Checkpoint #3: Another Starcraft shooter bites the dust

Google Stadia details, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Pokémon Sword & Shield + so much more that my fingers are literally crying

Hey gamers, welcome back to Checkpoint.

When I started this newsletter a few weeks ago, I knew E3 was right around the corner, but I never really stopped to put two and two together. Any games journalists reading this right now are having a chuckle at me, no doubt. There’s a lot to cover, and the E3 news is just getting started — this will be a trial by fire!

Fallen angel

PC gaming and cross-platform titles

Nope, that’s just a fallen Jedi.

EA had its E3 event on Saturday, and though it didn’t have as much to announce as in previous years, there was a clear blockbuster: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks incredible [ign]. This futuristic swashbuckler is scheduled to arrive on November 15. You can watch nearly 15 minutes of gameplay footage already [polygon].

The company also announced The Sims 4’s next expansion, Island Living. Players will spend time on the island of Sulani, where they’ll be able to work on their tan, swim with dolphins and mermaids, and try new careers such as conservationist and lifeguard. You’ll be able to live out your island adventures on June 21 (Win/Mac) or July 16 (PS4/XB1). [vg247]

EA has also announced a bunch of promising indie games that it’s publishing under the EA Originals label. [eurogamer]

Baldur’s Gate 3 is on its way. Larian Studios, developer of Divinity: Original Sin 2, confirmed that the title is in development at a certain Google event this week (which we’ll discuss in more detail momentarily). There’s no release date as yet, and it appears to be coming to PC and Stadia. [pcgamer]

Bandai Namco’s E3 announcements leaked early and Thrones-loving gamers will have a bit more GRRM in their lives soon enough. From Software are teaming up with George R.R. Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki to bring new IP, Elden Ring, to PC, PS4 and Xbox One. (Due to the timing of the newsletter, you might’ve already seen the official announcement by the time this hits your inbox.) [vg247]

Destiny 2’s next expansion, Shadowkeep, has been announced, and players will be heading back to the moon. Shadowkeep will cost US$34.99 and arrive on September 17. [gameinformer]

That’s not all: the game is going free-to-play, to an extent. From September 17, the base game and its first two expansions will be free. We’re getting cross-platform character saves at the same time, and the game will be moving over to Steam on PC. [rockpapershotgun]

A new Darksiders game has been announced. Darksiders Genesis is a co-op hack n’ slash game — it’ll be similar to Diablo 3 with more exploration and puzzle-solving.

Expect Darksiders Genesis on December 31 for US$30, available for Windows and Stadia. [rockpapershotgun]

Battlefield 5’s next chapter will bring four new maps with it, starting from June 27. [vg247]

Dauntless released its second major patch, focused on quality of life improvements. [destructoid]

And Fallout 76’s next patch will overhaul the combat system [destructoid]. We’ve heard a bit from Todd Howard this week — he says the company knew Fallout 76 would need to take an iterative approach to get the game where they wanted it post-launch. [pcgamer]

Blood and Truth was the first VR game to top the UK physical chart this week. It didn’t have a lot of competition, but given the relative size of the VR market, this is a notable achievement! [eurogamer]

The Google Stadia story

Stadia pricing, timeline, and titles

Google made a number of substantive announcements about its upcoming game streaming service, Stadia, this week.

Stadia will be available to gamers in launch countries this November.

To get started with the service, users will need to buy a Stadia Founder’s Edition kit. This includes a Chromecast Ultra, a controller, a three-month Stadia Pro subscription, and a couple of other sweeteners. This will cost US$129.99. If you’re diving into the Stadia ecosystem, you’ll probably also want to unlock the Stadia Pro subscription for $9.99/month — this unlocks 4K with HDR and surround sound, and free games and discount offers. [polygon]

The list of countries that’ll be able to participate at launch is slim, mostly owing to Stadia’s high bandwidth requirement and Google’s apparent decision to base launch countries on average speeds (not the mere availability of higher speeds for a segment of the population). As [polygon] reports, these countries include:

  • United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland

Australia is not on the list, which is unfortunate for me!

Stadia has over 20 publishers on board to ensure a well-stocked game library at launch. A number of popular cross-platform titles will be coming to Stadia at launch. Founders will get Destiny 2 and its expansions for free [destructoid], and Tom Clancy’s Division 2 will be available on day one. New titles like Baldur’s Gate 3, Doom Eternal, and Borderlands 3 will be coming to Stadia at launch [ign].

Stadia already has platform exclusives lined up. Gylt, a horror puzzle adventure game with a Dreamworks aesthetic from the makers of RiMe, will be coming to Stadia and only Stadia in November. [polygon]

[ign] is maintaining a wiki entry tracking confirmed Stadia games as they’re announced. [gameinformer] has some details on the kind of experience you’ll get depending on the speed of your internet connection.

And finally, if you just want to enjoy the eye candy and the exciting upcoming products, [techcrunch] has helpfully rounded up all of the game trailers from the Google event.

