Politics, Zombies, Valentine’s Day…

TODAY: Celebrate Valentine’s Day with the games you love — Shoot Zombie Hitler in the balls in Zombie Army 4: Dead War — Can VR therapy help you conquer your fears?

D.I.C.E. Summit

Tim Sweeney decries the use of divisive politics in games marketing

Tim Sweeney thinks any political message in a videogame should be an expression “from the heart of creatives” rather than a marketing strategy.

“If a game tackles politics, as To Kill a Mockingbird did as a novel, it should come from the heart of creatives and not from marketing departments seeking to capitalize on division,” said Sweeney, in order to clarify reports of his recent keynote at the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas.

The Ubisoft approach: While series like Far Cry and Tom Clancy’s The Division feature political themes – although mostly quite extreme and unnuanced ones – the publisher and the studios tend to play it safe and stay on neutral ground when actually handling the subjects.

“And when a company operates an ecosystem where users and creators can express themselves, they should should [sic] be a neutral moderator,” he added. “Else the potential for undue influence from within or without is far too high.”

His keynote at D.I.C.E. this week compared the importance of stopping game marketing from playing politics to the separation of church and state.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What year did Geoff Keighley first host The Game Awards?

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

Daily Fact

Mario Golf: World Tour rewards the slightly patient with villainy

Camelot Software Planning’s 2014 Mario Golf: World Tour for Nintendo 3DS features a wide variety of Mario heroes and villains teeing off on the green and the game’s intro shows all your favorite Mushroom Kingdom heroes getting into the swing of things.

If you take a break at the title screen and wait a little, you will be presented with another intro – this time starring the iconic baddies we love to stomp and fireball enjoying a spot of green time.

Oddly, the European versions of the Birdie, Eagle and Albatross announcement animations are missing exclamation marks, while the US version has them.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

Indie Games Median

Valentine’s Day round-up

Friday the 14th is Valentine’s Day, so a bunch of games will get lovey-dovey and celebrate the occasion. Here’s some of the notable ones:

  • Pokémon Go (February 14th – 17th)
    The week-long Valentine’s celebration starts tomorrow. Expect a deluge of pink Pokémon in the Wilds, raids, and hatching from Eggs as well as Field Research encounters. Audino and Alomomola will also make their debuts in Pokémon Go, and there will be a special raid on February 15th from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time featuring Lickitung.
  • Apex Legends (February 12th-19th)
    This year’s Valentine’s Day Rendezvous began yesterday and lasts until next week. Simply log in to collect your Valentine’s 2020 Badge. Duos have returned for a limited time and there’s a ‘Double Up’ XP boost capped at 20k per day. There are also two new Pathfinder and Nessie gun charms, as well as returning Valentine’s items.
  • Dauntless (February 13th – 27th)
    Celebrate love between friends during this year’s Saint’s Bond with 7 contract rewards. You will receive a gift when the event begins today – a free Hearts United flare. Each contract rewards a special Saint’s Bond weapon skin, and you receive ‘double quest progress’ when playing with a friend. You can also purchase the Saint’s Bond skin, proving love is cheap after all.
  • Ark Survival Evolved (February 11th – 18th)
    A special event called Love Evolved started earlier this week, and will last until next week. Cupid-themed weaponry, items, skins and even five new chibi pets will be available to those burning with passion. Looks like love is a pretty savage affair, no matter how evolved.
  • Fortnite (February 5th – 17th)
    The Love and War campaign started earlier this month, and lasts until next week. You can try out the new Search and Destroy LTM, earn some goodies like a free Pickaxe, Emote and Wrap by completing challenges, and nab yourself a themed Outfit available through the Shop. All is fair in love and war.

Game Review

Zombie Army 4 Review

Guns, guts, glory – and exploding zombie testicles

The Nazi zombie shooter phenomenon isn’t for everyone, but Rebellion clearly revels in the idiocy of the premise: While Zombie Hitler was sent to hell in the last game, the walking dead are still mucking up Europe and only you (and up to three friends) can save the day by blowing the undead to smithereens.

Zombie Army 4 is a third-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on ammo efficiency. Zombies may fall to your hail of bullets, but they won’t stay down unless you pop one in their skulls, so good aim is of the essence. Like Rebellion’s Sniper Elite and previous games in the series, the game uses a realistic ballistic model for bullets, so bullets are affected by gravity (and even wind, if you play on hard).

