Kick off this year’s Gaming Christmas™ by catching up on all the news that’s come out ahead of E3 2019!
With so much going on and so much coming out in the week leading up to this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, we have decided to turn the regular Sunday night Digest into a Day Zero Digest where we zero in on the leaks, the early reveals, and all the hype ahead of the next few days. Enjoy!
- Cai joined the Press X to Adapt party, discussing Detective Pikachu from his perspective as someone who doesn’t know all that much about Pokémon.
- The Doublejump team came together to discuss the video game jobs that we’d trade our real-life jobs for in a heartbeat.
- Zack took a look back at Cave Story, which he considers to be the quintessential indie success story (it’s very hard to disagree!).
- John put together a compelling argument about how E3 is losing some of its importance within the games industry.
Google bummed out ANZ players at its Stadia Connect event:
Google kicked off this week with a special livestream dedicated to details Stadia’s launch details including pricing, supported games, and connection requirements. Unfortunately, prospective players from Australia and New Zealand will not get to experience Stadia at its November launch because the service will not roll out here until next year – i.e. months after the US and various European countries.
As for pricing, the base pricing for a “Pro” subscription is US$9.99 per month, with Google planning to launch a free tier next year. The Pro subscription is the only way to play games at the highest quality (4K, high dynamic range, and 5.1 surround sound) and will also include various discounts for subscribers to buy games.
Stadia will only launch this year for “Founder’s Edition” bundle owners who will pay US$129 for a bundle consisting of three months of Stadia Pro for themselves (as well as a three-month pass for a friend), a special edition Night Blue Stadia Controller, a Google Chromecast Ultra, first dibs on a username, and Destiny 2: The Collection (which contains the base game and its upcoming expansions). Separate Stadia Controllers are also currently priced at US$69.99.
As for Stadia’s bandwidth requirements, users will need at least a 10 megabit-per-second (mbps) connect for playing at 720p and 60 frames-per-second, 20mbps for 1080p/60fps/HDR/5.1 surround sound, and 35mbps for 4K/60fps/HDR/5.1 surround sound.
Google Stadia will only be playable on the Chromecast Ultra, through the Stadia app on Pixel 3/3a smartphones, and Google Chrome browser at its November launch; but the company will roll out the service to other devices next year.
EA Play went off with a bang:
As it did last year, EA held its E3 press conference off-campus, airing a marathon three-and-a-half hour event that served as more of an update on its existing properties – and the confirmation of a couple of new titles that we already knew were coming – than a major reveal event.
We got our first look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’s gameplay:
Respawn Entertainment was quite generous with its gameplay offering, sharing a 15-minute demo set on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. The mission, which saw player character Cal Kestis asked to rescue imprisoned Wookiees, gave us a pretty good look at the game’s exploration, traversal and platforming elements, as well as the combat enhancements that the Star Wars property allows – namely, Force powers and lightsabres.
The demo gave us a cursory introduction to Kestis’ adorable companion droid, BD-1 (short for Buddy Droid-1), who can light the way, scan objects and plug into various electronic interfaces to clear paths for the player. It also revealed that Rogue One’s rebel leader Saw Gerrera will appear in Jedi: Fallen Order, with actor Forest Whitaker reprising the role to provide Gerrera’s voice and likeness.
Let us just say… Jedi: Fallen Order is looking like a damn good video game. We can’t wait to see the final product when it arrives on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on November 15!
Apex Legends’ future is electric:
Respawn continued on from its Jedi: Fallen Order spotlight to give gamers their first look at Apex Legends’ second season of content.
The season will see the introduction of Titanfall fan favourite weapon the L-STAR, a light-machine gun that looks to be extremely, extremely powerful. For that reason, much like the Kraber .50 CAL and the Mastiff Shotgun, you’ll only find the L-STAR in airdrops – excluding Lifeline’s Care Package – and it will use a unique type of ammunition that takes up no inventory space and cannot be found on the map.
Also debuting in the battle royale’s second season is its second new Legend: Natalie Paquette, also known as Wattson (we see what you did there, Respawn!). A brilliant scientist and engineer who helped design the Apex Legends arena itself, Wattson takes a more tactical, defensive approach to surviving the Apex Games: using her Tactical Ability (Perimeter Security), she can create electrified fences that damage and slow enemies who try to pass through them, while her Ultimate (Interception Pylon) allows her to place a maximum of three pylons that destroy any and all incoming projectiles while also repairing damaged shields. Her passive ability causes Ultimate Accelerants to fully charge her Interception Pylon, and standing near said pylons to speed up Perimeter Security’s recharge.
