Hello peasants, and welcome again to your regular wordy dose of me forcing my opinion on you, subtly disguised as a gaming news recap. This week on my clandestine agenda we have console news, updates on some upcoming titles, some videos making the rounds this week, a few loose ends and some of the NAG highlights you might have missed out on. See you after the jump.
Oh boy, here we go again. Forget whatever the last thing you heard was, because apparently the Nextbox actually will require an always online connection.
This news comes via Paul Thurrot, the guy who always seems to have the (reasonably accurate) inside scoops on what’s happening with Microsoft releases. However, according to Thurrot, while “the next Xbox must be internet-connected to use” this apparently “isn’t as Draconian as many seem to believe”.
This makes less than no sense to me. If you can’t use your Xbox, you presumably can’t play any games, and how the hell does it get more Draconian than that? Either way, it seems like a terrible move by Microsoft. With all the high-profile failings of always-online required games, making the console require a constant connection just seems like a marketing nightmare. I’m not convinced there’s anything they can say that will make people think it’s worth it.
For something a little more concrete, Microsoft themselves have said that they’ll be officially unveiling the new console on May 21st, at a private press conference hosted by their president of Interactive Entertainment, Don Mattrick.
This conference will be 3 weeks before E3, where Microsoft say they’ll be showing off an impressive lineup of next-generation games. A Microsoft rep said, “[On May 21] we’ll share our vision for Xbox, and give you a real taste of the future. Then, 19-days later at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, we’ll continue the conversation and showcase our full lineup of blockbuster games.” This E3 is definitely going to be one to watch.
Sony isn’t one to be outdone however, announcing that the PS4 launch line-up “is going to be stronger than any prior Playstation hardware.” They’re not giving any exact numbers however, we’ll probably have to wait for E3 to get a better idea. This would suggest that there’s a lot of developer support behind the console though, which is hardly a surprise. The PS4 is expected to launch sometime late this year, although some regions will likely have to wait longer.
Sony also took the opportunity this week to show off their new controller a little more, amidst rumours that the Nextbox controller is basically more of the same. Check out this short video which breaks down the key new features.
One company not planning a big, flashy E3 presentation is Nintendo, who say they’ve decided to ditch a “large-scale” press conference. Instead, they’ll be doing “a few smaller events”, focused largely on the software line-up for the US.
They need to garner some support too, as both the 3DS and Wii U have been underperforming, causing Nintendo to miss their profit target for the year by 50 percent. Lifetime Wii U sales are sitting at a rather underwhelming 3.45 million, a fair way below the initial target of 5.5 million (and lower even that the most recent revised figure of 4 million). 3DS sales are also short by about a million.
You kind of have to feel bad for Nintendo, the Wii enjoyed an initial boom in success before being relegated to “casual gamer console” status – and this stigma has clearly carried on to the Wii U. Noone really wants to drop the cash on Nintendo’s new hardware with the PS4 and Xbox so close on the horizon – and developers don’t seem to be biting either. Despite being the first next-gen to launch, it seems the Wii U is once again stuck in an awkward spot.
According to Nintendo big cheese Satoru Iwata, the reason behind the struggling sales is their failure to communicate to customers the value of the product. In Satoru’s words, “Some have the misunderstanding that Wii U is just Wii with a pad for games, and others even consider Wii U GamePad as a peripheral device connectable to Wii. We feel deeply responsible for not having tried hard enough to have consumers understand the product.” Yeah, to be honest, that does sound like a pretty terrible perception for people to have. Although to be honest, I know better and I still would be hanging onto my money till the “real” next-gen consoles come out.
The scoop on upcoming titles
Moving onto games, upcoming sequel The Witcher 3 will not have any Quick Time Events, nor will it have multiplayer. Project lead Konrad “say-my-name-3-times-fast” Tomaszkiewicz said they’ve been abandoned due to negative feedback; that they “usually frustrated players”. Is this true? I usually quite like them myself.
One thing that really does frustrate players is DRM, which is why Konrad says their game won’t have any. In his words, “DRM is the worst thing in the gaming industry. It’s limiting our rights to play games owned by us.” Holy crap, can someone get this man a Bell’s?
Ubisoft Toronto is toning down Splinter Cell Blacklist somewhat in terms of difficulty and complexity, saying that the gameplay had alienated people from the franchise before. Boss Jade Raymond promises Blacklist will deliver a more “fluid, modern play style”, although he does say that true fans of the series will still be able to enjoy the game they want to. It sounds like a win-win, but you can bet there’ll be outcries of gaming being ruined by noobs. I mean hell, people liked Dark Souls didn’t they?
Speaking of dark souls, Batman: Arkham Origins (do you see what I did there?) will reportedly have a multiplayer mode attached to it. The most badass thing about it all is that you get to be one of the villains, which reportedly include the likes of Killer Croc, Deadshot, Firefly, Black Mask, Deathstroke and some kind of electricity dude. Arkham Origins will be released on October 25th for all major platforms, including the Wii U.
Bits and bobs
Remember that huge fuss everyone made over the Dead Island: Riptide collector’s edition, with Dismembered Bikini Lady? There was a huge outcry at the time (I even wrote a column about it), and a swift apology was issued for the “offensive” product.
Well, Deep Silver said screw that and decided to release it anyway – they’ve already made a bunch of them after all. The “Zombie Bait Edition” can be found today in stores in the UK and Australia. Expect some very angry parents.
Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami wants the survival horror genre to go back to its roots, saying that it’s pretty much all shotguns and gibs these days. Mikami believes there needs to be less action and a more delicate balance, something he believes no game in the world right now has; which is why he’s now working on Bethesda’s “The Evil Within”. You can see his point.
So does anyone remember Apple? They make those phones that people used to have and those ridiculously overpriced laptops… nobody? It’s not surprising, since Apple stock has taken a plunge and they’ve posted their first profit decline in ten years. Could the Apple craze be coming to an end, or is this merely a bump in the road?
People still like racing games. Hell, I kind of like racing games – whenever I’m done I wanna take my Kia Picanto out and just thrash people at the robots. Which gets a bit awkward when you discover your car is powered by a lawnmower. What I’m trying to say is, check out this GRID 2 trailer:
Ubisoft have released a new trailer for Assassin’s Creed 4, this time showcasing “The Watch”, an exclusive little application for pre-order customers. Have a look for yourself and see if it’s worth it:
Finally, since Dead Island: Riptide officially hit shelves yesterday, along with the world’s most inappropriate paperweight, you might as well check out the launch trailer and see if it’s worth picking up:
Best of NAG
It’s been a bit of a slow week at NAG, what with the RELEASE OF THE NEW MAGAZINE AND ALL. Go check it out, now. Actually, just go buy it. Don’t even think about it. You won’t miss that money anyway.
The week was rounded out with a couple of sweet reviews. Fighting games have been rejuvenated by the increasingly popular Injustice: Gods Among Us, and you can see what NAG had to say about it right over here.
Or maybe you’ve taken my advice of two weeks ago, and decided to go a little more indie. Check out if it’s worth it with Nic Simmonds review of the surreal platformer, Alien Spidy.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more lighthearted, get nostalgic with my column this week on the most frustrating games you couldn’t stop playing.