Episode 4: Apex Legends, Wargroove and Xbox Live on mobiles

Welcome to This Week In Video Games Episode 4, my name is Tom Kershaw and I hope you’re doing well and having a good week. This is a podcast all about what’s going on in the world of video games.

This week we’ll take a closer look at Apex legends – the battle royale that came out of nowhere with a very successful launch and Wargroove – a fun turn based strategy game. 
In the news we’ll discuss Xbox Live coming to Switch & Mobiles, reports of Blizzard/Activision job cuts, some great new games coming to Nintendo Switch Online, Dr Mario coming to mobiles this summer, a great new free game on Epic’s Store and Crimson days coming back to Destiny 2 this week. 

We’ll also have a look at the charts and we’ll take a look at what’s coming up next week.  If you want to get involved in the show email us on podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com or check out the latest on https://thisweekinvideogames.com. 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

Welcome to the show everyone. I hope you’ve had a good week in video games. It’s great to be back infront of the microphone for This Week In Video Games. I feel like I have been traveling a lot this week – I’ve been up to Manchester, back down to London, then home to visit the parents, so I’ve spent a lot of time on trains and buses. So it’s good to be back in London in This Week In Video Games HQ and I’m looking forward to the show. 

First of all we’re going to dive into what I have been playing this week. 

Apex legends
The new battle royale that came out of nowhere looks to dominate the competition.
There were rumours and rumbles last weekend of a new battle royale game coming out on Monday 4th February from Respawn. According to reports, journalists and influencers had been invited to a location to try out the game so info started to leak last weekend.

On Monday 4th Respawn dropped this trailer and went through the game in more detail in a reveal stream. It’s refreshing in this day and age to have an announcement and then get your hands on the game so quickly. No build up, endless analysis – just get your hands on the game and enjoy yourself.

What is Apex Legends?

Apex Legends is a new free-to-play battle royale game from Respawn & EA.
Rather than take a generic character into battle like Fortnite, Blackout or PUBG you can select from 8 characters (2 are locked when you start the game). Each character has unique abilities and play style akin to Overwatch. Apex Legends takes place in the Titanfall universe, albeit without Titans.

You team up with 2 other squad mates and head into battle. There’s no solo play at present so the game is very team focused. In total there’s 60 players on the map, made up of 20 teams.
GameplayIn classic battle royale style you start out high above the map and drop in with your team mates. Once you hit the ground you pick up your weapons, ammo and gear and try to get into the best position you can.

The action is fast and the gunplay feels good. There’s pistols, shotguns, SMGs, assault rifles, LMGs and sniper rifles so there’s plenty to choose from. For items there’s your med kits, shields, and other healing items.

You have your standard grey, blue and purple items but there’s also gold legendary weapons and items to be found which include unique perks. For examples the legendary helmet will help your ultimate recharge faster or the knockout shield allows a one time revive.

We haven’t seen the hero-focused style before in a battle royale game. This has been common in previous MOBA games or Overwatch and it’s good to see this style come to battle royale games. Each Legend has their own ultimate ability which can be a game-changer. Bangalore’s ultimate includes a missile strike, Bloodhound can detect enemies (which could be super useful in a final 5 situation) and Lifeline can bring in a drop of defensive capabilities.

The ping system is also great bringing an easy and accessible form of communication to the game. You can direct team mates, refocus the battles and highlight weapons and items all with the touch of a button. The pings take into account the context of the item or location you are pinging – for example you can mark a location to your team or ping a weapon or items for them to pick up.
Unlike other battle royale games there’s a revival mechanism allowing you to bring back one of your team when they get knocked out of the game. Pick up an item from your fallen team mate, take it to a specific respawn station on the map and get them back int the game. It adds a high risk but high reward element to gameplay.

There’s other various quality of life changes added to the game. You are told in the UI if the item you are about to pick up is better or worse than the one you currently have.

