Last Of Us Part II Composer Hints That PS5 Upgrade Is Coming

Ellie sits under a tree and plays her guitar.

Image: Naughty Dog / Sony

More Last of Us may be on the way, at least in the form of a “next-gen” PlayStation 5 upgrade for The Last of Us Part II. Composer Gustavo Santaolalla suggested during a recent interview that “new editions” of the game are in the works that would expand on his character’s cameo appearance.

Santaolalla’s character plays only a brief role in the PS4 version of the game, strumming on a banjo in Jackson City. He said in an interview with Blender that the new version of the character will be more interactive, potentially letting players select which music from the game’s soundtrack he plays, according to the Spanish gaming site Vandal (via VGC). He quickly added, however, that he can’t reveal anymore yet.

Kotaku reached out to Naughty Dog for comment.

The musician probably wasn’t even supposed to reveal that much, as there’s been no official tease yet for a new version of The Last of Us Part II. It wouldn’t be a shock that Naughty Dog is working on one though. Sony has been developing PS5 versions of recent PS4 hits like Death Stranding and Ghost of Tsushima, as well as porting some to PC like God of War and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. It would make sense that Part II would be next in line, especially considering the recent success of the HBO adaptation.

In addition to bringing more content, improving visuals and performance, and introducing new accessibility options, “next-gen” upgrades are also a great way for companies to “double-dip” on sales, as outlined in a 2021 report by Bloomberg. Coming out at the tale end of the PS4 console generation, a PS5 port of Part II would be a good way to get it in front of new PlayStation owners who haven’t already played the game using backwards compatibility. It’s also a way to start charging $70 for it.

It’s also the most “new” Last of Us content fans are likely to see in the immediate future. Naughty Dog has been coy about any plans for a Last of Us Part III sequel, and the planned multiplayer spin-off, Last of Us Factions, reportedly hit production snags earlier this year. Season two of HBO’s adaptation is also in limbo at the moment as Hollywood writers and actors go on strike.


Xbox Leak Hints At Cost Of Bringing Huge Games To Game Pass

Starfield was supposed to be Microsoft’s biggest release of 2022. When it ended up getting delayed, the company looked into striking deals with third-party publishers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft for major blockbusters it could bring to Game Pass day-and-date to fill the gap. A new internal email exchange leaked from the Federal Trade Commission trial earlier this year shows exactly how much Microsoft thought those deals might be worth, giving us our best sense yet of what it costs to secure blockbusters like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Grand Theft Auto V on the Netflix-like subscription service.

“This is really a disaster sistuation for us given all we’ve invested in content across studios at our GP content fund,” Phil Spencer wrote to fellow Xbox exectuives in a May 7 email. He was referring to Bethesda’s open world sci-fi RPG Starfield, whose delay at the time threatened to leave a 16-month hole in the Xbox first-party exclusive release calendar just two years into the Xbox Series X/S’s life-cycles.

Sarah Bond, Microsoft’s VP of gaming business development, responded to the discussion later in the month with a breakdown of major third-party games expected to arrive throughout 2022 and early 2023 that could make a big splash on Game Pass. Those included everything from Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, including an analysis of how many hours each game was likely to be played on Game Pass, how much it would cost to get the game on the service, and whether the publisher who owned it would be likely to make a deal.

Here’s the full list of estimates:

  • Lego Star Wars: $35 million
  • Dying Light 2: $50 million
  • Cities: Skylines 2: unknown
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: $5 million per month
  • Dragon Ball: The Breakers: $20 million
  • Just Dance: $5 million
  • Return to Monkey Island: $5 million
  • Wreckfest 2: $10-$14 million
  • Baldur’s Gate 3: $5 million
  • Gotham Knights: $50 million
  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage: $100 million
  • Suicide Squad: $250 million
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor: $300 million
  • Mortal Kombat 1: $250 million
  • Grand Theft Auto V: $12-$15 million per month
  • Blood Runner: $5 million
  • Net Crisis Glitch Busters: $5 million

The estimates vary wildly depending on the size of the release as well as whether it would be day-and-date on the service. Notably, some games like Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Suicide Squad ended up getting delayed (the latter still doesn’t have a new release date). It’s also funny to see Baldur’s Gate 3, one of the biggest games of 2023, low-balled at just $5 million (it’s out on PlayStation 5 now but delayed on Xbox due to issues with the Series S version).

