If you want the latest in breaking news, game announcements, industry rumors, and insider reports from anonymous sources, Kotaku is down the hall to the right! But if you want to hear about the stuff that's interesting to potential Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Diamon and occasionally his sidekick Tom Chick, you're in the right place.
Sports have taken a beating during the global novel coronavrius pandemic. Games are happening in empty venues or being delayed indefinitely, which impacts the viewership and money the events can generate. A third option has emerged from the world of automobile racing that keeps the cash flowing. Networks are hosting the races virtually with the help of sim games.
Last Sunday Fox Sports broadcast what they’re calling an “eNASCAR” event. The iRacing Pro Invitational Series featured popular drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch and even had commentary delivered by the normal Fox Sports broadcast crew. It attracted over 900,000 viewers and was successful enough to convince the network to continue the series.
Half-Life: Alyx, Valve’s return to the universe of headcrabs and Combine radio static may be great, but if you don’t have the VR gear, you can’t play it. Don’t fret about missing out on the greatest Half-Life since Lost Coast. Valve’s Robin Walker fully expects someone clever will mod the game so even the non-VR plebs will be able to play it. In an interview with VGC, Walker says he’s looking forward to it, because he thinks it will make people appreciate what the studio did even more.
“As a result, what I’m confident will happen is that when people get that butchered version, and they’ll have lost all the things that we’ll have got from moving to VR, they will then understand very clearly why we made that choice.”
You don’t miss what you never had. Later in the exchange, Robin Walker says whether or not Valve’s next Half-Life story is VR-exclusive will depend on the reaction to Alyx.
It’s a trying time for everyone. As COVID-19 races around the globe, and governments declare states of emergency, GameStop wants everyone to know that they’ll be ready and willing to sell you a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Like many businesses, they’re adjusting their policies to comply with Coronavirus “social distancing” guidance, but one particular corporate decision seems to run against the prevailing wisdom. In areas where only “essential” places are allowed to remain open, GameStop feels they’re included in that category of business along with pharmacies, grocery stores, or urgent care facilities.
“Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore is able to remain open during this time.”
Kotaku obtained an internal memo to GameStop employees informing them of this policy and directing them to tell authorities that want to shut them down to call headquarters instead. I imagine that conversation would end with the police agreeing that society cannot possibly function without stores offering used games or Funko Pop dolls.
That’s it. There’s no need to craft or explore anything else in No Man’s Sky. There are now bobble-heads. The in-game doodads can be installed in any ship cockpit and come in two models: Specialist Polo and Priest Entity Nada once you buy them from the Quicksilver Synthesis Companion merchant in a Space Anomaly. Who cares what other galactic mysteries are out there? I have a bobble-head.
Control, Tom Chick’s pick for second-best game of 2019, is finally getting an honest-to-goodness expansion. The Foundation is launching on March 26th. It’s the first of two proper expansions coming this year. That’s great news for fans of the Finnish telekinesis-and-bureaucracy action game. More spooky physics-defying illusory hallways. More bland office cubicles transforming into blasted heaths of cyclopean horror.
Look at that Spelunky 2 screenshot. It’s beautifully terrifying. Veterans of Spelunky will instantly recognize the threat that lava with liquid physics will pose to challengers. Creator Derek Yu says he’s not quite ready to talk about a release date, but he released a few more screenshots to intimidate you.
Doom 64, the often forgotten cousin of Doom is being revived for 2020, and will feature a new chapter. The new content will tie into Doom Eternal’s story and reveal just a bit more of the player character’s background. According to Nightdive Studios’ Samuel Villarreal, the modern version is a labor of love that began with an unofficial hobby attempt at porting the game years ago, which eventually led him to his work on Nightdive’s proprietary engine.
Doom 64 is a free incentive for pre-ordering Doom Eternal, but players shouldn’t think of it as a throwaway port. Serious Doom fans know that the 22-year-old Midway game made for the Nintendo 64 had some seriously good graphics for its time (some say it rivaled or exceeded the original PC version) and sported a few programming tricks, like colored lighting and an upgradeable uber-weapon, The Unmaker, that took the place of the BFG9000.