There’s a lot that remains to be seen here, but even for those of us who love our dedicated hardware, game streaming will certainly change how things are done across the whole industry — including pushing console companies to finish moving to an iterative platform approach.

Burst Fire

Quick links

Burst Fire gives you quick links to stories you may want to explore further on your own. In last week’s issue I added Burst Fire to handle interesting but non-essential links in an efficient way.

This time, I’ve separated Burst Fire out to keep the newsletter focused. I’m still experimenting with Checkpoint’s format, and will be for some time, so hit reply and let me know which approach you preferred!

Read Burst Fire


Gaming culture and miscellanea

ESPN tried to copy Twitch for a special NBA live stream, but the format didn’t translate well. [cybercultural]

For men who hate talking on the phone, games are keeping friendships alive. [kotaku]

A pro Fortnite player was banned from Twitch after claims he was only 12. [polygon]

Here’s an interesting look at the Hearthstone community creating its own cards. [eurogamer]

Another Starcraft shooter bites the dust

Blizzard news, rumors and reviews

Blizzard has reportedly canceled a Battlefield-like first-person shooter set in the StarCraft universe after two years of development. The report says it did so in order to focus its resources on Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2. [kotaku]

Low morale at Blizzard Esports is reportedly leading to high-profile departures, including that of OWL commissioner Nate Nanzer. [dexerto]

If you love a good spoilerWorld of Warcraft’s 8.2 Rise of Azsharacutscenes have been datamined. [wowhead]

In Hearthstone news, Dalaran Heist’s Chapter 5 and Anomaly Mode went live on Thursday. [icy-veins]

The original Diablo’s unofficial expansion, Hellfire, is now available for no additional charge to anyone who owns Diablo on GOG. [eurogamer]

What will the new-fangled existence of streaming mean for World of Warcraft Classic? [kotaku]

Double-edged sword

Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch news

Pokémon Sword and Shield have been announced. In a Nintendo Direct, the publisher said that we can expect the new games, featuring an array of new Pokémon and a new location, to come to Switch on November 15. [eurogamer]

The games will include Dynamax, a new feature that allows Pokemon to turn into giant form, buffing the strength of their moves. [vg247]

[ign] has a pretty thorough overview.

This is going to be big, whatever ‘this’ is: Microsoft’s hinting at a next-generation Xbox ‘Scarlet’ in E3 teasers. Due to timing, full details will probably be available by the time this hits your inbox, so have a peek online if you (understandably) don’t want to wait for more details next week. [theverge]

Northgard, the Viking-themed RTS you’ve probably seen on Steam, is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Switch later this year (no firm release date as yet). [eurogamer]

If you took advantage of the Twitch Prime promo that gave away free Switch Online subscription time a few months ago, you might want to check up on it: you can now apply the second part of the promo to get your full twelve month subscription. [nintendoenthusiast]

Shenmue 3 has been delayed to November as it undergoes “a little more refinement”. [eurogamer]

Here are all 42 games pre-installed on the Sega Genesis Mini, which is coming on September 19. [vg247]

Changes to PS4 party chat are coming, including an increased capacity for 16-person parties and some interesting speech-to-text-and-back-again accessibility functionality. [kotaku]

Red Dead Online has added a new Public Enemy mode, and a Railroad Baron free roam event. [vg247]

Naughty Dog will be taking multiplayer servers for a raft of popular PS3 games offline in September. They include Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3The Last of Us and The Last of Us: Left Behind. [ign]

PC zombie-steampunk strategy game They Are Billions is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in July. [destructoid]

Splatoon 2’s final Splatfest is coming in July as the developer winds down post-release development for the game. [kotaku]

Ubisoft doesn’t have a Rainbow Six Siege sequel planned, but it wants to support next-gen consoles. [playstationlifestyle]

Call a locksmith

Mobile gaming news

Niantic is ending support for the Pokémon GO Apple Watch app. It wants to move to collecting steps data through third-pary app integrations using Adventure Sync. [9to5mac]

[toucharcade] reckons the iOS port of Lovecraft’s Untold Stories is pretty good, really.

Google Stadia’s mobile app will be pretty limited at launch [pockettactics].

Check out the first look at Minecraft Earth, an AR experience for iOS and Android that lets you build on your real-world furniture. [polygon]

At WWDC, Apple announced that it would be bringing support for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One S controllers to iOS 13, tvOS and iPadOS later this year. [destructoid]

I’ll leave you with a game to replace Pokémon GO’s spot on your Apple Watch app picker. Pocket Bandit is a game that’s all about cracking a safe using the crown. [eurogamer]

That’s it for this edition.

Thanks for reading Checkpoint. If you enjoyed reading, please let your gamer friends know about it — you’ll be helping me keep this newsletter going. And don’t forget to follow us on social media to receive interesting gaming updates throughout the week:

Thanks for your support. See you next time,

- Flob