It’s taken 530 days, but Nintendo finally got around to giving us another full-fat Direct presentation. Rumours of Zelda re-releases were abound in the past few weeks, and though we did get some news, it’s not what most expected.
While there were notable absences as well, nary a mention of Metroid or a new Mario Kart, there was still plenty to natter about. So, without further ado, over to our crack team. Don’t forget to leave your own musings in the comments.
Motion-controlled archery was a Wii era highlight.
After enduring such a long wait for a proper Nintendo Direct, the latest showcase was pretty underwhelming. It was longer than the Nintendo Direct Mini presentations we’ve been seeing, sure, but it wasn’t any more exciting.
The highlight for me was No More Heroes 3. We already knew it was coming, so its appearance didn’t really bring the surprise factor that viewers crave, but it looks to be a lot of fun. Added extraterrestrials might just make it the wackiest entry yet, which is really saying something. Here’s hoping that Suda 51 goes all out with his captivating brand of craziness!
Hades getting a physical release is good to see, but I’m holding out hope for PS5 and/or Xbox Series X|S ports instead. Still, if they never materialise this will be my version of choice.
Skyward Sword HD was the only other game of note. Nintendo is charging full price for a remaster again, which we’re all accustomed to by now, but it’ll be nice to revisit the classic Zelda formula. After all, it’s much better than the new one that Nintendo borrowed from Ubisoft...
In the real world, perfectly normal. In a hack and slash game featuring aliens, definitely weird.
Ever the Nintend-optimist, I tuned into the long-awaited Direct full of hope, promise and an expectation of ports galore. The former and the middler were sadly lacking, but the latter was out in full force once more.
I steered clear of Skyward Sword's original Wii release because of a deep, burning hatred of motion controls, so am relieved to hear that a stick/button control scheme has been implemented for the HD remaster. This will almost certainly lead to me picking the game up, although I am a tad disappointed that, at this stage at least, it appears to share more in common with the Twilight Princess HD remaster over the superlative, dreamy Wind Waker Wii U update.
The announcement of Splatoon 3 throws up questions for me, too. Namely, will there actually be anything new in this iteration? I adored the first game, yet have largely been left nonplussed by the second. The trailer began by hinting at some sort of desolate world - could this be part of the single-player campaign? Will we get numerous new multiplayer modes? For me, this is what the series needs to move forward.
Finally, my personal highlight: Mario Golf: Super Rush. Multiplayer options? Check. Colourful, charming course? Check. A full story mode? Check. You had me at golf, Mario. Book your tee-off time for June 25. FORE!
Avert your eyes, Rob!
Other than being beside myself at the lack of a Metroid Prime 4 update, this Direct was fairly as expected, if underwhelming after the comparatively long wait.
A new step onto the golf course with Mario Golf: Super Rush would have been a huge cause for thrills back in the day, but these days there’s a smattering of fairway fare already available to scratch that itch now and again.
The first thing that really moved the excitement needle was the news that Fall Guys is coming to Switch, though that quickly dissipated when I remembered Nintedo’s online approach, and I was vindicated with an Xbox announcement the following day.
Perhaps a few ports? Apex Legends, Plants Vs Zombies: Battle For Neighborville and even Outer Wilds seem like an interesting distraction, but all things I would have already fallen into elsewhere.
What about Splatoon? The sequel (Splatoon 2) was my first foray into being a squid now (well, then) but, like Rob, the potential of a dash of singleplayer adventure in Splatoon 3 is intriguing, especially after the previous game toyed with solo play a bit in DLC which I never got around to. I’ll take it.
Speaking of ports, could we please have Metroid: Prime Trilogy for Switch, Nintendo?
What was your Nintendo Direct highlight? Let us know below.
Mario’s latest leap onto the Nintendo Switch is a re-release of Super Mario 3D World from the Wii U. It also includes the all-new Bowser’s Fury add-on, which got us wondering which other old games might benefit from a new slice of gameplay.
Which game from days gone by has you keen to take another bite of the cherry? Let us know in the comments.
Getting this on Switch might take some work, it doesn't even fit the page properly.
James | Dragon Age: Origins
Being a huge fan of “classic” BioWare you might think I’d be content with the upcoming Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, but in fact I have a yearning for the more fantasy setting of Dragon Age.
With the next installment (possibly a soft reboot?) already on the way, it’s very unlikely, but having not been on Xbox 360 at quite the right time, I missed the much-lauded inception of the series.
