predecessor, discuss the effect of feedback from the demo (fully detailed here) further showcase gameplay, and announce its March 4th 2022 launch date. A quick reminder came with the likely final/launch trailer for Metroid Dread, showing gameplay and narrative surprises that I don’t want to already know any more than you do. The next major update to Nintendo Switch Online’s bonus retro service was announced as a new tier featuring Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games launching in late October with a dedication presentation further detailing it in that month. While I fully discuss the news here, suffice to say that both major surprise gets and classic flagship titles are featured in the currently announced lineup.
A 2010s run of tabletop-licensed tactical RPGs was announced to be releasing on Switch as published by Paradox in 2022 as Shadowrun Trilogy, the collection of Returns, Dragonfall, and Hong Kong, after only being on PC and mobile for years. After repeatedly leaking thanks to international ratings boards, Konami’s new Castlevania Advance Collection by M2 was finally officially announced, shadowdropped on all platforms that very day. This collection has all three Game Boy Advance Igavania entries in the series, Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow, as well as the surprise inclusion of Dracula X from the SNES, and QOL features like mid-game rewind, language options, and uncompressed audio. A much more unexpected third party reveal, Square Enix’s ActRaiser Renaissance, followed it, an HD remaster of the action-platforming and citybuilding 90s SNES original, featuring various new content and launching on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile right after the show.
The actual Toby Fox in a mascot costume, not a joke, introduced Deltarune Chapter 2 coming to Switch (and PS4) the same day as a free update to the existing Chapter 1 file, only one week after its PC release. This is thanks to Sarah in Fox’s fully assembled development team already being around to manage porting among other duties simultaneous with Ch 2 development instead of being brought in much later like with Ch 1. This led into the obligatory third party sizzle reel featuring Hot Wheels Unleashed coming September 30th, Surviving the Aftermath coming this holiday, Shin Megami Tensei V coming this November and beginning preload that day, Wreckfest coming this fall, Arcade Archives Pac-Man and Arade Archives XEVIOUS releasing that day, and Switch exclusive Rune Factory 5 with an emphasis on the feature of queer romance and marriage options, and its global release date announced as March 22nd 2022. I had to double check to be sure it really was 22, ’22. And then Shigeru Miyamoto unexpectedly arrived to set the internet fully ablaze by announcing the voice cast and Western premiere date (December 21st 2022) of Illumination’s Mario movie which he has been managing. Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Fred Armisen as Cranky Kong, Kevin Michael Richardson as Kamek, and Sebastian Maniscalco as Foreman Spike will also appear, and Charles Martinet will appear in surprise cameos. Charles will probably be Wario and Waluigi, right? ANYWAY, MOVING ON.
A second trailer for Splatoon 3 was revealed, featuring a first look at the story mode and its gameplay, and additional multiplayer gameplay featuring updates to old items, and new weapons like a powerful Crab Tank which shifts between rolling and scuttling forms, and the Zipcaster, an ink ninja suit with a long grappling hook, an explosive arrival, and teleporting the player back to their starting position once the suit wears off in order to confuse opponents. The latest action-platformer story mode Return of the Mammalians looks more ambitious than ever with a globetrotting scope, many returning characters including the first game’s player character, and the major lore event behind that title, mammals returning from extinction by seemingly evolutionarily reemerging within the sealife populace in strange new forms to strike back. Finally, the show closed out by ‘unexpectedly’ debuting a bold first full trailer of none other than Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 3, almost four years after its announcement teaser. The trailer announced the game to be releasing in 2022, showcased Bayonetta’s new younger, cuter look and new voice actress, and the series’ signature character action gameplay, as well as a vague fakeout or suggestion of an Astral Chain crossover.
The schedule for Game News Roundup means that the Smash Bros presentation, Animal Crossing presentation, and NSO update presentation all won’t premiere until after this publishes on October 4th, so they’ll be in the next article.
Also on September 23rd, Xbox’s new studio The Initiative announced that Square Enix subsidiary dev Crystal Dynamics, of Marvel’s Avengers and various Tomb Raider games, has entered a co-development partnership on The Initiative’s debut title, the next-gen AAA Perfect Dark. The foundation of this relationship is that Initiative counts multiple former Crystal Dynamics devs among its ranks, including being founded by Darrell Gallagher. Perfect Dark’s development had been scheduled to ramp up in 2021 with pre-production complete, and leveraging this relationship as an efficient solution to having to accomplish it mid-pandemic was agreed upon by all parties. Between the likely influences the game could take from the Tomb Raider reboots, Dynamics’ strengths as a developer when it isn’t saddled with a rush-job live service, and the inherent challenges faced by a newly formed studio on a project of this scale this early in development, it’s a smart move. Co-development is a norm in the industry at every level of development at this point, giving us things ranging from most of Nintendo’s best games to And it comes with the bonus of further scaling down development on the aforementioned live service superhero boondoggle.