The game is free-to-play at launch but like other battle royale games there’s micro-transactions in the game. There’s a few in game currencies – Crafting Metals, Legend Tokens and Apex Coins.
Crafting metals can be earned by playing the game (or paying for Apex Packs) and they can be traded for cosmetic items like skins for your legends. Legend Tokens are earned by playing and can be used to unlock new legends as well as special cosmetic items. Apex Coins can be bought and are used to buy Apex Packs which in turn give you cosmetic items and specific loot items.
Players can currently purchase The Founders Pack for £24.99 and that gives you

  • 2000 Apex Coins
  • Exclusive Legendary Demon Hemlok Weapon Skin
  • 3 Exclusive Roughneck Character Skins (1 each for Wraith, Bloodhound, and Gibraltar)
  • 3 Exclusive Banner Frames (1 each for Wraith, Bloodhound, and Gibraltar)
  • 1 Exclusive Founder’s Badge

Personally when I play these games I tend to collect the in game currency and purchase items as and when I can rather than pay for extras. If I am really enjoying the game and I want to give back to the developers then I’ll happily hand over some money. For now, I’m building up my stash of legend tokens to unlock the two new characters.

Respawn have been open and upfront about the content that’s coming soon including their battlepass, new legends/weapons/loot in the coming months.

So far the reaction to the game has been positive. This has been one of the smoothest launches I can remember. This is particularly relevant in the context of the recent Anthem VIP and Open Demo weekends, which didn’t go too smoothly.

I’m really enjoying the game. The speed, the gunplay and the hero-focus appeals to me much more than Fortnite or Blackout. The only thing left to do is get good!

Check out Apex Legends for free now, it’s available for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
We gave the game 89. 

Wargroove review

Wargroove is a fun turn-based strategy game from Chucklefish.

Wargroove is similar to other strategy games in that you battle on a top-down map taking control of units. However to say Wargroove is simply a clone of Advanced Wars is to not do it justice. It stands on it’s own two feet, has a fun gameplay loop and has enough content for many hours of post campaign gameplay.

Strategic battles are the name of the game which means eliminating your enemies before they eliminate you. You tend to start from one side of the map and your enemy on the other, you meet in the middle and battle it out. Along the way you can take hold of buildings with your units to help generate more units at a cost. Understanding your unit’s abilities and skills are key to winning the game.

The graphics are a throw back to SNES style 16-bit pixel art. The audio is good, light hearted tunes with some funny voice acting.

This game has a lot of content is is great value for the price. Campaign, Arcade, Puzzle, Mutiplayer (online and local) and creator modes.

The Campaign mode is fun with a good story. The first few missions take you through a good tutorial describing in detail different types of units, attacks and strategies. As you start the game you witness the assassination of the King of Cherrystone and you take on the role of the young Queen taking on the Felheim Legion. As you progress through the game you meet (and battle) different factions which are varied an entertaining. The campaign is a reasonable length with some of the mid campaign levels taking a fair amount of time to complete.

To compliment the campign mode there’s also Arcade mode which has shorter storied and smaller maps, so if you’re getting bogged down in the longer campaign missions then arcade mode might be more suited to you. Puzzle mode sets up various set pieces allowing you test your skills in certain scenarios. The game has great multiplayer options with both local and online modes. There’s also cross play for Switch, PC and Xbox One.

The key to keep people playing past the campign is the creation mode. You can make detailed maps, campaigns with cut scenes and side missions. Check out reddit for some great community created maps. Unfortunately at the moment there isn’t a rate and review mode for created maps, but hopefully that will come sometime soon. This feature is what gave Mario Maker it’s longevity and perhaps the same could hold true for Wargroove.

This is a great addition to the already strong indy line up on the Nintendo Switch. I’m not normally drawn in by turn based strategy games, however I enjoyed my time with Wargroove and I’ll be taking this game on my commute and my travels for months to come.

The game available now for Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox. The game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

Overall we gave the game 83. 

Xbox Live coming to Switch, iOS and Android devices 
Microsoft have announced Xbox Live is coming to Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android mobile devices.
The news has come since Microsoft unveiled their plans for Game Developers Conference 2019.
In an update to the schedule for GDC their session titled ‘Xbox Live: Growing & Engaging Your Gaming Community Across Platforms (Presented by Microsoft)’ the URL hints at something a little more specific regarding Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.
Microsoft plan to allow game developers to use their technology to connect players across platforms. This will allow Microsoft to gain new audiences across multiple mobile devices opening up potentially millions of new customers.
“Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players across platforms.”Microsoft, GDC schedule
GDC is coming March 18-22 2019 from San Francisco, CA.
This is off the back of developing relationships between Nintendo and Microsoft in 2018 when they allowed cross-play in Minecraft on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.
This certainly is a move in a new direction for a company that has been heavily invested in the console and PC market for some time now. We’ll keep you posted with any new developments as they happen.

