#54: The Heat Is On

TODAY: Warren Spector might have been a medieval astrologer in a previous life — Nintendo’s new Switch controller features a tantalizing shape — August is shaping up to be a great month for Virtual Reality

Top Story

Need for Speed Heat trailer now out, gameplay reveals at Gamescom

Need For Speed Heat will focus on the endless battle twixt street racer and cop. The trailer hints at a “rogue police force” that’s cracking down hard on the noble racers.

The trailer seems to suggest that day-time street racing is a family-friendly, fully sanctioned and terminally mainstream thing to do, while the real rebels risk it all to outrun fascist law enforcement oinkers at night.

Saintly drifter by day, neon-lit rebel by night

“…a white-knuckle street racer, where the lines of the law fade as the sun starts to set. By day, Palm City hosts the Speedhunter Showdown, a sanctioned competition where you earn Bank to customize and upgrade your high-performance cars. At night, ramp up the intensity in illicit street races that build your reputation, getting you access to bigger races and better parts. But stay ready – cops are waiting and not all of them play fair.”

More gameplay will be revealed this month at Gamescom in Cologne, and the game is scheduled to launch for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on November 8th. If you’re an Origin Access Premier subscriber, you’ll be able to play a trial a few days earlier, on November 5th.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

How many games were included on the SNES Classic?

  • 17
  • 19
  • 21
  • 23

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Trailer leaks for Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

A trailer for EA’s yet-to-be-announced Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville just leaked to YouTube, and immediately faced death by DMCA. The trailer suggests a focus on player-versus-player battles, a dramatic departure from the traditional formula – could EA be looking to take on the likes of Fortnite?

Roblox dev community ‘on track’ for $100 million in 2019

In addition to featuring an active userbase the size of Northern Europe, Roblox is now boasting that their developer community will split earnings of about $100 million this year. Roblox features game creation tools that allow anyone to try their hand at making games, and almost half of all American children aged 9 to 12 are playing it.

Daily Fact

Nostradamus predicted Deus Ex’s graphical limitations

The original Deus Ex from Warren Spector’s Ion Storm Austin was credited with predicting a number of significant political, social and technological developments. Could it be that Warren is actually the Specter of Nostradamus, weaving cryptic prophecies into the classic first-person RPG? Magic 8-Ball says ask again later.

Among the more ghoulish predictions was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. The twin towers were missing from Deus Ex’s skyline, but they were still standing tall as of its release in June 2000.

However, while the game does indeed blame their absence on a terrorist attack, the real reason they were missing is significantly less dramatic: The towers wouldn’t fit into the tiling skybox. But no matter – the Statue of Liberty should lose her head any day now. Then my trenchcoat and wraparound glasses will finally be back in fashion!

Daily News

Paradox’s Q2 earnings boon thanks to warmongering capitalism

War is hell, unless you’re Paradox Interactive, who just posted impressive financials for the second quarter of 2019. The Swedish publisher is flush with dosh, “mainly attributable” to Hearts of Iron IV, Imperator: Rome, Stellaris and slightly less warmongering Surviving Mars and Cities: Skylines.

The big cheese over at Paradox are well chuffed with their newfound riches, and are also excited to swim in all the filthy lucre Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, Age of Wonders: Planetfall and Empire of Sin are expected to bring in: “…we continued to increase our investments for the future; during the quarter we spent more on game development and marketing of games than we have in any previous quarter,” read a statement from CEO Ebba Ljungerud.

More war and strife for our amusement

They achieved a “record-high cash position” by the end of the quarter, some of that thanks to “an advance payment for our collaboration with Xbox Game Pass.”

Just this month Paradox Interactive published the 4X strategy Age of Wonders: Planetfall, while their internal team at Paradox Development Studio launched the new grand strategy IP Imperator: Rome in April.

New expansions for Battletech and Surviving Mars were published this year, and last but not least: Cities: Skylines is headed for consoles.

