The Best Video Game News This Week: Baby Yoda, Battleborn, and Dragon Age

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…

In 2012, Typhoon Saola struck South East Asia and caused severe destruction through flooding, high winds, and landslides. In all this devastation, it’s frankly incredible that a little kitten survived and even incredible-r that a woman came across the creature sheltering by a railway station. This woman, Taiwanese politician Hsiao Bi-khim, didn’t keep the kitten. She gave her to her friend, fellow Democratic Progressive Party member Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai named her Think Think and she joined the family with Ah Tsai, a ginger farm cat. 

Tsai began her presidential campaign in that same year. The media nicknamed her “Cat Woman” because she frequently featured Think Think and Ah Tsai in official photos and her social media lobbying. Expectedly, young people were enamoured with the two cats and her posts about her pets got much more attention than those about her policies. When Tsai was sworn in, she adopted three retired guide dogs, called Bella, Bunny, and Maru, and miraculously all five animals live in harmony. Political analysts saw symbolism in her collection of critters, as Taiwanese people are considered to be “cat people,” whereas Chinese people are thought to be “dog people.” 

Tsai has been seen as “an unorthodox politician… a female academic who loves cats and supports gay rights.” But, the People’s Republic of China’s press agency ran a story disparaging Tsai’s singleness and saying she was not fit for leadership because she would be too emotional. The article was met with negative reception, to say the least, and one Weibo user theorised that the Chinese press agency were “probably threatened that a cat lady like Ms. Tsai could beat any man she sets her mind to.” News time.

Square Enix’s Life is Strange will raise awareness about homelessness with charity collaboration

Centrepoint said that it was “incredibly impressed” with how Life is Strange 2 portrays teenage homelessness. “I believe the game will encourage people to look into how young people are living these scenarios in reality, and that there are things that can be done to support them,” said Paul Brocklehurst, head of helpline at the charity. December is a vital time of the year for the homeless, and Square Enix will be supporting Centrepoint’s campaigns through the official Life is Strange social channels. In addition, there will be “an awareness driving livestream with a selection of partner content creators” during the month, and will draw attention to the “hidden homeless”. 

Rebellion Buys up The Bitmap Brothers Brand & Games

“The Bitmap Brothers are renowned for making great games and for bringing gaming into the mainstream with inimitable style,” said Rebellion co-founder Jason Kingsley. “We’ve known Mike Montgomery for many years, and we’re honoured by the faith and trust that he has shown in us by passing on the torch. We’ll strive to be vigilant custodians of one of gaming’s great names.” Among the Bitmap Brothers catalogue are Speedball, Chaos Engine, and Z: Steel Soldiers. As you could imagine, fans of these classic series are all aflutter with the prospect that they could come to “new platforms,” and Rebellion hopes to “create new titles based on its beloved licenses.”

Geoff Keighley “appreciates the concern” regarding Death Stranding award nominations

Death Stranding received nine nominations for The Game Awards, to be held on December 12. These included Game of the Year, Best Narrative, Best Game Direction, Best Score, and so on. Given that the game was divisive and that host Geoff Keighley is cosy with creator Hideo Kojima, people began to wonder whether there was a little bit of favouritism at play. “I respect and appreciate the concern,” Keighley said to Kotaku. “This is why we have the FAQ right at the top of the website to make the process clear. It’s also why I don’t vote on the nominees or winners. In my role as show producer I work closely with game publishers and developers on a number of levels, so [I] leave the judging to media outlets that provide a wide critical assessment.” And even though Kojima is on The Games Awards’ advisory board, he doesn’t have any influence on the awards themselves.

2K Games shutters Battleborn, will be offline in 2021

When it was released, Battleborn was easily eclipsed by Overwatch, and struggled to get off the ground. Gearbox tried making it a free-to-play title and adding new downloadable content to attract new audiences, but it wasn’t effective. Battleborn’s “sunsetting” stage will begin with the removal of its in-game currency in February 2020. The servers will stay live until January 2021, and then it will be curtains for Gearbox’s kooky hero shooter. Fans expressed their gratitude to the studio for supporting the game and the experiences they enjoyed, but it will be missed sorely by its dedicated community.

Only 37 per cent of Steam users are “VR ready,” according to Valve survey

Half-Life: Alyx is a VR exclusive though it’s not exclusive to the Index, Valve’s own VR hardware. Based on the October 2019 “Hardware & Software Survey” conducted by the developer, not a lot of Steam users are ready for Alyx’s adventure. Looking at the graphics processing unit alone, only 37 per cent of users are able to run VR games capably. And, only 1.03 per cent of the collective have a VR headset. This data could be outdated because the Valve Index has been flying off the shelves in Canada and the U.S. Still, VR hardware is a significant investment and with no non-VR version, people may feel priced out by Half-Life: Alyx

Dota 2 Outlanders update is so huge that people are calling it “Dota 3”

The 7.23 Outlanders update has got everybody in a state. Side Shops are out and Neutral Outposts are in. These two buildings cannot be seized in the initial ten minutes of a match, but once captured, they will provide experience points every five minutes. 62 new and unique items split between five tiers will be dropped by neutrals and these can only be traded between players. And, two new heroes march onto the scene. There’s Snapfire, an elderly goblin nomad with her trusty dragon toad by her side, and Void Spirit, an extremely powerful and stoic being that moves in and out of the mortal plane. 

Baby Yoda is in Star Wars: Battlefront 2, by the grace of mods

Modder Nanobuds published a work-in-progress shot of Baby Yoda in Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the character is mimicking one of Yoda’s default poses. The baby has big ears and form of a gremlin, and the modder is still working on their wide-eyed, wondrous look. Maybe eyedrops would work. If you don’t know who Baby Yoda is, Werner Herzog would be ashamed of you. The child is a character in Disney+’s new Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. Werner Herzog plays a character in The Mandalorian, so that’s the connection. He’s not just circumstantial in this story. Anyway, Baby Yoda isn’t actually baby Yoda, but it raises a few unwanted questions about Yoda’s unconfirmed love life. Also, EA DICE has a list of who is headed to Battlefront’s roster, and it has shut down speculation that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order characters could come to the game. 🙁

Dragon Age executive tweets “Dragon Age” for no real reason

Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah had a wonderful time the other day, posting the words “Dragon Age” three times in a row and watching the BioWare community combust. Sparked by boredom in a few free hours in the middle of his day, Darrah revealed he’d “caused trouble” at the studio with his antics. What it could all mean is anyone’s guess. I’ll give it a go, though. The next Dragon Age game will likely appear “after fiscal ‘22,” said EA. However, BioWare general manager couldn’t wait to tell us that “the Dread Wolf rises,” with “a large and growing team in Edmonton working through pre-production.” That’s a definite reference to the villain of Inquisition and a definite confirmation that things are moving and shaking in Thedas. Darrah also shared a snippet of a snowy scene with his tweets, which could be a work-in-progress shot of Dragon Age 4. Or, the executive was playing a practical joke and this is a map from a previous game. Ok, I did my best. I don’t know what he’s doing. 

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