Microsoft Studios renames to Xbox Game Studios
Microsoft Studios has been renamed to reflect the company’s ambitions to go beyond the Xbox.
Recently the news broke of Xbox live coming to other platforms such as Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android mobile devices. Together with this news and the rebrand are Microsoft giving us some hints for the future?

Xbox Game Studios is comprised of some great developers including:
343 IndustriesThe CoalitionCompulsion GamesThe InitiativeinXile EntertainmentMinecraftNinja TheoryObsidian EntertainmentPlayground GamesRareTurn 10 StudiosUndead Labs
“2019 is going to be a great year for Xbox gamers everywhere. Exclusive games including Crackdown 3, Gears 5 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps will be available to Xbox Game Pass members on the same day they launch worldwide. We’re also working to deliver big content updates for games like Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 4 and Minecraft that players are going to love.”
Matt Booty, Corporate Vice President, Xbox Game Studios With the recent acquisitions and their investment into 1st party games there’s a lot to look forward to from Microsoft in 2019/2020.
Find out more about Xbox Game Studios here.

Activision-Blizzard reported job cuts 
It’s reported that Activision-Blizzard are set to announce a round of job cuts in the face of slowing sales figures.
On Friday Bloomberg reported that Activision-Blizzard are set to announce a number of job cuts across the company. The cuts are set to be across the company and potentially could go into the hundreds. Activision employed approx 9,800 people at the end of 2017.
Towards the end of last year Activision said that key titles weren’t performing as expected with performance numbers either flat or starting to decline. Activision and Bungie split after Destiny 2: Forsaken was specifically called out as a title that wasn’t performing to the companies expectations.
After the news was announced Activision Blizzard Inc shares dropped around 2.5%.
There hasn’t been any official announcement by the company yet, although they are set to announce this coming week.

Halo Outpost Discovery event  

Microsoft have announced they are going to start touring a Halo Experience starting this summer in the US.  The event promised fans to bring the Halo Universe alive like never before. “Halo: Outpost Discovery is a touring fan experience for all ages, that brings the Halo video game universe to life like never before. This weekend-long event lets you step into Halo’s vast and epic world, with enthralling themed attractions, interactive in-universe encounters, the latest playable game releases and so much more.”

Dates are as follows: July 5 – 7 ORLANDOJuly 19 – 21 PHILADELPHIAAugust 2 – 4 CHICAGOAugust 16 – 18 HOUSTONAugust 30 – September 1 ANAHEIM

You can find out more and buy tickets on the website. Hopefully it’s a success and they decide to bring the tour to other parts of the world. I know a lot of Halo fans in the UK and Europe would love to see this.

Axiom Verge Free On Epic Game Store 
You can download Axiom Verge for free on the Epic Game Store
Axiom Verge is a Metroidvania originally released in 2015. It’s a fantastic game which received critical acclaim when it came out.

The battle between Epic Game Store and Steam continues this week with the next chapter in Axiom Verge. This follows on from the Metro Exodus argument last week.
Epic continue to find ways to draw new audiences to their store and this time they are offering another great game for free.

For short time the game was crashing as all mentions of steam had been removed from the game files. This unfortunately meant the steam audio file was removed for actual steam in the game, leading to the game crashing for everyone. The developer noticed and released a patch fixing the game.

“For anyone missing Steam.xnb from the Epic store, please go to AV in your library, click the gear icon, Verify, then Update.
I was thinking it being Epic and all, I shouldn’t include valve’s dlls and such, so I excluded all files with ‘Steam’ in the name… oops.”
Tom Happ (@AxiomVerge) February 7, 2019
The game is free from Feb 7th – 21st. Download the game for free.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Sells 23m copies 
Red Dead Redemption 2 did good. RDR2 sold 23 million copies of the game in the first 3 months of sales and included the biggest opening entertainment release ever. That’s impressive. It made a whopping $725m and sold north of 17 million copies in the first two weeks, eclipsing the original release of the first Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption 2 was our game of the year 2018, you can read more about that here. Also, you can pick up a copy yourself for PS4 and Xbox One at the moment for less than £40. Bargain!

Nintendo Announce Super Mario Bros 2 and Kirby’s Adventure for Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo have announced their game updates to the Nintendo Switch Online line up for February and they are 2 classics.
Super Mario Bros 2 and Kirby’s Adventure are coming to Nintendo Switch Online on February 13th 2019.
2019’s lineup continues to be strong after the addition of Zelda II: The Adventures Of Link in January.
It sounds like Japanese Nintendo Switch Online customers are getting an extra game, which may leave fans in Europe and the US feeling a little short-changed.
Nintendo Switch Online includes classics like The Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3, Excitebike, Double Dragon and more. The service costs £3.49 per month, £6.99 for 3 months or £17.99 for 12 months.

