There’s a lot to look forward to in the next few months and first half of next year. After the maelstrom of 2020, there were a lot of questions about the gaming industry as a whole. Indie developers had picked up their keyboards and hammered out games left, right and centre, while huge companies fell to their knees clutching their apology notes. Everyone took a breath and took stock of the gaming industry, it seemed. After all, we were now living in an age where highly anticipated games developers such as CDPR and powerhouses like EA were being met with such derision by gamers, that they actually changed things up and tried to do better.
It felt like gamers had regained some power.
Then E3 pulled the rug out from under anyone who had a scrap of hope left.
E3 is not without their haters. Most view the event as a poorly orchestrated and incomplete roundup of games by people who don’t understand gamers but understand the business of games. As Brendan Sinclair writes on GameIndustry.biz, “Looking forward, I expect the industry to continue growing. And as a result, I expect E3 to continue disappointing those who judge it against the more comprehensive shows of its heyday.”
Most of the games we saw (not just for PC) were given little attention by their publishers, and presentations like Far Cry 6 had audiences thinking “Is that it?”.
Sadly, it was. That wasn’t to say E3 was a total bust, of course. We were treated to some good news about Battlefield 2042, and Elden Ring had us on our feet, too. Let’s not forget the splendour of Horizon Forbidden West, either.
We had to take what we could get, really. PC gamers (as usual) were sat waiting for the list of formats to appear on their screens to see if PC would be supported. Mostly, PC gamers have done really well over the last year or so, when we think about it. Games like Hades, MS Flight Simulator, Half-Life: Alyx, Warzone and Assassin's Creed Valhalla have satiated even the thirstiest of the PC Master Race.
So, with all of that negativity out of the way, let’s look at some of the more exciting launches heading our way in 2021 and beyond!
I asked myself many questions when I saw the trailer for the multiplayer-only, shiny new Battlefield 2042. The first question I had was about the Geneva Convention.
Sure, I was spellbound by the cinematic dogfight, where the chased pilot is seen soaring into the clouds - enemy in tow – unexpectedly ejecting from the fighter jet, and then deftly firing a heat seeking missile at their bewildered opponent. I was genuinely spellbound. It looks like EA and Dice have been back to the drawing board with a few energy drinks and just said “Yes” to everything the game designers came up with.
If you haven’t seen the trailer, you can check it out below.
Around three minutes in is where you can find the dogfight in question, which is spliced in with incredible game engine footage of tense breaches and firefights that have me thinking “I wonder how much of this scenery is gonna be destructible?”. Truly, one of the best parts of Battlefield games is the fact that you can destroy everything in your path. After a long day at the office, who doesn’t want to fire a tank shell through the side of a quaint cottage I the country?
So, the Geneva Convention. I was wondering where Battlefield 2042 stands on the law of war when it comes to ejected pilots. According to the 1949 Geneva Convention:
“No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.”
It would seem, then, that because the pilot hadn’t deployed a ‘chute, they were fair game. But, then, did the other pilot think it would be uncouth to fire upon them? Perhaps they were waiting for the pilot to deploy said ‘chute? I don’t know, and I shouldn’t care, but I do.
What To Expect from Battlefield 2042
With my momentary moral and ethical quandary dealt with, I set out to find out as much as I could about the latest instalment in the Battlefield franchise. I was left wanting in terms of EA and Dice official responses to leaks and beta early releases (which we’ll cover a little later), but as far as in-game features? There were plenty to go at.
Battlefield 2042 will feature the staple buffet of total warfare using your preferred method of death-dealing. Pilot attack choppers or get your boots dirty on the ground with your buddies at your side. The freedom of choice is still very much embedded in Battlefield, and with seven maps to charge into, you’ll be spoilt for choice; not just how you’ll go about wrecking your opposition, but where you’ll do the wrecking.
The seven maps on offer are Hourglass, Discarded, Manifest, Kaleidoscope, Orbital, Breakaway and Renewal. Each one presents unique strategy options, and it won’t be long before the tactical cartographers out there start pumping out their YouTube videos guiding you to the best sniper spots and the best place to dig in for a firefight.
One of the most interesting maps is Hourglass, which is set in a “…city lost to the desertification around it. Massive dust and sandstorms are constantly rolling in, blotting out the natural light, as you battle for control of a convoy trapped in the shifting sands.”
This immediately made me think of movie classics like Mad Max, but at the same time, the visuals lean toward Dune, too.
Speaking of classics, Dice have done Battlefield players a massive service in introducing Battlefield Portal - a sandbox builder where you can create your own scenarios using the developer’s tools and your own rules. You’ll be using the BF2042 maps and the classic maps from Bad Company, Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 3 and others; an exciting and hugely appreciated move from the developers. It’s described as being a “love letter” to the longstanding fans of the franchise, and it has so far been received with positivity from Reddit, being described as “Your Battlefield” and as a “MillSim” by some users.
Beta (Leaks and more)
We couldn’t help but notice the internet caught fire a little and was not stomped out by any of the corporate reputation managers over at EA. Your friendly neighbourhood Battlefield leaker, Tom Henderson, recently put out a tweet writing "we should finally hear something on Battlefield 2042 between August 31st - September 2nd."
He then later cleared up the ensuing confusion stating he doesn't actually know when the beta will begin, but we could get news soon. The timeline is closing in on EA and Dice, however, so expect some rapid fire news in your inbox if you’re signed up to their newsletter.
Bleak Faith: Forsaken
A step away from the regular FPS and shooters now, with Bleak Faith: Forsaken; a bold and ambitious Kickstarter created by the two developers at Archangel Studios. The Kickstarter raised a healthy $31,199 for the project, with the support of 362 backers.
