Episode 5: Nintendo Direct, Metro Exodus, Tetris 99 and more

Introduction

Welcome to This Week In Video Games Episode 5, my name is Tom Kershaw and I hope you’re doing well and having a good week. This is a podcast all about the world of video games.  In the news this week we’ll take a closer look at a packed Nintendo Direct full of new games and updates, we’ll discuss Activision Blizzard job cuts, Call of Duty 2019, news of The Division 2’s Open Beta and what Peter Molyneux’s been up to. 

Then we’ll get into what we’ve been playing including first impressions of Metro Exodus, Tetris 99, Yoshi’s Crafted and a bit more Apex Legends.  If you want to get involved in the show email us on podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com or check out the latest on the website. Send in your questions, comments and video game stories – we’re always interested in hearing from you. 

We’re also available on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – so search This Week In Video Games on your favourite platform and join in the conversation. 


[END INTRO]


So welcome to the show. It’s been a BIG week of news this week. 3 big game releases on Friday with Crackdown 3, Metro Exodus and Far Cry New Dawn. We also had the news drop from Nintendo about some of their releases coming in 2019, which sent hype levels into the stratosphere. 
This week outside of games I haven’t been doing so much traveling this week. It’s been good to be in London. On Tuesday I met up with some friends and we went to this Argentinian Steak place in London Fields called Buen Arye. This place is amazing, always delivers. If you’re ever in London and want the best steak, head to Buen Ayre. Unbelievable. 
Otherwise I’ve been catching up with the feast of games that has been released this week as well as the game news…. so lets get into it.  


NEWS 


NINTENDO DIRECT 
There were rumours early in the week about an incoming Nintendo Direct, then they made the announcement that the direct would be coming Wednesday 13th at 10pm UK time. Nintendo casually then dropped one of the most exciting Direct’s in recent times.  

The Direct started strong with Super Mario Maker 2 – the long anticipated sequel by the Super Mario Community. In a short trailer Nintendo managed to show off a number of new features including slopes, angry suns, multi directional autoscrolling, vertical levels, Cat Mario and the addition of Super Mario 3D world.


A number of new games were announced including Oninaki, a new action RPG from the maker’s of ‘I Am Setsuna’. Astral Chain is coming from Platinum games. There’s some remakes and ports coming with Final Fantasy VII, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Dead by Daylight. The headline act of the direct was another remake in Link’s Awakening – The Legend of Zelda remake from the original 1993 Gameboy game. The art style looks fantastic and the moment the game was revealed I had goose-bumps as soon as I saw Link’s hat on the boat. The original version was released on the Gameboy in 1993 with a Gameboy Colour edition in 1998. The graphic style of the game looks similar to that of A Link Between Worlds, the 3DS sequel to A Link To The Past. It’s a beautiful part 2D, part 3D and vibrant colours should breath new life into this classic game. The announcement was the headline act of the direct and sent the YouTube comments into meltdown. Many Twitter users offering comparisons from the original 1993 to 2019 intro sequence. 

Nintendo also announced some sequels coming in Box Boy + Box Girl, Unravel 2, Deltarune, Rune Factory 4 and 5, Fire Emblem 3 Houses and Dragon Quest 11 S Definitive Edition. As well as the new games, sequels and remakes there were a number of updates to existing games including DLC for Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Star Link and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. 

There was a surprising amount of content released just after the Direct went off the air including demos from Yoshi’s Crafted World, Daemon X Machina. There was free content for Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker and new games including Final Fantasy IX and Tetris 99 – a new online ‘battle royale’ puzzle game. 

It was great to watch live and see the updates on Twitter rolling in. It’s a huge improvement to a few years ago where Nintendo announced things at E3. Now they are doing announcements out of the blue, on their own terms and in their own unique style. It’s great to see Nintendo back on top and rolling once again. As a Zelda fan I’m excited for Link’s Awakening but also Super Mario Maker 2, Final Fantasy VII and Oninaki. No sign of new Pokemon or Animal Crossing, but I would imagine they will hold back on those games until around E3. 

ACTIVISION BLIZZARD  

Next up we’ve got some sad news from Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard have announced job cuts as part of restructuring plans for the company after disappointing sales forecast for 2019. News began to come out last week when Bloomberg reported of these potential cuts that could impact hundreds of members of staff. Activision Blizzard had approximately 9800 members of staff at the end of 2017. 

