We love some Elder Scrolls action here at TheSixthAxis, and Elder Scrolls Online continues to scratch that Tamriel itch whenever we heed its call. This year's massive new story chapter, which is part of the year-long Gates of Oblivion adventure, is entitled Blackwood and it's set to release on the 1st of June for PC, Mac and Google Stadia, with it arriving a week later on the 8th of June for PlayStation 4 and 5, as well as Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Blackwood tasks players with uncovering the schemes of the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon 800 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Packing more than 30 hours of new main storyline, tons of side quests, countless quality of life features, and fantastically – and for the first time ever – introduces Companions who will adventure through Tamriel alongside the player. The new Chapter will take players from the walls of the Imperial City of Leyawiin, first featured in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, to the murky bogs of Shadowfen, and of course to the mysterious region of Blackwood where players will uncover the Daedric plot at its heart.
The new Rockgrove Trial, Oblivion Portal World Events, unique Chapter-specific rewards and more will provide ESO players and newcomers alike with an amazing year of deadric destruction.
The Gates of Oblivion storyline begins with the arrival of the Flames of Ambition Dungeon DLC pack on March the 8th for PC, Mac, and Stadia with Xbox and PlayStation players having to wait until the 16th to jump in. This new pack reveals takes you to a series of dungeons that reveal the threat of Mehrunes Dagon, directly setting up this summer's Blackwood story chapter in June.
If you're a regular player you'll need to make sure you're checking in for everything Gate of Oblivion related, while new players will be able to dive straight in, with Elder Scrolls Online offering a fantastic on-boarding experience for new starters.
As the dust settles on the launch of three new next generation consoles, it's hard not to think that right now would be the perfect time for Nintendo to announce an upgraded version of the Switch. An upgrade of the popular hybrid has been long rumoured, dating as far back as the same year the console was released, but while speculation has run rampant for some time, Nintendo – in typical Nintendo fashion – has been pretty tight-lipped about the supposed upgrade.
The first thing we should probably discuss is what the Nintendo Switch Pro would likely bring to the table. To do that, we should look at the current Switch hardware, to show what any upgrades would bring to the table. The current Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite both feature a Nvidia Tegra X1, an eight-core 1.020 ghz CPU which outputs 1600 MHz docked and 1331.2 MHz in handheld and 4 GB LPDDR4 @ 1331/1600 MHz memory.
Depending on if you're playing handheld or docked, the Switch can output up to 720p or 1080p, though whether it can actually reach those resolutions depends on how demanding the game is. Surprisingly, when you step away from the "impossible" ports, the Nintendo Switch has a pretty solid record of running games at 60fps, although there are often major cutbacks or clever optimisations in order to make that happen. That said, it's definitely starting to show its age, especially in the face of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.
Nintendo Switch Pro Specs & Upgrades
Firstly, the Nintendo Switch's Tegra X1 SoC will need to be seriously upgraded or swapped for something much more modern, both in terms of more powerful CPU cores and advancing the graphics technology.
The difficulty Nintendo face is in choosing the right chipset to replace it. Sticking with Nvidia, the X2 would be the most direct replacement, but it's a chip that's older than the Nintendo Switch itself, and lacks some of the more modern features that Nvidia offers. Recent rumours suggest that Nintendo is going to focus on implementing Nvidia DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) based on a recent job listing.
That leads us to Nvidia's more recent Tegra Xavier. A NeoGAF going under the username Raploz predicts Nintendo could work alongside Nvidia to create a custom version of the Xavier chip to fit the needs of a Nintendo Switch Pro. Raploz makes the interesting point that the only chip which could suit the Switch that has machine learning – a necessity for DLSS – is the Xavier chip.
This would be an unusual use case for a chipset that Nvidia have elsewhere used for embedded AI computing in robotics and cars, and not for consumer electronics and smart devices where power efficiency is a vital factor. Its Carmel CPU has an unusual paired CPU core design that could pose a challenge for developers, and the abilities of Nvidia's Volta architecture aren't known for video games, as it was overlooked for their PC GPUs. That said, there is a version of Xavier that would be a match for the 10W TDP of the Tegra X1, and much like how Sony and Microsoft work with AMD, Nintendo could customise Nvidia's chipset designs.
Whatever ends up in a Switch Pro, native 4K gaming is a thoroughly unlikely target, and this is where the DLSS technology comes into play. Using DLSS, it's most realistic that a Nintendo Switch Pro could target running games natively at 1080p and upscale to 1440p or 4K depending on the game when docked. Alternatively, that extra power could be utilised to run games at higher and more consistent frame rates.
Will the Nintendo Switch fall behind PS5 and Xbox Series X|S?
With new consoles, new graphics cards and a new standard for customer expectation being established, the Nintendo Switch is looking more dated by the day. Interestingly, the Switch was the leading console for sales across Japan, USA, Australia and the UK during 2020, beating the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X due to major supply issues around launch. This doesn't mean Nintendo can rest on its laurels though, as 2021 is likely to take a very different course once Microsoft and Sony address their supply chain issues.
In just a few short months, the Nintendo Switch will celebrate its fourth anniversary. With typical console generations lasting around seven years these days, it's safe to say we are at least half-way through the Switch's life-span at this point. If Nintendo want to keep up with the surrounding industry, it needs to update the Switch to bring it closer in line with the new consoles. While it's never going to have the same performance, additional power processing power would keep it in the spotlight alongside the new consoles.
Microsoft has already shown how easy it is to cater to customers across two different types of consoles with the Series S and X, so it's not unrealistic that Nintendo could do the same. Releasing the same game library across both consoles, but offering an enhanced experience to those customers who want better resolution or frame rates. Rather than splitting the market, Nintendo could continue developing it's excellent first-party titles for two separate consoles, further increasing its market share by tempting those who want 60fps frame rates or higher resolution visuals.
I wanted to do a little market research of my own, so I recently took to Twitter – very official I know – and posed the question "Would you buy a Switch Pro?". The results were actually quite surprising.
While 131 total votes is a pretty small sample size, it was pretty much an even result, which poses some interesting questions. There's clearly a portion of people who are more than happy with the Switch in its current state, while there're others who want a more powerful version. Of course, the results of this small poll don't represent the thoughts of every Nintendo Switch owner, but it shows how Nintendo could continue to cater to two different target markets.
With reports coming through every month, there's still no definite sign that Nintendo is going to pull the trigger on a Switch Pro, and some might argue, why should they?
Does the world need a Switch Pro?
It's a valid question, we've already seen that there's clearly a split of opinion. Chances are, there are plenty of people who are more than happy with what their Switch can do. For a more casual crowd, a Switch Pro would likely seem like a costly venture for something that does pretty much the same as the existing console.
It's also important to take 4K televisions sets into consideration. While there's still countless households that are yet to invest in the upgrade, 4K TVs make an ever-growing percentage of TVs sold each year. Since the launch of the PS4 Pro, we've gone from a global install base of 31 million 4K TVs as of 2017, to more than 36 million 4K TVs being sold in a single quarter last autumn. There are hundreds of millions of 4K TVs out there, and people will want content that makes the most of them.
That demand is obvious to see with PlayStation and Xbox. In 2017, from the time of its launch, the PS4 Pro was accounting for one in every five PlayStation 4 consoles sold since the more powerful console launched. If that ratio has held, it would mean roughly 10% of the 114 million PlayStation 4 consoles sold by October 2020 were PS4 Pros. It was also reported that the Xbox One X was outselling the PS4 Pro in the US. It's clear that there's was an audience for the more powerful consoles, but as we see the scramble for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X stock, that has been amplified with the new generation.
If you look at the wider industry, Nintendo absolutely needs to release a Switch Pro to stay relevant. While the current model has performed well against past competitors, it's only a matter of time until Sony and Microsoft again start to dominate the market. Both are now selling a number of different consoles across two generations, whilst Nintendo have only got the Switch and Switch Lite, two consoles that will surely feel more dated the further we go into the next generation. A new console release from Nintendo would enable them to keep up with Sony and Microsoft, by keeping what makes the Switch special, but with a slight tweak or upgrade.
Then again, Nintendo could continue to ignore the rest of the industry. The Switch itself is an exercise in isolated design. Its hybrid design of portable and TV based playing completely ignored the industry standard, but it's what has made the console such a tremendous success since its launch. Whatever happens, Nintendo will always be Nintendo, but 2021 is the year where something needs to happen if the Switch is going to keep up with Sony and Microsoft.
As Charles Darwin once said: "It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change." The industry is changing, and this is the time for Nintendo to adapt once again.
It occasionally feels like a deluge of content comes our way every month depending on what subscriptions you partake in. If you're part of Jeff Bezos' Amazon Prime crew then you get a bunch of added extras through Prime Gaming, with a growing library of over 35 games as well as a bunch of added extras like currency and gear for some of the biggest multiplayer games out there like Fortnite, Roblox ,Warframe and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. Feburary brings yet more, with Spinch, Monster Prom, Table Manners!, Swimsanity! and Stealth Bastards Deluxe hitting the library and becoming available to download on PC from the 1st of the month.
Other than the great line up of new games for subscribers to sink into, there's a heap of content available too, including:
- OVR Player Pick item and Rare Gold Player items for FIFA 21
- Exclusive content for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, UFC 4, and Roblox
- Limited ad-free play for some of Voodoo's most popular titles, including Helix Jump and Hole.io
As ever, you can grab all of these things by heading over to gaming.amazon.com and logging in with your Amazon Prime account.
We reviewed Spinch and Monster Prom towards the end of last year, with both proving to be most enjoyable. Spinch grabbed a 7/10 with our own Nic B saying "Spinch is a quirky and vibrant 2D platformer that will delight and infuriate in equal measure. The soundtrack is invigorating and the gameplay demands a lot of the player with its punishing difficulty. The upside to this is that, finishing each level with your three babies comes with a sense of accomplishment that can't be denied. If you're a fan of this kind of game, Spinch is definitely one to consider."
Monster Prom similarly hit a 7/10 (or at least the XXL version with the DLC included did), with Ade telling us, "I honestly didn't know what to expect when I sat down to play Monster Prom XXL, what is a high school multiplayer monster dating sim anyway? The answer is: a whole lot of fun with some big laughs to be had. How long that fun will last with such a repetitive structure is up for debate however. One thing's for certain though: Monster Prom XXL is the best high school multiplayer monster dating sim I've every played."
If you're more of an old-school gamer you can also grab a heap of classic SNK titles including Samurai Showdown V Special, Metal Slug 3, Garou: Mark of the Wolves and The Last Blade 2.
