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The Week in Gaming: Resident Evil Village details; Hitman 3 debuts; Fortnite dials up Skynet & more
The mortally infected are alive and well, as the Resident Evil franchise gets set to launch one of the biggest cross-platform games we'll see (in the dark, of course) in the first half of 2021.
In commemoration of the storied horror series' 25th anniversary, publisher Capcom held a blowout online event this week that dropped some expected reveals surrounding the upcoming Resident Evil Village, along with one small — but definitely welcome — surprise.
The surprise first: RE Village is getting a free demo, and it's available beginning today for anyone who's managed to snag a PlayStation 5 in the still-scarce new console's early release window. Featuring a protagonist called "The Maiden" (who's not the protagonist of the actual game), the demo doesn't feature combat — rather, it's a moody intro vignette to Village's fantastically creepy new winter castle and infested dungeon locations.
During its announcement event, Capcom said "a separate" demo is coming later for all the other platforms that Village supports, but didn't elaborate further. But the showcase also confirmed that we'll be playing as Ethan Winters, whom we first got to know in RE7: Biohazard. Helping him out this time will be a lightly revamped crafting system, as well as a new twist in the form of a "guarding" mechanic — a welcome inclusion for anyone who's ever struggled to get a zombie off their back when the distance closes.
Village looks like a graphically amazing next-gen game, with no flourish spared in rendering every last opulent detail, from glittering chandeliers to well-lacquered staircase banisters to the fabulously bygone-vintage wardrobe that adorns the much-buzzed, seriously creepy "tall woman" (she has a name, we learned this week: it's Lady Dimitrescu, the malevolent matron of Dimitrescu Castle). That's partly why it was such a surprise when Capcom also revealed that the game will also be coming to both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, along with the previously-announced PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC platforms.
But the biggest reveal of all, though, was the release date: Resident Evil Village returns to bring the dead back to life once more on May 7.
Hitman 3 ices one of gaming's great trilogies
May might seem like a long way off, but no one has to wait to get back in costume as Agent 47. IO Interactive's bald, barcoded bringer of death closes out one of the most consistently entertaining stealth franchises of the last generation this week with the welcome arrival of Hitman 3 — the final chapter in IO's so-called World of Assassination trilogy.
We haven't made it too far into the game just yet, but so far, the time IO granted us in its last dance (at least for now) with our disguise-minded antihero just might be the most fun we've had as Agent 47 since 2016's story-driven Hitman: Absolution. There've been two mainline Hitman games since then — and though it might seem tough to keep coming up with cleverly-realized stealth maps in exotic settings, and even tougher to find ridiculous new ways to sneak up on someone (or hide in plain sight), Hitman 3 just keeps rolling out devilishly deadly delights.
All versions of the game currently sit above an 80 at Metacritic (with the PC version topping out at 88), though we don't need that validation to compel us to keep stealthing. We're not sure there's ever been a bad Hitman game (even the quirky 2014 mobile game Hitman Go was a blast in its own unique way), and the swan song for the Assassination trilogy looks to be taking our inside man out in style.
At least IO Interactive won't be a sitting duck once Hitman 3 is in the rear-view. The studio is taking everything it's learned so far about making secret agents shine, and applying it to something with even more star power. Details are still scarce, but the studio's next project is a big-budget origin story featuring none other than Special Agent 007. A James Bond game with a Hitman pedigree…we gotta admit, the thought of that has us both shaken and stirred.
- Hey, he said he'll be back. Don't get too red-eyed over Fortnite's newest update: This week's fresh battle royale news includes a pair of big-screen legends: Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 Terminator skin, as well as Sarah Connor — complete with her own T-800 Endoskeleton Arm Back Bling and Combat Knife. Not to be outdone, Predator is also joining the battle royale fray, with our favorite headhunting alien bringing his stalking skills as part of the Chapter 2, Season 5 Battle Pass. Welcome to the island, Skynet.
- Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass is already one of the big perks of owning a new Series X (or even an older Xbox One for that matter), and the software giant appears to be enticing more people to the all-streaming service with its latest announcement: an across-the-board price increase for the older Xbox Live service.
Beginning this month, Xbox Live subscriptions will cost a dollar more for a 1-month signup, $5 more for a 3-month subscription, and $20 more for a 6-month commitment. Stacked at $11, $30, and $60, respectively, the new pricing phases out the year-long subscription altogether, while approaching the $160 per-year ($15 per month) cost of an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Check out Microsoft's full announcement here for all the details.
- Lara Croft's more mature adventures notwithstanding, Square Enix hasn't had a high-profile entry in the world of feel-good, cartoonish platforming in a while...but that's about to change with Balan Wonderworld, the upcoming new creation from the mind of SEGA's former Sonic Team leader Yuji Naka. Check out the preview trailer above, ahead of Balan Wonderworld's March 26 debut. A free demo is heading to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on Jan. 28.
- No, Naughty Dog isn't making a fantasy game — at least not the one that caused the minor Twitter frenzy that erupted this week after a fan uncovered some intriguing in-house art. Naughty Dog artist Hyoung Nam had posted some images to his ArtStation account late last year that mark a definite departure from the The Last of Us maker's recent zombified post-apocalypse, leading to more recent fan speculation that the mysterious "new game" Nam mentioned must be the studios' next big project.
Nope, Nam clarified this week to IGN: It's just his own fan art, inspired by Assassin's Creed Valhalla. While that explains the "Women of the North" armor and the sword in the images, it's still kind of a bummer that we won't be seeing Naughty Dog's take on a fantasy game... though they've gotta be up to something, now that The Last of Us Part II is closing in on its one-year anniversary this summer.