Given the gameplay improvements noted even in the mired sequel, to get an exciting new area would make the already substantial DA:O (especially accounting for Awakening, its existing expansion) rival the likes of Skyrim in terms of fantasy RPG scope.
More isn’t always better, so it would need to be driven by a compelling story - a must-have for all BioWare adventures worth their salt - but with the breadth to explore within the genre there’s surely plenty of ideas left on the table.
BioWare’s more recent output has hardly been knocking it out of the park, so a return to familiarity could be just what fans need, and a perfect alternative to the sci-fi adventures of Mass Effect.
Many of us Mass Effect aficionados missed out on BioWare's fantasy epic.
Sam | Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
MGS3 is an all-time classic that already has an HD re-release under its bandana. The chronological sequel, however, does not.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is a mainline entry in the iconic series that most players missed. Hell, I owned it and never finished it because playing with a single analogue stick was plain gruelling. If the PSP game was released as DLC for the MGS HD Collection, or bundled with a remastered version of Snake Eater, that problem would be solved.
It’s a long shot with Konami at the helm, but handheld stablemate Peace Walker held up incredibly well on consoles. Accounting for that and the fact that MGS3 has already received a lauded visual remaster, which unfortunately belongs to a tie-in pachinko machine, there’s real potential here.
In terms of all-new content, Portable Ops sees players rejoin Big Boss six years after the events of Snake Eater. What better reason could there possibly be to bridge the gap between entries via a new expansion?
With Sony rumoured to be pursuing a purchase of dormant Konami IP, maybe the PlayStation manufacturer will see this dream become a reality on PS5.
Would it need a name change if it came to home consoles?
What old favourite game would you like to see revived with some new DLC? Let us know below.
We first had the pleasure of meeting Ole Toubro back at Rezzed 2018, when he was part of the team at Danish developer Mighty Moth, working on the aviation exploration title Above. He’s since moved on to form an even smaller team, with his new studio Not-Disclosed Games. We caught up with him to discuss games, the industry, lockdowns, Pilsners, the connotations of the word "tolerate" and last, but by no means least, hot tubs.
So, tell us about your new company, Not-Disclosed Games.
We are currently two people working with coding and design. We have been working together for quite a while and we do some contract work together as well. We also have half a guy doing sound and we are actually looking for an artist with the right finesse and skillset.
Your first game is twin-stick horror/sci-fi shooter Universe Apart. Can you tell us about the game, and what led you to combining these genres?
We both really like twin-stick shooters and my buddy had made a tiny playable one so we just built from that - adding everything around it. Trying out different art, ways to make it tile-based and random, have long-term gameplay etc. etc. After we got the shadows working we knew we had to make some horror elements - that gameplay and implementation is ahead of us: So if people have suggestions they should hit us up on Discord :)
What impact has COVID-19 had on the development stage?
Well I guess indie game developers have a pretty clear advantage in this - most of us were already used to working from home. I actually think this might have been a benefit for indie games, I mean just look at this February Steam Festival - the line-up is pretty fucking awesome.
What is it like to be such a small team in such a humongous ocean of development companies? How big a risk is it to release a game in the current climate?
Yeah the talent out there is quite amazing isn't it. I actually don't mind being a tiny fish swimming among all these different companies. Be they huge or small, multicoloured or grey, quirky or mainstream, hypers or truthers. I think the medium has far from matured - perhaps it never will - and it is just quite wonderful to be a part of. Our game is still in an early stage, but we like what we are creating - so we are pretty sure others will too.
We discussed the process of creating, and releasing, games/music/art last night; how strongly we both feel about actually getting stuff out there and provoking a reaction - good or bad. Could you elaborate on that?
Yeah that was quite a good chat wasn't it :) I mean to really piss people off you can't be charging them as well, can you? Or is that exactly what the giants excel at with various broken products, stupid release schedules, in-game purchases or advertisements. I don't know. I just think many people outside games see every little hiccup as a catastrophe, they take it personally and some even want the drama. And the marketing teams behind the large games fuel this: There is no such thing as bad press! Fact is very few people know how stupidly hard it is to make a good game - and to make art, as we were discussing last night, you have to infuse that tremendously hard process with message and meaning, dare I even say soul. Some teams are at the right place and time to do that, and some even get hyped and reach a broad audience - to the benefit of everybody involved. Let me sail on my own tiny little hype train or boat or whatever: Universe Apart will have existential dilemmas and abusive elements - they are just not in the demo yet - or are they? :)
"Don't be too hard on yourself, trust your feelings and reach your deadlines."
