Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut is out now, and it is, unsurprisingly, an excellent update of a great game. All of its visual, performance, and quality-of-life upgrades are, of course, appreciated, but the biggest way it adds to Sucker Punch's open world epic is by adding even more content to it, in the form of the meaty new Iki Island expansion. And that chunk of content is a truly excellent addition, not only because it builds on Ghost of Tsushima's strengths, but also because it has a few interesting new elements of its own. Here, we're going to go over a few of the expansion's biggest highlights, and how it expands upon Ghost of Tsushima in meaningful ways.
Let's start off with the most obvious talking point- Iki Island itself, which is where the expansion is set. This newest chapter in Jin's story takes us away from Tsushima and over to Iki itself, and just as Tsushima was in the base game, the expansion's new map is a brilliantly designed one. Organic and diegetic exploration was where Ghost of Tsushima really excelled, and the Iki Island expansion continues to build on that. With in-world elements such as plumes of smokes or golden songbirds, or with distinctly designed natural landmarks that instantly grab attention, the expansion constantly keeps nudging players to keep exploring and finding new and exciting things. What's more, it even pulls back to a great extent on how annoyingly frequent those songbird distractions could be in the base game. They're not completely gone here, of course, but they don't pop up once every couple of minutes either.
Beyond that, Iki Island is also a visually distinct place. In terms of its aesthetic and art design, it's obviously following in the footsteps of Ghost of Tsushima itself, with similarly vibrant sights, gorgeous scenes of natural beauty, liberal use of oversaturated hues, and more, but at the same time, the island's backstory helps it carve out its own identity. Iki is a lawless, untamed place that is not nearly as civilized as Tsushima is, and also still bears many haunting scars of the conflicts it saw a few years back. As such, while still maintaining the visual identity of the base game, the expansion's map is able to take players to some locations that feel very unique from anything that can be found on Tsushima island.
NEW AND RETURNING ACTIVITIES
Of course, there's plenty to do around Iki Island. This is a large expansion with around fifteen hours of content (if not more) if you decide to do more than just the main story quests, and as you'd expect, there's a nice variety of optional activities on offer. There are, of course, several new side quests (which, by the way, boast much better design and quality than the side quests in the base game generally did), as well as a couple new Mythic Tales to take on, and clearing out Mongol forts, of course, is still an important (and addictive) side activity. Other returning activities are also here, including bamboo strike challenges, Shinto shrines, haiku spots, lighting light houses, and hot springs- though most of these aren't nearly as numerous as they were in the base game.
Instead, the Iki Island expansion puts more of an emphasis on an entirely new set of open world activities. You can track down spots where animals have gathered and play your flute there to make it a sanctuary for them. You can participate in archery challenges scattered throughout the map and try to get bronze, silver, or gold rankings to improve a Concentration charm. The main Raider town also has a dueling arena, with plenty of challengers to take on in 1v1 fights for rewards. Better yet, most of the activities scattered throughout the map don't just slavishly stick to their formulas. Instead, every so often, they put interesting little twists on them- like a light house that isn't guarded by enemies, but instead serves as more of a platforming challenge; or a hot spring that has monkeys chilling around Jin while he soaks himself; or an animal sanctuary where Mongols have set up an ambush to take you by surprise. It certainly keeps things interesting, and keeps exploration from becoming too monotonous.
The Iki Island expansion isn't a semi-sequel to Ghost of Tsushima like Miles Morales was to Spider-Man. Instead, it functions more as a side story taking place somewhere in the middle of the base game's events, sort of like The Frozen Wilds and Horizon Zero Dawn. Even so, in spite of the fact that it doesn't really hold many clues for what the story of the inevitable Ghost of Tsushima sequel might have in store, it still ends up feeling like a surprisingly essential part of Jin's story.
The Eagle Tribe's reign of terror over Iki Island is sold effectively (even though The Eagle herself is never really fleshed out properly as a villain), while new characters like Tenzo the Raider are great additions to the game's cast. The biggest draw of the story, however, is that it ties in intricately with Jin's own past. Iki Island was, after all, the place where his father died, and where samurais once led a bloody conquest in an effort to tame the island and end its lawless ways, before eventually failing. Watching Jin come to terms with the brutal actions of those samurai and his father years ago, and with his own inability to save his father while he was cut down in front of his eyes, makes for some fascinating narrative moments that add a great deal to Jin's personal arc.
