August’s Video Games Run Same Old Pattern With Madden 21
A few months back in one of our monthly subscription free game articles, we discussed a little bit whether video game players would be more or less drawn to hardcore “everyday life” simulation games right now, such as farming or city building. Is that too much “realness” for them to be enjoyable in a difficult time like this, reminding them of regular life aspects amid a pandemic, or do they offer a unique type of everyday routine and digital productivity that make it satisfying?
A similar, but less difficult to answer thought exercise can be had with August’s big release: IT’S MADDEN TIME. One might wonder whether going through new seasons on the yearly football game juggernaut might be bittersweet due to the complications with sports right now … but yeah, being honest, it’s going to be nothing but a big hit elevated by socially-distanced fans looking to vicariously play and enjoy the game. Yeah, there are other titles in August, but anticipation for Madden always dominates this first sleepy back-to-school month.
Fast & Furious: Crossroads — August 7
It’s getting close to the 20-year mark where the original Fast and the Furious film accelerated onto the scene … and, boy, has it evolved since then. What was once a smaller-scale tale of custom cars, drag races, undercover cops and moderate high-speed heists has evolved into a mammoth blockbuster movie franchise involving explosive antiheroic missions, wrapped up in espionage and laced with advance technology befitting a sci-fi property.
Therefore, whatever though that comes to mind about a Fast and Furious video game will be quite different for those with memories of the original, and those who’ve followed the franchise to its recent installments. Fast & Furious: Crossroads is born of the latter half of the franchise’s history, with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez – among others – voicing their characters in an action-adventure racing hybrid experience from Slightly Mad Studios, a development crew under the umbrella of renowned racing game producer Codemasters.
Microsoft Flight Simulator — August 18
Asobo Studio has a tough journey ahead of them: they’re about to revive the Flight Simulator franchise after being grounded for nearly a decade and a half, excluding a “complete edition” style release in 2014 of the most recent installment, Flight Simulator X. Considering there hasn’t been a full new release in 15 years, there’s a bit of technical ground to cover, both in the video game stratosphere and in the aviation world itself.
The stats for this one are pretty incredible: over 35,000 airports based on satellite imagery will be included; between 20 and 30 different planes will be available to be piloted, depending on the selected edition; and billions of buildings and trillions of trees will be rendered in the game’s brand-new engine. Naturally, the objective is to make this latest Flight Simulator the most accurate and photorealistic version of the concept to-date, complimented by the developer’s own physics and weather engines. It’ll arrive on PC first, but will come to the Xbox after a short delay.
Battletoads — August 20
Amazing, isn’t it? That something named “Battletoads” remains in the list of top 10 most difficult video games of all time, with some claiming that it’s the absolute most difficult they’ve ever played. In this day and age of thriving niche markets, especially those of gamers hungry for the frustrations of a good challenge, continuing that legacy could be seen as a positive thing; it doesn’t hurt that the Ninja Turtles, who originally inspired their creation to be “competitors”, are also gaining in popularity again.
Whether the reboot of Battletoads will be able to tap into the same caliber of difficulty or the same nostalgic ‘80s appeal remains to be seen, but it’s evident that Dlala Studios – with the help of original developers Rare – are aiming to go in a very different direction with the visuals, combat, platforming, and even racing aspects of the property. Far more cartoonishly drawn character, slower battles, and racing from behind instead of side-to-side, this isn’t the Battletoads one might remember from their youth.
PGA Tour 2K21 — August 21
Remember The Golf Club, HB Studios competitor to the dominant PGA Tour franchise from EA? Yeah, 2K Sports probably doesn’t want you to remember too much about it either, as they’ve carefully restructured, merged, and retitled the golf game into something both familiar yet quite new: PGA Tour 2K21. Since EA’s rights for the branding lapsed, 2K Sports have taken over publishing duties of the officially licensed PGA video games, and with that of course comes authorized use of courses and about a dozen of the athletes against whom the player can compete.
One aspect that The Golf Club that’ll hopefully be further changed in PGA Tour 2K21, however, is the reputation the games have built for growing tedious and repetitive due to a lack of variety and visual panache. With this big of an overhaul, it’s hard to know what exactly to expect from HB Studios and 2K, outside of looking at the advancements made in last year’s title and hoping for the best in terms of dedicated aesthetic polish. There’s a long stretch still to go before they get to the hole.
Wasteland 3 — August 28
You don’t often see sequels released a quarter-century after the original came out, yet that’s exactly what Wasteland 2 aimed to do with its Kickstarter campaign, and it succeeded in doing so. In 2014, right at the beginning point of when isometric role-playing games were experiencing a revival of excitement for that particular format, the sequel endured the rigors of indie development at InXile Entertainment and delivered on their promise: to essentially make the Fallout game that’s been missing for years.
Some couldn’t get their grip around the combat and the role-playing grinding aspects of Wasteland 2, but others have been able to wrap themselves in the atmosphere, RP variation, and party-based customization of its adventuring. Wasteland 3, once again crowd-funded and constructed by the team members behind the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera, aims for a continuation of the same choice-and-consequence, turn-based and tactical role-playing environment.
Madden NFL 21 — August 28
Sometimes, it can be a struggle to talk at length about Madden. From year to year, the franchise has become so refined and focused on what it does well – and avoiding what it doesn’t – that the annual releases have become clones of each other, updated only by its rosters. Oddly enough, this year marks two significant developments that could makes the release of Madden 2021 fairly interesting.
First, in response to the political energy around the ballclub’s name, the game will require a significant update at release to change the branding of the Washington Redskins to the … uh, something else that hasn’t been determined as of this writing. Watching how this will be handled will be an adventure itself. On top of that, EA has received a wealth of negative feedback for early impressions of the game powered by concerns that it’s a marginal update from previous titles, so much so that a call to “Fix Madden Franchise” trended on social media. Have they done so? Who knows. Will it hurt sales? Probably not!
Some other goodness can be found sprinkled throughout the month of August. The latest creation from Dontnod Entertainment, Tell Me Why, begins its three-episode arc on August 27, while the decidedly Zelda-like action-RPG Windbound – a combination of Breath of the Wild and The Wind Waker – shores up the next day on August 28. Horizon: Zero Dawn will be getting a Windows port on August 7, while EA Sports UFC 4 keeps the sports train rolling on August 14 and into Project Cars 3 on August 28.