Where do you see the future of gaming? Is it VR? Streaming services? Traditional consoles/PCs?
All of those… and implants and AR and huge simulations and tiny interfaces and stuff that game us. I actually think game theory integrated with everyday stuff is the next big thing - you already see it to some degree in software like TikTok, Instagram etc. Whole processes we interact with are currently being designed for our conscious and unconscious selves to interact with - and that is pretty much games.
Coronavirus has put the pause button on life, allowing many people to assess where they are, and what they actually want to do with their time/for work. With that in mind, what advice would you give to someone looking to get started in the gaming industry?
Ha yeah - I don't know if I am the right person to ask that - but here goes: Don't be too hard on yourself, trust your feelings and reach your deadlines. Listen to old songs you liked, games you played and loved, movies you adored - none of them are perfect. If caught in the right sardonic mood you could tear each one of them apart and paint them in the worst light possible... So: Do your best, believe in yourself and release!
What game(s) have had the biggest impact on your life?
I am quite fond of simple ones from my childhood that set a mood and let you live there for a while: Lotus, Wolfenstein, Lemmings or Commander Keen - and I could go on :)
In terms of real impact there was this aesthetic little game where you can only move right and you get older as you move, find a dog and another person to love and take with you, then the hair greys and the dog and other person are left behind as tombstones and you also end as a tombstone - that game made me cry. I can't remember it's name, or find it online, it might have been a flash game - that we the human race moved right and left behind…
I also thought quite a lot about the profound idea in Iain M. Banks’ Surface Detail where this guy hosts simmed VR hells for several other races. Consider that: Hell or gods does not exist, but if you violate certain religious laws your sentence is to be uploaded to a virtual hell! WTF? I love how that sets one's mind going about mortality, souls and life itself.
Final question... You're stranded on an island that happens to be blessed with power. Which console/gaming machine do you take and why?
Being stranded on an island sounds like a lot of hard work. I think I would bring a switch so I could play a twin-stick shooter, while being busy on the latrine :)
Thanks to Ole for taking the time to chat to us. Click here for more information on Universe Apart.
With the revelation that Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil Village’s demo is not 8ft, as some had estimated, but a suitably 9ft 6inches tall, according to Art Director Tomonori Tanako on Twitter, we’ve been thinking about the other (literally) big bads in the world of games.
Size isn’t everything of course, and some of the most fearful creatures are small and unassuming, but here we’re focusing on those nightmares which are larger-than-life. What springs to your mind? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, here’s what haunts our every dark winter’s night…
Compared to Toon Link and Young Link, Gohma is huge.
Sam | Dragon God from Demon’s Souls
Having recently been acquainted with Lady Dimitrescu via the Resident Evil 8 demo on PlayStation 5, she’s certainly an imposing and oddly seductive figure. The “tall vampire lady” didn’t leave quite the same impact as another recent boss encounter on PS5, though.
While the likes of Bowser and Shao Kahn are all-time classic big baddies, they’re also way too obvious. In a similar vein, a lot of boss fights against large enemies essentially take the same obvious form. That can’t be said of the Dragon God in Demon’s Souls.
The Dragon God is really something to behold. It’s a magnificent, ancient creature that I didn’t have any immediate inclination to kill. The boss battle itself plays on that fact, having players utilise stealth in order to fire two ballistae and pin the deity down. Cutscenes accompanying both shots are tragic, but don’t compare to what comes next.
With its shoulders pinned and its weary head on the ground, players must hack at the Dragon God’s face to finish it off. The old beast barely fights back, despite its power being such that its hot breath alone is enough to kill.
Dragon God is just one of several unconventional boss battles in Demon’s Souls, which helped to cement it as my favourite console launch title.
A boss that refuses to fight back certainly sounds like a change of pace from the regular Souls baddies.
James | GLaDOS from Portal
While the more inspired turn for GLaDOS came in Portal 2 when she(?) spent time as a potato, there’s no denying the physically-imposing impact of meeting her(?!) for the first time in your first go-round at Aperture Laboratories.