September 24th: Netflix announced its latest new game licensed from its own catalogue, Kate: Collateral Damage, a roguelike action game based on the film and coming to Windows on October 22nd and the Netflix app’s gaming service down the line. Several days later, Netflix announced that it had fully acquired Oxenfree developer Night School Studio as a first party game studio for Netflix Games. This will not affect Oxenfree 2, which is almost finished, and it builds on a previous professional relationship as Night School worked on a Stranger Things adventure game with Telltale that collapsed along with Telltale.
With Death Stranding Director’s Cut releasing on the 24th, it was discovered that the rightfully widely criticized document on asexuality a player can find in the original game had been edited in a creative, positive way for the new edition of the game. The document has an added note written by a separate in-universe character flagging it as discriminatory and inaccurate, and elaborating further on modern queer theory.
September 27th: Capcom announced that Resident Evil 4 VR will release on October 21st 2021. Currently this game is exclusive to Oculus Quest 2.
September 28th: One week after the EEOC lawsuit was filed, Activision-Blizzard announced an $18 million USD settlement with the EEOC to financially compensate employees who claim damages, and pledge, per The Verge and the publicized documents, “to cease any discriminatory practices, retain a consultant to ensure compliance, upgrade its training and performance review processes to prevent future offenses, and submit to future EEOC audits.” Both the money and the policy suggestions still feel like severe small potatoes to the scale of the problem both internal, the actual managerial and behavioral issues, and external, the remainder of governing bodies’ suits and investigations that haven’t closed. The settlement value is also reminiscent of the Riot settlement in being so frustratingly paltry and fractional relative to corporate profits and executive salaries.
September 29th: Konami’s FTP reboot of Pro Evolution Soccer, eFootball, launched only to be immediately panned for missing critical features of the series and overall performance issues such as: janky animations, clumsy gameplay, and bad responsiveness. Its’ already become one of Steam’s worst rated games of all time within hours or days.
September 30th: Sony posted a new PlayStation blog timed to the start of Tokyo Games Show officially announcing that Sony has fully acquired Bluepoint Games, developer of acclaimed faithful remakes like Shadow of the Colossus and Demon’s Souls. BluePoint and Sony had been a strong partnership for some time and seeing it become fully first party is no great surprise, especially since PlayStation Japan’s social media basically accidentally leaked the news a whole three months early on June 29th. IGN revealed some additional details in an exclusive interview with Herman Hulst and Bluepoint’s president Marco Thrush about the acquisition, that the Demon’s Souls remake has sold more than 1.4 million copies in less than a year, and that Bluepoint’s next project is more fully “original content” than its faithful remakes and remasters.
Gang Beasts‘ release date for Switch was officially announced as October 7th. The game supports both local (now with support for the Switch’s wireless multi-console setup) and online multiplayer, and will have a physical release on December 7th.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition, the previously reported remastered early 3D GTA collection, appeared on the Korean ratings board on this date. Zack Zweizen via Kotaku proceeded to report again on the games, suggesting that they will launch in November where the next-gen versions of GTAV were previously scheduled.
October 1st: Xbox held an Accessibility Showcase announcing several new features: quick settings enabling players to toggle accessibility features on or off without exiting their game, customizable UI color filters on Xbox Series for the colorblind, night mode and light dimming, and improved discoverability for accessibility info on games in the Microsoft/Xbox stores. This will include 20 discrete feature tags and a spotlight section on accessible games. There is also going to be a free course for developers on gaming accessibility fundamentals, available starting in late October on the Microsoft Learn program.
Sony announced and released a new Game Trial feature on PS5; like how I was able to with Mario Tennis Aces on NSO, full games are available to temporarily test out at no extra charge, starting with Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Death Stranding Director’s Cut. However, these trials are only for five to six hours total with the timer starting as soon as the install begins, leaving some players with little or no time left to actually play the games before their trials run out.
