Do We Really Need The PS5?

The year is 2019. Sony has usurped its competition to dominate the console market with a whopping 96.8 million in lifetime sales. By the end of January 2019, the Xbox One had hit 42 million in sales; with the Nintendo Switch tearing up the ground behind it waiting to swallow its rival whole with its 30 million and quickly rising.

http://www.vgchartz.com/article/436094/switch-vs-ps4-vs-xbox-one-global-lifetime-salesjanuary-2019/

By the end of January 2019, the Xbox One had hit 42 million in sales; with the Nintendo Switch tearing up the ground behind it waiting to swallow its rival whole with over 30 million and counting (and a 4-year head start).

PlayStation’s current consoles may even beat the long-standing dominance of the famed PS2, so it begs the question, is one more addition to the catalogue something we need?

Naturally a new piece of hardware will entice lots of thirsty, early adopters that would buy a wet piece of cardboard with a shoddily drawn Sony log on it. But as for the majority, they will need convincing.

GIMME GIF

I’ve argued before that the leap from PS3 to PS4 wasn’t AS spectacular as previous generation gaps. Technology continues to advance, but a wall will be hit at some point and you can only run with this success for so long before you smash into the wall and rearrange your own face.

Mark Cerny, the Lead System Architect for Sony, revealed all the juicy new details for Sony’s newest toy. The godlike power of their imminent behemoth was revealed.

-A third-generation AMD, Ryzen line chip with 8 cores of new 7nm Zen 2 micro-architecture.

AND

-Top of the line ray tracing for realistic reflections, light rays and advanced lighting models.

I understand that technology as well as geordies understand the idea of wearing layers. It’s essentially jargon for, “our new console is more powerful than the last one”.

Now…I don’t know about you, but my PS4 Pro + 50″ 4K, HDR-enabled TV combination is absolutely stunning. Crisper than a pack of Walkers. So am I really too bothered about an 8K upgrade when that will mean upgrading to an 8K TV?

Furthermore, the human eye has a hard time recognising any discernible difference between 4K and 8K. It’s just science.

Another notable detail revealed about the PS5 is its processing power and in-turn, faster processes for games. For example, Mr Cerny used Spider-Man as a test subject, its PS4 fast travel time took roughly 15 seconds to traverse the map and put you back in control of Spidey. Whereas the new PS5 tested the same thing and it took a whopping 0.8 seconds!

Spider-Man Fast Travel

Yep. Blink and you’ll miss him.

I legitimately had “shock face” upon hearing this statistic. But once I settled down and began to look past the smoke and mirrors in front of me; I realised a couple of things.

Firstly, the reduced time is a positive no doubt, but this is based off last generation software. When new games are being developed that begin to harness and extract all the bits of power they can from the new console, then I start to wonder what the actual fast travel times will then be.

Secondly, and very crucially, a near 15 second reduction in loading times is great; hell, it may expand to even 20-30 seconds for some games, but is an extra £300-400 worth it for a few extra seconds of waiting? I’ll leave that one with your wallet.

Another thought that contravenes the idea of gaming innovation is cloud gaming. Google have just thrown their name into the hat with the recently announced “Google Stadia”. But Sony have already played their cloud gaming service card with “PS Now” and whilst it can be developed and improved on for the PS5, it’s something else that is not exactly a deal clincher.

It’s a testament to hardware developers that they can keep bettering themselves and creating all-powerful processors to gift us these massive, meaty experiences to feast on. Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, God of War, Assassin’s Creed, some of the most universally revered franchises that even penguins in the Antarctic have played at some point; although you think their webbed feet would favour Spider-Man.

Big, open games brimming with detail. Technical marvels that have flourished on the current gen. But the rise of open world games has arisen as a result of better game engines. As a result developers, bereft of ideas, are looking more towards open-world games as easy cash. However, most of them tend to be big, bold and emptier than my tear ducts after playing the opening to The Last of Us for the millionth time.

PS5

I always love these futuristic, concept designs that people come up with. Wouldn’t mind this to be honest.

I fear mistakes will be repeated on the PS5 with lots of samey, open-world games saturating the market and creativity dwindling more so.

The Nintendo Switch has been a resounding success due to the way in which its changed how you can play games. Handheld. On your TV. That’s why its selling so well.

I’m sure the same will apply to Sony’s competition too. If history is anything to go by, Microsoft will look to reboot franchises and do their best to create some stellar IP’s to compete with Sony’s; with neither really looking to make any substantial footprint on the innovation front.

Will I buy the PS5? Absolutely. I am indeed one of those sorry saps that will gladly queue up for one of the first slices of that moisty, wet cardboard.

But will your Average Joe (in his gymnasium) really want to fork out another few hundred pounds to play the newest FIFA or Call of Duty?

Perhaps Sony will have to avoid a dodgeball and throw a curveball our way.

Maybe like backwards compatibility across ALL previous Sony consoles…?

