Greetings NAGuxitions, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have some new Mirror’s Edge info, some exciting news for Gears of War fans who have friends, Nintendo continues their trend of destroying everything beautiful, Quantum Break has a disastrous PC launch, Bioware founder talks console upgrades and VR isn’t nearly as popular as one may think. All that juicy gossip, videos and highlights from the week – after the jump.
Mirror’s Edge dev takes some fan questions
Design director Erik Odeldahl took to EA’s UK Twitter this week, doing a sort of impromptu AMA of fan questions. I’ll summarise the highlights.
On multiplayer, he said that there will be a “new social play element”, that will be discussed in more detail “very soon”, whenever that means. Next week maybe?
On the topic of parkour, he said the game extensively supports both momentum-based running as well as climbing buildings, adding that the development team has “done loads of motion capture” for the parkour and fighting.
As for Faith, she’ll have to make use of her trusty gadgets, as there are “some areas you won’t be able to reach without them”. Odeldahl added that the world is semi-open, saying that it “will open up for you as you play through the main story”, but there are alternate paths.
Visuals appear to be similar in setting to the original Mirror’s Edge with its urban feel, and Odeldahl let on that his favourite part of the design was “getting rid of the first-person gunplay”. So if you liked that, um, sorry.
Gears of War delivers split-screen multiplayer in every flavour
In a recent article I wrote about my foray into console gaming, I expressed my disappointment that split-screen gaming seems to be rare now; a feature sidelined more often than not.
Not true, however, for Gears of War 4 developer The Coalition, whose studio head Rod Fergusson was quoted this week as saying, “Co-op is cake to us, it’s what defines us. We can never get rid of that”.
The end result is, according to Fergusson, “Any way that you can play Gears of War 4, you can play it split screen.” Nice. The trade-off is a 30fps cap instead of 60fps due to the increased load on the hardware of processing two different scenes, but that’s simply a price that must be paid for friendship.
Nintendo are still the fun killers
A couple of hardcore Zelda fans did a wonderful thing. They made a fully 3D version of the classic Legend of Zelda game, playable in your browser. How awesome is that? A freely available way for every gamer to enjoy this classic with a fresh spin.
Except Nintendo promptly murdered it with a cease-and-desist letter. Now I’m all for companies protecting their IPs and yadda yadda, but seriously, this is a three-decade old game and this is nothing more than a honouring of it by some of the game’s biggest fans.
It’s like having someone erect a statue in your likeness and you respond by tearing it down. It is also, of course, par for the course for Nintendo who are notorious for pretty much ignoring their fanbase’s input on pretty much anything.
The game will be re-released once it’s made to look decidedly non-Zelda like.
Quantum Break is a disaster on PC
Sigh, here we go again. Quantum Break has released on PC and despite being a great game according to critics, it’s a steaming pile of hot garbage on the master race platform.
Once again we have something that feels like a crappy, unoptimised port, with the whole situation being exacerbated by crappy drivers from Nvidia, a new foray into DirectX 12 and trying to deal with the limitations of the Universal Windows Platform, which Microsoft has been promising is good for everyone.
All this results in a very problematic PC experience from developer Remedy, who usually have a good track record with PC releases.
It’d be tempting at this juncture to allow the above factors to serve as an excuse for the crappy performance, but they don’t. The fact is this game is sitting on shelves and we’re being asked to pay money for something that is in an unacceptable state. Push back the release date or do whatever needs to be done, but don’t release broken crap. Here’s a basic summary of what’s wrong:
On a standard 60Hz monitor, 60fps isn’t possible regardless of how impressive your hardware is – it’s not going to happen. There’s a 30fps cap option, but that doesn’t work either – the game becomes jerky due to the lack of a consistent frame update. The image quality is also bad, with a 720p image being upscaled to 1080p, rather than actual native full HD output. There’s other more niggly stuff too, but these are the big ones.
And they’re really, really bad. Stay away from this until Microsoft sorts it out. Or don’t buy it at all, because why support a game that gives this little a damn about their product?
Bioware founder hates the idea of console upgrades
We’ve been getting a lot of rumours lately about a PS4.5 and a similar Xbone counterpart – basically a mid-cycle upgrade, something we haven’t seen before. There’s always the question of how this will interact with game development, since the point of consoles is the universal platform they provide.
Well according to Bioware co-founder (now retired) Greg Zeschuk, the answer to that question is “not very well”. Or, as he puts it: “I’d say that’d be a gigantic pain in the ass that flies in the face of the purpose of consoles. It’s funny, there’s actually some stories behind that. For example, the original Xbox…Microsoft actually had multiple different DVD drives. They didn’t tell anyone that, but as a developer you discovered that you have different performance and sometimes you’d have these boxes of refurbished drives and different brands and different equipment. It caused incredible variability.”
He echoes the general sentiment of the detractors, saying that a mid-cycle upgrade is not really compatible with the concept of a console. “The whole purpose of consoles is the set of requirements that you work against from a hardware perspective,” he said. “To change that is complete lunacy.”
He also posits a theory as to why it’s happening. “It’s almost like Microsoft may feel that Sony got overpowered versus them at the start, and maybe wants to kind of catch up,” he said. “And Sony’s like, ‘Well, if you want to do that, we’ll play this game.'”
That I can buy, actually. There’s no question at this point that PS4 has the hardware edge on the Xbone, and it seems like it’s having a pretty significant impact on sales (in conjunction with other factors, of course) – I can see Microsoft wanting to shake things up, but this power struggle could be bad for gamers overall.
Nobody knows what VR is
Okay, that may have been a bit of a Buzzfeed-esque title, but I was delighted to see that only 37 percent of US gamers actually know of at least one VR device. Which means that significantly more than half of gamers don’t even know what an Oculus Rift of HTC Vive is. Let that sink in.
Of the people who were actually interested in VR, most of them were young and spend about $20 a month on video games. Which means they’ll have to forgo new releases for the next few thousand years in order to afford a Vive.
The reason I enjoyed this in particular is that I’ve made my position very clear on VR – a niche product that will find its primary audience outside of mainstream gaming – at least for the next couple of generations when it still involves strapping enormously expensive, heavy goggles to your face.
A new RTS is coming out of Early Access this week, from an ex Civilization 4 dev. I’m always excited to see something new and interesting come out of this oft-neglected genre. Check out this gameplay video for Offworld Trading Company.
While we’re doing the gameplay thing, check out 18 minutes of Total War: Warhammer.
More gameplay? Well alright then. Worms is a franchise that will never die, here’s 16 minutes of their latest.
Now for something completely different, here’s the Star Wars cast rapping. Prepare your cringe face.
Best of NAG
It’s all reviews this week, unless you count my shameless self-promotion, but really why would you?
First up is Wesley Fick tackling the Acer Predator G9-791 gaming laptop, yet another powerful semi-portable device with a stupid name.
Then Dane takes on the Turtle Beach Ear Force Recon 50P, another piece of pretty hardware with a stupid name. Ear Force? Reaaally?
Moving to software, Matthew Vice has a go with Hitman Episode One.
We finish strong with a stupid author with a stupid name – I tell you why I suck at games, and how much might as well.