If you've got a PC and an Amazon Prime account, there's really no reason not to dive in there right now.
It's been rather a long wait but R-Type Final 2 will now launch in western territories on April 30th via publisher NIS America. The game is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC via three different platforms, Steam, the Epic Games Store, and GOG.
Pre-orders for the consoles versions of the "Inaugural Flight Edition" which include an art booklet and a soundtrack CD are up on Amazon UK and will set you back £50.
First announced by developer Granzella in April 2019 the game then vanished from radars for quite a while until it popped back up in October 2020. By then NIS America were onboard as pubishers and the game had Spring 2021 window.
Granzella held a successful Kickstarter for the game raising 224% over what the had planned and almost hitting $1m in funding. Kazuma Kujo is directing the project, he has a long history with series have previously worked on R-Tyle Delta, R-Type Final, and R-Type Tactics.
"The stages are rebuilt from scratch for the new game," explained Granzella back in 2019, "As this is going to be the first R-Type game since 16:9 displays have become the standard, the screen structure will be reviewed to improve the playability and make the side scrolling shooter game more exciting and enjoyable. In addition, the stages that appeared in the earlier work will come back with new expressions and interpretations."
"The mere basic functions of R-Type generate a lot of tactical features. We take our hats off to by the depth of the basic rules of R-Type created by our predecessors," the add.
R-Type is the best side ways scrolling shooter and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. A version of the original game and it's sequel were released on the PlayStation Store in the shape of R-Type Dimensions EX, which included a version with the original graphics and an enhanced version with better, although not stunning, graphics.
Source: Press release
Silent Hill fans are still waiting for remakes, remaster, or reboots, but in the meantime Konami seem happy to farm out the license to other games, the latest being Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals.
If that game doesn't ring any bells – I had to look it up – it's a PC only multiplayer game where players take on the role of monsters or mortals from Dark Deception's universe and race around a maze collecting soul shards. You can buy it right now on Steam for the pleasing cheap price of £7.19.
— Monsters & Mortals (@MonstersMortals) January 29, 2021
The last time anything happened with Silent Hill was back in October when Konami created a Twitter account for the game. Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals was also released in October last year and we've not covered the game before so here's a trailer and a little more about the title.
Dark Deception: Monsters & Mortals is a multiplayer horror game where players take on the role of monsters and mortals from the Dark Deception universe (and others) and battle each other in nightmarish mazes. Some mazes will look familiar to Dark Deception fans, but many will be completely new! Monsters & Mortals has multiple gameplay modes to play with your friends:
1. Maze Escape: (3 v 1) Three mortals must collect the required number of shards to summon the portal & escape, while a monster seeks to stop or kill them before the time expires.
2. Shard Mayhem: Monsters only mode. 4 players compete against one another in a free for all to collect the most shards in the time limit provided. Shards spawn in waves and can be stolen from other players by attacking or killing them.
3. Soul Collection: 4 Mortals compete for shards in order to save their own soul. At the end of each shard wave, Malak will come for the player with the fewest shards and take their soul. They will become a monster and must hunt down the remaining mortal survivors. In the end, only one mortal will win the right to keep their soul.
Here are some of the key features of Monsters & Mortals:
– Unique mazes inspired by & taken from the hit game, Dark Deception.
– Powerful ultimate abilities unique to each character.
– Turn the tables with trap & boss activations. Monsters & Mortals adds new never-before-seen bosses!
– Collect item boxes to gain powers, health, trap items, status effects, and more!
– Waves of shards to collect
– Level up to unlock new stat tiers and level rewards!
– Play as monsters or mortals depending on which game mode you play.
– Unlock monster & mortal skins, art, new characters, and more in the Store!
– Instant matchmaking makes playing a game quick & painless!
– Invite your friends to private matches easily with our invite code system! Play with people you know!
With lockdowns all over gyms have been forced to close in many places which has led to a boom in home workouts, and that includes exercise software being released. One of those is FitXR which was released a few months ago, and now FitXR has released two new DLC packs to add some variety to the workouts available in the base experience. Those DLC are Absolute Box and Absolute Dance. Each is priced at £7.99. Both DLC packs have four workouts included.
Sameer Baroova, Co-Founder of FitXR said:
"We're really pleased to bring new DLC packs to FitXR for both existing fans and new users of our platform. We know what a difficult time it is at the moment and how fitness can play an important role in protecting people's mental and physical wellbeing, so we're excited to offer new and engaging ways to get fit from home. We also know how much our users enjoy a breadth of different classes, which is why we've looked to expand both our box and dance offerings. We will continue to evolve and improve our virtual studio to help create the most immersive and engaging fitness experience possible. We're really keen to hear what our users think of the new classes!"
The foul classes available in Absolute Dance include:
- Parachute – A complete body conditioning workout, great to pair with a box session
- Wild – Dance cardio session with classic hip hop moves
- Kokaracha – Body conditioning with lots of squats, lunges, and side steps
- Stormy Weather – Aerobics and cardio focused
Whereas, Absolute Box's four classes are:
- Lasers And Stuff – a cardio based endurance challenge
- Sweat On Me – work on your speed, reaction time, and hand eye coordination
- Comma Get It – lower body focused to help strengthen legs
- Bad – combines lower body, speed, and complex combinations
In our review for FitXR, Dom wrote:
Cogwheel Software and Daedalic Entertainment have announced the 2D horror title Hidden Deep. It is a game set under the surface of the ocean in a mysterious research facility. In the game players control a group of four researchers who are sent to work out what was going on in this facility. When they get there they find no one but they start exploring and soon it will be found that there is danger lurking in the caves below the ocean.
Hidden Deep's features will include:
- A mission-based single-player experience where you control your team directly or by giving orders.
- Story mode with more than 50 narrative-driven, handcrafted levels paying homage to 80s and 90s sci-fi classics.
- Challenge mode with randomized levels for fast-paced, intense action.
- Exploration of suboceanic caves using grappling-hooks, scanners, drones, heavy machinery, and more.
- Sneaky and deadly aliens, environmental traps, and other hidden dangers to make your life miserable – and exciting.
Hidden Deep will be available on Steam and there will be a demo available to play between February 3rd and February 9th.
Source: Press Release
Epic Games has refreshed its free game that every member can grab for free, and that game is the metroidvania puzzle plaftformer Dandara. Dandara was released back in 2018 offering a challenge for players with the traversal of the game being limited to certain points in the world instead of being a freeflowing platformer. You can check out the trailer for Dandara below.
In our Dandara review, Miguel wrote:
Dandara is a beautiful game with a fresh movement mechanic, but it doesn't come together as well as I had hoped. Leaping across platforms is satisfying when it works, but aggravating when it doesn't, and even when the leaping does what you want it to do, you'll find annoying backtracking or bizarre navigation puzzles to overcome. There are some great moments in Dandara, but the headaches you have to deal with to get to them aren't always worth it.
You can view a full list of every free Epic games below, complete with dates of availability, and reviews plucked from our archive.
Epic Games store free games list
|Game Name||Dates Available|
|Galactic Civilizations III||January 21-28, 2021|
|Star Wars Battlefront II||January 14-21, 2021|
|Crying Suns||January 7-14, 2021|
|Jurassic World: Evolution||December 31, 2020-January 7, 2021|
|Torchlight II||December 30|
|Stranded Deep||December 28|
|Night in the Woods||December 27|
|My Time At Portia||December 26|
|Darkest Dungeon||December 25|
|Tropico 5||December 23|
|Metro 2033 Redux||December 22|
|Alien: Isolation||December 21, 2020|
|Defense Grid: The Awakening||December 20, 2020|
|The Long Dark||December 19 , 2020|
|Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty||December 18, 2020|
|Cities Skylines||December 17, 2020|
|Pillars of Eternity||December 10-17, 2020|
|Tyranny||December 10-17, 2020|
|Cave Story+||December 3-10, 2020|
|MudRunner||November 26-December 3, 2020|
|Elite: Dangerous||November 19-26, 2020|
|The World Next Door||November 19-26, 2020|
|The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia||November 12-19, 2020|
|Dungeons 3||November 12-19, 2020|
|Wargame: Red Dragon||November 5-12, 2020|
|Ghostbusters The Video Game – Remastered||October 29-November 5, 2020|
|Blair Witch||October 29-November 5, 2020|
|Layers of Fear 2||October 22-29, 2020|
|Costume Quest 2||October 22-29, 2020|
|Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs||October 15-22, 2020|
|Kingdom New Lands||October 15-22, 2020|
|Rising Storm 2: Vietnam||October 8-15, 2020|
|ABZU||October 8-15, 2020|
|Pikuniku||October 1-8, 2020|
|Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition||September 24-October 1, 2020|
|Football Manager 2020||September 17-24, 2020|
|Watch Dogs 2||September 17-24, 2020|
|Stick It To The Man!||September 17-24, 2020|
|Railway Empire||September 10-17, 2020|
|Where The Water Tastes Like Wine||September 10-17, 2020|
|Into The Breach||September 3-10, 2020|
|Hitman||August 27-September 3, 2020|
|Shadowrun Collection||August 27-September 3, 2020|
|God's Trigger||August 20-27, 2020|
|Enter the Gungeon||August 20-27, 2020|
|The Alto Collection||August 13-20, 2020|
|Remnant: From the Ashes||August 13-20, 2020|
|A Total War Saga: Troy||August 13-14, 2020|
|Wilmot's Warehouse||August 6-13, 2020|
|Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP||July 30 – August 6, 2020|
|Barony||July 30 – August 6, 2020|
|20XX||July 30 – August 6, 2020|
