It’s a great time to be a gamer. Last week Square Enix showcased some upcoming new titles and updates, PlayStation continues to build their #PlayAtHome initiative and Among Us and Fortnite announced fresh content for their games. Let’s get right into it.
Square Enix Presents - An Exciting Pipeline of Games and Updates
Square Enix Presents showcased a lot of awesome content to come. The event was a 30-minute YouTube livestream which gave fans a glimpse into Square Enix’s current game pipeline. Filled with new releases and game updates, here’s a recap of everything announced.
Life Is Strange: The franchise follows Alex Chen, a brand-new protagonist that has the psychic power of Empathy. Her ability to experience, absorb and manipulate the feelings of others will help on her journey to uncover the dark secrets hidden within the town of Haven Springs. Developed by Deck Nine Games, the game is scheduled to release in September 2021.
Forspoken: Originally under the working title ‘Project Athia’, Forspoken is a new narrative-driven adventure set in a beautiful yet cruel world. Play as Frey Holland (portrayed by Ella Balinska), an ordinary young woman who must harness her magical abilities to survive in the fantastical yet dangerous land of Athia. The game is being developed by Luminous Productions and will release on PlayStation 5 and PC in 2022.
Marvel’s Avengers: Finally making its leap to next generation consoles, Marvel’s Avengers is now available on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, featuring improved visuals, faster load times, 4k and 60PFS support and includes all the content originally released. Square Enix also announced that Hawkeye is making his debut as a playable hero and they introduced the game's next big expansion, The War for Wakanda, coming later this year.
Outriders: Square Enix kicked off the presentation with another extensive look at some Outriders gameplay ahead of their April 1st release date. The trailer went through the entire premise of the game, highlighted the characters and showcased what you have to do to become an altered demi-God on the battlefield.
Tomb Raider: Tomb Raider’s 25th anniversary will be celebrated throughout 2021. A new Netflix anime series is in the works, a cookbook inspired by the adventures of Lara Croft is being published and there will be some Fortnite crossover events. Above that, the three most recent Tomb Raider games (and their DLC) are being released as part of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Survivor Trilogy.
Mobile Games: On a different note, Square Enix announced various mobile game projects. Hitman Sniper Assassins (a mobile spinoff of the Hitman series) will be releasing later in 2021, Just Cause: Mobile will also be coming out in 2021 with both a single player and multiplayer mode, and Space Invaders is coming to mobile using brand new AR technology.
PLAYSTATION - Moving Forward
Play at Home is a campaign that Sony revealed last month for 2021 to help gamers have more fun while quarantining. Sony will be providing the PlayStation community with free games and entertainment offers. Starting March 25 users will be receiving the following indie titles for free: Abzû, Enter the Gungeon, REZ Infinite, Subnautica, The Witness, Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Moss, Thumper and Paper Beast. Also, as of April 19, Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition will be free to download.
Evo Championship Series (Evo) has officially been acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Evo is known for their fighting game tournaments which draws huge crowds internationally. The joint venture partnership with RTS is a new venture led by CEO Stuart Saw in the esports space. Sony wants to allow their players to compete on all levels and continue to grow the platform for them to showcase their skills.
Cloud-Gaming continues to be a focus for Sony. According to Bloomberg, Sony has invested in Ubitus, a company that focuses on cloud-gaming technology and services. Ubitus was founded in 2007 in Taiwan and they work with companies such as Nintendo and Square Enix. Even though Sony currently has the Playstation Now game streaming service, they wish to build upon it.
AMONG US - It’s Time..Almost
On Thursday, Among Us announced via twitter that the new map “The Airship,” will be released on March 31. The map was originally announced on December 10, when they revealed the trailer at the 2020 Game Awards.
The Airship is the fourth map to be added to Among Us alongside Polus, Mirahq and the Skeld. According to the Innersloth devlog, the new map will be the biggest one yet. The update will be free for all users and it will include completely new tasks, the ability to choose which room you start the round in, a basic account system for users to be reported and more features that they’ve yet to reveal.
The main reason for the delay is the unprecedented increase in popularity which created several challenges for the five person development team. The team has had issues with game maintenance as there are millions of players participating in games, which pulls developers away from working on new projects. The team has also paused new projects while they try to expand their team through new hires. Another issue for the developers is the amount of fake Among Us merchandise circulating online and in-stores. The success is new to Innersloth and they say they’re trying to be better with everything.
FORTNITE - Chapter 2 Season 6
The Zero Crisis is over as Agent Jones and the Foundation sealed it in a tower of stone. The island is now overrun by animals and there are completely new biomes across the map. There’s a new feature that allows players to craft their own weapons with loot from the wildlife. Also, players will be able to find new types of loot across the island in the form of bunker chests containing powerful weapons.
The Battle Pass continues to be unique through partnerships with different brands and people. The Season 6 Battle Pass will feature Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, a variety of different characters from previous seasons and international football star for Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar. As per usual, players will also be able to earn up to 1,500 v-bucks.
The Russo Brothers are known for directing the Avengers films, however, they also co-directed the opening scene for the new Fortnite season. According to the Verge, the Russos have been working with Fortnite since 2018, when they did an entire Marvel themed season featuring Thanos and the Avengers. For those interested in watching the Zero Crisis Story Cinematic video, it can be found here.
Gender equality is making its way into the esports scene and we’re very excited for it. Team SoloMid (aka, TSM) have officially announced their all-girls Valorant team that will compete in the upcoming Valorant Champions Tour Game Changers series. Captained by former CS:GO pro Catherine “Cath” Leroux, she took to twitter to express her excitement by saying “Looking forward to leaving a mark in a brand new game”. In earlier editions of this newsletter we spoke about the Shopify Rebellions and Evil Geniuses entering with mixed gender teams, and both Cloud9 White and Dignitas Women also have all-female rosters currently competing in various games.
Alienware has reportedly terminated their global esports partnership with Riot Games and League of Legends following the recent sexual harassment allegations against Riot’s CEO Nicolo Laurent. Sources close to Dot Esports told the outlet that the partnership was ended a year early due to “concern with the game developer’s public image amid harassment claims and other controversies”. The Esports Observer later reported that a Dell spokesperson confirmed to them that Dell is no longer a Riot Games sponsor. Riot Games has since announced that they’ve launched an internal investigation into the actions of their CEO.
Last week The Esports Observer reported that Activision Blizzard laid off nearly 190 employees, 50 of which worked in the esports division. Tony Petitti, Activision’s President of Sports and Entertainment said that the layoffs were part of their plans to restructure the company's post covid esports endeavors and be “less dependent on live events”. A Bloomberg report discussing the circumstances said that the affected employees will receive a minimum of 90 days severance, health benefits for up to a year and a $200 Battle.net gift card. Amidst all of the layoff news, Kotaku released their own article stating that CEO Bobby Kotick will cash in close to $200 million in stock bonuses because his contract includes certain clauses that tie bonuses with company profit targets and milestones. These clauses were triggered by the company’s stock price surge in 2020 as people played more video games during the global pandemic.
THE GAMING ROUNDUP
Jade Raymond introduces Haven Studios, a new PlayStation backed game development studio working on an original unannounced PlayStation IP.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s first major expansion, Wrath of the Druids, launches on April 29 and brings players to Ireland to uncover the mysterious secrets of an ancient cult.
Rockstar Studios paid a modder $10,000 for figuring out an optimization fix to reduce Grand Theft Auto Online load times.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons celebrated its 1 year anniversary last week, achieving more than 31 million units sold worldwide in that time frame.
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