It’s a new Frictional Games title. Amnesia: Rebirth, despite the name, is not a reboot or HD remake of the original Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It’s a new horror tale in the Amnesia storyverse.
Ten years ago, when the first game jump-scared out of the studio, the world was a different place. People hadn’t yet discovered that you could make a living by playing a scary game and screaming like a baby while recording it all for the world to see.
Activision has added some levity to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. It’s the “Tomogunchi” the in-game version of the electronic pet fad. Instead of eating your time, this version eats kills in multiplayer. If only the dead-serious campaign had something like it to lighten the mood between atrocities.
ArtPlay raised over $5 million for their Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night crowd-funding campaign in 2015, and successfully launched the game in June 2019 to critical and commercial success. Even so, early supporters of Bloodstained have been waiting patiently for a Kickstarter stretch goal to be fulfilled for the developers to add a roguelike mode. It’s not coming. According to the team’s latest backer update, it’s just not possible.
Unfortunately, the code that was created early in the game’s development is not currently compatible with this type of gameplay (especially a procedurally generated castle).
In lieu of the cancelled roguelike mode, ArtPlay is adding a free “Randomizer” mode that shakes up the item drops, forcing players to adjust their strategies.
The Age of Rebellion update for Star Wars Battlefront II adds playable Ewoks to the game. Is that all it will take to bring me back to this game? Yes, sadly. I want to be Wicket. I want to blow that horn. More importantly for fans of the game, this update adds more weapon options for the regular troopers, a feature that addresses a sore point people have had for years. At the trailer’s end, the developers give a sneak peek at what appears to be the return of the Scarif setting from Rogue One, which was an expansion map in the previous Battlefront.
Path of Exile’s reputation as a complicated ARPG with multiple layers of systems to fiddle with remains solid even seven years after its launch. Show a new player that spiderweb of a passive skill screen, and listen for the reflexive gasp that always comes next. Delirium, the next expansion, adds at least 280 more nodes to that screen. Too many options? Well, here are more to ponder. It’s a guarantee that Path of Exile’s infamy will continue.
Dying Light is celebrating its fifth year of existence. There will be in-game events, gifts, and lots of zombie killing until March 19th. Whatever your feelings on the parkour undead-kicking adventure, Techland has given fans unwavering support for a much longer time than many other games that launched in 2015.
But what if you’re less Daryl and more Merle? You slip on banana peels and just can’t seem to knock the living dead down? You’ve likely been missing out on Dying Light for all this time. Now that everyone else has had their fun for five long years, it’s your turn. The developers have added a “significantly easier” Story Mode to the game. The player hits harder, can take more damage, falls hurt less, traders will pay double for your stuff, and nights are shorter. The only downside is Story Mode gives less Legend experience, but if you’re wussing around in this difficulty, you’re probably not doing much endgame stuff.
The latest update from Sean Murray and Hello Games for No Man’s Sky includes living ships that players can grow from eggs. It’s later game stuff, so don’t expect to fly off your starter planet in a Vong cruiser, but slimy xenomorph vehicles fit the procedurally generated aesthetic of No Man’s Sky so much better than hard right-angles of steel and glass. The update also adds more alien NPC encounters, weird objects to investigate in space, multiplayer grouping enhancements, and some general quality of life improvements.
In related news, the developers are pivoting to more frequent, but smaller, updates. The need for gigantic releases like Next and Beyond have passed, and the team can work on incremental additions.
Grand Theft Auto IV is dead on PC, but Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition is taking over its turf. If you weren’t aware, GTA4 on PC used Games for Windows Live to authenticate and login for multiplayer. With GFWL essentially being abandoned by Microsoft, it made installing and starting GTA4 kind of a hassle for honest customers. Once that minuscule level of support ended in January, Rockstar removed the game from sale entirely from digital PC storefronts.
Not to worry. Niko and Roman will be back. Rockstar announced that a new version of the PC game is coming in March. It’s a build with the multiplayer modes entirely stripped out and some of the in-game radio stations nixed. The good news is that it will include the expandalone Episodes from Liberty City. Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition will be a free update for anyone that owns and has played GTA4 at least once.