Greetings all, and welcome to Replay, WIRED's rundown of all of the week's big videogame news. Today, we've got quite a few coronavirus-related updates and one very good recommendation of something you can play while you're at home.
No surprises here: E3 2020 has been canceled due the coronavirus pandemic. The Entertainment Software Association made the decision last week as many other public gatherings around the world were put on hold in an attempt to slow down the spread of Covid-19. "Following increased and overwhelming concerns about [Covid-19], we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation," the ESA said in a statement.
With E3 and a whole swath of gaming conferences postponed or canceled outright, chances are the industry will turn to digital solutions for making announcements going forward. HTC, for example, will now be holding its annual Vive Ecosystem Conference, a virtual-reality-focused event, entirely in VR. While it's unlikely VR is going to be the go-to solution for everyone, stuff like this might be the new norm for at least the next couple of months.
Pokémon Go was a big sensation when it initially launched, and it continues to be popular, largely because of the way it encourages you to do something that most games don't: get out of the house. The best bet to catch Pokémon comes from leaving, driving around, walking around, etc. But with social distancing becoming the new normal for the time being, Niantic, the developers behind the game, have taken steps to make Pokémon Go a hopefully more sedentary, or at least play-from-home, activity. For the time being, anyway.
As Kotaku reports, Pokémon Go has instituted a number of new features to encourage people to play from home, including allowing players to acquire items to attract Pokémon to them, making it easier to hatch eggs, and making PokéStops refresh faster, which will encourage you to stay in one place for longer, especially if you're lucky enough to have a PokéStop near your house. Also, Niantic canceled last weekend's Abra Community Day. Sorry, Abra stans.
Sony is releasing Horizon Zero Dawn on PC this summer, as previous rumors suggested. This means that this will be the first Sony first-party exclusive to head to the PC. While this is a big deal and could signal a change in how Sony manages first-party games going forward, head of worldwide studios at Sony, Hermen Hulst, also said that, well, maybe not. In a post on the official PlayStation blog, Hulst insisted that "releasing one first-party AAA title to PC doesn't necessarily mean that every game now will come to PC." Though it seems likely at least some of them will, especially if they run on the Decime engine, the tech powering both Horizon Zero Dawn and Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding, which is also coming to PC this summer.
Do you like visual novels? Most Americans aren't super familiar with the genre, which often includes branching narrative paths explored over multiple playthroughs of the dialogue- and story-heavy games. If you're not, one of the most intriguing and fun ones to play as an introduction might be Hatoful Boyfriend, a dating simulator game starring … pigeons. Yes, a whole pigeon high school of flirty young pigeons looking for love, and you're the newest one in the bunch. It's a very weird game, with some wild twists, and it'll keep your attention for a while. Check it out.