There’s your next article spoiler …*clicks fingers in Thanos*

– Andy.H. –

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Has Gaming Peaked?

Video games have seldom failed to innovate over the many decades of their existence. The bar continues to be raised to new levels of air superiority and the progression of games development continues to be treated like a precarious game of Jenga. As one developer slides out a block with inch-perfect precision; another will grab it from their hand, add another for good measure, and slam it down on the top of this ever-expanding, beast of construction.

The continuing evolution can be compared to that of the ‘mine’s bigger than yours’ skyscraper war that continues to escalate to untold heights. At one point, New York upheld their dominance over a 66-year period in which their structures were unsurpassable. Eventually, Kuala Lumpur got a taste of the pie and got in on the act with the impressive Petronas Towers. But that was soon dethroned by Tapei 101.

…AND then Dubai decided they’d grown weary of the child’s play before them and ultimately usurped everyone by unleashing the behemoth that is the Burj Khalifa – obliterating the previous record by over 300 meters.

Skyscrapers.jpg

This same philosophy has been a constant throughout the video game scene, dating as far back as everyone’s favourite, back and forth, bleep-bloop-a-thon; Pong. Pong was the equivalent of the Empire State Building, but now, it’s been left far behind in the dust to bigger and greater powers that be.

I’ll be completely honest with you valued reader, the classics such as Asteroids, Pac-Man and Space Invaders just don’t hook me or stimulate me to a great extent. I can’t play them for more than 5-10 minutes before wishing I was bitten by a mosquito so that the scratching the bite would give me something better to do. Whereas human beings that are 10 and 20 years my senior, used to invest every waking second of their time into these past pleasures. Relics of a bygone era that have transcended generations of ‘bigger and better’ games.

That’s not to say these games are bad, not by a long shot. It’s just that those simple mechanics have been reworked, revamped and injected with Bane-levels of energy, vigour and more importantly…the future.

PongGIF

Safe to say, we’ve come a long way since this.

Technology has continued to excel. Technology has continued to advance beyond the realms of unthinkable possibility. And technology has made gaming’s journey a mind-blowing field of dreams that we continue to walk through and discover new secrets on along the way.

…But…

Are we coming towards the end of this creative boom?

The bigger the steps that gaming takes, the less room is being left to do something new. Resulting in tiny baby steps that serve only to prolong this extension and extort more money from consumers in the meantime.

The pipeline isn’t as fresh as it once was; concepts and genres are being regurgitated for an easy buck and few mechanics are truly ground-breaking anymore. Not to mention the unwelcome influx of shady business practices such as DLC and Loot Boxes. These ugly strategies seem to be more frequent than ever, which in turn starves us of new prospects and the need for those companies to invest in new ideas and IP”s.

It still may be sometime away, but the looming dread of gaming arriving at its zenith seems closer than ever.

Take graphics as a key proponent of this argument, graphics are one of the most obvious ways we can analyse just how much development has been made over the years.

Starting from Pong’s primitive use of pixels, we’ve walked a long and winding pass that taken us through such places as Commodore City, Sega Saloon and the ever-popular Nintendo Necropolis (my inventive alliteration DIED at this point).

During this period we had Prince of Persia, Bubble Bobble, Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, Streets of Rage, Earthworm Jim, Kirby, Mortal Kombat, Chrono Trigger, Mario Kart and Zelda.

Not a bad line-up?

*Side note: here’s a shameless plug to my recent Bubble Bobble article.

https://gamesandgraps.com/2018/10/30/retro-rewind-bubble-bobble/

Fast forward to the Nineties and some of the powerhouses are really starting to emerge at this point with the undeniable presence of the N64 and the Playstation.

The step-up was big, and with games like Mario 64 , Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo flexing their sleek muscles, the landscape was beginning to change for the better.

SuperMario64

Sony not only took the burden of having to try and go one better than they did for the PS1, but they took that burden and piled more burdens on top of it. They really hit the weights. Piling on plate after plate, gulping pixel protein and pushed themselves to deliver a never-seen-before piece of hardware that could exceed limits. But they did this, over and over with the almighty PS2 eventually being dwarfed by the PS3 and so forth.

The next generation of video game consoles were very much in effect a decade later with the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii primarily owning the console market. They were the standard bearer.

Now in 2018, The PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch reign surprise. I didn’t think The Last of Us could be topped for looks, it didn’t seem fathomable for a game to move in motion as seamlessly as Forza Horizon; but in the last few years or so…oh boy…boy…BOY!

God of War, Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spider-Man, GTA V, The Witcher III, Halo, Forza, Gears of War, Zelda, Battlefield 1 and many, many more have continued to astound. When one title steals the spotlight, there’s another right around the corner to supercede its predecessor.

However, where we are right now in terms of graphics, it’s good, it’s damn good. But it’s not getting THAT much better. For instance, the leap from PS1 to PS2 was monumental. PS2 to PS3 was incredible, PS3 to PS4 was the point at which I would say the leap merely became a hop. Killzone: Shadow Fall looked stunning as a PS4 launch title, but was arguable a slightly flashier version of Killzone 3 on the console before.

