Headline Of The Week

Most of the important news of the week has come from GamesCom 2015, the biggest European gaming convention on the calender held in Cologne, Germany. As previously reported Sony declined to hold a press conference this year, but there were still big presentations from Microsoft, EA and Blizzard Entertainment, the first two of which you can watch in their entirety online. I’ve picked out some of the juicer headlines below:

Microsoft (full conference here)

  • Quantum Break, the latest project from Alan Wake developers Remedy will indeed have a live action show which will run parallel to the events of the game – the player will control the heroes, while the TV show will focus on the villains. Aidan Gillen (Game Of Thrones), Dominic Monanghan (Lost) and Shawn Ashmore (X-Men 2) have all signed on to the ambitious venture
  • Crackdown 3 will apparently offer 100% destructible environments but amplifying computing power through Microsoft’s cloud servers. Can guarantee that this will fall short, but the idea is nice at least
  • Scalebound, the Xbox One exclusive action RPG featuring dragons from Platinum Games will feature four player co-op and is aiming for a late 2016 release. The initial footage looks promising, but nowhere near as stylish as Bayonetta/Metal Gear Rising
  • All future Games With Gold Xbox 360 titles will feature backwards compatibility on Xbox One. The service is set to roll out to all users in November
  • The Windows 10 inspired redesign of the Xbox One dashboard will also arrive later this year. Microsoft’s conference heavily pushed the crossplay and streaming capabilities of it’s newly released OS
  • The indie stable is also expanding, with the likes of Ark: Survival Instinct, Cities Skyline and Starbound all set to come to Xbox One. They still don’t have Rocket League though…
  • Creative Assembly are in charge of making Halo Wars 2, which was left as the mic-drop announcement at the end of the the stream

EA (full conference here)

  • The reboot of Need For Speed coming out later this year will be very story heavy, blending real-life cutscenes with gameplay. I’ll be honest, I’m not enjoying the direction that game is taking
  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst on the other hand, looks pretty swish. A new gameplay trailer showed off some open world traversal and combat to polite applause
  • There was a really, really cringeworthy dance performance to celebrate some new DLC for The Sims 4. NO ONE CARES
  • We got to see more of Unravel, the pleasant little platformer featuring a yarn character (not Yoshi/Kirby) that suggests that EA still do have a soul somewhere
  • Star Wars: Battlefront will feature aerial combat in a separate gameplay mode called ‘Fighter Squadron’. They still haven’t sorted out the incredibly basic looking UI though, which distracts from an otherwise very pretty game.
  • While Ultimate Team remains the focus for EA with FIFA 16, they have at least tweaked a few other things. Training and pre-season tournaments have been added to Career Mode, and the Bundesliga is getting the full match-day polish that was given to the Premier League in FIFA 15

Blizzard Entertainment

  • I’ll be honest; I really don’t care for Hearthstone or Starcraft 2 or any of that nonsense, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for a conference report. What I did note of interest is that the subscription levels for World Of Warcraft have hit a nine year low dropping to 5.6 million; down from over the 10 million users who were kicking around when the last expansion pack released in November 2014.

In Other News

Final Fantasy XV will be releasing at some point in 2016 – a mere ten years after it was first revealed as Versus XIII and three years after it’s rebranding. The proclamation has come from the game’s director Hajime Tabata, who responded to criticism following a slightly disappointing press event at GamesCom. Having skipped E3, fans were hoping that there would be more solid details, but instead were treated to a short snippet of gameplay featuring Marlboro’s and a underwhelming story trailer – Tabata was quick to respond:

We really wanted to say something else, so we’ve got something we’d like to say – you won’t be waiting until 2017. We want to get that across. We want to reassure people that we are going to get it out.

In related Final Fantasy news, a HD remaster of Final Fantasy XII is highly likely after being mentioned in passing at a Distant Worlds concert by conductor Arnie Roth (who accidentally referred to a ‘remake’ before clarifying his position the next day on Facebook). I struggled to fall in love with the original, but a remaster of the International Zodiac version might tempt me into a replay.

The spiritual successor to Mega Man, Keiji Inafune’s crowdfunded Mighty No. 9, has been pushed back to a 2016 release window. Developers Comcept have claimed that while the core content of the game is ready, various bugs and online features have held them back.

The delay has created a fair amount of backlash, especially as Inafune was running a second Kickstarter project simultaneously for a game called Red Ash, which fell short by $280,000 a few days earlier. Perhaps helping to remove salt from wounds, Capcom announced that Mega Man Legacy Collection (featuring the first six games in the series) will come out for PC, PS4 & Xbox One on August 25th – a 3DS version will follow next year.

In related delay news, Lego Marvel Avengers has also been pushed back, to January 29th 2016. This presumably accommodates for the launch of Lego Dimensions later this year.

Despite the alleged highly controlled conditions under which the game has been made (thanks to Kotaku for the report), Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is still set to arrive in just under a month’s time now. Konami have released a series of screenshots displaying how the game will look on each platform, and to be frankly honest the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions look terrific – how they will run in action against their more powerful brothers of course remains to be seen. A new 30 minute walkthrough video also outlines how the player will utilize the Mother Base hub area – hype thrusters are set to overdrive!

And Finally

It’s been a good week to be a fan of Rare – the 30 game anthology collection Rare Replay launched on the Xbox One this week, garnering pretty solid reviews across the board for its presentation and excellent value (20 quid is more than worth it for the Banjo Kazooie trilogy and Conkers Bad Fur Day alone), as well as for the amusing statistic that there are now more N64 games on Xbox platforms than on the Wii U virtual service. I’ll be honest; it’s the one game at the moment that would sway me into buying an Xbox One.

Alongside the game, three games from the back catalogue are getting their soundtracks released on vinyl; not unlike The Last Of Us just two weeks ago (is this a new trend I’m massively unaware of?). The games in question are Battletoads, Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark, featuring music from David Wise, Grant Kirkhope and Graeme Norgate respectively. Each record will be limited to a run of just 3,000 copies, with unique artwork to boot – you can submit a pre-order for the vinyl experience here.

'Guh huh?' (pulls out a banjo and starts strumming)
‘Guh huh?’ (pulls out a banjo and starts strumming)