Hello once more NAGunnians, and thanks for checking in again for This Week In Gaming. It was a slow week for consoles, but we did get a couple of juicy tidbits on Valve’s Source 2 engine from the man himself. And, of course, Hideo Kojima put his face in front of a microphone for as long as people would listen to him. On the gaming side of things, there’s a whole lot going on. Ubisoft explain why they took the decision to delay Watch Dogs, Rocksteady explain while Arkham Knight will next-gen only, new information surfaces about the South Park Stick of Truth censoring, Kojima talks even more and the Serious Sam guys are working on something new. All that along with more news, videos and highlights, after the jump.
This week’s console news is dominated by the greatest of all consoles, the PC. Valve boss Gabe Newell got onto Reddit this week for a fundraising AMA (Ask Me Anything), and was tapped of some juicy info in the process.
The first big enquiry was about the Source 2 game engine, and what that would be bringing to the industry.
The biggest thing, according to Gabe, was accommodating user-generated content. This is something Newell believes is only going to have increasing importance moving forward. Certainly, the ability to modify, tweak or completely overhaul games has been a significant and vital part of the PC gamer community for quite some time.
After all, without modders, genre-defining, revolutionary games such as Counter-Strike and DotA wouldn’t exist.
The other feature they’re working on for Source 2 is Oculus Rift VR support – Gabe said they’re currently trying to get Source 2 to “work well” with the technology, which could even mean native support. I’m sure Carmack is smiling at least.
And no, he didn’t say a damned word about Half- Life 3.
Hideo Kojima began his life as a PC developer, before selling out and moving to consoles. Today he claims that the platform is still important to him, but I don’t see a PC label anywhere on Metal Gear Solid 5. I hope you spent those 30 pieces of silver on something nice, Hideo.
Anyway, Kojima said this week that he would “definitely like to see” MGS V on PC, but that he cannot “make a formal announcement”.
What does this mean? Honestly, probably nothing. From what I’ve seen of Kojima he likes to spend a lot of time talking about things that are never going to happen. I’ve learnt to take things the Metal Gear Solid creator says with a pinch of salt; so fellow PC brethren, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet.
Watch Dogs surprised everyone with their last minute decision to postpone their game till this year. Now this week creative director Jonathan Morin opened up about the decision, emphasising that it wasn’t really about adding more features, but delivering on promises.
“When you’re promising a player that they can hack everything and express themselves, they expect the result to be there,” he explains. “A complicated game that is broken is no more acceptable than an easier one that works.”
Morin goes on to praise Ubisoft’s top dogs being okay with the delay, which is somewhat refreshing to hear of a big publisher. Certainly the likes of Activision, EA, and yes, Ubisoft before have given us cause to doubt that kind of open-mindedness.
I’ve hated on Watch Dogs a little in the past, mainly because I don’t believe that they can in fact deliver on fan expectations – but perhaps Ubisoft is going to prove me wrong after all.
So Batman: Arkham Knight was announced this week, and somewhat controversially it’s going to be a next-gen only title. This is in contrast to a lot of other big IP releases in the works, as most publishers right now are releasing their games across current and next-gen hardware.
According to developer Rocksteady, however, they want to create “a genuine next-gen game”. Game director Sefton Hill said that the cross-gen titles feel a little too “reined in”, adding that the real challenge of next-gen development is making sure you get as much as you can out of them.
It sounds quite incredible too – one of the senior artists claims that some of the character models use the same number of polygons as the whole environment of the 360’s Arkham Asylum. Pretty impressive.
Other nuisances like loadscreens when moving between indoor and outdoor have been eliminated, and the increase in raw power means that there are now three or four times as many goons active in Gotham “at any given time” compared to the previous current-gen instalment.
Personally, I’m all for this move. It’s a little disappointing to have all these big cross-gen titles coming out that don’t really feel like a next-gen game. Building something for the new consoles from the ground up without having to cater for decade-old hardware means gamers will actually get to experience the potential of their next-gen hardware. Hell, it had to happen sometime guys.
Man, Kojima sure likes to give interviews. The legendary developer said a whole lot on the MGS V games this week, saying that they don’t pull any punches with content.
According to Kojima, developers have to be willing to address sensitive subjects in games.
“If we don’t cross that line, if we don’t make attempts to express what we really want to express, games will only be games,” he explained. “If we don’t try to go beyond that, we won’t be able to achieve what movies or novels have achieved.”
Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve said countless times that us as consumers and society at large are far too sensitive when it comes to content in games, which really holds the industry back in terms of creativity, artistic significance and storytelling.
Speaking of which, European video game rating board Pegi has come out and said they didn’t censor The Stick of Truth.
It seems that the few minutes of content which was removed from the game before release was actually a decision taken by Ubisoft themselves.
Pegi go on to say, “We are not privy to reasons why the game was edited and cannot, therefore, give you any other details.”
The deleted scenes include a couple of abortion-themed mini-games and multiple characters being, err, “probed”. Sound offensive? Do you know what South Park is?
Seriously, a South Park game concerned about being offensive is just disappointing. Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are notorious for being completely uncompromising on their content, even in the face of intense pressure from TV networks or other influential parties.
The fact that this censorship went through shows just how endemic the video game bias against sensitive content really is.
Serious Sam 4 is still in development, scheduled for a release sometime in the last quarter of the year. However, developer Croteam is apparently working on a brand new IP too, described by CEO Roman Ribaric as “a cross between Portal and The Witness”.
It also apparently has “a type of humour that is very different from Serious Sam“. I’m kind of intrigued to see what else these guys can come up with.
What started as a relatively simple Starcraft 2 mod has taken on a life of its own. Blizzard’s answer to DotA, Heroes of the Storm is receiving a lot of attention (and as usual, time) from the legendary developer. This week they dropped a 17-minute gameplay video to show off the progress. Keep in mind the game is still in alpha, and there is still a rather distinct lack of polish.
Tropico 5 got its first gameplay trailer this week, showing off the development of the island into a futuristic urban sprawl. For the first time the game will also feature four-player competitive and cooperative multiplayer.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is dropping soon, and so far previews have been positive. CVG commended the new instalment for “its expansive customisation, meaty combat, vast lands, and increased focus on moral choice”. This new trailer explores the realms of Thedas, check it out.
Well, this is awkward. I originally wrote this a couple of days ago, and spoke about how excited I was for Titanfall and here’s a launch trailer to get hyped. So instead, here’s a trailer to spiral into a deep, FOMO-induced depression.
Best of NAG
While your pain is still raw from that Titanfall video, why don’t you head over here and sign the petition? Fact is, the game is playable in South Africa, and we want it damnit. Go now.
So, have you seen Steam Greenlight game Crawl yet? You really should. It’s old-school, it’s arcade, and it’s got one of the sickest trailers I’ve seen in a while. Go on over here to see what I’m on about.
So this week we heard that Windows 8 might actually become free, since nobody wants to actually pay for it. Which made me realise, I don’t want it free either. Then I considered all the other things I wouldn’t want, even for free, and wrote them down for your amusement.
Watch Dogs is finally on the horizon, and while I remain a tad skeptical about the game, I have to admit that Ubisoft seem to be pulling out all the stops on this one. This week the game got an official release date and a new trailer, both of which you can find here.