What to Expect in Gaming in 2023: Diablo IV, Spider-Man 2 Launch, Microsoft’s Challenges with Acquiring Activision, and More

We are only in the middle of 2023, and this year has already proven to be exceptional for the gaming industry. One highly anticipated release, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, has taken us to new heights in the breathtaking Sky Islands, allowing gamers to explore and create intricate contraptions. Hogwarts Legacy, another notable title, has sold over 12 million copies within just two weeks of its release, immersing players in an ancient version of the magical castle to learn the arts of witchcraft and wizardry. The year has also seen significant updates to beloved classics like Dead Space and Resident Evil 4, and fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel to the Final Fantasy VII Remake in early 2024.

The cancellation of the E3 event in June had minimal impact on the gaming announcements. Publishers adapted to the situation by presenting their showcases online. The biggest presentations came from Playstation and Xbox. Playstation showcased 10 minutes of gameplay footage from Spider-Man 2, introducing new villains Venom and Kraven the Hunter. However, a release date was not announced. Summer Game Fest, on the other hand, revealed that Spider-Man 2 will be launched on October 20, with pre-orders starting on June 16. The highlight from Xbox and Bethesda was the highly anticipated Starfield, which was presented in a 45-minute-long video, providing insights into exploration, character creation, skills, and more.

In the latest episode of the Orbital podcast, industry insider Rishi Alwani and games news writer Rahul Chettiyar discuss the future of gaming beyond 2023.

2023 Games Showcases: The Biggest News

The discussion begins by examining the key takeaways from the recent showcases. Some argue that the PlayStation Showcase was “mediocre” due to the lack of blockbuster announcements. Spider-Man 2 and Final Fantasy XVI were the only PS5 exclusives revealed during the event. Others, however, consider the showcase to be “pretty good” because the showcased titles were well-polished, a characteristic typically associated with Microsoft. Xbox started the year with a setback due to poor reviews of Redfall, but they impressed the audience with the unveiling of major single-player games like Starfield and the Phantom Liberty expansion for Cyberpunk 2077.

The conversation then shifts to the Ubisoft Forward Live event, with The Division: Resurgence being the most notable announcement as an upcoming free-to-play mobile game. Rishi, who has played an early build of the game, believes it is “really good!” Assassin’s Creed Mirage is also of interest as Ubisoft takes a back-to-basics approach with this latest installment. XDefiant, a franchise crossover 6v6 shooter, is also eagerly anticipated.

Thoughts on Diablo IV

The panel shared their experiences playing Diablo IV and discussed concerns about pricing and microtransactions. The game’s pricing, starting at $69.99, and the individual skin microtransactions priced at $25, raised eyebrows. Currently, the in-game shop does not pressure players to make purchases, but the general manager’s mention of an “intelligence system” in a recent interview has raised concerns about future changes. This system would recommend items based on the player’s class, but its impact on expansions and live-service content remains uncertain.

On How the Microsoft-Activision Deal Could Impact Gamers

Rishi expresses concerns that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard may negatively impact consumers. The expansion of content for the Game Pass subscription service could limit options for gamers who are already dealing with subscription fatigue. Additionally, the deal raises concerns about game preservation, as ownership of digital media may prevent players from accessing games on their own terms. While there may be potential benefits, such as cheaper access to games, the long-term effects remain uncertain.

Games to Look Forward to and Personal Highlights

Rishi and Rahul share their personal preferences for upcoming games. Rishi is excited about Dragon’s Dogma 2 and The Division: Resurgence, believing the latter is important for the mobile gaming industry, particularly in India. As for Rahul, he is eager to explore Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, a game that hasn’t been mentioned in recent showcases. He is particularly intrigued by the game’s lore, which resembles Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic Dune. However, he also has concerns about the PC port and how the complex controls will translate to a keyboard and mouse setup.

You can listen to the full episode and more on the Orbital podcast on Spotify or your preferred podcast platform.

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