The Thursday Inbox is not pleased about Facebook’s involvement in Xbox, as one reader is unimpressed by Pokémon Unite.
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A decade of Ellie
Interesting spoiler article about The Last Of Us Part 2. I haven’t played the game but I’d already read the leaked spoilers so I read it anyway. What interests me is the number of people that seem to be split on whether they have sympathy for Ellie or not. GC clearly do not but I’ve seen people who seem to be absolutely convinced that she’s completely in the right.
I can’t help but wonder what would make them so certain of that, considering the game is clearly trying to make you at least question that fact. A kind of Stockholm syndrome from having spent so much time with her as a playable character?
I’m now curious to see whether Naughty Dog will make a third game or not, especially as they’ve already hinted that it could be their next project. That will mean they’ve been working on the same franchise for at least a decade, with only a break for Uncharted 4. That is a huge chunk of time and underlines what Shawn Layden was saying about games being too long and taking too much time to make.
I’ll wait till the PlayStation 5 is out till I play The Last Of Us Part 2, and I’m very much looking forward to it, but I do hope they do something else between this and the next one.
On the face of it
I don’t like any of this Facebook Gaming stuff from Microsoft at all. Facebook is the creepy, invasive social media your gran uses to keep up-to-date on right wing fake news. It is not something I want anywhere near my Xbox, or any console. I see Microsoft are already preparing the ‘it won’t be spying on you’ assurances, just like the ones they had for Kinect, which turned out to be complete lies and actually they were spying on you (not maliciously maybe, but they certainly didn’t care that they were recording and saving private conversations).
I can see what they’re trying to do, but as cool as clicking on an Instagram post to play a game sounds what am I supposed to play that game with? Am I suddenly going to start playing Halo Infinite on a touchscreen? I don’t want to do that and the people that would be okay with touchscreen controls don’t want to play Halo in the first place.
It seems to me Microsoft has convinced themselves that they can leapfrog Sony by appealing to this imaginary ‘2 billion’ audience but I just don’t think it’s going to be as easy as they do. We’ll see I guess. It’s certainly possible Microsoft could have a better event in July than Sony’s so-so reveal.
I have to praise Microsoft on the form factor of Xbox Series X. It’s generally the Japanese manufacturers that develop compact yet efficient electronics, we don’t know everything about these new machines yet but to see a Western company produce a more powerful yet smaller box than their Japanese counterparts is commendable. There was a time when Japanese gamers were put off by the Xbox as size was a factor when considering a purchase for their homes. I don’t believe Microsoft will take Japan by storm this next gen, but I’m intrigued to see how Microsoft does this time round in the East.
Sony has adopted a tradition console design and Microsoft has deliberately avoided this for obvious reasons. Now we have seen how big PlayStation 5 is, Xbox Series X for me seems like Microsoft really have got their head screwed on in terms of the hardware design. And as the current market leader, I think Sony has underestimated the competition.
Although I doubt for a moment the Sony brand will be damaged by this, it’s nice to see Microsoft upping their game.
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Shawn Layden woz right
I’d like to make a couple of points in regards to recent Inbox contributions. I want to discuss the recent PlayStation 5 reveal and also game length. But both kind of tie in with each other.
Firstly, I’ve heard a few grumbles about the launch line-up of the PlayStation 5 and the quality of the graphics. Did people not see Ratchet & Clank? I thought it looked impressive. Horizon Forbidden West also seemed a step up from the current generation. It’s gonna be a while before developers get the best out of the new technology. I get that these games aren’t launch games but should be out in the year, which in my opinion is a definite improvement when compared with the PlayStation 4’s first year.
Personally I think the line up looks decent. Deathloop looks interesting. I also think Kena: Bridge Of Spirits could be worth a try and obviously Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the big exclusive. This brings me to my next point. The length of games. I’ve heard a few people almost dismissing the new Spider-Man because it’s not a full game and this seems to be down to game length. Personally I wasn’t a fan of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which it has been compared with, but that was less to do with its size and more to do with not adding anything new.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales, judging from the trailer, looks to add new powers and possibly gameplay mechanics.
Personally, I don’t get the obsession with how long a game takes to finish. I’ve never heard anyone criticise an album, film or book for being too short. I would rather a developer release three quality 10-hour games over a console generation than a 40-hour game. If anything it makes sense. This generation major developers have released far less content. Just look at Rockstar and Naughty Dog. Ditto Rocksteady. Shorter games would equal less production time and costs and keep game prices low and also mean more content and hopefully originality for the consumer.
GC: The reason The Lost Legacy didn’t add anything new is because it was a smaller, lower budget game reusing assets from the previous game. By comparing the two, the implication is that Miles Morales will have similar limitations. The related criticism is that it means Sony was unable to get any full price games ready for launch, which is understandably disappointing for a new console. Although this does all figure into what Shawn Layden was saying about how the AAA games business is becoming unsustainable.
