Thursday, 3 September 2020

Gearbox Digital Showcase Announced for PAX Online 2020

Borderlands 3 - Bounty of Blood - A Fistful of Redemption

Gearbox Software is prepping the fourth paid campaign DLC for Borderlands 3 with Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck. But what's next for the franchise? The developer will apparently provide some answers at a digital showcase event at PAX Online 2020, scheduled for September 12th at 12:45 PM PT.

Along with discussing "what's coming next in Borderlands," we'll also get some updates from Gearbox Publishing. Perhaps more details on Godfall, which the company is publishing for Counterplay Games on PS5 and PC? An update on Hopoo Games' Risk of Rain 2 wouldn't be too bad either.

In the meantime, Borderlands 3: Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck is set to release on September 10th. It sees the return of Krieg with Vault Hunters venturing inside of his mind to solve the mystery of Vaulthalla. Along the way, there will be new loot to earn, new Crew Challenges and even a bit of Maya. Stay tuned for more details on the DLC in the coming week.

Shenmue Announcement Coming This Weekend – Rumor

shenmue 3

Ys Net's Shenmue 3 launched last year after much hype and while a sequel isn't necessarily coming soon, something else appears to be on the horizon. Industry insider AestheticGamer (known better as DuskGolem on ResetEra) stated that a Shenmue announcement was "100 percent" confirmed for this weekend. He also noted that it was "more for people who care about the story of Shenmue than anything."

It's already a given that this isn't Shenmue 4 (which he clarified in a follow-up tweet). Does that mean a novel or series of novels? Apparently this announcement is "more than a book series or a documentary" and something "entirely brand new." The really interesting part is that this project has already been funded and won't head to Kickstarter.

This could be more DLC for Shenmue 3, if not some kind of expansion or spin-off. Several paid DLC released for the title last year but these added more mini-games than anything else. Time will tell what this announcement could be so stay tuned for more details.

In the meantime, check out our review of Shenmue 3 here. It's currently available for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

Marvel's Avengers' Hulk Wants To Teach You How To Smash In Humorous Video

marvel's avengers image

One of the big draws for the soon to release Marvel's Avengers is the ability to play as some of the core team members that have become household names due to the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Lots of people played the recent betas to get the feel of who they liked the most. One of those characters is the iconic Hulk, who has a message for potential buyers.

In a humorous video posted by the publisher, Hulk tries to sell us on his Superior Seminar that's all about smashing…with heart. There's various clips from the game of the Hulk going to town on villains, and he will have a battle pass as well for you to work on if you decide on his as your main. It's a fun video, and hopefully the first in what will be a similarly funny series.

Marvel's Avengers will release on September 4th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Stadia. Certain editions of the game gave early access on the 1st, so for some the game is playable now. The game will come to PS5 and Xbox Series X later.

Xbox Series X To Work With All Officially Licensed Xbox One Accessories

Xbox Series X

This November we will see the launch of the Xbox Series X, the next generation console from Microsoft. There's still things we don't know about it or Sony's PS5 (most notably, how much it's going to cost to take one of them home), but one thing we do know is that Microsoft is taking a much more backwards and forwards compatibility approach with the Series X than Sony seems to be with their PS5, and today we got another look at part of that strategy.

We already know that the Xbox Series X will be compatible with all Xbox One controllers, in contrast to the PS5 only be compatible with PS4 controllers for backwards compatible PS4 titles. Now, Microsoft has announced that all officially licensed Xbox One accessories will also work for the Xbox Series X. That includes anything that you can connect to the Xbox One through wired or wireless means, though certain items may need a firmware update to function properly.

The company also unveiled a new "Designed for Xbox" initiative that includes 34 major brands making new accessories for the Xbox brand. You can see all those in the image below, and you can read full details on this through here.

Designed For Xbox

No Man's Sky Developer, Hello Games, Has Next Project In Development, Is "Huge" And "Ambitious"

No Man's Sky Desolation

It's been quite the odyssey to get here, but Hello Games' No Man's Sky has become quite the game. It has since evolved past its initial concept by quite a lot with bold updates and expansions. Now it seems the developer is on to the next big project, one they are likening in its ambition to No Man's Sky, but they are keeping the details on the down low for now.

Speaking with Polygon, Hello Games Head Sean Murray confirmed that the team had begun development on their next title. He didn't give any kind of details or specifics, only saying the game was "a huge, ambitious game like No Man's Sky." Considering how large the scope of that game ended up being, that could be quite something, but it also seems like we won't see it anytime soon.

While No Man's Sky has evolved into quite a full experience, it wasn't always this way. When the game originally launched it was criticized for its lack of content, as well as not fulfilling the hefty promises made by Hello Games. It's probably for the best that whatever details about the title are kept a little on the down low for the time being with that in mind. But with how No Man's Sky did end up turning out, whatever it is, it will no doubt be interesting.

