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The Week in Gaming: Cyberpunk 2077 goes full Keanu; A new James Bond origin story; Oculus & more
With the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S now a week young, it feels a little like a transitional, housekeeping week for next-gen console players before the next big thing shows up (we’re looking at you, Cyberpunk 2077). Some lucky players who beat the pre-order rush are just getting started on breaking in their new machines. But we’re still in that early period when demand is high and supply is tight, which means there’s going to be a gap between next-gen and current-gen players, at least for a little while, when it comes to consensus talk about the latest and greatest next-gen games.
It’s probably par for the course though, as more and more players take advantage of the holiday season to find the right moment to make the next-gen jump. Expect the weeks between now and Christmas to be filled with all kinds of generation-spanning craziness in the world of PlayStation and Xbox — and leave it to Nintendo to forge ahead at its own independent pace, calmly building out its Switch ecosystem while its console competition goes through the growing pains of making sure everyone who wants one has a new machine to play on.
One things for sure: no one’s starved for gaming news, even if it’s been all over the place this week (and likely will be in the weeks to come). This week, Switch fans get to Link back with the Zelda-verse, with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity arriving today to scope out the fighting history of Ganon’s evil past. Kate Bishop is getting set to assemble with Marvel’s Avengers. A James Bond origins game is in the works from the same team behind the Hitman series. Star Wars: Squadrons is already surprising players with a free content update. And CD Projekt RED is sharing one big blowout last look at Cyberpunk 2077, before we (finally!) get to go exploring in Night City for ourselves.
It all sounds equally awesome, but we’ve gotta start somewhere — so let’s start with Cyberpunk and Zelda, the two biggies that are nearest on the horizon.
Last stop before Night City
With copies of Cyberpunk 2077 now freshly delivered into reviewers’ hands, CD Projekt RED is serving up one final info blast to fans this week about its oft-delayed, hugely-anticipated future-dystopian RPG — and this one is all about the Keanu.
The fifth and final installment of the Night City Wire livestream zeroed in bigly on Keanu Reeves’ maverick rocker character, Johnny Silverhand. Reeves takes center stage in a new behind-the-scenes glimpse at the prodigious effort that went into fleshing out his voice role as Silverhand, an NPC who at this point is shaping up to play a bigger role than we first thought in how you, as protagonist V, will negotiate the perils of an urban fever-scape controlled by corporatists and tech-savvy black marketers.
Check out Reeves’ BTS peek, as well as an all-new trailer that shines the biggest spotlight yet on Johnny Silverhand himself (and beware of the NSFW content, because Johnny has a mighty mouth):
Originally set to come out this week, 2077 is now firmly committed to its Dec. 10 release target. That’s only three weeks away, and right on time for PS5 and Series X owners to be ready for a sprawling RPG that’ll vacuum up their free time in chunks — just like CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt did in 2015. Snag Cyberpunk 2077 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and PC — and watch for PS5 and Series X/S versions coming next year, which will be free upgrades to anyone who already has their current-gen copy.
Zelda links to the past — literally
Link is back, and this time he brought friends. Early reviews for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity have ranged from disappointment at the Breath of the Wild prequel’s purposefully narrower gameplay focus than its sprawling action-adventure predecessor, to jubilant love for the way it looks and feels right at home in the vast and colorful reimagined version of Hyrule that BOTW created.
Either way, it’s time to see for ourselves. Age of Calamity releases today for the Nintendo Switch, and we’re getting hands-on with the new fighter in preparation for a fresh look back at the greatest Zelda games of the past 35 years. This one takes Link back in time, 100 years before the events of Breath of the Wild, to team with the first game’s NPC heroes like a de-aged Impa, the four Champion warriors, and the four Divine Beasts — playable here for the first time. BOTW dropped plenty of references and hints about what transpired in Hyrule when Ganon caused the Great Calamity, but it’s all been just more spoken-word lore in the larger Zelda-verse — that is, until today.
Even though it’s set in the BOTW world and (so far) feels completely at home expanding on the same characters’ backstories from the original, Age of Calamity’s story and art style tie-ins are where the similarities mostly end. That’s by design, as Age of Calamity is a beefed-up successor not to BOTW’s RPG-lite game mechanics, but to the hack-and-slash, musou fighting gameplay style of Koei Tecmo's 2014 Hyrule Warriors. Think of it, then, as a thematic bridge between Breath of the Wild and the upcoming, full-sized BOTW sequel…but get ready to do a lot more mob-clearing fighting — with the full ensemble of Hyrule’s finest at your side.
A new origin story for Bond…James Bond
Man, could there be a better studio to develop an all-new James Bond game than the team behind the Hitman series? The tech-savvy espionage possibilities seem endless with IO Interactive’s announcement this week that it’s been tasked with creating a game that delves into the origin story of Special Agent 007.
Fans of Rare’s GoldenEye 007 for the wayback Nintendo 64 already know what a heaven-made match Ian Fleming’s suave sophisticate and video games can be, and IO’s early tease does nothing to temper our expectations. In an announcement and accompanying teaser this week, IO revealed “Project 007” (a working title) as a “wholly original Bond” tale that will brief players for their newest mission: to take up the mantle of “the world's favorite Secret Agent to earn their 00 status in the very first Bond origin story.”
