Xbox acquires Bethesda and exclusive rights to eight major franchises

Bethesda

Yes, you did read that right. In an industry defining move earlier today Microsoft announced it is acquiring ZeniMax Media and Bethesda Game Studios. This move sees eight major Bethesda game franchises fall under the ownership of Microsoft. Furthermore, they could all become Xbox exclusives depending on how the American technology giant approaches development.

The eight notable franchises Xbox has gained ownership of are DOOM, Dishonored, Fallout, PREY, The Elder Scrolls, The Evil Within, Starfield, and Wolfenstein. Many of these series have active games in development, with the biggest by far being The Elder Scrolls VI. It was teased a couple of years back, but we’ve seen no new information since then. It’ll be interesting to see if it ends up being an Xbox exclusive or not.

The acquisition of Bethesda

Elder Scrolls bethesdaMicrosoft’s acquisition of the popular American games publisher alongside ZeniMax is rumored to have cost $7.5 billion. To put that colossal number into context, that’s three times what it paid to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang.

In a post written by Bethesda PR vice president Pete Hines, the developer states this opportunity allows it to make “even better games going forward.” Also, Hines believes Microsoft can provide “access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer.”

Given the rough patch Bethesda is going through, a change in direction was probably needed. The disaster that was and is Fallout 76 has been difficult to overcome for the developer, but this switch up of approach could help. Hopefully, with the backing and funding of Xbox Bethesda can get back to developing industry defining RPGs.

What do you think about this bold move by Microsoft? Are they justified in doing this or is the acquisition of Bethesda a bad move for industry competition? Let us know in the comments what you think and if this will pay off long-term.

Disintegration lives up to its name as its servers are set to close next month

Disintegration

Just last June indie developer V1 Interactive released its first title, Disintegration. Disintegration is a sci-fi FPS designed by former Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto. Despite Lehto’s obvious experience in the industry, the hovercraft shooter has completely failed as a multiplayer game.

In order to cut back on costs, V1 Interactive have decided to close down all multiplayer servers come this November. Despite this, the FPS will still be perfectly playable as a single player, story focused game. When the multiplayer servers are closed, all players will lose all of their progress made up to now.

The tale of Disintegration

DISINTEGRATION gunfight

The official announcement posted on Twitter gave an insight as to how this decision has come about. It reads: “While our player based showed interested in the single player campaign, the game unfortunately struggled to build a significant audience necessary for a compelling multiplayer experience.”

Despite Disintegration’s shortcomings, V1 Interactive does not regret the design decisions made. As the statement puts it, the developer “stands by the creative risks taken to launch such a unique, genre-bending game.” And to be fair, it may have a point. Even if it failure commercially, that is no fault of the game itself.

Think about it this way. Despite being a large-scale, well-funded, and published sci-fi first person shooter, you’ve probably not heard of Disintegration before now. Unfortunately, it was very poorly marketed and never managed to reach out and find an audience. The fact that stories of its failure are likely bringing it the most attention its ever had is just sad.

What will be interesting going forward is if V1 Interactive opts to support the single-player long-term. It’s story mode has attracted a decent player base but that will likely only last so long. Without new updates and content Disintegration will truly die out sooner or later.

PlayStation 5 launch line-up to be announced this Wednesday

PlayStation 5

After Microsoft’s shock announcement of the Xbox Series S, Sony chose to delay its planned PlayStation 5 stream. We didn’t know exactly when it was being pushed back to, but some new information just dropped. According to a tweet from the official PlayStation Twitter account, the next showcase will streamed this Wednesday.

You can catch the stream at 1 PM Pacific Time. That’s GMT -7 which equates to 9 PM UK time or 5 AM in

Japan. It’ll be available on Sony’s YouTube and Twitch channels. The stream is expected to last around

40 minutes and will focus on Sony’s next-gen titles coming to PS5.

What should you expect from the PlayStation 5 showcase?

Horizon 2 PS5 launch titleIt’s unlikely that Sony will focus too much on the console itself. All of its specifications and hardware were already covered in earlier streams. I’d also be surprised to see a price tag at this point. Even if that’s arguably what their fans want to see the most.