Season two will also see a ranked game mode introduced to the game, which will see players progress from Bronze rank to Apex Predator. The ranked mode will have a special matchmaker, which may see higher-tier players waiting a little longer for their games – a solid trade-off, if you ask us, for a greater challenge once you land in King’s Canyon.
Finally, the second season’s Battle Pass – known as Battle Charge – is set to include challenges alongside the standard XP to help players get their hands on all of the rewards, which include four legendary skins: a Prince of Darkness skin for Caustic and a Jade Tiger skin for Octane, as well as a Spitfire skin known as The Intimidator and an R-301 skin called Iron Rampage.
Battlefield V’s fourth Chapter is looking epic:
Chapter 4: Defying the Odds will add a slew of new Mediterranean maps (Al Sundan, Marita, Lofoten Islands, and Provence), raise the level cap from 50 to 500(!), as well as a set of new Elite units (including the controversial not-Nazi one that it teased early in the week)
FIFA 20’s taking us back to the streets:
EA Sports’ FIFA offerings have centred around Ultimate Team for the past few seasons, but if EA Play is anything to go by, FIFA 20 looks set to be a much better-rounded offering.
The biggest talking point from the FIFA 20 reveal was the VOLTA Football game mode, a long-awaited FIFA Street-style experience that allows players to create their own avatars or play as real professional footballers in a variety of game modes and on arenas of different sizes all around the world. Singer-songwriter and Fulham Ladies forward Chelcee Grimes, Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand and game VOLTA producer Jeff Antwi discussed how VOLTA Football looked to capture street football’s “authenticity, creativity and culture”, and a page on the game’s official website revealed that VOLTA is set to be a complete game-within-a-game, with its own career, Kick-Off and online modes.
In terms of the “main game”, we saw lead gameplay producer Sam Rivera elaborate on some of the things EA revealed in its Pitch Notes article last week, while also discussing a number of new changes to game flow (including a nerf to AI defending), finishing, dribbling, defending, set-pieces and ball physics. The dev team also elaborated upon some of the changes Rivera covered in a second FIFA 20 Pitch Notes article, but the best way to understand the changes is going to be to watch the footage up above. The most exciting thing to take away from that Pitch Notes article, however, is that EA Sports is planning deep dives into Career Mode and Pro Clubs – modes that have been ignored over the past few years.
The Sims 4’s next expansion heads to the islands:
The Sims 4 Island Living takes players to the fictional island of Sulani, where they can engage in a plethora of island activities: aside from swimming, collecting seashells, building sandcastles and racing around on jetskis (known as “aqua zips”), players can explore the local culture and cuisine, wear new tropical-themed outfits and take on new careers including as a conservationist (“the more Sims clean up and care for their environment, the more lush and full of explosive nature it becomes”) and as a lifeguard.
Mac and Windows PC players can look forward to Island Living on June 21, while PS4 and Xbox One players will need to wait almost another month until July 16. EA and Maxis also announced a partnership with the It Gets Better Project – a non-profit LGBTQIA+ youth support organsation – that will see new pride-themed clothing on PC versions of The Sims 4, The Sims FreePlay and The Sims Mobile, as well as a gender-neutral bathroom door option for The Sims 4. All of that content is set to arrive on the console versions of The Sims 4 in July.
News from before E3:
Bungie‘s embracing Destiny 2‘s action MMO potential:
During a lengthy presentation, Bungie announced a stack of major changes for the franchise that represent a renewed effort to making Destiny 2 accessible for all players. Most importantly, Destiny 2 will now feature cross-save between all platforms and a new free-to-play version named Destiny 2: New Light, which are both designed to encourage players to level up with friends regardless of platform. Furthermore, the game’s new à la carte content model means that new players won’t have to complete or own previous campaigns to see new content.
Speaking of which, Bungie also unveiled an extensive new expansion in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep that sees the return of cursed Guardian Eris Morn and the evils found on the Moon. And, for PC in particular, Destiny 2 will move over from Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher to Valve’s Steam upon Shadowkeep’s release, with Bungie planning to make it easy for players to transition their existing purchases and progress through the developer’s website.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt teased for Nintendo Switch:
This past Thursday, Doug Cockle stirred up a storm when he provided what could be the first indication that the beloved RPG could come to Nintendo’s also-beloved console-handheld hybrid. Cockle – also known as Geralt of Rivia’s voice actor – quoted a tweet that put a Switch version of The Witcher 3 on the tweeter’s wishlist, adding “who else wants to see this…. ;)” to the top of it and tagging developer CD Projekt Red.
Of course, tone doesn’t translate well through text and Cockle could just be one of those people who uses wink emotes a lot, or he could know exactly what he’s doing and be trolling us all. However, when you combine the tweet with CD Projekt Red’s recent financial report in which it suggested that E3 2019 will be its biggest ever, it’s hard not to believe that it will have far more in store than just more Cyberpunk 2077.
