Plus ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM gets leaked and a Finish newspaper uses COUNTER-STRIKE map to share Ukraine war news in Russia
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.
FIONA: This week Xbox exclusive Redfall disappoints players and critics, Nintendo fends off leaks of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ahead of next week’s launch and a Finnish newspaper is hiding news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a CS:GO map.
Here is the news for Sunday 7th of May. Let’s go!
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KYLE: REDFALL Arkane’s cooperative horror shooter launched this week and reviewers descended on it like a fresh neck, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer calling it a disappointing launch.
Scores on aggregate sites like Metacritic have the game sitting in the mid sixties, with critics finding the game repetitive, simple and limited and plagued with technical bugs.
In an interview with KindaFunny Games Spencer said the team expected much higher scores for the game but was committed to improving it.
“Just to kind of watch the community lose confidence, be disappointed, I’m disappointed, I’m upset with myself. I kind of revisit our process, you know I think back to the announcement of 60 frames per second and then we weren’t shipping 60 frames per second that was kind of our punch in the chin, rightfully a couple of weeks ago, and then seeing the game come out and the critical response was not what we wanted. We do mark reviews for every game that we launch and this is like double digits lower than we thought we would be. Like we would never strive to launch a game that we thought was going to review in the low 60s. I’m a huge supporter of Arkane Austin, their track record is awesome, I love a lot of the great games that they’ve built. This is one where the team didn’t hit their own internal goals when it launched. I think it’s maybe a little simplistic to just say “hey if you would have just delayed it by 3 months, the core creative of the game would have delivered on something that was different than what it was” but that’s not on anybody but us. Like we have to own that.”
FIONA: Arkane is mostly known for its single player immersive sims like Dishonoured, so this was a big swing for them, but Spencer was clear that he wanted teams to step outside their comfort zone.
FIONA: We’re just days out from the release of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but be careful out there folks, there are lots of leaks already.
The leak seems to have occurred in two ways.
First, some physical copies broke the street date, with at least one being auctioned off online.
The second, more concerning method, involves the game being ripped to PC emulators, spreading like wildfire through ROM sites. Which raises big questions around people who had access to it early like reviewers.
While this leak is unlikely to impact sales or detract from what is sure to be a really great gaming experience, it’s still a massive bummer for the gaming industry and community.
KYLE: Plus it’s made the internet a terrifying hellscape of potential spoilers for the past few days. So thanks for that hackers I guess I’ll put my phone in a drawer until Friday.
KYLE: A Counter-Strike GO map called de_voyna is being used to provide information about the ongoing invasion of Ukraine to Russian gamers.
The idea was put together by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, whose site was blocked by Russian authorities.
The map recreates an abandoned Eastern European city and features a secret underground room that contains information about the invasion, including headlines, maps, newspaper clippings, and images of the war.
The editor-in-chief, Antero Mukka, said while Russians have limited access to independent information about the invasion, the gaming world remains somewhat unchecked.
FIONA: And with an estimated base of around four million CS:GO players in Russia, this approach is a pretty effective way for the media to communicate independent information about real events from the war.
There are other initiatives like this, Minecraft's Uncensored Library for example, which republishes banned writing in countries accused of censoring journalism.
FIONA: Grab your dice and your player sheet as Citizen Sleeper is being adapted into a tabletop RPG game called Cycles of the Eyes.
Similar to the video game, it will be a solo RPG with the video game’s systems replicated in dice, and tarot cards.
The game is being designed by Citizen Sleeper creator Gareth Damian Martin in collaboration with tabletop master Alfred Valley.
KYLE: Gianni spoke to developer Gareth Damian Martin on Lightmap our interview podcast and they spoke all about how that tabletop RPG influence built this video game, we’ve stuck a link in the show notes.
KYLE: Microsoft and Xbox have announced the Xbox Games Showcase on Sunday, June 11 at 10am Pacific Time.
That works out to be 3am Monday the 12th on the East Coast of Australia or 1AM in Western Australia.
The Xbox showcase will feature a stack of upcoming games and will be followed by Starfield Direct, a whole show just for Bethesda’s upcoming sci-fi RPG featuring new gameplay, developer interviews and behind the scenes information.
FIONA: As always, when those showcases roll around we’ll give you the highlights on Walkthrough.
KYLE: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out this week
FIONA: Marvel’s Midnight Suns is out for previous gen consoles this week, however the tactical comic game won’t be arriving on the Switch anymore as that version has been cancelled. You can pick up Firaxis’ take on the superhero genre for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on the 11th of May.
KYLE: Death or Treat is a 2D action roguelite where you play as the ghost “Scary” as they try to save HallowTown. It looks a bit like a mashup of Nightmare Before Christmas and Hollow Knight and it’ll be out on Steam, Xbox and PC on the 11th.
FIONA: But probably the only game anyone will be talking about is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom out on the Nintendo Switch on 12th of May. All of us here at SIFTER are still eager to explore the land and skies of Hyrule, in this sequel to one of the greatest games of all time. To everyone out there, have fun. And to all the non-gaming friends, partners, and family members, we’ll see you in a few weeks…maybe.
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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: Walkthrough is our recap of the news but if you want to catch up on all of SIFTER’s stories we’ve got a fancy newsletter. It’s an easy way to make sure you don’t miss any of our interviews or reviews and it’s out every fortnight. Head to sifter.com.au/newsletter to subscribe, that’s sifter.com.au/newsletter.
FIONA: SIFTER is produced by myself, Kyle Pauletto, Daniel Ang & Adam Christou. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who edited this episode 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.