Welcome to this week's edition of the Etch Play Roundup. We've got Adam's verdicts on the Xbox Series X, opinions on a Fortnite/Football collaboration, and we're admiring some stunning Cyberpunk artwork.
This week I've been highly excited for the launch of the final release in the current HITMAN series of games, HITMAN 3. The game was released on Wednesday, however, I've not yet taken the plunge and bought a copy (I'm definitely noticing the upward tick in premium title pricing, making the contrast with services like Game Pass more striking). But I have been watching some excellent documentaries from NoClip about the history of the series and roller coaster of a ride the studio, IOI, had in their management buy out from former owners Square Enix (humourously dubbed "Squexit").
Earlier in the week, it was rumoured that YoYo Games, developers of one of the biggest indie game engines, GameMaker Studio, had been sold by their parent company, Playtech. People started to guess where the studio was going to end up, and some internet sleuths managed to find that of all the companies to buy them, it was Opera, the people behind the web browser. This was later confirmed on Wednesday by YoYo Games themselves.
Whilst this was met with some initial confusion and a lot of "What does this mean for us users?", it now seems that a lot of the active base, as well as the YoYo Games themselves are excited for the acquisition. Could this mean better browser support for the engine? Could this mean more freedom to explore new features? It's only been 3 days, so time will tell!
This week I received my Xbox Series X, so you can consider this my first look impressions and review of Microsoft's new monolith.
Aesthetically, I like this console a lot. It suits my lounge and towers over my base PS4. The packaging is well designed too, which you'll know if you watched any unboxing videos late last year. Setup is easy, and you're encouraged by the system to use the Xbox phone app to handle setting up preferences and agreeing to terms/conditions while the console initialises, which really works well.
I know I'm late to the party on this but it's still wild to see the XSX next to the other consoles. Ignore the messy wires (because I always do) pic.twitter.com/Vq4oUq7nIk— Adam Burt (@Newnab) January 22, 2021
I've tested backwards compatibility (Remember Peggle?) and I can also confirm that this console plays Halo. But perhaps my favourite experience with it so far has been checking out Forza Horizon 4, an incredibly accomplished driving game that looks and plays great. It makes me wonder why Phil Spencer didn't move heaven and earth to launch this new machine with a Forza Horizon 5.
Innersloth, the studio behind the ever popular Among Us, released a blog post this week that sheds some light on why everything, like the eagerly anticipated new map, is taking so long. They've been very transparent that they've had to deal with a lot of changes after the unexpected traction that the game got towards the back-end of last year. Switching back to the original game (they were working on a sequel) that needed to be released to additional platforms as well as organisational changes that will streamline scaling up the game in the future.
They were also open about why hiring more people isn't the solution, especially for a small indie studio like themselves. The studio are trying to get an update released ASAP that introduces an account state initially focused on moderation. I'm still really enjoying watching the game on Twitch regularly, it's probably the only game I don't actually play but love to watch.
I'm not a Fortnite player but there's no getting away from how significant the game is throughout today's popular culture. I am however very interested in football so this collaboration between Fortnite owners, Epic Games and various top tier football clubs from around the world caught my attention. As a result of this arrangement, players can choose for their character to wear the strip of their favourite football club. Although Southampton aren't on the list, I'd probably be going with Wolves instead
They also did this nice ad with football star Pelé.
Last night in our Disney club we watched Hercules, (from 1997, not The Rock version) which brought back great memories for me of playing the Hercules PC game. I was rocking this game in the late 90s, back when PC games came in huge cardboard boxes, remember those? Me and my brother spent hours playing it as kids, so naturally I immediately looked to see if I could get my hands on a copy. After ruling out a £95 spend on an original (big box n'all) off ebay, all the way from Greece (no I'm not joking), I was much happier to see you can actually pick the game up on steam for less than £5 - which I immediately downloaded.
So, that's my weekend sorted!
This week, I'd once again like to draw your attention to the fine art of games, as we take a look at the insane level of time and talent that went into creating concept and production art for Cyberpunk 2077.
Whilst the game didn't enter full development until 2016, some of the artwork in this Kotaku article dates as far back as 2013 and gives a great idea of the kind of work that went into the game's creation.
Thanks for joining us as we digest what caught our attention in the world of gaming this week. Let us know what you've been finding interesting this week by sending us a message on Twitter.
For more Etch Play content, head over to our YouTube channel which is filled with interviews with industry experts, our take on videogame marketing, and us checking out a variety of games. We also bring you the latest videogame news and insights every Thursday a 4pm on our Twitch live show, that we'd love you to join us for.
You can check out this week's episode right here 👇