Today we’ve got more news from E3, including the latest on Marvel’s Avengers, Psychonauts 2, and there’s word on a Final Fantasy VIII Remaster!
Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?
Which one of these major publishers did NOT appear at the first E3 in 1995?
The answer will be given at the end of this issue!
Planet Zoo gets a new trailer, release date and pre-launch beta
Frontier Developments (Planet Coaster) has announced that Planet Zoo will release on PC (Steam) on November 5th 2019, offering standard (£34.99/€44.99/$44.99 USD) and deluxe (£42.99/€54.99/$54.99 USD) editions of the game. The deluxe edition will include exclusive beta access, a set of wallpapers, three unique animals and an original soundtrack. The release announcement was accompanied by a new trailer, which gives us good insight into the animals we can expect to see in the game.
E3, the biggest show on the gaming calendar, has been running every year since 1995
It seems incredible that E3 has been around since the SNES and Genesis/Mega Drive era, but then again it’s such an institution we can’t actually imagine a time when it hasn’t been around, either. The latest E3 show is taking place right now in Los Angeles, and we are massively excited to see what will be revealed.
For the last 24 years, the Electronic Entertainment Expo has played host to all manner of crazy announcements, spectacular shows, celebrity appearances and world-firsts. The first E3 was a more modest affair, however: Originally, the expo was intended as a trade show where new games, consoles and peripherals were demonstrated specifically for retailers, not consumers or even press.
The established trade shows such as the Consumers Electronics Show (CES) and European Trade Show weren’t serving the needs of the growing industry: CES in particular never treated videogames with much respect, and the show at Chicago in 1995 was cancelled thanks to the immediate popularity of E3.
The big three console manufacturers at the time — Nintendo, SEGA, and Sony — all attended E3 1995. SEGA showed off Panzer Dragoon and Virtua Fighter, Sony presented Ridge Racer and Twisted Metal, and Nintendo unveiled Earthbound and Killer Instinct. Atari and their upcoming Jaguar 64-bit system made a big showing, trying to steal their competitors’ thunder with a total of 24 games – more than the big three’s own line-up combined.
This year, E3 will start on June 11th, and the only two publishers from the original 1995 attendees to show up are Nintendo and Electronic Arts. This will be the first E3 since 1995 that Sony hasn’t attended.
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Psychonauts 2 will “support every platform and storefront” promised in crowdfunding campaign
Psychonauts 2, the sequel to Double Fine’s classic action/adventure, was crowdfunded in 2016 with the promise to release on multiple digital storefronts – including Windows PC via Steam, GOG, and Humble.
However, after the spectacular collapse of publisher Starbreeze, as well as several other crowdfunded games choosing to go exclusive with Epic Games Store, some backers were concerned that Psychonauts 2 could go the same route. Then DoubleFine was acquired by Microsoft, who has also been bolstering their own exclusive store lineup.
It’s a no-brainer
Payday 2 developer Starbreeze planned to publish Psychonauts 2, but it suffered severe financial difficulties, partially down to the failure of Overkill’s The Walking Dead. At its E3 conference Microsoft announced it has bought developer Double Fine and will publish Psychonauts 2.
A number of other crowdfunded projects – including Phoenix Point, Shenmue 3 and The Outer Wilds – have become exclusive to Epic Game Store, despite promising Steam or GOG keys during their campaigns. Epic helps give those developers financial security to develop the games, but backers weren’t happy – and many Psychonauts 2-backers feared the same would occur. Now the Microsoft buy-out raises questions of whether PS4 owners will get the game as promised.
We asked Double Fine about these concerns, and the team replied, “we are still planning to support every platform and storefront that we announced at the start of this campaign.” Which is good news to all backers of Psychonauts 2!
Marvel’s Avengers additional content will be free and will not feature loot boxes
Marvel’s Avengers was finally unveiled at Square Enix’s E3 conference yesterday. Featuring a “completely original story.”
Crystal Dynamics and Eidos-Montréal are keen to establish a universe that will keep new Marvel content coming. While we are yet to see any proper gameplay footage, we do know that the characters will not look like their MCU counterparts. The trailer depicts a cataclysmic battle taking place in San Francisco — one that the Avengers are later blamed for, causing them to disband. “Five years later, with all Super Heroes outlawed and the world in peril, the only hope is to reassemble Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”
Players take control of the five Avengers: Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Iron-Man. The game can be played with up to four players cooperatively online, and you always have the option of playing it solo alongside three AI companions. If we had to guess how the game actually plays judging by the trailer, it would appear that the Captain America and Black Widow sections play like traditional action games. There’s also a flying section with Iron-Man and Thor that looks a lot like an on-rails shooter.
Hawkeye appears to be absent
The most surprising announcement of the night was that Marvel’s Avengers will be a live service game, featuring scheduled content updates across several years. The post-launch content includes new heroes to play as, all of which will be completely free. As for who we can expect to see, Hank Pym (Ant Man) was featured at the end of the conference, so that should give fans an idea of what’s to come. It would appear Sony has paid for some exclusivity rights, giving their players access to unique content. Right now, the only exclusive perk confirmed for PlayStation 4 owners is entry to a future beta phase.
