Hello NAGullicks, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. In the news this week is an unlikely pair of video game movie adaptations, Blizzard’s stance on cheaters in Overwatch, Ubisoft has a ton of games slated for the next year, new rumours regarding the PS4 Neo release, Titanfall 2 is coming sooner than expected, EA talks console upgrades and Civilization VI brings big changes to the franchise. All that juicy gossip, some videos and highlights from the week, after the jump.
Classic Atari titles getting the movie treatment
Video game movies are on the rise, with high-profile, big budget blockbusters like Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed hoping to reignite a genre that has had nary a single gem in an ever-growing pile of turds.
Next to jump on the train is the unlikely Atari, who has apparently brokered movie deals for both Centipede and Missile Command. If you haven’t heard of these games then you’re probably younger than 30.
They’re classic arcade games, some of the first, which means that there’s no real story or foundation for a movie here. It’s kind of a bizarre IP to bank on, which probably means it could be a great movie or a terrible movie – it’s going to depend entirely on the people behind it.
Someone let me know when they finally make a Snake movie.
Cheating in Overwatch will get you a lifetime ban
Blizzard has always taken a pretty hard stance on cheating in their games, never shying away from doling out permanent bans for one-time offenders.
This approach will continue in Overwatch, with community manager Lylirra confirming this week that those caught using hacks, bots or third-party software will be summarily axed. This won’t stop cheaters from simply making another account, but it will add a layer of inconvenience as well as a significant monetary penalty for those having to rebuy the game.
With titles like Call of Duty and Counter-Strike being consistently plagued with cheaters, it’ll be good for Blizzard to take a hard line up front. Whether or not it actually works will remain to be seen.
Ubisoft has five big releases slated for the next year
In spite of already dropping their new moneymaker The Division in the early part of this fiscal year, Ubisoft has said in their earnings report that before the end of March 2017 they’ll be releasing Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Watch Dogs 2, For Honor and a new South Park game.
“But wait Chris,” you cry, Krispy Kremes tumbling from your mouth, “the headline said five!” Well spotted, young padawan, you’re ready for pre-school maths. The final game is apparently a “AAA IP”, as yet unannounced. Expect to see more at E3.
Meanwhile, The Division continues to rack up players, sitting just under ten million right now.
Rumour has it PS4 Neo will be out in October
It’s not the most conclusive rumour ever, but French distributor Innleac Multimedia said in their end of year report that the Neo would be launching in the first part of the new financial year.
After the story broke Innelac put out a contradictory statement – saying that they have no “official information about the launch of a 4K Neo”. I wonder if there’s a trick of phrasing there, in the use of the word “official”. Is there perhaps a disgruntled employee over at Sony feeding them info? I’ll fetch my tinfoil hat.
They also stated that that the Nintendo NX will be launching in March 2017, which is actually in line with info gleaned from Nintendo’s own previous reports.
Titanfall 2 coming in time for Christmas
More news courtesy of earnings reports, with publishing giant EA allowing info to leak of a Titanfall 2 holiday season release date.
Originally slated for an early 2017 release, the sequel to Respawn’s fantastic mech FPS will now be coming in the third fiscal quarter, which puts it somewhere between October and December. It’ll be the first time PS4 owners get a chance at this awesome IP as well, since the game will be shedding its Microsoft exclusivity and launching on Xbox One, PC and PS4.
With Battlefield 1 landing October 21 and the new Call of Duty on November 4th, timing will be key here for EA. No doubt they’ll be spacing the game a decent distance from Battlefield 1 since they publish that too, and wouldn’t want to compete with it.
Where it gets interesting is how they handle Call of Duty – will they hold off for a December release to avoid going head-to-head with the FPS giant or will EA be looking to launch a second attack against the year’s biggest release?
Personally I can’t wait, I absolutely loved the original Titanfall. It’s a game which I feel was underrated and underappreciated, and I hope the sequel will get the IP the recognition it deserves.
EA chimes in on console upgrades
In an earnings call this week EA CFO Blake Jorgensen was asked for his opinion on the rumours of the new improved PS4 and Xbox One.
Jorgensen was cagey, saying, “In terms of any mid-cycle upgrades, I can’t predict.” He did, however, highlight what he believes in a key issue for consoles today.
“What I can tell you is what we’ve heard publicly from the console makers: they are realizing the compatibility issue across consoles is an important consumer issue.”
Xbox One has the advantage here, but Jorgensen believes that compatibility across consoles will eliminate a lot of the issues with mid-cycle upgrades. “That’s going to be an important part of what a mid-cycle [hardware upgrade] might look like if there is one,” Jorgensen said. “It removes a lot of the risk associated with what we’ve seen historically with console cycles.”
As for EA themselves, they don’t really care either way. “Our business model is so much more diverse now than it has been historically that the notion of a console cycle becomes somewhat irrelevant in our ability to generate strong earnings and cash flow.
“So we’ll all be interested to see where Microsoft and Sony come out if they do something at E3 or sometime in the year to come. We’re excited about the continued growth in the business and not afraid of a cycle change if that was to occur.”
I think Jorgensen may be missing the point here a little. Sure playing older games is an important issue, but the outcry over the mid-cycle upgrades is how well the latest and greatest games will be playing on people’s now inferior PS4s.
Highlighting how it doesn’t affect your own profit margins doesn’t really help things either, and once again EA comes across as being out of touch with their consumers.
Civilization VI brings big changes
Civilization VI is currently in development at studio Firaxis, and the devs are planning on making this edition of the game better and more replayable than ever.
Whereas before a player’s palace, buildings, wonders and troops were all on a single hexagon, Civ VI now spreads out your settlement into different districts on multiple tiles.
The advantage to this is that each city will be more specialised than before, and players can make use of different terrains and more varied resources. According to game director Ed Beech, their goal is to “stop players from falling into patterns”. “We want players to build their empires differently every time.”
This changes up the combat as well. As Beech explains, “You can do bombing raids on key industrial districts.” The specialisation aspect means that specific means of production can be targeted, instead of hitting the metropolis as a whole.
Beech sums up what they’re doing nicely, saying, “We’re adding these levels of distinction to the way you settle the world. Each time you settle your first city, start producing food, gold, culture, science, and everything vital to growth, we want it to feel different. We want you to consider your military differently. We want to encourage new approaches. We want it to feel like a new experience each time.”
I’m not a huge Civ player myself, so I’d be interested to hear what fans of the franchise think of these changes – share your thoughts in the comments.
Banner Saga 2 has gotten a launch date – 26 July. Here’s a new trailer showing some gameplay interspersed with quotes about how great it is.
Monster Hunter, the smash hit Nintendo 3DS franchise, will be getting a new entry come 15th July. Check out this trailer for Monster Hunter Generations.
Somebody remade the Battlefield 1 trailer in GTA V. Of course they did.
Total War: Warhammer gets a new video, and it’s awesome. Because you kill people with magic.
Best of NAG
Local is lekker this week, as Tarryn has a look at an interesting SA indie, System Crash.
Then I take a look at this year’s Battlefield v Call of Duty bout, and discuss the past and what the future may hold.
Next up is Matt Fick’s weekly mobile review, this time taking Marvel Avengers Academy for a spin.
Finally, Wes Fick has a look at Nvidia’s new Pascal hardware, and what it means for gamers.