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This Week in Gaming News: Fortnite iOS, Remasters and Apologies

Welcome to the first of a weekly column where I look to round up the most important happenings in the gaming world over the last week (disclaimer: I decide what’s important), and deliver them in somewhat bite-sized fashion and top it off with a nice dose of my own opinion on it all. Sort of like one of those Mars bars you used to get in a kids’ party bag, topped with extra sugar. Tasty, right? Then let’s dig in. Here is the top five biggest gaming news.

Fortnite Battle Royale on Mobile is Available to All (Unless You’re on Android)

Bro, you must already know this, right? For those who’ve been in a coma until right this second, I’ll give you 10 seconds to reacquaint yourself with the internet, during which time you’ll realise that Fortnite is everywhere. See? Now, the game being everywhere is literally the case, as Fortnite for mobile left its beta state this week and became available to play on iOS without requiring the chain letter-style invite system it launched with in March.

There aren’t enough thumbs on one human for this UI

Nobody will be surprised to learn that it most definitely isn’t perfect at present – in fact, I’d personally call it a near-unplayable mess of terrible touch controls, lag, and the inability to turn on inverted aim (yeah, I’m one of those freaks). But hey, it’s Fortnite – the game so popular it’s caused disgruntled mothers to go on British morning television to complain that their kids are playing it too much, and disregarded girlfriends to sign a petition to get it banned because it’s ‘brainwashing’ their boyfriends – and it’s on mobile, so anyone with an iOS device can play it during those toilet breaks and commutes where they can’t play it on their console or PC for a few minutes. Because they’re brainwashed don’t you know.

Rare Cancels Sea of Thieves ‘Death Tax’

There are only two things in life that are inevitable: death and taxes – we all know this. But death and tax at the same time?! Come on, Sea of Thieves. Leave it out, yeah?

Oh, they did.

This ghost ship really isn’t as cool as it should be

For those who aren’t aware, Sea of Thieves currently has a very messy, verging on pointless, respawning system. You die, you show up on a ghost ship with other dead dudes, and then you respawn on your ship a few seconds later. It makes being killed arbitrary, but also allows for you to be spawn killed over and over again by dastardly dawgs with nothing better to do (which, when talking about Sea of Thieves, is likely true). To make death feel a bit more weighty (y’know, like death does), Rare proposed a ‘Death Cost’, which was described by the developer thusly:

“Death Cost – This new feature has the Captain of the Ferry of the Damned deduct a small gold fee when you die. Rates are dependant on the cause of death, so the more avoidable the death, the less patience the Captain will have when we enable this feature!”

Naturally, the internet internetted all over this proposal, with the chief concern on forums being that those PvP spawn-killing griefers I mentioned earlier would seemingly be able to drain all your gold in a matter of minutes as you died and paid over and over again. Rare denied this was the case, saying that death to other players would not incur a tax, but by golly if Reddit isn’t a place occupied by people who are hard to please.

So they’re only sorry for the messaging then?

So, the ‘Death Cost’ is gone before it was even here. It shows that Rare are willing to listen to the community, but perhaps also that they were more concerned with how they relayed this to players rather than agreeing that the proposed system is a bad one. It matters not either way, and Rare will have to come up with a different solution to the respawning skulduggery. 2017 was a turbulent year in terms of online games upsetting players, but if Sea of Thieves‘ ‘Death Cost’ reversal has proven anything, it’s that some developers do listen, and that if you’re going to make a game with ‘Sea’ in the title, you should probably expect a little salt.

We Now Know Lots About Dark Souls Remastered

It turns out Dark Souls Remastered isn’t going to be a complete remake like February’s Shadow of the Colossus, but it’s not all bad – well, not until you start playing and get killed over and over again anyway. While the remaster hasn’t had a complete graphical overhaul (who really expected this anyway?), it will feature 4k resolution and 60fps on Xbox One X, PC and PS4 Pro, 1080p/60fps on Xbox One and PS4, and 1080p/30fps on Switch (720p when in handheld mode), as well as some improved lighting and upgraded textures. More in the camp of ‘standard remake fare’ than anything else, then, but that 60fps will make a huge difference in how the game feels and plays. And, yes, it’s been successfully tested in Blighttown – it’s cool, you guys.

We can now praise a slightly prettier sun!

Series veterans probably had a wishlist as long as Bed of Chaos’ arms when it came to quality of life improvements, and the announced changes are impressive, if not quantitative. The main changes of note are:

  • The maximum number of players online has increased from 4 to 6 for even more gank potential.
  • Password Matchmaking is now available, as in Dark Souls 3.
  • 3v3 and 6-player deathmatches have been added.
  • Multiple consumable items can be used at once instead of one at a time.
  • Covenants can be switched at Bonfires.
  • Button configuration is available – switch jumping to the left analog stick, quick!
  • The online network has been changed from P2P to dedicated servers.
The bonfires are much more… fiery in the remaster

There are numerous other additions from less fiddly item-switching mechanics to changes to summoning and PvP healing, and From Software certainly seems to be ably straddling that tightrope of keeping the core game intact and pure (one major change would almost certainly usher in the age of internet fire) while adding minor-yet-important updates. No, it isn’t redone in the Dark Souls 3 engine, but Dark Souls is often cited as being beloved because of it feeling distinct to the other games in the series, and this remaster will certainly keep that notion intact.

‘Middle Earth: Shadow of War’ is Removing Microtransactions

Well, well, well. Look who finally turned up to the corporate apology party. Turns out that when money-grabbing microtransactions are no longer lucrative – or your game has become largely irrelevant – it’s the perfect time to say you’re sorry and take them away. Warner Bros. issued a quite astounding apology this week for all of that exploitation they did, and announced that they were going to completely remove the market from Shadow of War a whole six months after the game’s release.

The official statement reads:

The core promise of the Nemesis System is the ability to build relationships with your personal allies and enemies in a dynamic open world. While purchasing Orcs in the Market is more immediate and provides additional player options, we have come to realize that providing this choice risked undermining the heart of our game, the Nemesis System. It allows you to miss out on the awesome player stories you would have otherwise created, and it compromises those same stories even if you don’t buy anything.

I wonder how many of these Orcs were paid for…

There you have it, a multi-billion dollar corporation apparently takes six months to realise that offering players the chance to skip through parts of their game actually undermines the hard work the developers put into creating it. What an epiphany! That, or they knew all along that they were purposely undermining the system because that’s the entire point of offering players the ‘choice’ to buy Orcs instead of playing to earn them. Either way, it’s finally made a largely-praised game that many people would likely have boycotted into a viable experience – at a greatly reduced price from when it launched. Naturally, anyone who actually pumped money into the game up to this point might be a little cheesed off, but for the rest of us, we can hopefully now appreciate a good game for the right reasons.

Spyro The Dragon Reignited Trilogy is Confirmed

Unlike the aforementioned Dark Souls Remastered, Spyro has undergone quite the visual makeover. Activision announced the remake this week with a new trailer and a release date of Sept. 21st as a celebration of the original game’s 20th anniversary and sweetpurpledragonfirebreath does it look absolutely gorgeous.

Watch this in motion – it’s so smooth

Once again, the chaps and chapesses over at Toys For Bob – of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy fame – are handling development of the 3D platformer, and once again the original games have been remade from the ground up. As well as the improved visuals, the Reignited Trilogy will feature updated controls and an enhanced rewards system.

There’s not much more information announced for the game, but what more do we really need to know? Why not just check out the trailer and I’ll catch you all next week.

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