Darksiders Genesis looks like a modern Diablo game:
THQ Nordic released a trailer for Genesis, a spin-off from the mainline series that’s also the “first top-down action adventure in Darksiders franchise history”, this past Friday. Players will be cast in the role of “the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse”, Strife, who has been “called upon to save humankind from certain destruction at the hands of Lucifer”, and the game will feature “intense combat, exploration, puzzle-solving, epic boss battles and serpent holes from heaven to hell.” We won’t lie… That all sounds cool as anything.
Report: Blizzard cancels StarCraft FPS to focus on Diablo and Overwatch:
Quoting sources “familiar with goings-on at [Blizzard]”, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier revealed that the project’s code name was Ares, and one of those sources described it as being “like Battlefield in the StarCraft universe.” The cancellation did not result in any layoffs, which is great news, and Blizzard specifically told the team that it was axing both Ares and an unannounced mobile project in order to move their developers onto Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, both of which Schreier is expecting to see announced at BlizzCon later this year.
Destroy All Humans! is getting rebuilt for PS4 and Xbox One:
Rammstein’s Ich Will is a fucking phenomenal choice to set this reveal trailer to! Destroy All Humans! is set to be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – and on PC, for the first time – “just in time for its 15th anniversary in 2020.” Does anyone else think that this trailer was a work of marketing art?
FromSoftware and George R. R. Martin are collaborating on Elden Ring:
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) June 7, 2019
Yooka-Laylee’s sequel takes players to the Impossible Lair:
Team17 released a trailer this past Friday, showing off developer Playtonic’s second shot at a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie and revealing that it’s “coming to Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam in 2019.” The game’s got all the cuteness and vibrancy we found in the original, so hopefully we’ll see it executed a little better this time around.
Report: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is getting remastered:
This leak comes to us from Twitter user @DirectFeedGames, who was able to back it up with a series of images. The user was “certain” that a remastered version of Level-5’s beautiful role-playing game is set to be released on PC and PS4 – but “may not hit Xbox One” – and the original version is set to be ported to the Switch this Fall (Spring, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere like us).
In other news:
- Blood & Truth puts VR in the limelight: Sony’s big-budget VR exclusive became the first game to top the UK’s video game sales charts, beating FIFA 19 by just 400 copies in the week ending June 1.
- Cuphead is coming to… Tesla: You read that right! On the june 2 episode of the Ride the Lightning podcast, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that StudioMDHR helped get its bullet-hell platformer running on Tesla’s dashboard in addition to the Atari classics that are already there. Just the thing we want distracting us while we drive…
- John Romero releases his unofficial Doom expansion: SIGIL is finally available, adding nine single-player maps and nine deathmatch maps to the original title. It’s completely free – although you’ll need a copy of Doom to play it – but you can supplement it with a soundtrack by guitarist Buckethead for an extra €6.66.
- Sony raises PlayStation Plus prices in Europe and Asia: PSNProfiles forum users compiled the full list of updated prices; it’s the first price-hike anywhere in the world since 2017, and some of them are pretty damn big.
- Niantic discontinues Pokémon GO Apple Watch support: The game’s Adventure Sync feature makes it redundant to use the Watch to track steps, earn Candy and hatch Eggs, so Niantic wants to “focus on building Adventure Sync so that Trainers will no longer have to split their gameplay between [two] devices.”
- Sony is testing 16-person PS4 Parties: Along with “improved audio quality for voice chat” and “improved network connectivity”, registered Preview Program members will be able to test out the largest parties available on consoles. No word as of yet on when the feature will be released officially.
- Every Final Fantasy soundtrack is now streaming: Game Informer spotted the otherwise-unannounced release, which sees every game’s soundtrack – as well as every sequel, movie and spin-off’s – available on Spotify and Apple Music, free of charge.
- Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us PS3 multiplayer servers going offline: Naughty Dog announced the closures for September 3, and has also made all of the games’ multiplayer DLC available for free. That’s a nice gesture to send off some of the company’s most successful – and brilliant – games!
- NieR: Automata tops 4m unit sales: PlatinumGames celebrated by sharing some messages from its team, which was just so touching to read.
- Epic Games worked with YouFunnyB to get the Billy Bounce on Fortnite: Breaking its trend of just adapting popular dances without credit to – or input from – their creators, the Viner himself confirmed that he worked with Epic to put the dance in the popular battle royale. It still appears in the game without credit, but hey… Baby steps, we guess.
- Apex Legends’ latest patch was… massive: It corrected a load of bugs and issues, while also making changes to loot distribution that should see The Pit become an absolute hot-zone.
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Also published on Medium.