Summerfall Studios, developers of the upcoming, self-described “roleplaying musical” Stray Gods, has recently taken to Twitter to deliver some unfortunate news for those eager to sing their way out of a fantasy predicament. Stray Gods, which puts you in the role of a woman who must prove her innocence before Greek gods through the magic of song, is getting pushed back a week to an August 10 release date.
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But though the news was delivered in the standard image-of-a-letter format that we all know and love, the contents weren’t your typical boilerplate about needing a bit more time to ensure the game is at its best. Nope, this one was very direct: the studio wants to avoid competition with Baldur’s Gate 3 which is slated to launch on August 3, the original release date of Stray Gods. And yes, there are also some technical goals the team is hoping to hit by pushing the release date back a bit.
“We need to make a slight adjustment to the calendar,” the opening of the statement reads before announcing the new release date of August 10. It continues:
We want everyone to have ample space to check out Stray Gods when it launches. Baldur’s Gate 3 is hotly anticipated (by us, too!) and we want to give our fans room to celebrate Stray Gods.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is expected to be a massive RPG experience, so something tells me that folks will still be very deep into it even just seven days after its August 3 launch, but it makes sense for a smaller title to maybe take a heartbeat before hitting storefronts. Or, as one person put it on Twitter, maybe Summerfall Games doesn’t want to hog all the attention for itself.
The delay is also giving the studio some time to work on “performance parity” between consoles and PC so that it runs “as close as possible, across every platform.”
Stray Gods launches on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch on August 10.
The full list of 36 games for Xbox Live Gold’s replacement, Game Pass Core, has been revealed a day ahead of its launch. And they’re…they’re really good.
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18 years of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold comes to an end tomorrow, September 14, when it will be taken out behind the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters and shot dead. An anachronistic hangover of the pre-Game Pass era, Gold and its Games with Gold monthly downloads have recently been limping into obscurity, and at this point it’s a kindness to let it go. In its place will arrive the bouncing new-born puppy, Game Pass Core.
Core, essentially an equivalent to Sony’s PlayStation Plus Essential service, is to be the budget incarnation of Game Pass, lacking access to the service’s full library of hundreds of games, but instead offering a curated selection of 36 titles, along with the somehow still toll-gated access to online gaming. But here’s the thing: they’re 36 really decent games.
We previously learned what 25 of the games would be, but Microsoft kept Goldmembers waiting until the last second to learn the full details of what their accounts would be converting to. Stand-out new titles include Stardew Valley, Vampire Survivors, Among Us, Firewatch,and Dead Cells. Joining the likes of AAA titles such as Dishonored 2, Doom Eternal, and Forza Horizon 4, it’s an eclectic collection that really doesn’t feel like the pile of leftovers a cynical person might have expected. (Hello.)
Core will be priced the same as Gold, at $10 a month, and current customers will be automagically converted over. It’s a confusing price-point, given the fuller version of Game Pass is just a dollar more, and includes all the same games plus literally hundreds more. However, you can also pick up a full year’s worth of Core for $60, which would halve the price, while no such discounts appear to exist for the higher tiers. And honestly, as much as I’d love to gripe, $60 for 36 properly good games is rather good. Meanwhile, Game Pass Ultimate recently upped its price a couple of bucks a month to $16.99.
The catch is, games will only be added to Core two or three times a year, rather than Gold’s system of offering two different games each month. However, as we mentioned, it’s a fine list of games. Here’s the lot:
Doom Eternal Standard Edition
Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition
Gears 5 Game of the Year Edition
Golf with your Friends
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Wars 2
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Human Fall Flat
Ori & the Will of the Wisps
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
Slay the Spire
Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition
State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
The Elder Scrolls Online
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Keen games players will likely have already picked up most of these that interest them in the last couple of years, but then this service really isn’t aimed at you. Think of Core as the version of Game Pass you get your aunt when you buy her her first console, a taster menu of the possibilities of gaming. Heck, just Powerwash Simulator and Fallout 4 would keep most people’s evenings busy for the first year.
Meanwhile, it still sucks beyond comprehension that consoles are still somehow charging monthly tithes for online access. Over at PC Land, it’s all free!
By many accounts, Payday 3 appears to be a disappointing half-step forward for the longrunning co-op bank robbery series. Unlike its predecessor, it also requires players to always be online, a seemingly grave misjudgement given Payday 3’s first-week launch woes. The problems with crashes, slow matchmaking, and disconnected servers were so bad the CEO of creator Starbreeze Studios began apologizing for the state of the game almost immediately.
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“We are so sorry that the infrastructure didn’t hold up as expected, and although it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario—we should be able to do better,” Tobias Sjögren tweeted on September 22, just a day after Payday 3’sdebut. “We work tirelessly until we have restored all services and our players can get back to heisting again without issues!”