During this week’s Activision earnings call the numbers were confirmed and approximately 8% of staff will be losing their jobs – this equates to 800 people. The earnings call started with Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick telling investors the company had “once again achieved record results in 2018″. However the company would be restructuring due to disappointing sales against expectations in 2018 and a reduction of 2019 targets. 

One area specifically called out on the earnings call was the under performance of in-game purchases. This is a popular revenue generator for games like Fortnite and other ‘live service’ games. 

Kotaku obtained a letter from inside Blizzard and J. Allen Brack, Blizzard President says: “Over the last few years, many of our non-development teams expanded to support various needs. Currently staffing levels on some teams are out of proportion with our current release slate. This means we need to scale down some areas of our organization. I’m sorry to share that we will be parting ways with some of our colleagues in the U.S. today.” The job cuts appear to be mainly in the non-game development departments at Blizzard e.g. Publishing and e-sports. Activision did announce they will increase the number of developers working on its most popular games by 20 percent. 

This is very sad news for all those concerned and our best wishes go out to those who have been affected. 

LEGACY  

Peter Molyneux discusses his new inventor sim game Legacy. Legacy is a new game about starting a business. You take the main player from someone who builds things in their garage to a factory production line with their inventions. The game is about fostering creativity. Peter Molyneux says in his new video he wants to create feelings – of success, creativity and pose the players of the game dilemmas like “Am I a good boss?”. 

Legacy takes place in the players garage where you put together pre-made pieces to create, well… anything you’d like to create. Once you create something that’s popular and it starts selling, then you take that initial idea to industrial scale to sell to the mass market. Inspired by his very first game, The Entrepreneur 1984, Legacy looks to build on this idea of starting a business and bring it into the modern era. You could call it an inventor sim. The game is bright and colourful and could have a lot of potential. 

ANTHEM CINEMATIC TRAILER  Anthem has a cinematic trailer to boost it’s marketing campaign in build up to launch. Director Neill Blomkamp has teased a live action trailer for upcoming game Anthem. Bloomkamp, of Chappie and District 9 fame, teased the trailer on Twitter. The trailer is called ‘Conviction’ and is available now. 

Blomkamp said before the release: 
“Been working on something new. Really excited to share this soon!” #anthemgame pic.twitter.com/5SxlTO6W1i— Neill Blomkamp (@NeillBlomkamp) February 11, 2019 

Check out our initial impressions on the Anthem Open Demo. Anthem is due for release on 22 February 2019 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. 

CALL OF DUTY 2019 

This year’s entry will have a story campaign after it was cut from Call Of Duty Black Ops 4. Call of Duty 2019 will include a campaign mode according to Activision during their recent quarterly earnings call. Campaign mode was cut from Black Ops 4 most likely due to the inclusion of Blackout – Call of Duty’s battle royale mode. 

Activision indicated during their recent earnings call they intend to invest in development teams by approximately 20% allowing them to bolster their top titles. Rob Kostich, the newly named President of Activision comfirmed the details during a Q&A on the earnings call. Rob said: “An entirely new campaign, a huge and expansive multiplayer world and some fun co-op gameplay.” 

During the same call Activision confirmed they are cutting the sales predictions for Call of Duty in 2019 saying they expect less sales than 2018’s Black Ops 4. Their poor sales forecast for top titles was one of the reasons given for Activision announcing a restructure leading to 800 people losing their jobs. Call of Duty 2019 is expected in Autumn 2019. 

THE DIVISION 2 OPEN BETA 

The Division 2 will have an open beta from March 1 – March 4. Ubisoft’s new looter shooter, The Division 2, will be getting an Open Beta in early March following on from their private beta this past weekend. The open beta will include story missions, a preview of one of the dark zones and a look at end game content including the Invaded mission. It will be available on all platforms including PS4, Xbox One and PC. 

HOLLOW KNIGHT SEQUEL 

Team Cherry have announced a sequel to their 2017 smash hit – Hollow Knight Silksong. The original Hollow Knight came out in 2017. Hollow Knight is a metroidvania game which originally released in February 2017, and grew to new heights of popularity when it was released for Nintendo Switch in 2018. 

