Alright before you ask about this post’s artwork, it’s about as meta as it gets (scroll down a bit and you’ll get it).
This episode is definitely shorter news wise since I feel like the gaming world is slowing down. That being said, it’s going to be a bit more opinionated which opens up more room for discussion. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Kingdom Hearts IV and Missing-Link were announced on Sunday
Picture this; you’re having a semi decent sleep, you awake to a group text at 8am with the words “Kingdom Hearts IV just got announced”, but you can’t even be hype for it because it’s 8am on a Sunday.
That was me on Sunday.
Sob story aside, Square Enix took to announcing the next entry (entries) in the series at the Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary event held in Tokyo. They dropped a meaty 7 minute video showing what’s coming next with Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link (a mobile game) and Kingdom Hearts IV being shown. Now, what I’m mostly focused on is Kingdom Hearts IV because I’ve never really cared for mobile games (no disrespect to mobile gamers).
Reports are coming out that it will be made with the new Unreal Engine 5, which explains the incredible lighting (one of the main benefits of UE5) shown in the trailer and that the game will be developed by Square Enix’s Osaka Studio (who did Kingdom Hearts 3).
I’m going to rip off the band-aid here; I am excited for Kingdom Hearts IV, but I’m hoping for a lot of work to be done with this next entry. My biggest complaint (actually pretty much anybody’s complaint) is the story for the series is just all over the place and has been spread out over like 15 entries across many different platforms. This next entry is set to kickstart the next arc, the “Lost Master Arc”, and this is their chance to reinvigorate and make a much more cohesive story. I don’t expect them to do that at all, but I beg the gaming gods that they do especially after the story mess that was KH3.
The trailer looks incredible as we get to see one of settings, Quadratum, which is heavily inspired by modern day Tokyo. The combat looks to be similar to what we’ve seen in Kingdom Hearts 3 which I don’t think is a bad thing since KH3 had some meaty combat.
- I’m excited, but the story needs to be significantly cleaner this time around.
- I’m not particularly excited about Sora’s character model; I hope we complain (RESPECTFULLY) to Square Enix so they can change the way Sora looks similar to what the internet did when the Sonic movie showed off their first draft of the speedster. I’m all for hyperrealism, but his new model looks like what Insomniac Games did to Peter Parker in the PS5 port of Marvel’s Spider-Man.
- Given Disney damn near owns everything, I’m excited for the potential crossovers we could get as far as worlds. Internet detectives are already speculating that we could see a Star Wars locale from a quick snippet that looks like an AT-ST foot and some foliage from Endor.
No release date was given so expect this somewhere between 2029-2030 (just kidding… not really though).
I think that was everything I wanted to say about this, but as we inch ever so slowly towards this game seeing the light of day, I’ll share my thoughts.
Into the Metaverse
I thought long and hard about including this section, and while I almost cut it, I figured this week was too light to skip over this. I’m not well versed in the world of metaverse so I apologize beforehand if any of this comes off as uneducated or boomer-like.
So first bit; Sony has invested a small loan of a billion dollars into Epic Games in order to help deepen their “relationship in the metaverse”. KIRKBI, the company behind LEGO, has also followed suit matching the $1 billion investment into Epic Games.
I believe Epic Games has been raising money for some time to help fund this goal of creating a digital space for gamers to interact and brands to create experiences for consumers. When I think of the “metaverse”, my first thought is what Fortnite has been doing with big artists such as Ariana Grande and Travis Scott having them perform in game or how you can play as damn near every video game character ever released. I think stuff like that is cool as it has catapulted the video game industry to unprecedented levels.
That being said; my biggest concern with the evolution of this digital space is the people involved creating it. As we’ve seen outside of the metaverse, not all brands/big wigs have the peoples’ best interests at heart. While video gaming has evolved, it’s also taken steps back with countless scams and schemes. What’s to say that this won’t bleed into the metaverse but grow even worse? What’s to say this digital space, that’s supposed to improve learning and interactive experiences, won’t be soiled by the very hands that created it and, in some cases, ruined the gaming world as a whole?
