Greetings, gamers! Welcome to a new edition of Replay, WIRED’s lightning-fast videogame news roundup. Undoubtedly the biggest deal this week was the announcement of Nintendo’s new Switch Lite, but that’s just the beginning. There’s also a new Lord of the Rings MMO on the horizon, and Cuphead might be getting a TV show. Let’s press play.
Lord of the Rings Is Getting Another Chance at MMO Glory, This Time From Amazon
Lord of the Rings has a big, complicated history in videogames. Famously, it had a major foray into the massively multiplayer world with The Lord of the Rings Online, a game that launched in 2007 and remains a cult favorite to this day for its expansive, detailed approach to living inside Middle-earth.
That game wasn’t exactly a success, though, and now a new one is coming to snatch the glory it never attained. Amazon Game Studios is currently in the process of developing a massively multiplayer online game in collaboration with Leyou Technologies that will reportedly be free to play and available for PC and consoles. Amazon, you might remember, is currently developing a Lord of the Rings TV show, but according to reports, the two efforts won’t be connected. The title might fare a bit better than the game that came before it, though—the devs at Amazon have worked on MMOs ranging from EverQuest to World of Warcraft. It’s in good hands.
Some Changes Are Coming to the Nintendo Switch—and We Don’t Just Mean Switch Lite
This week, we got the major (though not unexpected) announcement of a new, lightweight Nintendo Switch model coming this fall. The model includes permanently attached JoyCons and a smaller screen, but no television dock, making it a cozy little portable baby in the budding Nintendo Switch family.
It’s not the only change coming to the Switch, however. The Verge reports that Nintendo has made filings with the FCC to change the internal components of the base model console, specifically the system-on-chip, the NAND memory type, and the CPU board. Changing out these central components doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the system’s performance or capabilities will change in any way. It may just be a move to less expensive components, or away from in-built design problems in the original hardware. Either way, it means that soon the Switch could be just a little different from the original, which is probably a good thing.
Cuphead Is Getting a Netflix TV Show
Netflix is turning Cuphead, a videogame about old cartoons, into a new cartoon. Reasonable. The Cuphead Show, currently in production, will channel the game’s homages to 1930s Fleischer-era animation to, presumably, tell wacky violent stories about a sentient cup and his struggles with the world around him. It’s a tricky thing to do, though; as writer Yussef Cole has laid out elegantly, Fleischer-era art often drew from imagery and tropes found in earlier minstrel shows, and Netflix will have to work hard to avoid falling into the trap of repeating the same mistakes of that earlier era without understanding the context of what it’s doing. We’ll see when the show launches if it’s managed to thread that needle.
Recommendation of the Week: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, by Monolith Productions on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Let’s keep going with the Tolkien theme and recommend one of the strangest, most videogame-y Middle-earth adaptations ever made. Edgy, violent, and absolutely non-canon, this brilliantly crafted third-person action game sets you as a supernatural invader taking on Sauron before the events of the Lord of the Rings, trying to get revenge and overthrow the Dark Lord before he can cause any bigger problems. The game is known for its Nemesis System, wherein an in-game mechanic crafts custom orcs for you to fight, with ongoing storylines improvised by the game’s algorithms between you and your orc foes. It was innovative and fascinating, and we’ve not seen anything quite like it since.