Nintendo announced a new Metroid
We all wanted to see Metroid Prime 4, the long-anticipated first-person science-fiction shooter-adventure that has been in development at Nintendo for an absolute age. But instead we got a whole new Metroid – a 2D one in the vein of the SNES and Game Boy Advance classics, the first game in the series in this style for about 19 years. Metroid Dread features Samus Aran being chased by distressing, transforming drone-robots who appear to be largely impervious to her ever-expanding array of weapons, and it looks genuinely scary. It’ll be out on 8 October on Nintendo Switch.
Finally, a look at George RR Martin and FromSoftware’s Elden Ring
Back in the mists of time, pre-pandemic, before everything went wrong, it was announced that FromSoftware – the studio behind dark fantasy classics Dark Souls and Bloodborne – was working on a game with Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin. So actually seeing the game for the first time felt a bit like time-traveling back to a happier time. There is nothing here to suggest Elden Ring will deviate massively from the Souls-like template that FromSoftware invented, but it’s exactly as creepy and epic as I was hoping for. And look, it’s got a horse!
Microsoft is bringing Xbox games to smart TVs – without a console
The company’s longstanding intention to separate its Xbox Game Pass subscription service from the actual Xbox console appears to be coming to fruition, as it announced plans for an Xbox Game Pass smart TV app, and for some kind of plugin dongle for TVs without an internet connection, similar to the Amazon Fire Stick or Google Chromecast. Enabled by Microsoft’s Xcloud tech, this will allow Game Pass subscribers to stream games to any device, not just an Xbox, and could be a bit of a game changer down the line.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 will be out in 2022
I went into Nintendo’s E3 showcase desperately hoping 2021 would be saved by the surprise announcement that Breath of the Wild 2 would be out before the end of the year. That didn’t happen, but the game is looking just excellent. It’s set in the same iteration of the mythical realm of Hyrule as 2017’s Breath of the Wild, except this time there are islands floating far above the land, which hero Link can visit. The trailer showed some new twists on the telekinetic powers that made for such creative, funny open-world chaos in the original games.
Forza Horizon 5, set in Mexico, is Xbox’s next flagship game
2021 has been a very slow year in gaming, thanks to the knock-on effects of the pandemic, but the Xbox Series X will finally have a proper flagship game before the end of the year in the form of Forza Horizon 5, a racing game/tourism simulator that takes us to the cities, deserts and jungles of Mexico. Developer Playground Games is known for going to insane lengths to replicate the real-world beauty of its games’ settings, doing things like pointing rigs of 4K cameras at the sky for days in order to capture the right lighting in different weather conditions – so this will definitely be one of the most beautiful games to come out this year.
Devolver Digital laid into NFTs and video game industry monetisation
Ostentatiously irreverent publisher Devolver’s slightly mad, slightly dark showcases are always a highlight of E3’s live streams, but in a year where E3 was nothing but live streams, this satirical swipe at everything that sucks about the modern games industry (and indeed the entire corporate world) really hit home. Featuring a team of fictional marketing execs going slowly and quite violently mad, it culminated with the unveiling of a VHS tape of the conference – a Non-Fuckablewith Tape – on sale for $1,000. (Someone bought it; Devolver donated the proceeds to charity.) The only thing I saw this year that actually entertained me from start to finish.
A first look at Bethesda’s science-fiction epic, Starfield
Honestly I would have hoped to see more of Starfield, the first totally new Bethesda open-world game in many, many years. What we got was a teaser trailer that at least showed off the aesthetic, which is more realistic than I was expecting: more NASA-in-the-future than Outer Worlds-style colourful fantasy sci-fi. It was confirmed for 2022, and I’d place bets on the end of the year.
A new Final Fantasy spin-off invited the mockery of the internet
The announcement of a new Final Fantasy game – any new Final Fantasy game – would normally be cause for widespread internet celebration, particularly among millennials who never really got over Final Fantasy 7 being the first video game to make them cry. Unfortunately, the trailer for Team Ninja’s spin-off Final Fantasy Origin: Stranger of Paradise was a wild swing and a miss. The opening words “I’m here to kill Chaos. That’s my mission” precede two and a half minutes of what looks like the music video for a terrible mid-00s screamo band. The word “chaos” is said about once every 15 seconds. To quote the trailer: the darkness is so thick you can taste it.
A new game based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is on the way
Made by Eidos Montreal, this Guardians of the Galaxy game is based neither on the MCU nor the comics, but on the developer’s own take on the universe and its characters. Unlike Eidos’ Avengers tie-in, this is a single-player game in which you play Star-Lord, trying to keep a handle on the unruly members of the universe’s most unlikely gang of heroes. The combat has a bit of a Mass Effect 3 vibe to it, with you directing squad-mates’ attacks without assuming direct control.
Ubisoft is making a game based on Avatar
Assuming that the second Avatar movie really does come out in 2022, instead of spending eternity in nebulous development hell, there will be a video game from Ubisoft to go with it. Given that Avatar is the most video game-like movie ever made – it’s got mechs! Power-ups! Hostile native fauna on an alien planet! – this makes sense. The trailer is very good-looking, but tells us almost nothing about the game. It’s the first thing that Ubisoft is developing exclusively for new consoles, though, so appropriately for Avatar, it’ll certainly be technically advanced.