Team Cherry, the developers said Hollow Knight Silksong started as DLC content for the game. However when they got into it they realised they had enough content for a full-blown sequel. Hollow Knight Silksong will also be available for free to the original Kickstarter backers. The game will focus on a new hero, Hornet the princess protector of Hallownest from the first instalment. Hornet promises to have new moves, abilities and also a harder Silk Soul Mode once players have completed the sequel. 

Silksong will include a new kingdom, bosses, story, towns and more. No wonder the development team turned the DLC into a full sequel. There’s no doubt that fans of the original game will be super happy with this news. Check out more from the development team at Team Cherry here. This week has been a huge week for new game announcements and this is another addition to that list to look forward to.

WHAT I’VE BEEN PLAYING THIS WEEK 


With so many games released this week like Metro Exodus, Crackdown 3, Far Cry New Dawn – I had to pick one. 


METRO EXODUS 


Metro Exodus is a compelling single player game so far.
Metro Exodus is a single player survival first person shooter. Unlike other games in the series, Metro Exodus takes place on the surface of a post-nuclear war ravaged Russia. Thinking they are the only survivors of The Last War, Artyom and Anna journey across Russia onboard the Aurora.
Previous Metro games have taken place below ground in the winding tunnels. Metro Exodus switches things up as the characters go above ground to explore the remains of what’s left of civilisation.


The game is all about stealth and action set pieces. There’s a fantastic train battle early on in the game where you jump from one train to another, clearing out the bad guys before blowing up their train and jumping back onto yours to the relief of your spartan soldier crew.


The weapons are varied and the gun play feels very good with pistols and rifles packing a punch. The enemies in the game range from other crews of soldiers to mutants roaming the surface of the beautiful Russian landscape.
Character development is front and centre in Metro Exodus as you get to know the crew aboard the Aurora. Combined with the run-and-gun style of action adventure first person shooters there’s also a large amount of character development and world building. Rather than jump straight into the action you can spend time hanging out with the other characters – getting to know them and listening to their stories.


The game looks fantastic on consoles and even better on PC. Digital Foundry have done some excellent analysis on this and you should definitely go and check that out.


I’m currently about 8 hours into the game and I’m enjoying myself so far. Many of the games I have played in recent times have been either huge open worlds or live service ‘grindy’ games, so the single player focus is refreshing.


I’m looking forward to spending more time in the world and the story is compelling enough to bring me back. We’ll bring you a full review soon.
You can check out the first 45 mins on the website – thisweekinvidegames.com


Let me know if you’ve been playing Metro Exodus – send in your comments, questions and stories to podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com


TETRIS 99
Teris 99 was announced during the recent Nintendo Direct this week amongst the plethora of game announcements. Tetris 99 pits you against 98 other players in a player vs player take on one of the most popular games of all time. As the game is player vs player you have to be online and you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online account also.


What makes this Tetris different from those before is you can see the other 98 players in the game and send blocks to help fill up the opponents boards – knocking them out one by one. As you can target other players, they can also target you.


As you play you can see the other players in the game and a countdown to see how many players are left. The game has standard controls using the d-pad to guide the blocks to the bottom, however using the left analogue stick you can target opponents.


There’s 4 types of targeting you can do in the game

  • Random – Targets random players
  • KO – Targets players who are nearly knocked out
  • Attacker – You can go after players who are targeting you
  • Badge – Targets the players who have knocked out the most

The music’s great with a dance/techno version of the classic Tetris music – making the game even more intense than before. This coupled with the new knock out system makes for a fun and frantic experience.
As surprise announcements go this one is welcome and the fact it was released just after the Nintendo Direct shows Nintendo’s really on form at the moment and long many this continue in our eyes. There’s a Tetris resurgence at the moment with Tetris Effect also making many people’s top games of 2018 recently.


Tetris 99 is available now for free from Nintendo’s e-shop.


YOSHI’S CRAFTED WORLD DEMO
Yoshi’s Crafted World is a side scrolling platform game from Nintendo.
The demo allow you to play through a level of the game where you collect various items like sunflowers, coins and hearts. Your train is broken and you have to search the level to collect pieces to repair it so you can continue on your journey.


Throughout the demo you are given various targets to meet including collecting 100 coins, 20 hearts and 5 sunflowers. The objectives are a nice touch and will keep completionists coming back to the game.


