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The Week in Gaming: Ghost of Tsushima haunts PS5, PlayStation Studios grows, new Star Wars & more

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Jul 2, 2021, 11:03 AM EDT

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!

Maybe it’s the upcoming holiday weekend, but this is one of those mostly quiet, in-between kind of weeks when it comes to video games. There aren’t a lot of huge new releases this week, as studios continue to wrest mileage from their recent big announcements by dropping more detailed info on all the fun stuff they revealed during last month’s E3.

But a week with no new games doesn’t mean no new news, though. Missing once again from E3 this year, Sony has used the ensuing weeks to make news on its own terms, revealing this week a pair of big studio pickups. PlayStation also just unveiled a major new upgrade and expansion for one of last year’s best (and most visually stunning) games, all the better to shadow its imminent arrival for the PlayStation 5.

PlayStation on YouTube

Yep, we’re talking about the ongoing samurai island adventures of stealthy anti-hero Jin Sakai. Sony announced this week that Ghost of Tsushima is stalking onto PlayStation in a new expanded director’s cut — one that’ll come with an all-new area to explore, new gameplay features (including mystical communion with monkeys!), and a slew of performance boosts for the visually upgraded PS5 version.

Iki island, a relative shuriken’s throw away from the location of the base game, will be the new haunting grounds for Jin’s growing ghostly legend. “In this new story, Jin travels to the island to investigate rumors of a Mongol presence. But soon, he finds himself caught up in events with deeply personal stakes that will force him to relive some traumatic moments from his past,” Sucker Punch’s Andrew Goldfarb shared at the PlayStation Blog, teasing “tons of new content including brand-new environments to explore, new armor for Jin as well as his horse, new mini-games, new techniques, new enemy types, and much more.”

PS5 players will be treated to a new-gen version of one of the prettiest games ever to grace a console, including new haptic feedback and adaptive trigger feedback for the DualSense controller, as well as enhancements to 3D audio, “drastically improved” load times (which weren’t at all bad on the PS4), a framerate target of 60 FPS, and new 4K resolution options.

Sucker Punch is keeping a lid on how the story will evolve Jin’s journey, though Sony notes that the new Iki Island content will show up after you’ve moved through the first one-third of the three-part game, coming right at the start of Act 2. Players who already own the PS4 version can upgrade to the PS5 Director’s Cut for $29.99; nabbing the PS5 version brand new will set you back $69.99. Check out the full details at the PlayStation Blog, while we wait to follow the foxes to new lands when Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut releases on Aug. 20.

 

Sony grows its studio stable

Add at least one more big-name studio to the list of game makers who’ll be getting the “PlayStation Studios” splash screen treatment. Fresh off the breakout success of sci-fi shooter Returnal, Finnish studio Housemarque has been acquired by Sony to develop future PlayStation exclusives in the vein of recently released, PS5-only hit.

“Housemarque’s recent release of Returnal proves the studio is one with incredible vision, capable of creating memorable new games that resonate with our community,” PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst said in Sony’s blog post announcement. Housemarque cofounder Ilari Kuittinen also confided to GQ that the studio is already ramping up its ambitions beyond Returnal, a procedurally generated space survival fest that challenged players — and wowed critics.

“Certainly Returnal is kind of a stepping stone for us,” he said. “When we’re thinking about the future titles, they’ll maybe be even bigger and even more ambitious.”

Sony also announced another studio pickup this week: Dutch PC-porting masters Nixxes Software. Though the name may be unfamiliar, Nixxes’ behind-the-scenes work isn’t: The Netherlands-based studio is responsible for creating super-clean PC ports of big Square Enix names like Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, as well as optimizing console titles like Marvel’s Avengers.

While the new studio pickup didn’t come with an accompanying announcement of any new game projects, it’s safe to say that PC players — who’ve long clamored for a chance to pick up PlayStation exclusives like Bloodborne, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and The Last of Us Part II — now have a better-than-ever shot at eventually getting their wish.

