I welcome you to Zatu Games’ Video Game News Round-Up! We’re going to look back at what you may have missed in January. We'll even see what February has in-store.
We did it, everyone, we finally got through January! I don’t know about you lot but I always find the first month of the year to be a bit of a struggle. I’m not ready to start everything over again. My fresh wall planner (yes, I have a wall planner) looks too clean and daunting. I miss my old planner, with all those weeks scored out and lots of deadlines met. January is a quasi-hibernation for me, it’s like the alarm has just gone off and I’m making my way to the kitchen to make breakfast (read: coffee).
Gaming companies aren’t as slow on the uptake though. They are those annoying, enthusiastic morning people who like full-blown conversations before 9 am. They can’t wait to share what they’ve been up to with us and they want us to be part of the excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited I just can’t show it in my face, voice or general demeanour right now - try again at lunch.
“What has this all this rambling got to do with videogames?” I hear you ask. Well, the answer is “not much”, it’s a long-winded way of me giving you an excuse as to why I didn’t start this brand new feature in January... and why you’re only reading it roughly a week into February - in short, I’m tired, like, all the time and I don’t do January deadlines.
A Challenger Approaches
You’ll notice a distinct lack of Nintendo Switch news here. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nintendo and even got a Switch for Christmas, which I’ve been playing non-stop. But the magnificent (and punctual) James Holden has got all your Nintendo deliciousness covered here and I’m not about to muscle in on his turf.
So, if you’re a PlayStation, Xbox or PC fan then pull up a chair, get the big plate from your bag and prepare to gorge on all the news you can stuff into your beautiful face (or until I hit the max word count)...
I’m currently hyped for: Resident Evil VIII & Mass Effect Trilogy
January saw the return of everyone’s favourite deadly egg - Agent 47 - in IO Entertainment’s outstanding Hitman III. Our own Stephen Clark made it rain praise in his review of the title. Fans of JRPGs with long names rejoiced on January 26th with the release of Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy. Which has also reviewed favourably out there. And Xbox exclusive The Medium by Bloober Team dropped in to give fans of psychological horror a quick fix.
February should have seen the release of Outriders on PC, PlayStation and Xbox, but it has sadly been delayed until April for “extra polish”. It’s not all bad news as developers - People Can Fly - are releasing a demo on the 25th to keep everyone happy. Little Nightmares II is set for release on the 11th and there’s already a demo available to download! And the very next day, on the 12th, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is released on Switch (sorry James, I had to mention it). And those lucky JRPG fans get treated to Persona 5 Strikers at the end of the month!
A New Hope
On January 13th Ubisoft announced that Massive Entertainment, developer of Tom Clancy’s The Division, is working on a new open-world Star Wars game. Which is something to be both excited and worried about - open-world Star Wars game? Yes, yes, yes! Ubisoft and The Division developer making it? Excuse me if I don’t jump and the hype(rspace) train just yet.
The EA-mpire Strikes Back
With Ubisoft’s announcement, Disney will not be extending their 10-year exclusivity deal with EA for AAA Star Wars games. Let’s be honest, EA made many mistakes with the license. Granted Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars: Squadrons were great (the latter received a score of 94% by a rather dashing reviewer on this very website!) but with a universe as diverse and plentiful as Star Wars, EA really dropped the ball.
But that doesn’t mean EA are done, they still have a number of projects in the pipeline. In an earnings call on February 2nd CEO Andrew Wilson said, while referencing Galaxy of Heroes, Battlefront, Jedi: Fallen Order and Squadrons: “As we’ve established the very strong part of that franchise, you should expect that we will continue to invest in those as well as some new experiences across platforms for the future,” Wilson said. “...I don’t think you should imagine that the fact that some other people will build some Star Wars games is going to change our commitment to that IP or our ability to build the appropriate number of games.” So, maybe we’ll get that Fallen Order sequel!
Return of the Jedi
A non-EA studio is reportedly developing a new Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic title. Details and any information of substance are very thin on the ground. But I had to mention it to round out my trilogy of titles!
On January 21st Capcom’s Resident Evil showcase gave us an in-depth look at upcoming Resident Evil Village. Which was announced for release on 7th May 2021. As well as PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X, Village will also be released on the same date for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Capcom confirmed.
PlayStation 5 owners can now play a non-combat demo set in Village’s castle area. This snippet stars a new character named The Maiden trying to escape the area. And has been designed to show off the game’s visuals, atmosphere and environmental detail. A different demo will be available later this spring for all platforms.
Village itself looks impressive - and for anyone who loved Resident Evil 4 way back when it is full of throwbacks to that entry. The action starts in a European village but then moves to a castle area. Each area will likely have a memorable boss character, with the castle ruled over by the tall vampiresque lady.
Village, like most AAA games, has many different editions available to purchase. Alongside the Standard Edition, there’s a Digital Deluxe Edition available on all platforms. This includes Max Difficulty, Safe Room Music, a Mr Everywhere weapon charm, a Save Device tape recorder, an Albert01 gunand a Found Footage RE7 filter. Not forgetting another called The Tragedy of Ethan Winters, who was the protagonist in Resident Evil VII. There’s also a Collector’s Edition which includes the above digital items plus a box of physical goodies.
