Who wants to play Monopoly?

Sony Lawsuits & PlayStation 5 Shortages

A group of gamers is gearing up to file a lawsuit against Sony this week, arguing that the company runs an unlawful monopoly that limits where players are able to purchase digital copies of PlayStation games to only Sony online stores. This group has said that Sony’s monopoly on digital games means, “they are allowed to charge supercompetitive prices for digital PlayStation games, that are significantly higher than their physical counterparts sold in a competitive retail market.” This lawsuit is designed to hopefully encourage Sony to create a more consumer friendly environment by suggesting a more competitive retail market that doesn’t result in players paying up to 175 percent more for digital games.

Sony are also expecting massive PlayStation 5 shortages that is predicted to last into 2022. Sony have been having some supply issues that don’t have an end in sight. According to Sony’s CFO Hiroki Totoki said, “If we secure a lot more devices and produce many more units, our supply wouldn’t be able to catch up with demand.” Despite supply shortages Sony has sold more than 7.8 million units since November last year. Similar to Sony, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and S are also struggling with supply constraints until after June 20th this year.

Filmmaker claims Capcom took Designs for Resident Evil Village

Filmmaker Richard Raaphorst who directed a horror film Frankenstein’s Army in 2013 has shared online a comparison of images from his movie and Resident Evil Village’s character designs. Many fans of the horror film continue to find similarities. Raaphorst said, “It’s a crazy monster movie filled with my own creature designs, one of which has been used – completely without authorization or credit in the newest Resident Evil game.” For now, there doesn’t appear to be any legal action from Raaphorst just that he wished they’d given him credit. If you’d like to take a look at the images (SPOLIER WARNING) click here.

E3 2021 is coming up fast

Starting on June 12th and running for three days until the 15th E3 Expo is only a month away. Coronavirus has had a massive impact of industry events however hopeful we are that they will return soon we still have a way to go and because of this, E3 2021 will be embracing all the virtual technology it can to bring us closer to the exhibitors this year. There are some big game announcements to come that are currently kept secret as well as more sneak peaks into big releases such as Halo: Infinite, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Starfield, Final Fantasy 16, a potentially new Sonic game, not to mention the anticipation for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. If you’d like to get updates on what’s happening as well as where everything is to be streamed head over to www.e3expo.com to sign up, it’s totally free.

Game Releases this week:

May 13th: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids comes out on all platforms
May 14th: Famicom Detective Club (Nintendo Switch), Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PC, PS4, XBO), Quantum Replica (PS4, XBO, Switch), Subnautica (Switch), Subnautica: Below Zero (PS4 & 5, XSX, XBO, Switch).
May 18th: Leisure Suit Larry – Wet Dreams Dry Twice (PS4, XBO, Switch)

Shelter 3 Review

Developer: Might and Delight
Publisher: Might and Delight
Music: Retro Family
Platforms: PC (Steam)
Released: 30th March 2021
Genre: Adventure, Indie

You are Reva, an elephant with a new calf, and your matriarch, the leader of your herd, needs your help. She is old, her eyesight is failing, members of your herd have been lost. And now, with a young calf and a small herd, you now must use her memories to reunite with the rest of the herd safely. The decisions you make will dictate your journey, your patience and bond with your herd will keep you safe. But it’s not easy, a slip in judgement, rushing at the wrong moment, or neglecting the needs of your herd will make your journey challenging.

Shelter 3 is a 3D adventure game, with a gorgeous artstyle that reminds me of a patchwork quilt, branching paths, and a beautiful insight into the life of an elephant, and the responsibilities she may have.

Shelter 3 takes a different approach to previous Shelter games, where instead of focusing on a single member of your family, instead you must guide and look after your herd, with the memories of the old matriarch to help your decisions. You have the ability to sprint, knocking fruit out of trees, sensing the environment around you, calling your herd into a protective formation, and to feed your calf. But you also have the ability to pluck flowers to carry with your trunk, play in the water, sharing joy with your herd. All these maintain the health of your herd, and their happiness.

The old matriarch will guide you to landmarks, and once you read that landmark she invites you to listen to her stories and her memories, deciding on the next landmark on your journey. You have a couple of options, with differing dangers and challenges. Fog, crocodiles, a maze of stones, dangerous ravines, swamps that threaten to drag you down. You’ll have to navigate them all.

