Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to Bonus Round, our weekly look at some of the week’s biggest gaming news stories. Today’s a little bit special: this very edition of Bonus Round is the 100th post on Average Joe Games! For anyone who has read our reviews, news, or opinions over the last year, thank you so much for joining us.
Let’s get into this week’s news. And what a leaky week it’s been!
If you’re wondering why Ubisoft made this semi-announcement now and didn’t just wait until next weekend, well, they didn’t really have a choice. The game has suffered extensive leaks, beginning in February when Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier revealed a wealth of information about the title (including it’s now-defunct codename, Assassin’s Creed Rift). According to Schreier, Mirage will star Assassin’s Creed Valhalla character Basim in a smaller and more stealth-focused game than recent entries in the series.
Then, this week, YouTuber j0nathan released a video reporting even more details, including the now-confirmed title. Rift will apparently take place Badghdad, somewhere around 860, and will be something of a back to basics title. j0nathan also claimed that the game is set for release in spring of 2023, and that there will be multiple cities in the game. Schreier chimed in, claiming that some details of j0nathan’s report are true (such as the title, release date, and stripped down approach) but that some aren’t (such as cities other than Baghdad). Based on his track record for accurate reporting, I’m inclined to trust Jason Schreier on this one, but I guess we’ll find out either way on 10 September.
More recent Assassin’s Creed games have become more like RPGs than stealth games, complete with enormous open worlds, levelling systems and branching dialogue. I really like some of these games – Origins and Odyssey in particular – but it’s hard to deny that the series has strayed from its roots. Valhalla was the highest-earning game in the franchise’s history, so this new approach clearly isn’t turning off gamers at large. But I bet there’ll be a lot of fans of classic Assassin’s Creed who’ll be champing at the bit for a new game that focuses on, y’know, actually assassinating people.
Microsoft has now officially announced the Xbox Game Pass Friends & Family plan, which allows groups of up to five players in Ireland and Colombia to pay one reduced subscription fee. The only restriction, it seems, is that members of a Friends & Family plan must all live in the same country. The service will cost €21.99 per month in Ireland, and 49,900 COP in Colombia. Availability or pricing for other territories hasn’t yet been announced, but we can probably safely assume the plan will roll out more widely before too long.
Allowing friends to club together for a shared subscription is somewhat rare; many other subscription services like Spotify Premium only make their family plans available to members of the same household. And if you can get four other friends or family members to split the cost, it makes the price of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate a steal; a month’s subscription for a single player in Ireland costs €21.99. This is an aggressive move from Microsoft, which is hellbent on getting as many people signed up for Xbox Game Pass as humanly possible. With prices like this, they’ll probably get there.
Logitech didn’t reveal many details at the time but this week, we got what appears to be a first look at the unnamed device thanks to Twitter leaker Evan Blass. The images (which have since been removed from Twitter) show a handheld with a white casing that looks a whole lot like a Nintendo Switch.
The app icons on the console’s homescreen include Xbox, GeForce NOW, Steam, and interestingly, Google Play. If this device has access to Google Play services, it might conceivably be capable of natively playing any game you’d find on an Android phone. There are some very popular games like Call of Duty Mobile, Diablo Immortal and Genshin Impact that I bet a lot of gamers would be interested in playing on a dedicated handheld console. Of course, until some more details are officially announced, the Google Play and Steam icons could be nothing more than pie-in-the-sky examples of potential apps for a mock-up image.
I have to say, I think this thing looks pretty cool. I’ve been considering getting a Backbone or a Razer Kishi so I can stream games to my phone more comfortably, but I’d love to not have to use my phone at all. Depending on what the price ends up being, I might give this handheld some consideration.