The Thursday Inbox discusses value for money versus quality when it comes to games, as one reader recommends We Were Here.
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Now that we’re finally starting to see light at the end of tunnel with the coronavirus (my parents had their first jab yesterday) I’m wondering just what the effects are going to be on gaming for the next few years. We’ve already seen a few high-profile delays already this year and I doubt they’re going to be the last. There already doesn’t seem like much out this year but are things going to stay like that or do we just not know yet?
Nobody knows, I get it, probably not even the publishers or developers, but I worry that Nintendo in particular have been knocked for a six and we may not see anything big out of them again for a long time. There’s some sign of hope – they managed to finish a couple of Smash Bros. DLC characters and New Pokémon Snap is out soon but still the only major release scheduled this year is a Wii U port.
Bayonetta 3 already doesn’t sound like it’s coming out this year and Metroid Prime 4 probably wouldn’t have been out even without the pandemic. So that leaves Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2, which looked like it was gearing up for a release relatively soon but now… it’s anyone’s guess. My personal hope is that, whether that was the original idea or not, it’s being delayed to launch aside the Switch Pro. If both came out for Christmas I think it’d be a great comeback for Nintendo and hopefully gaming in general.
There’s been some discussion lately regarding game length and how having a shorter more focused narrative (such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales) is more appealing when people’s free time is short. When people mention bloated games, they seem to be mostly from Ubisoft, so if you exclude their titles is it still a big problem?
I like a good story and I would dislike missing out on important lore/plot points in games such as Half-Life 2, Mass Effect (trilogy), and Life Is Strange in order to hit a lower game length. Sometimes I don’t want the story to end.
Also, if you compare Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Ultimate Edition £55, 8 to 10 hours game time) and God Of War 2018 (£55 launch price, 17-25 hours conservative game time) I don’t think the price is reflective of the shorter experience. I appreciate you get the Spider-Man remaster bundled, so it is added value if you haven’t played it yet.
GC: It’s not just Ubisoft and not necessarily a question of free time. You’re almost implying that value for money is more important than the quality of the experience. The Last Of Us Part 2 is a recent example of a game that would almost certainly have been better if it was at least a third shorter, while Alien Isolation is perhaps the definitive example of a game whose length was its overriding fault. Plus, those Miles Morales examples are pretty disingenuous – the standard edition is £49.99 and the remaster is not a minor extra.
I tend to agree with the reader who suggests that releasing the PlayStation 5 last year was a mistake. Not a boneheaded failure like Cyberpunk 2077 or the Xbox One launch but an unnecessary frustration for the majority of people.
The only benefit has been to make people anticipate the console, to make it a hot item, but it already was. This wasn’t the Wii U. It would’ve sold out whatever happened and people were already looking forwards to and would have only done so even more if the launch line-up had been even stronger with a delayed launch.
In terms of negatives everyone is now feed up with not being able to get one, angry with scalpers, angry with Sony for not doing anything about them and settling down to the realisation that even pretty hardcore gamers are going to end up having to get a PlayStation 5 six months or more after it first came out. That’s only going to stir resentment and it’s beginning to seem increasingly unnecessary.
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We were cheap
I played a very good co-op game last year with a friend called We Were Here, it was given away free with Xbox Gold. It is a survival puzzle adventure mystery co-op game and I have just seen the three games in
the series are available cheaply individually or as a bundle of three for less on Xbox Store if you have Xbox Gold.
The games are called We Were Here, We Were Here Together, and We Were Here Too. I highly recommend them for a short low budget co-op game to play.
PS: Galactic Civilizations 3 is free on Epic Store from today at 4pm.
Currently playing: Ghost Giant (PSVR)
Maybe next time
Well I’ve struggled through it, Cyberpunk 2077 on an Xbox One S. It was playable but at times felt like I was playing the original Deus Ex but not as good. So I’ve got to the end, got one of the endings as a female nomad; did a lot of very good side quests, the main story was decent, but how on earth is the driving and combat so awful?
So we found out it’s only been in development for four years? Even so, I immediately started a corpo playthrough of which the separate prologue lasted about 15 minutes, then you are in exactly the same story with Jackie as before. There might be a few different dialogue options, I read? Erm, to make another playthrough worthwhile? Not in this state. Hopefully when I can get a PlayStation 5 in time for the fully next gen version, if CD Projekt are even around.
Morning all. While I’m not entirely sure what ‘dedicated handheld’ means on the best portable question surely the Switch is the best of all time? It arguably has the best game of each of the last six generations on it. In Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Dark Souls, Resident Evil 4, Final Fantasy 7, Yoshi’s Island, and Mario Bros. 3. And that’s before we see the large scale porting of Nintendo’s own more recent back catalogue on it, that is surely incoming over the next few years, Super Mario 3D All-Star style, given how many copies that sold. The Switch is the first portable console to deliver ‘full fat’ console gaming in your hands.