We’ve hit a wall, albeit a sexy looking wall gleaming with thousands of pristine pixels. 4K and HDR has upgraded the quality of the projected image, but at the end of the day, it’s still only fractional in the context of change. 8K will be next, whilst that will be phenomenal no doubt, it’ll never represent anything like the grand canyon jump we made over a decade ago.

Wall

True story, I just spent 5 mins browsing through pictures of walls until I found a SUITABLE WALL. This is the one that resonated with me the most.

But that’s the visual side of things, in terms of gameplay, as I’ve said, the same tired and tested tropes are being recycled to the point of over-saturation.

Now, to pretty much contradict myself once more, I do enjoy lots of this. My games list is a constant ‘one game bought, two more added’. There’s just so much out there that I’m more spoiled than a silver-spooned, home-schooled child that will remorselessly smash the family porcelain if I can’t have my diamond encrusted gold chain to show off to Moriarty my invisible friend.

That being said, the last two generations of gaming have been structured similarly in that there’s been on over-reliance and emphasis on favouring a particular genre. A genre that will be abused and exploited for every penny for an easy cash-grab.

First-person shooters had limited success on the PS2 and Xbox 360. Outside of Timesplitters, Halo, Killzone, Half-Life, Medal of Honor: Frontline and Call of Duty 2/3 and I can’t think of too much else. Then the PS3 and 360 arrived and it was just one FPS after another. Putting together a quick 4-8 hour campaign, tack on multiplayer and deliver it at full-price.

Our recent iteration of hardware has seen a HUUUUGEE surge in open world games. Makes sense though. We’re operating in a exciting time of sophisticated game engines running off of ultra-powerful machines. The PS2 is now essentially a Nissan Micra to the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport that is the PS4 Pro.

 

Pertaining to this super computer power, it’s led to the creation of vast, sprawling worlds. So vast that I can just picture a developer using a single finger with a pointed claw, clawing at the disc to fit in one last palm tree into their game. But that’s just me.

There’s just nothing much new out there. I won’t get into the whole remaster/remake debate(not yet anyway, stay tuned), but between this, the ‘big’ games with repetitive side missions, collectibles etc. It’s just easy to do.

How much GENUINE originality has there been in the gaming world since 2014?

You do get plenty of it in the independent scene, but sadly they don’t get the time or success that they need to properly excel and it usually becomes inconsequential to the broader horizon. On the other end of the scale, your more mass market companies *cough* EA *cough* Ubisoft are more than happy to indulge in their incurable disease of sequelitis.

EAMoney2

So many of the same franchises have carried over two and even three generations of consoles now with no signs of ceasing. Again, not saying that’s a bad thing; just merely stating a point to discuss.

Needless to say it would be ignorant of me to bypass one of the truer examples of growth that has exemplified change within the gaming industry. That would be the relative success of virtual reality.

But Andrew…where are the hundreds of millions of sales that would financially represent success? Is there anything like a 1:1 demographic for VR that would suggest a sustainable future for VR technology and investment?

VR shouldn’t have worked. It’s a gimmick that’s been the dream of many, myself included, for so very long. If I’m not mistaken, 2016 saw the release of the main competition with regards to VR: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR. With all the peripheral devices and the cumbersome nature of the hardware, it’s easy to see why people would be put off, especially with something that is a mostly untouched market.

PsVr

Guarantee he’s playing a game involving an ice-cream.

Sales seem to be going really well so far and with over 200 current PS4 VR games to play at the moment with Beat Saber and many others to come, the future is looking bright for this true innovation.

And if you’re not sold on the idea of your room becoming a virtual world space, trust me, I have one, it’s immersive, impactful and everything becomes…well immersive. There’s no other way of putting, no lexicon can accurately summise how powerful this tool is. One word – immersive.

On the other hand, we can’t all stand around all day admiring the arse of VR. Time doesn’t slow down for anyone and this is supported by the recent news that the PS5 has a date with destiny in the near-future…probably Destiny 3 to be honest but ANYWAY.

What does the future hold for gaming? Will the raw power and engineering of our next generation of beasts allow a new genre to take centre-stage? Will some crazy new computer chip allow gaming to literally look like real-life? Or are we going to stagnate and toil away in the comfort we already know? Just with prettier pencils.

– Andy.H. –

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My Trophies Are Over 9, 000! Was It Worth It?

To an outsider, boasting about your whopping collection of Playstation trophies that now exceeds nine thousand, is unbelievably sad. To a gamer, it’s probably only a little bit less sad.

When I think of all the stuff I could’ve achieved with that time, it’s frightening. I mean seriously, it’s such a wide scope of endless possibilities. It could’ve been better spent learning an instrument, perhaps even learning Mongolian, or even perfecting the art of Tuvan throat singing.

Instead?

