Plus Microsoft tackles toxic players and ASSASSIN'S CREED: MIRAGE hits shelves earlier
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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.
FIONA: Hi I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus
GIANNI: and I’m Gianni Di Giovanni in for Kyle Pauletto
FIONA: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games.
GIANNI: This week we find out who backed out of Embracer’s failed $2 billion deal, Baldur’s Gate 3 breaks records with its release, and Xbox introduces more enforcements to combat toxic players.
Here is the news for Sunday 20th of August. Let’s go!
PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord
FIONA: Earlier this year, game company mega-corp, Embracer Group saw their stock price plummet after a mysterious $2 billion deal collapsed.
Well, this week, some clever digging by Stephen Totilo at Axios revealed that the partner wasn't a gaming giant like Microsoft or Sony, but rather the Savvy Games Group, backed by the contentious Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.
According to Totilo, the deal had been negotiated for seven months, but Savvy, who were aiming to make Saudi Arabia a gaming hub, withdrew unexpectedly.
GIANNI: Both companies remain tight-lipped about the reasons for the failed partnership, and Embracer now faces an uncertain future, with studio shutdowns, game cancellations, and restructuring on the horizon.
It’s unlikely this is the last we’ll hear about this mysterious deal, so stay tuned to Walkthrough for all the latest.
GIANNI: RPG game Baldur’s Gate 3 has been breaking all the records since its release on PC - storming to the top of the all-time Steam charts with over 850,000+ concurrent players on the platform and topping both Metacritic & Opencritic’s lists for highest reviewed game of the year.
It also broke a bunch of save files for players - whoops!
Earlier this week, Belgium developer Larian studios pushed out ‘hotfix’ number 4 for the game, aiming to patch out multiple bugs - unfortunately, it led to multiple people experiencing constant shader compilation crashes.
Within a few hours, Larian had reversed the hotfix, temporarily locking players out of any save files they’d made during the hotfix period.
FIONA: The issue has been fixed now, with players able to re-access their save files. Larian also issued a statement that any future patches - no matter how small, will go through a full rigorous QA testing process.
Larian has also promised that all revised hotfixes and patches will make it into the PS5 edition of the game, due out on September 5.
That's very good news for SIFTER’s own Adam Christou, who couldn’t kiss his vampire boyfriend in Baldur’s Gate 3 for several hours while locked out of his save file.
FIONA: A new Xbox feature, in a bid to stop the trolls, online abuse, and toxic players, has been launched and it’s an ‘eight strike and you’re out’ system.
Announced in a blog post, the new system works in tandem with current ‘enforcements’ and will see a player receive a strike based on the severity of their actions.
It works a bit like a tier system, where if a player receives two strikes they will be suspended from the platform for one day, whereas a player that receives four strikes will be suspended for seven days.
Once a player reaches eight strikes they’ll be kicked off Xbox’s social features, including messaging, party chat and multiplayer, although only for one year but the strikes do remain on a player’s record for six months.
GIANNI: This comes not long after the company introduced a new voice reporting feature which allows users to record and submit voice chat clips that go against the community standards.
We haven’t heard many details on how effective the voice reporting has been since its launch but Xbox is confident that their players won’t get that far with the eight strikes, saying that players typically stop inappropriate behaviour after one enforcement.
GIANNI: After the very glitchy and bug-riddled release of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, Nintendo and Game Freak are finally sitting down and discussing what happened.
Over the last few years Pokemon titles have been pumped out at a rapid rate with 2022 alone getting Pokemon Legends Arceus and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, and while it’s never been officially confirmed, it’s believed that it was Game Freak’s busy release schedule was what contributed to this.
In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, the Chief Operating Officer of The Pokemon Company Takato Utsunomiya, hinted that the constant release schedule needs to be changed to continue to deliver great titles without sacrificing the quality.
He explained that up until now, that was the path the company had taken, having a constant release schedule, but recently there has been more conversations as the development environments change.
FIONA: It will be great to see the company take more time with their games rather than pushing out very buggy products. In saying that though it might be awhile before they slow down, especially as we’re about to get two new Pokemon DLCs.
FIONA: The next instalment of Assassin's Creed has done the unexpected…it’s diving off a clock tower into your hands sooner rather than later.
That’s right, not delayed – brought forward.
Ubisoft has shaken its recent pattern of postponing game releases, announcing that Assassin’s Creed: Mirage will now debut a week ahead of schedule.
GIANNI: Despite the series becoming the poster child for oversaturation, Mirage has managed to grow some serious hype and anticipation, promising a return to form, and refocusing on the stealth that made the franchise so popular all those years ago.
And now, we only have to wait until October 5th to find out if there’s any truth to that.
GIANNI: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out over the next week.
FIONA: Do you like to vroom vroom? Are you a beep beepy kinda person? Well beloved motorcycle racing sim RIDE 5 from developers Milestone is out this Monday August 21. Lusty bikers, get ready to burn some rubber on PS5, PC and Xbox Series S & X.
GIANNI: EA's brand new magical first-person shooter Immortals of Aveum releases this week. It’s a single-player adventure that puts you in the boots of a battlemage - prepare to sling spells and cast some magic at the bad dudes because It’s out on PC, PlayStation and Xbox on Tuesday.
FIONA: Blasphemous 2; the long-awaited sequel to the cult-hit 2019 metroidvania game is out this week. It’s already sitting at a strong 83 on Opencritic with early reviews raving about its boss fights and gothic setting. It comes to PlayStation, Xbox Series S/X, PC and Switch on August 24th.
GIANNI: Time for a really big one - mech fans, it’s finally here. Armored Core 6: Fires Of Rubicon, the latest game in fromsoft’s long-running mech piloting franchise arrives on Friday 25th August. Get ready to customise your mech and zip about in epic, fast paced battles on PlayStation, Xbox and PC.
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GIANNI: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Gianni Di Giovanni
FIONA: And my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus. Thank you so much for listening.
GIANNI: If you’re looking for something to listen to now you’ve reached the end of Walkthrough, why not check out our brand new review show: Drop Rate! Hosted by Chris Button and featuring some of the best games writers sharing their thoughts and feelings on new releases. Search for SIFTER Drop Rate in your podcast player now, look for the green icon.
FIONA: SIFTER is produced by myself, Kyle Pauletto, Adam Christou and Daniel Ang. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who also edited this episode, and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer.
GIANNI: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune.
Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.
FIONA: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.