New Beginnings & Unfortunate Ends

Edition 12 - February 22nd to February 28th

We were saddened to learn about the tragic events that occurred last week within the Brazil Call of Duty Mobile community. Our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ingrid ‘Sol’ Oliveira. We would like to dedicate this week's edition of the Weekly Recon in her memory - so let’s dive right into it. 


PlayStation State of Play

The PlayStation State of Play event is a news-focused livestream where Sony gives their players a sense of what the future holds for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. In last week’s presentation, PlayStation presented updates on 10 third-party and indie games but viewers were left wanting more. The immediate reaction by the community was disappointment due to the lack of first-party title news but there was still a healthy amount of game news to be excited about. Here’s a recap highlighting the biggest updates: 

  1. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is being released for PS5 on March 12 and the enhanced version will include faster loading times, save transfers, 3D audio support, new DualSense features and it will run at 4K/60 FPS.

  2. The Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Intergrade hits PS5 on June 10 for free and will include a new story episode featuring Yuffie that players can purchase. 

  3. Deathloop is confirmed to arrive for PS5 and PC on May 21 (demo out now). The game was originally supposed to launch in February but was delayed. 

  4. Sifu is a new action game that promises a unique take on the Kung Fu genre that puts you in control of a young Kung-Fu student who has dedicated his very soul to his quest for vengeance. After his family was murdered by a squad of mysterious assassins, our hero has spent the next eight years of his life preparing his revenge.

  5. Returnal was showcased with a new deep-dive gameplay trailer highlighting some of its fast paced and relentless gameplay where narrative plays a big part of the experience. 

If you have an extra half hour kicking around you can go back and watch the event on PlayStation’s official YouTube channel. You can also watch the 1-minute highlight video for a quick bite sized version of the news. 


ELECTRONIC ARTS (EA) - The end of Anthem

BioWare announced on Wednesday that they have discontinued further development of Anthem NEXT, but they will keep the live service running as it is today. The development team has been working on restructuring Anthem since 2019 but were unable to reach the goals and objectives set by the studio due to COVID-19.

Anthem had a disappointing launch and it never reached the levels they had hoped the game would attain. Earlier this month EA executives reviewed the state of the game and came to this decision. The BioWare blog post went on to say that game development is not easy but the studio will now be focusing on the future releases of Dragon Age and Mass Effect. 

Dragon Age 4 also underwent an EA and BioWare review which resulted in a major change to the game; the developers decided  to remove all multiplayer components. The game will move forward as a single-player game motivated by the failures of Anthem and the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, reaching 10 million players in the first four months of its release. EA has not revealed any additional information since Dragon Age 4 was announced in 2018 but the Anthem team of 30 people will now help with its development. 


Pokémon Presents - A new journey awaits 

2021 is the year of Pokémon. Not only is it the franchise’s 25th anniversary but it’s also the year they took a brand new approach to the traditional handheld games. At Friday’s Pokémon Presents livestream The Pokémon Company made a slew of announcements. What exactly did they announce? Well, trainers… let’s get into it.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is an open-world RPG set in the Sinnoh region as it existed in the past, long before the setting for Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl was established. The game is described as a new challenge and new frontier in the Pokémon world as trainers embark to create the region’s first Pokédex. Some are comparing this new game to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the 2006 Nintendo DS versions of Pokémon Pearl and Diamond. The games are being developed by ILCA Inc (the same studio that made Pokémon Home) and directed by original director Junichi Masuda.  The remakes are expected to release later in 2021 and pre-orders are already open. 

Pokémon Snap is getting a new Nintendo Switch Version on April 30th. The updated trailer revealed new features, tools and photo editing options that can make Pokémon react in different ways. Photos can also be rarer than others based on what you capture the Pokémon doing. 


HALO - What we know so far

Halo Infinite’s game development continues as three developers at 343 Industries updated fans on Thursday via the Inside Infinite blog post. 343 Industries shared new screenshots from Halo Infinite that looked great in comparison to the shocking reveal that received a lot of backlash months ago. The team has done what they’re calling a “Spiritual Reboot,” which has really improved the game direction. The developers say their goal with Halo Infinite is to introduce new ideas to the game that stay true to the classic experience.