Once you reach the end of the level you’re given the option to go back and search for 3 Poochy Pups. This is a nice B-side mechanic where the level flips round and you hunt for extra items. There’s also fetch-quests from Fin Blockafeller who’s standing out in the over world.


Yoshi jumps, floats, and eats enemies turning them into eggs. Collect the eggs and then throw them in any direction you like allowing you to interact with the levels in innovative ways. The game’s controls are fairly simple but fluid and fun.


The world looks beautiful and as the name suggested Yoshi’s Crafted World is full of paper cups, cardboard and hand-made items. The game is a blend of 3D and 2D allowing Yoshi to travel and interact with levels in different directions. In the preview of the full game at the end of the demo you see the world flip and see different views of the level. It’s a very cool effect.
Yoshi’s Crafted World plays great and will be a great addition to Nintendo Switch’s lineup. The demo is out now available to download for free on Nintendo’s e-shop. It was announced during the recent Nintendo Direct.
You can check out gameplay from the demo on the website – thisweekinvidegames.com


The game is released worldwide 29th March 2019 for Nintendo Switch.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Apex Legends this week – which led to my first win in a BR. 


APEX LEGENDS  

Apex Legends is smashing it. In one of the most successful launches in recent memories Apex Legends continues to grow from strength to strength. It’s now hit the 25 million player mark since launch. The game has hit many home runs since launch. From the initial announcement, dropping the game, great gameplay, awesome communication and a strong social media game. It feels like Respawn have nailed this launch campaign and the numbers are a reflection of that. Check out the week 1 update from Respawn here. Vince Zampella, CEO Respawn said


“What a week! Since we launched last week on Monday we’ve seen the creation of an Apex Legends community that is excited, thriving, and full of great feedback and ideas. Our goal is to build this game with you, our community, so keep giving us your feedback because we really are listening.” Respawn have also announced a few community events including Twitch Rivals on Tuesday 12th February, Tuesday 19th February and also a Valentines themed event coming this week. Check out our review of Apex Legends on the website – thisweekinvideogames.com


GAME GUILD 
Last week we ran a poll on Twitter asking which game we should play for the first ever This Week in Video Games Games Guild. To celebrate the February releases from Nintendo Switch Online we posted up a few options including Super Mario Bros 2, which got the most votes. So between now and next week’s show I’ll be playing through as much of Super Mario Bros 2 as I can and you can play along with me.

Next week we’ll check in and see where we are. If you want to play along, download through Nintendo Switch Online or maybe you’ve got an original NES. Either way get in touch on podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com – send me your thoughts and experiences of the game and we’ll discuss next week. I’ll do a little digging into the history of the game and a quick synopsis and put that up on the website this week.

Thanks to everyone who voted. Once we’ve done this play through we’ll put another few options up on Twitter. 


Let me know what future games you want to play through on Game Guild – send in your suggestions to podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com
Next up lets take a look at the all platform charts for the week. 


Charts

3        1              RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2

4        2              FIFA 19   

 1        3              KINGDOM HEARTS III 

 2        4              RESIDENT EVIL 2 

 5        5              CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 4   

 6        6              NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. U DELUXE

7        7              MARIO KART 8 DELUXE    

10        8            SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY 

 8        9              SUPER SMASH BROS. ULTIMATE 

 9        10            GRAND THEFT AUTO V    


Coming up 

  • Anthem game [PC, PS4, XBO] – February 22
  • Aragami: Shadow Edition [Switch] – February 22

Outro
That’s it for This Week In Video Games today. Don’t forget to get in touch about anything you’ve heard on the show today and if you like what you hear – subscribe and leave us a nice review on iTunes – it really helps us get the word out about the podcast.  We have the first ever Game Guild this week with Super Mario Bros 2 – send in your stories, comments and how you’re getting along to podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com


This coming week we’ve got Anthem coming out, so it’ll be good to get our hands on that. If you’ve already got Anthem, send me your thoughts to podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com. It’d be great to know what you think of it. The reviews are going to start coming out in the next few days since the pre-release on Friday 15th, so it’ll be fun to see what the internet thinks of it and how it compares to the likes of Warframe, Destiny and the like.  

We’re always looking for input on the show too  so contact us on podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com or get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Search This Week in Video Games everywhere, and get involved. I hope you have a great week, we’ll get together again to chat about video games next weekend. Until then see ya soon. 

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