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Monday, 19 April 2021

Yoko Taro Working As Creative Director on New Title With Square Enix

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139_03

Yoko Taro is working with Square Enix as the creative director on a brand new title, according to Square Enix producer Yosuke Saito. The news came during the first official NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… live stream (via Gematsu).

Specific details regarding the game were not announced, but the game will be a digital-only smaller title, though Square hasn't ruled out the possibility of a special physical edition. Taro described the game as "off-beat" and "unusual," saying it's something he has "no idea how to explain or sell." He wants people to play but has no idea how to make them do so.

Saito was more upbeat about the game, describing it as "nostalgic and new" and claiming that staff at the company believes it will sell well. Monthly updates on the status of the title were discussed as a possibility, and updates were promised when they became available, with the next few days listed as a possibility for the reveal of more information.

All of this sounds very interesting and more than a little weird…which makes sense for a Yoko Taro game. Taro has been responsible for some of the more interesting stories in games, so whatever this new project is, we hope its just as wild and unique as the rest of his work.


More FPS Boosts are Coming to Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X "Soon"

Xbox Series X-S - Bethesda games_FPS Boost

One of the coolest things about Microsoft's focus on backwards compatibility is that older backwards compatible games often run better than they did on their original hardware through things like enhanced resolutions and better performance.

The big new thing is FPS Boost, which natively doubles and in some cases quadruples the frame rates of the original games. There haven't been any additions to the FPS Boost initiative since March, when Dishonored: Definitive Edition, Fallout 4, Prey, Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition all received the update, but it looks like the next batch is coming soon.

The news comes courtesy of Jason Ronald, the Xbox director of program management, who, when asked on Twitter when the next set of titles to get the treatment, responded in a single word:

Given that the last set of titles to receive the update got it less than a week after it was confirmed to be coming, I'm guessing "soon" means "really soon." FPS Boost isn't suitable for every game because of the way some games tie their framerate into their internal logic (we're looking at you, Dark Souls II), but it's a great system that allows Microsoft to make some games better without needing help from the original developers.

We may not know what games are in line for the treatment next, but I personally can't wait to find out.


Horizon: Zero Dawn is Free on PS4 and PS5 Today

Horizon Forbidden West (4)

If you've been waiting to play Horizon: Zero Dawn, your wait is over. The game is now available on PS4 and PS5 through Sony's Play At Home initiative. You can download it anytime from now until May 14th at 8 PM PST/ 5 PM EST.

This version is the Complete Edition, which means it comes with the Frozen Wilds expansion, various extra weapons and outfits, a digital art book, and a PS4 theme. If you haven't already claimed the other nine free games Sony is offering, you have until 8 PM PST/5PM EST on April 22nd to do so. You can also pick up a free trial of the Funimation (Wakanim in Europe) subscription service.

The other games are:

  • Abzû
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Rez Infinite
  • Subnautica
  • The Witness
  • Astro Bot Rescue Mission
  • Moss
  • Thumper
  • Paper Beast

In the past, Sony has also used the program to give away Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Journey, and 2016's Ratchet and Clank remake.

It's a pretty great deal. Even if you already own Horizon physically, there's no reason not to pick the Complete Edition (or any of these games) up. After all, you can't argue with free.


Earthblade Announced by Celeste Developer, Coming 20XX

Earthblade

Celeste and TowerFall developer Extremely OK Games has announced its next titleEarthblade, a 2D "explor-action" title that's set in a "seamless pixel art world." It's currently slated to release in 20XX, which means it could be a while. The official poster and logo by Pedro and Medeiros and music by Lena Raine (who also composed Celeste's soundtrack) were revealed in a new tweet clip, providing a general "vibe" of sorts.

On the studio's official website, founder Maddy Thorson said that it will "probably be a while" before more information is shared. It reportedly took four prototypes to reach Earthblade's current design and Thorson believes it could be released "within five short years of Celeste." However, it's already been three years. "The truth is that we don't know how long it will take, just that it will take as long as it takes (and that it will take a long time)," they said.