Meta made headlines this week announcing that they will charge creators fees of up to 47.5% to sell virtual wares in the metaverse. This comes after head of the lizard people… I mean CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had some strong words for Apple when it was announced that the tech giant charged developers a 30% fee for in app purchases made in the App Store.
Now I get it; Facebook/Meta and Sony investing Epic Games are two different companies and two different scenarios. To me, however, this is one of the many outcomes that could come from this continued investment into the metaverse. Imagine metaverse loot boxes or some stupid crap like that or like Sword Art Online or some futuristic world where people never leave their houses because they’re so deep into this digital space.
Metaverse aside, I wish somebody would give me a small loan of a billion dollars. I’d hire some sick editors and grammar police to help me out with these posts…
Hello Neighbor 2
I never got around to playing the first one, but it apparently did well enough to warrant a sequel (Edit: when I wrote this I was thinking of We Happy Few). new trailer dropped on Friday explaining pre-orders get beta access (or a demo). The demo (no way am I calling it a beta) will be a made up portion so no need to worry about spoilers (I’m looking at you Prey 2017).
Bugsnax: The Isle of Bigsnax
I never finished my playthrough of Bugsnax, but I enjoyed what I did manage to experience. Bugsnax: The Isle of Bigsnax looks to add 3 hours of additional content and bring a bunch of quality of life improvements to the game, a new biome almost twice the size of the other biomes and plenty of secrets. This is a free update set to release on April 28th!
Inspired by your Saturday morning cartoons from the 80s, MythForce is a new co-op game from the team at Beamdog (Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition). This will be a roguelite experience with up to 4 players able to fight baddies. The first episode launches early access exclusively on the Epic Games Store on April 20th.
No Man’s Sky Outlaws update
I had no idea people still play this…. Just kidding. I saw on PlayStation’s Twitter account that this is the game’s 19th update letting you become a space pirate and bringing in changes to space traveling. I believe this is out now so if you dig it, hop into it!
VALORANT Masters is SPICY… and full of tech issues
I mean I’m not wrong with the second portion of the above statement, am I?
Alright alright, VALORANT‘s first international LAN of the year has turned out to be quite a banger. At the time of this post going live, the Group Stage has been completed, and we’re on to the Playoffs for the next 10 days. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve seen/noticed from the eight teams that participated in the Group Stage of Masters Reykjavik (I have to look up how to spell it every single time).
The first 4 eliminated
- Ninjas in Pyjamas. I don’t know too much about this team, but I feel like they had a decent showing. I’m sure the OT loss to ZETA DIVISION will haunt them for quite some time, but here’s to a strong comeback from the Brazilians!
- FNATIC was sent home without winning a single map, and I think everybody will/should give them a pass for their performance. With their star duelist Derke out and BraveAF suspended, I don’t think anybody gave them a shot to make it out of Group Stage which turned out to be true. I had hope for them however, but unfortunately the VAL gods were against it.
- KRÜ Esports let me down hard. Going into Masters, one of my concerns was them regaining form since they looked a little shaky coming off their qualification win. In their first matchup against Team Liquid, they got smoked to the tune of 2-0 continuing their streak of losing to TL in every Masters event to date. They played OpTic Gaming in the elimination bracket, and OpTic dominated them sending the LATAM team home. At times they just looked lost, I mean look at this 2v5 they lost against OpTic on Bind. Definitely not what I had in mind for them especially after their showing during Champions, and I hope this off time before Stage 2 gives them the time they need to regroup.
- XERXIA played their hearts out. They continued their trend of dominating ENVY/OpTic Gaming in their first matchup, but a loss to Team Liquid and a second matchup against a revitalized OpTic in the elimination bracket turned out to be too much for the second seeded APAC team. A few commentators mentioned it, but given how good XERXIA looked, it makes me wonder how good the first seeded Paper Rex will look when they play tomorrow.
