It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round up…
On the walk into work this morning, I felt brain freeze. I wasn’t sipping a cold brew nor was I attempting an ice bucket challenge revival. The wind was so frigid and so fierce that it triggered a headache. Awful! I scuttled into the building and tried to make myself as snug as a bug in a big coat and scarf to cope. Winter is truly here. That show about the dragons and prophecies was right. (Merlin, if you weren’t sure.)
It’s no wonder that the seasonal hot drinks at cafés become a staple for shivery commuters. The French are savvy with this, presenting hot chocolate in a veritable vat for breakfast. But where did the trend come from? Who woke up, one chilly morning, and thought that they would put the chocolate in a cup and warm it through? Well, the answer couldn’t be further from the whistling winds of London. Seriously, it couldn’t be further from it.
The story starts in Central America, in 1400 BCE (ish). Indigenous people would ferment, crush, and mix cacao with hot water for celebrations, and add vanilla, honey, and annatto to give it a unique flavour and red hue. One 14th century text describes a couple sharing a cup of chocolate to signify their union, and lots of records tell of Indigenous Americans offering cacao to European arrivals. But the ungrateful gits hated it. My theory is that the chocolate contained more flavour than they had ever experienced or would experience in their meat and two-veg life. Evidently, tastes began to transform, and, in the early 1600s, Europeans craved choc, prompting priests and scholars to worry that it would incite idolatry due to its deliciousness. Enthusiasm has been tempered since then, evidently, but you can try a traditional hot chocolate recipe here. Now for the news.
Spotted by LetsGoDigital, speculation began to swirl that Sony is secretly working on a portable PlayStation. However, everything that was rumoured about the PlayStation 5, and then confirmed by the company, followed this very same format. It’s designed by senior art director at the Corporate Design Center of Sony Interactive Entertainment Yujin Morisawa; it was registered at the Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial; then, it was found by LetsGoDigital. Is it a PS Vita successor? Is it a feature for the next-generation of hardware? Well, it might not be either of these possibilities. Last year, a cartridge patent with a similar style was actually for Sony’s Toio products, a line of children’s toys. This helps us take this news with a hefty handful of salt, but there’s still a slim chance it could be for the PlayStation 5.
Huzzah! Showtime’s Halo has entered production! We hadn’t had an update for the adaptation for quite a while, not since Pablo Schreiber was cast as Master Chief. Now, it has been revealed that he’ll be joined by Danny Sapani, as Captain Jacob Keyes; Olive Gray, as Dr Miranda Keyes; and Charlie Murphy, as Makee. The Keyes are well-known to Halo aficionados, but the character of Makee is totally new to the canon. A human adopted by the Covenant when she lost her own family, her story will doubtlessly complicate the “epic” and “ambitious” retelling of the battles between humans and the aliens. Filming will take place in Budapest, Hungary, and we’ll expect to see the show, in all its glory, in 2021.
“Not everything is about Brexit or Trump,” Mikkelsen said, dousing the enthusiasm for Death Stranding’s pertinent political themes in one sentence. “You could have made this point during the Second World War or the First World War. You might have been able to do it during the fall of the Roman Empire,” he added. Expectedly, the game’s creator has been much more direct and Kojima explained that the social strand system would encourage players to think beyond themselves. “We’re using bridges to represent connection–there are options to use them or break them. It’s all about making people think about the meaning of connection,” he iterated. Mikkelsen has his reasons for being reticent because he worries that his personal opinions will make the work’s value fade: “I will just be a mouthpiece for whatever agenda.”
They liked it, so they put a ring on it! Sonic is back and he looks much more like his video game version. The reception of the fans has been favourable, but it was a low bar to clear, to be honest. You’d have thought that people broke out in hives and locusts rained from the skies when his original design was unveiled. Former head of Sonic Team Yuji Naka is a little sad that it’s been binned, though. “It seems they’re making it as if the old design didn’t exist, as the movie official account’s old tweets were deleted. I wanted to see a special DVD version of the movie which used the old design,” he said on Twitter, which is a very valid point. People still put their all into the previous look and it’s effectively been erased from history. Fortunately, no visual effects artists were harmed in the (re)making of Sonic, according to Paramount Pictures and Sega.
Wait, what? A brand new Japanese story trailer for Yakuza: Like a Dragon features Kazuma Kiryu at the very last second, and he whips his shirt and jacket off in one smooth move, which is very impressive. I don’t know Japanese, so I’m not totally clued in to what he’s doing in Yokohama, but it seems that he’s going to duke it out with Ichiban Kasuga. Ryu Ga Gotoku has been sneaky in the past, releasing that hilarious April Fool’s video showing a strange turn-based Yakuza game, so it could be a red herring or the real Dragon of Dojima. Kiryu could be a summon in Yakuza: Like a Dragon’s overhauled combat system, but would he be more powerful than a crayfish? We won’t know for a little while, but it is an exciting reveal.
The “economic realities” facing Human Head Studios led to the developer’s dissolution earlier this week. However, Bethesda Softworks ran to the rescue and “offered every employee of Human Head a position at the new company.” This new team now works on “unannounced projects” with Bethesda under a new name: Roundhouse Studios. This was very unexpected as Human Head Studios had only just released Rune II on the Epic Games Store. The publisher of that game, Ragnarok, said that it had been blindsided by the news. Nevertheless, it will “provide ongoing support” for Rune II with an “exciting” post-launch content strategy.
Andrey Doronichev and Beri Lee, two members of Stadia’s team, held a Reddit AMA, in which it became very clear that the streaming platform doesn’t have all that much when it launches next week. Multiplayer features State Share and Crowd Play will not be implemented until 2020, and Stadia’s achievement system is missing. Stream Connect might be included before the end of the year but 4K resolution, HDR, and 5.1 surround sound won’t be achievable on PC Chrome. Any Chromecast Ultra devices that the customer already owns won’t talk to Stadia until a patch is rolled out a little after launch day. Yikes. Doronichev explained that this was all part of Google’s grand design, though. “Our approach to releasing features on Stadia is similar to how we run Google Search, YouTube, and other Google services: gradual rollout and continuous improvement, based on your feedback,” he assured readers, and revealed that “many more cool new platform features” will be integrated on a weekly basis. Let’s hope that the most pressing issues are addressed first and foremost.
Microsoft is offering a real range of games with the new additions that are rolling onto the streaming service in the coming months. First and foremost, there are eight new games on Xbox Game Pass right now, including Rage 2, The Talos Principle, and Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition. When the holiday season arrives, members will look forward to a bumper bundle of Final Fantasy games, Darksiders 3, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. A few games are launching onto Game Pass too, which is super duper. There’s Bleeding Edge, Grounded, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and Tell Me Why, all very varying experiences. And finally, the indie scene has been well and truly championed by Microsoft. For example, kooky co-op Phogs, sad and pensive Haven, and cyberpunk adventure The Red Strings Club will barrel onto the service in the future. X019 painted a pretty picture for Xbox Game Pass and right now, customers will be able to snag their first three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for only £1.