This week in gaming: Microsoft reveals Xbox Series S/X prices, Sony promises to follow suit, Ubisoft Forward was a solid showing, 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!
- Mitch made his return to the Doublejump team after a long layoff, praising A Short Hike’s “combination of humour and emotion” that “captures the player in a way that many AAA games fail to.”
- With his first entry into the Press X to Adapt series, Tom shared his excitement at the way Netflix’s High Score docuseries acknowledged and emphasised the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities’ influence on the early video game industry.
- John launched a new series, the Flagship Files, which focuses on launch titles from generations past, present and future; the series’ first analysis was on how DriveClub managed to go from absolute mess, to “cult racing hit.”
- Tom pulled double duty this week, reviewing MO:Astray and calling it “an incredible, original experience that’s currently the best game [he’s] played this year.”
Microsoft finally lifts the veil on Xbox Series S/X prices; EA Play joins the Xbox Game Pass:
Microsoft was forced to reveal its next-gen hand after Windows Central reported that the Xbox One S and Xbox Series X will launch on November 10 at US$299 and US$499 respectively. Team Green released an announcement trailer for the smaller console that confirmed that it will target 120 frames-per-second gameplay at 1440p (instead of 4K on the Series X), a small 512GB SSD (versus 1TB on Series X), and no disc drive.
Xbox ANZ later confirmed both systems’ November 10 release date and announced local pricing of AU$749/NZ$799 and AU$499/NZ$549 for the Xbox Series X and Series S respectively with local preorders opening September 22.
In addition to providing better graphical fidelity compared to its predecessors, the next-gen Xbox family will finally feature Dolby Vision high dynamic range support for streaming at launch and games next year in addition to Dolby Atmos spatial sound support in games.
Microsoft and EA jointly surprised players by announcing that Xbox Games Pass Ultimate subscribers will get access to EA Play at no additional cost with select EA games soon to be made streamable on Android as part of Project xCloud.
Here’s a quick run-down of what we saw at Ubisoft Forward:
The most important announcement of the entire Ubisoft Forward came before the event itself, as Ubisoft head Yves Guillemot took to Twitter to address the various controversies surrounding his company. The message itself proved controversial, though since it did not open the show as many — including us — think it should have, and because it will probably amount to little more than the million-dollar donation to its graduate program that “will focus on creating more opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups’”.
However, in terms of games, the offering was pretty decent despite no-shows such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Rainbow Six Quarantine and Skull & Bones (which Ubisoft is reworking… yet again).
Here’s what we found most interesting from Ubisoft Forward:
- Having been teased by film director Edgar Wright and franchise creator Bryan Lee O’ Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is making a glorious return! The beat-‘em-up, which was infamously delisted in 2014, is set to relaunch together with all of its DLC this holiday season on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC and Stadia.
- Speaking of returns, the Prince of Persia himself is back as well! In a reveal that came as much of a surprise to hardly anyone, given the many leaks, Ubisoft announced that Prince of Persia: Sands of Time Remake is due for a January 21st 2021 release on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
- Coming our way from Steep studio Ubisoft Annecy, Riders Republic is what happens when Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout meets biking, snowboarding, wingsuiting and the like. The game, which promises 50-player races and GPS-accurate maps based on US national parks, is slated for a February 25th 2021 release for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, PC and Google Stadia.
- Ubisoft showed yet another trailer for Immortals: Fenyx Rising (formerly Gods & Monsters), a title that looks more and more like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — but with Greek mythology — with every piece of promotional material. Immortals: Fenyx Rising is set to release on December 3rd on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC and Stadia. Until then, for a better look at the game, a lot of media previews are up, too.
- Rainbow Six Siege fans should be thrilled to hear that Ubisoft is planning to bring the game to the PS5 and Xbox Series X / S later this year as part of a free upgrade for existing PS4 and Xbox One owners. The company also claims that this upgrade will mean that Siege will also support up to 4K and 120FPS gameplay. On top of that, Ubisoft has also announced a country-based Rainbow Six Siege World Cup tournament and its “biggest” season of content based around Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher.
- Watch Dogs: Legion will feature a cameo appearance by popular UK rapper Stormzy, who will also be featured in the game as part of a special mission called “Fall on my Enemies”, which is due to release on October 29th. Similarly, Aiden Pearce, the vastly dislikable protagonist of the original Watch Dogs, will be playable and have his own mission arc as part of the first DLC expansion for Legion.
