We can roughly divide the year into two halves: September through February is the “Release” bit, and March through August the “Hype” bit. Sure, there are exceptions—games get released all year long at this point. But in general, that’s the divide.
And the marker? The Game Developer’s Conference, which took place this week in San Francisco and where we start to see news about the year’s most-anticipated games. And uh…also, lots of news about last year’s best games.
Like Overwatch’s new hero, or a new Stellaris expansion. That news, plus Bolivia reprimanding Ubisoft, new System Shock reboot footage, a Shadow of Mordor sequel announcement, and more.
This is gaming news for February 27 to March 3.
Arma-ed to the teeth
Another solid Humble Bundle this week, this time focused on the Arma series. The tiers are a bit complicated but basically $1 gets you the original Arma, beating the average gets you Arma 2, and paying $15 or more gets you Arma 3. If you’re looking for a hellishly complicated but ultra-rewarding military sim, Arma’s a damn good choice—or if you just want to play the original DayZ, before it fell into Early Access hell.
It’s a busy week, between Ryzen benchmarks, the 1080 Ti announcement, and the release of the Nintendo Switch. But you know what generated almost as much buzz? A new Overwatch hero.
Orisa is the game’s first new tank since launch, a robot with four legs and a Centaur-esque body, capable of firing her long-range arm cannon, sucking enemies towards a certain point, or buffing allied damage. She’s available now on the PTR, or you can check out her origin story below:
Shadow of More-dor
The inevitable Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor sequel both leaked and then got an official unveiling this week. It’s titled Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and you can see the announcement trailer below. Look for more footage sometime next week.
Nightdive’s successfully-Kickstarted System Shock remake released footage this week and…well, it’s quite a bit less blue. Apparently the game’s moved from Unity to Unreal Engine—probably a good call, but in the process it’s lost some of the retro, recognizably-System-Shock aesthetic shown in the demo last summer. The new footage is more Doom 3 or insert-other-sci-fi-horror-game, which is a bit of a shame.
Ah well, hopefully it turns out okay. And hey, Nightdive’s also working on this sweet-looking Turok 2 remaster releasing later this month.
The folks at Paradox put out a lot of stuff this week, despite not doing a press conference like the past few years. Regardless, we’ve got trailers for a new Stellaris expansion, a Cities: Skylines expansion, and realism-centric World War II RTS Steel Division: Normandy 44.
I’m trying to figure out if some devil’s bargain was struck between Ubisoft and Hollywood. “Hey, we’ll let you make your games into movies, but in return you’ll have to make movie tie-in games.”
Which is a long way of saying: Apparently Ubisoft’s Massive (The Division) is working on an Avatar game? Like, James Cameron’s blue aliens. Ugh.
Gearbox apparently hasn’t announced a Borderlands 3 yet, which I guess means it’s such an obvious move post-Battleborn that I just assumed it was on the way. Maybe I dreamed it.
In any case, Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford went on-stage during Epic’s Wednesday morning session to show off some totally-not- Borderlands tech built using Unreal. Custom shaders, fancy black outlines, and yeah I guess that game is probably on the way. But not officially. (Skip to 48:00)
The calm before the storm
Gearbox is also releasing that Bulletstorm remaster in about a month’s time, and it got a new trailer this week. A very serious trailer, I should say. Ridiculously serious, considering Bulletstorm is mostly known for the ability to kick enemies into a cactus and then shoot them in the crotch.
I wanna rock
Rock Band VR is mere weeks away, which means it’s time for the track listing drip feed. This week Harmonix released the first 20 songs, including “When You Were Young” by The Killers (A Guitar Hero 3 favorite), “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters, and “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains. It’s looking solid so far—undoubtedly a result of the series having never come to PC. All that DLC potential.
Pass it on
If you’ve been holding off buying Battlefield 1 until the French got the proper respect and acknowledgement they deserved, you won’t have to wait much longer: “They Shall Not Pass” launches on March 14 for those who purchased the season pass, and shortly thereafter for everyone else.
EA also revealed the other three expansions coming this year, which will feature the Russians, naval battles, and “The Apocalypse” respectively. Seriously, that’s all the details we have about the last pack, which covers “the most infamous battles of WWI.”
And we’ll finish off this week with everyone’s favorite segment: Lawsuit news. UploadVR reports that ZeniMax made good on its threats against Oculus this week, filing an injunction to try and halt the distribution of the Rift SDK (effectively crippling the hardware) and claiming that Facebook’s $500 million penalty is “insufficient incentive for Defendants to cease infringing.”
Then there’s the strange case of Ubisoft and Bolivia. Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands releases next week, and takes place in a semi-fictional version of Bolivia—but apparently not fictionalized enough. Or maybe too much?
In any case Bolivia is mad about its portrayal in Wildlands and, according to Reuters, “asked that the French government intervene.” Failing that, Bolivia also threatened to take legal action. Ubisoft’s response was to reiterate that Wildlands is a work of fiction—but still, can you imagine? An international crisis over a video game? That’s when you know you’ve made it.
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Hayden writes about games for PCWorld and doubles as the resident Zork enthusiast.