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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!
The whole week might as well be an undeclared national holiday at this point, because the hype has hit overdrive. Even as millions await their shot at claiming a still-scarce PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S, the new generation of consoles is finally here — and even if you don’t have one yet, you probably couldn’t avoid at least a passing glance (even if you tried) at all the juicy next-gen dazzle that early adopters are giddily showing off online.
With the Xbox rolling out first, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has said since the console’s Nov. 10 debut that it’s easily the company’s most successful launch ever. Two days later, the PS5 is here at last to crash the next-gen party (with a handful of exclusive new launch games in tow), and since the PS5’s official release on Thursday, it’s felt as though everyone on the internet — from the world’s most low-key basement fan to the heads of major game studios — is reaching Superbowl levels of meltdown.
Of all the congratulatory tweets welcoming Sony to its seat at the next-gen table, none has been more wildly surreal — in a good way — than witnessing two of SIE’s first-party mascots sound the opening bell on Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange. Welcome to Wall Street, Ratchet and Aloy:
But when the buzz quiets, the dust finally settles, and you’re at last sitting at home amid a pile of cardboard rubble, what games can you actually play now? Well, in addition to the PS5’s full backward compatibility for nearly all PS4 games (seriously, there’re only 11 games that for one reason or another don’t make the cut), there’s a host of cross-platform titles out now that’ll sing on your chonky white beast of a machine. We’ll hit the PS5 launch exclusives a little farther down, but here’s Sony’s sizzle reel of pretty much everything else that’s available from Day One:
No one’s going hungry for new games to play this week, that’s for sure. All this buzz for the PS5 is killer to see, and it definitely helps to make everyone who so far hasn’t been able to snag either console feel included in all the next-gen hype. But now that it’s officially here, where (and when?) can you actually get one?
For now, PS5 consoles won’t be available on retailers’ store shelves (and they’d likely be snapped up, at any rate, as soon as they were set out), which means you’ll have to go online to start your order. It’s all but impossible to summarize when fresh PS5 supply will open up at various retailers (for the same mad-dash reason), but here’s a linked list of places where — if you’re lucky — you might just make it through the order queue and snag an early PS5:
Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, B&H Photo, Newegg, Target, GameStop, and — if you're willing to do a little bidding at premium prices — StockX. All these links take you to the sales page for the Standard, Blu-ray-equipped version of the PS5, but each retailer also has a quick link over to the Digital edition as well. At the time of this writing, every single one of these storefronts was sold out of PS5 consoles of either variety, so the key definitely is to watch their social feeds for word of new supply...and to stay determined.
With so much information overload in these early days, it’s easy to lose track of everything the PS5 can do — especially if you’re planning on collecting Sony’s lineup of PS5 peripherals, migrating your PS4 save data, or playing 3rd-party titles you already own on the new machine. Fortunately, Sony’s made it easy by compiling a monster PlayStation 5 FAQ and sticking it in one easy-to-access document. Check out the FAQ here for answers about setup, compatibility, cross-platform and cross-gen play, account management, peripherals, troubleshooting, and much more.
Finally, anyone who by choice or necessity still plans to continue to keep the PS4 as their main gaming rig for the foreseeable future shouldn’t fret much about obsolescence, a lack of new games, or ongoing console support. As reported by VG 24/7, Sony said this week that completing the transition from the PS4 to the PS5 is a phasing-in process that’ll take about three years — meaning you won’t be left behind if you stick a little longer with its tried-and-true black box.
The best of the rest
1st-day fresh: The PS5 exclusives & new releases ready to play now
Sony’s launch lineup of exclusive PS5 games isn’t just a skin-deep menu where Spider-Man: Miles Morales sits atop of otherwise-forgettable titles as the true main entrée. Along with all the third-party games ready to go on both Xbox and PlayStation (as well as Sony’s curated library of PS4 classics bundled into the PS Plus Collection), there’s a tidy little buffet of ready-to-play tales that are either PlayStation exclusives, or exclusive to Sony consoles and PC. Here’s a launch-week highlight reel of every new PS5 release that currently can’t be found on any other console:
For a whole lot of fans, this is the one that cranks the hype up past 11 — no matter what a certain friendly neighborhood wall crawler might say. Bluepoint Games’ mind-bendingly elaborate remaster of Demon’s Souls is a showcase of PS5 graphical power, and early reviewers have nearly universal love for the way it updates FromSoftware’s franchise-launching classic from its PS3 beginnings. Getting good (and dying trying) has never looked so nice.
Developer Counterplay Games unpacks a novel twist on the action-RPG world with Godfall, a sci-fi fantasy mashup that puts the divine power of Valorplates — character class loadouts that change the way you fight — in PS5 players’ hands. Harness the energy of the five realms (Earth, Water, Air, Fire & Spirit) as soon as your console lights up, because Godfall hits the PS5 (along with PCs) as a launch-day console exclusive.