|Next Up Hero||July 23-30, 2020|
|Tacoma||July 23-30, 2020|
|Torchlight II||July 16-23, 2020|
|Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition||July 9-16, 2020|
|The Escapists 2||July 9-16, 2020|
|Killing Floor 2||June 9-16, 2020|
|Hue||July 2-9, 2020|
|Stranger Things 3||June 25-July 2, 2020|
|AER Memories of Old||June 18-25, 2020|
|Ark: Survival Evolved||June 11-18, 2020|
|Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection||June 11-18, 2020|
|Overcooked||June 4-11, 2020|
|Borderlands: The Handsome Collection||May 28-June 4, 2020|
|Civilization VI||May 21-28, 2020|
|Grand Theft Auto V||May 14-21, 2020|
|Death Coming||May 7-14, 2020|
|Crashlands||April 30-May 7, 2020|
|Amnesia: The Dark Descent||April 30-May 7, 2020|
|For the King||April 23-30, 2020|
|Just Cause 4||April 16-23, 2020|
|Wheels of Aurelia||April 16-23, 2020|
|Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments||April 9-16, 2020|
|Close to the Sun||April 9-16, 2020|
|Gone Home||April 2-9, 2020|
|Drawful 2||April 2-9, 2020|
|Hob||April 2-9, 2020|
|Totally Reliable Delivery Service||April 1-8, 2020|
|World War Z||March 26-April 2, 2020|
|Torment x Punisher||March 26-April 2, 2020|
|Figment||March 26-April 2, 2020|
|Watch Dogs||March 19-26, 2020|
|The Stanley Parable||March 19-26, 2020|
|A Short Hike||March 12-19, 2020|
|Mutazione||March 12-19, 2020|
|Anodyne 2||March 12-19, 2020|
|Gonner||March 5-12, 2020|
|Offworld Trading Company||March 5-12, 2020|
|Inner Space||February 27-March 5, 2020|
|Faeria||February 20-27, 2020|
|Assassin's Creed Syndicate||February 20-27, 2020|
|Aztez||February 13-20, 2020|
|Kingdom Come: Deliverance||February 13-20, 2020|
|Ticket to Ride||February 6-13, 2020|
|Carcassonne||February 6-13, 2020|
|Farming Simulator 19||January 30-February 6, 2020|
|The Bridge||January 23-30, 2020|
|Horace||January 16-23, 2020|
|Sundered: Eldritch Edition||January 9-16, 2020|
|Darksiders Warmastered Edition||January 1-9, 2020|
|Darksiders 2 Dethinitive Edition||January 1-9, 2020|
|Steep||January 1-9, 2020|
|Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair||December 31, 2019|
|Hello Neighbor||December 30, 2019|
|The Talos Principle||December 29, 2019|
|Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun||December 28, 2019|
|Hyper Light Drifter||December 27, 2019|
|FTL: Faster Than Light||December 26, 2019|
|Totally Accurate Battle Simulator||December 25, 2019|
|Celeste||December 24, 2019|
|Ape Out||December 23, 2019|
|Little Inferno||December 22, 2019|
|Superhot||December 21, 2019|
|Towerfall Ascension||December 20, 2019|
|Into the Breach||December 19, 2019|
|The Wolf Among Us||December 12-19, 2019|
|The Escapists||December 12-19, 2019|
|Jotun: Valhalla Edition||December 6-12, 2019|
|Rayman Legends||November 29-December 6, 2019|
|Bad North||November 21-29, 2019|
|The Messenger||November 14-21, 2019|
|Ruiner||November 7-14, 2019|
|Nuclear Throne||November 7-14, 2019|
|Costume Quest||October 31-November 7, 2019|
|Soma||October 31-November 7, 2019|
|Layers of Fear||October 24-October 31, 2019|
|Q.U.B.E.2||October 24-October 31, 2019|
|Alan Wake: American Nightmare||October 17-24, 2019|
|Observer||October 17-24, 2019|
|Surviving Mars||October 10-17, 2019|
|Minit||October 3-10, 2019|
|Metro 2033 Redux||September 26-October 3, 2019|
|Everything||September 26-October 3, 2019|
|Lego Batman Trilogy||September 19-26, 2019|
|Batman: Arkham Collection||September 19-26, 2019|
|Conarium||September 12-19, 2019|
|ABZU||September 5-12, 2019|
|The End is Nigh||September 5-12, 2019|
|Celeste||August 29-September 5, 2019|
|Inside||August 29-September 5, 2019|
|Fez||August 22-29, 2019|
|Hyper Light Drifter||August 15-22, 2019|
|Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden||August 15-22, 2019|
|GNOG||August 8-15, 2019|
|For Honor||August 2-9, 2019|
|Alan Wake||August 2-9, 2019|
|This War of Mine||July 25-August 2, 2019|
|Moonlighter||July 25-August 2, 2019|
|Limbo||July 18-July 25, 2019|
|Torchlight||July 11-18, 2019|
|Overcooked||July 4-11, 2019|
|Last Day of June||June 27-July 4, 2019|
|Rebel Galaxy||June 20-27, 2019|
|Enter the Gungeon||June 13-20, 2019|
|Kingdom: New Lands||June 6-13, 2019|
|City of Brass||May 30-6, 2019|
|Rime||May 23-30, 2019|
|Stories Untold||May 16-23, 2019|
|World of Goo||May 2-16, 2019|
|Transistor||April 18-May 2, 2019|
|The Witness||April 4-18, 2019|
|Oxenfree||March 21-April 4, 2019|
|Slime Rancher||March 7-21, 2019|
|Thimbleweed Park||February 21-March 7, 2019|
|Axiom Verge||February 7-21, 2019|
|The Jackbox Party Pack||January 24-February 7, 2019|
|What Remains of Edith Finch||January 11-24, 2019|
|Super Meat Boy||December 28, 2018-January 10, 2019|
|Subnautica||December 12-27, 2018|
Harmonix has released a demo for its DJ game FUSER making it available for players on PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One as well as PS5 and Xbox Series S|X via backwards compatibility. The demo will allow players to learn the basics of the game using eight tracks from the library of music that is found in FUSER. Those music tracks are:
- Bad Bunny "Yo Perreo Sola"
- Billie Eilish "bad guy"
- Cardi B "Bodak Yellow"
- deadmau5 ft. Rob Swire "Ghosts 'n' Stuff"
- Dua Lipa "Don't Start Now"
- Rage Against The Machine "Killing In The Name"
- Smash Mouth "All Star"
- Warren G and Nate Dogg "Regulate"
Harmonix has also confirmed that it will be releasing update 1.3 over the next few weeks. This update will bring a new mode called Live Set Events added a new competitive angle to in game events. There will be leaderboards to move up on and hitting different tiers. Freestyle co-op will be more customisable allowing players to change how many rounds will be played and the length of those rounds. A Hot Clips option will let players preview tracks before adding them to a deck. There will be new options to sort through mixes players have liked and put up, as well as optimise streams and sharing.
Source: Press Release
As January draws to a close, things are starting to look up. The days are getting longer, and the vaccine roll-out is progressing at a steady pace. Hopefully we won't be locked up in our homes for too much longer!
In the meantime, let's take a gander at what happened on TSA this week…
In the News This Week
- Hitman 3 sales have already recouped development costs
- PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal has been delayed to April
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum slips to 2022
- Netflix announce an animated Tomb Raider series
- EA start a new studio to create Skate 4
- Sea of Thieves: Season One is now live
- Biomutant release set for this May across PS4, Xbox One and PC
- Knights of the Old Republic remake reportedly in development, but not by EA
- Xbox Game Pass passes 18 million subscribers, as Microsoft enjoys biggest console launch yet
- The February PlayStation Plus games have been announced, details here!
Games in Review
It was another bumper week for the reviews, although not all of them were stunners!
- Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy – PS5, PS4, PC, NSW – 9/10
- Omori – PC, Mac – 9/10
- The Medium – XSX|S, PC – 8/10
- Bonkies – PS4, XBO, NSW, PC – 8/10
- Olija – PS4, XBO, NSW, PC – 8/10
- When the Past was Around – PS4, XBO, NSW, PC – 8/10
- Carto – PS4, XBO, NSW, PC – 7/10
- Bezier: Second Edition – NSW – 7/10
- Redout: Space Assault – PS4, XBO, NSW, PC, iOS – 7/10
- Encodya – PC – 5/10
- Body of Evidence – PC, NSW – 5/10
- Brawl Chess – XBO, PC, NSW – 3/10
- Drunken Fist – PS4, XBO, NSW, PC – 2/10
And we had one more hardware review too:
From the previews, Nic kicked off the week with a look at King Arthur: Knight's Tale, an isometric turn-based-tactics game that he instantly fell in love with, as Reuben went hands on with the demo for Balan Wonderworld.
Jason called the original Super Mario 3D World "one of the best Mario games of all-time", so obviously he was excited to see how the Switch version is shaping up.
Lastly, Balan Wonderworld, Super Mario 3D World & The Medium featured in What We Played.
Here's what our community has been up to this week:
- Crazy_Del got the platinum for the Mafia remaster, but at the cost of getting in trouble with his wife over the naughty magazine collectables!
- MrYd was impressed by Hitman 3 in VR, and also had the time to finish off Doom Eternal and dived into Auto Chess.
- In between enjoying the Phoenix Wright trilogy, willbuchanan has been dabbling in Everybody's Golf on Vita.
- TSBonyman has been enjoying more and more of Cyberpunk since the latest patch game out.
- And Andrewww has been working his way through Resident Evil 2 as Claire, as well as playing Untitled Goose Game with his kids.
Well there you have it. Have a good weekend and I'll be back before you know it!
Ubisoft has confirmed people can now sign up for the Roller Champions closed beta, and it will be available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The beta itself will begin on February 17th and run until March 1st, and Ubisoft+ subscribers on PC will be enrolled automatically. There is a caveat though as the closed beta will only be available to European countries with that list including Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Norway.
The beta will include the game modes of Ranked, Skatepark, Custom Match as well as some others. In the beta you will be able to create your own roller champion who can then complete a variety of contracts. The gameplay has also been tweaked with new moves added for the roller champions to pull off. The beta will have cross platform play enabled and you will be able to create teams of three with friends, or jump into matchmaking and join up with other players. If you choose to play on PC you can see the system requirements below.
Minimum system requirements:
OS: Windows 10 or newer Processor: 2.5GHz 4 cores NVIDIA GTX 970 or better / AMD Radeon 390 RAM: 4GB DirectX: 11 Peripherals: Xbox Controller, PS4 Controller, Mouse and Keyboard
Recommended system requirements:
OS: Windows 10 or newer Processor: 3GHz 8 cores NVIDIA GTSX 1060 or better / RX580 or better RAM: 8GB DirectX: 11 Peripherals: Xbox Controller, PS4 Controller, Mouse and Keyboard
Any progress made in the closed beta will not carry over to the final game but everyone who participates will be given the game title The Assistant which can be displayed in the final game. To register for the Roller Champions closed beta you will need to head on over to the official Roller Champions website.
Bungie have announced a significant change to the day-to-day structure of Destiny 2: Beyond Light. With the reveal of the next Season coming on 2nd February, they're getting ahead of the curve by revealing Seasonal Challenges that will replace weekly bounties in an effort to reduce the feeling of grind that the game can have.
As explained in the blog post, the team have looked at what they called "bounty fatigue and FOMO", homing in on a few goals to try and improve the overall experience:
- Provide a guide to new, returning, and veteran players for what to do today/this week.