The Playoff bound 4
- Speaking of Team Liquid; they are absolutely peaking at the right time. Being granted a chance to play in Masters due to FPX not being able to attend seems to have lit a fire under TL’s ass after a disappointing showing in Stage 1. Again, they 2-0’ed KRÜ, and then secured a spot in Playoffs after a 2-1 win against a scrappy XERXIA team (which was a damn good match). They’ll need to build off of this as they face LOUD today whom many have as a dark horse to win the whole event.
- OpTic Gaming… It’s funny because when I think about this VAL team, it reminds me of their Call of Duty team during the Cold War season: full of potential but you never know what team you’re going to get come match time. OpTic started off facing their demons in XERXIA (who upset them in Champions) to the tune of an 0-2 defeat but quickly bounced back against KRÜ in their elimination bracket run. In the rematch against XERXIA, OpTic absolutely torched them with insane performances from Victor “Victor” Wong and Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker. If this is the OpTic that shows up in the Playoffs then this event is theirs to lose. They’ll need to figure out how to maintain this momentum as they are playing against the top seeded NA team, The Guard, for the third time in like a month tomorrow (more on this later). One thing to keep an eye on is the performance of Controller Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen as I’d argue he’s one of their most important players outside of yay and Victor.
- DRX is smoking the competition. Korea’s representatives opened up with a 2-0 smackdown on ZETA DIVISION and then 2-0’ed NiP. Heading into Playoffs, they hold a +35 round differential in the two series they’ve won basically equating to them demolishing the opposition on both sides of the map. As a Controller player myself, watching Kim “MaKo” Myeong-kwan play his role so efficiently and effectively has been quite a pleasure. They’ll be facing off against Paper Rex, APAC’s first seed, tomorrow and if they play as well as they have, this could be a banger matchup.
- ZETA DIVISION. Holy moly; this team is the first Japanese team to win a series out of all international VALORANT events. Absolutely incredible scenes from them especially after how they started off the tournament. They got smoked in their opener against DRX but found their form, in the elimination bracket, with a win against FNATIC and against NiP which featured an insane overtime comeback win on Map 3 to seal their ticket to the Playoffs. They look to keep form against EMEA’s top team, G2 Esports, today. Also, check out this post game interview with Koji “Laz” Ushida as he was in tears realizing how big a milestone this was for Japan as a whole. Shit, I’m crying too. Also, part 2, I’m pretty sure they went trending on Twitter after their win.
A couple things I want to mention aside from the matches. From a technical standpoint, it’s safe to say that this event has been ROUGH. Tech pauses for extended periods of time, the HUD going missing most of the second map during NiP vs ZETA DIVISION, audio issues galore… it’s insane how rough it has been. On the flip side, another complaint I have is the format of this event. TL’s head coach explained it best:
To add on to that, the bracket has pit OpTic Gaming versus The Guard aka two North American teams against each other which kind of blows because I was hoping to see how The Guard would perform against other regions. Not to mention, we’ve just watched OG/TG go at it three times in the past month. Not sure how Riot have handled these types of issues in their other esport baby, League of Legends, but it’s disappointing to see. Hopefully, this doesn’t set a precedent for the rest of the year.
At least the music is fire, right?
The Playoffs are here
I have no idea who’s going to come out on top, but based off the Group Stage, I’m excited to see how the lower seeded teams play against the higher seeds who’ve been watching the show. I definitely will be watching the Paper Rex/DRX matchup closely and LOUD/TL also as I’m not super familiar with how Paper Rex and LOUD play.
Speaking of LOUD, VALORANT’s esport Twitter account announced that two players from LOUD have contacted COVID. Provided they feel good, I believe they can play, but it will be from a quarantined section of the facility.
Let the games begin.
Around the world of esports
Alright, rapid fire segment of noticeable happenings in the esports scene.
- Professional VALORANT player Spencer “Hiko” Martin announced his retirement from competing professionally in Riot’s tac shooter. After a 14 year career across Counter-Strike and VAL, Hiko will transition to being a full time content creator for 100 Thieves. This one hurt, and I’m going to put on my tin hat and hope it was his choice.
