TL;DR – From remasters, to loot boxes, to COVID-19, we look at the Video Games news from the week
It has been a busy week for video games, and while many people are diving into the next-gen consoles this week (not super jelly at all), I thought it would be a good time to look back at the news that was this week for video games and related
Mass Effect Remastered –
The worst kept secret of video games has finally been announced on N7 Day with all three of the original Mass Effect Trilogy (sorry Andromeda). The remaster officially called the Mass Effect Legendary Edition will be out in Spring (or Autumn for those of us Down Under) in 2021.
While this is good news for me, as I adored the original trilogy, it does raise some questions that need to be answered. The first is, will this just be a texture upgrade? ME1 is a very different game from ME2 and ME3, and when you go back to play it, the game really feels clunky compared to the other two. Are they going to take the time to bring that game into line with the rest of the franchise or leave it as is? The next question will be, will they make the owners of the original games have to re-buy the remastered versions, or will they go the route of Skyrim and give that version out to them for free? Finally, we need to talk about the elephant in the room, the ending of ME3. While not stepping into the debate if it was good or not, it is clear that with the way they ended 3 it would be challenging to set a game in the Milky Way post-ME3, and unfortunately, it looks like Andromeda is a bust. We know from the announcement that they are working on something new for Mass Effect, so unless it is a prequel, will they take some time to tweak the ending of ME3 to make sequels work?
Whatever the case I look forward to planning to play a totally different character than the one I played before, but then inevitably playing Mass Effect the same way I have played it in the many playthroughs so far.
The Witcher Suspends Production for a Second Time
Yes, I know the Netflix Witcher series takes more inspiration from the books than from the video games, but if you think I am going to miss an opportunity to get ‘toss a coin to your Witcher’ stuck in your head, you are sadly mistaken.
Deadline has reported that production on the show’s second season has had to be suspended after four crew members tested positive for COVID-19. This is the second time production has had to be suspended on the show whose filming has moved mostly to England for its second season. Given what a hit it was for Netflix, and also a massive bonus to CD Projekt, it is likely that production will be restarted as soon as possible.
Re-casting in the Halo TV Series brings something Old and Something New
With film and TV productions, it is a not too uncommon phenomenon that sometimes actors need to pull out from a series because of a scheduling clash, which is not always a bad thing because this is how we got Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. However, this news from the Halo TV series is undoubtedly an odd one.
First, the fact that they were making a Halo TV series was a complete surprise to me. I must have missed the announcement. But more than this, they cast Natascha McElhone to play both Dr Catherine Halsey and her creation Cortana. Well IGN is reporting that while Natascha was able to finish all her work as Halsey, thanks to COVID-19 she has been unable to record Cortana. This is a big problem, which the show fixed by getting Jen Taylor the voice of Cortana in all the mainline Halo games back in to reprise the role, which does feel very much like a ‘turning lemons into lemonade’ kind of situation.
EA and Loot Boxes … Again …
One of the companies that have doubled down on the use of loot boxes as they have become more and more contested is EA. Well, this has come to ahead in several jurisdictional challenges and lawsuits, the latest of which is quite odd. Games Industry is reporting that a class action lawsuit has been filed against EA over its ‘Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment’. The argument is that this adjustment does not have a meaningful impact on a player’s ability to get better at the game, but is designed to hook players into playing the game longer and thus buying more loot boxes.
While EA has emphatically called the claims “baseless”, this is likely not the last lawsuit we will see over loot boxes in the future.
It is time to Desert your Busses.
Finally, in some good news, the long-running charity video game stream Desert Bus for Hope is back for its 14th year today. For those who don’t know what Desert Bus is, it is a marathon of a video game where all you do is drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. Driving down the same desert road for six hours in a bus the lists slightly to the left. They play this frankly boring video game for as long as people donate.
In the last 13 years, those crazy Canadians in Desert Bus for Hope have raised $6,066,158.18 for the charity Child’s Play. This year’s run starts at 10 am PST which translates as 2 am in Western Australia, 3:30 am in Northern Territory, 4:30 am in South Australia, 4 am in Queensland, 5 am in New South Wales, Victoria, ACT, and Tasmania, 6 am in Norfolk Island, and 7 am in New Zealand. This year’s run will be a little different thanks to COVID-19, but they will be running 24 hours a day so you will be able to watch it no matter how bad the timezone conversion is.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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