#3 Quarantine the past

Oh, for something truly new to look forward to.

A slow news day today, so another experiment with the format. Hello to whoever subscribed yesterday! This is just me playing around with Substack to see how it fits, but thanks for getting in on… not even the ground floor, but before the foundations have even gone down. Do say hello in the comments, if you feel like it.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to happen since yesterday’s Hit Points was the surprise release of a PS5 update for The Last Of Us Part II. Supposedly the first update of many, the sole change is the most important one they could have made: 60 glorious frames per second. I’m personally excited about this because I played a few hours of TLOUII last year then dropped it, primarily because the real world was already bleak enough and I just didn’t need the extra misery. I’ve been looking for an excuse to go back and this will do nicely.

The first year of a new console generation is always a little quiet, something that’s been complicated even further this time around by a global pandemic. And while we wait for the shiny new stuff to show up, it is natural to turn back to the previous generation when something of note comes along. This time around the dividing lines between PS4 and PS5, and Xbox One and Xbox Series, have been blurred to the point of erasure by backwards compatibility, with software updates and system-level features bringing old games up more closely to modern standards.

Lovely as all this is, I do fear the industry as a whole is perhaps leaning a little too eagerly on the enduring pull of nostalgia. Remakes, remasters and re-releases are everywhere at the moment; a friend remarked the other day that, judging by the current release schedule, his favourite games of 2021 are going to be Mass Effect 2 and Grand Theft Auto V. Your best chance of success on Kickstarter these days is effectively to ask: “Remember that thing you like? We’re doing it again!” I woke this morning to news that Free Radical co-founders David Doak and Steve Ellis have formed a new studio under publisher Deep Silver in order to bring back Timesplitters. The most exciting thing happening in Destiny at the moment is the imminent return of its 2014 raid, Vault Of Glass. On and on it goes.

The industry’s renewed focus on backwards compatibility, and on freshening up old classics to today’s standards, is truly heartening. To see a hardcore curio like Demon’s Souls take centre stage at a console launch was wonderful; I will buy Grand Theft Auto V for the third time in November; and I will play The Last Of Us II on my PS5 as soon as my external HDD arrives from Amazon (that SSD sure fills up fast, eh). But all these things are perhaps more exciting than they should be because there’s precious little else around to quicken the pulse. It would be nice to have something new to look forward to, alongside all the new old stuff. E3, or whatever we’re calling it this year, can’t come soon enough.


  • Nvidia is putting a hash limiter on future editions of its 3000 series GPUs to make them less appealing to crypto miners, a bid to arrest a level of demand that saw secondary-market prices skyrocket. (Narrator’s voice, etc.)
  • Everywhere’s Geoff Keighley will return to the not-E3 stage — for the sake of clarity it is only E3 if I am in Los Angeles with my pals, nursing a slightly-too-early Old Fashioned — again next month with the Summer Games Fest 2021. For reasons unclear, Weezer are headlining the opening event.
  • Speaking of not-E3, Xbox’s Matt Booty has seemingly confirmed that this year’s Xbox conference will be a joint Xbox-Bethesda shindig, shutting down rumours Bethesda would be going it alone again despite the acquisition.
  • Days Gone’s senior creative team continue to take Sony declining to greenlight a sequel on the chin.
  • Housemarque’s stellar bullet-hell arcade game Returnal is being patched today, but there’s no sight of the save system players are calling for. (I reviewed this for Edge! Also I’m still bolding up Edge, apparently! It’s in the latest issue which is, conveniently enough, on sale today.)
  • Square Enix reckons it has its “next major franchise” after the shonky-but-enjoyable looter-shooter Outriders drew 3.5 million players in its first month. Maybe, sure, if all the sequels launch on Game Pass too.

That’ll do, I think. Bye!