The Quest Log: August 22, 2017

Hey, Huddies! Sorry I missed our last Quest Log Update, but I was getting in one last summer trip before the season ended. The good news is that the trip gave me ample opportunity to play Sonic Mania, and it’s just so good. A lot’s happened in the industry since our last update, so let’s take a look at some of the big highlights.

Age of Empires IV announced, developed by Relic

Age of Empires III released for PC almost twelve years ago, and while we saw a remaster of AoE 2 hit Steam not too long ago and learned that the original AoE would be getting a similar treatment this past E3, plenty of the venerable RTS series’ fans had long since given up hope on seeing a new original entry. During Microsoft’s Gamescon conference in Germany this week, however, we learned that not only was Age of Empires IV a real thing, it’s being developed by Relic, one of the biggest names in modern real-time strategy. There’s not a lot of info on AoE 4 just yet outside of the fact that it’s planned as a Windows 10 exclusive (which means no Xbox One port), but this is one that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on during the coming months.

Also, it’s worth noting that while Relic’s logo appears on the game’s official site and the announcement trailer, there’s no sign of Sega anywhere in the materials that I can see. Sega, who acquired Relic during THQ’s closure, typically publishes the studio’s games, but AoE 4 seems to be published by Microsoft, as you’d expect.

Shenmue III gets a trailer, and it might be the best-looking game ever to hit the Dreamcast

If it were releasing for Dreamcast, that is.

Yet another sequel the series’ fans thought we might never see, the very existence of Shenmue III was one of the biggest surprise reveals at Sony’s E3 2015 press conference. Almost equally surprising was that the announcement at the time wasn’t for the game, really, but instead for the game’s Kickstarter campaign. Games eager to see a conclusion to the story of one of the Dreamcast’s flagship games flocked to the crowdfunding site in record numbers, and it raised its goal of $2 million in under 8 hours and later went on to raise over $6 million by the campaign’s end.

Yesterday we got our first official teaser trailer for Shenmue III, and it…. well, it would surely have made jaws drop if this were the year 2000 again. As it stands now, awkward character models set against realistic environments rendered Unreal Engine 4 is jarring at best. It’s easy to see why the game’s release date has been pushed back, and one can only hope we’re still seeing some very early Alpha footage of the game.

Full disclosure: I was a day-one backer of the campaign, and I’m a diehard Shenmue fan. If I get a satisfying resolution to Ryu Hazuki’s odyssey, I’ll be perfectly content even if the game launches in its current, hideous state. But I can’t help but admit that I expected more from a series whose visuals were nothing short of groundbreaking 17 years ago.

Final Fantasy XV is coming to PC and mobile devices

Final Fantasy XV is coming to PC in beautiful 4k resolutions and 60 FPS early 2018. Dubbed the “Windows Edition,” the game’s already got a page on Steam, will include all current and future DLC, and will eat up a whopping 170 GB of precious space on our hard drives. In addition to featuring an improved frame rate and support for ultra-high-def resolutions, it will also implement a number of Nvidia Gameworks features, which means that Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition will almost certainly be the best-looking version of the game on the market.

On the other end of the spectrum, Square Enix also announced Final Fantasy XV Pocket, a mobile port of sorts of last year’s epic JPRG that will follow the plot of the original while trading out the game’s aesthetic design for chibi-style graphics. I’m not personally a fan of the new art direction, but the idea of playing FF15 on my phone is pretty wild nonetheless. And you have to wonder: could this mean a Switch port might be forthcoming?

UPDATE: Square Enix has since clarified that the game will not (necessarily) require 170 GB of HDD space, so stand by for official specs closer to release


Metal Gear Solid 2 HD announced for… Nvidia Shield

Okay, this is too bizarre not to include in this week’s update. Metal Gear Solid 2, one of the best examples of postmodern storytelling in gaming (and an all-around great game), is being re-re-released for the Nvidia Shield TV, the Android-powered gaming console that streams all its game content from Nvidia’s Netflix-style service. The Shield TV hasn’t exactly been a popular piece of hardware, so not only is it surprising to see it getting a new game, it’s especially surprising that its latest release is a classic PS2 remaster.


The Quest Log: May 16, 2017

Hey Gamers! Long time, no see. It’s good to be back in the newsroom after a short vacation last week. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s get right to it.

Voice Actor John Cygan has Passed Away

John Cygan has passed away at the age of 63. During his career in voice acting, Cygan delivered some very memorable performances, particularly as Solidus Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and as Canderous Ordo and Mandalore in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games. We at the Gamer HUD are big fans of the Metal Gear Solid series, and I know we’re not alone in saying just how much we’ll miss Cygan’s contributions to gaming.

Phantom Dust for Xbox One Releases Today

Aaron Greenberg, the head of Xbox Games marketing, took to Twitter yesterday afternoon to announce some surprising news: Phantom Dust, the bizarre online anime-super-hero shooter from the original Xbox, is getting re-released for Xbox One and Windows 10 today.  Even more surprisingly, the game will be free to download and play.

A sequel or reboot for the series was previously planned for Microsoft’s current-gen platform but has since been scrapped. Given that Phantom Dust was never particularly popular but has since gained a cult following, it’s really mind-blowing that we’re seeing it again at all. I never played the game back in the Xbox days, so I know I’m excited to finally see what the fuss is about.

Sega Reveals Custom Heroes for Upcoming Sonic Forces

Here’s a fun game to play: type “[your name] the hedgehog” into Google and see what comes up. There’s a good chance that there already exists a character in the Sonic the Hedgehog fan universe named after you, and it’s also pretty likely that character is absurdly powerful, edgy, and obviously written by a teenager.

Well, Sega have decided to capitalize on that particular curio of some of their most diehard fanbase in their upcoming Sonic Generations follow-up, Sonic Forces. The upcoming title, which blends sidescrolling platforming with modern high-speed shenanigans like its predecessor, will allow players to assume the roles of Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic, and, now, a custom hero of their own making, who they promise will play a pivotal role in the game’s plot.

The garbage dump of new characters Sonic Team have introduced into the series over the last twelve or so years has only contributed to the series fall from grace, and the choice to restrict players to Sonic exclusively was one of the high points of Generations for me, so my own reactions to the news are mixed at best. Still, at this point, it just makes sense for Sega to give (some of) the fans what they’ve been clamoring for.

Alan Wake Disappears from Digital Stores

Remedy Entertainment broke the news last Friday that Alan Wake would soon be disappearing from digital stores (probably) forever due to an expiring music license agreement. There have been a number of discussions in recent years about the difficulty of preserving classic games for posterity, and limited licensing arrangements for music and other assets is definitely one factor in the ongoing problem. They sent off the 2010 game of the year winner with a 90% discount on Steam, but the game should be disappearing from all digital retailers, including the official Xbox stores, today.

To be clear: those who already own Alan Wake digitally will continue to be able to download and play the game at will, but it will no longer be purchase-able for those who do not.