8 things to watch out for this week

Okami HD, Better Call Saul S4, Black Ops 4 and Hearthstone

1. With season 4, Better Call Saul is on track to becoming as perfect a TV show as Breaking Bad

When Better Call Saul was first announced as the unexpected dram-com spinoff to Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan’s dark, neo-Western masterpiece of a TV show, I had nightmare flashbacks to equally ill-advised ventures like Joey, The Cleveland Show, and *shudders* Rugrats: All Grown Up. But, ever the master of the form, Gilligan’s prequel (showing how slippery lawyer Jimmy McGill became the Saul Goodman that Breaking Bad viewers know and love) is almost just as faultless as its predecessor. Part legal drama, part black comedy, with a sprinkling of crime thriller violence to garnish, it’s captivating stuff, all directed with that inimitable Gilligan-esque panache. Given its less racy subject matter, Better Call Saul is more slow burn than Breaking Bad’s edge-of-your-seat melodrama, but season four could finally be the the turning point where things get real dangerous, real fast for poor old Jimmy. Bad news for him, maybe, but great news for the dedicated viewer. Alex Avard

What: Better Call Saul season 4
Where: Netflix
When: August 7 

2. Okami HD is out on the Switch, and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect pairing

Usually the sound of a wolf howling in the distance means you should start running very, very fast in the opposite direction. But this time it means that Okami is finally out on Nintendo Switch, which pretty much seemed like destiny to fanatics like yours truly as soon as the Switch was revealed. You play Amaterasu, a sun goddess in the form of a white wolf who must release all 12 Celestial Brush gods from confinement and save Nippon (otherwise known as Japan) from darkness through a various puzzles, fights, and platforming. With the console’s absurdly precise motion controls, it’s hard to overstate how perfect Okami is for the Switch. The Joy-cons are practically begging you to use them to paint with the Celestial Paintbrush to conjure up bombs, sword slashes, and blooming lilypads, or you can paint with a single finger using the touchscreen when playing in handheld mode. Seriously, whether you’ve already saved the world from the eight-headed demon Orochi, haven’t even heard of Okami, or just have an adoration for anything canine, you won’t regret buying it on the Switch. Zoe Delahunty-Light

What: Okami HD
When: August 9
Where: Nintendo Switch

3. Realm Royale is a potential remedy to early onset Fortnite fatigue, and not just because you can play as a chicken

It’s considered hearsay to shout it from the rooftops right now, but pay attention, and you can already detect the whispers and murmurations of those who are (Shock! Horror!) bored of Fortnite. Yes, believe it or not, but diving into Tilted Towers, day after day, just isn’t scratching that same satisfying itch like it used to, and I say this as one of the afflicted. For those who’ve had enough Victory Royales to last a lifetime, but still want those addictive helpings of island-based fights to the death, the closed beta for Hi-Rez Studio’s Realm Royale has landed on PS4 and Xbox One this week, after a successful few months on PC. The free-to-play battle royale game has got class-based warfare, rideable mounts, and a novel approach to being downed in which you turn into a helpless chicken for a few seconds, so there’s no excuse not to sign up for a chance to enter the beta on the game’s website here. Alex Avard

What: Realm Royale Closed Beta
Where: PS4 and Xbox One
When: Now

4. The brilliant Monster Hunter World finally lands on PC (and is likely to hit even harder than it did on console)

The success of Monster Hunter World is staggering. Not that it isn’t a brilliant game mind. It is. It’s easily on track to be one of the finest of this year, in fact. It’s just that… well, it’s Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter is hard, and complicated, and demanding, and obtuse, and involved, and all the other things that have traditionally kept it such a niche favourite over the years. Regardless, the circumstances aligned earlier this year to finally make it a bona fide console hit. Releasing during just the right quiet part of the year, with just enough concessions to accessibility, and exactly the right, confident push from Capcom, this least mainstream of games pushed through to sell – so far – eight million copies. And on PC, it’s likely to blow up just as hard. At least as hard. Because the PC audience traditionally doesn’t come with the same hang-ups as the stereotypical console crowd. The kind of hurdles and complications of complexity, accessibility, and brow-furrowing obliqueness that made Monster Hunter World’s console success so surprising are perceived as far more acceptable in the far more esoteric world of PC gaming. So Monster Hunter’s future continues to look bright. If a game as weird, leftfield, and demanding as this can make it in the streamlined, mass-market world of PS4 and Xbox One, it’s surely going to flourish when it hits Steam. David Houghton

