Doublejump Digest: August 15, 2021

by Doublejump

This week in gaming: PAX Aus 2021 goes online only, Diablo IV lead developers step down, FromSoftware might be developing a new PS5 exclusive, and more!


In the spirit of keeping our readers up to date with what’s happening in the video game industry, the Doublejump Digest is a brief collection of the major news stories from the past week. Keep an eye out for the Digest every Sunday night, and head on into the archive for news from weeks gone by!


FROM DOUBLEJUMP


MAJOR NEWS

Penny Arcade & Reed Exhibitions cancel PAX Aus 2021 as well

PAX Aus’s organisers have announced that, for the second year running, they have cancelled this October’s PAX Aus in-person event “due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in Australia”. The organisers will issue “full refund[s]” to all customers who purchased tickets to the event and also noted that they will announce details for the replacement “PAX Aus Online” event “over the coming days”.

Diablo IV lead developers step down, Respawn Entertainment fires Apex Legends designer for past comments

Blizzard Entertainment has confirmed to Kotaku that Diablo IV Creative Director Luis Barriga, Diablo IV Lead Designer Jesse McCree (who Overwatch’s McCree is named after), and World of Warcraft Designer Jonathan LeCraft have left the company.

While the company spokesperson stopped short of providing a reason for their departures, they did imply that it may be in light of McCree and LeCraft being named in the infamous “Cosby Suite” of ratbags at the company. As of this writing, Barriga hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

“We have a deep, talented roster of developers already in place and new leaders have been assigned where appropriate,” the spokesperson said. “We are confident in our ability to continue progress, deliver amazing experiences to our players, and move forward to ensure a safe, productive work environment for all.”

Meanwhile, parent company Activision-Blizzard has faced renewed criticism over its toxic workplace culture following reports from Polygon and Kotaku featuring former quality assurance and customer service contractors and workers speaking out about low pay, lack of job stability, and being dead named in certain cases.

Elsewhere in the industry, controversial Apex Legends Game Designer Daniel Klein announced that he is “no longer working at [developer] Respawn [Entertainment]” over sexist and racist comments and blog posts that he wrote in 2007.

Later in the Twitter thread, Klein added that he had “poured so much energy into becoming a better person since then” and that he is “depressed” that he may not be able to fully atone for his actions.

“I said racist and sexist things, not because I deeply believed any of them, but because I knew I could get a reaction out of people,” he wrote. “That does not excuse anything I said; the impact of my words was the same regardless of what I believed.”

When Kotaku approached him for comment, Klein explained that he suspected that his previous behaviour was uncovered by someone who “went looking for things to hurt [him] with” and that he warned EA that other employees may be targeted in the future.

Report: FromSoftware is developing a new PS5 exclusive

According to YouTube commentator Dealer Gaming (via GamesRadar), Bloodborne and Elden Ring developer FromSoftware is working on an unannounced PlayStation 5 exclusive title that’s not Bloodborne 2 but will feature similarly difficult action gameplay.

Xbox Era’s Nick Baker later corroborated the rumour by claiming that he was preparing to reveal the news in an upcoming “rumour mill” article, but neither Sony Interactive Entertainment nor FromSoftware have commented on this speculation as of this writing.

Take-Two has three unannounced remasters/remakes on the way

Last week, Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive told investors (via PC Gamer) that the company was set to publish three new unannounced “iterations of previously released titles”.

This week, Kotaku reported that the publisher is working on a remaster/remake of the original 3D Grand Theft Auto titles (Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) – though it stopped short of clarifying whether or not these three titles are the same three noted above.

Nintendo’s latest Indie World featured some neat Switch announcements

Nintendo’s Indie World presentations have been absolute treasure troves in the past, and this week’s event was no exception as the company announced a handful of upcoming releases for the Switch:

  • Team Reptile’s Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, a free-skating adventure that calls Jet Set Radio and Sunset Overdrive to mind, is coming to Switch as a timed exclusive next year — that exclusivity period will only last “about a week”, however, after which the game is slated for Steam and “all relevant platforms”.
  • Having seen great success with its PC and Mac release this past March, Four Quarters and Devolver Digital are bringing their time-looping card-based role-playing game, Loop Hero, to Switch at some point before the year’s out.
  • Shovel Knight’s newest adventure, the Tetris-esque dungeon crawler known as Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon, is set to release on Switch — with Amiibo support — alongside PC and PlayStation 4 this summer.
  • Tetris Effect: Connected, which Ben called “the best version of one of the best puzzle games of all time, is coming to Switch on October 8.
  • The adorable greyscale photography adventure, TOEM, is set to release on Switch later this year.
  • The latest release in the beloved Metal Slug franchise, Metal Slug Tactics, is slated for Switch and PC at some point next year.
  • Publisher Chucklefish — which has also published Risk of Rain, Stardew Valley and its own creations, Starbound and Wargroove — announced that it’s bringing Pixpil’s adorable adventure game, Eastward, to Switch alongside Mac and Windows PCs next month.