Not content with being a huge robotic arm with a HAL9000-esque central eye, the lasting impression of GLaDOS really comes from the ever-increasing sense of dread as the plot unfolds; a fun and innocent puzzle game slowly becomes a horrific ordeal in which you couldn’t even trust baked goods. Nothing is sacred.
Being in complete control of your environment, GLaDOS also torments with deceptively murderous turrets and, occasionally, fire to motivate you to your goal. It’s difficult to be angry though, since peeling back the layers of lore reveals an AI built using the uploaded consciousness of Caroline, lab assistant to the mechanical maniac’s creator.
How immediately the player warms to this mostly unseen and yet omnipresent foe is a testament to GLaDOS’ staying power as a killer villain, and the reveal of her full physical form more than lives up to the anticipation of finding out who’s been pulling the strings. Sadly it’s unlikely we’ll see much more of GLaDOS, since Valve famously can’t count to three, but here’s hoping there’s more puzzles with the same sort of depth on the horizon.
Our favourite power-hungry robot. And look, there's GLaDOS, too!
What's your favourite big baddie? Let us know below.
It was 2013 when EA triumphantly announced its 10-year exclusive deal with the Star Wars licence and now it seems all that may be coming to an end.
Last week's news brought us the Lucasfilm Games brand, a new Ubisoft Star Wars game from the creator of The Division series and, perhaps most excitingly, a teaser trailer for an Indiana Jones game from Bethesda.
As we ponder what it all means, leave your own musings in the comments.
Throw Indy's hat on him and we're pretty much there.
I’m slightly more optimistic than Sam when it comes to Ubisoft’s and Lucasfilm Games’ untitled Star Wars project. I’m happy to acknowledge that the former does tend to recycle a familiar set of features in their games, but I don’t find it so much of an issue if I’m enjoying the overall story and gameplay.
The fact that it’s being developed by The Division makers Massive also gives me hope. While I wasn’t a huge fan of bullet-sponge bosses and loot grinding, I did thoroughly enjoy exploring the in-game world and hunting down snippets of surprisingly decent story.
Even if it turns out good rather than great, I still think it’ll be fun to play just because I enjoy Star Wars. EA’s Battlefront reboot took, quite rightly, a bit of flak for lacking content, but that didn’t stop me from having fun using iconic blasters and running around as a Stormtrooper.
As for the Indiana Jones game, we’ll just have to wait and see. I expect we’ll be getting something similar to the Tomb Raider reboot and the Uncharted games, which is no bad thing. Its iconic hero and (hopefully) 1930s setting would certainly give it a unique selling point.
The Division also had a lot of snow. Hoth setting confirmed!
However much you like or loathe The Division, the Snowdrop engine that powers it is a marvel to behold, especially when it comes to snow. A third-person, more Splinter Cell-inspired espionage outing or perhaps one where you explore one of Star Wars' many sprawling locales seems very much in Ubisoft's wheelhouse.
The track record may not be...ahem...stellar...but a bit of lightsaber magic here and a "maclunkey" there could push the experience from a good game to a great game.
Indiana Jones is a different kettle of fish. Comparisons to both Uncharted and Tomb Raider will be difficult to avoid, but we know Machine Games can deliver an action-based narrative, so that's what's got me most excited.
The future of other notable franchises is even more exciting. Surely ideas for a game based on The Mandalorian must already be in development as we speak, and who could resist the chance to be the Galaxy's hottest gunslinger?
Don't know what 'maclunkey' means? This guy gets it.
What are your thoughts on the newly announced Lucasfilm games? Let us know below.
The gaming world is looking altogether more bright than the real one as we usher in 2021, with fresh consoles on the market and developers beavering away to bring a slew of new titles for us all to escape into.
But what will be the big surprises? Will we see a resurrection of Ouya? Will Google give up on Stadia? Will Sega suddenly reveal a secret new console? Anything could happen (probably), so we set about coming up with some outlandish (and relatively land-ish) predictions for the New Year. Let us know yours in the comments, then come back in 2022 and see how everyone fared.
Real reality is a bit rubbish, so more VR would be most welcome.
James | Game Pass gobbles up more publishers
While it would be obvious to say we’ll see more Bethesda games on Xbox Game Pass this year, the real get will be when other publishers start jumping on the bandwagon.
We’ve already seen EA join up EA Play with the service, and if they see a huge boost in player numbers for their back catalogue, it won’t be long before the likes of Ubisoft in particular are knocking at the door.
