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Essential Weekend Reading: Feeling Better About Nintendo Switch

As we head into the weekend, we highlight the week's most important stories and features.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

This week kicked off with the news that the Deus Ex franchise is taking an augmented knee for the foreseeable future. In a report from our sister site, Eurogamer, it was revealed that the reason for this is due to a combination of disappointing sales of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Eidos Montreal's focus on Tomb Raider and the new multi-game Avengers license.

Fallout 4 got a a new hi-res texture pack for both PS4 Pro and PC. But be warned. If you want to take advantage of the PC version, you'll need an 8GB video card, as well as 58GB of spare hard drive space on top of the basic game install. That's quite a tall order!

Sometimes it's the little things that matter. Nadia highlighted a NeoGaf thread that celebrated 15 years of Metroid Prime and showcased the highly detailed finger animation that you can only see if you equip the X-Ray visor and then look at Samus' arm while she changes weapons. It's a really neat touch that shows just how much care and attention Retro put into this GameCube classic.

It's been talked about for months, but the Wii U has finally, officially ceased production in Japan. With sales of just over 13 million systems, the Wii U hasn't exactly been a big hit for Nintendo, but it's still home to some really great games.

In other Nintendo news, Pokemon Sun and Moon sold a combined 14.69 million copies, while the mobile version of Animal Crossing has been delayed until the next fiscal year, meaning it won't arrive until April at the earliest. There was some good news for those who are interested in owning a Switch. In an interview this week, Nintendo president Kimishima said that the Switch online service will be priced between 2,000 and 3,000 yen - which translates to about half the annual cost of the equivalent offerings from Sony and Microsoft.

Bioware announced that they're working on an all-new action-adventure game that will be released in the first quarter of 2018. "Our ambition is simple," said Bioware general manager Aaryn Flynn in a blog post, "Draw upon 20-plus years of development knowledge and lessons to create something fun and new for you to enjoy with your friends." Sounds pretty interesting to me – especially as this new title will feature the "the great RPG character development and story progression that BioWare is known for."

Two other new games were also mooted this week, with Warner Bros. teasing what looks like a new Batman Arkham title, and Electronic Arts confirming that the Need for Speed franchise will be making a return in March of 2018. I was one of the few who liked the last Need for Speed game, so I was pretty happy to year that.


We featured a quartet of game reviews this week. Jeremy took a good look at Poochy and Yoshi's Woolly World on 3DS, and commented, "Yoshi's Woolly World is by far the best direct follow-up to Yoshi's Island Nintendo has ever made, with better design than Yoshi's Island DS and more creative ideas than Yoshi's New Island."

I sunk my teeth into the hardcore retro game, Double Dragon IV, and enjoyed its 8-bit-inspired charms – at least for a while. I described the game as feeling, "like the developer Arc System Works discovered an unreleased old NES game and emulated it on PS4. Its graphics, sound, and gameplay are utterly authentic to the period." However, I also noted, "Unfortunately, so are its cheap shots and frustrating design elements."

It's been out since December, but Mike finally got around to reviewing Grasshopper Manufacture's free-to-play PS4 roguelike Let it Die. "There's nothing out there quite like Let It Die," he said. "This action game offers Souls-like combat, 40 floors to tackle, multiple paths, and a host of gear to make your own oddball fighter."

The best-reviewed game of the week was Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja's Nioh, which John Learned described in his four-star review as, "a surprisingly feature-heavy and battle-focused heir to the Soulsborne method." He ultimately reckoned that it's, "a worthy addition to any Action RPG library."

Do Horizon Zero Dawn's RPG Elements Measure Up?

After spending time playing Horizon Zero Dawn at a recent preview event in Los Angeles, Kat took an in-depth look at the combat and crafting elements of the game, and how the player's actions in the game have consequences. "Like most games of its ilk," she wrote, "Horizon Zero Dawn is at pains to walk the line between sophisticated and accessible. It's deeper and more narratively focused than, say, Far Cry, but still more of an action game than your average RPG."

Back When Screenshots Really Were Screen Shots

I had a lot of fun reminiscing about my early days as a games magazine journalist, and what an utter pain in the ass it used to be having to take screenshots with a film camera. Yep! I'm so old that I remember the analogue years before we could take screenshots digitally. As part of the feature, I posted examples of early screenshots to show their unique aesthetic – which include CRT scan lines, and pixels being softened by the glow of the phosphorescent screen.