Talking of last gen classics, I’m currently playing Bioshock Infinite on it and as someone who once poured hours into a Game Boy and Game Boy Advance as a kid it’s kind of magical to see a game of that quality (a noticeable upgrade on last gen versions in terms of textures, resolution, and performance) running on a portable. It looks incredible on the little screen and along with Alien Isolation must be the best looking game on the system.
Like the reader stated in the weekend feature… it has got me thinking Sony really missed a trick with the PS Vita, and if they could put out a portable PlayStation 4 in the Switch style, capable of playing PlayStation 4 compatible games natively from PSN without the need for porting, I’d certainly jump on board. Hell, they could even charge iPad Pro money (given the tech they’d need to replicate the CPU, GPU, and cooling and then have enough battery life to make it work in a Switch-like form factor they might need to) and I’d be in.
GC: Dedicated handheld means a portable console that doesn’t normally connect to a TV. The Switch is a hybrid, since it can also be played as a home console – in fact many people only use it that way. The Switch Lite is technically handheld-only though.
RE: James and the mysterious case of the disappearing comments. I too have suffered this problem. I think it is if you don’t accept all the advertising/tracking cookies when prompted.
My default is to not accept these for any site but when I’ve done that on GC I lose access to the comments. I couldn’t seem to find a way to re-choose the privacy settings on the site manually so had to wait until it prompted me again. It was a long wait.
I finished The Last Of Us Part 2 last night and have very mixed feelings about it. In terms of production values, this is gaming at its very pinnacle. The environmental detail, the facial animation, and the voice-acting are all exceptional, setting new standards in their field. There were several points during the game that produced such a sense of awe, I had to stop and catch my breath for a moment. We’ve come a long way from Pong.
But exceptional production value does not necessarily lead to an exceptional game. The first problem with Part 2 is its length, or perhaps more accurately the failure to justify its length. I’ll come onto the story shortly but the gameplay fails to offer any real progression through its nearly 30 hours run. There are some wonderful set pieces and the basic mechanics are well designed but the gameplay just doesn’t substantially evolve. This was fine in the tighter frame of the original but at nearly double the length, Part 2’s gameplay starts to feel stale long before the end.
The sense of gameplay fatigue isn’t helped by the increasingly linear nature of the level design. There is an excellent section in Seattle, early in the game, which feels very open and offers a great sense of freedom to explore. But as the game progresses this sense of freedom narrows further and further until you realise you’re being forced through set corridors in the world, albeit very pretty and well disguised ones. To be fair, I had this problem with Uncharted 4 too and it’s part of Naughty Dogs’ style but it just adds to the creeping feeling of going through the motions.
Now the story. It’s bloated and a little hotchpotch at times but there is something there. The themes of revenge, empathy, and redemption are compelling and the game definitely offers some thought-provoking moments. My main problem is I constantly doubted the characters’ motivations. In this extreme, harsh, apocalyptic world where just leaving the house is a risk, why did characters constantly choose to completely ignore the path of least resistance? Everyone consistently takes the hardest route/option possible, putting themselves and loved ones in completely unnecessary danger.
Maybe I’m just too rational and haven’t experienced the rageful cloud of revenge but going on a massive killing spree halfway across the infected infested country seems the act of a psychopath. I realise arriving at that conclusion is perhaps the point but again I just don’t feel the characters motivations were sufficiently established to explain the actions, both good and bad, that they took. Being forced to enact those ill-explained choices just compounded the feeling that neither I nor the character were acting as we truly would. If I can’t empathise with the character’s decisions, then the power of those moments is lost.
This job ad business gets weirder by the day. Why do companies keep doing it? Why do you even have to know what game you’re working on to get a job at a massive studio like Naughty Dog or Santa Monica? Not even a job, just the first interview. Crazy.
The Predator is pretty cool in Fortnite, gotta admit it. I hope the rumours about Lara Croft, as insubstantial as they were, are true. A next gen Tomb Raider would be great and it’d help Crystal Dynamics get out of having to work on Avengers forever instead.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asks what do you find the most annoying cliché in gaming?
The cliché can be anything from gameplay mechanics (forced stealth missions) to game design (climbing up a radio tower) to character and story moments (amnesia in Japanese role-playing games) to anything else that annoys you, from marketing to voiceovers.
Is the problem because the concept is overused or that you didn’t think it was very good to begin with? Which cliché do you secretly enjoy and hope never goes away?
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The small print
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