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SYFY WIRE The Week in Gaming

The Week in Gaming: Big remake plans for PlayStation 5, Star Wars goes Commando & more

By Benjamin Bullard

Welcome to The Week in Gaming, the place where we pause each week to take a look at the video game news beats both big and small that you might be missing — while also taking a peek around the corner at what's ahead. Check in each Friday for news (and occasionally even views) on everything from sprawling RPGs to Metroidvania platformers to the latest in VR and free-to-play. We'll even throw in a good old-fashioned board game every now and then!

Though it's been out since November, the PlayStation 5 is still at the very start of its console life cycle. Sony is selling its next-gen beast as fast as it can make it, yet supply shortages from day one have meant there's still a legion of players out there — including several of us — who haven't gotten their hands on one, despite keeping an active vigil on online storefronts.

Xbox Series X sales haven't been quite as tight, but Microsoft's new console has been in high demand since its November launch as well. Mentioned in the same breath as the PS5's artificially-constrained install base, it's all a lengthy way of saying that, for millions of players, there's a lot of delayed gratification hanging about the new console generation. For many, it all feels like a gaming gateway that still beckons mostly from the future.

In the spring of 2020, just months before the PS5 launched, Sony took steps to consolidate its in-house roster of developers, a slate of more than 12 studios that features a handful of smaller teams alongside behemoths like The Last of Us maker Naughty Dog, Spider-Man and Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac, God of War maker Santa Monica Studio, and Horizon Zero Dawn developer Guerrilla Games. Grouped under the newly-minted brand banner of PlayStation Studios, the move was meant to add brand sizzle to Sony's stellar lineup of PlayStation-exclusive hits. Like the Netflix boot-up stinger or the Marvel Studios flag, seeing the new PlayStation Studios banner when you first fire up a game is meant to signify that you're getting something good — and that you can't get it anywhere but PlayStation.

As Microsoft's recent acquisition of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls maker Bethesda shows, any unexpected thing can happen as Sony and Microsoft seek to claim their market slice of the cutting-edge console pie. And while Sony may have more surprise studio acquisitions or franchise takeovers up its sleeve, reports of its current behind-the-scenes activity hint at an early PS5 road map, at least in terms of first-party games, as the new console matures.

In a far-ranging report on how Sony's prioritizing big in-house hits over riskier, smaller-scale game development, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier incidentally reveals a few specific takeaways about a handful of big-name PS5 games we may be playing farther down the line. None of them has been confirmed by Sony, but if the report's cited sources are accurate, the PlayStation 5 is definitely poised to extend Sony's run as the exclusive platform for games that already carry pervasive pop-culture street status.

A full-scale PS5 remake of the original The Last of Us, the report states, is currently in development with Naughty Dog again at the helm. Naughty Dog is also reportedly working on some kind of next-gen remake for one or more of its Uncharted titles, the last of which ended the Nathan Drake storyline with 2016's Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Sony's Bend Studio, maker of the fan-favorite (but critically panned) survival horror game Days Gone, is apparently working on an unnamed new game, after reportedly failing to persuade Sony to green-light a Days Gone sequel. And though it's not mentioned in the report, pretty much everyone knows that Santa Monica Studio is working on a direct AAA followup to its 2018 PS4 smash God of War.

The thrust of the Bloomberg report is that Sony is taking a conservative approach to using its in-house development studios, banking instead on big-name hits (like those mentioned above) while exercising caution before moving forward on more speculative, financially uncertain new IPs. The passing of time will reveal whether that's entirely accurate, but Sony's known, near-future lineup appears to mostly ratify that idea. Insomniac is prepping to put longtime brand mascots Ratchet & Clank on the PS5 with the June 11 release of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, even as Sony-owned Housemarque debuts the new (and well-promoted) sci-fi IP Returnal, which is set to arrive on April 30.

