In this week’s bulletin, we discuss a lot of stuff about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (duh), Skull & Bones, Nioh 2, LEGO Colosseum, History in Comic Books, Call of the Sea, Crusader Kings 3, the Inkulinati demo, DiGRA Italia Symposium, Project 007, Immortals Fenyx Rising, Play the Past and Nebuchadnezzar!
All things Valhalla
We can’t get around Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in the bulletin or streams (for the coming weeks I presume). Not a suprise of course, as the game is selling massively. In the UK, Valhalla was at the top of the Boxed Charts (gamesindustry.biz), selling more than Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War. Last week was massive for new games (and consoles), but Valhalla seems to outperform Call of Duty in physical sales. Ubisoft claimed that Valhalla is the biggest AC launch ever (Eurogamer), with the launch sales surpassing AC3’s record of 3,5 million copies sold digitally. This has also impacted the revenue generated by Ubisoft (and Valhalla only launching on their own store and Epic instead of Steam), as pointed out by Daniel Ahmad on Twitter.
However, something seemed off with the PC version of the game. Coinciding with the launch, Ubisoft had rebranded Uplay and Ubisoft Club into Ubisoft Connect (no one liked them anyway). But players noticed that Connect had no achievement tab, and were quick to realise that Valhalla also didn’t have achievements for PC players (PC Gamer). A shame of course, as achievements are cool. Luckily, Ubisoft announced that it had been a mistake and unintended, and are working on fixing the problem (Ubisoft Forums).
We cannot talk about Valhalla and not bring up some discussion about historical accuracy. For example, the games Viking Settlement in England – Ravensthorpe, it actually a real place (Eurogamer). It is purely coincidental, but amazing nonetheless. But today we’re also gonna talk about something else: horses. Simone de Rochefort (@doomquasar) of Polygon dove deeper into the world of historical horses, and there is a lot to tell. For example, Ubisoft have been using the same horse model for the games since Origins. This means that the horses you see in Origins are also the horses you see in Valhalla. Now I’m no expert on horses, but that seems highly unlikely to me as well: ‘Just this singular horse, appearing in Greece, Egypt, and now England and Norway, over the span of some 1,200 years.’ The piece is filled to the brim with interesting facts about horse history, but also discussions about how video games handle these kind of histories: animals have been instrumental in world history, but are often overlooked in video games! A very interesting read for sure.
Ubisoft remove Skull & Bones Managing Director from position
We might be done with Assassin’s Creed (kinda), we’re not done with Ubisoft. The company has been in some bad weather the latest months with accusations of workspace abusing and sexism coming from multiple points in the company. In August, research done by Gamasutra showed multiple instances of misconducts on all levels of Ubi operations. Now, the company has decided to remove Hugues Ricour (Kotaku), the Managing Director for Skull & Bones, from his position at Ubisoft Singapore. The game which is focussed around naval warfare in the 17th century (and is inspired by Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag) has seen some delay, cancellation and reboot since it’s original announcement in 2017. Ubisoft has not announced why Ricour has been removed from his position, but has stated that he is not fired, but will be relocated. More surely to follow.
Nioh 2 has an absurd Valve Helmet
If you’re into historical demon hack and slash, you’ll probably like Nioh 2. The game initially released on PS4 has been recently announced for PC, and is set to launch on the 5th of February 2021. With the launch comes an absurd RGB helmet complete with a valve (?) on the back. I honestly have no idea why, but it sounds and looks cool. Read more on the game and the absurd helmet on Rock Paper Shotgun.
We’ve been geeking out over some new releases by LEGO. You can, from next week, build the world famous Colosseum in LEGO. Yes, I’m not kidding. For about $550, you’ll get over 9000 pieces to build an Amphitheatrum Flavium. For the same money, you could buy a PS5, Xbox Series X or RTX 3070, but they are all out of stock, so you might as well buy the Colosseum! Interested? Read this review by CapnRex101 on Brickset.com: ‘anybody interested in the Classical period or Roman and Greek cultures, such as myself, will enjoy this model.’
