Where does the time go, folks? Another week has passed and that means there are more gaming headlines to talk about. Its been a reasonably quiet week but there are still a few things worth going over, including one sad news item.
As for me, I’ve been thinking of catching up on some games I didn’t get to review when they first came out. Specifically, Atomic Heart, Hi-fi Rush and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. That’ll depend on whether anything else arrives to review, of course.
And did you check out my review of the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro? Because you should. It’s awesome.
So no more chit-chat, lets get on with this.
Lance Reddick of Horizon and Destiny Passes Away, Age 60
We kick of this week’s headlines with the sad news that acting great Lance Reddick passed away at his home. He was just 60 years old. No official statement has been made in regard to the cause, but police are apparently treating it as natural.
In the gaming world, Reddick was known for multiple roles. He embodied Sylens in Horizon: Zero Dawn and Horizon: Forbidden West. In Destiny 2, he was Commander Zavala, reprising the role from the first game. He was also featured in Quantum Dream, John Wick Hex and others. He also appeared to enjoy games himself, with eagle-eyed fans noting that his Destiny 2 account was active the night before he passed away
Both Bungie and Guerilla have released statements regarding Reddick’s unfortunate passing, with Bungie saying: “Lance Reddick was an iconic presence on screen, in Destiny, and most importantly, in person. His love for our community shined through in Commander Zabala in his uncompromising dedication to his craft, and out of the radiating kindness that touched those around him. To say he will be missed is a profound understatement, yet no less true.”
Guerilla’s statement reads, “Thank you, Lance Reddick, for everything you’ve brought to the character of Sylens, for sharing y our infinite talent and wisdom with us, for your generous warmth and inimitable presence, and for your profound impact not just as part of our cast, but on our community. We were deeply honored to work with you. You will be missed. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.”
Both companies will have to decide whether to recast Reddick’s characters in future games or write the characters out of their respective titles. Whatever they choose, his absence will leave massive holes.
Reddick’s film career was varied and impressive. He’ll appear John Wick 4, once again taking on the role of Charon, the impeccably mannered concierge of the Continental Hotel, which will presumably be his final appearance on screen. He’s also acted in other videogame-related media like the recent Resident Evil and Castlevania. His IMDB page is an extensive body of work dating back to 1996, and I think we can all agree that his death has made the world a little bit worse.
Rest in peace, Mr. Reddick.
Absolute Mad Lad Buys Every Wii U And 3DS Game in the Name of Preservation
On March 27th it will be the end of an era as Nintendo will remove the ability to buy games on either the Wii U or 3DS eShops. According to an analysis by the folk over at VGC, this will result in up to 1,000 games essentially vanishing. While anybody who already owns the games will still be able to redownload at will, nobody else will be able to access them except for physical copies. However, since many games were only available digitally, they’ll sadly vanish.
Youtube Jirard ‘The Completionist’ Khalil didn’t want to see any of the massive libraries of games disappear into the long night, which is why he went and bought them all. According to Jirard, that equated to 866 Wii U games and 1547 3DS, weighing in at 1.2 TB of Wii U games and 267 GBs for the DS titles. The total price of this year-long venture? $22,791/£18,715. Jirard states that nobody was willing to sponsor the project directly, so instead, they funded the whole operation indirectly through other sponsorships over the year.
His plan is to donate the whole lot to the Video game History Foundation, a non-profit with the aim of preserving the history of video games.
The process proved a little tricky, mind you. The team needed to get eShop cards. A lot of eShop cards. 464 of them, to be exact. It didn’t help that Gamestop policy prohibits more than $200 of eShop cards from being sold in a single transaction. On top of that, the digital wallet on Wii U and 3DS will only allow a maximum of $250 so a lot of time was spent buying games, then funding the wallet, then buying games, then funding the wallet and so on and so on and so on. And then, to top it off, the team discovered that after a few thousand dollars of gift cards, the system would lock them out for 24 hours.
Oh, and there were technical limitations. Download speeds on both machines are pretty slow, and it turns out that even with external storage the Wii U and 3DS can only actually hold 300 games. Why? Because that’s the maximum amount of icons it can display. The solution to that was to stack multiple SD cards and hard drives, but even that came with issues because the 3DS can only download to its internal memory, meaning the team would have to buy a bunch of games, go into the settings, copy each game over individually and then go back and delete the game off of the internal memory.
He breaks down the whole process in a 20-minute video that’s well worth watching. But in short, the whole process ended up being time-consuming and dull, yet the team pushed through and managed to buy every single game and add-on available on the marketplaces. I cannot say enough good things about this awesome dedication to preserving these games and hope that Nintendo has the decency to acknowledge everyone involved.
Naughty Dog has Chosen its Next Project
Sony-owned developer Naughty Dog has confirmed that it has chosen its next project, sparking people to wonder if it might be The Last of Us Part Part 3.
