Hello again NAGgips and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. It’s been a busy week with Gamescom, so this time around the news sections are packed with things that slipped through the cracks. Things like Microsoft’s response to resolutiongate, Sony’s future plans for the PS4, the Kinect’s complete absence at Gamescom this year and a big Xbox buyout may be in the works. Then on the gaming side we have a magnificent extra coming with The Witcher 3, Hideo Kojima is holding nothing back with a new horror title and the new Assassin’s Creed gets a “feature” that will leave some with a bad taste in their mouths. All that and some brand new gameplay videos, some NAG highlights and the usual chunk of unsolicited opinion from yours truly. Hit the jump!
Microsoft must be pretty sick of fielding questions about resolution (although I’m sure Sony loves it). The green machine has been established as consistently achieving only 900p, while its black and blue counterpart cranks out the full 1080.
Unfortunately for Xbox boss Phil Spencer, the journos at Gamescom wanted to know what the company was planning to do in order to close that gap.
“We announced that Destiny will have the same resolution and frame rate on Xbox One as PS4. There are a long list of games. Reaching parity with our partners has been important,” Spencer responded.
“But in the end I don’t want it to be about a number, because 1080p isn’t some mythical, perfect resolution. Frame rate to me is significantly more important to gameplay than resolution and the mix of those two which brings the right art style and freedom, whether it’s on PlayStation or our platform.”
Now I’m the first to agree that framerate is more important than resolution, but it seems logical that hardware that can produce a higher resolution would be able to produce a higher framerate as well.
Fact is, the PS4 is more powerful, but not enough that it really makes all that much of a difference. Still, it does certainly hurt the Xbox’s public perception.
Talking about PS4, they’ve got nothing to worry about as they recently sailed past the 10 million units sold mark, and are consistently outstripping the Xbox One.
But according to SCEE president Jim Ryan, they’re not looking to rest on their laurels.
“We’re just getting on with doing our thing. We haven’t really changed course at all. We’ve got plans, and we’re confident about them. Some of that was laid out last night, other stuff will follow in due course. We’ll just get on with it.”
He also talks about the success of this launch as compared to the disastrous beginnings of the PS3:
“We made so many mistakes last time round that I won’t list them now. But we did list them, and we vowed to rectify them. By and large, I think we’ve done that.”
Any speculation on what these future “plans” might be?
Or, for that matter, what Microsoft’s plans are for the Kinect – now that they’ve finally ditched the thing. The problem with that, of course, is that it is no longer standard for every Xbox One owner, which means there is little incentive for developers to incorporate it into their games.
The fourteen Kinect fans in the world would have been disappointed with the showing at Gamescom for the little hardware that couldn’t – or lack thereof, rather.
However, corporate VP over at Microsoft Phil Harrison says that the fact that they didn’t have anything Kinect to show off at Gamescom doesn’t mean there’s no future for it.
“That wasn’t, in any way, to make any editorial statement about the future of Kinect.
“It’s just that these were the games we wanted to highlight in our briefing. The games that we focused on in our briefing were the blockbusters and exclusives for this holiday, 2014.
“We let the developers choose [whether they want to use Kinect]. It’s one of the tools that they have in their tool belt for taking advantage of the Xbox One, and we hope they continue to do so.”
Errr, continue to do so? Who exactly is “taking advantage” of Kinect at the moment, Phil?
Okay, okay last Microsoft thing I promise.
A new rumour is circulating the interwebs that Microsoft is in talks with Warner Bros. to sell off its Xbox Entertainment Studios division (that it closed down earlier this year), merging it with Machinima.
XES is that part of Microsoft that handles Xbox-exclusive programming, stuff like the Halo live-action TV series and that weird thing Quantum Break was doing alongside the game.
I’ve always kind of got the feeling that their heart isn’t much in it (maybe, I suppose, since they canned the place), so it’d be interesting to see what would happen if Warner Bros. took control of it.
Surprise, surprise, Assassin’s Creed Unity will “feature” microtransactions. The news comes via senior product Vincent Pontbriand who told OXM that players will be able to “fast track” the unlock system by spending real money.
“Companion apps, monetisation, other business models, digital only… We have to be reactive to these things, but not necessarily fundamentally change what we’re trying to do,” he explained.
“If we think it fits the gameplay, or the brand itself, the core values, we’re willing to take those risks. If not, then not. We’re not going to make any compromises.”
Ugh. I don’t think I’m ever going to get to a point where microtransactions in full-retail games don’t make me very, very uncomfortable.
What are your thoughts?