Meanwhile, Sony is moving on other fronts to keep its biggest video game names in front of people — whether they own a console or not. The company created its new, screen-focused PlayStation Productions banner in 2019 to begin turning out TV and film projects based on its game characters. And major recent crossover deals with companies like HBO and Netflix will ensure that non-gamers will continue to get a steady feed of The Last of Us and Sony Pictures' Spider-Man, all without the need to think about where else they might've seen those increasingly ubiquitous franchises.

Spare parts

- Star Wars fans, this probably isn't the week to lock the door and hope they don't have blasters. Old-school LucasArts shooter Star Wars: Republic Commando got a new lease on life this week, hitting the PS4 and Nintendo Switch in an enhanced version that swaps the lightsaber-slashing combat of other titles (most recently Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which we highly recommend) for a trusty galactic sidearm. Republic Commando first released all the way back in 2005, and the same things that made it great the first time appear to hold up still: the Switch version, which released alongside the PS4 edition on April 6, is currently sitting at a nice 75 reviewer consensus score at Metacritic.

- Capcom has set the date for its next Resident Evil Village info showcase, an online-only digital event that's also teasing additional announcements from the expanding RE universe. Could a second Village demo be on the way? The upcoming game's first "Maiden" demo landed as a surprise immediately after the January Resident Evil showcase went live, and data sleuths believe Capcom's second promised demo is likely to launch in similar fashion after the next event has ended. Set the date for 6 p.m. ET on April 15, when the new showcase — accessible via Resident Evil's YouTube and Twitter feed — puts Ethan Winters back in action.

- It's been a long, long time coming — and now it's here. Oddworld Inhabitants finally released Oddworld: Soulstorm this week for PS5, PS4, and PC, putting protagonist Abe at the front of a new mission — complete with a smoothing overhaul to the franchise's platforming mechanics, a new crafting system, and, of course, a new fight-the-power storyline. Check out the launch trailer and then check out the game, which just so happens to be free for PS5 players as part of this month's PlayStation Plus game bundle.

- Who's hungry? Pac-Man is back this week to catch the battle royale craze, gobbling up dots, ghosts, and real-life online combatants in Pac-Man 99, a PvP maze-runner that pits you against 99 (count 'em, 99!) fellow players. The throwback Pac-Man visual style is all part of the fun, and Bandai Namco is tapping that spirit with a lineup of 20 different customizable screen themes that rope in other arcade classics like Galaga, Dig Dug, and more. Available now, this one's a Switch exclusive, and it's a free download for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

- Despite online rumors to the contrary, Hideo Kojima doesn't appear to be involved in Abandoned, a newly-announced first-person horror game being developed exclusively for the PlayStation 5 by Blue Box Game Studios. Blue Box quashed the Kojima rumors in a blog post this week, a measure that just goes to show how much early buzz the Abandoned announcement generated in the first place. The developers describe Abandoned as a moody "cinematic survival sim," which definitely tracks with the vibe (especially the "sim" part) that we're getting from the creepy first-look trailer. There's no release date yet, but Blue Box says Abandoned is expected to hit the PS5 sometime this year.

- Square Enix hooked a cult fan following with the 2007 action-RPG The World Ends with You. Now a sequel is on its way, with the publisher this week revealing July 27 as the PS4 and Nintendo Switch arrival date for NEO: The World Ends with You. A PC version of the game is also in the works for an Epic Games Store release sometime this summer. As the trailer shows, NEO tips toward the manic "action" side of the action-RPG equation, with new-to-the-series characters sprinting around the Shibuya district in Tokyo at light speed. Get up to speed yourself at the game's landing page, where pre-orders are already live.

- Navigating time is the central challenge for Deathloop protagonist Colt Vahn, and it's apparently a real-life challenge for the game's development team as well. Bethesda's Arkane Studios announced this week that the PS5 exclusive is being delayed a second time, with Deathloop's new arrival date now set for Sept. 14.

- PlayStation Now subscribers can welcome a new trio of instantly-streamable titles for the month of April: Marvel's Avengers, Borderlands 3, and The Long Dark all went live for PS Now members this week. A caveat for PS5 players, though: PushSquare reports that Marvel's Avengers and Borderlands 3 are playable only in their PS4 incarnations via the live service.