And if you make the wrong decision, rushing through a river at the wrong moment, putting your herd in harm’s way? Well… I lost my calf that way, the hearts of the herd breaking. But I couldn’t just stop, I couldn’t just restart. My calf was not my entire herd, and so I had to continue, thinking of what I should’ve done.

This is not an action-packed game however. It is very slow-paced, linear, but I suppose that makes sense for a game about elephants retracing the paths of the past. There were minor interactions with the environment and my herd, but I really wish there was more I could do. Perhaps give them the flower I had plucked, or spray them with water. It felt very much like the journey was just about me, and not my herd.

I greatly enjoyed the music, the layered instruments, chords, and melodies replicating the quilt-like effect of the world in audio form. The music warned me of dangers, letting me know when it was time to be on alert. It immersed me in storms, beautiful rich plains, the paths I explored, the moments of joy my herd expressed.

Shelter 3 is a beautiful game, I cannot deny that. Visually unique and gorgeous, with layered textures that reminds me of a quilt. And the story starts out nice and simple, with wanting to reunite with the rest of the herd. Having lost members of the herd along the way, I felt resolved to see it through, to bring the herd to safety and security, the old matriarch telling me about how beautiful it would be.

And when we finally made it, the joy I felt seeing her old body rush forward with excitement was also met with sorrow as the realisation hit. She was reunited, and so happy, and it was beautiful. But it was also a story of loss, and life after death. The understanding that death comes for us all in the end, and sometimes it comes swiftly, with only snapping teeth as warning, or it comes quietly and peacefully, like coming home.

The Good, the Bad, and the Lucrative

Cost of Epic Game’s Giveaways Revealed

As part of its ongoing court battles, Epic has published a document detailing it’s game giveaways from the start of the promotion until September 2019. This revealed the total cost, the individual cost, and the amount of players they drew in through the scheme. Over this period, they gave away just over 11 and a half million dollars in free games. Still, this scheme has drawn in a huge amount of new players for Epic and is likely well worth the cost. Big hitters were Batman Arkham, Subnautica, and Mutant Year Zero, each costing over a million for Epic. Smaller indie games cost much less, some costing only around 50 thousand dollars. This does not mean they didn’t pull in their fair share of new players and for player retention, all at a fraction of the cost. This list may provide some ammunition for indie games while bargaining their worth.

Riot Games to begin recording in game voice chat

Riot Games has announced a new tool in it’s arsenal to combat toxic behaviour. A new privacy notice will be implemented next month and, along with it, they will begin to record in-game voice chat in Valorant. Audio is stored on a secure server and will not be accessed unless a report is made and, if no disruptive behaviour is found, will be deleted. “We’re committed to creating our games better for everybody who plays them,” Riot said. “This is another step toward tackling disruptive behaviour across the board, starting with Valorant.” This system will first be trialled in North America before being spread to Oceania and elsewhere. For many who have been exposed to toxic teammates while online gaming, this new system could signal a huge step in the right direction but many still have been quick to point out the privacy problems this poses.

PlayStation announces partnership with Discord

“Together, our teams are already hard at work connecting Discord with your social and gaming experience on PlayStation Network,” Sony said in it’s announcement. The details of this partnership are still somewhat vague, but they did say the goal is to “bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on console and mobile starting early next year, allowing friends, groups, and communities to hang out, have fun, and communicate more easily while playing games together” and that more information would be released in the coming months. As cross play becomes more commonplace, the possibility of seamless voice chat between PS5 and PC players is quite exciting. This partnership strikes some as odd since Discord has previously turned down many buyout offers, including Microsoft’s recent 10-billion-dollar bid. Sony won out and now holds an undisclosed stake in Discord.

Monster Hunter Rise Review

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Music: Satoshi Hori
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Released: 26 March 2021, 2022
Genre: Action role-playing

You are a new hunter in the beautiful, but small, village of Kamura. Your task as a hunter? To hunt the biggest, baddest monsters that roam this world. But that’s not all, you are also tasked with protecting this village from a devastating event called the rampage. Where a dozen monsters, bigger and badder than the one before it, descend upon Kamura in a furious siege. And you have to not only repel it, but also discover the cause of the rampage in an effort to put an end to this ferocious stampede.

Monster Hunter Rise is the newest game in the Monster Hunter series, with a semi-realistic 3D artstyle, detailed gameplay and mechanics, and a lineup of monsters who will challenge you, while managing to be distinctive from other games in the series.