History according to the Comic Book
Comic Books are not only about superheroes and other action filled stories, there are plenty of books covering history. Take the world famous Maus by Art Spiegelman about the Holocaust, or the books by Jaques Tardi, often about the First World War. But as time moves on, so do the comic books. More recent events, such as the protest at Tiananmen Square and the USA’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not often presented in comic books. David Carrier of Hyperallergic wrote a feature on new comic books (from 2020) which deal with more recent episodes of history, such as the protest, but also a modern queer history. Read the feature here!
Mystery adventure Call of the Sea launches this December
One of the games announced alongside the Xbox Series X and S was Call of the Sea, a mystery adventure game set in the 1930s. You explore a lush island paradise in the search for your missing husband. The game is set to release in just under a month, on the 8th of December! It’s artwork looks amazing, and we’re always up for some ancient civilization mystery story (so we might stream this one sometimes). Read more on Eurogamer.
Crusader Kings 3 sold more than 1 million copies
Yes, the latest release of Paradox Interactive’s Medieval Facebook Simulator has racked up over 1 million sales. This also means that Paradox’ revenue is being pushed up to over 100%. The recent years have been kind to the Swedish developers, with big hits such as Hearts of Iron IV, Cities: Skylines and Crusader Kings III building a big playerbase. Eventhough the 1 million is relatively small compared to other big games such as Valhalla and Black Ops Cold War, it is still massive for a strategy/RTS game. It seems that Paradox’ fanbase is growing even larger each year. Read more on PC Gamer.
Inkulinati Demo available
The absolutely cool-looking Inkulinati is in full development. The turn based strategy game is based around Marginalia, the drawings at the edges of medieval manuscripts. They can be seen as a sort of medieval memes. In september, the devs at Yaza Games made the demo available on Steam, but it has since been removed again. However, if you missed the chance to play the demo, you can now check it out over at GOG.com (it’s pretty good)!
DiGRA Italia Symposium vids online
The abstracts, presentations and videos of the online symposium Histories in/at Play: Debate on Historical Game Studies hosted by the Digital Games Research Association Italia are now all available online at DiGRA Italia! Check out some cool presentations on various video game and history topics!
Hitman dev IO announces James Bond game
The developers of the Hitman series have announced they are working on the next James Bond game, to be called Project 007! A topic which has seen both succes and failure (more of the latter unfortunately), but the devs of Hitman must have a good idea what to do with the world famous spy. They are also still working on Hitman 3, set to be released in January 2021. Check out the (already iconic) announcement trailer for Project 007 below or read more on Eurogamer!
Going From Assassin’s Creed To Immortals Fenyx Rising
Immortals Fenyx Rising has already been featured in this Bulletin. The game is still in development, but is made by the same studio behind Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft Quebec). Brian Shea of Gameinformer had an interview with the devs, and specifically asked what made them make Immortals, and how the switch is from AC to a more mythical game. Game director Scott Phillips told Shea: ‘Actually it would be quite cool if we can break those historical bonds and just go full force into mythology.’ Cool things, but to quote Doc Random: ‘I thought they were breaking those bonds in Odyssey already’. Read more on Gameinformer.
The Story of Play the Past
Some of you who have been here for a longer time might know Play the Past, a collaboratively edited and authored website dedicated to thoughtfully exploring and discussing the intersection of cultural heritage and games/meaningful play. Gilles Roy just wrote a feature on how Play the Past came into existence. It’s a nice view into the reasoning behind research into video games and the past, and a good reminder for all of us why it is so cool to research this stuff!
Nebuchadnezzar is a Mesopotamian mouthful
Love isometric city-builders like Pharaoh? Then you’ll like Nebuchadnezzar a city-builder coming to us on 17 February 2021. Even though being developed 20 years later, it does look quite much like the famous other isometric builders such as Pharaoh and Caesar. Read more on PC Gamer.
Our content of the week
We also have been busy. This week, Martine Mussies (presented at TIPCO2) posted an In Depth article about her early creations of video games. Read the piece here. Our lovely intern TimesnewRoman also created another video for the Exploring Imperator Rome series. Check it out below!