As has become tradition for Nintendo’s Indie World events, the company also announced seven “shadow-drops” — titles that became available as they were being exhibited. The long-awaited, oft-delayed Axiom Verge 2 headlined the list (and also released onto the Epic Games Store and the PlayStation Store), which also included Boyfriend Dungeon, Curious Expedition 2, Garden Story, Islanders: Console Edition, Necrobarista: Final Pour, and Slime Rancher: Plortable Edition.

We also learned of new release dates for a number of other upcoming Switch ports: Astroneer is set for January; FAR: Changing Tides for “early 2022”; Gang Beasts for this Spring; Hundred Days — Winemaking Simulator for this coming Summer; and LumbearJack for some point next year.

The entire event is embedded below for those who’d rather watch it for themselves.


NOTABLE GAME RELEASES

  • Axiom Verge 2 (PC and Switch)
  • Button City (Mac, PC, PS5, Switch, and Xbox Series X|S)
  • FORECLOSED (PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox One)
  • HADES (PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S)

VIDEOS AND TRAILERS

Battlefield 2042 — Exodus Short Film

Your “memorable” friends from Battlefield 4 are back in this short prequel to the next Battlefield.

NASCAR 21: Ignition — Announcement Trailer

NASCAR’s back with its first dedicated simulation style game in years.

Frostpunk 2 — Announcement Trailer

Get ready to break hearts and build cities all over again.

Diablo II: Resurrected — Act I Cinematic

Wow, Blizzard is actually giving a shit about this remaster…

No Man’s Sky — 5th Anniversary Trailer

I’m not gonna lie, I’m surprised that this game is only five years old.


INDIE SPOTLIGHT

Project Warlock II is now on Kickstarter: 

Poland-based Buckshot Software has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a “bullet, spell and demon filled sequel to Project Warlock”, not to actually fund the game’s development but to give people the chance to get the best deal on the game, get exclusive physical rewards, or just to “leave their mark on the game”. Having already secured funding to build the game itself, project lead Jakub Cislo set the project’s goal to AU$328 (a testament to the funding the first game got from its own Kickstarter); it’s been just over a day, and the campaign has already raised more than AU$8,000.

Project Warlock II is set to be a much, much larger game than its predecessor, offering three worlds, three warlocks, 72 weapons and 12 spells (compared to the original’s 38 weapons and eight spells), doubling the original’s ten-hour estimated run time. The first chapter is already “nearly complete”, and backers will be able to start playing the game in Steam Early Access soon after the campaign comes to an end.

Buckshot Software is planning to bring Project Warlock II out of Early Access in the third quarter of next year.


OTHER NEWS

  • Having acquired AnimeLab and now Crunchyroll, Funimation is now the biggest name in anime streaming: Kotaku
  • Spec Ops: The Line and Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck are working together on a horror game: Eurogamer
  • Here’s a look at Forza Horizon 5’s Mexico map: RPS
  • Fans are taking it on themselves to remake Team Fortress 2 in the Source 2 engine: Kotaku
  • US Congress members are weighing in on the loot box as gambling debate: GameSpot
  • Check out this brief recap of the crazy Apex Legends hacking shenanigans: Kotaku
  • Idris Elba has joined Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s live-action cast: The Verge
  • Square Enix has delayed Life Is Strange: Remastered Collection to next year: Engadget
  • According to a new study, ⅓ male players prefer to play female characters: Kotaku
  • Don’t worry, Splitgate’s developer is going to update the game for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S: GameSpot
  • The Amiga is your next “mini” console re-release: The Verge
  • PUBG Corp is working on a top-down shooter called Thunder Tier One: Kotaku

Jake Colosimo and Abir Chowdhury contributed to this article.


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