Gamescom wrapping up, PAX around the corner, so you know it’s busy this week. We’ve got an onslaught of news, including the first BattleTech expansion, a Game of Thrones-themed sequel to Reigns, release dates for Mutant Year Zero and Shenmue III, the debut of Life is Strange 2, and Gabe Newell struggling with the concept of a “triple kill.”
This is gaming news for August 20 to 24.
Free for the weekend
Honestly it seems like you could have your fill of Overwatch by just waiting until Blizzard makes it free-to-try again. It happens almost every month at this point—seriously, the last free weekend was at the end of July. In any case, it’s free again through Monday. Have at it.
You can also pick up Ubisoft’s sword-and-board fighting game For Honor this weekend, and that one’s free-to-keep. It’s only the $15 “Starter Edition,” which means you’ll need to grind to unlock new heroes, but it’s still a decent deal.
Oh, there’s also a reason why Overwatch is free this weekend: a new map. It’s set in Busan, a.k.a. D.Va’s home in South Korea, and the map is on the test server at the moment. You can take a look at it here, or check out another one of Blizzard’s Pixar-quality animated shorts below.
This little piggy
Back at E3 I said Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is “like XCOM with a quirky personality.” Case in point, maybe the weirdest game trailer I’ve ever seen. Check it out below, or just be content with the knowledge that Mutant Year Zero’s locked down a December 4 release date.
Hitman Cinematic Universe
In case you needed more proof the upcoming Hitman 2 should’ve been called Hitman: Season 2, IO announced this week that it’s bringing 2016’s Hitman levels into the sequel. Calling it the “World of Assassination,” all six locations will be remastered and updated with Hitman 2’s engine—which means working mirrors, new items, and so on. And if you own the 2016 Hitman? It’s all free.
Life is Stranger
The wait is over, as Dontnod finally dropped a Life is Strange 2 trailer during Gamescom this week. And wow, it’s...ambitious. From the announcement: “Two brothers, Sean and Daniel Diaz, 16 and 9, are forced to run away from home after a tragic incident in Seattle. In fear of the police, Sean and Daniel head to Mexico while attempting to conceal a sudden and mysterious supernatural power.”
It’s one of those premises that could either be a bold landmark for the medium or go horribly awry. We’ll see.
Kick the Kickstarter further off
I hope you weren’t waiting for Shenmue 3 or Bloodstained: Symphony of the Night this year. The former announced an August 27, 2019 release date this week, so almost exactly a year out—assuming it hits that release date, of course. There’s also a new trailer:
And the belabored Bloodstained slipped its release date again. First set to release in early 2017, then delayed until early 2018, it’s now set for an ambiguous 2019 —no word on whether it'll be the first or second half of the year. Remember Kickstarter? Oh, we were all so naive back then.
Until Dawn is one of the better PlayStation exclusives this generation, and like all PlayStation exclusives I’m sad it’ll never show up on PC. Luckily the same team has been commissioned by Bandai Namco to make The Dark Pictures, a horror anthology in the same vein. The first episode, Man of Medan, can be seen in the trailer below.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey continues to tease bits of Ancient Greek mythos in its trailers. At E3 it was a quick shot of the Minotaur. For Gamescom? A Gorgon. Whether Medusa or one of her sisters, the snake-hair is immediately recognizable.
Black Ops 4K
I feel like every year Activision is quick to tout that this year’s Call of Duty is PC-ready, and every year the Steam community disagrees. Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII is trying again though, with this PC trailer touting ultrawide monitor and 4K support, plus an uncapped framerate. I’ll also say that my demo at Gamescom this week was on mouse and keyboard, which I’ve never seen at a Call of Duty preview. So hey, maybe.
Mech toybox BattleTech announced its first expansion this week, Flashpoint. It’s what I wanted out of Harebrained Schemes: More writing. The titular Flashpoints are mini-stories, wrapping BattleTech’s procedurally-generated missions in a short narrative framework. Along with all the quality-of-life changes made over the past few months, it might be time for me to go back.
Surge is back
Did you hear you can get that old ‘90s soda Surge at select Burger Kings, nationwide? Oh wait, this is actually supposed to be about The Surge 2, sequel to 2017’s sci-fi Souls-like. This week Focus dished out an incredibly short trailer with some game footage.
Sit the Iron Throne
Reigns, that game where you rule over a kingdom by swiping left or right on events a la Tinder, is getting a Game of Thrones-themed sequel. Titled (as you might expect) Reigns: Game of Thrones, you’ll be able to play as a bunch of different characters including Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister as you fight to keep control of Westeros. It’s a neat little tie-in, though I assume it’ll be much more grim and less weird than the main Reigns games.
Hello, I’m Gabe Newell
How many kills in a triple-kill? Well, if you’re Gabe Newell it’s “More than two kills, less than four.” Newell’s finally come down from on-high to do his own Dota 2 custom announcer pack, and it’s full of fantastic one-liners, many of which are covered in the sketch below. My personal favorite though? “You’re a beautiful person with a charming personality.” Imagine hearing that in the middle of a hard-fought Dota 2 match.