#130: Early critic impressions of The Witcher suggest 'Good Times'

TODAY: Galactic Cafe knows what we want before we want it, even if we don't want it — Could Gigantamax Ryo have stood a chance against Sword & Shield? — Google poaches Ubisoft devs for first-party studio

Top Story

Witcher fans are in for ‘good times’

It's not ready for prime-time just yet, but some critics have already binged on Netflix's new Witcher series. The reviews are under embargo until December 20th, but not everyone has managed to keep completely quiet. Fortunately, the first impressions seem quite positive!

The show is based on Andrzej Sapkowski's books and have nothing to do with CD Projekt RED's interpretation of the Witcher universe – although the show does seem to take some visual cues from the game. For example, Henry Cavil's Geralt looks a lot like the White Wolf we know and love from the games.

There's a megathread collecting various opinions on Reddit, collecting various more or less eloquent but undeniably excited outbursts, such as “Embargo sucks but this show shure won't. And @LHissrich didn't lie saying that Henry IS Geralt.”

Will Geralt have the Griffin trophy for an extra 10% dismemberment chance?

“The fight choreography is insane. First fight Geralt gets into is beautifully savage. The blend of swordplay and Geralt’s signs is perfection #TheWitcher” tweeted another. Brutal fights and a ruggedly handsome Witcher seems to have awakened the thirst, but us mere consumers will have to wait until The Witcher debuts on December 20th.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What was the name of the cancelled MMO project that spawned Overwatch?

  • Titan
  • Massive Attack
  • StarCraft Ghost
  • Shadowlands

The answer will be revealed in tomorrow's issue of DailyBits. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be!

News Bits

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe delayed until next year

A remastered version of The Stanley Parable was supposed to be out this year, but fans have begged for a delay, and in their magnanimity developer Galactic Cafe has decided to grant their request. Don't believe us?

Here, a video of everyone's favorite narrator answering our pleas. The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe will feature all-new content and endings, and will arrive on PC and consoles next year. When? “Probably before summer”. Probably is good enough for us!

Creative Assembly offers elf and rat

Creative Assembly is adding a bunch of new stuff to their much-loved Total War: Warhammer 2, including powerful new elf and skaven characters. Call upon Tz’arkan, the Drinker of Worlds, or counter his daemonic presence with elite skaven assassin Deathmaster Snikch. The Shadow & The Blade will launch on December 12th.

Daily Fact

Rare’s Blast Corps didn’t just go out on a limb, it cost one too

The Nintendo 64 represented something of a golden age for Rare, as they kept pumping out quality games throughout the console's lifespan. Everyone remembers GoldenEye 007, but Blast Corps was arguably the game that started their winning streak.

Created by a team varying between 4 and 7 members – most of whom were fresh-faced graduates in their first job – Blast Corps was envisioned as a demolition game by Rare co-founder Chris Stamper, and featured a very novel time limit mechanic: A nuclear missile carrier.

Much of the game's vehicle concepts were conceived without a lot of thought going into their mechanics or even the limitations of the target platform, so they generally needed a lot of nipping and tucking to become playable.

The Thunderfist vehicle caused a particular headache since it kept interfering with the polygon count target, but no-one really wanted to modify the design. The solution was simple, yet brutal: Cut off one of its arms, and ta-da! Right on budget!

Come and join the rest of the community and discuss today's fact on Twitter and Facebook.

Daily News

Japanese and UK launch sales disappoint for Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 went from dream to reality thanks to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $6.3 million from almost 70,000 backers. Unfortunately, Shenmue 3's retail release hasn't mustered quite the same level of enthusiasm.

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The game sold only 18,000 copies in Japan durings its first week, crushed by the double whammy of Nintendo's Pokémon Sword & Shield. Shenmue 3 did manage to become the week's best-selling PlayStation 4 game, but that's not much of a consolation when Sword & Shield sold over 382,000 units in the same period.

Of course, no-one really expected Shenmue 3 to beat a juggernaut like Pokémon, but it's still disappointing and doesn't bode terribly well for the remaining half of Ryo's story. Fans have hoped the series would be able to continue in stride without further crowdfunding, but judging by its performance in the UK, Yu Suzuki and his team will need all the help they can get: Shenmue 3 didn't even crack the top 10.

Shenmue is credited as popularising ‘quick time events’ in games

Shenmue 3 debuted at number 17 in the UK chart, and only managed to sell half of what the Shenmue remasters did, even though this was a multiplatform release. Of course, it was exclusive to PlayStation 4 on the console side, and exclusive to the Epic Game Store on PC, which probably didn't help sales. Of course, the game had about 70,000 pre-orders thanks to Kickstarter but so far Shenmue 3 is a bit of a sleeper.

