Welcome back to Checkpoint!
Lots of news this week: major Oculus announcements, a new Total War game and The Last of Us Part 2 on the horizon, an Overwatch patch that modifies a massive number of heroes, and climate action announcements from gaming companies are just a few of the stories we'll cover.
You might have noticed that I'm sending this issue a few days late. I'm on leave from my day job, and will be skipping next week's issue to take a proper break. By delaying the issue a bit, I'm hoping to get you more of the news you depend on with less of an interruption.
Let's get into it.
An Old Warhorse
PC gaming and cross-platform titles
Untitled Goose Game, a game in which you play a goose getting up to antics and stealing things from people, has released on PC and Switch. Here's a review. It's a short game, around three hours long, though one speedrunner has already gotten it down to four minutes.
The latest Overwatch patch to hit the PTR makes small balance changes to nearly half of the game's heroes. Though this patch takes a scalpel approach to balancing, it seems poised to make massive changes to the current shield-heavy meta, and even return heroes that remain unchanged to relevancy. And some balance changes are less minor than it seems: player reports suggest that changing Tracer's damage falloff from 10 meters to 13 meters makes her a capable Pharah counter.
Afterparty, a successor to the popular Oxenfree, is a game in which you must defeat Satan in a drinking contest. It arrives on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on October 29.
The free-to-play Magic: The Gathering Arena game launched this week, and it's reportedly really good, but not as eye-catching as Hearthstone or Gwent.
The news that one of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's modes, Spec Ops Survival, will be a PS4 exclusive for the first year has caused quite a bit of controversy. One of the game's developers has tried to explain, though the decision appears to have been made at the publisher level.
I think the uproar is justified on this one. It's one thing to release a game on either Epic or Steam, or to build exclusive, first-party titles for different consoles. But charging players the same amount for a game and giving users on one platform extra content is just plain dirty. This Call of Duty will be easy for me to skip now.
Based on this Australian Classification Board rating, it looks likely that Red Dead Redemption 2's PC release is imminent.
One Last Fling
Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news
Detached from Reality
VR, AR, streaming, and other emerging tech
Oculus had a number of interesting announcements at Oculus Connect this year. The company is working on augmented reality glasses (think Google Glass), and is turning the Oculus Quest into a PC VR headset that can play Rift games from November.
There's also this Facebook Horizon social VR world, which is kind of like if someone took the ideas in Snow Crash and made them bland and terrible. Avatars literally end at the waist so that players can't simulate sexual activity.
Instead, you can jump into the next Medal of Honor game in 2020, which will be an Oculus Rift title from Respawn Entertainment.
A bit of streaming news: with Stadia's Founder's Edition nearly selling out, there's a new Premiere Edition available, including a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro, and a controller. On the other side of the aisle, you'll be able to test Microsoft's Project xCloud streaming service in October.
Pay for a Pass
Mobile gaming news
Google has announced its Apple Arcade competitor, Google Play Pass. It's a very similar proposition: for US$4.99 per month, you'll be able to play over 350 titles ad-free.
Meanwhile, the same amount of money (yes, as a monthly subscription) will let you access 200cc racing in Nintendo's Mario Kart Tour for iOS and Android. This would have sounded ridiculous six months ago, but it sure is out-of-touch now.
Playing for the Planet
Gaming culture, industry, and miscellanea
Gaming companies have made a number of announcements this week as part of Playing for the Planet, an industry initiative to combat climate change. Critics say they need to do more, which really applies to everyone and every industry on the planet when it comes to this issue, but incremental progress is better than paralysis. Some of the initatives:
Energy efficiency improvements in Sony devices, including a low power suspension mode for the PlayStation 5
A supply chain emissions reduction target from Microsoft that aims to cut 30% of emissions by 2030, and carbon neutral Xbox consoles
Offsets from a number of game developers
Ubisoft and Sports Interactive looking at sustainable title packaging instead of plastic
And some nebulous greenwashing from Google Stadia.
Police are investigating a link between organized crime and the Australian Overwatch Contenders team, hot on the heels of arrests made in a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match-fixing investigation.
Finally: Twitch has rolled out a UI update, and as with all redesigns ever, it's polarizing. I don't mind it, my friend hates it, and I don't know what you think about it. Reply me maybe?
That’s it for this edition.
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