- Double point to make here in regards to the conflict in Ukraine. The ESL is offering job positions for Ukrainian refugees allowing them to start a career in esports. Also, Luís Mira of Dexerto composed an interview with NAVI’s founder, Alexander Kokhanovskyy, as Alexander has signed up to defend Ukraine.
- The #2 ranked player in Call of Duty: Vanguard was caught cheating live. His excuse? He used them to grind out skins.
- T1’s CEO, Joe Marsh, says legendary League of Legends player Faker was offered $20 million a year to compete in China. Holy crap can you imagine getting paid that much to compete in any title let alone League of Legends?
- Gambit and Virtus.pro have been banned from the upcoming CS:GO Major. That being said, the players on those teams are allowed to compete under neutral banners.
- Going off of the last point, FaZe Clan were crowned ESL League Season 15 champions after a 3-1 score over ENCE. From what I’ve seen, it’s been a while since this has happened so kudos to the FaZe boys for taking care of business!
- In the VALORANT scene, players from X10 CRIT (who now compete under XERXIA) have yet to receive their pay from the Champions skin bundle. This has been an ongoing story for some time, but to recap, Riot Games released a skin bundle during Champions with 50% of the proceeds going to the teams that made the final tournament of the year. X10 somehow finessed a deal where they’d split the revenue 90/10 (no idea how but that’s disgusting), and to date, two former players have claimed that the org did not pay the players yet.
- In Overwatch, London Spitfire and Owen “Prov1de” Warner have agreed to mutually part ways after news came out that suggest Prov1de sent explicit content to a 16 year old player in 2019. Very disappointing to see.
- Jay “Sinatraa” Won has announced his return to competitive VALORANT after a year of suspension due to his failure to cooperate during an investigation surrounding claims of sexual abuse of his previous girlfriend. His first choice would be to return to Sentinels, but whoever gives him a chance is going to be dealing with a lot of criticism.
- ReKTGlobal, who owns Rogue and the London Royal Ravens, has been purchased by Infinite Reality for $470 million. Infinite Reality is a metaverse company and ReKTGlobal founder and chairman, Amish Shah, said this deal will help with the NFT/Web 3 initiatives ReKT has been looking to get into for quite some time. Pretty sure I saw a London Royal Ravens fan on Reddit not happy about the impending NFT venture.
- Lamborghini just started their own esports team that will compete in virtual racing competitions.
- Professional Apex Legends players Will “TeQ” Starck of FURIA Esports and Esteban “NanoFRYS” Gomez of CLG held a live debate on Twitch over whether the earth is flat or not. No idea how it went, but I like seeing weird stuff like this.
- OpTic Gaming’s VALORANT head coach Chet “Chet” Singh made headlines after OpTic lost their first matchup against XERXIA. In a post game interview, he spoke of XERXIA running “cringe comps” and even going further to state that one of XERXIA’s players was going to retire due to “budget-related issues”. Really weird post game interview behavior from him for multiple reasons. Bring back media and sensitivity training!
Okay that was a lot of news, but imagine if I tried covering all of these individually…. My fingers would fall off or something.
Memes and Internet Media
- An animated Destiny series could be in the works due to a recent job listing at Bungie. There’s a ton of lore that could be explored, and given the success of Riot Game’s Arcane series, this could be a really good product.
- Quest Director Paweł Sasko, from Cyberpunk 2077, stated that there was plenty of work left to be done on the game. On a recent livestream, he spoke about how work on the upcoming expansion was still underway, how the team took the positive reaction to the next gen patch as motivation, and how they’re working on other things outside of expansions. Love to see it, and if you haven’t played it yet, check out my review (shameless plug).
- The Witcher 3‘s next generation release has been delayed again with no set date for a release.
- Dead Island 2 could see a re-reveal in summer and possibly see a release date this year as the game is reportedly almost complete.