Combat was probably one of Ghost of Tsushima's biggest strengths, which was surprising, because in the lead-up to the game's launch last year, that was the one aspect that was looking the least convincing. Happily enough, combat continues to be a highlight in the Iki Island expansion as well. As you'd expect, it's largely the same as the base game, so it retains all its mechanical strengths, but there are still enough new elements here to further improve the experience.
The biggest new addition is the shaman, a new enemy type. In 1v1 situations, the shaman functions like a regular spearman, but it's his other abilities that make him such an interesting enemy to fight. The shaman, you see, likes to hang back while you're getting swarmed by other enemies and chant, and his chants make all the other enemies much more vicious and brutal in their attacks. That lends some neat tactical depth to combat encounters, as you're forced to pick between dealing with aggressive enemies around you or taking a gamble and killing the shaman first. Things get even more interesting where there are multiple shamans in the mix, which, of course, stands true for stealth situations as well- do you head into more heavily guarded areas of a camp to take out the shaman first, or slowly make your way inside form the fringes and risk being seen by him while you do it? Add to all of this a new charge ability for your horse, which makes horseback combat even more enjoyable, and combat in the expansion ends up feeling familiar enough while still introducing a couple of its own new ideas.
As a meaty new expansion bolted on top of the base game, you'd expect Iki Island to also add more new progression opportunities, and thankfully, it doesn't disappoint in this area either. There are several new charms to collect, some of which can be upgraded even further by doing specific open world activities, like finding animal sanctuaries or completing archery challenges. The new Mythic Tales also bring new pieces of armour (which, of course, can be upgraded), while the aforementioned horseback charge is also upgradable with skill points.
Of course, there are also several new cosmetics to be found, such as headbands and sheaths for your katana and tanto. Crucially, the Iki Island expansion also has its own Legend progression with multiple tiers, so each activity you complete helps you grow your legend on the island from a clean slate, separate from your actions on Tsushima. All said, there's more than enough here to keep you occupied for quite a long time.
It's hard to say when we'll see a new entry in the DOOM series at this point, but the franchise certainly had a memorable previous entry with the wild DOOM Eternal. The game launched last year and has seen two expansions as well as next gen updates release recently. While the Doom Slayer's story seems to be done, at least for now, the game is still getting updates and refinements and now we know what is coming next.
As announced at QuakeCon this year, the next update for Eternal will be 6.66 (skipping 6.61-6.65, but let's not worry too much about all that). The update will bring the previously announced Horde Mode, which will be a single player mode focused on surviving multiple waves of enemies. It will also see an overhaul to Battlemode that seeks to improve matchmaking as well as a new arena called Stronghold and putting more emphasis on streaks. Finally, it will also include new Master Levels, World Spear and Mars Core. You can see the developers speaking on the update below.
DOOM Eternal is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Switch and Stadia. No word yet on when update 6.66 will drop, only that it is planned soon.
Travis Touchdown's insane adventures will continue next week with the release of No More Heroes 3. The next entry in Suda 51's wild saga of the otaku assassin brings things to a cosmic level as Travis will have to contend with alien threats. We've already seen quite a lot of the game, including several boss fights and minigames. And one day before release, we'll get to see a bit more it seems.
As announced by Marvelous, just before release on the 26th, there will be a new livestream dubbed "No More Broadcasting 5.1 GHm Part 2." It will feature the Director, Suda 51, a MC Mafia Kajita and vtuber Shishiro Botan, and a special mysterious guest that is said to be a professional wrestler. That sounds about right for this game. The stream will go live on August 26th at 21:00 JST across Marvelous' various social media accounts.
No More Heroes 3 will launch as a Nintendo Switch exclusive on August 27th. For everything you'll need to know about the sequel before it hits, you can read about it through here.
Microsoft and 343 Industries announced at E3 in June that Halo Infinite would launch this Holiday, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer said not long afterward that the shooter's development team remains committed to that launch window. Well, we're nearing the end of August now, and a release date is yet to be announced- so should fans be worried? Well, apparently not.
