Hello once more NAGurns, and thanks for coming back for your weekly dose of gaming news free from the shackles of journalistic objectivity. This week we have some more fuel to stoke the console wars fire, a well-known gaming character makes it way into your phone’s operating system, Amazon’s console is totally not a console, Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford gets annoyed with a news website (and now, me), Mario Kart 8 is more competitive than you think, the hunt for a certain giant water-beast of a certain FPS is over and there’s a bunch of other news that is somewhat less obscurely described than it is here. There’ll also of course be videos, highlights from the week for NAG and punch and pizza on the table in the corner. So, settle in, grab a glass of watery punch and hit the jump.
So we’ve all made peace with the fact that the PS4 has a little more oomph than its rival (or have we?), but Oddworld co-creator Lorne Lanning believes that that performance gap is closing fast.
“I think [Microsoft] have been improving the toolset really fast, improving the development environment and shaving that curve down… I think they’re getting comparable.”
“You know, if you want to run at 1080p, Battlefield, I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to tax the system at that higher end, but I’m sure in couple of years it won’t be a problem. We’re early.”
So there you have it, folks. The PS4 is more powerful – for now. We can all pack up and go home now.
Speaking of Microsoft, the developer will be adding a Siri competitor to Windows Phone 8.1. You remember Siri, right? That iPhone voice-command companion that everyone went mental about until they accidentally sexted their mom on the third day.
I can’t tell you if Microsoft’s version will be just as useless, but I can tell you that it’ll be Cortana from Halo. You won’t actually get to converse with the curvy blue hologram (that would be creepy), but you will be treated to the talents of veteran Halo voice actress Jen Taylor.
While Mark Zuckerberg thinks the Oculus Rift is all that and a bag of paid advertising, Xbox co-founder Ed Fries isn’t quite convinced of the hardware’s ability to get us excited.
Fries acknowledges that hardcore gamers tend to love new and shiny things, but he believes that “general users are a different crowd”.
“Given how little success the consumer electronics companies have had with 3D TVs with glasses, I am sceptical that general users are going to be strapping this thing onto their face any time soon.”
I’ve been very vocal about my burning hatred of 3D on this site many times before, but without having tried the rift I’m not sure how I feel about it. If it’s willing to offer me more than headaches, pop-up text and two legitimate 3D scenes per film, I might be interested. Maybe.
So, have you all heard about the Amazon Fire TV? The $99 console looks to fulfil a similar market space to that of the Ouya – it even has its own controller.
However, Amazon VP Pete Larsen insists it’s not a console at all, but rather a new device “In between a console and a smartphone”.
They’re going all out too, with plans for extensive first party development. Recently the company purchased Double Helix, developer of Killer Instinct and has hired some well-known designers such as Kim Swift (Portal) for Amazon Game Studios.
Not convinced? What if I told you that Telltale Games is planning on releasing their episodic games on the Amazon Fire TV as well?
PR guy Job Stauffer said on Twitter that Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us and the yet-to-be-released Game of Thrones will all be available on the new system.
So, Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford took a swipe at Gamespot this week, after the news site “fabricated” a news article about a next-gen game announcement from the studio to be coming later this year.
This is after Pitchford said on Twitter that they’re “working on next-gen” and “will probably announce something later this year”.
Well, that’s good enough for my thin veneer of journalistic integrity. So, let’s start that again.
Randy Pitchford has announced that Gearbox will likely be revealing a next-gen title later this year. However, one should note that back in February Pitchford claimed Borderlands 3 is not in development, and also that this piece of news may or may not be a fabrication.
Blizzard recently reignited a lot of interest in their somewhat disappointing instalment to the Diablo franchise. The introduction of a new loot system, the removal of the auction house and a lot of generally positive changes got a lot of people (myself included) to give the game another go.
And of course, this was all perfectly timed right before the release of the expansion, Reaper of Souls. The software giant has reported sales numbers of 2.7 million in the first week alone; pretty damned impressive.
The only real sticking point is the price, but that hasn’t seemed to stop most fans. Will you be picking up the expansion?
Mario Kart is a Nintendo legacy, but it’s less of a competitive racer and more of a party game. Those hungry for a more skill-based experience have often lamented the likes of the blue shell, an unavoidable nuisance for those doing well.
However, Mario Kart 8 producer Hideki Konno says the latest instalment has been very carefully balanced to avoid it being a game of chance.
“We do hear, and a lot of people out there say it, that Mario Kart is all about luck,” he said. “That if you’re at the front then you’ll get hit with a blue shell, so it’s all about luck. That feature is not random – it doesn’t just happen. There is a lot of adjustment and there is a lot of thought and effort put into that system, and developing it in a way that actually promotes game balance. I would hope people understand that as well.”
Also, there’ll be two Rainbow Roads.
Adam Orth, the Microsoft employee who famously detonated his career and reputation on Twitter over the always-online Xbox One debate (#dealwithit), has made a game.
It’s a space game of some description. I don’t know, you’re an astronaut. It’s called Adr1ft, and it must be decent because it’s been picked up by Payday 2 publisher 505 Studios. As for the game itself, it’s this:
“Adr1ft is an emotional journey through action, consequence and redemption. In the end, the player will be left to contemplate the parallels between the choices he makes within the game and the ones he makes in real life.”
So they’ve finally done it. They’ve found the Megalodon (giant shark) Easter egg in Battlefield 4. For a long time developer DICE hinted that the enormous beast was hidden somewhere in the game, and Youtuber Jackfrags has the credit for discovering it. Check it out:
Alien Isolation is set for an October 7th release, but in the meantime there’s plenty of content to devour to give you an idea of what you’re in for. And it must be said, it looks good. This week we have a developer diary discussing the importance of sound in the game.
Microsoft is throwing their full weight behind indie development on the Xbox One with their ID@Xbox initiative. This month at GDC we saw the reveal of 25 new indie titles – not bad. Microsoft has released this new video to showcase the program.
An interesting indie survival horror called Silence of the Sleep has just been Greenlit on Steam. It’s an interestingly minimalist looking game created single-handedly by 24-year old Finn Jesse Makkonen.
Best of NAG
Hey, you know that Kinect you never wanted for Xbox One? Well, now you can have it for Windows! Yep, now even you too as a PC user can have the American government spy on you while bolstering your fetish porn collection. All the details are here.
When I went to rAge 2013 last year, I was pretty damned impressed with the crop of local indie titles on display – you may remember I was particularly enamoured with Pixel Boy, and rightly so. Well, now another well-known local will be coming to Steam this month. If you’re interested in supporting local devs, you can find out more here.
My column this week was all about the various cliches, trends and overused tropes we find in video games today. Much like moviemakers, game developers tend to fall back on old favourites instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Here’s a list of the five that peeve me the most.
Lastly we have a more sombre piece of news, long-running print magazine PC Format is closing its doors and shutting down. I have fond memories of reading this magazine in my childhood, and losing a local publication, especially one with this pedigree, is rather sad indeed. You can find a final address from the editor and more details here.