But enough of the Indie games. The countdown on stage has hit 10 seconds. Time to go.
Undermine PC, Xbox One, Switch. Release date: Early access in Summer 2019
A pixelated action-adventure roguelike, Undermine’s two-person team has created a game that blends the procedurally-generated rooms of Binding of Isaac with the aesthetics of Spelunky and the hot mining action of Stardew Valley. Each run sees you playing as a new peasant, tasked by a wizard to explore the caverns below your village in order to work out what is causing the dangerous earthquakes that shake your home. Each run will see you die, frequently fairly quickly, but still cart back enough resources to improve your next characters, powering up you pickaxes, boots and armour to endure more challenging tasks.
The game will feel familiar to roguelike fans – perhaps too familiar, if what you’re looking for is a whole new experience. But it has polish, and when it launches in early access on Steam this summer, expect it to pick up a following.
Spiritfarer Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC. Release date: Early 2020
This indie game, styled as “a cozy management game about dying”, was given a fairly hefty slot at Microsoft’s presser. It sees you playing as Stella, ferrymaster to the deceased, as she sails the sea of the dead, carting spirits to the beyond. That’s the “dying” part – but it’s the “cozy management game” that caught the eye of many.
The management part is the bulk of the gameplay: It tasks Stella with building vertically on her boat, to provide abodes for choosy spirits, land for growing crops on, kitchens for cooking meals in and, presumably, more besides. She can fish, farm and literally bottle lightning in order to gather the needed resources.
And then there’s the cozy. With its animated 2D look, Spiritfarer has charm in bucketloads. And, while the ten minute hands-on didn’t provide much of a look at the depth of the relationships between the cast, it did show the tone and feel, which is, well, cozy. There may be drama later in the plot, but one gets the sense that if Spiritfarer leaves you feeling anything but warm and fuzzy, the developers will be trying to work out what went wrong.
While we wait for Square Enix to start its conference, I’ll run you through a few smaller games on show at the convention that might not have hit headlines, but deserve some attention nonetheless.
Alex Hern here, signing on from Los Angeles and warming up my typing fingers for the Square Enix press conference which starts in just twenty minutes time.
We’ve already had some pretty major news from the company: a release date for the Final Fantasy VII Remake – and one much closer than anyone expected. During a concert of video game music last night, Square Enix announced that the long-awaited recreation of the PlayStation game will be arriving on March 3, 2020.
Ubisoft press conference ends
Okay, that’s me signing off. Technology editor Alex Hern will be back for all the Square Enix news at 6:00 PM PT / 2:00 AM BST. If either the Avengers or Final Fantasy float your boat, don’t miss it.
That’s it for the announcements. What an impressively broad selection of games that was.
Gods and Monsters announced, a new game from the makers of Assassin’s Creed
It’s a beautiful-looking game, this, heavily influenced by Breath of the Wild on first appearances, and by Greek mythology. It’s out February 25 2020.
He’s announcing a new project from Quebec. Assassin’s Creed producer Marc-Alexis Cote is here to show it off: “for years our minds have lingered on a different aspect of our history: mythology.”
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot is here to close things out, thanking the developers for their hard work. “At Ubisoft it is our intention to create games that make you stronger and happier in your life… we hope you will spend quality time with family and friends and meet new inspiring people, learn more about yourself by doing, and gain new perspective on the world, to help shape it.”
Do you wanna watch some people dancing? Here’s that 10 years of Just Dance video from earlier, if you need a little joy boost.
New roller derby multiplayer game announced
It’s called Roller Champions, a team-based sports game, and an alpha demo is available to play today. Love a good surprise release.
Looks like it’s time to learn about Ubisoft’s roller derby multiplayer game now. The trailer looks very cool, with Overwatch-style animated art.
Haha, it’s as if someone out there heard me. uPlay Plus will be partnering with Google’s Stadia streaming service from 2020.