Sony will want to provide that information before people start pre-ordering the Xbox Series X, but it’s not currently in a position to do so. As I predicted in my recent opinion piece, I doubt Sony was prepared for the Series S announcement. The Japanese tech giant is likely still figuring out how to release the PlayStation 5 in a competitive state.

A release date does seem more likely though. We know that the Xbox Series X is coming November 10 and it’s very rare for two consoles to launch in the same window. Given this, I’d guess that the PlayStation 5 will likely drop sometime in December.

Finally, Sony will very likely use this stream to announce the PS5’s launch line-up. Sony has always prided itself on its exclusives so expect plenty of first-party announcements. If I were to guess, we’ll probably see Gran Turismo, Horizon 2, and maybe even something unexpected like Ratchet and Clank.

Codemasters delay DiRT 5 release to November amongst COVID setbacks

DiRT 5

British game developer Codemasters today announced that DiRT 5 is set for its second delay. The rally simulation game was previously delayed until October 9 so that Codemasters could smooth out the gameplay. However, it seems that initial delay wasn’t enough so another setback to November 3 has been greenlighted.

In the announcement posted on the official Codemasters Twitter, the racing game developer apologies for the inconvenience. It states, “The start line is now a little further away, but it’s still very much in sight.” Also, Codemasters has now confirmed that owners of DiRT 5 on current-gen will get a free next-gen upgrade when the new consoles launch.

Why DiRT 5 was delayed

DiRT 5 buggy racingAlthough an official reason for the delay wasn’t stated, it doesn’t take a genius to take a good guess. The ongoing COVID -19 crisis has been a disaster for the games industry. Many large scale studios have had to push back big projects due to the transition from office work to working at home.

DiRT 5 is the latest victim of the pandemic but by no means the first. Perhaps the biggest industry casualty yet was Halo Infinite which received a lot of criticism due to its underwhelming reveal last August. 343 Industries apologized for the state of the game and confirmed that COVID played a big part of Infinite’s troubled development.

Codemasters is coming off of a relatively successful year having launched multiple well received titles. For many, the latest F1 game is probably the best we’ve had in years. On top of that, earlier this year it acquired Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios. Adding such a prolific racing game developer to its portfolio says a lot about Codemasters’ ambition to grow as a publisher.

The DiRT 5 delays may be frustrating but all in all they should be taken positively. When a publisher delays a game it usually means it actually cares about putting out a good product. Hopefully with the extra time Codemasters are given on DiRT 5 it’ll be able to take it to the next level.

DOOM and DOOM II update brings the classic FPS into the 21st century

DOOM

The original DOOM first made its MS-DOS debut way back in 1993. Since then it has seen ports onto a wide range of platforms including SNES, Xbox 360, and Switch. Its most recent update announced earlier today looks to modernize several versions of both DOOM and DOOM II.

The only requirement to be eligible for this free update is to own either The Ultimate DOOM or DOOM II: Hell on Earth on Steam. If you purchase either produce now you’ll also get the upgrade for free. Both Ultimate DOOM and its sequel will set you back £3.99 each.

What’s in the DOOM update

DOOM II GAMEPLAYThis update aims to bring both classic FPS titles into the modern age with a ton of quality of life improvements. For instance, both games will now support widescreen rendering. This means playing on a 16:9 monitor will no longer result in either black side bars or a stretched screen.

Also, official support for both DeHackEd and Deathmatch 3.0 have been added. The former is a very popular fan patch many DOOM players use to add more content to their game. This includes new weapons and diverse enemy behaviour patterns.

The introduction of Deathmatch 3.0 will allow players to go head to head with their friends via local co-op. This was already a popular mode within the community but was never officially recognized by the developers. This change means that Bethesda will now offer full support for the fan favorite game mode.

Finally, Bethesda has used this opportunity to optimise this game experience on mobile. The iOS version of this game now features advanced touch controls, native controller support, and a custom FPS limiter. The latter is a nice addition for those who own mobile devices with higher refresh rates than the industry standard 60hz.

