Time for another week in the world of Play for your Friday enjoyment.
Welcome to another issue of the Etch Play roundup, this week we are naturally covering yesterday's Xbox Games Showcase, but that's not all... We also have Rocket League news, a positive report out of Ukie and we're revisiting an old favourite. Also I would like to extend a massive welcome to Toni who joins us this week for the roundup. As Dan mentioned last week he has become a mentor as part of the fantastic work Limit Break do, and Toni is Dan's mentee - great to have you here Toni!
There was huge news from Psyonix this week, announcing that Rocket League will be going free to play this summer. This has been something that the community have been wanting for a long time so it's great to see it finally happen. Going free to play will no doubt increase the number of players, which can only be a good thing for the longevity of the game and the community that play it. Psyonix have done a great job catering for those who have paid for the game, with plenty of rewards, but if I'm honest I've spent so much time playing the game I feel like I've got more than my money's worth. Exciting times for Rocket League!
The big story this week is the Xbox Games Showcase, which we co-streamed here with our added commentary. Halo Infinite divided fans online but there was lots of other things teased, including the gorgeous-looking Everwild and a new RPG from Obsidian, Avowed. It was a diverse showing which included a few narrative driven games as well as the requisite good-looking car game.
Elsewhere, fans of Jet Set Radio have finally said "okay, we'll make it ourselves" and have announced Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, a spiritual successor to the beloved franchise. We got a full version of the Bugsnax theme tune too.
The true star of the XBox conference was this thing. pic.twitter.com/cBSdnTihrU— Minovsky (@MinovskyArticle) July 23, 2020
While all the hype was going on with the Xbox Games Showcase this week, I instead decided to revisit a game I've not touched in the better part of a year, Rimworld. I hadn't touched it since the first DLC pack came out for it, Royalty, and now that it's had a few months to have any of it's kinks ironed out, I thought why not give it a go?
I'll preface this by saying I went into this mostly blind, beyond reading the name of the DLC and a super small blurb on the store page. Initially I was expecting the DLC to just add extra quests and some kind of titling system where characters with grander titles had higher expectations, but it also has a built in system for giving your characters magic powers, which I wasn't expecting!
I've barely scratched the surface so far, but, besides running the Trackmania track of the day, that's where a lot of my weekend is going to go!
On Wednesday, Ukie launched their 'Playing On' report which looks at how the UK games industry is coping during COVID-19. The report found that the lockdown has not had a major impact among developers, with most stating productivity remained around 80% (compared to pre-pandemic levels). This will undoubtedly lead to some delays, but with the majority of studios reporting "no risk to closure" over the next six months, the good news is studios are weathering the storm.
As Adam highlighted, yesterday was the Xbox Games Showcase which was a bittersweet affair for many of us on the Play team. Back in late 2013, we started working with one of the worlds most renowned game developers, Lionhead Studios. We were working on the web presence for their next game which sadly never saw public release after the studio was closed down in 2016. I was already a huge fan of the studio and during our 2+ years working with the team at Lionhead, we got to work with many amazing games industry professionals that I came to consider friends. As such, the demise of the studio and the end of that project was a real gut punch for us but especially the folks who worked there.
Despite the closure of that studio, the franchise has lived on through owners Microsoft who have handed the stewardship over to Playground Games. Yesterday they announced a new Fable game and a return to the world of Albion. The reveal trailer looked fantastic and to me, really captured a lot of the spirit of Fable.
What was particularly good to see was the outpouring of support for the people of Playground from former-Lionhead folks on social media. At a time when they could have been pessimistic and defensive, they chose to be supportive of their industry peers and to celebrate the hard work which was a fantastic display of camaraderie.
Has anyone mentioned the Xbox Games Showcase yet? 👀 I had a lot of fun streaming the show with Adam and it was great to see so many of the upcoming games for Xbox. And in true fashion, I immediately got my first prediction for the show wrong...
Also a special mention for Psychonauts 2, I absolutely loved this trailer and I am a massive Jack Black fan.
Lots of fun games coming to the Xbox, have you decided which next gen console you'll be getting yet?
Last week saw the release of Ooblets and after seeing the excitement all over my Twitter feed, I just had to get it. It’s amazing! From the start screen I knew that this game was right up my street and after a few hours of playing it, I am hooked. Ooblets is one of the most chill and wholesome games that combines farming, creature collection and dance battles. Yes, that’s right - you can have a dance off with other Ooblets, which I LOVE, as I don’t think I would have had the heart to hurt those little creatures in a battle. The characters and their personalities are diverse and inclusive, and the dialogue is funny and often too relatable. What’s not to like?! I can already feel I am going to dedicate a lot of hours to this game, and I ain’t mad about it!
It’s also been over 4 months since the release of Animal Crossing but I am still very dedicated to my little island. So, when I found out that Stoga have released new Animal Crossing inspired controllers, naturally, I was very excited! There are 3 designs to choose from: a couple with a blue and green design inspired by the New Horizons bundle, and one in brown, just like Tom Nook’s face. . The Stoga controller is much more affordable than the pro controller too, though the battery only lasts up to 8 hours of continuous playing compared to 40 hours on the pro controller. I couldn’t resist the cute design though, so I might have already got one on its way to me. Sorry wallet!
Thanks as always for joining us for our roundup of the week in video games, until next time! Have a great weekend, and be sure to come chat with us on Twitter, check out our videos on YouTube, and see what we're up to over on Twitch.
At Etch Play, we help games businesses think about, plan and execute on their extended experience. That means delivering value to players beyond the traditional boundaries of a game. You can find out more about our offering at etchuk.com/the-extended-experience.