Five Reveals and Updates from the Opening Night of Gamescom 2020

by Antonia Haynes

Gamescom 2020 has officially begun and this year- as with most events of 2020- the event is happening entirely digitally. Opening Night of Gamescom had plenty of reveals and announcements of new games as well as plenty of new information about titles that have already been confirmed. There is a lot to unpack from the two-hour online event so I’m looking at five announcements and updates that were particularly interesting.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart PS5 Demo

 I’m actually starting at the end here with the Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart demo for the PlayStation 5. The demo concluded the Opening Night but it was definitely a standout. The extended demo showed off how the technology of the PlayStation 5- namely the SSD- will allow players to instantly transport between levels at a speed that has not been possible before. The demo showed just how smooth the transitions between levels are, with a whole new world popping up instantly (loading screens are a thing of the past) as Ratchet and Clank dive into a rift. There is also a look at the ray tracing of the PS5 in the demo too. The graphics are incredibly impressive and there is a brand new dimension of expression to the characters. I found Ratchet to be the most impressive in the demo. He is constantly emotive and animated, particularly his eyes. It made me feel like I was watching an animated movie rather than an in-game sequence. Some of Ratchet’s arsenal is shown as well, such as his burst pistol and the shatter bomb. We saw the female Lombax once again at the end of the trailer too and there was confirmation that she will be playable. The internet rejoices.

Although there is no official release date for Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, developers are aiming for it to be a “launch window” game so we might see it around the holiday season this year when the PlayStation 5 is released.

Star Wars

There was not one, not two but three announcements in terms of Star Wars in gaming. Let’s take a look at Star Wars: Squadrons first. Revealed back in June, Squadrons allows you to take control of ships from both the Rebels and the Empire in the Star Wars universe as you embark on various missions. The game has multiplayer as well as a single-player story. Gamescom Opening Night showed a new trailer for the game, highlighting the single-player story and the two perspectives that you will get to play through as the dark and the light. The game looks like it will be giving players an experience that Star Wars fans have wanted for a long time: to be in complete control of your very own X-Wing or TIE Fighter.

Star Wars: Squadrons will be released on October 2nd for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga also got a gameplay trailer and a general release date during the event.  The trailer had plenty of the usual gameplay style that has become synonymous with LEGO games along with that traditional LEGO humour. I did laugh quite a bit at a group of Porgs impersonating Luke Skywalker by dressing in his robes. Yaddle also makes an appearance in the trailer. If you don’t know, Yaddle is the female Force-sensitive Jedi High Council member from the same species as Yoda who appeared first in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Random. I love it. It fits in with another trait of the LEGO games: including every single character imaginable. The game will span all nine of the main Star Wars movies so it is sure to be a must-have for Star Wars fans.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is due for release in spring 2021 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

The final Star Wars related announcement is a new story pack for The Sims 4 with a Star Wars theme: Star Wars Journey to Batuu. This was actually a pretty big surprise. The logo of the new story pack leaked a little while back and whilst fans were sure it would be some kind of futuristic or sci-fi themed pack, no one could have guessed it would be a fully-fledged Star Wars pack. The trailer for the pack showed off Batuu, a new area to explore. You can undertake missions there and choose to side with the light side or the dark side.  Unfortunately, you can’t settle down there but new items such as lightsabers and home décor will be available to bring a bit of Star Wars back to their normal lives.

The Star Wars: Journey to Batuu story pack will be available for The Sims 4 on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on September 8th.

Fall Guys: Season 2

The global sensation that is indie title Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout got some new information during the Gamescom Opening Night. We got a sneak peek at season two of the last man standing/ battle royale game. There will be some new levels for the game, which means new ways to triumph, new ways to lose, and of course, new memes to be born. Season two will have a medieval theme so costumes will include wizards, knights, and dragons. I am here for that dragon life. It is good to see that the game is going to be receiving regular updates. As fun as Fall Guys is, you can see how it could become stale quite quickly. These kinds of updates for the different seasons of the game could keep it fresh and fun for a long time to come. If Fall Guys maintains this popularity, there will be more opportunities for Mediatonic to expand and create even more new content more frequently. Basically, it is looking good for the wholesome obstacle course themed battle royale that is Fall Guys.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War

The next installment in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series was only announced yesterday with a look at the game’s main single-player campaign with details on multiplayer coming in September. There was a cinematic trailer- the “Perseus Briefing” cinematic- released during the Gamescom Opening Night and it definitely deserves a mention. Featuring the 40th President of the United States Ronald Regard- whose time as president lasted from 1981 to 1989-, the Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War trailer has several well-known characters from the Black Ops franchise returning such as Jason Hudson and Alex Woods. There is also a new character called Russell Adler but it is the appearance of Reagan that brings the fictional and the historical together in the single-player campaign.  It is kind of odd to see Reagan giving the go-ahead for the team to basically commit war crimes if they need to. It certainly looks interesting though, which is why I wanted to give it a mention despite it just being the cinematic trailer.

Dragon Age 4

The biggest surprise for me during the Gamescom Opening Night was the behind the scenes look we got at Dragon Age 4 from Bioware. Dragon Age 4 was revealed back in 2018 at The Game Awards and although the title is still early in production, it is great to finally see something concrete. The video showed some cool concept art and beautiful environments. There was also a look at a familiar face: Solas- a party member from Dragon Age: Inquisition who was revealed to be The Dread Wolf and is likely to be the villain in the fourth game. He also broke my elven mage character’s heart but that is by the by. Gareth David Lloyd- Solas’s voice actor- was shown recording some lines that definitely sounded pretty villain like.  Two new characters were named- Bellara (Jee Young Han) and Davrin (Ike Amadi) – as we saw their voice actors recording lines. Very little is known about the plot but the developers did give a small insight by saying that the protagonist will be powerless and struggling as those in charge refuse to look at the bigger picture of the world issues. I am interested as to how this will factor in the other games and the player’s choices. For instance, you can choose to disband or uphold the Inquisition at the end of the Trespasser DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition. If you decide to maintain the Inquisition, are they no longer the force for good that they once were? If you disbanded, who is in charge now and why are they not addressing the issues? Could characters we used to know and love be involved in this ignorance somehow? In case you couldn’t tell, this is one that I am seriously excited about. Hopefully, now that we have a little bit of information to let us know that the game is very much alive and well, we will get more on Dragon Age 4 in the near future.

There were plenty of other interesting looks at games shown at Gamescom’s Opening Night Live, such as the Doom Eternal DLC, Unknown 9: Awakening , World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, Little Nightmares 2, Destiny 2: Beyond Light , 12 Minutes and much more. For more on Gamescom 2020, check out the official Gamescom website here.

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