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The Week in Gaming: The PS5 & Xbox countdown is on! Plus Miles Morales, spooky games & more

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Oct 23, 2020, 10:58 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!

Here in the waning days of a still very much alive current console generation, things are getting a little crazy. With less than three weeks to go before Microsoft kicks things off with the Nov. 10 launch of the Xbox Series X/S, securing an online pre-order for any flavor of both the PlayStation 5 (out Nov. 12) and the new Xbox is still, even for most fans with cash in hand, a frustrating speed-run into a brick wall.

Players’ excitement for the new machines, as well as the games that’ll be coming with them, is obviously through the roof. New supply is getting snatched up almost as soon as it goes live on one retailer’s site or another, even as Sony’s PS5 peripherals — you know, things like the Pulse 3D wireless headset, HD camera, and dedicated remote — are beginning to trickle out ahead of the main event.

Sony’s official PS5 teardown video earlier this month confirmed one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the console itself — that players will be able to remove and replace its standard white faceplate panels. On cue, it only took until this week for at least one third-party maker to go ahead an get an early start on the customization frenzy to come: a company called PlateStation5 will sell you a blue, red, black, or metallic replacement set for $39.99, and it’s only a matter of time before others join the party.

PlayStation on YouTube

The mainstream appetite for the new consoles is palpable, and Sony fans especially are devouring every new piece of PS5 info they can lay their eyes on. That teardown video? Sony’s official YouTube version has now been viewed nearly 9 million times. A separate Sony clip showing the PS5’s new screen interface — which heavily evolves the PS4’s scrolling card lineup to add a new “Control Center” feature and an “Activities” section that allows you to preview specific parts of a game before diving in — has been viewed more than 11 million times.

With movie theaters still in limbo as big releases continue to bump farther down the calendar, interest in screen entertainment at home is at an all-time high…and the buzz surrounding the imminent start of new generation of gaming has definitely surged higher, at least in part, to fill that void. A lot of players end up relying on their consoles for more than just games, of course, and this week, Sony revealed the launch-day rollout of entertainment and media apps that’ll ship with their curvy white box. Notably absent are apps for Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, CBS All Access, and Peacock — all services that the PS4 supports — though it’s not tough to correctly guess that downloadable post-launch versions of most of those are likely in the works.

As it stands, Sony says at the PlayStation Blog that Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, MyCanal, “and more” are coming later, but doesn’t specifically mention CBS All Access or HBO Max. From day one, though, keeping your PS5 switched on when you aren’t actually gaming will let you tap Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Twitch, Spotify, and — in a Sony first — Apple TV, all of which will have their own dedicated apps accessible from the main PS5 startup screen. Sony says the new Apple TV app will be coming to the PS4 as well.

PlayStation on YouTube

As for the Xbox Series X/S, things are a bit simpler, thanks to Microsoft’s more open-ended ecosystem, which allows players to download pretty much any app that’s been developed for its device-agnostic Universal Windows Platform. Aside from Apple TV, most of the entertainment apps you could ever want are already in place at the Microsoft Store, so there should be no issue with signing in and cherry-picking your favorites once your new Xbox is plugged in and ready to go.

Both consoles have launch-day game lineups that surpass what players have come to expect from a new console, and each company’s approach to backwards compatibility, while different, assures that players won’t lack for fresh-feeling experiences even if they start out with nothing more than the hardware itself. Upcoming cross-platform releases like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077 would already have fans lining up to play, even if they weren’t timed to arrive close to the new machines. But being able to cross the sea as Eivor or wheel around in Night City’s neon-lit streets as V feels like a cutting-edge experience no matter which generation you use as your starting point.

With these (and most other) games getting the free-upgrade treatment, anyone who springs for a copy of a new AAA title anytime in the near future can feel like they’re investing in a game library that’ll be there whenever they actually do manage to finally snag a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S…even if it’s well after that fateful second week in November, which can’t get here soon enough.

The best of the rest

All the Miles Morales news that's fit to print

Speaking of building up your next-gen library, there’s probably no bigger launch-day game heading our way than Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Developer Insomniac has been spinning new mini-stories for the PlayStation exclusive to help expand the in-game lore before Peter Parker’s New York successor drops in next month, and the growing series of web comics it’s been releasing online under the revived Daily Bugle Now banner is turning into a fun, daily-edition style reel of Miles Morales “news” that has us actually looking forward to each new installment.

While it’s not technically a daily (there’ve been five editions so far), each new Bugle update weaves a new tale about some aspect of the game’s comics-based characters, setting, and story. The latest issue slings up a look at two of the new Spidey-suits Miles will be sporting in the game: the hood-shrouded “Athletic Suit” (think of it as super-powered track gear for your friendly neighborhood hero), and an outfit that’s actually called the “T.R.A.C.K. Suit” — a sporty new spin on Spidey’s classic onesie.

Ghost of Tsushima gets spooky

Sucker Punch isn't billing it as a Halloween-themed add-on. But to our eyes, the big new update to Ghost of Tsushima; one that lets players jump into the mythic underworld of feudal Japan, feels like a ghost story dark enough to raise the dead.