Halo Battle Royale has constantly been rumoured to be in the works at 343 Industries. On Thursday, gaming journalist Geoff Keighley tweeted screenshots from Halo Infinite that look as though it is an open world experience. The Halo twitter account replied to the screenshots tweet saying “Only the hottest of drops,” showing pods dropping from space headed towards a planet, which is very similar to how most Battle Royale games begin where players jump out of a plane or bus. Even though it’s simply speculation at this point, a Halo Battle Royale would be a welcomed experience for fans of the series.

Halo the TV-Series received an update this week as the show will be moving from Showtime to Paramount+. The series is being produced by Showtime in partnership with 343 Industries and Amblin Television. The TV-Series is set to release in the first half of 2022 and has completed 55%-60% of its filming prior to shutting down last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


ESPORTS CORNER 

OverActive Media, owners of the Toronto Ultra (Call of Duty League) and the Toronto Defiant (Overwatch League) have revealed their plans to build a $500 million, 7,000-seat esports venue in Toronto. The project is expected to attract more than 200 music, entertainment and convention events to the city but ultimately wants to be a host for some of the biggest esport events in the world. OverActive Media CEO Chris Overholt said that “It has always been our intention to develop a venue and hosting strategy and to build a facility that could not only serve as an iconic home for our two franchises, but ultimately emerge as a global hub for major international esports events”. The iconic performance venue is expected to be completed by 2025. 

Two months into the new year and we are still receiving details about multiple esports events and leagues. This week we saw announcements from the Overwatch League, Free Fire and the WePlay Ultimate Fighting League. 

  1. The 2021 Overwatch Season will officially stick to the tournament format with four main tournaments during the regular season: May Melee, June Joust, Summer Showdown and the Countdown Cup. Each tournament will start with three weeks of qualifying matches followed by an elimination bracket. Qualification wins will award one league point and winning a tournament will award 3 league points to help teams qualify for the Playoffs later in the year. There is $4.25 million in total prize pool up for grabs throughout the season. 

  2. The 2021 Free Fire competitive season will host two Free Fire World Series (FFWS) international events in April and in November. Both tournaments will feature 22 teams from 13 major regions fighting for their portion of the $2,000,000 prize pool. Each event will start with a play-in round and conclude with a grand finals. 

  3. The WePlay Ultimate Fighting League will feature competitions in Mortal Kombat 11, SOULCALIBUR VI and Tekken 7. The league received an initial $25 million investment by tournament organizers WePlay Esports and former boxing cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. 

As esports continues to grow and establish itself as a major industry, an increasing amount of support tools are starting to emerge. The first of these tools to recently launch is Insights.gg, a Vancouver-based collaborative esports video program that allows players and coaches to record gameplay and then share and analyze it on a state of the art platform. The second tool is called PGstats (currently in open beta) which is a new hub for esports and analytics. Their site allows fans to track the history and achievements of their favorite esports players by analyzing thousands of VODs and aggregating the data. They currently only support the Super Smash Bros. scene but plan to expand to other games in the near future.


GAMING ROUNDUP 

  • President Biden signed an executive order to investigate the chip shortage for electronic devices causing delays in devices such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. 

  • Two weeks after being the victim of a cyber attack, Cyberpunk 2077 has delayed Patch 1.2 stating their studio and IT infrastructure are still recovering from the attack.

  • GameStop shares began to surge again this week jumping 151%, closing at $101.74 (USD) on Friday, which analysts claim is seven-times higher than its worth.

  • On Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced that they’ve acquired HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology Company for $425 million (USD).

  • Bungie announced on Thursday that Destiny 2: The Witch Queen will be delayed to early 2022. The rest of this year will see weapon and armor refreshes with several game mechanics being refined. 

  • In Chicago, a lawmaker wants to ban Grand Theft Auto 5 due to the spike in Carjackings, insisting violent games promote negative activities and suffering.


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