There’s no word, though, on whether than means referencing the big-screen past to tell a new origin story tale that syncs with existing Bond canon, or…something more akin to an alternative take. The new game is a partnering between MGM (who holds all the cards when it comes to spinning officially-sanctioned Bond stories) and Eon Productions, with IO handling the game’s development.
While the teaser offers absolutely no story clues and no hints about a release date, it does suggest that this one’s not a mere side gig from the studio that routinely brings an inventive bag of stealth assassination tricks to that other special agent (that’d be the stoically cool Agent 47). IO teases Project 007 as “our next project,” which hints at a full-scale mobilization of its development resources — something the studio’s newly-updated website, which gives Mr. Bond top billing, appears to reinforce. We’re pretty sure Special Agent 007 would have it no other way.
Oculus gets Myst-ical in VR
Oculus is wasting no time giving its svelte new Quest 2 headset a fresh stack of VR material to play with, revealing this week that the release dates are imminent for a trio of sweet sci-fi adventures announced previously during a September Facebook Connect reveal.
Things kick off for both Rift and Quest owners on Dec. 1 with the release of the first action pack for Pistol Whip: 2089. The update brings a new robotic threat set in a “gritty sci-fi future” to challenge fans who’ve already worked their way up through the pulse-racing ranks of Cloudhead Games’ acclaimed rhythm shooter. Then on Dec. 8, Warhammer hits VR for the first time ever with Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister, loading up a powerful arsenal of lore-authentic weapons in a Quest-exclusive VR adventure set in one of gaming’s most durable sci-fi franchises.
Finally, the game-changing PC classic Myst is heading to the Quest as a completely “reimagined and rebuilt” experience for VR players, featuring new art, new sounds, new interactions, the debut of a puzzle randomizing feature, and fresh accessibility updates. Few first-person games seem as tailor-made for a VR crossover as Myst does, so we’re especially hyped to see what developer Cyan does with the classic it first introduced all the way back in 1993. Watch for Myst to enshroud the Quest platform on Dec. 10.
- After saying previously that Star Wars: Squadrons wouldn’t be getting any postgame content, developer Motive Studios reversed course this week to reveal some new goodies that are, in fact, coming to its dogfighting sim set in the galaxy far, far away — and best of all, they’ll be free.
In a post at the official Star Wars website, game producer Thomas Mir unveiled a pair of no-cost add-ons coming in at light speed. A Nov. 25 update will bring a new multiplayer map, Fostar Haven, and four new ship components; while a mid-December update will add the series’ iconic B-wing and TIE defender starfighters to the game’s roster of deployable ships. “The idea was for the community to be able to enjoy [the game] for years to come,” Mir explained of the surprise add-ons. “When we saw the reaction, we saw opportunities to really strengthen that vision.”
- Marvel’s Avengers gave us a fun and poignant story that brought Kamala Khan to the forefront as a Marvel-ous new screen hero, but by now, players have likely left the game’s single-player campaign far behind. That changes soon, though, as developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix make good on their word to rope in more Marvel good guys into the unfolding postgame story. We already knew Kate Bishop would be the first to get an introduction as a post-launch playable character, and this week we found out when: the other Hawkeye joins the Avengers when Operation: Kate Bishop — Taking AIM releases as part of the game’s first push of “Season 1” content starting Dec. 8.
- This is too cool: Konami and robotics company Open Bionics have hooked up Daniel Melville, a 29 year-old Metal Gear fan who was born without a hand, with a fully-functioning real-world version of Venom Snake’s bionic arm from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
In the game, the bionic arm is the starting augment that Venom Snake receives after losing his hand in the Ground Zeroes incident, and can later be upgraded to do supernaturally sweet deeds, like teleport distant enemies to your location as the beefed-up Hand of Jehuty. For Melville, it’s a fitting convergence of fan passion and science.
“This is unbelievable. It's everything I've ever wanted from a bionic arm,” he says in the video script above. “I'm an avid gamer and love Metal Gear Solid so much, and to actually have Snake's arm in real life is just insane.” Now that he's armed with the power of Snake, maybe Melville's next step will be building up his very own Mother Base.
- Google's Stadia will soon be playable on Apple’s iOS devices via a web app that Google is planning to test in the near future. The Verge reports that Stadia is set for a public beta rollout in the next few weeks that’ll sidestep the requirement of having to download a dedicated app from Apple’s App Store. That means you’ll soon be able to play Stadia-hosted games from an in-app Safari add-on, right as the Stadia — believe it or not — hits its one-year anniversary.
- We’ll leave off this week with a spoiler-free mystery that a cadre of intrepid Demon’s Souls players didn't need much time to solve. Bluepoint Games’ PS5 remake of FromSoftware’s 2009 classic has only been in the wild for a week, but early players took no time spotting a mystery door in the new version of Demon’s Souls’ Boletaria that wasn’t a part of the PS3 original. The door in question won’t budge with typical player interactions, but (via IGN) a dedicated fan who goes by Distortion2 on Twitch helped crack the puzzle, pointing out the significance of a certain in-game item we won’t mention here. Now that the solution is out there, finding it’s only a quick search away, so we’ll leave it up to you to spoil the surprise. But we will say this: Demon’s Souls completionists won’t be disappointed.