POST-PUBLICATION MAJOR EDIT: The first units of the Switch OLED revision reached the public when Nintendo sent promotional units out early to various games media individuals. Teardowns of the console over the past several days have now fully confirmed what was widely suspected and reported about the new dock launching with Switch OLED. The dock features two new microchips which support upscaling and convert output from HDM1.4 to HDM2.0. That means this dock is fully future-proofed specifically for 4K output and upscaling programs like Nvidia’s DLSS.
Tokyo Game Show:
SNK extensively presented King of Fighters XV, including brand new character Isla.
Xbox’s TGS show featured a greater suite of announcements after last year’s debut show, announcing the launch of Xbox Cloud Gaming that same day for Japan (along with Australiia, Brazil, and Mexico), announcing that Scarlet Nexus, AI: The Somnium Files, and Mighty Goose were being added to Xbox Game Pass the same day, and giving confirmation straight from the Todd that Starfield, along with Arkane’s Redfall, will have complete Japanese localizations when they launch next year. Tango Gameworks’ Shinji Mikami announced that Evil Within 2 director John Johanas has started work on Tango’s next project. Phil Spencer and Shinji Mikami would go on to cohost a public talk on the Japanese games industry later that day. There was also a release date trailer for Swery’s The Good Life (October 15th) with an Xbox exclusive demo.
Capcom’s Monster Hunter Spotlight for TGS confirmed that Monster Hunter Rise is coming to PC, releasing January 12th 2022 on Steam. This announcement comes right on the dot six months after the game’s launch; the Capcom hack previously leaked both the existence of the PC port and the stipulation of Nintendo’s timed exclusivity terms that the PC port’s announcement itself be delayed, not just its release. The PC port features 4K resolution and uncapped framerate support for high-end PCs. New minor DLC for both Rise and Stories 2 was announced, most notably tie-ins for Ghosts n Goblins and Sonic the Hedgehog. There was only a relatively brief appearance by the Sunbreak expansion, discussing the central monster Elder Dragon Malzeno, the new story and new base of operations, and the reintroduction of Master Rank.
Square Enix’s show featured a second showcase of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, featuring a substantial amount of new gameplay footage and narrative material, and announcing its launch date as March 18th 2022. This confirmed the previously sussed out fact that the game has an isekai story, teleporting modern-day Americans into a twisted new form of the original Final Fantasy world, complete with the player character Jack using his smartphone to play Limp Bizkit aloud as his exit music. A second demo for the game was released right after the show on October 1st for PS5 and Xbox Series. A new RPG, Dungeon Encounters, was revealed for the first time. It’s coming to PS4, Switch, and PC on October 14th. Dragon Quest X Offline was announced to be releasing for Switch, PS4, PS5, and PC on February 22nd 2022, but still only in Japan. There was also new trailers from Forspoken, Triangle Strategy, the recently revealed Voice of Cards, and the mobile FF7 battle royale, as well as a first look at the logo for Final Fantasy‘s 35th anniversary events coming next year.
For roughly an hour, Sega and Atlus largely showcased a new original RPG for mobile titled Sin Chronicle after teasing it weeks earlier. The game releases on December 15th in Japan and features an open world and a choice-driven narrative. 20 minutes of new gameplay footage from Shin Megami Tensei V, including a boss fight, was shown.
The recently emerged Suikoden spiritual successor series Eiyuden Chronicle had the first gameplay trailer for spinoff action game Rising. Eiyuden Chronicle Rising is scheduled to launch Spring 2022 on PC, Switch, Xbox One/Series, and PS4/5, with main game Hundred Heroes set for 2023.
Koei Tecmo announced Atelier Sophie 2, which is coming to Switch, PS4, and Steam on February 25th 2022.
2022 First Party and Exclusives Calendar
February 2022 – Horizon Forbidden West – PS4 and PS5
March 2022 – Gran Turismo 7 – PS4 and PS5
Spring 2022 – Uncharted Legacy of Thieves – PS5 Only, Ghostwire Tokyo (PS5 Timed Exclusive, Xbox 2023)
2022 (Summer/Fall) – God of War Ragnarok – PS4 and PS5
2023 – Spider-Man 2 – PS5
Undated – Wolverine – PS5, KOTOR Remake (PS5 Timed Exclusive, Xbox Window Unknown)
Undated and Unannounced – Twisted Metal, The Last of Us Remake
January – Pokémon Legends Arceus
March – Triangle Strategy, Rune Factory 5
Spring – Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Summer – MHR Sunbreak
2022 – Splatoon 3, Bayonetta 3, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, Breath of the Wild 2, Chocobo GP.
Undated – Metroid Prime 4
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