- Guide the player through the Seasonal content, week-over-week.
- Encourage players to engage with complexities and nuances of the Seasonal activity and rituals.
- Reduce the penalties on XP and Bright Dust for missing a given week.
Those goals led them to creating a new pursuit type, called Seasonal Challenges, which will introduce a new set of challenges to take on each of the first 10 weeks of a Season but, most importantly, won't see them disappear once a week is done. These might lead you to Seasonal content, or nudge you to play Strikes, Gambit or the Crucible, or improving guns and armor, and so on. You can complete Challenges once per account, and you won't have to visit a vendor, since they'll just be there in the UI.
One thing to note is that, while Challenges won't disappear week-to-week, most will vanish at the end of the Season, along with any unclaimed rewards. That's why they'll only add Challenges through the first 10 weeks, allowing people a little time to mop up at the end of a Season.
This, they think, will let them get more creative and less specific with what they're asking players to do. Some will be longer, others will be shorter, with commensurate rewards. Here's some examples:
- Defeating Primeval Envoys in Gambit
- Defeating enemies in Nightfall: The Ordeal with Seasonal weapons
- Gaining Infamy or Valor ranks
- Acquiring the ritual weapon and its cosmetic ornaments
- Winning rounds in Trials of Osiris
- Completing a Grandmaster Nightfall
These effectively replace weekly bounties, removing them from Zavala, Shaxx, the Drifter, Banshee-44 and the Seasonal vendor. They'll still have daily bounties to reward XP, and there will still be repeatable bounties, but the weekly grinders will be gone.
It's a really interesting change, and one that I feel will allow the game to be a more healthy part of a gaming diet. I have personally fallen off the wagon several times, and am currently in my longest spell of not playing the game since Destiny beta launched, but this would allow me to not feel like playing something else for a week or two has left me too far behind.
Zen Studios have announced Pinball FX, a new pinball title coming to next-gen consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S later this year.
Calling it their "most ambitious pinball project to date", Pinball FX will feature a new career mode, challenge modes, a clan system and more, while online leagues, tournaments and competitive play have all been retooled to cater to live events and a seasonal content model.
However, most curious of all the new and returning modes in Pinball Royale, "a frantically exciting multiplayer action mode incorporating battle royale-style gameplay." There's no further details on how this will work, but we'd expect that Zen might draw from the formula set out by Tetris 99 and Super Mario 35, where you compete with others in a high score chase of sorts.
Obviously, with the new generation of consoles the target for the new Pinball FX game, Zen Studios will be looking to take advantage of the power and visual technologies that they offer. I'm sure they'll be able to tout ray traced lighting in particular.
All of that is coming together in such a way that Zen Studios have decided to effectively reboot the brand – the most recent game was Pinball FX 3 – to justify the new approach to the business model, the new modes, and their desire to rebuild all of the tables and everything from scratch. It's explained in their first The Pinball Show, which will be a regular dive into the game's development from now until launch.
Looking back on Pinball FX3, it launched in 2017 for a wide array of platforms, building on the foundations of Pinball FX2. In our review, Ade wrote:
"Pinball FX 3 is a fantastic sequel and offers everything a fan of the series could hope for. It brings added sheen and shine to every conceivable area that was lacking in Pinball FX2. The true test of its longevity will be in its forthcoming table packs but judging on the quality of the Universal Film Studios pack, we've nothing to be worried about."
Here's hoping this next-gen game can live up to the legacy of the series, right out the gate.
Source: press release
Ohhh, the weather outside is weather, and let me tell you it's not worth going outside, even if you were allowed. You're much better off staying inside and hunkering down with some video games, so that's what we've been doing this past week. Personally I'm getting through the main body of Final Fantasy VII Remake and I am loving it. I'm actually kicking myself that I didn't persevere with it at launch, but appreciating that I've got it to play since it's exactly where my head is at right now.
Besides that I've mostly been playing Wipeout 2048 on the trusty PS Vita, though I've downloaded the HD Collection to my PS5 so I can keep the action going on the big screen, and I checked out Redout: Space Assault for review and continued to play Warframe, which is a real treat to hop into at the end of a day.
I may have also pre-ordered the Monster Hunter Rise Switch, because I need it to match my Monster Hunter 4 3DS. Obviously.
Miguel played the COD Modern Warfare 2019 campaign, saying "I had a really amazing time with it, I think there was more interesting gameplay variety and set piece stuff in Black Ops Cold War, but Modern Warfare had really solid writing and an amazing ending. It also made my PC turn into a toaster oven, which prompted me to install an extra exhaust fan last night. I've also been playing some good ol Atelier Ryza 2!"
Gareth had just a few goes solo on Vigor for review and played a bit of the second season of Telltale's Batman, telling us "It's pretty good but I get occasional urges for Rocksteady Batmaning that the game doesn't scratch."
Meanwhile, Nick P has mostly been playing Assassin Creed: Valhalla, still 100%ing regions as he plays. "I'm getting quite beefy now and combat is a lot easier as I'm mastering parries. I've also been playing Helheim Hassle for review but more on that later."
Jason has foolishly not been playing the stock market – seemingly we all should spend more time on Reddit – and instead has mostly been playing Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury as per his preview and Rocket League as per his calling in life. Nic B hasn't seemingly played anything (though I know he has really like Magic the Gathering Arena on mobile) but he did say "I've played with the taps this morning and everything is coming out yellow. Send Mario." Maybe Jason can help?
Aran has been playing lots of AC Valhalla, though with crushing pain; "I had to redo the Oxfordshire arc after autosave failed for me. Now I'm just doing the Lunden arc before deciding where to go next."
Steve played a lot of The Medium which was "well above par" for the horror genre, finished Ryte The Eye of Atlantis, had some enjoyable high score chasing with Bezier Second Edition, and delved back into the world of Gordon Freeman with the fantastic Black Mesa Definitive Edition, which he's working his way through on the way to Half Life: Alyx. He also played a bit of Shovel Knight with his son but "the co-op is a bit too hard as it's too easy to knock each other into the void."
Jim finally got his Shadow of the Colossus platinum trophy, saying it's "Such an incredible game and I loved going back to speed run each Colossi, learning everything I could about their attack patterns and behaviours. However, some trophy requirements meant replaying parts over and over which spoiled the magic a bit. I didn't have as much luck with Dirt 5. Despite meeting the requirements for some rarer gold trophies they refuse to pop. Still, it's been my go to game when looking to burn 5-10 minutes."
Reuben has mostly been playing the Balan Wonderworld demo this week, which he previewed, before continuing, "Otherwise, I've picked up Borderlands 2 with my friends as we finished Left4Dead 2, and have been continuing my run through the original NieR."
And lastly, Tef played some Supercross 4 for a preview, finally finished a leisurely stroll through the original Halo in co-op, and snuck in a few more runs of Hades, though none that beat the eponymous god for a second time.
And now, what might you have played this week?
It's giveaway time here at TheSixthAxis, and just in time to wash away those January blues – well they're probably indiscriminate blues these days, but we're going to do our best to cheer you up anyway. Up for grabs this week the lovely folks at LucidSound have provided us with a shiny new LS15P wireless headset to give away to one lucky reader, and we've made it as simple as possible for you to enter.
Our very own Nic Bunce gave the LS15P a resounding 8/10 when he reviewed it at the end of last year, praising its looks in particular. "With its sleek matte black finish and its soft black faux leather earcups, it's exactly what you'd expect and want from a pair of cans. Interestingly, despite being wireless, there are no fiddly switches that stick out from the side of the earcups, giving them a really flush feel." While concluding by saying that, "it's a nice, sleek headset that you'd happily wear streaming, playing with friends or even just on your own, and it must be said that LucidSound completely knocked it out of the park with the battery performance."
The LS15P is compatible with the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC and is a wireless headset that connects by way of USB dongle, though you also have the option of connecting via a 3.5mm cable (sold separately) to pretty much anything that's ever been made to have sound coming out of it. Lucidsound have made a number of fantastic gaming headsets over the years, and we've been continually impressed, from the LS25 through to the LS41. If you'd like to get your hands on one of your own, get started below!
We'll be running the competition into the start of next week, with entries closing at 11.59PM UK time on Tuesday 2nd February, 2021. The giveaway is open to residents of the UK only. Winners must respond within three working days of being contacted, and if they do not another winner will be drawn. Our usual terms and conditions apply, and decisions are final.
Some games wear their influences lightly, some try to disguise traditional mechanics under a smokescreen of new features whilst others embrace their origins proudly. Bezier: Second Edition, a remade port of a Steam game from 2016, takes more than a few notes from Geometry Wars. Indeed, a cursory glance would suggest that Bezier is little more than a simple clone, sharing the bright graphical style and twin stick controls of Bizarre Creations' classic shooter. The question is, then, what does Bezier do to justify being played over the games that it borrows from?
Perhaps the most instant difference between Bezier and Geometry Wars is that Bezier contains a story. That story is almost completely impenetrable and I could never really decide whether it was a brilliant satire of pretentious videogame narratives or an earnest attempt at what can only be described as post modern poetry but it is there nonetheless. It begins by setting the shooting inside some kind of giant computer in which digitised versions of all living things are contained because of reasons. This narrative is drip fed through brief voiceovers at the beginning of a series of branching levels in the standard arcade mode. To be honest, this plot boils down to beat the big bad and save the digital world which is more than enough motivation for me. The less said about the ending's attempt at profundity the better.
Graphically, Bezier is striking. The contrast between the black background and the vividly coloured swarms of enemies is effective and makes for a mostly clear experience. The sheer amount of stuff happening onscreen does result in things getting very cluttered at times – especially as I was playing on a Switch Lite. I would sometimes find myself getting hit by bullets or enemies that were difficult to pick out against everything else that was going on. Fortunately, Bezier departs from its influences in using an energy bar rather than one hit kills so there is some margin for error. At harder difficulties this energy bar can be drained pretty quickly though so you do have to keep on your toes.
Bezier really stands out in its use of music, with a dynamic score that veers between classical samples and banging techno. This is all powered by the 'BezierSynth' which creates a fluid score that demands to be pumped up to high volumes. While nonsensical, the voiceover has a sense of drama that also helps to motivate you. The big bad, Magus Domus, steals the show with some fantastically quirky taunts, including the classic of BBC profanity dubs, 'MelonFarmer'. The result is a score that really helps you to get into the flow that high score games need.
