5 min read

Astrolabe Digest: 011824

Is Elden Ring's DLC imminent? Kotaku's got a layoff tracker, and it's super Grim. Tor.com is relaunching as Reactor.
Key art from Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree featuring a woman on a weird horse looking over a vast, golden plain

Is Elden Ring's major DLC expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, imminent?

  • Announced in February, 2023, Elden Ring's first major expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, has been light on details ever since. But, thanks to some internet sleuthing, it appears the expansive DLC's release might be coming as soon as next month—nearly two years after Elden Ring.
  • The first clue came in late December when a controller manufacturer (named, uh, Thrustmaster) mistakenly updated a database entry with a new product boasting that it would "sync with new 'SHADOW OF THE ERDTREE' Expansion release - Elden Ring Anniversary/February 2024." It also hinted at potential 2025 DLC. This was quickly taken down
  • Speculation reached a fever pitch this week, however, when fans noticed "a new DLC app identification number was added to Elden Ring on Steam," (via PC Gamer) and Bandai Namco Europe posted a not-yet-public update to an Elden Ring promotional playlist on Youtube (via VG247).
  • Speculation based on the key art (above) is that the DLC's story will resolve around Malenia, Blade of Miquella and her titular brother Miquella.
  • Speaking of Malenia, if waiting a teensy bit longer for the DLC is too much, you can get a drip feed of Elden Ring goodness thanks to former-Dungeons & Dragons designer Dan Dillon, who created a stat block for the game's most notorious boss. Just like in the video game, she's a house.
  • Elden Ring surprised everyone, myself included, by becoming an enormous, mainstream hit, despite its creator Hidetaka Miyazaki's reputation for ruthless difficulty. But, not all difficulty is created equal:
Astrolabe 22: What can Nintendo learn from Elden Ring?
In case you missed it: Nerdist debuted the cover for my upcoming book about the history of Japanese RPGs, Fight, Magic, Items, and it. is. GORGEOUS. Check it out! Difficulty doesn’t have to be a toggle So, like half the internet, I’ve been obsessed with Elden Ring lately, pouring over

man covering face with both hands while sitting on bench
Photo by Christian Erfurt / Unsplash

Kotaku's got a 2024 layoff tracker, and it's grim

  • On January 10, 2024, Kotaku's Zack Zwiezen announced a layoff tracker to keep track of all the games industry layoffs over the course of the year.
  • "I really hope I don't have to update this post again...but based on how 2024 is going, well... I'm not feeling optimistic," Zwiezen wrote in his Bluesky announcement post.
  • We're 18 days into 2024, and Zwiezen is already reporting 3,100+ layoffs in the games industry. An average of ~172 job losses per day.
  • These layoffs include major companies like Unity (1,800), Twitch (500), Discord (170), but smaller comapanies haven't been spared, either. Lost Boys Interactive, Thunderful (Viewfinder), and Behaviour Interactive (Dead by Daylight) are among the many companies that have experienced layoffs this year.
  • As I wrote about previously, 2023 was one of the greatest years ever for gaming, with an enormous volume of modern classic releases like Baldur's Gate III, Tears of the Kingdom, and Octopath Traveller II. Unfortunately, it was also one of the worst years ever for the people who make the games, with several thousands layoffs reported across the industry. 2024's slate of games doesn't look as strong, and the fact Zwiezen's tracker is already halfway to 2023's totals, it's looking like another tough year for workers, too. Congrats to all those CEOs and stakeholders making record profits, though.

For more:

Astrolabe 35: Is 2023 the best year in video game history? Or the worst?
Fuck capitalism. Oh, and handheld gaming rules.

Reactor's rocket ship logo and wordmark on a red background.

Tor.com relaunching as Reactor

  • Long-running geek media site Tor.com is rebranding as Reactor—with a new site launching January 23, 2024.
  • Why are they rebranding? "'Tor.com' is a very confusing name. Rebranding distinguishes us from Tor Books, Tordotcom Publishing, and even the TOR browser—3 things that we are not!" Reactor said. "['Reactor'] captures some of what we do: react to genre fiction and related pop culture with articles, essays, etc. Reactors are components in spaceships, which ties in with our beloved mascot, Stubby. Having 'tor' in the name is a nice bonus. Don’t forget from whence you came!"
  • Amusingly, Tordotcom Publishing is not rebranding under the Reactor name.
  • This is a strict rebrand, according to Reactor. Staff, coverage, editorial direction, and frequency of short fiction will remain unchanged.
  • As a publisher-owned publication, Tor.com has always in an interesting position as they steadfastly maintained a publisher agnostic editorial directive. In theory, this rebranding should separate the platform even further from Tor Books and Tordotcom Publishing, giving them more agency to cover geekdom fully and without reservation. As someone who worked with Tor.com during its early years, I was always impressed by the freedom I was given in my work. However, my first departure from the site—way back when I ran some genre-focused social media accounts on Facebook—resulted from my coverage of a Tor Books title that the author didn't like, so it hasn't been without hiccups.
  • The Reactor staff are doing an AMA on /r/fantasy, for those looking for more information.
  • One of my favourite things I ever wrote for Tor.com/Reactor is this deep dive into the recognizable science fiction and fantasy writers bringing Magic: The Gathering's story to life:
Spellbound : The Familiar Faces Creating the Story for Magic: The Gathering
If someone asked me how I got into fantasy, I’d bring up the summer of ’96. I was 12 years old and had just graduated elementary school. Enjoying one of the longest summers of my life. One day stan…


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