-I’ve finished multiple Call of Duty campaigns on Veteran AND Realistic difficulty

-I’ve fully completed every Uncharted game (more than once on different platforms)

-I’ve conquered Rapture, on hard, with Vita Chambers turned off

-I’ve hung my head in shame after getting the platinum for Terminator Salvation

-I’ve brought Greek and Norse mythology to a standstill with a famed, ashen warrior

-I’ve been glitched out of Skyrim perfection

-I’ve cursed inFamous for leaving me on 98% trophies (damn blast shards)

-I’ve had the pleasure of platinuming some absolute gems from the Hotline Miami games to Dust: Elysian Tail to Guacamelee to Rogue Legacy

-I’ve persevered to defeat Sephiroth in a platinum match that was impossible as a kid

-I’ve suffered through unplayable atrocities such as Rambo, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem: Forever

-I’ve had a chance to catch up on series’ that eluded me in my younger days such as Doom, Wolfenstein, DMC amongst others

-And finally… I’ve killed Satan multiple times…with a crying child…with an army of helper flies

20180930_192206.jpg

The Collection

109 Platinum trophies

533 Gold trophies

1, 765 Silver trophies

6, 647 Bronze trophies

In hindsight, would I turn back time, and refrain from pursuing those virtual accomplishments in favour of something that MIGHT have benefitted me more substantially?

I will give you the same answer that…actually forget that, I’ll dispense with the theatrics and the hyperbole. No. A simple no.

Life is Strange. Why lead a half-life?

My First Platinum

When I was back in college, revising and knuckling down to get good A-level grades should’ve been my priority. But it was around this time that Playstation trophies were in their infancy. I’d had to watch all my friends in high school brag about their ‘chievos’. Such a novel concept. Virtual, in-game, stamps of recognition that added both replayability and an extra sense of accomplishment.

On one hand, I had the part of my life that was dealing with the academic diffculty spike that I had rear-ended with great force. But away from that burden in my life, I was battering the ever-living hell out of Quantum of Solace to finally wrap my greasy, nerdy palms around an intangible shiny shine.

I actually can’t describe how happy I was when I did it. I had to grind the online multiplayer for that game for so long, without actually wanting to sample even a second of it; let alone the hours of average gameplay I endured.

All…for that sweet release of serotonin; thanks to the delightful, addictive trophy pop sound.

In essence, it sounds like the journey has been fun, right? WRONG.

Whilst trophies have, mostly, positively impacted my gaming; they’ve also had a detrimental and equally damaging effect too.

The Downside…

Voluntarily making the decision to avoid games, THAT I WANT, just because of an unappealing trophy list.

Let that sink in for a second.

LetThatSinkIn

It honestly makes me sad writing this part to be honest. I’ve purposely denied myself gaming experiences, purely on the basis that I was displeased by a list of optional goals. If by some miracle, I could look back on the past and identify all the games that I wanted but wasn’t prepared to grind for a particular trophy etc; then I genuinely don’t think I’d want to.

Online trophies, in particular, have been the bane of my existence and caused limitations for me. There are too many variables with online trophies from: how popular the game is, which determines how populated the game is, which affects how long the servers are open for, then there’s the stability of the servers etc.

Fighting and driving games are terrible for this. I distinctly remember MK9, which I adored, had a trophy for winning 10…I repeat 10 online ranked matches. IN A ROW. I just can’t be arsed. I’m not a pro at fighting games, so knowing that it’d be a struggle to amass two or even an unlikely three-in-a-row is silly.

Furthermore, I love a good challenge in a game and even grinding to complete it too. But when you’ve got games like Wipeout that has people saying it’s near-enough a 10/10 for the difficulty to get the trophies, it’s just off-putting. Buying a game, knowing that you’ll never get the platinum trophy is disheartening.

Again, I stress; have trophies/achievements been all-good? Absolutely not. Games like the aforementioned Terminator: Salvation had a trophy list designed, lazily I might add, to increase cheap purchases and rentals. Finish the short, broken campaign and get 10+ gold trophies and a platinum. Lazy, but clever.

TerminatorSalvationI cannot stress just how much this game sucked to play.

To all the people that have the platinum for Hannah Montanna, you know who you are you embarrassed individuals with no self-respect.

Thankfully, I can hold my hand on my heart and say that virtually all of my platinums are respectable ones.

Call of Duty: Classic, Thumper, Nioh, The Crash Bandicoot Trilogy, Bioshock Trilogy, Rogue Legacy and the Hotline Miami games, to name a few, are but some of the more challenging feats I can proudly hold under my belt. Metaphorically of course. OH and DOOM 3.

So, am I proud?

Yes. Oh yes, yes, yes. I’m a gamer. Always have been. Always will. These trophies have helped me cope with life and they’ve helped me to live life. For every two or three people that don’t care about trophies or even know what they are, there’s always one who will. That person will think that ‘completely completing’ 109 games is quite cool.