Sony to reveal PlayStation 5 details next week:
Sony Interactive Entertainment took to Twitter earlier today to announce that it will host a PlayStation 5 Showcase stream on Thursday September 17, 6am AEST, where we expect to hear news about pricing and backwards compatibility.
Twitch is getting 1440p/120fps support, now allows brands to run ad campaigns through its ad platform, bans prominent harasser, and makes hosting Esports events easier:
Hot on the heels of announcing its new graphics cards, NVIDIA revealed that it has been working with Twitch to enable streaming at 1440p, 120 frames-per-second, and up to 8,000 kilobits-per-second for PC players using RTX 30 graphics and their built-in AV1 hardware encoder. Current streams are limited to 1080p, 60fps, and 6,000kbps.
Twitch has confirmed to Kotaku that it has banned prominent online harasser Calvin Lee “LeafyIsHere” Vail less than three weeks after he moved to the platform following his ban on YouTube. As usual, Twitch declined to provide a specific reason for its action, but noted industry reporter Rod “Slasher” Breslau has claimed that the ban is permanent. Vail released a screenshot from Twitch’s email informing him of the ban listing “engaging in hateful conduct and threats of violence against a person or group of people” as the reason, but Twitch has not confirmed this officially as of this writing. Twitch has also continued its crusade against horrible human beings by banning Super Smash Bros. champion Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada… two months after he admitted to committing statutory rape (more information on Kotaku).
The streaming platform also revealed a new Versus by Twitch Esports feature to make it easier for tournament organisers to host, moderate, and promote upcoming events. Furthermore, Versus will feature a new directory that should make it easier for fans to find live tournaments for their favourite games.
Finally, according to AdAge, Amazon, which has owned Twitch since 2014, has finally given its advertising partners the ability to plan campaigns on Twitch using the same tools that they use on Amazon’s other platforms. This move suggests that Twitch users may start seeing more varied, targeted, and intense advertising placements than what they are used to.
Nintendo defies speculation and announces a prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
Despite having announced that a Breath of the Wild sequel is in development last year, and the mountains of speculation that have come with its slow release cadence thus far in 2020, Nintendo surprised us all by announcing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Age of Calamity is a canonical prequel to the events of Breath of the Wild, which will allow players to experience Hyrule’s fall to Calamity Ganon first hand.
Notably, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is not set to be the type of dungeon-crawling adventure that The Legend of Zelda has always been: it’ll follow the Hyrule Warriors thematic — the lovechild of Dynasty Warriors and The Legend of Zelda that presents a high-octane open combat arena, featuring highly stylised battles against entire armies of enemies. It’s set to be released exclusively on Nintendo Switch on November 20.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War multiplayer revealed:
Members of the Treyarch team came together earlier this week to offer us our first look at the latest Black Ops multiplayer mode, and Activision backed it up with a massive blog post detailing “some” of the maps, game modes and combat changes that are coming to Black Ops Cold War’s multiplayer offering.
The majority of the items covered in this announcement are things we’d expect to see from a Call of Duty multiplayer mode, but the major reveal is that Black Ops Cold War is set to be a “connected experience”: it’ll not only have cross-platform and cross-generation play through Battle.net, as well as “the next evolution of Call of Duty: Warzone”, which will see developers Infinity Ward and Raven Software supporting Treyarch and aiming to “preserve continuity within Warzone while also incorporating elements of Black Ops Cold War.
Cyberpunk 2077 won’t cost extra on PS5 and Xbox Series X:
During a Q&A session after releasing its half-year financial results for 2020, CD Projekt RED revealed that it will not be charging any extra for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions of Cyberpunk 2077. This builds upon the studio’s February announcement that it would allow current-generation Cyberpunk 2077 owners to upgrade to the next-generation version for free — because “gamers should never be forced to purchase the same game twice”. This policy will also apply to the PC version, where although there’s no actual platform change to speak of, CD Projekt RED will update the game with “a patch adding visual quality and a few extra features.”
Barring any further very understandable delays, Cyberpunk 2077 is on the home stretch, set to be released on November 19. In anticipation of the release, CD Projekt RED has partnered up with Rockstar Energy to offer fans in Canada, Mexico and the United States the chance to “collect special edition cans, unlock digital rewards and score Cyberpunk 2077 limited edition prizes featuring a grand prize custom muscle car inspired by the in-game Quadra Type-66.”
