This is what you get for dunking on Halo
Microsoft delays its biggest game in years, leaving Xbox Series X without a blockbuster
[Hi, I’m Chris Plante, and you’re reading Postgame, a weekly newsletter collecting the best games, stories, and videos in the video game community into a fun, digestible package on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Learn more on the Postgame About page.]
This issue of Postgame is brought to you by Craig.
After receiving a middling reaction at its reveal event (including a dunk from the official Domino’s Twitter account) Halo Infinite has been delayed until 2021. With the schedule change, the Xbox Series X now has no major launch game.
Maybe that’s okay?
We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision.
The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.
It’s a decision that Microsoft’s Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, did warn may happen earlier this year. “I’d say the bigger unknown is probably the game production, just being honest,” said Spencer in May. “Game production is a large scale entertainment activity now, you have hundreds of people coming together, building assets, working through creative.”
Compared to decisions made by the rest of the big-budget games industry, this one sounds uncharacteristically healthy. A giant company is at worst delaying a game in order to deliver a better final product and at best delaying a game to avoid crunch during a global pandemic.
A Fast & Furious video game — what could go wrong?
Speaking of video games that could have used some more time before approaching the starting line: Fast & Furious Crossroads debuted this week, despite the next Fast & Furious film being delayed to 2021.
It's all so basic, so lacking polish and so packed full of fundamental oversights and errors you've got to wonder what calamity befell its development - it feels as if someone had a decent idea for a Fast & Furious game, got a couple of weeks into development then realised it wouldn't work with the tools at hand and abandoned it. And then put it in a box and asked fifty quid for it four years later.
Crossroads is not a racing game, since so few of the missions involve racing. It’s not an open-world game, since there’s no open world, and almost no freedom in how you tackle each mission or even how you get to the next section. It plays out like this: You learn something about the story, drive to the next area, maybe fight some other cars on the way, maybe do some stunts, maybe racing, maybe just driving. And then there’s another cutscene, and afterward, you drive somewhere else.
Watching the trailer, I assumed this was a mobile game. Or maybe a cheap movie tie-in. I was wrong.
Fast & Furious Crossroads costs $59.99, plus you can purchase a $29.99 season pass. Bold!
Your weekly dose of Animal Crossing
Karen Han has convinced me it’s safe to return to Animal Crossing without triggering my anxiety.
Binging has never been the model for the series. But it became the way many players initially consumed New Horizons as it launched soon after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Players were stuck at home with little else to do, so escaping into a pandemic-less world and working to make it immaculate seemed like the perfect remedy. Messing with the game’s clock, which mirrors real-world time, in order to skip the required waiting period for certain events (getting the whole museum set up, waiting for flowers to bloom), was a small price to pay to play as much of the game at once as possible.
Tom Phillips highlights just how successful New Horizons has become in a short window of time.
Despite only launching this year, Animal Crossing has now eclipsed lifetime sales of other evergreen Switch games like Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Only Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (at 26.7m) has sold more.
At Gaymer, Aimee Hart penned a potent missive:
Why did you do it, Chicken Jelly Bean? What did it accomplish? I don’t know what I did to hurt you, but I know that it was nothing in comparison to what you did to me, to us, to my family, and my dog. May you never qualify ever again, and may the slime always touch your foot first.
Bennett Foddy shares his under-appreciated games of the 2010s
What are your personal forgotten faves of the past ten years? Let me know on Twitter!
There’s no such thing as too much Sonic
At Critical Distance, Waverly published a treasure trove of critical writing on the best 16-bit mascot.
Sonic the Hedgehog has been adapted to comics, movies, and television shows. The titular blue rodent is an icon that has connected with contemporary internet culture’s ironic post-humanism; a site for many misunderstood individuals to explore their identity. As Zolani Stewart states, “Sonic as a media object is fluid.” Or as I once put it, Sonic is an apparatus.
Owen Good reports at Polygon on the mysterious Sonic statue that, for over a decade, has aged in the woods of Japan — only to be secretively and without warning refurbished.
In 2015, some motorcycling YouTubers happened across the larger-than-life statue, which is in the Mie prefecture’s hill country, about 90 minutes east of Osaka. The statue lacks any marking, plaque, or explanation for what Sonic’s doing and why he’s there. Subsequent Internet sleuthing discovered someone had found and photographed the statue as far back as 2009.
Simple explanations of complicated things: Part 1 of many
Core-A has produced an extremely watchable explanation of a topic I’d never have sat down to research: rollback netcode. If you play lots of competitive online games, it’s worth a watch.
Sports are still weirder than video games
Jo Adell is a rookie and only 21-years-old. He was drafted 10th overall in 2017 and will likely be a star on the Anaheim Angels.
All that said, his teammates will be giving him grief about this for-ev-er.
College football conference the Big Ten voted to postpone its season, potentially to this Spring. The conference’s official TV network got former Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer on a video call to discuss.
Meyer appears to be in an RV, perhaps on a camping trip with some friends. How do I know this? Because one of his buds walks into the room shirtless, realizes he’s on the mirror and that mirror is on television, tries to exit, realizes the door is locked and he’s still in view, and then tries to hide behind Meyer’s head only to fail.
This is like an entire Seinfeld C-story boiled down to one shot.
Meyer’s reaction is that of a person who has lost control of the Zoom.
Last but not least, Vulture is publishing stories on five flops over five days. This feature on the all-but-forgotten Superman musical is a blast.
Have a pleasant rest of the week. Wear a mask. I’ll see y’all Sunday!
But what do you think?
Send links, tips, comments, questions, games, and illegal Superman Broadway recordings to @plante.