The aforementioned story mode is the first one available, with daily challenges and an endurance trial unlocked as you play. All of these have high score tables, and the addictive quality of chasing the 3 letter initials ahead of you will keep you playing long into the night. Every mode can be played at 3 different skill levels, with the higher ones offering both increased risk and increased bonuses. I would have liked to have seen some built-in achievements similar to those on the Steam version to encourage specific approaches but in this version high scores are the only aim.
Whichever mode you play as the basic loop is the same. Waves of enemies swarm towards you and must be avoided and destroyed. Chains of successful shots lead to score multipliers and occasionally stars will be dropped that can be used to level up your attacks or unlock secondary weapons. Attacking can be done either through the usual twin stick method or by using the A button to auto-aim. I wasn't clear what the effect of using one rather than the other was but imagine that it will make a difference to score multipliers in some way. In a nod to old school shoot'em ups, collecting stars cycles through a range of available upgrades.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales isn't the only Spidey game to receive an update this week. Insomniac Games have also fired out a new patch for Spider-Man Remastered – their beautifully beefed up PS5 edition of the best-selling PlayStation exclusive.
Powering on your PS5 with a copy of the game installed, you will have spotted a download notification for Spider-Man Remastered 1.003. There are no official patch notes for the update, though players have reported that it has fixed a persistent problem since the game launched last November.
As one Reddit user reports, "the remaster would interrupt the momentum of your swinging if you would pull on the left stick while doing the Moonsault, Helix, and Flying Helix air tricks. This has now been fixed to not have the swinging momentum be affected by the direction of the left stick during air tricks." Another user who had previously flagged the air trick bug has since updated their post to say it's been fixed after Spider-Man Remastered 1.003 dropped. Excelsior!
We gave Spider-Man: Miles Morales 8/10 in our review. "Spider-Man: Miles Morales feels like more of a sequel than it is a stopgap, entangling players within its web of cleverly refined mechanics while delivering some familiar web-slinging thrills," said Jim. "A heroic technical showcase for PS5 owners picking up their consoles on day one, this meaty side story in the Spider-Man saga has us even more excited than before to see what Insomniac Games have planned next."
You can read the full review here.
So far we don't have solid confirmation of when Spider-Man 2 will be coming but at least we have some clues as to the direction of the sequel's story (watch out for spoilers). Right now, Insomniac Games are no doubt going flat out on the development of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It claimed seventh place in our list of top 50 most wanted games of 2021.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales Guides & more from TheSixthAxis
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS5 review
- Spider- Man: Miles Morales – 10 essential tips and tricks
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales ending and sequel rumours
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales New Game+ mode explained
- How to unlock Into the Spider-Verse Suit in Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales – best Skills and how to unlock them
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales – all Suits, Mods, and how to unlock them
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales Gadget upgrade guide
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales Photo Mode guide
Encodya is a point and click adventure game that exudes so much heartfelt earnestness that I wish I liked it more than I do. I don't, though. It's colourful and morally simple, but often too obtuse and clunky to feel like a kid-friendly introduction to adventure games. It references Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, but the puzzles aren't clever or playful enough to stand as interesting twists on veteran Lucasarts titles. It lacks location variety and feels cramped and rushed despite its standard five hour runtime. The story didn't propel the puzzles, and the puzzles didn't pace the story. I feel like a cynical monster for not enjoying what is clearly a genuine and sincere passion project.
I got all that upfront because I'd like to spend most of the rest of the review talking about what I liked here. I don't recommenced Encodya. In the market for a cyberpunk point and click? Plau Whispers of a Machine, Red Strings Club, or Technobabylon should be your go-to. Got kids? Show them Chuchel or even Monkey Island 3. Unless your budding adventure game fan is already very invested in Encodya's admittedly unique look, I can't see it sparking much love for the genre.
Right, let's talk about something nice. Tina, Encodya's 9 year old human protagonist, is confident, precocious, and driven in ways that reminded me how many games are unfairly patronising in their portrayal of young characters. She absolutely does not let being an orphan in a dystopian metropolis get to her, and was probably already coding while Atreus was still shoving crayons up his nostrils.
Encodya's second protagonist is a robot named S.A.M. He's funny in the way that all robots who don't quite understand humans but love them anyway manage to be, and he's entirely dedicated to caring for Tina. He's also a real stickler for his law abiding programming, preventing him from doing typical adventure game things, like looting. He's effectively the antithesis to Futurama's Bender.
This is where the character swap comes in. Tina's street orphan outlook means she has no such qualms about stealing from folk. She's not as technically adept as S.A.M. though, and she doesn't speak robot. You'll need to swap between both of them often to make progress on Tina's mission to complete her absent father's mission to bring a splash of colour back into the world.
The city of Neo Berlin itself is a Blade Runner meets Futurama dystopia. It's more parody than commentary, but with a whiff of tragedy, like the cyberspace addicts that roam the streets like zombies with VR headsets. The setting plays it all fairly close to what you'd expect, but there are a few nice touches. A lounge singer is locked in a contract that forces her to take song requests while she floats inside a tube at the back of a dingy restaurant. Billboards promise free nanny robots to every new child. A painfully bureaucratic robot receptionist blocks entry to the city archive. Each one proves that Encodya has good ideas, it just needs more of them to make Neo Berlin's streets feel like part of a place, rather than a diorama.
There's a disclaimer at the start of the game that says that Encodya doesn't intend to criticise or portray any specific political viewpoints, and that it condemns any kind of discrimination, even if it admits that it does contain stereotypes. The main villain is an imperialistic, short tempered mayor named Rumpf. I looked into this. It's a german word for 'hull', says the developer, nothing else. The game does want to criticise power structures, they say, but it isn't meant as an allegory. I brought this up because I feel most people will make the most obvious connection. I'll take the developers' word for it. I'm not against mocking vile idiots, I just feel there are hundreds of more interesting ways to do so.
On that note, I really could have done without the buck teeth on the Japanese restaurant owner. The disclaimer states that stereotypes might have a point to them. Maybe my critical thinking skills are on the fritz, but I couldn't find one here.
Right, let's talk about something nice again! Encodya's OST is really something. I've got a rule where I don't try to write about music too much in game reviews, since you can have a listen here anyway. I will say that It does evoke Encodya's better elements though; digital humanity, the soul in the machine, and the natural light at the end of a sickly neon-lit tunnel. If Encodya as a whole evoked these same feelings so well, I'd be recommending it without hesitation.
A new Rainbow Six Siege update is now available across all platforms, rebalancing a crew of popular Operators while improving accessibility and stomping even more bugs.
Y5S4.3 (which will appear as update 2.01 on some consoles) is ready to download and install, weighing between 1-2GB depending on your platform. This follows on from last week's midseason update that had its own wave of tweaks and user experience upgrades.
Currently, Rainbow Six Siege is hosting this 2021's "The Road to S.I." in-game event, adding a new time limited playlist to the tactical shooter available every weekend leading up to the Six Invitational 2021. This is the biggest event in the Siege esports calendar and will see the best teams from around the world going head to head in Paris next month, adhering to new covid safety restrictions.
Competitive players will want to go over the Y5S4.3 patch notes carefully, especially if any of the Operators highlights below are among your regular mains.
Rainbow Six Siege Update Y5S4.3 Patch Notes
- Reduced Breaching Round explosive damage range to 2 meters (from 3.5 meters)
- Increased shotgun's total ammo to 30+1 (from 26)
- Added Hard Breach Charge (Removed Claymore)
- Reduced Yokai drone jump cooldown to 2s (from 3s)
- Reduced drone time-out failing to stick to the ceiling to 0.5s (from 2s)
- Reduced Sonic Burst cooldown to 16s (from 20s)
- Removed resistance to Concussion effects
- Removed "extra" mine while in DBNO
- Removed 1-shot-DNBO from CSRX300.
- CSRX300 now has base damage of 122 for 25 meters.
- 100% damage until 25 meters and linearly falls to 80% (97.6) at 35 meters
- Damage to the limbs has not changed.
- Removed 1.5x scope from the T-5
- Added Claymore (Removed Hard Breach Charge)
- Removed Angled Grip from the MP5
- Removed 1.5x scope from the Vector .45 ACP
- Removed resistance to Concussion effects
- Removed Withstand
- Reduced impact grenade explosive damage range to 2m (was 3m)
- Removed (set to 0) the camera penalization during the Guard Break animation
HARD BREACH CHARGES
- Reduced deployment time to 2s (from 3s)
- Reduced activation time to 5s (from 6s)
RECOIL (CONTROLLER ONLY)
- Improved recoil for: ARX, C8, M1014, and TCSG12
TWEAKS AND IMPROVEMENTS
Ranked Match Cancellation
- Timer has been extended to allow disconnected player more time to rejoin a match in progress.
- Fixing known abuses occurring when players end the first round prematurely, preventing the opposing team from cancelling the match.
STT and TTS
Due to an unexpected load on the servers from these features and in an effort to increase effectiveness for players in need, Speech to Text and Text to Speech on console will be limited to English-speaking users in the United States. Please note that this change will also affect PC users in an upcoming hotfix.
Please note that in order to resume use of Voice Chat, players who currently have Speech to Text enabled will need to ensure that the Convert Voice to Text setting is toggled off.
Our team is currently looking into further accessibility options to implement in the future, with the goal to extend support to even more players around the world.
- FIXED – Disabling Hostage in matchmaking preferences prevents users from matchmaking into a Road to S.I. match.
- FIXED – Players are having loadouts reset after playing an Event.
- FIXED – Various LOD issues present on Bank and Stadium maps.
- FIXED – Zero's ARGUS Camera can pass through an indestructible floor at EXT Construction Site on Clubhouse map.
- FIXED – Shooting the bottles and spinning a player character around quickly in a specific location at 1F Pantry can cause FPS drops for everyone in the match on Skyscraper map.
- FIXED – Multiple collision issues present across various maps.
- FIXED – Exploitable line of sight present in gaps visible across various maps.
- FIXED – Desk panels in INT Office on Skyscraper map are not currently breakable.
- FIXED – Various gadget deployment and clipping issues present across maps.
- FIXED – The light source on the south-west wall of 2F Penthouse can be seen on the bottom of the north-east wall in 2F VIP Lounge on Stadium map.
- FIXED – Unnecessary vault prompts are currently present on exterior garage roof near EXT Garage of Kafe Dostoyevsky map and on a police truck at the main entrance of Coastline map.
- FIXED – A container in 1F Bedroom on Skyscraper map appears positioned off of the ground.
- FIXED – Defenders that stay in the doorway at 1F Back Stairs will be detected by Attackers and receive a "You are detected" message on Villa map.
- FIXED – Breach Charges will sometimes not destroy the floor in 2F Master Bathroom on Villa map.
