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!
Along with a small handful of seemingly evergreen gaming powerhouses like Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft, Bethesda’s fifth entry in the iconic The Elder Scrolls series is one of those games that’s remained brand new in the hearts of millions of players — despite having first released almost ten years ago.
A decade’s a long time in gaming years, but the swells of composer Jeremy Soule’s sweeping Skyrim score are about to wash over the new generation of gaming consoles in a next-gen enhanced upgrade to Skyrim Special Edition, as well as an even bigger tenth anniversary edition, both of which Bethesda announced as part of this week’s virtual QuakeCon.
Before we dive further, here's the studio looking back at Skyrim’s development and the pop culture sensation it would go on to create — from the “arrow in the knee” memes it inspired to that very first cart ride with Ulfric Stormcloak:
Following in the footsteps of previous Skyrim bundles that compiled all the game’s post-release DLC into one tidy package, the new version of Skyrim Special Edition will emerge this year on Nov. 11, the very day the original RPG sent the Dragonborn on an epic quest across Tamriel’s forbidding northernmost province. It’ll come as a free upgrade for anyone who already owns the Special Edition version that first debuted in 2016.
That means new and returning players will be getting the same remastered art and effects, 4K native resolution, and other graphical goodies as before, plus the ability, for the first time ever, to take out the tackle and try your hand at fishing in the clear waters of Lake Ilinalta or off the craggy northern coasts beneath Solitude. Yep, fishing is just one of three new perks coming with the new edition’s trio of Creation Club add-ons: a “Survival Mode and even new quests with Saints and Seducers,” writes Bethesda Softworks content manager Parker Wilhelm, are the others.
As Bethesda’s Ashley Cheng also explains in the video, going fishing just feels like the kind of Skyrim survival job the Dragonborn’s always been cut out for: “You’re running around the world, exploring the wilderness, you don’t have to dive in the water and click blindly anymore, you can now grab a fishing pole, do some fishing quests. It’s a great addition to the game, it’ll be free to everyone, and it really adds to the immersion of the world.”
Creation Club is Bethesda’s way of engaging the robust modding community that’s organically sprung around The Elder Scrolls (as well as Fallout), with player-made content mods that rise to the top receiving official Bethesda sanction and becoming available as in-game add-ins. And if the upgraded Special Edition doesn’t bundle enough new loot to entice you back to Tamriel, the studio’s also planning another new Skyrim release that’ll include more than 500 pieces of Creation Club content: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition will arrive with everything from the Special Edition, plus a trove of Creation Club additions that range from new items, weapons, and spells, to completely new quests, dungeons, and bosses. It's "the most definitive version of Skyrim to date," teased Wilhelm.
Since it first appeared for the Xbox 360 and PS3 all those years ago, Skyrim has been eclipsed by newer open-world RPGs — in map size, in immersive graphics, and even in the Hrothgar-high count of its mind-bogglingly huge number of side quests and diversions. But for countless players who’ve taken that first step from early-game captivity toward a self-styled adventure that seemingly has no end, it’s an experience like no other; one that feels like coming home for the holidays every time you dive back in, where the pluck of Soule's orchestral strings never fail to transport you back to Tamriel's boundless icy realm.
It feels right, then, that the two new versions are coming just in time for the holidays this year. Both the next-gen boosted version of Skyrim: Special Edition as well as the Skyrim Anniversary Edition are set to debut on Nov. 11 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. After that, let the speculation resume once more for the still-mysterious sixth installment in The Elder Scrolls series, which Bethesda has remained silent on since first teasing at 2018’s E3.
QuakeCon brings back the Quake
Is that an old-school 1990s Trent Reznor soundtrack you hear? Why, yes it is. Not content to let Skyrim steal all the spotlight, Bethesda kicked off QuakeCon this week by announcing a modern-day remaster of the fest’s namesake 1996 title. Better yet, the 2021 version of Quake won’t require a wait, because the spiffed-up version was made available as soon as the announcement went out.
The enhanced new edition of Quake brings the amped-up FPS medieval shooter to life for pretty much every platform you could want, plus all the expansion packs that followed the original’s release. Bethesda’s in-house Machine Games studio (Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus) is also throwing in a pair of completely new campaign additions, with full online and local multiplayer for the entire package, as well as co-op play that includes cross-play support for players across all platforms.
Bethesda’s also promising native 4K support for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles in the near future. In all, the new version of Quake is available for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC — and PC players who’ve already nabbed Quake via Steam will be able to upgrade to the enhanced version at no additional cost.
Metroid Dread powers up the mystery
We’re less than two months from the release of Metroid Dread, but Nintendo is just now teasing a mysterious new twist with the first of two trailers that take aim at Samus’ story. “In the second half of this video, why is Samus wearing a different suit than the one she started with?” the Big N teases, pledging that the pieces will fall into place when a second story trailer drops on Aug. 27.
For those who can’t wait a week for the answer, Nintendo at least offered up a few clues about Samus’ Dread abilities, which of course include classic go-tos like the morph ball, as well as her arm cannon’s beam attacks and missiles. New, though, is the melee counter ability, allowing Samus “to stun an enemy by striking it right as it’s about to attack,” as well as tapping a “mystical energy called Aeion” that opens up temporary powers like the invisibility-bestowing Phantom Cloak.
As for the wardrobe shift? We’ll just have to wait. Watch for the Aug. 27 update, then start practicing your double-jumps for the Oct. 8 arrival of Metroid Dread for Nintendo Switch.
Life is Strange: True Colors first gameplay
Coming even sooner is Life is Strange: True Colors, the next installment in the Square Enix series that brings a slice of supernatural insight to new protagonist Alex Chen’s real-world life. SE and developer Deck Nine unloaded a 13-minute gameplay trailer for True Colors this week, showing off the environs around Alex's seemingly chilled-out Haven Springs haunts (including an appearance by a familiar character from the series’ past.)
Innately gifted with the psychic power of Empathy, Alex can sense the emotional auras of Haven Springs’ denizens, using the additional insight to gain their trust before they even have to speak a word. Once she’s absorbed enough of an aura, Alex is “transported into the unique emotional world” of other characters and sleuth out the hidden clues that hold the keys to their conundrum, teases SE.
Distinct from previous Life is Strange titles, Life is Strange: True Colors will arrive all at once as a complete game, rather than in bite-sized story episodes. Watch for Alex to show off her psychic skills when True Colors arrives for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and PC on Sept. 10 — with a Nintendo Switch release also planned for later this year.
Ghost of Tsushima sets sail for Iki Island
Ghost of Tsushima is all set to go island hopping with the release of the new Director’s Cut version, which expands last year’s original story with a fresh chapter that sends Jin Sakai across the waves — and into his own past — on the shores of Iki Island. The new content opens up the island as a new explorable map area, along with a quest line that essentially expands the base game’s three-act structure by adding an entirely new “Act,” reportedly (via IGN) clocking in at twelve hours (or more) of new playtime. Dive back into Sucker Punch’s lavish tale of salvation in feudal Japan starting today; Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is available now for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.