Opening Night Live: The summer of gaming ends with a blast from the past

A look at exciting new sequels to classic and beloved franchises

Geoff Keighley bookended an entire season of reveals and conferences last Thursday (August 27) with Opening Night Live, which kicked off his annual Gamescom extravaganza. After months of trailers, gameplay demos and interviews, the curtain fell with a resounding thud on a busy few months of video game news.

To reward us for our diligence, Opening Night Live decided to provide its viewers with a surprising blast from the past. The games industry is definitely scared of new IPs, but at least Thursday’s reveals gave us a look at some exciting sequels that feel like meaningful developments of classic franchises.

Dragon Age 4

Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition. Credit: BioWare

A new Dragon Age game is on the horizon. It’s been six years since Inquisition and finally, it looks like the next game is starting to shape up over at BioWare. While we didn’t get any gameplay footage, the developer diary did dish out a few important details about the game – mainly that it’s in early production.

“We want to tell a story of what happens when you don’t have power,” one developer explained. “What happens when the people in charge aren’t willing to address the issues.” It also looks like Solas, the egg-headed dread wolf, is back, and will factor into the fourth entry, most likely as an antagonist. We also got to look at bits of concept art that appear to suggest the return of old, revered characters like Dorian and Isabelle, favourites in the community.

Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual

Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual
Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual. Credit: HappyGiant

Easily the most surprising throwback of the night was the return of Sam & Max, the comic book duo who made their video game debut in 1993 in the point-and-click classic Sam & Max Hit The Road. Younger players may also be familiar with Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space, the Telltale series which brought the rabbit and dog detectives into the 3D realm.

Sam & Max: This Time It’s Virtual is being developed by HappyGiant, and will follows the anthropomorphic duo as they “prepare the next generation of Freelance Police” in order to “inoculate reality against the plague of evil that infests it”.Sam & Max will challenge players through a series of training gauntlets, fighting evil monsters and telling cheeky jokes.

It’s set to launch in 2021 for VR headsets, although no specific platform has been confirmed. By next year, we might have word on the next generation of headsets, so it’ll be interesting to see what features the game will adopt when it launches. If it does well enough, hopefully it will nurture the demand for a new point-and-click in the classic style!

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time
Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Credit: Activision

We already knew about the new Crash Bandicoot game on the way from Toys For Bob, but last night we learned about Flashback Tapes – hidden items that, once found, will transport players into the unique puzzle rooms. The secret levels, which producer Lou Studdert has described as “devious,” sends players back in time to before the events of the original 1996 Crash Bandicoot, when Crash was still working with Dr. Neo Crotex.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Credit: Traveller’s Tales

Since its launch in 2005, the LEGO Star Wars series has become a staple across three console generations – and it looks like the ultimate version of those classic games is set to arrive on next-gen consoles. During Opening Night Live, e got a better look at LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, which covers all nine film in the franchise, following the release of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker in late-2019.

It’s the first game to cover the modern trilogy of films since 2016’s Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so it’ll be interesting to see the particular brand of LEGO Star Wars humour adapt to the events of The Last Jedi and beyond.

Despite how fantastic it looks, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has unfortunately been delayed into Q1/Q2 2021. Although, this does mean that we now have a comforting, old school game to test out the next-generation of consoles with. Imagine what the PS5’s DualSense can do to simulate LEGO bricks.

Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet & Clank
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Credit: Insomniac Games

Last, but certainly not least, is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which closed Opening Night Live. This time, Insomniac Games’ flagship duo are bringing a dimension-hopping escapade to the PlayStation 5.

The developer released an extended gameplay demo that ran on and showcased the power of the PS5’s SSD loading technology. We also saw characters from different worlds and realities blend into one as Ratchet explored the city of Megalopolis, later diving into new worlds seamlessly. In addition, the game will offer two resolution modes – 4K/30FPS and 60FPS at lower resolutions – allowing players to prioritise fluidity of gameplay over gorgeous graphics, or vice versa.

Luckily, it seems like we won’t have to wait too long to get our hands on the game, as it was revealed during the conference that Rift Apart would launch within the “launch window” for PS5. However, no specific date was revealed.

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