Don’t sleep on the little platforming game that comes bundled with every PS5. Sure, it’s meant as an introduction to what the PS5 and its groundbreaking DualSense controller can do right out of the box, but just about everyone who’s played it has been charmed by Astro’s Playroom, a brief but imaginative new chapter in the ongoing exploits of Sony’s robotically cute VR mascot. Loaded with more nostalgic PlayStation character callouts and Easter eggs than we’ll ever be able to spot, Astro’s Playroom actually commands one of the PS5’s highest aggregate game scores at Metacritic so far, and it’s pretty much the PS5’s go-to tutorial for how to best appreciate the DualSense’s haptic and adaptive-trigger features. Also, it’s completely free and ready to play as a bundled game with every PS5.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Sackboy’s back to attack the PS5 in a new launch title that unleashes Sony’s plucky platforming hero for his first-ever true 3D-camera game. Developer Sumo Digital has packed all of Little Big Planet’s previous platforming tricks into this one, as well as a slew of new ideas that take full advantage of the tactile features hidden away inside the PS5’s new DualSense controller. But if a PS5 is still far in your future, never fear: Sackboy: A Big Adventure is also available on PS4.
Crafted with a timeless, animation-friendly art style that never stales, developer Giant Squid’s The Pathless hits PS5 (as well as PS4, PC, and iOS) with the wind of strong critical reception at its back. The PS5 version of the third-person, Zelda-inspired action-adventure game is sitting at a tidy 81 score at Metacritic, with reviewers digging its well-integrated story moments and sweeping sense of exploration — all tied together with a great musical score and a satisfying payoff. Playing through The Pathless is reportedly a brief affair that can wrap up in less than 10 hours’ time — but that’s okay; we’ve got a lot of next-gen games to get to.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Here’s a little Marvel adventure you might’ve heard of called Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Insomniac Games’ web-slinging story of how Miles takes up Peter Parker’s neighborhood watch mantle is, in many ways, Marvel’s biggest release on any screen this year (especially now that WandaVision has officially been moved to early 2021 at Disney+).
By now, everything that could possibly written or said ahead of Miles Morales’ debut already has been, so all that’s left if to get your hands on a copy of the game (as well as the PS5-enhanced upgrade of 2018’s Spider-Man that comes with the Ultimate Edition). The PS5 isn’t the only place to play MM — it’s also available now on the PS4 — but come on. This is Sony’s highlight-reel PS5 blockbuster, the game that for months has driven most of the Spider-buzz about what its next-gen workhorse is truly capable of.
Fortunately, players who start their Miles Morales adventure with a PS4 copy can upgrade to the PS5 version at no cost, and — in a late bit of news from Insomniac this week — can soon even transfer their PS4 save file to the new console, assuring that the web fluid never stops flowing. With great power comes great responsibility, and there’s no PS5 launch title that’s meant to showcase Sony’s powered-up beast like this one. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is ready to electrify both the PS5 and the PS4 now as a PlayStation exclusive launch title. But you knew that already...right?
Ohhhh, Elden Ring
It’s a game, it’s a meme, and now — thanks to an update this week from Xbox boss Phil Spencer — it’s a little bit less of a mystery.
Ever since FromSoftware’s E3 2019 announcement that a new game with creative input from Game of Thrones’ George R.R. Martin was on the way, the fan clamor for any Elden Ring news has been steady. Sure, publisher Bandai Namco’s E3 trailer delivered a pre-packaged meme gift in the form of the narrator’s dramatic “Oh, Elden Ring!” pining, keeping the game reasonably fresh in players’ minds…but there hasn’t been a whiff of new info until this week.
Speaking recently with GameSpot, Spencer didn’t serve up any nitty-gritty details of what From’s trippy mythic adventure is all about. But he did say the game has reached a playable state…because he’s actually played it himself. “I've seen actually quite a bit,” he said. “I've played quite a bit.”
At the concept level, Elden Ring is a collaboration between Martin and Hidetaka Miyazaki, the revered creator of From’s Souls series (as well as Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice). With a built-in pedigree like that, fans have been expecting something that stands out even among Miyazaki’s iconic games library — and, according to Spencer, they’re on the right track.
“As somebody who’s played all of Miyazaki’s games over the last decade, this is clearly the most ambitious game that he’s done,” he said. “I love his games, but seeing some of the gameplay mechanics stuff that he and the team are tackling this time, of the setting, working with another creator [Martin] in terms of story. I love it.”