What: Monster Hunter World
When: August 9
Where: PC 

5. Overcooked 2 is the kind of game that can make or break relationships, and that's exactly why I love gaming

Gaming divides people. It always has, it probably - unfortunately - always will do. Stereotypes and preconceptions exist that stop people from realising that gaming isn't all about guns and gore, it's also about friendship and making memories. And it's co-op that tend to bring (often unwilling) gamers together like no other platform can do. Games like 1-2 Switch racing to milk cows with my mother on Christmas Eve, playing four-player Mario Kart 8 Deluxe over pizza and beers, settling down for a Sunday afternoon session of A Way Out, working out all the puzzles in Unravel 2 with my bestie... They're all gaming memories I'll fondly treasure because I got to share them with my friends. Yes, I play Fortnite and babble away to my friends over headsets every night, but there's something about the companionship in couch co-op gaming. Overcooked 2 is another one of those amazing co-op games, where unless you talk - read scream - to each other as to what needs doing and when, your dishes are never going to come together. It might be the one game that I know causes more relationship rows than anything else, but it's another of the Switch brilliant line-up that proves that gaming is regularly better together. Ever with the arguments. Sam Loveridge

What: Overcooked 2
When: August 7
Where: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

6. When The Boomsday Project hits Hearthstone, will Warrior finally make a comeback?

Of the nine playable classes you can choose from in Hearthstone, Warrior's been having a pretty tough time. Before The Witchwood expansion, both Warrior and Shaman were greatly underrepresented in the ever-growing pool of competitive decks - but Shudderwock and Genn Greymane quickly vaulted Thrall and Morgl to the upper echelons. Meanwhile, Warrior's arsenal of Rush minions just weren't the ideal way to beat down your opponent, and all Garrosh and Magni had to go with were Dead Man's Hand Fatigue decks that many players found too complex and drawn out, or Quest decks that were often too slow to get started. But Warrior might once again rise to relevance thanks to all the glorious toys in The Boomsday Project expansion, most notably its new Hero card Dr. Boom, Mad Genius. It'll be fascinating to see what Warriors can do with Magnetic minions and the stellar value of Omega Assembly, while Big Warrior decks should have a field day with The Boomship. Lucas Sullivan

What: Hearthstone
Where: PC, mobile
When: August 7

7. Can the PES 2019 demo attract new fans after the loss of the Champions League license?

Konami has been curiously bullish about the absence of the Champions League license from PES 2019 after the end of their 10-year UEFA deal. Key rival Electronic Arts wasted no time announcing that the world’s leading club tournament will now appear in FIFA 19, providing another key licensing advantage. PES 2019’s vow to focus in ‘other areas’ has manifested in patchwork club-by-club licensing deals (like FC Schalke) and seven new leagues, including the Ladbroke’s Scottish Premiership, Russian Premier League and Portugal’s Liga Nos - while FIFA 19’s exclusive deals include the English Premier League, MLS and German Bundesliga. PES 2019 seems to be doubling down on classic players, including an eerily accurate David Beckham, in a nostalgic appeal to fans of PES's PS2 heyday, circa 2003 - 2006. The demo offers 12 playable teams, two stadiums and - for the first time - an online Quick Match, plus offline Co-Op and Exhibition modes. Based on our handful of games so far, PES 2019 feels more skilful, unpredictable and fluid than ever; with 4K HDR support and notable player individuality. As ever, PES 2019 stands a great chance of out-performing FIFA on the pitch, but needs to work hard to lure new fans, and delight its existing fanbase. Give the demo a shot and judge for yourself. Dan Dawkins

What: PES 2019 demo
When: August 8
Where: PS4, Xbox One, Steam

8. Black Ops 4 PS4 multiplayer beta is live, but is online only enough to keep COD alive this year? 

With no single player, multiplayer has a lot of work to do to support Call of Duty this year. There’s no Blackout Battle Royale in this private beta before you ask (accessed via pre-order codes), that’s getting a separate one later in September. No, this Black Ops 4 beta is all about the basic multiplayer mode now arguably the meat of the game this year. There’s quite a lot here to play with including six maps, six modes and 10 Specialists - BLOPs playable characters with a range of special abilities. Think Overwatch but grumpier, or Rainbow Six but more hipster. Crash can heal, Seraph has a portable spawn beacon, Torque can drop razor wire and so on. The modes are all familiar Call of Duty staples like Team Deathmatch, Hardpoint or Kill Confirmed so it’s really all down to new multiplayer characters and mechanics (manual healing, for example) to prove a stripped back Call of Duty still has what it takes, and this beta is the perfect opportunity to test that for yourself. Leon Hurley

What: Call of Duty Black Ops 4 PS4 Private beta
When: August 3 to August 6
Where: PS4

8 Things to Watch This Week picks the best games, movies and shows of the next seven days every Friday at 9am PDT / 5pm BST.

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