New Star Wars story for The Old Republic

It’s been 10 years since BioWare Austin transformed the galaxy far, far away into a massively multiplayer online RPG with Star Wars: The Old Republic. And it’s been since 2019’s Onslaught expansion that players have gotten their hands on a substantial update.

That’ll soon change with the upcoming launch of Legacy of the Sith, a just-announced new chapter that’ll be warping to The Old Republic later this year. Bringing a trove of new dark-side story content, the new update marks “a major expansion that will kick off an exciting new time for the critically-acclaimed MMORPG,” the development team revealed at the official Star Wars website.

Legacy of the Sith will continue the game’s storyline, sending players on a military campaign to secure the aquatic planet Manaan for their faction as they uncover the ultimate plan of Darth Malgus, the renegade Sith,” Lucasfilm teased, adding that the expansion also will come with a new class-blending feature, overhauls to combat, and more flexible character customization “than ever before.”

The expansion also introduces redesigned combat styles, a new feature that blends class abilities and an array of quality-of-life upgrades. Combat styles will allow players to independently choose a specific class story and combine it with ability sets from other related tech or Force-wielding classes. There’s no firm launch date, but expect Legacy of the Sith to make its sinister way to Star Wars: The Old Republic sometime this holiday season.

 

Spare parts...

MARVEL Future Revolution on YouTube

— Pre-registration is now live for Marvel Future Revolution, the upcoming free-to-play successor to the Netmarble-published Marvel: Future Fight. “Starring an array of world-famous characters and featuring an original storyline and AAA-quality 3D graphics, Marvel Future Revolution will immerse players in a gorgeous open world jam-packed with high-stakes action as they serve as the first line of defense to save the universe,” Netmarble teases in its release. Featuring two-team battles that can field up to 10 players each (that's a whole lot of Avengers), Marvel Future Revolution arrives for iOS and Android devices later this year.

FINAL FANTASY on YouTube

— For a lot of younger Final Fantasy fans, the sprawling RPG franchise begins with Final Fantasy VII and steams forward to the present day, where we wait for Square Enix’s next progress report on the next-gen FF XVI. But diving deep into the series’ historic roots has never been easier, thanks to the upcoming launch of NES-era greats Final Fantasy I, II, and III in pixel-remastered versions for PC (via Steam) and mobile devices. “The pixel remaster series brings all the magic of the originals combined with quality-of-life upgrades while staying faithful to the retro design of these masterpieces,” Square Enix teased in its announcement. Watch for the trio of early FF titles to arrive on July 29.

—Supernatural sci-fi shooter Control turned heads when it debuted as a new IP in 2019, and now developer Remedy Games is planning a big expansion of the matter-bending journey that protagonist Jesse Faden started. Via IGN, Remedy revealed this week that a four-player multiplayer Control spin-off is in the works, and also shared plans for a full-scale single-player game follow-up to be set within the newly widening Control universe. No release date has been teased for either title, though the multiplayer game is being billed as a co-op game that'll pit teams of players against the paranormal wiles of their environment.

Death Stranding may be headed to the PS5, but Hideo Kojima’s next game could be a joint venture with Microsoft. Details are super-slim so far, but VentureBeat reports that Kojima and Microsoft “have signed a letter of intent” to hammer out the terms for publishing a new game. “The point of the partnership,” the report states, “is to unlock the creativity of Kojima Productions using Microsoft’s technology as opposed to greenlighting a specific pitch.”

—Need to catch up on a game you missed the first time out? Sony has just revealed its July lineup of new additions for PlayStation Plus subscribers, a trio that includes the dystopian medieval adventure A Plague Tale: Innocence (PS5 version only), Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and WWE 2K Battlegrounds. The trio arrives to the PS Plus service at no extra cost starting July 6, and will remain available through Aug. 2.

— While we’re at it, check out the quartet of free games heading to Xbox Live Games with Gold this month, headlined by the platforming adventures of a squirrel who’s perpetually down on his luck. Conker: Live & Reloaded joins Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break, Planet Alpha, and Midway Arcade Origins in the rotating lineup of free games coming to the service this month. Check out the official Xbox Wire landing page for all the time-restricted details.