Monster Hunter Rise at its base is just like every other Monster Hunter game. That is you are a hunter, and you hunt monsters, each unique and with its own set of behaviours and abilities. You can choose from 14 weapon types, such as a hunting horn, great sword, hammer, dual blades, bowgun, or sword and shield, just to name a few. Once you complete the hunt, you get rewards such as money and points, and resources from the monster you just carved. And you can use these rewards to make extremely cool and helpful armour and weapons, and upgrade your gear.

Monsters do not have a health bar in this game, and instead you will have to rely on visual cues to tell you when it’s exhausted, close to death, or if it’s about to do a particularly brutal attack. So you have to be observant, learn about the monster, and adjust your gear and approach to achieve a successful hunt.

Monster Hunter Rise also has some mechanics unique to this game, such as the addition of wirebugs, which creates wires that can help you pull off devastating abilities, hold onto monsters, and even allow you to ride the monster, controlling it for a limited time. Another unique feature is the rampage, where a stampede of monsters attacks the village, and it’s up to you and some brave NPCs to push them back before they can get through the giant gate. You have access to special, heavy-duty weapons, such as cannons and ballistas, to help, and when the gong is hit it gives everyone a surge of power, allowing you to go toe-to-toe with some of the more brutal monsters in the rampage.

And outside of the rampage, there is the mystery behind the cause of the rampage. And solving that mystery will mean having to face, you got it, more monsters.

The music in these games have always been rather epic, and quite beautiful. And Rise is no different, including some beautiful singing from characters in the game. When the language is set to Japanese, you are introduced to poetic singing with the introduction of the monsters, like the game is telling you a story. And the audio experience can be extremely helpful during your hunt. Your characters will shout call outs, warning you when the monster is targeting you, but also telling your teammates when you’re in trouble, reloading your bowgun, or taking a health potion. It’s not essential, but it is helpful, especially if you and your friends aren’t using microphones.

I have been playing Monster Hunter for about 9 years now, and I’ve always enjoyed how over-the-top, challenging, and kinda goofy the games are. And I really got to enjoy the multiplayer aspect with the release of Monster Hunter World, and that hasn’t changed with Rise. Rise has streamlined a lot of the mechanics from previous games, making it less daunting. There are still a lot of areas that have me looking up guides to understand, but you can enjoy the game without it. The hunt itself still has a lot of details to think about and consider, and to hopefully turn to your advantage. I’ve had my friends find a stinkmink to lure another monster to our target, so that the resulting turf war would soften them up a bit.

I would advise making your way through the singleplayer village quests first, as that introduces most of the monsters, mechanics, and features of Rise, and they’re not too challenging. It’ll also introduce you to the ‘big bad’ monster. But once you are ready, jump into the hub quests for the multiplayer experience, and prepare for a wild ride. Whenever we felt things were getting a bit easy, boom. We’ve been mauled by a tigrex and someone just rage quit.

So what do we do? Have a break. And then try again. Craft a special hunting horn that looks like a cello but gives us earplugs, bring out some flash bombs and poisoned food, and get a bit smarter about our hunts.

And then once we succeed, cheer and pat ourselves on the back and go check out what cool armour we can make now, so you can get back to the hunt.

Hey, we’re monster hunters. What else are we going to do?

Gaming Firsts with an Oscar, Olympic Series and Free Xbox Multiplayer.

First Oscar Win for Game Developers

Late last year Respawn Entertainment released Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, a virtual reality first person shooter. To honour the theme of this game, the producers included a gallery mode directed by Anthony Giacchino featuring short films about the veterans of World War II. Included is Colette, the story of her family’s assistance to the French Resistance and her brother’s capture. This 25-minute short rose to fame after winning Best Short Film at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in 2020, and became the first film produced by a video game studio to win an Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards.

While not directly referenced by the award ceremony, Mr. Giacchino specifically thanked executive producer Peter Hirschmann the director of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond and everyone at Electronic Arts and Respawn Entertainment, especially Vince Zampella, the Head of Respawn Entertainment, Dusty Welch, Chief Operating Officer also at Respawn Entertainment, and Laura Miele, Chief Studios Officer at Electronic Arts Worldwide Studios. The film was made in conjunction with Oculus and the team at Respawn Entertainment, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts.

