Welcome, welcome, for another rousing edition of Get Your Game On, your weekly Wednesday round-up of gaming news and deals from your beloved Sidequest family. Join me, your humble editor-in-chief, as we journey into the stories both serious and strange.
I’ve been dabbling in a bit of L. A. Noire for the Switch, because I love this goofy game and its attempt at making noir with modern sensibilities, particularly in a video game format. Rather than waxing poetic about its successes and failures, let me just leave you with an impression of how seriously I’m taking this exploration of depravity and darkness in post-World War II America:
serious crime man cole phelps #NintendoSwitch pic.twitter.com/qMOFuJxABw
— Melissa “See More Guado” Brinks (@MelissaBrinks) January 26, 2018
It’s no secret that we here at Sidequest are huge fans of the Dragon Age franchise. Imagine our collective glee when BioWare’s general manager, Casey Hudson, teased fans with a snippet of what we can expect from the next game in the series. Not only did Husdon say the game would have a clear story and character focus, but that the team is exploring ways of keeping the story going once the campaign is concluded. Whether that means DLC, multiplayer, or something else entirely is something we’ll just have to wait and see.
Monster Hunter: World released this week, and people are going wild over the game’s robust character creator and delightfully punishing gameplay. While I myself am too busy solving crimes in L. A. Noire to hunt any monsters, I’m intrigued by the conversations it’s inciting—conversations about colonialism, for example, and how this game is managing to draw in players who haven’t been into the series before. And its character creator isn’t just great from a design standpoint; it’s doing something pretty unusual, too.
Hey a cool thing in the Monster Hunter World character creator that I was surprised by:
Both female and male characters share hairstyle and facial hair options.
And from what I've seen it has zero bearing on the story or gameplay so…that's kinda neat.
— Julie Low (@GatsbyLow) January 26, 2018
Likewise, Celeste‘s ability to make punishing platformers palatable even for those who aren’t die-hard fans of the genre is making news. Through its assist settings, the game allows players to customize their difficulty in a more granular than usual fashion. You can tweak the game’s behavior in such a way that it’s easier for you, personally, without robbing it of fun, something more games could stand to emulate.
Final Fantasy XV pocket edition is on its way! Until it gets here, can we talk about how the chibi art style has made Gladio look like somebody squeezed all his body mass into his upper torso?
A Blizzard of News
According to Jeff Kaplan, director of Overwatch, Blizzard’s efforts to curb harassment in the game’s online mode are working. According to Kaplan, instances of harassment have dropped by 17 percent since the company became more proactive in warning and banning players who make the environment toxic for others. These increased efforts include looking outside the game itself to sites like YouTube and Twitch, where players may post videos of themselves engaging in bad behavior. Our own resident Games Warlock Joesph Langdon has an interesting interpretation of what these efforts may look like:
I say fuck on stream and Jeff Overwatch begins laying bear traps outside my house https://t.co/KRYHHSW6QQ
— Joesph “Soi Boi" Langdon (@unnnez) January 26, 2018
In less good news, Blizzard games, including Overwatch and World of Warcraft, were vulnerable to an exploit that could have potentially allowed hackers to use the Blizzard Update Agent to install harmful software without alerting the user. Thankfully, the vulnerability had been fixed and there are no reports of any users experiencing issues because of it.
Fatphobia is something that often goes undiscussed in video game criticism, despite its prevalence. Our own Megan Patterson has covered the topic in the past, and this week Anshuman Iddamsetty furthered the conversation with a great piece at The Outline. It’s a conversation we should be having more frequently, especially with the prevalence of fat bodies as symbols of evil, excess, or objects of disgust when video games so rarely let us make our own characters be anything other than slim, athletic, or heavily muscled.
As the conversations about loot boxes as potentially exploitative game design go on, Project Horseshoe, a think-tank style organization aimed at discussing the video game industry’s challenges, has released an intriguing report on how game designers can ethically monetize video games. As costs balloon but game prices remain the same, developers and publishers are looking for new ways to cover costs, and hopefully this report will help them do it without the potential manipulation of gambling on loot boxes and gachas.
Microsoft is reinvigorating their Game Pass program, now adding first-party games to the program on launch day. This new addition to the service makes having an Xbox more appealing, as it’s just $10 per month for access to titles like Sea of Thieves and Gears of War 4.
A pilot script for a television adaptation of The Witcher is finished! Who will play our favorite bathtub-dwelling hero is still up for debate.
Phil Harrison, a former executive of both Sony and Microsoft, has left the gaming industry to join up with Google. Whether this means that Google plans to dabble in video games or whether they just wanted a guy who knows a lot of people remains to be seen.
Mining cryptocurrency takes such powerful PCs that the rising interest in Bitcoin and other currencies has actually caused a shortage in powerful graphics cards. That’s caused gaming graphic card companies to work with retailers to create bundles and other incentives for gamers rather than cryptocurrency miners.
Teddy Diefenbach, part of the team behind Hyper Light Drifter, has left his position at Square Enix Montreal after a project he was working on became no longer compatible with the company’s direction. Diefenbach said in a post on his personal blog that he’ll be returning to indie development, so even as we mourn the loss of this project (which did have a truly stellar team), we look forward to seeing what he’ll put out next.
Speaking of what’s next, let’s turn it over to Joesph for the deals!
Welcome, traveler, to Games Bleat! This week I’m bringing you some of the most portentous deals around the web. You know I like to keep my eye out for games that feel a little unusual, what you don’t know is that I also cut my gaming teeth on the JRPG, so it is a dolorifuge of the highest caliber that I get to bring a little of both to you!
- Hound $0.99
- Tokyo 42 $9.99
- EARTHLOCK: Festival of Magic $8.99
- Celestian Tales: Old North $3.24
- Tacoma $11.99
- The Coma: Recut Deluxe Edition $9.99
- Mages of Mystralia $11.99
- The Final Station $4.49
- Phantom Trigger $7.49
- No Man’s Sky $29.99
- Akiba’s Beat $19.99
- Zero Escape: The Nonary Games $24.99
- Persona 5 $29.99
- Divinity: Original Sin $15.99
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch $5.99
- Xuan Yuan Sword: The Gate of the Firmament $19.99
- DYE $4.49
Quite a few games have been newly unchained from the primordial realm of the psyche and I am aching to deliver them to you. Already mentioned by Melissa, Celeste has hit Steam this week! On top of its adjustable difficulty it offers a “super-tight” platformer about a girl uncovering the secrets of a mysterious mountain. All Our Asias is a lo-fi indie 3D adventure from Sean Han Tani, the co-creator of Anodyne and Even the Ocean, about identity, race, and nationality. Iconoclasts is a platforming adventure that has a story to tell about faith, purpose, and the challenge of helping people. A little more minimalist is the slow game Quiet as a Stone—remake the world or embrace impermanence, the choice is up to you. Lastly there’s Reality B, a first-person puzzle game with a trans-dimensional twist.
And that’s it for this week’s bleat! I hope you find something to distract you from the eternal malaise of mortality. I’ll catch you next week!
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.