“Early access” for Payday 3 began on September 18, but the massive influx of new players didn’t begin until its full release on September 21. In addition to PC and PlayStation 5, the multiplayer heist sim also hit Game Pass, where paying subscribers on Xbox Series X/S could download it for free. PC players complained about the game being stuck in “searching” mode when trying to find a match. Some Xbox players also appear to have faced unstable servers and crashes.
“No matter what you choose, public, friends only, invite only, it will just matchmaker forever,” wrote one player in a post that blew up on Reddit. “Release day is usually tough for studios. This…This is embarrassing.”
Players on PS5, meanwhile, began the week with an apparent wrong build of the game. Lead producer Andreas Häll-Penninger blamed Sony for pushing out an incorrect patch. “PS5 players: For reasons out of our control you are currently playing an older version of the game,” he tweeted. “Sony is working on rolling out the proper patch.” The right version arrived a day later, but it was still a bad omen for fans on PS5 who paid $30 extra for the Silver Edition to play the game before others.
Naturally, the outages have once again spurred calls for companies to move away from always-online requirements. Payday 2’s offline mode lets players run through missions with AI-controlled characters. While the allure of the series remains its real time online multiplayer antics, being able to still enjoy the game without an internet connection was a nice feature. An offline mod for the game is apparently already in the works.
A three-act play on the Payday 3 Twitter account (sorry, I mean “X” account) perfectly captured the mood of the launch. “HEISTERS! We’re number one on Steam!” the account tweeted on September 21. “Heisters, we’re currently experiencing slow matchmaking,” read its very next tweet. “We’re investigating and working on a solution.” While matchmaking was unavailable for many throughout the afternoon and evening, the studio reported that things were improving by early in the morning on September 22, only for outages to creep back in as the day went on.
The ongoing mess is another reminder of why so many people take a wait-and-see approach to new game launches, especially on PC, especially when they have stringent online requirements. “Payday 3 feels like the kind of game that is not meant for day-one purchase,” wrote one observer on Reddit. “But rather wait until they have a bunch of content released.”
This is effectively what IGN wrote in the very first paragraph of its Payday 3 review. “The usual horrible Payday bugs, a dinky pool of jobs to tackle, and a predictably weak story mean it’s not exactly the giant leap forward I was hoping for,” it reads. “Still, if Payday 2’s post-launch support is any indication, this is at least a very promising start for what could become another decade of happily pistol whipping cashiers and fixing drills.”
After launching back in 2020 on PC via the Epic Games Store, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is finally (three years later…) making its way to Steam in October. Soon, it will be very easy to play this fantastic remake of the first two games in the series on your Steam Deck, no Heroic Games Launcher required!
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Cast your mind back to September 4, 2020. The covid-19 pandemic was still a new and horrible problem, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles had yet to be released, and the world received a new Tony Hawk game in the form of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. It was a good game that recreated the feel of those older titles, but did so using advanced visuals. THPS 1+2 also launched exclusively on the Epic Games Store on PC. And then, uh, well three years passed, covid is still a thing, and it seemed like Activision had forgotten all about THPS 1+2 or releasing it on Steam. But now, either a really long exclusive deal has expired or someone at Activision remembers they could make extra money by bringing the last good Tony Hawk game to more players via a Steam version.
On Tuesday, the official Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Twitter account announced, with little fanfare or hype, that the popular remake would launch on Steam on October 3. The game already has a Steam store page, and players can wishlist THPS 1+2 ahead of next week’s Steam release.
It’s unclear why now, after three years and a lot of radio silence, Activision has decided to bring THPS 1+2 to the PC storefront used by most players. Kotaku has reached out to the publisher for more info.
I guess it’s possible the company signed some three-year deal with Epic, but that seems like far too long for this kind of exclusivity deal, especially for a relatively low-key game. It’s also possible that Activision realized that THPS 1+2 is a perfect fit for the Steam Deck, and putting the game on Valve’s storefront makes it easier for people to buy and play it on the popular portable PC. Or maybe somebody just stumbled upon a sticky note in a desk and went, “Oh shit, right!” and hit a button.
For now, we just don’t know. (It’s obviously because they were worried players would become confused, and try to screw trucks to their Steam Decks -Ed.)
Personally, I’m pretty happy to see THPS 1+2 finally coming to Steam. The idea of having this game easily accessible on my Steam Deck—no weird launchers or tinkering required—sounds wonderful. And hey, maybe this is a sign Activision has plans to make more Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games? Probably not, but I can hope, right?