I know the PlayStation 5 launch reveal trailer showed more than was first suspected, especially in terms of hardware, but before it was released I could have sworn there were various Sony execs/spokespeople alluding to the system having some super secret killer feature that was going to change the game somehow. This was supposedly in addition to the super-fast SSD architecture and the new-fangled 3D sound capabilities which they’d mentioned before the reveal. Can you good folks at GC Towers tell me if I missed something in the reveal or if my lockdown-addled mind had imagined the whole thing?
I kind of enjoyed the PlayStation 5 reveal, even if a lot of it didn’t exactly scream must-have, next gen urgency. It certainly looked a lot more fleshed out than any of Sony’s previous console launches. However, I am now starting to look forward to Microsoft’s equivalent now to see if they can actually rise to the challenge. I’m hoping there are some exciting new IPs on the way, and not just a lot of talk about backwards compatibility and xCloud on Instagram and Facebook.
GC: They said that way back in January, before even Mark Cerny’s tech discussion. It’s not 100% clear, but it seems they were referring to the 3D audio.
Has been an interesting few weeks on the Switch with all the ports dropping… and kind of panning out as expected in terms of the performance of each. The Outer Worlds had car crash written all over it, so did XCOM 2 to an extent – given its already buggy and mixed performance on current generation consoles. Still hope to get XCOM 2 in a sale at some point, since it seems mostly viable and by then a few patches might have come through to tidy it up.
Given we got the older Borderlands I was surprised XCOM: Enemy Within didn’t make the cut alongside the sequel. It’s already on other mobile platforms on iOS and Android, so should’ve run great on Switch and is still a game with a lot to offer. Pleased with the Bioshock reviews though, will definitely be picking it up, and Burnout is just what Switch needs once it is reduced from its current insane price. Even Borderlands looks like a good job, though I have never been a fan of the games.
The news on EA perhaps bringing Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit over next does open up the idea that a lot more third party Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 ports might some to Switch. With the installed userbase now on the system it always seemed strange that only really Ubisoft had thrown out some of its older Assassin’s Creed games.
There are over 50 million Switch consoles in the world and EA and Activision, the two biggest third party publishers, only have about a dozen games between them on the system… I’d certainly be up for picking up ports of Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, Skate, Mass Effect, et al. on Switch for portable play if EA brings its catalogue over and the price is right.
I actually prefer the sharper previous gen ports on the console than the current gen low res smudge fests… Compare The Witcher 3 or Doom to Skyrim or GRID, for example.
For some reason Epic Games Store did not give away The Escapists 2 last Thursday, as it was listed that it was going to be free and when we got to the actual day it was not listed.
The free games on Epic Games Store from today are AER Memories Of Old and the not very good Stranger Things 3: The Game.
Currently playing: The Last Of Us Part 2
Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here
I was interested to read your response to a fellow reader’s letter on Microsoft losing billions where you stated: ‘Especially as they refuse to report sales figures for the Xbox One and their primary reason for being in the games industry is not profit but to prevent a competitor gaining market dominance.’
Is this perhaps why Microsoft never seems to push the boat out or go all in to ‘win’ the generation or console war, supposedly? I mean with Microsoft’s vastly deep pockets, infrastructure, cloud future-proofing, they could literally just buy up the best studios or at least pay for exclusivity for a year. But if the business model is to stop a rival gaining dominance then it kind of explains the lack of high quality exclusives.
Microsoft has some great things like Game Pass, good servers for multiplayer, but its lack of top quality exclusive games has been a problem.
But if you have a hefty market share, all paying for Xbox Live/Game Pass then why would you need to worry about exclusives? Especially as a lot of popular games are free or cheap like Call Of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, Minecraft, etc.
I feel like they’re not interested in games but more setting themselves up as a platform for the future for games as a service, a bit like Google Stadia but better? Who knows, maybe we could see a Mario game on Xbox Live once game streaming becomes the norm? I could be just talking nonsense and they could reveal a whole host of new games and IPs at the next event…
R McKenna (gamertag)
GC: We’re sure Microsoft would love to dominate in the tradition sense, but it’s always been clear that their goals are subtly different from Sony. They’ve certainly already made it clear that they’d love to be the Netflix of gaming.
I had no idea there was a whole expo dedicated to fan-made Sonic games. And there hasn’t been an official game since 2017? Sega has dropped the ball so much on Sonic over the years it must’ve sunk through the planet’s crust by now.
GC: There was Team Sonic Racing last year, but obviously that’s not a platformer.
Wow, that Pokémon Unite game looked… terrible? I mean, it’s exactly what I’d expect a Chinese developer to come up with but I can smell the microtransactions from here. Looks gross.
This week’s Hot Topic
The question for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Cranston, who asks what’s the hardest game you’ve ever beaten?
What game are you most proud of beating and is it one that’s generally regarded as difficult or just your own personal nemesis? What made the game so difficult for you and how did you overcome it? Did you look for help online and how much time did it take before you beat it?
Are there any games you’ve given up on because they’re too hard and how do you generally feel about difficulty and the level of challenge you’re comfortable with in a game?
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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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