A week of digital showcases 🎮

Edition 11 - February 15th to February 21st

The world of gaming was in awe last week as both Nintendo and Blizzard Entertainment held virtual showcases highlighting the future of some of their game franchises. Other top stories include the rapid success of Valheim, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Season Two and a look into the current esports landscape. Get ready to reload your weekly gaming news knowledge below!


BLIZZCONLINE - They did NOT disappoint

On Friday, Blizzard Entertainment held a virtual event known as BlizzCon. In previous years, fans were able to travel and see the event in person, but due to various COVID-19 restrictions, the company opted for a virtual experience to showcase the updates on their game franchises.

Diablo 2: Resurrected will be getting remastered for PC and for both next generation consoles. The remastered version will have cross-progression across the different platforms and will include the base game and the Lord of Destruction expansion. There is also a mobile spinoff called Diablo Immortal currently in development.

Overwatch 2 had a behind the scenes panel that revealed several new details for the future of the franchise. The game still has no release date but there will be a hero missions mode, new maps, PvP changes and a campaign (the details can be found here). Game director Jeff Kaplan understands player frustrations and has said that the game will not arrive in 2021.

World of Warcraft reopens the Dark Portal as the Burning Crusade Returns in 2021. The trailer for WoW Classic was released on Friday. WoW Shadowlands will also be receiving changes as the Chains of Domination, patch 9.1 will see the Maw expand into a warzone.

Hearthstone Forged in Barrens, the digital card game’s newest expansion was announced and the cinematic trailer was revealed on Friday. The keyword for the expansion is Frenzy, with an all-new Ranked Spell and new Spell Schools mechanics. The expansion will also include 10 Legendary Mercenary minions, all with different classes and stories.


NINTENDO DIRECT - The fans wanted more

For the first time since the fall of 2019, Nintendo hosted a full-fledged Nintendo Direct event last week. Most fans speculated that we would get an update on Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3, but that was not the case. In the initial announcement via Twitter, Nintendo said that the livestream would include “roughly 50 minutes of information focused on available games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and games coming to the Nintendo Switch in the first half of 2021”. We of course didn’t get any updates on the three speculated games but Nintendo did announce a lot of cool things. Let’s dive into some of the more exciting highlights.

  • A new Star Wars game called “Star Wars: Hunters” by Lucasfilm and Zynga will be available on the Switch sometime in 2021. 

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, a remastered version of the 2011 Wii game will release in July 2021.

  • Fan favorite Splatoon 3 will be released in 2022.

  • Mario Golf: Super Rush will be released worldwide in June 2021.

  • Pyra and Mythra from 2017’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will be introduced to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate next month as part of the Fighters Pass Volume 2.

  • The popular action-adventure time loop game Outer Wilds will be coming to the Nintendo Switch in Q2 2021 (estimated).

  • Popular battle royale game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is headed to the Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles in the summer.

  • Mario Bros. characters will enter the Animal Crossing: New Horizons world as part of this year's Mario 35 celebration event.

  • A new Monster Hunter Rise trailer was released and it showcased a lot of new things that will be available in the game this spring.


Valheim - A Success Story

One of last week’s most talked about games is Valheim, a brand-new exploration and survival game set in a procedurally-generated purgatory inspired by viking culture. Released into early access only a few weeks ago, the game has already reached 350,000 concurrent players, sold more than 3 million units and peaked in the top 3 most streamed games on Twitch. What an absolutely amazing start for an indie game. 

But… What exactly is Valheim?

Valheim was developed by a small team at Iron Gate AB and published by Coffee Stain Studios. Their game took a somewhat different approach to the survival game genre by giving players a greater purpose than just surviving. Players have the opportunity to unlock new areas, face new challenges and find unique treasures the further they progress their character and journey. It all starts off pretty standard as you have to survive the viking afterlife by crafting tools, building shelter and defeating enemies. The resource system is much more forgiving: repairing gear and buildings is free and the hunger system is more focused on strengthening your character than on life or death. There’s also a much more dynamic combat system with multiple variables to consider such as blocking, attack speed, weapon variations and attack combos. 

In terms of multiplayer, Valheim does have a small 1-10 player PvP mode but the game is much more PvE oriented. Henrik Toörnqvist, co-founder of Iron Gate said “just don’t expect that [PvP] ever to be the main focus”. The beauty of this feature is that by playing PvE, you can completely avoid the toxic gaming environment that you would typically see in online survival games. 


CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS COLD WAR - Season 2

A week after our previous newsletter addressing the state of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Season Two was announced. Season Two is set to release on February 25 and will offer players a new experience across all their different game modes. 

Black Ops Cold War Multiplayer will be getting four new operators, six new weapons, four new multiplayer maps and new multiplayer modes. The operators Naga, Maxis, Wolf and Rivas arrive in Season 2 sporting the jungle theme. The new weapons include two new melee weapons, FARA 83 (Assault Rifle), LC10 (SMG), ZRG 20mm (Sniper) and the R1 Shadowhunter (Special). The maps that will be added include Apocalypse (6v6), Golova (Multi-Team), Mansion (2v2, 3v3) and Miami Strike (6v6). The new multiplayer modes include fan favorites Hardpoint and Gun Game. 

Warzone is receiving a massive update with new points of interest to explore as well as two new battle royale modes (Exfiltration & Rebirth Island Resurgence Extreme). The new points of interest will be spread across Verdansk, while continuing the Warzone storyline. A cargo tanker called “Vadianoy” can be seen approaching Verdansk with unknown cargo. The blogpost also mentions that there is currently something going on underground.

Zombies fans can look forward to a new expansion led by an all-new outbreak experience. Outbreak will take place in the Ural Mountains over a massive space. Players will have to take on new enemies, capture objectives and discover intel. They will also have access to vehicles and other movement abilities in the large-scale Zombies mode.


ESPORTS CORNER 

Shopify, the Canadian multinational e-commerce company has entered the pro gaming scene with their esports organization called the Shopify Rebellion. They announced over the weekend that they officially signed StarCraft 2 pros Julian “Lambo” Brosig, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, and Byun “ByuN” Hyun-woo. According to GiNX, Shopify chose to compete in StarCraft because their founder and current CEO Tobias Lütke is a massive fan of the game, has sponsored multiple tournaments in the past and believes that playing StarCraft 2 helped him become a better decision maker and businessman. It is still unclear whether they will decide to compete in other games but they definitely won’t be held back by lack of resources. 

European Football (aka, soccer) is one of the most watched sports in the world, and when it comes to video games, EA pretty much dominates the market with their FIFA franchise. The competitive scene is definitely quite fierce, but everyone can experience it with the in-game “FUT Champions” mode. Every weekend players queue up in the special mode to play up to 30 hyper-competitive games as they climb the ranks and earn rewards towards their Ultimate Team. This year the spotlight has been on 15 year-old Danish wonder-kid Anders Vejrgang who held the active world record of 535 straight wins. His incredible run finally came to an end last weekend as he suffered a shocking 5-1 loss. His age unfortunately restricts him from competing in official FIFA tournaments but he does represent RP Leipzig’s RBLZ Gaming. This is an incredible achievement that likely will never be broken. 

The incredible growth of the esports industry over the last five years has attracted the attention of almost every major company in the world. Everyone wants a piece of the action and the audience it caters to. Partnerships and collaborations are a dime dozen at this point but over the last week we saw a substantial amount of big names come together. Here’s the recap: 

  • After appearing in the Rockstar Energy Drink Super Bowl LV commercial, 100 Thieves CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag announced that the energy drink company is his team's official drink sponsor for 2021.

  • Swedish gaming organization Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP) has entered a three-year content partnership with Samsung. The agreement will see both companies collaborate through various co-branded content initiatives including stream activations and Samsung device promotions. 

  • Riot Games has partnered with Freaks 4U Gaming and SPORTFIVE to organize, broadcast and market the Valorant Champions Tour competitive season in Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey.


GAMING ROUNDUP

  • The Mortal Kombat movie trailer was released this week on YouTube. The film is set to release on HBO Max and select movie theaters on April 16. 

  • Bungie confirmed that a new IP will be launched by 2025 (unknown title) and that they will continue to expand their Destiny franchise.

  • After Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Quarantine received backlash over their name, Ubisoft has decided to rename it. The game is still set for a Spring 2021 release.

  • Electronic Arts (EA) officially acquired Codesmasters for $1.2 billion. The developer behind the franchises such as Formula 1, Dirt and Project CARS will continue to work independently. 

  • Last week marked the 8th anniversary of Crysis 3 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance which were both released on February 19, 2013. 


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