Thorson notes that the first three prototypes for the title taught the developer a lot but "ultimately we ventured way too far from our comfort zone for them to realistically ever get finished. It took a while, but we feel like we've settled on the right compromise between the two with Earthblade." As of now, the general shape is in place though a lot could change along the way. Thorson says that they feel "really good about where it's going. Now it's our job to turn this ephemeral, pristine mind-object into a real, imperfect & human actual-object. We'll be here, slowly grinding away at that task every day. We really hope that at the end of this, some of you will enjoy what we make."

Earthblade hasn't been confirmed for any platforms but a PC release seems a given. Stay tuned for more details in the meantime.


PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita Will Remain Available

PlayStation logo

Sony has reversed its decision to cease PlayStation Store operations for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, which was originally slated to happen this Summer. Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan said on the PlayStation Blog that, "Upon further reflection, however, it's clear that we made the wrong decision here." Of course, commerce functionality for the PSP will still end on July 2nd.

Ryan notes that the decision to close the storefront for PS3 and Vita was "Born out of a number of factors, including commerce support challenges for older devices and the ability for us to focus more of our resources on newer devices where a majority of our gamers are playing on. We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I'm glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations."

On March 29th, Sony announced that the PlayStation Store for PS3 and PSP would cease operations on July 2nd (with the PS Vita's support ending on August 27th). Due to the number of games that aren't backwards compatible on newer hardware, such as classics from the PS One and PS2 eras, they would essentially be lost to history. The decision was met with backlash especially in the wake of Ryan's statements on backwards compatibility in 2017.

Sony hasn't indicated whether the storefronts for PS3 and PS Vita will be shut down at some time later or remain open indefinitely. Whether the web versions of these stores will return also remains to be seen. Stay tuned for more details and updates in the meantime (especially with Sony rumored to be working on their own Game Pass-style competitor).


Returnal's Trophy List Appears Online

returnal

Returnal, the latest PS5 exclusive from Housemarque, launches soon, which means we're going to get a lot of information about the game in the next few days. Unsurprisingly, the game's trophies leaked today over at Exophase.com, which tracks Steam achievements and PlayStation trophies.

All told, Returnal contains 31 achievements: seven Gold, five silver, and 18 Bronze. There aren't very many spoilers in the trophies, but it looks like it will be a fairly easy list overall. There are trophies for completing each of the game's three acts, defeating bosses, finding collectibles, and surveying areas.

Previous trailers have shown main character Selene entering houses that look like they're out of place in Returnal world, and the trophy list confirms that there will be several of them. Based on the footage we've seen, it looks like this is where we'll learn more about Selene's past.

So far, Returnal looks like an easy Platinum for Trophy chasers, but we won't know for sure until the game launches on April 30th.


Apex Legends Cinematic Trailer Teases Titanfall 2 Connection With Valkyrie

Apex Legends

Respawn Entertainment released a new Stories from the Outlands video for its battle royale shooter Apex Legends. It introduces Kairi Imahara aka Valkyrie, the newest Legend that's looking to make her own path. Her father seems to be Viper from Titanfall 2, who piloted the Northstar Titan and fought against Jack and B.T. Check out the video below.

Numerous details for Season 9 – Legacy have also been revealed including changes to the Olympus map. It seems that an "infestation" has spread and the city is overcome with roots and "natural growths." A new weapon, the Bocek Bow, is also being introduced and is "capable of inflicting tremendous damage at medium range."

There will also be a new Battle Pass with new cosmetics, Apex Packs and more to unlock. Apex Legends Season 9 begins on May 4th so expect more gameplay showcasing Valkyrie's abilities (with includes flight and rockets, if her character art is anything to go by) and more in the coming weeks. The title is currently free to play for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.


Resident Evil Village – Lady Dimitrescu's Pursuits, Mini-Boss Fights With Daughters Revealed

Resident Evil Village

A multitude of previews have gone live for Capcom's Resident Evil Village, offering new details on the village and its castle. Along with discussing the various characters that Ethan encounters in the village, they talk the behavior of Lady Dimitrescu and her daughters. Much like Mr. X from Resident Evil 2, Lady Dimitrescu will pursue players. Check out IGN First's video at 2:40 to see for yourself, though beware of spoilers.