Rebellion knows what makes this peculiar niche tick, and has put a lot of effort into making well-aimed shots feel special. The game also has a combo system, so there’s a bit of frenetic arcade fun mixed into the realistic shooting. Keeping a combo going is jolly good fun, especially when you start getting over the 100 kills mark. There are also challenges that unlock perks giving you an edge in combat.

While the game is a bit easier to play alone and both racking up and keeping your combo is less frustrating, it is just not as fun as playing with friends. There’s more room for strategy in co-op play, and it’s just much more fun to watch your mate’s back while they lay waste to the undead hordes from a mounted gun position than to do it all alone.

Verdict: Looking for something fun to play with your mates once in a while? Are you craving something bloody and brutal yet distinctly silly? Look no further than Zombie Army 4: Dead War! Much like Left 4 Dead before it, this is best enjoyed with a group of friends on voice chat. It’s nowhere near as fun in single-player, but might just fit the bill if you’ve got a hankering for ultraviolence, low-brow humour and surprisingly complex and realistic gunplay.

Score: 7/10

VR Bits

Prince of Persia goes VR, while Oxford VR runs therapeutic VR clinical trials

  • Ubisoft Düsseldorf has announced Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time, a VR escape room game for up to four people. You have been summoned to the Fortress of Time by Kaileena, and you have to reach the Hourglass Chamber to stop an evil Magi. Thanks to the titular artifact, you can fast-forward, rewind and even stop time. The Dagger of Time is not expected to launch on any home VR systems yet and will only be available at certain arcades.
  • Space Channel 5 VR is launching for PlayStation VR on February 25th in North America and the next day in Europe and Oceania. Space Channel 5 VR is presented as a fitness game, so you can see the number of calories you have burned over the course of a session. No PC release date has been announced, but the website lists Oculus and Steam entries, so something will probably be announced soon.
  • UK-based therapy company Oxford VR has secured over $12,500,000 in funding thanks to Optum Ventures and Luminous Ventures. Oxford VR wants to use VR to treat patients in novel ways. One of the company’s clinical trials enabled a patient to conquer a fear of heights using VR therapy. Oxford VR says the funds will be used to “increase the US presence of its automated VR therapy solution for behavioural health issues”.

What Else Happened Today?

Geoff Keighley skips E3, Microsoft in new cloud partnership with Samsung

  • Long-time E3 veteran Geoff Keighley has announced that he won’t host E3 Coliseum and won’t even go to E3 this year. He doesn’t “feel comfortable participating” in the trade show anymore – and he’s not alone: Sony no longer has a presence at the show, and other big names have also distanced themselves from the event in recent years.
  • Capcom has unmasked two new Masterminds and two new maps for 4v1 game Resident Evil Resistance, which serves as Resident Evil 3 Remake’s multiplayer mode. The shadowy Ozwell Spencer and the manipulative Alex Wesker will appear as villains, while the maps will be based on a casino and an abandoned theme park outside Raccoon City.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX is coming to Switch on March 6th, and revisits the original Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team from 2006. You can try out a demo right now thanks to the Nintendo eShop. The game features over 400 Pokémon, and starts off by presenting you with a personality test that determines which Pokémon will be your protagonist.
  • Microsoft and Samsung are teaming up for a cloud-based streaming service. Could this mean that Microsoft’s xCloud will appear on Samsung phones? It certainly seems likely, and whatever the two tech giants are planning it is “just the beginning” of their gaming partnership, which will lead to a “premium cloud-based game streaming experience” for Samsung devices.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

What year did Geoff Keighley first host The Game Awards?

Answer: 2014!

Few people are – for better or worse – as emblematic of the games industry as Geoff Keighley.

Originally a games journalist, Keighley became famous for producing the Spike Video Game Awards in the mid-2000s. The show was criticized for its juvenile humour and generally making the games industry look a bit silly, and Keighley went on to create the more prestigious awards show The Game Awards.

The Game Awards has been received better than the Spike Video Game Awards, it has also been subject to some controversy. For example, some eyebrows were raised when Death Stranding was nominated to a number of awards since Keighley is a friend of Kojima’s, and even appears in the game. However, Keighley is apparently not involved in the nominations or the votes.

Message From DailyBits Team

Happy Valentine’s Day

Thanks to everyone that shared their crossover ideas in yesterday’s issue, we had some fantastic emails, which we’ll be sharing soon! Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, what games do you traditionally play or will be playing for this celebration of romance?

Today’s issue was written by Simon Priest, Christian Vaz, Erlend Grefsrud, Jamie Davey, and Gavin Harman.