- FIXED – The defuser can get stuck in 2F Front Office on Consulate map after destroying the floor or if it's dropped between the electrical generator and metal pole in EXT West Spawn on Stadium map.
- FIXED – Players can go out of bounds after climbing the ventilation units and dropping near EXT Ventilation Stairs or when fast rappelling down a particular tree on Skyscraper map.
- FIXED – Grills above the AC unit on the 3rd floor in the Cigar Room on Kafe Dostoyevsky map are unable to be pinged.
- FIXED – Attackers can be knocked back by Oryx's Remah Dash through the bulletproof transparent glass in 1F Main Lobby on Stadium map.
- FIXED – Bullets can penetrate through the blue barrel located at 3F Tractor Storage on Hereford Base map.
- FIXED – Under specific circumstances, Operators can float above the ground in EXT Main Entrance on Bank map.
- FIXED – The Secure Area objective clips with nearby furniture in Kids Room on Hereford Base map.
- FIXED – Operators can spawn with their back to the house at EXT Side Street on House map.
- FIXED – Maestro's Evil Eye turret used in quick succession is occasionally causing issues with gameplay.
- FIXED – The Bailiff .410's crosshair elements are clipping while Operator is crouching or prone.
- FIXED – Improper hand animation is visible after Caveira activates Silent Step and performs a melee attack.
- FIXED – Sprinting with Warden does not leave footsteps for Jackal's EyeNox.
- FIXED – Zofia has additional resistance to her concussion projectile and Ela's GRZMOT Mine in Road to S.I. 2021 sessions.
- FIXED – Melee butting with Tachanka's Shumikha Launcher causes both hands to clip into the grenade launcher.
- FIXED – Maestro's Evil Eye can be deployed midair by placing it on Goyo's Volcan Shield and then removing the Volcan Shield.
- FIXED – Tachanka's DP-27 LMG will only destroy one layer of destructible walls that have multiple layers.
- FIXED – Audio sounds muffled when deploying a secondary Hard Breach Charge while crouching on barricades.
- FIXED – Weapons customized during the Operator Selection Phase are not visually updated in the menu.
- FIXED – The "Cosplay Guide: Operation Void Edge" Reward is currently displaying a placeholder image in the Ubisoft Connect launcher.
- FIXED – A pop-up will appear after each game session when the player returns to the main menu.
- FIXED – Minor visual issues are present in relation to the "Road to S.I. 2021" event.
- FIXED – Risen Headgear syringe glows intensively.
- FIXED – Welcome pop-up message for users is not always displaying consistent messaging.
- FIXED – The hands on Mute's Swamp Trek uniform have a visual issue while holding a weapon.
- FIXED – Inviting players to a Custom Online Game creates a Squad instead of adding players to the Custom Online Lobby.
- FIXED – Several Renown Booster packs are missing the R6 Credits button in the purchase confirmation side panel.
- FIXED – Players are reporting that despite winning a match, it is counting as a loss and the player can be de-Ranked.
- FIXED – If a player leaves a Road to S.I. session, the Dynamic Play button from the Player Hub will instead initiate a new search for the event.
- FIXED – During the MVP screen on Stadium map, minor flickering and visual issues are present.
- FIXED – The playlist name is missing when a player attempts to reconnect to a previous match.
- FIXED – When hovering on 1F, the icons of the Operators, objective markers, and bomb sites are visible from 2F as a Caster on Stadium map.
- FIXED – The Ubisoft Connect weekly challenges are not updated from "Terrorist Hunt" to the current title of "Training Grounds".
Have you ever wanted to visit the memories of a woman's relationship with a man with an owl's head? Well, do we have the utterly perfect niche title for you. When the Past was Around follows Eda, a young woman who lost someone important to her at a point in the past and is trying to come to terms with the life that remains without them.
This tale is told through her memories with a figure who is initially represented as a scratched out drawing before slowly revealing their appearance through her time with them. You join them on dates to the beach, while drinking hot drinks in their home, and playing music together, but while these are joyful memories, there's an atmosphere of sadness and inevitability that hangs over them all.
The gameplay sees you solving the various puzzles in these memories to progress. These puzzles follow the blueprint of the classic point and click titles of the 90s, but with all the elements needed to progress isolated within the area you currently find yourself. It creates an almost escape room-style experience, as new layers of the puzzle revealing themselves as you complete each task.
When the Past was Around does add some other features for ease of play, such as the ability to see all objects that can be interacted with at the touch of a button. This means that you can easily locate the often completely mundane items that you need to progress. Furthermore, it should be noted that most of the puzzles are not as distressingly esoteric as other games in this vein.
So, if you see a cardboard box that is sealed to interact with, you will generally need scissors or some other sensible item to open it and not, you know, a lobster claw or something stupid.
This doesn't by any stretch mean that the game is flawless. Divided into levels based on memories, these sometimes fall across several locales or screens, meaning there is a fair amount of backtracking between puzzles in different parts of the memory. You will occasionally find that a required item or solution to a puzzle is several screens away.
Also, just because most of the puzzles aren't esoteric that doesn't mean it doesn't occasionally dip into this well with some of its solutions. I would definitely recommend having a pen and paper nearby or a note in your phone because if you have an awful memory like myself you will struggle to retain some of the more complex or numeric puzzle solutions in your mind.
There's not much more to the gameplay than this, although there are some hidden puzzles throughout that garner you achievements if you discover and solve them. But this isn't really the point of When the Past was Around. The idea, much like similar other titles like Coffee Talk or If Found…, is to portray realistic emotions and a tangible story in a fantastical and otherworldly way.
The visuals in this game are stunning, pulling in beautiful watercolour illustrations with simple animations to give the impression of a story book in motion. The music leans on the same motif throughout to give the whole game a superb sense of flow, but will strip it back to just the key notes or cause the instruments to swell at points for emotional impact.
Also, as both Eda and Owl wrote music together and both played instruments in the story, we witness the music track playing in the game being composed by the characters together. It gives the song additional weight and ties the music to the narrative in a cohesive way, especially in instances when you are following a faint rendition of the music through an area.
The greatest triumph here is how well the visuals and music alone portray the story, and how the themes of love and loss are conveyed without any spoken dialogue. The emotional weight of the story beats comes in moments as simple as a visual stripping of colour or a change of key in the music, and this simplicity lends power that dialogue would struggle to match.
Rare have launched Sea of Thieves: Season One, the first in a new series of content updates for the piratical multiplayer game that will reshape how the game develops and grows in future.
Switching to a seasonal plan is a controversial change, to be sure. Leaning on the format popularised by Fortnite, each Season will last for around 3 months, with Rare planning a large update to start off a season and implement major changes, followed by smaller updates on a monthly basis. For Season One a new Merchant Alliance Voyage becomes a permanent part of the game, and this will be followed by Events and challenges dropped through the next few months.
This is free for all Sea of Thieves players, and ties in wiht a new progression system. As you play, you'll level up through Renown, which has a reward track that includes in-game currency, cosmetics, emotes and more. However, there's also a premium Plunder Pass, which will cost 999 Ancient Coins ($9.99 in real money) and has a second reward track that features in-game cosmetics from the Pirate Emporium that would otherwise cost $40.
Alongside the Seasonal progression are new Trials, which will test your adventuring, exploring and battling skills with Deeds. These come in a variety of forms, so that there should be something to suit game sessions both long and short, and reward players in their own right.
Sea of Thieves has come a long, long way since it launched in March 2018. Originally feeling rather bereft of meaningful content, but with an alluring promise of adventure and mischief on the high seas, Rare quickly adapted to add new content. This came in the form of in-game events, new sea monsters, the PvP Arena mode, and some narrative adventures to follow, you've also been able to become an Emissary and get a pet cat. They built up a steady following, boosted further by the game's release on Steam, and it feels logical that they turn their focus to ways to monetise and sustain the game in the long run, especially as other parts of the company get to grips with developing Everwild. Reportedly, they're still in the experimental stage of trying to figure out what that game will actually be…
With Destruction AllStars just days away from its big launch the PS5 exclusive's trophy list has now appeared online, detailing all of the unlockable PlayStation accolades.
There are 30 trophies to grab in Destruction AllStars (including the platinum) with a decent mix of bronze, silver, and gold. Those lower tier trophies should be easy to scoop as you cross off the game's tutorials though others are tied to career progress with some requiring you to pull off some gnarly in-match feats.
Destruction AllStars launches next week on Tuesday, February 2nd 2021 and will be free to download until April as long as you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber. It will be joining Control: Ultimate Edition (PS4 and PS5) as well as underrated PS4 exclusive gem, Concrete Genie.
Sony and developer Lucid Games recently gave us a closer look at Destruction AllStars via the latest PlayStation State of Play broadcast. This multiplayer focused PS5 title will blend vehicular combat with stylish parkour as larger-than-life contestants battle it out across four supercharged game modes.
Destruction AllStars PS5 Trophy List
|Hall of Fame||Unlock all Destruction AllStars Trophies||Platinum|
|Rookie||Earn all of the star objectives for a single event||Bronze|
|Ultimate Respect||Earn all star objectives in Ultimo Barricados' Series, Mutual Respect||Gold|
|Wreckognised||Earn an S Rank Wreckognition rating or higher in any event||Gold|
|No Free Ride||Complete the vehicle emote tutorial in Open Training with any character||Bronze|
|Stars and Cars Collide||Complete and Win the Mayhem Tutorial.||Bronze|
|Detonate to Dominate||Complete and Win the Carnado Tutorial.||Bronze|
|The Last AllStar||Complete and Win the Gridfall Tutorial.||Bronze|
|Bankety Bank||Complete and Win the Stockpile Tutorial.||Bronze|
|Wrecking Ball||Perform 100 Wrecks in any mode||Gold|
|The Hero we don't deserve||Wreck an opponent's hero vehicle in an online match||Silver|
|Ghost||Deal 100 damage whilst stealth in Cypher, without taking any damage in an online match||Silver|
|Impenetrable||Block 100 damage with the Undisputed's shield in a single use of the breaker in an online match||Silver|
|Stronghold||Keep a full shield in Gravitron for 5 seconds in an online match||Silver|
|Bullet||Slice 2 vehicles in a single slice with Sabre in an online match||Silver|
|Flamethrower||Set an entire team on fire with Cerberus in an online match||Silver|
|Flame on||Set 3 AllStars on fire at once with Wildfire in an online match||Silver|
|Pitch Perfect||Wreck 3 enemies using CRASHendo in an online match||Silver|
|Home Run||Wreck 3 opponents with a single use of Mr. Sparkles' breaker in an online match||Silver|
|Hit List||Take out 3 targets in a single use of Xero's X-Ray in an Online Match||Silver|
|Ultimate Precision||Take out 3 targets in a single use of Number One's Lock on in an online match||Silver|
|No Escape||Wreck all opponents with Barong's Countdown in an Online match||Silver|
|Chewed Up||Shred 3 cars in a single use of the Shredder in an online match||Silver|
|Prickly||Spike 3 enemies at once with the Morningstar in an online match||Silver|
|Instant Service||Attach drones to 3 enemies with The Boxmobile in one use in an online match||Silver|
|Party Animal||Smoke 3 enemies with the Smoke Commander in one use in an online match||Silver|
|Terminal Velocity||Reach 135 MPH with Callisto in an online match||Silver|
|AllStar||Win 50 online matches||Gold|
|Checking out the competition||Win at least 1 online match with each AllStar||Gold|
We'll be bringing you our review of Destruction AllStars next week.
