The Gaming Headlines, March 20th – 29th

I’m running late with this weeks quick look at some of the more interesting gaming headlines because I got a little too caught up playing Trials Rising with my best friend. Over the course of a 4 hour spree we delved into the best tracks the community could offer and came to the conclusion that there are some seriously talented folk out there. Some of the levels even included sweeping introductory cutscenes.

Anyway, if you fancy a little extra reading material I highly suggest checking out GameHater’s piece trying to figure out what his favourite game is. The story reminds me of my many attempts to wrangle what my favourite game of all time is, and what criteria such an award might need.

I’ve always struggled to name my favourite game because like my favourite food or my favourite movie, the answer changes hour by hour depending on my mood, the weather, what I’ve been doing and so on. One hour I might say my favourite movie is Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, the next it could be Whiplash or Baby Driver or Jojo Rabbit. Or Scream. Or Shrek 2. Chances are, in the heat of the moment there are heaps of films I can’t even remember because I have the memory of a drunk goldfish.

This week I’ve been playing heaps and heaps of Have a Nice Death, an incredibly stylish rogue-like where you play as literal Death trying to get his company, Death Inc., back in order after a long bout of burnout left him apathetic to the Sorrows running rampant. The controls are ultra-sharp, the combat is fun, the visuals are stunning – I have a lot of good things to say, so keep an eye out for my full review coming soon.

Now, let’s jump into the news.

  1. Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2 Coming in September?
  2. Ubisoft Intend on Using AI to Help Write NPC Dialogue
  3. TMNT Graphic Novel The Last Ronin Is Being Made Into a Game!
  4. Unsurprisingly, The Next-Gen Xbox is in Development
  5. Counter-Strike 2 Announced
  6. Arkane’s Redfall was Going to Come to PS5
  7. The Last of Us PC Port Sucks, According to Steam Reviews

Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2 Coming in September?

It looks like we’ve been blessed with a clue as to when Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2 might be swinging onto our Playstations – September of this year.

The clue comes courtesy of prolific actor Tony Todd who was announced as the voice actor for Venom in 2021. The man is perhaps best known for his role as Candyman, though I tend to associate him to the Final Destination movies. His career is a mind-boggling array of work totalling, as of the time of writing, 231 projects on IMDB, including appearing in the likes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s done videogame work in the past, too, the latest being Dr. Rogers in Back 4 Blood.

Given Todd’s wealth of experience, you might think he’d be a little more familiar with the concept of keeping quiet, though. On Twitter he posted a picture of himself in a motion-capture rig working on the next Spider-Man game. A fan posted that the game couldn’t come quick enough, to which Todd replied, “Looks like September! Massive publicity coming in August. Commercials start dropping in August so I’m told. Hold on to your … and hold breath! Gonna be necessary”.

This seems to tie in with what Insomniac said previously in December of 2022 when they said they were planning on a Fall 2023 launch.

Todd has since deleted the post and has Tweeted out a clearly tongue-in-cheek Tweet stating that it was all just a fever dream. You aren’t fooling us, buddy.

People have begun speculating if Todd actually did have permission to Tweet out a release date, perhaps as some form of low-key marketing while also giving Insomniac a way to delay the game if needed without breaking an “official” release date. However, the likeliest explanation does tend to be the simplest, so it seems Todd probably just Tweeted something in excitement without thinking about it. Todd primarily works in in the movie industry where things tend to be less secretive, so it looks like this have been a genuine mistake.

Either way, it makes sense that Todd has at least some knowledge of a release date. For a big game like this, actors will do press tours and will need to be informed ahead of time when to expect them. That doesn’t mean we can mark September as the sure-fire launch window. And man, I am excited. Marvel’s Spider-Man was the reason I finally made the jump to getting a Playstation because the Web-slinger is my favourite hero. And then Spider-Man: Miles Morales was freaking awesome as well.

Ubisoft Intend on Using AI to Help Write NPC Dialogue

Ubisoft has unveiled its latest plan: Ghostwriter, an AI tool designed to help create new dialogue for NPCs. Unsurprisingly, the announcement was not met with much love, and countless developers have already voiced their opinion that Ubisoft should invest in actual people rather than an AI which will undoubtedly decide to conquer the world. The sentiment is understandable as the rapid rise of things like ChatGPT have people worried that creative jobs could be taken over by AI, especially in companies that love to cut costs.

Ubisoft has responded by attempting to explain what the tool will do and how it will still require actual human input. Speaking at the Game Developers Conference, Ubisoft La Forge researcher Ben Swanson talked about the goals of the new system. Most importantly, he tried to explain that they have no intention of replacing writing teams.