Google nab three senior Ubisoft devs for Stadia exclusive games

Despite a somewhat lukewarm reception, Google is not showing any signs of giving up on Stadia, and has just snagged three former Ubisoft developers to lead a development studio producing exclusive content for Stadia.

They already hired Jade Raymond earlier this year, so seeing more Ubisoft people make the move is hardly surprising. She was a leading figure in the development of the Assassin's Creed franchise, and the new hires – Sébastien Puel, Francois Pelland and Mathieu Leduc – all had senior roles on Assassin's Creed games.

Puel will be general director of a brand-new first-party development studio, Francois Pelland will be head of production for Stadia's first-party development strategy, while Leduc will be Stadia's art director. In short, it seems like Google will finally build some exclusive content for their platform. Better late than never!

Too little, too late?

Still, a first-party game development strategy isn't the only thing Google needs to succeed at to make Stadia a credible competitor to the big-three consoles: There is an ever-growing number of complaints about latency problems, low framerates, overheating Chromecasts and missing features.

News Bits

ESEA, ESL and FACEIT ban new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skins

After two years without any new operations, Valve has just launched Operation Shattered Web and introduced a number of new features. Unfortunately, the new character models have caused a bit of a stir, as players from the competitive community has been complaining about visibility issues.

So far Valve has ignored demands for a console command that disables the new character models, leading tournament organisers to outright ban teams from using them. If you think this is just about whiny pros resistant to change, there are some rather persuasive videos out there showing exactly how effective the camouflage can be in the right circumstances.

Fissure fined $3,000 for leaking new Overwatch competitive format

South Korean Overwatch pro Chan-hyung "Fissure" Baek has been fined $3,000 after he leaked the upcoming announcement that competitive Overwatch would be moving to a 2-2-2 role lock system. Fissure retired from the Overwatch League in June 2019, but he was fully aware of Blizzard's plans to change the format.

There have been rumours about the 2-2-2 role lock change for months, but nothing had been confirmed until Fissure broke the news on his stream. Since Fissure was not playing for any Overwatch League team at the time, Blizzard was unable to sanction him until the Vancouver Titans signed Fissure on November 26th. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can keep track of how and when Blizzard lets the hammer drop on Overwatch League players on their very own discipline tracker.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive could have had a The International of its own

Speaking on The Tasteless Podcast, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro Jason "Moses" O'Toole has commented on Valve's attempt to introduce a The International-style event for the game. Toole said that “Pretty much unanimously the pros and people involved in CS Esports said no" to a Dota 2-style tournament, and mused that "who knows? That could have been a mistake...”

Of course, very few people would have guessed that The International would turn into such a gigantic event, or that the prize pool could reach $34 million like it did this year. In any case, both Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have thriving esports scenes, despite their very different structures.

Final PMCO participants qualified

The Playerunknown's Battlegrounds Mobile Club Open fall split preliminaries just finished this week, with Mega Esports placing first, Bigetron RA in second place and Orange Esports coming third. The three teams will go to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the global finals, which will take place this weekend from November 29th until December 1st. 16 squads will compete for a $500,000 prize pool.

News Bits

Gigantamax Snorlax unveiled in new Pokémon Sword and Shield update

Snorlax is already pretty big, so how humongous is a Gigantamax Snorlax? Big enough to have a little forest growing on his belly, according to a new Pokémon Sword & Shield teaser from the official Pokémon YouTube channel. Butterfree, Corviknight and Drednaw will all have Gigantamax events running until January next year, while Gigantamax Snorlax will be available in Max Raid Battles starting December 4th.

First four Five Nights at Freddy’s games hit consoles November 29th

Get ready for the worst night watch gig of your life! All four Five Nights at Freddy's games will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch this week and will be available on their respective digital distribution services. Get ready to be terrified by animal-themed fast-food restaurants featuring animatronic mascots, if you weren't already.

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Yesterday's Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which Mario character has made an appearance in all of the Mario Party games except one?

Answer: Wario!

Here's the answer from yesterday's quiz – big thanks to everyone who sent in answers on Facebook and Twitter!

Love them or hate them, Nintendo have made over 15 games in the Mario Party series, which features pretty much every major character from the Mushroom Kingdom – including Mario's evil doppelganger.

However, Mario's greedy arch-rival hasn't featured in every single one of the games: He was notably absent from Mario Party Advance on the Game Boy Advance!

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