The Game Awards were last night, and this morning the internet is awash in news posts and trailers, all happily reporting on new game announcements made during the show.
But one announcement towered over the others in my mind – the reveal of Bravely Default II for Nintendo Switch. I played both of the 3DS Bravely Default titles, and their grind-y, job-happy mechanics were the best possible antidote for old-school Final Fantasy fans suffering from modern FF fatigue.
For anyone wondering why Square Enix can’t make ‘em like they used to, Bravely Default is the series for you. In fact, Bravely Default shares so much DNA with Final Fantasy that players revive their characters with “Phoenix Downs” and refresh themselves with “Megalixers”. Yup, it’s SNES-era Final Fantasy in everything but name.
I’m slightly disappointed that Bravely II is moving forward with a new cast, as the original group were some of my favorites, but I’ll find a way to survive. Just the news that this series is continuing was exciting enough to get me to pull out my 3DS and put it on the charger this morning. Seems like I'm going to be diving back into the Bravely Default universe this weekend.
From the press release: “From the same team behind the Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler games, Bravely Default II is a successor to the original Bravely Default game and will have players embark on a new story in a new world, featuring all-new Heroes of Light. The game will also feature music by Revo (Sound Horizon/Linked Horizon), composer of the Bravely Default soundtrack.”
The very first game announced for the Xbox Series X isn't a Halo or a Gears of War. It's not even a Sunset Overdrive or a Sea of Thieves. It's Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, sequel to 2017's disquieting ASMR whispering nightmare, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Already we have something of a confused naming scheme happening. But that's okay; at least Ninja Theory figured out that "Hellblade" was the most generic name for anything this side of the mobile gaming market, and that Senua was the real headliner, not the...Hellblade, or whatever.
I'm finally dipping my toes into Senua's Sacrifice. I love the hellish vision at play here. It's cold, and its cold beauty makes the horror even more horrific. They've somehow turned it all the way up to 11 in this video, though, with Senua performing some kind of scary Nordic evil druid rock. It's like "Du Hast Mesh" for Vikings. Somehow, despite my misgivings, I'm now a superfan of this "In Maidjan" track by the band Heilung.
Have fun as the snarling, feral image of Senua's face chanting "In Maidjan" makes its way into your REM sleep tonight. This was absolutely the baddest game trailer shown Thursday night at Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards in Los Angeles.
I'm not even the world's biggest cynic, but it's been easy to see—and hard to deny—that there might no longer be anything good coming out of Telltale Games. They redefined adventure gaming, to be sure. But no amount of success, it seemed, could keep the doors open. Telltale shut down. But then came right back! With none of the original crew that built Telltale's success. So you'll have to pardon me if I'm still going to sit right here and take this news with a grain of salt. Though this was literally the only thing they could've said to get my attention one more time:
Telltale is making The Wolf Among Us 2.
We hear Snow (of Snow White fame) having a heart to heart with Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf). She knows he's a changed wolf. He's reformed. He used to be big and bad. But he's better now. And Snow has to ask Bigby to be find the Big Bad in himself again.
The first season, back in 2013, introduced me and many others to the wild world of Fables, an already 11-year-old series of graphic novels. It didn't matter that I was late to that party. I'd eventually catch up, borrowing them one trade paperback at a time from a friend that lived three hours away. But the games themselves captured such a brilliant, thickly drawn, neon detective vibe that it was impossible for me to look away. That, and the fact that it was broken-down folklore told by broken-down fairy-tale characters. Like Bigby, the titular Big Bad Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown. Brilliant, subversive stuff.
As we speak, I'm mad that I don't have those graphic novels, and I'm mad that I never completed that first season of The Wolf Among Us. Time for me to fire up the ol' Xbox 360. I've got it waiting right there. And I could sit here grousing about how I wish it was the original Telltale crew putting it together. But the truth is, I'm gonna play it. Whoever makes it.
We don't do Game of the Year lists, per se, but if we did, Control would be in my top two—and it probably ain't number two. Out tonight, announced right alongside Geoff Keighley's The Game Awards, is Control - Expeditions. This is meant to be a challenging new game mode and is available for free to all Control game owners.
You're still Jesse Faden, newly appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Control, but it looks like you're rocking a flak jacket in one new outfit. There's at least a second new outfit in there, too. Could be WWII mountain climbing gear for all I know. You get to spend a lot of time in Control's Upside Down, it looks like, and there's a paranormal jukebox at the center of it all. They sure have some smooth animations going on during the trailer. I hope my vanilla PS4 version can finally run it like that.
Further, the end of the trailer nails down a March 26, 2020, launch date for Expansion 1 - The Foundation. It can be hard to come back to a game after a long winter away. But I think Control will make coming back easy.
At the Game Awards, Microsoft unveiled the official name and look for the next Xbox. Xbox Series X will be coming out for Holiday 2020. Rumors are there will be two SKUs so hence the Series X I'm guessing.