Is it any different to someone who goes fishing and goes berserk for catching new fish and maybe even keeping that catch? That’s their reward for excelling themselves in their specific hobby.

People want to catch COD, I want to finish its campaign on veteran. People like to drive cars, I like to control high-speed supercars and drift them on Need For Speed to demolish preset parameters.

10 years later…I’m still going. I will always keep going. When a game comes out that I want, I will analyse that trophy list until I’ve sniffed out every single strand of DNA that thing has.

No worries officer, don’t give me a badge; just give me a gold trophy and say good boy.

– Andy.H. –

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Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference: It Wasn’t Good Enough

E3 2018 was a BIG one for Microsoft. There’s still time in this generations ‘console war’ for them to have a lasting impact.

Statistics have shown that the general public have generally favoured Sony’s PS4 hardware, with it boasting nearly double the sales of the Xbox One. That’s an incredible amount considering how much the Xbox 360 dominated the PS3 last decade.

http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2018/05/ps4_is_way_ahead_of_xbox_one_in_total_console_sales_says_new_data

It just shows the power of E3.

Microsoft really shot itself in the foot a few years ago with a few blunders: price tag, lack of third party game use and a permanent internet connection required for the Xbox One.

Nintendo has shown that as long as you’ve got the right hardware, games and attitude; you can still make a difference e.g the Nintendo Switch.

So can Microsoft get some new IP’s out as, late in the game, system-sellers?

Halo Infinite (Exclusive)

As I predicted, a new Halo game has surfaced; albeit very briefly. There was nothing to take from this. There a rhino, Master Chief with his helmet off and the famous, green Halo truck. I’m quite shocked that that’s all we got.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Exclusive)

This is probably the best new game to come out of Microsoft’s presentation. A sequel to 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest. This looks like an adorable, fuzzy game with warm-looking characters in an enchanting adventure. It looks like a solid co-op game boasting an array of colours and creative backdrops in its 2.5D style design. It’s art-style is gorgeous and did I say that Ori is adorable?

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Third-party)

Looks like Nioh. That’s my first instinct. My other instinct is that I want this. Made by From Software, it’s the game we thought was going to be Bloodborne 2. We finally got a glimpse at the game, that was revealed last year, and its Samurai action looks frenetic and VERY intense.

Thankfully it’s a multi-platform release, but this would be a sign of things to come from Microsoft’s conference.

Fallout: 76  (Third-party)

Initially there was uproar over Fallout 76. Is it an MMO? Is it going down the same route as Elder Scrolls Online? We still don’t know, but this reveal suggests that it’s not a full-blown MMO, and that resonates with me nicely.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (Third-party)

Set in the Life is Strange universe, one I’m completely unfamiliar with so scold me in the comments section. I can’t comment much here, it looks zany and emotive and if it follows the same ‘Telltale Games’ gameplay, then it will probably sit well with fans of Life is Strange.

Crackdown 3 (Exclusive)

I love it just for Terry Crews’ voice alone. Crackdown games are usually over-the-top, kick as much ass as humanly possible games; in the same vein as the later Saints Row games.

I can’t say it looked all-that impressive, personally. The graphics seemed a bit blocky, and they didn’t sparkle with the modern-day gloss that lots of top AAA games do.

More importantly, the gameplay just didn’t grab my attention. As I’ve alluded to already, if you slapped the ‘Saints Row’ name on this game, then it wouldn’t be amiss.

Metro Exodus (Third-party)

It looks more Fallout than Fallout 76 does. It looks like a true, posy-apocalyptic world with danger lurking around every frickin corner. The pulse-racing desire to achieve survival feels paramount here and could be the sleeper hit of 2018.

Kingdom Hearts 3 (Third-party)

Coming to Xbox. That’s big. But not as big as OLAF! What you prefer Sven? Well you better LET IT GO because I don’t care.

Seriously though, this a great addition for the Microsoft catalogue and KH3 is shaping to be a sequel worth waiting for.

Sea of Thieves DLC (Exclusive)

This is another game that I saw as an opportunity missed. This needed to be released WITH the game on launch, not now. The game didn’t boast a lot of content in the beginning and it still doesn’t. It may be too late for Sea of Thieves.

Battlefield 5 (Third-party)

We already saw this at the EA Conference, kind of. Not much new stuff here.

Forza Horizon 4 (Exclusive)

Leaves! Leaves fell from the ceiling in time to leaves falling in the game. No expense spared, it might wake the audience up. It looks like a really connected and open, driving world with real-time bonding and crashing. Dynamic seasons. It’s your typical Forza Horizon game really and looks beautiful.

We Happy Few (Third-party)

Already seen it plenty. It’s got that extraordinary Bioshock vibe to it which immediately draws me to it.

PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds (Xbox and PC)

No one clapped for this again, it really feels like the crowd interest is waning significantly. This isn’t a major announcement as it’s just a minor extension of Pubg.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (Third-party)

A 2008 JRPG being remastered for a new generation. Again, another game I didn’t know much about, but it looks like a very good Final Fantasy clone (pre XIII).