After Finally Getting My Hands on the Switch, I Feel Better About My Preorder

Kat initially had concerns when Nintendo's Switch was revealed in the middle of January, and called it, "pretty much Switch's worst case scenario." However, after finally getting her hands on the system at a Nintendo event in San Francisco this week, she was relieved to find that she was actually impressed with the system. "Cost aside, this is the first time in quite a while that I've really been impressed by Nintendo's hardware," said wrote. "It feels like a legitimate piece of tech and not just a toy-the kind of console that might actually feel like it's worth $300 and change."

Opinion: Fire Emblem Heroes Brings With It All the Familiar Excesses of Free-to-Play

"If this is where Nintendo intends to go with their mobile games, then it's a shame. Fire Emblem Heroes is fun in its own way, but it's not much more than a sugar rush-a mostly mindless bit of fanservice," says Kat in her opinion piece about Nintendo's latest mobile game. Whether you agree or disagree, check out the article - there's some lively debate happening in the comments section!

Resident Evil 7: What's Next for the Franchise?

After a quite successful launch for the latest iteration in the series – Resident Evil 7 has sold over a million copies so far – Mike pondered about where the series might go next. "Resident Evil 7 was a play for the soul of the franchise, instead of a financial consideration," he opined. "It's possible that a more action-oriented (third-person?) version of the game might be the way forward. That style certainly has its fans, and it's likely Capcom could make more money heading in that direction or making a spin-off in that style."

Damn! For Honor is Really Difficult to Master

After playing the Beta of For Honor last weekend, I wrote about how challenging the game is to get to grips with. I didn't feel that was necessarily a bad thing, however, and pointed out that its steep learning curve is due to the fact that Ubisoft's upcoming sword-slinger features combat that's very complex and nuanced, and is unlike any game I've experienced before. I actually really enjoyed playing it, and am looking forward to reviewing the game when it's released in a couple of weeks.

What the Heck Is Going on with the Final Fantasy VII Remake?

Nadia asked this pertinent question on Tuesday, which just happened to be the 20th anniversary of the game. Square-Enix also held a Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Celebration event in Tokyo on the same day. During the event, a release date for Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was announced, and we learned that Final Fantasy XV's delightful chaps will be going Sentai with the aid of DLC. However, there was no news of the Final Fantasy VII remake.

Later in the week, however, Yoshinori Kitase, producer of the Final Fantasy VII remake was quoted as saying, "There is still some way to go from here," when he was interviewed in Japan's Weekly Famitsu.

Design in Action | The Last Guardian: How to be Trained by Your Dragon

Jeremy might be gone from USgamer as a full-time member of staff, but he still contributes to the site in the form of his regular Design in Action article. This week, he took an in-depth look at The Last Guardian, and examined the design mechanics that govern the relationship between the protagonist and Trico.

Switch-ing On Indie Support For Nintendo's New Platform

With developer support for Switch beginning to gather momentum, Mike spoke to several Indies about their plans for Nintendo's upcoming hybrid-handheld. Shovel Knight creator Yacht Club, Tequila Works, and Zeboyd Games all weighed in with their views, and their reaction was generally very positive.

Stories From Around the Gamer Network

USgamer is a part of the Gamer Network, which includes such sites as Eurogamer, Nintendo Life, Push Square, Rock, Paper Shotgun, and VG247. Here's a selection of my favorite stories from across our network.

How Valve found Portal (Eurogamer)

If you're a fan of Portal, you should definitely check out Chris Bratt's excellent video that highlights how Valve's classic came to be. It actually stared with a game called Narbacular Drop. "It wasn't much to look at," reveals Chris. "It was brown and buggy and the word 'Narbacular' doesn't actually mean anything at all. But it had something incredible going for it. It had portals."

Digital Foundry's guide to PS4 Pro game upgrades (Digital Foundry)

Digital Foundry produces some of the very best video game analysis out there, especially when it comes to assessing the graphical performance of systems and software. This week my old colleague, and Digital Foundry boss Richard Leadbetter created what I think is the definitive guide to PS4 Pro upgrades. If you own a PS4 Pro, or are interested in purchasing one, it's essential reading.

Face-Off: Nioh on PS4 and PS4 Pro (Digital Foundry)

Digital Foundry's John Linneman conducted an in-depth comparison between the PS4 and PS4 Pro versions of Nioh this week. It's a very technical piece, but I found it really fascinating.

Who's who in Mass Effect Andromeda (Eurogamer)

If you're keenly anticipating Bioware's upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda, you should definitely take a peek at Tom Phillip's look at the characters and alien races from the upcoming game. It's also worth checking out his companion article that highlights many details about Bioware's highly-anticipated title.

The 50 Best FPS On PC (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

Although it's in a pseudo-slideshow format, I enjoyed reading through Alec Meer's comprehensive guide to the best FPS games on PC. It's an amazing list that provided a really entertaining trip down memory lane.

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