Portal's Month in Games - June 2024


July 17, 2024

min read

So that was June, or Iunius, as the Romans called it. Now, the Romans had a lot going for them: aqueducts, roads and concrete, all magical in their own way. 

But you know what didn’t they have? The magic of video games, of course. Or, indeed, video game news. This brings us somewhat tortuously to this edition of Portal’s Month in Games.

June showcases

June has historically been a busy month for game reveals, with the late E3 as the industry calendar's focal point. The death of the LA-based event has left a news-shaped hole in the year, which various parties are now trying to fill, including Geoff Keighley with his Summer Game Fest, which features publisher showcases like Ubisoft Forward and Xbox Games Showcase.

These online showcases don’t quite deliver the excitement levels of the old days—we reckon they lack the magic of in-person expos packed with playable games—but there was still plenty to sink our teeth into this year. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Xbox Games Showcase

First up, Gears of War: E-Day, the next instalment in the long-running Xbox exclusive series and the first to be powered by Unreal Engine 5. This prequel is set 14 years before the first GoW, and developers The Coalition are promising ‘new processes, and new technology that’s going to make the gameplay feel better than ever.’

Following its announcement way back in 2020, Xbox treated us to a fresh trailer for Avowed. At one point, Obsidian’s first-person RPG aimed to take on Skyrim, but the focus has since switched to play more to the dev team’s strengths, emphasising depth over breadth.

10 years on from the brilliant Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Xbox showcase saw a proper unveiling of the series’ next instalment, which we now know is called The Veilguard. How will it fare in a post-Baldur’s Gate 3 world? We’ll find out this autumn.

Summer Game Fest

SGF got off to a bright and breezy start with a trailer for LEGO Horizon Adventures. The gameplay looks similar to previous LEGO games, and the trademark brick-based banter found in LEGO games, movies and TV shows was in full effect.

Geoff had warned that SGF would be short on surprises. Arguably, the biggest reveal of this year’s show was Civilization VII. The teaser trailer offers precious little detail, but we do know that it’s coming to PC and consoles sometime in 2025.

Ubisoft Forward

Ubisoft’s Star Wars Outlaws certainly looks the part, but how does it play? We got a glimpse into the answer to that question during the publisher’s virtual showcase, which featured 10 minutes of gameplay. We’ll get to try it ourselves on 30 August.

Also going big on gameplay: Assassin’s Creed Shadows. Ubi’s fourteenth (!) mainline AC entry looks beautiful, and we particularly enjoyed the brutal combat on display here.

Nintendo Direct

18 June saw Nintendo drop a surprise Direct showcase. The headline news was the first trailer for the much-delayed Metroid Prime 4: Beyond. Explore strange alien worlds with Samus at a yet-to-be-revealed date in 2025.

There was further good news with the announcement of a brand new Zelda game: The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom. The top-down RPG shares a similar art style to 2019’s remake of Link's Awakening and sees players assume control of Zelda rather than Link. It’s out this September.

Have you ever wanted to live as a hobbit? No, neither have I. It’s all big, hairy feet and being scared of everything. Anyway, thanks to Tales of the Shire: A Lord of the Rings Game, you can give it a go this winter. It looks a lot like Animal Crossing meets Middle-earth, which is no bad thing.

Everybody disliked that

Bethesda caught some heat following the release of Starfield: Creation Kit, a downloadable editor that enables long-awaited mod support for the space RPG. In addition to free mods created by enthusiastic fans, the kit also allows paid-for add-ons, including those made by Bethesda. 

And it’s Bethesda-made content that’s caused the rumpus here, with the publisher asking the Starfield community to stump up £6 for a single mission called Trackers Alliance: The Vulture.

In response, unimpressed players have review-bombed the game on Steam, with recent reviews now sitting at ‘Mostly Negative’. Critics have gone in two-footed too, Kotaku calling it ‘overpriced’ and ‘paltry’.

Who knows if this will be Bethesda’s strategy for future Starfield content. Given that over three million people have downloaded The Vulture, maybe they feel the negative PR is worth swallowing.

Out this month

June was fairly quiet in terms of new releases, but we were blessed with expansions for a couple of well-known big hitters.

Destiny 2: The Final Shape, the eighth expansion for Bungie’s sprawling FPS, launched on 4 June. There were teething problems, but overall, the response has been extremely positive, with critics praising it as a satisfying conclusion to the long-running ‘Light and Darkness’ saga.

Elsewhere in expansion land, Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree launched on 21 June. The DLC received virtually universal acclaim, with a 95 Metacritic rating. There were some dissenting voices, however. Eurogamer’s review cited the extreme difficulty, describing it as ‘pointlessly maddening’ in places.

On the new game front, June saw the early access launch of ASKA, a Viking-themed co-op survival game from Thunderful. The response has been positive, with players praising its artwork and the ability to use NPCs to tackle some of the more mundane, repetitive tasks commonly associated with the survival genre.

Signing off

Happy Iunius to any ancient Romans reading. We’ll see you next month for Quintilis’s (July, fact fans) MiG. While you wait, why not join us on X, Instagram or LinkedIn and give us your thoughts on the latest industry happenings.


July 17, 2024

min read
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