Greetings NAGulululus, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have Google looking at dropping some new hardware, PS4 still cleaning up in performance comparisons to it’s green rival (but a bigger issue is at hand nonetheless), Microsoft finally launches their ace-in-the-hole and SteamOS has a very disappointing first go at things. Then it’s a big launch for Fallout 4, a bigger launch for Call of Duty, Payday 2 devs keep the drama coming hot and heavy and an old classic is getting a full remake. All that and more news, opinion, videos and highlights after the jump.
According to inside sources that know things about stuff, Google is looking to build their very own smartphone.
Yes the Nexus already exists, but that’s built by other partner companies like HTC or Motorola – this time Google wants to do the whole thing itself.
It would be pretty interesting to see what the tech giant would do with complete control over every part of the process.
Just by virtue of it being Google, it’d probably kick ass – they don’t seem to make that many duds.
While we’re on the topic of kicking ass, the PS4 continues to dominate in the hardware department – not merely in sales, but performance.
This drum does feel beaten to death, but Sony owners just don’t get tired of hearing how much their console is winning. The most recent victory is for Black Ops 3.
Once again the PS4 cranks out 1080p to the Xbox One’s 900p, but perhaps more alarmingly the Xbox One frequently can’t manage that, and drops resolution rather significantly.
In Digital Foundry’s pretty in-depth assessment, they say that “the Xbox One release possesses a consistent blurry appearance when the action really kicks in: fine details are frequently smudged over, while geometry edges appear rough and fuzzy.
“It’s a substantial downgrade over last year’s Advanced Warfare.”
The game targets 60fps on both consoles, but on both it struggled to really maintain that. The Xbox One suffered in particular though, with one scene seeing the frames almost never making it past the 35-45 range. This, of course, is in the campaign.
The real story for me here isn’t the difference between PS4 and Xbox One, it’s the shoddy performance on both. After seeing what developers could squeeze out of the really shitty hardware of the PS3, seeing big frame rate and resolution drops in Call of Duty and 30fps caps (and drops!) in games like Fallout 4 is upsetting.
The new hardware has just come out, and targeting 1080p and 60fps should be easy, frankly. Being a primarily PC gamer, I almost get more pissed when I see this kind of thing on console. There is no option to upgrade or to guarantee performance with a monster rig, you buy a console expecting that things should just work the way they’re meant to.
Games that can’t even maintain decent resolutions or struggle along trying to maintain pathetic 30fps caps is unacceptable – console owners deserve much better; they were promised much better.
Moving on to something consoles are doing right, Microsoft has just launched their new backwards compatibility feature.
It’s pretty straightforward, which is probably its biggest selling point – digital titles you own can be redownloaded, game discs you own can simply be inserted. Simple enough.
Of course, the catch is that since it uses an emulation system you’re at the mercy of which games are currently supported. They should add more, but if you were looking to play something obscure there’s a decent chance you’ll never be able to.
MS released a short video explaining this which seemed to be a very late retaliation on the PS4’s infamous game-sharing video, but it just feels really awkward to me.
Here’s something really disappointing – SteamOS performance has been tested by Ars Technica and shown to be significantly worse than Windows 10. Honestly, it kind of sucks.
Windows 10 won in every benchmark test, but the gap between the scores wasn’t big enough for serious concern. What was concerning, however, and is more important to most, is the real-world gaming performance gap.
In Shadow of Mordor at Ultra, Windows 10 cranked out 34.5 average FPS while SteamOS managed an absolutely dismal 14.6.
That’s a very big difference, and a very big concern for getting Steam Machines into living rooms. What’s even more concerning is that even the Source games like DotA 2 and Team Fortress 2 ran much better on Windows 10.
SteamOS will probably improve over time, but for a more “bare-bones” OS that is specifically designed for gaming, this absolutely should not be happening. Perhaps, like seemingly everything else these days, this launched a little too soon.
Fallout 4 seems to have had a pretty impressive launch, even though official sales numbers aren’t in yet.
What we do know is that Bethesda shipped 12 million copies for the day one launch – while these aren’t actual sales, it is an amazing vote of confidence for the game. For comparison, Skyrim shipped 7 million for launch.
Skyrim also had a peak of 280,000 concurrent players on Steam, whereas Fallout 4 managed to pull off an extremely impressive 1.2 million. This all in spite of some troubling reports about the game’s console performance.
Judging by the hype surrounding this game, it should nonetheless come as no surprise.
Night Dive, a small studio that’s into resurrecting old games, recently made headlines with their System Shock Enhanced Edition.
Simply souping up the aged title wasn’t enough however, as that same studio has now managed to acquire the rights to the series and will be entirely remaking the game from the ground up.
Think Black Mesa, the Half-Life 1 remake that uses all new assets, sounds, etc. This will be like that; System Shock remade faithfully with modern graphics and sounds and all the bells and whistles. Nice.
As for System Shock 3? Night Dive say they’d be keen but they’d need backing from a publisher to take on a project that big.
You may remember that a week or two ago Payday 2 developer Overkill got in some serious doo-doo with their fans after adding game-altering microtransactions to the game, after promising they’d never do that.
The backlash was intense, and attempts at PR containment went even worse. It’s been somewhat of a disaster on the likes of Reddit.
Now they’ve clearly thrown caution to the wind, releasing another controversial update which adds weapon skins that have XP and cash boosting properties – I think you can see the issue there.
The community is in a state of disbelief, with the sentiment alternating between intense rage and actual humour at how insane things have gotten.
To make matters worse, the game’s three Steam mods have quit in protest after the community got more and more out of hand. Moderator Ashley had this to say in a statement:
“A number of death threats thrown at us as well as much more heavy moderation needed due to a huge increase in users breaking the rules. We are not paid and have been in a very stressful situation.
“If Overkill decides to let us go as moderators it’s something we are prepared for, I personally cannot sit by when they continue to promote immoral business practices. I felt the skins system needed work but could function. The recent safe update showed against that.
“I’m very sorry that it has come to this situation but the stress we have had to manage with, coupled with our unhappiness with the situation has pushed us to make this choice.”
A last bit of quick news – Call of Duty Black Ops 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of 2015.
Showing that the franchise is still as strong as ever, the latest entry pulled in over half a billion dollars in the first three days, whipping the pants off any movie, book or music release this year.
Not surprisingly it crushed Ghosts, and improved significantly on the sales of Advanced Warfare as well. But is it actually a better game than Advanced Warfare?
Don’t be stupid, none of that matters.
Man, how long has it been since you used cheat codes in a game? Give these Fallout 4 ones a try.
Sticking with Fallout 4, I think it’s important to highlight the performance issues, which aren’t acceptable. Check out this Digital Foundry stress-test.
Friday the 13th is getting a Kickstarted game, and it looks like a lot of asymmetrical, 1v7 multiplayer fun. Check it:
Life is Feudal is a survival sandbox game with an amusing title. This is what the game looks like though:
Best of NAG
Tarryn van der Byl reviews Guitar Hero Live, and no sentence I’ve ever written has made quite as much sense to me.
Wesley Fick helps out the budget builders with the low-cost entry of the System Builder’s Guide, the R4,000 – R10,000 range.
I return to my roots with a numbered column that reads like a really long shitpost. You can check that out here.
We end off with Neo Sibeko’s review of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Aorus X5, which I’ll never afford and wouldn’t buy even if I could. It’s just too much money for a laptop, but it is glorious.