Marvel's Avengers Beta Was The Most Downloaded In PlayStation History

marvel's avengers image

We're just a few days away from the release of Marvel's Avengers (and if you bought certain editions, you may be playing it now). The game has been anticipated as one that will allow you to fight as one of the core Avengers people have come to know and love. People got a lot of different beta phases to test out the game to see what they thought, with over six million players ultimately trying it out. And it seems PlayStation 4 users sampled the most.

As announced by Square Enix, as you can see below, the Avengers beta was the most downloaded beta in PlayStation history. It doesn't specify how many that is, but when you consider how many high profile franchises, such as Call of Duty for instance, get betas nowadays, it's impressive.

Marvel's Avengers will launch on September 4th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Stadia. We already know some of the game's post-launch content that's planned, such as the next characters of Kate Bishop and Hawkeye. The game will also come at a later date for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Why Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Costing $70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X Makes Perfect Sense

By now, you've probably heard the latest about Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The publisher confirmed that the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions would cost $70. The current-gen versions were initially believed to cost $60 while the Cross Gen Bundle, which included both a current and next-gen copy, would retail for $70. Couple this with a lack of next-gen upgrades for current gen owners, forcing them to put down more money for a next-gen version, and it's easy to predict the general public response.

However, there are several questions one could still ask in the midst of all of this. Why isn't the PC version, which will also likely to benefit from features like 4K and ray-tracing, priced at $70? Why is the Cross Gen Bundle, which technically includes two copies of the game, only priced at $70?

call of duty black ops cold war

To answer these questions, it's important to look back on Activision's history of both chasing and setting trends. Take loot boxes, for example. As much hate as Star Wars Battlefront 2 got for introducing gameplay-affecting Star Cards in RNG crates purchasable with real money, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014 did this a lot sooner. Its Supply Drops contained weapon variants with different stats, some which offered substantial gameplay advantages. As you'd expect, these were divided into different rarities, with the better ones have less frequent drop chances and they could be purchased with real money.

Unlike the Season Pass model, which Activision was already well-versed in, Supply Drops and RNG loot boxes in general were a new beast. Sales for Advanced Warfare declined by 27 percent over the previous year's iteration, that too despite more positive critical acclaim. But it wasn't simply back to the drawing board to come up with a more consumer-friendly approach. Instead, 2015's Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 took to including more cosmetic options like gestures, taunts and weapon skins. Supply Drops still provided weapon variants but the cosmetic range was significantly expanded over Advanced Warfare (which did have different "gear" that could be unlocked but still). Of course, the typical loot box pool diluting was apparent, like unlocking the same gesture on a per Specialist basis. It didn't matter if they were exactly the same animations – you had to unlock them multiple times to use them for everyone.

Several months later, Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch released and featured a loot box system that would catapult the model into popularity. Its emphasis was on cosmetics only, though it provided these at a much faster clip that Black Ops 3's Supply Drops. Nevertheless, Black Ops 3 would become the most successful title in the US for 2015 and Supply Drops would continue to be implemented in subsequent follow-ups, from Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in 2016 to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in 2018. The trend was broken in 2019 with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare which opted for a Season Pass approach and paid cosmetics akin to Fortnite instead of RNG loot boxes.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare - Season 1

By this point, the global backlash and litigation over the legality of loot boxes was fairly strong so it made sense why Activision would change its tune. However, what the company probably didn't expect is that over $1 billion revenue would be generated by December 18th. While the Season 1 Battle Pass doubtlessly helped with this, the Modern Warfare brand and return to a more gritty, contemporary shooter also played a part. Regardless, the onus has since been on seasonal battle passes with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War adopting the same approach.

From what we've seen, adopting a $70 price point is about three intertwining points: (1) pursuing a trend that will pay off lucrative dividends in the short term, (2) using next-gen marketing terms like 4K, ray-tracing and instantaneous load times to make the next-gen version look like it warrants this price increase, and (3) taking advantage of an influx of next-gen console sales. The third point would explain why there's a Cross Gen Bundle but not a free upgrade – it's because Activision is aware that many consumers will purchase either an Xbox Series X or PS5 in the first six months of their respective launches (at least, according to this survey of UK customers by Experience 12).

This "bundle" is their idea of charity but it also spurs consumers to take advantage of what they see as the "best deal," especially to future-proof themselves if the next-gen consoles aren't immediately available. And in case this strategy fails, a "generous" $10 upgrade option for physical and digital PS4 owners is still available. Funnily enough, if you're playing on Xbox One, then you need to pay $70 for the Xbox Series X version since the Xbox One disc version can't be upgraded for $10. Yes, it is dumb.

call of duty black ops cold war

As to the second point: The use of terms like 4K, ray-tracing and instantaneous load times is a very safe bet for Activision. Not only does it allow the publisher to advertise Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War as being superior on next-gen but it does so in a language that Sony and Microsoft have both made accepted over the past year. These features have gone from being a given to expected from next-gen versions of games but will still be used to advertise them as superior. Furthermore, it allows Activision to avoid the uncomfortable topic of what's different in terms of gameplay content, something that will no doubt come up near launch.