The Division 2 (Third-party)

The Division wasn’t a world-beater, and this did nothing to allay my fears about it as it looks to be treading similar ground to its predecessor. The graphics weren’t too impressive, but the arsenal on hand looked fun and it sounded great.

The voice-acting though, sheesh. I’ve yet to confirm whether not that was all pre-recorded, player dialogue, or if it was in-game battle chatter. Either way, it was horrible, cheesy and really undermined the reveal to the point I had to mute it for the final third of it.

 

Fast Track + Game Pass (Exclusive)

‘Fast start’ launches in June for select titles and will make games more accessible, meaning you can jump straight into them.

Plus Crackdown and Forza Horizon 4 will be available on the Game Pass on their release days. It’s cool to see full-price, day-one releases being available on this service. So if you have Xbox Live and the Game Pass, then you have some big, freebies coming your way.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Third-party)

Coming this year, it looks to be another fantastic addition to the successfully rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. There’s no timed exclusivity like there was for Rise of the Tomb Raider here either.

The reveal showcases deep storytelling, dramatic set-pieces, challenging puzzles; and Lara camouflaging to evade a big kitty.

The implication runs rife through the trailer that she’s responsible for something bad. Another gritty entry in a series that can do no wrong.

Session (Exclusive or Timed Exclusive?)

It’s not Skate, but it looks as close as you’re going to get to one. Boasting an Eminem-inspired soundtrack for the video, it really does look like a throwback to the great skateboarding games of yore.

But, I have read conflicting reports about the nature of its exclusivity. Some people say it’s an exclusive, whereas some say it’s only timed. For Microsoft’s sake, I’d hoped its an exclusive as this could be big for them. It’s a gap in the market waiting to be claimed due to the disastrous nature of the latest Tony Hawks game.

Black Desert  (Timed Exclusive)

A hugely popular MMORPG in Asia, it’s now coming to Western consoles; yes, plural. Whilst Microsoft announced this as being a console exclusive, I dug a bit deeper and I discovered that it’s another timed one. In an interview with Pearl Abyss’ COO, James Heo, he said that once the deal is over (with Microsoft), they are sure to bring their flagship to other consoles as well.

https://www.spieltimes.com/news/black-desert-xbox-one-timed-exclusive/

Devil May Cry 5 (Third-party)

J-pop. Batsh*t craziness. Fighting demons, big demons, huge, sprawling demons. This looks like everything you could ever want from a DMC game. Old-school Dante is back too as he turns up to the party on his bike, classic hair-do and all.

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course (Xbox and PC)

Ahh this breaks my heart. Even as a PS4 gamer, I want Microsoft to do well and produce some top quality games, but this is the one that hurts.

I like me a hard game, and this game is hard, overflowing with charm and boasts a unique identity. Cuphead is the best exclusive that Microsoft has produced in years.

So a helping of new bosses and levels will be welcome news to the ears of keen Cuphead enthusiasts. Lucky people with their dancing sunflower.

Tunic (Exclusive)

Another much-needed exclusive for the platform. It’s not a massive AAA title, but it’s another game packed with charm.

You control a small, cute fox and navigate contained, but open levels: fighting nasty monsters, locating treasure and making your way to the next level. It’s got a subtle soundtrack and doesn’t seem as easy as it first appears.

It looks like a nice title that people will hopefully take a chance on.

Jumpforce (Third-party)

A crossover, fighting game featuring characters from Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece and even Death Note. No more needs to be said.

Although, surely it’s redundant with Light having the Death Note, right?

Dying Light 2 (Third-party)

Wow. I didn’t see this coming. I genuinely hadn’t heard anything about a sequel for Dying Light, and I thoroughly enjoyed Dying Light.

It looked bigger and more expansive; offering greater freedom in terms of being able to traverse from location to location e.g swing ropes etc. Plus, one of the weaker aspects of the first game (story) may be addressed here too with a city in civil war and in-fighting a problem.

It’s good to see that it got a sequel.

Battletoads (Exclusive)

Erm, were people begging for this? I honestly don’t know, I guess the value of this exclusive is based on how keen you are on Battletoads. It’s been over 20 years since the last one and this is rigidly sticking to its roots, retaining 2.5D graphics and gameplay.

Just Cause 4 (Third-party)

A destructive sequel with destructive qualities and a destructive destruction of destructive destruction. Its a series that prides itself on cataclysmic chaos…and destruction.

Just Cause 3 was an absolute blast, packed with explosive gameplay and it kept me grapple hooked.

If number Four can up the ante, then it promises to be dynamite.

Gears of War Triple Header (Xbox and PC)

-Gears Pop: A cartoon game based on the hugely-successful Punko Pop Figures.

-Gears Tactics:  A PC-Only, turn-based combat game that is very much set in the Gears universe.