Less than a year after release, Ninja Theory have announced that there will be no more content updates for their multiplayer brawler Bleeding Edge. The game's servers will stay up for the time being, but the studio are shifting all their focus over to other projects that include Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, Project Mara and The Insight Project.
With the studio now focusing on our new projects (Senua's Saga, Project Mara & The Insight Project) we have decided that there will be no further content updates for Bleeding Edge. The game is still playable on Xbox and PC. Thank you to the fans & keep teaming up & causing chaos!
— Bleeding Edge (@BleedingEdgeNT) January 28, 2021
The first new game released by the company after its acquisition by Microsoft, the game was an Xbox One and PC exclusive, trying to take a step into the realms of Games as a Service multiplayer battling. Somewhere between a League of Legends MOBA and a Hero Shooter like Overwatch, and filled out with a grungy cast of characters, it was a curious mix that showed potential upon its release on 24th March last year.
In our Bleeding Edge review, Dom wrote:
Bleeding Edge has all the components in place to be a genuinely entertaining multiplayer mainstay, there just needs to be more of it. With only a couple of maps and modes, and far too few skins and emotes, Ninja Theory will need to roll out more content to keep players engaged.
Unfortunately, despite that promise, the writing was on the wall for Bleeding Edge, right from the off. Though overall player counts would have been higher, and the game was featured in Xbox Game Pass on day one, SteamCharts only saw an average 480 players from the game in March 2020, and it slid from there.
Ninja Theory released a few updates for the game, adding two fighters – the dolphiin a mech-suit Mekko in April, and the angelic support character Azrael (with real shades of Overwatch's Mercy) in July. There were a couple of new maps as well, but the Azrael update was the last that the game received, and while I'm sure the team continued to work on the game behind closed doors, they had been practically silent for the last 6 months prior to this announcement.
Bonkies answers one of the age-old questions about our evolutionary pal, the monkey. No, not the one about the whole infinite monkey theorem thing – no-one's got time for that – but a more niche conundrum. Namely: what would it look like if four monkeys, equipped with robotic arms and banana fuelled jetpacks, were given construction tasks to complete in outer space? The answer would, if Bonkies is anything to go by, be sheer unadulterated chaos and a right good laugh.
Bonkies is a four player couch co-op party game. Each player has their very own cuddly primate to control and must work together with their banana loving pals to construct a wide range of objects and vehicles. From precariously stacked towers, to bridges barely balancing across pools of lava and rockets ships blasting through space, it seems there's no limit to a monkey's building skills. To manage this construction wonderment and clear a level though, there's a number of tricky elements that the player must contend with.
First up: robotic arms. Every space monkey has a giant robotic arm attached to their jet pack – Think Dr. Octopus if he'd just had a particularly unpleasant encounter with a giant child who delighted in plucking the appendages from unwitting arachnids. Each arm is controlled by tapping the four face buttons of the controller to manoeuvre it into the correct position and then squeezing the trigger to pick up the desired block. Every construction project is outlined on the single screen levels, so all the monkey has to do is move the block to the correct position and keep it there for three seconds until it is locked in position.
Sounds, easy enough, right? Oh no, my friend. Your supposed family or friends sat on the couch playing the game with you? Get ready to hate them as everything goes horribly wrong.
Teamwork can quickly unravel in Bonkies. For example: a burst of jet pack juice might be needed to boost your monkey and their block into the correct position. However, the whole issue with doing this in zero gravity can lead to misjudging the velocity needed, resulting in said monkey and block crashing into the team's structure and sending the whole lot tumbling to the ground in a physics-based nightmare. Cue family and friends hitting you with cushions and informing you that "you absolutely suck". Not that I'm bitter or anything.
Monkeys will also need to work together to lug around particularly heavy blocks, requiring good communication between teammates to ensure everyone is pulling their weight. Or rather, the weight of the block. It's all too easy for a chunky block to remain steadfastly in place whilst the two monkey heave-ho in contrary directions – all while the level timer keeps on ticking down. Things don't get any easier when the block is finally cajoled to where it needs to be. The aforementioned lack of gravity can cause a block to slide like a celebrity on Dancing on Ice, requiring quick reactions from team mates to work together and keep it in place.
Despite its party game aspirations and family friendly visuals, Bonkies is really anything but. Yes, building space ships with monkeys is as fun and hilarious and chaotic as you'd expect, but it's also a demanding game that is fairly inaccessible to new gamers. Not the ideal characteristics of a party game, where being able to pick up and play is a must for accessibility. Take the controls, which require you to use pretty much every button, trigger and stick on the controller. Easy for someone whose controller skills have been forged through countless hours of bullet hells, insta-kills and souls-likes; utterly baffling to someone entirely new to video games. It's also not an ideal fit for younger players, lacking the simplicity and accessibility of a Cake Bash or the modifications to the gameplay that Moving Out allows for.
That said, if you are lucky enough to have a group of experienced gamers to hand who are up for a laugh then there's a lot to like here. It's a genuinely refreshing take to have a game that tasks players with creating something together, rather than destroying individually. It is also a game that asks, no, demands genuine teamwork and plentiful communication to be able to complete a level – particularly the tricky later stages.
No one player can take the lead here and do all the heavy lifting alone, it requires a team effort to get anywhere. By the time explosive objects, wheels and laser blasting blocks have been added to the gameplay mix, prepare to have the bonds of your friendship stretched to the absolute limit. If all the players do work together though, then this is can be an enormously rewarding experience – one that will transform you and your pals into a crack squad of space simians.
You typically know what you're going to get with yearly sports franchises. It's rare that they can take a big leap forward, and when they do, it's often off the backs of years of preparatory work switching to a new game engine or more powerful gaming hardware.
Juggling all manner of two-wheeled racing franchises, Milestone always have their work cut out for themselves trying to evolve how they represent each real world racing formula, but this is a year unlike any other. With the new generation of games console and the old ones to cater to, as well as streaming on Stadia, will Monster Energy AMA Supercross 4 FIM World Championship – The Official Videogame be more of the same, or a leap into the future while you blip off the rev limiter?
If you're coming into Supercross 4 off the backs of a previous game in the series, then diving into the action will be immediately familiar. Each track found on the racing calendar is set in a stadium with tracks built up and carved out of muddy mounds for 22 riders to race across – a staggering 450 riders are included in the game. The game faithfully recreates the Covid-affected race schedule found in the 2020 season, with the first ten races that ran as expected up until March, but the final seven races occurring back-to-back in Salt Lake City's Rice-Eccles Stadium after being rearranged to later in the year. Instead of the 17 planned locations and tracks, it's the 17 tracks that were actually used in 2020 that feature in the game.
Racing requires a deft touch, though it's got enough leeway to be accessible to newcomers and provide a stiff challenge for those who want it. By default the game sets itself to the Assisted physics that tames some of the power of the bike and makes it easier to handle. The game will also give you joint front and rear braking and automatically handle the rider's weight transfer and bike's transmission (though you can override the latter two as you see fit). Turn those assists off and it's much more challenging to wrangle your bike through turns, deal with the balance of the bike across humps, and ensure that you don't splat when you land after a big jump.
Really it's all about flow. The tracks all have humps, bumps and jumps that you'll need to master, with plenty of long straights leading to hairpins making it relatively easy to grasp the best racing line, but then demanding that you master how to manage your airtime. The less time you spend in the air, the better, so you can get back to powering forward, but it's easy to overshoot or undershoot a large jump with too much or too little speed, losing momentum down a straight whenever you get it wrong – higher AI difficulty will punish you and race off into the distance. You can quickly flick the analogue sticks in opposite directions to send the bike sideways and bring you down to ground a little quicker – with semi-automatic rider weight, they'll automatically bring you back to a neutral position when you let go.
A whole new compound has been built for this game, with terrain based off Maine Island, letting you hoon around in this outdoor setting and get to grips with some of the more varied terrain that dirt bike racing can throw at you. It's a nice environment to just drive around in free roam, exploring on and off the beaten path – though in our pre-release build that led to a few too many "deaths" than I'd like – but you can also hop into races against AI and see how you fare. Sure, you can get the same no-stakes racing by just hopping into a single custom race, but there's a different atmosphere here that I found rather enjoyable, and one of the tracks is a free-flowing Motorcross-style ride through the environment, rather than an artificial Supercross-style circuit.
A lot of this feels quite familiar, but Supercross 4 does promise some steps forward outside of what we were able to preview here. The career mode has a new structure to it which will start you off in the Supercross Futures, climbing the ladder to reach the 250SX and eventually the 450SX categories. What's shaking things up this time around is that you will earn skill points through racing, taking part in special events, training and completing special objectives, and then get to funnel those into a new skill tree.
As a cross-gen release, Supercross 4 feels like a relatively conservative entry in this yearly franchise. There will be improvements for those playing on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S in terms of frame rate and fidelity, and the hope that the DualSense controller can offer something transformative to the experience, but it's really the career that will likely hold the most promise for fans of Supercross, adding more depth to the experience of going through the seasons of racing as you ride for the top spot.
Sony have announced that the upcoming PlayStation 5 exclusive shooter Returnal has been delayed. The game will now be released on 30th April 2021, with SIE and Housemarque making the decision to add a final bit of spit and polish to the title.
Update: Returnal has a new release date of 30th April, 2021. SIE and Housemarque have made the decision to move the release date in order to give the team extra time to continue to polish the game to the level of quality players expect from Housemarque.
