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!
Back before 2008, video games had never seen such an atmospherically effective merging of solitude, survival, and sci-fi horror as the kind that EA Redwood Shores introduced to players with the original Dead Space. Isaac Clarke’s maddeningly isolating trek through the Necromorph-infested corridors of the mining vessel Ishimura took the well-established survival hallmarks of the Resident Evil franchise and flung them into the darkened reaches of a 26th Century orbit — the video game version of a place where no one could hear you scream.
Though the original game took a while to build sales steam, it went on to become a million-selling title as word of mouth about its haunting ambiance and truly terrifying third-person scare gauntlet enticed players who were down for an Alien-style fright fest. Dead Space would go on to spawn a pair of sequels and gain more than a cult following, even as the franchise appeared to grind to a halt by the end of the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 era.
Fast forward to this week, when EA revealed that its EA Motive studio is reviving the game that started it all, not as a reissue or touched-up remaster, but as a completely remade experience destined exclusively for new-gen consoles and PC. Yep, the health meter on Isaac’s suit is lighting up in blue once more — so long as you can keep it that way:
Revealed as part of this week’s EA Play digital showcase, the Dead Space remake marks a modern overhaul for a horror gaming classic; one that’s being “completely rebuilt from the ground up by Motive Studios to offer a deeper and more immersive experience,” according to EA. “Harnessing the power of the Frostbite game engine and next generation consoles, this remake brings jaw-dropping visual fidelity and improvements to gameplay while staying true to the original.”
EA Redwood Shores would eventually morph into the now-defunct Visceral Games studio, whose Dead Space horror DNA is already spreading into an upcoming scary sci-fi adventure titled The Callisto Protocol. Anticipated as a 2022 release for new-gen consoles and PC, The Callisto Protocol doesn’t bear any formal ties with the Dead Space franchise, but it comes from the mind of former Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield and his new Striking Distance Studios — a banner created to spin off of the PUBG gaming-verse with titles that focus more on narrative depth — and less on battle royale mayhem.
EA hasn’t yet shared a release date target for its Dead Space remake, but when it arrives, it’ll skip console generations entirely as an exclusive for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, as well as PC. You can stay on top of the latest remake info by stalking over to the game’s website and signing up for EA’s fan newsletter.
Netflix gets its game on
Word came last week that video games will soon add new dimension to the meaning of “Netflix and chill.” The streaming giant shared its big-picture plans to add games to its regular lineup of subscription-based offerings, and in the days since, a few additional details have emerged about what, exactly, that could mean.
While we still don’t know whether Netflix is pushing for streaming access to established third-party libraries that could give it some competitive leverage with major online destinations like Valve’s Steam and the Epic Games Store, Deadline reports that the earliest games to appear on the platform are likely to revolve around mobile gaming.
“We view gaming as another new content category for us, similar to our expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV,” the company told shareholders in a quarterly letter cited by the report. “Games will be included in members’ Netflix subscription at no additional cost similar to films and series. Initially, we’ll be primarily focused on games for mobile devices.”
The same update also confirmed a couple of pieces of speculation that were widely reported when Netflix first announced the new move. For one thing, it won’t cost current subscribers anything to tap into the games that Netflix offers: they’ll be included as a service as part of a regular subscription.
For another, Netflix appears fully aware of the hybrid interactive entertainment format it pioneered with the Emmy-winning Black Mirror feature Bandersnatch (a format that’s also shown up elsewhere on the platform in one-off novelties like the choose-your-adventure Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal). “We’re also in the early stages of further expanding into games, building on our earlier efforts around interactivity,” the company told shareholders.
Will we be able to sync a game controller and play Netflix-based games from our couch? Will Netflix begin producing original gaming content under its newly-formed game development umbrella; a division that recently recruited former Oculus Studios exec Mike Verdu as its first-ever VP? And most importantly, when is it happening? So far, Netflix has only hinted that video games will start appearing in your queue sometime within the next year. In the meantime, we’re still watching.
Do you have a PS5 (lucky you!) or think you’ll get your hands on one sometime between now and next summer? If so, you can bite into an extremely sweet new deal to nab six months of AppleTV+ for the low, low price of totally free. Announced this week, the offer runs from now through July 22 of next year, it applies to both PS5 versions, and it’s a collaboration between Apple and Sony to entice new-gen PlayStation owners to the fledgling streaming platform.
Already an AppleTV+ subscriber? No worries: So long as you signed up directly (and not through a separate prior promotion), you can still take advantage of the six-month free deal — if, of course, you’ve got a PS5 and an active PlayStation Network account. “If you have a current Apple TV+ free trial or are already subscribed, you can redeem this offer,” Sony explains at the promotion’s landing page. A new PS5 and half a year of free access to exclusive sci-fi series like See and the upcoming Foundation? Yeah — we’re calling that a major win.
Sucker Punch has just debuted a new Iki Island story trailer for the upcoming PS5 Director’s Cut version of Ghost of Tsushima — and wouldn’t you know it; it’s as achingly beautiful as we’ve come to expect from even the base PS4 version of the game. The new clip sheds more light on the mysterious Mongol shaman The Eagle (aka Ankhsar Khatun), who’s “not only a conqueror of nations, but a shepherd of souls. And the danger she presents to Jin and his people is unlike any they have faced,” the studio teases.
Sail away with Jin Sakai when Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut embarks on both the PS4 and PS5 starting Aug. 20, with the new Iki Island story expansion arriving the same day already bundled into the PS5 version’s $69.99 price. Iki Island can also be nabbed as a standalone $19.99 add-on for current owners of the PS4 game.
The Dead Space remake wasn’t the only fun preview EA showed off during this week’s EA Play showcase. The publisher also teased a new gameplay look at Lost in Random, developer Zoink’s whimsical take on a Tim Burton-inspired fairytale world. As the name suggests, it’s a mix of luck-based rolls of the dice and your mastery of the skills to be honed through the game’s third-person, action-adventure quest to save your sister from an evil queen. Lost in Random releases on Sept. 10 for all current PlayStation and Xbox consoles, as well as Nintendo Switch and PC.
EA also teased this week the next big sci-fi addition to the battle royale world of Apex Legends. The Apex Legends Emergence expansion arrives on Aug 3, bringing new ranked arenas and maps, as well as the newest Legend, the stealthy scan-and-track Seer, into its free-to-play fold. Check out EA’s Apex Legends Emergence landing page ahead of time — y'know, just to be double-sure your loadout is prepped and ready for launch.
Remember the Playdate, that cute little handheld system from Panic Inc. with its very own hand crank that was announced a couple of years back? Well, it’s getting closer to its actual play date, with pre-orders opening up for the quirky $179 device beginning July 29. In a handheld gaming world dominated by OLED screens and portable PCs that can play the latest cutting-edge AAA titles, the Playdate is definitely an odd duck with its back-to-basics approach to casual gaming. But with a retro price (and that unapologetically analog spinner, of course), that’s probably why we’re still intrigued. Spin on over to the Playdate FAQ page to bop in line ahead of next week’s pre-order countdown.