June’s New Video Games Beat the Heat With Swinging, Hacking, Shooting
As soon as the world starts getting somewhat back to normal in its post-vaccine state, the blistering sun and heat waves seem determined to drive people back inside, and thus back in front of video game systems for some cooldown relief. Turns out, this June also has a lot of gaming excitement crammed into it, which is both to be expected for prime summer months and a welcome sight considering the circumstances. Old faces and new experiences provide excellent company during the retreat, from classic adventure settings to a familiar embellishment on a sport and a collection of highly challenging action games from years past. Let’s take a closer look at the games.
Chivalry II – June 8 (PS4/5; Xbox O/S/X; PC)
Sure, there’s enough sword-slinging, arrow-flying, and axe-wielding combat to go around in the video game spectrum, but a lot of it naturally relies on button mashing and less on measured, tactical decisions. The cheekily-titled Chivalry: Medieval Warfare tries to fix this, creating a multiplayer environment in the Middle Ages where gravitas and flashiness are replaced with real-world heft of bladed weapons and ranged projectiles. It’s brutal, messy, and provides a starkly different multiplayer atmosphere from the rest while satisfying the demand for more realistic medieval combat.
Chivalry II took nearly a decade to storm onto the battlefield, but it does so with several improvements in tow, chief of them being the possibility for 64-player combat. The developers want players to understand that this sequel isn’t just a medieval swordplay simulator, either. Just about anything can be picked up and wielded as weapons while on the battlefield, including severed limbs, which they’ve equated to being more like a rough and tumble “bar fight” than a focused sim.
Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection – June 10 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
Let’s be honest: few things are cooler in video games than being given control of a ninja. Do the games have to involving saving the world or rescuing someone important or just about any other game tropes? Not really, if it lands on the right balance between precise, exciting martial-arts combat and stealth while either progressing through battles with enemies or exhibiting some kind of stealth to a key destination. Ninja Gaiden has built a sturdy reputation for being a very tough, exhilarating example of the action side, in which the lead character uses ninja skills more for fierce combat than sneaking.
Collections are hot right now, of course, and Team Ninja have hopped aboard that train to release the Master Collection, which bundles Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Sigma 2, and Razor’s Edge in one presentation. Players should note that this isn’t a full remaster like some other collections being released right now; however, textures have been improved and the games run at 60fps. Those hoping for the complete intense, frustrating experience of taking on these classic games will find it here, as Team Ninja have also included the vast majority of downloadable content as well.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart – June 11 (PS5)
After taking a detour into the world of open-world superhero games with their widely celebrated Spider-Man series, Insomniac Games have returned to arguably their biggest name making franchise, Ratchet and Clank, for their first title developed specifically for the new PS5 console. Rift Apart follows the similarly frenetic third-person shooter of the previous games, following the high-personality duo of the ambitious “Lombax” Ratchet and his robot sidekick, Crank. The fabric of time and space complicates matters, spreading across realities and eventually linking them with Rivet (voiced by Jennifer Hale), a female resistance fighter and also one of the anthropomorphic Lombax.
While several games released over the past half year have showcased some of the potential of the new consoles, Rift Apart could be seen as the first substantial example of what’s capable under their hoods. It’s less about the detail, color, or viewable area and more about how much will be going on across the screen as Ratchet and his buddies tear through enemies in an insanely active and reactive third-person shooting space. Knowing Insomniac Games, they’re sure to make it as engaging and driven by personality as they can, though many of the other details about how this “standalone” entry will function remain to be seen.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance – June 22 (PS4/5; Xbox O/S/X; PC)
Hack-‘n-slash dungeon crawlers tend to be some of the best games to play with both regular players and, more importantly, with those who don’t really get into video games very much. There’s something about exploring “dungeons” – caverns, towns, castles, whatever — beating up fantasy bad guys and sorting through loot alongside a seasoned “adventurer” that’s very enjoyable for all involved. While there are better crawlers out there, and certainly better fantasy action-RPGs, one of the most enjoyable partner experiences can be found in the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance series of couch co-op games.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance seeks to recapture some of the same attitude in the modern era, incorporating recognizable characters from the world of R. A. Salvatore’s Legend of Drizzt series and the Icewind Dale setting into a 4-person party dungeon crawler. The perspective is different, though, following directly in a third-person angle instead of the isometric design of the older games … and thus, it’s unsurprising that the experience was originally limited to the single player and online multiplayer modes that didn’t have to keep track of other characters on the screen. However, the developers have listened to feedback and have promised to implement split-screen multiplayer in the coming months.
Mario Golf: Super Rush – June 25 (Switch)
While Mario may have made appearances as a player in Nintendo’s early sports games, the “wacky golf game” subgenre only got fired up in the mid ‘90s with the likes of Hot Shots Golf (Everybody’s Golf), and it’s one of the few times where Nintendo has had to catch up to the curve. Soon came Mario Golf, a competitor featuring the Mario gang that leans into the wacky aspects of the concept, though still sticking mostly to the framework of contemporary semi-real golf games. With future titles, such as Toadstool Tour for the Gamecube, the silliness factor continues to ramp up, yet still stay reserved.
Mario Golf: Super Rush drives the concept much further into the realm of chaotic, colorful arcade-style golf, packed full of glitzy power-ups and energized visuals befitting Nintendo’s branding. There’s also a degree of interactivity with the opponent’s golf balls on the course that ensures this’ll both be a blast of a multiplayer experience and, more than likely, a little overboard for those looking for more subtly exaggerated golf sims like Hot Shots Golf and Powerstar Golf. It could still fill the hole, though.
Scarlet Nexus – June 25 (PS4,5; Xbox O/S/X; PC)
It takes looking a little deeper to find this out, but Scarlet Nexus isn’t quite the game that it presents itself to be in promotional artwork, as it’s an anime-styled action RPG from Bandai Namco Studios. Maybe that’s intentional, because those who aren’t as into the anime lifestyle might reflexively turn away from what looks to be an absorbing, detailed science-fiction alternate reality and an highly engaging hack-‘n-slash combat design. Beyond the character models and conversation panels, there’s something more universally appealing.
Scarlet Nexus depicts a near-future urban realm, one where humans have used technology to tap into superhuman powers within the brain, and the warriors who defend it from other-worldly foes. To do so, they employ both close-ranged swordplay and mental energy control over objects that can be projected at their enemies. Like many other RPGs, the protagonists – two to choose from – will link up with companions that have their own unique powers, which in turn can be learned by the main character. Scarlet Nexus positions itself to be an anime hybrid of Mass Effect and Control, with a lot of potential.
If those weren’t enough, there’s also a number of noteworthy ports coming out, including the upgraded Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade edition for PS5 on June 10, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on June 11, and the complete edition of Metro Exodus on PS5 and Xbox Series X on June 18. Elder Scrolls Online will also be making its grand debut on the next-gen consoles on June 15, furthering its stay as folks await the proper standalone Elder Scrolls 6. Over on the Switch, players will now have access to Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 on June 25 and Destroy All Humans on June 29, while a remastered version of Legend of Mana will also be hitting on the Switch, PS4 and PC on Jun3 24. And for those interested, the uniquely delayed official video game for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be released globally on June 22.