I've been at GDC all week, which means I haven't been able to keep a close eye on news. Lucky for me, there doesn't appear to have been much news to keep a close eye on in the first place. Which is to say: Yes, it was a slow news week.
Bethesda did announce a brand-new Elder Scrolls Online expansion though, plus Epic revived Paragon as a collection of assets for aspiring developers, Ubisoft finally dodged the Vivendi bullet, and rumors of a Modern Warfare 2 had me momentarily excited—until I heard there was no multiplayer. For shame, Activision.
This is gaming news for March 19 to 23.
I’m including this week’s freebie mainly for novelty’s sake. Most giveaways are stylish indie titles, old blockbuster action games, and the like. This week Humble’s giving away a racing game, though! Okay, it’s F1 2015, so not only is it old, it’s also mediocre at best. Xbox controller support is essentially nonexistent too, which is another slight against it.
We almost never see free racing games though, so maybe it’s worth checking out—especially if you have a wheel on-hand. You’ve got until Saturday morning to claim your copy.
Last year’s Elder Scrolls Online expansion, Morrowind, was all about the nostalgia. This year’s, Summerset, is all about novelty. True to the name, players will journey to the Summerset, land of the High Elves—and a setting that hasn’t really been explored in any Elder Scrolls game. Technically it appeared in Arena but so did everything else.
I’m not sure Summerset has the same appeal as Morrowind, but last year’s expansion at least gave me a positive opinion of an MMO I once wrote off entirely. Maybe that’s enough of a reason to dip back in.
What Remains of Giant Sparrow
It’s probably a bit early to start hyping another game from developer Giant Sparrow. The last, What Remains of Edith Finch, took something like five years to come to fruition—though it’s hard to argue with the result, given it won our 2017 Game of the Year award.
A project’s developing, though. As spotted by PC Gamer, Giant Sparrow’s GDC talk ended with a tease for its new game—something about “the enchanting beauty of animal locomotion.” The long wait begins.
No Russian Remastered
The rumors keep on coming. A few weeks back we finally got confirmation that 2018’s Call of Duty will be Black Ops 4 (or IIII, as they put it). Now there’s another rumor circling in Eurogamer and other outlets that says we’ll also see Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered this fall. The odd bit: It’s just the campaign, with no multiplayer remaster.
Considering Modern Warfare 2 is the one I sunk the most multiplayer hours into...I’m a bit disappointed. I would’ve loved to return to Terminal or Sub Base or Rust with upgraded art. Alas.
Less uncanny, perhaps
Every year at GDC, Epic gives a long “State of Unreal” presentation to both recap the previous year of Unreal Engine developments and forecast what’s in store. Most of this stuff is of pretty narrow interest, but I’ll admit this year’s demos were at least visually impressive, especially the Star Wars short below. Titled “Reflections,” it was used to demonstrate Nvidia’s real-time ray tracing tech.
You probably won’t see these sorts of real-time reflections in game for 5 to 10 years—Epic was running the demo on some very beefy hardware—but the future sure looks stunning. And when you’re done with that, digital Andy Serkis is pretty interesting too.
Paragon of generosity
And in other Epic news, Paragon lives—sort of. Whether it was the plan from the start or just a response to the community, Epic went and released $12 million (their estimate) worth of Paragon assets this week. Everything from the characters, the animations, the dialogue, props, and so on is now available on the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
I’m sure that means a flood of Unreal Engine asset flips cluttering Steam soon, but at least they’ll be fantastic-looking asset flips.
The saga begins (late)
Lots of short delays this year. Pillars of Eternity II was pushed back a month, Far Cry 5 was pushed back a month. And now Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia joins the club. Originally slated for an April 19 release, the smaller and more compact Total War announced a delay this week—but only until May 3, just two short weeks later. Sounds like mostly balance changes and UI tweaks, though you can read the full explanation here.
Lastly, some happy news from the tumultuous world of corporate politicking. You might’ve heard Ubisoft’s been sparring with Vivendi for the past year or two, fending off a hostile takeover from the onetime Activision-Blizzard owner. Despite mixed feelings on Ubisoft, the prospect of a takeover by Vivendi was generally seen as “A Bad Thing.”
Looks like Ubisoft managed to strong-arm its way out of the situation though. This week the two reached a deal, with Vivendi selling off all 30 million of its shares in the company and promising not to purchase more for at least the next five years. Of those, Ubisoft will buy back 9 million shares, Tencent will acquire 5.6 million, and the “Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan” another 3.8 million.
Point being: Ubisoft’s not in danger of being taken over any time soon. Lucky them.