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SYFY WIRE Neill Blomkamp

Gaming: Blomkamp teases Anthem short; Tomb Raider’s sneaky DLC; Sony not into a Fortnite clone

By Benjamin Bullard
Anthem BioWare via official site 2019

BioWare’s long-awaited Anthem is almost here, and it’s getting a pretty sweet-looking introduction from Neill Blomkamp — a guy who knows a thing or two about how to do an exosuit.

The District 9, Elysium, and Chappie director announced Conviction: An Anthem Story via Twitter, linking to a YouTube countdown page where the short film — a backstory set inside the lore of the Anthem game universe — is set to go live Thursday.

Produced by Blomkamp’s Oats Studios, Conviction takes place decades before the events of the main game and tells a “live-action story of survival” to acquaint fans with the Anthem world’s lore and history, ahead of the game’s release.

“In Conviction, Neill explores the vast world of BioWare’s Anthem through a new narrative set decades before the beginning of the game. Neill’s live-action short is a chance to see the world of Anthem through a different lens, with stunning locations, new characters, and a new story,” teases BioWare. 

Check back in on Feb. 14, when Conviction premieres on YouTube. As for the game itself, get ready to suit up and fly starting Feb. 22, when Anthem arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Lara Croft is plunging back into one of her most persistent battles in The Price of Survival, the latest piece of DLC for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, released today by Square Enix

The new single-player challenge puts Lara back in conflict with the shady, Illuminati-like Trinity organization, compelling her to seek out the ancient group’s leader to get some answers. The DLC arrives alongside a new trailer, which you can check out below:

“Return to the world of Shadow of the Tomb Raider and solve a mystery behind Lara Croft's greatest foe. While trying to crack the private codes of Trinity's leader, Lara must conquer a new single-player challenge tomb filled with poisonous traps, while defeating the elite soldiers that stand in her way,” the announcement teases.

The update comes with a new Raptor’s Eye ability that improves enemy-tracking skills, making their outline visible through walls and other obstacles. There’s also a new Hunter’s Array outfit, a Classic Trinity stealth uniform that softens Lara’s footsteps and boosts perception and vision. A new weapon, the silencer-equipped Silent Sting pistol, rounds out the overall stealth vibe.

Like Shadow of the Tomb Raider itself, The Price of Survival is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It's a free download for Season Pass holders, and a $4.99 standalone download.

Even though the PlayStation 4 is a vital piece of the success of battle royale games like Fortnite, PUBG, and the upstart Apex Legends, Sony has no interest in spending its own development power to hop on the battle royale bandwagon.

Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Shawn Layden, who’s in charge of Sony’s 13 in-house development studios, recently told C|net that battle royale games may be a lucrative sensation, but they don’t aspire to the creative and industry-guiding heights Sony itself wants to exceed. 

“I don't want to get into me-too,” Layden said. “I think the world's got all the battle royale it needs right now.

Instead, expect future in-house Sony games to swing for the fences (think Spider-Man, God of War, and Horizon Zero Dawn.) Creating landmark AAA games that critics love and fans can’t get enough of takes time, but Layden said it’s Sony’s way of remaining a perennial leader in a gaming landscape that’s always changing.

“I think we've done a lot over the last three or four years to get us to a place right now where we're building fewer games per year than ever before, but we're spending more time, more energy, certainly more money, on making them,” he said, adding that Sony follows a three-word mantra when deciding what kind of games it wants to make. “[W]e have simplified it to ‘first, best or must.’”

Sony’s skipping E3 this year, in part because the Christmas-driven retail calendar doesn’t sync with the show’s original retail emphasis, and in part because the 24/7 gaming news cycle has diluted the event’s power to create buzz on Sony’s terms — and timeline. 

Layden said he envisions Sony being far more enthusiastic about supporting a Comic-Con-style fan celebration for gamers; one that simply brings everyone together — without the current hype pressure that all but obligates the major studios to unveil their next mind-blowing creations, like clockwork, each June.  

“Can't it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?” he said, adding that the Comic-Con model is “probably the trajectory [E3] needs to go to maintain relevance.”