Gaming Olympics coming in 2020… sort of.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) have announced the first Olympic Virtual Series to take place before the Tokyo 2020 Games, running from the 13th May to Jun 23. The series currently includes five different games, of which the physical games will be monitored by apps such as Zwift, an app for bike training, and an open format for rowing. For non-physical competitions, these will be run by their own platforms for the Series and include; Gran Turismo by Polyphony Digital, a car racing game available on PlayStation Consoles; Virtual Regatta, run by Virtual Regatta SAS, an app available on Android and iOS; and eBaseball Powerful Pro Baseball 2020, Konami Digital Entertainment’s highly customisable baseball simulator currently available on PS4 and Switch – and only in Japanese. The IOC’s announcement also made it clear that these events will be open to the public and in ways that will “maximise (sic) online mass participation and prioritise (sic) inclusivity and participation”.

Free to Play games on Xbox now Free to Play.

Microsoft announced on the 21st of April that from that day, all Free to Play games will now no longer require an Xbox Live Gold Subscription for access to online play. This includes Looking for Group options and party chats for those games. The exceptions to this are trials, pre-order demos, or early access for paid games. These will still require membership to Xbox Live Gold to access online multiplayer content. If you currently are subscribed to Xbox Live specifically for this purpose, Microsoft is offering a one-time option to immediately cancel and receive credit based on the remaining time.

Now for some game releases.

On April 30th, the exclusive horror roguelike shooter Returnal is coming to PS5 and New Pokemon Snap will be releasing to the Switch.

Then, for the May the 4th be with you, The Colonists, a cute and relaxing building game is coming to PS4, Xbox One and Switch, and Dark Nights with Poe and Munro, the episodic Full Motion Video, choose your own adventure game, is coming to PS4 and Xbox One.

 

Gaming has been Cancelled

Sony PlayStation flip flops over Store Closure

In late March Sony confirmed the online game store closure for Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, and PlayStation Vita on July 2nd. On April 15th users began to feel the first wave of effects, with patch support for many games being removed. This led to many issues, with some users being locked out of previously purchased downloadable content in games, such as Little Big Planet 2 and White Knight Chronicles, with others unable to access online play due to patch requirements. Mysteriously, some of these patches have begun reappearing after public outcry. For a list of affected games please check this link.

On April 19th Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, backtracked on most of the closures in an official PlayStation blog post, stating;

“Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.”

Further, he wrote that this flip was due to the “incredibly passionate” customer base’s need to be able to purchase “…classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future…”

 

Amazon Cancels Lord of the Rings MMO after Tencent Negotiations Fall Through.

In a convoluted tale of Tolkien-esque complexity, Amazon has ended hopes of a free to play Lord of the Rings MMO in the near future.

It all began in 2018, when Athlon Games signed a licencing agreement with Middle Earth Enterprises to produce and publish a prequel MMO for consoles and PC. Then, in 2019 Amazon partnered with Athlon’s holding company Leyou Technologies to co-create and split publishing responsibilities. However, in December of 2020, just as rumours of release dates of late 2021 to early 2023 began emerging, Tencent Holdings acquired Leyou Technologies in a US$1.5 billion dollar deal.

According to Bloomberg, since this acquisition, contract negotiations have soured, with Amazon “…unable to secure terms to process with the title at this time”, making this game the fifth that Amazon Game Studio has cancelled since 2018.

 

Nintendo Shuts down Labo Homepage.

Sometime between February 26th and March 5th, Nintendo axed the North American Labo homepage, and now redirects to Labo’s VR Kit sales page. According to Gamesradar, this could possibly signal the end of the cardboard accessories line-up. The kits contained cardboard cut-outs of different shapes that could be made into structures utilised in minigames on the Switch. These kits could easily be repurposed for programming and learning, and were trialled for assistance in STEM curriculums in Australia and North America, and advocated for home-based education. If you are still looking for kits in Australia, the Australian website is still available at Nintendo.com.au/labo. And should you make any mistakes, we have you covered with this link to Labo spare printable parts.

 

Now for some upcoming games.

On April 22nd Buildings Have Feelings Too is coming to PC, PS4, XBO, & Switch. This city management/puzzle game will have you support businesses and build new friends. And to celebrate Earth day 2021, the “Afrofuturist squad management RPG”, We Are The Caretakers is coming to steam early access with the promise of 10% of the net revenue going to rhino conservation.

On the 28th of April, Alpha Particle, a light puzzle game where you search for your purpose, comes to PC. And Genshin Impact comes to PS5.