The presentation contained a lot of information, so I’ll try to break it down to the basics. If you’d like more information, check out Game Developer’s article. Ghostwriter’s goal is to help writers in creating NPC ‘barks’ which is to say the random snippets of dialogue you might hear while walking through an open world. Writing dozens and dozen of throwaway lines can be time-consuming, so the idea is that writers can feed Ghostwriter an NPCs motivation, like being attacked by the player or attempting to be funny, and Ghostwriter can spit out lines such as “Please! No more!” and “the only thing worse than a cow patty is a rotten egg.”

He also stated the tool could be used to create variations of phrases such as, “I’m reloading!” in order to free up writers to work on more important story beats.

Swanson went on to say that Ghostwriter was developed by asking their writers what the “pain points” of the job were. Clearly, they replied that creating throwaway lines for NPCs was time-consuming and dull. Swanson also claims the writers were initially apprehensive about using the tool but that they’ve had a great time using it.

My thoughts on this are muddled. I can imagine that spending a large portion of your job coming up with snippets of dialogue that most players won’t even pay attention to might be frustrating. Ghostwriter could free up a lot of time that could be used on the main storyline, important dialogue and so on. And yet there’s the understandable feeling that a tool like Ghostwriter could slowly take over more and more of the job. Sure, it starts at creating variations of a simple sentence, but how long until a company like Ubisoft starts using it to generate entire side-quest plots? And then how long after that until it begins to be used on main story points.

Although to be honest, it might be hard to tell the difference between typical Ubisoft writing and an AI anyway.

TMNT Graphic Novel The Last Ronin Is Being Made Into a Game!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin is not your grandma’s TMNTs. Released in 2020, The Last Ronin takes place in a future version of New York City where only a single turtle is alive. Wearing a black mask and wielding all of the signature weapons of the Teenage Mutant Turtles, he takes on the Foot Clan which was responsible for the deaths of his three brothers and Master Splinter. The identity of the last turtle standing is saved until the very final issue, and I won’t spoil it for you.

The story was met with a lot of love as critics and fans alike praised the darker storytelling, the sharp writing and the lovely art style. I read it and loved it, which is why a new rumour has got me very excited: there’s a video game adaptation in the works.

The news comes via Polygon which held an interview with Doug Rosen, senior vice president for games and emerging media at Paramount Global. Apparently, in the interview, Mr. Rosen said that the upcoming third-person action game based on The Last Ronin is going to draw inspiration from the likes of God of War. Rosen also said that while other characters would be playable through flashbacks, you’d primarily be playing as the lone surviving turtle.

Sadly the project is a few years off from being completed yet, and the developer is not known. Still, I’m pretty hyped by this news. There’s a lot of potential in adapting The Last Ronin, so if the right developer is onboard I think this could wind up being something special.

But until it comes out, I guess I’ll settle for playing the awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Unsurprisingly, The Next-Gen Xbox is in Development

I think it goes without saying that companies like Sony and Microsoft start working on their next console almost as soon as the last one hits the shelves. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting to get some form of confirmation, and that’s exactly what has happened.

The news comes by way of the FTC who are still currently investigating the proposed buy-out of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft, and was spotted by Gamerant. A motion on March 14th signed by the defence counsel seeks to make Microsoft reveal documents pertaining to its next-gen console. The most interesting aspect of this is that the motion actually names the machine, though it has obviously been redacted. The motion states, “RFP6 requests documents related to {REDACTED}, the code-name for Microsoft’s next-generation gaming ecosystem. {REDACTED} is part of Microsoft’s forward-looking strategy for its console, subscription and cloud gaming businesses.”

Like I said, this is not surprising news and many of you will probably go, “well, duh!”. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t stop a little flicker of excitement erupting in my soul at the thought of the next generation of gaming.

Counter-Strike 2 Announced

The mathematically challenged folk over at Valve have announced that Counter-Strike 2 will be launching this Summer as a free upgrade to Counter-Strike. On their official announcement page, Valve describes the sequel as, “the largest technical leap forward in Counter-Strike’s history, ensuring new features and updates for years to come.” Considering Counter-Strike is over a decade old, it’s not exactly saying much to declare this the biggest technical the series has seen.

Realistically, Counter-Strike 2 is more like a big upgrade pack than a sequel as the whole thing is getting shifted to Source Engine 2. Features include full graphical reworks of the maps and environmental effects. The very first feature Valve lists on the page is that smoke will now react to things like bullets and explosions. From my outside perspective, none of these things seem very exciting, but hopefully the various audio tweaks and UI enhancements will have fans frothing at the balaclava.