Crystal Dynamics also talked about how their game takes place in an “ever-expanding universe.”, possibly hinting at a tie in with Marvel’s Spider-Man (developed by Insomniac Games). During the conference, the developers were quick to mention that there won’t be any loot box or pay-to-win monetization. Whether that means the game won’t feature micro-transactions at all remains to be seen, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Marvel’s Avengers will release on May 15th 2020 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia and Windows PC. PS4 players who pre-order the game will also have the opportunity to participate in a beta.
Play as anyone in a future dystopian London – Watch Dogs: Legion officially announced
In the newest installment in the Watch Dogs franchise, you’ll play as a member of a resistance group called DeadSec, struggling against Albion — an organisation that has stationed riot drones across a dystopic London. Unlike the two previous games in the series, Watch Dogs: Legion ditches the idea of having a fixed main character, allowing you to play as any regular citizen roaming the streets.
Set in a post-Brexit London, Watch Dogs: Legion enables you to play as anyone. Yes, literally anyone – every character in the game can be recruited. Each character has their own unique backstory and personality which also affects their skillset. This ‘play as anyone system’ assigns traits to characters based off their backstory, for example, IT specialists may be better at working with drones and Ex-Spies will know their way around a pistol.
Explore an open-world London
One of the biggest criticisms facing Watch Dogs: Legion is the idea that things will get repetitive very quickly unless the recruitable citizens are strongly differentiated, with distinct voices and appearances. Fortunately, the developers have tried to limit the amount of times you hear the same type of dialogue by recording twenty people, each with their own unique lines in an attempt to avoid this issue entirely.
Legion will also debut a brand-new melee combat system in which players’ approach to combat will have real consequences. There will even be Permadeath, meaning that if you get your characters into sticky situations, you can lose them forever. From what we can tell, surrendering and getting arrested will keep your character alive, giving you the chance to continue your mission, whereas resisting and engaging in combat will put your character in grave danger.
Watch Dogs: Legion is scheduled to launch on March 6th 2020 for PC, Xbox One, Stadia and PlayStation 4.
Final Fantasy VIII Remaster heads to modern consoles this year
Final Fantasy VIII fans will finally be getting a remastered version of the game on modern consoles, as revealed at Square Enix’s E3 conference yesterday. This remaster fills a gaping void in the selection of modern 3D Final Fantasy games available on current platforms, now joining remasters of Final Fantasy 7, 9, 10, 10-2 and 12. It has been rumoured that the delay for the remaster was due to the studio having lost Final Fantasy VIII’s original source code, although that has not been officially confirmed.
Originally released in 1999, Final Fantasy VIII focuses on a group of students at a military academy who find themselves dragged into a conflict with a sorceress from the future who is scheming to compress time. Final Fantasy VIII was previously ported to PC and has been available on Steam for years, however, this was a pretty straight port of the PlayStation version with a few tweaks.
It’s not a remake, but FF8’s remaster implements noticeable graphical upgrades
An exact release date has not yet been revealed but the remaster is scheduled to release in 2019. While this is only a remaster, and not a remake like Final Fantasy VII, a number of fans still seem to be quite content with the changes made. Most notably, character’s facial textures appear to be looking much cleaner.
Square Enix has announced that Final Fantasy VIII will be releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC later this year.
Kalypso Media reveals Commandos 2 HD & Praetorians HD Remasters
Kalypso Media have announced that they are releasing remastered versions of Pyro Studios’ most iconic strategy games: Commandos 2 and Praetorians. These titles have been remastered with updated graphics and enhanced controls to suit each platform. Both of these games will be available on PC as well as both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 by the end of 2019. Commandos 2 will also be launching on the Nintendo Switch, Mac, Linux, iPad and Android tablets. The pricing for both of these games has yet to be revealed.
ZeniMax’s legal team shuts down Doom Remake 4
The Doom modding community was dealt a large blow by ZeniMax’s legal team yesterday when ‘vasyan777’, creator of the Doom Remake 4 mod, was sent a cease and desist letter for unauthorized use of ZeniMax Media Intellectual Property. As a result, the mod was pulled from the Internet, only to be put back up a day later. The legal issue was that the mod could be used without purchasing the original game, but this was quickly changed to avoid any problems. Doom Remake 4 attempts to recreate the original game using high resolution textures, 3D models instead of sprites, a new HUD and mods that increase the amount of gore in the game.
Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?
Which one of these major publishers did NOT appear at the first E3 in 1995?
There were around 15 major publishers and console makers at the first-ever E3, including all the heavy hitters such as SEGA, Sony, Nintendo, and, er, Williams Electronics. (No joke — they used to be a heavyweight, with big names like the SNES versions of Doom and Mortal Kombat 3!)
Other exhibitors ranged from huge publishers like Electronic Arts, Activision, Capcom, and even SNK all the way to developers like Crystal Dynamics or Cyberdreams (showing seminal and hilariously titled horror game I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, before going hella bust). But despite a heavy Japanese publisher presence, Konami did not show up for the first E3! After the catastrophe they would later cause, we wish they’d stayed away…
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