If you enjoyed this article consider dropping a comment below giving your thoughts on the big DOOM update.

FaZe Clan signs future NBA star Bronny James on a long-term deal

FaZe

The FaZe Clan has had a long history in competitive gaming. From its early days of Call of Duty quick scope montages, it has since grown into one of the most successful eSports franchises of all time. And the latest edition to its line-up suggests they’re now ready to go mainstream.

Announced on the official FaZe Twitter account, the eSports organisation has signed Bronny James to a long-term deal. This deal will see the future NBA star partner up with FaZe as a content creator. It should benefit both parties with FaZe getting mainstream marketing whilst Bronny James can grow his streaming platform.

This is smart from FaZe

LeBron James son joins FaZeDespite his likely NBA focused future, Bronny James has established himself as a legitimate streamer. He has over 330,000 followers on Twitch and regularly streams a large variety of games. Amongst these include NBA 2K20, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Fall Guys.

It’s no secret as to where his popularity comes from. As I’m sure many of you are aware, Bronny James is the son of NBA superstar Lebron James. The three times NBA champion and 16 times NBA All-Star is widely considered the greatest basketball player of this generation.

Even if its an indirect connection, having a link like that is a huge win for FaZe. Also, it’s very possible that Bronny James could grow to incredible stardom himself in the future. When millions are watching him score baskets on TV in years to come, FaZe will receive plenty of exposure.

The only real concern for FaZe is that Bronny may not be able to focus on his steaming career going forward. Being a competitive NBA player is a lot of work and balancing that whilst actively streaming seems difficult. Regardless, it should be interesting to see how this partnership works out.

NBA 2K21 on next-gen will support female MyPlayers

NBA 2K21

Despite debuting in 1996, the WNBA has not received much representation in the NBA 2K series. In fact, it only first appeared last year and even then as a bit-part side mode. However, some recent news regarding NBA 2K21 suggests that may be changing.

Announced in a recent Q&A with developer Visual Concepts, it was confirmed female MyPlayers are coming to NBA 2K21. However, they’ll only be available on the next-gen versions of the game. That means only PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X players will get to try them out.

NBA 2K21 progressive game design

NBA 2K21 NEIGHborhoodMuch like the standard mode, female MyPlayers will be fully customizable from their looks to their animations and skillsets. We don’t yet have details regarding how the female MyPlayers will interact with their male counterparts. It’ll be interesting to see if Visual Concepts opts for mixed-gender game modes or opts to separate them.

Thankfully, it’s not as though current gen players won’t get access to any new features. For one, the new neighborhood “The Beach,” has already been confirmed. It’s an environment inspired by the street ball played in areas like Los Angeles.

For those looking for significant gameplay changes, both NBA 2K21’s shooting and dribbling have been reworked. Going forward the right stick will be the focus for both chaining dribble moves and efficient shooting. The new shooting sees players having to prioritize aiming their shot instead of timing their release.

Despite that, there is a high skill option that combines both old and new shooting method together. By tapping LT/RT as you release the ball after aiming your shot, you can also get a release time bonus. I’d imagine this is a method only NBA 2K21 pros and competitive players will opt for. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how this year’s game turns out.

The Project CARS 3 bold design changes have been well received by critics

Project CARS 3

When Project CARS 3 was first revealed last June, some fans were concerned over the drastic change in direction. Whilst the first two games in the series were hardcore racing simulators, the third opts to be a simcade instead. Such a bold design change hasn’t really ever been seen in a racing game franchise before.

The first two games focused entirely on delivering the best wheel racing experience possible. Similar to other competitive sim racers like Asseto Corsa and iRacing, Project CARS was never a great option for controller players. However, the third in the series is now a great controller game resulting in a more accessible experience for most.

All Project CARS 3’s changes

Project CARS 3 corvette racingFor one, racing is no longer limited to just traditional grand prix circuits. Project CARS 3 sees the introduction of casual street racing venues similar to that of Slightly MAD Studios’ earlier games. It’s clear its inspiration comes from a mix of the Forza games and Need For Speed Shift.