On top of these, Capcom will sell Resident Evil VII and Village together in a bundle if you haven’t played VII yet. And if you pre-order Village there’s some bonuses - an in-game Mr Raccoon weapon charm and a handful of survival items to help you early on. Digital orders from the PlayStation Store also get a digital soundtrack.
Village wasn’t the only thing on offer during the showcase, Capcom also revealed Re:Verse Resident Evil, a new multiplayer spin-off. An old trailer for upcoming CGI Netflix series Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness was also shown. It’ll star Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield in a fresh story set a couple of years after Resident Evil 4.
Ho, ho, ho it’s Magic
On January 28th IGN announced that there will be an open beta of Magic: Legends on PC starting on March 23rd 2021. The game making it’s official launch on PC, Xbox and PlayStation 4 later in the year.
For the three or four people that haven’t heard, Magic: The Gathering (also referred to as Magic or MtG) is a collectable and digital collectable card game created by Richard Garfield. Released in 1993, Magic was the first trading card game and paved the way for a whole host of addictive titles (you’re welcome Pokemon). Expansions are regularly released to keep the game fresh and our wallets empty.
Magic: Legends will take this universe and turn it into a multiplayer isometric action roleplaying game. It'll be in the same vein as the Diablo or Torchlight games. You create a character by picking a class that has a set of unique abilities. You’ll use these to defeat hordes of monsters to acquire better loot and experience. Which, in turn, you’ll use to level up to make you stronger. All allowing you to fight stronger monsters and get better loot, ad infinitum.
Where Magic: Legends differentiates itself is not just in utilising the almost 30 years of lore and locations from the card game, but in actually making the core of the combat system based on the card game.
A Blizzard is Coming
Later this month, Blizzard will be holding a special digital-only BlizzCon convention. The developer has now shared preliminary details of the activities planned to run over its two-day duration.
This year’s “BlizzConline”, will be an “all-digital community celebration and exhibition of Blizzard games and universes” running from 19th-20th February. It’s a free event and will be available to watch on the BlizzCon website, as well as various streaming platforms, including Twitch and YouTube.
Blizzard says it’ll be “celebrating some fun milestones, shining a spotlight on the epic things the Blizzard community has been up to and sharing the latest Blizzard game news with everyone.”
Proceedings get underway on Friday, 19th February, at 10 pm in the UK/2 pm PST. Including an opening segment that will feature a first look at “some of the latest game content the development teams have been working on”. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for more details on Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 and less stuff about mobile games!
After that, a three-hour-plus schedule of events will begin across six different themed channels, featuring Q&A talks, developer panels, artist demos, and more.
E-Meeting and E-Greeting
Day two will kick off at 8 pm in the UK/12pm PST on Saturday, 20th February. Once again, multiple channels will be broadcasting a range of different activities. This time “shining a spotlight on the global Blizzard community, including the winners and outstanding entries in the Community Showcase contests and exhibitions.”
Blizzard says it’ll be sharing a full schedule of BlizzConline’s events and segments over the coming weeks. Those of you unable to catch the show for any reason will be able to watch for free later via its BlizzConline video archives.
The Blizzard Grows
Speaking of Blizzard - Activision has announced that Vicarious Visions, the studio behind last year’s fantastic Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 remake, is being merged into the Blizzard side of its business.
Vicarious Visions, founded in 1990, has been developing games for three decades and was acquired by Activision in 2005. It’s worked on a huge number of big-name franchises in that time. Highlights including Tony Hawk, Crash Bandicoot, Spider-Man, and Call of Duty.
The newly announced merger will refocus Vicarious Visions’ 200-strong team of employees to become “fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games and initiatives”. The announcement was quickly followed up with a new report that Vicarious Visions is working on the Diablo 2 remake.
Stop! (War)hammer Time!
Creative Assembly has announced Total War: Warhammer 3. The strategy game revolves around the battle with Chaos. It sees a number of new races make their series debut, including Kislev and Cathay. The factions of Chaos are present and correct, so expect to run up against Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Tzeentch.
Here’s the official blurb: “Embarking on a new grand campaign, you will be tasked with saving or exploiting the power of a dying god. Each race offers a unique journey through the Chaos Realm, culminating in an endgame that will determine the fate of the world.”
Expect a launch on Steam and the Epic Games Store at some point in 2021.
Just Doing Some Calibrations
Mass Effect’s back! The Legendary Edition of BioWare’s beloved trilogy launches on 14th May. If the reveal trailer is anything to go by, Shepard’s space adventures have never looked better.
The Mass Effect trilogy’s Legendary Edition includes 4K support and HDR compatibility. Plus 60 FPS on PC and consoles from PS4 Pro/Xbox One Series X. On PC, it adds support for controllers and 21:9 widescreen displays. As expected, all three games and all single-player DLCs are included. There’s no multiplayer mode, no additional story elements, and no version for Nintendo Switch... yet.
That’s a Wrap
So there you have it, the first videogame news round-up, better late than never! Personally, I can’t wait for the Mass Effect Trilogy, I adore the series and even enjoyed Mass Effect: Andromeda. I may even plug in the old consoles and give the originals a run through. But what are you most excited about? Let us know on social media and kick-off if something news-worthy has been missed that you feel should’ve been featured.