Hello once again NAGylles and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have Microsoft talking Xbox One and catching the PS4, a cool UK initiative to raise the youth into a PC masterrace, more VR stuff (of course) and a desperate plea from Breaking Bad’s creator. Then a great game gets free stuff, a great developer beats EA at their own game (literally), a fan-made mod delivers on a decade old promise from Blizzard and there’s a bit of bad news for Mortal Kombat X fans (with a little good news as well). All that along with some videos and highlights from the week, after the jump.
We kick things off with the Xbox One, and the always vocal Phil Spencer. The green machine has been trailing the PS4 since the next-gen launched, but Spencer has plans to make up lost ground.
We’ve seen some of that vision already with all the Windows 10 talk that’s been going on, and Microsoft’s hope of building seamless integration between the two. Eurogamer caught up with Spencer to find out what else they have in store.
Spencer acknowledges the confused launch of the Xbox One – a press conference that put games on the backburner behind streaming and media consumption – and discusses getting the Xbox One back on track with its purpose.
“It’s been, what, 11 months since I came on board as the head of Xbox and try and get refocussed on that game vision, showing both the company and ourselves what’s going on in PC and the huge communities that are there and the opportunities for us…”
So how do they plan on catching up to the PS4? According to Spencer, a big part of that are those common technologies between PC and Xbox – as he says, “if you’re going to develop for Windows why wouldn’t you develop for Xbox One, it’s basically a checkbox in the compiler.” Which is great news for PC players as well.
In Spencer’s eyes, it’s not about competition – there’s merit to gaming on a PC or on a laptop on the go, just as much as there is flopping down on the couch with a controller in hand. It’s a good outlook to have, and one that a certain subset of internet commenters could probably learn from.
Here’s some pretty uplifting news – more than one million microcomputers are being given to every Year-7 student in the UK this year, as part of a major initiative to get the youth into coding.
The wearable microcomputer is called a Micro Bit, and is an accessible, user-friendly means of experimenting with coding – you essentially plug it into a PC and go.
The move has been motivated by an anticipated skills shortage in the UK, with a reported 1.4 million professionals required in the field over the next five years.
One has to wonder if something like this couldn’t be a great idea in South Africa – granted our education system is in tatters at the basic level, but computer literacy at the very least is something which needs to be prioritised in the modern era.
VR is forcing its way into the news every week, with multiple companies vying for virtual supremacy in the nausea goggle market.
So far we haven’t seen much aside from various tech demos and shallow “games”, but Sony CEO Shuhei Yoshida said this week that many of the company’s studios are working on “actual games” for Morpheus.
More importantly, we might actually see some of that at E3. Yoshida said they’ll be showing the actual games “starting probably at E3”. It’d be interesting to see what they’ve come up with, and also if they’ve overdone it.
A game that effectively utilises VR might be good, a game that’s designed to show VR off probably won’t be.
A final bit of random news that was too good not to share – Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has pleased with fans to please stop throwing pizzas on top of Walter White’s house.
If you’ve seen the show you’ll no doubt remember the scene in which White does exactly that, but now that the show’s over people actually live in that house – and are less than appreciative of all the free pizza donated by fans to the roof.
Good guy Respawn Entertainment has decided to give away Titanfall’s DLC. You don’t have to enter an online raffle or like a Facebook page either, it’s just… free.
CEO Vince Zampella recently praised Evolve’s decision to give away free maps, and appears to have decided to follow suit. The offer was formally announced on Titanfall’s one-year anniversary, and is available to all supported platforms.
The upside of this, of course, is that if everyone has the DLC maps it means those maps will all be in the pool for everyone, which means you’ll actually get to play them.
If you haven’t tried Titanfall yet, now is a great time. I’ve banged on about the game enough at this point, but you can find it for dirt cheap now, and get all the DLC free. Plus with this announcement, the servers will get a big boost in players, so you should have no trouble finding a match.
You may have heard of a SimCity-esque title doing the rounds called Cities: Skyline. Proving that people are still really, really into SimCity, the game has sold 250,000 copies in the first 24 hours, making it the fastest ever selling title for publisher Paradox.
“Our congratulations and thanks must also go to developer Colossal Order for making what is being widely described as the new benchmark of the city building genre,” Paradox chief executive Fredrik Wester said.
There was a definite void left by the disappointment of 2013’s SimCity, which forced players to be connected and limited their cities to small towns rather than sprawling metropolises.
It looks like developer Colossal Order has given those fans everything they wanted from that game, but didn’t get. Smart move, and it’s paying off. Good for them.
Speaking of delivering to fans what they want but never got, Starcraft Ghost has finally been released! Kind of.
A fan-made Starcraft II map transforms the Blizzard RTS into a third-person shooter, complete with five playable classes, co-op, multiple levels and frikken voice acting.
It’s called Psionic Warfare, it looks genuinely good and you can find it in the Blizzard Arcade – along with a ton more user-created content.
This is what I absolutely love about the mod community, they provide the kind of longevity of games that a developer could never hope to even approach.
A last bit of sad news for those eagerly awaiting Mortal Kombat X; my homies on old-gen consoles are going to have to wait a little longer.
While the April 14th release for PC, Xbox One and PS4 is going ahead as planned, Xbox 360 and PS3 owners are going to have to wait until “summer” – which means winter for us.
Some better news, in case you hadn’t heard, is that Friday the 13th’s Jason Vorhees has been revealed as a guest character. Nice.
Well here’s something a little, um, different – driving a couch in Battlefield Hardline. You heard me.
Last week we got a whole lot of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood gameplay – now this week we get 20 minutes more. Hoora!
This week I spoke about both Cities: Skylines and mods. Here we have both – a Cities mod that lets you walk around your own city in the first person. How cool is that?
Finally, we have a look at Act of Aggression, the RTS announced by Eugen Systems last year. This is some “pre-alpha” gameplay, which is developer code for shitty.
Best of NAG
Let’s start the weekend off the right way – with the dapper Wesley Fick. Wes wrote an article this week on why he doesn’t think SteamOS is actually a good choice for gamers – and unlike me, when he makes such claims he actually knows what he’s talking about. Check it out.
What’s that? Not quite enough Fick? Then check out brother Matthew’s tribute to one of the great fantasy authors of our generation, the recently deceased Terry Pratchet.
Then you can slum it for a bit with me, as I talk about five game that I think deserve a second chance in the limelight.
We finish as we began – Wesley Fick talking about stuff. This time it’s all the newly announced Apple hardware that nobody can afford.