Speaking during the Halo Infinite development update for August, in the midst of a conversation about campaign co-op and Forge not being in the game at launch, head of creative Joseph Staten and community director Brian Jarrard took a minute to acknowledge that though the game's exact launch date hasn't yet been confirmed, it's definitely still planned for Holiday 2021. 343 Industries and Microsoft are currently hashing out some final details, it seems, and a release date, according to Staten and Jarrard, will be announced very soon.
"I do want to acknowledge, it's a little awkward we're talking about things that are in for launch, and frankly, we don't have an official public launch date yet," Jarrard said. "But I did want to just reconfirm, and as we heard Phil Spencer, he made a reference recently- this game is definitely [coming this Holiday], we're committed to releasing this Holiday. And we're pretty close, I think- we're just working through some details right now on kind of what that real date is."
Staten added: "That is absolutely correct. We're 100% committed to releasing this Holiday, both campaign and our first season of free-to-play multiplayer. We just have to work through a couple more details, and we'll be talking about our actual release date very soon."
How soon "very soon" will be remains to be seen, though it's worth noting that Xbox has a Gamescom show scheduled for August 24. It's possible that a release date for Halo Infinite could be announced then. Some rumours have suggested that the launch could come in mid-November.
Either way, it seems like Halo Infinite is definitely launching before this year is out (or almost definitely, if nothing else), so fans can rest easy.
Halo Infinite's due out later this year, but it won't be launching with everything you'd want. With 343 Industries working hard to ensure that the game gets out by the end of this year, they've decided to prioritize development in certain areas and push back a couple of features that won't be in the game when it releases.
The news was confirmed by Joseph Staten, head of creative at 343 Industries, who confirmed during the recent Halo Infinite development update that the game won't have campaign co-op or Forge when it launches later this year.
"Unfortunately, as we focus the team for shutdown, and really focus on a quality experience for launch, we made the really tough decision to delay campaign co-op for launch," Staten said. "And we also made the tough call to delay shipping Forge past launch as well."
Staten says 343 Industries made the decision because they don't want to ship anything until they know it's at a minimum level of quality, and they do no feel co-op and Forge are at that level just yet.
"Our number one priority is making sure that whatever we ship, whenever we ship it, it meets the right quality bar. Across all platforms – Xbox devices, PC in all its different configurations. " he said. "And we looked at these two experiences – campaign co-op and Forge – we made the determination they're just not ready. And as a studio, we don't want to ship things if they're not ready."
That said, given Halo Infinite's nature as a live service experience, 343 Industries is going to "keep campaign co-op and Forge in the over a little bit longer" and release them following the game's release as part of its seasonal roadmap. When exactly can we expect that? Staten says the plan right now is to ship campaign co-op in season 2, and Forge in season 3. That means that the goal right now is to release the former three months after the game's launch, and the latter six months after launch- though of course, Staten points out that nothing is set in stone yet.
As for when Halo Infinite will actually launch, there's actually still no word on that yet. Microsoft and 343 Industries have said the game's targeting a Holiday 2021 launch, and it seems they still remain committed to that window. Rumours say that could mean mid-November, but we're still waiting on official word. Microsoft does have an Xbox Gamescom show coming up on August 24, so maybe we'll get more information then.
Bungie has quite a lot planned for its upcoming Destiny 2 showcase on August 24th. On top of showcasing new details for The Witch Queen, it will also discuss Season of the Lost, the next big season for the game. In a new tweet, it confirmed that Mara Sov, Queen of the Awoken, would be returning.
What's Mara Sov been up to since the whole Dreaming City curse? How has she been contending with the arrival of the Darkness, Savathun wreaking havoc with the world and other generally distress matters? Perhaps we'll find out in Season of the Lost, which could help set up events for the upcoming expansion.
Other features that will be discussed at the showcase include Bungie partnering with BattlEye to soft launch its anti-cheat in the coming season. There will also be details on revamps for PvP mode Trials of Osiris, returning Crucible maps and much more. As for The Witch Queen, it's slated to release in 2022 so perhaps there will be a release date announcement as well.