Sadly, Spencer didn’t offer any updates on when to expect Elden Ring to circle around more of its mysteries, nor on when the game is set to arrive for next-gen consoles. But any news at all that confirms FromSoftware’s inventive new IP is still very much alive is oh-so-sweet music to our ringing ears.
No plans for Nintendo to Switch gears
No ones knows how the new generation of Microsoft and Sony boxes will affect the rankings in the ongoing console sales skirmish, but if the PS5 manages to unseat the Nintendo Switch at the top of the sales charts, it’ll be breaking a streak that’s belonged solely to Nintendo for nearly two years running.
We mentioned the Switch’s recent sales successes last week, but newly-released official numbers that factor in the month of October show that the Switch is officially crushing 2020 — even at a time when few other entertainment staples are. The Switch’s bonkers October sales of 735,000 units widens its overall console lead for an amazing 23rd consecutive month.
In a press release, the Big N revealed that “the Nintendo Switch family of systems saw its strongest October sales yet” in the U.S., factoring in sales of both the Switch and the Switch Lite. The strong showing puts the Switch second on the all-time list of Nintendo’s October console movers, with only the Wii — selling 807,000 units back in October of 2008 — outpacing it. Overall, that brings the Switch to 22.5 million total systems sold in the U.S., alongside more than 63 million units worldwide.
Even as players get acquainted with next-gen concepts like ray tracing and fast game switching, the Switch — now approaching its 4th year on the market — has shown no sign of suffering from its distant kinship to its next-gen console cousins from Sony and Microsoft. And that technology gap isn’t going to be an issue anytime soon, according to Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser.
“Seeing encouraging sales growth like this in the fourth October of Nintendo Switch proves to us that the system has many more years and great games yet to come,” said Bowser — to the likely delight of current Switch owners everywhere. Catch what’s next on Nintendo’s holiday shopping list when Zelda prequel Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity takes us back to the days before Breath of the Wild, when the brawling new adventure arrives on Nov. 20.
- Sony’s reliance on first-party, in-house exclusives has never been more vital to the company’s success as it rounds the final turn into the next generation. And no game in recent memory exemplifies its lean into bespoke AAA exclusives than Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima, which has just become the PS4’s “fastest-selling first-party original” game, according to PlayStation Worldwide Studios chief Hermen Hulst.
Hulst tweeted this week that Ghost has now sold more than 5 million copies since its July release, making the adventures of Jin Sakai the top-selling PlayStation Studios release in a console cycle that also saw powerhouse first-party blockbusters like Spider-Man, God of War, the under-appreciated (we think) Days Gone, and Horizon Zero Dawn — to name but a few. With Ghost of Tsushima’s PS5 backwards compatibility, extraordinary graphics, new Legends mode, New Game+, and a generous handful of significant quality of life upgrades already wowing PS5 players, it’s a likely sign of how SIE will continue to evolve its increasing lean into first-party PlayStation Studios games as the PS5 matures. Congrats, Lord Sakai!
- A PS5 version in planned for March of next year, but fans who’ve felt the intense wait for the next installment in SEGA’s vaunted Yakuza series don’t have to hold out any longer. Yakuza: Like a Dragon arrived this week to dive deeper than ever before into Japan’s underworld of organized crime, and it's getting strong love from the critics so far. Like a Dragon and its modern-day Osaka setting also comes along at just the right moment for a change of pace (and place) from conventional fantasy and western RPG fare. Snag Yakuza: Like a Dragon now for PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC.
- The Brotherhood of Steel — either you love them for their first-dibs access to all that scavenged old-world tech you crave, or you hate them for just being a bunch of my way or the highway, post-apocalyptic jerks. Either way, one of Fallout’s highest-profile factions is set to debut to Fallout 76 next month when Fallout 76: Steel Dawn arrives to launch a new quest line featuring new characters, locations, and (of course) new gear. Watch for the Brotherhood to storm Appalachia when the update launches on Dec. 1.
- What may turn out to be Bethesda’s last-ever PlayStation exclusive is getting pushed a little farther forward in time. Bethesda’s Arkane Studios revealed this week that Deathloop, the rival-assassin shooter that puts a Groundhog Day time twist on the whole idea of marking all your targets, has been pushed from its original 2020 release to May 21 of next year. When it arrives, Deathloop will be a Playstation 5 console exclusive alongside its PC release.
- Among the hundreds of congratulatory shoutouts lavished on the PS5’s big kickoff this week, two of the coolest ones came from none other than Sony’s direct console competition. Both Nintendo and Microsoft shared their excitement at the PlayStation 5’s new contribution to next-gen gaming, serving up olive branch tweets that show we’re really all in this together — even if it means we have to clear out space for three devices on our entertainment shelves. Good gaming sportsmanship all around: you love to see it.