The bigger change is how the game will handle its tick rate. Basically, the tick rate determines how often the game communicates with the server. CS: GO does this 64 times per second on its official servers, while third-party servers send information twice as much. Counter-Strike 2 is going to introduce a sub-stick system where important information like a gun firing or a grenade being thrown will be instantly communicated. In theory, the result should be a smoother game that feels more responsive.

News of this free upgrade has spiked interest in CS: GO with SteamDB tracking 1,507,212 players on March 25th, beating the game’s prior record by about 100,000. This might have been due to people hoping to get into the Counter-Strike 2 beta by putting in plenty of hours.

Arkane’s Redfall was Going to Come to PS5

A crimson drizzle of previews for Arkhane’s newest game Redfall has fallen from the sky. Opinions on the vampiric open-world Co-op shooter from the team behind such games as Deathloop and Disohonored have ranged far and wide, with some loving it and others unsure.

With all of the previews comes snippets of new information, including the fact that Redfall was indeed going to releasing on the Playstation 5 until Microsoft swooped in and acquired Arkane when they bought Zenimax. Speaking in an interview with IGN France, game director Harvey Smith let it slip that, “We were bought by Microsoft and it was a change with capital C. They arrived and said ‘No PlayStation 5, we’re focusing on Xbox, PC and Game Pass’.”

The news is hardly shocking: you don’t typically spend billions acquiring a bunch of studios without making at least some of those games exclusive to your own hardware. It makes perfect sense from a business perspective. However, it’s hardly a good look for Microsoft who are currently battling to buy Activision-Blizzard while talking about wanting to gamers to be able to choose where they play. Both the US and the UK have concerns over the deal, and while it seems unlikely that Microsoft will make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox and PC, the fact that they quite recently bought a whole company and decreed many of the games it was making to be exclusive to their hardware does not help calm fears.


But there is some good news: Arkane might be looking to remove the game’s online-only requirement. During a deep-dive into Redfall, Eurogamer asked Harvey Smith about the backlash surrounding the game’s need for an online connection. He responded by saying, “We do take it with a lot of empathy. We listen. And we have already started work to address this in the future. We have to do some things like encrypt your save games and do a bunch of UI work to support it. And so we are looking into – I’m not supposed to promise anything – but we’re looking into and working actively toward fixing that in the future.”

As for why the game wants an online connection even when being played solo, Smith told Eurogamer that, “It allows us for telemetry, like – if everybody’s falling off ladders and dying, holy shit that shows up. And so we can go and tweak the ladder code. There are reasons we set out to do that that are not insidious.”

This is a weak explanation, in my opinion. While lots of games collect vast amounts of telemetry, it doesn’t justify needing to have it online all the time. If Arkane ever decide to shut down the servers then Redfall would have become unplayable. A simple answer would be to allow telemetry any time the game is connected to the Internet, while still allowing players to to enjoy Redfall offline, too. Still, it’s good that Arkane are actively looking to remedy the situation, although I don’t think it will be at the top of their to-do list this close to Redfall launching.

The Last of Us PC Port Sucks, According to Steam Reviews

Sony’s continued efforts to port some of their vast catalogue of games to PC have crashed straight into a wall, as the PC port of The Last of Us is plagued by problems.

It currently sits at a ‘Mostly Negative’ over on Steam with 2,221 reviews at the time of writing. Iron Galaxy are the developers, a company with a long history of working on ports of varying success. They did the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, for example, as well as the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane trilogy. They also did the recent port of the Uncharted games to PC. But they were also responsible for the incredibly bad Batman: Arkham Knight PC port which was actually removed from sale until it was finally fixed. Well, somewhat fixed.

Performance woes are the most common complaint with many people reporting that they are struggling to find settings that deliver a stable framerate, even with top-of-the-line hardware. On top of that, many people are stating that the game crashes constantly, has slow load times even on an SSD, has stuttering issues and loads more. Some people can’t even play the game thanks to issues with the shaders loading upon launching the game for the first time.

This has to be a major blow for Sony. Right now The Last of Us is seeing a huge surge on popularity thanks to the TV series, with both the PS4 remaster (which I reviewed) and the recent remaster seeing sales boosts of 322% and and 238% respectively. Doubtless Sony would have been hoping to tap a whole new audience on PC, so to see one of their most famous properties crash and burn must be disappointing.

Hopefully, Iron Galaxy can patch the port up and recover some of their credibility. They were quick to address concerns with the Uncharted port, after all


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