The Queen returns in Season of the Lost.
— Destiny 2 (@DestinyTheGame) August 20, 2021
It's been a while since we've heard about LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Slated to release this past Spring, it would be delayed to an unspecified date due to Traveller's Tales needing more time. Thankfully, it seems an update is finally coming. Geoff Keighley announced on Twitter that a world premiere new look for the title would be showcased at Gamescom Opening Night Live.
The event takes place on August 25th at 11 AM PT/2 PM ET and will feature over 30 games. Sledgehammer Games' recently announced Call of Duty: Vanguard was confirmed to be receiving its first playthrough at the show. An announcement for the new Saints Row, which appears to be a reboot, has also been confirmed for the same.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is currently slated for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC. It features all nine Star Wars film episodes with about 300 playable characters, a variety of locations to visit and numerous missions to play. Perhaps a new release date will finally be announced at Gamescom. Stay tuned in the meantime.
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) August 20, 2021
With No More Heroes 3 coming later this month, it's good to see more gameplay before launch. IGN Japan has a nearly 15 minute gameplay video which sees Travis Touchdown battling foes, ordering sushi dishes and squaring off against Mr. Blackhole. This is another "Galactic Superhero" working under FU who specializes in wormholes. Check it out below.
Set two years after Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, No More Heroes 3 sees Santa Destroy invaded by intergalactic assassins led by the chaotic alien prince FU. In order to save the world, Travis must work his way up the assassin rankings, earning enough money from chores and side jobs to partake in ranking battles to defeat each of FU's henchmen. Said chores include cleaning toilets, mowing lawns and suplexing crocodiles.
Of course, there's plenty of combat to be had as well, especially with the Death Glove adding more abilities and techniques into the mix. No More Heroes 3 is out on August 27th for Nintendo Switch. Head here for more details on what to expect.
Nintendo has been releasing regular updates for the upcoming Metroid Dread ahead of its launch in October, and a new trailer sets up Samus' journey in what's being touted as the final chapter of this ongoing story arc, which started with the first Metroid back in the day.
When signs of Parasite X activity, once thought to be long dead, are reported on Planet ZDR and the Galactic Federation loses contact with the seven E.M.M.I. robots it dispatched, Samus embarks on a journey to the planet owing to her immunity to the parasite, where things quickly go wrong. Check out the teaser below.
Meanwhile, in a new Metroid Dread Report blog update, Nintendo has also provided gameplay details relating to Samus' suit, her abilities, and upgrades. Staples like her arm cannon, missiles, and morph ball are, of course, going to return, while you can also expect to see the Grapple Beam, as well as new Aeon Abilities, such as the Phantom Cloak, which temporarily renders her invisible.
Finally, Nintendo has also confirmed that a new trailer of Metroid Dread is going to be released next week, on August 27, which will be "shedding light on new mysteries."
Metroid Dread launches for Nintendo Switch on October 8.
During Quakecon 2021, head of Xbox Phil Spencer talked about the legacy left behind by Quake and how much of a cultural impact it had within the industry at large. The original Quake recieved a surprise remastered release yesterday for modern platforms, and is available right now.
Quake was one of the first arena shooters to pioneer the fast-paced action that DOOM flirted with before. The game's deep mechanics left players engaged on online deathmatches for hours on end, and Quake was one of the earliest eSports games in the FPS genre.
"I think it's important for us as players, as people who love the gaming industry, [to acknowledge] what are art form is about, to recognise those franchises that really changed so much that came after them due to the sheer innovation, differentiation, and kind of risk taking the team took. Quake was clearly one of those franchises. You can remember before Quake and after Quake. I think everything that came after Quake both had a bar that the franchise set, and also just an impact on design and multiplayer that we feel in the games we're still playing today. Awesome franchise to recognise and give it its due for what it meant to our industry," Phil Spencer said(as transcribed by PureXbox)
In addition to the console releases, Quake 2 and Quake 3: Arena were also launched on Xbox Game Pass for PC. It's rumored that this is a strategy to revive this classic franchise with the help of MachineGames. Of course, that remains to be seen if the rumors eventually turn out to be true – but fans seem to elated with the surprise nevertheless.