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Screenshot: Mobius Digital

One of the week’s most interesting new releases is tomorrow’s “Echoes of the Eye,” an expansion to 2019’s award-winning surprise hit, “Outer Wilds.”

Why it matters: “Outer Wilds” is both part of a broader trend and highly unique.

  • It’s another time-loop game in which the story progresses through numerous resets of the game’s universe.
  • But it’s also a game in which you are strictly an outer space explorer, with nothing to shoot, break or kill — and nothing to collect and bring back to the next 22-minute loop other than knowledge about how its fantastic solar system works.
  • The expansion’s contents have been kept secret (we won’t spoil anything here) other than that it offers some new, strange wonders to explore.

What they’re saying: “We want this to be a game about you exploring because you want to answer questions,” creative director Alex Beachum tells Axios, speaking of the original and its expansion.

  • “Outer Wilds” is about the “intrinsic motivation” of curiosity, Beachum says.
  • The original game contained a solar system of curiosities, each operating with its own looping systems for discovery, such as of a pair of planets called the “hourglass twins” that shed sand from one orb to the other, exposing explorable caves.

Between the lines: The dozen developers behind “Outer Wilds” started making “Echoes of the Eye,” just before the main game shipped.

  • The main game was made in relative obscurity.
  • Success has earned Beachum and the team a fanbase so motivated by their curiosity that they scour the expansion’s few pre-release screenshots to try to discern clues from the position of stars in the nighttime sky.

Beachum’s most startling discovery about his fans: Many have gotten tattoos of a symbol that players discover late in the main game.

  • “I just remember one day we're just scribbling on the whiteboard,” he says of its creation. “And now it's like on people's bodies forever.”

Go deeper

Monster "Pokémon" hit

Image: The Pokemon Company.

The “Pokémon” series now has its biggest mobile hit since “Pokémon Go,” thanks to the massive launch of “Pokémon Unite,” a game whose announcement last year was met with derision from hardcore fans.

Why it matters: “Unite” is far from an underdog. It’s a flex by some of the most powerful companies and brands in gaming.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.