Bond also notes that games like Suicide Squad and Mortal Kombat were unlikely to come to Game Pass due to corporate tumult at Warner Bros. following the merger with Discovery. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor also appeared to be off the table. Gotham Knights and Assassin’s Creed Mirage were considered much more viable and cost-effective deals. And indeed, while not day-and-date, Lego Star Wars did end up coming to Game Pass on December 1 of last year. Today, Microsoft officially announced Gotham Knights is arriving as well.

Companies like Activision (soon to be acquired by Microsoft) and Sony have been critical of day-and-date deals with subscription services, claiming it devalues games sold for $70. The PS5-maker has specificaly said it won’t bring blockbusters like Spider-Man 2 to its competitor, PS Plus, until years later to avoid cannibalizing sales, arguing that the economics aren’t sustainable for high-quality first-party exclusives. Microsoft has disagreed, promoting services like Game Pass as a way to introduce games to bigger audiences and claiming that it actually increases how much subscribers spend on the platform.

Spencer’s email exchange with Bond ends on a note about what ended up being the biggest game of 2022. “Another option with the hit factor around Elden Ring is to try to get all of the Dark Souls games and make a push with [FromSoftware] and an Elden Ring upsell,” Spencer wrote. “Like that one,” Bond wrote back. “Will do.” It’s not clear if Microsoft is still pursuing that deal.


Spider-Man 2 Dev Hints Insomniac Is Open To A Venom Spin-Off

Happy Spider-Man 2 Day, everyone! (Sure, all your family on your mother’s side are celebrating Super Mario Bros. Wonder Day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all get along.) And what better way to celebrate the release of Insomniac’s latest web-shooting action blockbuster than to demand they make another game for you? That’s what the developers are inviting in response to the suggestion of a Venom spin-off for the franchise.

Check Out Marvel’s Spider-Man 2: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

This latest entry in Insomniac’s Spider-Man franchise (the third, following the 2018 original, and the 2020 Miles Morales spin-off) introduces the alien-goo monster Venom to the cast. It seems how he’s introduced is quite widely known, but I’m not going to say here as I just had to spoil it for myself to research this article, and no reason to do that to you too. The response from jubilant reviewers, and excited potential players, is a hope that we might see the alien symbiote getting his very own game, much as Miles did following the first game’s DLC.

The game certainly leaves a lot of threads open, meaning there’s potential for the story to spin off in all sorts of directions. More of Tony Todd’s Venom seems like a pretty good one to grab.

Read More: Spider-Man 2: The Kotaku Review

Insomniac, notably, isn’t ruling it out. In an interview with Insider, senior narrative director Jon Paquette was asked what the chances were of seeing such a project, and while his response was fairly boilerplate dismissal of the question, he did open the door to fans letting Insomniac know their desires.

“So, here’s what we’re doing,” Paquette told the site. “We’re focused on Spider-Man 2, and what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna wait to see how the fans react. We’re gonna listen to the fans and we’re gonna ask ourselves, ‘Okay, what do the fans really want?’”

So while that’s a standard, “I’m not allowed to talk about anything but the game I’m promoting” response, what it’s not is a shutting down of the idea. And, well, he just asked what the fans really want. So, if a Venom-based game is on your wishlist, let them know! You know, politely.

In the meantime, Insomniac said in 2021 it was making a Marvel’s Wolverine set in the same universe as the Spider-Man games, although things have gone awfully quiet about that since. At the time of the announcement, Insomniac’s head of franchise, Ryan Schneider, explained that it was coming from the Miles Morales team. “In the vein of our Spider-Man games,” he wrote in the same post that announced Spider-Man 2, “our goal here is to not only respect the DNA of what makes the character so popular… From what I’ve seen of its emotional narrative and cutting-edge gameplay (see what I did there?), the team is already creating something truly special..”

Venom seems like it has a lot more fun options for leaping around a city than ol’ grumpy-claws.

GTA 6 Patent Hints At Rockstar’s Most Immersive Game Yet

A recently uncovered Rockstar Games patent suggests the developer could be using new technology to make NPCs in its games more immersive, particularly when it comes to the highly anticipated action-adventure crime sim GTA VI.

