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What the heck was this week, huh? I take a couple of days off work, and suddenly Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft and Sega all decide they need put on the ritz right when I get back? That’s not even mentioning all the Tokyo Game Show news. I’m exhausted — a good exhausted, but yeah, still tired. The irony is that I actually haven’t had the time or energy to play many games this week, except briefly checking out the DLC of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

This is going to be one of my longer Focuses, seeing as how we had so much going on this week. I’ll talk mostly about the shows, but I’m going to have to leave off talking about some of the TGS news and the Xbox/Twitch show just because I’m pressed for space. It’s been a long week, and I’m just pleased that I get the chance to talk about it, even if I sound a little grumpy while doing so.

Ubisoft’s got this keen idea for a stealth game, y’all

No surprise, Ubisoft is making more Assassin’s Creed. I have no doubt that Mario+Rabbids: Sparks of Hope will be a good game, and that Skull & Bones will sure be a game. I’m also extremely pleased that we’re getting a new Valiant Hearts game. I’m not exactly sure if it’ll be exclusive to Netflix, but regardless, I’m playing it. But the AC showcase was where Ubisoft really showed their vision for the future.

I feel conflicted about the whole showing. On the positive side, Mirage’s CGI trailer was cool and Basim could be the series’ most interesting protagonist, given certain facts about him I shan’t spoil. Assuming that the theories about Hexe being set in 16th century Germany are true, that sounds amazing — it’s an obscure historical setting about which I know little, exactly what I want from Assassin’s Creed.

As for the negative side . . . Have you ever tried to pitch an idea to someone, like a boss or a friend, that they’ll dismiss, only to present it later as their own idea with complete sincerity? That’s what the AC showcase felt like and it was a little insufferable. Fans have been asking them to “go back to their roots” (meaning: make an AC game that focuses on actual stealth and assassination) since roughly Assassin’s Creed 3. But no, Ubisoft wanted AC to be an open-world action collectathon game. Oh, that’s not what Assassin’s Creed is about? We’ll make that what it’s about. Same with the feudal Japan setting — we’ve been asking for that since the second game launched. It’s a bit rich to expect a pat on the back for doing it now, Ubisoft.

Nintendo shocks with farming and Fire Emblem, but no Metroid

Now, onto Nintendo. When you start with a new Fire Emblem game that’s releasing in less than a year, you are coming out swinging. And when you finish with footage of the new Legend of Zelda game, you know you’ve got an ace in the hole. I’m most excited for Fire Emblem: Engage, Pikmin 4, and (say it with me, you know it’s coming) Bayonetta 3.

Perhaps the funniest part of the show, not to mention this whole week, was the number of farming sims either announced or mentioned. Nintendo showed Fae Farm, Harvestella, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life and Rune Factory. Looks like somebody is trying to replicate the success of a certain life sim game that became popular during the pandemic. I have no idea if any of these games will become another Animal Crossing. Story of Seasons certainly has the pedigree for it. But hey, at least we got a plethora of cozy games to which we can look forward.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit disappointed at the lack of Metroid Prime (either remakes or the fourth game) and Legend of Zelda remakes. I’m less surprised by the latter; assuming Tears of the Kingdom releases on time, Nintendo likely doesn’t want to crowd its launch window. But I’m a little sad that Nintendo isn’t capitalizing on the good press of Metroid Dread to deliver some more news on that particular series. Seems like the time was ripe.

Sony’s got a lot more Ragnarok where that comes from

Sony spent a large portion of its show covering the VR titles coming to its new PS VR2 headset. This makes sense now, with the revelation today that it won’t be compatible with its predecessor’s games. It also came out swinging literally with Tekken 8. Other interesting titles including Rise of Ronin, an upcoming historical adventure set in feudal Japan (watch your back, Assassin’s Creed: Codename Red), which looks like it might be interesting.

For the most part, the company highlighted the work of Japanese partners, including showing Square Enix’s upcoming Crisis Core remake for non-PSP consoles. Synduality, from Bandai Namco, and Stellar Blade, formerly known as Project Eve, also put in appearances. Of course, the company couldn’t resist closing the show with a new trailer for the upcoming God of War: Ragnarok. And it’s about time too — that game is due for release soon, and we’ve seen naught but relatively brief trailers. I think I know what’s going to happen in the game: Kratos is going to commit some deicide. But it’s still good to see Thor, of all gods, can give him a solid run for his money.

Sega is thrilled that Western gamers discovered Like a Dragon

Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios are going all-in on the Like a Dragon series (formerly known as Yakuza). It’s funny, because the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series was, up until a few years ago, more niche in the Western market, at least to my knowledge. Now that we’ve all finally wised up and fallen in love with this crazy crime drama, Sega has pulled the cork from the figurative champagne bottle and announced not on, not two, but three new games in the series. Sure, one of them is a remake of an older title, but given that historical adventure Ishin was never released in the West, it’s basically new for me.

In terms of the actual new games, we’re getting the next direct installment in the franchise, called Like a Dragon 8. For the moment, that’s pretty much all we know from the brief teaser. I’ve seen some fans a little unnerved by former protagonist Kazuma Kiryu’s new hairstyle — I tend to be more forgiving, considering he’s had the same hairstyle since the 80s. And if anyone’s missing said hair, you can see it in the other game, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, which follows Kiryu after the events of Yakuza 6. Out of all the things announced or talked about this week, this is the one that gave me the biggest smile aside from Bayonetta 3. Like a Dragon is a fun series and I will accept more of it with alacrity.

What to play this week

What’s new:

  • Metal: Hellsinger
  • Despot’s Game
  • You Suck at Parking
  • SCP: Secret Files
  • Little Orpheus
  • Isonzo
  • Wayward Strand
  • Edo No Yami

New on subscription services:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation (Xbox Game Pass)
  • DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Double Kick Heroes (Xbox Games with Gold)
  • Portal 2 (Xbox Games with Gold)
  • Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary (GeForce Now)
  • Animal Shelter (GeForce Now)
  • Spirit of the North (GeForce Now)
  • Startup Company (GeForce Now)
  • Alisia Dragoon (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Beyond Oasis (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Earthworm Jim (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Garden Tails: Match and Grow (Apple Arcade)

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