Bleak Faith:Forsaken is a third-person open world survival horror action RPG (try saying that three times quickly). Set in a universe that has been built to put your crafting, scavenging, hunting and fighting skills to the test, it is pitched as something “you've never experienced before”.
You play as one of the Forsaken, humanity’s last hope against the terrifying horrors of the Omnistructure – a labyrinthine open world that offers little respite from the bloodshed other than outposts where the Forsaken can rest and prepare for yet more battle. The game opens at one such outpost, where you find yourself stranded and unsure of your purpose.
There’s a strong sense of mystery and intrigue here, and it is all intentional. The Omistructure has been created to feel like you will always be wondering if you had taken the right path or made the right decision. This would suggest that there’s going to be a lot of good reasons for the player to come back and try something different.
As much as this two-man dev team may look like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, they will no doubt have the full support of their new fans owing to their transparency and candour on Twitter. One has to marvel at how a couple of developers are capable of creating something so deep, rich and meaningful in the industry, in such as short space of time, while some other publishers and developers are still wringing their hands over sequels and spin-offs we’ve been promised for a long time (only to be left wanting). If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – you gotta love indie devs.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Throughout this article I have looked forward to writing about this game. As a huge fan of the Guardians on the big screen, I have often found myself lamenting about who would best serve the game up on consoles and PC. Square Enix, it seems were very much up to the challenge and actually seem to bring a lot of their own fanatical excitement to the party.
Guardians of the Galaxy is shrouded in controversy and questions are still unanswered by the gaming press as far as comic book/movie adaptations go, but from the announcements and E3 reveal, we know enough to look forward with happy anticipation for this single-player, story-driven, third-person action-adventure game (yet another tongue twister).
Remember how it felt to pick up your controller and play Raiders of the Lost Ark on your Atari 2600? No? I must be old. Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first movie licensed video game and allowed every kid to feel like their hero on screen. Like all of the awesome licensed games since (GoldenEye, Spider-Man, Alien: Isolation to name a few), it’s not difficult to get excited about playing Peter Quill and delivering a funny one-liner as you Spartan-kick an alien scumbag into a wall.
However, calling this game a movie licensed game is not accurate at all. Square Enix, you see, have decided to create the original universe for the project with injections of inspiration from Guardians comic writer, Dan Abnett, and it looks awesome. The most recent video from Square Enix (Official Grand Unifier Raker Cinematic Trailer) shows there’s still some major differences in the characters’ look, just like the previous trailers. A comic book license should be great news for those who wanted a faithful representation over a movie port. The biggest question (and controversy) is – do we just love James Gunn’s depiction of the ragtag bunch too much to like this game?
What to expect from Guardians of the Galaxy
The gameplay footage (whilst still developmental) looks amazing, too, showing Star-Lord in full acrobatic mode, rocketing around and blasting at enemies while commanding the team in battle. You get to make tactical decisions about who should attack (and how), and then follow up with your own combination of attacks, all while listening out for the tips & observations of the other Guardians. The most significant aspect of battle, however, is the soundtrack.
The action breaks away for Star-Lord to lay down the fat thud of Joan Jett – Bad Reputation and then you’re spurred on to deal out immense damage to anything in your path. It’s a recipe we are all familiar with, and anyone who has played Tony Hawk Pro Skater games will testify to the fact that with great music comes sick gameplay.
The story is going to require you, as Peter Quill, to make decisions that will impact your journey through the universe. This immersion in games has been popularised by the likes of Telltale Games with their amazingly well designed, story-driven games that allow you to empathise with characters and invest in their success or demise.
I personally cannot wait for the PC version when it launches on October 26th this year, and like most Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, I will refuse to believe this will be another Square Enix Marvel’s Avengers fiasco.
It’s been a wild ride for Master Chief. With a fanbase that spans three generations in some families, the game has legendary status around the world. Since 2001 Halo has amassed over $5 billion in revenue, with over 6 billion gaming hours played. Originally conceived as an RTS (Real Time Strategy) game more akin to World of Warcraft, the game went from having a very small plot arc (and not as a trilogy) to spanning almost twelve titles. This eagerly awaited game is getting the full treatment that the next gen consoles can provide, and will no doubt quieten the internet for a couple of days while we all familiarise ourselves with our noob tubes once again.
On a personal note: It would greatly disappoint me if I don’t see some photos on Reddit of cosplayers playing Halo Infinite on launch day.
Watching YouTube creators play early iterations of Halo Infinite has been a blast from the past and a jolt into the future at the same time. Naturally, the game was limited to AI bots and pretty crappy FPS if we’re honest. However, there will be a million itemised changes before the 343 Industries are happy to release such a deity back on to our screens.
All the familiar sounds and visuals are there, though, which gives you a sense of nostalgia only possible when you have invested blood, sweat and tears into your favourite franchise. jackfrags got his hands on an early test version of Halo Infinite, and the most impressive thing to come out of his twelve minutes of gameplay is the faithfulness to the original games while bringing it into the modern FPS genre.
PC customisation will be interesting for those pro gamers who will be looking at increasing FPS and reducing any latency of the game for those obligatory Halo e-sports events we’ll all be seeing next year. The early version we’ve seen looks to have a good amount of customisation already, but maybe there will be more?
The armour customisation looks stunning in its new 4K glory and opens up a new world of style for those who want to be the best looking Spartan on the block. If you’re more of a gunsmith, the weapons bench will be welcomed with a raft of skins and customisations available in the final game.
Familiarity means a lot in games that get a reboot, and by the looks of things, this game will be like pulling on a pair of jeans you’ve owned forever.