See you in April! pic.twitter.com/xwB9OdO7I8
— PlayStation Europe (@PlayStationEU) January 28, 2021
It wasn't that long ago that the game's release date was announced, with a trailer at The Game Awards 2020 setting the release date for 19th March. Clearly, this side of Christmas, Housemarque have realised that there was a bit more work to do than they thought, or they've found that the bugs they were ironing out were a bit more challenging and time-consuming than they had hoped.
The game features a third person view, stepping away from pure arcade delights of Housemarque's most popular games and wrapping a narrative around the action. Returnal delves into the mind of Selene, an Astra space scout who's trapped in a Groundhog Day loop on an alien planet. It's a roguelite in structure, with exploration elements to go alongside the bullet hell of projectiles coming your way.
On PS5, it'll obviously look fantastic, and loading times will be nigh on invisible, but you'll feel the difference on the DualSense with the Adaptive Triggers able to define a half squeeze to shift from aiming down sights and activating the alt-fire that each weapon has.
Housemarque built a name for themselves with outstanding arcade shooter action through games like Super Stardust HD and Resogun, but found that returning to that well for later games wasn't delivering diminishing returns. That saw them try to diversify, dipping a toe into the battle royale genre with the development of Stormdivers, but with the difficulty of making a hit in this genre, they shelved that game (and other projects) and instead shifted to focus on Returnal.
We'll have a little longer to wait to see if the new genre and viewpoint pays off for the team.
Rebellion has revealed their grand, machiavellian plans for the release of Evil Genius 2: World Domination. The spy villain lair builder will be release on 30th March for PC via Steam.
The sequel to the early 2000s cult classic, Evil Genius 2 puts you in the shiny shoes of a bad guy and tasks you with building up a secret island lair, capable of repelling attacks from the Forces of Justice until you can dominate the world.
The game features four campaigns with a choice of the narcissistic Mac, muscled madman Ican, former spy Emma and scientist Zalika as you navigate a story campaign on the way to subverting the world order. Three islands can be turned to your evil whims, with a casino resort at the front and tons of wild traps and contraptions behind closed doors.
The release date trailer reveals some of the new elements being added to the game, such as the Sushi Chef henchman, the Venus Spy-Trap, both of which will surely up your ability to off invading spies with a sharp and witty one-liner.
Intriguingly, Rebellion say that there's more to show of the game in the next two months before launch, including a game mode that has yet to be revealed.
Originally planned for release in 2020, the game was delayed, not because of any devious plots or schemes, but for the most obvious reason in the world right now: Covid-19. At the time of the delay announcement, Rebellion said, "The impact of COVID-19, transitioning from the studio to our homes and adapting to new ways of working all contributed to this difficult decision.
"We want to deliver a sequel that will do justice to the franchise and be loved and played by the Evil Genius community for years to come, just like the original. And while we know many of you will be disappointed to wait a little longer, launching next year affords us the time to do precisely that."
Source: press release
Olija is about a penniless lord (if you can excuse the oxymoron) called Faraday. Having set sail from his home country in search of a better life, he ends up shipwrecked, trapped in the mysterious islands of Terraphage, where his true adventure awaits.
The story of a man in a foreign Eastern-inspired land could be a deliberate parallel to Olija's solo creator Thomas Olsson, who developed the game in Japan under the banner of the aptly named Skeleton Crew Studio. Either way, it is an action-adventure that manages to cram a lot of inventiveness and cinematic moments into its brief running time, harkening back to the 2D cinematic platformers of yore.
If the minimalist pixel art, limited palettes and a lack of scrolling initially give off the impression of gaming classics Another World or Prince of Persia, you're in for a surprise once you realise that Faraday jumps at three times his own height, even with just a quick tap of the button. Where those games were keen to convey a sense of realism in both their aesthetics and mechanics that made any encounter with enemies or the environment potentially fatal, Olija confounds this expectation by making Faraday a distinctly empowered character who can be impaled by spikes before quickly respawning on the same screen with just a slap of the health bar. It's a game less set on giving you a hard time and more focused on letting you have fun – to be honest, I'm all for that.
Where it really comes into its own is the signature Harpoon you find early on. It's not just a great weapon for melee or chucking at enemies, but works almost like a grapple, latching onto enemies or more often creepy parts of the environment with an eye poking out. Press the button again while moving towards that direction and Faraday warp-strikes right over, giving the double whammy or teleportation and damage. Changing the direction of your attack also results in a varied moveset, which makes for some fun combos as you beat down enemies, sometimes sending them flying back and smashing into a bloody pixelated pulp. In fact, the Harpoon is so good that it's easy to overlook the secondary weapons you can acquire in your arsenal, from a rapier to a shotgun.
Enemies aren't even that threatening, some barely getting up to register your presence before you're already skewering them into oblivion, but it makes it no less satisfying pummelling them as they cry out and get obliterated with a bunch of crunchy sound effects. Again, in contrast to the minimalist presentation, much of the game is heightened thanks to some terrific audio design, from the unsettling ambience of the island's perilous caverns to the semi-gibberish that makes up the game's voice acting giving a further sense of mystery (about the only word that's distinctly audible is 'Faraday'). Best of all are the weapon sounds, especially the delightful 'shing' from the swing of your rapier.
Both the sound and visuals help create an oppressive atmosphere despite the fact you're rarely in any great danger. Things ramp up slightly for the bosses who have the ability to knock you down relatively hard, annoyingly delaying your recovery to move again, which may not be great if you're suddenly rushed by a mob of enemies and get lost amidst the pixels. More unusual are moments where the game forgoes action altogether, slowing you to a walking pace or presenting the scene in a zoomed out wide shot, as well as narrative-specific sections involving encounters with Olija herself (perhaps alluding to Zelda, this is also a game title named after a significant but non-playable female character).
In other ways, it's a loose Metroidvania, where you need to find keys to access a further dungeon or there's a handful of optional collectible items (or captured castaways) but these you rarely have to go out of your way to find them. You also have access to a hub called Oaktide where you regularly revisit to rest up or spend money on upgrades – namely some rather fetching hats for Faraday which also grant different perks. It's a nice place of comfort, almost recalling Majula in Dark Souls 2 or perhaps the evolving settlement in Ashen as rescued castaways take refuge here and add a couple more features to your home away from home.
That said, unlike those games, you won't be around to bask in that comfort for long since Olija is a relatively brief adventure that can be finished either in an evening or a few brief sessions over the course of a week. You'll likely have close to 100% completion without even trying. Ironically, the only thing that might prevent you from finishing is a bizarre bug that seems to only occur right at the end of the game when the credits are about to roll anyway (a fellow reviewer for the PC version had also reported encountering a bug that crashed the game after the final boss prompting a restart). It's nonetheless just the right length for an austere yet varied adventure to kick off a new year, and quite the accomplishment from a solo developer.
Fall Guys was a surprise hit and continues to enthral players with regular new content drops but is only available for PlayStation and PC, Twitter is full of calls for it to come to Xbox, Switch and other platforms.
CEO and co-founder Dave Bailey seems to have confirmed that it will eventually show up, telling GI.Biz "We want it to come to every major platform, and we're working hard to achieve that." He also hints that cross-platform play will be enabled, ""We want to come to all the different platforms, and hopefully connect those platforms so people can play together."
Last week the official Xbox Instagram account stated that smash hit multiplayer scramble Fall Guys was coming to the service but Devolver Digital have quickly refuted this claim. A mobile version of Fall Guys is also in development for the Chinese market and Mediatonic will be closely monitoring how that performs.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) January 20, 2021
The success of the game has meant Mediatonic have been expanding quickly, bringing on new staff to work on the game to satiate the hungry players who demand regular content, "It's unbelievable how insatiable people's appetite for content is," comments Bailey.
The ravenous requirement for more things to do has meant that the current third season will be getting a mid-season update brining a new level, over forty variations on existing levels, and of course some new costumes to dress up your bean.
What will be in Season 3.5?
A brand new level
40+ new variations for our existing levels
New DLC pack!
Godzilla, Sonic, and Goose Game costumes available in regular store!
New shows and costumes to go live over the coming weeks pic.twitter.com/2rPEuIIjZO
— Fall Guys Season 3.5 (@FallGuysGame) January 25, 2021
"We've just scratched the surface in terms of what we can do with the game," adds Baily, "Joe's original pitch was to create the greatest game show on Earth, and when you think about it in that way, there's a million different ways we can take this and I hope people will see that come through in future."
The game has spawned lots of fan art, including the rather amusing animation below.
These beans are "just a bit crazy" as some would say. Which one do you relate to the most? I'm more of a Green bean myself!
— Adamtheamazing64 (@AdamAta64) January 26, 2021
After topping UK sales charts, Hitman 3 has already recouped its development costs according to developer IO Interactive.
The Danish studio, who also self-published this closing part in the Hitman reboot trilogy, have been delighted with Hitman 3's launch week sales.
Outperforming Hitman 2, IO Interactive "have been really happy with the Hitman 3 journey", buoyed by the game's success as they push forward with new projects. Not only has Hitman 3 sold well, it's also one of the highest rated games of 2021 so far with an OpenCritic average of 86, securing an early spot on those GOTY shortlists.
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, CEO Hakan Abrak outlined the game's success and what it means for the developer:
It has been a labour of love between our fans and everyone at the studio. As the developer and publisher, we are immensely proud that we can say Hitman 3 is already profitable. We have recouped the total project costs in less than a week. That puts us in a really good place and allows us to confidently move forward with our ambitious plans for future projects.
We've been able to create a game that our players will love and bring it to them in the most direct way possible; developed and published by IOI. Having that focus early on has kept us on a path that we all believed in. Everyone at the studio was behind the vision for the game and they know the Hitman universe better than anyone.
Hitman 3 wraps the stylish and inventive trilogy perfectly, having scored an 8 out of 10 in our review. Hitman 3 is now available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, as well as Google Stadia and Nintendo Switch.
We can't wait to see what other projects IO may have in the pipeline. Last November the team announced that they are working on a James Bond 007 game – a perfect fit for the studio, if you ask us.
As for Hitman 3, there's a chance that we'll get to explore even more locations via post-launch DLC. There's been no confirmation as of yet though it's worth mentioning that Hitman 2 had a season pass following release. We're also waiting for news on the return of Hitman's Elusive Targets. These time-limited contracts have appeared in both Hitman and Hitman 2, offering exclusive rewards with a twist: you only get one shot at killing these targets with no saves or restarts.
Hitman 3 Guides & more from TheSixthAxis
- Hitman 3 Review
- Hitman 3 Guide – best loadout options
- Hitman 3 Guide – 10 essential tips you need to know
- Hitman 3 Mastery unlocks guide