Bonus Round: Shaken, Not Stirred

Happy New Year, everyone! Yes, I know it’s nearly February, but it’s the first Bonus Round of 2023 and I’m going to wish you a Happy New Year anyway. And if you’ve got a problem with that, I’d like to see you fuckin’ try to stop me. Anyway, in comparison to January 2022 when Microsoft announced its intention to purchase Activision Blizzard, this month has been light on bombshell news. But with a new Xbox event and a 2023 packed with big releases, things are slowly starting to ramp up. Let’s get into it!

Screenshot from GoldenEye 007

GoldenEye 007 released on Switch and Xbox

The mere mention of GoldenEye 007 will make many gamers of a certain age misty-eyed. The Nintendo 64 game, originally released in 1997, has always been a mainstay of childhood bedrooms and university dormitories. There has always been a huge appetite for GoldenEye rerelease, but rights issues have made that impossible. That is, until today

We learned in September that Nintendo and Xbox have been working together to cut through the red tape and release GoldenEye 007 on modern consoles. Now, they’ve made good on that promise. As of today, GoldenEye is available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. You can’t buy the game à la carte; to play it, you need to be subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pak or Xbox Game Pass.

Interestingly, the Nintendo Switch version of GoldenEye boasts a few extra features. While the Xbox version is restricted to splitscreen multiplayer, Switch players can toss razor-tipped bowler hats at each other via online play. Switch players can also toggle between widescreen and 4:3 views if they want to truly recreate the experience of playing GoldenEye on a boxy square television.

I played GoldenEye at a barcade relatively recently and if I’m being honest, it was a discombobulating experience. After years of training on twin analog sticks, going back to the N64’s wacky three-pronged controller felt totally alien. I played five minutes of the Xbox version earlier today, though, and I’m pleased to say that GoldenEye feels a lot better with dual stick controls.

Many shooters have come and gone since 1997 that are objectively better games than GoldenEye, both functionally and visually. But nostalgia is a powerful drug and for many people, those warm fuzzy memories mean more than photorealistic graphics ever could. I sincerely hope those gamers find what they’ve been waiting for with this rerelease.

Screenshot from Redfall

Redfall gets a release date

Xbox and Bethesda held a Developer Direct event on Wednesday night, and I have to admit, I found it a little underwhelming. I was hoping for a slew of new trailers and announcements, but it turned out that the event was very specifically focused on just five games. Of course, I later realised that Xbox had communicated this information ahead of time, and I’d have known not to get my hopes up too much had I paid a modicum of attention. That’s my mistake, but all I can say is that I’m just a simple man who’s trying his best in this crazy, crazy world.

Anyway, one of those games was Redfall, the new co-op vampire shooter from Dishonored and Deathloop developer Arkane Studios. We got an extended look at the game in action, as well as a shiny new release date: Tuesday 2 May. The game will be available at no extra cost for Game Pass subscribers, of course.

Redfall looks like a lot of fun, particularly if you’ve got a squad of buddies to play with. I’m less interested in Redfall itself, though, and more in what its release date means for Bethesda Softworks’ Starfield. Last year, Xbox announced that it was delaying both Redfall and Starfield into ‘the first half of 2023’. A May release date sits comfortably in that timeframe, but Xbox likely won’t want to release Starfield within a couple months either side of Redfall. Could we see it slip into the late summer or autumn? I think that’s starting to look very possible.

The Last of Us pilot released for free

It’s possible you’re already among the many people currently watching HBO’s TV adaptation of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. If you’re not, you should really check it out; the show is pretty much a masterclass in how to do video game adaptations right.

The writing team (which includes game director Neil Druckmann) aren’t at all ashamed of the source material, keeping the spirit of the game intact. At the same time, they’ve not been afraid to make changes to the story based on the differing needs of a new medium. Only two episodes have aired so far but I think we’re in for a great season of television. (In fact, it won’t just be one season; as I was typing this very post, Naughty Dog announced that the show has been renewed for a second outing)

Currently, the only way to watch the show is to subscribe to Sky or Now TV. I imagine that you’ll be able to buy the show à la carte, digitally or physically, very soon, but I also think it’s good enough to be worth subscribing to one of these services for a couple months.

But you no longer have to take my word for it! The pilot of The Last of Us has now been officially released to YouTube. That means you’re free to watch it on your phone, your smart TV, or even in your dang desktop browser Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, I think this story is worth your time, so I encourage you to check out the first episode and see for yourself.