Imagine having the chance to revisit all those Assassin’s Creed games, some of them even enhanced for Series X|S for good measure. If they’re feeling particularly ambitious they could even make them available on the cloud, giving the fledgling xCloud service some more third-party titles to flex its muscles with.
Game Pass is already a powerhouse of content, and no doubt Microsoft’s first party studios will put out titles this year, but tying in with other sources could push it over the top, considering it’s already firmly in no-brainer territory for Xbox owners.
For PlayStation, I could see their PlayStation Plus Collection, a smattering of PS4 titles bundled together for PS5 owners, being a springboard for turning PlayStation Plus into primarily serving as Sony’s own take on Game Pass. That’s when competition really starts forcing both console-makers to develop the services to keep drawing in new players, which is only good news.
Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the highlights of the EA Play/Xbox Game Pass merger.
Sam | Slim pickings
Although many hoped that 2021 would be a fresh new start, so far, it’s been more of the same. As a result, developers will most likely continue to work from home and production schedules will be impacted.
2020 saw high-profile games like Marvel’s Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077 pushed out to capitalise on a captive audience. What seemed like a sound business strategy on paper in fact saw them crash and burn, all while the likes of Fall Guys and Among Us dominated the scene.
More recently, titles like Rust and Escape from Tarkov are enjoying explosive growth. With gamers evidently content to transition away from conventional AAA releases, developers and publishers need to be very careful in 2021. More games following in the footsteps of Halo Infinite and issuing lengthy delays could help to win back the audience, when the time is right.
If life does eventually get back to normal this year, I also can’t see anyone rushing to launch their game soon thereafter. After being locked down with little to do but play video games for months on end, people are sure to seek out other pastimes for at least a little while.
We'll wake you when we need you, Chief (which will probably be sometime next winter).
It’s certainly been an usual year, and not only because of the unprecedented goings on across the world, but because of what gaming meant to us in 2020. It might have been harder to deal with the unique situation we’ve all been in this year were it not for our own little corner of escapism, where you can become an expert sharpshooter, traverse a few platforms to save a fantasy realm from darkness, or just be really good at crafting furniture out of one of three types of wood.
Hopefully you’ve all found games which have helped pull you through 2020, but which was your favourite? Which was the most surprising or unexpected? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, on to our top picks.
New Horizons' charming wholesomeness was a bastion of serenity for many people this year.
Sam | The Last of Us Part II
Like James, my “Game of the Mid-Year” wasn’t dethroned during the last six months. Since I summed up my feelings on TLoU2 back then, however, rather than repeat myself I’ll immediately derail the conversation by discussing something else entirely…
Although Demon’s Souls (my favourite console launch game) and Resident Evil 3 are the runners up this year, I’m surprised to say that Final Fantasy VII Remake is hot on their heels. As someone that has no prior experience with the series and little to no patience for JRPGs with anime trappings, that’s damn impressive.
After playing the demo out of a feeling of obligation, I walked away having really enjoyed the combat if nothing else. That was enough for me to give the full game a try, and, to my surprise, I warmed to its world and characters over the nearly 40 hours it took to finish all of the quests.
In time, what were unbearably tropey caricatures with cheesy dialogue became more endearing than annoying. As someone that typically cringes at this stuff and can’t bear to be around it for any significant length of time, what the game achieved was nothing short of miraculous.
I’m actually looking forward to the second part of Final Fantasy VII Remake, which is something I never thought I’d say. Credit where it’s due, the team at Square Enix did an excellent job with what could’ve been a disastrous project accounting for the game’s illustrious history.
You know it's been a messed up year when Sam's praising a JRPG.
Liam | Star Wars Squadrons
I've spoken before about my enthusiasm for the Rogue Squadron series, and flying games in general, so it’s no surprise that Star Wars Squadrons, the perfect amalgamation of the two, gets my pick for game of the year.
My winner could very easily have been Call of Duty: Warzone, which continues to provide me and my friends with hours of entertainment (for free!), or Animal Crossing: New Horizons – a title I’ve sunk dozens of hours into, and even tipped it to be my top pick earlier in the year – but I simply couldn’t ignore the brilliance of Squadrons.
While I’ll always have a soft spot for Rogue Squadron’s arcade gameplay, there’s just something very satisfying about Star Wars Squadrons’ more technical take on combat, whether it’s diverting power to weapon systems for an attack run on a Rebel flagship or shifting power to your X-wing’s forward shields to swat away the TIE interceptor that’s foolishly decided to joust you head-on.