Quick summary of Paradox’s Interim Report for 2019:

  • Revenue up 30 percent from the same period last year, to SEK 387.2 (298.8) million
  • Operating profit up 55 percent at SEK 154.2 (99.4) million
  • Profit after tax was SEK 120.3 (77.9) million
  • Cash available by end of the Q2 period was SEK 396.4 (329.3) million

Nintendo’s ‘Wireless Game Device’ filing reveals SNES pad for Switch

There seems to be some old-school SNES action headed to Switch – except it’s not actually a bunch of classic games, but the classic gamepad! Well, at least a wireless controller inspired by the SNES pad, judging by the FCC filing.

The model is designated ‘HAC042’, and the ‘HAC’ part is the important one since it’s the same designation as the Switch model numbers. There’s no front view of the new controller, but the shape itself is revealing enough.

While it’s not an official announcement of Virtual Console for Switch, it certainly is a big hint that more retro goodness is headed to the console: Nintendo released a special set of NES controllers for Switch when they launched the NES on-demand service for Switch Online subscribers.

VR Roundup

No Man’s Sky Beyond Update

No Man’s Sky will finally be updated with VR support this week! As you can imagine, the feature wasn’t easy to add and required a lot of redesign – yet it’s completely free of charge.

Hello Games is certainly making up for overpromising and underdelivering the first time around: They have worked tirelessly to release several huge updates for No Man’s Sky for the last three years.

VR support for GNOG, free on Epic Games Store

If you checked out our weekly deals last Friday, you probably noticed that Epic Games Store is giving away GNOG until August 15th. The 3D puzzle game encourages players to interact with tiny dioramas by pointing, poking and grabbing their colorful components. It featured PSVR support at launch on PlayStation 4, and developer KO_OP is finally adding Oculus and Vive support for PC as well. So if you’re looking for some VR fun this week, what’s better than a freebie?

A new Cyberpunk MMO smashes its Kickstarter

VR cyberpunk MMO Zenith is getting Kickstarted, and is already on course to triple its initial £21,000 goal with 43 days left to go. The game promises to be the first cross-platform VR MMO, and is inspired by JRPGs like Final Fantasy and spectacle brawlers like Nier: Automata. Developer Cryptic Studios is using Improbable’s SpatialOS server technology to create a large, seamless open world without any loading screens. The game will also be playable without a VR headset.

Ones to watch: August 2019

August has already been a good month for VR, but there’s still more to come. No Man’s Sky: Beyond is releasing today, and will support Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index and PSVR. Sword-fighting game Until You Fall is scheduled for August 27th, and will support Rift and Vive.

If you’re up for a spot of destruction, Hotel R’n’R – chronicling the exploits of a failed musician who makes a deal with the devil – might be your cup of tea, and will be available for Rift, Vive and Index on August 29th. Oculus Quest owners can look forward to Time Stall and Pinball FX2, both launching today.

PSVR owners will be happy to hear that the exclusive Firewall Zero Hour has just been updated with Operation Dark Web, which features new missions, cosmetics and more.

News Bits

Spirit Hunter: NG scares on Switch

Death Mark sequel Spirit Hunter: NG will haunt the Switch on October 10th. While the titles sound nearly as much like fancy whiskey brands as spooky ghost stories, we’re pretty sure the gorgeous artwork by Fumiyo Sumio will scare you sober in no time.

Vigil: The Longest Night for PC and console in early 2020

Vigil: The Longest Night is staying up past its bedtime and will bring 2D platform action to PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 early next year, with a Switch version arriving slightly later. The Castlevania-inspired game features a tale of eldritch horror and puts you in charge of saving a town from unknowable, encroaching horrors. There will be beautiful art, brutal enemies, nightmarish bosses and multiple endings.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

How many games were included on the SNES Classic?

Answer: 21 games!

All this talk about a SNES controller for Switch and the tantalizing prospect of SNES games hitting the console at long last has got us thinking about the SNES Classic mini-console.

It launched in 2017 and proved spectacularly popular, and Nintendo were smart enough to produce plenty of units this time – so scalpers were unable to shift them on eBay for 10 times retail price. Curse you Nintendo, I was just trying to feed my family!

The SNES Classic offered a whopping 21 games, including some of the finest ever made: Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario Kart, Yoshi’s Island … the list goes on, and even includes Star Fox 2, which never saw a release before Nintendo stopped supporting the console. We can’t wait to play some SNES classics on Switch, but really – nothing can beat the SNES collection for sheer retro value.

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