Speaking on the Kinda Funny Podcast, Neil Druckmann said, “I know the fans really want The Last Of Us Part 3, I hear about it all the time. All I can say is that we’re already into our next project, and the decision has already been made. I can’t say what it is, but that is the process we went through. There was a lot of consideration of different things, and we picked the thing we were the most excited for.”
He also added, “At the end of every project we purposefully explore several different projects. Some of them might be a sequel, and then a bunch of new ideas. And then we feel like, ‘Where do our passions lie?’”
Naughty Dog’s next release will be a The Last of Us multiplayer game later this year, widely believed to be a sequel of sorts of The Last of Us’ Factions mode. However, recent information has also potentially hinted at the game feauturing some sort of co-op campaign. During a Buzzfeed interview focusing on The Last of Us TV show, Druckmann mentioned that, “We’ve been pretty open that the next Last of Us game is going to be this multiplayer experience, where you’ll be able to enter the world of The Last of Us with your friend and get to experience the tension and the brutality of that world”
His choice of wording seems to indicate a co-op experience rather than something featuring a lot more players. In the same interview he also addressed questions about a third game in The Last of Us series: “with The Last of Us, it’s up to us whether we want to continue it or not. Our process is the same thing we did when we did Part 2, which is if we can come up with a compelling story that has this universal message and statement about love — just like the first and second game did — then we will tell that story. If we can’t come up with something, we have a very strong ending with Part 2 and that will be the end.”
It’s nice to see Naughty Dog state that they aren’t pushed to make a sequel regardless of how successful the prior games were. According to them, Sony’s funding and belief in the studio mean they get to choose exactly what they want to work on.
Personally, I’d like to see Naughty Dog shift gears again and do something light and breezy like they once did. The Last of Us (review) was a dark tale with rays of light, whereas The Last of Us Part 2 (review) was a non-stop descent into a pit of sadness and misery. While Naught Dog have stated they aren’t planning on returning to their Uncharted franchise, they absolutely could bust out a new IP that leaves the doom and gloom behind for a while.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was an Experiment for Episodic Gaming
Nine years ago the slightly barmy Hideo Kojima launched Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, a standalone prologue of sorts to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Ground Zeroes took place entirely in Camp Omega and did a decent job of introducing the world to Kojima’s new vision for Metal Gear. And what a vision! I mean, did you see those horses pooping? Truly era definining.
Anyway, according to Kojima, Ground Zeroes was more than just an appetitiser before the main meal. Speaking on Twitter, the man with a fondness for extremely long cutscenes and making people play as a postman in the apocolypse had this to say:
“In fact, it was my big intention to launch GZ. The development of a full game takes for 4-5 yrs. Times change during production. So I thought of offering an episodic format, like a streamed drama, where one episode is produced and distributed. GZ was meant to be an experiment”
What Kojima doesn’t delve into is whether he thought the experiment was successful. Just a month after Ground Zeroes launched, Konami announced it had sold a million copies. Sales data for the Steam version was never provided but they did comment that its performance was “solid.” To my mind, that seems quite successful so it’s hard to tell why the episodic concept wasn’t used again.
That question probably won’t get answered, so I guess we should all get back to hoping that Konami and Kojima can somehow patch things up and bring us a new Metal Gear Solid.
Xbox Hints at its Mobile Store Launching Next Year
Microsoft has made its plans clear regarding opening some sort of mobile app storefront, and now it looks like we’ve got a hint towards exactly when those plans might come to fruition.
Chatting to the Financial Times (the article is behind a paywall,) the head of Xbox Phil Spencer spoke on the topic of Xbox bringing their app store to the mobile market.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming – those are the kinds of things that we are planning for. I think it’s a huge opportunity.” he said.
The Act he’s referencing was signed into law by the European Parliment in September of 2022 and will come into force in May of this year. There is, of course, a lot of fine detail in the Act, but the general gist is that it aims to identify ‘gatekeepers’ who do not allow other storefronts to be installed on their devices. A prime example would be Apple and Google who do not allow competitor’s storefronts to be installed on their devices. By March, 2024, both companies will have to allow just that.
The far-reaching implications will be fascinating to watch as it could be used to force the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to open up their consoles. Could Microsoft use this to put some form of Game Pass on Playstation? Alas, I’m not a legal expert so I can’t say for sure.
Getting back on topic, though, Spencer added a few more details.
“We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partners across any screen where somebody would want to play,” Spencer said.
“Today, we can’t do that on mobile devices but we want to build towards a world that we think will be coming where those devices are opened up.”
Previously, Microsoft have stated that getting their grubby mitts on King is a large part of the reason they’re attempting to buy Activision Blizzard. While Call of Duty tends to grab the headlines, King’s efforts in the mobile market generates staggering amounts of cash. Last year, King accounted for 33% of Activision Blizzard’s revenue, with Blizzard coming in at just 23% and Activision bringing in 44%.
To put it simply, don’t be surprised if Microsoft launch some sort of storefront in March, 2024.