13 March, 2016

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016

Hey, it’s been a little while! A profoundly silent week on our behalf, thanks to a terribly weighty workload. Videogames though, they’re a different story, they just kept on rolling, even when stopping might have been advisable.

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 banner

The Gift That Just Keeps Giving

As if last week’s tumultuous half-announcements weren’t enough to chill the hearts of even the platforms most ardent fans, Microsoft kicked this week off by shutting down Press Play, and putting Lionhead Studios into administration – a temporary state before closure, necessitated by British law.

Lionhead was a British developer, co-founded fifteen years ago by the ever-hopeful Peter Molyneux. Molyneux moved on some years ago and is now embroiled his own in the toxic wasteland – also known as Godus. Lionhead’s recent releases were the Fable games, including the now cancelled Fable Legends; a four-versus-one asymmetric multiplayer game that was in development since 2012. Press Play were a Danish studio, who released Kalimba and more recently Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Their in-development title, tentatively named ‘Project Knoxville’ has also been canned.

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 fable legends cancelled

Naturally, Microsoft took no time at all to pivot from, ‘we’ve cut all these jobs because the games wouldn’t sell’, to, ‘we’ve got all these other hot games’. Here’s an extract from the announcement by Hanno Lemke, Xbox Europe’s general manager:
“These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play. 
I speak for all of Xbox when I say that despite this news, we remain committed to the development communities in the UK and Europe, and Xbox will continue to support new IP and originality in the games we offer on our platforms, whether they’re AAA blockbusters like Quantum Break from Remedy, adventurous new IPs like Sea of Thieves from Rare, or unique new creations from independent developers like Moon Studios with Ori.”
But wait, there’s more! Microsoft revealed a ‘Play It First’ competition for Sea of Thieves; the winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the studio, in Leicestershire England, to play the game. All you have to do is look dumb on the internet and drop a reference to Sea of Thieves, competition rules link below.

Gears of War reared its meaty, scaly head once more, when Game Informer revealed it to be their next cover story, linked below. Since then we’ve got several details, such as the identity of the playable characters; JD Fenix (Marcus’ son), Kait (featured in last year’s E3 reveal), and Dell. There was the implication that the campaign was limited to two-player co-op, with player two selecting either Kait or Dell, the choice subtlety changing the narrative.

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 gears of war 4 juvie swarm

The COG, assuming they’re still called that, fight not the Locust but the Swarm, as well as the sky. The pale specimen above is called a ‘Juvie’, though swift they only become a major concern if they pounce en mass. The windflares are a little bit more immediate and deadly, apparently the lighting can kill, the airborne debris can kill, and the corpses left behind will be swept up by the wind – it’s all fun and games until JD takes a Juvie thigh to the face and suffers concussion.

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 gears of war 4 windflare

343 Industries showed off the next map coming to Halo 5: Guardians, this time it’s back to Warzone with ‘Skirmish at Darkstar’. Senior concept artist Josh Kao described the map:
“For Skirmish at Darkstar, the team decided on having a derelict ship in the middle of the map on the mining planet of Meridian - which you can see to the left of the concept. I originally thought about having a space elevator in the concept, but we decided against it because there was already one in the campaign. I also wanted to capture the mood of what a mining planet would feel like, with the sunlight peeking through its heavily polluted atmosphere.”
There’s also a garish Mantis in the hopper, called the ‘Hannibal Mantis’, pictured below.

(Click to enlarge).

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 halo 5 guardians warzone skirmish at darkstar
This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 halo 5 guardians warzone skirmish at darkstar concept artThis Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 halo 5 guardians hannibal mantis

(Via Xbox, Sea of Thieves Official Site, Game Informer, Twinfinite, Halo Waypoint).

Nothing Like Pulling Out A Spent Syringe And Putting Down A Sectoid

XCOM 2 is – to my mind – best when the streets are dark, preferably wet too, and one of my vaguely-punkish operatives takes the business end of an energy machete to an ADVENT skull. The intensity of the punk vibe around the XCOM base is about to double, nay quadruple or yet more, as the game’s first expansion, Anarchy’s Children, will add over 100 ‘exotic’ customisation options.

This Week In Videogames – 13/03/2016 Anarchy’s Children xcom 2

I’m never going to manage to liberate the planet with all that leather-bound midriff on show in the armoury… Anarchy’s Children is $4.99 on its own, and included in the $19.99 Reinforcement Pack, it’s out March 17th.

Lost In The Warp

The next Creative Assembly mammoth slipped its release date – a wonderfully considerate development for me – out of April, to May 24th. Mike Simpson, creative director said this; “This could be the best Total War game we’ve ever made. We don’t want to rush it.”

Alongside this news, the studio release official specifications, linked below, revealing that the game will be their first 64-bit title. Here’s the latest gameplay footage, an overview of the Dwarven campaign:

As eluded to at the top, this last week really was the busiest I’ve been in a good long while, but I hereby pledge to make up for our lack of content over this next week, we’ve certainly  got a lot on the books; wrestling, reviews, videos, and so on. Hopefully we’ll get it all up before the non-videogame concerns press in once more!

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