Along with utilizing large claws, she seems mostly impervious to bullets. The good news is that she's generally slow so players can look for opportunities to avoid her. With the castle offering multiple different routes and passageways, it should be easy. However, you also have to deal with her daughters who are much quicker.

Interestingly, each daughter has a common weakness (which seems to be an item) and you can use that to your advantage. Each daughter can function as a separate mini-boss and it seems that you'll have to solve separate puzzles with that item to overcome them. Other enemies also lurk in the castle including some that seemingly have wings as per GameSpot.

Also, as IGN points out, the Duke, who serves as the merchant, has his own room in the castle. What is his relation with Lady Dimitrescu and Mother Miranda? We'll have to wait for more details to find out.

Resident Evil Village is out on May 7th for Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia and PC. The village portion of the demo went live for PlayStation players on the weekend but the castle part will be live on April 24th. On May 1st, the complete demo will be live for all platforms.


Kazunori Yamauchi Wants to Keep Making Gran Turismo – And Do Something New, Too

Gran Turismo 7

Kazunori Yamamauchi is the face of Gran Turismo and the man behind developer Polyphony Digital's legendary attention to detail and drive for perfection. But just because he and his team are working on Gran Turismo 7 doesn't mean he isn't thinking about what comes next.

Yamauchi discussed a variety of things in an interview with accountant firm KPMG. That might seem odd until you realize he was speaking to Masayuki Chatani, KPMG's chief digital officer, who held the same job at Sony Online Entertainment (then Sony Computer Entertainment) for fourteen years, including the PS3 days.

While the interview is both long and detailed, one of its most interesting aspects focuses on Yamauchi's dreams for the future, and the projects he'd like to work on. Don't worry, folks. He still wants to keep making Gran Turismo games. "At the same time, I would like to also do something different," he said.

Yamauchi elaborated by saying that digital worlds have long tried to be a "digital twin" to the real world, but that he didn't feel they needed to emulate reality to create something that feels real.

"I would like to take on the challenge of creating a world where people feel more reality than the real thing, whether this is through Grand Turismo or not," he said.

Yamauchi also talked about how digital worlds could be used to create or recreate moments that can no longer be experienced in the real world, citing examples from his childhood. "In the 1970s, mountain foothills and flat land, very much like the world of Totoro, extended in my hometown Kashiwa City. As I liked to collect insects and climb mountains from when I was a child, I used to spend all day in the forest or played in the river."

While he feels that such things aren't really possible in modern Japan, he's still thinking creating "some kind of digital nature and convey the complexity and severeness of the world when we get out into nature and the feeling that things do not work out as one expects."

It sounds like an interesting concept, and it would be nice to see someone of Yamauchi's stature work on something new. If he does decide to pursue this project, though, we probably won't see it anytime soon. Gran Turismo 7 was recently understandably delayed due to COVID. Hopefully, however, we'll see that, and the project Yamauchi is fantasizing about, sooner rather than later.


Two Years After It Was Announced, We Have 28 Seconds of New Homeworld 3 Footage

Homeworld 3

It's been almost two years since Gearbox announced Homeworld 3, the long-awaited follow-up to the beloved Homeworld 2. We haven't seen or heard much from the game since, but we finally got a glimpse of it recently.

The footage (which doesn't feature any sound) comes from the latest Fig update. In it, the brand new railgun frigate charges up and fires its railgun, completely destroying another ship. It doesn't amount to much, but it's about the most we've seen of the game since its announcement. There's been tons of concept art, but very little footage to speak of.

In addition to the footage, the Fig update also offers a deep dive into the design of the railgun frigate from various members of the development team.

It's hard to gauge what's going on with Homeworld 3 with twenty-eight seconds of footage, especially when that footage doesn't have any sound, which also makes you wonder why they're showing it in the first place. Maybe it's to remind people that the game exists and is actively in development, or to assure its backers that Homeworld 3 is still being worked on. That probably isn't something you should have to do for the sequel to one of the greatest RTS games ever made, but Homeworld 3 looks like a classic case of a game that was announced way before it should have been. Only time will tell if it can live up to its pedigree.