Games Inbox: Is ray-tracing just a gimmick?

The Thursday Inbox wonders if Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 will be an Xmas 2021 game, as one reader is sad to see the closure of Vlambeer.

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Next gen buzzword
Those ray-tracing trailers are all very good but if you forced me to point out what the actual ray-tracing was in them I’m not sure I could most of the time. Like, what it does is simulate light more accurately, so that reflections and such are more realistic. That’s good, I’m all for it but is this not just another buzzword gimmick that seems to pop up every new generation.

It seems a bit more useful than 4K but the two share the same problem in that I couldn’t walk into a room and immediately notice that a game was noticing them or not, and I’m certain more causal or non-gamers would be equally oblivious. That’s not a selling point for a console, that’s an excuse for convincing yourself it’s worthwhile.

In a sense it doesn’t really matter, as I was impressed by the Ratchet & Clank demo and the SSD does seem to offer some new possibilities, but I worry that the real problem with ray-tracing is that it will be the latest excuse for not making 60fps standard. It already isn’t (it’s an option in Ratchet & Clank, like most PlayStation 5 games) and I think that’s a real shame.

Art from adversity
Glad to see you reviewed Wasteland 3 as I’ve been playing it on Game Pass and it is very good, just as you said. I would be very interested to see what the same developer can do with Microsoft money and yet at the same time I think it’ll be a bit of a shame when they inevitably end up spending more time on the graphics than all the little random encounters and weird characters.

If that’s what they want to do then more power to them but I do think there’s a lot to be said for developers making the most of a smaller budget and having to come up with unusual ideas to get around or knowing they can’t rely on graphics to make something more interesting if it’s not.

I think this is where a lot of movie sequels go wrong (Star Wars in particular) where before they were doing the best they could with what they had and then they end up having more money than ideas. Hopefully inXile can avoid that though and I look forward to their first Xbox-only announcement.

Games within games
I kind of like that Fortnite is ripping off Crazy Taxi. I’d prefer it if they just did a deal with Sega to have it for real though. Fortnite is so big now it could be the venue for other games. Why not have an actual working arcade will real games in it, licensed from Sega and others?

Obviously you could get shot in the back while playing but just put it in the Party Royale and you could stay there all day. The more I think about it the better the idea sounds, as it would expose a lot of old classics to younger gamers who have probably never heard of or played them.

I don’t know what kind of money Sega would make out of it, because I don’t think anyone wants to be using virtual coins to play the coin-ops but I like to think it could happen. At this rate Fortnite will just become the games industry and everything else will be a part of it.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Tell me why it’s exclusive
Sad to see that Vlambeer has closed after 10 years, they made some great games and I first remember reading about them In Edge magazine about their game Radical Fishing.

On another topic is Tell Me Why exclusive to Xbox or a timed exclusive? I am playing it at the moment on Xbox One and a friend who has a PlayStation 4 has just finished playing Life Is Strange (all three games) on the PlayStation and I was wondering if there was any chance that it might come to PlayStation eventually for them to play?
Andrew J.
PS: Into The Breach is free on Epic Games Store today from 4pm, if you didn’t get it when they gave it away before a few months ago. Also, The Division is free on UPlay on PC.

GC: No-one’s ever explained Tell Me Why’s exclusivity in detail. It may only be timed but Dontnod hasn’t said one way or the other.

Exclusive news
I think we know when the release date is going to be for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. It’s sometime in the next three months!

If they are hanging on to make some big announcement I’m losing the excitement rapidly. Just announce the date and price details and get it over with.

Time is running out.

Non-persuasive argument
Recently there have been a number of letters from readers who fail to understand why Sony are going to be selling their exclusive games on PC. However, Sony themselves have explained the reason, namely profitability. I’m sure they haven’t taken the decision lightly but have come to the conclusion that their exclusives are unlikely to persuade many PC users to switch to a console for their gaming. Since some of the Sony exclusives would undoubtedly gross millions of dollars it really does seem like an eminently sensible decision to me.

With the advent of streaming in games, which has been enabled by high speed internet connections, the market for consoles will almost certainly decline long term. A business plan based upon trying to dominate a declining market is hardly the way forward.

Metro have often said that they think that Microsoft is not really interested in console sales, I feel this is an over-simplification. Of course Microsoft is interested in console sales, however it is just not the most important factor in their decision process.

Which brings us back to Sony. To be honest I have no idea where Sony sees their future. Currently they don’t have the infrastructure to compete with Microsoft (or for that matter Google) to effectively compete in a streaming-only world. However, the fact that they have become so interested in cash generation implies that they feel the need to branch out and that won’t come cheap.
John A

GC: PlayStation exclusives may not persuade PC gamers to get a console, but putting them on PC may well persuade console owners to move solely to the PC – which has the potential to cause far more damage to Sony’s business than any gain it could make from additional software sales. This would be mitigated if they had services equivalent to Game Pass or xCloud, which work independent of format, but, as you imply, they currently do not.

Single sample
It’s so easy to see why Sony are now releasing their exclusives on PC. They’re releasing their OLD exclusives on PC so that there will be people still buying them.

Remember that it’s their OLD exclusives they’ll release and not the current ones.

GC: There’s nothing to suggest this is true. They’ve only released one so far and just because that was old doesn’t mean the others will be.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

The baby
Someone pointed out to me today that Thursday is the 10-year anniversary of Metroid: Other M. What I feel comfortable in describing as the worst Metroid game ever (yes, including Federation Force) and one of the worst games Nintendo has ever put its name to.

In terms of gameplay the decision to use digital controls in a 3D world is mind-blowingly stupid, in an instant overthrowing everything Nintendo has ever done with 3D gameplay from Super Mario 64 onwards. Although it almost didn’t matter given how small and restrictive the environments were, how simplistic the combat and how the art style completely lacked any kind of atmosphere. Oh, and the first person scanning sections were so badly handled it would’ve made me feel bad for the developers (Team Ninja from Ninja Gaiden) if it weren’t for the story…

I think the worth thing about the story is that it was genuinely trying to portray Samus as a strong female lead. Instead she came across as a cowardly, insecure wimp under the theme of an unsympathetic and domineering father figure. I mean, how wrong can you get a character in just a few cut scenes?! And that’s on Nintendo too, as they were overseeing the story and somehow thought that was unacceptable.

I really hope Metroid Prime 4 turns out well because it is going to take a lot to wash away the taste of Other M.

Inbox also-rans
We are not at the point where we could be just two months away from the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 launch and we still know virtually nothing. Blaming the pandemic is not cutting it anymore. If the pandemic was such a problem how come the consoles are even in enough stock to launch?
The Colt

So what are thinking now in terms of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2’s release date? Christmas 2021? I’m betting it’s not spring so it’d be a bit of a waste to release it in the middle of summer.

This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Talon, who asks what is the best open world environment in a game?

Especially since the release of Ghost Of Tsushima, there’s been a lot of debate over whether open world games are becoming too predictable and too bloated with filler content, is that something you agree with and what do you think have been the best and worst open world games of recent years?

How do you hope the concept will evolve in the next generation and what do you feel needs to change? How big a fan are you of open world games and how often do you complete them 100% – or thereabouts?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

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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