As spotted by Reddit user Tobbelobben30 (via Eurogamer), former Rockstar Games lead AI and gameplay programmer Tobias Kleanthous issued a patent in April called “System And Method For Virtual Character Locomotion.” The 11-page document, as Kleanthous described on LinkedIn, was “architected and implemented for games” at the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption studio. According to the paper’s abstract, the patent houses “a system and method for controlling the animation and movement of in-game objects.” In layperson’s terms, Kleanthous’ tech should make characters way more life-like. Tobbelobben30 detailed the patent’s contents in their Reddit post:

“Based on this patent, it seems like they’re using a clever system. They’ve built a library of small building blocks for character movements. These blocks can be combined in various ways to create a wide range of animations. For instance, think about a character in the game walking in the rain, feeling tired, or getting injured. Instead of designing separate animations for each of these situations, they use these building blocks to put together the character’s movements naturally. This means GTA 6 can have more diverse and lifelike animations. So, when you play GTA 6, you’ll see characters moving in ways that match the weather, their energy level, and their injuries. This makes the game feel more immersive. It’s like having characters that can adapt to different situations, making the game world feel more real and thrilling.”

“Immersive” can so often be an empty marketing buzzword thrown around ahead of game releases, but when it comes to this patent, the adjective couldn’t be more apt. Based on the tech described, Rockstar Games’ games—particularly GTA IV—should have characters with more dynamic animations, giving their worlds unparalleled realism. While Tobbelobben30 couldn’t verify if the system was used in Red Dead Redemption 2, they did say that the animations in Rockstar’s upcoming game will be “incredible.” (Kleanthous gave a talk during GDC 2021 about some similar tech used in the cowboy RPG.)

Various Reddit users have shared their reactions to this new locomotion patent. “Yeah it’s gonna be mind-blowing, even in the leaks the animations and physics looked insane,” ArkhamIsComing2020 said, referring to leaked development footage from September 2022. “Soo procedural animation? Niceeeee,” quipped ProceduralFish. “So basically if my arm gets hit with a bat I won’t be able to shoot as well? That’s kinda cool,” noted rustynutsbruh.

Kotaku reached out to Rockstar Games and Tobbelobben30 for comment.

We still don’t have a definitive release date for Grand Theft Auto VI, despite learning a lot about the game in recent months and years. A plethora of details have been made public, though, including the city in which the game will take place and the characters we’ll play as, all thanks to an 18-year-old hacker who used an Amazon Fire Stick to gain access to Rockstar Games from a hotel room.


Nintendo Patent Hints Switch 2 May Be A Lot Like the DS

A photo show's Nintendo's logo on a screen.

Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi (Getty Images)

Nintendo recently filed a patent for a handheld device with a design that might surprise you. The patent reveals a handheld that looks a lot less like what you might expect of the upcoming Switch 2, and more like if the 3DS had a third screen.

The patent, first spotted by Game Rant, shows schematics for a dual-screen device that can operate like a 3DS—which flips open to reveal two playable screens—when joined with an extra, exterior touchscreen that works even when the device is shut. The handheld can also be split into two separate devices. According to Games Industry.Biz, Nintendo submitted the patenting application for the handheld on November 11, 2022, which could hint at what the company envisions for its next generation of gaming devices.

Here are images of the dual-screened device.

An image shows the patent for Nintendo's dual-screen handheld gaming device.

Image: Nintendo

An image shows the patent for Nintendo's dual-screen handheld gaming device.

Image: Nintendo

Although Nintendo filing a patent for the dual-screen device doesn’t guarantee it will ever be released, the device would certainly be a big win for video game conservation if it lets you play games from your DS library. Perhaps the handheld device could also be a (knock on wood) less expensive alternative to buying a Switch 2 for folks without disposable incomes. More selfishly, I’m hoping the bizarre device—should it ever see the light of day—will allow me to play the upcoming remaster of Another Code: Two Memories the way it was originally meant to be played: with two screens, DS-style. A boy can dream.

Kotaku reached out to Nintendo for comment.

Read More: Nintendo Accounts Will ‘Ease’ Transition To Next Console, Exec Says

Speculation aside, the design for the handheld is pretty bonkers even by Nintendo standards. While I respect the bold decision to give the DS another screen, my biggest query is what happens to the bottom-facing screen on the detachable part of the device when the device is in two-player mode? Will it revert to a black screen that is unusable for the player, or will it function just as a display screen that shows the time or in-game information? Also, could you mix and match different device parts together into one dual-screen handheld Switch JoyCons? It confounds me.

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