Good morning everyone, how are you all on week 49 of our two-week lockdown? Ready for some video game news? Personally, I’ve been enjoying some minor insanity mixed with a mild sense of constant, impending doom. But since the sun has come out and things don’t seem so bleak. Having my two-year-old son hand me my mask before I go to the shops went back to being adorable. Rather than a glimpse at a horrifying future that he will think is normal.
Anyway, onto bigger and brighter things. February has gone, the day of forced romantic gestures went in the blink of an eye. And, more importantly, the day of true love - the love between a human and a pancake - brightened our lives before disappearing until next year. But as Celine Dion once screeched “The heart does go on”, she was obviously talking about pancakes and not some door hungry woman who couldn’t share with Leo.
The month of pancakes was also a busy one for videogames - Blizzard Entertainment held BlizzCon completely online, Sony threw a bunch of announcements at us during State of Play and Nintendo held an extra-long Nintendo Direct and got us all ready to celebrate Zelda’s anniversary. Let’s not forget the announcement of not one but three Pokemon games! Of course, as always, I won’t go into detail about the happenings at Mario HQ as James Holden has got you covered with his monthly Nintendo News... Newstendo? Ninewsdo?... no, Nintendo News.
“Wait a minute! That can’t be all the news, there’s got to be more!” I hear you inexplicably shout at whatever device you’re reading this on. Well, I can’t really hear you, but I do appreciate the passion, the tears were a bit much but hey, you do you. And you’re right there is more, just below where I tell you what games I’m playing, keep reading you’re almost there!
I’m currently hyped for: Mass Effect Legendary Edition
March is relatively quiet on the physical release front and is mainly filled with deluxe editions of older games, including Control, Rainbow Six Siege and the nostalgia-filled Two Point Hospital. Which are all ideal for those who have held off playing until now. The dream-like Balan Wonderworld is out across all platforms on March 21st and is sure to bring back fond memories of NiGHTS in Dreams from back in the day thanks to direction from Yuji Naka and art by Naoto Ohshima, who both worked on the aforementioned title, as well as Sonic Adventures in the 1990s.
In The Bin
In a move that will shock no-one, EA canned production on Anthem 2.0 - the “from the ground-up” rebuild of their 2019 tyre fire of a game - Anthem. Created by Bioware, Anthem was originally pegged as a “Destiny-killer”. It quickly left the spotlight when the title was found to be riddled with bugs and contained an empty open world for those that managed a stable connection. On the bright side, EA has since announced that the next Dragon Age will be a strictly single-player affair. Hopefully, they will allow BioWare to do what they do best in the future.
On The Farm
The charming Stardew Valley has now been updated to version 1.5 on Switch, PlayStation and Xbox. PC players have been enjoying the update since Christmas. Console players can now enjoy split-screen co-op, a new beach-themed farm layout, late-game home renovations, new characters and events, new music, “remixed” game options, and more. There are also new music tracks, furniture items, fish tanks, and, most importantly, ducks can now swim.
On a Quest
The snappily titled NieR: Replicant ver.1.22474487139 - or NieR: Replicant for short - will be making its way to PC, PlayStation and Xbox on 23rd April 2021. A remaster of the original NieR on PlayStation 3 from 2010, it is set before the events of NieR: Automata. It tells the story of a “kind young man” who leaves his village in order to locate the famed Sealed Verses and save his terminally ill sister. NieR: Replicant ver.1.22474487139 aims to improve on the original game with enhanced visuals, re-recorded audio, new dialogue, plus reworked combat that’s a little closer to the system found in NieR: Automata. Haven’t played NieR: Automata yet? Check out our review by Dan Hilton. See if he can persuade you to give it a go - spoiler alert: he bloody loved it.
In The Wars
Much-loved tactical shooter Star Wars Republic Commando is coming to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 on 6th April 2021. Originally released on PC and the original Xbox in 2005. Set during the Clone Wars, it lets you play as a clone trooper and command the rest of your squad alongside you. Developer Aspyr said it has brought Republic Commando back as a single-player only experience with modernised controls. The original game, which is currently available on PC, and Xbox Series X / S and Xbox One via backwards compatibility, has a 16-player multiplayer option.
On The Highwind
Square Enix has announced two new Final Fantasy VII mobile games. I’m not usually one for mobile games. On this rare occasion, I think I can make an exception.. for one of them.
Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier is a battle royale game set in Midgar 30 years before the events of Final Fantasy VII. You play as a SOLDIER candidate and fight for survival. It’s set to be a mix of third-person shooter action and Final Fantasy-style combat. It's due out at some point in 2021 on iOS and Android... yeah, I stopped caring at “battle royale” too.
The second, and much better, mobile game is Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis. It is described as a “chapter-structured” single-player game that covers the whole of the Final Fantasy VII timeline. Even including the events of the original game and the Final Fantasy VII compilation titles. That means it includes Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children, Before Crisis, Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus. This one is due out at some point in 2022 for iOS and Android. Graphically it’ll use the chibi graphics from the original FFVII with a lovely makeover as well as portraits during cutscenes to show which character is talking.
In Another Dimension
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will launch on PlayStation 5 on 11th June 2021. Developer Insomniac describes the game as “a brand-new full-length adventure”. They gave out a lovely official blurb that saves me from using my brain to come up with something! Here it is: “When the evil Dr Nefarious uses a device that can access alternate dimensions to find a galaxy where he always wins, Ratchet and Clank are separated. As they try to reunite, they will meet a new Lombax resistance fighter, explore new and familiar locales (but with new dimensional twists!), and wield a whole new arsenal of out of this world weapons.”
That’s a Wrap
Look at that, a punctual videogame news round-up! I’m still pumped for the Mass Effect Legendary Edition. You can expect me to mention it until it comes out in May. But we want to know what games you’re most excited about! Let us know on social media and, until next time, stay safe and stay well. Take care.