Dr Mario World coming to mobiles this summer 
Nintendo have announced they are bringing Dr Mario to mobile devices in ‘early summer 2019’.
Nintendo have announced a new partnership with LINE to bring Dr Mario to mobile devices this year. Dr Mario is a puzzle game and will be available on iOS and Android devices later this summer.
Read the full press release from Nintendo here.
The game has been targeted to launch ‘Initially in approximately 60 countries/regions including Japan and the United States’. We’ll have to see which countries are included in the 60 as it appears Europe isn’t included yet.
If you don’t want to wait until the summer to see the doctor then he’s available in Smash Ultimate or the original Dr Mario is also available on Nintendo Switch Online right now.
… and finally 

Crimson Days Coming To Destiny 2 This Week 
Love is in the air, every fight and every sound.
Crimson Days is returning to Destiny 2 on Tuesday February 12.
The 2v2 crucible playlist is front and centre once again. Staying close to your doubles partner helps regenerate your health faster, if you wander off then your opponents will be notified of where you are so playing as a team is crucial in this mode.
This year there’s daily and weekly bounties to be found across PVP and PVE modes as well as exclusive weapons including a new bow called The Vow.
As you play during the Crimson Days event you’ll be collecting Confectionery Hearts. Collect enough of these to trade in for unique rewards including:
Tirastrella Legendary Ghost Shell – 25Undeterred Exotic Sparrow – 50The Vow Legendary Bow – 100Wardcliff Coil Ornament – 125Flaunting Dance Legendary Emote – 150Warmhearted Gift Package – 15You’ll also be able to earn triumphs during the event – collect them all to get the Sugary Ghost Shell.
Find out more on what’s going on in Crimson Days in This Week At Bungie.

Game guild 
The Game Guild is a community feature where we play through video games together. Each week on the podcast we’ll get back together and talk about how we’re getting on – so it’s a bit like a book club. 
What should we play for the 1st This Week In Video Games Game Guild? I’ve picked out some classic games from Nintendo which you can play on classic consoles or Nintendo Switch Online. 
I’ll post a poll on Twitter and the game with the most votes wins. 

  • Zelda 2 – Adventures of Link
  • Super Mario 2 
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Legend of Zelda: Link to the past 
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Super Metroid

Let me know on twitter @twivgpodcast – get your votes in and we’ll announce the winner next week and start playing. 
Next up lets have a look at the charts. 

The charts have been provided by GFK chart track and this is the top 10 entertainment software across all platforms for the week ending 2nd February 2019.

–        1             KINGDOM HEARTS III

1        2            RESIDENT EVIL

2        3            RED DEAD REDEMPTION

5        4            FIFA 19

3        5            CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS

4        6            NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. U DELUXE

8        7            MARIO KART 8 DELUXE

7        8            SUPER SMASH BROS. ULTIMATE

9        9            GRAND THEFT AUTO V

11     10            SPYRO REIGNITED TRILOGY 

Coming soon
February 12

  • Trials Rising [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]

February 14

  • Degrees of Separation [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • OlliOlli: Switch Stance [Switch]

February 15

  • Constructor Plus [Switch]
  • Crackdown 3 [PC, XBO]
  • Far Cry New Dawn [PC, PS4, XBO]
  • Jump Force [PC, PS4, XBO]
  • Metro: Exodus [PC, PS4, XBO]
  • Resident Evil 2 Remake: No Time to Mourn DLC [PC, PS4, XBO]

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.

Are you playing Apex Legends – What do you think of it? Which is your favourite legend and do you think it’s going to stick around and become King of the Hill when it comes to Battle Royale game? How about Wargroove? Have you been playing that? Maybe your a fans of Advanced Wars and have been enjoying Wargroove. Or maybe your creating levels in the community – we’d love to hear from you. 

If you’re interested in playing along in our Game Guild feature then check out Twitter @twivgpodcast and I’ll pin the poll to the top of the page this week, so cast your vote and let us know what you want us to play through first. We’ll got a great selection of games in the mix and I’m looking forward to revisiting some old classics. We’ll announce the winner next week. 

We’re always looking for input on the show too. We’re intending this to be a community driven show with emails and tweets from listeners so contact us on podcast@thisweekinvideogames.com or get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or Instgram. 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.