The sim-focussed gameplay might feel a little daunting at first but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a properly immersive experience (both in multiplayer and in the surprisingly decent campaign) that lets you live out your ultimate Star Wars fantasies as a Rebel or Imperial ace.
The Force is strong with this one.
What was your game of the year? Let us know below.
With an absence of big industry events this year, it fell to The Game Awards – increasingly a platform for announcements rather than celebrating the best games of the previous year – to pick up the slack, and as well as notable appearances from familiar faces outside the gaming world, there were also just a few upcoming games featured.
The early days of the new console generation for both PlayStation and Xbox means the platforms are brimming with potential, and both console-makers were eager to make a big splash, but which caught our attention? Read on for our top picks from the show.
Welcome back, Agent Dark.
Sam | The Callisto Protocol
Seeing Laura Bailey win best performance for her portrayal of Abby in The Last of Us Part II was my awards highlight. Mostly because it’s well-deserved, but also because of the unnecessary fan controversy that surrounded the character and role. Things finally came full circle and Bailey’s warm, emotional acceptance speech was perfect.
Unlike other awards shows, whether you love it or hate it, The Game Awards places its largest focus on new game reveals. Of the night’s several exciting announcements, Striking Distance Studios’ The Callisto Protocol was my favorite of the bunch.
Led by Glen Schofield, best known for co-founding Call of Duty developer Sledgehammer Games, the team’s debut project is a next-gen survival horror title aiming to be the scariest to date. That alone is exciting, though Schofield is also the original creator of Dead Space and The Callisto Protocol looks to be somewhat of a spiritual successor.
Fans of sci-fi horror already know that’s something special, but the added Alien vibes elevate it into dream game territory. Not much is known and it isn’t due out until sometime in 2022, but The Callisto Protocol has already shot right up my most anticipated games list.
For horror fans this is excellent, for the rest of us, just more nightmare fuel.
James | Dragon Age
Outside the news that Vin Diesel is now officially a game developer, serving as President of Creative Convergence for Ark 2 developers Studio Wildcard, what had me most excited was the return of Dragon Age.
BioWare hasn’t had the best time since Dragon Age: Inquisition came out, and the seasoned developer could use a win. While there is, of course, a twinkle or excitement in the form of the next Mass Effect, let’s see a little more of that before we get too carried away, lest it end up like last time...
So, what do we know? It’s probably just called Dragon Age, which seems fine, and if the voiceover is anything to go by then longtime companion Varrick the rogue is back once again. The beats of the trailer hints at a deeper level of personalisation to the experience this time, which can, hopefully, only make exploring this particular fantasy world more engaging.
There’s plenty of competition for our attention in that space however, so while it may have pedigree (one incredible game, one slightly disappointing game and one pretty good game), it will take more to win over a gaming community with high standards than ever before. Fortunately, the absence of detailed peeks at the game so far in this case is keeping expectations well-managed, so we don’t end up with another Anthem on our hands.
James might not be boarding the hype train just yet, but we've all been there.
What was your highlight of the show? Let us know below.
On the eve of the biggest gaming day of the year, Cyberpunk 2077 launch day, it’s got us thinking about how hype and anticipation plays into gaming, and entertainment as a whole. Whether that’s the tiniest pre-teaser trailer giving crumbs of info about the latest superhero film or the return of a bunch of aging rock legends for one last killer album, building up hype for a launch – and how well it executes on its promise – can be critical to success, or failure.
In gaming, sometimes games are in development hell for years before coming out, while others drop out of the blue and are a pleasant surprise. Enter Cyberpunk’s rocky road to release. Besides numerous delays, the game has seen various publicity snafus since it was first teased back at E3 2013, and yet it is, by far, still the most hyped game of the year.
We’ve picked on a trio of releases which had us swept up in the euphoria, and how it ultimately turned out.
Modern Warfare 2 even had a snow level, it was that good.
Sam | Gears of War 2
These days I’m not often one to get swept up in launch hype, and tend to maintain a pretty even keel in general. The impending launch of Cyberpunk 2077 makes me feel absolutely nothing, for example. Back in the day, however, just a screenshot in a magazine was enough for me to lose sleep!
