A new accessible controller kit is on the way for PlayStation 5 gamers and a rogue AI is destroying the competition in Rocket League
NEWS THIS WEEK
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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Daniel Ang & Adam Christou. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Omny Studio for their support of SIFTER.
KYLE: Hi I'm Kyle Pauletto
FIONA: and I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus
KYLE: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games, it’s our first episode of 2023 and it’s great to be back!
FIONA: This week Ubisoft delays Skull and Bones again and if you’re crafty you can now buy a Steam Deck in Australia.
Here is the news for Sunday 15th of January. Let’s go
PROMO: Articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to on sifter.com.au
FIONA: Poor Skull and Bones can’t catch a break as Ubisoft announced a handful of delays and cancellations this week and will be reassessing its release strategy following significant challenges and lower than expected sales for recent titles.
The already heavily delayed Pirate title Skull and Bones has been pushed back even further to a worryingly ambiguous time frame of early in the 2023-24 fiscal year, to polish the finished product and build hype for the release.
Here is Frédérick Duguet, Chief Corporate Finance Officer
"We decided to cancel three unannounced projects on top of the four already cancelled last July."
"This will allow us to progressively increase our share of investment behind the development of our biggest franchises starting with Assassin's Creed, Rainbow Six, Far Cry, The Division, and Ghost Recon as well as into the strengthening of our live services."
"We have announced today that Skull and Bones will now be released early fiscal 2024."
"The additional time already provided to the game has been supportive to the overall quality, and we believe the extra time will enable us to have more time to showcase the game's progress and build awareness."
In the financial report released Wednesday, Ubisoft also announced the cancellation of three unannounced projects, to allow the company to focus on already well-established IP’s like Assassins Creed and the upcoming Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.
We’ll link the full report in the show notes.
KYLE: I think they’re making the right move here, even though we’ve known about Skull and Bones for what feels like forever, I haven’t seen a lot of hype for this title. Hopefully the end product is worth the wait.
KYLE: People using bots to cheat in video games is nothing new, but mostly they’ve been the domain of first person shooters… that was until a smart learning bot called Nexto took to the field in Rocket League.
Nexto is a project by developers RLGym that’s been training and getting better at car soccer with other AI players, but some malicious players have copied the freely available code and put it into live matches against other players.
And it’s destroying them.
There is a fair bit of evidence that the bot has been used in ranked matches, and developer Psyonix is actively investigating how to stop it, asking players to report any dodgy activity.
Psyonix has asked the developers of Nexto to stop publicly releasing bots “of this caliber” until it’s all under control.
Good news though this robot overlord isn’t invincible and players over on reddit have worked out how to drop some sugar into its gastank. We’ll chuck a video in the shownotes to show you how man overcame machine.
FIONA: This is both amazing and terrifying. We’ve seen a major increase in AI technology in the last year and seeing it like this in games is not something I thought would happen. But it's good to see there’s a way to overcome it.
FIONA: Australian gamers have been waiting for the day they can get their hands on Valve’s Steam Deck and that time has finally arrived, well sort of.
There’s still no sign of the company selling the handheld in Australia itself but in the meantime retailers such as Kogan, Dick Smith, Amazon and a few others have filled in the gap by importing units to sell.
It looks like these Steam Decks are actually being shipped directly from Hong Kong into Australia, and Valve rather curtly put a message up on twitter saying be careful of third party resellers.
It went down EXACTLY how you’d expect with many Australians chiming in to say get your act together….MATE.
KYLE: One lucky Sifter team member has managed to get their hands on one already, how are you finding it Adam?
ADAM: So what do I reckon of the Steam Deck? Well it is pretty damn impressive.
I'm actually having a lot of fun tweaking and playing around with games figuring out what I want to play on the Steam Deck and how I'm going to play it, playing around with more Triple A budget games like Assassin's Creed Origins and trying to see how I get it work really nicely and then keep the battery life up is actually it's own fun meta game.
But mostly I'm finding that it's making me go to parts of my library that I didn't expect that I'd want to play those sort of pick up and put down quick games like Dead Cells which I haven't thought about in many years are suddenly at the top of my Steam played list and enjoying the portability of playing those sorts of games on the go without having to rebuy them again on something like the Nintendo Switch that's another bit of fun.
It's also been nice to play something on my PC, take a break and then pick it up on the Steam Deck with cloud saves and just keep going.
It's really phenomenal.
KYLE: 2023 is already off to a great start for gamers with PlayStation announcing Project Leonardo, a customisable flat ring shaped accessibility controller kit for PS5.
The kit comes with swappable components including a variety of analog stick caps and buttons of different shapes and sizes, and the ability to control the layout and configuration.
The aim of Project Leonardo is to help gamers with disabilities to be able to play more easily and comfortably, and it definitely looks like PlayStation is on the right track, with the kit also able to be paired with another Project Leonardo or DualSense wireless controller to create a single virtual controller.
While this is a huge step for accessibility on the PlayStation 5, some disability advocates have criticised Sony for not allowing many of the PlayStation 4 compatible accessibility controllers to work on the current gen platform in the 2 years since it’s been available saying it’s a shame people will need to shell out their hard earned cash for a brand new device.
FIONA: Hopefully Sony will listen to the feedback when it comes to PS4 accessibility controllers but it’s great to see 2023 already start off great in the accessibility space. Hopefully it continue over the next 12 months and we’ll see big improvements and changes.
FIONA: EA Sports has announced its plans to remove the CPR touchdown animation from Madden NFL 23.
The decision comes not long after Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin required CPR on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest, which luckily he survived.
The CPR celebration has been used in both the Madden and in real life games for many years, often following a touchdown.
While EA Sports hasn’t specified the reason why the animation is being removed, it’s easy to assume that it’s because of Hamlin and would be in poor taste to keep it in.
KYLE: This just seems like good ol’ fashion common sense so good work EA.
FIONA: That’s it for news, here are the games releasing this coming week.
KYLE: A Space for the Unbound is out on the 19th, a gorgeous looking pixelart adventure game by Indonesian devs Mojiken. It’s out on PC, Switch, and previous gen consoles this Thursday.
FIONA: It’s a big week for fans of the Persona series, with Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden coming to various platforms on the 19th also available on Xbox Game Pass.
KYLE: And out on the 20th is the latest in the long running and much loved Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem Engage. That’ll be out on Nintendo switch this Friday.
FIONA: And on Friday, Monster Hunter Rise will be coming to consoles. Previously a Nintendo Switch exclusive, Rise will now be available on PC, Xbox one, Xbox series S and X, and Playstation 4 and 5 on the 20th.
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KYLE: This has been Walkthrough by Sifter, my name is Kyle Pauletto
FIONA: And my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus Thank you so much for listening.
KYLE: We know you love listening to SIFTER so why not show your support by backing us on Ko-Fi. Your help lets us keep making our shows so head to sifter.com.au/support that address again is sifter.com.au/support
FIONA: SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Daniel Ang & Adam Christou . Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer.
KYLE: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune. Thanks to both Audio Technica Australia and Omny Studio for their support of SIFTER’s three podcasts.
FIONA: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.