We recently got the news that Hideo Kojima is going to be working on Silent Hills, the resurrection of the classic horror franchise.
He’ll be working with filmmaker and video game enthusiast Guillermo Del Toro, whose previous project, horror title iNsane, never made it to release.
We discussed this game briefly on the NAG Online podcast, but personally I just couldn’t get over the title. Instead of sounding creepy and ominous, it sounds like a sleepy neighbourhood in housewife suburbia. Ugh.
That being said, if Kojima is to be believed, I’ll be forced to change my underwear after every playthrough.
“The one thing that I can say about Silent Hills, and this is something I’ve been discussing with Guillermo del Toro as well, is that originally we were thinking of making a game that would make you pee your pants, but at this point we’ve changed our minds, and now we’re aiming for a game that will make you shit your pants.
“One thing that you have to keep in mind is that, if a game is too scary, people just won’t play it. In movies or attractions … if it gets too scary you just keep your eyes shut and soon it will be over. But if it’s a game, people will just stop. So that’s why there’s a limit on how scary you can make a game.
“But in this case we’re totally ignoring that and, you know what? If you don’t want to keep on playing through the game, so be it. We don’t care. That’s the game we are aiming for, we’re aiming for a game that will make you shit your pants.”
I want to get excited, but Kojima is rivaled only by Peter Molyneux when it comes to hype. So I think I’ll remain cautiously optimistic for now.
I’ve had a lot to say about the new wave of Remasters coming in, none of it very good. Much to my disgust, it seems like a new one is getting announced every month.
That being said, PS Europe boss Jim Ryan said this week that while a remaster of a game like The Last Of Us is “just common sense” (really, Jim?), there is a danger of allowing the old generation of games define the new one.
“I think it’s got to be looked at very holistically, you can’t have too many of these things otherwise next-gen just looks like rehashed last-gen and we certainly don’t want that.
“I think the balance is just about right but you know, there are other games that could be looked at, but there’ll come a point where next gen will have moved on and rehashing old-gen will have passed its sell-by date.”
If you ask me, that time has already come and gone.
Now for the opposite end of the spectrum, let’s look at something cool and innovative CD Projekt Red is doing – bundling a card game with The Witcher 3.
It’s not some joke minigame either, this is actually a serious-business 1v1 competitive game in the style of Hearthstone, with over 150 cards and 4 factions to choose from.
Dubbed Gwent, the game will be a digital release on all platforms, but here’s the kicker – the Xbox One Collector’s Edition will come with two decks of physical cards to duke it out with, how sweet is that?
“Invented by dwarves and perfected over centuries of tavern table play, Gwent is a game of initial simplicity and ultimate depth, something beloved by both road-weary travellers during long nights around the campfire and elegant nobles looking to liven up dragging dinner parties,” the press release reads.
This may be the first time I’ve ever been sad I don’t own an Xbox One.
While we’re talking Witcher 3, first up this week is a new gameplay video, showing off Geralt on his quest to save a place that doesn’t look at all worth saving called Downwarren. Enjoy.
Next up is another game I spoke about today (although in a far less positive light), Assassin’s Creed Unity. As is always the case with Ubisoft, you’ll get to see a whole lot of this game before release – here’s 11 minutes of gameplay.
Well here’s an interesting game – Depression Quest, a Steam freebie that puts players into a text-based adventure centred around someone suffering from severe depression. It’s been a difficult road to release, with developers receiving a lot of threats and online abuse in the past. Check out this trailer and see what you think.
Hey remember Metal Gear Solid V? Apparently it’s actually coming out sometime, and promises to be longer than two hours this time. Gamescom saw Kojima presenting a new chunk of gameplay footage, this one a meaty 17 minutes.
Best of NAG
Let’s kick things off with Mr Fick’s System Builder’s Guide, moving back to desktop PCs and the R3000 – R9000 range for gamers on a budget. As usual, it’s comprehensive, well put together and surprisingly good at squeezing decent performance out of a small investment. Check that out right here.
Then we have my column for the week, a good old rant about the wave of remasters coming our way, particularly on the current-gen consoles. It’s the usual dose of sarcasm and angry metaphors; don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments.
Now for my favourite post of the week, a heartfelt, passionate rant by the usually reserved Graham Ziervogel. Quake is being ruined, everyone should care, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who cares more than Graham. It’s not only a good read, it’s a great chunk of raw emotion in print.
Finally, just a small reminder to check out the NAG Online Reader Survey. We want to know what you like, what you don’t like, and who you want fired. Note that saying anything bad about me will immediately install a Trojan to your computer and send porn to your mom.