The Wednesday Inbox hopes for the return of the real-time strategy genre, as one reader doesn’t want to pay for online on consoles.
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Interesting to see Microsoft admit the problems of selling a new console in the middle of a pandemic. They’ve been warning of this for a while and it does seem as if the worries about the economy has convinced them that Game Pass and backwards compatibility is the way to go. Even though it’s a lot less sexy direction than giant state-of-the-art exclusives, i.e. Sony’s plan.
These strange rumours about multiple FromSoftware remasters and a Silent Hill reboot certainly does suggest Sony are going for the hardcore at first, which makes some sense. The question is how they then get the mainstream on board. Do they just wait a year or so and hope the economy gets back on track or are they going to push a cheaper version of the, presumably expensive, PlayStation 5?
Everything suggest that the cheaper Lockhart version of the Xbox Series X is going to be released at launch or soon after but I haven’t seen anything to suggest the same for Sony. People always think it’s power that sells a console but it’s not, it’s games and price. And yet I do think Sony would understand that, given what happened to the PlayStation 3.
It’s a mystery and in terms of the console itself it doesn’t sound like we’re going to get any answers this week. But I think Microsoft may have the best plan here: Game Pass + a cheaper Xbox Series X sounds like an actual bargain, and we’re probably all going to need that. If Sony’s plan is just that you’re going to have to save up for longer I don’t think that’s going to fly so much.
Power isn’t everything
RE: Wotan. Wanting the best versions of multiformat games is understandable, but just because a console is the most powerful doesn’t automatically mean that that’s where the best versions of the games will be. The PlayStation 3 was more powerful than the Xbox 360, but due to a combination of factors (Microsoft’s head start and the PlayStation 3 apparently being difficult to program for), the PlayStation 3 versions of multiformat games could be significantly worse. Quite famously so with things like Bayonetta.
The differences did seem to narrow as the generation went on, but I remember it being a fairly regular comment at the bottom of reviews that the PlayStation 3 version had issues not present in the Xbox 360 version.
The most powerful console rarely becomes the best-selling, and that’s what tends to dictate the lead development format for multiformat games.
Sparky the Yak
I have an idea for Microsoft. They asked how can they make Xbox affordable and give buyers a choice? So here is one: remove the paywall to play online.
As almost every recent game on Earth is monetised to hell and back online play should be free. I know plenty of games don’t use PS Plus or Xbox Live severs after the initial login. Connecting to Ubisoft servers or connecting to Elder Scrolls Online mega server is something I’ve seen many times.
Right now I have a PlayStation 4 and my PS Plus ends in August. I have no intention of renewing. I wouldn’t last year if it wasn’t for Borderlands 3. So if Microsoft want a new Xbox in my house or anyone’s, that is something that would make a big difference.
Handsome Dan Wolfshead
GC: Actually, the majority of Xbox One games do run on Microsoft’s servers; unlike on the PlayStation 4, where Sony has always handled things differently.
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Age of RTS
Your recent review of the remastered Command & Conquer package on the PC made me realise a) what a pity it is the genre is no longer popular and b) how I’d like it to make a return! Some of my fondest gaming memories are playing not only Command & Conquer, but other excellent games in the genre such as Age Of Empires/Mythology, Total Annihilation/Supreme Commander, and lesser known but innovative titles like Impossible Creatures – where you could splice together animals to create unique military units.
Perhaps my favourite ever was Warhammer 40,000 Dawn Of War: Dark Crusade with the excellent meta-campaign, fantastic units, and ability to win and upgrade a commander unit.
You say there’s no innovation to be had but I can think of plenty of ideas it could be brought up to date. Total Annihilation’s all out war with Dawn Of War’s campaign mixed with Impossible Creatures’ unit editing sounds fantastic to me, if combined with modern graphics and hardware.
Plus, first person shooters haven’t really evolved all that much except for graphics the last 10-15 years and they still fly off the shelves.
Anyone else dying for real-time strategy games to make a comeback?
GC: Microsoft recently remastered the first three Age Of Empires games and is currently making a fourth, so there is hope.
Scales of power
Very excited to see the PlayStation 5 game reveal this week and then the Xbox July event. I find the differing strategies of the companies more interesting this generation than last. I’m convinced beyond doubt that Xbox has a significant power advantage this time and I’d always imagined what sort of powerhouse games machine Microsoft could make if they splashed the cash and I feel that Xbox Series X is that machine.