-Gears 5: Another prediction of mine that inevitably came to fruition. I knew that the fourth game had ended on a proverbial cliffhanger, so a another game was inevitable. I can admit, if I owned an Xbox, I would probably own every game in this franchise.

I had the chance to play Gears of War 4 at Eurogamer in 2016 and it was stunning. The gameplay was so tight and brutal; 5 looks to be a continuation of this, but with a deeper story.

You take control of Kait, who debuted in GOW4, and you take your squad AWOL in attempt to find an answer to Kait’s broken psyche. With a rumoured Battle Royale mode too, GOW5 should be a must-buy.

Cyberpunk 2077 (Third-party)

The audience has noticeably gotten quieter throughout the show. But this woke them up somewhat. A nice little surprise at the end to close proceedings. Just as it seemed the conference was about to go offline, the screens were invaded with a ‘virus’ and malware seemingly took control of everything.

It was the reveal for the long-awaited, hardcore gamers wet dream; Cyberpunk 2077.

A deep-base soundtrack providing the grungy, undertones to this seedy looking city. A place that looks infatuated by all the poisons of its futuristic age. There’s no clear characters here or any defined story, but it’s a beautiful collage showing how this ugly city works; presented in every shade of the colour spectrum.

It doesn’t matter what console you own, this will be a system seller for all formats.

Analysis

This was a fantastic games conference, but an awful Microsoft Conference.

I’d previously reiterated my belief that Microsoft could increased their console sales if they could just pull a few rabbits out of the hat. They for some reason decided to adopt a trilby, filled with concrete…

More than ever, this year moved away from TV, TV, TV and COD, COD, COD. This conference proudly boasted 50 games and 18 exclusives. But outside of the same old ones, what else was there?

Even the audience seemed to lose enthusiasm and energy the more the show went on. I’ve never really known games be shown, and get no reaction from the crowd.

Halo didn’t even tell us anything, Crackdown looks good, but not amazing, Forza will obviously be a superb racing game and Gears will impress, no doubt about it.

But you see the overriding problem here? None of these AAA games are new IP’s. I will absolutely not turn this into a flame war and point out what Sony are doing, I’ll talk about Sony’s success with exclusives during their conference tomorrow.

But the biggest new games are Ori, Tunic and Battletoads. Not exactly reasons to get your phone out and order an Xbox One.

The Fast Track and Game Pass announcements are cool, but that’s mainly for people who already own the console. Otherwise you’re asking people to shell out for a console, Xbox Live and a Monthly Subscription.

Additional DLC for Cuphead, Pubg and Sea of Thieves provide a small boost, but the third party games have really hit this conference hard. The main talk about the conference is primarily about third-party games e.g Battlefield V, Kingdom Hearts III, Sekiro, Fallout, The Division and Tomb Raider.

Next year will have to be a big year for Microsoft, as this didn’t live up to the hype I’m afraid.

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Has the ‘Worst Company in the World’ redeemed itself at E3?

The headline is not a slanderous claim from yours truly. It’s an undisputed fact.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/ea-named-worst-company-in-america-by-consumerist/1100-6406640/

EA is not exactly a reputable company. Over the years there’s been countless examples of EA extorting money from their loyal consumers through loot boxes and content locked away through paywalls etc. It’s been a constant stream of negativity towards EA throughout the years and there’s barely been a moment where they could relax.

But do they care? Not one bit. They make billions from various ‘Ultimate Team’ modes across their games, in addition to loot boxes etc. But they must care a bit? Right? They do produce good games and this does get lost sometimes.

Don’t get this twisted, I’m not hating on EA. I like lots of their games and have been buying them for years; but do I agree with their business practices? Not at all.

EaMoney

Here comes the moneeeeeeeey!

This year is a definite chance for some sort of redemption. After the notorious Battlefront 2 fiasco, you’d think that they would go hard this year and try to wow the general public.

The first step on a road, 3 light years long, to recovery.

Battlefield V

It may have hopped down the timeline to WW2, but this is still a pure, gutsy war game that wants to make you taste the juices of battle. Yes, red dot sights don’t reflect the realism, but I think we can forego this slight over-red-dot-sight.

The brilliantly realised Stories, from Battlefield 1, are making a welcome return here. They really added an emotive and personable touch to get you invested. Bite-size nuggets of content with enough depth to make you care.

The online looks as chaotic as ever with its insanely detailed and polished graphics; plus fully destructible environments too. Oh, and it’s Bad Company levels of destruction here.

But the two crucial additions here have a very Fortnite feel to them….

The first, is a new building mechanic in the game. During a multiplayer showcase last night, the developer was talking about how Bad Company was criticised for its levels becoming pancakes with regards to destruction i:e if you destroyed all the houses and scenery, then you were simulating a battle on earth. Flat.

(Only joking, just trying to stir up some controversy)

But yeah, you can now build sand barracks and trenches, amongst other things, to protect yourself. It’s smart and adds some more strategic depth to an already successful war simulator.