Sega has canceled the yet-to-be-released Hyenas, an extraction shooter set in space that was in development at Total War and Alien Isolation studio Creative Assembly. The publisher also canceled several other, unannounced games as part of “structural reforms” across its European operations.
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Announced in June 2022, Hyenas was described as a “sci-fi space piracy multiplayer FPS” pitting teams of players against each other and NPCs as they fought to steal valuable items and pieces of pop culture, like Sonic statues and Rubik’s cubes. On September 11, the game wrapped up its most recent beta. 17 days later, Sega and the developers behind Hyenas confirmed it was canceled.
“We knew our plans were ambitious,” said Creative Assembly, “And we knew we were diving headfirst into competition with some of the greats. But we believed in the journey and we’re proud to have taken every step along the way. We hope you’ll join us in remembering the action-packed, zero-G chaos and the diehard community of players who helped us make it special.”
Following reports from IGN that Creative Assembly may face layoffs, the studio tweeted its own separate statement after confirming the cancellation of Hyenas. In it, the dev team explained that it had begun the “difficult” process of “redundancy consultation.”
“This may, unfortunately, result in job losses,” said Creative Assembly. “While we must go through this incredibly difficult process, we will prioritize supporting our people at every step. For those whose jobs are at risk, we will work to re-allocate them into other available roles within [Creative Assembly] wherever possible, and ultimately minimize any job losses.”
Creative Assembly sent over this statement to Kotaku:
Creative Assembly, part of SEGA Europe, has announced the beginning of a redundancy consultation process, alongside ending development of HYENAS. This decision affects areas of its UK operations, which may result in job losses.
We understand that this has a significant impact on our people, whether they are directly at-risk of redundancy or not. Our people-first approach remains foundational to how we operate; the priority is to work with those whose jobs are at-risk and re-allocate them to other available opportunities at CA wherever possible.
We are absolutely committed to delivering more exciting game experiences long into the future, which will delight both current and potential players all over the world.
Why Hyenas was canceled
These possible layoffs and the canceled game are part of a larger situation at Sega, which owns Creative Assembly.
In a press release posted Thursday on SegaSammy’s official website, the company blamed its lower profits in the UK on less demand for games due to fewer people being stuck at home after the lifting of covid-19 lockdowns and an “economic downturn due to inflation” in Europe. To “adapt to these changes” and “improve” profits in the region, Sega is implementing “structural reforms” after reviewing in-development games.
“In response to the lower profitability of the European region,” said Sega, “We have reviewed the title portfolio of each development base in Europe and the resulting action will be to cancel ‘HYENAS’ and some unannounced titles under development. Accordingly, we will implement a write-down of work-in-progress for titles under development.”
For those worried, Sega confirmed its “Pachinko Machines Business” continues to “perform well.”
Layoffs and cancellations have been an unfortunate industry trend in 2023, as every week seems to bring another wave of firings across countless video game studios and publishers like EA, Unity, and Riot.
Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, the upcoming spinoff in Sega’s Yakuza series, is set to release on November 9. But unlike several recent games in the franchise, it will not launch with an English dub version. Instead, English audio will come to the game in a post-launch update. Sega has yet to announce a specific date for the patch.
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Yong Yea, the new English voice actor for protagonist Kiryu Kazuma, revealed the news on his official Twitter account, saying:
Since Like A Dragon: Gaiden is a few weeks away and many may not know about this, [I] thought I should let you know the English dub will not be available on the November 9 launch date and will release as a post-launch patch (no official date yet). Hope you’ll look forward to it!
Like A Dragon Gaiden, which takes place between Yakuza 6 and Yakuza Like A Dragon, follows Kiryu as he assumes the identity of a secret agent named Joryu after faking his death to protect his adopted children at the Sunflower Orphanage. Now Kiryu… er, I mean Joryu, has a swath of new gadgets like explosive cigarettes, rocket boots, and Spider-Man-esque wire to beat up thugs and swing around the city. Hopefully, after Kiryu is finished having fun with his whole 007 license-to-kill persona, he’ll find time to make things right with that family he left behind. Yes, I’m still mad about Yakuza 6’s finale.
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Longtime fans of the Yakuza series have become accustomed to playing its games without an English voice track. Only recently have players been able to experience the Yakuza series with an English dub, with games like Like A Dragon and its spin-off series, Judgment. The last time the mainline Yakuza games had a proper English version was with the original U.S. release of the first game on PlayStation 2,where Hollywood actors like Michael Madsen and Mark Hamill voiced Kiryu Goro Majima. While that combination sounds amazing on paper, it wasn’t remarkable enough for Hamill to remember having played Majima, let alone recall what the Yakuza series is even about. Here’s hoping Like A Dragon Gaiden leaves a better impression.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (GameStop) will come to PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One on November 9.