The physical look of the console is a monolith like tower with what looks like a vent at the top. There's the Blu-Ray slot on the front along with a simple Xbox logo in the corner. I'm assuming you can lay it on the side or stand it on top as with previous consoles.
It's nothing fancy and I don't mind the rectangular design. It should fit in a lot of entertainment centers and not stand out.
The controller is the Elite controller, but that might be a stand in for the official one that will come with the console.
Again, it's a Holiday 2020 release, but it's nice to finally see what the final product will look like and the official name.
In December of last year, Supergiant Games announced Hades and put it into Epic Games Store early access that same day. Now, a year later, it's unfettered from its Epic exclusivity deal and has taken 12 months' worth of blood, sweat, and developer tears to Steam Early Access as well.
I like what I'm seeing of the isometric roguelike combat. Your dude almost completely turns into his weapon when he's slashing. Like he's Defender. On the Atari. It was 1981—never mind. Hades's art style is signature and still one of the most compelling prospects of any Supergiant game. Until you listen to the soundtrack and fall in love with that. Or you get your twin sticks moving with the chaotic rhythm of its gameplay. Or the narration and character-building gives you so much meat. Suffice it to say, there's a lot to love about each and every Supergiant game. I can't wait for this one's final release.
You're the titular hero, Hades, who's sorta kinda in a fight with his dad (to further explore recent years' father-son stories), and has to fight his way out of Hell. Yell at family members, stab those crab demons trying to hold you down, die, and do it all again. Except differently, since the roguelike part swaps pieces and parts and people and hypercolors in and out each time you play.
My favorite surprise of Nintendo's indie showcase was the announcement of Axiom Verge 2, which is slated to hit Switch and as yet unnamed other platforms in fall 2020. Once again developed by one-man-studio Thomas Happ, the game doesn't focus on Trace, the lost scientist from the original game. Instead you play as Indra, a tech billionaire who stumbles upon an alternate dimension in a cargo lift in Antarctica. She discovers the ruins of an ancient civilization in this alternate world, and perhaps some secrets that are better left uncovered.
Happ and his Metroidvania tribute is one of the great success stories of indie gaming. Working completely alone, and while caring for his severely disabled son, Happ pieced Axiom Verge together over the course of 5 years of nights and weekends. Axiom Verge is an indie masterpiece of game design and twisty, morally ambiguous storytelling. I know I'm fanboying here but I'm pretty happy that we're getting a sequel so soon.
Quite possibly the most popular map in Battlefield history, Wake Island dates back to the original Battlefield 1942 17 years ago. It actually goes back even farther than the release of that game, as it was featured in the E3 demo even before the release itself. It reappeared in Battlefield 1943, Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3, and now makes its latest debut in Battlefield V. Wake Island is a part of the free content in the Tides of War update, Chapter 5: War in the Pacific.
While the map remains the same, this time around it has been updated with the graphics and acoustics of the latest gen hardware, as well as introducing the game-changing fortification mechanics into play. Both Breakthrough and the classic Conquest Assault will be playable on Wake Island.
To coincide with the release, the developers have released the following tips and strategies to survive Wake Island, and we've got the trailer below those:
In Breakthrough, attackers get tanks in the first sector, defenders don’t. If you’re attacking, take advantage of this. Also, if you spot defenders hiding in the Hotel, take it down! Defenders can build Fortifications to counter this.
Attackers can find ways to destroy the Hangar as well. Defenders should set up tank traps as soon as possible to stop the tanks from moving into the Hangar.
Some of the bunkers can be destroyed, some cannot. Defenders can use the tunnels leading to the bunkers to their advantage by creating a choke point.
The last sector is the prime target for calling in artillery or rocket Reinforcements. Use them.
Do not underestimate the small boats! They are fast, nimble, and perfect for flanking.
Borderlands 3 was good. A continuation of the looter shooter franchise that actually did something interesting with the loot part, it's nice to see it still going strong.
The first DLC launch for the game: Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot, is launching December 19th. As a preview, Borderlands released a 13 minute clip of the beginning of the DLC.
The mission sees the player raiding a casino belonging to formerly alive series antagonist Handsome Jack after racking up a huge debt, under the service of a shady patron who wants to own the casino.
The opening minutes see the player exploring the casino and destroying a bunch of murderbots. The casino is abandoned and the player swipes at coin slot machines to get extra loot. The setting reminds me a lot of Fallout: New Vegas's Blood Money, but probably with a more light-hearted tone.
The DLC launches December 19.
The Assassin's Creed franchise has a lot of entries. Some are hits, some are misses, but pretty much all of them are successes.
Assassin's Creed: The Rebel Collection sees Black Flag and Rogue, two titles that launched on 7th generation consoles, together for the first time.
It's not clear whether these are remastered editions of the games, as with Assassin's Creed III, or simply spruced up versions tailored to fit on the Switch console.
The games will, however, include all of the DLC for both titles, including Black Flag's Freedom Cry, which saw Aveline escape slavery to become an assassin, and eventually a member of Edward Kenway's ship.
The Rebel Collection is out now for Switch.