Hello, newsaholics, and welcome to this week in gaming news, where I endeavour to scour the internet for a whole week and compile the best and most important pieces of gaming news so you don’t have to. Granted, you probably do this yourselves while you’re sat at work as bored as I am, but this article is for the ultra-lazy and the forgetful in equal measure – all in one place and filled with things you might have missed and the opinions you all (hopefully) agree with. On that note, you’re welcome, and let there be news!
Kratos wins the war with ‘Labo’
Anyone who read last week’s article will probably remember those sly digs I made at Nintendo’s Labo. I don’t care for it and I don’t understand it. That seems to also be the state of affairs in Nintendo’s homeland as well, as Labo only hit 30% of its predicted sales in the land of the rising sun during its first week. Dualshockers reports that the cardboard ‘em-up sold 90,410 units of the variety kit and 28,629 of the robot kit. The numbers aren’t terrible, but 30% of an initial shipment for a first party release is poor by any standards.
I suppose it’s lucky for Nintendo that the stock is cardboard and therefore easily burned if they’re left with a surplus (I’d love to see this happen, by the way), but they won’t be happy that they overestimated demand for what I imagine is the first time in the history of economics. Read this again: Nintendo actually made TOO MUCH of a product. SNES Mini? Amiibo? Switch Console at launch? Harder to find than a piece of hay in a massive stack of needles. Pretend motorbike handles made of cardboard? You can’t ruddy move for ‘em!
In contrast, the week’s biggest proper video game flew off the shelves like hot cakes forged in the fires of Muspelheim. God of War/Dad of Boy – whatever you want to call it, it’s a massive hit. According to Eurogamer, Kratos’ ‘Bring Your Kids to Work Day’ sold a remarkable 3.1 million copies worldwide in its first three days on sale, making it the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive to date. It’s a real shot in the arm for narrative-driven adventure games, especially in the midst of the open-world and service games-heavy market we are currently in the midst of. More games need to be actual games, rather than long walks riddled with repetitive chores, and God of War deserves everything it gets.
‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ Looks Incredible
Speaking of open-world games, the one we all care the most about showed itself off in a mind-blowing trailer this week. Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 looks positively outstanding, full to the brim with all the movie-quality set pieces, acting and dialogue we’ve come to expect from the pioneers of the genre. Relatively little is still known about the game, but for those needing a refresher, let’s touch on some of the key points.
RDR 2 is a prequel to its predecessor set in 1899 – 12 years before the beginning of the original game, which began in 1911 for the innumerate amongst you. Players will take control of Arthur Morgan, and Rockstar’s official synopsis of the game, as per Polygon, is as follows:
After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang must rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.
The eponymous member of the Van der Linde gang is, of course, Dutch Van der Linde, whom you may remember as an antagonist of John Marston in the original game, after Marston was forced by federal authorities to capture or kill members of Dutch’s (and Marston’s former) gang. There’s not much in the trailer to give away many story beats, but it’s clear Marston will play a pretty big role in this game. as the narrative gears towards Marston’s eventual capture in the gunfight at Blackwater that lead to the story of the first game.
Two Classic Shmups are Heading to Switch
Some pieces of news that perhaps went under the radar this week were the announcements that both Gunbird 2 and Ikaruga are coming to Nintendo Switch in the very near future. And by near future, I mean this month.
Both games were initially released in arcades in Japan before making their way to the Sega Dreamcast. Gunbird 2 hit arcades in 1998 and was ported to Dreamcast in 2000, while Treasure’s Ikaruga came to arcades in 2001 before its home port was released in 2002. More importantly than all that, both titles are hard as nails, fucking awesome, and perfect for Switch’s handheld mode.
Ikaruga, especially, is regarded as one of the greatest bullet hell shooters of all time, with an incredibly tight polarity-switching mechanic, where your white ship will absorb white bullets while being destroyed by black ones and vice versa, with enemy ships taking double damage from bullets of their opposite colour. It’s super-intense, and I’ve personally never made it past the third of its five levels, even in co-op. Eurogamer reports that publisher Nikalis will be porting the title to Switch on May 29th, so hopefully they’ll implement some online co-op and I can get a random Japanese dude to lend me his skills and finally beat the damn thing.
Gunbird 2, as per MyNintendoNews, is being brought to the Switch by indie developer Zerodiv, who have produced a catalogue of games containing absolutely none that I’ve ever heard of. Now, if only someone will port Cannon Spike to Switch, I won’t have to pay £250 to play it on my PAL Dreamcast.
‘Vampyr’s New Gameplay Trailer is All Action
Remember Vampyr, the new IP from Life is Strange developers Dontnod? The game seems to have snuck right under the radar in the approach to its release on 5th June. With less than a month to go until it hits shelves, a new trailer was released this week on the official PlayStation YouTube channel, and it didn’t waste any time showing off the intense hack ‘n’ slash ‘n’ suck gameplay in all its gory glory.
Naturally, with the game being developed by a team known for a game series that is almost entirely narrative, Vampyr promises to be much more than a simple action title. Major choices are required from players around how many innocents they feed on and how long they stave off that incessant thirst for blood, lest it end up forcing them to hurt those precious to the game’s protagonist, Dr. Jonathan Reid.
Set in London in 1918, Dr. Reid needs to help cure the flu epidemic that’s ravaging the city, whilst fighting off the urge to just drink everyone’s blood instead. Dontnod have indicated that you’ll be able to study citizens of London when planning who to feed on next, use powers to manipulate those around you and either save or doom the city. It sounds like a really interesting idea and can hopefully give us a proper vampire game from both a gameplay and psychological standpoint. We don’t have long to wait to find out either way.
We’ve Seen A Little More of ‘Beyond Good & Evil 2’ In Action
It’s still not much, but Ubisoft released another pre-alpha gameplay trailer for Beyond Good & Evil 2 this week. The company has only really released tiny morsels of footage since the game’s official announcement back at E3 2017, and this latest trailer is no different. Briefly looping the same clip of a woman swinging a staff around alongside some ships flying in formation is just about as much as there is to take from all this, but the developers in the video suggest that they’re quite far along in development and know the direction they’re taking the game in.
So far, we know it’s going to have co-op multiplayer (hence the ship formation flying so you can lock onto your friends), be open-world and feature character creation for the main protagonist. So, you know, nothing like the original game at all, but if there’s one thing Ubisoft loves – thrives on, even – it’s an open-world game filled to the brim with stuff to do. Oh, and it has monkeys with jetpacks too, so there’s also that.
To back up these claims of the game being far along in development, I imagine we’ll see a proper new trailer and, hopefully, sample a playable demo at E3, but we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see if that’s optimism trumping realism or not. Until then, you can enjoy some delightful Frenchmen talking about spaceships and monkeys in the trailer, and I’ll see you next week.