As a youngster the annual WWE games were always a personal highlight. At the launch of the Xbox 360, I fawned over screenshots from Oblivion, Saint’s Row and Dead Rising for what must’ve been months. Though those are good examples, the collective excitement that me and my friends shared for Gears of War 2 makes it stand out more.
Before the original Modern Warfare stole us away, me and my school pals would spend most evenings playing Gears of War. For hours at a time we owned objectives in Annex mode and spilled gallons of blood, usually on Gridlock (my favourite multiplayer map).
I always preferred Gears to Call of Duty - and to a lesser extent Halo 3, our other game of choice - so I was especially excited to rejoin Marcus and his band of burly bros. The sequel also introduced the cooperative Horde mode, which as a concept is played out now, but at the time was revolutionary.
Gears of War 2 also featured a new-look Gridlock (sans all the blood spilled by Sam and co).
James | Mass Effect 3
No game sucked me into its story more than Mass Effect 2. While the first game established a world and a franchise, I wasn’t on Xbox until the second game came around to pull me into its against-all-odds suicide mission.
By the time the sequel came around, I’d never been more invested in an RPG franchise, I’d never been behind characters as strongly and I lapped up every morsel of pre-release information about the game.
Then, there was a demo. What was that about?! Multiplayer, in context, had its place in Mass Effect 3, but the demo didn’t showcase that especially well. Nonetheless, I was still excited, and proudly took a picture of the title screen before finally jumping in.
The experience of the game gave me everything I was hoping for, despite some (understandably) raised eyebrows from the community at the ending, and the legacy of the series is strong enough to warrant an upcoming re-release with the remastered ‘Legendary’ edition next year. Will it be enough to tempt me back? A good question, for another time.
Which game had you boarding the hype train? Let us know below.
The release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S has us thinking back to the console launch line-ups of yesteryear.
Games at the start of a generation can be notoriously buggy and unstable, be just glorified tech demos built to show off the new hardware, or genuine, fleshed-out experiences which galvanise the console’s place in the gaming history books.
It’s the latter we’ve been looking for; those games which really stand out as iconic, generation-defining moments. What title would you choose? Do you ever buy new consoles at launch? Let us know in the comments.
Reliving the Battle of Endor was one of Rogue Leader's many standout moments.
James | The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild | Nintendo Switch
When this topic came up, I was first pouring over lists of games from some of the great turning points in my gaming career – original DualShock PlayStation (first console launch), Xbox One (first Xbox at launch) – when it occurred to me I was neglecting the most unique console experience of them all – the Nintendo Switch.
The console wasn’t blessed with the widest variety of games on day one, and 1,2 Switch really falls into that glorified tech demo camp, so the only real choice is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Since my track record with Zelda as a series is dire (in short: played Ocarina of Time a bit, played The Wind Waker less and haven’t completed any since A Link to the Past on the Game Boy), I was determined to really throw myself into it, and, as my glowing review hopefully would suggest, I rather enjoyed it.
Something about the freedom and scale of the game’s world, as well as the accessibility of its combat and puzzles, really clicked and I spent countless hours hitting as many shrines as possible. It really captured the potential of what this new console could do. Whether we’ll see the in-development sequel before the next Nintendo console remains to be seen.
"I'm going on an adventure!"
Sam | Demon’s Souls | PlayStation 5
While I had access to various games consoles throughout my childhood, it wasn't until the launch of the Xbox 360, just after starting high school, that I got my very own console at launch. King Kong and Perfect Dark didn’t make for the best hardware showcase, so, though they hold a special place in my heart, I need to look further into the future.
On paper, the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S launch line-ups were pretty underwhelming. Having now spent a decent chunk of time with them, however, there’s a lot to love. Gears Tactics has been my recent Xbox addiction, launching alongside the new Microsoft consoles and included with Game Pass from day one.
As much as I love Gears of War (and Xbox in general), PS5 games like Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales are on the next level. The former in particular, which is why it takes my pick.
Visually and technically it’s outstanding - just as you’d hope for from a next-gen launch title - though it doesn’t fall into the common “style over substance” trap. While it does utilise some non-standard (yet) elements of the new DualSense controller, rather than feeling like gimmicks, they genuinely aid immersion. Demon’s Souls is a fantastic experience in and of itself, which, within the context of a console launch game, is all too rare.
Demon's Souls does look very impressive (unless you suffer from arachnophobia).
What was your favourite launch game? Let us know below or in the forums.