Secondly, ‘Royale Imagined’. No prizes for guessing what that mysterious title entails.

*No loot crates or season pass here either.

 

New Star Wars Game

A brand new Star Wars game. A brand new story. A brand new disappointment?

We’ve been suckered in by EA’s promises before; placating consumers with their image-friendly oratory that has become recycled, cliché platitudes by this point

But with Respawn heading the game, I’d like to think that they want to restore the reputation of Star Wars games.

So in 2019, we get a single-player, action game that explores a part of the Star Wars timeline that isn’t necessarily as explored as say other parts.

The overall goal? Stop Emperor Palpatine from trying to have every Jedi in the galaxy killed. That’s cool. I’m intrigued. But cautious.

Can EA make people forget about Battlefront II? Time will tell.

Battlefront II Content Update

It’s tough for me to be objective about Star Wars: Battlefront II, so I’m not going to be. If you still play it then fair enough, you have a myriad of new additions to look forward to, primarily from the Clone Wars era, from heroes to maps and the biggest Battlefront map yet.

StarWarsBattlefrontII

Unravel 2

Yarny has a buddy!

The first iteration of this adorable franchise eluded me. There was always other games taking up huge chunks of my gaming time, with yet more piling on all the time and suffocating me.

But it always looked like a good time waiting to be had.

UnravelTwo

The reveal showed a lot of fun-looking platforming and it’s obvious that you’re encouraged to buddy up with another fellow Yarny. The platforming is apparently more refined and will obviously tailor towards two-player, teamwork.

Oh, and if you didn’t know; they pulled the ol’ “It’s out now” trick during the conference. So what are you waiting for?  Buy it! What, not cottoned on yet?

Anthem

Ah Anthem, you’re the type of game that makes wish I had superpowers. To just have the ability to predict the future with 100%, pinpoint accuracy.

Will this game flop? Will it be one of the all-time, hyped-up failures?

On paper, all is well. The game looks mind-bogglingly good. Anthem COULD reach dizzying heights…literally, with your characters’ jetpack you can soar high above the world, overseeing all the wondrous sights the open world has to offer.

Open world games have had something of a renaissance in the last few years. They’ve always been prevalent, but whereas the FPS was the go-to game to create in the PS3/Xbox 360 days, the sheer power of the new generation of consoles has allowed for some truly spectacular worlds to be made.

Anthem’s world looks interesting, it definitely has that going for it. There’s plenty going on on the screen with damage-per-second stats constantly flashing up and the HUD looking a little crowded at times. Less can be better.

But my overriding questions for this game are…

  1. How much will co-op be a factor? We know that it supports 4-player, but is it an Evolve-type experience where more is better? Or can one person still have a seamless and pleasant experience?
  2. Most importantly, what is Anthem about? It’s been a full year now since its big reveal at E3 last year. But all we really know is that you’re a freelance soldier on a quest to quell threats on different planets and protect humanity.

I’m sure we’ll get more information in due course. I’m in the middle on it.

*Paid cosmetic items here, but nothing more.

Sea of Solitude

Well this game looks utterly terrifying. Actually to be fair, it’s not so much terrifying as it is psychologically disturbing. Your character, Kay, is a young woman that is overcome by loneliness in her life to the extent that it’s warped her into some negative monster of darkness. Its cel-shaded graphics are reminiscent of adventures such as Journey, Rime and Two Brothers.

SeaofSolitude

CREEPY.

You must journey through hell and high-water to try and regain her humanity, all the while battling her own tortured emotions and inner demons that are trying to eat away at her.

Seriously, if you’re able to look past her devilish eyes, then hopefully your empathy will come pouring in for her. It’s different, looks like one of the better things at the conference and is released next year.

The Rest

There’s the usual fanfare too with trailers for the new instalments of Fifa and Madden. Not much to tell as it’s the usual theatrical trailers we get every year, but with exception of Fifa showing off its new Champions League license.

Fifa19CL

And last but not least is a new Command & Conquer game, Rivals, being released exclusively for mobile. I believe it’s the first one since Command & Conquer: Tiberian Alliances in 2012? I’m sure a veteran can ascertain whether or not my research is correct. Apart from Walter White apparently resurrecting at the end of the trailer; I can’t tell you much more. Maybe the game’s about meth? It does feel like it’s been put to one side in favour of other stuff being on mobile.

Conclusion

EA’s conference was underwhelming. I felt like it could’ve been better. There wasn’t enough gameplay shown and not enough new stuff really. Battlefield is something to get excited about, Anthem is shaping up nicely for now; but I think the best games were probably Unravel 2 and Sea of Solitude; smaller indie games.

But I think one of the main things to take away from the conference, which people are overlooking, is the loot box theme. Whether they stick to their guns remains to be seen.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that this is a transitional period for EA. There’s been a big emphasis on “no loot boxes or season passes”. But fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…well I’ve been fooled about a million times by EA at this point so we’ll have to see.

Some interesting stuff here, but not a good conference by any means.