Nintendo boosts Switch production by a further 20% due to high demand:
Having previously raised its production orders to 25 million units early last month, Bloomberg is reporting that Nintendo now has “assemblers…operating at 120%” in order to satisfy its newest goal of 30 million units produced in this fiscal year. This second boost comes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen more gamers than ever before looking to purchase new consoles and games, as well as Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ incredible success during that same period; a spokesperson for industry tracker Famitsu Group revealed that its data “[suggests that] the Switch hasn’t fulfilled demand yet”, with sales “likely to gain further momentum” at the end of this year.
Neither Bloomberg nor its sources provided any kind of breakdown of the 30 million-unit target, but it’s safe to assume that these goals cover the Switch and Switch Lite, and not the rumoured upgraded Switch we covered last week.
Apple is now seeking damages from Epic Games:
The latest development in The Story That Just Won’t End sees Apple filing suit against Epic Games, accusing the Fortnite developer of breach of contract and requesting damages related to that. Exactly how much Apple’s asking for, however, is yet to be determined, since it’s demanding its cut of the money that the iOS version of Fortnite made through the “Epic Direct Payment” function that it has been using to offer players a discount on in-game purchases since the start of last month.
It looks like this legal battle won’t be ending any time soon…
NOTABLE GAME RELEASES
- Borderlands 3: Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- Disgaea 4 Complete+ (PC, Xbox One)
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
VIDEOS AND TRAILERS
Baldur’s Gate 3 — Community Update #6:
The studio spends nine minutes breaking down how it’s “introducing more interactivity” to the game, whose fully cinematic dialogue features 1.5 million words.
Godfall — Combat Trailer:
This tantalising trailer shows off some aspects of the upcoming PlayStation 5-exclusive looter-slasher’s combat system, as well as some of the enemies you’ll be facing when the game arrives this holiday season.
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 — The Summit Preview Trailer:
Making its debut on September 22, the Summit game mode will see agents work together to push their way up a 100-storey building to earn rewards as they go.
Wasteland 3 — Accolades Trailer:
Wasteland 3 has, uh… done pretty well for itself!
Adventures of Pip is available on Switch now:
It’s been out since 2015, but Tic Toc Games’ charming retro-inspired platformer has finally made the leap to Nintendo Switch, bringing its unique mechanic that sees players switching between 1- 8- and 16-bit versions of their playable character to the console/handheld hybrid. This version of the game also debuts improvements including the ability to collect gems automatically and reach the town more quickly through a map shortcut, as well as an in-game achievement menu and faster running speed for the 16-bit version of Pip.
ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is coming later this year:
Newly-founded publisher Binary Haze Interactive has announced that Adglobe and Live Wire’s “dark fantasy Metroidvania fairy tale”, ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights, is coming to “PC and consoles” later this year. The game sees “a lone priestess [seeking] the source of an endless ritual turning everyone into undead”, and features a soundtrack provided by Mili, whose other credits include Ghost in the Shell, Goblin Slayer, and a number of rhythm games.
INTERESTING READS FROM OTHER OUTLETS
- How a missing high school student used a PlayStation 4 to escape her kidnapper: Push Square
- What the PlayStation 5 brings to Kena: Bridge of Spirits: Game Informer
- Aussie Twitch streamers become refuge for young and lonely during lockdown: The Age
- AMD teases “big things on the horizon for PC gaming” for October 8 and 28: Twitter (official)
- DIRT 5 is the latest game to join the delay party — but it’s still set for 2020: Twitter (official)
- No More Heroes 3 delayed into 2021: Twitter (official)
- Ubisoft leaks Prince of Persia remake: UPlay (via ResetEra)
- The next-gen versions of Borderlands 3 will have four-player split-screen available: Eurogamer
- Phil Spencer accidentally revealed the Xbox Series S… back in June: Kotaku
- Nintendo is releasing a Fortnite-branded Switch: Kotaku
- New Zealand’s Prime Minister showed up on a Twitch stream: Kotaku
- Minecraft is set to support PlayStation VR this month: PlayStation Blog
- Konami files new Zone of the Enders trademarks: Europe, Japan
- A 24-karat gold PS5 is a thing that exists: Truly Exquisite
- PUBG Mobile has racked up US$3.5 BILLION from microtransactions: GameSpot
- Digital Extremes is making Warframe 6.6GB smaller… through a 6.5GB update: Official Announcement
- Star Wars: Squadrons has gone gold: Twitter
- New Nintendo leak features unreleased Game Boy and Game Boy Colour games: Kotaku
- Ninja is back on Twitch: Twitter
- Apple updates its game streaming rules to allow xCloud and Stadia… under some conditions: Kotaku
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Also published on Medium.