Another week means another Weekly News Wrap-Up. As I prepare for this weekly post, going through all of the news articles of the week on various websites allows me to keep up-to-date on the happenings in the video game world. There’s certainly a lot to funnel through, but the activity keeps me informed and I sometimes find interesting bits. As we will cover in this edition, it was a big week for Microsoft. Also, Marvel’s Avengers is finally receiving a significant content update this coming Thursday and there is a humorous story I came across involving Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War. Let’s get to it.
MICROSOFT PURCHASE OF ZENIMAX MEDIA NOW OFFICIAL
The Microsoft acquisition of ZeniMax Media is a fully done deal. Earlier this week, regulators from the United States and the European Union approved the $7.5 billion purchase, making the it official. Xbox’s Phil Spencer put out a press release on March 9th to celebrate the completion of the purchase.
ZeniMax Media is the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, best known for gaming series such as Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Doom. The deal also included several game development studios including id Software, Bethesda Game Studios, Arkane, and MachineGames. Many gamers are especially wondering about the future of Bethesda game releases and it looks as if some of the games will be exclusive to Xbox and PC.
This is a major gain for Microsoft, who really needs all they can get in order to get back into the gaming console hunt. Both Nintendo and Sony have outpaced and outsold Microsoft in the console market for some time now. But as a corporate giant, Microsoft has more than enough money to make purchases like this without putting a dent in its bottom line. What I hope is that they have a real vision on what to do with these popular Bethesda franchises and also be willing to create new intellectual properties. If worked the right way, this acquisition could be key in catching up to their console competitors.
On Friday, Xbox Game Pass subscribers started to reap the benefits of the acquisition as nearly 20 Bethesda games were uploaded to the service. There is a ridiculous amount of hours of gameplay just in these titles alone. I would imagine that more will be added over time. But these additions certainly make Game Pass much more attractive. Now I’m just waiting for EA Play to be added to the PC version of Game Pass.
FORZA ARRIVES ON STEAM
Two years after its release, Forza Horizon 4 has finally come to Steam. The open world racer, developed by Playground Games and published by Xbox Game Studios, has received mixed reviews from Steam users. The main reasons are the price ($59.99 for the standard edition), the inability to transfer save data from the Microsoft client to Steam, and issues with how the game runs through the Steam client.
Forza Horizon 3 and 4 are not only two of the best open world racing games I’ve ever played, but two of the best racing games I’ve played, period. The cars, roads and scenery are gorgeous. There is so much to do and see in these games. And vehicles control very well. So the mixed reviews don’t have to do with the game itself. If you are into cars and like racing games, Forza Horizon 4 is one of the best games that you can buy.
I own Forza Horizon 4 on PC and play it through the Xbox application. If you are on PC, I recommend playing it there since it is an Xbox Game Studios published title. Because it was just released on Steam, there may be some kinks that need to be worked out before it runs optimally for most users.
BIG UPDATE COMING FOR MARVEL’S AVENGERS
This Thursday, Marvel’s Avengers will finally be receiving an update that publisher Square Enix hopes will be the start of drawing players back to the game. According to Gamespot, the patch will include Hawkeye as a playable character, the ability to replay the game’s campaign, and a customizable battle mode. Marvel’s Avengers is also receiving next generation upgrades as part of the update as well.
After a decent sales for its release in September, the game’s player base decline due to bugs and a lack of endgame content following the campaign. The skeletal roster of heroes did not help matters either. Six months have now passed since there has been any significant content added to the game.
I’m a big Marvel fan and I really wanted to like this game. But my instincts had me questioning its direction from the very beginning. Its cast of heroes was too small. As a live service game, there was nothing left for the player if he/she couldn’t connect online. Coming off of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 for the Nintendo Switch, my expectations for a Marvel game featuring a group like the Avengers was for there to be a generous amount of playable characters (Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 had well over 40), a variety of different areas to explore from the Marvel universe, and a plethora of villains. So the more information I read on Marvel’s Avengers, the more I was fine sticking with my game on the Switch, the older Marvel Ultimate Alliance games, and the LEGO Marvel games. By the way, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers has hundreds of playable characters. There’s really no excuse for how the latest Marvel game has been handled.
Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix need to do a lot more if this game is going to be turned around. There still is a chance for them to pull it off, but that chance is becoming slimmer with each passing week.
ONLINE MODE LAUNCHES FOR WATCH DOGS LEGION
Console owners of Watch Dogs Legion can now play online with other players. PC owners will have to wait a bit longer due to GPU issues. The online update of Watch Dogs Legion was released this past week for Playstation and Xbox owners. Online mod allows up to four players to join together for co-op missions and activities. Player versus Player content will be added later. View the trailer above to get more of an idea of what to expect.
Watch Dogs Legion was a game that I really looked forward to in 2020, but there were so many bugs and glitches that took away from the experience. As a result, I’ve played the game very sparingly since I purchased it. This is a shame because Watch Dogs Legion has some good substance to it when the bugs aren’t present. Yet, even when I last played the game earlier this year, there were still bugs I found that should not have been in the game months after release. Hopefully those issues have truly been addressed or online mode will be a nightmare for Ubisoft on PC.
FUGITIVE ARRESTED BUYING CALL OF DUTY
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War is apparent so great a game that is worth sacrificing one’s freedom. This was the case for an escaped fugitive in the United Kingdom, who encountered the police when he was out to purchase the latest Call of Duty game. Unfortunately, he was in a city under lockdown rules, making him stick out in a way he had not intended. After a bit of a scuffle with police, he was apprehended and returned to prison.
This is a crazy story. The age and name of the fugitive is in the Gamespot link in the previous paragraph so I won’t post it here. He escaped back in November 2020 and the arrest took place this past January. The article indicates that robbery and firearms were the reasons for his imprisonment initially. His sentence was to be until 2024 before the escape. Now he has more time added to it. Very unfortunate.