It’s your video game industry news update for March 8th, 2018 – The confirmation of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch highlights the March 2018 Direct, Microsoft is trying its hand at a live news broadcast with Inside Xbox, and Activision announces Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. The video game industry changes every day and your time is important. Let’s get you caught up, starting right now, on Games in Time!
Nearly ten years to the day of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s release in North America, Nintendo has announced that the next Smash Bros. game for Nintendo Switch will arrive in 2018. This news arrived with a reveal trailer at the end of the latest Nintendo Direct that showed Inkling from Splatoon joining the fray. Masahiro Sakurai has confirmed on his Twitter account that he is working on the game, which means the overworked developer never seems to rest.
The biggest topic of discussion at the moment is whether this Smash Bros. game will be a new entry in the series, or an enhanced port that’s built upon the foundation of Wii U and 3DS content. All of the messaging so far has implied that the Switch version will be a new installment – from the working title, to a new website, and Sakurai’s involvement that leaves the mystery open in a Switch launch period filled with Wii U ports. If this is the case, though, consider what this could mean. First of all, third-party DLC agreements such as Ryu and Cloud are not guaranteed to carry over to a new game, so there is the risk of losing characters to gain new ones. Second, a new installment opens the door for possible delays beyond 2018, especially with Sakurai’s perfectionist tendencies.
If you ask me, I’ve thought for a while now that a deluxe version with added content makes far more sense, not only for comparative ease of development, but also to build on an already established Smash 4 community. While I’m not opposed to an all-new Smash game, I think I’d be most happy with one that adds more content to a refined Smash 4 experience, in order to blur the line between port and new. And of course, you’d have to imagine that this game needs to be the title that drives Nintendo’s paid online service later this year. For now, I’ll call it one 2018 video game prediction down, and we’ll likely see an info blowout along with gameplay at E3 in June.
While it would be easy to think that Smash Bros. was the only announcement in the Nintendo Direct, there were certainly more big headlines. 3DS seems to be wrapping up its final relevant year with releases like franchise-wide mini-game compilation WarioWare Gold on August 3rd, GameCube port Luigi’s Mansion later this year, and DS remake Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey in 2019. After coming off of the recent Superstar Saga remake, it’s odd that Partners in Time has been seemingly skipped, but even more surprising that when this new game comes out, Bowser’s Inside Story will have been ten years old.
Ports to Switch continue to be gladly accepted, considering its portable possibilities. In this Direct, we learned that Okami HD is coming this summer, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker arrives July 13th with extra levels based on Super Mario Odyssey, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy loses its PS4 exclusivity on July 10th, South Park: The Fractured But Whole arrives on April 24th, and Undertale is coming eventually.
Specific release dates for previously announced Switch exclusives are always welcome news. Octopath Traveler – yes, the final name – launches July 13th. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition lands May 18th. And Mario Tennis Aces, which actually looks like it has some development thought behind it this time, arrives on June 22nd.
Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion is the first paid DLC content for the third-person splatfest shooter, featuring a new single-player adventure with the Octoling Agent 8 that also brings Octolings into multiplayer. The expansion arrives this summer at $19.99, which can be pre-purchased now to immediately receive Octo headgear and clothes.
The biggest news from the Direct aside from Smash, however, is a Solaire of Astora amiibo launching alongside Dark Souls Remastered. Seriously, who saw this coming? Praise the Sun, even if it’s a Gamestop exclusive.
Not to be left out of the news announcement program conversation, Microsoft has confirmed that it will broadcast Inside Xbox – a live show that will highlight breaking announcements and look behind the curtain of Team Xbox. The show will air Saturday, March 10th at 3 PM ET and will primarily feature updates on Sea of Thieves and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Xbox Game Pass news and console feature updates are also expected. According to insiders, one of the minor announcements may even be the arrival of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Xbox One. Inside Xbox was the former name of programming that was discontinued on Xbox Live in 2012, but now that it’s returned as a kind of live Xbox Direct format, success will have to be gauged before it continues as a regularly scheduled show.
Activision has officially revealed Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, with a worldwide release date of October 12th, but not without some unusual strategic placement. Word of a leak circulated when James Harden of the NBA’s Houston Rockets was seen wearing a hat with four orange numerals that were arranged in a very similar style to the logo of 2015’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Now that the logo has been confirmed, it raises the question of why there are four Is, with the bottom slanted into a V, instead of the more widely accepted IV Roman Numeral for four. The only explanation I’ve heard that is halfway-passable is if someone was tallying something, like kills, with a diagonal slash eventually marking the fifth. It continues an odd year of blockbuster first-person shooter naming conventions, after the rumored Battlefield V.
Rumors of a Switch version of Black Ops 4 developed by another studio have existed for the past few weeks, but Activision declined to comment on that today. While this year’s Call of Duty is releasing several weeks earlier than the start of November in years past, likely to get out Red Dead Redemption 2’s way, the first gameplay details will arrive on May 17th.
- Ubisoft has confirmed that they are developing The Division 2, with a first look coming at E3 2018.
- Monster Hunter: World has set an all-time Capcom sales record with 7.5 million units shipped. Furthermore, a Japanese live stream with news about the game has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 14th at 7 AM ET. With the title’s critical and sales success, along with near constant social media buzz since launch, Monster Hunter: World is shaping up to be year’s first Game of the Year contender.
- A new patent filed by Sony that discusses backwards compatibility may suggest that the feature could come to the next PlayStation generation. It does not state how far back the compatibility would reach, but Mark Cerny is one of the names attached to the patent.
- There seems to be confusion regarding whether Diablo III will be coming to Switch. Blizzard posted a rather overt tease on Twitter, but then denied it altogether. Eurogamer then picked up the story and claimed it’s still happening, but other sources in the industry don’t seem to be too sure, at least for the immediate future.
- The community lead from CD Projekt Red posted a tweet that inquired “What if Geralt was going to step out of the @witchergame for the very first time to make an appearance in one of the upcoming games later this year?” The internet has taken this to assume Geralt will be making an appearance in Soulcalibur VI, but that seems presumptuous at this point, despite how cool it would be.
- After a glitch that would only happen to Nintendo, in which play time records were reset on Switch consoles after the one-year post-launch mark, Nintendo has announced that a fix is in the works and records have not been lost.
- A new comic book for Plants vs. Zombies makes a reference to a third game in the Garden Warfare series. Perhaps we’ll see more at EA Play during E3 2018.
- Telltale has announced that the Episode 5 finale of Batman: The Enemy Within will launch on March 27th. In what is being teased as the birth of their interpretation of The Joker, two possible finales and Joker personalities are possible, based on the player’s choices.
- Donald Trump met with businessmen attached to the video game industry to discuss game violence and desensitization. While this effort continues to come across as a distraction from the real issue of assault weapons, the meeting began with an 88-second compilation of violent game moments – such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” – as if that’s supposed to represent video games as whole with full context.
- And finally, here are your recent notable game releases:
- Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition is out now on PS4 and Xbox One, while Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition is out now on PC
- Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is out now is its complete retail form on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, while its bonus episode “Farewell” is available now to those who bought its deluxe version last year
- Scribblenauts Showdown is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
- Read Only Memories: Type-M is out now on iOS and Android
- Fear Effect Sedna is out now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch
- Hatsune Miku VR is out today on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
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