Bringing a supernaturally-tinged new dimension to the main game, which only hinted at the latent spirits and hidden worlds that suffused Jin Sakai's journey, the Ghost of Tsushima: Legends expansion adds more to the base game than co-op gameplay and new raid events. There’s a dark new vibe to Legends’ storyline and character classes inspired by Japanese mythology. Where Jin spent the incredible single-player story trying his best to stay on the straight-and-narrow path of honor, loading out in Legends as a samurai, assassin, hunter, or ronin now comes with the option of looking positively demonic as you katana your way through enemies.

PlayStation on YouTube

Aside from giving players its most original and well-realized game world to date, Sucker Punch has dropped all this new mystical goodness as a completely free, ongoing series of updates that anyone who already owns the game can jump into at any time. The raids are timed events, with the first one — The Tale of Iyo — set to kick off on Oct. 30. But the game is also getting support in the form of weekly challenges, with a new 2-player story and separate survival missions rolling out each Friday.

As a breakout PlayStation hit, Ghost of Tsushima had players clamoring for a sequel long before Jin entered his first blood-red Ghost Stance to unleash terror on the Mongol hordes. While neither Sony nor Sucker Punch have made any official announcements, this week the studio put out the call that it’s recruiting a narrative writer with “knowledge of feudal Japanese history” for an unspecified project (and if this article were a text message, here’s where the looky-loo eyes emoji would go.) Until we hear more, we’ll be frolicking around in Legends’ haunted landscape — happy that so much ghostly goodness came our way with a game that might just be a franchise starter.

 

Spare parts

PlayStation on YouTube

- If you’re the kind of Halloween fan who drifts toward devils and fire instead of cute costumes and candy comas, there’s probably no better game than DOOM Eternal to get your hellish fix. Bethesda and id Software are one cloven-hoofed step ahead of the season with the arrival of The Ancient Gods — Part One, the first fiery salvo in a new season of DLC. Featuring three new levels and a new storyline (but who’re we kidding — this is all about mowing down the demonic denizens of the bad place), DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods — Part One is available now as a $19.99 standalone add-on, or as part of a larger $29.99 season pass.

 

PlayStation on YouTube

- While we’re skulking around in Halloween-adjacent horror, check out the launch trailer for Amnesia: Rebirth, Frictional Games’ successor to the much-praised (and feared) Amnesia: The Dark Descent. We’ve spent some time in this one, and the survival scares this time around definitely take you to some unexpected places — and Rebirth is all the better for it. The game’s gotten good reviews since its Oct. 20 launch, but tread carefully if you pick up a copy for PS4, Xbox One, or PC — those dark corners hide secrets you can’t unsee.

 

Nintendo on YouTube

- Never one to let a good holiday go to waste, Fortnite is back this Halloween with a new Fortnitemares timed event that haunts the Island with the ghost of your fallen avatar. Fortnitemares 2020: Midas’ Revenge unspools a new story centered on Shadow Midas, who’s taken over the Authority with a thirst to — you guessed it — turn everyone into shadows. Getting eliminated in-game means coming back as a shadow during the event, which runs until Nov. 3. At least when you come back as a ghost, you show up with special spooky powers — just be sure to put them to good use.

 

PlayStation on YouTube

- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is almost here, and Ubisoft has just unveiled its post-launch plans beyond the game’s Nov. 10 release date. The first Season Pass will feature a pair of major expansions coming next year, with the first round of DLC arriving in December with seasonal events like the Viking Yule Festival (how fun does that sound?), raid events, and an expanded way to grow your settlements beyond the base game. A second season is already planned for March of next year, and best of all, it’s all free to anyone who owns the game. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sets sail for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

 

- Kojima fans rejoice: We all but knew Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima was working on something new as a followup to Death Stranding. But until this week, we only had a handful of cryptic tweets — some of which seemed to veer toward horror — to keep us intrigued. Thanks to a new Twitter call from Kojima Productions for “best in class” development talent, now we at least know a new game is officially in the works…though we still don’t know what it’ll be. Could that never-made Silent Hills collaboration with Guillermo del Toro see new life beyond its Konami days? We can hope — though we'll gladly take anything Kojima may be cooking up. 

- Looking for a deal on something you missed the first time around? The Epic Games Store is running a Halloween sale that features some steep discounts on big names like Red Dead Redemption II and Death Stranding, as well as tons of titles that fall between the $20-$30 price point — at least while the sale sticks around. Check out everything that’s up for grabs at Epic’s landing page.

- We don’t know when Mass Effect will be getting the kind of carefully-curated remaster treatment that’s breathed amazing new life into classics like Final Fantasy VII and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 — but we at least know EA and Bioware appear to be on track to share more news about what’s coming, likely with a 2021 arrival date. The Mass Effect Legendary Edition may be one of the worst-kept secrets in gaming right now, but for fans of the groundbreaking RPG and its sequels (yes, we’re even counting the oft-maligned Mass Effect 3 here), it’s one with a near-infinite shelf life. Check out our deeper dive into the history of the series here, while we wait for Bioware — we hope — to finally make things official.

 

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