Unlike the previous two titles, Project CARS 3 also implements a more defined progression model into its career mode. Much like the Forza and Gran Turismo series, there’s a far bigger focus on collecting different cars for different events.

Equally, much like the Forza series, This game sees both an upgrade system and a decal system introduced. This means you can customize cars you own to look and perform exactly how you want. However, this does mean the classic racing discipline restrictions are more or less gone.

These changes have overall been well received by critics, but it feels as though Slightly MAD Studios made one big mistake. It’s not that Project CARS 3 is a bad game, it’s just that it shouldn’t be called Project CARS 3 in the first place. Adopting a spin-off franchise similar to the Forza Horizon series would have been the better option.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered looks to be in the works

Hot Pursuit

American publisher Electronic Arts no doubt has its hands full right now. There’s already confirmed releases for FIFA 21, Madden NFL 21, and Star Wars: Squadrons. On top of that, recent news regarding Battlefield 6 suggests it could be the biggest in the franchise yet. But it’s the new leak of a potential Hot Pursuit remaster that’s got everyone’s attention.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was released in 2010 as a soft reboot to the 1998 original. It was the last game in the series developed by Criterion, with Ghost Games taking over afterward. Whilst not necessarily the most iconic Need For Speed, most fans will have fond memories of it.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Speed Hot Pursuit supercar race

The news of a potential remaster was leaked via multiple postings across two different stores. First, Amazon removed an Xbox One listing for Hot Pursuit Remastered. This was followed by Australian retailer Mighty Ape doing much the same.

It’s listing on Amazon had it priced at £34.99 (roughly $45) which seems reasonable for a remaster. For many, it’s probably not the game they expected EA to green light. After all, the likes of Carbon and Pro Street have never been given the reboot treatment and are more widely liked.

The choice to remaster Hot Pursuit probably comes from the fact Criterion was responsible for it. After the fair success of Burnout Paradise Remastered, Criterion were handed back full development rights over the Need for Speed franchise. Remastering a game that it made in the past would certainly be easier than working on someone else’s title.

Regardless, Electronic Arts’ eagerness to get Criterion back into active development is nice to see. It has been responsible for some of the best arcade racing games ever made with Hot Pursuit itself outperforming just about every Need for Speed since. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more from them in the future.

Battlefield 6 is targeting 128 player lobbies and a battle royale

Battlefield 6

We know that DICE is currently working on an upcoming installment in the Battlefield franchise. Previously Electronic Arts’ signature FPS, the warfare simulator has dropped off with Apex Legends taking its place. Regardless, expectations are still high for Battlefield 6 and a new leak gives players plenty to be excited about.

Industry insider Tom Henderson took to Twitter to reveal some details regarding Battlefield 6. Although Henderson is best known for his Call of Duty leaks, it’s reasonable to assume he has inside info from EA too. After all, DICE and Infinity Ward likely share information between one another.

Battlefield 6 leaks

Battlefield 6 combat

According to Henderson, the next Battlefield will be targeting 128 player lobbies. This means that all of the maps will be big enough to function in a 64 versus 64 match format. However, there will still be a 32 versus 32players option for those who want that old school Battlefield feel.

Otherwise, DICE is supposedly very interested in reexploring the battle royale genre. Battlefield fans will no doubt remember the developers first attempt, Firestorm. Several fundamental gameplay oversights and lack of support led to its eventual demise. DICE will need to do everything possible to avoid Battlefield 6 falling to the same fate.

However, if DICE were to dedicate more resources to a battle royale it definitely could work. Remember, Call of Duty’s first attempt, Blackout, was not received well. And yet Warzone has gone down as a huge commercial success. Recent numbers suggest Warzone has attracted over 75 million players since launch.

There will be some concerns over the server refresh rates that Battlefield 6 ends up using. There were times in Battlefield 5 where the servers couldn’t even keep up with 32 a side. Doubling that number is going to require either a server upgrade or a Hz drop. The latter would result in far less responsive gameplay.