However, for me at least it’s a question of how that power is used. Personally I love that backwards compatibility is a big thing but also think this could work to PlayStation’s advantage, where an Xbox Series X game that has to work on old Xbox hardware is put up against PlayStation 5 games that don’t have to work on PlayStation 4.
The big one for me will be Halo Infinite, as this will demonstrate intent as to scalability. i.e. if on Xbox Series X you need a 50 inch plus TV and zoom in 500% to see a blade of grass with less shimmer over an older Xbox model then I’ll be disappointed. If there;s tons more enemies and physics then happy day! I’m fully expecting the power of PlayStation 5 to be on full display this week and can’t wait.
Keep up the great coverage.
Black market exchange
I see the whole loot box debate has reared its ugly head again. While I’ve never paid for loot boxes, I can see the appeal of them for those who are invested in modes such as FIFA Ultimate Team.
However, the sticking point (in the UK, at least) is that there’s no direct way to exchange the loot box contents for physical gains. Sure, there are obviously third party websites if you know where to look, but the publishers have no control over that.
I’d like to know what the different governments are doing to combat those websites, as I’m guessing it’s against the terms and conditions to exchange the in-game items for cash and vice versa.
ttfp saylow (gamertag)
Now playing: Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Yakuza 0
GC: Publishers do have control over it, they could not have loot boxes.
In reply to ProEvoSan78’s letter about Inside, spoiler alert here for anybody who has not completed the game, so please do not read any further: there is an alternate ending in Inside if you collect all the
collectibles and do a certain task.
Look for a video on YouTube to show you how to get the alternate ending, as it is not easy to do by yourself, I found.
Currently playing: Draugen (PS4)
GC: That’s not a spoiler, that’s a warning that spoilers exist. But you’re right that the alternate ending is very interesting; it adds a completely new perspective to what’s going on.
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To Indrid Cold on Death Stranding. I bought it for the PlayStation 4 and really enjoyed it. It’s quite a strange beast: very slow to begin with, a mostly empty open world and gameplay I’d describe as a hiking simulator with dashes of Metal Gear Solid 5 and Postman Pat. The style/pacing reminded me most of an incredibly talky version of Shadow Of The Colossus (it’s definitely intended to be a creative/artistic work). Naturally that means this piece of art requires you to be able to enjoy/endure Kojima dialogue and plot lines.
Not sure if this is reading as the best sell a game can receive, so I’ll just emphasise a few features I liked: I did enjoy the story, I’m a big Kojima fan (as well as of Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen) so this was always right up my street and it delivered. cough There’s more traditional gameplay than some give credit for and the mechanics which open up as the game progresses allow you to change the way you approach the missions.
The graphics, use of music and sound design were excellent. The odd pseudo-shared world online features were surprisingly engaging. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I found the act of successfully making deliveries to be rather addictive.
I’d recommend everyone give Death Stranding a go at some point, things would get pretty dull if everyone kept making the exact same thing, so sometimes people make things which are wildly different. I appreciate the response has been quite split so maybe do wait for a sale if some of the above is still off-putting.
The Light Knight
PS: Death Stranding contains the greatest shoehorned reference to Super Mario since Assassin’s Creed 2 and thus automatically won my game of the decade.
GC: You better not be disparaging the only successful joke Assassin’s Creed has ever had!
It shouldn’t be too hard for GAME to reopen their stores to comply with social distancing as I’ve never seen more than three customers in my local store. Although there’s usually at least two staff members harassing each one, so that may need to be cut back a bit.
Why is it I don’t believe a word that comes out of Microsoft lately? It seems blatantly obvious they postponed their July event and pretending they didn’t just makes them look bad. I don’t know why, Sony has already said this week’s reveal won’t cover hardware.
This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader Korbie, who asks what unlikely sequel or reboot would you most want to see in the next generation?
With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X now just months away from release, and already rumours of the return of numerous franchises – from Fable to Demon’s Souls – what old video game series would you most like to see get a sequel, reboot or remake?
The game can be as obscure as you like, as long as it hasn’t had any kind of new release this generation. Why do you want to see it return and what do you think are the chances it actually will?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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