Bonus Round: Ragnarök is coming

Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome back to Bonus Round, our roundup of the biggest gaming stories of the week. We got news on some of the hottest upcoming games this week, as well as news on some… not-so-hot ones. Let’s discuss!

God of War Ragnarök release date announced

After weeks of fevered speculation, including some classic harassment of developers by gamers, God of War Ragnarök finally has a release date. The next chapter in Kratos and Atreus’ journey will land on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on 9 November of this year.

Along with the new release date, Sony Santa Monica released a new CG trailer for Ragnarök, which you can see above. If I’m not mistaken, we’ve not seen any new gameplay footage since PlayStation’s State of Play event in September 2021. Expect that to change soon; we’re guaranteed to get at least one more gameplay deep dive before God of War Ragnarök finally arrives in November.

First announced in 2020, Ragnarök  was later delayed out of  its initial 2021 window into 2022. For a while, it seemed touch and go whether the game would make it out before the end of the year; there was plenty of speculation suggesting that Ragnarök might slip into 2023. 9 November is close to the last possible date this game could have been released on in 2022; publishers generally try to have their games out in time for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, with very few AAA titles getting released in December.

However, with Starfield getting delayed from its 11 November date, that week is now open and clear for Ragnarök to make a splash. The game is so hotly anticipated that you’d have to be stupid to release anything else that week, right?

Well, about that…

Skull and Bones washes ashore

Bizarrely launching just one day before Ragnarök is Skull and Bones. The pirate-themed game resurfaced this week after years of radio silence, with a Ubisoft stream showing off new gameplay and announcing a release date of 8 November.

Skull and Bones (then known as Skull & Bones, pour one out for that ampersand) first began development in 2013. 2013! Think about how different life was back then. Blurred Lines was topping the charts, Iron Man 3 was making boffo box office, and iPhones were still small enough to be operated with a single hand. The game originally started as a spin-off of the well-received naval combat in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag but has apparently been rebooted and restarted many times since then.

I’m not really sure who this game is for anymore. If single player exploration of the open sea is your thing, multiple Assassin’s Creed games have already offered that. Skull and Bones does offer player-versus-player multiplayer modes to spice things up, but this feels like an outdated offering compared to Sea of Thieves. That game has really come into its own since 2017, letting and lets players get their fix of pirate action with their buddies seamlessly dropping in and out of campaign gameplay.

If you’re not too busy with God of War Ragnarök, Skull and Bones is launching on 8 November on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC, as well as Stadia and Amazon Luna if you’re nasty.

Rockstar shifting resources towards GTA 6

Remember GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition? Released back in November of 2021, Rockstar touted the collection as, well, the definitive editions of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas. However, the reaction was (Italian guy’s voice) not so good-ah. I liked the collection more than most but the sheer volume of bugs and glitches present in the games was undeniable. The release seemed half-baked and underdone, forcing Rockstar to issue a mea culpa and pledge to fix the games in a series of patches.

That poor reception might have scared Rockstar off releasing remasters of Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV, according to industry leaker Tez2. Kotaku later corroborated this report, stating that Rockstar has paused work on these projects in order to shift development resources to GTA 6. Rockstar itself announced today that it’s effectively ending support of Red Dead Online in order to focus more on the new GTA. Whichever angle you come at it from, it seems that it’s full steam ahead for the next entry in the Grand Theft Auto series.

This news may come as a disappointment to some, particularly PlayStation players; due to the lack of backwards compatibility prior to PlayStation 4, it’s not possible to play Red Dead Redemption and GTA IV natively on PS4 or PS5. GTA 6 will launch in 2023 at the very earliest, but that’s a pretty optimistic scenario. If these reports are to be believed, you probably shouldn’t expect those RDR or GTA IV remasters until 2024/2025 – or maybe even later.

Still, it’s actually quite refreshing to see a developer shun the easy money of remasters and rereleases in favour of something new (albeit the latest entry in a mega-successful franchise). Rockstar surely knows that it could make a quick buck by rereleasing these games, but I think they were truly wounded by the release of The Definitive Edition; it was a huge blight on the reputation of a company normally known for polishing games to a fine sheen. Rockstar has something to prove now, which hasn’t been the case for a long time. Let’s hope that from that newfound fire, some killer games emerge.