Unlike with loot boxes or season passes, this trend of raising game prices to $70 for the next generation of consoles isn't strongly established. Only one other company, 2K Games, is doing it and even with all the assurances of NBA 2K21 having way more content, it's being done because the publishing label knows it can get away with it. After all, despite having heaps of monetization and gambling mechanics in NBA 2K20, it had the best debut month for a sports game in US history as per The NPD Group. The company knows that consumers will line up to purchase the next game despite its predecessor being plagued with issues.

For Activision, adopting the same price point is more about identifying the next-gen gold rush that's about to occur. Both consoles are expected to sell millions at launch and those millions of customers will want games to play. Why else would it be launching in mid-November and compete with other high-profile titles like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077? It's to cash in on the launch of next-gen consoles at the earliest possible opportunity, especially since both the Xbox Series X and PS5 are expected by then.

call of duty black ops cold war

The best part of this whole deal, at least for Activision, is that not only will it bring in additional revenue but also leverage more "new" users with the next-gen consoles. By the time the next Call of Duty releases in 2021, Activision can quietly drop this trend and go back to a $60 price point while being exclusive to next-gen, comfortable in the fact that it has a larger next-gen user base to exploit. And if the trend is more widely accepted across the industry, then it can continue with this price and justify it by the inevitable success that Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will have. It's a win-win situation and regardless of how the company is judged in the long run, it can always spin things in a positive way.

To clarify: Despite how expensive development can be, I don't condone this approach of charging $70 for a game with hefty microtransactions (because even with a battle pass model, which isn't free by the way, tier skips can still be purchased, to say nothing of the prices for skins). That's especially when the company is reportedly under-paying contractors and temps while its executives continue to rake in the big bucks. The economics benefit those at the very top, regardless of how much or how little development costs, and the goal is always to pursue the highest profit margin while still maintaining the illusion of ethical practice.

The more things change, the more they stay the same and Activision understands this very well when money is involved. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War will make a killing and help justify a price increase for PS5 and Xbox Series X versions. While it's not indicative of the industry at large adopting this, it does go to show what some publishers will do for that extra bit of revenue.

Read our alternate take on this matter by clicking here.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Has No Additional Content Planned

crash team racing nitro-fueled

With a Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time on the horizon, courtesy of Toys for Bob, it's easy to forget about Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Released in June 2019, the kart-racing remaster actually had substantial updates in the form of new racers, karts, tracks and more. The last major Grand Prix was in March 2020 and since then, there have been no updates.

Developer Beenox finally confirmed on Twitter on that the March update was its last major content drop with no additional content currently planned. "Part of the reason is that we're hard at work on some other incredible projects, including making the N. Verted modes in Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time (which will blow you away." The studio is also working on "some other things we can't quite mention yet."

Thankfully, the current-gen modes and features for Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, from the leaderboards and Pit Stop to the online multiplayer, will continue to function. Overall, it's not a bad end for the remaster considering all of the additional content it received. That's even if PC players didn't get a port (though never say never).

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time is currently planned to release on October 2nd for PS4 and Xbox. Recently, Toys for Bob unveiled new Flashback Levels, which see Crash and Coco braving some very tough challenges in Neo Cortex's lab. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

Desperados 3 – Money for the Vultures Part 1 DLC Out Now

Desperados 3_02

Mimimi Games has been adding free updates to Desperados 3 with the Baron's Challenges. However, its first paid DLC for the tactical strategy title, Money for the Vultures Part 1: Late to the Party, is now available. Check out the release trailer to see what kind of mission the gang is taking on this time.

Set after the base game's story, it sees Cooper and his posse going after Vincent DeVitt's treasures. Along with new characters like Rosie from Baton Rouge, there are also looters and a vault to deal with. The developer promises an average playtime of 90 to 120 minutes for this first part, which sounds pretty good.

For those who haven't picked up the DLC, a new Baron's Challenge is available in a free update. The challenge is called "What if?" and you can check out what it contains in the trailer below. Stay tuned for more details on Desperados 3's paid DLC in the coming months – the game is available now for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Check out our review for it here.

The Outer World: Peril on Gorgon DLC Gameplay Video Introduces New Characters, Choices

The Outer Worlds - Peril on Gorgon

Peril on Gorgon, the first of two paid expansions coming to The Outer Worlds, is out next week. While some gameplay footage emerged over the weekend at Gamescom, even more has emerged courtesy of IGN. The initial 14 minutes of the DLC is showcased, as the player travels to Gorgon and encounters some new characters like Wilhelmina Ambrose.

Available after completing the mission "Radio Free Monarch", the DLC sees players venturing to Gorgon to investigate a strange conspiracy. Gorgon is essentially a large asteroid and was once a research center for the brand Spacer's Choice. What nefarious secrets will the player discover and how does the Ambrose family play in?

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon is out on September 9th for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Though the exact breadth of content isn't known, Obsidian Entertainment promises a substantial amount, from new armor and perks to weapons and flaws. It will retail for $15 while the expansion pass costs $25 and grants access to the future second DLC as well.

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