This Week in Games
Wrestling with Problems

by Heidi Kemps,

Hello again, BOO-ys, Ghouls, and other spoopy folks! Wait, it's not Halloween anymore? Awww, poo. Well, uh... happy discount candy day! Head on over to Safeway and get yourself enough Tootsie Pops to last for the next twelve months!

The last week in gaming news has been... certainly interesting. Delays, broken games and features making it to market, PR attempts to salvage disasters, and Death Stranding and Blizzcon coming up towards the week's end to dominate the conversation. We've got a lot to talk about, so let's get right to it:

BLIZZCON: HERE'S SHINY NEW THINGS, PLEASE FORGET ABOUT OUR BOOTLICKING

Blizzard's reputation right now is in the toilet. Even before this whole China business, though, they were struggling a bit: last year's Blizzcon was a wet fart, and they haven't really had anything new to offer for a while except for… Switch ports and rehashed old World of Warcraft. They've got to knock it out of the park this year, both to generate good PR and keep their Activision overlords happy.

So what's happening at this year's BlizzCon? SEQUELS, that's what! First off is Overwatch 2, with new heroes and expanded PvE gameplay:

“But isn't Overwatch still doing well? Why do we need an Overwatch 2?” you ask. And, yeah, it's doing fine, though the rise of Battle Royales like Fortnite have certainly stolen a lot of Overwatch’s thunder. The answer to this is the same as the answer to “If Destiny was supposed to be a persistent world, why do we need Destiny 2?”: ACTIVISION, that's why!

The second sequel, Diablo IV, emerges from the depths of hell to once again tickle those loot-collecting-satisfaction neurotransmitters in your brain.

Unlike previous Diablo games, the PS4 and XBOne versions of the game are being developed concurrently with the PC version, which has me wondering: will there be versions for the next console generation as well that they simply can't announce yet? It would make sense to have Diablo IV to augment a new console launch lineup. I guess we'll see in the coming months.

A new World of Warcraft expansion, titled Shadowlands, is also in the works. Sadly, it's not a crossover with Namco's cult arcade platformer Shadow Land (aka Yokai Douchuuki), which could actually make me somewhat interested in World of Warcraft. Hearthstone, the cause of much of Blizzard's headaches over the past few weeks, is also getting a new expansion and a new gameplay mode.

Of course, we also got another half-assed apology for Blizzard's recent controversies. At least a few fans have found ways to cleverly protest:

WE'VE GOT TWO CONTENDERS FOR 2019'S BIGGEST GAMING DISASTER IN THE SPAN OF A WEEK

Hey, remember Fallout 76? It's been almost a year since Bethesda dropped that turd and, uh… it's still pretty bad! In fact, it just got worse!

Bethesda decided to launch a $99/year subscription program, called Fallout 1st, that allows Fallout 76 players to get a bunch of premium bonuses. It's bad to split your playerbase like this is in a game people already paid $60 for, but it gets so, so much stupider.

Among the perks that subscribers of the program receive are extra space in their scrapbox to store materials and private servers for you and a select group of buddies to play on. Private servers have been requested for a long time, so some devoted Fallout 76 victims – er, players – were willing to drop a nice Benjamin just for that feature alone. The problem? These particular features don't actually work.

Fallout 1st subscribers are reporting that the contents of their scrapboxes are disappearing, as if the box itself has devoured all the material you were silly enough to stick in it. Worse, private servers aren't actually private – anyone on your friends list can just hop into your game at any time – and sometimes show signs of activity beforehand: looted areas, dead NPCs, and so on. Bethesda is promising a patch, but the fact that they pushed a pricey feature out the door with so much wrong is just astonishing. (Also, they forgot to buy the Fallout 1st domain, so somebody else immediately acquired it and made a foul-mouthed parody.)

Perhaps the funniest thing of all, however, is that there is now honest-to-god class warfare in Fallout 76:

But as much of a punchline as Fallout 76 continues to be, I'm not really sure if it's any less of a shitshow than WWE 2K20.

How buggy and broken is this mess of a wrestling game? Well, you can look at the video above to see some choice examples of the many, many things that can go horribly wrong. The Twitch tournament for the game was apparently a complete mess. Some folks have managed to get Sony to refund their purchase. And 2K Games has finally acknowledged that something is wrong, but patches are still weeks away.

Anyhow, for the time being, let's laugh at all the Cronenbergs.

 

NAUGHTY DOG AND UBISOFT DELAY THEIR BIG RELEASES

Were you looking forward to playing The Last of Us 2 in February? Well, uh, you might want to reschedule your Valentine's date with Naughty Dog's latest, because it's been pushed back to May 29th to give it some extra polish. Rumor is floating around that this delay might also be having a domino effect on Ghosts of Tsushima, Sony's last big PS4 exclusive (that we know of), likely shoving that one back until sometime in summer. I doubt Sony wants Ghosts to launch near the PS5's likely debut window… but then again, God of War II launched well after the PS3's debut and that did fine. I dunno, guys, maybe it's not a terrible idea to give your old platforms some support while console transitions happen?

Meanwhile, over in France, Ubisoft's not having a good time of it. Ghost Recon Breakpoint was kind of a disaster, lambasted by fans and critics alike. It feels like that game's failure has sparked the realization that this whole “crunch” thing can lead to garbage games. Thus, Ubisoft is taking the drastic but welcome step of delaying basically their whole 2020 catalog until “fiscal 2020-2021.” (That's April 2020-March 2021 in units of time actual people and not corporate robots use.) Watch Dogs Legion, Gods and Monsters, and Rainbow Six Quarantine are all getting pushed back. Will it help? Well, no game was ever made worse by spending more time in the oven…

KOJIMA'S MAKING CONNECTIONS WITH THE PC CROWD AS DEATH STRANDING DRAWS EVER-CLOSER

Death Stranding is mere days away, reviews are flooding out, and we've got a fresh new launch trailer filled with eight minutes of Death Stranding-ness to fuel your hype:

Thus far, reviews tend to be either "this game is genius and I love it" or "I hated everything about this pretentious artsy poo-pile". And that, to me, makes the game far more intriguing! I'd rather play something flawed that goes out of its way to try interesting new ideas with storytelling and gameplay than a polished, mass-appeal game with no rough edges that doesn't make an effort to shake up anything.

Kojima Productions also announced that a PC version of Death Stranding will be coming in the summer of 2020! Whether there will be differences in content from the PS4 version is unconfirmed, but personally, I'm glad Sony's cool with not keeping it tethered to their console.

I've heard – though not confirmed – stories that some angry Sony fans are cancelling pre-orders in protest. That seems a little excessive and smells a little of BS, but I can't completely dismiss it because if there's one thing single-platform-devotee console warriors are good at, it's being insufferable assholes.

Also, it's confirmed that Conan O Brien will be making an appearance in the game, so you can add that square to your Death Stranding celebrity cameo bingo card. Interestingly, Conan's being dubbed in Japanese by a name many of us know and love: Tomokazu Sugita, the man behind Gintoki and Joseph Joestar. His choice for the performance is certainly amusing. Watch it for yourself:

Well, this sure was a week, huh? I'm curious if any of you folks picked up WWE 2K20 (the overlap between anime fans and wrestlefans is surprisingly large). I'm not a wres kind of person, but I'm now addicted to watching Youtube videos of these awful messes of virtual flesh flail around in hilarious ways. If you bought it, what kind of bugs have you personally encountered? How about Death Stranding -- do the reviews make you more or less likely to check it out? Talk all about it in the forums!


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